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.

Take the "Test the Nation" test online

Courtesy of the CBC.

I did it and scored 48/60, which is good enough for me to not be too embarassed publishing the results. About average for white males from Ontario, if you check out the stats page.

Try it out youself!

N.B. it only seems to work in Internet Explorer, which is deplorable, especially for a public company like the CBC. What if a Linux user wants to take the test? I would think that the CBC is a little more "on the ball" than that.


It strikes me, in retrospect (not having the mental energy to examine the correct answers), that my lack of knowledge about apple products, and apple in general, probably hurt my score.

Why should I be relegated to the second tier of results simply because I am too frugal to indulge in apple products? The test deviser was no Scotsman, Jew, Korean, or Parsee, that is sure!


Maybe the NY Times isn't as humourless as I had always supposed

I was reading a typical (or so I thought) article entitled Bush Prods Saudi Arabia on Oil Price when I eventually encountered this paragraph:

It was unclear whether Mr. Bush’s entreaties alone would have any significant effect on the price of oil, because, as the president acknowledged, demand continues to rise faster than supplies, especially in expanding markets in China and India, as well as the United States.

I don't know about you, but as a sarcastic c**t myself, I love this sort of unlooked-for zinger. Especially in a newspaper famous for its diffidence. And boringness.

I bet that the author, James Glanz , is British. Its subtlety, placed in the middle of the article, implies that quintessential English sneakiness, as testimonials from innumerable Indians, Burmese, and tons of African nationals will bear witness.


man in the moon

My brilliant solution for disposing of nuclear waste: bury it on The Moon!

In this time of ever increasing energy costs, forward-thinkers are harder pressed than ever to come up with possible ways to produce clean energy for fuelling our jet-skis, dune-buggies, and $2,000,000 sports cars.

Nuclear energy was viewed as the cleanest energy source available for a long time. Unfortunately, no one knew how to dispose of the waste.

Here in Ontari-ari-ari-o (historically a big proponent of nuclear energy), I recall a proposal to bury our nuclear waste in an abandoned mineshaft near Timmins. (Possibly the same mineshaft that people were recently proposing we use to bury Toronto's garbage? Who owns that property, I muse aloud...)

The only problem with this proposal was that nuclear waste has a half-life of something approaching 50,000 years. Since the geological record indicates that Ontario suffers a major earthquake every 5,000 years or so, that leaves lots of chances for ruptured nuclear waste containers buried in mineshafts to leak radiation into the environment.

Not exactly "Keeping Ontario Beautiful" in the long run, is it?

That is why I propose burying nuclear waste on the moon. If there is an earthquake (or more likely a major asteroid strike) and the containers are ruptured, leaking radiation into the 'atmosphere', then it is still no big deal.

It is not like the radiation is going to leak into our atmosphere, or anything.

Alternatively, we could just load up old, crappy USSR rockets with spent nuclear fuel and send them into the Sun. If that might theoretically destablise the Sun (who really knows?) we could always point the rockets at, say, the Dog Star (I have always felt dislike for the Dog Star) and fire away!

All I am saying, purely hypothetically, is why not put all this 'space science' stuff to work and help solve what is shaping up to be the biggest problem of the 21st (or is it the 22nd?) century-- how to fuel our God-given right to a "Mountain Dew" lifestyle as strategically as possible.


glowering Stephen Harper
Happy New Year

Another entertaining cartoon from GABLE.