Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Discovering a New Genre

Well, a new genre for me, anyway.

So explain this to me:

How is it that former military aviators turned lawyers turned authors end up writing such darn good books?

Who woulda thunk it?

Which also raises, of course, another very interesting question:

Will Lex require a Law degree in order to get published?

P.S. I know there's another aviator turned laywer turned author.
But. I. Just. Can. Not. Think. Of. His. Name. Hate that.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I watched The Jay Leno Show Thursday night. Mainly because he had Rush Limbaugh as a guest. I like Leno's monologues but other than that, I'm not such a fan of the show.

But I've never actually seen or heard Limbaugh speak. On the other hand, I've certainly read about what he's had to say (and the strong reaction he tends to provoke). It's just that I've never actually heard it myself. So I was curious.

And I found it interesting. Less for what Rush, himself, was actually saying and more for the crowd reaction to both him and Jay. I wish I could replay and re-watch the videos of the interviews but apparently they "aren't available from my location". Uh huh. And unfortunately the YouTube versions are pretty well inaudible.

So. I was thinking back to when President Obama was on Leno this past March. Nothing but applause and cheers and love for the new Pres. And comparing that to the crowd reaction to what Limbaugh and Jay had to say on Thursday.

Rush, of course, was Rush. Or just about as I've heard him described. And Jay took the more left centralist view.

But here's my point. I was surprised at the level of support Limbaugh got for his comments. Without getting into my own personal thoughts on what he had to say, it was the crowd reaction that intrigued me. Not unexpectedly, Limbaugh was highly critical of a lot of what President Obama has done and attempted to do to date. And by the sound of the crowd, a lot of Americans share his concerns.

Sure, you can always get a few hecklers in any crowd. But that was most definitely not what I was hearing. For the most part, I was hearing agreement with what he had to say.

Then Jay would come back and try to make his points and ask his questions, for which he received a fair bit of crowd approval as well. Without being able to re-watch it, I would venture that the crowd approval might have been something like 80% Limbaugh and 50% Leno.

Which, while I am well aware that adds up to much more than 100%, my sense was that a significant number of those applauding Jay's position had just been applauding Limbaugh a few moments earlier. Which wouldn't make much sense unless those people were a little on the psychotic (or at least neurotic) side. Or unless at least some of them thought that both men were making sense. Which, strange as that may sound, was kind of my take.

And although that was, at least in part, my own reaction [putting aside the issue of Rush's increasing rudeness as the interview went on in that he wouldn't let Leno finish asking a question or make a point before he had to start up again, I thought both men made some good points], I don't think I was projecting. I heard an audience reaction which was largely favourable to what both men had to say. With little, if any, disagreement being expressed for either one of them.

Which I found interesting because, hanging out at Lex's as I do, I hear a lot of disapproval expressed for President Obama's policies. And yet, I have observed very little disapproval from any of my mainstream (but, I must admit, much less interesting) sources.

So watching the crowd reaction to Rush Limbaugh this past Thursday, I found it interesting to observe that perhaps some of the shine is, actually, beginning to come off Obama's rose.

That although evidence of the cult of personality still abounds, perhaps a shift really is starting to take place on Main Street, America. That maybe, just maybe, Americans are starting to take a more realistic view of their President. Being that of a man and not a God.

Who knows? Maybe the rest of the world will soon follow suit.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Kind of makes those other shows look rather lame in comparision, dones't it?

Sand artist, Kseniya Simonova, who moved audiences to tears as she won Ukraine’s Got Talent, has become an online sensation with more than two million hits.

Miss Simonova, 24, drew a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II.

One video clip of her work on the television talent show has been viewed by two million users alone.
H/T to Lex

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Beatitudes for Special People - Part Deux

Blessed are you that never bids us "hurry up" and more blessed are you that do not snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us, for often we need time rather than help.

Blessed are you who take time to listen to defective speech, for you help us to know that if we persevere, we can be understood.

Blessed are you who walk with us in public places and ignore the stares of strangers, for in your companionship we find havens of relaxation.

Blessed are you who stand beside us as we enter new ventures, for our failures will be outweighed by times we surprise ourselves and you.

