Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Main Man

Well, when John Gushue put the "What Super Hero are you?" link up, you knew it was only a matter of time before I had to do it. Not the result I would have thought, but then again, I could be Catwoman.

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

And now, about as far away as you can be from Superman. I had heard about this video for a few years, but I had never had the chance to see it. The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special was always a sick and twisted comic book pleasure. Something about watching Santa as a hardline dictator ruling his kingdom with absolute fear was amusing to me. And having the Easter Bunny hire Lobo to whack Santa....genuis.

Never thought I'd get to see it made into a short film, though. But if you follow the link, you'll get to see the Main Man (i.e. Lobo) in action. Not for those who don't like violence or who don't enjoy watching beloved holiday icons have terrible things happen to them.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bizarro World

Me am living in Bizarro Iqaluit. Me am so sad that temperatures so warm...

Okay, that's as far as I'm going with that. I never did care for Bizarro Superman. It used to give me a small headache trying to figure out the grammar and spelling with that character.

Still, the basic sentiment is there. This was a strange, strange day in Iqaluit. It got up to five degrees. Cathy tells me she heard we were one of the warmest places in Canada today and yesterday. The blizzard that was suppose to hit last night didn't. The temperature spiked above zero so instead of blowing snow we got sheeting rain. So when waking up this morning, we saw a lot less snow and a whole lot of ice and slush. And a big, bright sun. It was a gorgeous day. Except, you know, for the whole people falling all over the place and breaking bones.

It's about 7:45 p.m. right now and it's still 4 degrees and the wind is howling so the snow is taking another cutting. Of course, when this all freezes within the next 12 hours or so it's going to make getting around even more hellish. I mean, this is a fluke. It's not like "Ah, spring." It's more like "What the hell is this?" followed by another two months or more of -20.

Meanwhile, my cousin Penny sent me pics of all the snow they had to clear out yesterday and there are a half dozen local blogs with similar photos. I'm seriously losing bitching rights when Newfoundland is getting socked much harder than we are right now.

Then again, when it's May and there is still snow on the ground and ice in the harbour in Iqaluit and you're all in St. John's with, well, snow on the ground and icebergs floating by and probably foolishly camping somewhere, I still won't be able to say a God damn thing. Curses.

The other highlight of the past 24 hours was the building's fire alarm going off at 2:15 a.m. I actually slept through the first 30 seconds of it until Cathy, deeply concerned for my safety, thoughtfully woke me up and sent me downstairs to see if we were in imminent danger of burning to death or if it was some drunken idiot pulling the fire alarm.

I still have no idea what it was, but I will note that when I went back upstairs, after the alarm had been ringing for 30 minutes, that the fire department still had not arrived. Not had the building's super. In fact, when the alarm was finally silenced at about 3:12 a.m., I don't recall having seen the cherry glow of the fire truck's lights, so I'm assuming they never showed up first nor last. I am ever so reassured that if my six story apartment building should suddenly turn into The Towering Inferno, that my friendly neighbourhood Iqaluit fire department will be nestled snug in their beds while I become a bucket of extra crispy KFC.

By the way, I say 3:12 a.m. because that's when Cathy told me it stopped. I put a pillow over my head and managed, much to her dismay, to fall back asleep. "That's the sign of a man without any guilt or worries," she said. And I guess I am.

Except, now that I think on it, for that whole "being turned into a bucket of extra crispy KFC" thing...

Currently Playing
Picareseque - The Decemberists

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Check the ice...

There was a big deal made of the "Luck Loonie" in the 2002 Winter Olympics which supposedly helped Canada win at both men's and women's hockey. I think there is even a display set up for it at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Now, if I was the organizers of the 2006 games, I wouldn't be letting those bastard Canadians anywhere near the ice. Because you had to know that if it worked in 2002, they were going to try it again in 2006. So I saw the story where they were digging out a few "lucky trinkets" from the ice at the long-track speedskating course. And hey, guess what? They won what, six medals at the course. And guess who helped make the speed skating ice in Italy? Canadians.

And while I can't find it online anywhere, I'm pretty sure I heard that there was a loonie or a toonie buried in the ice at the curling event. Canada wins gold with the men; bronze with the women (and who knows what would have happened if they made it to the gold medal game). Lo and behold, there was a Canadian in the arena to help create and fix the ice.

Whether or not there was anything buried at the hockey arenas I do not know. I haven't heard anyone fess up to it and while the women did great, the men stank up the joint. So even if there was something there, perhaps they would not admit it. Then again, after 2002, maybe they just didn't let Canadians near the ice making equipment. Or there was extra security to make sure there were no surprises at centre ice.

Too bad they forgot about the other ice events. And it's not like they can do anything to prevent it in 2010; the damn thing is being held in Canada. Bastard Canadians are going to have so much spare change buried in the ice at the different events in Vancouver the other countries are going to want to bring metal detectors out on the ice with them first.

I'd check the skiing events too, just for good measure:

Oh, the last things on Olympic curling, I swear:

Best lede in a story, from the Calgary Sun referring to the six ender: Scored the touchdown. Missed the convert.

Best quote for Newfoundland: "Listen, the last time they closed the high schools for a person was when the Pope came. So today, Brad Gushue is up there with the Pope." - Jason Crowley in the Toronto Star.

Currently Playing
A-Side Win - Sloan

Odd weekend...

I know there are people back in Newfoundland who curse on the Weather Office and think that since it moved to Halifax they can't predict anything worth a damn. I mean, St. John's got hit with about 72 cm of snow on the weekend. Don't know if they were calling for that much, but I kind of doubt it.

Up here, it's just plain weird. They call for a blizzard and nothing happens. The last two times they've said "Look out! Big Goddamn blizzard heading your way!" we've gotten nada. Nothing. Zip.

The scary thing is, you had some Inuk they knew this was going to happen. Since last Wednesday the Environment Canada site has been predicting the Wrath of God coming up our way. It was going to hit on Friday and last until Monday or Tuesday. They had satellite photos of it and everything. Two big low pressure systems coming our way.

On Friday afternoon a line squall or something blew through, scared everyone and they started closing the city early. Everyone made a bolt to the local stores to stock up for this big blizzard.

And yet, some of the Inuk at Cathy's school went, "No, we think this one is going to go over us. It just feels like it will."

And lo and behold, nothing happened on Friday. Nor did anything happen on Saturday. And here we are Sunday evening, and now something might be brewing. Environment Canada is saying it will, but given their track record at this point, I wouldn't hold my breathe.

There are two things that are for sure this weekend: First, it is bizarrely warm. I mean freakishly warm. The average high temperature for today is -22. It is currently 0. It will be 0 tomorrow and, if you believe the forecasters, +9 on Tuesday.

People looking they've been hit with a hammer, trying to figure this out. I put the fear of god Simon Lono before he came up here, telling him how cold it was. Thus far, I look like a massive liar.

Secondly, there is definitely something in the air. Internet access has been slow all weekend (remember, it still comes in via satellite) and even TV signals have been wonky (losing CBC during the Olympics is never a good thing in my household.) By the way, that's why I haven't posted more on the blog this weekend. It's been too frustrating.

I'm probably just spoiled. Newfoundland weather throws you something new every five minutes some days. Before the weirdness on Friday, it had been at least two weeks of the temperature ranging between -23 to -29 with it either being sunny or with some cloud. I'm not saying weather predictability is good; but after 35 years in Newfoundland, it is a pleasant change of pace.

Currently Playing
Receiver - Sean Panting

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mmmmmmm....golden goodness

What a fantastic, absolutely brilliant, but completely bizarre game. More than once I looked at the Finnish skip and wondered what the hell he was thinking. I mean, he was calling rec league, fuck around shots. Don't get me wrong, the Gushue team curled a great game and it was nice to see Mark Nichols just nail everything he was asked to. He's the reason they won both of those play-off games. Anytime you have a third who shoots mid-90s in those kinds of games, you're going to win unless the skip is a completely screw-up.

