Friday, September 29, 2006

Red Friday

More and more people are getting into Red Friday. I actually can't remember where I first heard about it, but Garth has a video that explains the origins of the Canadian version.

I also found a yellow ribbon site -- send him your address and he will send you one magnetic yellow ribbon. He'll send it to you for free, but it would be so cool if you could send him a donation in return.

Yesterday I met a young woman friend of mine for the first time in months. I almost didn't recognize her -- the long, long hair had been cut much shorter, and she had embarked on a physical fitness regime that showed her being trimmed down, toned up, and terribly fit. She had just come from an interview, and she was visibly excited.

She has joined the Canadian military.

She's no flighty kid, either, filled with heroic fantasies. Her age is somewhere in the mid- to late twenties, and her head is on straight enough. She told me she'd been preparing to enlist for more than a year, and using that time to get herself into shape.

She knows that she might be sent overseas. Perhaps Afghanistan.

She's ready.

I was wearing a yellow ribbon on my lapel, and she spotted it (truthfully, it was hard to miss) and gave me a hug, thanked me for the support. She knows that the worst sort of enemy is the one behind you -- and for our troops, that means the nay-sayers and talijacks at home, the ones who call you a terrorist from the safety of a podium in a country where free speech is allowed.

Those critics who call our troops terrorists and killers and other nasty names don't stop to figure out that one of the reasons our troops are in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghani people to get their own free speech. Those critics don't have the courage to do anything constructive themselves, but they spread their own fear by screaming epithets around the world. Those screams get picked up by international news agencies and re-broadcast, eventually finding their way to the places where our troops are fighting for people who need out help.

Real terrorists aren't entirely stupid. They know that in democratic countries, public opinion counts for much. This public dissent now becomes a weapon made by us against our own people. Our troops hear that their own neighbors and friends are calling them terrorists and murderers. This is not good for morale, the exact point for which the real terrorists are aiming. Lowering morale can make your enemy vulnerable and easier to kill. Then they aim deliberately for our troops, knowing full well that each time a Canadian soldier is wounded or killed, the public howl of "Bring them home!" becomes louder and louder.

So, thanks to our free speech laws, our home-grown talijacks are giving aid and comfort to the enemy...and doing it with the taxpayers' dime, too (who do you think pays for the CBC?). And they're getting away with it. At least, they're getting away with it on a legal basis.

Fair warning to any talijacks within my reach: You won't get away with it on a personal basis. In my hearing, spout off at your own risk.

I'm easy to find. I have a yellow ribbon in my lapel. And I wear red on Friday.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dual citizenship faces review

Evacuation from Lebanon hastened rethinking

I should bloody hope so!

Out of about fifteen thousand people who were evacuated from Lebanon at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer, some seven thousand of them have gone home again!

Without so much as a thanks, a nod, or a kiss-my-ass.

Time to make new policy. I for one am tired of having my pocket picked every time some damned citizen-of-convenience is afraid to go to sleep in the dark and wants Canada to come change the bulb in his nightlight or bring him in to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed.

This is the Citizenship Act as it now stands. It's not that long (compared to other government documents, I mean), and it's only a little obfuscatory in language. Take a look at it and see just how wide open it is for abuse.

This is an interesting piece of information, as well. It seems that not every country in the world leaks like a sieve when it comes to citizenship laws. Some countries do not recognize dual citizenship. Matter of fact, there are some countries which will not recognize that their natural citizens have taken citizenship in another country at all -- Singapore being a given example.

We ought to be able to find an answer somewhere towards the middle of the two extremes, eh?

Three Strikes -- About Time!

Starting the nanosecond that Parliament reconvened for the fall session, I've been hearing about the proposed new "three strikes" law that Vic Toews wants to table as part of the law-and-order agenda.

I say it's about time. There have been too many instances of people getting out of prison after doing time for something violent, then turning around and committing another violent crime. Within months. Sometimes within weeks, and even days.

Is there anyone reading this that doesn't remember seeing/hearing a recent story about a violent offender being charged yet again for a violent crime...and then getting yet again a slap on the wrist and an admonition not to do it again? Hearing that, how much confidence do you really have in what we laughingly refer to as our "Justice System?"

So far, it hasn't been Justice. It's been Law. Yes, there's a difference.

But it could be Justice, with this legislation.

