hitler christmas dinner
Christmas sucks

Stolen from Ken Levine.


Dion Ignatieff
Maybe Ignatieff isn't as bad as I thought

Based on his interview on The Hour, with George Stroumboulopolous, I think it can be said that the Iggster has, somehow, somewhere, developed an actual personality! (Alongside his default personality of 'condescending snob', of course.)

Plus, he deals with the question of his early support for the invasion of Iraq, amongst other topics, with enough grace and 'class' that my opinion of Iggy has rocketed from a 2 up to a 7.

Ah, the wonders of media exposure.

Still, early days. It is entirely possible i could regain my old dislike and distrust of Iggy, depending on his actions over the next month.


shoe thwown at bus

A low-tech rendering of Bush's latest adventure


Leadership skills counselling
Leadership skills counselling
from GABLE.


Rick Mercer- calling them the way he sees them

From last Friday's Globe and Mail:
Here we are faced with a global economic crisis. Nations all over the world are struggling to figure out how to protect their citizens — who are terrified. We've seen unheard of cooperation between political rivals all over the industrialized world.

But not in Canada. Not with Stephen Harper. Not on his watch. No my friends, he has one goal and one goal only and it has nothing to do with governing: how can he use this crisis to destroy the opposition?

And wouldn't you know, he almost did it.

Stephen Harper decided Canada doesn't need a stimulus package; all we needed to do was cancel the subsidy that political parties get.

Which would have saved the government about $26-million. That's about the same amount Harper spends on bodyguards every year when he visits danger zones like Thunder Bay or Nunavut.

But the real upside for Harper, of course, is that the entire opposition would have been crippled or destroyed. It gives me great faith to know that as our economy crumbles Harper is on the case trying to come up with new an innovative ways to cutback the Green Party's office budget and bankrupt the Liberals. And then the world will be a better place.

Maybe he has a point. Maybe that's why Canada keeps refusing to give the man a majority. It's not because he's a mean little man obsessed with revenge, but because we just have too many choices. We go to the voting booth and get confused. Like that first trip to Baskin Robbins.

Maybe we'd all just be better off if Conservative was the only flavour on the menu.


crying harper

The Conservatives baked their bread now they can eat it

Snap! For aeons, the Liberals and the NDP have been in an adversarial relationship, fighting for the support of left-leaning voters (who are, in fact, the majority of Canadian voters). Because of this split, the (relatively) newly formed Conservative Party has been able to form 2 consecutive minority governments.

It was a miserable set up, and I had despaired that the Liberals and the NDP would ever be provoked enough to patch up their differences enough that they could form a coalition government. It would take some serious asshole manouvers on the part of the Conservatives for this to happen.

Luckily for us, Stephen Harper is just such an asshole. For the past few weeks, the talk has been all about Harper's new-found maturity and consensus-seeking in the face of Canada's bleak financial prospects.


As Jeffery Simpson wrote in Saturday's Globe and Mail:

The miscalculations have been stunning. Mr. Harper's strategy has accomplished already the near-impossible: to bring the Liberals and NDP together.

He had so many other, less partisan options at a time of economic crisis and grave national concern. That he acted in this fashion, at this time, was enormously revealing. And very sad.



the American empire gets a new set of temporary managers

(This post's title was lifted from Chris Floyd's most recent posting, "WIBDI: A Prism for the New Paradigm".)

Anyone who thinks that Barrack Obama is going to be less of an imperialist punk than John McCain (or for that matter George W. Bush) is seriously deluding themselves.

From Dennis Perrin:

I know all of the arguments and apologia. I see the cultural angle. I recognize the historical element. Still, none of this has swayed me to vote for or otherwise support Obama... I've actually read his proposals, listened to his statements, and separated all that from the soaring rhetoric that sends white libs to the ground, trembling with the holy spirit. Obama promises to be a competent manager of empire, expanding the Terror Wars abroad while fortifying the police state at home. He wants to give tax breaks to those making under $250K? Super. That seems a fair trade-off with shredding more constitutional protections while killing and starving more poor people overseas. Recall his supposed "surrender" on FISA? That was when his presidency was anything but certain, and he sided with the privatized state. What do you think he'll "surrender" next, once he's ensconced in the Oval Office?


Tuesday links

Test your eyeballing skillz. I got 7.28 (deep in the wrong side of the bell curve).

Economist blogger's Toronto tips for visiting business people. Choice quote:
Understatement and a low-key demeanour are looked upon with favour. You should avoid boasting about past achievements or hyping up a product.

Stretchware- A software application that runs in the background, periodically reminding you to do stop what you are doing and stretch. Suggests which sort of stretch to do. 30 day free trial.

Maps of the most famous trips in history.

A history of the development of the Google logo.


driving with a cellphone
Ontario to ban cellphone usage while driving

From yesterday's Globe and Mail:

Transport Canada's 2008 report on driver and phone use rates states that 37 per cent of drivers reported using a cellphone while driving and those people had “the most commonly seen unsafe driving behaviours,” such as tailgating or speeding.

Also, the Ontario Medical Association has concluded that driving and talking on a cellphone creates the same risk for the driver as being at the legal limit for alcohol consumption. OMA research, conducted in September, found that talking on cellphones impaired drivers' visual concentration, the speed at which they process information and their reaction time. Some drivers also abandoned checking their mirrors entirely while on the phone.

If one needed proof that banning cellphones is a good idea, one need look no further than Alberta (AKA the Texas of Canada):

Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are also considering a ban, but in Alberta, Premier Ed Stelmach spoke out against a private member's bill introduced in the legislature to ban drivers from using cellphones.


Pooping on Chirchill
Bad luck for the Conservatives?

I was crossing Nathan Phillips Square during lunch today when I caught sight of this: a sea gull had seemingly just deposited a fresh poop on grumbly old Winston Churchill's head!

Let's hope it is a portent of the Conservatives' fate in today's federal election. But, then again, having a bird poop on you is supposed to be good luck, so I don't know what to think.

Was this a sign just for me? And if so, does the "call-back" joke to the puffin incident really exist, or is it just in my mind? Troubling thoughts...


