Monday July 25 , 2016

Archive for April, 2007

Whither Ann?

Where is Ann Coulter these days, anyway? You’d think the U.S. Administration would be hauling out its big guns in punditry at times like this.
What times, you ask?
Well, when Condi Rice is reduced to assigning words new meanings to get out from under, you probably need to take everybody back to a simpler time or the masses will start getting restless-er.
Remember then? When Ann Coulter said what so many pundits have said a million times since, couched a little finer, perhaps – “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity”?
Ah, the good old days. Because, correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t the War on Terror been… what’s the word Condi Rice used… embellished? No. Escalated? Not quite. Oh yeah – augmented.
Geez Louise. It almost seems these days as if there is augmentation without representation, so in retreat is the Administration on the home front while it gears up into overdrive on the war front
Democracy is such a drag. Thank Gawd there’s a war on to detract from it.
But it’s not just Ann Coulter who seems quieter these days, it’s all of the Republican right – including Canada’s Republican right. The bullying tone is gone, the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us”, bravado is missing, the belief that the war would be quick and decisive, the vanquished welcoming US with open arms, well… you get the point. They’ve lost the media war thereby “de-menting” the War on Terror to a battle in Iraq.
And let’s face it. A battle in Iraq just doesn’t inspire the same patriotic fervour as a War on Terror. There’s still the hearts and minds part – winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis – but it’s hardly worth it if you lost the hearts and minds of Americans in the process.
What hasn’t changed in the War on Terror is the moral certainty of its pundit supporters. That they sound decidedly misanthropic is kind of ironic, but still – the moral certainty comes through loud and clear. Still. Sure, Americans showed that support for the War on Terror had shifted to “a lot less” support for the War on Terror – but the belief by the U.S. Administration and its supporters that only a declaration of war by Christianity on Islam would expose Islam as a religion of war – holds fast. Still.
In some cases, it has augmented to an argument that saner minds deem quite racist – that not only is the War on Terror NECESSARY, but it should be escalated to include a war on birth control. Er… for Western women, at least. So we can get those Christian (Western and Christian having become somewhat interchangeable terms for the pundit supporters of the War on Terror – much like Muslims and Terrorists) baby numbers up to compete with the Muslim baby numbers.
Phew. War is hard.
What’s also hard is to believe that these lunatics ever had the support of a majority of Americans. And yet they did. And now, Canada is entrenched in Afghanistan, at least until 2009 and probably for years beyond that date. I mean, the NDP, which wants an immediate withdrawal of troops, just recently sided with the New Conservative government in not supporting a Liberal motion to force the Prime Minister to agree to 2009 as the absolute withdrawal date. Not that it matters. This government will do whatever it wants regarding Afghanistan if it gets a majority. And the Liberals were being a tad disingenuous, if you ask me, by introducing the motion at all. And while there is an argument to be made that the NDP should have supported the Liberal motion, I fail to see why.
Maybe the Liberals should have proposed an immediate troop withdrawal if they really wanted an end to this madness. Otherwise, it’s just grandstanding from the Party that put us there in the first place. And as an NDP supporter, I fail to see why we should be co-opted into supporting a meaningless bit of politicking. It’s just one more step down the road to the Americanization of Canada.
Whatever. It’s all so irrelevant now. Gosh… imposing democracy on another people. What were we thinking? But now we’re there, it’s so much more complicated, isn’t it. Especially since leaving at any time will mean abandoning the people there to one form of corruption or another.
Corrupt son-of-a-bitch #1, Warlord #2, or Taleban #3. Take your pick, Afghani voters. (And if somebody could enlighten me as to why Taliban is now spelled Taleban, I’d appreciate it. Because at the time the Americans first started bombing Afghanistan, I could swear it was Taliban. Please don’t tell me we weren’t even spelling the name of the oppressor of the Afghani people correctly.)
But I guess it was inevitable that Afghanistan would become like Iraq which would become like Afghanistan in some sort of endless War on Terror cycle. I mean, the invasion of Iran hasn’t even happened yet to cycle into the loop and already I’m feeling War on Iran deja vu. I’m sure at this point the U.S. Administration would like to re-declare the war a success and pull out.
But it can’t.
And so, on the home front, at least, there’s really nothing for it but to go back to the beginning to ensure this never happens again, and hold up to the light of today, all those grand claims by media supporters of the U.S. Administration in its first call to go to war – and juxtapose them to Condi Rice’s role on the world stage now as she travels the Globe re-defining the meanings of words in order to downplay the disaster NOW that was the original call to war THEN.
Oh yes – and maybe do what Israel is doing and haul up on the carpet the perpetrators of such madness for a good old fashioned probe:
It may be the only way to end the War on Terror.



