Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The State of the World: Preempted for Spookiness!

Papa Trail always used to say that computers were "Tools of the Devil." He would usually make this pronouncement after watching me on the phone with Dell Tech Support for five hours.

He would have said it again today as I tried to figure out a way to get my Internet access back online. Did you know if you have the whole cable/internet/phone package from Cogeco, if your internet goes kaplooey, your phone goes kaplooey too? How then, are you to inform them of the problem? With effing smoke signals?

The point is, the news has been cancelled today. You've seen it by now anyway. So what do you get today? Howzabout we indulge our darker sides and look at what's hot this Hallowe'en?

The Trail is not one of those fanatical Hallowe'eners who spend the last half of summer determining what that one costume will be that no one else will ever think of. I find it a headache, to be honest. But I am not without my own Hallowe'en memories, most of which centre around the first house I grew up in.

We lived in a neighborhood off of the main highway in town. It was just a straight grid, three streets north-south, four east-west, so on Hallowe-en you basically made your way through the grid, then went home.

The first costume I remember owning was one of those bag costumes that I think were banned because children were suffocating in them. It was basically a garbage bag you pulled over your head, with a plastic mask that had pinholes for the eyes, nose and mouth. Mine was Superman, so I got a cape, too. Which I kept to go with my corresponding Underoos in the summer months.

The best year was my first vampire year. Man, I thought I was cool as hell that year, in my finery and gelled hair. But the part I remember most was the fact that instead of just escorting me around the neighborhood, my father got dressed up as a hunchback acted as my servant. Hunched over with a rope around his neck, I pulled him wherever we wanted to go. He would run up on other children and growl at them until I called him back. Kids were terrified of him. It was awesome, I was the coolest kid on the block.

I wonder if he knows I've never forgotten that?

Hallowe'en recommendations!

"A Tale of Two Sisters"
While Asian horror films are sort of passe these days in the wake of Saw, Hostel and other gorefests, this Korean film proves there's still some life in the Asian sensibilities of what constitutes a good scare. After a stay at an asylum for undisclosed symptoms, two sisters return home to their distant father and wicked stepmother, and things get odd. With a twist M. Night wishes he thought of, this one knocked me on my ass the first time I saw it. And what's wrong with a movie that makes you think while it freaks you out.

Murder ballads!

There is a long and rich tradition of songs about killings, murders, beatings and death in general in the American songbook, and what better time to enjoy some of these tales of people doing each other wrong than Hallowe'en! From "Stagger Lee" to "Goodbye, Earl" to "Cell Block Tango," there are more than enough ditties out there to fuel the most macabre of karaoke nights.

The Trail's favourite? No contest, Johnny Cash's 1994 version of "Delia's Gone," which you can listen to here, if you'd like.

This website, to learn why it is not acceptable to dress your pets in costumes!

This directory of free public domain scary movies, yours for the download, risk free!

Neil Gaiman shows why he's a big time writer, and I'm a hack, in this beautiful Op-Ed he wrote for the NY Times, probably as he waited for water to boil. Hear, hear, good sir. I would agree that ghost stories are just as compelling now, maybe more so, as they were centuries ago.

To all of you, have a ghoulishly fun evening, and remember to check them candy apples for razor blades.

Monday, October 30, 2006

How great thou art

Part the first
You may be surprised to hear it, Windsor, but The Trail is actually a born and bred Catholic. Oh yeah, babies, I'm talking school uniforms, church on Sunday for most of my life, sacraments, the works.

To be honest though, my churchgoing days are long gone [I doubt forever, but for the moment], though I still maintain a healthy dose of the guilt and righteous indignation that is part and parcel of the faith. And nothing arouses my ire more than self styled preachers who get into people's heads and tell them how to believe. Perhaps I'm an old fuddy duddy, but I believe anything calling itself a church has to be organized, there have to be checks and balances like anything else. Some might argue that same organization has done more to damage the Christianity's rep than anything else, but that's an argument for another time.

Also, the Jesus I came up on was a teacher, one who was certainly firm in his beliefs, but enjoyed discussing and debating Scripture. Maybe that was the fault of the Catholic school system when I was a kid, but there you have it.

Weirded out, yet? Yeah, I don't blame you, but there is a point to this.

This past weekend CTV's W-Five program ran a profile on something that's been going down in Hamilton, Ontario the past few years. They called it "The Pied Piper of Hamilton," and the hour dealt with the Dominion Christian Centre and its pastor, Peter Rigo. The whole episode is available for viewing in five parts, plus there's a transcript, but here's some of the highlights

Starting with some footage of the hour-long concert that kicks off every Sunday service [a reinterpretation of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way,"] we see the usual faces in the small yet passionate crowd. Predominantly white and female, swaying and jumping in that off-putting way that crowds at Christian rock concerts do, jamming to the band, which features Rigo on the drums. I'll refrain from making a snarky comment on that.

