Archive for May, 2006

That Old Slippery Slope Theory

May 19th, 2006
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Thank God!

May 18th, 2006
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Eleven year old Carmen Kados has been found alive:

I was going to do a post wondering why this story is getting such scant attention here in Ontario; I have never been happier to not write something.

Let’s just hope that she is alright.


Catholics Riot Over Da Vinci Code Blasphemy

May 17th, 2006

The Da Vinci Code, a movie based on the novel of the same name, opened today at he Cannes Film Festival.

The opening was marred by riots in the streets of Cannes, Paris, Amsterdam, London and Barcelona as Catholics, angry at the portrayal of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, as a having survived his crucifixion and moved to France to marry Mary Magdalene and procreate.
“It’s blasphemy, plain and simple,” said a rioting catholic.

Church leaders have called for the death of author Dan Brown, actor Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard for their role in this desecration of the Catholic faith. “There is no room to question such basic tenets of the faith such as whether Jesus died as the bible states, whether he died a virgin, and whether he had children.” said one Church elder. “Obviously those responsible must be put to death…”

… Oh wait, sorry. Wrong religion… wrong controversy.


High Canadian Dollar Bringing The Price Of Books Down

May 17th, 2006
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Back in April I noted one of the more obvious examples of the exchange rate is the price of books: look on the back and there is an American price and a Canadian price:

Want to know the inflationary effect of a low dollar? Try this: Grab a book you bought in 1988. What is the US price on it? What is the Canadian price? Now get a book from 1995, and do the same thing. See the difference in prices there? – e.g. John Grisham, A Time To Kill: 1989. $6.99 US, $7.99 Can. John Grisham, The Summons: 2002. $7.99 US, $11.99 Can.

It appears I am not the only one to notice, and book consumers are about to get a big break as a result:

The surging Canadian dollar is prompting book publishers to slash the prices of their new offerings later this year in the wake of consumer complaints…

Retailers have been conveying angry complaints from customers who cringe when they examine the suggested list price and see a difference between U.S. and Canadian prices that far exceeds the exchange rate.

Yahoo! $7.99 for the Da Vinci Code in paperback, count me in.

Interesting, that it took consumer complaints to get the change. I guess that’s what you get when you put the comparative price right on the product and have consumers who read. I wonder what products won’t be coming down in price because the audience for them has no clue the price should be coming down? Rap CD’s? Video games?

Although this is all wonderful for us readers, don’t go running to your book store just yet:

Consumer queries prompted Indigo Books & Music Inc. to post signs in its Indigo, Chapters and Coles stores informing customers that publishers, not retailers, establish listed prices based on manufacturing cycles of six to 12 months. Some books are contracted two to three years before they hit store shelves.

Oh, and don’t expect a 1:1 ratio if the dollar reaches parity, the system isn’t that fair:

The price of books will likely never exactly mirror the exchange rate, she noted. Copyright legislation allows publishers a cushion of at least 10 per cent for the costs of importing and marketing foreign titles in Canada.

So a Canadian book would be 10% lower? Somehow I doubt it. And make no mistake, they are allowed a 10% premium, and they will take their 10% premium.

But, lower book prices are on the way. Now if we could get the rest of the retail sector to get on board and start passing their true cost savings n to consumers.


Hey, What Happened?

May 16th, 2006

I checked, I double checked , and then I checked again. Last week, as in one week ago, as in the week immediatly preceding last weekend, I posted a link to the Blue Blogging Soapbox: Blogging Tories Site of the Week.

Check it here, I updated, apologozed for the missed week, and finally got caught up. May 10 – it says right at the top, six lousy days ago. So how come I am behind again? Shouldn’t there be only one blogging tories site of the week?


Week 18 is Back off Government, a blog by U of W (my alma mater) engineering student Jason Verheyden, who is also one of the honchos for the Southern Ontario Conservatives Blogroll.