Blessed are you who ask for our help, for our greatest need is to be needed.

Blessed are you when by all these things you assure us that the thing that makes us individuals is not our peculiar muscles, nor our wounded nervous system, but is the God-given self that no infirmity can confine.

Blessed are those who realize that I am human and don't expect me to be saintly just because I am disabled.

Blessed are those who pick things up without being asked.

Blessed are those who understand that sometimes I am weak and not just lazy.

Blessed are those who forget my disability of the body and see the shape of my soul.

Blessed are those who see me as a whole person, unique and complete, and not as a "half" and one of God's mistakes.

Blessed are those who love me just as I am without wondering what I might have been like.

Blessed are my friends on whom I depend, for they are the substance and joy of my life!

~ Marjorie Chappell

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Madame Justice ...

Your result for Which Supreme Court Justice Are You Test...

You are Justice John Paul Stevens

You agreed with Stevens 64% of the time.

John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is the senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He joined the Supreme Court in 1975 and is the oldest member of the Court. He was appointed to the Court by Republican President Gerald Ford. Although Stevens is widely considered to be on the liberal side of the court, Ford praised Stevens in 2005: "He is serving his nation well, with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns." He is also the only current Justice to have served under three Chief Justices (Warren E. Burger, William Rehnquist, and John G. Roberts).

Early in his tenure on the Supreme Court Stevens had a moderate voting record. He voted to reinstate capital punishment in the United States and opposed the racial quota system program at issue in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. But on the more conservative Rehnquist Court, Stevens tended to side with the more liberal-leaning Justices on issues such as abortion rights, gay rights and federalism. His Segal-Cover score, a measure of the perceived liberalism/conservatism of Court members when they joined the Court, places him squarely in the ideological center of the Court. A 2003 statistical analysis of Supreme Court voting patterns, however, found Stevens the most liberal member of the Court.

Stevens' jurisprudence has usually been characterized as idiosyncratic. Stevens, unlike most justices, usually writes the first drafts of his opinions himself and reviews petitions for certiorari within his chambers instead of having his law clerks participate as part of the cert pool. He is not an originalist (such as fellow Justice Antonin Scalia) nor a pragmatist (such as Judge Richard Posner), nor does he pronounce himself a cautious liberal (such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg). He has been considered part of the liberal bloc of the court since the mid-1980s, though he publicly called himself a judicial conservative in 2007.Stevens was once an impassioned critic of affirmative action, voting in 1978 to invalidate the racial quota system program at issue in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. He also dissented in 1980's Fullilove v. Klutznick, which upheld a minority set-aside program. He shifted his position over the years and voted to uphold the affirmative action program at the University of Michigan Law School challenged in 2003's Grutter v. Bollinger.

Take Which Supreme Court Justice Are You Test
at HelloQuizzy

That's me ... idiosyncratic. And a mite confused.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pot: Meet Kettle

A few months ago, I was ranting waxing not so poetically about Janet Napolitano's and John McCain's regurgitation of the same tired comments that some of the 9/11 perpetrators crossed the border from Canada to the US.

As it turns out, perhaps I should have taken a closer look in my own backyard.
On the eve of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, a startling new poll suggests more Canadians than Americans believe some of the 9-11 terrorists entered the United States through Canada.

In the Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey, conducted this summer in the United States and Canada, 29 per cent of Canadian respondents said they believed some of the hijackers accessed the U.S. through Canada eight years ago.

Only 19 per cent of American respondents agreed.
*Walks away, shaking head in disgust..*

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Works For Me

Count me in the list as one of those who least support our current Conservative government.

And yet, that being said, I think that St. FX University Professor's Chris Gales idea of "punishing" whichever party is stupid enough to trigger yet another federal election (which, just for the record, would be the fourth in five years) is brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Mr. Gales may or may not have his own political agenda going. Either way, I don't really care. The last two elections have both netted us a minority Conservative government. I've said it before, I will say it again. We pay you good money to do your jobs. Now sit down, shut up and work. Together. Just like the rest of us have to.

Might I suggest you check out Mr. Gales' website.

The Indian and The Bull

An Indian walks into a cafe with a shotgun in one hand pulling a male buffalo with the other.

