Friday, October 31, 2008

Quote of the Day for All Hallows' Eve

Girls I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is… they’re dead.

-Detective Cameron, Night of the Creeps

Hypocrisy on Both Sides of the Fence

Kate McMillan wrote a hilarious piece called You Might Be a Liberal. (Read here)

Reading it I thought many of the hypocrisies she mentioned could be flipped to go the other way. So I thought I'd give it a try. I don’t want to use conservative, but I will use Republican instead.

You Might be a Republican

If you are offended at the term “trailer trash” but won’t vote for a politician who is intelligent and educated, because he’s one of 'them there ee-lites' – you might be a Republican

If you don't believe in evolution, yet will say some civilizations are more evolved than others – you might be a Republican

If you believe in freedom of choice for riding a motorcycle without a helmet but not for smoking a joint in your own backyard – you might be a Republican

If you agree that having a beer is so dangerous that you need to be 21 to purchase it, and only 18 to join the military during wartime – you might be a Republican

If you believe in free speech but are against Sarah Palin having a press conference – you might be a Republican

If you think that your omnipitent invisible sky-fairy is real, and someone else's invisible sky fairy is fake- you might be a Republican

If you rail at a half-second clip of a semi exposed nipple during a half-time show, but secretly wish Sarah Palin’s miniskirt was an inch or two higher when they give those back shots of her speeches – you might be a Republican

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quote of the Day

Betty Draper: Did somebody get a lot of Valentines?
Sally Draper (daughter): They made everybody give one to everybody else.
Betty: Well, that defeats the purpose.

- Betty Draper, from Mad Men #2:1

Rediscovering David Frum

Some of the most enjoyable blog reading these days is Frum’s Diary on NRO. Over the years the National Review had become insignificant to me. Too socially conservative, too partisan. I hadn’t given much thought to Frum since he left the National Post to go to work as a speechwriter for George W. Bush. After he got fired resigned from the White House he wrote The Right Man about how great Bush was for the times he lived in. There was no way I was going to pay for, let alone read a sycophantic snoozer like that.

But word came out in September that Frum called out Sarah Palin as being unqualified and ultimately a disastrous pick for the GOP. Feeling the same myself, I started to read him again. He’s a talented writer and I enjoy his earnest posts trying to fight the other NRO writers who have accused him as being a traitor to the cause for pointing out the obvious.

In today’s post, for example, he defends Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize winning writer of Gulag, A History, who came out in support of Obama this election. His fellow NRO writers have written her off.

How small has the house of conservatism shrunk when it can find no room for Anne Applebaum? What has happened at NR when this generation's greatest living expert on the crimes of communism can be dismissed as an unserious and dishonorable person?
It’s amazing that Frum hasn’t been fired for treason. Check it out.

Bonus: Earlier in the month he appeared on the dreadful Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. He was cranky and exposed her show as a silly joke that has no business talking about important issues. Worth watching, just for watching her shocked face absorb what he is saying. (Clip here)

Halloween Movies to Download Rent at Your Local DVD Shop

My wife and I like to do a horror movie marathon for Halloween every year. We take it seriously enough that we usually take November 1st off, so we can stay up all night. So carve your pumpkin, light a candle and here are my picks for 2008:

The Strangers: This one just came out recently. We saw the commercial for the dvd release. Immediate visceral reaction to those scary masks, we knew we had to see it. If you feel you haven’t watched a horror movie in a while that truly made you jump, this one will. The low budget enhances it, making it nice and lean.

The Ring: Actually, I’m not recommending this one. To me this started the Seattle Seahawks' uniform colour filter style cinematography. Even in the shots set during broad daylight there is a dull, murky, green-blue-chrome tinge to everything. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. There’s a 90% chance that any new horror movie you watch will have it. So to cinematographers out there: Cut it out already! It doesn’t cover up the convoluted plot.

Christine: The greatest B movie ever made. John Carpenter is a genius. Make sure it’s the un-edited version, because the many great one-liners are useless without swearing. Tip: Cocktails or beers mix well with it.

House of 1000 Corpses: The first 20 minutes of this is as cool and creative as I’ve seen anything on screen. (Especially enjoyable if you ever rode on those cheap “House of Horrors” rides they used to have at fairs and exhibitions in the 70’s.) The rest of the movie is a Texas Chainsaw Massacre knockoff.

Also recommended: Halloween (The recent Rob Zombie remake as well), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original 1974 movie), Creepshow (in particular, “Something to Tide you Over”.) Tales from the Darkside: the Movie, Saw II, Happy Birthday To Me, Nightmare on Elm Street

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

- PJ O'Rourke

Those Wacky Inukshuks

The image on the left is one of Vancouver's more noted landmarks. It's the representation of stone monuments that the Inuits built in the arctic. It's called an inukshuk. There's a craze/fetish for these things and Vancouver used it on their official logo for the 2010 Olympics.

