Thursday, January 27, 2011

A tale of two headlines

National Newswatch listed these two headlines today.

Yes No Maybe

So, curious to find out just what was said, I clicked.

The first headline is from the Toronto Sun, and the second from the National Post. Both media outlets were reporting on the exact same meeting with reporters, and used many of the same quotes from Ignatieff in the body of their articles.

It’s all about spin folks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sadly, the illiterati are winning

One can but despair at the degree of illiteracy displayed by many who frequent the intertubes, especially among those who make it a habit of commenting on various news sites. Perhaps it’s because most of them are up at 3 AM, or have absolutely nothing better to do with their lives than post nasty and/or inane messages (usually anonymously) in response to various news items, or they’re 6 years old.

But c’mon people, would it hurt to actually read before pounding the keyboard and firing off a comment?

Here’s a prime example.

The Winnipeg Free Press posted an article today about Canada Post hiring a new chief executive with an interesting name. The first two sentences of the article were:

Deepak Chopra, an experienced executive who has overseen mail delivery services around the world, is taking over the reins at government-owned Canada Post Corp..

Chopra, not to be confused with the Indian-American self-help guru of the same name, lives in Toronto and was formerly the president and CEO of the Canadian and Latin American regions of Pitney Bowes, a global mailing and communications firm. (emphasis mine)

Seems pretty straightforward. The guy shares a name with a more famous personage. Not hard to understand at all. Or at least I wouldn’t have thought so.

But to prove me wrong, the very first three comments on this article were:

Comment 1: “Is there more than one person with that name?” Thank you Tammy4 for asking a totally idiotic question. I expect there may even be more than one Tammy out there….. Oh yeah, Tammy Faye Baker. She wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box either.

Comment 2: “Deepak Chopra??? The new age alternative medicine guy??” Yes, Mark9, the same. That’s why the SECOND SENTENCE in the article points out the fact that he’s NOT that guy. But you know how those new agers are, it’s all a plot to take over the world, post office by post office.

Comment 3: Then philE wades in with “I'm sorry but does anyone find a spiritual guru being hired as Canada Posts CEO at all funny?  I however highly doubt its the same deepak…”. Earth to philE, Hello! Your tinfoil hat is too tight. Loosen it and reread the second paragraph again. Got it now? I’m still not laughing.

These people walk among us folks… And they vote!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Who made Don Cherry Mourner-in-Chief?

I intend no disrespect to Officer Ryan Russell. His death was one of those senseless killings that happen all too often in our communities. And any untimely death, whether a police officer or the corner grocer, deserves to be recognised in an appropriate and solemn manner.

But Hockey Night in Canada is neither the time nor the place.DonCherry

In a fitting tribute to a hockey lover, Don Cherry paid homage to fallen Toronto Police officer Ryan Russell on Coach's corner Saturday night.
In a style only the Canadian hockey icon could get away with, his voice immediately cracking with emotion, Grapes described how a "whacko" ran down Sgt. Russell in a stolen snowplow early Wednesday

Don Cherry’s Chief Mourner shtick has become as tedious and banal as Coach’s Corner was before he started waving the flag. And every time I hear of him “choking up” I am reminded of the old pro bible salesman telling the young trainee, “100% of this job is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

I am a big fan of the CBC, but if cutting federal funding means that this old fool would lose his national soapbox, I’d be all for it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fox news of a different sort

From Reuters:

A wounded fox shot its would be killer in Belarus by pulling the trigger on the hunter's gun as the pair scuffled after the man tried to finish the animal off with the butt of the rifle, media said Thursday.

The unnamed hunter, who had approached the fox after wounding it from a distance, was in hospital with a leg wound, while the fox made its escape, media said, citing prosecutors from the Grodno region.

"The animal fiercely resisted and in the struggle accidentally pulled the trigger with its paw," one prosecutor was quoted as saying.

Fox-hunting is popular in the picturesque farming region of northwestern Belarus which borders Poland.

Here’s hoping the fox survived.

At what point to we stop rewriting the past to avoid offending the sensibilities of the present?

I have been very fortunate. As a middle-aged, heterosexual, mostly normal, white male I have never felt the sting of real prejudice or racism. To some that would immediately disqualify me from commenting on this topic, but it is an important subject that affects us all in some way.

History abounds with books and stories, and more recently audios and videos, that by today’s standards of tolerance, common decency, and it must be said political correctness, are considered to be unacceptable. But where do we draw the line? Does every group that is offended by something  they’ve heard or read have the right to not be exposed under any circumstances to the offending material? Or more extremely, have it expunged completely from our collective history?

The N-word in Huckleberry Finn and the F-word in the lyrics of Money For Nothing are but two high-profile examples in the press this week. But the list is endless. Do sex workers who legitimately object  to the word “whore” have the right to have a significant percentage of rap music removed from the airwaves so they don’t have to hear that pejorative term? And how about the N-word in music; does that not count? Wartime movies often referred to the enemy in disparaging and some would say hurtful tones; do we now sanitize those? And after 9/11 should the movie studios have gone back and erased those twin towers from recent releases to avoid the possibility of some of us being emotionally hurt?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that we are all a product of our history - the good, the bad, and the indifferent – and when we go back and rewrite that history with a 21st century pen we are changing the collective experience of our species and our societies.

