Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mark Steyn almost gets it

Let me say, first of all, that I think Steyn is a bit of an ass. I get the sense from his columns that he seems to hold the rest of us in a vague sort of contempt. He writes as if our lack of, uh, Steyniness is a crippling social defect.

In a recent column he takes a break from his busy hating-Muslims schedule to share with us his concerns about immigration reform in the US. While most of it is ranting about how his wife couldn't get a replacement green card - something that he baselessly blames on the immigration people concentrating exclusively on guest workers - he does end with something interesting:
Let’s take that last platitude: “the jobs Americans won’t do”. If that’s true, why not address why they won’t do ‘em?

Well, that's an interesting idea. Of course being a right wing ideologue, Steyn cannot take his column to the next logical step: implementing programs that would help the working poor such as an increase in the minimum wage. Whatever you think about immigration, finding ways to help the working poor seems like a good idea. He got so close, I guess he had to get back to writing cheap shots about liberals or Muslims or whatever.

Loving beer more than the Germans?

The Mirror reports that German pubs and breweries are astonished at how much beer England fans are capable of consuming. I should point out though that this article has the feel of an urban myth to it. You know, "oh those English soccer fans, what drunks they are!" really plays to a stereotype. I wonder...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fancy Blog Add-ons

I recently discovered clustrmaps. While most of the action is (predictably) centered around the GTA, it's nice seeing the dots in the UK and India, and knowing that that's Deb and Jam reading my blog, hi to both of you!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Morality and Law

I was bouncing around the internet when I discovered this post about Christians engaging in Canadian politics. The post describes the problem of legislating morality - that is to say that the law code of the state can never be a substitute for morality. To this, I would like to add one more example that is seldom used, Christianity (as well as other religions I wager) teaches that gossip is immoral. Yet gossip would be specifically protected by the charter as a form of speech.

Actually, this could be a whole thought experiment, what would your life be like if the Canadian law codes were your only moral guide? Well, if I consider it personally, I don't think it would lead me to live a particularly ethical life.

Morality does not, cannot, and should not always align with legality. Making something like same-sex marriage permissable in the law says absolutely nothing about any Canadian's personal moral code.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing

Apparently someone over at the Western Standard is freaking out that Ottawa is not sufficiently upset (at least in a public fashion) about North Korea's missile test. Apparently the missile that is to be tested would be able to hit BC.

Okay, but...

When has Kim Jong Il ever specifically mentioned Canada as a target?

I googled it and I can't find one instance of it. He doesn't care about us, I wonder if he knows we exist. If Kim was going to attack a country, would it not more likely be South Korea, Japan, or the United States? And even if he did do that, he'd have to know that he was signing his own death warrant. The man cultivates a mad cult of personality, but that does not mean he cannot comprehend the gravity of what would happen if he launched a nuke.

So in conclusion, even Kim Jong Il is unlikely to use a nuke, other than to deter an invasion, and even if he did, Canada would be pretty low on his priority list.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Davenport 2, Willowdale 0

...or as the world outside of Toronto's ethnic neighbourhoods says, Portugal 2, Iran 0.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Barefoot and Pregnant?

According to this article, the Harper government assumes that the mother will apply for the child tax credit thingy, and if the father does, he will need the mother's permission. The Globe article states that the form reads:
“When both a male and a female parent live in the same home as the child, we presume that the female parent is primarily responsible and should apply, unless a note from the female parent is attached to this application that states that the male parent is primarily responsible for the child.”

While moms may often do most of the child-rearing (statistics seem to point this out) this is by no means a universal state of affairs. Hypothetically speaking, if I get a job as a teacher, I will have a large chunk of the summer off for the forseeable future, if I have kids and my partner continues to hold a job but is not a teacher, she will not. So regardless of the division of labour when both of us would be working, during the summer, March break, and Christmas break (or winter solstice break or whatever), I would likely be the primary caregiver.

But that's just my situation, my point here not whether one parent or the other ought to raise the kids, but rather, that that's a choice for families to make for themselves.

