340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Did we... did we just like that?

Finally, a movie that we really, actually enjoyed. Instead of having to pick up and dust off certain elements of a movie in order to justify our four bucks, we can honestly say that Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is an unequivocal success.

The script is polished and unique, with a wicked satiric edge. The writer managed to nail the particular blend of the fantastical and macabre that characterizes the best children's stories. The art director deserves an award for the brilliant costumes and the score is perfect, accentuating the mood in every scene.

Emily Browning (Violet Baudelaire) is a frighteningly talented young actor with a quiet charisma that neatly balanced the always-manic Carrey (Count Olaf). Liam Aiken (Klaus Baudelaire) is eminently watchable, the Hoffman twins are great babies (yes, I'm complimeting the acting skills of a toddler) and even Jude Law's narration is noteworthy. Billy Connolly briefly makes us forget... well, half his career... during an extended cameo as the charming, irascible Uncle Monty and Meryl Streep's turn as shell-of-her-former-self Aunt Josephine is both farcical and haunting.

Directed by Brad Silberling, the movie has a poetry all of its own: although the story bears more resemblance to a fairy tale than reality, there's never a sense of being overwhelmed by the fantastical elements. Each piece locks into the next and the resulting assembly is an absorbing, immersive tragicomedy.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Strange animals, indeed.

Did anyone else know that Lawrence Gowan has been fronting Styx since 1999? Fucking Styx. Why wasn't I informed? This kind of shit needs to be brought to my attention as soon as possible, people! An '80s convergence of this magnitude represents the culmination of a realignment of fundamental cosmic forces: not since the armies of chocolate and peanut butter joined in symbiotic bliss has such an epic conjunction occured. Perhaps this will signal a new era of global harmony, serving as an example to hatas everywhere.

On a related note, does anyone else want to hear Frenzal Rhomb or SNFU cover "Strange Animal"? Is it just me?

Gowan-dot-org, baby.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Work... busy... must... post... grraah!

Game Girl Advance offers us some perspective on the 'hot coffee' debates.

* * *

Over at McSweeney's, Eric Feezell provides us with a list of "Twelve Sequels to Dances With Wolves That, Due to Monetary Constraints, Were Never Produced."

* * *

We rented Constantine a few days ago and consensus was, "pretty--very pretty at times--but ultimately limp and underwhelming." Which is kind of a shame, really. Although I'm not as familiar with the canon as I probably should be, the Hellblazer comics upon which the movie was based were pretty darned good.

With cynicism honed to an art, John Constantine was a quintessentially British character, wandering through the ruins of empire and history. Keanu Reeves (or just about any American, for that matter) is a poor substitute for, say--a young Sting, upon whom the original comic character was based.

If you're a fan of the comic, it's best to envision the move as an Elseworlds tale: a "what might have been," if you will.

It is pretty, though.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Explosive news.

Yesterday, BBC News ran an interesting story about a study performed by The Leading Question which suggests that UK-dwelling "people who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads" (emphasis mine). The complete BBC article may be found here and makes for intriguing (but ultimately inconclusive) reading. The findings are tantalizing and support my own feelings (i.e. that it is chiefly lovers of music who download illegally), but really offers only a preliminary assessment of what's happening.

Once again, thanks to Pacanukeha for the find.

* * *

Also, Steenblogen blessed us with a sharp, insightful and intimate commentary on the appointment of a man to the chair of the Women Studies' doctoral program at the University of Washington. As usual, S. cuts through the underbrush and gets to the ripe fruit at the heart of it all.

* * *

In a rare bit of good news, the Gazoo reports that the provincial government has nixed a plan to build a massive ballistics testing range in Northern Québec. I heard about this deal some time ago and had dismissed it as a fait accompli, despite the evidence of risks to the community and natural environment. I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Two years after SNC Technologies announced a proposal to build a 105-millimetre ballistics testing range for the military in northern Quebec, the provincial government made an announcement of its own - thanks, but no thanks.

The shells would have been exploding in the wilderness near the Cree community of Waswanipi, about 700 kilometres north of Montreal.

There were fears the range would have had an impact on the Cree tallymen and the animals they hunt on traplines in the area. The trappers worried that, because of the noise, some of the animals would disappear during the 30-year project.

"The provincial administrator has refused the project," said Brian Craik, who represents the northern Quebec Cree on the Comite d'examen, or COMEX, which is made up of three representatives appointed by Quebec and two appointed by the Cree nation. The announcement came late yesterday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to... catharsis?

I'm a sucker for good vitriol. There's nothing quite like an eloquently filthy rant, a savage indictment of some deserving jagoff. Hearing someone with a good grasp of language tear a strip off some jackass tickles me, especially when it's in service of a larger political point. That's part of Twisty's charm (though there are many other parts): she is to rants what a wheat thresher is to lawnmowers; she goes for the jugular and doesn't stop 'til she hits the spinal column. Steenblogen's another brilliant ranter, with a crisp, casual clarity that I can't seem to muster even on my third draft.

For today at least, these two are joined in their venomous Valhalla by Shannon Rupp, a regular contributor to both the Ottawa Citizen and the Tyee. In her essay, Rupp rips into Brat Camp, the televised Long March for "delinquents" currently being aired on the ABC network. An excerpt:

Sure, I can see the parents' point of view: Brat Camp looked like a godsend. Not only were they relieved of responsibility for children who (quite rationally) despise them, the kids will be returned all shiny and new. They've finally found a way to outsource parenting. In exchange, all they have to do is address the camera and claim they love their children.

