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June 30, 2005

Happy Canada Day. Especially to you, Monte.

We've got a good thing going here. Canada, I mean. We do — it's indisputable. Our politicians suck; there were 17 people in front of me at the Beer Store tonight for one cash register, and the line totalled 30 at one point; the civil service is a living joke. But please, for one day at least, can we just appreciate what we have?

We have The Arcade Fire, for instance. Here they are in Vienna, at what I can only hope is the worst venue in the German-speaking world (photo by Sean):

Be happy. Drink Pilsner. Drink Creemore. Point Roman Candles away from your face.

I'll be back on Tuesday, latest.

Posted by Chris Selley at 12:58 AM

Pollyanna's revenge

This horrifying story should be required reading for the "what's so bad about polygamy anyway?" set. Reader's Digest version: unreformed Mormon elders are ditching their male children by the sides of roads, banishing them forever from their homes and families, ostensibly as excommunicative punishment for religious infractions. I think most could agree that sending a 13-year-old out to fend for himself is inherently immoral (many are apparently taken in by sane Mormon households), but it's all the more odious because of the real motive behind it: doubtless the more troublesome youngsters are the ones being singled out, but in reality this is just a twisted sort of cull. An abundance of young men is not something that polygamous communities can very well abide.

Perhaps as a result of these stories, and of a lawsuit launched by some of these so-called "Lost Boys," law enforcement appears to be cracking down on polygamous communities in Utah and Arizona. Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) — of which Winston Blackmore, Jim Oler and the residents of Bountiful, BC are adherents — has been indicted in Arizona, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, on an intriguing charge: "conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor."

Consider: this is a man believed to have more than 55 children by 40 wives, some of whom were once his, uh, "mothers." Polygamy is just as illegal in Arizona (and Utah) as it is here, and yet authorities have declined to prosecute him on those grounds. Instead, they're going after him because he arranged a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 28-year-old. If this sticks, I think it's rather ingenious.

And I hope BC's Attorney General is watching, because Canada has its share of Lost Boys too. One-time Bountiful resident Jane Blackmore explained the phenomenon in a 2004 interview with The Tyee. Faced with a dwindling population of eligible females, she claims, Bountiful's young men "…get out on the streets, and do drugs and parties and find girls, and then, of course, once they start doing that they are considered the 'Lost Boys'… I know one woman in particular, and eight of [her 15] kids were boys, and she does not know where any of those boys are."

Canadians should find this outrageous. I think they would if they knew about it. So now, what's that you say, Mr Plant? The polygamy law is constitutionally fragile? Well then bollocks to the polygamy law: for each marriage over which Mr Blackmore or Mr Oler presides that involves a child under 18, simply charge him with conspiracy. (The "husbands" are no less culpable, of course, but it would be vastly preferable not to throw the entire adult population, Pictairn Island style, in jail.)

Demographics must be one of the strongest arguments against multiple-marriage. Even Islam, as I understand it (which is hardly at all), permits polygamy only in circumstances where necessity demands it — say, in a male-predominated post-war society in which women are completely dependent on men for survival. In addition to offending our moral sensitivities, be they religious and secular, polygamy is just bad science. And in the end, it has no real support, except from libertarian theorists who wonder why healthy and normal people shouldn't be allowed to enter into polygamous relationships (they ignore the fact that there are no healthy and normal people who wish to), and from anti-gay marriage activists who invoke the spectre of polygamy as a rhetorical device.

Both are artificial. The vast majority of Canadians find polygamy abhorrent — 96 percent, according to a recent Vanier Institute report — and besides, the children of Bountiful are not rhetorical devices. They are Canadians, and they deserve a damn sight better than they're getting in Bountiful. How wonderful it would be if even a portion of the Right's anti-SSM venom could now be redirected towards Bountiful's polygamists, whose actions actually do impact children's lives on a daily basis.

Posted by Chris Selley at 12:23 AM

June 29, 2005

Not a very happy Canada Day in Medicine Hat

The Rest of Canada: "What's wrong, Monte? You've hardly touched your Banana Ka-boom."

Monte Solberg, MP: "The new Canada. You can have it."

The Rest of Canada: Oh, pumpkin! Shhh. It'll be alright. Please don't take your ball and go home. You're one of the ones who doesn't totally suck, remember?

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:20 PM

Downhill on rollerskates

A selection of comments from the teeming chum pool of stupidity and hate into which The Shotgun has degenerated over the last couple of days:

From RightGirl, a Shotgun-sanctioned poster, this geyser of misinformation:

Mormons, who are a mainstream religion of the Christian doctrine, currently permit polygamy. It's not legally recognized, but it is part of their faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints recognizes it, without pushing the agenda on you or I.

In the same post, commenter "Old Mother" is at least good for a laugh:

I was a naive prairie girl who ended up living on Davie Street in a predominately homosexual apartment complex. I learned to never leave my "sexy black lingerie" unattended in the washer or dryer. More often than not, it was stolen and I had to knock on several doors to track it down.

More effusive pleasantness from RightGirl:

You picked the wrong forum for your smugness, gayandright. I would suggest those at rabble.ca would love to meet you in the bath house for a celebration, but the rest of us will be working hard to protect what we still have, namely freedom of religion in Canada.

And "Old Mother" again:

These people are incredibly volatile and emotionally labile [hey, me learn new word! –ed.]. Their lives are often a crisis-laden and full of confusion. The antics of Svend Robinson should send shivers down your spine when you think of him being a Mother/Father role model! In my experience, Svend is typical.

And then, "reactionary" responds to "Old Mother":

Fudge-packers rejoice! The family unit which you so loathe is now offically on life support, courtesy of Paul Martin and his gang of thieves.

We are now well on the road to the brave new world of the Benelux social engineers, trashing the basic institutions of civilization in order to appease a a minority of vociferous sexual perverts.

Free speech? Sure. And it's all very informative as an under-the-hood peek at Canada's bigoted extremes, but no serious magazine should be allowing these sorts of "discussions" to go on under its masthead. There are some smart people over there, and for what it's worth, I suggest they be issued usernames and passwords forthwith, to the exclusion of all others.

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:54 PM

June 28, 2005

2-0 Canada

Once again, we save the French with the aid of parachutes.