He says to the waiter:

'Want coffee.'

The waiter says, 'Sure, Chief. Coming right up.'

He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee.

The Indian drinks the coffee down in one gulp, turns and blasts the buffalo with the shotgun, causing parts of the animal to splatter everywhere and then just walks out.

The next morning the Indian returns.

He has his shotgun in one hand, pulling another male buffalo with the other. He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter

'Want coffee.'

The waiter says 'Whoa, Tonto!

We're still cleaning up your mess from yesterday. What was all that about, anyway?'

The Indian smiles and proudly says,

'Training for position in Canadian Government. Come in, drink coffee, shoot the bull, leave mess for others to clean up, disappear for rest of day.'

Friday, September 11, 2009


Driving to work this morning. Lost in thought. Mulling over this and that.

When I thought I heard news snippets from that other September 11th. 2001. And then, yeah, there it was again. On the radio.

The song "In a New York Minute", the same song that caused me to write this post one year ago today.

That was when I realized it was a repeat of what our local radio station did last year. Between 9:45 and 10:00 AM Atlantic Standard Time (perhaps when the first planes took off?) they played snippets of news tapes from that awful day, "In a New York Minute" and "I Will Remember You" interspersed between various commercials and The Parent Report.

I like that they do that, that they keep doing that. I wonder how many other Canadian radio stations do the same thing?

~ ~ ~ ~

I moseyed over to Homefront Six's blog today.

She wrote about her memory of that day eight years ago.

Her husband (MacGyver she calls him) is in the military and at the time they were stationed in Alaska. But I will let her tell the full story, from an earlier post in 2007.
We were in Alaska. About as far away from New York and the Pentagon as you can get and still be in the United States. MacGyver had come home from PT and was in the shower. I was on 1/2 days leading up to maternity leave and didn't have to be to school until 11am that day. My alarm went off and it was set to the local country station. When it went off, I slapped at the snooze button. About a half second after I hit the snooze button, my brain registered what the DJ had said..."a plane has crashed into the Pentagon. No word on casualties yet. This, in addition to the World Trade Center...".

I remember the words verbatim.

I sat bolt upright in bed and lunged for the radio and turned it back on and sat there for what felt like minutes but was actually more like seconds listening to the DJ go on about the events that had unfolded thousands of miles away while I slept.

MacGyver shut the shower off and I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. I about ran into him as he came out and told him (like millions of other people said that day), "You have to go downstairs and turn on the TV. Planes have hit the Pentagon and the World Trade center." That is all I could get out. I still couldn't wrap my brain around what I had heard and it would be days...weeks, even...before I was able to do so.

We went downstairs - MacGyver still dripping wet in his towel and me, 10 months pregnant - and turned on the television. We just stood there. I can still feel the sensation of my mouth literally hanging open. I kept closing it and it kept falling open. And we just watched.

Finally, MacGyver said something about maybe now not being the best time to bring a child into the world. I said something back to the effect that it was a little too late for that thought. He then started moving very quickly to get dressed and get to work. I remember him grabbing his A and B bags, not knowing if he would be home...
It was that last part is what struck me so vividly when I read it.

Or as she recalled it today:
We went downstairs and stood, gaping, at the television. We couldn't even cry. We were too shocked. I think the first tower fell while we were watching and that must have sparked MacGvyer to move. He bolted upstairs, threw on his BDUs, grabbed his overnight bag and some food, kissed me goodbye, and left. Still, there were no tears. I didn't know if I would see him again. In my mind, he would deploy. I don't know where I thought he was going or what I expected him to be doing but I did not expect him to come home. Mentally I was trying to steel myself to have this baby alone. And I was ok with that. Hell, after thinking about what the people in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania were going through, having a baby on my own was nothing compared to that.

Still, there were no tears.
Yeah. Can you imagine? I can't.

~ ~ ~ ~

So just how long is too long?

I recall some non-Americans questioning quite a few years ago why the US was still "going on and on" about 9/11. That other countries have had similar tragedies. Bigger tragedies, even. Suck it up and get over it, they said. "Why should you remember 9/11 while we are asked to forget ours?"

