Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How Rothko's Seagram murals found their way to London

Mark Rothko was an unknown abstract expressionist when he won a plum commission - to provide paintings for New York's swankiest restaurant. So why did he pull out and give them to the Tate?

"I hope to ruin the appetite of every son of a bitch who ever eats in that room," he gloated, with paintings that will make those rich bastards "feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up".

It appears that Mark Rothko was not as much of a sellout as he is accused of being.

cuban television sets

No plasma TVs in Cuba or, for that matter, chez Nag. My TVs are only marginally better than the ones in these photos.
In Cuba, television is the most important communication medium and a national pastime. No matter that the TV sets themselves are outdated, pre-revolution relics imported from America or sets from Russia over fifteen years old; green-hued beasts jimmy-rigged with ancient computer parts and fantastically adorned like religious altars.

In Cuba the government controls all media, including the three main newspapers as well as the two television stations. They broadcast news reports, baseball, educational programs, soap operas, and Hollywood movies. Whether used for information or as a background for socializing and drinking rum, during broadcast hours, all TVs in Cuba are ON.

via J-Walk

Coretta Scott King Dies at 78

Coretta Scott King, who worked to keep her husband's dream alive with a chin-held-high grace and serenity that made her a powerful symbol of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s creed of brotherhood and nonviolence, died Tuesday. She was 78.

78th Annual Academy Awards

This the first time in ages that I've seen a lot of the films. Oscar night should be more interesting this year.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Guns and Dope Party

Sick of the same old, same old? Here's the party for you! Among other things they advocate:
[1] guns for those who want them, no guns
forced on those who don't want them (pacfists, Quakers etc.)
[2] drugs for those who want them,
no drugs forced on those who don't want them (Christian Scientists etc.)
[3] an end to Tsarism and a return to constitutional democracy
[4] equal rights for ostriches.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bread - Threat or Menace?

Research on bread indicates that:
1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
5. Bread is made from a substance called 'dough.' It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!
6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
8. Bread is often a 'gateway' food item, leading the user to 'harder' items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, it has been proposed that the following bread restrictions be made:
1. No sale of bread to minors. 2. A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers. 3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread. 4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage. 5. The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools.


I was at the Book Depot and found the word "unputdownable" on three book jackets (and I wasn't even searching for it). I came home and picked up the book I am currently struggling not to put down, Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. When I turned it over I found the words, "Another unputdownable novel from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities" on the back cover. Made me want to put it down. I think whoever came up with this word should be put down. So there!

The Real Story of John Walker Lindh

Frank Lindh tells his son's story.
"I have three conclusions that I have based on the facts of John's case. First, the rights we enjoy as citizens under the Constitution at times of war and national crisis, and they can be undermined by politicians and the media. Recall that every one of the government officials who I quoted took an oath of loyalty to the Constitution when they were sworn into office. And yet look how quick they were to disregard the Constitution in order to make rhetorical points about John Lindh.
As I tell law students when I speak with them about John's case, the Constitution of the United States does not live in a vault at the National Archives, the Constitution lives in our hearts, and it's up to us as people to maintain the values embedded in the Constitution. We cannot trust the politicians and the media to do the job for us. I think I have to say, too, that it was only the intervention of a courageous legal team, headed by Jim Brosnahan, that literally saved my son's life. I cannot even contemplate what might have happened if these lawyers had not stepped up to defend John.
I think it's clear that the United States really made a mistake in treating Taliban footsoldiers and the Afghan army as if they were al Qaeda terrorists. This was unjust in the eyes of the whole world, but especially among Muslims. And finally, I hope you will indulge me when I say that the mistreatment and the imprisonment of John Lindh was and is a human rights violation. It was based purely on an emotional response to the 9/11 attacks, and not on an objective assessment of John's case."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Is This What They Voted For?

Lower taxes are great, right? Unfortunately the Conservative plan to cut taxes only applies to those making big bucks. See David Crane's take on what a Harper budget will offer to the rest of us:
Crane: Tories' tax change may shorten honeymoon: "Like the GST proposal, the Harper Child Care Allowance spreads a lot of money very thinly without achieving much good, and also delivers the biggest benefits to the well off. An executive's wife who can afford to stay at home, and who has no taxable income, will pocket the entire $100 a month for each child under 6. A working mother struggling to get by on a modest income will pay tax on the $100. "

Thursday, January 26, 2006


This is a picture my dad sent me of my stepmother's car after she ran into a column in an underground parking garage on Saturday. She and her passenger were seriously injured. She is in hospital for the time being and I imagine it will take her awhile to recover. I can't imagine how fast she was going to do that kind of damage.

