Archives: “news of the world”


There’s no real tangible reason for me to feel this way, but I’m glad that this week is over. It’s been a tiring five days and I’m not exactly sure why, but I fumbled my way through the week with a cloud of lead ball bearings enveloping my head and shoulders. It felt as if someone had fastened bowling balls to my kneecaps, filled my ears with cotton and UHU Stic, and pushed me into the middle of a highway.

Renée has been feeling the same way all week, too, so either we’re both fighting off another round with the plague, or someone is secretly piping eau de laudanum into our apartment. I blame the patriarchy.

Jane JacobsJane Jacobs died earlier this week, and the first thing I thought when I read the news was, “damn”, followed by, “this is exactly what it felt like when Pauline Kael died.”

Jane Jacobs was another person (like Pauline Kael) whose writing made me feel smart. Discovering and reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities while in high school… well, it was one of those so-called watershed moments. I remember finishing the book and having a sense of my place in the world and a feeling of great potential. Considering at the time I barely had a grasp on my own hormones this was a pretty big deal.

I remember actually thinking that I wanted to become a politician afterwards; the book made you feel like the only proper response to reading it was to act. That was her gift, really - this incredibly intelligent, articulate, unmistakably human voice that made you want to jump up and make shit right.

There was something about the fact that Jacobs chose to live not only in Canada but in my adopted home of Toronto that make me feel proud. It seemed like a little smidgen of proof that Toronto has been doing at least some things right all along.

Rest in peace, Jane Jacobs.

Suing Politicians

This is a serious question:

A politician makes promises during an election campaign that are widely reported by the media and captured in advertisements and interviews. These promises form part of the platform that gets the politician elected.

Once in power, however, the politician either breaks their word or does something completely opposite what they’ve promised earlier.

Can the public then open class action suits against the politician (or the political party) for fraud or false advertising?

Fraud: A knowingly wrong act or deceitful representation.

false ad⋅ver⋅tis⋅ing n. The crime or tort of publishing, broadcasting, or otherwise publicly distributing an advertisement that contains an untrue, misleading, or deceptive representation or statement which was made knowingly or recklessly and with the intent to promote the sale of property, goods, or services to the public

I was thinking about this a lot recently. There’s no real accountability for broken campaign promises, but if the public could sue a politician for fraud or false advertising, that might make a politician think twice before opening their mouths…

What do you think?

London terrorist attacks

Sickened and pissed off would probably be the best summary of how I’ve been feeling today. The saddest thing is that none of this is surprising any more. That still doesn’t make it any less insane or devastating.

Government passes same-sex marriage bill

This was too important to relegate to the sidebar: last night the government passed the same-sex marriage bill, giving all gay and lesbian Canadians the right to marry across the country.

In the most technical of terms this was mostly a formality as same-sex marriage was already legal in most provinces (Alberta being the big exception), but from a legal and symbolic perspective this was huge. The fact that the Liberals managed to get this bill passed in the most precarious and vicious of minority governments is truly amazing.

I’m so proud to be Canadian.

Update: Spain has just passed into law their own same-sex marriage bill and same-sex rights equalization. Go, Spain!

I’d rather vote for Canadian Idol

It’s times like this when the ruling government is up to their earlobes in the shit, and word on the street is a snap election is looming, that I realize that Homer Simpson was right: democracy doesn’t work.

What’s the use of having a choice when your choice is:

  • A slightly right-of-centre Liberal party (or slightly left, depending on who is leading at the time) mired in scandal and filled with MPs of questionable intelligence
  • A left-wing NDP party whose heart is in the right place, but whose naivete on the realities of the world is a bit unsettling
  • A right-wing Conservative party who was once a party more known for its intolerance, redneck policies, and myopia, then turned into a party a only slightly less asshatted, and now is just a bunch of jerks.

Sigh. The older I get, the less engaged I feel with the political process. I just don’t see the sense in system where there is only one choice if you’re liberal, one choice if you’re more conservative, and so on. If the sole party that has policies close to what you believe in is seen as crooked or filled with incompetents (as is the case right now), what’s the alternative?

Of course, there’s worst democratic systems out there, and we’re lucky to have the right to vote in the first place, but what’s the use if there’s no one worth voting for?

Just so this isn’t all ranting, what would be first thing I would do to fix the system? Get rid of all television cameras from the House of Commons, so that MPs would actually get back to debating and discussing matters of importance. If I see another MP grandstanding for the camera during question period, I do believe I will vomit.

Elliot Smith

elliott smith 1969-2003. I don't want to believe that it could be true.

So long and good riddance, Ernie

(Warning: Highly location-specific post ahead.)