I know, I know, you think I'm hating. "Let the babies have their bottles," you say. But Rigo's ministry goes from eccentric to creepy pretty damn quick. Case in point: the first footage from his Sunday sermon.

Here's Rigo's interpretation of churches who canvas and compete for believers:
"And then we compete with the world - Our God is better than yours. Our girls give better blow jobs, that's right, we get laid twice as quick in Christian school. Our God's better than your God."
Now, I've heard a Catholic priest drop a cuss word a time or two, Windsor. Even had frank discussions with one on the whole celibacy thing. But never during Sunday service in front of a room full of people. But Rigo would have no time for a person like me, or most people I know. he doesn't want people who try to live their best lives, attend service on Sunday and deal with that pesky real world every week.

No, Rigo wants, by his own admission, people who will devote and live their lives for God, and for the people at the DCC, that is every available hour. Says Rigo, "A lot of teaching goes on in the name of God, very little living. So the standard that I read in a relationship of God and of the Word is - if you love me, you'll obey me. Not if you love me, you'll learn about me."

To that end, Rigo did his best to set up a self-contained mini society where his flock could live, work and pray with little distraction from outside, and started working on tactics to disarm any criticism. My favourite of these is straight out of the right-wing playbook [and The Trail's, to be honest]: mock any accusations to disarm them of their power.

In his best hangdog, 'did I do that?' expression, Rigo addresses the cameras in the church at the time of the filming.
"I've had the cauldron brewing all this week conjuring up my manipulation spirits, working my hocus-pocus magic. So far all I can gather up with power are a handful of young people and a couple of moms and dads so I'll keep working on it cause you know, we gotta get to the people with the money if we're gonna succeed."

He follows up with an alleged quote from his neighbor: "I'm talking with the neighbor yesterday and he says, 'You know what? If you're a fucking cult, I'm joining it!' I know you can't say that word on TV. But you sure can in the house of God."

Umm, no you can't.

So what do his followers say? Well, said one, "If this is controlling, it's absolutely wonderful, because before coming here I was very uncontrolled."
Said another, "It's cost me family, it's cost me my own way of thinking. But it's not really a cost. It's more a privelege to lose those things." Uh-huh.

Part the second
Regardless of what I might think of Rigo [which is 'sorry, misguided, vain fool,' by the way] or his church [which is not affiliated with any larger organization at the moment. Strictly the Rigo show], there's something larger going on here.

As alluded to by that last quote, Rigo allegedly has no qualms with telling his followers that if their families won't get on board with what he's teaching, then they're better off without their families.

Which is happened to the Brun del Re family. Their daughter Mirella joined Rigo's church a few years back [even got herself a spot playing violin in the band] and ended up spending every spare minute there.

According to the family, Mirella's opinion of them shifted from indifference to outright hate, until she settled in at the church full time. The Brun del Res began to get concerned, and as they began to ask questions, a whole underground of people who had issues with Rigo and the DCC emerged. Soon stories of family separations and Rigo's rage and controlling nature began to come out. The longer their daughter stayed there, coupled with the more they heard about the DCC forced the Brun del Res to make an unfortunate choice they felt they had to make.

On the morning of December 21, 2005, Mirella Brun del Re was abducted by five men, including her father Renato and brother Giancarlo. She says she was handcuffed by her family who attempted to 'deprogram' her, going so far as to fly in noted cult expert and deprogrammer Mary Alice Chrnalogar to try her hand at changing Mirella's mind. According to W-Five, Chrnalogar agreed to talk to Mirella on the condition that the young woman be allowed to leave at her will. So after a few hours, Mirella leaves and goes right back to the DCC.

Her father and brother are facing kidnapping charges and forcible confinement, her mother faces the latter charge. All are facing lengthy prison stays, maybe even life.

Now, anybody's capable of anything, I will grant you that, and maybe some families just can't let go and let their kids make their own decisions. But at the risk of stereotyping, the Brun del Res do not seem like irrational people. The father is a doctor, a family physician; the mother a french teacher at a secondary school. These are not the sort of people who would do something rash unless provoked. And I find it hard to argue that Peter Rigo didn't provoke them.

Mirella Brun del Re was just like a lot of young women The Trail's met: a little lost, looking for something to give their lives a deeper meaning. She wanted it so badly, she doesn't even care that it's destroyed her family. And the Brun del Res might be the most extreme example of the destruction Rigo has wrought, but they're certainly not the only ones.