Supersize Moi

Why are the French getting fatter?
McDonald's is more profitable in France than anywhere else in Europe. Sales have increased 42 percent over the past five years. Some 1.2 million French, or 2 percent of the population, eat there every day.

Wait until they discover the in'n'out 100x100 burger!

Gallery of Demonic Tots and Deeply Disturbing Cuisine

This site is truly frightening.

Lost treasures of Constantinople test Turkey's 21st-century ambition

We knew from the ancient documents and records that there was some kind of port around there. But we didn't know exactly where. We didn't know that it could be Constantinople's first harbour.
This important archaelogical find is under the proposed new high speed rail line that will link Europe and Asia.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wine lovers' lament

I have eaten at Le Select, a little taste of Paris, for more than twenty-five years. It's not trendy but it is cozy and reliable and I love it. They've moved to new digs on Wellington Street and today's Star has an article on the hoops bureaucrats made them jump through to get permission to transfer their impressive wine cellar to the new location.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Most Depressing Day Of The Year

I wonder if the election of a Conservative government here in Canada had any effect on his calculation.

Last year January 24th was the most depressing day of the year, this year it's January 23rd (the Monday closest to January 24th). At least that's what Cliff Arnall, a health psychologist at the University of Cardiff in Wales says. He came up with the formula - 1/8W+(D-d)3/8xTQMxNA - to calculate the lowest emotional point of the year. The formula consists of factors such as the weather, Christmas debt, time elapsed since Christmas and the failure to keep a New Year's resolution.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Pikachu Hors d'oeuvres: " The Hasbro company manufactures a device for extruding Play Doh (TM) into two piece molds in a variety of forms. Approximately 20 CC of an extrudable dough-like material is placed in a cylinder, and a lever piston forces the material into a two-piece mold. (see illustration 1)

While the proprietary material Play-Doh (TM) is the intended substance for this device, the researchers experimented with a variety of cheesy comestibles, with the intent of creating an attractive and unusual party appetizer.

Thinner sliced and softer cheeses proved to be the most successful, however, very soft cheeses tended to stick to the mold, and deformed upon removal. (See illustration 2)

A light coating of vegetable oil allowed the softer cheeses to release from the mold without deforming, and also added an attractive sheen to the appetizer."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Squid and the Whale

A great movie and it didn't make me cry! I'm getting fed up with being put through an emotional wringer every time I see a movie. This one details the breakdown of a marriage from the perspective of the two sons. I could see a lot of my boys in these two characters (not the semen smearing, I never caught either of the little nags doing that!). The dialogue made me chuckle and I liked all the characters without exception, even Jeff Daniels as the pompous, narcissistic dad. It reminded me of Ang Lee's The Ice Storm in that it shows kids reacting to and suffering as a result of bad decisions that their parents make. Divorce is war and the boys feel they must choose sides. The whole sad situation is handled with a lot of humour and clever subliminal touches (like the posters on the wall of dad's new hovel). We leave the movie believing that the kids are alright.

What a Shame

I was rooting for the whale.
The lost whale stranded in the River Thames died Saturday as rescue workers tried to ferry it back into the open water, one day after the mammal strayed into the murky waterway.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Real Estate: Woody Buys $25.9 M Townhouse - NYO

Fresh off his critical success with Match Point, director Woody Allen is treating himself to a $25.9 million townhouse, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
It's not sour grapes, this just seems immoral to me. There are plenty of people who manage to live in New York on a hell of a lot less.