Liberals win big in Ontario: My god, it's about time. It's just too bad that fascist Mike Harris wasn't the one bounced out on his ass when the Liberals cleaned house.

Now, of course, the question is whether or not Dalton McGuinty actually has what it takes to govern Ontario with both fiscal and social responsiblity. I'm pretty sure about the latter, but I do wonder about the former.

Strange how I still give a shit about Ontario politics, considering it's been two years since I lived there, but there always was something about the PC government that got my back up.

Now Toronto just has to replace that ferret of a mayor, Mel Lastman. Don't get me started on Mel.

Moment of Slience


Link and Think


It's rare to see anything 468×60 on the BeatnikPad. In fact, this is the first time I've ever posted anything ad banner-esque. But, it's an important day.

World AIDS day is upon us again. With the situation in Africa, China, and India becoming more and more grave, it's even more urgent than ever that we try to keep issues such as these in the forefront of our minds. Yet again, the best resource online today for HIV and AIDs information is the group-blog at Metafilter. (Also, Metafilter's Link and Think page from last year is just as informative. Thanks to Anil for the link.)

Be safe, stay informed, and stay involved.


(Non-Canucks, read this article on how to make cheese instead of the following political rant.)

If I see that beery-faced lout Ralph Klein on the tele-o-vision one more time, with his made in Canada solution (what the hell does that mean?) to the Kyoto Protocol, his painful smugness, his alcoholic complexion, and his right-wing beefism, I will be an angry man.

Not angry enough to do something rash like toss my TV out the window, SCTV-style; more like angry enough to drive all the way to Calgary just so I can moon the son of a bitch in person.

The guy admits that he has a drinking problem that has "affected his capability to do his job", and yet he's still in office. I still shake my head.

Then again, Chretien is a bumbling, moronic fool at the best of times, and we're still stuck with him... so I suppose it all balances out somehow.

What pisses you off about politicians in your corner of the world?

prince and cuban missles

A few thoughts about the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to my school:

  • He actually spoke to a group of us, asking us "are you instructors or students?", and then cryptically remarking, "where are the builders?" I think he was referring to the architects, who he had just met 25 minutes earlier.
  • For an 81-year-old racist, sexist, homophobe, he seemed pretty spry. (I particularily like the "slitty eyes" comment.)
  • Man, he's short.

At any rate, I'm glad that's over. I kept imagining some of the more, er, "dude-ly" of the students pulling a major breach of protocol, "Dude! I have all of your albums!", but the surprisingly short visit passed without incident.

And now, for something completely different: Read a fascinating article in the Boston Globe about the Kennedy tapes during the Cuban missle crisis. Really interesting.

American Ground

I've been reading The Atlantic Monthly's three part series called American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center, written by William Langewiesche (the writer whose impeccable writing also covered the Egypt Air disaster for the same magazine). It's some of the most compelling, lucid writing I've read in ages and ages.

Unfortunately there's only excerpts available on their site (for Part One: The Inner World, and now Part Two: The Rush to Recover), but there's also an interesting interview with the author, entitled Inside the Ruins, where he says:

The reaction to the collapse of those towers represented the healthiest strains and the strongest strains in the United States. The towers themselves, before they were attacked, represented something else about the United States, and probably not the most attractive thing. They represented Big Brother in the biggest way. They represented Big Organization�the monolithic company or government. They were very much a totalitarian representation of centralized structure and control.

It astounds me to think that we're rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Where did this year go? How did it disappear so quickly?

One thing I know is that date has become a kind of chronometric signpost; by the force of its overwhelming tragedy and irrevocable connection to who we are, it has become part of our collective calendar. To me, it all still feels very close.


It's incredible to watch and terrible to behold just how deep a horror one broken person can inflict on a nation. Speechless.

Billy Wilder dies

First Dudley Moore, then Milton Berle, and now Billy Wilder has passed away. Seeing as how Some Like It Hot is one of my favorite comedies of all time, this is pretty sad.

Le Musée Mecanique

MecaniqueOne of my favorite places in the entire world has been given a second chance. The Musée Mecanique, a gigantic, endlessly fascinating collection of vintange coin-operated machines (most dating back to the turn of the century) located in San Francisco will stay open.

I almost spent more time just at the Cliff House, where the museum is located, than anywhere else in my trips to San Francisco. Looking forward to going back for another visit.

Jerry Falwell is an idiot

Yeah, you knew this already… but this transcript proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. If I were Christian, I’d kick this guy out of my organized religion faster than you could say, “fat dumb ass”.

Deadly coincidences?