This is not a new story, Windsor. But I don't know if I can think of another time when it's happened in Canada. We expect this sort of thing from the States. We gleefully lampoon it. But we think we're above it, and we're not. This sort of thing is happening in our own back yard under our noses. Some shyster seduces teenagers and young adults to keep his "ministry" afloat, because grown-ups won't buy what he's selling.

"We gotta get to the people with the money if we're gonna succeed." I hope you're right, Peter. Because the people with the money will see through your tactics, and won't give you a dime.

Hopefully that happens before the damage you've done to so many Canadian families can't be undone.

But what do I know, I'm just a dirty sinner?

The State of the World

It was a good season, Lancers, but man, was that field murder on Saturday or what?

Open forum on dress code Wednesday
This Wednesday there will be an open forum on the topic that refuses to die, the dress code at the Thirsty Scholar. I know you're tired of it, Windsor, you feel defeated, but if you still care even a little, you have a responsibility to make your voice heard. It probably won't change a thing, but they won't be able to plead ignorance anymore.

It's at 12 noon in the CAW Commons.

Aw, hell
A strategist with al-Qaeda has warned Canada to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or face an attack similar to New York, London and Madrid.

The warning came form a document written in July, was only recently discovered and translated by a U.S. non-profit group that monitors terrorist websites. It's the second time Canada has been singled out by terrorist leaders; a deputy of Osama bin Laden referred to Canadian troops as "second rate crusaders" last month.

The newest statement also suggests al-Qaeda leadership is aware of divisions in Canada regrading the role our military is playing in the war in Afghanistan.

Us v. Them, #648290
Given our proximity to the United States, and our constant bombardment with American media, it can be a little hard to distinguish where we stand on certain issues, since most of our information comes from the States. For example: stem cell research. Hotly contested in the U.S. In Canada? A-ok, apparently.

So much so that researchers can get Bob Geldof to cross the Atlantic for the opening of a reseach centre, the McEwan Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Toronto. The centre will focus on stem cell research, regenerative medicine and molecular biology.

Said Gordon Keller, the scientist heading up the centre, "We have to be careful not to over-hype or over-promise, to say that by next year we're going to be squirting new heart cells into people and they're going to get up and run a marathon. But on the other hand we want to balance it to say this is a new way of looking at disease treatment."

Brave new world coud be costing you jobs
A recent survey by Careerbuilder showed that 25 per cent of managers are Googling applicants, and 51 per cent of applications were rejected based on what was discovered online.

When asked what the managers found that caused them to pass on an applicant, reasons included lying about credentials, poor communication skills, bad mouthing previous employers, posted inappropriate photographs or that their screen name was unprofessional.

So if you're applying for that Child and Youth Worker Job, you should probably change your MySpace name, I<3PhatAsses73.

Torture victim tells story
Maher Arrar, the Canadian citizen who was detained by U.S. officials, deported to Syria and tortured for about a year, has a website.

All you so called social justice students would do well to give that one a clicky.

Indian husbands lose "right" to rape wives
For the first time well, ever, marital rape, sexual and emotional assault against wives by husbands are recognized as crimes under Indian law.

According to the article [which may need registration by now. Hit up Bugmenot if needed], India has long been a country where strangers are safe, and the streets have a low rate of violent crime, but wives are not safe in their own home, where every six hours they are burned, beaten to death or driven to suicide by their husbands, according to statistics.

This afternoon we talk about cults in Hamilton, Ontario.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Who Wants to Live Forever

Caught about 15 minutes of O'Reilly on Oprah today, and I really don't have the energy to try and discuss it tonight, Windsor. We'll get to that sometime over the weekend, perhaps. Or maybe not, 'Scratch' is on IFC tomorrow afternoon, and there's nothing we bleeding heart liberals love more than to entertain ourselves rather than get informed. Sigh, Lady Trail informed me today that her father is a stout Conservative, and is actually a big fan of Rush Limbaugh. I suspect the heavens will shake, Archie Bunker/Meathead style should he and I ever go to war on that one.

Anyway, kick your weekend off with the next installment of The Lance Sitdown, this time with the members of Queen: It's A Kinda Magic.

I know what you're thinking, Windsor. A tribute band? But don't hate, these guys walk the walk, too. Most cover bands make it across the county, these guys have traveled the world as the preeminent Queen Tribute act. They played Glastonbury, for God's sake.

As always, we love to hear from you and make it downright ridiculous to get it touch with us, what with the menas you have available to you. Comment here, email at, or through YouTube.