But even the most self-involved 'rents ought to realize there's something wrong with any so-called therapy that strips wounded children of fundamental rights.

I haven't watched the show yet but after reading Rupp's piece, I'm tempted to. Whenever I come across a particularly delicious rant, I like to take a look at the subject for myself, just to get a first-hand taste of the truly loathsome--and Brat Camp definitely seems to fall into that category. Unlike reality-TV mainstays Survivor and The Amazing Race, Brat Camp (along with The Swan) falls into a whole other category of show that deliberately, maliciously profits from the suffering of people who're already fighting a Sysiphean skirmish with circumstance:

"Hey, chickie--you're not pretty enough. You're not, you know. You're not thin enough and you're not pretty enough. Your tits droop. Your tits are small. You're not hot enough to attract anyone, let alone keep them. You're not thin enough. You're not thin enough. Your knees are knobby. Your ass is bony. You're not pretty enough. You have a weak chin and invisible cheekbones. Your hair doesn't shimmer like an action-movie slow-motion shot of gasoline catching fire. You're not pretty enough. You're too short. You're not thin enough. Your teeth are crooked. You're not pretty enough.

"Wait, you say you're depressed about your appearance? How can this be? You live in the most prosperous country in the world, where all earthly delights can be had! Obviously this is an unexplainable defect in your character which we will fix by carving you up like a Christmas ham."

The Swan is a vindictive, brutal, hateful exercise in character-erosion akin to the second step in any indoctrination: after corroding the self, rebuild it to suit your needs.

Fear Factor is regularly lambasted for its crassness, but look at the contestants on that show: young, buff, beautiful, predominantly white (unless they're sexily ethnic) and middle-class. Entitled. Privileged. Everything the contestants on The Swan (and to return to my original point) Brat Camp aren't.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

12 Dapper Men.

We watched Ocean's Twelve a few days ago and while the clothes were lush and the scenery fab, the charm was gone. Admittedly, the 'charm' of the first was rooted the maddeningly forgivable arrogance of guys like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, so maybe losing it was a good thing. We were entertained well enough, I suppose--Soderbergh et al can be infuriatingly engaging and witty--but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being schooled in dudeness.

I know that the Oceans' franchise is supposed to be essentially non-violent: an occasional beating, but no gunplay and no death. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but when I contrast Oceans' 12 with some of the better-known heist movies (Ronin, Heat, The Score, The Good Thief, etc.), I see an unusual focus on fashion, elegance, grace, wit and charm instead of grit, brains, tenacity and risk-taking. Implausibly beautiful characters are no more engaging than implausibly macho ones and Danny Ocean bothers me about as much as John McLane.

Do I sound bitter?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bread, roses and unfettered access.

So Telus is involved in a labour strike with some of its employees, who are all members of the Telecommunications Workers Union. I don't know what the specifics of the dispute are, but I'm guessing it's the same old, same old: wages, hours & conditions. The dispute itself interests me less than Telus' decision to shine off the ol' jackboots and "(block) its internet subscribers from accessing a website supporting striking union members." The CBC article can be found here and the site in question is Voices for Change. Props to Pacanukeha for mentioning this story here.

Now, seriously--wtf? Telus blocked all of its subscribers from viewing this site on the grounds that it documents scab activity and allegedly encourages vanadalism on behalf of the striking workers. I call bullshit. If public safety is really the issue, then why aren't sites which host bomb-making materials being blocked? If the integrity of its service network is so important, then why did the company allow its maintenance workers to strike? Shouldn't it have been a top priority to draw up a contract so as to guarantee uninterrupted service to its paying customers? The rationales offered up by the company are horseshit--this is about censorship, point final. Pricks.

What's more, any site that shared the same IP address as Voices for Change was also blocked, according to a report released by OpenNet Initiative, a research group dedicated "to investigat(ing) and challeng(ing) state filtration and surveillance practices." Their report suggests that almost 800 other sites--with no relation to the dispute or even labour issues in general--were blocked. The report is... wait, now where did I put it. Oh yeah--here.

As usual, Michael Geist offers up a somewhat more lucid response at other end of this link.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Yankee Zombie Coffee.

McSweeney's has your absurdist listing needs met with Beth Maynard's "Actual Examples of Model Conversational Phrases That the Travel Guide Les Etats-Unis Dans Votre Poche: Edition Bilingue (Haiter, 1980) Felt Were So Central to the Experiences Likely to be Undergone by French Visitors to America That It Included Them on Its Companion Study Cassette Tape."

It's a quick read.

* * *

game girl advance is a great feminist gamer news feed / group blog. I usually go there for my gaming-related news (as should you), but this ain't news--it's just funny and spot-fucking-on.

* * *

I hope you had a chance to read Sarah Schmidt's article, "Universities might be lowering bar to admit more men," because I'll be removing it right about... now.

* * *

Finally, this article from yesterday's Gazette is too perfect to not share. Obviously written from the perspective of a gamer, it details a totally innovative and unique subculture-clash along the geek/nerd faultlines and highlights the arbitrary nature of divisions within and between the hipsters and larpers.