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:57 PM

Fairway Road, corner of Frivolous Lawsuit Lane

Good grief, again? Just how many stories is the Star planning to give us about Charles and Pauline Sammut, the heroically asinine couple who bought a home next to a golf course in 1999 and have been fighting said golf course ever since because, well, there's a lot of golf balls flying around. (I shit you not — they live on Fairway Road!) Who would have thunk it? On June 23, Pauline told the Star:

It's been a nightmare. We've been hostages in this house. I would be killed if I were hit with one of those balls… I think (golfers) got marks for hitting the house.

Then, it gets wild:

This week, the Sammuts were awarded $9,000 in damages to repair property, plus $5,000 for past nuisance in a decision by Justice Elizabeth Stewart. The Superior Court also ordered the private golf club to stop its members from playing on the third hole of its 18-hole course in any way that results in balls being hit in the direction of their home or crossing their property.

Okay, fine. That's not the single most unreasonable decision I've ever heard. The course is obviously responsible to some extent for its golfers' errant shots. But one begins to get the impression that the Sammuts are jerks:

The dream scenario would be for the club to shut down, suggested Pauline Sammut. At the very minimum, she and her husband hope that a recently erected 7.5-metre fence by the club is extended further along its property line to protect the front of her house. Ideally, they'd like the third hole to be redesigned.

Having considered shutting down and redesigning an entire hole to suit two miserable old pensioners, the club took the eminently reasonable step of extending the fence. Charles and Pauline don't like that idea any more:

"I'm peeved and mad," said Charles Sammut, 75, upon hearing of the proposed solution. "I do not want a 22-foot fence in front of my house. It's going to make us feel encaged. I don't even think it's going to stop the balls.

Here's an idea: MOVE. I'm of half a mind to drive out to Etobicoke with my 3-wood and show these old coots just how much damage can be done by one man with a wicked slice who's sick of whiny idiots monopolizing his news. What the hell is wrong with these people? What's wrong with the Star, for that matter?

[UPDATE June 29. Reader Mike Chalk — a lawyer, it appears — wrote me with this fine piece of precedent:

"I don't know if you're familiar with Lord Denning, the crusty former head of the English Court of Appeals, but he wrote a famous opinion in Miller v Jackson about this very situation (substituting cricket for golf, natch). The parallels are eerie: a house built well after the course/pitch; an extended fence; damages; and wails of distress from the homeowners. If you ever study negligence or nuisance, you'll see this case."

Just two of the eerily relevant excerpts from Denning's dissent:

I must say that I am surprised that the developers of the housing estate were allowed to build the houses so close to the cricket ground. No doubt they wanted to make the most of their site and put up as many houses as they could for their own profit. The planning authorities ought not to have allowed it.
No one has been hurt by any of these balls, either before or after the high fence was erected. There has, however, been some damage to property, even since the high fence was erected. The cricket club have offered to remedy all the damage and pay all expenses. They have offered to supply and fit unbreakable glass in the windows, and shutters or safeguards for them. They have offered to supply and fit a safety net over the garden whenever cricket is being played. In short, they have done everything possible short of stopping playing cricket on the ground at all. But [plaintiff] Mrs. Miller and her husband have remained unmoved. Every offer by the club has been rejected. They demand the closing down of the cricket club. Nothing else will satisfy them.

Lord Denning died in 1999. Clearly his spirit does not live on in the Ontario Superior Court.]

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:32 PM

June 27, 2005

Stephen Harper said

To reiterate: Stephen Harper not going to a gay pride parade is not news. This is news:

"Because it's being passed with the support of the Bloc, I think [same-sex marriage] will lack legitimacy with most Canadians," Harper told CBC Newsworld.

"The truth is most federalist MPs oppose this."
Conservative justice critic Vic Toews went further.

"The federalist MPs in Canada, the majority of them, would oppose (gay marriage) on a free vote. So what we are seeing now is simply an agreement by this government with the separatist Bloc — who have no long-term interest in staying in Canada."

Okay. Holy crap. Okay. Let. Me. Get. This. Straight.

January 20, 2005:

"I think we should say, 'We have a definition of marriage in this society, it's widely supported — a man and a woman — and it doesn't prevent rights and benefits to other couples,'" Harper said.

"I think that's where we should draw the line, and I don't want to get into the polygamy debate — but I fear if we do this, the next thing on the Liberal agenda will be polygamy and who knows what else."

But no, it wasn't about the slippery slope.

February 4, 2005:

[Harper] told a Sikh gathering in Toronto that the bill to allow same-sex couples to marry jeopardizes Canada's reputation for tolerance and ethnic diversity.

"This is a threat to any Canadian who supports multiculturalism," Mr. Harper said Friday night. "It is a threat to a genuinely multicultural society."

But no, it wasn't about multiculturalism.

May 2, 2005:

The Supreme Court of Canada has never indicated in any ruling that the traditional definition of marriage was unconstitutional. To the contrary, in many cases the court has supported the decision. For example, in the Egan decision on marriage, former Supreme Court Justice La Forest addressed the definition directly when he stated:

Marriage has from time immemorial been firmly grounded in our legal tradition, one that is itself a reflection of long-standing philosophical and religious traditions. But its ultimate raison d'être transcends all of these and is firmly anchored in the biological and social realities that heterosexual couples have the unique ability to procreate, that most children are the product of these relationships, and that they are generally cared for and nurtured by those who live in that relationship. In this sense, marriage is by nature heterosexual.

But no, it wasn't about philosophy, religion or children.

After all that, it was about... federalism. Ugh.

The Liberals have no idea how to govern. The Conservatives don't know what's going to come out when they open their mouths. As far as politicians go, we are well and truly fucked. Please don't misunderstand me: What Harper said isn't offensive; it isn't "scary". It's just aggressively, clunkingly stupid. Someone should have told him not to say it, and he or she didn't. Lord help you, Stephen Harper. Lord help us all.

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:20 PM

June 26, 2005

Gay snide

Ted Byfield, soothsayer:

Meanwhile [as the country is going to hell in a C-38-brand handbasket], lesbian couples will have been allowed to adopt children. Would it not be vicious discrimination to deny them such a right? It certainly would, the [supreme] court will rule.

And since gay women have that right, surely gay men should be allowed to adopt little boys. How can the court say no?

There's nothing quite like being threatened with the status quo. For the love of criminy, gays and lesbians already have the right to adopt children. (Proviso: According to a Manitoba Justice Review Panel Report, such adoptions are prohibited in New Brunswick, PEI and the Northwest Territories.) 930-odd thousand Canadians notwithstanding (none of them Albertan), this argument is among the reddest herrings you're likely to come across.

