Sunday, December 26, 2004

I'd intended for this post to be a review of Simon & Garfunkel's new life album. . .

But more important shit has come to light. To wit: The 'Which Character in the Big Lebowski Are You?' Quiz. I'm The Dude, apparently.

Oh, I also updated the "Responses to Steve's Fan Mail" section. Ever wondered what I'm afraid of? Or if there's anything I can't do? The answers to these, and other questions, are now there.

What a great tagline. I should totally be in marketing.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Was Christ the first Christ Figure?

I have no trouble at all with the suggestion that a lot of Western literature owes a lot to the Bible. I have somewhat more difficulty with the use of the phrase "Biblical archetype", as though said archetypes had never appeared before the Bible, and as though the Bible's authors owed nothing to previous literature.

Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Who's reading this several times per day from the Office of the Registrar?

Also, does anybody know of a humane way to kill a newt? Gingrich's sweling has reached the point that she no longer appears to be capable of eating.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Best Question I've Been Asked This Week

From Nathan (you remember Nathan, right?): What's it like having a moral backbone?


Monday, December 20, 2004

Do you want to know what's stupid? I'll tell you what's stupid

Opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling on same sex marriage is stupid. Not because this is a civil issue being mistaken for a religeous one, which it is, not because people who oppose same sex marriage in a civil sense should focus on lifting their knuckles off the ground, which they should, but rather because there is absolutely nothing in the ruling to oppose, even if you're, say, Stockwell Day. And yet a plurality of voters in a MacLean's poll purport to disagree.

Honestly, with which element of the ruling do these people disagree? With the assertion that the federal Parliament has the authority to legislate the civil definition of marriage? That would be a very odd basis for opposition, coming from the political demographic most attached to the idea of parliamentary supremacy. Or perhaps these people don't like the part where the Supremes stated that legalizing same-sex marriage would not contravene the Charter (to which I, and numerous legal scholars both more prominent and more qualified than myself, respond only "Duh"). Or perhaps the source of these people's frothy chins is the assertion that "the guarantee of religious freedom in s. 2(a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs". That could be it - perhaps the Court's clear statement that civil marriage and religeous marriage are (or can be, at any rate) two different things upsets the rightists, since it removes much momentum from their political arguments.

Look, if you want to oppose same-sex marriage, go right ahead. But if you're going to purport to disagree with the court ruling, on legal bases or political, I'm going to want a reason.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Could he *get* any cooler?

Not only is Paul Wells Canada's finest political commentator (it must be true, for it says so on my sidebar), four of his twenty-one first downloads from iTunes were Paul Simon tunes, from one of his most underrated albums. Marry me, Paul. Just not in this province.

In other news: I'm back. Thanks for your patience.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Why Pierre Trudeau should win the CBC's Greatest Canadian contest - Part III

First of all, let me note that it's now December 19. I know the little heading above here says that it's the fourth, but it's lying. You really can't believe everything you read on my blog. Actually, believing *anything* you read on my blog would probably be ill-advised. You have been warned.

Anyway, it's time for an update, because Mr. Wack of New York has given me a link, and I don't wish to prove unworthy of the honour. So, for all of you New Yorkers visiting this site, prepare yourselves for an eloquent and well-argued explanation of why Trudeau was a better Prime Minister than MacDonald. Hey, where are you going?

In my first post in this series, I argued that Alexander Graham Bell, Don Cherry, Wayne Gretzky, and Lester Pearson were not worthy of consideration for the title of "Greatest Canadian". In my last one, I argued that Pierre Trudeau was, by absolute standards, an extremely great Canadian. I will now argue that he was a greater Canadian than any of Fred Banting, Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox, John A. MacDonald, or David Suzuki.

I'll start with the most difficult comparisons, Trudeau with Banting and Fox. Since these men worked in entirely unrelated fields, determining which one of them is the "greatest" will inevitably be a pointless parlour game.

Welcome to my blog.

Fred Banting was an accomplished scientist. By all accounts, he was also a good man. He shared his Nobel Prize money with his unrecognized graduate student, and he refused to allow profit to be made off of insulin. Go Fred. On the other hand, his accomplishments took place inside a sterile lab, while Trudeau's took place among combatative provincial premiers, a critical press, and periodic election defeats. I mean, who among us *wouldn't* have discovered insulin had we been in Banting's place? Further, Banting did very little to shape Canadian society, beyond allowing a few diabetics to live longer, that they might in turn shape Canadian society. Trudeau. . . well, we've already covered what he did. Banting, the greatest Canadian? Get back in your lab coat, four-eyes.

And Terry Fox - look, the guy had a lofty goal, he pursued it to the best of his abilities, and showed great personal courage in the process. In so doing, he inspired people, and has indirectly led to a lot of money being raised for cancer research. Awesome. Seriously. But who among us *doesn't* know somebody who demonstrated extreme courage in the pursuit of a lofty goal against all odds, only to ultimately fall short? Terry just got more media coverage. Great? Sure. Greatest? Hardly.

And David Suzuki - the guy's a passionate advocate for an very important cause, and he reminds all of us of how very, very guilty we should feel. So far so good. And there is certainly merit to advoating for change from outside of the system. But the thing is that Suzuki probably *could* get elected if he tried. Comparing somebody who willingly spends his life shouting from the sidelines in the hopes that others will take up arms to somebody who decided to face the slings and arrows of electoral politics in the pursuit of his beliefs is really no contest. Sorry, David: you're fired.

(Was that an Apprentice reference? No. But thank you for asking.)

Which brings us to Trudeau, Douglas, and MacDonald - the three who can actually be compared with each other on some basis of legitimacy. That I *will* compare them on any such basis, mind you - more likely I'll just make dark utterances about Tommy's and John's sex lives. Still, though, let's see how this turns out.

Without John A. MacDonald, Canada likely wouldn't exist. Without him wining and dining regional politicians, without his playing ethnicities off against one another enough to retain a majority government but not enough to see the country torn asunder, without his drive to construct the railroad at any cost (especially ethical costs), Canada would simply not exist today. Sir John applied his considerable talents to the pursuit of. . . the pursuit of what, exactly? I mean, really, what kind of accomplishment was the creation of Canada? Everything that distinguishes Canada - Medicare and the Charter, to name a couple - came *after* MacDonald. Indeed, given that American society was, in 1867, generally more progressive and liberal than British society (of which MacDonald was devoted to Canada remaining a part), it could be argued that confederation was a regressive step. John A. MacDonald made Canada, but he did not make Canada great - that was left to the likes of Douglas and Trudeau.

If there is one person on the list besides Trudeau who deserves to be the Greatest Canadian, it's Tommy Douglas. As head of Canada's first socialist government, he introduced a number of measures that are now key to how Canadians define themselves, Medicare chief among them. He also went into federal politics, where he cleaned the floor with Trudeau during the 1968 leaders' debate. But Trudeau's accomplishments played out over a wider scale, and Trudeau was able to win most of his battles, which wasn't true of Douglas. While losers might have more to do with defining who we are as a country, winners are the ones responsible for our accomplishments. Trudeau it is.


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