When zombies attack: A midsummer day's tale

by John MacFarlane, from The Montréal Gazette - Saturday, July 23, 2005

It was another ordinary Sunday afternoon in Mount Royal park for a few hundred extraordinary people.

Damage to their shields and swords from the week before had been patched with duct tape. Broken arrows had been replaced with unbroken ones and bruises had healed.

In a sun-dappled clearing where the day's cruel heat was less oppressive, the battle had begun anew.

And then the zombies arrived, and any trace of the ordinary - even for those accustomed to shields, swords, arrows and battles - was erased.

But wait. Back up, back up. Before we tell this story - which features impressive amounts of chivalry and heroism, people with big imaginations, the Internet, the intersection of at least two unusual subcultures and the possibility of a genuine original thought - perhaps we should quickly summarize a few other stories...

If you'd like to read the entire story, please e-mail me.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Of murder and justice.

Just please tell me they got the right guy. Give me that much at least.

* * *

The Canadian Press reports:

MP wants murder charge for dead fetus

An Edmonton man charged with murdering his wife ought to be facing double charges because she was pregnant, says a pro-life member of Parliament.

Maurice Vellacott, Conservative MP from Saskatoon and co-chair of the parliamentary pro-life caucus, is calling for the law to be changed so unborn children would also be treated as victims in cases where their mother is murdered.

You know, for all their flaws at least Canadians don't give asinine ideas like this any serious traction. Once again, all together now: we become legal entities upon exiting the womb and not a moment before (see Proceed with Care: Final Report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, Minister of Government Services Canada, 1993, Vol. 2, pp.956-960).

Filing double murder charges against someone who kills a pregnant woman, while initially appealing to our vengeful streaks, inevitably legitimizes the fetus as a person (or potential person) and paves the way for a larger argument against any action that jeopardizes its health. Fuck that.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Battlestar Galactica was created by the 1970s. It evolved. It rebelled. And it has a plan.

So like I said, we were riveted by last week's season premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Given my social circle, I sometimes forget that this show hasn't necessarily achieved maximum saturation among the wider TV-viewing populace, which is why I got so many odd looks Monday morning. Apparently, I'm the only one in the office wondering whether Caprica-Boomer stole the Raider in order to escape a murderous Starbuck, get reinforcements from her allies, altruistically go for help or just deny Kara and Helo their only means of escape. I swear, I just don't understand people's priorities sometimes...

Tonight the Cylons commence their boarding operations and my nerd-cell count is way off the chart.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Surreality doppio

You know, I'm not even remotely surprised to find out he's a closet leatherboy. Not even a little.

* * *

I shit you not:
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- An Oakland, Calif., group is seeking to trademark the '60s Black Panther slogan "Burn, baby, burn."

To help market a new brand of hot sauce.

The Knight Ridder piece is here.

* * *

In case you haven't seen it yet, Gender Genie is a site I've been using to "assess the gender" of my posts (props to Steenblogen for finding and sharing it). It uses an algorithm based on assigned point-values to generate a 'male' score and a 'female' score for a given piece of writing (in this case, a blog post). It's probably about as useful as the Political Compass, but it's a heck of a conversation starter--check it out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Work's nuts, so you get fluff.

Normally, C. and I watch creature features together: they're a (not entirely) guilty pleasure she's converted me to (we're saving Anacondas for a rainy day--that's the sequel, mind you, to the seminal 1997 original).

But something about Man-Thing made me decide to rent it while she was out of the country a couple weeks ago. For one thing, it looked bad even by the standards set by its genre and for another I was only interested in it because it's based on a comic-book license and I make a point of seeing anything that's based on a comic book. Call it a hobby, call it masochism. Potato/potahto.

My instincts were right: it's crap. To clarify: with Anaconda as its yardstick, it's a steaming fecal disaster. 'Nuff said.

* * *

Pacanukeha reminded me about the Political Compass and I think you should give it a shot. Granted, it's more of a toy than anything else, but it at least it busts down the old left/right binary a bit, which is always a good thing. Prediction: you'll probably place in the lower-left quadrant.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My liberal heart bleeds

So former WorldCom head honcho and huckster par excellence Bernard Ebbers might have to spend the rest of his life in jail, huh? When I saw the images of a teary Ebbers being led out of court by his wife, I was almost tempted to feel sorry for him. And then I remembered:
  • the Haymarket eight: wrongfully convicted, executed and posthumously pardoned;
  • Dudley George, summarily executed by the OPP (the inquiry into his death only got started last year--eight years after the fact--and is still ongoing);
  • Brandon Teena: dismissed by the authorities, murdered, then pillored by the same people who failed him the first time around;
  • Nathan Tate, sentenced to life in prison at age twelve and released when he was seventeen--it's a good thing that time in prison doesn't have any significant impact on the psychology of developmentally-challenged adolescents, huh?;
  • David Milgaard, who did 23 years for nothing. If you take away someone's life, it's murder--what happens when you take away a third of someone's life?;
  • Maher Arar--'nuff said;
In the grand scheme of things, a rightfully-convicted multimillionaire doesn't fucking rank.

* * *

What's that? You need a feminist blog that's unrelentingly political, whip-smart and snort-coffee-through-your-nose funny? Twisty's got you covered. A taste of the good stuff:
Possibly there exist legitimate literary applications for gross sexism (although not, I’m afraid, for such a clunky expression of it), but if you are not Dashiell Hammett or Edward Albee, and you put it in your book anyway, you’re a fucktard. If you are Jim Butcher, and your hero is a wizard named “Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, conjure by it at your own risk,” well, it’s just sad.

