Monthly Archives: October 2014

Jian Ghone

Over the weekend, the CBC lost one of their preeminent broadcasters to something that smacks of a witch hunt.  Jian Ghomeshi, the former host and co-creator of a radio and television program called Q, was let go by the Mother Corp on Sunday. 

Rather than be nibbled to death by a thousand ducks, Ghomeshi wisely put the story out in all the salacious details and has initiated a very pricey lawsuit against the CBC for canning him.  You can read the whole posting here, but I’ll condense it for you:  A saucy, but consenting, relationship that went sour over time and the threats of exposure from the other party. 

Ghomeshi did the right (and probably very difficult) thing and went to his employer, explained the situation as he saw it and was duly investigated.  There was no formal complaint to CBC HR, no laws broken or lack of consent.  Then suddenly Sunday Ghomeshi is out of a job, with no warning, no notice and no recourse but to take to social media to explain his side of the story.

As many of you remember, our moral compass on sexual antics is simple: 

  1. The parties engaged must be of legal voting age in the jurisdiction where the saucy antics are happening.
  2. All parties must actively consent to the saucy antics.
  3. Show some class and be discreet.  Get a room.

Using our moral test then, children and animals are off limits as they can’t actively consent or are not of age to consent.  The rest of it isn’t our business.  It might be personally uninteresting, unhygienic or simply too weird for words, but it is not our business.  Repeat, is not our business, at least as long the participants are adhering to rule #1 and rule #2.  (Those who like to engage in relations dressed in penguin costumes on a bridge over the 401 at rush hour are breaking rule #3.)

Where the sarcastic that resides here rises up, is the conundrum of another CBC host, Sook-Yin Lee, also a superlative broadcaster amongst her other accomplishments, appearing in the 2006 film Shortbus by John Cameron Mitchell. 

In Shortbus, there were no simulated sex scenes. That scene where Sook-Yin Lee rubs one out is real and no detail is left to our imagination.  Again, CBC threatened to fire Sook-Yin Lee, but viewers, listeners and a line of celebrities intervened.  Wisely the Corp backed down and Lee continues to provide entertaining, informative and frequently magical radio on Definitely Not The Opera.  Her performance in Shortbus or other behaviors in private, or that she has very candidly disclosed have not diminished the popularity, entertainment or sincerity of her work.

Which leads us to suggest that Ghomeshi gets a few hundred of the fabulous celebrities that he has insightfully interviewed to write letters of protest to CBC brass.  The thousands of viewers and listeners of Q will also happily oblige with our regular-schmuck voices.  We will suggest that he leave Billy Bob Thornton off the list, but we digress.

So where does it go from here?  If there is common sense in the halls of the CBC, they’ll recognize that what Ghomesi does off the clock is none of their business, as long as #1 #2 and #3 are adhered to, then logically he should get a nice apology and his job back.  However, the betting line is that common sense at the CBC is as rare as intelligent life in politics, so Jian has some options. 

The first one is to leave the public broadcaster and cast his lot with the private bunch.  CTV/Bell Media should be getting out the chequebook right snappily and contacting Jian Ghomeshi with an invite to move the show to their playground.

The second is to take a few months, mourn the recent passing of his father and let the lawyers loose on the CBC.  The Corp knows they’re already in deep, to at least the tune of the high six figures of a settlement plus costs, so Ghomeshi has a bankroll coming.  Reinvent Q as R and do a deal with Netflix, or HBO, or Comcast.

As for the rest of us, speaking as a regular schmuck listener and viewer, we don’t care what you bang or how you bang it, as long as #1, #2 and #3 are adhered to.  It’s not our business.

The Soldier Killings – A Reflection

More details have come out regarding the Parliament Hill shootings and the killing of WO Patrice Vincent last week near Montreal.  The stories will continue to fill out, more factoids and colourations coming to light about the people, the actions and the results.

We’re more inclined to look at the bigger picture. 