Last night was my monthly book club meeting: “The Curse”, as I call it because we’re so “us”, that our last new member joined 8 years ago and we still have to call her “the new member” because we haven’t been able to keep a newer one for more’n one meeting.
Also, once you’re in Book Club, you can never leave. It’s not like Hotel California, either, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s like a book club that you can never leave because the other members will phone you and e-mail you and, in one case – come to your door – to make sure you show up for the monthly meeting.
Every month.
For the rest of your life.
Anyway, the food’s good, so, I really can’t complain too much and I only have to host it once/year (we take the summer off and one member is the permanent Christmas host because she lurrrrrrrrrrves Christmas so much that we make her take a regular turn, too) and it does ensure that I read at least one book per month.
This meeting we did “An Audience of Chairs” by Joan Clark, which we didn’t discuss much because the main character is mentally ill and that led almost immediately to a discussion about Mayor Larry O’Brien. One of our members, who works in and around City Hall, dispelled the possibility of mental illness, though, and said flat out, “Everybody at City Hall thinks he’s a psycho prick. And just very, very stupid.”
That doesn’t surprise me. I’d have just gone with “asshole” but she said, “No! No! No! More than just asshole. He’s a stupid psycho prick.”
By the way, Dear Reader, in case you don’t know who Mayor Larry O’Brien is, he’s a guy who probably received more in taxpayer dollars than all the Homeless in Ottawa since Homeless people were first discovered in Ottawa – even before he became Mayor and made it his first order of business to try and give himself a great big fat taxpayer dollars RAISE. He also, more or less famously, said last week on CFRA (Ottawa’s Hate Radio station):
“We’ve got to stop feeding the pigeons (referring to homeless people) in the Byward Market,” O’Brien said on Madely in the Morning.
“And we did that with real pigeons about 25 or 30 years ago and low and behold, you barely ever see a pigeon around here. You start doing that with the panhandlers — you stop giving out those toonies — and they’ll stop hanging around here.”
THEN he borrowed a page from retired Premier Ralph Klein’s hymn book to claim that Perth was sending it’s Homeless people to Ottawa, which led to the Mayor of Perth claiming that Perth did no such thing, before remembering to comment on the inhumaneness of Mayor O’Brien’s comments.
Anyway, I wouldn’t care about Mayor Larry O’Brien except he’s a charlaton holding the key to the city for FOUR MORE YEARS!!! Voters? Way to go. Now, suck it up – assholes.
But back to crazy people. The main character in Ms. Clark’s book has at varying times, schizophrenia, manic depression, bi-polar disorder, and post partum depression. Now, I’m no mental health expert, but I would have diagnosed her with that new mental health catch-all: a borderline personality. She had what I thought was a self involvement that didn’t allow her the capacity to consider other people. At first, I really didn’t like her at all, but as the book went on, I found myself rooting for her to establish at least a couple of mutual relationships. And there were parts of the book that I actually found quite gripping while I hoped for the best: Would she be able to keep it together just long enough to not alienate everybody else in the scene with her bizarre behaviour and maybe even come out of it with someone who could tolerate her enough for a little future to and fro?
But that’s just it with crazy people, isn’t it. We want them to normal up, to fit in, to GET IT TOGETHER AND ACT RIGHT!!!!!!!!
Or is that just me. C’mon. Admit it. You feel that way, too – don’t you? Sure, it takes all kinds to make a world, but, I would feel better if everybody acted right in the head in it, too.
Anyway, it struck me that by the end of the book, I had a certain respect for Moranna – just as she was. Which was an interesting transition for me to make. Certainly she had an adventurous life lived on her own terms. As I realized, who am I to talk about living right? Until very recently I lived my life according to the rules and was what any casual observer could see but I couldn’t – depressed. When I threw out the rule book, voila! – I was happy. A little less liked for a while, shunned for a bit – but eventually – it all worked out. I know that because I found myself caring again about people I had been angry at for a long time.