It is a blatant heresy and and a sin against patriarchy even to hint at the possibility that a woman might consider men irrelevant to her pursuit of fulfillment, and an even blatanter heresy and a sinnier sin against patriarchy to intimate that the patriarchal ethos is, perhaps, not fundamentally dissimilar to that part of the human body that excretes shit

Monday, July 18, 2005


Main Entry: dec·a·dence
Pronunciation: 'de-k&-d&n(t)s also di-'kA-
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, from Medieval Latin decadentia, from Late Latin decadent-, decadens, present participle of decadere to fall, sink -- more at DECAY
1: the process of becoming decadent : the quality or state of being decadent
2: assembling at a friend's house at the height of summer to snack on homemade bruschetta and imported beer before attacking a gargantuan pile of thick, juicy, tender ribs; conversation hopscotching from political rants to fart jokes to gossip, peals of well-fed laughter ricocheting off the walls of neighbouring buildings; curling up in an overstuffed couch, light of my life at my side, together mesmerized by the long-awaited season premiere of the best show on TV digitally projected onto a six-by-eight foot blank canvas.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Masculinity, deuxième livret

Went to a small housewarming party in Lasalle last night: a couple of aquaintances had moved into a spacious 3-bedroom apartment earlier this summer and we hadn't had a chance to check it out yet. Days and days of oppressive heat + the promise of a quiet, breezy balcony and good company made it a sure bet.

(Socializing two days in a row--will wonders never cease? Our delicate cocktail [one part misanthropy, one part agoraphobia and two parts exhaustion] is getting a good shaking this weekend and so far, I have no complaints.)

* * *

I don't stun easily but wow -- Google Earth is seriously cool.

* * *

So we rented The Assassination Of Richard Nixon a few weeks ago and were profoundly underwhelmed. Sean Penn delivered a solid performance, but the role's not really a big stretch for him: stubbornly miserable angry white male. Cue the vaguely thoughtful frown. Thanks, but one Willy Loman's enough for me and stirring in a little Travis Bickle doesn't make the script "edgy" or lend it any sense of foreboding... it just makes the character seem more pathetic.

The supporting cast... well, they support well enough but no-one really stands out in any way, with the exception of Don Cheadle. Playing Penn's best friend Bonny Simmons (the voice of grounded wisdom in this picture) Cheadle stands in as a kind of lucky everyman: lucky because he recognizes his good fortune (good marriage, nice kids, house of his own, self-employed) but isn't duped by the American Dream. Cheadle plays Simmons with a kind of wary exasperation, hitching his plans to Bicke's even though he knows it's a bad idea.

Billed as "the mad story of a true man," Assassination tries to establish Bicke as a disaffected dude in the vein of Michael Douglas in Falling Down or "Jack." Yawn. Spare me the white-dude angst, please. I'm full--couldn't eat another bite.

Female Score: 590
Male Score: 736

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Masculinity, premier livret

I hope you had a chance to read the two articles I posted earlier this week (Mike Boone's "Ring of Fear" and Janet Bagnall's "Homolka was handled with kid gloves"), 'cause I'll be taking them down in a few days. Although I feel I've committed no ethical violations of copyright by posting them in their entirety, I am violating the law. I figure putting them up for a short period--in this case, ten days--splits the difference.

* * *

Had a good time last night. The folks came over and the four of us sat around the table, played cards and snacked on yummy hors d'oeuvres. Props to my baby for talking me into it, despite my exhausted protestations: it wound up being a really nice way to start the weekend.

* * *

In irritating but sadly unsurprising news, economists from New York's Skidmore College and Lewis and Clark College in Oregon have found that "men appear to be given preference in admissions as university applicant pools become more female."

I'll append the complete CanWest article in a minute, but first let me just say that, as a man, I'm so fucking glad that this issue is being taken seriously with such lightning efficiency. Western women had to struggle for centuries before the doors to higher education were creaked open for them and decades more passed before they were made to feel remotely welcome (and I'm using "welcome" in the broadest fucking sense of that word).

That's why I'm excited--no, elated--that the minute there's even so much as a suggestion that significantly fewer men than women might be entering higher education, university presidents, admission committees, social scientists and legislators go fucking bananas. That's what I want when my interests are threatened, dammit: mass panic in the goddamn streets. I say, bring on the hysteria! Bring on the knee-jerk reactionary gobbledygook! Do whatever the hell it takes to guarantee my rights, you pork-bellied, jelly-skinned halfwits.


And another thing: notice how the article doesn't mention university EXIT stats? Wonder why? I'll tell you why: the differential closes significantly. Depending on where you look and what qualifiers you're using, the ratio of graduates goes to about 55-45 in favour of women (at best) to 60-40 in favour of men. In other words, many more women than men are starting undergraduate programs in North America, but that isn't maintained in graduation rates...

(*) Props (as usual) to my baby and Pac-man for inspiring HTML shorthand.

Female Score: 422
Male Score: 776
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

* * *

Universities might be lowering bar to admit more men

Sarah Schmidt, CanWest News Service - Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Men appear to be given preference in admissions as university applicant pools become more female, a provocative new study has found.