But seriously, Uusipaavalniemi (the Finnish skip) had to have been on drugs to have called some of the shots he did. It was like "I've made it to the gold medal game, I wasn't suppose to, so I'm just going to shag around." Stunningly weird shot calling. And you can call the weird shots, but you have to make them. And obviously he wasn't.

But hey, props to the guys. They weren't suppose to win the Olympic Trials and once they did, there was a fair amount of snark, especially from Western Canada, about how they were going to choke. That's a lot of pressure to live up to and they did.

Anyone care to lay a bet on how long it's going to take Danny Williams to give the team the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador? By the end of 2007, at the latest. They're going to be Gods for the next few years.

(And no, you shouldn't ask how I managed to see the game today. It required some juggling to do work and watch the game at the same time.)

You know, I've been pretty happily settled in Nunavut the past six months (the anniversary was yesterday). I've got Cathy here, I like my new job and the weather isn't as bad as originally advertised. But I would have given serious money to have been in St. John's to watch the game today. And good money to be Downtown this evening. It's going to be a long time before we'll see a party like that again in St. John's.

Currently Playing
Songs About Jane - Maroon 5

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What a Wookie!

I appreciate that it seems like all I'm doing lately is mentioning new bloggers, but Chris pointed this site out to me this morning. And while maybe I should have done something grander and more profound for my 200th post to the blog, there is something oddly appropriate about going to the geeky path and giving you a link to Chewbacca's blog.

No, no, no, no...don't try to figure it out. Just savor the geeky goodness of it all.

You're welcome...

Currently Playing
Secret World Live - Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Right, no. Funny, well, kinda...

I'm floating in general happiness this evening. Simon, who just arrived here in Iqaluit from St. John's, brought Timbits for myself and Cathy. Better still, chocolate Timbits. So I just spent a nice two hours watching Monty Python's Personal Best while munching on Timbits. Life is good.

Oh, for those of you here looking for smut (and my goodness, the numbers are growing), it's a little further down.

And now, for something a little more serious. I read this interesting article regarding David Irving. For those who don't know, he's a historian and a prominent Holocaust denier. Alas, in 1989 he made a speech denying the holocaust while in Austria, which has laws against that kind of thing. He's since repented and now says he believes it happened.

Too little, too late, it seems as he's now going to jail for three years.

Do I think Irving is an idiot? Yup. Do I think his views are detestable? Yup. Do I wish I had a bowel disrupter (go read Transmetropolitan) so that I could set it on Anal Krakatoa and hit him with it repeatedly? Absolutely.

Sadly, he does have the right to say it without going to jail. I really do believe that. Just like Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper had the right to run those cartoons. From all accounts the paper is a piece of garbage that rags on ethnic groups. But you know, freedom of speech means even those views that are reprehensible. It means defending those views when you would just as soon beat them for it. It's a bitch having to do this, but you know, no one said freedom of speech was going to be easy.

The sad thing about the Irving decision is that some Muslims in Europe are asking, rightly, why there is a double standard. That when a newspaper mocks Islam and make defamatory remarks about their prophet, they're told to be reasonable, but when someone denies a horrific event in the lives of many Jews, he goes to jail.

You know, I wish I was back home at the Duke with my friends. This would be a fun debate to have over a pint.

One more word on this, from the always entertaining Warren Ellis. I tend to agree with him when he said, "My take is simply this: is it right that he go to prison for this? No. Is it FUNNY that he go to prison for this? YES."

Because really, he's a Nazi. Or one stepped removed from them. They're about the least sympathetic group of people left in the world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Getting your rocks off...

Never let it be said that my friends aren't quick to jump into this new fangled Internet fad of blogging. Two more of them in the past two weeks have decided that blogging might be fun. So drop by and see Owen's mom and Mireille. Owen's mom is entertaining because I'm enjoying watching this particular friend wonder exactly how the hell she managed to end up in rural Alberta, married and with a kid.

Mireille is just getting started, but I'm sure it will be entertaining because lord knows Mireille is when she gets on a role. And hey, she's promising nudity, albeit tasteful nudity. She's wondering if I'm gearing up to write a book about naked curlers. Maybe I ought to. Judging by the amount of traffic coming through the site in the past few days, there is apparently a market for it.

Sadly, if you do a search using MSN's search engine and type in "nude curler" I'm third from the top. I feel I'm gypping the public out there looking for naked curler and instead finding my ramblings. So to make them happy and to make sure they don't feel their trip to this particular small part of the Internet has been a waste of time, I give you, a picture of a naked curler. Advert thine eyes of nudity and curling stones offend you.

And just to cover my bases, in case you were looking for porn with women wearing curlers, well, here you go.

Yes, apparently I have no shame when it comes to pandering for page hits.

And now that I've brought you new blogs to read and soft-core porn, I'm off to play Civilizations IV. Cathy is at a workshop this evening and she bought me the game for Valentine's Day. And since she bought the game for me knowing full well the devastating impact it can have on me, I feel I'm allowed to blow five of six hours on it this evening. Let ruling the world commence!

Currently Playing
S/T - Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens

Without a net

No blogging last night as my Internet was gone for the entire evening. One of those things that happens in the north, although to be fair, it has also happened my share of times while in Newfoundland.

As I don't have time to post anything of significance before I head to work, I offer up these three links. Two are from people who have recently moved up north, in considerably more isolated locations than us, and are writing about their experiences. The other is by a guy who has been up here awhile longer (retired RCMP), but still has some interesting insights. Give them a look.

1. Nunablog
2. Gone North
3. The House and Other Arctic Musings

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Change in habits

I had the small realization hit me the weekend that I probably haven't read a "real" book since around Christmas. And this surely has to be some kind of record for me.

By the way, when I say "real", I'm not counting graphic novels. Yes, I take them a bit more seriously than most of the population. But if I went more than two weeks without cracking one open, Cathy probably would have me sent to the hospital to see if I was ok. And I don't think the Complete Calvin and Hobbes (which is brilliant fun) counts either.

So for the sake of argument, we're going to classify a book as something that doesn't have any pictures inside of it that assist in telling the story.

But it has been quite odd. It's not that I haven't picked up a book and tried. We got an order from Chapters with several books that look potentially interesting. The last attempt was on The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I got about 10 pages into it and got distracted by something else.

I am still reading a lot. There are the aforementioned graphic novels, newspapers, a magazine or two a week and a ton of articles online. But I have, for right now, apparently lost my taste for books. It's quite odd. You would figure that of all places good for a book, being up near the arctic circle would be one of them. Today it is around -48 with windchill. Sounds like a good day for a book, right? Instead, after finishing this, I'll have some lunch, watch some curling, finish watching a movie we rented and then have another go at Civilization IV (more on that another time).

Part of it is, I'm sure, that none of my favourite authors have anything out right now. If Greg Rucka had another Atticus Kodiak book or a Queen and Country novel coming out, I would be there. Or if Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Christopher Moore, etc had something out.

And while Chapters and Amazon online have good selections, there is still nothing quite like spending an hour or two wandering around a bookstore, picking something up, reading it for a bit, and then deciding to either buy it or put it back. You can't get the same...feel up here. It's guesswork from the book's description or what critics say. And of all the many different forms of critics out there, book critics are generally the ones I trust the least. Far too many of them have their head up their ass.

Another part, I'm sure, is that Cathy is back around. I was going through a lot of books last year when she was in Rankin Inlet and I was in St. John's. I tend to read a lot when I'm alone and, thankfully, that isn't the case right now.

