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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

First snow...

Click to see larger

I took this photo about 11:00 last night, by opening my bedroom door, aiming quickly and using a flash.

This morning there is about twice as much on the ground. Yes, it's beautiful - it is a blanket of silence, absorbing the rougher sounds of human activity and somehow amplifying the sounds of nature - a clump of snow falling, a bird chirping, a branch cracking. It purifies like a wash of light over a dark landscape.

It's also useful to clump into balls and throw at other people, preferably from behind.

Alas, now I have to shovel my drive so a collegue can make it in for a meeting (I work from home).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Something satirical...something sweet (and strong)...

The first video clip below uses some clever editing to play with George II's words. The second, courtesy of Enigma4ever, is the sound of President Kennedy's voice. She has a terrific post on him.

Where oh where are the leaders today? Where are the people with deep human values, the courage to speak the truth, a vision from within rather than sound bits and the strength to swim against the corrupt, consumeristic, divisive and short-term-thinking river of idiocy being offered today?

Sounds like our Aussie friends have started the ball rolling, by tossing Prime Minister Howard out of office this week. He even lost his own seat...

Friday, November 23, 2007

A message to all vegetarians...

Okay, you are vegan or vegetarian or lacto-ovum vegetarian. You may even be a member of PETA. Hell, you may even wear nylon shoes and belts.

You certainly passed on the turkey for Thanksgiving. You don't eat the flesh of the cow. You may even avoid chicken ovums (aka eggs) or the fluid from the udder. I think you owe it to yourself to watch this video by the Canadian band The Arrogant Worms. It's an important message and something that must be faced. (I was vegetarian for 15 years so I know your passion, your righteousness, your sensitivity - I know you.) Enjoy the song.

Hey, this is meant to be funny, don't get your shorts in a knot, whether you're a carnivore, herbivore or ominvore...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Best wishes to my Yank (aka American) blogger friends...

Thanksgiving means a lot of things, and there is the nice myth too (natives feeding the starving settlers, who later annihilate them... but let's not go there).

Let me simply wish the very best of the holiday to you - love, family, food, friends, fine beverages, good stories, memories of those who have died... and stretch pants for dessert. (I didn't mention shopping and football, which may be on your list of things for today.)

Love to you all.

P.S. We have Thanksgiving in October in Canuckland.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Across the Universe...of brilliant films

Okay, I don't have any idea why the local theatre was filled with teenagers... and me (maybe a handful of others over 20).

After all Across the Universe is a movie with 35 Beatle songs performed in part or whole. It takes place in the turbulent sixties, with a storyline that incorporates politics, drugs, sex, sexual identity, Vietnam, psychedelia and rock and roll. Where were the rest of you Boomers?

My rating: Somehow Director Julie Taymor manages to put something forward that is visually stunning (don't miss the army induction number), musically vivid, original and has a compelling (if simple) plot. The performers are talented and well cast (watch for Sexy Sadie...who is). Yes, there are characters named Lucy, Jude, Prudence, Sadie and Maxwell, but it works. Yes, there are a couple of annoying celeb cameos and a slow stretch here and there, but I'm going to wait a week or two and see it again.

On a more personal note, I experienced many of the 'themes' of the film when I was a young man, including war protests turned violent and the amazing rise of hope and idealism that quickly fell, tempered by reality. I was moved to tears a couple of times in the film - and not the romantic bits.

Okay, I might know why the young people filled the theatre. There are extremely attractive and talented young performers to gawk at - and can you beat 35 Beatle songs in one place?

Watch the trailer, see the film and if you have, what did you think?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is it spring yet?

Have a look at this webcam, from Kootenay pass, not far from where I live. If you look every once in a while, by January you'll see a wall of snow about 15 feet high. It snows in these mountains!

On Friday I drove west over the Paulson Pass, and plowed through snow for the first time this year (it was sunny and dry at valley bottom).

I can't think of a better nation to be born into than Canada. Freedom, affluence, natural beauty, space, diversity, social democracy - nice. But this winter thing is bad karma for me. I know it's beautiful and crisp and clean and all that. But I think a few weeks of snow and cold weather would do me fine, but we get oh, about 4 or 5 months of the stuff.

Places I have wintered that aren't here: France (4 times), Sudan, Israel, India, Florida, California and Greece. I've been going to La Manzanilla Mexico for at least a week or two the last few years... and will go for almost a month in late December.

I know some people can't wait for snow and love to ski and board and revel about in their many layers of clothing. I respect them deeply. For me, a long flat beach or a rolling desert horizon work better.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...

This is a photo of my father's spitfire landing on the first Allied runway established in France after the Normandy invasion. He's the pilot in the photo. An astounding image in several ways...(click to see larger)

World War I was first known as the Great War, or the War to End all Wars. It only got the "I" because of the war 20 years later that was give the "II". WWI officially ended at 11:00 am on the 11th of November 1918.

Remembrance Day is a big deal in Canada. For many. It's a sombre day, a day to gather around the cenotaph in village, town and city and to remember the young men who died before they were anything but young. It's a time to miss them and to grieve together. In Canada it's generally not a glorify-the-military and pump up the patriotism day. It's a day to remember.

