Saturday, January 31, 2009

Things are moving along nicely these days, don't you think? Well, aside from complete global economic chaos, that is.

Eeyikes - another night with too much wine. Funny, though, how much fun such nights can be. Luckily, the rest of the weekend will be more restrained. Dull, maybe, but definitely healthier.

Meanwhile, who are you people? Other than K&S, that is. I see people turning up regularly, but nobody says nothin'! My curiosity is killing me. I'm not looking for in-depth comments or anything. Just something along the lines of, "Hiya, I'm Ned from Timbuktu".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Much as I'd like to create a longer post..........I can't right now. Tomorrow. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

O.K., for starters, go buy an Updike book. C'mon, just do it. His worst books are better than most writers' best. And, if you're so inclined, give a listen to Terry Gross's interview(s) with him on NPR (radio that CBC wishes it could be).

Next, the power of high-speed internet. Yeah, yeah - I resisted for ages. And for good reason! Now I'm hooked on all kinds of time-wasting net stuff. And, because of this, I'm forced to make an unsavoury confession.

O.K., here goes.......I love Jon Stewart. Yes, his name is misspelled (c'mon - it's "John", for crying out loud!), but, still... Why? you ask? Well, how about his take on the "Guantanamo Prisoner Problem"? Otherwise known as the "What the Fuck Are You Talking About?" problem. Republicans (who, as you'll undoubtedly recall, set up this whole thing in the first place), are waxing apoplectic over Obama's decision to close that joint. "What in God's name are we ever going to do with these murdering thugs?", they cry. Um, I don't know, maybe the same thing you've been doing with your home-grown murderous thugs? You know - throw them in jail? Tim McVeigh (prior to his execution) spent time in a U.S. prison and he murdered...what?...168 innocent people (O.K., it's no 3,000, but, let's face it, America's fallen behind in so many fields of endeavour over the past couple of decades). And some of his buddies are still in prison, right? In fact, 1 in 142 U.S. citizens live in prison (an area in which America is second to none, goddammit!). C'mon - if America doesn't know prisons, who does?

Frankly, I think the Republicans are overlooking a great job creation opportunity here. And, isn't that one of their main complaints about Obama's economic stimulus plan? Not enough job creation? Well.......

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

As I promised yesterday, here's a shot of James Randi, putting the boots to human greed and sympathising with human ignorance. If he ever comes to a lecture theatre near you, go give him a listen. Hey, he'll even bend a spoon for you!

On a more depressing note, as everyone must know by now, John Updike died yesterday. That wasn't supposed to happen. For a large list of reasons, you won't find a better writer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Well, I don't know about you, but I had one cool evening. Went to see a talk by James Randi, a.k.a. "The Amazing Randi". He bent a spoon! O.K., that's not really a surprise since any competent magician can do it, but, c'mon, he got famous doing that and exposing Uri Geller as a fraud. He also did a pretty nifty mind-reading trick...which he didn't explain. And a swell little trick with a matchbox, which he did explain (possibly because it's pretty easy to find the explanation for one's self).

Mr. Randi's pretty amazingly energetic for a guy who's 80. There might be something to be said for the youth-maintaining effects of on-going moral outrage. He did a great little number on homeopathy using homeopathic sleeping pills. The pills, on the homeopathic principle of "like cures like" contained (well, maybe) caffeine. Makes sense, right (um, if you're nuts)? Caffeine keeps you awake, so, in a homeopathic dose, it should put you to sleep! The recommended dose on the bottle was 2 pills. Don't take more! In cases of overdose, the instructions said to call your local poison control hot-line. Verrrry scarrrry! Mr. Randi ate the entire bottle - 35 pills - over a period of about 5 minutes. He did this at the very beginning of his very stimulating, very energetic 2 hour presentation. He's 80 for crying out loud! How many 80-year-olds do you know who can stand in front of an audience, wandering around, gabbing away 90 words a minute, for 2 hours?!? Yeah, those pills were really workin'.