It could be just a phase and in a few weeks I'll be devouring books again. Or there could be something else going on. I've been having more fun writing in this blog than I have writing anything else in ages. It might be rough and raw and laced with grammatical errors, but it still feels good. It feels like it has a pulse, and I can't say that's always been the case in recent years. So perhaps that, combined with a shift in reading habits, something is trying to work itself out.

I have no idea what it is yet. I'm not about to say the dreaded "N" word (rhymes with hovel), but there is something happening here. I'm kind of curious to see what it is myself...

Currently Playing
Set Yourself on Fire - Stars

Friday, February 17, 2006

No by...

I haven't commented on the entire David Emerson racket because every other Canadian blogger seems to be doing a pretty good job of vilifying him. Or sheepishly defending him.

However, the NDP is making a big racket about introducing legislation to stop this sort of thing from happening again. By either forcing a MP to sit as an independent first before joining a party or by having to step down and run again in a byelection under his/her new party banner.

See, to me that's stupid.

Now, I appreciate the rage and ire at Emerson. Spin it all you want, it was a fairly...slimy, thing to do. When the general public thinks that many politicians are nothing but self-serving bastards that ooze rather than walk, perhaps pulling a stunt like crossing the floor for a cabinet position a week after your part lost a federal election isn't the way to change their mind.

But I don't want a byelection if you cross the floor for two reasons.

First, it's lazy. Voters do have certain rights and responsibilities. And one of them is to hold elected leaders accountable. And really, if you can't remember that a year or two ago, the guy you elected for the Liberals crossed the floor to go the Conservatives, then you're just lazy. And there comes a point where you really ought to put a little effort into the democratic process.

Secondly, and most importantly, they're a staggering waste of money. The average federal byelection costs taxpayers about $750,000. And far too often, they're held because politicians are being egocentric or sleazy. Yes, some are obviously held because a person dies or their health is in jeopardy. Those are legitimate reasons.

But let's look at the provincial byelection happening Tuesday in Newfoundland. It is happening because Fabian Manning was a political opportunist. He didn't want to sit in the opposition oblivion for 18 more months. So he took a chance on advancing his career by quitting and running federally. Good for him, he's getting a better job. Bad for the taxpayers of Newfoundland, who are on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars for the byelection that has to be called.

Same thing happens all the time federally. A MP gets another opportunity, they see the "glow of the Christmas lights" and decide to resign. Or whatever. Then we have to pay to replace him because they couldn't wait another few months or years before quitting when a general election was coming up.

So why would we want to mandate a byelection for crossing the floor? Yes, it might stop a few from crossing, but some will still do it regardless.

None of the parties are lilly white when it comes to this kind of shenanigans. They've all lured people away from other parties or lost members. Instead of bringing in legislation, we ask voters to step up and act appropriately the next time they get a crack at them in an election.

And if they decide to vote them back in, like they did with Belinda Stronach, well, you can shake your head at it in amazement, but you can't say that democracy didn't happen.

Currently Playing
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys

You get off on what?

Apparently I should write the words "nude curler" more often if I want my blog stats to get a boost. More than one search engine request with those words have strolled through my blog in the past 24 hours.

But here is the scary thing: Yes, most of the pages that pop up if you do that search involve the story about curlers who posed for the nude calender. But some of them....are for porn sites featuring naked women wearing curlers in their hair.

I realize that in this day of the Internet and pornography, nothing should surprise me. But the fact there is a segment of the population that gets off on naked women wearing curlers, well, it's probably best not to dwell on it too much.

Currently Playing
Gold Medal - The Donnas

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fine, no more curling...

...you can actually see the near freefall drop in my site visits the past few days as I've spent more time talking about curling. I even give you a link to see naked curlers (well, a story about a naked curler calender). So fine, you miserable bastards, I can take a hint. I thought patriotic Newfoundlanders would be supportive of Newfoundlanders curling in the Olympics, but noooooo......

(By the way, that was sarcasm, for those with an inability to recognize it)

Instead, I present some random links.

1. My favourite story of the day. Whitehorse might have to import snow to make sure mushers in a sled dog race have something to slide on when they finish the race. Global warming? What is this global warming you speak of?

2. Second favourite story? The aggrivating Scottish bastard who does those annoying Keith's beer commericals has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.

Yes, child pornography is a hard thing to try and find humour in. And certainly I should not be gleeful over the entire situation. But you have to understand the depths of my joy that I will never again have to see that annoying Keith's beer commerical.

3. This is only really for comic book die hards, but I enjoy this column by Paul Jenkins for one reason in particular. You've heard of the term a murder of crows or a pride of lions. Until now, I had never wondered what a group of editors would be called. But Jenkins has it figured out.

It's a "Lynch Mob of Editors." Oh yes...

4. Nancy got the link from Boing Boing or somewhere, but I saw it on her site first and laughed out loud. It's good enough to be on John Stewart. It's Ten Ways Dick Cheney Can Kill You.

5. Finally, I will be on CBC Freestyle tomorrow. Alas, I will be on in the last half hour, so odds are you're not going to hear me in Newfoundland. It's also a one time thing. There was the possibility of it being a regular thing, but apparently too many shows do DVD/movie reviews as it is, so they're going to do something different.

Ah well. Enjoy me while you can...

Currently Playing
Live: 1975-85 - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Goodbye G'Kar...

If you asked me to pick my all-time favourite show, it would be no contest. Now, I love some great shows: West Wing, the X-Files, CSI, Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But my favourite show by a mile is Babylon 5.

I'm not saying the writing, acting or special effects were always the best. But damn it, it had guts. Creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski had a vision, a five year story arc and despite innumerable challenges and set backs, he got it done. He also did something never done before in television - he wrote every episode in season two and three (In fact, of the roughly 100 episodes, he wrote about 80% of them). And it was mostly great. It was occasionally astonishing. I have all five seasons on DVD and plan on setting aside time in the next few months to sit down and watch them all over again.

I have two favourite characters in the show: Claudia Christian, who played the sarcastic, fatalistic Commander Susan Ivanova and G'Kar, played by Andreas Katsulas. I found out today that he passed away of lung cancer. This is the tribute written by Straczynski.

Even if you weren't a fan of Babylon 5 you probably spotted him somewhere else. He did a lot of work in his too short life.

Why did I love G'kar? I might have loved the sarcasm and dry wit of Ivanova, but no character on the show went through what G'kar did during the show's five seasons. From being the show's bad guy, the angry nationalist look for revenge, to a humbled broken man to a spiritual leader. He was repulsive, infuriating, charming, funny, heartbreaking, scary and always fascinating. It was an astonishing transformation in the character and a great piece of acting, especially considering the make-up he worked under.

Science fiction often gets a bad rap, especially in the acting. G'Kar was never anything less than captivating when he was on screen, and that's a tribute to Katsulas' acting. He should have won Emmy's, but never did. It's a pity.

Straczynski was right about one thing in his tribute: "Andreas is gone...and G'Kar with him, because no one else can ever play
that role, or ever will."

Curling bits...

1. In retrospect, considering how much I was sweating after curling this evening, going outside in -30 without putting my hood up might not have been the smartest think I could have done. Then again, we lost 11-2, giving up six in the last end, when my skip actually raised in one the opposing team's stone with her last rock. Not that I was shooting much better. I love curling, but it's day's like today that I want to take a stone and repeatedly smack my head against it.

2. Brad Gushue had a good day, beating two tough teams. He also did something I've never seen at that level of curling - he won a game without scoring more than a single point an end. I mean, I've seen games won 3-2, but never when the score was 7-5. It was a good rebound, so hopefully it can continue tomorrow against Norway. Stealing four consecutive ends is also pretty damn impressive.

