Metroblog

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

29 November 2005

I Gotta Go To Work In About Six Hours


This is how I sacrifice myself for you, O Avid Fan. I spend my nights stalking the alleyways and blind curves of the internet seeking wisdom to pass on to you.

Or failing that, a ₤µ€λing hilarious video of a drunk driving check.







28 November 2005

Nanny, Inc.


This has been a long week for me. I'm almost finished laying laminate flooring in a 6' x 6' room, a project that's taken me roughly two weeks. If I did it again it'd take about two days, but there's a fairly steep learning curve that I had to get up.

The SO has managed to turn success into money this week with a few paid days at a local non-profit outfit. It tickles me to see her talents becoming recognized. Her ambition is to go to work as a project manager, ideally in the publishing industry, and I see this as part of her making her bones in that market.

Spekaing of which: I just finished (in under two days) The Godfather. I'm oddly old-fashioned in that I believe in reading the book before seeing what the director did to it. At the moment I'm feeling an odd urge to go out and buy a shiny charcoal-grey suit.

Apparently Mario Puzo simply decided in 1960-something that he would sit down and write a bestseller. Sod. Could I pull that off? Just decide to write a critically-acclaimed multi-million-copy seller? Note to self: Must grow overweening ambition, ruthlessness.

Also buy new suit.

Caught the latest Harry Potter film a couple of days ago. It felt oddly skeletal. In boiling a six-hundred-page novel into a two-and-a-half-hour film, the director made a smart choice: Assume that everyone has read the book. This means that many of the important subleties are a bit reduced in scope. If you haven't read the book, even if you have read all the others, you'll find it a litte "gappy".

Hollywood is all out of worthy stories, as is demonstrated by the trailer for the film Narnia. It was inevitable, following the triumph of Peter Jackson's Rings and the degrading misery of Star Warts Episodes One through Three, that some clown around a boardroom meeting-table would suggest doing it:

"Well, boys, this looks like the end. All the great sagas have been done: Godfathers I through VI, Star Wars One through Six. Hell, even Friday the Thirteenth Parts I through Freddy VS Jason. We might as well just shut down now."

"Hold it J.P. I got a swell idea for a picture the kids are gonna love. It's wholesome, British in an Americanizable way, and it's full of talking animals."

"Hmm. I think I'm thinking what you're thinking. Can we get Pamela Anderson into it?"

"Actually, no. Not in a main role, but we might get a cameo by Tonya Harding as one of the weasels."

"Weasels? Where are the weasels in C.S. Lewis' beloved children's classic?"

"Oh. Um, I was thinking of Wind in the Willows."

"Hmmm. Lemme think on that: 'WitW'. Well sure. Why not? Get a writer on it--got anything else for me?"

"Sure. I got one about a son who's on a quest to avenge his father, but everything takes a tragic wrong turn when he starts deceiving his friends about his intentions and his state of mind. In the end he winds up morally bankrupt, estranged from those who care for him most, and responsible for the deaths of a boatload of innocents."

"Hamlet?"

"No-The Madness of President George."

"Ah, let's shelve that one. For at least 1149 days, eh?"

Oh, and by the way: We won, finally. Sort of. The yutzes who control trade south of the 49th are still trying to hold onto their ill-gotten 5 billion in illegal duties. But we won, and that's important.It shows that NAFTA can work even in the face of determined opposition from one of the participants.

News today includes the fascinating information that the Sony Playstation will soon be equipped with "parental controls". This is supposed to let parents choose what level of violence is acceptable in the games their kids will be playing, and let them restrict games rated more "mature" than that.

In the same article, I notice that the average age of game players is reckoned to be about thirty.

And I confess, I can think of few people who need protecting from violence more than thirty-year-olds who are still living with their parents, especially if they spend most of their time playing video games.

As for the ostensible targets of this "protection"--When you want the VCR or DVD player programmed, to whom do you turn? That's right, your twelve-year-old.

"Okay Jimmy, Mummy and Daddy need you to make sure you can't play any nasty games they don't approve of, so could you please set the parental controls to "J" for 'Juvenile'? And can you reset the illegal cable descrambler so that Mummy can tape Coronation Street again?"

"Sure Mum. Just let me finish this game of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."







20 November 2005



Happy as a Pig in Pennies?


The SO and I had our third anniversary--of us being "us" rather than the formal type of anniversary, that's yet to come.