List of battle ground ridings to watch

From the Globe and Mail:

Difference from 2006 election
LIBERAL 31% -8
NDP 10% +5
GREEN 24% +5

The 20 in Ontario are:

Parry Sound-Muskoka, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, St. Catharines, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Brant, Thunder Bay-Superior North, Oakville, Thunder Bay-Rainy River, Huron-Bruce, London-Fanshaw, Ottawa-Orléans, Simcoe North, London West, Barrie, Kitchener- Conestoga, Halton, Peterborough, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, Burlington, Mississauga South.

Difference from 2006 election
LIBERAL 20% -3
NDP 13% +5
GREEN 6% +2

The 15 in Quebec are:

Louis-Hébert, Ahuntsic, Beauport-Limoilou, Brossard-La Prairie, Papineau, Charlesbourg-Haut-Saint-Charles, Hull-Aylmer, Honoré-Mercier, Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, Pontiac, Jeanne-Le Ber, Laval-Les Îles, Gatineau, Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, Brome-Missisquoi.

Difference from 2006 election
LIBERAL 30% -3
NDP 24% -3
GREEN 14% +9

The 10 in British Columbia are:

Vancouver Quadra, Vancouver Island North, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Fleetwood-Port Kells, Newton-North Delta, Burnaby-Douglas, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Richmond,

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, North Vancouver.



Davenport all-candidates meeting

Last night, a final all-candidates meeting was held for Davenport, the riding I live in. 5 of 7 candidates showed up, but, disappointingly, the two communists (M-L and CPC) were the no-shows.

I was counting on the communists to provide some entertainment ever since Roy MacGregor recounted in last Saturday's Globe and Mail how the Commmunist candidate at an all-candidates`meeting he attended in Kitchener was the entertainment highlight.

Luckily, enough other kooks were here to keep things lively.

This is my superficial impression of the candidates, listed in the order that they were introduced:

Peter Ferreira (NDP)– seems an agreeable enough fellow, reminds me strongly of my dentist, who is also quite likeable. Fun fact: Peter received over 40% of the vote in the last provincial election, and still lost.

Wendy Forrest (Ind) – one of the aforementioned kooks, Wendy is a real-estate agent and economic conspiracy theorist. Fun fact: running in the 2006 federal election for the Canadian Action Party, Wendy marshalled a total of 122 votes.

Wayne Scott (Green) – A 40-something or perhaps even 50-something (who can tell with these health freaks?) skinhead, Wayne Scott has been a bike courier for 25 years. Fun fact: Wayne has never owned a car, nor ridden in an aeroplane.

Theresa Rodrigues (CPC) – an unrepentant old skool Conservative with a strong Azorean accent. Fun fact: in the course of the questions segment of the meeting, Theresa was the only candidate to state opposition to the concept of "affordable housing".

Mario Silva (Lib) – the man with a plan. Well spoken, youthful. Kind of reminds me of Dimitar Berbatov, but shorter. Fun fact: Mario is a tiny person, maybe 5 foot 4 inches tall, and that is stretching it.

Simon Luisi (Animal Alliance) – not as entertaining a kook as the real-estate lady, Simon was nervous (or maybe the word is intense). He reminds me of David Byrne, circa Stop Making Sense, in both his persona and his dressing style.

My impressions on the question period segment later.

Peace out!


Jack Layton's Debate Zingers

By all accounts (ie. according to the Dipper Chick), J-Lay was the big winner, zinger-wise, in last Thursday's english-language leadership debate.

To Harper:
"Either you don't care or you're incompetent. Which one is it?"
"Where's your platform, under the sweater?"

To Dion:
"If you can't do your job as leader of the opposition, I don't know what you are doing running for Prime Minister"

The Dipper Chick's posting also has an embedded video clip showing (I assume) some hot Layton on Dion action. Unfortunately you will have to visit her page to see it because the firewall I spend my days behind (now that I am once again "employed") blocks all external video.

I can't verify it, so I won't embed it. This is just another example of how P. in the T. does it.


Tuesday Morning Links

Plug in a mic and join the Karaoke Party!

Recruiting site for the Dharma Initiative

Gallery of images from the Hubble telescope

Urban Dead- A Massively Multi-Player Web-Based Zombie Apocalypse, free.


Foreign Affairs Mag parody
Foreign Affairs parody- I ran across it at boing boing.

The Canada joke is very weak, but otherwise this is a funny parody IMHO.

Jump! You Fuckers!, courtesy of Lenin's Tomb.


Choice Harper Quotes

Mason and Nicholas over at Life Without borders have brought to my attention a list (originally compiled by In Their Own Words) of choice Harper quotes from over the years.

The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things.

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

For taxpayers, however, it’s a rip-off. And it has nothing to do with gender. Both men and women taxpayers will pay additional money to both men and women in the civil service. That’s why the federal government should scrap its ridiculous pay equity law.

- Stephen Harper on pay equity, NCC Overview, Fall 1998.

Then there is the Progressive Conservative party, the PC party, which won only 20 seats. Now, the term Progressive Conservative will immediately raise suspicions in all of your minds. It should... They were in favour of gay rights officially, officially for abortion on demand. Officially -- what else can I say about them? Officially for the entrenchment of our universal, collectivized, health-care system and multicultural policies in the constitution of the country

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan... Collect our own revenue from personal income tax... Resume provincial responsibility for health-care policy. If Ottawa objects to provincial policy, fight in the courts... [E]ach province should raise its own revenue for health... It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta...

- Stephen Harper in an "Open letter to Ralph Klein," January 24th 2001.

The NDP could be described as basically a party of liberal Democrats, but it's actually worse than that, I have to say. And forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

It was probably not an appropriate term, but we support the war effort and believe we should be supporting our troops and our allies and be there with them doing everything necessary to win.

- Stephen Harper supporting the US-lead war on Iraq, Montreal Gazette, April 2nd 2003. Harper also called then-Defence Minister John McCallum an "idiot."

