Thursday, August 28, 2008

Politics and Strange Bedfellows ... '08 Style

For some reason, I can't make the video work but ...
Wow, you really need to check this out.
Yep, I do believe it's official ... they're all nuts!

Geez. you can't help but hope that this will over be over soon.
Just so we can get back to the usual garden-variety insanity.

H/T to R. Enochs, Esq.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Questions About the 2010 Olympics

Now that Vancouver has won the chance to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, people all over the world are asking questions.

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see polar bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto--can I follow the Railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only four thousand miles. Take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed beaver. (Italy)
A: Let's not touch this one.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Halifax? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your north...oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is north in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here, and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. (USA)
A: It's called a moose. It is tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to it. You can scare it off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

The 'Big Story' Returns

Charges have now been laid in last month's 'big' story from Digby.

Both an off-duty Halifax officer and the black youth that was tasered and arrested have been charged with creating a disturbance.

And, alas, it appears that numerous independent witnesses have now stepped forward to say that they did not hear any racial slurs uttered that fateful night. Kind of makes you wonder why we hadn't heard from them at the time, doesn't it?

Personally, I would be real interested in sitting in the front row watching both of these charges being tried. Assuming they ever will be, of course. What do you think are the chances that the officer might just decide to plead guilty in an attempt to lessen any more adverse publicity from the event?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Free Falling ... At Last

I am pleased to advise that I am [finally] in the money.

Let the adventure begin!

Update: Looks like Saturday might just be the big day!

Update II: Physio says no sky diving until I can jump off a chair and land on both feet comfortably. Unfortunately she does not seem the least bit impressed that I can jump off a chair and land on one foot comfortably.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's The Big Deal ... It's Just A Word, Right?

I know that there was some good feeling engendered concerning the movie, Tropic Thunder (a comedy about selfish, pampered actors who go overseas to make a war movie and accidentally provoke real jungle warlords) when the Hollywood stars choppered into the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base recently for a special USO screening. Which is nice. Don't get me wrong.

But the movie has also been a bit of a hot topic in the disability community recently. For example, the President & CEO of Special Olympics Canada has issued a communique concerning the movie-within-the movie wherein Ben Stiller plays "Simple Jack", a man with an intellectual disability, notings that it contains "material that would be considered offensive to members of our community".

Of particular concern appears to be the movie's original tagline "Once upon a time … There was a retard” and a scene in which Robert Downey Jr.’s character advises Stiller’s character to “Never go full retard.”

For this reason, Special Olympics International is leading a public campaign surrounding the film in the US. Although SOI, along with a coalition of US disability organizations, has engaged in conversations with DreamWorks (the production company) to address the content, requesting that action be taken to delete these scenes from the film and marketing platform, as well as to promote public service announcements and educational opportunities about people with intellectual disabilities, apparently, this has been to no avail.

It is hard to argue with the premise that the words we choose are an expression of our values and that much hurt and harm can be caused by using hurtful language. And while I don't know that I would personally go so far as to label the "R-word" as "hate speech", it's no secret that I have a lot of trouble with the word's casual use. I have, in fact, for a long time.

But that being said, in the past I have perceived the disability community, on occasion, to overreact to various movies. And not having seen Tropic Thunder, I will reserve judgment.

I would, however, like to point you to the words of a young man with Down Syndrome. John Franklin Stephens is a Special Olympics Virginia athlete and a global messenger for the Special Olympics. Here is just a portion of what he has to say on the subject.
So, what's wrong with "retard"? I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the "in" group. We are someone that is not your kind. I want you to know that it hurts to be left out here -- alone. Nothing scares me as much as feeling all alone in a world that moves so much faster than I do. You don't mean to make me feel that way. In fact, like I say in some of my speeches, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," and it works out OK most of the time.

Still, it hurts and scares me when I am the only person with intellectual disabilities on the bus and young people start making "retard" jokes or references. Please put yourself on that bus and fill the bus with people who are different from you. Imagine that they start making jokes using a term that describes you. It hurts and it is scary.

Last, I get the joke -- the irony -- that only dumb and shallow people are using a term that means dumb and shallow. The problem is, it is only funny if you think a "retard" is someone dumb and shallow. I am not those things, but every time the term is used it tells young people that it is OK to think of me that way and to keep me on the outside.
You can read the rest of it here.

H/T to Pipecleaner Dreams

Update: Cruising around the intertubes a bit on this subject, I came up with this response, which seems to say it well.
"Hey... in case you have been living under a rock for the past 100 years, using the R word reinforces a negative stereotype that we have been trying to get rid of forever... thanks, assholes... "
So, 'nuff said, I think.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Calling A Spade A Spade

I have a bit of a 'thing' about something ... okay, in all honesty, I probably have a bit of a 'thing' about a few things but one thing that really irks me is the indiscriminate use of the word "evil".