The objections coming out of the woodwork about this new legislation rally 'round the obfuscatory point that "somebody" (hint: defense lawyers) says it will mean violent offenders will now be considered to be guilty until they prove themselves innocent. Now, nobody has actually seen the proposed legislation -- so how could anyone possibly know what it says?

On the other hand, if that's true, I have one response:


However, the way I'm reading it to mean, the designation of "dangerous offender" will be applied only after the scumbag has been convicted for the third time. He doesn't have to prove himself innocent at all. He now has the time afforded by his prison sentence to apply himself to proving that he is not dangerous, and can safely be released again into society.

That ought to keep him busily occupied while he's serving his third, and now possibly an indefinite sentence!

Works for me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Things Go Better With...

I thought this story was a joke. Until I found another, dated, reference to it.

Ol' Mo must be gettin' kinda bored over there in Libya, with nobody payin' any attention to him and all. He's kinda lost that "bad boy" image in the last few years, hasn't he?

Ah, well. Dude's gettin' old. He needs a new hobby. Or maybe he's already got a new hobby... gardening?

Adding To The Blogroll

There are a couple new residents on my "regular reads" list. Check them out.

Daz has been blogging for awhile, now, but he's fairly new to my regulars' list. He's eclectic, with opinions, so give him a read. He's also a Canucks fan, so treat him gently, okay? Our guys are still trying to find their feet, if that pre-season game with Calgary is any indication...

BBCAmerican is...a little different. A Wal-Mart employee whose blog is not about trashing Wal-Mart. He fills his blog with entertaining tales of daily life as a Customer Service clerk in one of Wal-Mart's Florida stores. He also goes a long way towards explaining some of the retail industry's policies. Informative as well as entertaining.

And one of these days, I might get around to "organizing" my links into some kind of "logical" order.

But not today.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mother's Little Creatures

September in my neighborhood is usually a time for me to get re-acquainted with our smaller furred and feathered citizens.

I usually have a handful of nuts in my jacket pocket this time of year -- almonds, filberts, and walnuts in the shell. My neighborhood is full of clowns in fur coats, as I suspect most neighborhoods are. And if I see one, I usually toss a couple of nuts over. Amusing, watching them try to figure out what to do with this sudden, unexpected windfall ("It"s a NUT! Do I eat it? Do I take it home to the wife? If I do, will she expect me to bring one home every day? Maybe I should bury it...where? What to do....what to do...").

There are also a lot of crows around, and a Stellar's jay. The jay hangs around because people with dogs usually feed their dogs outside on the balconies. He waits until the dogs aren't around, then he raids their food dishes. No sneak thief, he. He announces his intentions for about five minutes before he swoops gracefully in to the balcony railing, looks around, and with a triumphant screech, hops right down onto the side of the dish. If you watch the windows, you'll often see a frustrated mutt on the other side of the glass, hopping back and forth, wanting to teach that blue bandit such a lesson...

The crows follow me. They've come to know me, and I often get a winged escort when I'm outside.

At the first location where I usually see a squirrel, there's no squirrel there to greet me. But the crows know... They set up a racket a little ways away, and here he comes -- a silvery, bushy-tailed, chittering bundle of laughs, being chased by two crows. They're "herding" him in my direction. As soon as he sees me, he skitters to a stop, figuring he's trapped between the crows and me, trying to figure out how he's gonna get away from all of us. I toss a nut...

As if he were programmed, the squirrel chases down the moving object and jumps on it. No way he could possible know beforehand what it is, he's just following his instincts.

Now he's got the nut. Sit up, turn it over and over. Sniff. Stuff it in the mouth. No, too big. Turn it again so he's got the pointy end toward his mouth. Ah, that's better. Look around. What to do...

The crows -- all seven of them, now -- are sitting quietly, almost motionless, watching him. He runs, stops, digs, stops, runs again...that tree over, how about right here, where the ground is nice and soft...stops, looks over at me...digs furiously, drops the nut in the hole, fills it in and stamps furiously over it to "hide" it. Then he runs toward me and stops about ten feet away, sitting up, waiting to see if I've got more. I toss him another one, and he pounces on it and runs to look for another hiding place.

The crows, meanwhile, are busy uncovering and making off with the first nut.