If you've read any of the official propagandas, you've come over the border and entered a bilingual country. In this particular city, Montreal, you may well get that impression. But this city is extremely atypical of this country... So it's basically an English-speaking country, just as English-speaking as, I would guess, the northern part of the United States.

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

It will come as no surprise to anybody to know that I support the traditional definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, as expressed in our traditional common law.

- Stephen Harper, Hansard, Address in the House of Commons on Bill C-38, February 16, 2005.

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

A culture of defeat...

- Stephen Harper, describing the Atlantic provinces, May 2001.

[Y]our country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.


Cowboy Elizabeth May
What is the point of the Green Party anyway?

The NDP and Liberals have prioritised green issues within their own policy platforms already, so I fail to see what a Green Party brings to a national election, aside from syphoning off votes from the NDP and Liberals.

What is it that these twisted freaks want? A Harper majority? The mind boggles. The NDP might suck in certain ways, but I think they do a good job of representing environmental concerns.

Rather that ranting on incoherently, I will quote from a posting by Dipper Chick, titled "Elizabeth May is no martyr":

Worse than just a single-issue party, the Green Party is nothing more than a brand name. Kind of like Nike. You want to believe that if you buy brand name running shoes that you will be more fit and look cooler, and that some how they are better than other shoes. But rip off the swoosh and you have an inferior product made by a company with questionable ethics. Branding the Green Party as 'fresh' and 'new' while it is identified, through its name, as an advocate for one of the most topical issues of our time is a marketing ploy. The Liberals have been using their brand name to trick progressive Canadians out of their votes for decades. This tactic is neither 'fresh' nor 'new.'
David Suzuki was quoted today saying:

“I can't wait until there is no Green Party,” Dr. Suzuki was quoted as telling the Toronto Star.

“As long as there's a Green party, the implication is that the Greens somehow have a stranglehold on this issue; they're the ones that worry about the environment so the other parties can worry about other things. I don't think it's a ghetto subject.”

If the Green Party should be allowed into the Leadership Debates because an independent MP joined the Greens, I guess we should all be thankful he didn't decide to join the Christian Heritage Party, the Communist Party of Canada (CPC!), or the Work Less Party.

Although, upon reflection, any of these would be more interesting than the Green Party in a debate.

Plus, are we going to be treated to the spectacle of Elizabeth May insisting on being included in french language debates? Ed Broadbent's french was bad enough, so I guess Elizabeth's attempts would at least provide some entertainment to our frenchie brothers and sisters.


Slagging David Beckham

In the past, I have slagged David Beckham. I called him a 'useless tit', and worse, maybe. Since that horrible experience that was the World Cup 2006, however, I couldn't help but notice repeated quotes in the press from non-suckups that David Beckham is, in fact, one of the nicest people you could ever engage in conversation.

I noted these comments, but never really thought about it until last night's England vs. Croatia game.

Beckham didn't come on until late, and when he did he replaced Theo Walcott.

Theo Walcott had scored 3 goals in the 4-1 eventual win over Croatia. A young hat-trick wizard had put England on top for the first time since I gained high-speed internet!

Take a good look at that photo of him congratulating Walcott as Walcott exits the pitch. Real joy in Walcott's achievement.

It seems David Beckham is a guy with some class, not the preening, poncing prat that I had imagined him.

There was an article about this in the Guardian last night entitled Beckham bows to the wonder of Walcott.

Afterthought: Still, one must take into consideration his sarong phase...


polar bear and husky

Polar Bear 0, Husky 1

Here is photographic evidence of a polar bear, supposed the most implacable land-based carnivore in existence, playing with a tethered Husky.

Is it photoshopped? Because I can't accept that the behaviour of the bear is possible. Unless this particular bear was raised in the company of dogs, then released into the wild when he or she got too unruly?

Accepted wisdom on "the street", at least around here, is that bears *hate* dogs and that walking in the bush with a bunch of yapping pooches will provoke, rather than disperse, any bears around.

I guess I will have to wait for the Globe and Mail (or the City of Toronto) to publish an article instructing me how to behave when bears go bad.

From the text at the bottom of the posting:

The photographer was sure that he was going to see the end of his huskies when the polar bear materialized out of the blue, as it were: But something else happened. The Polar Bear returned every night that week to play with the dogs...


Davidoff: Adventure®

Whilst passing through the Sears fragrance department this morning, I couldn't help but notice that the spokesmodel for the latest, heavily advertised new fragrance (Davidoff: Adventure®) looked familiar.

It took me a few seconds to identify this latest manifestation of the decline and fall of western civilisation: it was Ewan MacGregor, the actor who burst into the public eye with his preformance as a junkie in the indie favourite Trainspotting, then immediately commenced his street-cred downward spiral by acting in no less than 3 Star Wars movies.

In the advert he is staring searchingly into the lens, half-reclining on a desolate hillside somewhere, perhaps Afghanistan.

What is with the scarf, though? That doesn't look adventurous. In fact, it doesn't look practical at all!

Ewan's opening monologue from Trainspotting:

Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing sprit-crushing ga me shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing you last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.

But who would want to do a thing like that?

A quote off Davidoff's website of Ewan describing Adventure®:

I think it is important to go out and discover what an extraordinary world we have, and the people who live in it, and to broaden our minds instead of to narrow them… The thing about a real journey is that you have to lose control of it. You can't control an adventure. You have to give yourself in to accepting whatever experience is round the corner. And you never have any idea what that might be.

My guess is that someone at Davidoff saw one or more episodes of Ewan's crappy around-the-world-by-motorcycle series, and thought Ewan would make a perfect spokesmodel for a fragrance called Adventure™. (The presence of a motorcycle in the background is a dead give-away.)

I understand Davidoff's reasoning for hiring Ewan. What I don't understand is what Ewan was thinking when he agreed to the contract.

Still EM also appeared in that piece of shit the Pillow Book, so maybe he makes poor decisions. And again, we must come back to the Star Wars films...

In retrospect, perhaps Ewan sucks as an actor, Trainspotting aside, and he has realized this and gone the Mariah Carey merchandising route...


I have accepted the challenge of the Omnivore's 100

I am not even sure what the point of this is supposed to be. Mostly I posted this because things have been *very* slow so far here at my new, unionised job.

