Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Costa Rican Experience, PART 3

We swam that bit!

We swam that bit!

Early Friday quickdate...

Woke up early Tuesday and hopped in a canoe with Isabelle. Waded into the parque where we saw monkeys and birds and snakes and caimans and lizards and more. Oh my.

Breakfast and a sit and then a walk.

Walked the town and hiked through the parque nacional, which emptied onto the beach. Swam it, kicked it, you know.

Had dinner at Miss Junie’s, a swell eatery that has served a slew of interesting people over the years, including Castro’s rebels who trained in northeast Costa Rica. And then they served the opposition army as well once Castro was in power. Awesome.

Wednesday morning we woke up and had some pancakes and tasty coffee. Caught a boat to Moin. Supposedly a three hour trip - our crazy captain gunned it and we were there in two. Blowing past boats on a small canal. At the port we found a driver to take us from Limon to Cahuita, a 45 minute coastal drive. He drove pretty much the same car that Erin has at home. She nodded in approval.

Upon arrival in this lovely beach town, we were offered an entire bouquet of drugs by a townie who goes by “George of the Jungle.” Didn’t even have my pack on my shoulders. We of course took him up on some shrooms and cocaine. No we didn’t. But we did walk/talk with him as we made our way to Alby Lodge. This place is insanely awesome. The grounds are like a mini jungle and we have our own thatched roof cabina. Beach around the bend, town a street over. We walked around town and found a place to eat overlooking the sea. Ya, I drank some Imperial. Picked up some groceries and had ourselves a sit. Had a low key dinner and tucked in early, cuz Thursday morning we had plans…

HORSES! We rode horses. Onto the beach and into the jungle. Where we then trekked by foot through a rain forest. To a waterfall. That we swam in. And sat on a rock and rocked some pinto gallo with pescado. Crazy. Our guide Raul was a champ. Erin is a professional rider, she pulled a gallop out of her back pocket. Made our way back to the beach, had a swim and leisurely stroll home.

Now a rest. Tonight and tomorrow brings more goodness.

Oh ya, we have been getting up early! Like 5:30 in the morn. Cuz there are howlin’ monkeys in the tree outside our cabina.

Don’t want to come home.

Although both our guys Joe and Matt are having issues with their respective technologies (IE Computers) I want to wish all of you a Happy Halloween, and to thank you for making the NAD such a special place for us to share our thoughts. Take care!

~ David Hunter

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Costa Rican Experience, PART 2

This is the second part of Brett Meisenger's
travel and photo journal...the adventure
of a full-blooded Chicagoan that briefly
escaped the confines of the Windy City...
stay tuned for more!
Dock of B&B at Casa Marbella.

Dock of B&B at Casa Marbella.

Tortuguero's revenge

No idea where we last left off, but I think we had just been dropped off in Tortuguero. So…

Hit the main drag here (the only drag) and check the terrain, shops and other goodness. To the beach. Walked it, splashed it, impressed by it.

Catch an early dinner at Miss Miriam’s - pescado y pinto gallo y other tasty stuff. And Imperial - the beer of Costa Rica. Watch footy match while we eat. Kids abound. Tasty goodness. Nap.

Up and around and down by the river to meet our guide at night. Turtles!

Down a trail along the beach, behind a fence and past a checkpoint, we come onto the beach. Turtle is finishing up her nest. We get there in time to watch her flop back to the sea. Incredible! Crowd stands in awe. We then make our way back down the beach and witness another turtle build a nest, lay eggs, and camo them. All of this under bright stars and a half moon on the beach, palm trees etching into the sky. Totally surreal. Awesome. Felt like I was on Lost in some other realm.


Parque Nacional Tortuguero
"We're not in Chicago anymore..." Welcome to
Parque Nacional Tortuguero

Technical Difficulties

I had a laptop versus glass of water incident. The glass of water seems to have won. I can through trickery get my laptop to boot up, but I have lost the use of the rs, ts capital Bs (which can be remedied with a simple caplock) and 5s. Needless to say it makes writing a bit of a task. I am doing all I can to fix the problem, but in the meantime, blog posts may not be coming as fast and as furiously as was the norm.

Much love to all. Please send karma.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Costa Rican Experience, PART 1

This is the travel journal of web designer and photographer Brett Meisinger, brought to you as a short visual travel series by The National Affairs Desk. Brett hales from Chicago and has bravely agreed to take on the burden of a trip to the tropics for the rest of us who were luckily stuck in our offices. Wait a second--that didn't come out quite right....
Either way, kick back for a second and live life vicariously through my good friend and SPECIAL GUEST CONTRIBUTOR!

Rain forest hunters, pt. 1

We traveled Sunday, pretty much all day. It was breezy. Guy behind us on the blue line was blaring “Crazy Train,” which I obviously approved of. Hell of a way to start a trip. O’Hare, no prob. Dallas, alright. Customs in San Jose, crazy. Found our way to the hotel (scary cab ride) where we were greeted by Berni and three huge German shepherds. Pura Vida, lovely place.

Up at 5 am Monday to catch our van to Tortuguero. Crossed into the rain forest towards the Caribbean sea. Stopped for a bite, where the restaurant also had a butterfly garden. Awesome. Your my butterfly. Carried on to a banana packing joint, where huge bags of nanners were being zip lined towards workers who chopped, dunked, selected, and boxed them up. Erin said I looked pumped. I was. I love me a banana. Our guide Francisco was both friendly and knowledgable. He continually pointed out birds and monkeys for us to gawk at.

After navigating a gravel road, where our driver had to dodge dogs and horses (and people too!), we arrive at the dock. Van was phase one. Boat now phase two. Hour and a half later and wind blown, we land in Tortuguero, a tiny town in the northeast of Costa Rica that stretches thinly between the Caribbean Sea and a canal. One road, mostly dirt. Definitely awesome.

We found our B&B and are napping. Beach, turtle tour, and all around mischief to follow.

More to come (as the WiFi allows).

Cahuita. Soon.


Banana zip line!

Bananas in

the zip

line at

the Banana

plant! Brett

is also

an authority

on quality produce; particularly 'Nanners!

I drank beer.

"I drank beer." Brett sampling some of the "REAL" Costa Rica.

Stay tuned, more to come as the adventure unfolds...


Thanks Slate Magazine and Gary Markstein

H1N1, I am sorry but I don't believe the hype. I will not allow myself or my own to be poked with a shot of a questionable substance that was rushed to market under the guise of fear or pandemic. I don't tend to get hooked by the old the sky is falling trick. I have lived through Mad Cow, SARs and the Bird Flu. This all seems like the same old gag, I have seen this show before and I think it is overblown. I think the media, Health Canada and Big Pharm are in cahoots. I might come off as a conspiracy theorist. I may be seen as anti-establishment, but my gut tells me that there is much more smoke than fire in this second wave of H1N1. Fear, not science is being used to push the vaccine and I am not buying it.

First lets look what the Canadian media is telling us; First Canada's national newspaper The Globe and Mail with a wonderful little story about how health officials are scrambling to counter H1N1 'myths'. Yep a direct jab right at we the disbelievers, we the conspiracy theorists. The type of story that has to be countered by we the bloggers, who won't swallow what they, those who know 'better' try and feed us. This will only hurt a bit, it'll make it all better, trust us. Um, thanks, but no thanks.