That should be it, non? But wait there’s more:

Week 19 is Right in Canada, a blog by an English/Irish Canadian(hey me too, except the English bit) small biz owner, who offers”Postings, ramblings, and references to Conservative thought, ideas, articles and commentaries. A right-wing weblog by Canadian woman who is fed up with liberal policies and politics.”

I love this quote from her header: “definition of a liberal: someone so open minded their brains have fallen out”

So that’s it for another week. I’ll be back next week with another blogging tories site of the week, or three I don’t know. How many weeks are there anyway?


Da Vinci Code is fake?

May 16th, 2006

I have been entertained by the Da Vinci Code controversy in the papers the past week. The Catholic church has been busy giving the new movie version of the Da Vinci Code the kind of publicity that you can’t buy. What I can’t understand is why?

One of the best books of the past few years, the best Canadian book in years, is Michel Basiliere’s Black bird. At the very beginning, after the title page, before chapter 1, is an unusual authors note:

Readers with long memories or a command of Canadian history will complain that the following pages contradict known facts. Facts are one thing but fiction is another, and this is fiction.

“Facts are one thing but fiction is another, and this is fiction”; It seems like such a duh statement, until you pick up a newspaper and they are wasting newsprint with articles about what Dan Brown got wrong in the Da Vinci Code.

Lets get this really clear, Dan Brown is a novelist. He wrote a novel that millions of people bought, that is being turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, that has made Dan Brown wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. Dan Brown got nothing wrong. Anybody who treats the Da Vinci Code as fact, who wants to argue points of interest in the Da Vinci Code, got it wrong.

The Da Vinci Code, like many novels, mixes fact with fiction to create an interesting story: Yes, there was a Da Vinci. Yes there is an Opus Dei founded by Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (1902-1975), yes there was a Jesus and a Mary Magdalene. Mix them together in a rather formulaic yarn, and you have the Da Vinci Code.

In Paris there is a museum called the Louvre, just like in Dan Brown’s book. There is also a Paris Louvre in Team America World Police, that gets blown up when Team America is chasing some terrorists. Do you cancel the Paris vacation because the Louvre is no longer there?

So why would you think 2,000 years of history is in need of a re-write because of a novel.

One last thought. Why is it than Dan Brown supposedly gave away the secrets of a 600 year old secret society, one that, according to the Da Vinci Code, is not above killing to keep it’s secrets. Yet nobody expects Dan Brown to be killed for giving up those secrets. If the secret society part of the book is not considered true, how can anything else in the book be considered true?

If you are reading this surprised to find that the facts in the Da Vinci Code are in question, go read a history book. Stop getting your information from Oliver Stone movies and Dan Brown books. The facts are not in question, they are well established and Dan Brown does not have them.

And to the Catholic church, stop giving this movie all the free publicity it doesn’t need. You are an institution that is nearly 2000 years old; get a little self-confidence already.


Political Linguistics

May 15th, 2006

John Downing has an interesting article in today’s Toronto Sun about the art of the political insult, and it’s seeming demise. I agree with the premise that the true insult is dead, much to our detriment. However, I would go further than Downing does. I think the art of repartee is dead in politics, and politics has been dumbed down as a result.

Think back to the early 80’s (if you are too young, close your eyes and imagine). Brian Mulroney facing Pierre Trudeau in The House of Commons. These two guys could spin a tale, weave a web of words. And they where the norm, at the time and before. Winston Churchill’s criticisms are legendary, filling space in quotation books. Who amongst our glorious parliamentarians will get their name in any quote book? Jean Chretien?

For me, pepper, I put it on my plate.

This was said in response to a scandal involving the RCMP pepper spraying protesters. Mulroney, Trudeau, Pearson even, John Crosby would have tore him a new one for such a line. None of our modern thinkers was up to the task.

A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.

How positively Churchillian. Certaintly doesn’t compare to this:

Clement Attlee is a modest man who has a good deal to be modest about. (Churchill)

or this

In politics, Madame, you need two things: friends, but above all an enemy. (Mulroney)

and of course, the devil deserves his due:

Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die. (Trudeau)

Whether it’s inspirational or confrontational, the politicians of today just don’t have the same stuff.

