Archive for December, 2010

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Friday, December 31st, 2010

The year 2011 will be a year of opportunity,

Let us begin by having initiated world unity.


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Thursday, December 30th, 2010

See the freezing fog of night,

Makes trees a dazzling sight,

Shimmering by dawn’s light.


#118 – In search of political giants.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

In politics there are few giants.  Yet, in a land of Lilliputians, the average person stands tall.  Looking at the political spectrum in Ottawa today, it is hard to find even that average person. Examination of the political parties leaves a hollow feeling as you realize that all the parties come up short.

The safest incumbent on Parliament Hill is, of all people, Gilles Duceppe, the long-serving leader of the Bloc Quebecois.  While many in his separatist camp want him in Quebec City to take on the provincial Liberals, he does more for them in Ottawa than he could ever accomplish in the National Assembly.  He also does the rest of Canada the valuable service of keeping Stephen Harper’s Conservatives from a majority government.

The other side of the coin is the New Democrat’s Jack Layton.  A repository for parked votes, Layton is no leader.  In the party of giants such as Tommy Douglas and David Lewis, Layton is a careless caretaker.  Earlier this year, he was referred to by a Conservative cabinet minister as part of the Toronto elite.  Torontonians who know Jack and his wife, Olivia Chow, could not stop laughing.

What Layton cannot admit is that the future of the New Democrats is locked to building a relationship with the Liberals in the development of a new left-of-centre political party in Canada.  It means breaking ties with the unions that have held the New Democrats back from making progress as a party.  Unions are the antithesis of a progressive left-wing.  They are too often built on a hierarchy of ideological conservatism to protect their members from any and all reform.

Joining with the New Democrats also means the loss to the Liberals of the hard core right wing of that party.  What the new party loses to the far right, it wins back from socially conscious conservatives.  It will likely be the first party to elect a balance of women candidates.  It can be the first truly socially conscious party.  It might even be the first political party to keep its promises.  That will be a rare treat.

Where that leaves Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff—at average height—is a good question?  It depends on what kind of a party he wants to lead.  One of the keys to effective leadership is to know where your followers want to go.  He has to understand that liberals want a democratic party.  He has to stop appointing candidates.  He has to start hearing what people in the party really want.  He has to stop the phony consultations.  And then the party can make the hard decisions about leadership.

There is a new generation of taller politicians emerging in the Liberal Party and by the time the coming election is out of the way, they will be ready to make their moves.  If Michael Ignatieff can lead the party to at least a respectable minority, he will lead for the following three to four years.  The new generation will give him that time.  If Harper is still in power after this election, the Liberal Party will be awash in failed dreams.  Anything could happen.

If you noticed that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was left out, we can cover him in few words.  Like Prime Minister Brian Mulroney before him, Harper is too self-centred to allow any growth for his team members.  After Harper, the Conservative Party will head back into the political wilderness for a time of reconstruction.

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Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Some Canadians trust Mr. Harper with the economy,

Most trust him just as much as they do his bonhomie.

Some Canadians think that PM Harper is quite right,

But we admit, some Canadians are not overly bright.


#117 – England’s Royals: Not ending with a whimper.

Monday, December 27th, 2010

If you listen to the latest gossip about the wannabes and celebrity nobodies of Hollywood, the conversation will eventually gush across the pond to the big events coming up over in England.  The gossips are all a-twitter over the April nuptials for William and Kate.  It appears that the Royals intend to go out with a stiff upper lip and all that.  It would never do to have the final scene for the Royals to be to be Charles III riding off into the English sunset with Queen Camilla stoically by his side.

Mind you, the Queen’s facebook page seems to be saying: “We Royals might not be what we once were but we are not dead yet.”  Considering that the Queen’s mother lived to 101 (already pickled in fine brandies), nobody expects to lose Elizabeth II in the next day or so.  Some must hope she outlives Charles.  It is not that anyone cares much, one way or another, about Charles but anyone who would rather sleep with Camilla instead of Diana, the people’s princess, is definitely not considered kingly material.

Overcoming obstacles such as Camilla must be the reason for the current movie The King’s Speech.  As a child of the times, there are less than fond memories of having to hunker by the radio to listen to George VI stutter through another Christmas message.  Obviously a stutter can be overcome.  Camilla is ugly.  Overcome that!

But the good news is that William is a coproduction of Charles and Diana.  And, for good measure, Harry is on stand-by. A handsome lad, coming into his prime, William is ready to do his duty by a winsome lass, ready to produce the next generation of Royals.  In the current tradition of shoring up the royal gene pool with common stock, William has had his girl friend thoroughly vetted and accepted into the inner circle.

And who could ask for anything more.  She is definitely pretty, with good teeth, and even her name—Middleton—bespeaks a middle class background.  She will look great on the souvenir fine china and linen collectibles licensed by the Royals and once again Westminster Abbey will come into use for another era.  The British Broadcasting Corporation will pay off much of England’s debt through the sale of rights to the nuptials that billions will watch around the world. Mind you the Royals will need new insights into the marketing possibilities to take full advantage of the occasion.

We assume that CTV network has already entered negotiations to block the CBC and pay an outrageous price for the wedding exclusive.  Lloyd Robertson will anchor in London, bringing loyal Canadians a blow by blow description of each hoof beat as Kate’s carriage heads for the abbey.  Prime Minister Harper will, of course, call for time-out in the election campaign so that he can be at the abbey for the nuptials.  (There will be a permanent camera focused on him, in case he smiles.)