Earlier this week The Chronicle Herald ran a story about the arrival of 1.4 doses of the H1N1 vaccine to Nova Scotia. A newsworthy story yes, but some of its content irked me, here are a couple of tidbits that made me growl;
Dr. Strang stressed that the benefits of the vaccine with the immune booster far outweigh any "theoretical" risks associated with the adjuvant.
So any risks are "theoretical", but the benefits, if there are any, are weighty. This is a classic line of defense, de-legitimatize the other side's concerns as theory and unproven but qualify your own line of argument as undeniable. You might not be right, thus we must be right... a hurrah for fuzzy logic. The thing is the only statement the health authorities can say with any sort of convection is that they believe the vaccine is safe. That is the only testing they have really done. There can be no proof of the vaccine's effectiveness until H1N1 has subsided, then and only then can the health authorities (if they choose to) do a follow up study. Such a study is impossible to do before mass vaccination. Why? Well because it would be completely unethical to infect a vaccinated group and a non-vaccinated group with H1N1 thus truly testing the vaccine's effectiveness. So there, the powers that be are working in the realm of "theoretics" as well.
stresses on the system may result from a spread of the H1N1 virus, the best defence is for all Nova Scotians to get vaccinated.
"Our message is that vaccination is the best way to protect ourselves . . . so we are encouraging people to get vaccinated,"

The province is no longer recommending that only people over 65 or in long-term health facilities get the seasonal flu vaccine.

The province was acting on studies that indicated the H1N1 vaccine would not work for those who had received the seasonal flu shot.

But new information has convinced health officials to administer the vaccines at the same time. Both will be available at the vaccination clinics beginning next week, Dr. Strang said.
It sounds to me that the health authorities are winging it. They waffle, they blow this way, then that. YIKES! They are bowing to public and corporate pressure. They feel they need to act fast. I fear that this is nothing but a huge over-reaction. A pandemic pandemonium.

Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer wrote the most balanced piece I have read about H1N1 and flu vaccinations in The Atlantic, here is their premise;
Whether this season’s swine flu turns out to be deadly or mild, most experts agree that it’s only a matter of time before we’re hit by a truly devastating flu pandemic—one that might kill more people worldwide than have died of the plague and aids combined. In the U.S., the main lines of defense are pharmaceutical—vaccines and antiviral drugs to limit the spread of flu and prevent people from dying from it. Yet now some flu experts are challenging the medical orthodoxy and arguing that for those most in need of protection, flu shots and antiviral drugs may provide little to none. So where does that leave us if a bad pandemic strikes?
There you go, a good long yarn that argues that anti-viral drugs do little if anything in ebbing flu deaths. So do vaccines work at all? Are they little more than motley placebos? I do not know.

I am in no way an expert. I do not believe I should be influential in anyone's personal H1N1 decisions. I believe in my gut that I am doing the right thing. I believe that I am internally wired to build my own immunity towards the flu. I trust my own body chemistry, more so than the chemistry brewed up in a lab burdened with a time limit. Do what you feel is right folks. Follow your own guts. It would appear that the Canadian H1N1 vaccine is safe, if it makes you feel that by getting the shot you are doing everything you can to protect yourself, your family and everyone else from potential illness I can't argue with your logic. There is no right or wrong in this debate, the facts are not concrete. It is all wait and see. In the meantime be well, wash your hands, avoid work and school if they become particularly sickly. Basically be smart, do what you think is best for you and yours. Good luck and good health.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gratuitous Content

Oh poor wee blog how I have neglected thee. It has been a manic week or so. Sick kids, home renovations, family visits. There have not been many free seconds of late. I need solitude to write. I need peace, I need quiet, I have to limit distraction.

The last little while has not been horrible, far from it. The sick kids, well ya, that is a bit of a challenge, nobody likes to see their children all snotted up. The home renovations, hard work, but the ends justified the means. I have a totally remodeled living room. I finally have my modest, but cherished book collection on display. The family visit, long overdue. It has been wonderful seeing my parents interact with my infant daughter Zoey. They are wonderful grandparents, Zoey is a lucky little girl.

That has been what's up. My normal schedule has been thrown off course. I have been too busy to write. By the time I get my free moments, my peace, my quiet, I am usually mentally drained from the comings and goings of the day that was. Excuses, excuses...? Am I exaggerating the madness? Is this not, as my buddy Derek mentioned the other night, simply the making up of excuses, in an attempt to to hide the fact that I am battling writer's block? Has the bastard returned? Perhaps.

The 'real' world takes precedence, as it should. Life more often than not needs to be dealt with, before one can think about playing with words. Yes, I have been in a bit of a creative funk. I believe though, that this has had more to do with a lack of me time, than any sort of mental block. I might have a reputation of being able to pound something out quickly, but damn it, I need time to research, I need time to discover my muse. It isn't always as easy as it appears.

Blogging is hard work sometimes. It doesn't pay all that well either.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Undeserving Poor

I read an article in the New York Daily News online (Letter to Obama girls) about a six year old girl who, with the help of her father, wrote to President Obama’s daughters to ask for assistance. As reported, the girl witnessed her mother’s murder two years ago, by an abusive ex-boyfriend, and has been living with her father since her mother’s demise. Her father’s employment has recently become sporadic and he reportedly can’t afford health care, including continued therapy for his daughter, or child care. The comments following the read proved to be more thought provoking than the article and reminded me of the concept of the "undeserving poor" which I studied in graduate school.

The general consensus appeared to be sad story for this little girl but her good for nothing, con artist dad needs to get off his lazy ass and find work. One response even dared to condemn the dead mother for choosing an abusive boyfriend, thus blaming her for her own shooting death. Most people responded along the lines of, there are a million sob stories out there and if you help one you have to help them all.

The label “undeserving poor” dates back to the 18th century and refers to a societal underclass whom by means of their own inferiority, deserve to be poor. Karl Marx offers a more colorful description in his synonymous lumpenproletariat: “This scum of the depraved elements of all classes ... decayed rou├ęs, vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, brothel keepers, tinkers, beggars, the dangerous class, the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society." (Wikipedia).

In his book The Undeserving Poor, author Michael B. Katz examines the sociological question of who deserves to be helped. He writes, “Part of the reason is that conventional classifications of poor people serve such useful purposes. They offer a familiar and easy target for displacing rage, frustration, and fear. They demonstrate the link between virtue and success that legitimates capitalist political economy. And by dividing poor people, they prevent their coalescing into a powerful, unified, and threatening political force. Stigmatized conditions and punitive treatment are powerful incentives to work, whatever the wages and conditions.”

Now usually I have strong opinions to share but on this one I have more questions than answers. Perhaps I am more empathetic because I have enough sob stories of my own. But I am left wondering have we, as a society, grown so indifferent to human suffering that our first response to such a tale is to clarify why this family does not deserve to be helped? And, if so, is this apathy a defense mechanism of the societal “haves” against a social responsibility to assist “have nots”? Are the masses really convinced that those who fall victim to financial hardship have simply done so by their own choosing? And finally, if the answers to the former questions are all affirmative then where do we go from there?

Saturday, October 24, 2009


View Larger Map

Two winters ago I was a very different person. I was kinda lonely, a little confused, newly split-up from a questionable summer fling with a young art student. I was a mess, but, I had a passport. I fled, I flew to Europe.

