Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Word To My American Friends

Updated Below
Assuming I actually have any, that is. But I think do.

Here's the thing. Like I've noted before, I rather like watching American politics. At least recently. I must confess I find the topic much more interesting since becoming a regular at Lex's. Probably because I know and understand a lot more than I use to. Maybe even more than is good for me.

So, I witness a lot of the angst and hang-wringing that's going on on both sides in the never-ending lead-up to this election. Now the "bad news", so-called considering that the majority (that would be all three) of my American friends who visit here occasionally tend to lean towards the right, is that I am pretty sure that Obama will, in fact, win the election.

The good news (and I know this is where we will pretty sharply part ways) is that it will not be the end of the world. Repeat. Not. The. End. Of. The. World. The sun will rise (or not) the next day and life will go on.

Look, when the Pubs win, the Dems cannot help but spout that those damn neo-cons stole the election. Witness 2000 and 2004. And if/when the Dems win, the Pubs will go on and on ... and on ... and on about how the Dems stole the election. I believe they call it politics.

But politics being what politics is I seriously doubt (arguments of the left re: Bush aside) that anyone is going to do too much 'damage' over the next four years. And I use the term 'damage' a bit loosely considering that it's a "lefty" "socialist" writing this post.

But hey, you must at least admit, I hope, having come to know and love me, that perhaps, just perhaps, not all lefty socialists are all that bad. Right? Er, I mean, umm, left?

Trust me. November 5th will come. Hopefully soon. And life will go on.

* * * * *

Update: Never think for one moment that I labour under some delusion that the choice of an American president will not affect me or my country. It will affect every county to some degree (just the way of the world) but being next-door neighbours and significant trading partners, a person would have to be significantly naive to think otherwise. Any perceived "arm-chair thrill" that I may seem to enjoy is only due to the blunt reality that I am totally unable to influence this election. I hold no vote. The choice of who governs Americans must, of necessity, be made by Americans.

But let me draw this analogy. Lex and others have penned many a story about their interactions with their Russian counterparts during the Cold War. And, if I understood correctly, they noted on occasion that, in retrospect, perhaps the potential bite of the Bear was not quite as great as that feared. No, I am not comparing Obama and the Dems to the Soviet Union (as tempting as that comparison might be to some), but I am suggesting that perhaps the 'bite' of this potential Democratic government will not be as bad as some Americans might fear.

Although time will be the ultimate arbitrator on the issue, I can't help but be reminded of the recent Congressional elections, when such fear was expressed by some Americans that I truly started to wonder how they would handle life the next day, should the worst befall them. As it ultimately did.

And I have noticed that some Pubs like to ridicule those of the Dems who, in the past, have threatened to flee the U.S. to Canada (oh joy, oh bliss) should their election be 'stolen' from them yet once again. Amazingly, they seem to have survived. Much, I suggest, as we all will. That's all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On The Road ... Yet Again

Off to take the Kit Kat to the big city for her bi-annual psycho-educational testing. The testing is tomorrow (pretty well an all day event) but we will go in late this afternoon and spend the night at the infamous Ronald MacDonald House.

I would say that posting will be light over next couple of days but, chances are, no one would really notice. Since posting has been pretty light lately anyway. I suppose I should get back to posting something about politics. Heaven knows there's enough of it around lately.

But here's the thing. It's hard to keep up with two blogs and, believe it or not, that second one gets even lighter posting than here. It might just feel a wee bit neglected at times.

And then there's American politics. While often fascinating (much like watching a train wreck lately), it does tend to get old after a while. These (feel like) two year long election cycles really have to go, me thinks. They could definitely take a lesson from us Canucks on this one ~ short, sweet and relatively clean month-long campaigns. Where, afterwards, nothing not much has changed. Yup, must be a lesson there somewhere.

Anyway, as I said, I will soon be on the road with She Who Is Driving Me Crazy. Wish us luck, please. In all ways, shapes and forms.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and daughters ...
And daughters and mothers.

Two of the people I love the most in my life. And yet two of the biggest stressors in my life. Hands down. Do they even know? Do they have a clue?

Well, my mother certainly doesn't realize it. Rather ironic that, considering that she was the one always advocating that I must make my life less stressful. Do less.

But my daughter?
Does she ever even think about it? Or is she simply too wrapped up in the drama which is her life?