Also, something that struck me in the book that I’ve also noticed about the Homeless people around me (I live in downtown Ottawa) was that Moranna worked really hard. Physically. She walks for miles in the book and survives by her wits (which are often a double handicap) and fairly hard labour. But because she is so difficult a person to deal with, people really don’t care for her. And that’s understandable to me. Crazy people are hard to be around, hard to put up with, because - they won’t do what we want them to do – which is to act right.
Believe me – realizing that (and it took reading “An Audience of Chairs” to do it) was a real breakthrough for me. And I mean that in the sense that it’s my problem if I have trouble dealing with how other people choose to live their lives. Just like it’s Mayor Larry O’Brien’s problem. Except that he’s being paid to look out for ALL the citizens of Ottawa. I’m not. It’s my duty to care, as a decent person, about Homeless people – but it’s HIS duty to do right by them.
Or is it? Because talking about the Homeless in Ottawa led to a discussion about the latest, greatest issue in all of Canada’s newspapers right now – the crack problem.
Now, when I first moved into my apartment building, it turned out, unbeknownst to me, that there was a crack dealer, newly arrived, on the first floor. It wasn’t a nightmare, living in a building with a crack dealer on the first floor, but it was annoying. And a bit scary. Crack addicts, although skinny and jittery and generally pretty unhealthy, so not a big threat, physically, are desperate, too. So, it was a huge relief when he moved out, more or less of his own accord, although the police were watching him so that may have been what hurried up the exit – taking all his clients with him. Because, yeah – he was a normal enough guy and no real problem to deal with – but his clients were difficult and messed up.
As always at our book club meetings, one bit of discussion led to another and a couple of my fellow book clubbers said – flat out, and in majorly moralizing tones that these two simply do not use on any other subject, and which I doubt they even knew they had before crack came along – that they wouldn’t give money to Homeless people anymore because they didn’t want them buying crack with it – with THEIR money. And, they felt, that’s exactly what they were doing – taking THEIR money (which they would never say is hard-earned – even though in both their cases – it is – it really and truly is – because they’re not “like that” at all) and buying crack. Another one of our number even saw, first hand, a guy take her $5 and buy a rock from a guy leaning against a telephone pole just a few feet away.
To say they were mad about it – about what crack had made of giving money to Homeless people, I mean – would be an understatement. (And I’m being judgmental of them right now because I’m trying to be honest about my reaction at the time – which was judgmental. Whatever that says about me because as you will soon read – I was pretty much full o’ shite, mesself.)
Now, I’m not playing Devil’s Advocate, even, but I just can’t help feeling that if I were a crack addict, I’d want you to give me $5 so I could get a hit. But, giving me $5 and expecting me to turn my life around would probably annoy me. In fact, I think I’d be pretty pissed off. And I think I’d be justified to feel that way. Look, give me money or don’t, but if you give me money – don’t tell me how to spend it. Because, here’s the thing (and I didn’t realize it then, I only realized it when I examined my own conflicted feelings about giving money to someone I know is going to buy crack with it), my fellow book clubbers don’t want to give money to Homeless people now because – THEY DON’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT!
If it doesn’t make you feel good to give money to a Homeless person – then why give?
Which was when I realized – “Oh yeah… that’s why *I* give money, too! So *I* feel good!”
Oh dear, just when you think you’re holier’n your fellow book clubbers.
So, tell me (and bear in mind, I’m not talking about anything spiritual, here – I’m talking strictly feel good territory in the here and now – I’ve even reduced, “there but for the grace of god go I” to “there go I”) – is the real test of our humanity, giving the money and, knowing the person you’ve just given the money to is going to buy crack with it, walking away NOT feeling good about it?
Nevermind. It is. And all those do-gooders burbling on about helping others because it makes them feel good inside is just so much more bullshit and truth denial and mixing morality up with humanity.
Letting people live their lives in spite of ourselves is where it’s at, if you ask me. Which. Thankfully. No one ever does.