I first spent a few weeks visiting my sister and her wee family in Ireland. It was wonderful to bum around the ancestral motherland, but I wanted to do and see more. I studied my Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring. Athens? Too hard to get to in the winter. Prague? I'd spend every cent I had on lovely Czech beer. Venice? Turns out it is the most expensive city to visit in Europe. Vienna? Hmm Vienna, home of Freud, Strauss, Klimt, Marie Antoinette and Falco, way out east, sure, why the hell not?

God love Europe, air travel if you book weeks ahead is ridiculously cheap. I found a 29 Euro flight to Vienna... or so I thought.

I hopped the train in Monasterevin Ireland , the tiny little Irish town where my sister was living. It was early, there was a chill in the air. I arrived in Dublin at about noon. Winging it, I knew what time my flight left, as to how to get to the airport, well I'd figure that out en route. There was a shuttle from the bus station, of course. Traveling on the fly, who needs planning? Not me, weeeee!

Seatbelt secured, iPod on, Lonely Planet and Moleskin at the ready, I took off. The adventure continued. A couple hours later we began our decent. I was sitting in a middle seat, I couldn't politely look out the window. I had no way of knowing what I was about to get myself into.

Like wrangled cows, we the passengers made our sober way off the plane. Into the long hallways, that only airports have, we went. My first inkling that I was in an odd spot was the strange, Russian looking words on all the signs. Hmmm I though; don't they speak German in Austria? Oh well, what do I know? Head down, follow the herd.

My brain really went pbbt when I arrived at customs. Sitting in a tiny windowed box sat a very ominous soldier looking fella, dressed in Cold War digs. He looked up, grunted, stamped my passport. Head down follow the herd. Where the hell was I? Did I get on the right plane? How come there isn't a bit of English, French, Italian, Spanish or German written anywhere? Fear was creeping in.

The Arrivals Lounge was Spartan, and relatively empty. I sat on a bench, ok man, I thought, sort yourself out. I dug out my Lonely Planet, I looked up Bratislava in the index. Turns out the Bratislava was the capital of Slovakia. YE GODS, Slovakia! I am not even in the right freaking country. What do I know about Slovakia, nothing, NYET!

Heart rate now elevated, I continued to read. Thank you Lonely Planet for suppling maps, thank you for the blurb that said that Bratislava was but a 75 minute bus ride from Vienna. All was not lost, HOPE! I might get out of this Communist Block nightmare yet.

I put the book down, I took a better look around. Upon more hopeful inspection I spied a tiny kiosk that was advertising bus tours. Hmmm, could that be the answer? I walked over to it, it was all boarded up. Feck, was there no escaping here? Up went the heart rate again. Frustrated I was about to go for a smoke, when I saw a stack of pamphlets at the side of the kiosk. By God they were English. I scooped one up, then went out for some smoking and investigating.

It turns out there was bus service from the Bratislava airport to Vienna. It was about 10:00 pm, the next bus left for Vienna at around 11:15. The question now is how the hell do I purchase a ticket, how do I take the ride? Where was the pesky kiosk attendant?

I needed Euros. I went to the currency exchange window. I asked them if they knew when the bus kiosk was going to open? The man at the window, in broken English said, soon, that I will need 10 Euros. Things were become clearer, I was going to survive this plunge into the Communist Block.

At about 10:30 the bus ticket kiosk opened. 10 Euros in hand, I was the first in line, I was ready, Vienna here I come!

Turns out that Bratislava was a very pretty little city. It was dark as we rumbled through it, but it was not as Spartan and stark as I had expected. My apologies to any Bratislavs or Slovaks that I might have insulted in this post, but damn it, I was on my way to big better places. Vienna! But she is a whole other post.

The planting papers: A bear of a dream

I am a combination of cheap and lazy sometimes. Instead of investing a large chunk of money on a high quality tent (which I felt was gonna get wrecked in the chaos of tree planting anyway), I was more apt to buy 2 or 3 cheap Canadian Tire specials each and every year. Oh and a tarp, who needs a tarp? The faster I set up my tent, the faster I could get on to better things, like flirting with the ladies and hanging with the powers that be. Damned hormones and ambition, they are no damned good for anything.

It was a dark and stormy night. I remember the camp well, it was basically a gravel pit. A small chunk of hard lumpy ground surrounded on all sides by dense Boreal forest. Stark, uncomfortable, not the worst camp ever, but close. The rain was coming down in sheets. I stayed in the mess tent by the airtight stove for as long as I could keep my eyes open. Eventually I gave up, out I went to battle the dark and the elements in search for my tent. Once found, I zipped myself into the 60 dollar paper thin, soon to be flyless, tiny little thing. I listened to the rain pound.

I was probably very, very stoned. I recall that there was a mud smudge on the side of my tent that looked like an old Indian chief. I used to stare at the chief in reverence and ask him questions mostly regarding the future. Simple, sophomoric shit like; do I have a chance with so and so? Am I gonna make any money tomorrow? Should I move to Calgary at the end of the summer? He was my one only companion on many a long night.

After praying a bit to the chief, I fell fast asleep. The rain and the wind picked up. If I hadn't been sleeping in the tent, it would have blown clear across camp and into the forest.

I soon began dreaming. I dreamed I was being chased around camp by a huge bear. I was hurtling tents, splashing in huge puddles, slipping and falling in mud. I'd get up, look behind me the bear still hot on my tail, I'd jump, splash, ouf, brrr! I remember felling cold, wet, desperate, the bear might as well win, I was miserable. I sprang awake, shivering. The fly to my tent had been blown off in the wind. The torrential rain was pouring right through the mesh roof of the tent, I was probably lying in a foot and a half of ice cold water.

Nearly hypothermic, everything I owned drenched, I made my way to mess tent. Lucky for me there was still enough hot embers at the bottom of the airtight stove to easily restart a warm fire. I wrapped myself up in a large blue tarp the was lying on the ground. I tried my best to balance and fall asleep on the wooden bench beside the airtight. Cold, wet, miserable. I don't believe I dreamed anymore that night. I did however have the mess tent awfully warm and cozy for my fellow tree planters when morning finally did come.

As for the chief, I am not sure what I did to piss him off. I didn't get the girl, nor did I make much money that day. Never trust the smudge on the wall of a 60 dollar tent. Ever.

Friday, October 23, 2009


This picture sets the record for wrong. It's Friday night folks, have fun with this one!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The last time I saw Elvis

You only pass through this life once, you don't come back for an encore. ~ Elvis Presley

Funny that I would write a post about Elvis. I am not really a fan, not even as kitsch. But it has been a silly sorta day. This is the inspiration behind this post, it's a Writing Prompt Generator. The prompt I got, after a couple of spins, was this; "Describe the last time you saw Elvis". Which was made doubly funny because tonight was the night that Elvis plays Fredericton. My mother-in-law bought tickets to go see 'Elvis ' for her sister as a Christmas gift, she was like a teenager all over again, she was so happy. It was kinda cute.

But back to that prompt. The last time I saw Elvis was 3 weekends ago. I kid you not. OK, it wasn't the real Elvis, (that bugger has been dead since what 1977?) it was a cheesy (maybe Korean?) impersonator. I was with my 2 best buddies from high school. They had come down to visit me and met my new born daughter. We were wandering around downtown Fredericton, downtown was packed, it was the weekend of Jazz Fest. A great time to be wandering around downtown. We were half-heartedly looking for another buddy from high school. Peeking in tents, being shuffled away by security, we tried, we couldn't find him amongst the masses.

