Monday, February 21, 2005

A Bit of a Waste

Well this is rather expected of me so I guess I can't disappoint. I need to rant a bit. I went ice fishing this past week end with Arthur and Retroboy. I live in Ontario and require a fishing license for which I proceeded to Canadian Tire. Now that the background is set, I need to set the props primarily the mechanism for keeping track of the fishing license year after year. It is a plastic card with little identifiable information on it outside of you name and height and eye colour (go figure!) In fact it is not apparently valid without picture ID that is how undistinguishable the vitals are on this card. Now this is the kicker this card was issued with a three year license and a corresponding expiry date on the front. On the back was four empty spot for new stickers.

Props set, background story in place... let the rant begin. I apparently am a complete idiot for thinking that I could just get a new sticker to fill one of those four empty spots on the card. No, the card had expired and that meant I had to get a new piece of plastic at an additional cost of $6. I unfortunately got really indignant with the poor girl behind the desk but quickly transferred my anger to those responsible for this none too subtle cash grab and complete waste of plastic. I phoned the Ministry of Natural Resources and was surprised when someone (a real person, no menu options, nothing) answered on the third ring. I explained what was going on and was told that the get a lot of complaints about the fact that the card is only good for three years. I told her that I thought it was ironic that a ministry that is responsible for promoting the responsible use of our environment required a brand spanking new piece of non degradable plastic every three years. I also expressed my dismay at the deceptive four blank spots for new stickers and that charging $6 for an unnecessary new card was a bit of a cash grab. She then proceeded to tell me that many people complain about the card but if my complaint was about the price that was unjustified. I could not believe it, but was getting no where so I paid my fee to get my new piece of plastic.

Now my friends of course are killing themselves laughing along with another Canadian Tire employee behind the desk. I found out later that one of my friends has a card that expired two years ago and he has new stickers.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Weird Competition

Sorry for not posting for some time. As I mentioned in my last post I am reading a new book (Hegeomy or Survival) and it has severely affected me. And yes I am still reading it. I admit I am not the most proficient reader and Chomsky does tend to use "big" words (some of which I have had to look up).

Anyways this post is not really about my reading skills. I wish to comment on what seems to be a rather morbid and misplaced obsession by the world and particularly the media on the Tsunami disaster. Now don't get me wrong, as most people, I am horrified by the sheer destruction and will not for a moment pretend to understand what this disaster has meant for the people affected. It just seems the world was caught up in a game of competitive compassion and mortality rates. Let's face it the headlines focused on the death toll and how much money was given. In the initial aftermath money was pledged by most governments and then pledged again and again in a game of dueling generosity. The later media coverage seemed to be obsessed with the ever rising death toll.

While I believe that both are newsworthy and has probably resulted in more money being pledged to the area (for which they need every penny), the news has diminished now that the statistics aren't changing. Clearly there is still much to be done there. Much of the independent and critical press, which sadly I believe is unread by most, is doubtful if the dollars will ever leave the coffers to the tune that they have been pledged. Even more so now that the worlds attention, and media, is once again focused in Iraq. History also does not appear to be on our side as other disasters have yet to see their pledges delivered:

  • Bam, Iran -- Earthquake 2003, $1.1bn promised $17.5 Delivered
  • Honduras / Nicaragua -- Hurricane 1998, $8.7bn pledged, Less than a third delivered.
Makes you wonder if the pledges of support are window dressing. I heard on the radio this morning a startling statistic that 210, 000 children die every week from preventable diseases caused by conditions of sever poverty. In essence a Tsunami disaster once a week. The radio spot was highlighting the difficulties facing the world in fulfilling the pledge of eradicating poverty by 2015. Given the world's track record of supporting social issues such as poverty or aids relief in Africa, it is difficult to be optimistic that the world will ever achieve this goal.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Trembling in the Belly of the Beast

I am currently on assignment in Houston, Texas. Nothing makes me more paranoid of the good ol' US of A than actually being in the country. While these people go about their merry little lives their government participates in state sanctioned terrorism. Ok... wait a second where did that come from? Oh, and I thought I wasn't going to take myself so seriously. Well, I made a big mistake and indulged in the airport bookstore on my way to the execution capital of the world and bought Noam Chomsky's latest, "Hegemony or Survival". An odd book to pick up for "light" reading on the plane.