I go to the ceremony every year, partly to not let history fade from memory and partly because both my grandfathers fought in the trenches in World War I and my father fought in WWII. The first war claimed more than 60,000 Canadians (of a population of six million then). It was arguably one of the more useless conflicts in recorded history. Both grandpas were on the front line, both were wounded - one with gas and one shot by a sniper. Both survived - of course, that's why I'm able to be here.

My father was a Spitfire pilot in World War II, or as some call it, the extension of the Great War (and that it took 20 years to grow another generation of soldiers). When he was 20 years old, he and his squadron flew over the beaches during the D-Day invasion. Only one of the 24 young men in 443 Squadron was older than 21 years old that day. In less than a year twelve were dead.

When I stand at the ceremony each November 11th, I recall my grandfathers and their quiet dignity (well, Bob wasn't so quiet). I also think of my father and what he had to endure before he was really a man. And as a parent I feel for every mother and father who has ever had a son (or daughter) in conflict, and especially those who learn that their beloved child is never coming home. It hurts more than humans can bear.

I abandon politics and my opinions about just and unjust wars etc. until November 12th.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And now for something completely different...

I will find some energy for something thoughtful soon. Meanwhile...

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life is a great flick - lots of laughs and some deep, meaningful, serous numbers such as this little ditty on family planning (maybe half the budget blown on this scene in fact). Fans will recognize it and newcomers will be deeply moved.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Panty Power - calling all women to action!

Susan at Phantsythat alerted me to the campaign below. It's legit folks. Time to find some panties and post, deliver or fling them at a Myanmar (Burmese) embassy near you. There's a very cool little sticker (seen here) that you can print from the Lanna Action site (to paste into a suitable spot in the undies.) Have a look and then make the sacrifice - nothing else is moving these brutish clowns to respect anyone, particularly women.

From The Independent

Activists seeking to pressure the Burmese regime are targeting the superstitions of its senior generals by asking for people around the world to send women's underwear to the junta.

In what may be a first, campaigners based in Thailand have called for supporters to "post, deliver or fling" the underwear to their nearest Burmese embassy. They believe the senior members of the junta – some known to be deeply superstitious – could be made to believe they will lose their authority should they come into contact with the lingerie.

"The Burma military regime is not only brutal but very superstitious. They believe that contact with a woman's panties or sarong can rob them of their power," says the website of the Lanna Action for Burma group, based in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. The group says that Burmese embassies have already received underwear from people in Thailand, Australia, Singapore and the UK.

Embassy Addresses

Pass this along - let the underwear speak!

Monday, November 05, 2007

What's at stake in Pakistan?

Pakistani Children

There are many things in play with the "State of Emergency" declared by President Musharraf in Pakistan on the weekend. What does this mean for regional security? For Pakistan's nuclear program? For the flow of people and material across the border into Afghanistan? For Bush's little attack on Iran (many believe it's only a question of when)?

I don't have the answers (comment with yours if you like), but from a human rights perspective, it's a horrible mess. By Monday, hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists and political workers have been arrested or arbitrarily detained across Pakistan. The Office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was raided by a large police contingent on Sunday and around 70 human rights activists were arrested. They have been charged with unlawful assembly under public order provisions and initially detained in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore.

They include senior citizens many of whom suffer from ill health.
Amongst those under house arrest is the Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion Asma Jahangir. Her house has been declared a sub-jail where she will be detained for 90 days under preventive detention laws.

Independent TV and Radio news channels have been prevented from broadcasting within the country since Saturday. New laws restricting freedom of print and electronic media were issued, breach of which attracts three to four years imprisonment and heavy fines.

Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan, had some strong words. Here are some samples:

General Musharraf's actions constitute a direct assault on Pakistan’s judiciary, its vibrant human rights community, independent media and peaceful political dissent, said Ms Khan.

Measures that have been portrayed as necessary to protect Pakistan are in fact a wholesale abrogation of fundamental human rights protections and dismantle the very institutions and checks and balances that underpin the country’s stability.
He needs to step down and and stand aside for the democratic processes that have taken hold and started to grow over the past few years.

Just-discovered blog of the week...

I found Kathie in cyberspace recently - can't remember what the links were. Anyhow, she's a terrific cartoonist and blogger from Vermont. Have a look if you have a moment. Crazy Irish Chick

Sunday, November 04, 2007

If you like stupid, but impressive tricks...this video is for you

Whether you play soccer or not, you have to be impressed by these skills, demonstrated in a simple office. The neat little trick at the end is not to be tried in any of your offices, trust me on this one. May you smile...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Title courtesy of Groucho Marx

It's already November. I keep telling people I just moved into the house I'm living in...but it's been about 7 months already. The perception of time is interesting. Here's something that may depress you.

I recently read some research that measured human perception of time at different ages. It may not surprise you to know that younger people experience time moving much more slowly than older people. Remember sitting in high school physics, listening to your uncle tell you his life story (again), or those endless summer vacations?

Here's the bummer. This researcher's conclusion is that we experience 75% of our life in the first 25 years. Get it? It's going slowly and is filled with new experiences when young...as we age things change less and time seems to speed up. So I'm in my 50's and it's an effing blur now, as I race towards oblivion.

On the other hand, I'm more comfortable with myself and have more understanding (at least I think I do). I also am past having pimples, youthful poverty, confusing choices and wanting to drink, then drive really fast (okay, sometimes I still have confusing choices).

Does this theory make sense to you - not the theory that I have more understanding... the theory about perception of time?

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