Vintage Image of the Day

In honor of Sam Mendes' Jarhead, to be released on Friday, we're going to do a week's worth of Vintage Images from war movies. And what better place to start than with one of the most iconic images from any kind of movie, the above shot of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity? The film, directed by Fred Zinnemann, was the second most successful picture of 1953, behind The Robe (the first film shot in Cinemascope) and ahead of Shane. Kerr only took the part when Joan Crawford dropped out (she 'abhorred the costumes'); both she and the costumes won Academy Awards. Frank Sinatra also took home an Oscar for his supporting role in the film. At the time, his career was in a terrible slump (often credited to his appearances, alongside Gene Kelly, in a string of musicals that flopped then but are now considered classics), and nobody wanted to hire him. He eventually agreed to take the role for $8,000, a tiny fraction of his $150,000 asking fee. His career never 'slumped' again.

Belfast Exposed

RUC Land Rovers form a barricade outside the offices of the Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group, to enable an Orange Order parade to pass unobstructed through the mainly nationalist lower Ormeau area of South Belfast against the wishes of residents.

Need More Confidence?

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?
Do you suffer from shyness?
Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Tequila.
Tequila is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. Tequila can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything. You will notice the benefits of Tequila almost immediately, and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past, and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living, with Tequila.
Tequila may not be right for everyone.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Tequila. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.
Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister."

Dr Who Fans Go Crazy For The Ultimate Toy

"Sci-fi fans are dribbling at the prospect of owning the definitive Dr Who toy , a brand new ,2,000 full-size Dalek replica."

Meg Ryan To Adopt Chinese Baby Today?

Other Hollywood stars who have discovered the thrill of adopting Chinese babies include Angelina Jolie, Diane Keaton, Sharon Stone and Nicole Kidman. I guess it's all the rage. Are these babies becoming the latest fashion accessories? I wonder what they do with them when they stop being babies....

Callwood speaks but few listen

June Callwood has fought a long battle against child poverty. I know it's an issue that people care about. The political campaign that I'm working on has received far more emails on child poverty than on any other issue (they outnumber other emails by about 20 to 1). Why then doesn't it get the play it deserves? It's clear that the media aren't interested. They focus instead on SSM and who called who unpatriotic and which party Buzz likes this week.
"As voting day neared, Callwood and three other children's activists held a news conference to appeal to Canadians to consult their consciences before casting their ballots. Four journalists showed up. The pile of press kits sat pathetically on a table. The child-care workers and church leaders who'd gathered for the event tried to hide their disappointment. Callwood was magnificent. She delivered her message as if she'd been speaking to a crowd of hundreds."

Waits is breaking new legal ground

Tom Waits has a very distinctive voice and it seems that many corporations want to use it to peddle their wares, with or without his permission. It looks like he's making a whole lotta dough and maintaining his artistic integrity by suing the bastards when they use his voice without his consent.
"Sixteen years ago, he won an influential case against Frito-Lay over a vocal sound-alike in a Doritos commercial, and he has pursued imitators ever since. Last Friday, Waits was awarded damages in a case against Audi for a commercial in Spain using music that was similar to his song 'Innocent When You Dream,' sung in a voice like his. Another lawsuit is pending in Germany against the Opel division of General Motors, this one for a version of the Brahms 'Lullaby' performed in what he calls a suspiciously Waitsian voice."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Military Free Zone

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, if you attend a public high school, your school system is required to turn over YOUR private information to the US military unless you OPT OUT!
I heard this discussed a long time ago. As the mother of two young men I find this form of "negative option" information sharing to be morally repugnant, like cable companies' negative option billing policies that were struck down here in Canada. The courts ruled that the companies' policy of billing customers for services they hadn't signed up for, unless they opted out, was illegal and reprehensible. The American military is treating young men's lives as cavalierly as Rogers or Cogeco treated the Wrestling/True Crime/ Celebrity Channel package. Military recruiters are taking advantage of the No Child Left Behind Act by aggressively targeting schools where the majority of students are low income or people of color. Many young people have, and will continue to end up on the front line of war just months after graduating high school.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poor Little Monkey

They did it to me again! I saw King Kong and found myself getting a little teary. I cry at nearly every movie I watch lately. Strangely, Munich a genuinely tragic story and all too true, elicited nary a sniffle from yours truly. I guess real human suffering can't compare to some Hollywood confection.When Kong was brutally shot down I had to wipe my tears, square my shoulders and give myself a shake. There is no giant ape with a sensitive side, one that plays gently with the girl he loves and gazes wistfully at sunsets after a long day of raptor killing. I've been manipulated. A very good example of how film makers and advertizers toy with our feelings is the IKEA commercial about the :: Poor Poor Lamp that was left to rust in the rain. Funny what a little soft lighting and sad music can do. I was almost ready to start a sanctuary for abandoned lamps.

