Monthly Archives: November 2004

We need a time of goodwill, but not two months of it

We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry… CLICK. For crying out loud, it’s November.

Malls are already tormenting me with Christmas carols, blaring from outdoor speakers no less, and merchants have been handing me beverages in Christmas-themed cups for weeks. If we don’t take a stand, we’ll soon be getting pumpkins carved to look like Santa. Which would be scary, but not in a good way.

Christmas is not an extended commercial, people. It’s a particular special occasion. As legendary movie director Frank Capra expressed it, “At Christmas I see myself as I really am. And as I could be, if I weren’t such a stinker. As the whole sick, weary, unhappy world sees itself as it might be, if it weren’t such a stinker. Noel! Joy! Peace awaits. Killings, brutality, meanness is here. Cry world.”

Don’t mince words, Frank. What do you really think? Continue reading

Build a better cockroach and, well, I’m not sure

The way technology is developing, soon we’ll have R2D2s just about everywhere, if we don’t watch out.

Monday’s Citizen, for instance, says scientists are working on a robot cockroach. Does not compute. In what way is the current biological cockroach so insufficiently disgusting and pestilential that we need the vermin equivalent of Robocop: bigger, dirtier, scarier? If you made it of pleasing aspect and fresh pine scent, to play music while vacuuming your house, I could see the appeal. But purists would surely quibble that it wasn’t technically a robot cockroach.

In any event, these guys didn’t go down that path. Their robot cockroach is so realistic it even smells like a cockroach. Perhaps you didn’t know cockroaches smelled. But other cockroaches do. And this device, whose job is to infiltrate colonies of cockroaches then influence their behaviour, needs the right “perfume” or the disgusting little beasts will smell a rat. No wait, they’d like that. They’d smell a boot. Continue reading

And John saw that it was good

And the lamb lies down on … the Outaouais. Yes, the Outaouais. Or at least at the Casino du Lac Leamy theatre.

Some people will have no idea what that opening line was about, and if I throw in Gabriel and Genesis they’ll be thinking Old Testament, not the finest concept album in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

By the same token, many of my fellow Earthlings will respond to an outburst of “Hey hey, we’re the Monkees” with a worried look, not a cheerful “People say we monkey around.” Music is like that. But The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which tribute band the Musical Box will perform Thursday and Friday at the Casino, is something special. Continue reading

It’s a myth that George Bush’s win was hard to predict

Pardon me while I do an end-zone victory dance. Oooga chacka!! Oooga chacka!! Bush Bush Bush! (Now please imagine me doing a back flip and not landing on my head.) Not only did my candidate win, but I predicted his victory in this newspaper three weeks ago. A PhD in U.S. history didn’t keep me from understanding why George Bush was more popular than the chattering classes and polls suggested. And by roughly how much: Exactly two weeks before Nov. 2, I predicted on the radio he’d win 281 Electoral College votes. Thank you. And on that basis, let me explode some myths about American politics.

1. The electorate is evenly divided. Wrong. Gay-marriage bans were on the ballot in 11 states from the deep red South to the swing states of Ohio and Michigan to strongly Democratic Oregon. They passed easily in every one. In Oregon (Oregon!) more people opposed gay marriage than supported John Kerry, including majorities in all but two of its 36 counties. Ohio even banned civil unions, by a far wider margin than it elected George Bush. It’s not America that’s divided. It’s the Democratic Party. In Canada, all the Liberals and half the Conservatives may be liberals, but in the U.S. half the Democrats are Republicans. Thus the party nominated a brie-nibbling goose-huntin’ hawkly dove of a pro-choice Catholic elitist common man, hoping activists and swing voters would read the ink blot differently. But it’s hard to run when your left and right legs are going opposite ways. So the Democrats didn’t just lose. Their margins of victory shrank in some key blue states; their congressional minority dwindled further; from the Rockies to the Atlantic south of Illinois, they are unwelcome and no relief is in sight. For if George Bush is as unappealing as his opponents and many Canadians believe, what happens when the GOP runs an attractive candidate? Continue reading