Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 August 2005

It's Clobberin' Time!



Certainly it is down in the Big Easy. If I were a prayin' sort of man, I might pray for the people who are stuck in hurricane Katrina. As I'm not, I'll just say "Good luck".

So what's been happening in the big ol' world anyway?

In trade news, it's been a week of back-and-forthing, with the US Embarrasement to Canada telling us we're wrong. David Wilkins, who learned everything he knows about Canada-US trade during a visit to a Niagara Falls souvenir stand, called upon Canada to stop giving out "emotional tirades" and negotiate a settlement.

We already have a negotiated settlement, Mr. Embarrassador. It's NAFTA; and under the terms of that agreement you owe us a mounting pile o' bucks.

Sorry--that was an emotional tirade.

If you get the feeling that I dislike the man the POTUS has sent to represent him, you may be right. I'd support trade sanctions if I thought they were likely to do any good. As it is, I think it'd just raise the price of orange juice toward that of gasoline.

More News:

Karla Homolka was hired by a man who just had to "out" her to the press for the good of his soul (it's that shrivelled thing that looks like a very old fig, next to the lump of cheese that needs a shave, in his fridge). No doubt his motives were pure.

Pat Robertson's death threats. Ignore. He's a rather sad man, really. Albeit a sad man with an audience said to be in the millions.

Hugo Chavez: Muzzles press, cosies up to despots while calling kettles black. Wasting grandkids' money and condemning millions to uneccesary risks. See also: George W. Bush.

Extremely local news:
The SO and I are seriously involved now. We've moved our personal files into the same cabinet. Not the same file folders, though. We're waiting until after we're married for that.

We have also shredded three bin-liners' worth of old tax forms (please o please do not audit me now!), assorted memorabilia (which I'd forgotten the reason for keeping), and the usual accumulation of detritus of adult life.

She Who Must and I are slowly planning a wedding. However, since we both have retired parents, it's not proving easy. We think we might just send her mum tickets to wherever my folks are going to be, then turn up ourselves.

Since my parents are off to Oz for February, that might be a great idea.







15 August 2005

Ex-Girlfriend?


After some two-plus years, the SO is no longer my girlfriend. This was precipitated by a crisis primarily grammatical in nature and has resolved itself thus:

The relationship has been paddling along quite satisfactorily except for one small bobble, terminology. Someone noted earlier on this blog that the terms I've employed in this blog are occasionally awkward. But we were neither fish nor fowl. I'm something of a traditionalist who never ever thought I'd be moving in with someone I wasn't married to. She has a much more freewheeling approach and was willing to cohabitate 'till death do us part, or whatever. . .

But it becomes difficult to fix a term in your mind. We've tried "partner"--which often leads to misunderstandings of one kind or another. "Girl/Boyfriend" sounds sophomoric once you're past twenty-five or so. "Significant Other"? Well as far as I'm concerned there's only one place for language like that.

So on Sunday night I asked her a question, and her response made it clear that she is now no longer my girlfriend.

I believe the correct term is "fiancée".







13 August 2005

No Further Questions, M'Lud


That's what the police are apparently saying about Member of Parliament and first-class whack job Gurmant Grewal.

Let's quietly review where Mr. Grewal has been playing, shall we? Bear in mind, the Liberals--he says--are apparently out to get him. Not that he needs the help.

In 1995, Grewal accused the BC Liberal Party (of which he was at the time a member) of trying to buy him out of the nomination race for his riding with the offer of a deputy minister's position in the the government.

In 2000, Grewal, having transferred his loyalties to the fractured Alliance Party, claimed that he'd been offered a job in the Chretien federal government if he re-converted to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Then came 2004-5, and Grewal apparently started to spin out of control.

First, he was caught accepting deposits" from people who wanted their friends and relations to be allowed to visit them in Canada. He was, amazingly, cleared of conflict-of-interest charges, but cautioned against minor errors such as, for example, doing end-runs around Canadian immigration laws.

Then he released secret tapes of discussions with Federal Cabinet Ministers and friends. He alleged that the tapes proved (are you ready for this?) that the Liberals were trying to buy his vote! They apparently wanted he and/or his wife Nina to abstain from voting on the budget bill which could have sunk the government.

Not that that would have looked suspicious, considering the stakes. I mean, what with cancer-ridden, dying MPs flying in just to vote on the bill and all--why shouldn't the Grewals have taken the vote off? The government was only saved by one vote anyway.

And the careful purchase of what Belinda Stronach likes to think of as her soul. If everyone has her price, you may look for her in the dollar store. Not that I object, she saved us from a fate almost as nasty as that suffered by the US in its last two elections, but the transparency of it is a little nausea-inducing.

Tory experts held the tapes up as genuine, but it seems fairly clear they'd been doctored. These are the tapes that the RCMP seem to think are okay. Presumably the idea of privacy isn't a big issue to them. Personally I think otherwise.