Monday, January 16, 2006

CAW Endorsements

Buzz Hargrove and the Canadian Auto Workers Union have endorsed 19 NDP candidates in Ontario. Wayne Gates, the candidate I'm working for is one of them. I'll say no more for now about brother Hargrove and strategic voting but take my word for it that this particular endorsement was hard won. What remains to be seen is whether Buzz has the clout he thinks he has.

Woman takes over Liberia

"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf takes office today as Liberia's new head of state, carving her name into history as Africa's first elected female president and taking the helm of a ruined country struggling for peace after a quarter century of coups and war."

Chile elects first female leader

A socialist doctor and former political prisoner was elected yesterday as the country's first female president, with her conservative multimillionaire opponent conceding defeat in a race that reflected Latin America's increasingly leftward tilt.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


"Not eating enough fruit? Forgot to feed the fish again? Need a little help keeping your New Year's resolutions? Tell us what to hassle you about, and we'll nag you via email at semi-unpredictable intervals."

Mr. Nag doesn't need HassleMe - He has me.


Trademark political shenanigans

I was surprised to see Cory Doctorow commenting on the Parkdale-High Park election race in today's Star. Looks like he supports Peggy Nash. Good.
"As well as being a writer, I'm a partner in a copyright-based business whose server is located in Toronto, not far from Bulte's riding. Boing Boing is the daily blog I co-edit; it gets about 1.7 million readers a day. We rely on copyright to protect our income, but we also need copyright to get out of the way when we quote, excerpt and include stills from other websites in the course of reporting on them.
Copyright extremists like Bulte can deliver systems that give large corporations more opportunities to profit from the public, but they never do artists any favours."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Long-distance lovers wed

A COUPLE have married over the internet , despite NEVER having met in person."
Is this a News of the Weird story? I don't happen to think it's so strange because my own mother married a man she'd never met. She lived in Lachine, Quebec. He lived in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I guess they were both lonely and became pen pals through some magazine or other. They corresponded for a number of months, he proposed, she moved to Arkansas and they married when she arrived. My sisters and I were freaking out because they'd never met. What if he was some sort of abusive redneck? Luckily he turned out to be very caring. They had about ten years together before she started displaying Alzheimer symptoms and he took good care of her until the end.

What Can I Say About This?

Muslim father of house-bound girls loses family: "VALENCE, France, Jan 6 (AFP) - A Moroccan man who kept his four daughters house-bound in the name of Islam was given an eight-month suspended prison term and deprived of his parental rights by a court in southern France on Friday.
The 45 year-old man , whose name was not made public in order to protect the children , refused to let the girls attend school on the grounds that they would be made to remove their Islamic veils.
At his trial in December the man walked out of the court after seeing that the judge and the prosecutor were both women."

Paper Clips

I saw Paper Clips today. I don't know what I was expecting. I knew it was a documentary and thought it might be about contemporary office culture. I was wrong. It's an amazing film about a school project in Whitwell Tennessee. I know it doesn't sound fascinating but it is, and moving too. Click on the post title to see a trailer.

The Monumental Cemetery at Staglieno

Monumental Cemetery at Staglieno - Genoa Italy:
The Italians have the best cemeteries. This site captures some beautiful monuments. I haven't been to Genoa but I took the photo of the soldier and his bride at a cemetery in Florence after a long walk up a steep hill one rainy day. Because Florence is such an old city there are many thousands of people interred there and many of the crypts are above ground in units that resemble bus station lockers (in the building behind the happy couple). I assume that these would have been people who could not afford incredibly elaborate monuments.

Another Reason Not To Shop At Walmart

(Although, after watching this, I don't really need another reason.)

Changing Diapers At Wal-Mart:
"I brought my 2 year old daughter with me, and sure enough, a diaper change was needed. So I go into the bathroom and the Diaper Changing Station has a lock on it. I was unable to lower the table. Then I see a sign that reads...
75 CENTS to change a diaper?"

Friday, January 13, 2006

What a Surprise!

