Monthly Archives: November 2013

Winifred Elizabeth


We have a number of companion animals in our nuclear unit here in the Great White North.  There are four cats, Bella, Charlie, Gus, and Tommy, all rescues from either the Humane Society or privately. 

Previous incumbents have included a Black Lab, Ebo, Ralph the Collie/Hound cross and Joseph Arthur Lonley our first cat of nearly twenty years standing.  Ebo, Ralph and Joey are still here, their ashes in three urns on the bookcase, keeping watch over us.  They’re marked as Present, but not Attending.

A little while ago we added to this mix:  Winifred Elizabeth, came to live here. 

Winnie had a rough start, being the punching bag for an abusive couple who split up, then after a few moves wound up essentially living only in the kitchen of her previous ‘caregivers’, full time.

Through some connections, we met Winnie and arranged for her to stay where she could be cared for properly and made part of our family.  Winnie, of course, accepted.

The first few days with the cats were, to be generous, chaotic.  Winnie didn’t know what cats were and tried to play with them like she would play with another 60 pound, 15-month old puppy: Vigorously, with much leaping, bounding and ear-splitting barks. 

The cats were of one voice; “What the fcuk is THAT!” as they scurried under beds, or up onto cupboards as high off the floor as possible, hissing and cussing imprecations of a fearsome nature.  We were told a few times to “Take THAT THING out of OUR house and drown it in the river NOW!” the chorus usually led by Bella, our 10 year old Queen of the Manor.  We are constantly amazed that four of the gentlest, most loving cats can turn so nasty with such rapidity.  However, this is evolving.

Winnie is learning her manners and commands, like sit, stay, down and heel, as well as to use the nearby park for waste elimination, instead of the hallway carpet.  Being a rescue, she does have a few issues, like a distrust of males, loud noises and a higher level of timidity than one would expect, but she is starting to relax, learn and adapt. 

The cats are adapting in their own way, letting Winnie walk by them on the floor without cussing under their breath or offering to open Winnie a new orifice or two.  We are not finding the cats rummaging through the knife drawer for my 14” Sabatier chef’s knife (“Gus, help me pick this thing up, it’s too heavy for me.  Goddammit, we haven’t got opposable thumbs!”).  They have managed to go nose to nose often with Winnie, without a trip to the vet for suturing up Winnie’s snout.  Several meals have been taken as a group, without the cats going after her kibble, or Winnie going after their soft food. 

More recently, there has been some sharing of the bed, with one or two cats, Winnie, then finally the two humans taking up the last remaining square millimeter of covers that the animals have deigned to let us have.  Cat and Dog owners understand this situation, as the Laws of Cat Physics require a 10 pound cat to barely fit on twenty-five square feet of bed.     

Winnie has met many of the other neighbourhood dogs that congregate in the park a few doors down our street.  The roll call includes: Winston, Moose, Lucky, Sally, Jake, Maggie and perhaps a dozen other unnamed dogs.  They have taught Winnie that chase-me-chase-me is fun and so is dodge-human.  Dodge-Human, or Bipedal Bowling involves several big, fast, strong, athletic dogs running straight at the bipedals and veering off at the last moment.  Most of the time.    

We’re not all the way there yet, but we will soon see a sofa full of ears, snouts, butts, legs and tails, all snoozing together, all perfectly comfortable with each other and with us.

Welcome to your Forever Home, Winifred Elizabeth.  We’re glad you are here. 

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Rob Ford, The Sad Late-Night Hero


The hits just keep on coming with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and for those of you who don’t watch late night US television, the hosts have made significant hay at his expense.  We won’t bother listing the jokes, but we will point you to this clip from Comedy Central.  It’s the funniest and yet most scathingly honest 6:30 you’ll ever spend out of your lifespan.  We’ll wait…

Told you.  Now, what to do about it?  Of course, no question, Rob Ford should resign, immediately and check into some kind of facility that prohibits the media, or microphones from being anywhere near him for the next several weeks.  But that won’t happen.

We have an observation:  This is what goes on in the mind of high school bullies who grow up and discover they actually are the decayed husk of a human soul dressed in a flashy suit.  They can do the kind of mental gymnastics that Olga Korbut only dreamed about performing during the floor exercises at the 1972 Munich Olympics.  They gloss and slip and slide around their behaviours, rendering excuses from here to the Ross Ice Shelf as a way to explain, rationalize or change the subject when caught, in their relentless pursuit of self-aggrandizement, self-denial and near-feral self-defense of their fragile self-image.

Rarely do we get to see someone, especially a public figure, caught this hard and this tightly in their own mess.  Ford has made his office into a sideshow spectacle that Toronto will not be able to dig out of for the next decade, but as we laugh ourselves damp in the undergarments, we are also watching another human’s last few days of existence before his ego immolates completely.

That is sad.  Nobody should have to go through it with an audience of millions.

Also an Unusual but Urgent Request


A few of us who blog on a semi-regular basis come together with the same objective from time to time.  The Windy City Wonder and I have corresponded for couple of years now and he’s a frequent commentator on RoadDave.  He’s posted a bit on his page regarding the situation in the Philippines and the urgent need for aid in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Marylou has several dozen friends in the Philippines from her job in the call-center business and has been to places like Bacolod and Cebu many times.  Her colleagues are all safe so far, but many have families or relatives in Tacloban, the hardest hit area from the typhoon.  Tacloban has basically been wiped off the map. 