It's also incredibly offensive. It presupposes that a child is better off living in perpetuity in foster-care limbo rather than being adopted by an otherwise capable, qualified and caring adult or couple who just happens to be homosexual. That's not just nonsensical; it's truly hateful. It should be eradicated from the public consciousness no matter what happens with C-38.

Posted by Chris Selley at 07:37 PM

Ooh, what a night

Tragically, this summer will mark the third in a row that I will miss Sloan's yearly attempt to rock The Kee to Bala off its moorings and set it adrift on Lake Muskoka. No, it's not because I'm going to Live 8.

Anyway, since we're on the topic of great Canadian music, let me just say how thrilled I am to see that April Wine, Canada's most underappreciated hit-makers, will be taking the elevated stage on Saturday, August 6. As long as a certain friend (whose cottage is just a short drunken stumble across a train trestle from Dunn's Pavilion) comes through, I'll finally get to see Live 8's most egregious oversight play in one of the world's truly unique venues.

Posted by Chris Selley at 06:12 PM

All the news that's fit to make

What the hell is this supposed to mean?

Conservative leader Stephen Harper's efforts to improve his image apparently doesn't [sic] extend to Canada's gay community.

Despite being in the Toronto-area [sic] today, Harper won't be attending the city's Gay Pride Parade.

Oh, come on. He never said he would! This isn't even close to news.

[UPDATE later that same night, in a seedy flophouse: Wells noticed it too.]

Posted by Chris Selley at 03:43 PM

Bobby Curtola indeed

The Ambler believes that patriotism clouds my musical judgement. I'm willing to consider it, but certainly not on the grounds that I claimed that the boys from Green Day are bigger international stars than Brian Wilson. They are — it's as simple as that. Unscientifically, I hereby bet my reputation that Billy Joe is more recognizable to more people in the world than Mr Wilson. Scientifically, I note that at the time of writing, Green Day's American Idiot is the 16th best selling CD on Amazon.com. Wilson's Smile, which was released a week later, languishes in 259th position.

Does any of this make sense? Of course it doesn't. Nothing about popular music makes sense. Green Day isn't fit to grind up Brian Wilson's Xanax and stir it into his mush. Mr Grace has mistaken the fact that "I would be at least somewhat interested in seeing" a bunch of okay bands that I don't dislike — for free, mind you, after a gun had been pointed at my head — for some sort of declaration of support for the Barrie line-up. Quite the contrary: it sucks. But except for London's, so do all the other Live 8s. As much as I'd love to see simpering commies Green Day, Wilson's one-octave range and whatever sort of geriatric (pro-fox hunt?) act Roxy Music puts on these days, I could definitely do without Chris de Burgh, Audioslave, A-ha (! –ed.) and the dozen-or-so acts that no one outside of Germany has ever heard of.

Ultimately it's impossible for either side to win a debate about whether or not Canadian music sucks, especially when one side is already convinced that it does and freely admits that he doesn't listen to new music. "You're sure there aren't a whole lot of Canadian artists who are young, critically acclaimed and internationally popular who just don't happen to be on the bill?" I asked. "Maybe so," Mr Grace responded. Maybe so! No, it is so. It's silly that a backlash against Canadian music in general should occur simply because the Rolling freakin' Stones' concert promoter put together a lousy festival show; it's painfully ironic that it should come now, when there has never been more positive buzz about Canadian pop music.

[UPDATE June 29: And now there's Neil freakin' Young and DM to the mother-fuckin' C. Quite frankly, this lineup is approaching respectability. (An aside: I hereby object to the CP referring to Neil Young as a "Can-con artist.")]

Posted by Chris Selley at 03:30 PM

June 25, 2005

So much for the burgeoning Toronto and Montreal music scenes

This being Canada and all, the bleating about Barrie's weak Live 8 line-up is not surprising. Nor are the dubious extrapolations to overall Canadian crappiness. But they're still stupid.

If you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick any of the Live 8 shows other than London's to attend (and you'd need the gun), I would choose Barrie. Seriously. It's all very well to wish that "we" had come up with some ultra-hip indie-rockstravaganza, but this is a Michael Cohl joint, after all. He can't very well book 'em if he's never heard of 'em. Surely it's more fair to compare it to the other Live 8 shows.

To wit, here are the artists (that I've heard of) at each major show that I would be at least somewhat interested in seeing, along with my (subjective) pick as to the biggest international star in attendance:

Barrie: Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, Sam Roberts, Tegan & Sara, and The Tragically Hip. (Biggest international star: Bryan Adams.)
Berlin: Brian Wilson, Green Day, Roxy Music. (Biggest international star: Green Day.)
Paris: The Cure. (Biggest international star: same, or possibly Sheryl Crow.)
Philadelphia: Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder. (Biggest international star: tough call, but it's neither of those, so whoever it is sucks.)
Rome: None. (Biggest international star: uh, Faith Hill? Tim McGraw? This is the Rome in Italy, right?)
Tokyo: Björk. (Biggest international star: same, or possibly Good Charlotte.)

So, what's the big deal? It's one astonishing concert in London and a bunch of middling ones elsewhere. Check out Rome and Berlin's rosters and tell me that the Canadian show is unique in presenting artists who aren't known very well (if at all) outside their home countries. Go on, I dare you. When was the last time you bought a Die Toten Hosen record? Who the hell are Le Vibrazioni, I ask, in much the same way an Italian would question the existence of Blue Rodeo.

Here's the Shotgun's normally not-so-bad "Right Girl":

These are our best artists.

Therein lies the problem. Canadian content, or [insert dramatic air-quotes here –ed.] Can-con, rules have made it so that Canadian artists do not have to be the best in the world. They do not have to gain international recognition, and if they do, it is often with just one hit. An exception would be someone like Alanis Morissette, who has proven to be an international success, and who is conveniently promoting her new 10th anniversary acoustic Jagged Little Pill. Is the [sic] in the line-up for Live 8? Of course not.

Wowsers. You're sure that's it, RightGirl? You're sure Alanis isn't booked in St Louis on July 2? You're sure that popularity and merit are the exact same thing in the music business? You're sure there aren't a whole lot of Canadian artists who are young, critically acclaimed and internationally popular who just don't happen to be on the bill?

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:13 PM

June 23, 2005

Streetcar named expensive

Maybe the Toronto Transit Commission delegation did come back from its much-maligned junket to Rome with something after all, because there seems to have been a rather abrupt shift in my city's streetcar policy. Today's National Post reported (for free!) that a full-on buying campaign will soon be underway. Commissioner Joe Mihevc "said he wants the new cars sooner [than the currently projected 2011], saying he believes it can be done within four years. 'I do have ants in my pants,' he said."