You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(5% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Must Blog Quickly

Received an e-mail from Lori saying "Quick! blog again! I can't stand looking at that woman!" So I'll share a deep, dark secret with you just to get something new on the page: I had a dream the other night that I was kissing Stephen Harper and it wasn't half bad! Let me assure you that I find him distinctly unappealing in every way and have commented before on his thin-lipped phoney smile (it looks lipsticked). I'm beyond ashamed of myself. Personally I find swapping spit with Stephen Harper even more distasteful than the "What a 30 Day Bender Can Do To You" post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Maybe This Is What Happened To Me

What A 30 Day Bender Can Do To You

These before and after (before is on the left) show a woman who went on a 30 day drinking binge for a British TV show. Over 30 days, going out five nights a week, she consumed a staggering 516 units of alcohol, or 17.2 units a day. Guidelines say women should drink no more than two or three units a day, and a maximum of 14 a week."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wonderful Photos

Quiet ResistanceRussian Pictorial Photography, 1900-1930s:
Russian Pictorial Photography, 1900–1930s
November 28, 2005—February 26, 2006
Moscow House of Photography

The Debate

My immediate response to last night's national debate:
  • Duceppe, having nothing to lose in this English language debate, gave direct answers to all the questions. I really like his stand on social issues, no sucking up to the right-wing social conservatives. He's far to the left, a former communist and not a tree-hugging socialist.
  • Layton performed well but was a little too scripted and light on specifics (we'll stand up for seniors, working people, children, etc. but how exactly?). Last election he was like a tiny barking dog, nipping at the other candidates' heels. This time he looked almost serene and came across as sincere, if sanctimonious at times. I get a little confused when he talks about the NDP's wonderful performance in the minority parliament. If things were working out so well why did he force this early election? The most we can hope for is another Liberal minority and may end up with a Harper majority. People may have been impressed by his manner but I don't think this will translate into votes.
  • Martin had the most gravitas but seemed very tired and sometimes desperate. This showed most when he said he would ban the use of the notwithstanding clause. I felt sorry for him when the others attacked him. Don't tell anyone but I've always haboured a certain fondness for Martin and have to remind myself that he gutted the EI program and cut the deficit at the expense of Canada's most vulnerable citizens. He focused on Canadian values. He did well, considering that he was the target, but I doubt that he gained much support.
  • Someone obviously told Harper to smile more or perhaps he's developed a nervous tick. He kept flashing a thinlipped smile but his eyes looked steely. He did this inappropriately throughout the debate, for instance when he was talking about the four murdered Mounties (am I the only one who noticed this?). However he stayed on message and spun his stuff in a positive fashion ( to the extent of misrepresenting his party's position). He probably gained support and will likely be our next Prime Minister. Let's hope some of the yahoos in his caucus break out from their cones of silence and sabotage his chances.

In the end they all did better than I would have done in the same position.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alcohol Trivia

Alcohol Trivia:
President Lyndon B. Johnson's favorite drink may have been scotch and soda. He would ride around his Texas ranch in an open convertible in hot weather. He drank his 'scotch and soda out of a large white plastic foam cup. Periodically, Johnson would slow down and hold his left arm outside the car, shaking the cup and ice. A Secret Service agent would run up to the car, take the cup and go back to the station wagon (following the President's car). There another agent would refill it with ice, scotch, and soda as the first agent trotted behind the wagon. then the first agent would run the refilled cup up to LBJ's outstretched hand, as the President's car moved slowly forward.

President Lincoln, when informed that General Grant drank whiskey while leading his troops, reportedly replied "Find out the name of the brand so I can give it to my other generals.

As late as the mid-17th century, the French wine makers did not use corks. Instead, they used oil-soaked rags stuffed into the necks of bottles.

Methyphobia is fear of alcohol.


An Unfortunate Photo

This is just begging for a caption.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Which Would Jesus Choose?

Oh, I don't know...they're all so beautiful.

Religious Tattoos A Web Site Devoted to Judeo-Christian Body Art

Looks like everyone else in town wanted this as well. When my friends and I arrived at the enormous theatre it was sold out and people were being turned away. However Judy worked her magic and scored 3 tickets and we were in! Capote was not what I expected. I thought it was going to be more of a biography including all his bitchy high society stuff. It wasn't. The film focuses on the period during which Truman Capote wrote In Cold Blood. When I was a girl I read the Life magazine article on Truman and the Clutter murders. I remember the photos of the murderers and the uncanny physical resemblance of the actors who played them in the movie. I read the book and saw the movie and, being young, this story had a great impact on me. Capote was incredibly moving and well acted, definitely Oscar bait. I'm so glad I was able to see it.