Not to be cynical or a snob, but Europeans were building St. Peter's 400 years ago and native cultures of North America were piling up some rocks that look like a wobbly stickman. The inukshuk is cool in a way, but why do we glorify it? Is it not a wee bit embarrassing?
In related news, International Olympic Committee Chairman Dick Pound was quoted recently:

We must not forget that 400 years ago, Canada was a land of savages, with scarcely 10,000 inhabitants of European origin, while in China, we’re talking about a 5,000-year-old civilization.” (Story)

A poor choice of words that have people up in arms. He's been called a racist and the IOC has been petitioned to sanction him. This gave Margaret Wente an idea for a column, and now she's getting the same heat at the Globe and Mail.

North American native peoples had a neolithic culture based on subsistence living and small kinship groups. They had not developed broader laws or institutions, a written language, evidence-based science, mathematics or advanced technologies. The kinship groups in which they lived were very small, simply organized and not very productive. Other kinship groups were regarded as enemies, and the homicide rate was probably rather high. Until about 30 years ago, the anthropological term for this developmental stage was “savagery.” (see full column)
What do you think? Were native cultures of the 1600's as advanced as European or Chinese?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why Isn't Quebec an Independent Country? Part II

See Part I here.

Fast forward to 2000. We had a reunion of old friends from Ottawa. One of our buddies was working for Bombardier and living in Montreal. We chose that as the site. My wife and I flew over from Vancouver.

Background: My parents were from Montreal and I have been visiting there my entire life. But this felt different. Not that it was hostile, but it was definitely a foreign country. My friend was living west of St. Denis. He assured us that most people conversed in English, but it wasn’t so.

Shortly afterwards I was discussing this situation with another friend and he said something that had never even occurred to me: “I hope Quebec separates. I wish they would.”

Wow! The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is.

1) Politically:

We have had 6 elections in Canada from 1993 and in every single one, Quebec has voted in a majority of the separatist Bloc Quebecois for their seats. I don’t know about you, but to me that means that they aren’t serious about living in a federal Canada. Can anybody out there call their bluff?

According to Finance Canada in 2007-08, 12.9 billion on Equalization Payments were doled out to the “Have-Not” provinces with a whopping $7.1 billion to Quebec. And how many more billions are spent on pork programs designed to get Quebec votes? Even subsidy heavy Bombardier is a glorified government program. What other reason does Quebec have to stay?

As Andrew Coyne said in Maclean’s recently, speaking of Quebecers: “ … [they] consider Canada as little more than a ready source of cash and favours. “

2) Sovereignty issues:

I mentioned to my father this concept and his first fear was regarding geography. The Maritimes will be cut off and they will control the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Answer: Quebec is not going to shut the borders and blockade the Seaway. (Do they even use the Seaway anymore? And if they end up charging a fee to go through there, it can’t be more than $7.1 billion can it? And besides, the Americans own half of it. ) We can have free trade just like the Americans. It’s in everybody’s interest.

Citizenship issues should be easy. If you’re born pre-independence you are a Canadian citizen. Not afterwards. If you want to have a Canadian Passport, you should be required to live in Canada.

3) Culturally:

Many people see Quebecois and French culture as enriching Canada. I suppose they are right. But is it going to go away? If you’re that anxious to see a French film or listen to some Quebec pop, you are still free to, are you not? (Bonus, your tax money won’t be paying for it. So if like most people, you don’t watch Quebec films, tv or listen to the music, it won’t feel like wasted money.) I love Montreal as a city, and I can do the same thing I do now. Visit it from Vancouver. It is not going to be lost forever.

Note: I think the dirty little secret is that many Anlgo-Canadians say they like Quebecoise culture but don’t practice that. I don’t remember seeing a Mitsou album in a friend’s collection. You don’t watch the television shows. Once a decade you read a Marie Claire Blais book or watch Decline of the American Empire, but nothing will stop you from doing that in the future if Quebec is on its own.


Time to get out of the parent’s basement Quebec. Take yourselves seriously and make your own country. You are a nation. Didn’t the Canadian government acknowledge that? So act like one. It’s not a divorce, it’s a child all grown up who needs to move on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sarah Palin: Proudly Ignorant, Anti-Rational

My favorite brick bat journalist Christopher Hitchens goes after Sarah Palin.

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placedwithin reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud,boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

It shocks me when I read about her religious beliefs. Many sects of Christians believe the Book of Revelations. They think the world is coming to end with the Second Coming and that is a good thing.

Seriously, read it here. Random quote, Revelation 6, verses 13-14:

[13] And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.[14] And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

People really fucking believe this?

Should we be buying stocks like Buffet says?