Shakespeare Rools!

I had a really cool realization on the weekend when I was asked to help my daughter with a Shakespeare assignment.
Who, what, when, where and why – other than Shakespeare – has been a constant in *our* education system other than Shakespeare?
That’s right, other historical fads may come and go with the politics of the times, but Shakespeare remains a constant educational touchstone.
The incredible thing, too, as I discovered, was how much fun it was to pass on all that I knew about the themes in Shakespeare. And I was amazed (as you would be, too, no doubt) by how much I could remember about who’s who – especially in the tragedies.
The particular play in play was MacBeth – NOT a play I studied in any great depth, but when my daughter wondered aloud about which scene to dissect, I immediately piped up “Out damn spot!”. And proceeded to argue my case quite forcefully as to why Lady MacBeth’s descent into madness, consumed as she was by guilt and remorse for what she had done, is one of the most tragic scenes of the tragic scenes of Shakespeare’s tragedies.
And there were… five?
The fact that I came to that realization – that it’s one of the best scenes in Shakespeare – only in the moment of my retelling of her desperate attempt to wash off the phantom stain of sin, made it all the more sweet. It also reminded me of why I liked Shakespeare way back when I studied it – because women have great parts in his plays. Which I thought was pretty cool for the times until I remembered – aha! – Elizabeth I was Queen!
Which, quite naturally, caused me to opine that women on top – obviously – bring out the best in men below.
It all fits when you put it just so – doesn’t it?
But oh how backward we are in these modern times, eh? I mean, contrast Shakespeare’s plays to Hollywood’s movies and notice the very obvious lack of good roles for women in these modern times. The best movie I’ve seen in a while, “Children of Men”, basically had the role of women reduced right down to one woman’s fertility. And I doubt the actress who played that role made anywhere NEAR the money she would have made playing a hooker with a heart of gold in something else.
In fact, I can’t imagine, even though over 50% of law school students (graduates?) are women, a Hollywood movie entrusting the delivery of the modern equivalent to, oh, say… “The Quality of Mercy” – to an actress. Unless it was by an uptalking blond bombshell who graduated Harvard Law School – shocking everybody in the world with her bubblicious brains, in spite of her blond bombshellness and bouncing boobies.
It really is kind of disgusting how cutesy backward pop culture is, if you ask me. I mean, there’s humour fodder there in terms of mockworth, but, well, watch Saturday Night Live, sometime. Talk about cheap laughs. If you don’t follow the shallowest news of the tartiest pop culture scene in the United States – you won’t get any of the jokes. Without the cultural reference points (Britney sans undies and O.C. death scenes) – they aren’t funny.
Which explains why I haven’t laughed at Saturday Night Live in about… oh… say… 25 years.
Still, it is heartening to know that if it were to take on Shakespeare, there would be however many generations there are alive watching who would all get the joke. That’s pretty cool, when you really stop and think about it. Even the Bible – maybe especially the Bible – isn’t as well known as Shakespeare by generations upon generations of students from the width and breadth of the English language education system.
King LEER, anyone?
Anyway, it was interesting, too, how the characters come alive again when one is put in mind of them. We even had a hilarious discussion of riddles and what constitutes a riddle when I gave away the surprise ending – MacDuff revealing himself to be “not of woman-born” – and killing MacBeth.
Ooh. That must’ve been sum freaky. Thinking you’re invincible and then – – the old forehead slap as blood gushes forth: “Who’d a thunk it?! The MacDuffster’s mom was a corpse!”
Of course, I probably couldn’t re-read any of the plays. Shakespearean English is just too much for me to be bothered with now. Just surfing through the book looking for old quotes to wow and amaze my friends and family with for years to come gave me eyestrain.
Anybody know any good movie re-makes I could rent instead?


Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Government

I came across a post on the internet the other day pointing out the New Conservative Government of Canada’s sudden and passionate concern about the possibility of job losses in the future should Canada implement much in the way of environmental protections in order to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
If you really stop and think about it, that’s in sharp contrast to the New Conservative Government of Canada’s almost total lack of concern about the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of jobs lost in our manufacturing sector.
But there you go. Some job losses matter more than others to New Conservatives, I guess.
In any case, since life according to our governments these days is all about growth and productivity and more, more, more, I suppose it doesn’t matter that blatant hypocrisy is the new way of doing politics. Afterall, growth is all about producing more and producing more is all about extracting natural resources out of the earth and extracting natural resources out of the earth is all about environmental decline.
Yay, the New World!
I mean, seriously. Since all our economic success and consequent environmental devastation is based on being consumers to the max, why isn’t our government – which is supposed to represent the citizenry – encouraging us to down tools more often, stop buying stuff, learn to live small? Why is our government, instead, always talking the productivity line. Always. Think about it – when was the last time a Federal Government of Canada didn’t talk the productivity line? I can’t remember when. Can you remember when?
Cripes, I can even remember the Power Corp offspring telling us we were bad little Canadians because we weren’t producing enough to keep up with… who? China? India? Jesus Christ on Pogey. Where in hell does the media find these nutters?
But there’s a long lost truth here that I’d like to remind everybody of – government isn’t business. It’s supposed to be the representative of the country’s citizenry. It isn’t supposed to represent business – it’s supposed to represent citizens. But it’s all so assbackwards now, isn’t it. Did you know that Corporations, for instance, are classed as individuals – in the sense that they have the rights of individuals – and yet, legally, they get to claim a sort of vague ground in the sense that, well, they AREN’T really individuals – are they.
But given that corporations are made up of individuals, who benefits from this steady erosion of citizen representation by our governments? Because it isn’t so much like this in the Old World, is it. Governments in Europe tend to respond more to what citizens want, as opposed to what business wants. How did it become so lopsided over here? Or was it ever thus and we have yet to evolve to a point where way of life matters, too. That everything in life isn’t about producing. That how we live isn’t all a matter of how much we consume. That we have the right to representation by our government that includes not working until we drop.
And you’d think government would, at this point, on its own and quite naturally, be responding to what is obviously, clearly, a citizenry in need of representation. And we shouldn’t have to fear that representation isn’t full on and consistent and, well, not so blatantly hypocritical that it isn’t any kind of representation at all.
What the hell is government for, afterall? Or should we just stop voting? What’s the point if the government just gets elected and then doesn’t represent the interests of citizens.
A “Citizens Party” anyone?