Crunks '05

The Year in Media Errors and Corrections: A collection of shocking and truly hilarious corrections and errors from around the world. I thought this was funny (though some might not):
"The Denver Daily News would like to offer a sincere apology for a typo in Wednesday's Town Talk regarding New Jersey's proposal to ban smoking in automobiles. It was not the author's intention to call New Jersey 'Jew Jersey.' "

Or how about this:
"Norma Adams-Wade's June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite." The same thing has happened to me, only people think I'm a socialite and find out I'm a socialist.

Or this from The Guardian:
"In our G2 cover story about Hunter S Thompson yesterday we mistakenly attributed to Richard Nixon the view that Thompson represented "that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character". On the contrary, it was what Thompson said of Nixon."


Saw Steven Spielberg's Munich last night. What struck me most was that it was not an "American" film. The excellent cast is international - no American heroes. In fact the only Americans in the film are CIA villains. It's shot in a variety of European cities ( I always like a bit of sight-seeing with my drama). There's a lot of tension, broken occasionally by a bit of subtle humour. In the end it turns out to be a strong indictment against violence as a means to settle the conflict in the middle east, The original title of the film was Vengeance after the George Jonas novel on which it's based so I thought it might be very pro-Israel but it was balanced.

Death List Update

Lou Rawls died yesterday. This must make the people at The Death List 2006 very happy.

Fake Blood and The Smell of Napalm In The Morning

Amputees have star roles in war games
This bizarre story appeared in Harpers this month and in The Toronto Star today. Apparently the US government spends $117 per year staging elaborate war games, most recently in Fort Polk, LA. They construct entire cities complete with sounds, smoke and smells and then go at each other with laser guns. What's beyond strange is that the fake insurgents, made up of amputees, Arabic-speakers and Louisiana extras, crush the American troops in these exercises. Now that's frightening.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Killer Salmon?

Is is safe to eat salmon?: "A new report from U.S. researchers concludes that, for most people, the potential cancer risks of eating salmon containing toxic chemicals outweigh the benefits gained from also consuming the fish's heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.
They calculate no more than six meals a year of farmed Atlantic salmon should be considered safe. "

I eat salmon once a week; I poach it with dill sauce, grill it with teriyaki, barbecue it on a cedar plank, put it in salads or sandwiches, etc. Turns out I might as well be eating it with a little acrylamide or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons sprinkled on top. Apparently the chum they feed farmed Atlantic salmon comes from polluted waters, is contaminated and the carcinogens are passed up the food chain to us. Everything we eat seems to be irradiated, pumped full of hormones, antibiotics or pesticides. It's enough to make one anorexic.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Death List 2006

The Death List 2006: "So here is Deathlist for 2006. A quick summary of the idea behind DeathList: The DeathList committee draws up the list at the end of each year with the objective of selecting the celebrities most likely to die in the next calendar year. The list comprises 50 celebrities, with no more than 25 who appeared on the previous year's list. Candidates are not eligible if their only claim to fame is that they are likely to die shortly. Candidates must also pass the famousness test - which is basically that their death will be covered by the UK media. DeathList 2005 finished with 12 successes, the same total achieved in 2004. The record performance remains the mighty haul of 14 deaths in 2003. Whether this can ever be beaten remains to be seen."
I thought most of these were dead already. Lady Bird Johnson is still alive? Vera Lynn, Jake Lamotta, John Profumo? Brooke Astor is 104 years old? Surely she's got a few good years left.

