Archive for May, 2006

Blogging For Dollars?

May 31st, 2006

Just checked Warren Kinsella’s blog, and he had this tidbit:

Bloggers and the like demanded respect and more of a voice in our democracy, and they got it. As a consequence, they owe democracy a duty – such as disclosing which of them is being quietly paid by which corporation or leadership candidate. They’d demand no less of the mainstream media.

Bloggers are getting paid by corporations and leadership candidates? Wow! I wish I knew there was money to be made at this.

Joking aside, he’s right. If someone is sucking up dollars from sources which could influence their writing, that should be acknowledged PDQ. Otherwise, the public will become cynical of us and we lose our effectiveness.

For the record, Ron has been fed and boozed at my home on countless occasions. He apologizes for not mentioning it earlier.


Where PMs Fear to Tread

May 31st, 2006
Comments Off on Where PMs Fear to Tread

Confession time. I have a hard time writing about politics these days. If you have been paying close attention, you will have noted less politics, more Britney in recent weeks. The reason? Three things. First, federal politics hasn’t really been a hot-bed of activity lately, although Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have made a series of policy announcements, and have disappointed a number of Liberal/NDP/Lefties by announcing they would uphold a series of election promises.

Secondly, I consider federal politics to be my area. Since I was a teenager I was interested in Canadian federal politics. I consider myself, rightly or wrongly, an astute observer of the federal political scene and I often have, I believe, a different take on things than most observers. I get federal politics, and I get what politicians are trying to do. The same cannot be said Provincially, locally or internationally. I don’t believe I have anything original to offer on US politics, Dalton’s foibles or who should be the next mayor of Cambridge. If it’s not happening federally, chances are good I’m not going to comment.

Third, I have a hard time, now that he’s in charge, reading Stephen Harper. Bottom line, this guy is much smarter than I, and he is like a chess player, always thinking three or more moves ahead. As such, I have a hard time making calls on what he’s thinking, pronouncing loudly “Stephen Harper really means …”, because I have no confidence in my ability to read him. With the onset of summer, I have less interest in trying. Thus, politics gets back burnered.

However, the news that Stephen Harper is planning on introducing term limits for Senators is something I get. First the news:

The Stephen Harper government moved yesterday to limit Senate terms to eight years…

Introducing separate bills in the House of Commons and the Senate, the government called them moves toward a more accountable government.

Question is, is this what I referred to in the election as Pandora’s constitutional box. Remember my Pandora Martin jokes? So why this?

Because it has been Reform/Alliance/CRAParty policy for years, and it has been a Stephen Harper policy for years. Remember election night: “To the people of the West, let me say one thing and let me be clear: the West is now in.” This is what he meant. Triple ‘E’ senate (Effective, Equal and Elected) is on the governments sights and this is step one. Note that the government thinks it can get this passed onto law without the approval of the provinces. But clearly, any further movement in that direction would require opening the Pandora’s constitutional box.

Opening the constitution is, ultimately, a Quebec question. And Quebec comes quickly into play. Walking into Quebec and saying, the constitution needs fixed, means once again trying to fix what ails Quebec, treading where Trudeau and Mulroney failed. And to do so is no easy feat. First, it will require a majority government – expect the next election to be fought on these grounds. The opposition will want to make it about Afghanistan, possibly Child Care (depending on who the new Liberal leader is), and the environment. Jack Layton will want it to be the Kyoto election, but Stephen Harper can stick handle around those issues by making it a constitutional debate.

Next up, John Tory will need to win Ontario. Alberta will certainly sign on to a triple E senate, Quebec signs on if it gets it’s special status designation, but getting McGuinty to sign will be near impossible. John Tory, on the other hand…

So this move accomplishes some major objectives, it begins the process of moving towards a long time Western Conservative policy goal and it sets the stage for the next election, the one in which the opposition will want to fight last elections fights, battling for a child care program and an environmental program that’s already been discarded. The Back to the Future election, where the Liberals will promise to do what they did last time.

Pretty smooth chess playing Mr. Harper.


Dueling messiahs

May 31st, 2006

AP reports that “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie for those of you who have been living under a rock, or the Parliamentary Press Gallery) have named their baby Shiloh Nouvel. This could be translated as being “New Messiah”.

How dare they be so bold as to dub their child the new messiah. Everybody knows the real new messiah is Celine Dion’s baby!