Raising the spectre of affirmative action for a group not historically disadvantaged but increasingly under-represented in undergraduate classes, the study examined admissions data from 13 liberal arts colleges in the United States and estimated a tipping point for male preference kicks in when the female applicant pool reaches between 53 and 62 per cent. The study found "clear evidence" of a preference for men in historically female U.S. colleges.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Do you know where your child is?

Hopefully, watching tonight's season premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Their youth will otherwise have been woefully misspent.

* * *

Unless you believe the University of Washington, in which case you'd better wait until your child is at least three before blessing them with healing cathode-tube rays.

On July 5th, BBC News reported in their 'Health' section that "TV 'may stunt toddlers' learning'."

(...) the Washington University team found each hour of average daily TV viewing before the age of three had a negative effect on scores in mathematics, reading recognition and reading comprehension in later childhood.
No surprises there, really. TV doesn't become an interactive medium until one is old enough to actively engage with the programming (via contextualization, counter-narrative, etc.) and toddlers need interactive stimulation. Ergo...

But it's the next bit that caught my attention:

(...) TV viewing among children aged three to five appeared to be beneficial - at least for reading recognition and short-term memory skills (...)
I'm curious as to why it's less harmful after the child turns 3--do media-literacy skills develop that early? Are they more likely to engage with what they're watching? The mention of "short-term memory skills" leads me to think that perhaps it's got something to do with the rapidly-changing situations and images present in most programming. Being forced to make so many cognitive leaps in so short a time might increase situational memory.

But what about advertisements? Television programming specifically for young'uns may be designed for their sensitive eyes & ears, but have you seen some of the ads (esp. cars & beer) running right now? They assault the viewer with booming noise, grating music and hyperkinetic visuals. That kind of overstimulation can't be good for developing sensory organs.

At least Battlestar uses a nice 'muted thunder' sound for the port and starboard autocannons--it's not at all harsh on the ears.

* * *

Female Score: 298
Male Score: 487
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A picture is worth a thousand words; a parent is worth a thousand babysitters.

For a fantastic virtual trip through Oslo--the streets, the palace and the mind-bending park--I can't urge you strongly enough to go check out Steenblogen. I keep going back to look at these photos (quaintly taken with an actual analog camera, so the pictures look warm and natural) and be transported by her energetic-yet-soothing words.

* * *

Here's an interesting article from Wired about "vlogs," i.e. video logs. They're kind like the internet equivalent of cable-access television and some of them are pretty darn cool. Good time-suckage in the lead-up to the weekend.

* * *

I had an interesting e-mail exchange a little while ago with a couple of people, including Stéphane from Vidanges du Diable. It got started when he read an article by Richard Martineau in Voir. You can go read it, but the long and the short of it is an argument for the rationality of separate parenting. Given the intense pressures faced by parents, it becomes easier (regretfully, he notes with a 'c'est la vie' sigh) when couples separate and share parenting duties:

Non seulement ont-ils plus de temps pour eux (pour se reposer, voir leurs amis ou mettre les bouchées double au boulot), mais quand ils ont leurs enfants, ils sont souvent plus patients, plus disponibles, plus présents qu'ils ne l'étaient auparavant. Ils ne se sentent pas toujours écartelés entre leurs obligations personnelles et les besoins de leurs bouts de choux.

Of course, the article completely ignores the class- and gender- axes of these situations: parents are presumed to be able to afford summer classes, swimming lessons and after-school activities for their children, as well as wine-appreciation courses and casual socializing for themselves. Uh-huh. It's also implicit in his piece that men share fully in child-rearing responsibilities, regardless of whether the parents are together or not; men (as well as women) can just do it better when they're not married.

He's careful to not actually advocate the position, but he does argue in favour of its rationality and lucidity. Also, to his credit, he ends the article with a compelling question:

Après tout, je suis moi-même un père séparé, je ressens les mêmes choses. Mais ça ne m'empêche pas de me poser une question:

«Si c'est le meilleur des deux mondes pour les parents, est-ce automatiquement le meilleur des deux mondes pour les enfants?»

Entre vous et moi, je ne suis pas sûr de la réponse.

Maybe I'm naive, but it seems to me that if parents are actually working in tandem--y'know, as a team--then things can't possibly be easier when they separate. The whole is greater, etcetera etcetera... Sounds to me like an excuse for able-bodied, fully-employed yuppie wannabes to have their cake and eat it too.

* * *

Female Score: 454
Male Score: 716

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Depths of the past, heights of the future.

Yesterday may have been a bit of a cop-out (posting other people's articles without adding any commentary of my own), but things remain busy at work. In fact, I'm going to do much the same today, though I may embroider a bit.

* * *

one. Darth Klein apparently shrugged off the intellectual coma he's been in for the last few years and decided to cop to reality. The Globe & Mail front-page article "Klein signals truce over gay marriage" can be found here.

* * *

deux. First things fuckin last. To the guy on the #24 bus this morning: she will not be impressed by your erudition and profound grasp of foreign affairs if you insist on pronouncing it sray-brun-EE-ka. It's SREBB-renn-its-a, you arrogant boor. If Lloyd 'Gin Blossom' Robertson can get it right then so can you.