Enjoy your weekend.

ADDENDUM: Boingboing tells us that all Comedy Central links appear to have been removed from YouTube, likely at the behest of the network's lawyers. How long before they go after Crooks And Liars or Think Progress?

DOUBLE ADDENDUM: Chuck Norris doesn't know why the facts about him are funny. But he does think they make a kick-ass way to try and foist some Jesus on you.

In response to the infamous 'tears curing cancer' fact, Norris writes, "If your soul needs healing, the prescription you need is not Chuck Norris' tears, it's Jesus' blood." Oh my.


The State of the World

Paper Trail late with update
Sometimes you gotta sleep til noon and eat some McDonald's with the Lady, Windsor.

Cops looking for idiot
Police are currently searching for 24-year-old Jonathan David Casey in connection with a Thursday morning robbery where a woman was robbed and beaten with a baseball bat and crowbar by two men.

The attack took place in a home on the 400 block of Janette Avenue. Hours later, police apprehended a 34-year-old suspect at a home on the 500 block of Janette.

Yup, one block away. Quality flight from the law that was. All you burgeoning felons should take note of that one.

As I type this it appears police are still looking for Casey, who has a history of violence and is a known drug user. The public should consider him dangerous, as he is prone to carry weapons.

Casey, who goes by the nickname 'Shorty,' is a white male, 5'3" [hence the nickname], 141 lbs has light brown hair, a fair complexion and hazel eyes.

Anyone with information on him is urged to call detectives at 255.6700 ext. 4830, or Crime Stoppers at 258.8477.

U.S. policial spot takes swing at Canada
An advertisement for Republican Senatorial candidates in Tennessee took a backhanded swipe at Canada.

The ad features a number of actors taking shots at Democratic candidate Harold Ford Jr., alleging he supports gun control and is soft on terror and nuclear threats.

"Let Canada handle North Korea," says one actor, "they're not busy."

David Wilkins, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, placed a phone call to Washington to remind the Republican National Committee of the role Canada is playing in Afghanistan, but told reporters that compared to the criticisms thrown at the States from Canada, the ad isn't that important.

"Just imagine if I registered a complaint every time my country or president was criticized," said Wilkins.

New Jersey: America's most progressive state. Zuh!?
While most of the news coverage on Jersey this week has been on the state supreme court's decision to afford same sex couples all the rights of marriage without the title [leaving that to the legislature], another factoid seems to have fallen through the cracks.

This week the state announced that it will not apply for federal funds towards abstinence-only sex education. Basically, the way it works is that if a state applies for the funding, than teachers in that state can't mention contraception and have to endorse sex within marriage as the only "expected standard of sexual activity."

Jersey preferred not to do that. I'll refrain from getting into all the political rhetoric, you can get that from the link if you want. Jersey City, never knew you had it in you.

The last time I plan to mention this
Olbermann discusses the Fox-Limbaugh silliness, this time with actual video of Limbaugh in the studio when he accused Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson's symptoms. It's easier to make a balanced decision on the subject when you can see Limbaugh flailing about as he talks, imitating Fox's symptoms.

Germans give new definition to 'skullf*ck'
German defence officials are promising a full investigation after a popular newpsaper printed photos of German soldiers in Afghanistan desecrating a skull.

The photos depicted one soldier holding the skull near his exposed penis, while another had the skull mounted in front of a patrol vehicle clearly bearing the German flag and the logo for the International Security Assistant Force.

War is hell, as they say.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When you don't know what to talk about
Talk about nothing!

In a mood today, Windsor. Don't know exactly why. Early onset of seasonal depression, perhaps? Irritated with the fact that I can't seem to get arrested in this town? Going a little stir crazy from staying in all the time? Or maybe just plain old lonelier than usual? You tell me.


--Ladies, are you waiting for some last minute inspiration for your Halloween costume? Stop trying to find new ways to slut up innocent costumes, and go out as what you think you are.

--Iraq's answer to the Daily Show. For real. One night the host came out and said the Iraqi Department of Water and Sewage was changing its name to the Department of Sewage, cause they had given up on the water part. Yow. Satire knows no boundaries.

--Slate wonders if the iPod is truly as revolutionary as people want to believe. Slate also argues that Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Michael J. Fox this week were premeditated, because when liberals call conservatives idiots, it only gives those conservatives more power among their followers. Support for Limbaugh must be at an all time high this week.

