Sunday, November 28, 2004

Has anyone seen the hilarious gouda ads????

To my Canadian friends (or those who watch Canadian TV):

Has anyone seen the new ad from Canadian Dairy Farmers for gouda cheese? The one that looks like a perfume commercial with a young beautiful couple in sensual poses? It's hilarious!!!! I've looked for a link online but unfortunately have not found one.

Brilliant Points re. "Values"

Via Maha I found this great editorial re. the "values" debate ... (free registration required)

It's been less than a month since the gods decreed that because of the election results American political life henceforth must be all about something called "values." And I gave it my best. Honest. But values won. I'm sick of talking about values, sick of pretending I have them or care more about them than I really do. Sick of bending and twisting the political causes I do care about to make them qualify as "values." News stories about values-mongers caught with their values down used to make my day. Now the tale of Bill O'Reilly and phone sex induces barely a flicker of schadenfreude.

Why does an ideological position become sacrosanct when it gets labeled has a "value"? There are serious arguments and sincere passions on both sides of the gay-marriage debate. For some reason, the views of those who feel that marriage requires a man and a woman are considered to be a "value," while the views of those who believe that gay relationships deserve the same legal standing as straight ones barely qualify as an opinion.

Those labels don't confer any logical advantage. But they confer two big advantages in the propaganda war. First, a value just seems inherently more compelling than a mere opinion. That's a big head start. Second, the holder of a value is held to be more sensitive to slights than the holder of an opinion. An opinion can't just slug away at a value. It must be solicitous and understanding. A value may tackle an opinion, meanwhile, with no such constraint.

Why do you care, or care so much, whether the people running the government have good values? Wouldn't you prefer a bit of competence, if forced to choose? For example, suppose we had a government that was capable of ensuring enough flu vaccine to go around, like the governments of every other developed country in the world. Wouldn't that be nice? And if you could have that kind of government, would you really mind if a few more of its leaders secretly enjoyed Janet Jackson's halftime show at the Super Bowl?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I highly recommend ...

... a news program called "The Passionate Eye" on CBC Newsworld. Very well-done and balanced hour-long investigation into single topics. Tonight's show is about a community in New York state that is being pulled apart over the issue of illegal immigration (especially Mexican immigrants). Amazing program. Frustrating topic, the depth of hate and fear is shameful, but very balanced presentation of the issue. I wish we had more journalism like this.

I LOVE this!!!!

For those who are interested in the future of the Democratic Party in the U.S.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Americans apologize

It started the day after the US presidential election with one student posting a picture of himself on the internet holding up a sign reading: "Sorry world (we tried) - half of America".

Within just a few days, the website, set up by James Zetlen, had 27 million hits, he said.

For more, click here.

Latest update!

Hello there!

It's been a while since I've posted a general update, and I've been really bad at returning e-mails and phone calls - so I just wanted to explain what I've been up to. The problem is that last night I worked until 4:00 AM, and I've had about 3 hours of sleep. So here's a point-form update:

  • My job is going great, but very very busy:
    • Major project relocating - in 4 weekends - over 200 servers to a new data centre (reason I worked until 4:30 this morning)
    • Leading a major portion of a data retention project, which will generate reports on all types of data currently existing within the firm, and will also implement processes and technologies to manage this data going forward
    • Leading portions of two projects for office moves (the one in London is ~80 people; the one in Toronto is ~450 people. Both offices are moving in February/March.)
    • Managing the process of replacing lease-end servers (about 150 servers to be replaced between now and July 1st)
    • Working on developing business process improvements re. how my team is engaged to perform server builds
    • Managing my team's workload, and handling new requests for resources/services (They seem to never end - make them stop!!!!!)
    • Escalating support issues to my manager and director as required
    • Participating with my manager in interviewing candidates for an open position on our team
    • Do you think I'm busy enough? LOL
    • Also organizing a stress-buster “Steak Night” for my co-workers (I thought of using a slogan like “Dig into a steak rather than carving up your colleagues!” but decided against it.) Seriously, they’re a great bunch, so it should be a lot of fun.
    • Even though it is insanely busy, it's a great job. I get to use my creativity to make things better, there's infinite variety, it's always challenging, the people are great, I have a lot of support from my manager and his boss (the director), and I love the leadership responsibility. Like I keep saying, I feel like I've won the job lottery. :->
  • Roommate saga on pause
    • As most of you know, I’ve been looking for a roommate to share my wonderful 2-bedroom apartment
    • I’d found a great candidate, Mahsa, who is a University of Toronto student (Masters in Fine Arts, Music – she plays the cello), and we finally got through all the red tape of applications, etc. so she could get a card to my secure building – and then she didn’t move in. ????
    • She stopped by today and filled me in on some of the issues she is facing. There are a couple of health crises in her family, so she is planning to return to Iran for up to three months. Also, while she is currently separated from her husband, he wants a reconciliation, so when Mahsa returns to Canada, she might decide to return to her marriage as well. We have agreed to wait until mid-December and then make a decision about the roommate decision. I am too busy to go looking for a roommate again before Christmas anyway. And if possible, I’d really like to wait for Mahsa because I think she’s great. (Although of course if her marriage works out, I'll be very happy for her.) We’ll see how it works out.
    • By the way, she did pay me for November's rent, even though she'd never moved in. At first I felt bad about taking it, but she was determined, and I saw it as a gesture of good faith. I'll use it to get my apartment painted and buy a bed for her if she decides to move in.
  • Not much else happening these days!
  • Even though I’m really terrible at responding to e-mails or calling people up, I love hearing about what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family! Tell me what’s going on with you!!!! :->

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I don't know whether to smile or cry ...

Ahmed Tharwat explains in Slate why most Muslims don't own dogs, but then describes the incredible difference in how he is treated in public when he is with his dog.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Just wondering ...

Have you ever looked at yourself at the end of the day and found a big chocolate smudge at the corner of your mouth, but the last time you remembered eating chocolate (perhaps a delicious milk chocolate truffle from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory) was at work early in the afternoon? Not that that's ever happened to me - I was just wondering ... ;->

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I'm ba-ack!

Hi everybody!

I took a bit of a blogger vacation, in part because I've been working so much overtime, but also because the results of the American election were so damned depressing ...

But lately I've had little random amusing thoughts pass through my brain, followed by "Wouldn't it be cool if I had a blog to share them with people without actually inflicting my dorky sense of humour on anybody? Wait a minute, I DO have a blog!!!" :->

So hopefully I'll be better with my posts. It's good to be back!!!


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Eminem takes aim at Bush

Article re. Eminem's lastest and amazingly activist video: "his new anti-Bush song 'Mosh,' makes 'Fahrenheit 9/11' look like a GOP campaign spot". There is also a link to download the video online (warning: it takes a looooong time!), but also describes the highlights of the video in case you don't/can't watch it. Says Salon:

It all ends amazingly earnestly, with Eminem leading a black-clad army to the voting booth. Once again, Bush proves he really does have wonder working powers -- by behaving even more callously and irresponsibly than the most outrageous rapper, he's turned music's foremost enfant terrible into a role model of civic engagement.

Now we just have to see if MTV has the guts to air it.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Eminem on election: Bush 'not my homie'

Another Jon Stewart Alert!

According to an Associated Press report, it would seem the dapper and insightful Mr. Stewart will be profiled on 60 Minutes this Sunday!!!

Fahrenheit 9/11 - A Must-See

Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" is now out on video and DVD, and I just finished watching it. I recommend it in the highest possible terms.

I had delayed watching it for months because I'm not a big fan of Michael Moore's style. But this film is so effective in so many ways. At this moment, the main thing that is staying with me is the way that Moore humanized the dreadful human cost of the war in Iraq - by showing wounded American soldiers, families of innocent Iraqi civilians killed in the war, and - perhaps most memorably - the family of an American soldier killed in Iraq. This is exactly the perspective that the mainstream media is actively avoiding to present to the public (for whatever reason). Michael Moore may be an asshole at times, but at least his film shows his ability to empathize with human suffering (which is more than I can say for Bush, Cheney, and Co.).

But there is a lot to this movie, many themes and a lot of information. It is both a strength and a flaw (a weakness because the movie probably tries to do too much).

But really, it is well worth watching.