Tale of New York

May 29th, 2006

When I was in New York City at the beginning of the month, transit boss Roger Toussaint was being released from jail. He spent 3 days of a ten day sentence for leading an illegal transit strike.

Toussaint began serving a 10 day sentence for his part in leading a walkout that stopped city transit in New York City. The walkout brought the city to a halt just before Christmas last year and violated a state law banning strikes by public employees. He was accompanied to jail by thousands of supporters in a walk from the Brooklyn Supreme Court across the Brooklyn Bridge.

As well the union was fined “2.5 million dollars and suspension of automatic due deductions to all members for striking.”

Dear Bob Kinnear: You should be so lucky.


This Week on my i-pod – I’m Coming Mr. Bachman

May 28th, 2006
Comments Off on This Week on my i-pod – I’m Coming Mr. Bachman

Confession time. I don’t own an i-pod. (If anybody knows a better name for this feature, I would like to hear it). I use the term as a generic to mean MP3 player. I own an RCA Lyra 40 gig MP3 player. At least I did, until about 6 weeks ago when it stopped working. Two days ago, I plugged it in to my computer, smacked it on the desk a few times and voila! I am back in the MP3 business. For the past 6 weeks, I have been using a Sony portable CD player, although in fairness, it plays MP3s. So for the last while it has really been, this week in my CD player, which is an alright title. In that time I bought a few new CDs, four I think. The first thing I did when my MP3 player started working was not back it up (which I cursed myself daily for not doing in the past six weeks), but burn those new CDs onto my MP3 player. It makes no difference to you, I’m sure, but I felt like offering that story.

One of the CDs, the first one I burned, has been my favourite the past two weeks. It is the Bachman Cummings Songbook, a collection of songs from Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings’ three main careers: The Guess Who (Both), BTO (Bachman) and Burton Cummings solo material. The funny thing is, this collection works great because it fails to bore. By the time you are thinking, that’s about all the Guess Who I can take for one day, your listening to BTO. Nice change. Tired of BTO five songs in? That’s OK, here comes Burton Cummings. Simply put, the gear changes effectively keeps this CD interesting.

For a review, I offer this, which I did a few weeks ago on my Canadian music blog. In this spot, I’ll offer a few more random thoughts.

Guitar players often talk about the song, the one song that started it for them. Jimmy Page has Elvis’s Baby, Let’s Play House as the song that made him say “I have to be able to do that!” For me, it was BTO’s Takin’ Care of Business. Thus, Randy Bachman was my first guitar hero and I have been a Randy Bachman fan since I was 12 years old. This set then, brings back a lot of memories. There was these two guys in a band who lived up the street from me. They borrowed my copy of Four Wheel Drive and learnt to play Hey You in half an hour. First Rock song I learnt to play on my own? Let it Ride. (For that matter the only piano song I have ever learnt by ear is Cummings My Own Way To Rock.)

It strikes me, however, how much better these guys are separately. The BTO music is far better then the Guess Who stuff, as is the Cummings stuff. Songs like Break It To Them Gently, I’m Scared and I Will Play A Rhapsody are wonderful songs, that eclipse the best of the Guess Who stuff (and as I lament in my review, Dream of a Child is both gorgeous and missing). What is more remarkable is that the Guess Who stuff is excellent. And that, at the end of the day is what is so good about this collection. The weakest material is better than the best of most artists. And it’s Canadian eh? Who could ask for more?

This Week on my I-Pod

Stephen Harper and the Press Gallery Weenies

May 27th, 2006

I have been enjoying the Stephen Harper Ottawa Press Gallery cat fight in a very visceral way. It has been amusing, especially amusing is how out of joint the press guys noses have gotten about not being catered too. Imagine if you will, the pile on that would occur if a politician complained about losing privilege the way the press gallery has. Don’t even imagine; think back to David Dingwall’s entitlements. That’s exactly what the press sounds like.

But on another level, I think this is good for our country, although probably ultimately bad for Stephen Harper.

For years the Liberal’s have been spoon feeding the media soundbites, little stories that they could print and look like they are doing their job. Journalists are just like garbagemen, who are just like auto workers, who are just like teachers, accountants &tc. They want to get their job done, and get home/to the bar/to wherever they want to go. Feed them a story, they can write it up, get their job done efficiently, and get on with what they want to get done. Stephen Harper has made it harder for them to do that.

