Friday, January 29, 2010

Which Way is Up?

The war is ending...

But first, we will have to rejoice in killing many, many more bad guys.


This was the morning take on Afghanistan.

The Taliban are joining i n the peace talks...

And we're getting ready for a big new offensive against the Taliban.


I'm naive and stupid when it comes to little things like war and international diplomacy.

This is probably how the real world works.

But is it OK if I stay confused and bewildered?

Sorry is the Cheapest Word

I have friends who are police.

I like the police.

I am getting tired of watching the police disgrace themselves.

Here are two headlines from this morning's press:

Man beaten by Vancouver police to sue

Second Surrey Six Mountie investigated

The two stories are unrelated in specifics, but they are united by an unhappy common theme - police are straining our necessary sense of trust and good will in their motives and behaviour on and off the job.

I appreciate that police are human and like me and you they make mistakes every single day.

I appreciate that as police you are often, more often than not, dealing with garbage and crap.

Probably it could be safely argued that your job is tougher than many other employments.


But please...let's get you out of these kind of headlines.

By the way, in the first case quoted...mistaken identity. Oops, we're sorry may not cut it.

When Will We Learn? When Will We Care?

Terry Naugle of Nova Scotia was convicted of drunk driving in 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1989 again, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006 and, most recently, 2009. He never received a lifetime driving ban, at least until the 2009 charges, for which he is being sentenced next month.

Above is the first shocking paragraph of an editorial in yesterday's Globe.

Apparently, we continue to believe that driving a car is some god-given right in this country and no matter how dangerous and demented our behaviour, we may do so ad naseum.

Apparently, we continue to believe in this country that drinking booze badly is just an amusing side-bar to real life and it is to be chuckled at while we have another.

Apparently, we have no balls, no values and no political will to get real on this subject.

J.D. Salinger

"If you really want to hear about it..."

One year I traipsed around the winter campus of the University of Manitoba in my tweed great coat. I called it my Holden Caulfield.

"The Catcher in the Rye" is and was and probably will continue to be a monumental success in so many ways - as a piece of literature, a publishing gold mine and a mysteriously alluring cultural icon.

Today when students from other countries ask me what book they should read, I buy them a copy of "Catcher."

Is there a course at any school in North America that doesn't have this slender volume on its required reading list.

A few more books and short stories and then the famous retreat.

Hidden in the woods somewhere in New England, J.D. Salinger became even more famous and more sought-after.

is the N.Y. Times obit.

What's Your Sine?

Subject: Teacher Arrested
A teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the
man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

'"Al-Gebra is a problem for us," the Attorney General said. "They derive
solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.." They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as "unknowns", but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to
every triangle'.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, "If God had
wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes." White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President. It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics will follow.

Victor Has Room to be Peeved

I'll try to be brief.

I do contract work for Aboriginals. As part of this, I often bring
some of them to Vancouver for discussions. Many don't have credit
cards so they can't reserve hotels. No problem. I put their rooms on
my personal credit card and the Federal government pays me after. I
don't charge the Feds for this credit service. I've been doing this
for 9 years. But each time I book a room for a Native , the hotel
requires me to send a photocopy of my credit card, front and back, via
fax. These are hotels where I've done this umpteen times. No fax, no
room. If I offer to read my credit card number over the phone , the
hotel ( I could name a dozen in Vancouver) says that I could be
anybody. Ditto for trying to do it on-line. Like I said, 9 years.

So, as Desi would ask " splain this". I travel a lot. I can give my
credit card number to the reservation person in Toronto and arrive
with the assurance that my room will be waiting. I can book a plane
to Dubai on line with my card and swan up to the desk at the airport
with total assurance. Why, if I am trying to do this for somebody
else, does the hotel require a fax with photocopies of my card and

Is it because the people are Natives? What is the risk. You can't
steal a goddamn room and sneak it past the concierge.

The hotels tell me they are only trying to protect me. From what? I
always send a signed fax stipulating that my card will only cover one
room for one night. If I have paid in advance, why do they give a shit
about who actually sleeps in the bed? They're covered for Chrissakes?

Ok. I'm done.