But an anniversary demands some form of celebration and we were too busy last week, so we took a day or two this weekend to go to a nearby resort town where we sometimes go to escape the city.

Our usual hotel had burnt down the previous night, or rather the building beside it had, and spectacularly. So we went down the beachside strip to another mid-sixties stucco confection where the owner charged us more than I cared to pay, but gave us the best suite in the place. We had a bay window overlooking the bay--a circumstance I have rarely encountered before. In my experience most bay windows overlook suburban flowerbeds.

And what did we do in that sweet, sweet suite? Oh did we debauch!

1) We ate junk food.
2) We watched television!
and
3) We gutted my piggy bank and rolled 18 months' worth of change.

Oh, and we soaked in the local hot pools and some other stuff, but that's the exciting bit, mostly.

Do you know how much change one piggy bank can hold?

In this case, it was rather over five hundred dollars. Thank the gods-that-may-or-may-not-be that I live in a nation that doesn't piddle about with dollar and two-dollar bills anymore. The extra coins go into the PB, and emerge later as a payment on my groaning credit card.

As we left the bank, having just deposited the money, which weighed roughly thirty-five pounds as far as I could tell, I was praying that someone would stop us and say:

"Scuze me? D'you got any change?"

I'd have thoroughly checked my pockets, and turned the newly-empty shopping bag inside out before joyfully and truthfully shouting:

" NO! "







18 November 2005

The Devil Finds Work For Idle Minds to Do


Witness for example the writing of Mein Kampf or the invasion of Iraq.

In my case, I start pondering. For example today I am pondering: At what point does "over there" become "over here"?

If you're talking to a colleague by telephone in a building across town, you might ask "How's things over there?". Clearly, "over there" means some substantial distance. Yet if you're carpentering away on a piece of work you might ask someone to "hand me that saw over there", clearly designating an area within a few feet.

Conversely, if you invite the colleague we mentioned earlier to your office party, you might say "are you going to come over here?", indicating that over here includes the entire building you're sitting in, and likely a portion of its environs.

Yet if you and said colleague are sitting in the same room, you might ask them to "pass that report over here", which indicates that the term covers only the few metres of space most immediately adjacent to your person and ending somewhere around the edge of your desk.

Sometimes I ask the SO, friends, and total strangers questions like this. This often helps clarify these questions, sometimes it just confuses them:

"Don't make me come over there."

Now which "over there" are we talking about? Personally, I think they're referring to over here.







12 November 2005

November 12th


I hope you took a moment for Remembrance yesterday.
I'd like to introduce you to my great-uncle, Tom Rawlinson. He hailed from Preston, Lancashire, and he flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

From an RCAF page:

May 24/25, 1944

30 Lancasters from 408 and 419 Squadrons were joined by 60 Halifaxes from 424, 427, 429, and 433 Squadrons on an attack of the 2 railyards at Aachen. The crews were over the target at between 16,000 and 20,000 feet, releasing 810,000 lbs of high explosives. According to reports, one rail yard was severely damaged with some damage to the others.

F/Lt T. Rawlinson RCAF and crew, flying Halifax III LW-137 coded AL-K, failed to return from this operation.

P/O A. Bates RAF
P/O G. Caunt RAF–POW
P/O A. Murphy RCAF
P/O W. Bush RAF–POW
P/O A. Shierlaw RCAF–POW
P/O J. Cochrane RCAF
4 crew were killed and 3 POWs after being shot down by a Nightfighter.



It happens that I wrote a paper many years ago which included a rundown on how tough a nut Aachen was to crack. It was essential to the drive into Europe and on to Berlin that the Allies have access, but Aachen was heavily fortified. Which is presumably why there are so many repetitions on that page:

"All were lost without a trace."
"Failed to return from this operation."

When you look at the list, you see men from different walks of life, from different environments. FLt Rawlinson grew up in sooty, industrial England but wound up serving in the blue skies of Canada, as a member of the R-C-AF, not the RAF. Maybe he intended to emigrate. Whatever the case, they were out there putting their asses on the line because they knew that what they were fighting was evil in the classic sense.

I believe his bones are buried in a Dutch cemetary, and that they take good care of him. Because we all know that if not for his effort and sacrifice and that of all those others like him, I'd be posting this in German.

I'd also like to take a moment to think of the poor bastards in Iraq, as well as those (including some Canadians) in Afghanistan, Haiti, and other places where they don't get nearly as much attention.