After feeding half a dozen nuts to the crows by proxy, I wander to a spot where the trees are a little thicker and the birds don't usually follow. There's a bold little fellow -- almost black, sitting under a tree watching me to see if I'm going to chase him. The tail twitches as I bring out a nut, and he starts toward me. I toss the nut and he catches it on the bounce. Sniff, turn it over and over, run to find a spot, bury it, and run back to see if I'm still buying dinner. Two more nuts, and he's getting bolder, so I decide to see how close he'll come.

He gingerly takes the fourth nut from my fingers. He's not nearly as shy about grabbing the fifth nut, and on the sixth, his paw comes up and grabs my hand to hold it steady as he takes the nut. A woman with a little boy are standing off to the side, watching the show, laughing. Now the little clown is standing by my foot, reaching up, looking like he has every intention of climbing into my pocket and helping himself. I produce another couple of nuts, and then it's time to head home.

The crows are still where I left them. They're dropping the nuts on the sidewalk from about thirty feet up, trying to crack the shells so they can get at the meat.

The Stellars jay is sitting on the balcony railing, screeching insults at the dog whose dinner he just scarfed.

Mother's Little Creatures -- always good for a smile.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fight Fishermen, Not Terrorists

Ol' Smilin' Jack wants Canada's military forces to quit fighting terrorists who want to deprive humans of their human rights. He wants us to concentrate on fighting rogue fishermen who are trying to deprive other fishermen of their fishing rights.

No such thing as a suicide cod, after all. And if everyone wears a life vest, nobody should get hurt, right?

" Layton says Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan should focus on humanitarian aid, reconstruction and peace negotiations instead of combat."

Oh, where to start, Jack? How about: Humanitarian aid is done by the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations. They do just fine at it, too. After all, that's what they're trained for.

Reconstruction is done by engineers and contractors. You want the military to step in and take those jobs away from the people trained to do them? A good union man like yourself? Fie! Jack! Turn in your CAW card at once, sir!

Peace negotiations belong to diplomats, statesmen, and other out-of-work politicians. Hang in just a few weeks, Jack, and you could be doing this job yourself. It doesn't require a union membership, after all -- just the inability to see things as they really are and an insistence that others wear the same brand of rose-colored glasses you yourself wear.

"...instead of combat."

Right. Gods forbid that soldiers actually do the job they're trained to do. Somebody might get hurt. They might even win out over the terrorists.

"Layton says illegal trawlers are hurting coastal communities all over eastern Canada, and the nation's armed forces has a duty to stop them."

I really hate to break the news this way -- over a mere blog and all -- but protecting the coastal fishing communities is the job of the Coast Guard. Remember the Coast Guard, Jack? Those nice unionized workers whose jobs you now want to hand over to the military?

Hal Banks is spinning in his grave. But that's okay by you. He was an American rabble rouser, and you don't like Americans, so why should you care?

"Since the current mission to Afghanistan began more than one year ago, 28 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in gun battles, car bombs and road accidents."

Well, to start with, Defensive Driving lessons for everybody! That should take care of the driving accidents.

But...28 soldier casualties in over one year. Twenty-eight. Less than thirty. In over a year. In an active war zone.

We should have been that good during WWII. Or WWI.


Damn. Y'know, it's not as if any of these soldiers were drafted and sent over there kicking and screaming, against their will. They were all volunteers. And they all knew, ahead of time, that there were risks involved.

Sure, there are soldiers over there who wish they weren't there. Most of them, probably, if they've got any sense at all. But they know that they are there for a reason, Jack. They are doing their damnedest to contain a volatile mess in a small corner of the world, to keep it from spreading to the rest of the world. They are fighting not only to give human rights to those without, but also to preserve human rights in this, our world -- a world where everyone is free to speak up for or against anything he chooses, even if, like you, he chooses to speak up against their fighting for anyone's rights at all.

The big difference between your speaking up and almost everyone else's speaking up is that you, Jack, are a public figure, and the media focuses on you and quotes you. Your words reach the soldiers who are fighting, Jack. They hear, and read, that you think they are no better than the terrorists they are fighting...indeed, that you think they have become terrorists, themselves.

That's not exactly a boost for morale, Jack. It's goddamned discouraging to read that crap, as a matter of fact. From the point of view of a Canadian soldier, you have labelled him the enemy. And now you want him to abandon his calling and come home and babysit fish.