The rules for the Omnivore's 100 are

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating

So here I go!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea (sounds like something one might drink to induce vomiting)
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare (the current Listeria scare has turned me off the possibility of ever trying this)
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp (makes me think of a bony, scaley bottom-feeder)
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (I believe this means "peanut butter and jam")
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes (I don't think there are such things in Canada)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Cheese fondue
8. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (is this a joke? One of the hottest peppers in existence, average 50 times hotter than a jalapeno)
27. Dulce de leche (Diabetes warning!)
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (love clam chowder, hate sourdough)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (clotted cream is illegal in Canada)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (unless I was trapped in a Road Warrior-type future, in which case I would eat *anything* on this list)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (takes the fear of choking on a bone to the next level)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (inching closer to type 2 Diabetes)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin ("industrial mineral used primarily as an inert filler"?)
64. Currywurst (not sure if this exists in North America)
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (standard menu item at the Stratford Chefs' School)
73. Louche absinthe (the night after purchasing a bottle of this, I dumped the remainder of the bottle down the drain. Not a good tipple for someone with an Oral Fixation.)
75. Roadkill (aren't most wildlife disease-ridden?)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (I remember Alex P. Keaton making fun of this in Family Ties)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (Does Madeline's count?)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers (if we count zucchini flowers)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake


bush and volleyballers

I had forgotten how much the Olympics suck!

But now, it is all coming back to me.

Even though I don't watch TV any more (instead I libernate it from the intertubes), I am still confounded by impossible-to-avoid Olympic coverage in newspapers, elevator TV, radio bits, etc.

As Adam Radwanski points out in his Globe & Mail blog

I'll admit to being profoundly irritated by the Olympics - all Olympics - to begin with. It's never been clear to me why our sense of national worth should be affected one way or another by our performance in a bunch of sports that we wouldn't remotely care about if they hadn't all been lumped together in one big event. But if you want to make the usual comparison to Australia, as Campbell also did, then fair enough. I find the Aussies' Olympic fixation weird and tedious, but theirs is a comparable democracy that promotes athletics in a reasonably healthy way.

I always thought that the best thing about Canada was that we, collectively, feel no need to wave the flag. Typically, it is Christine 'Man Meat' Blatchford that is leading the Waving the Flag people in Peking.

Christine 'Crusty' Blatchford
(as defunct mag Private Eye used to call her) definitely needs some calming down. I suspect she has been allowed to hang out in mens' dressing rooms again, and with the wealth of skin on display in the Olympic Village (unlike Base Kandahar) the possibility of someone taking a hit for the team is very small.

I must admit one Olympic-related vice. The last time I watched random Olympic coverage (and this was only sporadic since CTV had the cunning idea of showing the first season of The Sopranos at 22h00 every night against the CBC coverage) I found myself fascinated by the Womens' Distance Walking competition.

It was a relevation how sexy watching Womens' Distance Walking was, when viewed from the right perspective. Ie. from a vehicle 10m behind the main group.

Beach Volleyball has nothing compared to Ladies' Distance Walking, IMHO.


preening, perma-tanned, posturing, petulant prick Christiano Ronaldo

An apt description of Christiano Ronaldo?

From Guardian article titled "Rooney yet to ignite as United pay for lack of Ronaldo's derring-do":

(My bolding)

Cristiano Ronaldo could be located at Old Trafford yesterday sitting apart from the other injured players, with his baseball cap the wrong way around and unaware or unconcerned that one of the fanzines being sold on Sir Matt Busby Way described him as a "preening, perma-tanned, posturing, petulant prick".

Kudos to the anonymous fanzine writer, and to Daniel Taylor for bringing this description to my attention. I always enjoy alliteration, but especially so when it is applied in such a pithy fashion.


russian convoy
Give me one good reason why Russia SHOULDN'T conquer Georgia

I mean seriously, one good reason. My reasoning:

There is no way in hell any NATO countries, including the Great Satan, will physically intervene in the conflict by sending troops.
They won't even provide air support! (Airlifted "Humanitarian Aid", is a possibility, however.)

Why? Because even though Russia has been portrayed as a basket-case for the last decade and a half, they still have the nuclear and conventional forces to deter any potential adversaries (ie. the Great Satan and/or its NATO stooges). For all practical purposes, it is like dealing with the old USSR.

Who helped out Afghanistan when the USSR invaded in 1980? As Mel Lastman always used to say, NOOOBOOOODY!

Which segues nicely into the next possibility: sanctions, UN-related or otherwise.

Not going to happen. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and they can veto anything they don't like, just like the Great Satan did when it invaded Iraq.

Any other sanctions (ie. Group of 7 or whatever) will never be enacted because Russia directly controls 25% of Europe's energy purchases.

So no intervention, no effective sanctions. Why shouldn't Russia go all the way and install a pro-Russia regime, especially when doing so would allow control over the pipelines that were routed through Georgia specifically to avoid Russian control?

Someone has got their Game On, and it is definitely not the Great Satan.


Feed your soul
Festival of India this weekend

According to a pamphlet handed to me yesterday on Dundas Square by a lean 30-something hippie with a Vishnu tilaka and a german accent, there is going to be a big celebration tomorrow called Festival of India. The festivities will include a parade from Yonge and Bloor down to Queen's Quay followed by a party on Toronto Island (assuming Rudra holds off from raining on their parade).

While I am I great fan of Hindu festivals, I will probably give this one a miss because I get a sense that, although it isn't explicitly laid out on the feedyoursoul.to website, the parade is really being run by a bunch of euro-trash (but in a good way) Krishna Consciousness people (Hari Krishnas), not bona fide Hindus from South Asia.

Not that I have any problem with westerners enthusiastically adopting eastern religions, it is that I fear the experience would seem a bit contrived, relatively speaking.


Pickering: ground zero

In case of nuclear disaster

Go inside and turn on your radio or television
Listen to media reports for instructions from the Province on what to do
Follow the directions provided by the Province

Instructions from the City of Toronto's "'Red Page' – Nuclear Emergency Information". (PDF 1.67 MB)

An inquiring mind might wonder what to do if, for instance, there is no electricity to power tv and/or radio.