Self-righteous mockery is about the only way I can open this blurb, so forgive the pretension. This week is the ten-year... well, 'anniversary' seems like a wildly inappropriate word, so let's just say it's been ten years since the UN finally decided it had a reason to move into the former Yugoslavia. The Globe & Mail had an insightful editorial and for once, most of the major Canadian news outlets (the Citizen, La Presse, etc.) had reasonably decent coverage.

What I find most troubling--though not surprising, I suppose--is the deeply-embedded reluctance among Serbs to seriously address the massacre. Despite the emergence of a snuff film which clearly and undeniably documents part of the slaughter, many Serbs continue to deny that the killings ever occurred. Since early June, Serbian television stations have been broadcasting the tape constantly and yet there's still no national dialogue being created within Serbia.

Again, I'm not really surprised: it took decades for the Germans to seriously examine their (our?) own history and the Vatican has only recently begun accepting criticisms of its role in the Holocaust. And NATO nations, who knew long before Srebrenica that "ethnic cleansing" (a neologism I could do without) was taking place, still need to take a good look at their own complicity.

Re-reading the above paragraphs, I realize that I'm not adding anything to the discussion at all. Worse, I'm straying dangerously close to high-and-mighty finger-pointing. Perhaps I should wait until a little time has passed and the term "8,000 Muslims" has faded from the front pages before I venture any further commentary.

* * *

drei. On a way, WAY happier note--Danny Way is my hero for this week.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California skateboarder Danny Way jumped over a 61-foot (18.6-meter) gap in the Great Wall of China, becoming the first person to clear the ancient fortification without motorized aid, his sponsor said.

Way then went on to jump the wall three more times on Saturday, taking off from a specially built ramp at the nearly 3,000-year-old Ju Yong Guan Gate, and adding in 360-degree spins as spectators looked on.

Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm a sucker for images of flying people and velocity, speed, freedom from the tyranny of gravity... but there's something incredibly moving (no pun intended) about these images and the accompanying video.

(Don't worry, the link will not automatically launch a viewer--it takes you to the Reuters page carrying the story. From there you can view the video if you like. I suggest that you do.)

Even With the Quiksilver sponsorship and the cheesy hype and the BS corporate quotes and the cheapening of a World Wonder and the dangerously foreboding symbolism of mass-market American claptrap crapitalism livin' large in China... even with all that, I find myself thinking about Danny Way and his three-second apotheosis and feeling good. I think about Danica Patrick, Steve Robinson, Jim Kelly, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence, Charlie Camarda, Eileen Collins and Soichi Noguchi. Maybe that makes me a sucker for the shill.

I can live with that.

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level
of events, not of words. Trust movement.

- Alfred Adler

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

As promised.

Don't say I never do nothin' for ya. Here are the complete texts of the two articles I mentioned the other day:

* * *

Ring of fear

Mike Boone, The Gazette -- Friday, July 08, 2005

Not recommended for the faint-hearted fathers of daughters travelling abroad: British Broadcasting Corp. reports of the terror attack suddenly punctuated by a ringing telephone.

What a relief. She was just calling to ask for money.

Vermont Public Radio pre-empted Morning Edition and (...)


* * *

Homolka was handled with kid gloves

Janet Bagnall, The Gazette -- Friday, July 08, 2005

What's next? A prison interview with Clifford Olson? He is eligible for parole next year. He was given a single life sentence after pleading guilty in 1981 to murdering 11 children, making it one year until the end of his 25-year sentence. Shouldn't we be angling for an exclusive now? Getting ready to ask about what he's looking forward to when he gets out?

We know Karla Homolka was longing for an iced cappuccino from Tim Hortons, thanks to a Radio-Canada interview conducted barely two hours after Homolka, a serial sexual predator and killer, got out of prison.

Asking Homolka what the first thing she wanted to do with her new-found freedom was...


Monday, July 11, 2005

I dig my job, part II

I've always needed music around me when I work: whether it was Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli humming in the background when I mopped the floor at Capitaine Québec, or the Tragically Hip blaring out of my walkman while I mowed the lawns in my old neighbourhood, my first jobs were defined--at least in hindsight--by their musical accompaniment. It's not exactly a revelation that music can dramatically change someone's mood or that an unpleasant--or just plain tiresome--situation can be improved if you add some tunes to the mix. Still, the degree to which my productivity increases and my ability to focus improves if I have some carefully-selected background music supporting and directing my thoughts never ceases to amaze me.

When I started working delivery jobs, it was like a dream come true: I was actually getting paid to drive around listening to music--does it get much better? Middle of August, a strong odour of Italian take-out roiling out from the back seat, the Red House Painters or Luscious Jackson carrying me through the night... bliss.

I don't sit behind a dashboard any more, I sit behind a desk. I tear through spreadsheet grids, not street grids and I get paper cuts instead of burns. I still listen to music at work though, and the selection process has never been more difficult.

When I was driving, I had to watch what I put in: too mellow and I risked zoning out, losing the adrenaline-soaked edge that kept me one step ahead of the flurry of orders coming in. On the other hand if the music I had in was too aggressive, too fast, too loud... well, the crumpled-up wad of speeding tickets under the passenger seat was proof positive that when it comes to adrenaline, one can get too much of a good thing.

Now that I'm behind a desk all day, in a relatively quiet work environment, surrounded by other people who may or may not share my tastes, I have other concerns: will this annoy my colleagues? Will it distact anyone? Can I tune it out if I need to focus on a particular task? If I'm stressed, will it relax me? If I'm drowsy after lunch, will it energize me? For criminey's sake, it's almost as hard as the job itself...