We did find Elvis however, he was surrounded by a strangely large crowd of onlookers. He was shit in every way, maybe his total shittiness was what attracted the crowds. He might just be the Ed Wood of Elvis impersonators, I dunno? I do know that me and 2 of my best friends also watched him in dumbfounded awe for more minutes than I am willing to admit (Damn you beer!). So there, my friends that was the last time I saw Elvis.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seals, Perez Hilton and PETA versus little old me

I done and gone and picked a fight with PETA. I was hoping to pick a fight with Perez Hilton. That was my intention. It has been a goal of mine to get into a blog war with Perez for a few months now. I dare him to go and draw a dick on one of my pictures. I double dog dare him. Hey, any publicity is good publicity, right? Bring it Perez, I am ready whenever you are, you coward, you lightweight.

Back to PETA. Here is how it all began. Last night I was zooming around the web, bored, uninspired, in search of fodder, when I ended up on Perez Hilton's site (I am like a June bug, I swear). On his site I found a post where El Perezedente had thrown his support behind PETA and their fight against the Canadian Seal hunt (Perez hearts seals). As a joke I wrote, save the seals from Perez Hilton and PETA. Then I went to bed.

I had forgotten about the whole blessed thing. I figured I had made a bit of a funny before crashing. I didn't think anyone even noticed. Life, being busy as it is, kept me away from the laptop until this afternoon. At first the only reaction I had regarding my seal Tweet was from an anarchist friend on mine, who I think, thought I was condoning the seal hunt. Let me set the record straight I AM NOT PRO-SEAL HUNT. I think it is a horrible program, especially the bit where the Canadian government gets involved. I do not have any problems with the Northern Native communities hunting seal for food and skin, nope that seems only natural to me. As for culls and Environment Canada trying to control populations and ecosystems, well I think that human statistical interference in nature is bound to fail. I am a firm believer in letting nature take its course. If the seals are over consuming cod, so be it, there will be a shortage of cod, the seal population will suffer, their numbers will stabilize.

I tried to explain to my friend that my original Tweet had really nothing to do with the Canadian seal hunt, it was merely a jab at Perez Hilton (rah, rah, rah cause celebre) and PETA (who doesn't like to make fun of PETA?). It was later in the afternoon that I received my first Tweet from PETA. I was giddy. Hurray, I am stirring the pot, I have pissed off the self-righteous. I knew today was gonna be my day.

PETA's opening Tweet went like this (excuses in advance for their spelling and grammar, they are animal rescuers not writers): "What's complex bout bashing baby seals in the head & bludgeoning them 2 death? ANYONE can understand how WRONG that is". To which I responded by sending this link (Thank you CBC) and asking them to educate themselves. They responded by sending me the infamous seal clubbing video from the 1980's. The obviously hadn't read the link I had sent. Seems they have no need for education, because, and I quote: "No need 2 educate myself, I already know that killing animals is NEVER ok! Bottom line: Animals r not ours 2 wear or eat". You see PETA has morality on their side, they are right, everyone else is wrong...excuse me while I fire up the barbecue.

On it went. I told them that I wasn't in the business of dictating moral codes. I told them that I am not pro-seal hunt, that I thought parts of it were barbaric. They reiterated that they are working for a cause greater than themselves. I agreed that animals rights was a noble cause.

I told them in to most gentle way possible that the adults aren't listening. Their cozying up to celebrities and their over-the-top marketing campaigns only work on self-righteous teenagers and college kids. At a grassroots level PETA has had some success, but their larger-than-life public face turns off the powers that be. Hell their public face turns me off and well I am pretty hip, I am as liberal as they come.

PETA if you are listening, get over yourselves. You act like snotty know-it-all teenagers. I am speaking to you as an adult, the gig is up. If you want to sit at the grown-up table and have a grown up conversation about the things that bother you, you are going to have to learn to talk and argue like an adult.

Class dismissed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The planting papers: Pine cone baseball.

Downtime: as a tree planter it is something you learn to love and loath. Whether it be because of equipment failure, lack of trees to plant or weather, there was always something. Murphy's rules always applied. There were many, many days when you'd find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in particular to do. Boredom often leads to the silliest of human ideas.

On this day we were deep in the woods, standing around by the side of a bumpy old dirt road. We had no trees to plant. There were of course those that had hacky sacks, those things flew around everywhere and always. Hacky sack though, was never my game, I am not all that good with my feet. I am much better with my hands. What were those of us not kicking at a sack supposed to do with their time? Smoke? Bien sur, mais, apres ca?

Pine cone baseball? Of course, why didn't I think of that...wait, maybe I did? The rules were simple: The bat was a planting shovel (take a look), the ball a pine cone (pine cone?). I was pitching.

Rewind to a couple weeks before this pine cone baseball classic. It was mid season break. A one or two week vacation that separated the spring, from the summer planting seasons. Basically a 2 week orgy of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Folks were getting tattoos, I decided to get a bull ring. It was the summer of 1995, I had braids with multicolored elastics in my hair, I wore tie-dyed teeshirts, baggy combat pants, Doc Martens and the new addition a great big ring through my nose. I was larger than life. I truly believed I could glow in the dark.

Now where were we? Right, I had a pine cone in my hand, I was the pitcher. I threw a few unhittable cones, I may have even squeaked a few strikes past J.F, but he finally got a hold of a high hard one...WHACK! It happened so fast, the pine cone no sooner left my hand, when there was a flash, I saw it coming, but I had no time to react...WHACK, indeed. J.F had hit a line drive, the pine cone nailed me right in the cheek, my bull ring flew out of my nose and into the woods, never to be seen again. I was left with the imprint of a pine cone on my cheek for over a week. The owner of the company, who just so happened to be visiting that very same night, had this to say: 'Jesus Joe what did you do to yourself this time?'. To which I grinned and said: 'Downtime, what else was there to do?'.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday, meh.

Ah yes Monday. I am not a fan of Mondays. I tend to dislike Wednesdays a tad more, but yes, Mondays are pretty damned miserable. What did I do this Monday? Why am I like a blogging Garfield? Hmmm, where do I start?

I was awoken this morning with a 'Mommy I hate runny porridge, it's disgusting, I won't eat it!' The baby was also riled up because the older kids were manic. I hid my head under the pillow, I tossed, I turned, I mumbled under my breath. Oh and then there were the fecking cats. One would scratch to get into the bedroom, the other would scratch to get out. Serenity now! Not in this house, not at 7:25 a.m. Not on Monday morning, my heavens no.

I dragged my butt from bed. The sound of a percolating coffee machine my inspiration, my will to power. Mug filled, I trudged to the living room. WHAM, POW, it was turned upside down. Seems Amy wanted a change, seems the time for the change was NOW, and a happy Monday morning to you. Yikes.

The the thing is, it is sorta hard for Amy to do any of the heavy lifting, the sweeping, the mopping, the rearranging, with a 7 week old constantly attached to the boob. So, guess what? Yep, I was drafted into service. I swept, I mopped, I heavy lifted, I rearranged. Did I mention that it is Monday? No? Ha!