Grab-Bag of Political Links

#1 - Check out this ad: It's a bang-on contrast of the incredible human toll of the Iraq War and Bush's unbelievably flippant attitude. There are also some ads further down on the page, and I would especially recommend "History" as well.

#2 - Today in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristoff investigates what the Bible really has to say about homosexuality (free registration required to read the column). Here are some highlights:

Over the last couple of months, I've been researching the question of how the Bible regards homosexuality. Social liberals tend to be uncomfortable with religious arguments, but that is the ground on which political battles are often decided in America - as when a Texas governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, barred the teaching of foreign languages about 80 years ago, saying, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us."
While homosexuality never made the Top 10 lists of commandments, a plain reading of the Book of Leviticus is that male anal sex is every bit as bad as other practices that the text condemns, like wearing a polyester-and-cotton shirt (Leviticus 19:19).

As for the New Testament, Jesus never said a word about gays, while he explicitly advised a wealthy man to give away all his assets and arguably warned against bank accounts ("do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth").

Likewise, Jesus praises those who make themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, but conservative Christians rarely lead the way with self-castration.

#3 - Bush probably lied about his work for a project for inner-city kids (he says he ran the program voluntarily, evidence suggests he had to work there - but not run the program - because he got into a little trouble with the law). Why am I not shocked?

I can't take any more right now - but I'll have more links later.

Still sick - and sick of being sick!!!

Well, this will be weekend #4 that I will be staying at home trying to beat this bug. It seems to rotate around from throat to sinuses to lungs - just to keep things interesting, I guess. Which may be a good thing, as otherwise I am well on my way to being a very boring person!!!! LOL

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

By all that's dear to me, I hope he's right ...

Sidney Blumenthal today in Salon:

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has more than 10,000 lawyers deployed to defend against voter suppression, 2,000 stationed like the Union Army in Florida; and civil rights groups are sending out more than 6,000 lawyers.

The polls, nearly all showing a dead-even race, are fundamentally flawed in that they mostly fail to account for all these new voters, who have no past records. Also, they do not measure those for whom a cellphone is their principal phone -- 6 percent of the population now, concentrated among younger people, who appear to show an unusual interest in voting and will vote Democratic by a margin of 2.5-to-1.

The Democracy Corps poll, however, accounts for newly registered voters. Stanley Greenberg, Bill Clinton's pollster in his 1992 campaign and Tony Blair's, conducts the poll's research. Four months ago, Greenberg told me, the newly registered made up only 1 percent of the sample. One month ago, they comprised 4 percent. Now, in the poll completed on Oct. 18, they are at 7 percent and rising. And they will vote for Kerry over Bush by 61 to 37 percent.

Moreover, Bush's job approval has now fallen to 47 in this poll (others have it at 44); presidents below 50 lose without exception. Bush has not campaigned in Ohio for an extraordinary stretch of three weeks, though he plans to stop there once this week. Unemployment continues to rise in the state. "There is no other explanation for his absence," says Greenberg, "other than his numbers go down when he's there. His position on jobs is implausible."

Democracy Corps' research shows that best-case arguments for either candidate shift no voters, not even 1 percent. They are locked in. (Democracy Corps has the contest at 50 to 47 percent for Kerry.) The deciding factor therefore will be turnout -- the higher the turnout, the larger the vote for Democrats.

Mmmmmm ribs!!!

I continue to play cruise director at work, this time organizing a get-together for ribs at a downtown restaurant (we actually wanted to go to the Red Devil Barbeque and Grill, but found it was boarded up, so we went to Baton Rouge instead). Mmmmmm ribs!!! Great people, good times!

Julie McCoy Posted by Hello

Tough choices in Sudan - some easy help could be provided?

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristoff snuck into the war-devastated nation of Sudan recently, and today writes (free registration required) about the way people are struggling to survive among the genocide, and the extremely difficult choices some families have to make. I must confess I've read nothing about this situation until this morning, but it's well worth reading about. He also writes:

I understand the painful ethical choices of Abdelrahim's family, of Mr. Hassan and of the international aid agencies. But what I can't fathom is our own moral choice, our decision to acquiesce in genocide.