Talking to my best friend last week, I mentioned that doing this blog has resulted in the unanticipated side-effect of bumming me out in general. I'm way too well informed now, and know way too much about what's going on in the world. At least I don't have to see Glenn Beck anymore. Although, looking at the landscape of political commentary, no one was seeing him to begin with. Ooooooooh.

--You now have 1,200 less opportunities to see Borat nationwide. In what seems to be a cue from the disaster of 'Snakes on a Plane,' Fox Films is taking the safe route and putting the film on 800 screens, instead of 2,000 as originally planned, because they don't feel most people even know who the character of Borat is. Turns out internet hype =/= market penetration.

And with that I realize that I've been surfing for an hour trying to find interesting things to post for you, and they don't seem to be out there tonight. But you'll be happy to know I've come across some possible uses of DRM that you should be concerned about, so perhaps I'll just immerse myself in work instead of drowning in a sea of loneliness. Pity though, I really wanted to eat cornchips and restart my game of Final Fantasy X.

To the morning, Windsor.

The State of the World

High speed chase through Walkerville
A morning cigarette robbery ended with a high speed chase through the streets of Walkerville yesterday.

A cigarette delivery man was loading his van at the corner Wyandotte and Moy yesterday when he spotted a guy with a crowbar running up on him. Delivery man runs around the corner to call 911 while crowbar and an accomplice load at least plastic totes filled with smokes into a Honda, then sped off.

Police on regular patrol spotted the Honda tucked in an alley on Gladstone shortly thereafter. When the suspects saw the cops, they took off and a chase ensued. Despite rocketing through a number of Walkerville streets, including near an elementary school, no one was injured.

One of the suspects was apprehended on Howard Avenue, the second remains at large.

Hey fatty, join the military
The Canadian Armed Forces has eliminated its minimum fitness requirements.

Now, if you're out of shape, they'll take you and hand you to a trainer to whup your ass. The move comes as the Canadian military tries to increase it ranks by 8,000 over the next five years. Though no specific reason was given for the elimination of the fitness test, the decision corresponds with a "loosening of standards" in the U.S.

"If you're 450 pounds, they will recruit you and then put you in a fat camp until you are ready," said veteran and editor of Esprit de Corps magazine Scott Taylor.

BC schoolteacher unaware sex with students bad idea
A former Vancouver high school teacher facing charges for sleeping with a dozen female students told a court judge he never thought at the time of the incidents that what he was doing was wrong.

The accused, Tom Ellison, testifying in his own defence yesterday, said "he can't believe "he was 'that stupid,' saying he wouldn't have done it if he thought he would hurt someone."

Sleep soundly, parents.

Oh. That don't look good.
For the tech-heads: A comparison of how things work in Mac OS X, and how they work in Microsift Vista. Videos in the link. Not that the Mac freaks need any proof or reason to feel superior, but it's nice for the casual Mac user like me.

Couple that with a head-to-head review of IE7 vs. Firefox 2.0, and things could be better for Microsoft's PR right now. And they have to do it themselves, because it's not like Windows generates any passion in its users.

Now this is funny
How did he do his job with a straight face? [link via Digg]

Post script
Why was I not informed that the Genesis Collection is coming to PS2 in two weeks? 28 classic Genesis games including Golen Axe 1-3, Sonic the Hedghog 1 and 2, Phantasy Star II-IV and Comix Zone. Seriously. Comix frigging Zone.

Yes, I know a USB controller and an emulator will get me all that and more on my computer, but I don't want to play games on my computer. Never have, never will. The Trail is 'Console 4 Life,' so the thought of playing Vectorman on my PS2 is just about as much as I can stand.

But no Ecco the Dolphin. You know how I feel about under the sea, Windsor.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

부자는 다르다

A pisspoor shot of K-OS's tour bus, who was in town for a show tonight. Not bad for a Canadian hip-hop artist.

Tonight, Windsor, I want to talk a little bit about accountability. Now, this is a subject near and dear to The Trail's heart because it's something we at The Lance continually seem to get raked over the coals for. There are some who don't believe we're transparent enough, that we isolate ourselves from the student body, that decisions on coverage or advertising should be explained in great detail to everyone who wants them. Sure, we provide such details or explanations to whomever would like them, but some think we should include them in a special pullout of the paper every week.

And hey, rightly so. We may piss and moan about the inconvenience or how unsymapthetic people are to the struggles of their student newspaper, but it's all information they can have access to, so if we get raked over the coals, so be it.

But I don't want to talk about that, Windsor. No, I want to talk about CJAM. Why do I want to talk about CJAM? Because CJAM is even less forthcoming with their information than we are, but it seems no one ever complains about them, and they take more of your money [check the fee structure, it's in your student handbook. Don't check it online, you'll get 404'd. And don't look for this year's structure online, it doesn't exist. Good job, UWSA].