The media would tell you that two contradictory things about their job: a) it is, out of necessity, adversarial; b) the people they cover ought not be adversarial with the press. I happen to believe ‘a’ is correct. But when press gallery and politician get too close, what happens? It is harder for the press to take on an adversarial role. Ask any sports reporter who covers a team and they will tell you, they cannot spill the beans about what a jerk Tie Domi is, or they lose access. Reporters are not learning about Barry Bonds steroid use now, the rumours have always been there. Report them, and lose access.

So it goes in politics. Like the Barry Bonds steroid story, which would have been reported ten years ago if an adversarial relationship occurred between the press and the players/teams they cover, so it is with politicians. While the press gallery in Ottawa was getting along nicely with
Jean Cretien in the foyer, the real news was happening in the parliamentary broom closets. Shouldn’t we have known about Adscam years ago, shouldn’t reporters, doing their job, have sniffed this one out.

I have always believed something like Adscam, or HRDC wouldn’t have happened in the US, simply because their press would have been all over these stories. I also happen to believe that once the press gallery gets used to not having access, they will go sniff out the real stories. And that is good for our democracy, but probably bad for Stephen Harper.


Britney’s Surprise

May 27th, 2006
Comments Off on Britney’s Surprise

When I started this blog, I promised myself I was going to ignore negative celebrity slurs – I don’t care if Madonna wants to crucify herself for her art, I merely wish she would do it all ready and leave the rest of us alone. I don’t want to bad mouth Teri Hatcher, and not because I understand how hard it is to be that beautiful and that rich. Today, I violate my rule; forgive me, it is meant in the spirit of fun (as in, there where just too many jokes to hold in).

It is being reported that, Britney…(came) home to find him guzzling booze and smoking pot.

Let the Jokes Begin:

Why is the wife always the last one to know?

What did she think he was doing, working?

Kevin Federline smoking Pot, this is so disappointing. Next thing someone will be suggesting Keith Richards had some drink in him before climbing the coconut tree.

When you go husband hunting in a trailer park, don’t be surprised if you catch trailer trash.

Maybe he was celebrating his successful career.

Whew, they’re out. I feel better!
Feel free to use the comments section to add your own Kevin and Britney joke.


Random Thoughts From a Bored Cyclist

May 27th, 2006
Comments Off on Random Thoughts From a Bored Cyclist

Ever notice that we give our government controlled monopolies motherhood titles in Canada. The CBC is The Mother Corp., Bell Canada is Ma Bell. I’m surprised Rogers isn’t The Cable Matron or Ontario Hydro the Power Dowager. Why these motherhood titles to monolithic entities?

I suspect it is to make them feel good, so that if someone comes along and wants to gut them it will become a motherhood issue. And of course, you must elect the Liberal’s if you want to protect the Mother Corp., and by extension motherhood.

It’s like the neighbourhood brothel: the whore masters yell motherhood hoping you won’t notice the real business they are in.


Dirty Harper

May 25th, 2006
Comments Off on Dirty Harper
“Go ahead-make my day”
Today in the London Free Press yet another article (“PM shoos press gallery”) about the playground battle between the Parliamentry Press Gallery and PM Stephen Harper.

All conducted to the sound of Raging Canadian Indifference.

Perhaps we might be more interested if the headline were to read:

PM shoots press gallery”


To Think They Booed

May 24th, 2006
Comments Off on To Think They Booed

There have been so many people in rock and roll the past forty years. Thousands of artists and groups making records, making us dance. So many artists, yet so few who can credibly say they changed the way rock and roll is played.

Bob Dylan changed the face of folk music the day he picked up a Fender Stratocaster, and in so doing changed rock and roll.

For that, for Tangled Up In Blue, for Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, and for giving us The Band…

Happy 65th Birthday Bob Dylan.


Cruising with Tom.

May 24th, 2006
Comments Off on Cruising with Tom.

Close your eyes.

Imagine this.

You have a 1.5 Million dollar Bugati Veyron with an 8,000 CC quad-turbocharged 64 valve W 16 aluminum engine and a top speed of over 250 miles/hour.

How’s that working out for you Tom Cruise?


Fare Thee Well, Wonder Woman.

May 23rd, 2006

When I started blogging, Richard over at Cannuckistan Chronicles (now Let Freedom Reign) was looking for some contributors. I was hmmming and hawing about starting a blog, and thought it would be a good way to see if I enjoyed it, was any good at it, had any time for it. Three other people joined the fray, KnightofGoodMrIronMan, Pete in Midland and Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman is funny, sexy, controversial and one of the great female writers of the Blogging Tories (we have a bunch). Upheaval and, apparently, contentment in her personal situation has led her to give up her blog, A North American Patriot.