We in America could save kids like Abdelrahim and Muhammad. This wouldn't require troops, just a bit of gumption to declare a no-fly zone, to press our Western allies and nearby Arab and African states, to impose an arms embargo and other targeted sanctions, to push a meaningful U.N. resolution even at the risk of a Chinese veto, and to insist upon the deployment of a larger African force.

Instead, President Bush's policy is to chide Sudan and send aid. That's much better than nothing and has led Sudan to kill fewer children and to kill more humanely: Sudan now mostly allows kids in Darfur like Abdelrahim to die of starvation, instead of heaving them onto bonfires. But fundamentally, U.S. policy seems to be to "manage" the genocide rather than to act decisively to stop it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Dissent Among Republicans

Quoted in a Salon column today is Paul Craig Roberts, the assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy in the Reagan administration:

Bush's supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. -- truths now firmly established by the Bush administration's own reports -- as treasonous America-bashing ... In language reeking with hatred, Heritage Foundation Town Hall readers impolitely informed me that opposing the invasion of Iraq is identical to opposing America, that Bush is the greatest American leader in history and everyone who disagrees with him should be shot before they cause America to lose another war ... Bush's conservative supporters want no debate. They want no facts, no analysis. They want to denounce and to demonize the enemies that the Hannitys, Limbaughs, and Savages of talk radio assure them are everywhere at work destroying their great and noble country.
Even dyed-in-the-wool Repubs are concerned about where the Bushes are leading the U.S. (and the world).

Jon Stewart Alert

Fans: The dreamy Mr. Stewart graces the front cover of Rolling Stone.

Maha Will Make You Think

One of my favourite bloggers is Barbara O'Brien, or "Maha", who writes today about
"the way the Bush campaign subtly plays Americans against each other". You should read it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Scary TV

Except for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", my TV rarely changes station from TLC ("The Learning Channel", which is really just a lot of "reality" shows that aren't quite so gratuitous as "Survivor" or "Fear Factor" or the like).

On right now is "Maternity Ward", which is an hour of film taken of actual women delivering babies in a hospital. Women screaming, women moaning, women getting epidurals and C-sections ... Everything that makes me have no regrets about not having children! LOL -- WHY do women sign up for this????

Among the stories tonight, there was a stellar family of a 17-year-old pregnant girl who insisted on NO pain medication (not even a Tylenol) to teach her a lesson and to discourage future pregnancies. Nice, huh? I expect if I were to open the dictionary, their family portrait would be illustrating the "dysfunctional". Not there? Check under "beastly" ...

Off to bed now.

No cherry pie yesterday, but a whole lotta Hagen-Daas

I was going to be good. While dreaming of cherry pie, I nibbled on a totally healthy pomegranate instead. But then I noticed that some of my frozen food was getting soft, and that my freezer wasn't really working. I had almost a full pint of Hagen-Daas Rocky Road ice cream that was half-melted and would be ruined. It was damn fine ice cream, lemme tell ya! LOL

Fortunately, I didn't take the same attitude toward the jar of mayonnaise in the fridge that was getting kinda warm ...

Breath-stealing hypocrisy

When Maureen Dowd is right, she's like a laser. This column concerns the Catholic bishops in the U.S. who have stated that voting for Kerry is so evil that it must be confessed as a sin before receiving communion. Um, excuse me????

Some of the bishops - the shepherds of a church whose hierarchy bungled the molestation and rape of so many young boys by tolerating it, covering it up, enabling it, excusing it and paying hush money - are still debating whether John Kerry should be allowed to receive communion.

These bishops are embryo-centric; they are not as concerned with the 1,080 kids killed in a war that the Bush administration launched with lies, or about the lives that could be lost thanks to the president's letting the assault weapons ban lapse, or about all the lives that could be saved and improved with stem cell research.

The president's certitude - the idea that he can see into people's souls and that God tells him what is right, then W. tells us if he feels like it - is disturbing. It equates disagreeing with him to disagreeing with Him.

The conservative bishops' certitude - the idea that you can't be a good Catholic if you diverge from certain church-decreed mandates or if you want to keep your religion and politics separate - is also disturbing.