I can honestly say that for years, she has begged me to get her help at school. After a constant struggle, this year, finally, I am making progress. And she .... she fights it. Tooth. And. Nail.

Mothers and daughters. And daughters and mothers.

Lord help us all.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'Stupid Is As Stupid Does'

I am thinking that Dennis Leary should change the title of his new book to "Why I Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid".

Please tell me just one thing. Just what kind of an idiot does it take to write this about autism?
"There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can't compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks . . . to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don't give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you - yer kid is NOT autistic. He's just stupid. Or lazy. Or both."
It got me wondering ... just what kind of family did Leary spring from?

And is this an example of an idiot very wrongly thinking that something incredibly stupid and mean can be humorous? Or is this just an example of an idiot?

Help me out here, please. Because this inattentive mother is very confused...

H/T to All That Is Dazilous

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time To 'Lighten Up'

Well, I'm sure glad that's over with. I think it was well worth the $200 million plus price tag, don't you?

I mean, just think, on October 13th we had a minority Conservative goverment. BUT. After all was said and done, on October 14th ... now, now we are the proud owners of a minority Conservative government!

Nothing like democracy in action, I tell ya ... But hey, at least Harper is (pretending to be) happy and, after all, that's all that really matters.

More importantly, now we are free to turn our complete attention back to the meltdown presidential election south of our border. And, in the spirit of "lightening up", you really have to watch the following two videos.

The first link takes you to a video of McCain roasting Obama. And it's pretty darn funny.

The second link takes you to Obama's return roast of McCain. Also pretty funny. Although not quite to the calibre of McCain's, I would say. What do you think?

If Only. If only they could take themselves a little less seriously every day.

H/T to Neptunus Lex for the video links

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vote

Today. Please.

It's your duty. And then we can make it all go away.

Just think, tomorrow we can all go back to watching the American version of enterntainment.

Update: You've got to be kidding!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Day For Giving Thanks

My favourite time of the year, it is.

Usually still warm, but no longer stifling hot. The beautiful fall colours, which somehow seem to slow me down and pull me in. There's something about the season makes me feel thoughtful and meditative. And we do, indeed, have much to be thankful for.

But over the past few years, the question has nagged at me more and more. Why it is Thanksgiving here and Columbus Day there?
For reasons of history and politics, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving nearly two months earlier than our American friends, but that wasn't always the case, and Columbus Day also has its observational ambiguities.

From 1879 to 1898, the Canadian Thanksgiving was observed on Nov. 6, and in other years as late as Dec. 6. Occasionally, it even coincided with American Thanksgiving, celebrated on the last Thursday of November since the 1870s.

In 1899 Canadian Thanksgiving was fixed on a Thursday in October, then in 1907. it was moved to a Monday in October, the exact date being appointed annually by proclamation. From 1921 to 1930, Canadian Thanksgiving was observed on November 11, Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. In 1931, it was moved again to the second Monday of October, and finally, on Jan. 31, 1957 an act of Parliament permanently fixed Canadian Thanksgiving to second Monday in October: "A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ...

"Columbus Day Nominally celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Reportedly, there were observances commemorating Columbus' arrival as early as 1792, and Italian citizens of New York City had organized a celebration on October 12, 1866, but it was first called Columbus Day In 1869 San Francisco Italians celebrated on October 12. The holiday attained national status when President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage in 1892, made a commemorative proclamation.

I found it interesting that the first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 5, 1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

What? Nothing about being thankful for the harvest?

Turns out that historically the theme of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday had changed from year to year to reflect an important event to be thankful for. In the early years it was for an abundant harvest and occasionally for a special anniversary. After the first world war it was for Armistice Day. And now, of course, it's a day of general thanksgiving.

Interestingly, our American friends have not always been more consistent when it comes to the theme of Thanksgiving either. Although it's true that what is traditionally considered "the first Thanksgiving" was a shared autumn harvest feast between the Pilgrims and the natives, it was not repeated the following year. The colonists went on to observe a religious holiday descended from Puritan days of fasting, prayers and giving thanks to God.

Over a hundred years later all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration to commemorate their patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it took a determined magazine editor to initiate a fourty-year one-woman letter writing campaign for a national Thanksgiving holiday to unify a country which she saw headed to Civil War. She was finally successful in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863.

Even then, the date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. But public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. In 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November. Then in the 1920's, the fledgling Detroit Lions devised the concept of Thanksgiving Day game. And the rest, as they say, is history.