Most people that no me know that I am no big fan of the mighty political machine that is our neighbor to the south. But please believe me I am not anti-American. Indeed this book has made me realize that. In a way it has made me sympathize with the nation that so often tries to the "right" thing yet is steered so blindly of course by the ruling class that dominates their highest political offices and coerces its own population into numbness. What this book has made me realize that nothing much has changed since the days rulers that were "ordained by God" to govern in her peculiar absence.

Manifest destiny is alive and well in the US and its current practioners are wielding it as a brutal blunt instrument. I am amazed that the overwhelming evidence of the abuses of the current administration goes largely unchallenged. How else can we explain the re-election of an administration that has presided over such abuses as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the arrogant defiance of the world's opposition to the illegal actions of the invansion of Iraq. And that is just in the last year. I wonder how the world can sit idly by wile the US moves forward on its plan of global domination and its farcical attempt to parade a group of powerless countries / regimes (Grenada, Nicaragua, Iraq) as the greatest threat to world peace.

But I have my answer when I reflect, I have not lifted a finger. As impassioned and incensed as I am I have come to enjoy all the trappings of a lifestyle that is normally associated with the pursuit of the "American Dream". Am I to throw that away and the comfort it gives to me and my family? Am I being overdramatic? I just don't know where to start and even if it would have an effect. There are far more intelligent people then I that have been trumpeting the case (Noam Chomsky comes to mind) and have had little effect in halting or even slowing the assault on human rights or civil liberties.

On the other hand should I comfort myself in the thought that all empires have crumbled despite their frantic grasping of at continuation. In the meantime I can comfort myself with Winston Churchill's words that "the Americans will always do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives". Let's pray that we can be that patient and that not too many have to die in the exhaustion of alternatives.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Demographic Quirks

I have been watching some mid afternoon TV lately, ok reruns of Star Trek: TNG on SpikeTV, the network for men. Somehow the "network for men" doesn't seem to fit the normal description of a "trekkie". Anyways, I have noticed a rather disturbing profile of what SpikeTV must consider to be their key demographic that they pass on to advertisers. It would seem that men who watch TV in the afternoon are:

  • Out of work or in low end jobs, hence all the skills upgrade adverts
  • Have small penises (Hotmail seems to presume that as well)
  • Are overweight
  • And are in serious need of an upgrade on their internet connection

Now for some reason SpikeTV thinks these guys must have a swinging social life because they are bombarding the air waves every ten minutes with an ad for some auto awards show a month away. Clearly we have to book our social calendars well in advance.

Let me check my calendar.... (I think I'm free)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

My First Post

I was inspired by some friends after reading their blogs to create a blog of my own. You think that would be fairly easy. Hah! This is my second attempt at a blog after spending two and a half hours trying to be smart on the first one. What a disaster. It seems to me that these things are most effective when they are personal and fill a void of expression that can't be filled elsewhere. While this is the void I need I guess a place to post some self-criticism.

While first things first. Most recently I accepted a job with a new company and while it is a good opportunity it also scares the crap out of me. I am a self-professed perpetual procrastinator and with the exception of one of my closest friends the laziest person I know. Case in point, I work form home and since announcing my departure from my current company have had plenty of free time on my hands (hence this blog experiment). I could have used the time to immerse myself in some readings and preparation fro my new job or on the home front continue work on the office I am building in the basement (needs to be completed before kid number 2 arrives in June). But nooooooo, I use the time to try to beat the evil conformist army of Borg invaders in Star Trek Armada II. What a loser.

Well that was a bit of a rank and quite therapeutic. I think I like this blog stuff. Anyways I am off to eat some lunch (something out of a can most likely).