Boy howdy, does he ever. Not very long ago at all, on April 18, things weren't looking all that good for Mihevc. The prevailing wisdom appeared to favour a $214 million rebuilding program that would keep the current fleet in operation until 2020. Mihevc estimated that replacing it with Houston-style light rail cars, the apple of his eye, would cost one billion dollars. And there were other problems:

The Houston model is heavier [than the current cars], can't climb the hill [on Bathurst Street] to St Clair [which is necessary to reach the maintenance yards], and is too long to short-turn or turn around at the loops at the end of most streetcar lines.

Oh, is that all? (Admittedly, the short-turn/loop problem could be addressed with "ambidextrous" rollingstock.)

Furthermore, there's this:

Accessibility in fact, is perhaps the biggest point here. A half-dozen people in wheelchairs showed up to a TTC meeting at City Hall last week.

"Why is it your streetcar and not mine?" Mark Brose of Transportation Action Now asked the commission. "Are you comfortable with that?" Mr. Brose said he moved from Roncesvalles Avenue to Yonge Street because he can ride subways but not streetcars.

TTC officials say there is no easy way to bring wheelchairs on to our current streetcars, and Mihevc agrees that, "I can't see redoing the existing ones to be wheelchair accessible."

It's impossible to say this without coming off as something of a prick, but making Toronto's streetcar system wheelchair accessible is an absolutely crazy idea. I have never seen a person in a wheelchair on a Toronto bus, even on one that is theoretically wheelchair accessible. To my knowledge, however, there is no way for a traveler to know when a wheelchair-accessible vehicle might be on its way and when one is definitely not. This might account for the under-usage. Well, that and the fact that the TTC's Wheel Trans service "provides door to door accessible transit service 7 days a week," and "regular TTC fares apply".

The accessibility movement is admirable, but must necessarily be kept in check by fiscal realism. With Mihevc at the controls, I think Toronto taxpayers such as myself might have something to worry about here. This is a man who favoured a streetcar plan that cost $786 million more than its competitor, and why?

Because we are like sardines [on the current cars]. It is very passenger-unfriendly. You gotta get around that bar that's there so people don't climb on without paying their lousy [? –ed.] two bucks [$2.50, thank you very much. –ed.], and you gotta exit by the back door but you can't get to the back door [Yes you can, buttercup. Get your elbows up. –ed.]. And the moms can't get their strollers up and you gotta help them [How awful for you. –ed.].

I ride the College and Spadina streetcars to work every morning. They work really well, notwithstanding the occasional full-on meltdown. In short, I don't see anything in the Toronto streetcar system that needs three quarters of a billion dollars (extra) thrown at it.

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:43 PM

Go no more a-roving

By now I'm sure everyone's heard of Karl Rove's little outburst yesterday:

"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

(The New York Times has the quote the other way around and all as one, interestingly enough.)

Memo to the Democrats: that tickle in your throat is probably a short length of four-pound test. Sure, what he said is insensitive and silly, but this is Karl Rove. Remember? The Dark Prince and all that? Whatever it is you're doing, it's what he wants.

Anyway, what really gets my goat about it is the linguistic switcheroo in the Democrats' language. Here's the man himself, John Kerry (he says, nervously lifting a quote from Michelle Malkin's blog):

For Karl Rove to equate Democratic policy on terror to indictments or therapy or to suggest that the Democratic response to 9/11 was weak is disgraceful.

Yeah, but see, Rove didn't say "Democratic". He said "liberal". That's not the same thing. It doesn't make what Rove said any more coherent, but this widespread belief that right=conservative=Republican and left=liberal=Democrat might be the dominant conversational disease of our time. Way more dominant than, say, libel chill. It's always disappointing to see it go unmedicated.

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:16 PM


What? No. There's nothing going on. I just have nothing to write about at the moment, is all.

Posted by Chris Selley at 02:01 AM

June 20, 2005

Papa Bob's Really Big Show

Time has an interview with Bob Geldof (among others), in which he responds to the "Live 8 is too white" complaint:

This is a political event, not a cultural event. In order to get political momentum, one guy with a banner is not enough. You need millions. The lingua franca of the planet, as we learned from Live Aid, is not English—it's pop music. From Guangzhou to Bogotá, they listen to 50 Cent, Eminem, U2 and Coldplay. Do they listen to the more esoteric individual cultures? No. That's reality. Do they listen to Muddy Waters? I wish they did. Then I'd put a bill up there with him and John Lee Hooker. [Geldof apparently counts reanimation among his many skills. –ed.]

It's an interesting response. If Geldof, Hewson & Co. were just after a spectacle, then he'd be quite right. But they're not just after a spectacle — they're trying to get money out of western governments to help Africa. So the question is: Why does 40,000 people at a free concert in Barrie mean that the Canadian government should cough up its share of the requisite gazillions? Geldof's explanation suggests that he doesn't believe Live 8's attendees actually give a crap about Africa — and he's dead right — but by inflicting precisely zero African content on the assembled non-paying customers he's just made it all the more obvious. "Why are we doubling our aid again?" I would ask myself, were I Prime Minister. "Because 40,000 people went to see Billy Talent?"

Live 8's achilles heal isn't a lack of African performers but a lack of visible African organizers. That, and a narrow focus. I don't doubt that Geldof's heart is in the right place, but his methods couldn't really appear more paternalistic unless he re-dubbed the show Rescue Rhodesia Now!. This doesn't mean he should call the thing off, by any stretch of the imagination. A massive influx of capital to any war-, famine-, drought- and poverty-ridden area should always be a positive development, provided it is distributed and administered properly.

That, of course, is the rub. As it stands, African aid is not distributed and administered even remotely properly, as evidenced by the imperceptible/non-existent decline in human misery on the continent over the years, even as aid has steadily increased. A far more effective overall message would include respected Africans and other world leaders who are committed to the wholesale political shampooing that most of the continent needs. "Let us get the money," Bob and Bono might say, "and you guys figure out how not to piss it away like we've been doing for the last 50 years." They still have ten days or so...

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:03 PM

June 19, 2005

Who's going to tech-support my Tandy 3000?

An inexplicably successful brand name has been erased from the Canadian mallscape forever, and without so much as a peep. (Well, it's news to me, anyway.) Ladies and gentlemen, Radio Shack is no more.