Next for Grewal was his famed airport incident, in which he frantically ran up and down an airport lineup trying to persuade passengers to take a parcel onto an aircraft. What's to say? Perhaps we should consider deporting him to Syria?

Now he's been cleared of the tape thing, the deposit thing, and the airport thing, there's just the financial things to take care of. . .

Still, it must be nice to know that amusingly off-beat characters such as Stephen Harper are backing you up.

So Long, Smokey


Canada's last Victoria Cross winner has died (it is the Victoria Cross. CBC seems to have an editing problem). Ernest Smith's funeral is going on today in Vancouver, to huge public fanfare. Why are we only paying attention to the last one?

Yet, despite the grotesque media circus over the extinction of the last of the safely-distant genuine war heroes, the city hums on, doing its thing uninterrupted except for some traffic diversions along the parade route.

And, if you could have asked him, I think that's the way Mr. Smith would have wanted it, back when he was still Sergeant Smith.







11 August 2005

Work, Work, Work



It's all I ever seem to do these days. So now, in addition to the 40-hours-in-five-days of truckery I do, and the five-plus hours of professional bloggery, I've just contracted for another five hours per week doing more web writing.

Last weekend I went hiking for several days. Here's a pic:

Moat Lake, seen from Mount Albert Edward Posted by Picasa

The weekend prior was spent at a wedding--the SO's cousin. He used to play video games for a living--sincerely. He was a tester for one of the bigger names in games.

But you see why I have little time to blog.

Today, the emotion is cold anger. It seems that the way the US treats their enemies isn't so different from the way they treat their friends.

The Softwood Lumber Dispute (and it deserves the capital letters) has been going on in one form or another for two decades. Basically, the US claims Canada's (cheaper) stumpage rates amount to a subsidy of its forest industry. So they've smacked outbound wood shipments with tariffs of approximately 25%, totalling billions of dollars over the past few years.

Most recently, a NAFTA Extraordinary Challenge panel ruled in our favour, as has every single such dispute arbitrator since the original Free Trade Agreement. The US, by the NAFTA agreement, is honour-bound to lift the import duties.

Honour means little when protectionism is the first thing on your mind, I suppose. If they could realistically compete, they wouldn't need duties. Big sugar in the US works the same way, so do textiles. In spite of the monster tariffs laid on the price of all these goods, they still seem to sell. Perhaps they're just better than home-grown?

The "Ambassador" is a hick and a poltroon whose sole visit to the country prior to Canada was a trip to Niagra Falls. His appointment was a studied insult, and now he pronounces that the States will settle only for a "negotiated settlement".

Uh--Mister "Ambassador"? Uh, can I phrase this so you'll get it? We already got us an 'greement with you-uns. It's called NAFTA--you can look it up on-line. It was negotiated some years ago.

And by the way, you owe us about $2.7 billion. Per year. For at least the past three years.

Pay up.







01 August 2005

It's 3 AM--Oh. How'd you guess?


The rain, which has politely held off for a glorious sunny weekend so far, is now absolutely bucketing it down outside. The humidity is ridiculous.

I was awakened by congestion in my lungs at some disgusting hour, but am too hot, sticky, and uncomfortable to go back to bed. Under such circs I might normally blog until I felt like sleeping again, then go and crash on the fold-out settee in the living room.

Unfortunately, the SO's cousin got married yesterday, so the couch is occupied by the SO's mother. I doubt she'd appreciate me flaking out alongside her.

So here we are, O Avid Fan.

I also find I really want to tell you about this. I think it'll be absolutely huge. I have, myself, several rough bits of books lying about, and one unpublished novel (with good reason unpublished but nonetheless a novel). Perhaps this is what I've been searching for.

Basically, you post a book online. People can download it for a price. 80% of the price is yours, and 20% goes to Lulu--brainchild of Bob Young of Redhat fame.

So go dig out that shoebox and dust off your epic. Your hour has come round at last.

My current tune (the one running through my head and headphones) is "Still Life" by the magical, mischevious David Wilcox (the Canadian one). Check out the sample tune "Rockin' the Boogie" here.

Stony Plain Records is also the label of the late, great John William Baldry, known to Britophiles and blues fans as Long John. Let us pause to reflect on the person who gave us Rod Stewart, Elton John and Eric Clapton, not to mention four of the Rolling Stones. And the wonderfully funny policeman of "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock 'n' Roll".

The written version can't do a Mr. Plod accent:

"As Oi was procee-eedin' in a Southerly direction, Milord, Oi 'eard strange sounds coming from Wardour Place, Milord. A sort of boojie-woojie music was bein' played."

"Ah, just one moment, officer; well, what is this boojie woojie music we're talking about?"

"Oh, well, milord," said the officer, getting out his notebook--he'd obviously
Been doing up his homework: "It's a kind of jazz-rhythm music. Peculiar to the American Negro".

Thanks, Long John, and so long for now.