The question is why? Why has intelligent discourse left our politics? Two reasons. First, you have to be so much more careful by what you say now a days. When Belinda Stronach crossed the floor last year some people suggested she was prostituting herself.

Outrage, Howls from the gallery – Sexism, blondism and so on ad naseum. How would the following two quotes have been received in 2006?

“There’s no whore like an old whore. If I’d been in Bryce’s position, I’d have been right in there with my nose in the public trough ….” (Mulroney)

And you madam, are ugly. As for my condition, it will pass by the morning. You, however, will still be ugly.(Churchill)

Can you imagine it? Yet they are great quotes. Political correctness has ruined much in our world, but nothing so much as interesting political discourse.

The second reason is far worse. The level of discourse has deteriorated in society in general, and it is reflected in our politicians. Intelligent conversation is a dying art in North American society, not just in politics. If Stephen Harper referred to someone as madame in the current parliament, he wouldn’t just be accused of sexism, but of pomposity as well. And that is a real loss to those of us who like to follow a debate.

Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it. (Harper)


Mother’s Day

May 14th, 2006
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s who read At Home in Hesepeler. You guys deserve a great day, make sure you get it.

If you need a little peace and quiet, click on the picture left, print it out and give it to the ingrates to colour.


This Week on my i-pod – Punks: Old & New

May 14th, 2006
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I missed the punk movement in the late 70’s; well not really missed it. More I wasn’t impressed. In 1979, the punks were running around slagging the established acts. You had to play like crap, had to be about energy, not musicianship. As a young guitar player practicing Steve Howe and Jimmy page pieces to enhance my musicianship, I was unimpressed.

But that’s how it was. You liked Led Zeppelin, or you liked the Sex Pistols. You liked Yes, or the Clash. You didn’t do both! The Sex Pistols made their name bad mouthing Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend, so much so that Townshend went out one night to confront them, find out why they disliked him so much. The result is a couple of great songs, Who Are You and Rough Boys, from his Empty Glass album.

The punkers subsisted on a basic premise, you didn’t need talent. You didn’t need to be good. Three chords and attitude was all you need. It was a premise that had one fatal flaw: If you get on a stage with a guitar every night, you are going to, with a few exceptions, develop some skill on the guitar. The bottom line was some punks were bound to gain skill on their instruments; and some did.

The Clash were one of those bands. By the time they released their third album, London Calling in December 1979 they had developed quite a bit of skill, both as performers and as writers. The result was an album full of the punk attitude, full of punk sounds, but very skillfully done. The Clash where no musical slouches, and London Calling is the best album of the punk era, bar none. It may well be in the top ten albums of the rock and roll era, the only punk album I can think of that would even come close.

With a tinge of reggae running through the raw rock and roll, reggae that was very popular at the time in England, London Calling has a feel that no other album has. From it’s famous title track, through songs like Jimmy Jazz, Spanish Bombs and The Gins of Brixton, London Calling, a double album, is four sides of consistently good rock and roll, punk or not.

While punk never had the same clout again, it never really went away. Whenever I listen to London Calling I have the urge to put on Green Day’s American Idiot immediately after. It reminds me very much of London Calling, both in attitude and musicality of the players. It comes from the same sort of youthful disenchantment and has a raw energy that is uncommon, more so now than in 1979.

I became aware of Green Day about five years ago when they had a hit with the wonderful Time of Our Lives. However, the rest of that album Nimrod, is subpar to my ear, reminding me of The Spin Doctors having one really good song and a collection of not so much along with it. American Idiot is radically better.

Even though it’s a political album, it has a vibe that’s so rare. It is edgfy, controversial and solidly written and performed; what more can someone ask of a rock and Roll band?

So this week, was punk week, with punks two best albums playing in my ears: London Calling by the Clash and Green Day’s American Idiot.

Now, where does one go to get a green mohawk nowadays?