3. Nude curlers. Not as grim as you might think.

4. I know I shouldn't be down on them, but I have really low expectations for both Heather Strong's chances at the Scott and Ken Peddigrew's at the Brier. Early prediction? Strong wins 4, Peddigrew wins 2. I hope I'm wrong, but I kind of doubt it.

Currently Playing
Greatest Hits - Fleetwood Mac

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ack, gack, uck...

And now, more Winter Olympics stuff.

1. That was a clear choke by Gushue today. It was a big game against a big team and he just couldn't close the deal. Most of the Swedes were curling in the mid-60% range. They got another gift of a game against a good team having a bad day, but this time they couldn't seal the deal.

Yeah, the stone picked on something in the 11th end, but you know what, on stones that big, you clean the Goddamn thing. They didn't do it, it caught debris. But worse than that was the miss in the 10th. He just got excited and winged it. It should have been an easy hit. They can't afford too many games like that. Hopefully he'll calm the nerves and get going again. Losing more than three games is going to make it difficult to get into the playoffs.

2. I have a long-standing theory on the Olympics and it is this: If it requires judges and a grading systems to determine who has won, then it shouldn't be an Olympic sport. As was shown in pairs figure skating in 2002, it's far too easy for corruption and bias to get into the process.

So, hockey is an Olympic sport. So is downhill skiing, luge, curling, cross-country skiing, biathelon, speed-skating and other sports where it's you against a clock or another team or person head-to-head.

What isn't? All figure skating. Moguls (I know we won a gold in it, sorry). Half pipe, ski jumping, etc. I'm not saying they're not athletes. I'm not saying they don't train a lot or what they do isn't hard. I just hate it when five anonymous people decide who is best and deserving of a gold.

3. Along those lines, my respect for figure skating went down yet another notch (and it was already pretty low) after hearing the Chinese pair Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao got a silver medal. They went and tried a very difficult move, and bombed. Dan actually landed in a way that made me wince. So they skate off the ice, take a breather, finish the program and get a silver medal.

Ummm, no.

Hey, I appreciate the ballsy of the move. You want the gold, you go all out. But if you fail, and fail as spectacularly as they did, you don't get a breather and a silver medal.

Why? Ask the women competing in the carnage filled luge event. Ask American Samantha Retrosi, who wiped out so badly she was knocked unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital. Ask Canadian Meaghan Simister who took a camera out, she crashed so hard.

For that matter, let's ask Canadian skier Allison Forsyth, who fell and tore her ACL and may never ski again.

We don't even have to go for wipe outs. Let's take Canadian short track speed skater Charles Hamelin. He was leading his race with two laps to go. A Chinese skater bumped him and knocked him out of first. The Chinese skater was disqualified, but it didn't matter. Hamelin finished fifth, eventually moving up to fourth after the disqualification. Would they have liked a breather and another chance? I'm sure they would, but that's not how it works in real sports.

You compete, you compete hard and you take risks to try and win. Sometimes it pays off and you get gold. And sometimes you crash or fall on the ice or get bumped. And then it's all over. It sucks, but that's the way it goes. All it takes is a minute and your dreams are dashed. Is it fair? Maybe not. But every athlete at the games knows this, accepts this and deals with the possibility that one mistake, one slip, one bit of bad luck ruins your dream.

Unless you're in figure skating. Where of course you get a second chance. And of course, even though you failed, they still give you silver.

That's why figure skating is a joke. It's also why every other athelete at the Olympics should want to burn down that stadium. Because it diminishes their sacrifices and hard work. It's a cheat of a sport.

And that's why I hate figure skating.

Currently Playing
Down at the Khyber - Joel Plaskett Emergency

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy belated birthday (to me...)

Cathy has been mortified for the better part of the last month over my birthday gift. She knew I wanted pretty much only one thing, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. I've been saying it ever since I first heard about the book, more than a year ago.

She thought she had ordered it in plenty of time, but alas, there were difficulties. Both Chapters and Amazon actually ran out of copies of the book in early January. That meant she had to deal with Amazon Marketplace. And as she has sadly learned, there can be problems when you're going through a dealer at the marketplace, as opposed to going through Amazon itself. Not the least of which was that a book that Amazon might have gotten here in a week or so, took more than a month.

She's been kind of upset and disgusted about this (several angry e-mails have already been fired off) and I haven't the heart to tease her. And I really don't mind; these things happen. They did to me at Christmas. But anyway, today was the happy day. It came!

I've only just started to go through it, but it's very fun. And heavy. The set is about 20 pounds. I loved the strip and this is just about perfect. One day it will take its place side by side with my Complete Far Side, but that will have to wait until I pull that book out of storage.

So if my blogging becomes slack over the next week or so, blame Calvin.

One down, eight to go...

To say there has been a bit of a lead-up to the Winter Olympics in the Welsh household would be an understatement. Of the two Olympics, I do tend to like the winter ones better. They feel…cozier. The Summer Olympics are this big sprawling mess of a thing. The Winter Olympics are smaller. Cathy is also completely over the moon for the Olympics. If she could take the next two weeks off and stay home and do nothing but watching the games, she would.

I also like the winter games because you tend to get crazier sports, like skeleton. It’s like a cry for attention or something. I mean, some of the sleds they’re racing down hill are insane. And with sports such as luge, speed skating and downhill skiing, you’ve got to be pretty secure in your masculinity, or femininity, to wear some of those outfits.

Thank Christ they don’t have to wear them in curling. Can you just imagine Russ Howard in one of those things? Gahhhh…

Speaking of curling, and thanking Christ, Canada won its first game in men’s curling today. I didn't see it, being stuck at work, but I did peak in on the score from time to time.

To be honest, it doesn’t look like they did that great. They gave up a steal of two in the first end. Third Mark Nichols curled a horrific 54%. And even Gushue curled (at 81%) beneath what he has to. Still, it was the first game and I’m sure nerves were in play. And they did come back and win the game.

Then again, they did get the gift of the German skip shooting 50%. As I said, I didn’t see the game so I don’t know if he was shooting bad because Gushue was constantly putting pressure on him, or if he was just plain bad. But Gushue is going to have to step it up because really, at this level, not too many people are going to shoot that bad again.

I am cheering for him for any number of reasons. I do love curling. It is one of the few sports in which I profess any skill. Gushue is a Newfoundlander and if he wins gold, well, I can’t think of anything bigger in Newfoundland sports history. Plus, in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, a lot of curling commentators, especially from out west, were making snarky comments about the odds of him winning.

Even NBC noticed it and mention it in their curling coverage. So yes, Gushue winning and getting to rub it in the nose of curling snobs out west would be lovely icing on the cake.

Currently Playing
Very Best of... - Rush

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Love is cold

I was out doing some last minute Valentine's Day shopping today. I boasted for years that V-day was one of my favourite days of the year. Because beneath the crusty, bitter, cynical exterior shell lies, well, a softer, bitter, cynical interior. But somewhere deeper than that that is the chewy core of a romantic. Honest.

I've enjoyed doing this for years. When I had girlfriends I tended to go all out - flowers, dinner and gift of some kind, plus some sort of surprise. Even when I didn't have a girlfriend, I tended to do these kinds of things. When I was in Korea I sent a dozen roses to two of my female friends - Tiffany and Andrea. If I recall properly, Andrea cursed me out for doing something so sweet and ruining a perfectly good rotten mood she had building up for Valentine's Day.

So you would figure for Cathy I would go all out. But the last two years she has kicked my ass. Last year I was feeling down because we were apart. But yet, she managed to get me a great gift (The Complete Far Side). The year before, I just plain screwed up. It was the weekend of the East Coast Music Awards in St. John's. So I spent most of the weekend running around taking photos and catching bands. I imagine it wasn't much fun for her.

But I've got it covered this year. I think I'm in pretty good shape for the big day. She should be happy.