What is striking is the commonality between the killers.  Both Canadians.  Both a touch messed up in the head.  Both ostensibly radicalized by religion.

Don’t get us wrong, you can pray to whatever God you like. 

Like we have Chevys, Fords or Nissans, at the end of the day it’s the same thing: A Car. 

Anglicans, Jews, Buddhists or Muslims; at the end of the day it’s the same God.

We’re not going to crap all over Islam, or any other religion.  We think labeling someone as a radicalized or a self-radicalized Muslim is a cheap media trick to make us afraid.  Especially afraid of the new term, the Lone Wolf Jihadist

We’re calling Bullshit.

The Klu Klux Klan wrapped themselves in God as their rationale for dragging a black person behind a pickup truck.  German soldiers in WWII often wore a belt buckle that said “Gott Mit Uns” – God With Us, while leading innocents to their deaths at Treblinka.

Don’t get us going on the Inquisition or the Crusades.

Looking down the pages of history humans have been fighting religious wars since way before Jesus.  Greek gods were all renamed by the Romans, same god, different handle, done for spite.  Catholics fighting Protestants.  Orthodox Jews battling Reform Jews.  Shiites and Sunnis at each other.  Hindus trying to kick Sikh asses. 

(We suspect the only group that stayed out of religious battles were Buddhists, but we wager they’ve said some snarky things about Shinto adherents, however these comments are lost to time.)  

What does truly get our back up is what are called Terrorists, organized or not, regardless of what brand of God they hide behind. 

Terrorists try to make you afraid of everything in the name of their particular brand of God either to change you to their brand, or as an excuse to do violent, horrible things. 

If the great shadowy organizers of these things were truly, deeply, sincere in their beliefs that killing a bus-load of school children, bombing a pub, or shooting a soldier standing watch at a monument in the name of their brand of God, is exactly what God wanted and they would be rewarded fabulously by that God, wouldn’t they logically want to be at the head of the line, strapping on the vest and going first, to show, to demonstrate, with their very lives that, yes, our God is pleased. 

No, it would seem they don’t.  It’s much cleaner to have someone else do the real dirty work for you. 

So they recruit or inflame the crazy, the weak, the loners. the losers, the simple and the lost to do unconscionable things on their behalf, in the name of whatever brand of God they’re peddling.

They figure they might as well make us afraid of everything with their acts and it often works, thanks to our media reporting every outrage and savagery in as much detail as they can.

For the Terrorist, that’s when they figure they’ve won, lone-wolf or not; they’ve made us afraid. 

Thursday morning people here in Ottawa went back to work, a little sad and little quieter than normal.  Yesterday people gathered at the War Memorial to observe silence for Cpl Nathan Cirillo in a spontaneous display of thanks and mourning.

As they took his body back to Hamilton down the Highway of Heroes yesterday, there were thousands of regular folks along the route on one of the busiest highways in Canada, lining the road and on the overpasses to honour and bear witness. 

Aside from honouring Cpl Cirillo, we think we are also saying something important, the subtext of honouring those who terrorists have killed.

We’re going to be crude, sorry, but here it is:

Dear Terrorists:  Fuck You.

We’re going back to work.  We might not be happy right now, but if we climb under the bed and spend all day and all night being scared of our shadow, then the terrorists win.

To which we also say: Fuck you, you won’t win.

We’ve got people who don’t give up and won’t give up and we demonstrate that by backing up our military, our cops and even our government, no matter how messed up they might be.

We’re not afraid of you jumping out from behind the bushes yelling “Boo!” waving your guns, your flag and your tiny dick around. 

Yes, some of us are going to get hurt when you try to terrorize us with car bombs, beheading videos or hijacking planes into buildings but we’re not giving up.  We’ll be sad, but then we’ll get back up and do it some more just to piss you off.

We’re doing it because it is the Right Thing To Do.