Case in point: Recently, Station Manager Christien Gagnier was given the boot for undisclosed performance issues. This happened on September 21. The Lance reported it on October 4, which is presumably the first time most people heard about it. That was about a week and a half after the firing. The job listing for a replacement went on the CJAM website on October 16. So between Gagnier's dismissal and the call for his successor going live in CJAM's website, almost a month elapsed.
[EDIT: Lance News Editor Ryan Rogers that some of the dates in the original article may be a little fudged, and that the actual date of the meeting where the Board announced Gagnier's dismissal was about a week later than originally reported].

Now while that seems a little slow to me, hey, these things take time, understandable. In the interim, Music Director Adam Fox and Spoken Word Coordinator Chris Cecile are handling things, so the station's in good hands. For real, I'm not being an ass, I like Adam and Chris, they're damn good at what they do. And I'm confident flyers went up in CJAM and throughout campus, maybe spots were in The Lance itself advertising the position, who knows. I don't, I'm not there.

But there were other oddities mentioned in the article. There were quotes from Jan Blondin, the President of CJAM's Board of Directors. CJAM has a Board of Directors? Since when? Honestly, did anybody know that? Who's on this Board of Directors?

Well, everyone's favourite Comm Studies prof Garth Rennie, that's who. Or rather, he used to be. So yeah, no one knows. According to the article, Rennie expressed concerns over the validity of Gagnier's final terms of dismissal, given that statin bylaws stipulate that the BoD be composed of various community members, and at present it is without both a legal and faculty rep.

At the start of every issue of The Lance there's a list of every editor, photographer and contributor to that week's edition. There is no such corresponding list readily accessible from CJAM. A glance at the only contact info posted online and dedicated listening to each and every show is the only way to glean any info about that radio station.

Now I'm not at all suggesting that anyone at CJAM is trying to be shady or hide information from the student body or public at large. All that information is there for you if you ask for it. But no one ever does, and it doesn't look like that info will be volunteered anytime soon.

So all you Dudley Do-Rights who are so concerned with keeping student media accountable, try and remember we're not the only game in town, will you?

I think I need to apply for that Station Manager job. $30,000 a year is a damn sight better than any of us at The Lance are making, believe that.

The State of the World

Location for movie studio approved
Lakeshore town council approved a plan for a movie studio on farmland south of the 401 near Manning road this week. Jim Shaban, the owner of the project, said he has a script optioned with a major director attached, but nothing else could be said.

You make your own joke on this one, Windsor.

Terror group raises money in Canada
According to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, an armed Islamic group affiliated with the Taliban, which has killed Canadian soldiers, is getting funds raised in Canada.

The discovery promptly landed the group, Hezb-e Islami, on Canada's official list of terror organizations.

"[T]hese and other concerns make it readily obvious to us that the group needs to be listed so that anybody who associates with them, in a direct way, or assists this group would face criminal charges," said Day.

"It also would freeze any assets they have and it would shut down any possible financial lines back to Afghanistan where this group could use them to harm our troops and to harm the Afghan people."

Forty-two Canadian soldiers have been killed in the war since 2002.

Cell phones changing life in Kenya
Rocketboom has a cool report up on how cell phones are changing life in Kenya. Cool stuff. My favourite was the woman at the start who told of how she can now call people before she heads out to peddle her wares, to see if they're home. It's just cool to see how the stuff we take for granted is actually making life better for people in other parts of the world.

Fox responds to Conservative a-hole
Yesterday we linked to a story on Conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh suggesting that Parkinson's sufferer Michael J. Fox might have been exaggerating his symptoms when he appeared in a TV spot for a Democratic Senatorial candidate.

Today, Fox responds. Nothing controversial because, well, Fox actually has class. But I like to keep you up to date, Windsor.

Polar bear dies of West Nile. Well that's just great.
A polar bear appears to have died of complications stemming from the West Nile vius.

Kunik, a polar bear that was a top attraction at the Toronto Zoo for 25 years, had to be euthanized after he started having trouble using his hind legs.

A post-mortem at the Ontario Veterinary College found high levels of the West Nile virus in the bear's blood.

"it sure looks like [West Nile] right now," said zoo vet Jean Pare. "It's certainly rare in polar bears. We've never seen it before, that's for sure."

Yeah, pretty sure you've never seen it before because it's not supposed to frigging happen. But ah well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Since it was originally announced that I would be moving six hours down the 401 with Lady Trail, skepticism began to fly with a great degree of frequency.