However, I did get a reminder today of how lucky I am to have someone.

Most of my friends will recall I really, really didn't enjoy the whole single experience. I hated it and I'm glad I never have to do it again. Others, of course, are still single and Valentine's Day must be a nuisance for them.

But just imagine being single in a small, isolated northern town. I'm actually kind of curious about the number of people who are single here and the breakdown of single men to women. I know it can be horrific in some place, with men out numbering women 5 to 1 in some places. I don't think it's that bad here, however.

Fortunately, one of the local coffee shops - Fantasy Palace (don't go there, the jokes have already been made) - is offering something to help all those lonely singles in Iqaluit. Speed Dating! Yes, because it wasn't horrific and terminally embarrassing enough down south, bringing it to Iqaluit must add a whole new layer of hell to the experience.

I saw that sign today and thought to myself "I love my wife so very, very, very much." Then I went and bought her something else. Because really, I'd do pretty much anything to eliminate even the slimest risk that I might have to go and do something like that. Ever.

Currently Playing
Plans - Death Cab For Cutie

Friday, February 10, 2006

Inuktitut for dummies...

...the dummy in question being me, of course.

For obvious reasons, I haven't talked much about work. But just in case people missed it, here's why: enough people have been fired because they talked about their job (normally in a negative or indiscreet way) while blogging so that it has become perfectly obvious that it is a remarkably stupid thing to do.

So, just for the record, I really like my job. If for no other reason than it's the first time in eight years I've worked something resembling regular hours. The concept of not having about eight hours of work to do on the weekends is so radical that I'm still not use to it.

One of the other nice things is that for an hour a week we have people coming into our office teaching us Inuktitut. One week we have an Inuit woman come in and teach us conversational Inuktitut, the other week we have a lovely kind of crazy Irish fellow come in and explain the linguistic aspects of it. He taught us the word for "He ate the nurse" in Inuktitut while relating a story of northern canibalism in our first class. Don't ask me what it is; I forget because I'm crap with vocabulary. Plus, I was laughing my ass off.

One of the goals of the government here is to have Inuktitut to be the primary language spoken in the workspace by 2020. I don't know if they'll succeed. In some other parts of Nunavut, where most of the government employees are Inuit, sure. No problem. In Iqaluit, where many of the employees are still qallunaaq (white people, although there are most skin pigmentations than white kicking around Iqaluit) it might be more of a challenge.

Anyway, I think it's great that this is happening. I've heard a lot of people when in Southern Canada complain when foreigners can't speak either English or French. There is the expectation than if you're in Canada, learn to speak one of the languages.

So really, if I'm going to be in Iqaluit for several years, then the only polite thing to do is at least pick up some of the language. It's kind of rude to not at least try. I am a visitor in their land, after all.

However, there are a couple of problems with this plan:

1. I suck at picking up new languages. There are all sorts of studies that say if you don't start learning a new language when you're young, you're going to have a lot more problems trying to learn them when you get older. Learn the language when the brain is still growing and soaking up stuff.

That didn't happen with me. So I spent eight fruitless years, between grade 4 and 11, trying to learn French. In Grade 11 I was so bad that I actually failed every test that year, but because it was graded on a curve, I got a 58. That was pretty much my sign to get out. I didn't care if there was a school trip to St. Pierre the next year, which was the annual excuse to go to a place with a lower drinking age and get legally hammered. I needed to get out of that class. So my French is appalling.

Personally, I blame it on the annoying habit the French have of every Goddamn object having to be either male or female. But I digress.

I also spent two semesters trying to learn German while at MUN. Not such a great idea.

I spent nine months in Korea and despite being assured that Hangul is a very elegant and easy language to learn, I didn't get very far. I picked up a few curse words, though, which is always useful.

And now I'm trying to learn Inuktitut. It's likely a doomed attempt, but I take some comfort that some of my co-workers, who have been in the territory longer than me, are clearly more lost than I am.

"It is a comfort in wretchedness to have companions in woe." I always liked that quote. Not that it's wretched trying to learn Inuktitut; it's just that most of the people in my class are hopeless. We're talking some smart people and they're having a bitch of a time with the language because....

2. Inuktitut is hard. The linguist they brought it explained it roughly this way. Most languages are beads on a string...subject-verb-object, for example. Inuktitut is more like lego blocks. So they take a word and keep adding to it until it can occasionally reach ridiculous lengths.

For example, Nuna means "land." Nunavut means "Our land." Nunatsiavut means "Our beautiful land". And so on, and so forth. You can hit some real beauties up here.

Plus, there are different sounds to learn. You're also dealing with a language that's trying to find ways to describe things. I think the word for airplane (which I forget, ooops) literally means "thing that hangs in the sky."

So yeah, this will be fun. My poor brain is likely to explode. But hey, I'm learning new things every day. That's always good...

If you're curious about the language, there is this site. It appears to be the best one I can find online, although I find it a little clunky and some of the vocabulary is the not what I learned today (oh joy), but it gives you an idea of the language.

Currently Playing
American Idiot - Green Day

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Freestyle pizza

Turns out I won't be on Freestyle this Friday after all. It's still going ahead, but it's looking like it will be Monday or Tuesday before you get to hear my lovely voice on air. I hope you can all handle the suspense.

Ever since the supposed sex ring story broke, the other thing I was curious about, other than how a git as large as Deering gets to be police chief, is what was the "Downtown fast food business" implicated in the story. I had my suspicions, but obviously it's a little difficult to figure that out from Iqaluit.

That's why I knew Blue Kaffee was going to be useful at some point. Several people on one of the boards are reporting that it is exactly the business I suspected it was. CBC also tipped it off earlier in the day when they ran a story about downtown businesses and if they had seen anything unusual. Funny how the manager of Dooley's was interviewed. Only a few fast food places near there, right?

I wonder how big and terrible this is going to be before it's all over...

Currently Playing
Lonely Runs Both Ways - Alison Krauss and Union Station

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

May the cause...

Sorry about the delay on this, but life happens. Still, I said I would respond to MUN’s reaction and this is it.

Along with MUN’s response on its site, Dr. Axel Meisen did a bit on CBC’s Here and Now last Friday. And it was watching Meisen that I was reminded of the half dozen times I’ve interviewed him since he became president. He’s always struck me as an intelligent man who is working hard to bring MUN to the next level. I know there has been criticism of him for making the university too open to corporate interests. And that’s fine; that’s a legitimate debate. And I took my shot at him last week, saying maybe he ought to be fired over the Chandra mess.

But he did say something interesting in MUN’s defence – that while he wasn’t there when all this happened (he became president in September ’99. Chandra left in ‘02. Most of the mess was well under way or even over at that point) he would have done things differently if he had been there. He would have kept pursuing the truth.

And you know what, I think he would have.

My initial reaction, my rage, towards Meisen and MUN actually had a familiar taste to it. It goes back to 1993 and the federal election of that year. Kim Campbell wasn’t that bad a person and she certainly wasn’t the worst prime minister the country ever had. She was just the unfortunate receprocant of about 10 years of building, collective rage towards Brian Mulroney.

We hated Mulroney. We couldn’t get him so we took it out on her.

Meisen is currently getting the rage and ire over mistakes from MUN’s previous president. That being Art May. We can’t get him, so we take it out on Meisen.

I admit bias towards May. I don’t like him. I never have. I thought he was a terrible university president. The Muse had a special place in his heart, what with him threatening to sue the paper once, saying a controversial GLB supplement was going to harm alumni donations and cause tuition to rise (both were bullshit) and reportedly once telling a former editor that considering her grades, perhaps she should spend more time hitting the books and not spend so much time at the newspaper. Lovely.