Everybody on this planet has the right to have enough food, go to school, go to work, have a roof over their heads and have enough money left over to goof off once in a while.  That’s called Freedom. 

It includes the right to be free from fear.

We’re so confident that we don’t even have to do it in the name of God. We’re doing it because it is the right thing to do.   

We are not afraid.  You lose.  Fuck You.

Our Quiet Little Town

Watching the news today is not a good thing.  Ottawa, Canada’s sleepy little capital city was rocked by something that only happens elsewhere.

Facts are still fluid, but here’s the known:  Just before 10 am today an armed gunman ran up to a reserve army soldier standing watch at our National War Memorial and shot the soldier with what has been described as a long rifle.  Our National War Memorial is about 350 yards from the Parliament Buildings, our seat of government.  (Note to our American readers, our Parliament buildings holds both the Congress-equivalent and the Senate in one building called Centre Block, the one with the clock tower.) 

After shooting the soldier who was standing guard over our Tomb of the Unknown, the gunman ran to the Parliament buildings and got into the building.

Moments later the shooter was gunned down by security, most of which was captured on video by a reporter from the Globe and Mail.  You hear what sounds like a shotgun, then more than a two dozen small-caliber replies, probably from armed House of Commons security.

Shot and later pronounced dead in hospital was the soldier standing watch at the National War Memorial.  Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist (like the National Guard for our American readers) of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, from Hamilton, Ontario.

The dead gunman was identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau a Canadian, born in 1982.  There are no more substantive details forthcoming as of the time of this posting, but that will change.  It appears the gunman had a criminal record for drugs in BC and Quebec.  There are unconfirmed reports that he was a recent convert to Islam.  Authorities won’t say if the shooter was on a watch-list for persons who may be radicalized.

Now, here’s the Unknown parts of the story:  For a couple of hours there were reports of two gunmen.  One witness reported seeing two people get out of a grey Corolla and run towards Centre Block.  There were reports of several shots fired nearby at a large downtown shopping area, the Rideau Centre.  There were reports of another gunman up on a roof overlooking the downtown area.  As we said, it’s still very fluid as real, verifiable (meaning three sources, two of which are real, not tweets or Facebook postings) facts are not rapidly forthcoming from authorities.  The facts will come out, but not right now.

The ugly part of all this, aside from the fear and the needless death is that our little town, Ottawa, is the scene of something very, very bad.  Being a long-time Ottawa resident, more or less for most of my life, I take pride in the peaceable nature of the joint.

I’m proud that our seat of government is open enough that you can walk around on the front lawn, as millions do every year.  Yes, you are under some serious video surveillance and yes, there are armed people around, but they’re unobtrusive and security isn’t in your face.  We even have the RCMP, in full red-serge dress uniform, on horseback, every summer on the grounds, along with the Governor General’s Foot Guards doing the Changing of the Guard ceremony for the tourists. 

Every Canada Day, there’s usually a quarter-million people on Parliament Hill, many of whom have had an ale or five, especially by nightfall with the Canada Day fireworks show.  The worst that can happen is you’ll either get puked on, or surreptitiously fondled. 

Protestors (and there are many each year) more or less keep the peace, aside from the occasional scuffle or some pushing and shoving.  Rarely have we seen riot-geared police lashing out foggy clouds of OC spray, or water cannon hosing protestors down the sidewalk.  We don’t roll that way up here.

Which makes me fear that the next victim of this ugly incident will be Parliament Hill itself.  It will close up tight.       

Ebola – An Idiot’s Primmer

Since we all seem to be spiraling out of control on Ebola perhaps it is time for a basic backstory and declutter.

1: Ebola virus disease, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever has been around since 1976, first manifested as Sudan virus, one of the five categories of ebolavirus, being Ebola, Sudan, Reston, Tai Forest and Bundibugyo.  The family is also related to Marbergvirus another nasty that has been around since 1967.  Short form?  Ebola ain’t new.