Okay, today must be a day of deadly coincidences, or there's something else afoot. Five small planes went down today: In the U.S. there was one in Colorado, one in California into a parking lot, and one rammed into a Florida skyscraper. In Britain, a small jet crashed on take off, and in Puerto Rico a small plane went down near the town of Rio Grande. U.S. officials were quick to assuage fears that these accidents had anything to do with terrorism, but the timing is surprising and much too reminiscent of September 11th.

I don't know - maybe this is just a big coincidence, or perhaps the media is starting to report more of them... but it's still unnerving.

Terror etched in pulp.

Screenshots of 9.11.01: I know, I know - I keep saying I'm going to stop linking to terrorism-related stuff, but I CAN'T STOP. Plus, I don't want to forget about this link as it's amazing. Via Dean at Textism, who also posted this rather funny rebuttal: <see below for more archivial information>

You can picture some worthless little editor, sweating bullets, if I pull Elton John will I lose my job?

Life in a warzone.

Horror in Afghanistan: I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about much involving terrorism-Afghan-Taliban-Laden-WTC-tragedy-death-sadness over the last couple of days (yesterday’s link to the CIA Fact book notwithstanding); avoiding anything involving the news have helped keep the dogs of hand-to-brow melodrama at bay. Willful avoidance is also keeping me from soiling your eyes with more noxious self-abasement and babblebrook… but this is a really well-written article. Enough said.

Goodbye, Mr. Dressup

Quietly, a large part of my childhood died early Tuesday morning. Ernie Coombs, known to millions of children (and folks who once were children) as "Mr. Dressup" has passed away.

With all of the sad events of the last 7 days, I could really use a good laugh and a smile. Thank god for Coudal, who pointed me to this collection of amazing LP covers: When LP's Roamed the Earh. Thanks, guys - I needed that.


Astoundingly wrong: Conversely, this Salon article from June of last year (written by Bruce Shapiro) is so incredibly, tragically wrong...

Then. ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz reported that:

The threat from [international] terrorists is so high, the potential for massive casualties is so real, that an independent panel [note: the National Commission on Terrorism] is pushing the government to take immediate, drastic action."

To this, Shapiro reported FBI Director Louis Freeh as saying:

Even the American cells of violent Middle East political movements as Hamas and Hezbollah, Freeh declared, are devoted exclusively to "fundraising and low-level intelligence gathering."

Shapiro even goes so far as to say that findings by the National Commision on Terrorism are nothing but a "con job".

If only someone had acted on this...

Knowledge is the best weapon

I've become slightly obsessed with reading as much as possible about the Middle East, past U.S. foreign policy decisions, Osama Bin Laden, the Islamic religion... anything to be as informed as possible.

With all of the analysis, conjecture and punditry floating around, this piece, written by Mir Tamim Ansary (an Afghan-American writer) is by far the best and most forward-thinking I've read so far:

... I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan , a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban...

Read the whole piece...

Fallen silent

I really don't feel like saying much, these days. Still very much innundated with thoughts, sadness, fear... pretty well the same thing that every other human being is experiencing right now...

I'm appalled by some of the disgusting comments that political "pundits" are tossing out. I received an e-mail from my friend Dan in Toronto, who was reacting to a three-way discussion on the CBC yesterday. He gets it perfectly:

Fulford (note: one of the "pundits") has just spoken of the 'casual way' in which Palestinian men discard their lives. This is revolting to me. There is nothing casual about it: it comes after a lifetime of exposure to the relentless logic of power that we wield. These people come logically and with a clear if limited historical understanding of their conditions to the malignant conclusions that we are reaping the fruit of. These men have reached the rational, accurate conclusion that the ugly conditions of their lives, that we play a role in imposing on many and massive populations around the world will not change except through radical intervention... We must learn to separate consequence and guilt to proceed, and this is what Fulford and other reactionaries cannot do. The terrorists are guilty of the dreadful acts and must be brought to justice. These acts are not our fault, but they are the consequence of our actions. We cannot be afraid of this. It will free us to condemn the revolting inhumanity of the acts of Tuesday without the crippling hypocrisy that veils the Fulfords of the world with their feigned inability to account for the motivations of the terrorists.


I can't believe this is happening. I feel sick to my stomach with sadness. Going to go give blood. Canadians, call 1-888-236-6283, or check the Canadian Blood Services site to find the closest Red Cross in your city. Americans, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Sarah McNally, please, please send me an e-mail, and get her to contact me. Thank you.

Lost but found again

Amelia Earhart Plane Possibly Spotted By Satellite: “She sails away to a place where clouds can’t get her / I know she’s safe, because she’s an excellent navigator” - Amelia Earheart by the Inbreds.

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