So that this mess happened under May’s watch surprises me not in the least. The fact that when the investigation wrapped up in ’98 May wrote a letter thanking Chandra for his cooperation is infuriating. Chandra had been anything but helpful at that point.

Meisen can say it was just a phrase and that May was merely being polite. No. You know what, maybe if you’ve just spent four years investigating someone who apparently was very uncooperative and threatening legal action, maybe you don’t thank him for his help. I think that’s the very least you can do at that point.

MUN’s defence, by the way, is essentially useless. First, Meisen nicely undermined it by saying that he wouldn’t have stopped. He would have kept pursuing the truth. MUN is saying they did their best with an uncooperative professor. Meisen said you keep going until you get to the truth.

MUN is also arguing semantics. “Oh, we did too do enough. Chandra just wasn’t being cooperative.” Imagine that, he was hiding fraud and he wasn’t cooperative. People guilty of fraud are normally just so cooperative when it comes to investigations.

It didn’t do enough with someone they knew was lying and being a pain in the ass. I mean really, his assistant stole his research? Did the dog eat the rest of the research he had done at MUN over the years? No, wait, it was lost in a move.

My wife is a teacher. She hears better excuses from her Grade 4/5 class.

It’s fiddling while Rome burns. This is the story whether MUN likes it or not: Chandra is a fraud and quite possibly a thief. MUN knew (or very strongly suspected) he was an academic fraud, but because they feared a lawsuit and a loss of reputation, they buried the incident and hoped it went away. After all, it’s not like his research was all that important or life-threatening.

This is being reported by one of CBC Newfoundland’s most respected journalists.

MUN’s reaction is to pick at details in their release. At least Meisen had the right reaction: we made an effort; it wasn’t good enough. And if I had been there, we would have done more and better. And we’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

There you go, that’s the right answer. Hammer away at it long enough and maybe, just maybe, they might get out of this scrape.

By the way, at no point am I saying the quality of education at MUN is bad. I have no complaints about what I received. I know MUN has some top-notch programs.

But we know that because most people reading this blog went there. What’s the reaction to someone hearing about this out west? “Wow, that university must be a joke.” I bet you more than one person thought that after seeing the story.

But the MUN where the Chandra case happened in the 80s and 90s was still a pretty insular university. The overwhelming majority of students came from Newfoundland. Foreign students or ones from other parts of Canada weren’t important to the administrations game plan. They were having a hard enough time find space for all the local students. Which is perhaps why they didn’t care about Chandra. They weren’t worried about an international reputation. Why bother when all your students come from Newfoundland.

It’s a different university today. They are actively recruiting and trying to get students from other parts of the world. And for that to happen, your reputation counts for a lot. Yes, so does reasonable tuition, but you need a rep. Otherwise, why would someone travel half way around the world?

And this story damages that reputation. MUN is going to have to work hard at fixing it and proving they’re a better university than they were a decade ago. That it would be impossible for this to happen now.

How big of an impact will this have? I don’t know. I think it’s a bit of wishful thinking to believe MUN will get off scot-free. And it's infurating that May is getting a pass for this mess. But who knows, it could be worse. And I take some small comfort in the hope that it will be for Dr. Chandra.

Currently Playing
Greatest Hits - The Smashing Pumpkins

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I swear to God, I am working on the Iqaluit FAQ and my response to MUN's defence of their actions when it comes to Dr. Chandra. It's just that sex scandals, big airplanes, cowardly Liberals and other things keep distracting me. Hopefully MUN tomorrow and the FAQ by the weekend, unless something else weird and intriguing pops up.

On a personal note, for those of you wondering what I sound like, you can get your chance on Friday. Through truly bizarre and cool circumstances, a producer with the CBC Radio national program Freestyle contacted me a week or so ago. They heard I used to do review movies with The Express and thought the idea of a movie buff being in Iqaluit and looking for ways to satisfy his jones was intriguing.

So I'll be on the air this Friday and chatting for about 10 minutes about what it's like trying to watch movies in the North and doing a review of a recent DVD release, in this case, Lord of War. This has the potential, if everything goes well, of being a semi-regular thing.

So, by all means, feel free to contact Freestyle, and tell them that you loved my voice, thought my chemistry with Kelly and Cameron was amazing and that was very intelligent and witty. In fact, demand that I return often.

There is a risk, I might add, that people in Newfoundland won't hear me. I don't know right now when I'll be on air. The show runs from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Newfoundland. They don't air the last 30 minutes of Freestyle. So if I'm in the last half hour, well, unless you want to listen to me online, you're out of luck. But here's hoping that doesn't happen.

Then again, it's not like I can listen to me. The show doesn't air in Iqaluit. They play Inuit programming during the afternoon's here instead. Ah well...

Currently Playing
29 - Ryan Adams

Do your job...

So I'm guessing I know what story is going to be dominating headlines in St. John's for the next few days. And it isn't going to be what Loyola Hearn is going to do as Fisheries Minister and it isn't going to be Bill Barry swooping to the rescue in Harbour Breton. Not when there is a teenage sex ring operating in town.

You know, I'm not going to comment on the sex ring yet because there isn't enough information out there about what's happening. But I do want to comment on an element of the story from CBC National. Interestingly, the local CBC cut the rant by RNC Chief Richard Deering. It was there this afternoon, but as I type this, it's gone.

VOCM kept it though.

As I understand it, there have been rumours for weeks in St. John's about a sex ring trafficking in possible prostitution and pornography in St. John's. They're girls and they're underage. The RNC admits they've been investigating for two weeks and there are 10 officers on the case.

From what I saw on CBC Newsworld at lunch time, local reporters have known something was going on and have been hunting the story for a few weeks as well. But all hell broke loose yesterday when a parent of one of the girls called VOCM's Open Line and talked about some aspect of it. Deering calls in and confirms an investigation, but won't give any details.

This morning, The Telegram runs front page with what they have, which isn't much, but certainly is eye-catching. Deering calls a press conference in the morning, gives a bit more information and then blasts the media saying it has jeopardized the investigation. By going with what they have, the suspects may destroy evidence or run.

I have three words for Deering: "Bullshit." That's followed by "Bite me."

Where to begin. OK, with the "harm" to the investigation. You know what, when someone goes on Open Line, of all shows, I think it's safe to say the suspects probably know they're in it deep, especially when the Chief of Police pops up shortly afterwards and confirms there is an investigation.

So saying The Media (ie. The Telegram) have jeopardized their investigation is foolishness. The rumour was out there. Someone goes on Open Line. Deering comments. I think the jig was up, b'ys, well before The Telegram went to press.

Next, I find it hard to sympathize for the RNC because they have so frequently in the past acted in a massively uncooperative and occasionally vindictive manner. Go ahead, ask a reporter in the city how easy the RNC is to deal with. CBC has horror stories. The Telegram has horror stories. The Independent has them. The Express has them. Maybe not NTV, because they keep getting those ride alongs with RNC that they can get three part series out of.

The Express time in purgatory came after we did a couple of critical stories and one especially, I admit, harsh editorial. We were then blacklisted. We know this because officers told us off the record. Their names were not allowed to appear in the paper, even on an unrelated to police work matter, or else management were going to give them shit. Calls were not returned. We were removed from their press release list so when little things like sexual assults were happening, we were having problems covering the story because we weren't getting the information from the police.

The day Deering leaves the RNC, the media will be the ones throwing him the good-bye party.

One other thing. Deering snipes that the media didn't really have a right to the story. Sorry, Richard, but the days of the St. John's media giving the RNC the benefit of the doubt to do the right thing, especially with regards to a case involving sex crimes, pretty much died around the time Mount Cashel finally broke.

If Deering doesn't like it,too bad. Get a thicker skin or get a new job. I don't particularly care which it is.