Thanks, guys.







09 November 2005

News. Or is it?


Let's have a look at today's news courtesy of Yahoo!

Nicholas Sarkozy is calling for the deportation of foreign citizens involved in the French riots, whether they're legal residents or no. Way to make friends and influence people, Nick!

If these people feel threatened, is it likely to improve things or make them worse? Quick question: Do you think some of them might have friends and relatives in France, and if so, whose side are they likely to be on? Is it helpful to threaten people or is it, well, um . . . dopey?

Jack Layton is being an ass. But he's not alone. Y'see, Canadians don't like the idea of a Christmas election. But the Conservatives, particularly, with the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats, see the release of Gomery Part IV (they'll release parts 1,2, and 3 in twenty years or so) as a vital event.

The Tories in particular were hoping to ride a tide of public disgust at Liberal corruption straight into 24 Sussex Drive. But the public is, it seems, rather more disgusted at Stephen Harper's repeated threats to bring down the government. Face it Steve--we're used to political sleaze. But we don't like $#!+ that interferes with our shopping!

If they don't get started immediately, Harper knows the moment is likely to slip by him. But since as noted above, Canucks don't want to visit the polling places this Yuletide, each of the opposition parties raises the spectre of a non-confidence vote. But now, having dragged the idea into the open they're now dancing around it like little kids playing with something yucky but fascinating.

So this is where we find Layton. Having saved the Government (he is convinced) single-handed last time out, he pushed for the exclusion of private health care from the country. The Liberals told him to go $(^&# his hat.

So, not having the intestinal fortissimo to ring the knell by calling a non-confidence motion, he's done something that's as creative as it is cowardly: He's introducing a non-non-confidence motion to get the Grits to call an election--but after the Boxing Day sales.

Paul Martin can, and should, ignore this. But I predict he'll waste a lot of time on it.

Meanwhile: The non-story of the day is given a headline that states:
"Canadians' Blood Tainted". What a load of crap. To those of us who remember the Krever Inquiry, it's insulting.

This group took eleven people from a population of thirty-odd million and determined . . well what exactly? That we all have impuritied in our blood? Biiig whoop. I'm astounded. No, really. Just let me find my "astounded" face and you'll see.

There are three major problems with the "study":

1) Using eleven people from a population the size of Canada's can yield no statistically useful information--the more so because the sample WAS so widely distributed. If you find that fourteen people out of twenty-eight who work in the same building have extraordinarily elevated levels of lead in their blood--that's significant.

If one person in each province is struck by lightening twice, that's interesting. If ten people from a modern population of humans, at a certain technological level, numbering in the multiple millions show a certain level of modern background pollution has been absorbed without any visible effect, that's what? Exactly?

2) We have no idea if the "contaminants" in our bloodstream are particularly unusual or important.

3) No-one has proven that the substances found, at the levels they were found, pose any threat, or even any interest to humans.

So let's re-write that headline appropriately:

"Study Wastes Time, Uses Too Small a Sample, Finds Nothing Surprising or Important".







Paris Burns On


I think the whole business is just an unfortunate misunderstanding, directly tied to literacy rates among ghetto-ized youth.

Obviously they confused Paris with Paris, or possibly her ex-boyfriend Paris ("Because it's too much trouble remembering whose name to scream out").

It's a natural mistake, and I'm certain that once the error is cleared up, they'll set fire to the right one.

But seriously folks . . .

The Paris riots seem to stem primarily from the poverty and disaffectation of young, second-generation immigrant communities. But I feel there is also another reason.

This may be the best argument I've ever seen for Canada's policy of multiculturalism, a suspect doctrine that essentially says "I'm okay, you're okay, and our quaint old folkways are okay as well" and results in piles of hyphen-Canadians. Don't get me wrong--I'm generally in favour, but it carries through to a ridiculous extent, sometimes.

Recently, the province of Ontario had to make a decision about whether to allow Sharia Islamic courts, that is to say about whether to allow a parallel justice system to settle family disputes and similar matters. After all, the proponents argued, similar Hasidic courts had been regulating the affairs of Orthodox Jews for a long time.

There's a difference, though: Sharia is not practiced in any country which wholeheartedly recognizes the rights of women. In places where it is practiced, it seems to be subject to substantial corruption. And giving it legal standing here threatens some of the priciples of equality we hold dear.