Had it gone out of business completely, I would have understood. The Shack's business model was pretty much the polar opposite of the prevailing big-box mentality: flood the store with greasy salespeople, sell only two kinds of everything, charge a fortune for it, and take the customer's phone number when they check out. There isn't a single goddamn thing you could get at Radio Shack that you can't get at WalMart for half the price (correction: there is one goddamn thing), and yet locations flourished — there are more than 37 in the Toronto yellow pages alone — luring in the easily impressed with cheap electronic keyboards, flashing red police lights and karaoke machines. "Looking for a computer, sir?" a high-pressure sales pitch might have gone. "You've come to the right place. We've got three of 'em!"

Radio Shack hasn't really disappeared, in fact. It has simply been rebranded as The Source by Circuit City. Logically, however, this should spell disaster. The only things the Shack had going for it were name recognition and the fact that you knew certain things would be available there: batteries; speaker wire; that little adapter thingy to hook up your computer's headphone jack to your stereo. Without name recognition, people are quickly going to realize that the same essentials are available for far less at the big boxes, and entirely anonymously to boot.

Posted by Chris Selley at 06:19 PM

June 18, 2005

Sheffield Saturday

I got an e-mail yesterday from a good-natured Sheffielder named Jane Ritson. It seems that after many years of languishing in obscurity, my "Places that Suck: Sheffield" feature has finally made its way across the pond. Everyone in Sheffield General Chat seems to have a fine sense of humour — which helps, I'd imagine, when you live in Sheffield. Personally, though, I find myself a tad upset that nobody at all was offended.

Posted by Chris Selley at 06:23 PM

June 15, 2005

Family reunion

It seems to me that we're handling the Khadrs just about right. The allies in the War on Terror can say about these people what they can say about all too few terrorists and potential terrorists: "We know where they are, and we know what they're doing." When lovely Zaynab Khadr returned to Canada in February, RCMP officers were waiting for her at Pearson. They impounded her laptop and it may have yielded some important information. And now that she's back, she can kiss her passport goodbye and live out a pathetic life of terrorist sympathy in some soulless GTA apartment block. I can think of few fates more fitting.

Indeed, the selfishness of the "deport the Khadrs" crowd astonishes me. Look, I'd rather this family didn't exist at all, but since they do, I'm glad they're in Canada. We're keeping tabs on them. We're stopping them from leaving. Notwithstanding various pie-in-the-sky vigilante murder scenarios, the only practical alternative to the Khadrs staying here is to send them to a country crazy enough to accept them: Pakistan, perhaps, or Egypt, where they may have a claim to citizenship. And those are probably the best case scenarios. They're not going to Bermuda, put it that way.

One cannot legitimately claim to support the war on Islamic terrorism if one advocates sending the able-bodied Khadrs back to the Middle East. We need fewer terrorists over there, remember? Whose fault will it be when one of them blows himself up in some Iraqi town square? Jean Chrétien's?

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:42 PM

June 13, 2005

Beat it

Speaking of The Ambler, and speaking as a casual observer, the Jacko verdict seems right to me for the exact reasons Mr Grace identified two months ago: because the prosecution wasn't trying the right case. These "past pattern" prosecutions are technically above-board, I know, but they necessarily smack of desperation and should logically multiply reasonable doubt exponentially: since the case isn't strong enough to prove on its own merits, in other words, the prosecutors fall back on previous unproven (or in this case untried) cases. Especially in the case of multi-zillionaire celebrities who are known targets of blackmailers and all other manner of grifters, such tactics should automatically send the prosecution's chances into a slow counterclockwise swirl.

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:44 PM

Blech! Pthfft! Ptooey!

The Ambler, who has been on a wonderful tear of late, sinks his teeth into Ted Byfield's hilarious foray into the politics of breastfeeding. I have nothing to add to Mr Grace's delightfully vicious post except to highlight this passage from Byfield's column:

It [breastfeeding] suggests the idea of wealth, of plenty, of richness. You get the same feeling when you look at a field of full, ripe and rich wheat or barley, waving in a light August wind, the sentiment some great and unknown Jewish poet expressed in the 65th psalm:

The fields shall be clothed with sheep,
And the valleys shall stand so thick with corn
That they shall laugh and sing.

Well, sure. And what do you think of when you look at a jar of Similac? Aisle six at the Price Chopper? Exactly. So get those jubblies out, ladies.

Only in the Calgary Sun.

[UPDATE June 16: Michelle Malkin uses Ted Byfield as a source for a quote and gets burned (scroll down to "Corrections"). Lesson learned, I guess.]

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:33 PM

Senator Stupid

I don't know exactly what Michel Biron thinks he's doing with his "support" of Karla Homolka. He seems to think that people should be free and clear once they've paid their debts to society. Sorry, grandpa: you picked the right horse in the wrong race. The only point to be made here other than what a horrible person Homolka is and what horrible things she deserves to have happen to her is that when salivating reactionaries meet murdering psychopaths, the only possible outcome is a complete intellectual train wreck.

Meanwhile, over at Dooney's Cafe, Brian Fawcett makes a well-argued case for just chilling the hell out (though I'm a little suspicious of all the amateur psychiatry in there):

What characterized [Homolka's] personality — and the erotic pathology she and Bernardo synergized — was not a perverted monstrousness but an extreme cultural conventionality coupled with an absence of imagination.

Indeed. Bernardo was an accountant, for heaven's sake! If Paul and Karla had been a 2005 phenomenon, their sexual transgressions (i.e., everything short of murder) would have struck millions of hairy-palmed porn-hounds as the extreme amplification and acting out of a particularly depraved afternoon's downloading. I think I'm ready to accept the fact that this woman got off easy and that the chances of her re-offending, while certainly not as low as I'd like, are pretty much pegged to the chances of her finding another Paul Bernardo. And there aren't very many of those, thank goodness, no matter how little you think of society these days.

Posted by Chris Selley at 12:08 AM

June 11, 2005

Not my kind of heroes

"An incandescent courage," says commenter "ed" over at the Captain's Quarters in response to "an open letter from Gemma McCartney." But I've said it before with regards to the McCartney sisters (whose brother Robert was beaten to death at a Belfast pub in January by IRA-affililated thugs): you want to be very, very careful before you grant them beatification. There can be little doubt that the family is courageous. Standing up to the IRA is not something to be taken lightly, especially when hitherto respected Sinn Fein politicians are willing to threaten you on the IRA's behalf. But from thousands of kilometres away, it's all too easy to assume that these women are anti-violence, anti-IRA, anti-Troubles in general — and many seem to have gone ahead and done so — even though there's little evidence to support such a conclusion.