Imagine. As if anyone should could ask, could even suggest that some other nation should just "get over" their tragedy, whatever it was. The difference being (if there is one), I suppose, that historically we in North America had such a tradition of being *protected* from so much. Sure, read about it in the newspaper. Turn the page. See it on the TV news. Change the channel. Or just wait a minute. Much like the weather, the story will soon change to something more palatable, less horrifying.

After my first year of college, a good friend and I traveled to Europe. It was a wild trip, we went where we wanted when we wanted. And only came home when we finally ran out of money. Did a lot of backpacking and hitchhiking. Stayed in a lot of hostels.

I have a lot of amazing memories from that trip. But two things in particular are burned into my mind until this day.

One was walking through an open air market in Rome. Accidentally bumping into somebody. Looking up to apologize. And finding myself staring into the face of an old man with only one eye. No patch, no bandage to cover the missing organ. Just one eye. And what looked to my horrified eyes as literally a hole in his head where the other belonged.

I could handle the people begging in the street. Even the woman begging as she sat on the sidewalk while she breastfed her infant and three other little ones played nearby. The man with only one eye ... not so much.

The other incident occurred when we staying at a hostel in Greece. We met a young girl, around 14 or 15, from Israel. Very pretty. She was traveling by herself, which both my friend and I agreed was nuts.

Traveling as a duel, we documented at least 30 pairs teams of guys who tried were determined to pick us up, who were hard-pressed to take No for an answer when if we declined. And then there was the one guy in Paris who approached us on the street at night, grabbed my friend and tried to kiss her on the mouth. She pushed him away and we took off at a mad run for the hotel. Fortunately, he only followed for a block or two. So, yeah, we figured the Israeli girl was either very brave or very stupid. Or maybe a little of both.

And then she made the comment that I will never forget. That all she wanted in life was to find a place to live where you could wake up in the morning without wondering if your father or brother was dead. It completely blew me away, I couldn't imagine living that way.

I believe the word is sheltered. Protected. Not so much any more.

Perhaps that trip to Europe was a wake-up call to me. Perhaps 9/11 was another.

Once is once too often. And, for me at least, having it happen to the US was the same as watching some terrible, unthinkable tragedy happening to your next door neighbour's home. So even if your own house remained unscathed, your psyche didn't. It was the next worse thing to it actually happening in your home.

~ ~ ~ ~

This post. Disjointed.

Sort of like my memories of September 11, 2001, are today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Canadian, Please

This should solve all your problems.

Seriously, eh?

Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please
Even if in winter things tend to freeze
We've got the world monopoly on trees
And our country's bordered by three different seas

Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please
We invented the zipper, we've got expertise
We made insulin to combat disease
Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please

Brits have got the monarchy
The US has the money
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

The French have got the wine and cheese
Koalas chill with the Aussies
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

Et si ce n'Ă©tait pas assez
On a deux langues officielles:
L'anglais et le français
Ooh la la

Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please
Where else do you find mounted police
Or go to the hospital and not pay fees
Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please

And when freshwater is in high demand
We've got the world's largest supply on hand
So you know that we could make a pretty good friend
But it's even better if you can be...


So you're thinking to yourself,
"How do I live in this beautiful country?"
Well we've got some steps for you to follow...

STEP 1: Lose the gun
STEP 2: Buy a canoe
STEP 3: Live multiculturally
STEP 4: You're ready, there is no more!

We got beavers, caribou and moose
We got buffalos, bears, and Canadian goose
And we're sorry about Celine Dion
But she did do that good song for James Cameron...

Brits have got the monarchy
The US has the money
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

The French have got the wine and cheese
Koalas chill with the Aussies
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

The Greek chilled out with Socrates
Can't build a wall like the Chinese
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

In Kenya they have safaris
We've missed lots of other countries
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mixed Emotions

Autumn (or Fall as I prefer to call it) has always been my favourite time of the year.

The change in the colour of the leaves. The bright sunshine with a break from the stifling heat of summer. What's not to like?

The first few years after the girls started school, I found that I was happy to come back come September. Enough of their bickering and fighting. And demanding to be entertained. Time to put some structure and routine back in their lives. And mine.