So the Ontario court struck down the Hasidic courts--a quaint tradition also made redundant under a system which cherishes separation of church and state. I can only say thanks to the God of atheism.

Still, Canadians of all stripes enjoy a remarkable degree of social and religious freedom, and we as a nation prize that attitude (including me as an individual, though I'm not blindly accepting about it).

In France, separation of church and state is a monomania: Take the banning of "overt displays of religiosity"--a law aimed primarily at devout Muslim women, and the banning of the hijab. Yet if someone wants to wear a headscarf as a fashion choice, surely it's okay? Meantime, "overly large" crucifixes are also banned, as are the "bling-bling" Stars of David you see all these rabbis wearing.

I prefer the Canadian way: express your religion and culture all you like.

Just try not to burn anything in the process.







06 November 2005

Epicity


Certain songs have a quality that makes them epic. For the sake of attampting to quantify this quality, the SO and I have decided off the top of our heads to refer to it as "epicity". This word represents, on a one-to-ten scale, whether a song is actually an epic song.

To be epic, a song must score a "10" on the epicity scale. Else why bother?

For example, Dire Straits' "Telegraph Road" is an unquestioned epic. Almost anything at all by Pink Floyd qualifies. But how to judge?

The SO and I sat up for a couple of pleasant wasting hours tonight drinking tea and playing each other CDs (which handicaps my choice of material, I'm still mostly on tape).

A personal obeservation: Classical music is loaded with epic tunes, jazz with a few (Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" jumps up for our attention), rock/pop has many. But country (not at all to my personal surprise) doesn't seem to have any.

Perhaps it's a question of scope? A singer and band try to take us somewhere beyond the suburbs of normalton and let us look back at it from somewhere unfamiliar?

Is it purely interpretation? Bruce Coburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" is brilliant on it's own. The Barenaked Ladies cover is beautiful, but not epic, somehow. Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" was raised to epic status only when Hendrix got a-hold of it.

The SO and I think it has to do with musical depth, powerful voices (everything on our personal lists seems to have heavyweight backup vocals), and consumate instrument work.

Like, this was something anyone didn't know?

But still, how do we qualify epic music unsubjectively?

Don't wait for answers. You'll be waiting a while.

Or maybe not.







05 November 2005

And In The End I Can't Quite Remember Her Name


Sonia, V 1.0
As I turn from the cash machine and prepare to leave the 7-11, a rather pretty woman stops me at the door.
"Excuse me, sir. Did you drive here?"

I take her in. In this neighbourhood we're assailed by panhandlers fairly regularly, but she's inside the store. Her clothes look like she's getting a fair bit of mileage out of them, but they're tidy and look clean: three-quarter-length woolen coat, black cords, white sneakers. She looks a bit like one of the African or Caribbean immigrants who live in the area, and her speech has the faintest hint of that elusive precision that makes me think English is not her milk language, but was learned very young anyway.

"Yes, I did."
"Uh, can you give another car a jump from your battery? I've got cables."
"Sure."
"Oh thank you so much!"
"C'mon, let's go."

In the tiny parking lot I look for any car that seems to be in distress. There isn't one. She explains:

"My van, it's just down there," a hand flutters in the general direction of the main cross-town artery some four blocks down "On the road to the bridge."

The road is a major feeder route to one of two bridges in the municipality. It crosses my mind she's walked a long way up a steep hill to get here. Why didn't she stop at the little corner store two blocks downhill? I think. Maybe she's already tried there.

"Hop in" I say, opening the car door and getting in myself.

Sonia, V1.1
"What's your name?" she asks, getting in, sitting stiffly, the way a woman might well sit in a stranger's car. I tell her.
"I'm . . ."

She told me, I just don't recall. It could have been Susannah. Began with "S" and ended with an "Ah" sound. But it wasn't something unusual enough to remember perfectly, like Savanna, and it wasn't Samantha.

She begins to talk, and within three sentences she's jabbering away nineteen to the dozen. She's a nursing student, she says, training to be an OR nurse. She's been registered at UBC but hasn't moved into student housing. She's living in her camperized van, which she drove out from Ontario, until she can move in nine days from now. And now her van has a dead battery. We talk about Ontario, and she seems delighted to learn I have a friend in Sarnia.

"Where on campus are you going to be living?" I ask. Both my sisters went to that university.
"Gage building," she says.
"No kidding? My sister lived there."
"Oh," she seems interested "Is it nice? Have they remodeled it? 'Cause that's what I heard."