We plugged away at the living room until it was time for me to go pick up the older kids from school. I enjoy the walk to school. It gives me time to reflect. It gets me out of the house. Each and every time it is a mini adventure. I particularly like to parent watch, in those almost awkward few moments before the dismissal bell rings. I am the lone wolf, at least at the 3:05 pick up. I sit off to the side, iPod on, cell phone in hand, I am the watcher. There are those that simply blend in, like background actors, they merely are. There are those that seem interesting, cute or unique. Then there are the characters. Folks like the Rastafarian cat that shows up on a bike, sometimes plays hacky sack. The dad that shows up everyday with a clipboard. The rocker with the afro-mo-hawk kid(the kid and the hairdo are things of beauty). There are certainly those that stand out. So ya, picking up the kids was the best part of the day. Must be because well, it is in fact Monday.

But I lie, as I tend to do...sometimes, well at least when I am writing. It's creative license, artistic flair. The best time of the day was the bit spent with my daughter who is growing more and more each day. She is brilliant she shines, agog, HURRAY!

So there, and so be it. Tuesday fast approaches. I will end this Monday lament, lest it creep into Tuesday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This week's Douchetard: The Legendary Rush Limbaugh

Every now and then one has to rely on a failsafe. There are some legendary Douchetards out there. Billy O'Reilly, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Joe the Plummer and yes, the Jabba the Hutt of them all, Rush Limbaugh.

I haven't really payed much attention to the news this week. Real life took precedence, as it does sometimes. Anyway, so ya, I hadn't been keeping a keen eye out for the extraordinarily douchy, but Rush Limbaugh, gawd love him, I knew he would always come through in a pinch. What did Rush do this week? Well, he tried to buy into the NFL. He wanted to be an owner of the St. Louis Rams. How'd that work out for him? Um, not so well. Turns out many of the the guys that play for the Rams are (gasp!) black and well they weren't all that comfortable with the idea of a perceived bigot and a racial polarizing character like Rush, becoming the 'boss'. The NFL listened to the players, Rush's dream of owning an NFL team was squashed. Poor bugger.

Here are a few of Rush's greatest hits (settle down Geddy Lee, the other Rush): (hat tip

~ And don't forget, Sherrod Brown is black. There's a racial component here, too. - the 2006 Ohio Senate primary race involving then-Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who is white.

~ Too many whites are getting away with drug use...Too many whites are getting away with drug sales...The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them, and send them up the river, too.

~ The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

~ They oughtta change Black History Month to Black Progress Month and start measuring it.

~ Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

~ Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. - on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, while working as a commentator on ESPN.

How could these players be so blind? He isn't racially insensitive, Rush isn't a controversial figure at all, geesh! At least his good friends at Fox 'News' stood up for him:

So there, Papa Bear still loves you Rush and to top it all off, you fine sir, are the Douchetard of the week! Well done, well done, polite golf claps all around.

The planting papers: Spent lighters and helicopters

In the heady days of my young adulthood, I planted trees for 5 summers in Canada's wild west.

I was wild eyed and smelly, I was tie-dyed, I glowed in the dark. I have been told that there are stories I tell about those years that I need to write down. Here is the first of what may be many planting stories.

There were many days like this, but this one stands out. It was a cold morning, but clear. The chopper pilot figured it would be a nice, clear day for flying. Myself, my buddy Curtis, and the checker were the first to fly to to work site. They sent us in to set up the clearcut block for the rest of the crew, who would be flown in 4 at a time throughout the morning.

We touched down, unloaded some supplies from the chopper, then waited for it to return, first with a sling of trees, then with a load of planters, on and on it would go. We waited, we waited, we rolled smokes, we waited. The checker got on the walkie-talkie. 'What is the delay?' Camp: 'The pilot is simply waiting for some low clouds to clear' Fair enough. Cigarettes rolled, comfortable tree stumps found, Curtis and I sat. Flick, flick, flick (damn!) my lighter was out of juice. Curtis must have one that works. 'Gotta light?' Flick, flick, flick, (damn!). 'Nope, I am out of gas too'.

It was then that the rain began, it was then that we began to realize how dire our situation had become. The checker, ever-armed with a walkie-talkie, kept checking in with camp. The pilot, in camp, dry, was still waiting for the clouds to pass. He had us nearly convinced that he'd be up in the air soon. This was the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, the weather could change by the second. True, true, but how the hell were Curtis and I going to light our quickly dampening cigarettes? 'Wooden matches? I wonder if the checker has some in her first-aid kit?' Oh that Curtis, thank God he was there to do the thinking under pressure. The checker did in fact have a package of matches. Huzzah! But shit, weren't they as wet as everything else... no way we'd get one to light. Fuck, shit, argh, we were really Jonesing by this point.

Curtis, stubborn, nic-fitting, started to rapidly flick his Bic. The idea was to hope and catch a light from the sparks from the flint. Brilliant, it was so gaddamned crazy and desperate it just might work. It did! Puff, puff, ahhhh we were soon in flavour country, the rain be damned.

The checker, our connection to the outside world, cold, shivering, said: 'The pilot says that if it is still cloudy and wet by 3:00 we should think about beginning the long hike out. It will take about 3 hours to get to camp by foot'. It was about 1:00 when we had heard that jolly bit of news. Hurray! Good times. Best continue chain smoking.

The rain had stopped. The sun was peeking through the clouds. Curtis and I were playing shovel baseball. Shovel baseball was a game invented for planter downtown. The rules are simple. A single was sticking the shovel blade first with one flip. A double 2 flips, a triple 3, a homerun 4. Good times, safer than pine cone baseball (but that is a story for another day).

I think it was my ears that perked up first. A Chopper makes a distinct sound, it can be heard from many miles away, especially if there isn't anything but 3 people and trees in those many miles. It was about 2:30, the sun was out. We were being rescued. A little wet, a little muddy, thumbs numb from Bic flicking, but happy. It had been another one of those days.

A night with no News

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday night weirdness

(hat tip to my sister-in-law Sadie)

Caption if you dare.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The kitchen's a mess, but my plate is full.

I have often wondered how the other side thought. I am curious by nature. I wanna know why folks think the way that they do. So I Goggled 'why do conservatives hate the environment?'. The site that caught my eye the first was (Right Wing News), I might as well go straight to the source. I found a link to a piece on their site called 20 Frequently Asked Questions About Conservatism (link). Had I stumbled upon a map of the conservative psyche (I wondered if I needed a secret decoder ring)? But where was I? Oh yes, I wanted to know why the conservative movement had such disdain for environmentalism. Here it is, in their own words:

Why do conservatives hate the environment?: Unfortunately, most environmental activists today tend to be radical luddites for whom economic considerations are practically irrelevant. We're talking about people who try to stop almost every new power plant from being built, who oppose drilling a desolate Alaska wasteland laden with oil because they fear it might upset the caribou in the region, and who'd happily drive the US economy into a depression by supporting the Kyoto Accord.

Conservatives want clean water, clean air, and a clean planet as much as the average person. However, unlike radical environmentalists, we're not purists. Conservatives have a sense of proportion, and we're not willing to drive America's standard of living back 50 years for some unnoticeable environmental gain. So in effect, conservatives are pro-environment, we're just moderates about it compared to the zealots in the environmentalism movement.

So there, aside from the name calling (luddite = One who opposes technical or technological change. Huh?), conservatives dislike environmentalism because they believe that the well being of humanity is of more importance than the well being of the planet. I believe they can justify this thinking by proclaiming that climate change/global warming are theories. (kinda like evolution... there I said it) Why, they believe, put pressure on the economy, if there is no real 'proof' that the planet is in fact in peril? Let's party like it's 1999, let's mess shit up!