It's not that I object to the casual use of the word because of some Pollyanna belief that no person is actually evil; that all men have good to be found in them. Although I might believe that about many of my fellow humans, I have no doubt that evil exists in this world. And that we need not look far to see it. Be it at home or abroad.

No, I object to the casual use of the term because for me it simply serves to downplay what really is evil. Perhaps I give the word a stronger connotation than many. Not merely 'morally wrong' or 'morally objectionable', for me 'evil' is the ultimate antithesis of everything it means to be human ... intentional, callous acts perpetrated on the innocent that are cruel, sickening and disgusting.

And we use the term indiscriminatley, when we apply it merely to things we disagree with or dislike, how will we know and acknowledge true evil when we really see it?

But in the same way as I object to the casual use of the term, I also object to our failure to use it when it really does apply. When it cries out to be uttered.

  • The hanging by his feet and shooting of a 16-year-old boy for the 'crime' of being an apprentice truck driver whose job was to bring humanitarian food shipments to Kandahar
  • The killing of 23 aid workers this year in Afghanistan, an increase from the total of 15 killed in 2007.
  • The targeting of humanitarian workers and non-governmental organizations – all of which are deemed part and parcel of the "foreign invader forces"
  • The use of the mentally challenged, the mentally ill and the homeless as 'suicide bombers'
To me, these examples personifiy evil.

And should you have any doubt, consider this - an open letter addressed to "the Canadian people" imploring us to convince our government to pull out of Afghanistan or face more attacks like the one that killed two Canadian aid workers last week. Because although the Taliban doesn't want to kill Canadians, they have no choice as long as Canada continues following the "American'' agenda.

And should you still harbour some small doubt, consider the allegation that Canada has "sacrificed'' our national and international self-respect by not following a "neutral agenda.''

"Neutral agenda"? Was there really anything "neutral" about Sept. 11, 2001? The death toll from New York was 2,057 people while a further 189 people died when a plane was flown into the Pentagon and another 44 were killed when a hijacked jet crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Citizens from 90 different countries. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children from around the world. Including 24 Canadians.

MAYBE it’s because we’ve called them "insurgents" instead of "terrorists" once too often. Or maybe it’s because we get our news in high definition – with every shade and hue in vivid contrast – that we no longer recognize black-and-white truths when we see them.

What is going on in Afghanistan today is a battle between right and wrong. This does not mean that "we" are all angels, and "they" are all monsters. But at bottom, Canada and its partners’ intentions in Afghanistan are good.

The Taliban’s are not. Their deeds are evil, and this is not just a matter of cultural perspective...

Isn't it about time we all started calling a spade a spade?

Friday, August 15, 2008

What Will They Think Of Next?

Why a blog worth calculator, of course.
This one is worth a little over $8k, give or take a bit.

My blog is worth $8,468.10.
How much is your blog worth?

A rather nifty find, don't you think?

Monday, August 11, 2008


I dropped the Blue Jay off at the Pre-school Camp this morning. She is going to be a Junior Leader at the Camp for this week. Something we've tried in the past with varying success. Although she loves being around and playing with little kids, she has on occasion been known to get a little bossy, once telling one of the Camp Counsellors that she was a teacher and they had to let her do her job. Oh well, practice makes perfect ...

She was quite excited (and nervous) to go this morning and on her own initiative she went to hunt up some "little kids" books to share with the pre-schoolers before we left home. Although I commiserated with her because she could only find two, I was actually quite happy as she had only recently allowed us to get rid of such books.

The two she found included one on keeping your teeth healthy and clean and a Clifford, The Big Red Dog book. Seemed like good choices. But when the Blue Jay proudly showed them to the Camp Director, she was told that they could probably only read one of the books to the children. She responded to my questioning look by telling me that they couldn't use the Clifford book, which had a Christmas theme. They "had to be careful because not everybody celebrates Christmas".

After mentally rolling my eyes and stifling a sigh, I casually mentioned that it was funny how times change. I was brought up as Jehovah's Witness and thus, never celebrated Christmas or any of the holidays as a child. But that no one really cared. We simply coloured different pictures or read different books. I neglected to mention to her that at the daily singing of 'O Canada" and recital of 'God Save the Queen' we were told to leave the classroom and wait quietly in the hall. With threats of severe punishment from our parents if we weren't quiet or showed any signs of disrespect.