Education Is Life Threatening in Afghanistan

Headteacher decapitated by Taliban: "Suspected Taliban militants have beheaded a headteacher in central Afghanistan, the latest in a string of gruesome attacks on teachers working in schools where girls are taught."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In Case You're Wondering, I 'm Against The War In Iraq

This is a powerful piece:
Eliot Weinberger : What I heard about Iraq in 2005: "In 2005 I heard that Coalition forces were camped in the ruins of Babylon. I heard that bulldozers had dug trenches through the site and cleared areas for helicopter landing pads and parking lots, that thousands of sandbags had been filled with dirt and archaeological fragments, that a 2600-year-old brick pavement had been crushed by tanks, and that the moulded bricks of dragons had been gouged out from the Ishtar Gate by soldiers collecting souvenirs. I heard that the ruins of the Sumerian cities of Umma, Umm al-Akareb, Larsa and Tello were completely destroyed and were now landscapes of craters.
I heard that the US was planning an embassy in Baghdad that would cost $1.5 billion, as expensive as the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero, the proposed tallest building in the world.
I saw a headline in the Los Angeles Times that read: "After Levelling City, US Tries to Build Trust."

Even That Milquetoast, Letterman, Hates Bush (and O'Reilly)

Updated: With O'Reilly as Guest, Letterman Denounces Iraq War & Criticism of Sheehan NewsBusters.org: "Displaying a hostility to President Bush and the Iraq war similar to that expressed by Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, on Tuesday's Late Show David Letterman went further than I've ever heard him in revealing his derision for President Bush's decision to launch the Iraq war and contempt for anyone who dares to criticize Cindy Sheehan."
Good for you, David (if a little late in coming). Methinks it's becoming mainstream to denounce the commander in chief.

100 Most Annoying Things About 2005

I agree with retroCRUSH. Some of these things are teethgrindingly annoying:
One of my biggest laughs of the year was hearing that a local film critic shouted "If I have to watch one more movie with that ugly no talent buck toothed Jack-O-Lantern, I'm going to scream!" I think she's a fine enough actress, but she's managed to guest star in every single film of the year. It doesn't seem possible, but I think I even saw her in my 1987 high school graduation video.
I just don't get the fascination with movies like Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and the not to be outdone 18 kid remake of Yours, Mine, and Ours. Look for Disney's upcoming, Sweet Lord, My Uterus Exploded! (starring Dakota Fanning, of course) to come out next summer.
When did America become so feeble that it needed to chug down high caffeine ginseng guarana voodoo juice sodas to stay awake? I recall a fonder time when all a lad needed to stay up all night was a cup of coffee and trucker pills."

Not to mention these :

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Waiterrant offers some helpful tips on HOW TO ORDER WINE WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE AN ASSHOLE:
"9. DO NOT SMELL THE CORK! - When I see someone do this I know I'm dealing with a complete amateur. Guess what you're gonna smell? Cork! You want to feel the cork to make sure it's intact. Is the bottom of the cork moistened with wine? Good. That means it was stored properly. Make sure the name on the cork matches the name on the bottle. Sometimes unscrupulous bastards put cheap wine in old wine bottles and re-cork them! Is there mold on the cork? That's a bad sign. But smelling the cork, in the vast majority of cases, tells you nothing. (Full disclosure: I used to smell the cork before I was a waiter.)
10. DON'T SMELL THE PLASTIC CORK EITHER!- I can't tell you how many times I've seen people do this. Lots of wine makers are moving away from natural cork to synthetics. Sniffing a plastic cork tells the world you're a moron. Don't smell the bottle cap either. (I never smelled the plastic cork before I was a waiter, so there!)
11. Swirl the wine. Now I pour some wine into a glass for you to taste. Most customers swirl the wine around in the glass to oxygenate or open it up. That's fine. But SWIRL the wine! Don't spin it like you're trying to separate U-235 in a centrifuge machine! You've all seen these "connoisseurs." They put the base of the glass on the table top and get a really good rotation going. Then they stop, smell, spin it again, stop, smell, spin, stop, smell, spin etc. After a few minutes they finally taste it and I have several new grey hairs. Maybe I can see that for 1975 Bordeaux. But for a $25 bottle you can pick up in the grocery store for $6? Please. You're showing off. "

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Bitch Is Back

Cilla Brown:
"Mother-from-hell Cilla Brown is the nastiest woman on Coronation Street - and considering Tracy Barlow lives there too that's some achievement. " We love to hate her and moan about how she treats poor little Chesney. She's a cunning, venomous slut and con artist but what would The Street be without her? I'm so glad to see that she's returned from Spain in all her low-necked, big breasted, sunburned glory. She wasn't off the plane a half hour before she was cooking up a scam to have Roy and Hayley (who cared for Chesney for seven weeks!) charged with kidnapping. What a bitch! I can hardly wait til tomorrow night.