This Week on my I-Pod

Getting it Right

May 12th, 2006
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Here in the blogosphere, we bloggers like to take the occasional poke at the guys who get paid to do this job. It’s natural enough really, we sit and do for free what these guys get paid for, we want to knock them down a peg. Makes us feel a bit better about not getting paid for what we write.

But sometimes you just can’t ignore how good some of these guys are. Joe Warmington is one of the best, not in terms of reporter (although he’s good at that), not in terms of political leanings, but in terms of good writers. His story today on the funeral of Slain cop John Atkinson is offered proof. Joe can get to the heart of the matter in mere sentences, and he can use a single incident to convey the emotion in a situation:

It was a little girl wanting to have one more look at her dad.

As the pallbearers carried out the Canadian flag-draped casket carrying murdered cop John Atkinson, his children Mitchell, 9, and Nicole, 7, stood with their mom, Shelley — never taking their eyes off it as it was eased into the hearse.

They had tears in their eyes but comforted their mother as they moved toward a limousine. Clutching her teddy bear, young Nicole stepped around some of the honour guard to take one final look.

Eighty-Eight words. That’s all it takes for Warmington reach through the newsprint and get his point across in a heartfelt, and heart-tugging manner. And he does it regularly; talk about one of the best.

The only other writer around, that I know of, who can do this is Christie Blatchford at the Globe and Mail. Warmington and Blatchford, two of the very best in Canada, and I could be argued into removing the words two of.

P.S. – Further kudos to the Sun for some great pictures of yesterdays sad events in Windsor. Page two and three have Warmington, plus three pictures that say it all. There’s a lot of emotion on those two pages.


Eat’s, Shoots amd Leaves

May 12th, 2006
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Heard on the radio today:

The Toronto Maple Leafs have named their new head coach Paul Maurice.

Maybe they meant:

The Toronto Maple Leafs have named Paul Maurice their new head coach.

Else, what was his name before?


It’s just not on, old boy

May 11th, 2006
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Once again, production of a national icon is being outsourced to another country on the basis of affordability.

Yes, it’s true. HP, that messy brown sludge, so long an integral part of British mealtimes, is leaving Britain. Just months after taking over the company, U.S. owner Heinz has announced that the Birmingham factory will close and this bliss in a bottle will be produced in… in… Holland!

At least their MP’s are fighting the closing in effort to save the local jobs. Do you think Canuck MP’s could be bothered with such a thing?
**Note: Even as I’ve been writing this, the issue has been growing. Truckers, cafe’s, and more papers and politicos have been getting onto this. People are boycotting. Local businessmen are trying to buy the plant. People are rioting in the streets. (Okay, I made that one up-but it could happen). This just shows where the important topics lie.
Iraq – Afghanistan – oil prices? Pffft! This is real drama!


a Favoured Poet: A Favourite Poem

May 11th, 2006
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Arrow And The Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Longfellow 1807 – 1882


For the Led Zeppelin Fans

May 10th, 2006

A quick link, since Pearl Jam is in the middle of a couple of Toronto shows.

A little history. This was a benefit concert at the House of Blues in Chicago(hurricane relief, if I remember correctly) on October 5th, 2005. Both Plant and Pearl Jam did sets, then at the end of Pearl Jam’s set, out comes Mr. Plant.

This is the only known time Plant has sang this song, one of the true gems of the Led Zep catalogue, in concert.



The Best of intentions &tc., &tc

May 10th, 2006

I gave myself a mini-mandate to help promote every weeks Blogging Tories Site of the Week after recieveing a major boost inmy numbers by inclusion in the club. Then, I keep forgetting, missing weeks &tc. So, with apologies to Molarmauler at Weeping and Gnashing, last weeks site of the week (and one of my semi-regular visits), I will preceed stright to this weeks Bloggibg Tories Site of the Week.

Another Blogging Brian, one of those angry type Conservatives, a Toronto Tory and a fellow member of the Canadian Heroes Blogroll, Canadian Blue Lemons is funny and full of insights and information. I particularily liked his latest post Carolyn Bennett’s Desktop.