Or if there was a pandemic resulting in a never ending onslaught of flesh-crazed 'zombies' (this scenario is imagined in 28 Days Later).

According to the Zombie Survival Guide, generated noise like tvs and radios are sure to attract wandering zombies.

I am not sure whether I would rely on the admonishments of the Red Page, regardless of whether the threat is a nuclear accident or an 'infestation'.

Go inside and wait for news? Even if you still have electricity, if you live within 10 kms of the 2 'ground zeroes' portrayed in the graphic above you are probably dead already, even if you don't know it yet.

The advice to keep indoors is probably a governmental attempt to avoid exposing people outside the Death Zone to fleeing Ajaxers and Pickerlings, slowly boiling to death from the inside as they run shrieking and cursing along Kingston Rd. towards downtown.


John Barber on free highways

In today's Globe and Mail, John Barber wrote a column titled "Reality requires road tolls; prepare for the inevitable".

What caught my eye?

What makes tolls doubly attractive is that motorists also stand to benefit, both immediately and in the long term. Our highways today are like Communist supermarkets, with huge lineups for artificially cheap food that is rarely available.

By now, everybody knows there is only one way to rationalize the distribution of a scarce resource: You price it. The lineups disappear and rutabagas suddenly abound.

That, friends, is some evocative imagery, especially considering who it comes from.

Now if only the City of Toronto would follow Barber's advice, vis-a-vis on-street parking.


Collision Report

Celebrating Toronto Bike Month

In celebration of Toronto Bike Month, please enjoy the following excerpts from the executive summary (I am still looking for the whole report) of City of Toronto Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Collision Study 2003 (pdf, 326 kB). Although it only studies data compiled between 1986 and 1996, it still contains a plethora of interesting facts and figures for anyone hoping to increase their chances of survival whilst negotiating high density street activity.

According to the data, the t-bone is the most statistically significant source of injury for bike riders. (The illustration at the top of this post is a representation of a t-bone accident.)

As far as I am concerned, this is amateur garbage. Anyone who actually trusts that a vehicle not signalling a right turn will not turn right is incredibly naive.

After I was forced to fall over onto the sidewalk to prevent myself being crushed by a cube van making a tight right turn during a red light on Bay Street last summer, a courier waiting behind me quoted the apparently well known courier truism "Right side is suicide". (I wonder if there is an online repository of such wisdom, or if they prefer to keep this knowledge to themselves.)

If bikers don't realize that it is safer to swing to the left behind any vehicle giving any indication at all (signalling, slowing down, etc) of making a right turn, this will continue to be the #1 problem.

My biggest fear regarding biking safety is the same as Jeff Gray outlined in last weekend's Globe and Mail: when riding in a bike lane that has parked cars between myself and the sidewalk, I tend to keep to the left of the bike lane.

While this provides an extra millisecond or two reaction time if someone suddenly opens their car door, at the same time it significantly increases the chances of being struck on the back of the head by the side mirror of a passing pickup or cube van.

Which is more dangerous, car doors or side-mirrors? That was my most important question:

  • Motorist Overtaking 277 cases (11.9% of total)
  • Motorist Opens Vehicle Door 276 cases (11.9% of total)

Wouldn't you know it? A statistical dead heat.

However, since these statistics also include the area outside the central part of the city, I am going to go ahead and speculate that the door prize is a greater danger than the possibility of a mirror/skull interaction, at least downtown where there is more happening, parking-wise.

Other interesting facts to be gleaned from the executive summary:

Almost 30% of the cyclists involved in reported motor vehicle collisions were cycling on the sidewalk immediately prior to their collisions, making this the most frequent “possible contributing factor.

The vast majority of collisions happened in dry weather conditions. Most occurred in daylight, particularly during rush hours, especially the evening peak, between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

From "Contributing Factors"
Cyclist impaired- 9 cases
Motorist impaired- 3 cases

Happy biking!

UPDATE (08.07.18)
I was just reviewing this post and I noticed that the cyclist in the graphic is run over by what appears to be a Porsche, or some other kind of expensive sportscar.



Conservative election strategy

GABLE's cartoon from today's Globe and Mail, lampooning, once again, the Keystone Kops antics of CPC ministers. This is probably aimed principally at Maxime Bernier and his recent displays of extreme, shall we say, 'absent-mindedness'.


Needed: a Stephen Harper archive?

The number of malevolent, stupid, ignorant and/or outright lying statements made by the Prime Minister (or his puppets) has reached the point that I find it hard to keep track them down when I need to refer to a particular instance.

Maybe it is time for a Harper Archive!

Since I seem to have time on my hands, I thought I might create one (a popular UI time waster).

But first, I did a search to see if anything similar exists, in the style of stopiggy.com (now defunct, and that is stop iggy.com, not sto piggy.com, which also makes a kind of sense as long as 'sto' means something derogatory in a slavic language.)

I found one! The Harper Index. Now I don't have to splash the cash for a domain name, hosting, and the like.

Harper the Leather CowboyWhile the Harper Index doesn't seem to include a library of unfortunate Harper photo opportunities (which I would have made a centrepiece) it still saves time by providing a plethora of links to what the Evil Spock really thinks.

The Harper Index is far from perfect, but I hope that it will expand its raison d'etre in the months ahead.

Perhaps a blog? A forum? Web 2.0 is like a weakened and desperate immigrant, eager to be exploited.


Dead bandido
Easing gracefully into middle age?

Now that I am on the wrong side of 40, I have finally come to the conclusion that perhaps some lifestyle changes might be in order.

Last weekend, at a memorial service for Donna (my mother's dearest friend since grade 9), Donna's grandson (age approx. 22) introduced me to his buddy (who had come to the rememberance to show respect) in this way:

PALGOLAK, just wait til we are all sitting on the dock looking at the stars this summer! Jimmy here is a first class partay-er. He won't disappoint!