The guy is one of my heroes. I'll see if any of my pix turned out (the lighting was dim and terrible) and post one tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009


Anyway, is everybody loving Obama as much as me? I mean, this guy is moving out! "This has to change. That's gotta change. Oh, and this just has to go."

Of course, the Redundicans are fighting him already. You'd think that getting stomped so very badly in the last couple of elections would clue them in to the notion that maybe Americans don't like them, or their moronic, greed-inspired ideas but, nope. Apparently not. "We want more stuff for the rich!" continues to be their mantra.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you're probably well aware that my normal mode is "cranky". I wonder why. But, once in a while, there's reason to be positive. Let's face it, Obama's inauguration was one of those. Big time. Here's another one. Until I see Steve Jobs doing the kinds of things with his money that Bill Gates does (and, yeah, I know Jobs may be on his way out, and, yeah, maybe he does secret good, but, well, show me), I ain't never buyin' no stinkin' Apple product.

The first I heard of Gates's philanthropy was years ago when he first got interested in malaria (2 million dead kids (mostly) a year, roughly. That's about 13 fully-loaded Boeing 747s going down every day. Or, if you're a Bush fan, about 2 9/11s every day.). He'd been at one of those big-time, rich guy conferences where various speakers give talks on, you guessed it, various topics. Someone gave a talk on malaria. Gates, after the presentation, asked the speaker what was being done by the various governments around the world to address this terrible problem. The speaker told the truth: "Nothing.". Now, this isn't an exact quote, but Bill's response was something along the lines of, "Well, that's just bullshit! Somebody's got to do something." So, he did. And the Gates Foundation was off and running.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One of the Big Things Obama might just get accomplished during his Presidency is universal healthcare. America would be the last country in the developed world to have it. To that end, this is a good thing to read.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did everybody see this story in the NYT today? As if any further proof of just how stupid these people were (isn't it great to be able to put that in the past tense?), this is it. "Aw, we were nice to them as we were leaving, and then they slagged us. They're just not nice!" Yeah, right. After pretty much destroying America's reputation, trashing its Constitution, screwing over the average citizen, torturing and murdering thousands...yeah, it must really hurt to be told you were bad.

It won't happen, but...wouldn't it be great to see a Bush administration version of Nuremburg? Ah, another fond, not-to-be-realized dream.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I don't know about you, but I'm still reeling from yesterday (Tuesday, that is).

Meanwhile, just to keep yourselves on edge, give a listen to "I'm the Slime", by Frank Zappa. The late, way-great Frank Zappa. Another example of the truism that only the good die young (-ish).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No, the photo has nothing to do with the day's events.

But, what a day! And so many ways to comment on it. First...

As pretty much everybody and their dog (sorry, doggies) has said by now, 50 years ago a black person would be lucky to get served in a "white" restaurant, seated in the "white" section of a bus, treated better than a dog in most parts of the U.S. Today, thanks to a lot of gutsy people, a black man was inaugurated President of the country. If that doesn't bring tears of joy to your eyes, nothing ever will.

Second - now that the first black person has made it to the Presidency, maybe people will begin to realize that thinking that skin colour is any more important than hair colour when it comes to judging a person's worth is stuuuuupid.

Third - wasn't it wonderful to hear Obama talking about bringing back rationality, rather than faith, as the determinant of policy? Science, data, the rule of law. They've been absent for 8 long years. Welcome back!

Fourth - Dumbya slinks off to Texas, gives a speech, and nobody - not even Fox Newts - cares! If I hear nothing about him for the next 30 years, I'll die a happy man.

O.K., enough of the numbering. How about the fabulous sight of Dork Cheney hunched over in a wheelchair? Besides being better than he deserved (gurneys come to mind (well, O.K., slabs come most quickly to mind, but...)), he was the perfect image of an evil troll.

And John Roberts, a key Bush appointee to the Supreme Court, couldn't even get the oath of Office right! How symbolic of the Bush era's relationship to the law was that?!?