Environmentalism it seems is a liberal ideal. One of those romantic, dirty hippy notions, like peace and rock'n'roll. It's the farting of rainbows. The grown-ups, the clear headed conservatives among us, will have you know that it is business as usual. Fire up the 'clean' coal, lay waste to those Alaskan 'wastelands', you betcha, there is oil in them hills. There is money to be made, the economy is in the shitter, cut it, burn it, pave it. Don't trust them liberals, those environmentalists, those fuzzy scientists, they hate the American ideal, the have no appetite for success. Oh and the planet be damned.

To which I respond. The economy be damned. I am sorry dear friends, but if we are serious about cleaning up the mess we have made, than it's gonna hurt. The economy is going to take a hit, industries are going to fail. Coal is an archaic and dirty source of energy, it may be cheap, but it has to be deemed unfit, it is not a modern energy source. There might be oil in Alaska, but oil, like coal, is dirty, not all that cheap to produce, it is pretty much the cause of all that is wrong with the planet, whether it be global politics, socio-economics or environment. Scrap it. Move on. It is time to invest not in the discovery of new veins of oil in Alaska, the Sudan or Tadzhikstan, but in the research and development of new, clean sources of energy. It is time to shit or get off the pot. We can make a concerted effort to clean things up, we can care about the present and the future... or we can stick to the status quo, we can rape and pillage, we can cross our fingers and hope that it will all sort itself out in the end.

I was never one to leave anything to chance and my mother always taught me to clean up after myself, hell I might even be a tad obsessive compulsive, I dunno? All I know is, that supper was great as usual, but I have dishes that need to be scrubbed.

Nobel: "Put Up or Shut Up"

I have thought very carefully before adding my voice to the discussion about the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace. What I've discovered is that few, if any, have written or talked about the irony of the award, concentrating on whether Obama "deserved" the prize.

It is obvious that Obama has not "earned" it. But that's not the point. As many have noted, the Peace Prize has indeed been awarded in the past on an "aspirational" note in the hope that certain efforts had sown the most fertile seeds in the soil of hope. But y'all know how I feel about "hope": hope don't feed the bulldog.

I think what the Nobel Committee is saying to Obama is nothing less than "Put Up or Shut Up". It is a recognition that Obama talks a good game most of time, even considering the contradictions between what he speaks about on the stump and the policies he's continued or created. The actions don't match the words - it's as simple as that. The Committee is saying, "Look, man. Talking peace and making peace just ain't the same breed of cat".

Truth be told, some pretty nasty folks have been in the mix in the past. Hitler was nominated. Stalin made off with one. Run your finger down the list of 208 winners and you get the impression that the criteria are sometimes pretty questionable. Even more questionable when you factor in the resouces of the Nobel Institute, the organization of scholars, researchers, and impressive resources which advises the Committee on its selections. George Will's recent on-the-air comment about "seriousness" is well taken. So awarding the prize to a man who has done little besides make speeches about peace is really not so odious. At least they didn't choose Ahmadinejad.

As Matt Taibbi notes in "On the Nobel Prize for Occasional Peace",
It’s hard to believe, but there have been sillier moments in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize than this recent fiasco involving Barack Obama — it’s just so hard to remember them when you’re rolling around on the ground and spitting up greenish foam in a state of shock, as most of us were this past weekend as the news of Obama’s amazing award rolled over the airwaves.

The Nobel Peace Prize long ago ceased to be an award given to people who really spend their whole careers agitating for peace. Like most awards the Prize has evolved into a kind of maraschino cherry for hardcore careerists to place atop their resumes, a reward not for dissidence but on the contrary for gamely upholding the values of Western society as it perceives itself, for putting a good face on things (in Obama’s place, literally so).

Even when the award is given to a genuine dissident, it tends to be a dissident hailing from a country we consider outside the fold of Western civilization, a rogue state, “not one of us” — South Africa from the apartheid days, for instance, or the regime occupying East Timor.

You never, ever get a true dissident from a prominent Western country winning the award, despite the obvious appropriateness such a choice would represent. Our Western society quite openly embraces war as a means of solving problems and for quite some time now has fashioned its entire social and economic structure around the preparation for war ...
Therein lies the problem - and bolsters the question of whether the Nobel Committee is to be seriously considered or just another version of Dancing with the Stars.

Taibbi brings out the most obvious contradiction: we are a culture that has succeeded because it has, for the most part, made war (although, starting with Viet Nam, not so much lately). Thus, the Nobel "aspirations" seem to me very disingenuous. For the paradigm change needed in order to contribute fully to a culture of peace must be just that: fundamental and total.

In a recent piece at Common Dreams ("If We Want Peace, We're Going to Have to Learn to Say No"), Daphne Bramham notes ...
Ending war means a massive societal shift.

"We must create the idea that to even think of war is horrific," says [Irish Nobel laureate Mairead] Maguire, whose own peace prize was awarded for her work in ending the fighting in Northern Ireland.

It means transforming millennia of solving problems by fighting with solving conflicts through talking. It will be hard, but perhaps not impossible, says Maguire, who cites the mind-shift about smoking. In a very short time, smokers went from being cool to being pariahs.

As with smoking, it starts with children and education. Kids are already taught at home and at school that violence is bad. But as a number of University of B.C. researchers are finding, using programs that emphasize empathy and compassion can reduce children's aggression.

But much of what children learn doesn't come from either parents or teachers. It comes from television, movies and video games. All of which are becoming increasingly violent.

A decade ago, UNESCO research found that 93 per cent of children in 93 countries with access to television watched for three hours a day and saw five to 10 violent acts every hour ...
It is not, unfortunately, just the surface violence that we must reject. We must root out and replace all the sources of and justifications for violence, even in its seemingly subtle forms.

Capitalism, for example, is a very violent sport. Profit at any cost seems to be the only rule, competitive greed the object in play, destroying the competition the only goal. The field is covered with dead and dying players, while the owners are building castles with uncrossable moats. Many of their owners have turned war into a profit center - some even supplying all sides with the means of production destruction. Religion and nationalism are not far behind in undermining our deep desire for peace.

I am sorely tempted to call the honor bestowed on Obama the "Nobel Peace Pipe Dream". As noted by Taibbi, Obama is no dissident. His philosophy and his policies are fully rooted in the same garden that has grown war for centuries and he will continue to strive to "win". His message to Muslims and others is clearly, "We must have peace, but on Western terms - or else!"

Some commentary on the prize has suggested that it represented a hope that America would rise to world leadership in a grand journey to world peace. Sigh. I, for one, think we need to look elsewhere. I don't think we're up to it, judging by the actions of late at town meetings and the words of threat from a familiar "news" channel. It just doesn't seem to me that a country moving so quickly toward civil war is a likely beacon of peace on a troubled planet.

Others have said that Obama was not so pleased to receive the prize - that it challenged his true imperialist, bellicose agenda. It undoubtedly presents a conundrum, seeing as how making peace by making wars has been thoroughly discredited. We can hope as we might, but Obama will have his wars.

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[originally posted at P!]

Conveniently Untrue?

In the spirit of Blog Action Day (link). A repost.