The funny thing is it never had any effect on my psyche. In fact, the other students often expressed jealousy, they too wanted to go stand in the hallway. And not once did it occur to our parents (or ourselves) to commence a court action or complain about the matter in any way. How ridiculous would that be? After all, it was our (or perhaps more accurately) our parents' choice for us not to participate.

It strikes me that if we are so worried about the feelings of people from other cultures and other religions, we might be doing a better service to all if we attempted to expose our children to the differing religious beliefs, if any, of all the children in the group. What a great chance to learn about something different. But no, we wouldn't want to do that. Instead we will do our best to make our society completely secular.

Or at least that's what we say we are doing ... in reality, the child who ever brought in a book setting out their differing religious beliefs would likely be praised and exalted for the day. Which would be okay with me, if we gave fair time to them all. Including our own.

From one extreme ... to the other ...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Us v. Them": The Free Speech Debate In Context

Fresh from the trenches [re]debating the whole Ezra Levant/Human Rights Commissions issue at Lex's again, I came across this article, "Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech" in the New York Times.

Putting aside the whole issue of where ** such complaints should be litigated, the article focuses on the issue of whether such complaints should be actionable at all. In so doing, it offers an interesting comparison between the Canadian and American approaches to "free speech":
In the United States, that debate has been settled. Under the First Amendment, newspapers and magazines can say what they like about minorities and religions — even false, provocative or hateful things — without legal consequence.

. . .

“In much of the developed world, one uses racial epithets at one’s legal peril, one displays Nazi regalia and the other trappings of ethnic hatred at significant legal risk, and one urges discrimination against religious minorities under threat of fine or imprisonment,” Frederick Schauer, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, wrote in a recent essay called “The Exceptional First Amendment.”

“But in the United States,” Professor Schauer continued, “all such speech remains constitutionally protected.”

Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.
An interesting approach, no doubt about it. And it might help explain some of the hostile reactions I have come across in debating these issues with Americans. Apparently, in the United States (subject to a few limited exceptions: government may ban fighting words or threats and punishments may be enhanced for violent crimes prompted by racial hatred) the only justification for making incitement a criminal offense is the "likelihood of imminent violence", which standard sets a very high hurdle.
Mere advocacy of violence, terrorism or the overthrow of the government is not enough; the words must be meant to and be likely to produce violence or lawlessness right away. A fiery speech urging an angry mob to immediately assault a black man in its midst probably qualifies as incitement under the First Amendment. A magazine article — or any publication — intended to stir up racial hatred surely does not.
However, some now question whether speech that "urges terrorist violence to an audience, some of whose members are ready to act on the urging,” is an imminent enough threat and one that should be sanctioned.

It's a good read, one that might help promote some understanding of the differences between the two countries on the larger issues. And one in which Mark Steyn, recently taken before the B.C. Human Rights Commission in connection with an excerpt from his book republished in MacLeans magazine weighs in:
Mr. Steyn, the author of the article, said the Canadian proceedings had illustrated some important distinctions. “The problem with so-called hate speech laws is that they’re not about facts,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re about feelings.”

“What we’re learning here is really the bedrock difference between the United States and the countries that are in a broad sense its legal cousins,” Mr. Steyn added. “Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world.”
** Although Canadian law currently provides for "hate propaganda", "blasphemous libel" and "defamatory libel" to be prosecuted as criminal offences (anyone interested in torturing themselves can review the relevant Criminal Code excerpts) and 'hate speech' to be adjudicated by Human Rights Commissions, I, personally, feel that HRCs are not the proper forum for the civil adjudication of such claims and that such claims, civilly should be dealt with in the courts under the common law.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ask And It Shall Be Granted To You

Back in June of this year I posted at The Flight Deck as to how the death of Percy Dwight Wilson on May 9th at age 106 resulted in there now only being surviving Canadian veteran from that war. And I noted that although many Canadians felt that when John Babcock dies, he should be given a state funeral, he disagreed. Mr. Babcock, who has been an American citizen for the past 60 years and who currently resides in the United States, stated that he didn’t want a state funeral in Canada.

At the time, I noted that I wasn't quite sure what to make of that. But I discovered some interesting news today. First, Mr. Babcock's reasoning for not wanting a state funeral.
Q: There had been talk of a state funeral for the last veteran when that time comes. What are your thoughts on that?
A: Well, I became a naturalized citizen of the United States so I think that should go to a Canadian.
Q: [Dorothy] The last Canadian is dead.
A: Well, I suppose if they don't have anybody else, they can choose me. [Laughs] So who else is around? I am the last one?
Q: You're like the dodo bird, sir. There was some thought that when the last Canadian veteran passes they should celebrate all of the soldiers of that time. Is that a good idea?
A: I think they should commemorate all of them, instead of just one.
And even more interesting, the fact that Mr. Babcock, who lost his status as a British subject - the precursor to Canadian citizenship - when he obtained his US citizenship in 1946, has requested and received the return of his Canadian citizenship after expressing his long-standing wish in this regard when he was presented with a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation in April, 2008.