But as they grew older (and as I accumulated more experience with the very "special" parent/school interaction inherent in having a child or two in school with special needs), I started to see it a different way. Having them over the summer really wasn't that bad.

'No more school, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks' took on a whole new meaning. After all, let's not forget ... no more meetings, no more phone calls and communication scribblers, no more crying over homework...

And no more 3,000 extracurricular activities to eat up your evenings. There are many times I would swear that that Christmas and summer holidays were only created so parents would not go completely off the deep end. To give us that much-needed break to catch our collectives breath.

So it is that this year, I look upon the season with mixed emotions.

I know that New Year's Day is suppose to be that time of taking stock and making resolutions. Somehow that has never much worked for me. For the past 11 years my calendar has revolved around the school year. It ends in June. And starts again in September.

And this year, it feels tinged with sadness. Although I am not entirely sure why.

I blinked. And missed summer. I think I was so focused on our trip out West last month, alternately waiting for and dreading the time and trying to get all done that needed to be before we went, that for me, summer started with that trip. And, apparently, ended shortly thereafter.

Another winter is coming. That I could live without. Sucks it does.

Then again (and perhaps what is really bothering me), there remains the matter of my work. Work, I have. Just not the kind of work I want. And yet if only it were as "simple" as going out and finding the job I want. I need to "create" the job I want, you see, not just find it.

When Mom was so sick last year, I knew she really needed me. In truth, I was pretty well running full-out. And yet, true as that was, it also gave me a ready made excuse to not do anything about my work situation. After all, Mom needed me. I had no time to go job-hunting, let alone job-creating. That would wait for 'later'.

Guess what? 'Later' has arrived. And so far, I haven't done much of anything in that regard. Yeah, me thinks that might just account for a significant amount of my melancholy at the moment.

That and the fact that back to school means that we will very soon be back to the school grind.

It couldn't be that I am just getting older. Nah, couldn't be that at all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

'All Aboard The Bus' - Some Troubling Thoughts

I put off blogging about this particular issue because, quite frankly, it troubles me. I had hoped that discussing the matter with others in the disability community and taking some time to mull it over myself might help to settle my thoughts, but to no avail.

It started when I stumbled across this story last week - I was completely unaware that Metro Transit had a history of offering blind and visually impaired passengers free passes on the Halifax buses.

Apparently they were about to pull the plug on the practice after receiving "informal complaints from disabled folks who said it wasn’t fair that one group was getting complimentary passes, but not others". Combine the complaints with the fact that some $420,000 in possible revenue was at stake and some feared the die was cast. End of the day, however, Halifax Council, for whatever reason, caved and the free bus passes for the visually impaired continues.

Here's my problem. I really am not sure on which side of this issue I sit, either legally or personally.

Legally, sec. 15(1) of the Charter prohibits discrimination on the basis of "physical or mental disability". So if free bus passes are given out to the blind but not, for example, to the mentally challenged, aren't those with intellectual disabilities being discriminated against?

And legally, is this really any different than allowing a blind person's support person to travel for free without having a similar policy for individuals with other disabilities?

Actually, despite how it may appear at first blush, I would answer probably not.

If a disabled person is unable to access a mode of public transportation (be it bus, aircraft or taxi) without the assistance of a support person, then to make that person pay two fares to access a system that the rest of the public can access by paying only one fare may well be discriminatory.

And if a public transit provider was to have in place a policy whereby they allowed individuals with one type of disability (ie. blindness) to have a support person travel for free but did not allow those with different disabilities (who also validly needed the services of a support person to access the mode of transit) to do so, I would say they were only helping to pound the nails into their own coffin.

But allowing one group of the disabled to travel for free (for whatever noble reasons),while it might be bad public relations in that it could conceivably really irritate and annoy others who are forced to pay full fare, doesn't strike me as being in the same ball pack, from a legal point of view. In my mind, it much more fits the definition of "discrimination", as has been fleshed out by the Supreme Court of Canada, to not offer free passes for anyone who needs a support person than it does to offer free passes only to the blind.

From a personal point of view, I am not much happier.


Cross-posted at A Primer on Special Needs and the Law