The Royals will enjoy the euphoria of the moment but will find the effort to be in vain.  Even if half of the Canadian (English-speaking) population take a few minutes to watch some aspect of the pageantry, it will be meaningless.  The Royals are part of Canada’s past.  There is no place for such a foolish anachronism in our country’s future.

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Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Boxing Day was once supposed to be a day for charity,

Now it is shopkeepers who take our alms with alacrity.


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Saturday, December 25th, 2010

We have been told we write too many critiques,

Comments such as that criticize our techniques.

But today “Merry Christmas”  is all we can say,

And you have a happy New Year too if we may.


#116 – We can all send letters to Santa.

Friday, December 24th, 2010

This is a serious letter to Santa.  That fat old geezer has had it too easy for too long.  He just keeps getting fatter every year.  The elves do all the heavy lifting making toys.  Santa just sits back in his manager’s chair and decides whether kids are naughty or nice.  (And, the truth be known, it’s getting tougher to make it to the nice list.)  If it were not for fertility drugs and kids in Thailand learning about Santa, his workload would be a lot less.  And he only works one day a year.  Big deal!  Sure he goes all around the world but he has 24 hours to get around and the reindeer do all the sledding slugging.

Bet you thought Santa was still doing the chimney trick. Hah!  Obviously you missed hearing about the breaking and entering charge.  It went all the way to the Supreme Court.  The judges admitted they might have been more lenient until they found out that those consenting adults were doing more than hanging their stockings in front of the fire place.  In the settlement, Santa agreed to just drop the toys down the chimney from now on and to surrender his minicam to the court.

Santa, you have to understand that this wish list is really for the people of Babel.  You remember Babel.  It is a place with aspirations to be a city but with the mentality of a small town.  It is a catchment for country folk just out of the turnip patch and cost-conscious commuters from Toronto.  It is a town where planners come to die.  It has streets that go nowhere and have nowhere to go.  Mind you, that works well for the drivers who have absolutely no idea where they are going.

Santa, we have got to do something for these poor people of Babel.  We have to get them to see their local Member of Parliament for what he is.  It little matters that you and I see him for a self-serving nobody.  What we need is the broad realization that Babel can do so much better.  That will be the epiphany.  It will be when people say: “We are spending about half a million dollars a year of the taxpayers’ money for this person to annoy us by filling our mailboxes with junk and spending all his time trying to get re-elected.”

And while you are at it, there is one small item that you might add for the hookers down on Dunlop.  Those dear ladies are freezing their tushies off in this weather.  They need ski pants instead of net stockings and short skirts.  And since ski pants would lack a certain curb appeal in their business, these ski pants need to be transparent.  Who knows, the transparent ski pants fad might catch on for the ski slopes.  And with transparent ski pants, panties would be optional.  Just think of the added business for the ski hills.

Enjoy your Christmas flight Santa.  Say ‘hi” to Donner and Prancer for me.

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Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Many publications propose a news maker of the year,

Vote for Stephen Harper:  His  G20 filled us with fear.


#115 – Surviving the communications age, part 9.

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The time has come to speak of the deity that people around the world gather to and worship on a daily basis: television.  We are not talking about the quality of what people watch; dreck is dreck in any language.  Nor are we talking about the bilge heard from politicians, the television networks, or the self-promotion that is supposed to be accepted as news.  We are only talking about the supposedly simple act of operating a modern home television system with its accoutrements of antenna systems, gaming systems, sound systems, recorders, video disc players, links to the Internet, and accompanying hard discs for downloads.  Do you have your engineering degree for that?

And do not even suggest that there is such a thing as a truly universal remote.  It does not exist.  Having just one manufacturer supply all your components would alleviates some of the strain but interposing cable or satellite feeds will destroy that advantage.  And it is not just seniors, the confused, the challenged and the unwary that are confounded by the technology.  Just add three-dimensional television to this melange and there is a consumer confrontation in the offing.

And we are not blaming high definition technology for this problem.  High definition television was long overdue in North America.  Competing standards and confused politicians dragged the consumer through years of arguing and a quagmire of claims and counter claims.  The solutions are a mishmash of mixed technologies.  The truth is that your cable and satellite supplier is downgrading your signal to something we should call quasi-high definition.

In North America, we have been sold for years on how cable and satellite can give us a great signal.  It comes as a surprise to high definition television users that they can get a much better signal from the modern equivalent of rabbit ears.  You have no need for cable or satellite to receive local channels.  The only qualifier is that your local channels have all been converted to digital signals.

In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission has exempted small market television stations from the expense of going digital.  Why should the CRTC or the networks care about people in the boondocks?

But the basic problem is still the simple act of a) turning on the power, b) selecting a program, c) making sure that the program is properly sized for the screen, and d) adjusting the volume.  Please note, we left out the complexities of a decision about whether to view in high definition, whether the program was recorded or live off-air or whether the television set was set up for playing tennis on your Wii.  Those are just unnecessary complications.

Mind you, the wife has figured out the solution to the problem.  She gets the flat screen, high definition system totally screwed up and then she gives up and goes back to the large screen boxy tube set in the bedroom.  That one, she knows.

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