Soldiers with low morale get discouraged. They get pessimistic. They start to second-guess themselves and their mission. They get despondent. They get careless. They get inattentive.

They get killed.

To what percentage of Canda's military casualties are you willing to lay claim, Jack?

Monday, September 11, 2006

You've Got A What?

"I have a medical device."


"In my pants."

Because I needed a laugh on this day, that's why.

(H/T Terrence Chan)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Yes, Remember, But...

...stop hitting me over the head with it, willya?

I was on information overload the day it happened. Since that day, five years ago, not a day goes by but someone in the media just has to mention it.

Every year since, on the eleventh of September, it's been like some weirdly twisted birthday celebration, with parades and music and people all dressed up and making speeches. The entire world has a sick and morbid fascination for it.

Garth wants to know: Where were you? I'm more used to turning my thoughts automatically to the assasination of JFK when I hear the words, "Where were you? (I absolutely will never forget that day!)" But okay, here goes...

I was asleep. Nicely, warmly, cozily asleep. Then I was being rudely and loudly bounced out of sleep by a frantic Denizen yelling something incoherent about the United States being attacked by planes. I don't wake quickly, and my brain started processing some strange kind of "War of the Worlds" scenario. In short, I didn't believe the Denizen and tried to go back to sleep.

Until someone turned up the radio full blast, and I recognized the harried, hoarse, measured voice of a local broadcaster who was out of his time slot. His time slot was early evening (well, at the time it was -- it has changed since then). What was he doing on the air first thing in the morning? He only does that when there's an international incident of some kind, like when Princess Diana was killed...

...or a bunch of terrorists fly planes into the World Trade Center.

I found myself standing beside the bed, frozen in place, listening to the radio. I don't remember actually getting out of bed.

I found myself at work, and I don't remember getting there. I do remember knots of people all gathered around all the big-screen televisions that were scattered around the place. And I remember rushing past them so I didn't have to watch. The mind-movies in my head were bad enough. I didn't want to watch.

I think I sleep-walked through that day and a whole bunch more of them immediately afterwards. I remember very little except thinking that we were now at war, and that I should probably be doing something to prepare to go and fight...somebody...

I never even considered that I'd be thought to be too old for combat.

To this day, I still have not seen the towers getting hit by the planes. And I have no desire to change the status of my visual ignorance.

Pussy Politics

Jack Layton is calling for the bugging out of Canadian soldiers to a safer overseas billet, presumably one where they won't be subjected to such dangerous things as bullets and bombs.

What does he think is the primary function of the military -- marching back and forth, saluting everything that moves and painting everything that doesn't? That's real productive, there, Jack...

What does he think the rifles are for? Or the other weapons? Oh, a few decades they'll make a great curiosity sculpture for some high-school history class, but what purpose does he think they have now?

Can't go bang bang shoot shoot -- that's not nice. That's not Canadian. That's Bush-style politics (see the video).

Jack is labelling our involvement in Afghanistan as merely an extension of Dubya's playing-at-soldier-and-not-playing-nicely. He obviously thinks that Canada is a country that needs to take leadership from another country...a kind-of follow-the-leader, with anyone except Canada in the lead. He shows damned little respect for a country for which he'd dearly love to be Prime Minister (not that that's ever likely to happen).

He's doing his best to convince the rest of the country that we shouldn't be under the Shrub's control. If he's so opposed to all things American, why doesn't he oppose the softwood lumber fiasco with a little more rigor?

Jack's a pussy politician. He's got no military record, and neither do most of his MPs. His mother probably instilled in him the belief that it was not nice to fight with other children. Which is okay -- my mother taught me not to fight just for the sake of fighting, too. She did teach me not to knuckle under to bullies, though. I think Jack's mother skipped that lesson.

What do you do when your back is to the wall, and the other guy is going to kill you unless you kill him, first? You can't talk him out of it. You can't buy your way out of it. You can't appease him in any way. He'll take everything you offer him, and then he'll kill you. You're in his way. And he likes to kill. He's already killing a lot of his own so-called friends, just because they don't leap to do his every bidding, living their own lives the way he thinks they should. And his "friends" have called upon you to help them get rid of him. You've agreed. And now you're face-to-face with the killer, and back home, there's one of your so-called friends, telling you and the rest of the world that you're now the bully and the killer, and that you have to come home now before you get hurt.