These words froze the blood in my veins. Sure, not so long ago (relatively speaking), I did enjoy sitting on the end of the dock recounting (and listening to) heroic bouts of substance abuse from teenagers, but now I find it a bit boring.

Even painful, unless I am extremely over-refreshed.

I try to visualize myself as a twenty-year old, and how I viewed middle-aged 'partay-ers', but I come up with a blank.

I probably thought they were pretty cool, old folks that smoked ganja.

All I know is that in a Saturday evening cottage situation, these days, the last place I want to be is sitting on a dock with a passel of drunk university students swearing and talking loudly about drugs and alcohol, especially when my reborn aunt and uncle (with visiting church friends) are sitting on another dock 10 metres away trying to enjoy the Northern Lights. (This happened last summer, BTW.)

I just want to lie on a couch (or hammock) and read, whilst sipping a glass of wine. And take the occasional look at the stars, of course.

Last summer, in the aftermath of the multiple murder of a bunch of middle-aged Bandidos, I read a psychological analysis in a paper (I forget which) that posited that the 'biker type' were people that couldn't let go from that party-hearty lifestyle that they had grown accustomed to as youngsters.

I doubt whether John Muscedere (photo above) ever worried about the harmful effects of ganja smoke enough to buy a vapourizer, and he probably still did liquor shots, too. (If you click on the image, you can see the whole photograph, including kids' toys under a tree to the side.)

Am I any different, even though I own a vapourizer and eschew hard liquor? I wonder.

Luckily I have avoided an early death, but still I find it depressing that my young buddy assumes that my behaviour on a Saturday night will have more in common with John Muscedere's than, say, James Wolcott's.



After decades of trying, I have finally made it into a union

The Toronto Cyclists Union, that is. The TCU is holding a fundraiser at the Bloor Cinema on Thursday, May 29 where the main event will be the showing of Pee Wee's Big Adventure, perhaps the greatest bike-oriented film of all time.

If that isn't enough, local celebrities are appearing as guests, including wilting oriental blossom Sook-yin Lee and noted metrosexual Adrian Heaps.

Throw in some Rocky Horror Picture Show-style audience participation and we are talking some serious entertainment, especially for only $14.

Here are some clips from PWBA (NB unfortunately I couldn't find a clip from my favourite scene of the movie: the guided tour of the Alamo).

Pee Wee leaves the biker bar (0:35 mins)

Pee Wee's big meeting (3:14 mins)



More Sikhs than you can shake a stick at!

And they were all eating, too, at least by the time I joined them at Nathan Phillips Square (the parade was held a little too early for me).

Yesterday was the big Khalsa Day Parade in downtown Toronto and, according to the Toronto Sun (the only major daily paper to report on it (!?!)) the attendance was approximately 60,000.

Not such a big deal, by LTTE-supporter standards, but still a visual feast because of the colours everywhere.

When I first encountered this festival at Nathan Phillips Square last year, I was surprised that all the food, bottled water, etc. was given freely to anyone. Usually these sorts of ethnic events charge at least a nominal fee for food.

khanda flagAccording to a pamphlet I was handed, free food and lodging at Sikh temples (buildings marked by an orange flag emblazoned with a khanda) for any visitlor is integral to their religion. I like the cut of their jib!

Photos from the event:

Channa Dal

Khalsa Day main stage

Khalsa Day upper view

Friendly Sikh kid

Khalsa Day photos


gross kidney beans

The merits of dried beans

I have often pondered on the mystery of the dried bean.

Because, apparently, soaking them for a period of time, then boiling them makes them digestible.

In my experience, however, this is not true (excepting lentils, but only the red kind). If I try to "keep it real" and use dried beans, as opposed to using much more expensive canned beans, a discomforting 'gassy' feeling is inevitably the result.

Now, Heather Havrilsky, the TV critic at salon.com, has helped me feel less of environmentally-unfriendly freak (at least in this regard).

In a recent column (warning, you may or may not have to stare at an ad for 10 seconds or so), she lays bare her own struggle with dried beans. I am not alone!

In part:

...Which brings us back to the bean aisle at my grocery store. This is my new therapy (since I can't afford the old kind): shopping for alarmingly cheap yet nutritious foods. It's relaxing, somehow, to stand there in front of those bags -- 33 cents for split peas! Amazing! -- fantasizing about how my family will eat only beans from now on: chilis and bean burritos (Homemade tortillas! Just flour and water!) and bean soups, whole meals that cost less than $3 to make, that might feed the family for days on end. As I escape into a hazy daydream of delicious gourmet bean concoctions, all of which are practically free, I suddenly become aware that I'm not alone.

There's a stout, pragmatic-looking woman standing next to me, fondling a bag of 15-bean soup mix. "This looks pretty tasty," she says somewhat suspiciously, half to herself and half to me. "Fifteen beans!" She breathes those words -- "Fifteen beans!" -- in the same tone most people would say "five-course meal!" or "three-week vacation!" And then she just stands there, fondling and sighing for a full minute, like she's gazing out at the Mediterranean, snacking on a delightful array of cured meats and aged cheeses.

"That does look pretty good," I say, sociably picking up the same bag. It feels good to talk to a stranger about beans. I'm not only buying beans, you see, I am discussing various bean-related options with other bean buyers...

You get the jist, I am sure. Comedy gold!


bull in a chinese shop
Bull in a China Shop, by GABLE in today's Globe and Mail.


hillary Hillary HILLARY!

Usually, I couldn't give a toss who ends up appointed as the next titular leader of the Great Satan, since every one of the candidates will full-throatedly champion the interests of unrestrained capitalism, above all, when push comes to shove.

However, over the past few months, I have become aware of a hitherto unsuspected visceral dislike, on my own part, for Hillary Clinton.

I have always despised Bill Clinton, of course. But Hillary? "Who cares?", I used to think. No better or worse than the rest.

After this winter's exposure to Hillary, though, her actions (or those of her campaign staff, same diff) have made clear to me she is just as much of a triangulator as her piece-of-shit husband.

Ie. no strong principles or beliefs, just the propensity to do whatever it takes to achieve and maintain power.