Thank the skies above for Miles Davis (warning: the site plays music right away). C.'s boxed set has found a home-away-from-home on my desk: I think Volume II is my favourite for work, but Kind of Blue and Birth of the Cool are on steady rotation as well. I can't really say anything critical about these records--someone once said that Birth of the Cool is "the Sgt. Pepper's of jazz" and I think they're halfway right: Sgt. Pepper's is the Birth of the Cool of rock'n roll.

* * *

It's funny, I intended this post to be about how much I love my new job and I managed to get completely sidetracked and still make my point. Productive digressions make me giggle.

* * *

While writing this, I went poking through my old directories of mix tapes and found some real antiques. For the record, this mix--whispered onto magnetic tape a half-dozen times, each copy wearing out faster than the previous--earned me more than a few run-ins with Johnny Law. Originally titled It's A Love Affair..., this mix was the second in a series of "Black Monday" compilations I put together. If you're of a particular demographic, you'll get the reference; if you're not--well, I'd only sound like an idiot and a relic if I tried to explain.

Reading over the list, I find myself cringing at some songs (At least Raggadeath were Canadian, but 311? There's just no good excuse for that. I don't even want to talk about Smokin' Suckas--I blame the dry-ice machine and $7 pitchers of draft) and fervently trying to download others (the "Temple" remix is particularly good, and I don't even like the Sisters.)

Anyway, for your edification and amusement, here it is. Rip it, pop it, gun it:

Ministry, Jesus Built My Hotrod (Red Line / White Line Mix)
Butthole Surfers, Who Was In My Room Last Night?
Smashing Pumpkins, Zero
L7, Shitlist
NOFX, Don't Call Me White
Bad Religion, Against The Grain
Ramones, Spider-Man
Operation Ivy, One Of These Days
Propagandhi, Ska Sucks
Grim Skunk, La Vache
Rancid, Time Bomb
Smokin' Suckas Wit' Logic, Mutha Made 'Em
Raggadeth, One Life
311, Down
Rage Against The Machine, People Of The Sun
Jane's Addiction, Stop!
Sisters Of Mercy, Temple Of Love (Touched by the Hand of Ofra Haza)
Korn, Shoots & Ladders
Prong, Rude Awakening
Ministry, So What?
Nine Inch Nails, Wish
Filter, Hey Man, Nice Shot (Sawed-Off Edit)
Pop Will Eat Itself, Ich Bin Ein Auslander
Korn, Wicked (Tear The Roof Off Mix)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tube bombs? Luxury!

There's been an interesting subtext to the news coverage of the London bombings: the nation that invented the phrase "stiff upper lip" is having its stoicism quietly applauded in North America's newspaper columns and editorial pages. In today's Globe & Mail, Doug Saunders highlights the tenacity of London pub-goers and a British co-worker of mine was relieved (but not surprised!) to discover that the buses in zone 1 were running again before the evening rush hour -- "otherwise, all the nine-to-fivers would've been right annoyed." Well, sure. I know how irritable I get when mid-morning bombings slow down my trip home after work. I suppose that's what decades of IRA bogeymen lurking in English closets does: it breeds impassivity in the face of the maniacal.

Ian McEwan, suddenly sounding very old and very tired, wrote an affecting little essay for the Guardian. He strikes a tone familiar to readers of Amsterdam, Black Dogs or (my personal favourite) The Comfort of Strangers: vaguely detached empathy mingled with a growing sense of apprehension. McEwan explores themes of alienation, distance, disintegration and disaffection in his novels and the man has an amazing gift to make the banal sinister and vice-versa. It serves him well in this essay and he chooses to take an interesting tack on the issue. I won't spoil it, but take a look--it's a quick read.

* * *

In living with C., I've come to understand the difference between a rag and a washcloth. I'm not being facetious; there is a difference. One is intact, presentable and serves multiple purposes. The other is ragged, smells funky and is really only good for cleaning bird droppings off the hood of your car. I've often compared my local English-language paper to the latter, but today it bears a greater resemblance to the former.

Mike Boone, that charmingly self-aware icon of obsolescence, hastily wrote a quietly reflective bit about being the father of a teenage girl who's vacationing in the UK:
Not recommended for the faint-hearted fathers of daughters travelling abroad: British Broadcasting Corp. reports of the terror attack suddenly punctuated by a ringing telephone.

In the same paper, Janet Bagnall--one of the only reasons I keep paying good money for that paper--offers pretty much the most lucid and rational analysis of Homolka's appearance on Radio-Canada in her piece, "Homolka was handled with kid gloves." I'd link to both, but the Gazoo requires a subscription. In a couple of days, remind me and I'll upload the full text of both articles.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Apologies for the recent bout of silence, but between an especially busy week at work and recently-returned light-of-my-life, blogging got shunted down my priority list. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to write this post not in order to rave about something great or beautiful, but to lament a series of senseless acts of violence.

Regardless of one's political beliefs or tolerance for violence in the name of a cause, it's safe to say that the vast majority of people are revolted by the targeting of civilians during any conflict. It's one thing to kill a soldier: certain responsibilities are accrued upon donning a uniform. While the sacrifice may be valiant, it's hardly shocking. Civilian death is something else entirely and it disgusts us for a good reason.