It is with heavy heart that I say farewell to one of my daily reads. Always funny, always intelligent and always with a great picture to illustrate her story, Wonder Woman is a habit, and I’m sorry I shall have to kick it.

Good Luck Wonder Woman: I wish you every happiness.


Da Vinci Code: Review

May 23rd, 2006
Comments Off on Da Vinci Code: Review

I took a Dan Brown Fan to see the movie rendition of The Da Vinci Code Sunday night. The movie was playing at 6:30, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 9:30 and 10:00. For all those showings, the viewing I went too was as full as any movie I have been to in years; it was, in fact, full.

The critics have, of course, universally panned this movie. The one star and one and a half star reviews are patently unfair. This may not be Citizen Cane, but it’s not a bad movie either.

I had a couple of small problems with the film, and both of them where technicalities: On two or three occasions they put in a scene where something jumps at a character unexpectedly, creating a quick shock. This is effective movie making – in Carrie when the hand jumps out of the grave sane people poo their pant’s. It’s dumb, unnecessary and cheap in the Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci Code is a great drama, and most of the movie is very effective as a drama. However, director Ron Howard throws action scenes into the mix, and often milks them as though a James Bond movie just occurred. It is awkward and, again, unnecessary.

But these complaints are, in truth, quibbles. The movie is well acted, well shot and well interpreted. It is not a clear case of “the book was soooo much better.” This was of comparable quality to the book. It has been a while since I read the book but I could think of no points in the book that was cut.

Bottom line, this was a pretty good book, and if you enjoyed the book you will probably enjoy the movie. If you’ve never read the book, you could do worse than see this movie this spring.

I leave the last word to Lady Hespeler, the Dan Brown fan, who said the following as soon as we got in the car after the movie:

“I don’t care what the critics say; it was a great movie.”


Alexandrina Victoria, May 24, 1819

May 20th, 2006

Born the daughter of Edward, the Duke of Kent, third son of George III and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg. Edward died when Alexandrina Victoria was 8 months old. Upon the death of George IV in 1830 William IV became King and Alexandrina Victoria became heir to the throne.

William IV died in 1837, just 27 days after Alexandrina Victoria’s 18th birthday.

She married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on Feb 10th 1840, and he passed away in Dec 1861 of Typhoid Fever.

Victoria enjoyed the longest reign ever for a British Monarch, 71 years. She passed away on January 22nd, 1901 in the Isle of WhiteWight.

May 24th was first declared a holiday in Canada by the Legislature of the Province of Canada in 1845. It has been slightly altered a few times, with the modern for, the Monday before May 25th being the celebrated holiday.

So Happy Birthday to Queen Victoria: I promise to celebrate it in a way in which you would not be amused.


Canadian Angels

May 19th, 2006
Comments Off on Canadian Angels

Three cheers for one of my favourite blogs, that girl with the pearls, Girl on the Right.

She has established an adopt a soldier program for Canadian Soldiers fighting in Afghanistan:

Canadian Angels is committed to showing appreciation to our men and women serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. Based on the superb Soldiers Angels program in the United States, Canadian Angels was started by an average Canadian who wanted to help. Herself a “Soldiers Angel”, she felt it was time that Canada had its own Angels. When she realized that no such program existed here, she decided she would have to start one herself.

Canadian Angels is a non-governmental, non-partisan, independent, and (soon to be registered) non-profit organization.

So here’s how it works:

Canadian Angels has two databases; one for soldiers and one for Angels. Armed Forces members who are serving outside of Canada (or who are about to be deployed) are encouraged to sign up for an Angel. A family member or friend can also sign a soldier up out of kindness.
Volunteers sign up to provide sponsorship to a soldier in the form of letters, email and care packages. A soldier from one database is matched with a volunteer from the other.

Information about both soldiers and volunteers is kept strictly confidential, is not stored on-line, and is used only by the staff of Canadian Angels. When a sponsor match is made, Canadian Angels will advise the Angel who his or her assignment is, along with name and mailing address (and email address, if provided). The Armed Forces member will receive the same information about his or her Angel from the staff here. Let the correspondence begin!

I hope I get a blonde one!