One last thing, one site online that's going to be interesting to watch, as this develops is Blue Kaffee. It's a site for local youth to talk about different issues. It'll be interesting to see what crops up there in the coming weeks. I suspect the people who post there are going to have a different perspective on things, not to mention information.

Currently Playing
40 Licks - The Rolling Stones.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Up in the air, it's a bird, it's a bloody big plane...

Some of you may or may not know that Iqaluit had a visitor today. As this story points out the Airbus 380 is the largest passenger jet in the world and she's in town for cold weather testing. Everybody in town is angling for a ride, but because of insurance reasons, that's not going to happen.

However, since she can hold about 550 people, I figure it would only take about a dozen trips or so.

Naturally enough, a plane this big produces some excitement in a town of about 6,000. So from about 9:45 to 11 a.m. this morning, Iqaluit basically shut down so everyone could find a spot to see her land.

Immediate thoughts? That it is, in fact, a goddamn big plane. And that photographing a goddamn big white plane flying into a town covered in snow on a bright, sunny day is a bigger challenge than you might think.

Secondly, that some people are already concerned that it isn't cold enough. The engineers (and aren't they always the problem) want temperatures colder than -30 for testing. It's about that today, but it will be getting up to about -20 for the rest of the week.

Third, there are an awful lot of digital cameras up here.

Finally, you know you live in a small town when half the population shows up to see an airplane land.

Anyway, here she is...

Red to yellow...

Can we view the provincial Liberals failure to have a leadership race as anything than an utter throwing in the of the towel for the next provincial election? I don't think there is any other way to look at it.

Yes, there have been plenty of articles recently, mostly focusing on the federal Liberals, explaining the hardships of being in politics, and especially being a leader of a political party. Ed has already written well about the high costs. But that's never stopped people from doing it before. I refuse to believe that suddenly a bunch of provincial politicians are aware of the risks and damages to family relations that a political career can have.

Nope, this was a bunch of people in the Liberal caucus scoping out the landscape and quickly realizing several things:
1. Unless video arises showing Danny Williams wearing dark robes and chanting "Hail, my Dark Lord" before an alter with a baby placed on top of it, he's going to win the next provincial election.
2. Barring a small miracle, the Liberals will actually lose seats in 2007. They might find themselves with seat numbers that will rival the NDP.
3. Nobody sitting in caucus, and indeed few in the province, wants to be the guy (or girl) leading the party into the teeth of that particular storm. Or be the person held accountable when it happens.
4. In fact, most of the caucus want to stay in their own district in the hopes they can hold onto it, as oppose to travelling around the province in the doomed quest to try and pick up seats.

Now, I admit, when you stake out those odds, maybe the smart thing to do is to duck and cover. To be the one not leading the charge and let someone else take the hit. But sometimes you've got to do the stupid, gutsy thing. To lead the charge when you know the hail of bullets is coming. And for Jim Bennett to be the only one in the Liberal party to have those guts, well, that's kind of a sad commentary on the state of the Liberal party in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I understand why Paul Antle and Siobahn Coady didn't want to do it. They've just been through a grinder of a federal election campaign. But for the rest of the provincial caucus? Cowards.

Government's work best when there is a strong opposition and I want the Liberals and NDP to do well and pick up a few seats. But I can't help but feel that in the next provincial election, the Liberals are going to get what's coming to them. They deserve it, in some ways.

Change that bold red in the Liberal logo, b'ys. I think yellow might be more appropriate in this case.

Currently Playing
Underdogs - Matthew Good Band

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ad recap

One more good reason to be living in the North - I got to watch the Super Bowl and actually watch the American ads. Which was good, because the game itself was kind of dull and immensely frustrating seeing as how I was rooting for the Seahawks.

I have said this before and I will say it again; I have for years wanted to smack the crap out of someone with NTV over the Super Bowl. The station carries maybe three NFL games all year, including the Super Bowl. They then run their ads during the game. Which would be annoying enough, except they tend to show the same five or six damn ads all game. I remember one year I swore I would never by a car from Tom Woodford just because NTV kept showing the same bloody ad all game. At least a 20 times, if not more.

And the kicker? There was a story a year or two ago on how much Super Bowl ads go for. Obviously for the U.S. network carrying the game, it's a couple of million for 30 seconds. In most of Canada, it was still a hundred thousand or more to show an ad during the game.

NTV was selling them for something like $1,000, the cheapest in North America. Gits.

Look, the game is normally crap. At least give us the small pleasure of a few entertaining ads.

So what were the best ones, for those of you who missed out. Definitely watch for the MacGuyver/Mastercard ad, which is a classic. And Bud Light hit four solid ones: hidding BL in the office, the guys worshipping the magic fridge, the guys repairing the roof and the guy stealing a BL and leaving his buddy to be mauled by a bear.

Worst ones: The Diet Pepsi ones fell flat (pardon the pun). And the one for Hummer was just fucking weird.

Oh, and you know what, I appreciate it was an ad for a hybrid vehicle, but it was for a hybrid SUV and maybe, just maybe, I don't want to see Kermit the Frog being used to sell hybrid SUVs. That's just wrong.

Currently Playing
OK Computer - Radiohead

Happy critters

There is absolutely no need to put this picture of my friend Colette riding a camel on my blog, other than, really, how often do you get to put pictures of a friend riding a camel on a blog?

The photo is from her recent trip to the Middle East. To my knowledge, she had a good time, was treated well and no Canadian flags were burned in her wake. And she got to ride a camel. I'd call that a pretty successful trip.

Currently Playing
Greatest Hits - Gordon Lightfoot

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Flags R Us

Jason asked me in the previous post what I thought of the surreal situation happening with Muslims freaking out, waaayyyy out over a series of cartoons in a Danish newspaper. And when I say they are freaking in a way that is completely out of proportion to the act, you have to take into account that probably 90% of them have never seen the actual cartoons. Most just know someone drew a couple of cartoons mocking the Prophet, so they've gone nuts.

There has been plenty written about this. Two local bloggers, Liam and Damian have done thoughtful, well reasoned arguments on the issue. The only thing, in seriousness, that I can add is this: I was once a professional journalist. I may well be again in the future. In my heart, I likely always will be one. Under no circumstances I could I envision me condoning any of the rabid, extreme actions I've seen taken in the news over this. Freedom of speech means having to put up with it even when it infuriates or enrages you. Especially when it does that. It doesn't mean you make death threats or attack embassies.

That also means striking or criticizing religion. I watched Newsworld this morning and they did a streeter asking if it was ok to satirize religion. And some people said it wasn't.

I gotta tell you, the day it isn't ok for me to mock the Catholic church, I need to move to another country. I do that for stress relief.

But the one thing that stuck me during all of this is that whenever the TV cameras should protesters being outraged, they were burning Danish flags. I saw it in Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Yemen and other places.

You know, photos like this one (Photo is by Associated Press, btw).

And the question I have is, where the heck do you get Danish flags in the Middle East?

I mean, you're constantly seeing American flags burned. I always assumed there was some local guy (Abdul's Flag Emporium: Our Flags Burn the Best!) with a small shop whose job it was to make U.S. flags for burning. I imagine there must be a craft to it. Obviously you're not making the flags for durability. Odds are the person buying the U.S. flag is just going to rush right out and burn it.

Still, you don't want it to go up like paper. It has to burn, but just right. A nice, slow burning flag so you get maximum time waving it around on fire so that Western Photographers and Al Jazeera can get their shots. But you still want it to burn brightly. There's a craftsmanship in it that I suspect many of us in the West can't really appreciate.

So I figured there's a few guys like this scattered around different hot spots in the Middle East. Most of their business is in U.S. flags, but just in case another country upsets people, you make the odd Union Jack, a German flag or two. Maybe even the French.