Take a look at this video first:

Did Vice President Al Gore avoid Phelim McAleer's question? I think he did. Gore responded with a well rehearsed politico two-step. He avoided the larger question, which was whether some of the 'truths' in the his film An Inconvenient Truth, where stretched. He tried to change the discussion by appealing to the bleeding hearts. Who doesn't love polar bears? I mean look at them? (their numbers up?) (even the polar bear conservationists are unsure)

Here are the 'nine Inconvenient Untruths' that British High Court Judge Michael Burton ruled 'politically partisan and thus not an impartial scientific analysis of climate change. (

1. Mr Gore claims that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland "in the near future". The judge said: "This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore's "wake-up call". He agreed that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia"."The Armageddon scenario he predicts, insofar as it suggests that sea level rises of seven metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus."

2. The film claims that low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls "are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming" but the judge ruled there was no evidence of any evacuation having yet happened.

3. The documentary speaks of global warming "shutting down the Ocean Conveyor" - the process by which the Gulf Stream is carried over the North Atlantic to western Europe. Citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the judge said that it was "very unlikely" that the Ocean Conveyor, also known as the Meridional Overturning Circulation, would shut down in the future, though it might slow down.

4. Mr Gore claims that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed "an exact fit". The judge said that, although there was general scientific agreement that there was a connection, "the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts".

5. Mr Gore says the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was directly attributable to global warming, but the judge ruled that it scientists have not established that the recession of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro is primarily attributable to human-induced climate change.

6. The film contends that the drying up of Lake Chad is a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming but the judge said there was insufficient evidence, and that "it is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability."

7. Mr Gore blames Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans on global warming, but the judge ruled there was "insufficient evidence to show that".

8. Mr Gore cites a scientific study that shows, for the first time, that polar bears were being found after drowning from "swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice" The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm."That was not to say there might not in future be drowning-related deaths of bears if the trend of regression of pack ice continued - "but it plainly does not support Mr Gore's description".

9. Mr Gore said that coral reefs all over the world were being bleached because of global warming and other factors. Again citing the IPCC, the judge agreed that, if temperatures were to rise by 1-3 degrees centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and mortality, unless the coral could adapt. However, he ruled that separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution was difficult.

Judge Burton ruled 'that errors had arisen "in the context of alarmism and exaggeration" in order to support Mr Gore's thesis on global warming' and 'declined to ban the Academy Award-winning film from British schools, but ruled that it can only be shown with guidance notes to prevent political indoctrination'. So there. Basically the film can be used to scare the life out of kids, but can not be shown in science class...???

National Geographic (Fact or hype)did a similar peek into Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. Their results were far more Gore friendly, but there was still a feeling of doubt that permeates throughout the report.

Here is a 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report). Read the (SPM) for some really good hard data on climate change and its projected global impact.

Here is a link to the (science behind) An Inconvenient Truth . Compare the science with the judicially deemed 'untruths'. Yes, my head is spinning too.

At the other end of the global warming debate are folks like (Global Warming is a Farce), (Climate Realists) or (Not Evil Just Wrong). The best site for global warming deniers that I have found would be the Global Warming is a Farce site, it offers up a ton of links and even references real science (WOW!). The Climate Realists would have one believe that CO2 has no effect on climate change, that climate change is in fact a myth. Read their (science disproves global warming), hmmm funny how there isn't a lot of hard data shown. There are examples of more snow on Brazilian mountains, that tree rings might provide evidence of a similar warming trend a thousand years ago, talk of scientists that refute that CO2 causes global warming, but no numbers, no graphs, more opinion than science. When did science come down to sticking one's head out the door and deducing whether or not it is cold out. Ye gads, it snowed in October, global warming is a farce. Sketchy.

As for the Not Evil Just Wrong lot, what have they got? Fingers crossed that they have some science. Hell, I gave them the opening word in this debate. Yep, Phelim McAleer is Not Evil Just Wrong's guy. Upon reviewing their site, it seems they are low on science but high on right wing catch phrases. Sorry kids, but I am not at all comfortable supporting a group that uses 'cinematic tea party movement' and 'tell Al Gore and the elites that you are fed up with taxes and restrictions that threaten jobs across the country.'. This appears to be nothing more than shameless promotion for their film and thus quickly loses any real legitimacy in my eyes. SCIENCE! Where is the goddamned science? If you are going to attack Al Gore and climate change you better come with a little more than a right wing agenda against liberal elites or taxation. Taxes, hell I will pay a few extra bucks to ensure that our friends the polar bears and hell Prince Edward Island survives the next 100 years. Prove me wrong, by PROVING Al Gore and his science wrong. Do that, don't pony up to the rabid right wing hordes and you will have a fan.

But where was I? I started out staring Al Gore in the eyes and asking him to explain why a British judge had issues with 9 of the 'truths' in An Inconvenient Truth . I allowed science to weigh in. I then dug a little into the agenda of the deniers. The anti-Gore forces are going to lose this debate if they can not come up with some stronger science. Hard data, graphs. They come off as right wing loons. Al Gore's numbers may be slightly skewed, he might have added emphasis (which, yes is lamentable) to strengthen his cause, but his argument is heavily backed up by science.

Politics always loses to science. Yes Al Gore is a political figure, so yes there is good reason to look into any of his claims with due skepticism. Countering Al Gore and climate control with politics and not science just does not work. So Phelim McAleer journalism is in fact not dead. Nor is the climate control debate, but it will be if such a debate dwells primarily in left versus right politics. Climate control and global warming are scientific issues. Politics be damned.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tis the season?

(hat tip to Shoebox Blog)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Wait, how is that possible? Is there not a natural order to things? The stores are supposed to be filled with ghosts, goblins, cheap plastic costumes, mini-chocolate bars, and face paint. Has Halloween been canceled this year? Is the economy so bad that the commercialization of Christmas takes precedence over the commercialization of Halloween? What would baby Jesus think? Were Santa and his Elves informed? Is it bad karma to toilet paper, then egg a mall Santa? Humbug, humbug I say!

Good night

Sweet dreams kids.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is Fox a legitimate news organization?

“we’re not going to legitimize them as a news organization.” ~ Anita Dunn, the White House communications director.

“I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration,”, “You’d be hard pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front.” ~ President Barack Obama.


“Instead of governing, the White House continues to be in campaign mode, and Fox News is the target of their attack mentality,” ~ Michael Clemente, Fox's senior vice president for news.

“Don’t pick a fight with people who like to fight.” ~ Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News.

So there, it is on. The White House hates Fox News. Fox News hates the White House. (The New York Times) I know you are but what am I? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Geesh.

First, no, I do not believe that Fox is a legitimate news organization. Why? Because bias has no place in news. Fox News has a very distinct right wing tilt. They play politics, they don't report news, they make (up) the news. Fox News breaks almost all the basic codes of ethics and standards in journalism ~ 'truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public'. (Wiki) So I agree with the White House, no, Fox is not a legitimate 'news' organization. They have little right sitting at the table with the adults. They are popular because of their bombast. People tune in, en masse, just to see what they are going to say or do next.

But are they the voice of the opposition? Are they a bullhorn, an extension of the GOP? Maybe. They are certainly complicit, Fox has picked its side. They are far more cozy with the Bush and Cheney types then they are with the Obama and Kennedy types. OK so Fox might be in bed with the GOP, but are they the GOP? Again, maybe? Is Rupert Murdoch a media mogul or the puppet master of the conservative movement? Both?