During WWII (which Canada entered before the USA, by th' way -- no follow-the-"leader" there, folks!), Jack would probably have been labelled a traitor, may have been arrested and thrown into prison (at least) or shot for "giving aid and comfort to the enemy". These days, we allow him to take a shot at becoming Prime Minister -- however long a shot it is.

My own MP is one of Jack's little followers. She got elected on the strength of two things: she was a good friend of the late Chuck Cadman, who was our local hero; and she has an awesome political record -- in her long career as a politician in all three levels of government, she has never once lost an election.

Well Dona Cadman is running against her in the next election (and, because of the NDP stance on Afghanistan, I'm extremely tempted to get out and campaign for Dona), so so much for the long friendship. And I think it's about time that Penny Priddy learns how to lose. After all, she's NDP. and they've been losers for years...

They've gotten to be so good at it that they want the rest of the country to follow along and become losers right along with them.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hotter Than Hell

Remember this?

I finally got around to reading the book.

Go get your own copy. Seriously.

But's not really about global warming. Or the environment. Oh, they figure into the plot, but only as a passingly-mentioned "cause" to the "effect."

What the book is really about is a coup -- no, makes that two coups.

What happens when a government (or two, or three) gets to be too big and too powerful for its mandate? What happens when those outside the ruling elite get pissed off with the ruling elite? When does "Dog Bites Man" actually become a newsworthy headline?

If you're one of those people who normally refuses to read Canadian fiction on the grounds that it's boring and pedantic, you may be pleasantly surprised. I was.

And if you're a big supporter of Canadian fiction just because it's Canadian, you're in for a treat -- it's a good book.

And if you work for the government -- any level of government -- be warned: it's not worksafe! Getting caught reading this book at work could possibly get you fired, even if you're on your lunch/coffee break at the time...

Toxic Nation?

The local get-it-at-the-skytrain-station daily newsblip called 24 Hours had a story yesterday that has me appalled.

A local family -- one of five families across the country -- has been tested for environmental toxins present in their blood, and the results were horrific. It was stated in the story that they have only been living in Vancouver area for a year...previously, they were living on an organic farm, and then an island in the Strait of Georgia.

The teenage daughter of the family (the full report is here) tested positive for 26 carcinogens, 19 hormone disruptors, 7 respiratory toxins, 27 reproductive/developmental toxins, 15 neurotoxins, and 2 others on which there are no substantive health data.

The family was being tested for a possible 68 toxins, and this 15-year-old girl has 32 of them romping through her bloodstream. She actually showed more toxic poisoning than her parents.

What's really interesting is that both teenagers (the other is a 13-year-old boy) show high levels of PCBs, which were banned in this country long before they were born.

The group conducting the studies, Environmental Defense, has also taken blood to test from John Godfrey (Lib. environment critic), Rona Ambrose (Environment Minister), Tony Clement (Health Minister), and Jack Layton (leader, NDP).

They are promising to publish the test results next month on the website, Toxic Nation. I wonder if they'll actually do it. I've added that website to my sidebar, in the news links.

Keep yourself informed. It's the only body you have, after all...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back To School

It's that time of year again, when the local safety-conscious parental units go nuts, stocking up on this stuff, and draping it all over the place in the hopes that vehicle drivers will slow down, pay attention, and not run over the offspring.

Like brightly-colored tinsel on the tree -- and just as biodegradable -- the yellow (and sometimes red) tape gets strung all over the stop signs, traffic lights, playground signs, school signs, lamp posts, picket fencing, mesh fencing, pedestrian crossing signs... I swear, if you stand still in one place for too long, someone with a roll of danger tape will come along and drape you!

I'm beginning to think that the real meaning of Labor Day is that it's the day when every parent in the country loses perspective, and is driven to festoon his immediate neighborhood in yellow and red. That, and the official opening of the Christmas season (Halloween season officially opened two weeks ago. No, I'm not kidding!). But that's another post, hopefully for someone else to do.

I don't happen to have any red or yellow danger tape. But I don't want flattened kids all over the roads, either. So, in the spirit of keeping everyone safe, I'll just post this reminder that originated somewhere during my childhood:

Cars Can't Think
Kids Don't Think
You Think