America is awash in selective piety, situational moralists and cherry-picking absolutists.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Candidate to Save Us From Fried Chicken and Janet Jackson

Too funny ... (free registration required - unless you're already registered with the NY Times)

Freudian slip?

Bush sought to counter suggestions that there will be a military draft if he's re-elected, but the president almost blew his line.

He said that, after a debate with Kerry, "I made it very plain. We will not have an all-volunteer army." The crowd fell silent. "WE WILL have an all-volunteer army," Bush said, quickly catching himself. "Let me restate that. We will not have a draft."

Early morning food craving

It's 7:45 AM, and there is nothing I want more right now than a piece of cherry pie ... LOL

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Worth reading in its entirety

A very powerful column by Hal Crowther:

One problem with this referendum is that the case against George Bush is much too strong. Just to spell it out is to sound like a bitter partisan.

All it takes to make a Bush conservative is a few slogans from talk radio and pickup truck bumpers, a sneer at "liberals" and maybe a name-dropping nod to Edmund Burke or John Locke, whom most of them have never read. Sheep and sheep only could be herded by a ludicrous but not harmless cretin like Rush Limbaugh, who has just compared the sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners to "a college fraternity prank" (and who once called Chelsea Clinton "the family dog" -- you don't have to worry about shame when you have no brain).

I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president's brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag. The most lavishly funded, most cynical, most sophisticated political campaign in human history will be out trolling for fools.

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

JS rocks!!! This website has the video of his entire appearance on CNN's "Crossfire". You know, it takes incredible integrity, personality, intelligence, and conviction to pull off what he did.

I have such a crush!

Revolt in the ranks in Iraq

The inside story of the Army platoon that refused to carry out a "death sentence" mission.

An Incredible Kid

Who had to grow up way too early ...

I'd love to know what he'll be doing in 10, 20, 30 years.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Freeway Blogging

Funny, and creative ...

War Penguin

Meet one of my co-workers, Oleg. Perhaps it's his experience as an officer in the Russian army, but he took the little foam penguin and armed him with a Stinger-like outfit. It's pretty sad what you find funny sometimes when you work in an office ... LOL

War Penguin Posted by Hello

Voter fraud in the U.S.A.

New York Times' columnist Paul Krugman has yet another article worth reading today (free registration required to read it online) regarding attempts in the U.S. to make voting in the upcoming election difficult if not impossible for certain populations (i.e., blacks, Democrats).

Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.
Krugman lists a number of other documented examples. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be grabbing a lot of media attention. Why not??? Every democratic nation should be absolutely outraged. Hell, people with guns flip out when it's suggested there should be some restraints on their "rights" to bear arms! Who's flipping out about thousands of people losing their right to vote?

The sad fact is that when a country like the U.S. has this kind of corruption and voter fraud, and it goes unchecked, it's going to encourage similar behaviour in other democratic countries.

What the heck has gone so wrong???

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Hot hot hot

It's just wrong for it to be 10:30 pm in mid-October, to have every window open, and still have the internal temperature to be 24 degrees Celcius. The centralized heating in my building is out of control. Last night I had to turn on the fan just to get some cool air so I could sleep ... Could this be the cause of global warming???

Okay, all drugged up - maybe I'll get some sleep tonight.

Welcome to my new blog!

Hi there - and thanks for visiting! Why the new locale? A bunch of reasons, one of them being I wanted a medium that would allow interaction with you the reader! Please feel welcome to post your comments below!

There are some things that this blog does not allow me to do (organize recipes and book reviews, for examples), so isn't going anywhere for a while. Maybe I'll find another solution that will have the best of all worlds. Until then, I will just be submitting little posts here on this blog.

So what's new here? Well, if you've been wondering why you haven't heard from me lately, I've basically been under the weather for the last two weeks - first with a sore throat, and now a miserable cold. (Do you hear the violins???) A wonderful friend from Korea (Jen C.) was in town this week, and unfortunately, I felt gross, tired, and clammy, and was afraid I'd pass the bug on to her, so we didn't get to go out for dinner as we'd planned.

Well, hopefully I'll feel better in the next few days. Thank goodness the weekend is almost here!

This isn't really an auspicious post to begin this new blog with - but post your own comment and cheer up this snuffly l'il sickie!!! ;->