When these kinds of disasters go down what is needed is money.  Not that the Red Cross is going from area to area handing out pesos, but so that the Red Cross can use their emergency supplies that are pre-staged now, then use your donations to replenish their inventory for the next disaster, wherever and whenever that might be.

The Red Cross is the preeminent disaster relief organization world-wide.  The Canadian Red Cross, here, needs your donation for Typhoon Haiyan relief now.  The Canadian government will match you dollar for dollar, so if all you can spare is $2, then the government will match your deuce, with another one.

I don’t do charitable outreach here, except in exceptional circumstances.  This is one where your money can double and be put to urgent use now. 

I’m asking you to donate if you can.  I’m also asking you to repost, or link to this or Jon’s posting, to spread the word. 

Thank you.       

Rob Ford Is A Duck


Since our posting regarding the Duck-iness of the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, things have unwound very quickly. Yesterday, noon-ish he admitted to smoking crack cocaine to a group of media.

Later that afternoon, in one of the most confusing pressers ever presented at Toronto City Hall (and we’re counting the Mel Lastman years) not only admitted it again, he apologized profusely, then said if voters want to judge him, they can judge him in October 2014 in the municipal election, but for now we go forward.  Mawkish, then contrite, then hard-ass business as usual with Rob leading the way.

After sitting for a few moments, letting it sink in, we came to the conclusion that the man is in his own special world.  You can search up all the video you want, including the commentary from Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, but the short form is that the man is now the butt of jokes from here to Absurdistan.

The gall of the man is on par with the apocryphal story of the teenager who slaughters his family, then begs for the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.  Of course, various pundits of the nattering class are demanding he resign, take a leave of absence, or that some legal way be found to kick Ford’s ass to the curb on Blue Box day. 

Except there is no legal way to show Ford the door under the Municipal Act.  He could be on live breakfast television, violating a giraffe, while drunk and higher than Jack The Bear and there is no provision to have him escorted out of the office of Mayor.  Ford knows the law and unless he is charged and convicted of a serious offense, the law can’t touch him. 

Ford knows that process would take at least a year, probably two, with appeals up the line and legal skee-ball from every angle possible, including the “Have pity on my client, as he is a confessed drunkard, drug abuser and giraffe fondler” defense.  Conceptually, he could sell Toronto to a Latvian oligarch as his personal theme park and there’s squat anyone can do.

There used to be what was called the Indiana Rule of Politics as codified by Hunter S. Thompson which we paraphrase thusly:  Never be caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman.

Of course, the first part of the Indiana Rule is gone now and the second half could be in danger of being eclipsed by events in Toronto.

The frightening part is that come October 2014, he might just get elected again.

Is Rob Ford a Duck?


Being in the business of blogging means that you sometimes have to make judgements without the full scope of evidence that would be available to a more august body, such as the cops, or a court of law.  Judging is at the root of forming an opinion and looking at as much evidence as you can before forming your opinion is part of the intellectual rigour of forming a sound opinion, backed with logical arguments and evidence for your stated position.  This is the heart of learned discourse, exchanging opinions and evidence for your thesis, defending your position. 

For example, if our stated position was “So and so is a douchebag” the bar of intellectual proof would be:  Has so and so engaged in behaviours in keeping with the generally held standards of douchebaggery?  (See any reality show featuring the menfolk of the Kardashian Klan, or Jersey Shore as a standard for douchebaggery)  If the individual exhibits a majority of the symptoms, then, intellectually, we can call them a douchebag.

We also use what is called the Duck Theorem.  The Duck Theorem is this:  If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, leaves feathers behind like a duck, shits like a duck, smells like a duck, then flies away like a duck, more than likely, it is a duck.

This ties to the construct of Occam’s razor which seeks the principle of parsimony, economy or succinctness in logic.  It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.  Again, an intellectual process for learned discourse, that we condense as The Simple Answer is Probably the Right Answer.

Which brings us to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.  The local cops have recovered  rumoured video of the Mayor engaging in certain practices that are not Mayor-like, unless you are Marion Barry.

Our predicament is that using the Duck Theorem and Occam’s razor, it looks like the Mayor was caught on the pipe with a couple of known, um, wholesalers, in the Toronto drug industry.  We will add the caveat, we have not seen the video, but enough people have that even the Police Chief has said that the video is substantially as reported in the media. 

Where we lack evidence, is the content of said pipe.  If it was a pinch of Sail or Borkum Riff pipe tobacco, then we have no substantive issue, aside from the Mayor of the biggest city in Canada chumming around with drug dealers.  That alone should be reason enough for Ford to take a sabbatical until these allegations are cleared up in a court of law.  If it turns out that Ford was using what looks like a crack pipe, in the presence of known dealers in crack, with evidence that the pipe contained residues of the combustion of Coc-H+Cl + NH4HCO3 → Coc + NH4Cl + CO2 + H2O, then he should emphatically resign.

Leaving aside the evidence for the time being, is the existence of the video enough for Rob Ford to resign?  If the man had any shame at all, he would.  Obviously, he has no shame, as he has not resigned, or taken a sabbatical, or even sought to use up some vacation time away from the office and the pressures of the Office. 

Therefore, Rob Ford is a Duck.