2: Symptoms?  Sudden influenza-like stage of fatigue, fever, headaches, joint, muscle and abdominal pain with nausea and the shits.  Sounds like the warning label on just about every over-the counter cold remedy and most prescription drugs.  It’s when you progress to the bleeding from the eyes, nose or GI tract that things go grim.

3: Likelihood of you getting Ebola while sitting on your ass in an office downtown?  Unless your co-workers have spent the last few weeks in Liberia at a hospital acting as unpaid mortuary attendants, slim.

4:  Things you can do to not get Ebola.  Stay the hell away from working as an unpaid mortuary attendant in Sierra Leone, Liberia or other region of the world where Ebola is actively contagious.

5: When all else fails, what did Mommy tell you?  Wash your hands.  Since just about everything that causes the symptoms, including the flu, colds and the like are transmitted via bodily fluids, there are only two things you can do, one of them impractical.  The impractical is to cover yourself in sterile plastic and live in a bubble.  Which is great if you have unlimited money, time and undiagnosed OCD. 

For the rest of us the simplest preventative that works for colds, flu, sniffles, and Ebola, is to wash our hands frequently.  The common transmission human to human is by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, or contact with an object contaminated by that person.  Just like the flu or a cold.

Right from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here it is:  When and How to Wash Your Hands

Which means that the gauntlet of thermometer-wielding folks at the airport, or motions to shut down all international travel is Bullshit Theatre.  It’s a fallacy right up there with the TSA mook asking if someone else packed your bag:  “Oh yes, that nice Arabic gentleman with the sunglasses and the kerchief over by the curb repacked my bags for me.  He was very nice and it only cost me $5” said Auntie Pauline on her first flight in a dozen years. 

We’ll add another one to the list, since it is almost flu season.  If you’re feeling sick, stay home.   


Mason Baveux on Canadian Thanksgiving – Reprint

We’ve received a few requests to explain the differences between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving for our American readers.  A few years ago Mason Baveux, our guest writer, did a piece on the comparisons between the two, so I asked him to do a rewrite.  After staring at me like I had a spare head growing out of my chest, he finally clued in;  “You mean like do’er over but explain her better?”  This is what he sent back;

Thanks lad fer givin me another shot at the blog writing. I’m getting the hang of ‘er and I don’t have to get my drink on like last time from watching the US politics. Plus, I’m startin to get a handle on this HyperTex Tampax Protocol stuff, ‘cept it sounds a little too feminine for me. Just the same. Thanksgiving.

OK, now us Canadians are havin our turkey today, the 13th of October.  You Yanks are getting stuffed November 27th.  You’d think we’d line these two holidays up a bit better, but there’s a reason why we don’t. Lemme explain it out for you.

The whole shebangs been going on since before there was a North America. Thanksgiving’s a harvest festival, meaning the locals got the crops in and then sat down to put the feedbag on before the snow flied.

In Europe, or the UK more like, she started raining for two friggin months, with a day or two of snow. She was too wet to plow or do much more than sit around the fire and say “Fook, she’s rainin; again. Yep, she’s rainin’ and we got fog too. Fook this, crack open ye olde flagon of ale and let’s get lit up!” Which is how they passed the winters in Bill Shakespeare’s time. The same’s true at Lahr in Germany, when the base was open there, which it isn’t anymore.

My Indian buddy, Peter Three-Skidoos told me about how the First Nationals used to celebrate the same thing over here, before the Europeans came over. Same idea of party it up before the snow flies. And Peter isn’t an Indian Indian, like from Calcutta with the curry. He’s 100 percent Ojibway First National: Like he says, his family met my family when we came over about 400 years ago, so he should know, right?

I did some looking up about it on that Wiki-tiki-tavi-pedia thing. Seems the first thanksgiving by white folks was done in 1548, in Newfie, fer Christ sake. The explorer Martin Frobisher, who was looking for the Northwest Passage, finally got back to his base camp on the Rock. Marty Frobisher and the rest of the lads cracked the rum open and had a go to celebrate Not Dying. Good a reason as any.