I admit ignorance. We're coming up on an older model white van, it has Ontario plates and I start to slow down.

Damn, I think she's nosed right into the pullout. And someone's parked behind her. Maybe I can turn around and nose onto the sidewalk?

"That's not it," she says abruptly "you got to keep going down this road a ways."

"Jeez, you must have been right at the bridge." Which is only a couple of blocks away. Much closer and I'll be committed to crossing to the other side. What are the odds of two camper-vans with Ontario plates on the same block?

"Oh--I'm actually just over the other side."

I fume privately, suspicion rising.

Sonia V 1.2
Apologetically:
"It's the only place I can park without being hassled while I'm living in the van."

By itself, the statement makes a little sense. The neighborhood around the uni is prime real estate and the residents are somewhat hostile to vehicle-dwelling students. Yet it's a long way from there to here, and it seems to me that there are places a person could park overnight hassle-free.

"It's the only part of the city area I know." she says apologetically.

She looks a bit strained. We're on the bridge now and I'm stuck taking her across, so I change the subject.

"You walked a long way to get up there." I remark.

"Well, I hope you realize I don't always look like this." The non-sequitur catches me off-guard. "It's just I've been crying. . . There's this guy, see, he came to fix my van. I was running just the fan to keep some heat on but without using gas 'cos it's so expensive. . ."

Well there's no denying that. I feel a hint of irony, driving her across the bridge. I realize she's twirling half-a-cigarette in her hand. Idly I think That'll take a chunk of the student loan.

" . . . and he said the alternator's not charging the battery or the battery's not charging the alternator. But he says I owe him thirty-four-fifty for the parts."

This is something that I, beater freak ordinaire par excellence, know something about. I happen to carry a basic tool set in my trunk.

"Oh it's nice of you to offer," she says "But he's a mobile mechanic and he says I owe him thirty-four fifty and I haven't eaten nearly anything in nearly three days . . . I just walked over to use the shower at the community centre 'cos it's free, right?" Her face contorts and she begins to cry.

Sonia V 1.3
The year I left home I found myself flat broke with an empty fridge and two penniless room-mates. I who had never gone hungry a day in my life was faced with the real possibility of having to go hungry. When I explained this to Mama Morel, she loaded me up with, among other things, a whole chicken. Wherever you are, Mama, I think of you often, especially at times like this. I pull into a McDrive-through. Sonia protests that it's too generous of me. She just wants to get her car on the road again.

"Well," I lie,"I was going to stop for a quick bite anyway, so let me get you a meal and we'll go see what's what with your van."

She orders a chicken sandwich meal, root beer. I get the All-Canadian meal--smallest proper meal on the menu. It used to cost $2.50, but times have changed.

As an afterthought, I order two apple pies. My mother impressed upon me years ago that when you're short of money, you eat plenty of Kraft Dinner, but you never get the luxuries. It's why she donates luxury canned foods to school food drives. Smoked mussels, artichoke hearts . . . well maybe not quite that swank, but never a tin of beans. Dessert's a luxury I think Sonia (?) could use.

It's at this point I realize that I can't quite recall her name.

Sonia V 1.4
After we pick up the food, it turns out they got her drink wrong.

"I hate Coke." she says. There's a pause "But I guess beggars can't be choosers."

"I never eat there," she says. "Did you see that movie Supersize Me?"

We talk nutrition and corporate responsibility:
"What I hate is that they got all this money, but they never use it to help anyone but themselves."

I want to dissect this foolishness, but I resist. She's supposed to be going for nursing, not political science. She eats her fries as I make a wrong turn that will take us several kilometres out of our way. She directs me with an ease I find suspicious. I hold the suspicion in check--she may have had good reason to learn the local roads.

"I don't usually do this," she says apropos of nothing "I was just so desperate. You can see I'm desperate, right? I mean I'm out over there ready to sell myself for . . . You gotta understand I'd never do this if I wasn't . . ."

She seems about to cry again. I am uncomfortable, although I couldn't tell you why. Is it that she's just admitted to being so desperate to fix her van that she'd trade sex for cash? It's not like she'd be the first person I met who'd had to face those choices. Is it because I get the feeling that she's just made a lateral pass--Offered me sex-for-money in terms no vice cop could bust her for?