This is from an article Molly Ivins wrote in 2006, entitled I will not support Hillary Clinton for president:

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

Molly goes on at length, describing her distaste for a senator that has always followed 'where the wind blows'. I could have cut and pasted the whole article here, but I believe that would be lazy on my part.

Instead, I choose to cut and paste a posting from my favourite Political Satirist (aside from Rick Mercer, of course), Barry Crimmins:

I have no respect for the Clintons. None

Why? They took an already weak political party and sold it (OK, remaindered it) to the corporate bosses.

Hillary Clinton has taken more money from the enemies of peace and prosperity for average people than any other 2008 presidential candidate. Period.

Her finance chief is the criminal Terry McAuliffe.

Her chief strategist is Blackwater apologist Mark Penn.

She looks upon the presidency as if it should be hers as a perquisite for keeping her mouth shut about her husband's cheesy conduct.

That husband has risen in stature because he was replaced by a braying, criminal jagoff. Now there's an accomplishment!

She promises to revitalize Rush Limbaugh and an array of reactionary blowhards by reinvigorating an ancient feud that will resume on so many fronts that there will be no way to avert our gaze from it. Our nostrils won't be spared, either. It's no surprise that Limbaugh is urging Republicans to cross primary lines to vote for her.

She runs as a feminist on the basis of her gender, even though anyone even remotely politically literate understands that she is a tool of the patriarchy. War machine = patriarchy.

And so I find candidate Clinton to be contemptible. This doesn't mean that I am some naive foundling on the Obama doorstep. I'd just like to see him end Clinton's run for president. That summarizes my excitement concerning the Senator from Illinois.

Actually this is only an amuse-gule for the rest of Barry's post. But you get the basic idea.

No matter how much of a mooncalf Obama is, at least he isn't Hillary Clinton.


GABLE's take on the current state of the U.S. presidential election process. From the Globe and Mail.


Somewhere, somehow, Canadian troops are getting some love

(time 1:21)

An atypical job interview

Yesterday, I interviewed for a job with the City of Toronto. An HR gal and the person I presume would be my manager ushered me into a little room and we sat around a little table. Placed in front of me was a sharpened pencil and a 8.5" x 11" pad of paper, 'in case I wanted to take some notes during the interview'.

The interview consisted of 6 questions, which I was assured were the same 6 questions all the applicants for this particular job were asked.

At the end, I peeled off the sheet of paper I had written on and moved to put it with the rest of my documents when the HR gal said, 'I am sorry but I am going to have to confiscate that' and tucked the sheet into her notes.

They denied they wanted it for hand-writing analysis, but what other possible reason is there for this odd behaviour?

Is it possible a hand-writing sample is like hair or finger-nail clippings, and can be used for voodoo hexes or other occult phenomenæ?

If voodoo practitioners or other unsavoury cultists have infiltrated the City of Toronto, then we are all in big trouble, especially since the City of Toronto is so heavily unionised.


Barnsley fans

Chelsea out on their bums!

Last weekend, Chelsea FC, English Premier League bigshots, were knocked out of the FA Cup Quarter Finals by lowly Barnsley FC, currently in danger of being relegated from the the English Championship League. (Full disclosure: I am currently managing Barnsley in World Football Manager 2007.)

Here are video links to a recap of the match:

Part 1 (9:54 minutes)

Part 2 (7:23 minutes)

Please take note of the Barnsley fans that invade the pitch when the final whistle blows: not the mob of drunken skin-heads one might imagine. Instead the 'invaders' are mostly kids, and at least one middle-aged housewifie-type.

In Barnsley, at least, soccer is still fun for the whole family.

Barnsley's performance in this year's FA Cup (they beat Liverpool at Anfield a few weeks ago) makes me want to emigrate to the UK and live in Barnsley, so I can watch real English soccer from the stands, rather than watching highlights huddled over a laptop.

Unfortunately, Barnsley is probably a depressed area: it is a small town in southern Yorkshire, so it is probably the societal and economic equivalent of Kirkland Lake, Ontario. AKA, not much going on, at least since the mines closed.


Stuff White People Like

I have been killing time this morning (well, technically this afternoon) reading the blog Stuff White People Like.

Favourite postings thus far include:

#75 Threatening to Move to Canada

#71 Being the only white person around

#38 Arrested Development

#53 Dogs

#52 Sarah Silverman

#33 Marijuana

#15 Yoga

And, last but *certainly* not least:

#11 Asian Girls

They are funny because they are true!

Bear in mind that by 'white', the blogger seems to mean 'liberals' in the context of the Great Satan.


Fabio Capello and his hair
England Manager has his hairdryer stolen

Last week, England manager Fabio Capello had his specially purchased hair dryer stolen from his dressing room at Wembley Stadium.

From the MIrror:

An investigation has now been launched and a new hairdryer will be bought in time for England's next home game.

A source told the Mirror: "The England manager has his own dressing room next to the players' one. After Fabio got the England job he asked for a hairdryer to be put in there for his sole use.

"We thought it was a bit strange but he's the boss and we got a top-of-the-range dryer. Everything went smoothly on Wednesday and Fabio seemed happy when he left."


GABLE- Everybody has his breaking point

Editorial cartoon from today's Globe and Mail. Proof that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' is still apropos.


Joe Strummer: the future is unwritten
Joe Strummer: the Future is Unwritten

Currently showing in Canada at a classy repetoire cinema near you, Joe Strummer: the Future is Unwritten is, unsurprisingly, a documentary about Joe Strummer, the ex-Clash frontman.

Who cares? I do. Looking back, I have to say that the Clash's political views, exposed to me at a sensitive age, have made me the moonbat I am today.

Social Justice? Anti-militarism? A strong belief in what is right or wrong? What 12 year old could resist it?

I think that I am not alone in my feeling that once Uncle Joe died, we lost a good one. Where is the justice that Sir Mick or Rod "if you think I'm sexy" Stewart still continue poncing about when good people like Joe die prematurely?

This is where aetheism starts!

In fact, if I think of pop culture figures that died before 'the fullness of time', the two I miss the most are Joe Strummer and Phil Hartman.