In fact, these women are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. Their anger at the IRA is restricted to the murder of their brother. They demand not the dissolution of this terrorist organization, but rather that it follow its own rules:

They [the murderers] thought they could walk away because they had the shield of the IRA. But the IRA is a more educated animal than these beasts, and true Republicans have seen through their attempts to dismiss the actions that were authorised that night. When the Army counsel held an internal inquiry the result upheld the reasoning that they must be held accountable for those actions…

Brave men, who have fought and suffered for principles, have admitted that this has become a public embarrassment to their aspirations of Truth and Justice.

The sisters also have a knack for incredibly ironic statements. As I wrote on March 11:

…the reason the incident has taken on such significance seems to be because of the impossibly quaint notion, as put forth by Paula McCartney, that the IRA men "seem to be out of control"… in 2005, mind you! ("This isn't about what the IRA has done for the community in the past," went the decidedly non-ingratiating preface to her comments.)

And now this, from Gemma's open letter: "…the Irish reputation for civility and respectability died on that night" — on January 30, 2005! Are these people completely out of their minds? I wonder what the McCartney sisters think happened to Irish civility and respectability on, say, December 3, 1992, or March 16, 1988, or, of course, August 15, 1998. Did Irish civility and respectability stay the same as its Republican Army was blowing up buildings and killing babies? Did it increase in stature?

I'm sorry for their loss, and I hope the McCartneys' crusade helps lead to a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. But if it does, it seems to me that it will be a happy accident. It will be because the sisters care more about what the IRA did to their brother than what it's done to countless innocent men, women and children in the name of a cause the McCartney family still firmly supports.

Posted by Chris Selley at 07:28 PM

Ban on the run

In addition to not bringing down the Librano$ (Is it me, or is that joke getting funnier? No, it can't just be me. It's very, very funny.), the Gomery ban-busting bloggers can add much tougher publication bans to their short list of accomplishments:

The judge at Robert Pickton's first-degree-murder trial has imposed an innovative media ban, prohibiting publication of Internet addresses that include information from the pretrial heartings…

Still to minimize the risk [of jury tainting], Judge Williams wrote, he decided to ban publication or broadcast by any means, including the Internet, of information that would identify websites or other sources…

In an attempt to squelch the U.S. media, defence lawyer Peter Richie had asked the court to impose a Draconian ban prohibiting anyone in the public gallery from repeating anything heard in court to anyone outside the courtroom.

Such a ban would make it illegal for a member of the public to tell Americans what had occurred in court.

Personally, I don't give a damn. But I am curious as to why an advertising executive's right to a fair trial is less important to some people than that of a psychopathic pig farmer.

Posted by Chris Selley at 04:58 PM

June 09, 2005

Pro-choice. But not that choice.

Heather Sokoloff's article in today's National Post is a hum-dinger. It's about a woman named Krista Jones, who entered into a relatively open adoption agreement with a couple who now raise her baby as their own. Jones visits her son three times a year. Now, I'm not sure how I'd feel about such an arrangement — well, I guess I do: weird — but that's hardly the point. The point is that Jones could have had an abortion and didn't. Everyone loves a happy ending, right?

Not so fast. Says Jones:

Literally every person I told, with the exception of my mother and my best friend, asked me why I didn't just get an abortion.

That set my head a-spinning. Just what kind of lowlifes is this woman having conversations with? Or am I being unfair? Apparently, the stigma against "abandonment of one's child" — abandonment into loving arms, that is; not so much to a scalpel and a metal dish — is widespread and very real, especially when it concerns these so-called "open adoptions." This can't just be a product of our society's sugar-coated outlook on abortion, though it can't help. The idea that anyone could consider adoption dishonourable — under just about any circumstances, never mind when the alternative is abortion — is as nauseating as it is fascinating.

Jones herself certainly sounds like she has her head screwed on right:

Everyone said, "Why would you do that?" It bothered me greatly that people could be looking at pictures of this child and saying this.

Indeed. I've always believed that a healthy, happy child was the best anti-abortion argument you could make, but apparently it's not enough for some people. (I tried to open comments for this post, but technical complications got the better of me — I'll have to try it again on a future post. Nevertheless, I'm interested to hear from anyone who can shed any light on this anti-adoption sentiment.)

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:52 PM

Go ahead, smell my hair

"If you're used to it," says Adam Radwanski in response to the anti-smoking legislation that passed in the Ontario legislature yesterday, "...secondhand smoke is easy to brush off. But if you come at it fresh, you understand just how vile it is."

Amen, brother; and as Adam says, there is no better place to experience the vileness than on boulevard St-Laurent in Montreal. I'll always love the Copa and the Biffer, but by all normal standards they are uninhabitable. Cards on the table: I absolutely adore going out for drinks without having to take a shower and do a load of laundry afterwards. It's super-terrific. I have a hard time worrying about whether the ban "makes sense" when I'm enjoying myself so much.

Yes, yes, it's "the new Puritanism," as my friend Sean (an inveterate smoker) keeps telling me, and yes, if you're going to worry yourself about slippery slopes there is this to ponder:

My best guess as to why smoking is being banned so widely is that smoking rates are gradually declining and reaching a "tipping point"... whereby it's possible for the majority, driven by righteous indignation over the smell of cigarette smoke (and not their feigned concern for the health of smokers [and themselves, surely, feigned or otherwise –ed.]) to gang up on the minority without fear of retribution. God help us if we ever reach a point where only 30 percent of adult society drinks.

Prohibitionism is the right button to push, for sure, but I'm not biting. There's no such thing as second-hand drinking, for one thing. For another thing, bars had every opportunity to stay ahead of the curve — to install air purifiers or hermetically sealed smoking chambers, for instance — but in most cases they chose instead to bitch and moan in hopes that the province would back off. Especially since no strong evidence that I've seen suggests bars have suffered under existing municipal bans, it's hard for this non-smoker not to snicker at these sky-is-falling types.

Jay Jardine objected to my amused support for the ban, and quite vulgarly I might add, on the grounds of property rights — i.e., "listen Dalton, I own this freakin' bar, and I'll do whatever I want." But as I said over at Let It Bleed, John Q. Publican can't do whatever he wants on his own property — he has liquor license restrictions and food preparation guidelines to comply with, just for starters. That doesn't make the smoking ban right, but it does make it old news. And it makes my clothes and hair smell better too. Case closed.