But Denmark? Really? I mean, I would have been hard pressed to find a Danish flag in Newfoundland. Or most of Canada for that matter. So I'm genuinely curious. Where does the average outraged Jordanian or Palestinian get a Danish flag on short notice for burning?

Enquiring minds want to know...

Currently Playing
Employment - Kaiser Chiefs

Friday, February 03, 2006

Well howdy...

I guess my complaint about not enough people paying attention to the MUN issue got a bit of attention. The number of people visiting my blog today is a record and is at least double, pushing triple, the average number of people who swing by.

Not that I get massive amounts of traffic. I'm fairly pragmatic about the fact that some blogs, such as Damian Penny's probably get as many hits in an hour as I get in a week. Still, like any writer, it's nice to know that people are reading. So to all the new people who swung by today to see what I was talking about, thank you. Also thanks to Sure b'y and Nancy for the links.

And an especially warm greetting to all of those people from MUN's University Relations who popped by. And my goodness, there were an awful lot of you who came by today. So allow me a moment to wave and say hi to Ivan, David and everyone else at MUN's PR wing. I'm guessing you've had better weeks.

Sticking with MUN, this is their response to the Chandra story. As you might expect, I have my beefs with it. But I want to do a thorough job in the response and I just don't have time this evening. Quality time with Cathy on the couch with a movie awaits.

I will say, however, that my favourite part of that page has been removed. On the left hand side you might notice something called "Snapshot". The photo underneath is a guy running during the recent blizzard towards a building. The caption now reads "Campus closure."

This afternoon, it read "Running for cover." Which I guess is something you don't want on a page where you justify your decision to let academic fraud go unpunished. Someone must have caught it. Pity.

One more thing, in my previous post I was talking about the professor who died last November and the student who was harassing her. In retrospect, I shouldn't have really commented on it because I didn't know enough about the situation, only what I heard in passing. So whatever MUN's sins, that one shouldn't be counted among them. So I apologize for that.

Currently Playing
The Bends - Radiohead

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Where's the outrage?

I hate to keep harping on this, but I'm sensing a distinct lack of outrage at Memorial University. Obviously I'm not in St. John's, so I can't see how the reaction is playing out there. Perhaps it is being talked about on the streets or the open line shows. Perhaps students are losing their minds at MUN over the behaviour of their administration.

But I haven't seen it in any of the other media. I haven't seen it on any other blogs. And even the comments on my blog have been kind of lacking.

Let us recap what MUN has done recently:

1. Lost a more than $800,000 lawsuit with Wanda Young over falsely accusing her of child abuse. No less a body than the Supreme Court of Canada basically said they acted stupidly in their handling of the situation.
2. The Auditor General unleashes a report which says certain administration officials are being massively overpaid for doing work similar to government officials. And apparently the Board of Regents are getting plenty of food and drink as well, according to some of the bills.
3. A professor died over Christmas (which I had forgotten about) and her family is blaming the university for not taking action to stop a student known for harassing behavior.
4. And, oh yeah, they admitted to massive academic fraud on national television. They can also be tied to financial fraud since if they knew (and they did know) that Chandra was faking research, they had to have asked themselves "Gee, I wonder what he's doing with that research money?" I don't care if they money didn't go through them. They knew something fishy was going on, and still let organizations give him money.

A good friend of mine, Mike, is a professional research scientist. He got his PhD from MUN. He's currently so mad he can't see straight. So when he says the following to me, in e-mail (reprinted with his permission), then you can pretty much get an idea of how much trouble MUN is in right now:

"Simply unbelievable. Mindboggling. We're going to be - justifiably - the laughing stock of the Canadian scientific community for a long, long time. And the credibility of every MUN research-based degree has been seriously compromised."

Every single one of us who has graduated from MUN, but especially those in the sciences, are going to be harmed by this. The value and prestige of your degree is going to take a hit. It may actually become harder to get some jobs because MUN's reputation has been so tarnished.

This is comparable, in some ways, to what happened to the Newfoundland Career Academy a decade or so ago. It wasn't just the poor bastards who were going to school at the time and lost money and didn't get the diploma that got screwed - it was every single graduate of the Career Academy that got burned. Because when that school went down, their diplomas basically became worthless. The school didn't exist anymore. The name became synonymous with being a joke.

And sure we felt bad for them. They just wanted an education and got screwed. But I know more than one of us, and I'm included in that, looked down our noses at them a bit. "Well," we thought "they should have went to a real school, like MUN, CONA or the Marine Institute. You know, a place with a reputation."

So what kind of reputation does MUN have right now? And as graduates, how big of a hit have our degrees and reputations taken? MUN condoned, on national television, fraud, cheating and dishonesty. They said as long as no one was harmed by Chandra's research, what's the big deal?

Mike again:

"So, applying MUN logic to the non-academic community, if a Breezeway bartender was found to have been lacing the beer with arsenic, for many years, but no one had died, would the university consider "the case closed" if said bartender "chose to retire quietly and move[d] away", presumably to seek employment at another bar???

Mike raised one other point, and while part of me thinks it's just him blowing off steam, the other part of me wonders if he isn't right and that it might not happen. And his point is this: "could we launch a class-action lawsuit against the administration for criminal incompetence/wanton indifference resulting in harm to (our) reputation?"

You know what? All it's going to take is a few people, especially in the sciences, to go to a few interviews and have people say "sorry, we know you have good grades and all, but you come from MUN and lieu of them admitting committing academic fraud, we don't really trust or hire anyone coming out of that school."

If that happens, you might just see the class action suit. I suspect this going to get uglier before it gets better.

Oh, last thing, people need to be fired over this. Starting at the top isn't a bad place to begin.

Currently Playing
Five Star Motel - Andy Stochansky

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I really wasn't going to post this image (don't ask where I got it) because, well, family could be reading this blog and I have to give the appearance of being presentable. Or, you know, at least not a total freak.

But then Nancy posted the image of the tampered polish ham and then it became something I simply couldn't ignore. Clearly I needed to post this:

I'm not entirely certain what it is. Some kind of bread or pastry, I believe. Certainly something you are suppose to, er, eat.

If you're related to me, by either blood or marriage, I'm terribly sorry. Feel free to disown me...

Currently Playing
Hello Starling - Josh Ritter

That was brutal...

• Jesus Christ but MUN got brutalized on CBC over that Chandra report this evening. At least Chandra can flee to India and hide away. MUN is just going to have to sit there and take it. I mean, when the former editor of the British Medical Journal sits there and says that the university obvious cares more about its reputation than the truth and that people will now have to question everything that comes out of the university, you can't view that as anything other than a massive body blow.

What's the reaction been like on campus? Anyone?

• I've been writing a lot the last day or so, but it's still going to be a few more days before the Iqaluit FAQ is ready to go. Perhaps by this weekend. No surprise, it's proving to be longer than I anticipated.

• While Nancy was impressed with my ability to get Oscar picks, I think Newsweek managed to one up me pretty good. They interviewed the five people nominated in the best director category before the nominations were announced. Nice trick. The article is here. The article is a little too "oh, but your movie was wonderful too" but there are a few interesting bits.

The best was that Haggis (Crash) and Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck) worked together on The Facts of Life. How weird is that?

• Oh, and one last thing. My good friend Sara has started blogging. Alas, I haven't seen her in about four years, but unless the pod people have gotten her, she still remains one of the smartest and nicest women (when not kicking me in the shins, a bad habit of many of the short women in my life) it's my pleasure to know.

She also cited myself and Dups as inspirations to start blogging. Generally speaking, myself and Dups normally inspire women to drink heavily, so it's nice to see we can do positive things as well. She's only getting started, but feel free to go and say nice things and encourage her to keep at it. She's a great writer.

Currently Playing
Truthfully, Truthfully - Joel Plaskett Emergency