But don't worry, even though we have our differences, it's still turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and veggies. With pumpkin pie for dessert, of course. Or more accurately, in our house this year, pumpkin crunch. Yummy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Pumpkin People Time!

Welcome to the beautiful Annapolis Valley ... in particular, the area around the Town of Kentville.

We like to celebrate the season here, whatever the season may be. And we absolutely love .... Pumpkin People!






Of course, some people tend to be more competitive.

And back in 2006, with Halloween a'coming, Dalhousie University's English Department felt compelled to make their own Giant Pumpkin, not to be confused with Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ain't It The Truth

Presidential Race vs Canadian Federal Election:
Heavyweights vs Lightweights


Dion, Harper and Layton are flying on the Executive Airbus to a gathering in British Columbia when Dion turns to Harper and says, chuckling, "You know, I could throw a $1000 bill out the window right now and make someone very happy."

Harper shrugs and replies, "Well, I could throw ten $100 bills out the window and make ten people happy."

Not to be outdone, Layton says, "Well I could throw a hundred $10 bills out the window and make a hundred people happy."

The pilot rolls his eyes and says to his co-pilot, "Such arrogant asses back there. I could throw all three of them out the window and make 32 million people happy."

'Don't Let Them Down'

Although this video was clearly made for the American military, it applies equally to our own brave Canadian soldiers. And it seems even more appropriate when we consider that we are only a few short days away from voting for the future of our country.

I found this video deeply touching. Hope you do, too.



H/T to Fuzzilicious Thinking

Thursday, October 9, 2008

From Social Justice To 'Taliban Jack'

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away ... okay, maybe not quite that long ago and not that far away ... I was a firm supporter of the NDP.

For my American friends, that's about as far left as the Canadian political spectrum goes. Although for the sake of clarity, I would have to say is not quite as far left as American Democrats go.

Anyway, as I was saying, I could pretty well be counted on to vote NDP. Because basically I believed in what they believed in. 'Social justice', I suppose I would label it, for lack of a better term. Sure, I foraged a little closer to the centre occasionally, with a few votes for the Liberals sprinkled here and there (which generally happened when I particularly liked the Liberal candidate in my riding), but for the most part, I sided with the NDP.

And although I remain a big NDP supporter provincially, it's more than a bit of a different story federally. I lost faith with the federal NDPs a long time ago. I can't say for sure exactly when but it was probably sometime around the end of Alexa McDonough's time as leader of the federal party.

Prior to Alexa taking over as leader of the federal party in 1995, she had been the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP party. I had really liked Alexa in her provincial stint, so I was pleased to see her take over leadership of the federal party. But it must have been sometime shortly before Alexa's retirement in 2003 that I felt my faith with the federal NDP start to wain.

Criticism. All criticism. All the time.

That they were good at. But at some point they seemed to start losing their ability to come up with constructive alternatives, constructive solutions. While in her stint as leader of the Nova Scotia NDP (where she was by the way the first woman in Canada elected to lead a major party in a provincial legislature) Alexa coined the phrase "shocked and appalled," which eventually became synonymous with her. And, when she moved on to the federal party, the phrase, at least in my mind, became synonymous with that party. Because it seemed like they were, you know, "shocked and appalled" by just about everything.

For part of her time in Nova Scotia, Alexa was the lone NDP member in the house, a one-man woman party, as it were. And in her own words:
"I was often pretty obnoxious in terms of flying by the seat of my pants and in some ways living up to the worst stereotype of kind of a holier-than-thou ‘I know what’s right here and what’s wrong with the rest of you.’ I can understand how that would happen, and somehow ‘shocked and appalled’ seemed to be the label they put on it."
Alexa was followed federally by Taliban Jack Jack Layton in 2003. He remains the leader of the federal party today and quite frankly, he has rubbed me the wrong way from the get-go. Initially it was the constant carping, the negativity, the apparent disagreeing just for the sake of disagreement and the nothing positive to offer in return posture. Later, it was often issue-based, as well. So, no, not a big fan.

And now, it looks like Layton is up to his usual shenanigans. Earlier this week, Layton (quite predictably) seized upon the comment of British Brig-Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith that "we're not going to win this war" in Afghanistan. He was also quite happy to tag team the General's comments advocating negotiations with the Taliban.