Her vocabulary and manner are slipping now, and I reluctantly admit that whatever she is, it isn't what she's claiming to be. Stiffly, wanting my nasty suspicions to be wrong, I drive her to the end of an industrial wasteland road. unfenced, informal scrap yards hunch on each side of the road where she's now saying the van is parked.

At a bend in the road she waves me over.

"You can see the van over there." she says "But I don't think Alec's there."

Glory be, there is a ratty old white Dodge camper van, its top just visible above the trees, tucked away on the side street.

"Who's Alec?"
"He's the mechanic. His shop's just down that road back the way we came."

I offer to take her there. I do business with half the wrecking yards and about two thirds of the mechanics in this city, and most of them aren't unreasonable joes. I might be able to talk terms or credit.

She agrees with a certain enthusiasm, but something's missing in her response. It's beginning to feel as though having started to dance together, we've discovered we're dancing different steps and neither of us knows quite what the other is doing. She's becoming extraordinarily fidgety.

Sonia V 1.5
Alec isn't at the shop, an unlabelled bay in a mint-green stucco warehouse complex.

"Do you just want to go and try to jump it?" I ask.
"Well the thing is, there's no battery in it," she replies "It started leaking this battery acid or something. So he took it out."

Sonia asks if I'll drive to where she thinks Alec might be. She knows the roads very well. I drive this neighbourhood daily and I'm learning new things. From time to time she restates the not-quite proposition she made earlier. When we pull up to the back alley behind the Tempo gas station that I decide she's officially taken me for a ride.

But it isn't over. Instead of getting out of the car she asks to borrow my cell phone. She has a short, loud and emotional conversation with someone on the other end whose voice, actually, doesn't sound like anyone named "Alec" but might belong to a woman.

She flips the phone closed and crumples, cryng again. Begs me for money with an almost frightening intensity.

"He still says I owe him thirty-four-fifty." Nearly crying again. Unable to cope with her waterworks I shove her the change from lunch. First a fiver, then two toonies.

"I know it's a lot to ask, but can't you just spare even ten dollars more? For twenny dollars [yes, twenny] he'd fix my van, I know he would."

I derail. I lie and tell her that the money she's seen in my wallet is for my landlady, and that it's part of an overdue rent payment (which it is, kind of. I give money to the SO, she pays the rent). I really can't spare anything more.

We both know I'm lying. And I don't know what's worse. That we know we're both lying or that I've crawled into the gutter with her. Such is my shame that I find myself agreeing to provide her with yet another fiver. I pull around to the Tempo station.

I go inside and ask for change. There's a group of people clustered inside the warm office, smoking and talking.

"You see that girl in the passenger seat of my car?" I ask the clerk.
"Oh, her."
"She a regular?"
"Yeah."
"How long has she been a regular?"
"Oh I guess a few months now? Why?"
"Oh, nothing much," I say "She's just giving me a story."

I drop her off in the alley. She's stopped telling me how terrific and generous I am. Probably already thinking about where to get a rock.

Sonia V.X
On the way home, I stop and look at Sonia's alleged van. Close to, it's obviously been there a couple of years. The paint is discoloured with spores of moss. It has no plates.

On the way home I call an old friend to vent my dull anger at having been suckered (and I only wish this was the first time) out of twenty dollars by a hard-luck story.

My friend, call her Becky, is sympathetic:

"Oh please sir, can you help me? You see, I have to watch a hockey game tonight and I've no beer. And of course, you can't have a beer without pizza--could you please spare a little . . ." she whines.

I get my first belly laugh of the evening.

"Hang on," I reply "You haven't offered me a forty-dollar hummer yet!"







01 November 2005

It's Happening


Even as I write this, the first of the Gomery reports is hitting shelves near you. This first edition, handsomely bound in Liberal Party skin, can be used for good or for evil: Good, if it's used to stop further corruption, good, if it's used to unite Quebec more tightly to the rest of Canada, good if it's used less for finger-pointing and political capital than as a prescription.

But I don't think Stephen Harper's going to let me down. So let me remind you, Mr. Harper, of the vulnerabilities to which you are heir: Ever heard of Oerlikon air? How about Airbus? Is the name Mulroney familiar to you?

Of course not. And besides, those scandals were years ago, under a previous party leadership. Hell, the Conservative party of Canada isn't even the same party anymore. Nobody could blame you, Mr. Harper, for the sins of the fathers of your party.

Of course the sponsorship boondoggles took place almost a decade ago, under a previous administration, and neither the Liberal Party nor the Bloc Quebecois are the same either.