The Americans got into it late, as usual. We’re not counting some Spaniels, or Spanyards who did it up September 8th, 1565 near St. Augustine Florida. There were 600 of them, so’s I suspect there was a hell of a party. I think they had it near the Arby’s in St. Augustine. I’ve been there you know.

The American folks who claim the first one up, were what were called the Berkeley Hundred, in Dec 4 1619 near Jamestown Virginia. They weren’t into the turkey then, they were just glad to not be dead from sailing across the ocean. It was more a prayer service than anything.

The first Americans who did something like the kids story Thanksgiving were the Pilgrims at Plymouth Mass. Before the car, there was the town Plymouth and they did it in 1621. Seems that a First National called Squanto and his tribe, the Wampanomags taught the Pilgrims how to catch turkeys and eels and how to use the foods that grew there in Plymouth. That would be pumpkins and cranberries and squash and sweet potatoes. And turkey.

If Squanto and the Wampo tribe lads hadn’t been there to help the Pilgrims get their heads out of their arses, the Pilgrims would have all starved to death that winter and we wouldn’t have Plymouth cars. They’d be called Worcesters or Massachusettses. Worchester Belvedere? That’s no damn good.

For the longest time where Thanksgiving showed up on the Canadian and the American calendar moved around a bit. Up here we kept it in October, as that’s more or less when the last of the corn comes in. Down south, the seasons longer, so the US Thanksgiving sometimes would run later the more south you went.

For a while, both of us kept to the British tradition in October, but when the Yanks had their Revolution in 1776 they wanted to get rid of all the British leftovers, so they looked for a later date. It wasn’t until Honest Abe and Civil War that you Yanks settled on November and that’s where she sits now.

As for what we do up here, we do the same thing. We cook a big goddam turkey and more vegetables than the third floor ward at the Penatanguishine Home for the Insane. There’s bread stuffing, cranberries, both jellied and whole, mashed spuds, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, boiled carrots, green beans and enough gravy to float a skiff. You eat until your pants don’t fit, then loosen the belt and have seconds or thirds.

When you can’t see no more, you push back and take a break. In our house we used to have gravy bread for the last course. If you’ve never had gravy bread, I’ll give you the recipe. You take a slice of white bread, put it on the plate. Then you pour turkey gravy on it until is just starts to think about floating. Then you eat it. An old family recipe that.

Then there’s the pie. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, mincemeat pie and sometimes lemon pie. You get whipped cream on the pumpkin, but not on the lemon pie as that’s just wrong. And Apple Pie without Cheese is like a Kiss without a Squeeze.

For drinks, well, you’ve got the traditional basics: Rum and Coke. Rum and Ginger. Rum and Diet Coke for those who are watching their weight. After you’re done, sometimes there’s Rum and Coffee, but lately it’s been Bailey’s and Coffee, or Rum and tea for them what drinks tea. The usual measure is three fingers of Rum or Bailey’s and top the mug up with coffee.

By this time you’re half in the bag and can’t feel your legs anymore. Some of the family go out hunting, if its close to deer season. Well, more proper, they go jacklighting off the ATV’s or the snow machines, if we’ve had a early snow.

Sometimes they get a deer, but more often than not they just shoot the hell out of the highway signs. I’ve never seen them bring back the highway signs, but the deer always come back across the ATV if they’ve had some luck.

By now most of us have had a snooze and its about time for cards. Cribbage is the game of choice. Now there’s a choice of rum or beer. I’ll stick to the beer about then, as I can’t count cribbage if I’m full of rum. On the rum, it’s 15-2, 15-4 and then I get confused and it goes to hell from there. On the Red Cap, it’s fine. I can peg and count at the same time. There’s always an argument or two.

Around midnight, we give it up and go home.