PS: What about a couple of gay men applying for the credit? Is this (no pun intended) a form of backdoor discrimination against gay male parents? Whatever you feel about gay adoption, denying the credit affects the child.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Via Tom Tomorrow, this is a great story, I hope the book that the author is talking about gets published.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

But does it require a website?

I live in Toronto, I go out and shop here, I take in all manner of entertainment here, and frankly, I don't give it a lot of thought. But apparently, in light of the capture of these bumbling terrorist-wannabes, this a great patriotic act. There is a website now called that promotes bravely, um, going around Toronto and doing, um, stuff. Well I'm sure that these people are well-intentioned, but do we need a website? I was able to do this quite well on my own. When we need a website to exclaim our fearlessness, it seems like an act of fear. Do we really need a support group to go to a ballgame?

Friday, June 09, 2006

An Open Letter to Congressman Hostettler

Mr. Hostettler,

As a life-long resident of Toronto I was mildly surprised to read in the Globe and Mail that you had said this:
"South Toronto, like those parts of London that are host to the radical imams who influenced the 9/11 terrorists and the shoe bomber, has people who adhere to a militant understanding of Islam,"

Where is South Toronto?

Do you mean Lake Ontario? Perhaps the radicals can breath underwater? In that case they really are a scary lot! You see, there are a lot of neighbourhoods in Toronto; Queen West, Bloor West Village, Leslieville, The Fashion District, The Annex, Forest Hill, Rosedale, Roncesvalles, Cabbagetown, Kingsway, Parkdale, High Park, Rexdale, Riverdale, The Beaches, Chinatown, Little Italy, Willowdale, Don Mills, Downsview, Fisherville, The Junction, Malvern, The Bridle Path, Leaside, East York, North Toronto, The Danforth, Agincourt, Hoggs Hollow, and probably a few others, but I have never heard of "South Toronto."

Even outside of Toronto proper, there is no place by that name. There are places like Thornhill, Vaughan, Markham, Unionville, Brampton, Mississauga, Bramalea, Mimico, Pickering, Malton, Richmond Hill, Woodbridge, and Milliken, but no "South Toronto."

Now I'm sure that someone like a congressman wouldn't just make up a place. You know, because South Bronx, the South Side of Chicago, South Central Los Angeles, South Camden, South London, and a bunch of other South-prefixed neighbourhoods have rough reputations, you wouldn't just make one up for Toronto too, would you? Well, frankly, now I'm starting to wonder if you would...

Mr. Hostettler, if you want to understand my city, come here and see it for yourself. If you just want to make up myths about it to scare some votes out of your constituents, in the estimed words of Vice President Cheney, go fuck yourself!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Trouble with Hegemony

I was rereading some of the school work I have had to do this semester and I came across something that stood out to me. In a chapter review exercise, I had paraphrased part of Gary Howard's We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools as saying:

"Hegemony creates truth and does so without self-criticism."

I want to reread the original passage because, since this is a paraphrase, I don't know to what extent this is Howard's idea and to what extent I read into the original work. What jumps out at me in this though is that the above statement really seems to encapsulate the trouble with hegemonies of any sort. Even Noam Chomsky has said that the US is the "greatest country in the world" while acknowledging some of the grievous acts that it is committing. The problem with a hegemony - any hegemony - is that no matter how benevolent it may be, it is creating its own truth and is doing so without self-criticism. The great problem with hegemonies is not that they have faults, of course they have faults, the problem is that they are so often blind to them.

The Best Guitar Playing You Will See Today


(You need Flash to watch it.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Taking Stock of Stuff

I have a full bookshelf as it is. With school now, I am going to be adding another shelf's worth of material. I need to make room for some more books. Saying something like that prompts to ask: What do I keep? I don't really want to move with a whole lot of stuff in tow. But what do I throw away? I could move my old high school yearbooks and store them elsewhere, it's not as though I need them as a reference all the time now. The collection of old magazines could also stand to be thinned out a bit. Those two moves alone though probably won't create the amount of space I want. I'm hesitant to get rid of old textbooks, being as I'm going to become a teacher, having relevant books will probably help out quite a bit. In the end, I'm not sure what I'll toss, but it's not an easy decision.