On May 9, 2008, Mr. Babcock was granted his Canadian citizenship. Thank you for your service, sir. And it's good to have you back in the fold.

Personality With A Twist

Here's a personality test with a twist!

It's all visual (pick your picture) and is guaranteed to get you thinking.

Youniverse Personality TestYouniverse Personality Test

You can find my results here.
A dreamer, an escape artist, a new wave purtian [excuse me, but I beg to differ with that one ... I knew I should have went for the tea and not the beer] and thoughtful.

Et vous?

Update: You can find out all about me on this page ... if you dare! Just check out the right hand side of the page.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sucks To Be Him

Poor Ezra Levant!

Apparently he won the human rights case he found himself embroiled in. Which for him is akin to losing.

From over here, it’s just more of what I said before. It looks like Ezra is *disappointed* that he’s been vindicated because it gives him less to rant about … and less ammunition in his fight to scrap the entire system. The last thing in the world he and others of his ilk want is to have to admit that the human rights system can and usually does work properly.

I do agree with Ezra when he says this, though:
Both managed to hijack a secular government agency to prosecute their radical Islamic fatwa against me — the first blasphemy case in Canada in over 80 years.“
It’s just that I don’t think for one minute that our Islamic friends [term used loosely] are the only ones with an agenda in this piece of theatre. Time will tell, I suppose.

H/T to Neptunus Lex, even though we do disagree in the result

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Anyone Drooling Yet?

FLYING A LEARJET 23 is not for the faint of heart.

After all, it has the same power as an F-5 supersonic fighter, is faster than commercial airliners and can climb to over 12,000 metres (40,000 feet) in just seven minutes.

"This jet goes all the way straight up and will pull three G’s on takeoff," said David McCulloch, businessman, entrepreneur, aviation expert and, most importantly of all, pilot.
And to think that the very first model sits on the tarmac outside the Truro Flying Club right now. Not surprisingly, local aviators and air cadets have gathered to drool over it.

Apparently, though, there is a price to be paid for such fun. And, no, I don't just mean the operating costs.
Mr. McCulloch admits this particular version of the Learjet, which must be flown with a co-pilot, had an abysmal safety record.

"This plane has a lot of critical areas and it can be a very challenging plane to fly," he said.

It has the manoeuvrability of a fighter jet but is absolutely unforgiving.

"Oh, no, it doesn’t forgive pilot errors, and of the 104 Learjet 23s built, more than half of them have had accidents over the years," he added.

Still, I have to wonder if it's not something Lex would care to take for a spin ... or two ...or three...

Gee, you think?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Who Says We Don't Do Redneck in Canada?


Listen up City Slickers!

1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.

2. Turn your cap straight, your head isn't crooked.

3. Let's get this straight; it's called a 'dirt road.' I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.

4. They are cattle. They're live steaks. That's why they smell funny to you. But they smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? Hwy 7 & 401 goes east and west, Hwy 15 & 416 goes north and south. Pick one.

5. So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed. We have $150,000 combines and hay balers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

6. So every person in rural Ontario waves. It's called 'being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

7. If that cell phone rings while an 8-point buck and 3 does are coming in, we WILL shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.

8. Yeah, we eat meat and potatoes. You really want sushi & caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.

9. The 'Opener' refers to the first day of deer hunting season. It's a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first of November.

10. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age.

11. There's little for 'vegetarians' on the menu. Order steak. Or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.

12. When we set a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup.

13. You bring 'coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice.

14. You bring 'Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.

15. Ontario HockeyLeague and Minor Hockey is as important here as the Maple Leafs and Montreal Habs, and more fun to watch.

16. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards -- it spooks the fish.

17.. Colleges? We have them all over. We have Universities and Community Colleges.. They come outta there with an education plus a love for God and country, and they still wave at everybody when they come for the holidays.

18. We have a whole ton of folks in the Armed Forces. So don't mess with us. If you do, you will get whipped by the best.

19. Turn down that blasted car stereo! That thumpity-thump crap ain't music, anyway. We don't want to hear it anymore than we want to see your boxers. (Refer back to #1).

20. 2 inches of snow & ice isn't a blizzard - it's a vacation. Drive like you got some sense in it, and DON'T take all our bread, milk, and bleach from the grocery stores. This ain't Alaska , worst case you may have to live a whole day without croissants. The pickups with snow blades and tractors with snow blowers will have you out the next day.

H/T to Raylene