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:29 PM

Set your computers to download

Three words: Bloc Party — "Banquet". It's like 1983 all over again, only with better production values!

Posted by Chris Selley at 01:47 AM

June 07, 2005

Another phenomenon hit at the height of its popularity...

Ah, hell. Fenwick and Radwanski have gang-tagged me on this whole "favourite books" thing. Fine, I'll do it, but believe me when I say this: I read very few entire books. Shamefully few. No, wait, nuts to that — I'm not ashamed at all. Studying English Lit pretty much ruined me on fiction (to say nothing of job prospects), so much of what follows is years old and based on memories of enjoying things more than memories of the things themselves.

So then:

Number of books I own: 2,480. Wait, including at the cottage? 5,065. Seriously though, I have no idea (and no cottage). Most are in storage, and I haven't felt any burning need to rescue them.

Last book I bought: Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, by Nancy F. Cott. I hoped it would bring my views on same-sex marriage into a sharp pro- or anti- focus. Instead it is educating and simultaneously nurturing my ambivalence.

Last book I read: The Haunting of L, by Howard Norman, who is one of the very few modern fiction writers that I could claim to "follow". Norman has atmosphere nailed, whether it's a claustrophobic north-of-60 hotel or a weatherbeaten Newfoundland lighthouse. He could write about drying paint and I'd eat it up.

Five books that mean a lot to me: In no particular order and for no particular reason:

Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome — the implausible nautical adventures of prim and proper British youth. Indispensable children's reading.

The Barrytown Trilogy, i.e., The Commitments, The Snapper and (my personal favourite) The Van, by Roddy Doyle. I haven't read his lighthearted stuff in ages (and thought A Star Called Henry was a little overdone), but these three novels kick ass and always will. I probably read The Van four times through in high school, and can hardly think of a better thing for someone that age to be reading.

The Englishman's Boy, by Guy Vanderhaeghe. I cannot recommend this highly enough. The two-plot structure, and the hints and glimpses of connection between the two, make for one of the more fascinating novels I've come across. Man Descending, Vanderhaeghe's book of short stories, is also a keeper.

The script to Withnail and I, by Bruce Robinson. It is published in book form, see, so it counts. Also known as The Oxford Companion to British Wit.

On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian Rock, by Dave Bidini. A beautiful book; I'd wave it around at federalism rallies, if such things existed. Read it concurrently with Michael Turner's Hard Core Logo for a fiction/non-fiction freakout.

I tag no one. No hard feelings — it was fun and all — but I think we should allow this thing to die.

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:11 PM

Gasping and weezing

Based largely on the fact that the kids at Pitchfork, for example, unfairly panned both "the Green Album" and Maladroit, I expected to like the new Weezer a lot more than certain persnickety reviewers. Though the overall presentations on the two "comeback albums" were miles away from those of "the Blue Album" or Pinkerton, no two records that combined to give the world "Photograph," "Keep Fishin'," "Dope Nose," "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun" — that's two seminal, absolutely essential power-pop tracks and three more that are pretty close — should have led reasonable people to conclude that Weezer was dead.

Well, anyhoo, I've just gotten through Make Believe, the new one, and it's dreadful. It is spine-tinglingly, skin-crawlingly terrible. If this is supposed to be some kind of joke, I'm not laughing. Musical jokes should be audacious; Make Believe is about as audacious as cream of wheat. You couldn't pick it out of a lineup of one. I won't even dignify it with a descriptive paragraph.

All that said, there's nothing Rivers Cuomo can do to erase his legacy, despite Pitchfork's protestations: genius fades all the time, and we content ourselves with the good and give no regard to the bad. Still, we tolerate Bridges to Babylon and the like — we'd rather they didn't exist at all. If this is the best Cuomo can come up with, he should pull the cord right now. Harvard awaits.

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:01 PM

But they look so perfect in the brochures...

You just have to love municipal politicians:

[Toronto City] Coun. Jane Pitfield thinks the mayor and his supporters should be fixing the city's own problems first before jetting off all over the world.

There should be more focus on the city of Toronto," she says. "We have to deal with reality ... this city is not Barcelona or Berlin, we have some major issues."

And Barcelona and Berlin don't? Yeesh! I've said it before: Canadians think of themselves as men and women of the world except when they're trying to make themselves or each other feel bad, when they tend to become insufferably myopic whiners. Complain if you like about the Toronto Transit Commission's eight-man junket to Rome — well, actually, you might as well leave it to Sue-Ann Levy, the Toronto Sun's tireless inquisitor of every tax dollar spent by City Hall — but please, do so because they won't bring anything useful back. Don't do it on the false premise that Toronto is some sort of crumbling wreck that can't afford it, instead of the modern, prosperous, rather boring metropolis that it is. Self-loathing is not a motivational tool.

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:47 PM

June 06, 2005

Thin, watery Grewel

My goodness, what a nutjob Gurmant Grewel is turning out to be. Since history hasn't been able to teach Stephen Harper and his die-hard supporters what the entire world already knows — that a significant proportion of politicians, no matter what their political stripes, are slimy weirdos — then I suppose the present is just going to have to do. It's unfortunate that this should come on a day when the Conservatives are, theoretically anyway, one seat closer to bringing an end to this grotesque charade of a government.

Posted by Chris Selley at 10:44 PM

Experiments in Goth

On a lark — a bloody expensive lark — I took in Current 93's Friday night show at a downtown Toronto Anglican church. I have great difficulty describing them, but I think Allmusic's John Bush does a decent job: "[Current 93]... blends Gothic chanting and haunting atmospherics with industrial noisescapes courtesy of tape loops and synthesizers." There are lyrics, too — absurdly and hilariously overwrought lyrics, to my mind (but not to the minds of most Current fans: there was a lot of biting of lower-lips in the sixth pew on the left at the mention of people "gorging themselves on blood and popcorn," but all others in attendance sat in thrall.) After seeing them live, the only thing I can liken them to is a phenomenally depressed Nick Drake (at best — Christopher Guest at worst) singing over one of those Halloween noises cassettes. Like I said, I have difficulty describing them.

From "Thunder Perfect Mind I":

I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold
and the word whose appearance is multiple.