Warren Buffet had a widely read Op-Ed in the New York Times recently. Buffet thinks the time is ripe to buy. According to MSN's Bill Fleckenstein it is not:

Folks who think what happened in Japan can't happen here should think twice, because what happened in Japan can happen here -- in spades -- especially when one considers that the Japanese save and Japan runs a trade surplus. We do neither. Even though historically we've tended to clean up our problems a lot
faster, that is not our current policy; capitalism has been abandoned for socialism when it comes to financial matters.

Let's face it, there's a possibility that Buffet is speaking in his own self interest. When Buffet speaks people listen. If he can help talk up the market it goes directly to his bottom line.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monster Football Game: NY Giants at Pittsburgh

Tomorrow the 5-1 G-Men take on the 5-1 Steelers in their biggest contest of the year. This is going to be old school, physical football. Look for Big Ben to be harassed, hit and sacked all afternoon.... The match-up of the day will be 6' 4", 270 lbs. tailback Brandon Jacobs against the Steeler's linebackers. The Jints O-line can open up a hole and get him into the backfield. Watch for some serious collisions.

Prediction: Giants 17-13 over the Steelers. Lots of injury time-outs.

Update: It's now halftime. 9-7 for the Giants. Smashmouth as promised. Steeler linebackers stuffed Jacobs on 4th and goal from inside the one. The Giants safeties, James Butler and Kenny Phillips have been outstanding with big hits, one causing an interception.

Update II: 21-14 final. The Giants go into Steeltown and win it. Roethlisberger was sacked 5 times and knocked down 15 times. What did I tell you? There's no doubt: The Giants ARE THE BEST TEAM IN THE NFL. (I don't care what you say about Tennessee.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why Isn’t Quebec an Independent Country? Part I

It’s a thought that would never even occur to me 10 years ago. The thought was treason. My parents were Anglo-Quebecers living in Ontario, so I was born and raised on the issue. My dad subscribed to the Montreal Gazette and pounded the kitchen table when talking about separatists. If you found any Anglo who did sympathize, it was usually some aging leftist against imperialism, not to be taken seriously.

October, 1995: It was days from the Referendum and I was staying at a friend’s place in Montreal, east of St. Denis. She was a francophone separatist, who I weirdly ended up working side by side with in England for the previous year. She was home in Montreal to stay and I was on my way back to England.

Building up to this time, we almost never spoke of politics. She made it clear on her first day on the job that she was a separatist. Our Brit colleagues thought it was cute that the two Canadians disagreed on the issue, but could care less.

One time we touched on it and it got hot. She was saying how broke Canada was, and that Quebec was sending good money out of the province to Ottawa, never to see it back.
"Hey now," I said, "the ROC send transfer/equalization payments over to Quebec, you guys get more back than you put in."

“No.” She dismissed what I said as a lie. Ooo, that burned let me tell you. I remember reading a poll that the majority of Quebecers thought the same way.

Whatever. We were friends, we went to the pub with the same group of people and we were overseas.

So here I was visiting her and some other friends right before the Referendum. Quebec flags everywhere. And those disingenuous OUI signs that had a picture of the loonie as the “O”. Some had a picture of the Canadian passport. My girlfriend and I joked how ridiculous that was and why aren’t they on the NON signs? Not that you could see any of those. All it meant was that the Quebecers were not at all serious about forming a new country.

Not able to yet land a full time job, she was schlepping drinks at a separatist bar in old Montreal. We visited her one night, and were the only anglos in a place packed with people singing nationalist/separatist folk songs. Deep down inside I thought that these people live in a different country and Canada was a mere political formality. What did it even matter what my outsider opinion was?

Back at her mother’s place her professor father visited. In our group of friends there was a Parisian French woman. She recounted to me later that the good professor gave her a history lesson on the struggles of the Quebecois, and how the people wanted to finally break the chains and go at it on their own. (The word chains rankled me.)

I heard about the final result two days later in London. Win by a nose. Phew! Canada remains intact. That was 18 years ago. I wouldn't be saying "phew" now.

To be continued....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Review: A Hell of a Woman

I’m a huge Jim Thompson fan. He’s a 1950’s noir novelist. Some of his titles might be familiar as they have been made into movies. The Grifters, After Dark My Sweet, and The Getaway. (And if you are going to see the Getaway, do get the 1972 Sam Peckinpaw version, with Steve McQueen, not the 1994 remake with Baldwin and Basinger. )
As always, the books are better than the movies. However, I saw the movies first. I loved The Grifters when it came out. It introduces you to the world of con-artists, hustlers and racketeers. Years later I was in a book store in London and I noticed The Griftersin the mystery section, by a one Jim Thompson. Reading the back, I knew it was the same one as the movie, and was written in the 1950’s. I found out later that Jim Thompson is well known and respected in Europe. More so than in North America. They have a taste for the American noir. Well, so do I.