Choosing to detonate explosions in a heavily-populated urban center shows the kind of desperate cowardice and predatory malice that lies behind these so-called "crusaders"(*). When the nuns at my dad's old grundschule would hammer that ruler down on his knuckles with all the cataclysmic fury they could muster, the point wasn't to hurt him--the point was to scare the hell out of the other 29 kids in the room. Likewise, when bombs go off in what used to be a relatively peaceful urban metropolis, the purpose isn't to kill: the deaths are corollary to the main goal of terrorizing the population at large.

In April 2004, when those 600 civilians died in Falluja from artillery fire and bombing runs, the coalition's goal was to blackmail the civilian population into turning against the insurgents residing there. The "collateral damage" was just a by-product of their larger goal.

Since the invasion of Iraq began, more than 20,000 civilians have been annihilated and countless more injured, maimed or deprived of a safe and healthy existence when their home, place of business, house of worship, hospital or school was razed. All the information you want may be found here.

(*) This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.
   - George W. Bush; Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2001.

* * *

For the record, I was glued to the BBC all day.

Monday, July 04, 2005

And that's how it feels to have my baby back home.

Main Entry: ge·stalt
Pronunciation: g&-'stält, -'shtält, -'stolt, -'shtolt
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ge·stalt·en /-'stäl-t&n, -'shtäl-, -'stol-, -'shtol-/; or gestalts
Etymology: German, literally, shape, form
: a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


What a beautiful day: little fluffy clouds scattered across a bright blue sky, warm sunshine tempered by cooling breezes from the east, hardly any traffic on Décarie, the strains of Andrew Bird 's enchanting new record floating out from the kitchen... and the best part? Baby's comin' back tomorrow.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Cry havoc and let slip the hobbits of war!

Okay, Candis & I agree--The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is one of the most immersive and enchanting PS2 games we've ever played. The sound is breathtaking: audio landscapes have been crafted specifically for you, the exacting Tolkien fan. The graphics are lush and beautiful, all of the (non-hobbit) main actors from the movies lend their voices to their digital avatars and the storyline follows the books without parroting them.

Highlights include:

  • Fighting the Balrog alongside Gandalf;

  • Skirmishing in the ruins of Osgiliath;

  • Summoning ents to aid you in combat;

  • Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Aragorn as the gates of Helm's Deep are smashed to splinters and hordes of Trolls come pouring through;

  • Felling your first Wraith (we actually jumped up and did a little dance);

  • It's really, really fun and 100% co-op, which is a big plus for us. I would strongly recommend you at least rent it and give it a shot.

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    keeping myself awake.

    I know I've been quiet this past week; with my baby gone to Oslo for the Childhoods 2005 conference, I don't seem to be in the mood to put a whole lot in here. Makes me wonder who my intended audience is, really...

    The conference web site is pretty cool and the conference's scope is amazing. Although I have zero competence, background or knowledge in the field, I think I'd have liked to see a few of the papers.

    In any event, here's something: last weekend I went to Vermont for a day. My godfather was having a big bash out on his farm and, since I hadn't seen him and his family in over a year I figured I'd go. They're closest thing I have to a family on this continent (outside of my parents) and it'd be nice to see them.

    I went down anticipating some trouble.

    Although Vermont is arguably the most liberal state in the US and my godfather is a dyed-in-the-wool lefty iconoclast, I always seem to find myself in a bit of a sticky wicket when I go down there. Inevitably--and, admittedly, I bear much of the blame for this--I seem to get into a multilateral argument: multiple people (all strangers) and mutliple subjects: foreign policy, electoral law, history, geography... you name it. Suddenly I'm the queer-marrying, dope-smoking, FTAA-destroying (you're welcome), peacenik commie from that den of iniquity, Mawn-tree-all, in that modern-day Gomorrah: Soviet Canuckistan.

    I'm embroidering some, but you get the idea. Fact is, 95% of the people I used to meet at these events were perfectly charming. It just felt like the couple of folks who were looking for a fight always gravitated to me (do I smell like prey?). Since I hadn't been in the states since September 12, 2001--pause for poignant effect--I wasn't sure what to expect. More than one 'liberal' acquaintance of mine south of the border had grabbed a prickly vine and swung over toward the right. Would I have to grit my teeth and be polite?

    Turns out that no, no I wouldn't. I had a lovely time: the weather was outrageously beautiful up in the Green Mountains, everyone was in a good mood, the food was plentiful and delicious and I managed to catch up with some people I hadn't seen in a good long while.

    It's nice when pessimism takes a kick in the teeth.

    * * *

    On a related note, we caught National Treasure last month. Unless you're a Historian--in which case the Surgeon General's warning on the box should not be taken lightly: your brain may very well hemorrhage at the liberties taken with the historical record--you could possibly get a kick out of this flick. We kinda did. It's fluff in extremis, with little in the way of actual thought required, but it it sweeps along breezily and isn't any more insulting than the average summer action-adventure whiffle ball. It's like Dan Brown remixed Indiana Jones on a cocktail napkin: a conspiracy-theory-lite romp through scenic Americana.

    * * *

    Here's something else: the one-two punch of "Haiti" and "Rebellion (lies)" on Funeral is killing me. 6 gigs? This week, my iPod needed 8.54 megs.