For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war…

[UPDATE June 8: Resident C93 expert Brian has set me straight. "While you're right to attribute most of Current 93's lyrical content to David Tibet, his brilliant imagination was not the source for "Thunder Perfect Mind". "Thunder Perfect Mind" is an old gnostic prayer. Perhaps "Happy Birthday Pigface Christus" would be more appropriate." It's pretty damn appropriate, yes.]

That's a fairly upbeat entry in the C93 canon, and yet somehow, even while they take Goth to Jupiter and beyond the infinite, I like it. It resists all my attempts to dismiss it as fundamentally ridiculous. It is incredibly pretentious stuff, no doubt, but it almost transcends pretense: like, don't you have to realize at some level that you're going too far to be pretentious? If David Tibet is kidding around, he hides it well. (That said, there was something about him drinking $1.85 king cans of Warsteiner that didn't seem very dark at all.) It was too much money to spend to satisfy a curiosity, but I've wasted more on far less.

Anyway, the real revelation of the night was transgendered harpist Baby Dee. Picture a man who has stolen Cyndi Lauper's hair and dyed it blood red. She emerged as a sort of shy nymph, slinking back to her harp and proceeding to play some truly beautiful half-Broadway/half-classical material. There was no inter-song banter; you could hear a pin drop. Then she moved to the piano and introduced the rollicking, burlesque "Song of Self-Acceptance" — "Johnny Cash singing a tribute to crack whores, sexual predators, crabby policemen and the incontinent," she said, and so it was:

I'm not the only crack whore in the den
I'm not the only crack whore in the den
And though I may not know who's humpin' me
At least I've got some company
I'm not the only crack whore in the den

You're not the only bugger on the prowl
You're not the only bugger on the prowl
And though we know you've got a checkered past
You're not the only pederast
You're not the only bugger on the prowl

The place came down. The frail young men with painted fingernails, the self-styled witches, the leather mommies and daddies, the music geeks, the norms — oh, how they stomped their feet and clapped along! In hindsight, one couldn't help but realize: they get the joke. As much as they cheered opener Simon Finn's out-of-tune 35-year-old psych-folk silliness ("That was awful," asked one C93 fan, seeking reassurance, "right?") and brooded their way through Current 93's death-soaked tales of misery, Baby Dee exposed them for the fun-loving frauds that they are. Goth my ass — these people aren't so dark. They know the words to "Jack and Diane" just like everyone else.

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:25 PM

June 05, 2005

Maybe they can find someone older

Mordecai Richler:

I was at the Ritz after a long lunch, and I was going to buy some cigars. Bernard Landry was checking his coat — we'd never met — and he said to me, "I hate you, I hate you, you're a racist." I wasn't really on top of it after this long lunch, and I said, "You're nothing but a provincial bumpkin." And he said: "I have a university degree!"

Farewell to one of the easiest political cartoons in Canadian history.

(Richler's anecode per Renzetti, Elizabeth. "The public face of Mordecai Richler, literary lion." Globe and Mail. 27 September 1997: C12.)

Posted by Chris Selley at 12:53 PM

Bigger fish to fry

One of the consequences of Pope John Paul II's death that was never really given much attention, but which always seemed inevitable to me, was that the position would simply lose influence in the secular world. JPII was widely respected not just because he was Pope — indeed, that might have had remarkably little to do with it — but because his personal integrity was so unassailable and because he was around for so long. The Vatican's position on any world event increased in relevance simply by virtue of the man who was articulating it.

Benedict 1416 (Cripes. Well, I didn't like Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini much either –ed.), who shares none of JP2's charisma and warm-fuzziness, has a big hill to climb in that regard, and going after Harry Potter won't help. I've come out in defence of the Church's stand on birth control and abortion in the past on grounds that it's morally transparent and focuses on personal responsibility, but talking about the "subtle seduction" of sorcery and witchcraft in popular children's books? Come on, man — that's Southern Baptist turf. The world needs another Pope who articulates a clear set of moral principles that at least acknowledge the existence of modern society; the world does not need another James Dobson.

Posted by Chris Selley at 12:21 PM

June 04, 2005

Christmas come early

If you're looking for an abridged, kidsafe version of my Pearson Airport rant, you'll find it on the Editorials page in today's Post.

Posted by Chris Selley at 01:29 PM

June 03, 2005

liciacorbella.com is available. For now...

Never one to shy away from groundbreaking journalism, the Calgary Sun's indefatigable editor/columnist Licia Corbella has finally gone and published three consecutive columns on exactly the same two-year-old topic, all precipitated by a random encounter at a donut shop.

May 31! June 1! June 2!

All she does is prattle on and on about personal obsessions with no regard to their newsworthiness. That's not punditry; that's blogging. Hint hint.

Posted by Chris Selley at 12:02 AM

June 02, 2005

Karla who?

Kate McMillan thinks Karla Homolka really isn't so extraordinary. Thankfully, and pretty obviously, she's wrong. I have no idea what she was thinking about. Anyway, I have a couple of comments in there among the nutbars who think this has something to do with the central Canadian/liberal media bias.

Posted by Chris Selley at 11:52 PM

June 01, 2005

Flying low

Jean Lapierre is right to raise concerns about the US proposal to screen passenger lists on domestic Canadian flights that use US airspace — indeed, no plan that makes so little sense should escape harsh scrutiny. Consider: under this proposal, an Air Canada flight that ventures 40km south of the 49th parallel would have to submit its passenger list, while one that comes within 40km of the border but does not cross it would not. That's powerful dumb. They're airplanes, not trains — hijack one and you can cross any border you wish.

As I see it, the possibilities are as follows: 1. The plan really is that stupid. 2. The plan isn't that stupid, but is proposing this half-measure as a step towards saying "Hey, you're right, any Canadian plane could cross the border...", and you don't have to be much of a conspiracy theorist to see where that leads us. Canada and the US should either be working towards a common security perimiter or they should continue to respect each other's screening systems. The current proposal is nonsensical at best; at worst, it's a serious sovereignty grab. We should definitely have our backs up.

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:58 PM

Lonely Planet, juvenile humor edition

It's a good thing university was so cheap in 1995, because I'd hate to have spent what it costs now and still have found this so damn funny:

(This was in a place in Croatian Istria called Opatija, which I wouldn't recommend unless you like bad Italian food — there were bones in my spaghetti carbonara! — and pensioners. Free parking, though. Also, for people who appreciate outrageous communist kitsch, such as myself, our hotel was an attraction unto itself.)

Posted by Chris Selley at 09:29 PM