"You've never lived with a guy," they said, "how are you going to deal living with a woman?"

Some offered advice: "Pick your battles," said Greg, "if you're going to make a fight of it, be sure it's worth fighting for."
"But if she's being irrational, don't be afraid to tell her you think so," said Jeff.
"Don't leave wet towels on the floor," said Papa Trail.

It has been a learning experience, no doubt, and some things have been learned. So, in the interest of helping my fellow men, allow me to share with you some of The Trail's lessons on living with women.

Now, this may sound trite or unnecessary, but I've learned that the biggest thing you need to realize is that she will always be around. I don't intend for that to sound like a bad thing in any way, but I think it's something you boys may lose sight of.

WHEN YOU DON'T LIVE WITH THE WOMAN: Go ahead, leave them dishes in the sink, she'll take care of them later, after you go home.
WHEN YOU LIVE WITH THE WOMAN: Muhf*cka you better do them dishes, cause she'll be home at 3.00, and she just did em last night.

WHEN YOU DON'T LIVE WITH THE WOMAN: Go ahead, pick your nose and wipe it under the table.
WHEN YOU LIVE WITH THE WOMAN: Go ahead, pick your nose. Your ass better have a kleenex nearby, or you walking to the bathroom with booger on your finger.

WHEN YOU DON'T LIVE WITH THE WOMAN: Go ahead, walk around in your drawers.
WHEN YOU LIVE WITH THE WOMAN: Go ahead, walk around in your drawers. But realize she don't think it's sexy. And it ain't.

There are many, many more examples for that one. I'm still learning too.

Other things I've learned, some good, some bad.

BAD: Simply by force of habit, Lady Trail often goes to bed before I do, typically by a couple hours. She usually crashes around 10.30, 11.30 at the latest, I hit the hay anywhere between midnight and 2.00 a.m. I don't know why this is, I have no day job at the moment and I'm a tad nocturnal as it is, so that's how it plays out.

Now, Lady Trail is a heavy, somewhat carefree sleeper. And when left alone in the bed for a couple hours, she will usually spread out on the bed like a frigging starfish dead to the world. Cool, that's her right. Want to know what's not cool? Her body temperature.

I like a cool bed, Windsor. The Trail likes his sheets and pillows to be a little below room temperature when he climbs in. This does not happen sharing a bed with Lady Trail, as she emits heat like a goddam blast furnace. Which means after I exert the effort trying to nudge her back over to her side of the bed, I then have to lie in my hot sheets and try to fall asleep.

GOOD: Now gents, we all know the women have a thing delicately phrased as 'the monthly cycle.' I know what you're thinking, "Trail, have you lost your mind?! How is that possibly a good thing?" Well, with Lady Trail, her monthly cycle causes her to disregard some of the tenets of proper eating.

Which means I get to ignore some of the tenets of proper eating. To put it bluntly, the period means I get to eat like an asshole for five days. Ice Cream for breakfast? Sure will!

BAD: When I arrived here, Windsor, I knew I would have to make some adjustments to my perceptions of cleanliness. The shall I put it? Liked to live in filth, and this was an attitude subconsciously endorsed by his family. Hey, I lived with three dogs, two of them large, in a house with no carpet. Which meant hair tumbleweeds were constantly blowing across the hardwood, the tile in the kitchen was always covered in pawprints, and the afghan on the couch was usually always covered in mud on one side. Add into that the old and busted dog Papa Trail refuses to put down [17 years old, blind and deaf, but still kicking!] pissing all over the floors for people to step in or demark with paper towels, and you have a....unique living experience. The Kingston apartment has been a dream.

Lady Trail does not always see it that way. A single sphere of cat hair rolling by can ruin her evening. A kernel of cat food or litter underfoot can spoil an afternoon. She considers them disgusting. I consider them the natural consequence of owning a domesticated animal. It's not an argument I win. So...we swiffer. A lot. It's still not as bad as childhood life with obssessive-compulsive, pre-Paxil Mama Trail [what 7 -year-old boy gets drilled into his head not to get dirty? Isn't that mandatory for 7-year-olds?], but it leads to an eyeroll or two.

GOOD: Having someone to rant to close by, who tolerates it, is the height of awesomeness. While Lady Trail does read this blog, I sometimes wonder why, since she usually hears 90 per cent of what's posted here over dinner. Today was on Fergie's new single. I swear, the first person who asks me if I'm Fergalicious is getting punched in the ear.

BAD: You can no longer order Dunnys and try to pretend like you bought it a long time ago, she just never saw it. They're on display in the apartment, she knows every one. Bad for my compulsion, better for pocketbook.