Anyway, good luck, Mr. President. And the rest of you? Get behind him and get to work! Once you're done partying your brains out, that is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Obama Day, America! (And, if you're on the West Coast, and reading this on Monday night, well, keep it in mind tomorrow.) Trust me, I'm practically vibrating with excitement over this whole deal. I'm gonna be up early tomorrow, glued to my computer, watching the inauguration (provided, of course, that there isn't a serious case of server overload). Applauding. Yes, and probably bursting into tears. Which, let's face it, is totally weird considering that he ain't my president.

Still, as I said in an earlier post, I watched television news footage when I was a kid of black people getting beaten, fire-hosed, blown up, shot, all because they wanted to be treated like the human beings they were. Race shouldn't matter, and in the future, with any luck, it won't. But, tomorrow? Oh, yeah - race matters. Race matters a lot.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I've filed this photo as "The Gang of Four", for fairly obvious reasons. But, you know, if you can just picture Dumbya, Cheney, Rum-Dum, and Rove in drag...

My hope for Inauguration Day? That Bary winds up his speech by turning to Dumbya and saying, "Now get the fuck outta my town, you scum-sucking low-life. And take your pond scum friends with you."

I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Went to see "Revolutionary Road" tonight. Heck of a good movie. Not real uplifting, mind you. Welcome to late-1950s suburban America, otherwise known as, at least according to Richard Yates, as "Hell". People make compromises. Sometimes that's just not a good idea.

Friday, January 16, 2009

At last! The world is as it should be. Well, O.K., maybe that's an exaggeration. But, it's cold in the East and not so cold here in the West, and that's the way it oughta be, by golly.

Twitter. Anybody know why?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Notice how the peak isn't in view? Kinda like the costs for my home town's Olympic venture. Yep. What a surprise. The taxpayers are going to take an Olympic-sized bath while the developers walk off with millions. What a surprise! The Olympics costing the presenting city zillions of dollars. Gee, that almost never happens, right? In Dumbya's words, "Nobody could have seen that coming." Well, nobody with his I.Q., that is. Otherwise, the average sea urchin could have predicted this.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

By the time you read this (most likely) there will only be 5 days left in the most disastrous presidency ever seen (I was going to say, "U.S. presidency", but, nope. There's never, ever been a worse president of anywhere. And that includes Hell). Aren't you glad?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What can I say? It's a logo for a company that makes rice crackers. Good rice crackers, mind you, but...

By the way, what drug do you figure Dumbya's been on for the past 8 years? And, do you think he'll ever say, "Hello. I'm George Bush and I have a dissociative disorder."? After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Monday, January 12, 2009


Phew - got that out of my system. What prompted that long, agonised scream? This article in the NYT. Once again, the morons seem to be winning and people who actually know things are losing. Fuck me! Where do these idiots come from? Oh - wait - in Jim (I Can't Act, But, Wanna See Me Wrap Tape Around My Head?) Carrey's case I actually know! Canada! Crap. How sad is that? Luckily, I have no idea where his bimbo wife (oops - "companion" (I thought that was the new term for "pet", but what do I know?)) comes from. But, golly, if they say vaccines are bad for your kids, they must be, right? Suuuuuuurrrrrrre.

Every year, nearly 200,000 people die of measles alone among the vaccine-preventable diseases. Wanna know where 95% of those people live? Developing countries where people have no access to vaccines. Wanna know how old the majority of those dead people are? Less than 5 years old.

Go, Jim and Jenny! You're so incredible (really!). Golly, you could hook up with Peter Duesberg and Thabo Mbeki and slaughter millions! Think of it!

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

O.K., how many "Bye-bye, Birdbrain" parties are being planned for the night Dumbya's "presidency" officially ends? (I was going to say, "Bye-bye, Dickhead", but, of course, that's for the Veep) I'm thinking champagne, caviar, big bands...oh, wait - Dumbya saw to it that no one can afford that kind of thing, didn't he? Man, that guy is evil to the very end!

And, by the by, are the British a wonderful people, or what?