Fox breaks the rules, but they are wildly popular. They scream and folks listen. What is the White House to do? Is it smart politics to ignore them? To pretend they are nothing more than sophomoric name-callers? Would it be smarter to scream and yell right back? Na na, na na, na? I dunno? Aren't we all adults here? Can't we sit down and at least have a civilized debate? The President just won the Nobel Prize for Peace, you'd think he could have a mature half hour conversation with Fox's Chris Wallace. Maybe it is easier to speak with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Kim Jong Il, it seems their disdain for Obama is less acute. Geesh.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Toronto News Desk

The WIRe – Week in Review

David Hunter

TORONTO – Here’s what stuck in my craw this week…the big story of the week of course was President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, inviting controversy and surprise. I for one never expected it….two American women, Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, share the Nobel Prize for medicine, a first….Herta Mueller, a member of Romania’s ethnic minority who was persecuted for her criticisms of life behind the Iron Curtain, won the Nobel Prize for literature on Thursday, on the 20th anniversary of the Communist collapse…. Islamic extremist Zakaria Amara, 24, became the fifth member of the “Toronto 18” to plead guilty for plotting to bomb RCMP headquarters, nuclear power plants, and attacking Parliament; including plans to behead the Canadian Prime minister….earlier this week there were reports that the Toronto School Board was planning to ban the controversial book To Kill a Mockingbird after a parent complained, it has since been revealed that the woman’s child had never read the book, and the ban was taken off the docket. Mockingbird survives again, for now…..former British Prime Minister Tony Blair may be next in line for the newly created European President, or more accurately, the President of the European Union. Tea time for all….in a historic discovery, Canadian scientists decoded all three billion letters in the DNA sequence of a metastatic breast cancer tumor, identifying the mutations that cause the tumor to spread….meanwhile, University of Toronto researchers have developed a prototype chip that measures estrogen from tiny samples of blood and tissue – a technology they believe will assess a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer more quickly. I hope they all share a Nobel Prize if this works….

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In lighter news, Miley Cyrus has quit Twitter, saying in her last tweet “FYI Liam doesn’t have a Twitter and he wants me to delete mine with good reason” ….oh Miley, so young, so stupid….it’s always the 1.5 million followers that have to suffer….Brazilian police are looking for TV host Wallace Souza who is accused of commissioning killings to boost ratings. His show, Canal Livre, features graphic footage of crime victims. The things people will do for ratings….A 25 year-old woman in Stamford Connecticut was attacked by six other women who didn’t like her performance. The woman suffered bruises and chipped teeth. Tough crowd….A New Orleans man has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $15,000 dollars after duping the Egyptian Government into paying 7 million bucks for a shipment of frozen chickens he never delivered. He’s getting more time then some accused killers, the Justice System DOES work….Kelly Osbourne is pissed off because a British body spray she used left her with burn marks all over her body. Lesson; buy American next time….Toronto finally gets a Google Street View application. Huzzah…Guy Ritchie says he still loves Madonna, “And of course, here you go, I still love her. But she’s retarded too.” He said. Aw Guy, you old smoothie you….The FBI is probing whether Anna Nicole Smith plotted to kill her tycoon husband, 91 year old J. Howard Marshall. All she had to do was have sex with him….Who wants to see a movie based on the life of Robert Pattinson? A feature length documentary of the Twilight star’s life is forthcoming. I’ll be sure to miss that one….our Prime Minister Harpo decided he was going to play the piano at the National Arts Center Gala this week in order to change his stuffy and uptight image. Mmm, no, it didn’t work, he’s still a tool….Elizabeth Taylor had successful heart valve surgery this week. She’s a fighter, that’s for sure….child rapist Roman Polanski loses his extradition battle, but his team of Lawyers are appealing. I’m appealing too; let him go to jail….Finally, NASA decides to bomb the moon! In an effort to find water on the moon they plan to smash a rocket onto it’s surface. Nothing like a little regression to cure what ails us…

End notes

This week had been rolling along fairly normally until I heard that Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I was initially surprised at this, since he hasn’t even finished a single year in office. Some wags even suggested that Obama got the award just for not being George Bush. Granted, he hasn’t done much to warrant the award, but he carries a certain intangible that is rare; he galvanizes, communicates, and brings people together. He is a central figure, respected, and I can name no other United States President in recent history who shares those attributes. If I were American, I would be proud. I AM proud, as I view the President of the United States with as much reverence as the Prime Minister of Canada, our present PM Harpo excluded of course. Read our wonderful posts below on this subject…until next week……

David Hunter, Over and Out. -- The Toronto News desk,

Giving thanks.

It is that time of the year, the time of the year when dinner tables are filled with food, friends and family. Turkey and fixings are consumed at a gluttonous rate. Wine is drank, animated conversations are had. It is all topped off(for those that have room) with apple crisp and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Yep, it is Thanksgiving. Burp, hic.

So in the spirit of the season. Thanks. Thank you Amy for being a wonderful mother, lover and friend. Thank you Zoey for making me believe in miracles. Thank you Zach for making me feel like a super hero. Thank you Emily for the odd moments of awe. Thank you mom, dad and siblings, well, for making me, for better or for worse, who I am. Thank you readers, you're why I do this. Thank you contributors, David, Matt, Ddjango, Gale, Derek, Val and Amy for keeping me on my toes.

Thank you everyone. Now, could someone pass me the gravy, oh and some stuffing. Cheers Canada, Happy Thanksgiving!

I bid you goodnight

Sweet dreams dear friends.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Please, Obama, let there be peace on Earth

A Special guest post from Amy Gow (my partner, Huzzah!)

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God as our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

-Sy Miller and Jill Jackson

My earliest associations with the word "peace" come from this song. I know every word, because each year at my elementary school's Christmas concert, the grade six class had the special honour of singing it. At the beginning (or was it the end?) of the concert, the lights would be turned off in the school gym and in they would walk: a solemn single file, each carrying a lit candle.

When my year came I was ready. I was serious. In quiet moments alone I sang the song with tears in my eyes and hope stabbing my heart. The night of the concert, in procession up the aisle, the candlelight was magical and all was right with the world. My 11 year old brain believed that by the time I was grown up, there would be world peace. We'd love each other into cooperation, because we were all equal in the eyes of God. All we had to do is be aware of it and the rest would fall into place.

Sometime in my teen years, I started to feel silly for loving the song so much. At the time I was trying to be all grown up and cringed at my naivety. I wasn't mature enough to understand how privileged I was to have experienced such innocence. I also had a vague feeling that the God in this song wasn't living up to his end of the bargain and was putting an awful lot of pressure on little old me to get the peace ball rolling.

Fast forward to the present. I'm sad to think that there are wars going on, every day, every minute. As a parent, I ache to think of children being subjected to fear, anguish, hunger. I honestly wish I could do more, because the sad irony is that, contrary to the song, I can't influence countries to stop fighting. I can't even pray for them to stop fighting because I am long past the day when I believed that there is someone listening.

On Friday, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was awarded, not for deeds accomplished, but for the message of hope that Obama has instilled in his country and around the world.

I want to see the president live up to his message. With so many people yearning for peace and supporting Obama, perhaps one person can be the starting point for greater world harmony. I want to see Obama's promise of "Yes we CAN" come true on a global scale. My only wish is that this hope that glimmers in my heart will not be stamped out again.