I’ve worked my way through most of his titles still available over the years. I would pick them up here and there. One never wants to overdose on a good thing.

Getting near the bottom of the list, I picked up A Hell of a Womanrecently. I’m glad I was able to read a fresh one.

Frank “Dolly” Dillon is a door to door salesman for the Pay- E- Zee Stores. He sells overpriced household items to people with poor credit. The boss insists he chases down clients who are behind on payments. It was a bleak job:

You made good money, a couple of hundred a week sometimes. But when you averaged it up, the good weeks with the bad, it wasn’t so good. Fifty or sixty a week, well maybe seventy. More than you could make, probably, behind a gas pump or a soda fountain. But you had to knock yourself out to do it, and you were just standing still. You were still there at the starting place. And you weren’t a kid anymore.

What a gut-wrenching self revelation. Dolly’s marriage has gone sour. His wife wants to leave him, but is too lazy to do so. Last night’s dinner remains on the kitchen table crawling with cockroaches. He drinks through lunches. He’s been fudging his accounts records and is skimming from the company. Hell, isn’t he entitled? Dolly’s been dealt bum cards from the deck his whole life.

There’s potential for a scam, it means killing somebody but it's for $200,000 and with nothing left to live for it, he has to consider taking chance.

If you love old school noir, I highly recommend this book. There are excellent twists and turns and wonderful language. I often feel like I was born in the wrong era. I want to be one of those 40’s and 50’s guys with a bottle in the desk, worrying about dice and dames.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Hate Brett Favre

Here's a story broken on a great website, ESPN decides to hush-up dirt on Favre

On Wednesday, Favre undoubtedly will be asked about the situation when he meets with the media for a weekly press conference. Applying the logic reflected by the above quote, ESPN’s "do not report" mandate should also apply to any response Favre makes to Glazer’s report.
I'm so tired of the media worship of Brett Favre.

"He just wants to have fun." "He'd do this for free." "Brett's just a kid throwing the ball with his friends in the sandlot." Pfft!

It looks like ESPN is trying to protect Favre from criticism, and didn't you know it all along. The media are in the tank for that egomaniac wholesale.

They didn't say a word after Favre blew the NFC Championship last year. He was cold, his body language said he didn't want to be there. In overtime, after getting the kickoff, he threw a gimme pick to the Giants which led to defeat. Not a peep from the media.

The Jets are 3-3. Sorry to them, but I will be cheering against Favre the whole season.

Where Does A Non-Religious, Free Market Conservative Go These Days?

I was always uncomfortable with the term “conservative.” I’m classified as such by the way I vote and what publications and blogs I read. However, I consider myself a fiscal conservative, and not a social conservative.

I supported the Iraq War and Afghanistan. Grit my teeth when a family member tried to sell me on Fahrenheit 9-11 running up to the 2004 election. Cornered I said I’d take Bush over Kerry. I didn’t want to like Bush.

Going back….

In 2000, gut feeling said this guy is a dummy. (Why couldn’t it have been McCain, back then?)
BUT, a conservative has to go with ideology. Small government, tax cuts, isolationism…

My stomach started to churn. The nepotism didn’t sit well. The press conferences were shaky. You laughed at his stupid comments. Easy though, I couldn’t stand Gore. You took Bush as the best of the worst. How many people out there thought the same?

Bush got in.

9-11 happened…

You couldn’t get a bigger supporter of action than Sea Salt. I’d been to New York City seven times. (four in one year, 1991) The War on Terror is still the most important issue that faces us. (War on Terror, being the most ridiculous euphemistic term ever dreamed.)

Never in my life have I been more fired up about an issue. I STILL AM.

But meanwhile, Bush never met a spending bill he wouldn’t sign. His religiosity was something I could never get comfortable with. Mental pact: we agree on the war, and ignore everything else?

2004: Michael Moore had people thinking: a vote for Bush was for the Iraq War and a vote for Kerry was against. When you looked at the platform, Kerry was not against the war. He publically said so. He would keep soldiers there. Lefties probably had to question why Kerry was their man. For me, being pro war, either one would have done. So, I was wondering, as a libertarian, free market, conservative: why was I supporting this religious, big government guy?

The religious part gets me. Does he really believe all that crap? Noah’s Ark?

In hindsight, I’m not sure Iraq was right. It’s never going to be a western style democracy. Neither is Afghanistan. It’s not very nice to say but I don’t trust that the people of those countries can do it, or even want it. Were the lives and money worth it?

Which comes back to conservatism: Deep down in my soul I know you don’t bet your chips on places like Afghanistan and Iraq… Conservatives of old could have told you that.

My first post. When I see Sarah Palin being as pathetic as she is… I wonder where I fit in? I was brought over to the right side of the table by reading PJ O’Rourke. McCain is big government and Sarah is a religious nut with a low IQ.
Any suggestions?