So Long, Ed

The Globe and Mail: A salute to Mr. Decent
Ed is the Globe and Mail's excellent choice for Nation Builder of the Year 2005.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Shaw Festival Film Series

I love living in Niagara on the Lake. It has theatre, wineries, good restaurants and pubs, breathtaking scenery, loads of interesting people and even good shopping. However there is no movie theatre and so Mr. Nag and I often wait until a movie comes out on video rather than drive into St. Catharines or Niagara Falls to see it. The new Shaw Festival Saturday afternoon film series is just what this town and I need:

January 7 - Capote
January 14 - Paper Clips – a documentary
January 21 – The Squid and The Whale
January 28 - Ladies in Lavender
February 4 - C.R.A.Z.Y. – a Quebec film
February 11 & 18 - Screenings will be either Mrs. Henderson Presents, The Worlds Fastest Indian, Brokeback Mountain or Pride and Prejudice.
February 25 - Deepa Mehta’s Water

It'll be great to walk a block to see these films in a terrific venue.

I Wish I'd Read This Yesterday!

Researchers find 'no evidence' that hangover cures work: "Just in case there were any doubts, new research has concluded that the best way to beat a hangover -- at Christmas time or any other time -- is to steer clear of alcohol in the first place. "

Harper's 2005 In a Nutshell

Yearly Review (Harpers.org): "The number of people killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami rose to 230,000. A study showed that 310,000 Europeans die from air pollution each year, and the U.N. predicted that 90 million Africans will have HIV by 2025. An international task force of scientists, politicians, and business leaders warned that the world has about 10 years before global warming becomes irreversible. The U.S. Congress officially ratified President George W. Bush's election victory after a two-hour debate over voting irregularities in Ohio. Terri Schiavo, Johnnie Cochran, Frank Perdue, Mitch Hedberg, Arthur Miller, Saul Bellow, and the pope died, as did the man who wrote the theme song to �Gidget.� An Australian tortoise named Harriet turned 175. General Motors was spending more for health care than for steel, and an increasing number of Americans were heating their homes with corn. El Salvadoran police arrested 21 people for operating a smuggling operation and seized 24 tons of contraband cheese. NASA announced that it wanted to return to the moon.
A study found that the worldwide percentage of land stricken by drought has doubled within the last 30 years. The Jordan River was filled with sewage, and the last of Gaza's Jewish settlers left their homes on armored buses. Terrorists in London set off bombs on four trains and a bus, killing 52 people; President Bush condemned attacks on innocent folks by those with evil in their hearts. A 13-year-old boy in Kalamazoo accidentally burned down the family meth lab. New Orleans flooded after levees broke in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; many evacuees were not allowed to take their pets with them. "Snowball!" cried a little boy after police took away his dog. Snowball! At least 42,000 people died in an earthquake in Pakistan. It was announced that Cookie Monster would cut back on cookies. Authorities in Malaysia arrested 58 people who worship a giant teapot. Poor people rioted in France.
In North Carolina Kenneth Boyd became the 1,000th prisoner executed since the United States reintroduced the death penalty in 1976. A 1,600-inmate faith-based prison opened in Crawfordville, Florida. Police began random bag checks of subway passengers in New York City. It was revealed that the CIA had set up a secret system of prisons, called “black sites,” around the world; it was also revealed that the National Security Agency was spying on Americans without first obtaining warrants. Journalist Judith Miller was released from jail and said she wanted to hug her dog. U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay was arrested; U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was indicted. The Pentagon admitted to using white phosphorus during the 2004 attack on Fallujah, Iraq, and allocated $127 billion to build a robot army. The total number of American soldiers killed in the Iraq war rose to 2,174, while the total number of Iraqi civilians killed rose to 27,636. “We are all waiting for death,” said an Iraqi soldier, “like the moon waiting for sunset.” The U.S. Defense Department, in violation of the federal Privacy Act, was building a database of 30 million 16- to 25-year-olds. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it had wasted a great deal of money and needed much more. Starbucks came to Guantanamo Bay. Scientists began work on a complete, molecule-level computer simulation of the human brain. The project will take at least ten years. "