I kinda like the old ways some days. Just a day for saying “Hey, we’re not dead today! Thanks!” The rest is good, but not always necessary, so’s your could say I’m from the Marty Frobisher school of Thanksgiving.  We’re not dead today!

Thank you Mason, as always, curiously insightful.  A Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you all.

Coffee Goes DRM

Coffee is a reason to get up in the morning, as its salutary effects are well known and welcome at 0430.  Pop a pod in the Keurig, punch the button, a few seconds later, coffee appears and the fog of the early morning riser starts to lift.

We like the Keurig and have had one for a few years now.  One of us traveled extensively to Costa Rica and always brought back several dozen pounds of the best beans that are lovingly stored in the freezer, then freshly ground, tamped into a personal K-Cup and brewed. 

Other occasions have called for the use of utility coffee, purchased at various retailers and brewed with the same machine:  Sometimes Italian Roast for guests, or something mild and vaguely coffee-like for the frail and sensitive.  We have even stooped to brewing tea in the Keurig, but that has been disappointing unless one is making iced tea, or packing the tea with neat rum, honey and lemon to offset the effects of a cold.

As consumers we like our K-Cup choices; Timmy’s, McCafe, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Maxwell House, Folger’s and Van Houte all make K-Cups of their signature blends, alluring us with the prospect of recreating their tastes at home, where we can have a steaming mug of their stuff, while sitting in the family room wearing a housecoat, having not shaved or bathed for two days after binge-watching “Survivor – Ostomy Island”  

K-Cup pods are ubiquitous in stores, flavoured with everything from Elbonian Salted Caramel Poopachino with Madagascar Cinnamon to a K-Cup pod for “Dishwater Foul” coffee that tastes exactly like the coffee you get in a church basement at 5:30 pm on a Sunday.  If you looked hard enough, you might even find Maple Nut Crunch K-Cups that include a downloadable rant from Dennis Leary with every 10-pack.

Keurig, being the smart company they are, know that selling the coffee maker is but the tiniest drip on the tip of the equation.  Where you slam right in up to the bristles of profit is in selling the coffee pods. The refills, the expendable part of the coffee equation, is where the money lives.

Which is why Keurig is owned a little company called Green Mountain Roasters, that makes the refills in a dizzying array of flavours, many of which taste almost like coffee.  Green Mountain did $3.9 billion in net sales in 2012.

This is only sensible business:  Make a buck off both ends of the deal, with the technology and with the expendables, the refills generally costing more than the device itself.  Look at King Gillette who gave away the safety razor handles, but made big coin on the refill blades, or HP whose ink refills generally cost more than the printer itself.   

The second part of this cozy relationship, Green Mountain and Keurig, is that now that we’re committed to the K-Cup is to change the game in the name of Big Money, delivering ‘game-changing performance’

Keurig 2.0 machines, now available everywhere, have a little sensor in them that reads the K-Cup.  If the appropriate code isn’t on the K-Cup, it means Keurig isn’t getting their cut.  The machine does a Carol and Computer Says No to your steaming cup of Dorkachino.

For those coffee roasters who have not done a deal with Green Mountain, it means they’re effectively shut out of the market, as the Keurig 2.0 machines roll out, replacing the older models.  The third-party pods won’t work with a 2.0 machine.  The lawsuits have commenced.

As consumers, we’re being squeezed.  Buy a new Keurig 2.0 and you get stuck with the price per cup that Green Mountain wants to charge for the K-Cups.  Or, be a nasty little consumer and when your Keurig eventually breathes its last, don’t buy a new one.  Some would even suggest that you go out now and buy a new version 1.0 before they disappear of the shelves.  It’s not as if the 2.0 version also does your dry cleaning and empties the litter box, as well as making coffee:  There is no compelling reason to buy a new one. 

Or, you could rebel completely, tell Keurig to shove it where the sun don’t shine, get an old school coffee maker and the coffee of your choice that you brew and enjoy.