Friday, April 08, 2011

Be my Yoko Ono

So, Yoko had the YouTube video of Stephen Harper singing "Imagine" yanked (or as we say on the prairies, "kiboshed").

I remember attending an all-candidates meeting during the 1990 Manitoba election, and there was a guy there wearing a Spirit of the West T-shirt. Also being a fan, I said hello and commented on his T-shirt. Turns out he was a Conservative supporter. "You're kidding! And you're wearing a Spirit of the West T-shirt?!" I said. "I like their music," he told me. "Don't you listen to the lyrics?" I asked. That was the end of the conversation.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Bernier spices things up

I kinda like it when Mad Max speaks his mind. Especially the part where he "won't be silenced by insults and mockery." I mean, sometimes a girl needs some spice in her politics. It can't all be wasting billions on unnecessary prisons and refusing to take action on climate change.

And hasn't Canadian politics been missing something lately? You know what I'm talking about. A nice big national unity fight. Are today's young politicos only going to know about these things through Heritage Minutes? Maybe. Maybe not.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

George Reid: Great Canadian

Last weekend Rob was in town, so I spent last Saturday afternoon wandering through the National Gallery with him. My favourite piece is still Mortgaging the Homestead. I debated whether to even post a reproduction here, because it does not do it justice.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vegan Perogies

I meant to post this yesterday, on World Vegan Day, but just thought I'd let the vegans out there know that I completely vouch for this recipe:

I made vegan perogies with my own two hands about two weeks ago, and they turned out fine. Not a single one broke open, which is either the sign of a great perogy batch or due to the dough not being rolled out thinly enough. I choose to believe the former.

I made two kinds. Some kapusta (sauerkraut) and some cheese and potato. Unfortunately, the cheese was a bit of a fiasco. I bought soy cheese, thinking it must be vegan, but on further investigation, saw that it contained casein (a milk protein). I mean, what is the point of soy cheese that isn't vegan? I could have just used real cheese and it would have tasted better. Actually, I gotta say, didn't mind the soy cheese. In the perogies, that is. Not on crackers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Really, Rocco?

Really, Rocco? You're dropping out? You know, there's no shame in putting forward a comprehensive platform to improve your city and riding it out to the end. What happened to your bocce balls?

OK, so you're afraid of looking bad. Suck it up. It's not like you're dropping out to support Smitherman or Ford or Pantalone. It's just like Sunday's Mad Men episode. You want it to look like you broke up with her, not the other way around.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Newspapers, Conrad Black, and Calling-in to CBC

I was talking to my parents a few days ago, listening to them opine about the Globe and Mail's new format, and I told them that recently the National Post actually had some really entertaining articles. There was, of course, the supremely bizarre article, Dave Bidini loves you, Rob Ford. I also enjoyed Conrad Black's recent article on the Toronto mayoral race, entitled Don't give up, Sarah. Well, Sarah did give up, but Conrad had a good point. Gotta give credit where credit is due. Which reminds me of the time, years ago, when Cross Country Checkup was discussing the charges against Black.

Now to get the full context, I need to go back even further. Many years ago, two friends of mine were listening to some call-in show on CBC (I think it was Cross Country Checkup, but don't quote me on that). The topic of the day was the plan of two teenagers to broadcast their first sexual experience live via web cam. This was quite a novel idea at the time.

Now, how these shows work is that one calls in and says what he or she plans to say. If they want to put you on the air, they will call you back. So, my first friend calls and explains that she is a sex-health educator who works primarily with teens and very professionally explains the importance of healthy sexuality. Then waits for the call back. Which never comes.

My friends continue listening to the program, and my second friend decides to call in. Her message is that if people want to showcase their private lives on the internet, go ahead. This is the wave of the future. She got on the air right away.

So when my dad called in to Cross Country Checkup to defend Conrad Black, he got on the air right away. Yup, the old man calls 'em as he sees 'em.

Oh, and if you're looking for some good reading, be sure to check out Matt Taibbi's latest at Rolling Stone: Tea & Crackers: How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster. It's awesome.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last summer Betsy Myers was a keynote speaker at the NDP Federal Convention in Halifax.

At one point she talked about politicians finding their authentic voice. One example she gave was Al Gore. After losing the U.S. presidency, he seemed to find himself. His authentic self. Myers points out that he then went on to win an Academy Award and a Nobel Peace Prize. Another example she gave was John McCain, also after losing the presidency. During the 2008 presidential campaign the "real" John McCain seemed to appear less and less. And then, there he was.

Myers' comments resonated with me. I remember so clearly watching McCain's concession speech. It was a great and powerful speech. The real John McCain had come back. But was that really his authentic self?

Then, over the Christmas holidays I read Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, What the Dog Saw. It's great. In an essay entitled "The New-Boy Network" he reviews the research of various social psychologists. The science tells us that someone's behaviour in one setting "told you almost nothing about how he would behave in a different setting." Gladwell points out that this finding is the complete opposite of what we expect and that "we assume that people display the same character traits in different situations." There is even a name for this. Psychologists call it the "Fundamental Attribution Error."

Gladwell talks about this "attribution error" in the context of job interviews, but think of the broader applications. What if there is no authentic self?

So, I have been wondering about whether there is such a thing as an "authentic" self for a while. I thought of this again last Sunday, when the gospel reading was Luke 16:1-13. In this reading, Jesus contradicts Malcolm Gladwell's findings and clearly sides with Betsy Myers. Specifically, verse 10, where he says "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much."

I must say that despite Gregor's excellent homily, I am not fully convinced. So many stories depend on the supposedly evil character having a change of heart, once again restoring our faith in humanity. Whether it be Quark in Deep Space Nine or VP John Hoynes in The West Wing, a good redemption makes for great TV.