Wednesday, January 23, 2008

She's my Commander-in-Chief. So what?

According to this news item, a certain Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh, a Captain in Canada’s Armed Forces and professor at the Royal Military College at Kingston, has decided that “having to sing God Save the Queen, toasting the Queen as the head of state, and saluting the Union Jack were all duties he found “politically offensive” and in conflict with his views”.

Quite rightly, the Federal Court tossed out his case, and with it his specious argument that requiring Canadian soldiers to pledge allegiance to the Queen, their Commander-in-Chief, constituted “institutional harassment”.

Now this guy wasn’t forced to join Canada’s military. We don’t have conscription. He joined of his own volition in 1975! He has been taking the King’s penny (or more accurately, the Queen’s penny) for about 33 years now, and all of a sudden he develops principles? Give me a break.

If he truly was a man of principle, he would resign his commission immediately and retire to enjoy that tainted pension to which he is entitled (and which I don't anticipate he will refuse).

If he doesn’t resign, perhaps they need some more hazardous duty volunteers in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Vimy voyeur? Now we know .....

A few weeks ago I did a piece in which I talked about some of the weird queries that resulted in hits to my blog. One of those queries was “Vimy voyeur”, about which I made the following comment: “Having just been to Vimy, I can’t imagine two more unrelated words, so whatever those information seekers were expecting to find is beyond my imagination to contemplate. But we’ll never know.”

Well now we do know.

According to the
CBC, Vimy (and other war memorials) have become a favourite haunt of some sexual perverts (and I use the term not in reference to their sexual choices, but rather the totally inappropriate locations in which they choose to exercise them) who not only expose themselves (and more) but also photograph the results for later internet sharing.

To their credit, the French authorities take such desecrations quite seriously indeed, with one “middle-aged” (you think they’d know better) couple who were caught in the act, so to speak, facing a fine of up to $22,000 and a 1-year jail sentence. I hope they get the max.

And, as one would expect, last night’s coverage on The National has generated yet another flurry of queries and hits to my site as the sexual adolescents out there search for the pictures. Sick.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How not to solve the gun violence problem

Toronto has a gun violence problem and there is no shortage of pundits ready, willing and able to blather on about how their particular solution – everything from banning all guns Canada wide to requiring everyone to own and carry a hand gun – will solve the problem. Well here’s one idea that they can strike off the list.

In Los Angeles, this dude Big Weasel Marroquin, an ex-gang member, founded an anti-violence and gun crime group and was subsequently awarded a $1.5 million contract by the city for his efforts to help reduce gang violence. Well, those efforts came to the attention of the courts earlier this year when Big Weasel found himself in a bit of legal hot water for the manufacture, distribution and sale of assault weapons. It would appear that some of that 1.5 million may have gone into machine tools for the conversion of weapons to fully automatic machine guns.

So there will likely be a family reunion soon as Big Weasel joins his son (Little Weasel, of course), an acknowledged gang member and convicted criminal currently serving a 9-year sentence, in prison.

No word on what will happen to the bone-headed civil servant(s) who thought giving 1.5 million dollars to a bunch of street-level thugs was a good idea.

Friday, January 18, 2008

America needs change ...

I don’t really follow U.S. politics in any detail, but this time round it seems to be all about change. Every single one of the contenders of both parties either promises to bring change to America or asserts that they have been an agent of change in the past. Some do both.

Frankly it’s all a bit tiresome as any thinking person knows it’s all just political bullshit posturing.

Then along comes one of my favourite blogs with this post that just nails it!

Gary Lunn's hair?

I came across this story today about scientists developing a new material that is the closest yet to pure black, absorbing 99.9% of light waves.

Why didn’t they just get a sample of Gary Lunn’s hair? It’s black enough, and has been demonstrably absorbing 100% of the light of reason and common sense for some time now, preventing either from reaching his little Conservative brain.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's the point of being bilingual?

What’s the point of being bilingual if you’re going to act like this jerk?

A federal civil servant from Quebec runs a red light in Ottawa and gets pulled over by the cops – or more specifically, a cop. So far, nothing unusual there, happens all the time. The problem is that the officer only speaks English, and the civil servant, who is fluently bilingual, refuses to talk to him in English and insists on being addressed in French only. Because there are no bilingual officers just sitting around waiting for this bozo to make a fuss (they are otherwise occupied with important police business) it takes 40 minutes for a French-speaking officer to arrive on the scene. So what does numbnuts do next? He files a complaint with the Ottawa police force.

Okay folks, we’re talking about a traffic ticket here. It doesn’t take a Master’s degree in English to understand that you’re getting a ticket for running a red light. I also know that, although I am not fluently bilingual, I would have no difficulty understanding a unilingual French-speaking Quebec police officer should a similar situation ever occur to me in La Belle Province.

In a perfect world everyone in Canada would be bilingual (or better yet, multilingual), but that’s no more likely to happen in Ottawa than it is in Jonquiere. So the normal folks among us use our varying degrees of knowledge and understanding of each other’s language to communicate and get along. That’s what it’s all about, not tilting at windmills like some delusional Don Quixote just to get your picture in the paper.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Our government - pain-avoiding, or pleasure-seeking?

In an item on CBC Radio today about the US primaries and the ubiquitous “agent of change” that all candidates are trying to seize as their personal motto, there was a very interesting comment by one of the show’s guests. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist of his comment was that there are two great forces at play when humans consider making any change. One force (reason for change) was a pleasure-seeking force, while the second was a pain-avoidance force. He went on to say that, in his experience, liberals contemplated change as a means to enhance pleasure, whereas conservatives tended to view change primarily as a means to avoid pain.