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Once upon a time, industry had art. I think the building is in the process of being restored, but there was no one around to ask, so...

Speaking of art, I just watched Clint Eastwood's "Bird", a bio-pic about Charlie Parker. It's a tad flawed, but for a very good reason - Eastwood loves jazz, loves music, loves musicians. A director who didn't share these loves might have made a "snappier" movie, moved the story along a little more briskly, maybe even embelished the facts, but, for my money, I'll still take Eastwood's version. It's definitely worth watching.

Hamilton used to be an industrial town, specializing in steel. Not so much anymore. I'm not sure what Quaker City makes, or used to make, but it doesn't look overly prosperous. Then again, neither does Hamilton.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Let's face it, we all despise George W. Bush, right? And all he stands (soon to be "stood") for? Right. And yet, we do have one thing to thank him for. O.K., it's small, but still... Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have George W. Bush to thank for the fact that in 2 or 3 weeks I will have a passport. I have friends south of the 49th whom I might like, on occasion, to be able to visit and, thanks to Dumbya (I'm reverting) and his moronic "War on Terror", I now need a passport to cross that line. Well, dammit, I'm gettin' one!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Well, that's about as clear a view of the future as any of us is likely to get. Nice front row seating, though.

A friend gave me a belated Christmas present today, "Wall and Piece", a collection of photographs of Banksy's graffiti art. Great stuff. The guy's amazing. But, of course, there's a problem (isn't there always?). He criticizes the crassness of billboards, commercial signage invading public space, etc. Buuuuuut, um, isn't that exactly what he's doing? He does sign his work, right? He does profit from his work, right? And, so, the difference between his work and a beer ad is, um, what?

Any art historians out there? When did a disdain for the commercial become a requirement of the "artist" persona? I'm thinking that it was late 19th, early 20th century? It strikes me that an argument could be made that the real "art" is in convincing people that you're above mere money while accepting a cheque for a few thousand dollars from them. Maybe this is another reason I like Warhol. He was unabashedly about the money. And he turned out good art.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Plenty of metaphors available in this shot. I've got at least a couple of good ones for myself. Feel free to knock out your own.

On the "clarity" side, though, there's this. In a couple of days I'll be jumping into the 21st century and getting on the high-speed internet highway. Is that exciting or what?

Monday, January 05, 2009

If you want me, I'll be in my sky-box, watching the game. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for the next four months I give no lectures, no exams, I console no disappointed students. I do write a course proposal, revise lectures, attend various meetings, but, other than the meetings, when I do these things is up to me. Get up early? I don't think so! Grind away in my office on a sunny day? Uh-uh.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ah, my home town. Well, sort of. It's where I was born, but I haven't actually lived there for 34 years. In fact, I've lived in Vancouver longer than I lived in Hamilton. Oh, well.

But, oddly enough, the picture has relevance to today. I went to see "Doubt". An "O.K." movie, not a great movie. Still, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in one movie? You can't really lose. The story, as you probably know, centres around the question of whether or not Hoffman's character, a Catholic priest, is a paedophile. And, of course, the question is never answered (you knew that, right?). And, a bit more subtly, there's the question of Streep's character's motivation for going after Hoffman's. Was it all just because he was comfortable with doubting one's faith and she wasn't? Had she, in fact, lost hers?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Such a still-looking scene. The wind was blowing at around 40 mph and coooooold!

Which would be a perfect place (well, O.K., a little colder - say, -200K? - and a lot windier) for someone like Christine Maggiore, may she not rest in peace. Idiots like her cause nothing but suffering and pain. For, in her case, thousands.

By the way, Dr. Goldacre's blog is a must read.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Well, day 2 of the new year and, just to start things off right, I'm into day 2 of the first cold of 2009. Faaaaaantastic. However, I'm anticipating a rapid recovery with a sharp upswing by the time my personal market reopens on Monday. Now, if I could just parlay a decent bailout...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dang! I was hoping to start this new year with a new, more hopeful attitude. Then I read this article. Sigh.