And I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Separated at birth?

I know I’m coming late to the party, but I’ve just stared watching Mad Men, that TV series about a fictional Madison Avenue ad agency back in the 60’s. And I have to say I’m loving it. Not only is it a great series, but it also shines a light on what life was like in those days, with all the sexism, racism, and politically incorrect behaviour that we sometimes think we have outgrown, but which periodically surface even today. The characters are the usual damaged people that make these shows interesting, and the writing and acting are both very good.

Except for one thing.

I cannot look at Pete Campbell, that smarmy, arrogant, self-aggrandizing little rich kid,

Pete Campbell

without seeing this:


It really takes the shine off.

Meow once for guilty.

CatFrom Boston comes more evidence that Tony “The Slasher” Clement was right to kill the census.  Sal Esposito, a cat in Boston that was apparently named as a pet on a recent US census, has been called to jury duty.

Despite the fact that the prospective juror doesn’t speak English, and is not between the ages of 18 and 70, court officials continue to insist that he must show up for jury duty.

The owners claim that if this matter is not settled by March 23, Sal’s service date at Suffolk Superior Court, they’ll bring him to the courthouse, presumably along with his litter box, some squeaky toys, and headgear that would raise concerns about his mental competence.

Just another example of the danger to society caused by those hated census forms.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kanata: It hasn’t been paradise for a long time.

imageIn 1960 the former City of Kanata was nothing more than forest and farm lands just outside the Ottawa Greenbelt. Then developer Bill Teron acquired about 12 square kilometres of land and started building his “model community”.

Skip forward 50 years to find that by now over 130 square kilometres of woodlands and farms have been developed, providing homes for about 90,000 people. The separation between Kanata and Stittsville has been all but erased as both communities grew and the boundary lines became blurred, and the town of Carp is next to be subsumed. And the development continues unabated, providing more roads, housing complexes, office buildings, and shopping centres, all designed to attract even more residents and businesses to the area.

Now there’s a big fight underway over one particular tract of land that developers have owned for decades, and are now starting to develop. And the outcry from the local burghers as what has until now been essentially a free park (bought and paid for by developers) is about to go under the dozer just like the previous 130 square kilometers is deafening.

All those people who are themselves now living on once was productive farmland and pristine forests apparently see no irony in their political action to stop this development. “Where will we walk our dogs?”, they cry.  “Where will we cross country ski?” they bleat. And spare me the oh-so-righteous indignation that drips from their calls for the developer to “do the right thing” and give the property to the city so the locals will still have a place to “experience nature” without, presumably, having to get in their SUVs and drive down the road a piece.

Clearly there need to be controls on urban growth and, I suppose, in the case of Kanata it’s better late than never. But for all those beneficiaries of past developments to decry this initiative strikes me as nothing more than the height of hypocrisy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Quote of the Day–Peter Kent

Peter KentThis morning on CTV’s Question Period, Craig Oliver was doing his usual pat-a-cake routine with Conservative ministers, talking to Peter Kent about his new job, and specifically his role (along with Julian Fantino) to capture more Con votes in the GTA in the next election they don’t want.

Kent responded with the usually Con rote pieces, making sure that there was at least one shot at the Liberals and a reference to the dreaded “opposition coalition”. (Bonus points for that Peter.)

But it was this comment, made in the context of a “political reawakening” in Toronto, as evidenced by Rob Ford’s election, that caught my attention. Kent was discussing how he meets with man-in-the-street Torontonians on a frequent basis and this is what they are telling him: “they are interested in getting more service for greater encroachment on their hard earned dollars, and that's exactly what we intend to deliver.” (emphasis mine)

I’m sure that didn’t come out quite right. Expect a retraction soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I’m with the kids on this one

The Windsor Star reports that a group of female students from a local Catholic high school were subjected to a 1 day suspension for cheering on their hockey team by wearing tops made of coloured duct tape.Go Lasers

It seems that this had become a tradition (the duct tape outfits, not the suspensions) during the school’s annual Father Zakoor Catholic Cup hockey game.

Mike Seguin, assistant superintendent of education with the Catholic school board, said the practice was never a board sanctioned tradition. He added it was banned this year after school officials got worried the outfits were getting increasingly “immodest.”

Apparently the girls asked permission to wear the outfits at the game and were told by the school authorities not to. They wore the outfits anyway and were therefore subject to disciplinary action.

Seguin said the girls were not suspended because their outfits were too skimpy. They were suspended for disobeying the rules, he said.

To the girls I say bravo. You were simply showing some school spirit, and did nothing that could in any way be deemed offensive. Take your lumps but be proud that you shone a bright light on one more piece of petty bureaucratic idiocy. We would do well in this country (and especially in this province) if more people followed your lead.

And to Mr. Seguin I say, get a life, lighten up, and watch more Red Green.