The documentary has been reviewed by, amongst others, the Star and the Globe and Mail .


Further thoughts on my proposed "Yokel Index"

I have decided that avoiding places with Conservative MPs is probably the best measure of a locality, vis-a-vis its level of yokelness. Still, the heavy presence of war-supporting displays should also be included in any consideration.

Another thing for immigrant same sex couples to watch out for:

Kooky anti-government signs displayed along highways. There seems to be a lot of them, east of Oshawa and north of Highway 7 (if you know what I mean).

Driving around Clarington and Peterborough counties, I see a fair number of them, themed "BACK OFF GOVERNMENT--THIS LAND IS OUR LAND".

Leaving aside the questionable tactic of inviting the Government's attention, I must wonder that these signs are supposed to accomplish?

I have no idea what these "BACK OFF GOVERNMENT--THIS LAND IS OUR LAND" signs are on about, but it can't be good.


support our troops

Establishing a "Yokel Index"

Earlier this week, over at we move to canada, there was some debate over which Canadian community a gay couple from Boston(?) should move to, when they finally get their act together enough to actually do it.

Factors important to the couple included proximity to New England, population size, nearness to nature, and most importantly a local Roman Catholic church with a relaxed attitude. (And good luck with the last one, by the way...)

What I think was unaddressed in that discussion is what I refer to as the "Yokel Index".

Canada may very well have the reputation of being a tolerant, progressive society. However, taking a Saturday night stroll along the promenade of, say, Bowmanville Ontario will quickly challenge this presumption.

A town might have everything Steve and his husband say they are looking for: scenic, near the New York border, within easy driving distance of Toronto and with lots of jobs.

At the same time, this idyll's population could be largely composed of knuckle-dragging, gay-hating neanderthals.

There are lots of places I could harangue gay immigrants about avoiding: any place where agriculture is still an important part of the local economy; any place there are factories; communities with lots of bearded men (aside from Cabbagetown).

Being an immigrant anywhere is hard enough. In lots of places in 'tolerant' Canada, being a gay AND an immigrant would probably push locals into the "angry crowd carrying torches" demographic.

How to determine this "Yokel Index"? One quick way would be to rule out moving to any ridings that voted Conservative in the last federal election. In this scenario, places like Guelph or Kitchener-Waterloo would be acceptable, while Cambridge, Peterborough or Barrie would not.

The other possibility, which I favour, is making note of how many "support the troops" bumper stickers you see whilst driving around.

For example, where I live in downtown Toronto, it is exceptional to see a troops bumpersticker. Inevitably the driver will be some old coot, presumably visiting from Barrie, Maple, or Sutton. Not even worth the energy it would take to despise them.

In Peterborough, just 120 minutes away from Toronto, it is much different. I would say that 1 in 10 vehicles have war magnets on their cars, all of them one of the three displayed at the top of this post.

If you go to Orono, which I frequently do because its LCBO is handy when I am on the way to visit my mother for the weekend, you see that Orono's main street has yellow ribbons wrapped around the telephone poles.

If we are creating a "Yokel Index" for people like Steve and his husband, I think each wrapped tree spotted should count as the same as a spotted bumper magnet. By the same token, a vehicle with three war magnets should count as 3 spottings, not one. (No joke I saw one like this on the 401 today!)

The "Yokel Index" will be a hard instrument to calibrate [that's what she said-ed] but I think it is possible.

Just because I saw more yellow ribbons in Orono than I did war magnets in Peterborough doesn't mean there are more yokels in Orono than Peterborough. Orono has an old-timey vibe, a couple of antiques stores for example. Orono would be OK for Steve and co.

On the other hand: Peterborough, where young guys with bad haircuts actually still drive hotrods around? Almost by definition locals have war magnets on the back of their pickups.

Steve and his husband deserve a useful set of metrics before they make their decision. Noting car badges is decidedly a non-scientific way of collecting data, but it is obvious, and cheap.



Why is Kerala always the butt of jokes, but not Gujarat?

It is a source of great interest to me that it seems like blogs of Indian emigrants to North America are always criticizing Kerala for its supposed 'backwardness', in continuing to elect communists into power, while ignoring the much more odious qualities of political life in the north, especially Gujarat.

It is almost like Keralans are the Indian version of Newfies (or Tasmanians in Australia, Azoreans in Portugal, etc.), ie. always ripe for 'sport'.

Some background:

Previously, in this space, I have mused aloud about the apparent anomalies of the Kerala Model. Meanwhile, over at Ultrabrown, Kerala is being presented as The land that time forgot.

Ah, yes, the land that time forgot. Except for literacy rate. And mortality rate. Etc.

A possible answer to this question is explained in an article in the last edition of Frontline Magazine (published by the same people that publish the Hindu), entitled "Why Gujarat?".

From the article:

“While the ideology of Hindutva [Hindu nationalism, akin to white nationalsim- PALGOLAK.] was gaining ground,” say Yagnik and Sheth, “moderate voices were getting weaker…. By the early 1990s, community leaders… no longer wielded any authority over their youth…. These youngsters… have grown up on a diet of anti-minority invective and the voices of moderation, of liberal thought and tolerance have been missing from their environment.”

A second factor is the influence of conservative ideas through the non-resident Indian (NRI) community. Gujarat has the highest representation of any Indian State among professional NRIs living in North America. Their reactionary “long-distance” nationalism feeds Hindutva. They are more orthodox and backward-looking than their resident Indian counterparts, but provide the role model for young Gujaratis.

At the same time, Keralans are mocked for their accents (Lola Kutty), their lungis (a very practical clothing choice IMHO), a tendency towards naive Christianity (implying a very strong caste system forcing dalits and the like toward conversion) and an over reliance on thick moustaches.

Still, enough is enough. Why don't these NRIs make fun of Tamils, for a change?

Since I accidentally published this post before it was ready, I was taken by surprise when manish from Ultrabrown instantly responded to the posting with a representative link to an Ultrabrown criticism of Gujarati politics.

I had already removed the original post from the interweeb before his comment was displayed, but I hope he will forgive my hasty action.