There’s probably some hi-falutin’ psychological term for all this (and the requisite professor-authored $100 textbooks) but the general concept resonated with me, especially when one looks at the changes implemented by, or contemplated by, various Canadian governments over the years. Clearly there are going to be exceptions, but I think, generally, the premise is reasonably accurate and offers another interesting lens through which one can view the machinations on the Hill.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lost - the art of conversation

We seem to have descended into a world of 3-second sound bites. Gone are the days of long, often spirited discussions about all the most interesting topics – sex, sports, religion, politics – only to be replaced with the dismissive put-down. The anonymity of the blogosphere encourages such rude and infantile behaviour, but it’s now even happening in the “real” world.

It used to be that opposing hockey team supporters could have a conversation that started something like this:

SENATORS FAN: I bet you $10 the Sens beat the Leafs tonight.
LEAFS FAN: Are you kidding? Once Tucker gets under Alphie’s skin it’s game over.
But now it's:

LEAFS FAN: You‘re a moron.
Where’s the fun in that? Everyone’s pissed off in about 3 seconds and sulking in their respective corners.

There was also a time when people could have, and express, opposing political views without being subject to personal abuse. For example:

LIBERAL: As a liberal, I have to grudgingly admit that Harper has done some good things in power.
CONSERVATIVE: Wait ‘til you see what he does with a majority!
Has now become:

LIBERAL: As a Liberal...
CONSERVATIVE: You’re a moron.
If the weather wasn’t Canadians’ number one topic of conversation before, it is now as there is no safe place to take a conversation anymore without being personally attacked. And it’s not just between casual acquaintances this conversation-abbreviatus is occurring; it has even crept into the bedrooms of the nation:

HIM: Honey, you still awake?
HER: No. Go to sleep.
I tell you, I don’t like where this is going.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What a weird world we occupy here in the blogosphere.

I’ve been at this for about a year now, and have just reached a milestone of sorts with my 100th post – modest by any measure – and I thought it was time to take a look at who was actually paying attention to the random, frequently opinionated nonsense I occasionally send out into the ether. As one would expect, the bulk of the traffic comes from aggregators and affiliate sites, but about 20% or so of the site hits are a result of an internet search.

Those query hits are pretty interesting, and say a lot about the space we occupy – although what, I have no idea. Here, see if you can figure it out ....

The number 1 search that lands readers on my site is Hannah Montana. Back in October, I wrote an entry entitled Who the Hell is Hannah Montana. Since then 24% of all query hits on my site are about Hannah Montana, including two separate queries, a month apart, on “hannah montana’s armpits”. Now you have to imagine the conversation that led up to this query:

BUBBA: Hey, Billy-Bob, do y’all think that there Hannah Montana shaves her pits?
BILLY-BOB: Bubba, she ain’t more than a teeny-bopper. She don’t have no hairy pits.
BUBBA: Whal, I done seen her on that empty-V and she looks old enuf fer me. Betcha a beer and this here ‘coon skin she does too. That Google-thang’ll prove it!
It boggles the mind. And to think this conversation or a variant thereof happened twice!

Also in October I did a piece called
It’s a Voyeurs World, decrying the lack of privacy in this brave new online world. Well as one could expect, “voyeur” is a frequently used search term and resulted in 15% of all query hits to the site. I wasn’t too surprised to see “granny voyeur”, “neighbour voyeur”, “Canadian voyeur” and others as queries, but I wasn’t ready for “Vimy voyeur” and “voyeurisme Vimy”. Having just been to Vimy, I can’t imagine two more unrelated words so whatever those information seekers were expecting to find is beyond my imagination to contemplate. But we’ll never know.

Number 3 on the query list was power tool drag racing. I thought this was a joke when I posted this entry back in July, but I obviously tapped into a huge cult following of power tool drag racers, power tool drag racer wannabe’s, and groupies, with 12% of the query hits looking for information on this burgeoning sport. Who knew?

Federal politics, the subject of probably 50% of my entries, garnered less than 5% of the query hits proving once again that, outside of Ottawa and a few hard-core political junkies, no one gives a shit what happens on the Hill. Perhaps that’s the real message in all of this.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Must have been a slow news day at CBC Ottawa

This is one of those stories that just gets my dander up.

Today, CBC Ottawa carried a story about an 88-year-old man who had leased a car from a local dealership some 18 months ago. Subsequently he has become legally blind and unable to drive so, with about 18 months remaining on the lease, he and his supporters (consisting of friends and the CBC, it seems) want the dealership to take back the car, in essence tearing up a binding, legal agreement. According to a friend of the family, “I really think the company should take the car back.” And then, to put a little extra pressure on, the CBC reporter names the dealership in an apparent attempt to embarrass them into cancelling the contract.

Now hold on just a minute. I’m not a huge fan of car dealerships, having had my fair share of abusive relationships with them over the years, but in this case, I’m on the dealer’s side. They have no responsibility here other than to live up to their side of the agreement, which by all accounts they have. They had no way to foresee, nor were they in any way complicit in their customer’s deteriorating health. They have offered the customer a number of options in accordance with the agreement. They have done their duty, full stop. Now it’s up to the customer to decide how he wants to proceed. End of story.

Why the CBC felt this was even newsworthy is beyond me, but when I see or hear this kind of rubbish being tarted up and trotted out as news, I get pissed. First of all, why is the car dealership being publicly maligned? They did nothing illegal or inappropriate, yet they are being made to seem like the bad guys here. And secondly, where is the sense of individual responsibility? This gentleman entered into a legal agreement of his own accord. Now, some months later, for reasons beyond his control, it is no longer a good deal for him personally. That’s unfortunate, but that doesn’t make it the other party’s problem to resolve. That’s life.

This “story” should never have made the airwaves.