Did I ever mention how the Conservatives had given Layton the handle "Taliban Jack" a few years ago for his suggestion that all would be well if we would just sit down and "talk" with the Taliban? Yeah, my reaction exactly.

At any rate, I imagine we could have renamed Layton 'Happy Jack' earlier this week as it seems as if he has been spouting how horrid, wrong and immoral the actions of Canadian troops in Afghanistan have been for at least a couple of years now. And how they need to come home. Now. Did I mention how that better be right now?

Yes, once again, Layton acted in predictable style. In his own words:
"I'm heartened by the words of this senior military commander who is adding his voice to those many, many Canadians and others around the world who believe that the prosecution of the continued war effort has got to be changed,” Mr. Layton said.

“The New Democrats came out very early with this view and we've continued to argue respectfully with those who disagree that there's got to be a new path ... Let's hope that more and more people are reaching this conclusion.”
Well, Jack, you might want to check your facts a little more carefully before you try jumping on that particular bandwagon. Make sure there actually is a bandwagon, like, and who might actually be on it.

Apparently, what the senior British military commander actually said was that troop levels need to be sufficient to contain the insurgency to a level where it does not threaten the survival of the country's democratically elected government.

And by the by, Mr. Layton, just to be clear, the key to negotiating with any Afghan tribes which might be persuaded to switch sides, much like disgruntled Sunni tribes did in Iraq, is that any such negotiation must come from a position of strength.

As pointed out in an editorial in Wednesday's edition of the Chronicle Herald,

Ultimately, Mr. Layton’s policies would only weaken the Afghan government’s hand. If all NATO countries were to follow his lead – declare the war unwinnable, then pull out their contingents ASAP – what precisely would there be left to negotiate with the Taliban on the ground?

Surrender?
Damn. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Not-So-Little Bus Driver

Made the good choice of taking the family out to Camp Aldershot a few weeks back for their open house. Aldershot, apparently more properly known as "Land Force Atlantic Area Training Centre Aldershot", is, they say, is a training facility for Land Force Atlantic Area of Canadian Forces Land Force Command. And to think I always thought of it as just our local Army base.

Anyway, the open house was a good day, with a lot of interesting stuff to see and after four hours we still hadn't got through it all. But what turned out to be one of the most interesting parts came at the very end of the day when we reached the Cadet area.

Army Cadets and Air Cadets, take your pick. Not much of a choice really, given that when we walked through the Army Cadet area no one even spoke to us as opposed to going through the Air Cadets, where I was really blown away by these kids. They were so excited about what they were doing that they literally beamed. At every table, my youngest was asked the same question "How old are you?" immediately followed hard on her answer with the excited "Did you know you are old enough to be an Air Cadet?". Well, let's just say that if she didn't, she figured it out pretty quick.

Add that enthusiasm to the fact that the first thing the girls were offered to do when they walked in the drill hall was fire a rifle and, yeah, you guessed it ... I am now the proud parent of an Air Cadet.

Well, perhaps more accurately, the proud, frustrated, amused parent of an Air Cadet. Frustrated because she is so excited and hyped each week when she gets home from Cadets, that it's quite a struggle to get her to bed. No matter how often I remind her how late it is and that she does have school tomorrow. And frustrated and amused to see her try to polish boots for the very first time. To a military shine, no less. Practice makes perfect or so they say and for her sake, I hope they're right. And, I must admit, quite proud the first time I saw her in her uniform (the summer dress version with the shirt and tie).

But tonight, for the first time, I saw her in her winter uniform. Blue pants, blue sweater, blue belted jacket, blue parka, blue wedge. Now I am pretty well accustomed to the ribbing the Air Force takes from the Navy, not the least of which involves them being *fondly* referred to as "bus drivers". But tonight when I stepped back and took a critical look at my daughter, I couldn't help but burst out laughing.

She did. She really did look for all the world like a bus driver. I could swear I've seen that uniform (minus the wedge, of course) on some local transit workers.

My daughter. The bus driver. Just how much prouder could a mother's heart be?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chicken ~ Meet Head

When things are going well, all seems relatively right with the world, I blog. I blog then because I actually like to blog, I really enjoy it.

When things aren't going well, when things are really bad, it may take a while but I find that I will generally tend to blog about at least some of it. Not so much because I want to but because I need to.

So what does it mean when I haven't blogged for a whole week?
Geez, I'm not entirely sure except I think it might be a matter of Chicken ... Meet Head!