Stop Global Warming – Eat the Rich

Just in case anybody has missed it, I believe in the science of Global Warming, but I do not support Kyoto or Carbon Emissions Trading.
I’m sorry, But since the people pushing Carbon Emissions Trading are the same people who have carbon footprints bigger’n Michael Moore’s ass – they can eat my dust. And since those same people are all over in China and India super-sizing their carbon footprints, they can pay me for my dust after they’ve eaten it, too.
Thanks for the lecture, Carbon-Boy, but I ain’t buyin’.
Besides, no offence to my plus-size readers, but – if Al Gore gets any bigger, he’s gonna need to super-size his jet and hold his lectures in Greenland – the only place big enough for him AND his ego.
I know, I know – but why pick on Al Gore, Sooey?
Oh, why the hell not. Those carbon emission traders are pretty stupid, anyway, if you ask me. You want Kyoto passed in the United States? Point out the lucre to be made in the carbon emissions trading scam and you’ll have Bush the Junior signed on in no time.
But none of the above endears the Global Warming octopii to me, either. Gawd. Are there stupider people alive anywhere in the world, do you think? Last night, for some reason or other – oh yeah, I was trying to conserve energy – my energy – by not turning off the TV as I normally would and it must have been some time after The Simpsons’ or The Family Guy because Fox News was on the air.
Well, not Fox News, exactly. Fox Weather, to be more precise. And by news I mean nooze and by weather I mean whether.
O!Mi!Gawd! I had never heard of weather editorializing before, but – O!Mi!Gawd! That weatherman was like a spin guy out of Pravda-Gone-Wild. Did you know, for instance, that snow storms in the middle of April in the southern States are totally normal? Well they are. They happen all the time, in fact. Rain pouring down like bullets in New Mexico? Yup. You guessed it. Perfectly normal. That’s why the cactii live there – because of the bullet rain that they can absorb until they explode with happiness. Oh – and even though you may have thought the normal temperature for more northern States is somewhere in the 60s during April, you are O!So!Wrong! because it’s somewhere in the 80s. It’s true. The weatherman even commented on how beautiful it is in April – just like it has always been – because of the temperatures in the 80s instead of the nasty old 60s that never were – SISTER!
Honestly. He wasn’t even pretending to hide the editorializing. He looked right at the camera and pronounced the weather, the 80-degree temperatures, the bullet rains, the power-outting snow storms – as quite normal in April. So normal, in fact, that you’d be a crazy-conspiracy-minded-tin-foil-hatter to think the weather had ever been any different than really bizarre. Which wasn’t bizarre at all since bullet rain is refreshing and hot temperatures are calming and snow storms mean Christmas all year ’round.
So, you know, I feel like – once again, as per usual, such is my lot in life – I’m caught in the middle of a big lie. Maybe TWO big lies. It’s hard to say. I just know that anything green backed by a bunch of rich guys that excuses the countries where they’re making all their money these days from any environmental accounting – is not going to do me any good. They want it because it’s going to make them rich. Not me. Them. AND it’s not going to do anything to save the environment from being destroyed by rich guys who make their money from Mother Earth – whether it was here, then or is there, now.
BUT, I also know that when the bees are disappearing and there are cherry trees in bloom at the wrong time of the year and Mark Steyn’s blog store is closed to shoppers because of severe snow storms in April – that all is not right with the weather.
So, who’s with me to do what we all know needs to be done but have been putting off for fear of massive indigestion? That’s right.
Eat the rich. There’s only one thing for Global Warming and that’s it. We’ve got to eat the rich.
C’mon – who’s with me? We’ll just sponsor a big money-making-scheme gala somewhere in the middle of nowhere that you need a personal jet to get to and we’ll be there waiting with our pots and napkins and have ourselves a big ol’ rich feast.
I bet we could buy up all of China and India with their (our) carbon emissions savings.