GOOD: Cuddles. Don't be that way. Why you trying to be hard? You know you love cuddles. The Trail loves Cuddles. He's gonna go get him some right now.

After he rolls the blast furnace over and cools off.

The State of the World

Canadian anti-terror law squashed by Supreme Court
Supreme Court Justice Douglas Rutherford struck down the part of Canada's anti-terror law that defines terrorism itself, saying it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The ruling may give a partial pass to Mohammed Momid Khawaja, the first person charged under Canada's anti-terror law.

Justice Rutherford "severed" the portion of the law which deals with ideological, political or religious motivations for violent acts, but added that Khawaja could still stand trial for his alleged crimes.

North Korea now not sorry, still no second test planned
Reports coming out of China say North Korea still has no plans to conduct a second nuclear weapon test, and is willing to return to the negotiating table, but will take action if it feels threatened.

The report contradicts earlier information coming out of South Korea and Japan that North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il expressed regret at detonating the weapon.

Right wing pundit attacks Parkinson's victim
Last night on Entertainment Tonight [shut up, The Trail likes junk food like anyone else] I was more than a little heartbroken by a clip of a political ad featuring Michael J. Fox. The ad was for a Democratic Senatorial candidate in Missouri, touting the need for stem cell research. And he did not look good.

Fox suffers from Parkinson's disease, which causes him to gradually lose control of his body. So in the ad, he jerks and pulls from side to side while delivering his message [see the spot here.]

But clearly, this is all partisan politics, and thank God people like Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh aren't afraid to expose it as such. Yesterday on his radio program Limbaugh accused Fox of faking the severity of his symptoms, or purposely not taking his medication.

I understand there's no point in even carrying what these people say, but when you suggest that a Parkinson's victim gives himself a case of the shakes for political purposes, seriously, how do you f*cking sleep at night?

Bush's internet habits exposed
Last night during dinner [because we eat on the couch] Lady Trail and I caught an interview with George W. Bush and CNBC reporter Maria Bartiromo [who is weirdly hot, in a weird way]. At the end of the interview, Bartiromo asks W if he uses Google.

He says yes, he has, specifically the maps. He calls it 'the Google.' Is that just too frigging precious for words, or what? Just picture him on Google Maps, trying to find out where North Korea is...

Are you like me, and can't get enough of Keith Olbermann being Keith Olbermann? Clicky. Though I have to wonder at what point does all this get boring? How many times can you say some nasty shit about the President, which is basically just a variation on the nasty shit you said about him the night before?

Ladies, your dreams are answered: Six Tips on Dating a Geek Guy. Hey PaperCut, Let me know if these are accurate.

Because I insist on including a Weird Al related piece every day: Slate extolls his genius.

New-school atheism: Pissed off. And kind of sad, at the same time.

See you again.

Monday, October 23, 2006

--While I love him, I don't think George Stroumboulopoulos can support an hour of TV a night on his own. His gimmicks get stretched pretty thin. Methinks our boy needs some correspondents.

Like you, Trail?

Oi, I would never dream of making such a suggestion, but I admit, it would make a nice fit.

--In May, YouTube handed over details on one user to Paramount/Viacom lawyers in response to a May subpoena, instead of taking down the user's offending videos on their own. This resulted in the user getting sued by Paramount the next month. So if you're misbehaving on YouTube, don't expect to find any protection in the user agreement.

--So you know the premise of the whole Borat movie, right? Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen portrays Kazakh journalist, makes Americans look dumb, hilarity ensues. Not quite believing it? Convinced the people in the movie were in on the joke? Maybe not.

--I wish I could say I was totally surprised to see Kevin Federline on WWE Raw again, to "get revenge" on WWE Champ John Cena. K-Fed has an album out next week, and Cena's still pimping a movie, so look forward to this trainwreck going on for at least one more week. At least I just heard King Booker say "balderdash!"

--In the spirit of Halloween, the 1922 vampire classic "Nosferatu" is available for watching on Google Video, for free. Enjoy, ghouls.

--As we all know, The Trail loves lists, and here's one he can surely get behind: GQ's 25 Most Stylish Movies of All Time.

--One of the greatest things I discovered in college was AngryAlien's reenactments of classic films in 30 seconds starring bunnies. Well, cable network Starz thought they were pretty good, too, and now pay the woman behind them to keep doing them. A true online success story.

And if there was ever a movie that deserved to be reenacted in 30 seconds entirely by bunnies, it's Fight Club.

--In direct opposition to my love letter to hip-hop last week, Lonnae O'Neal Parker in the Washington Post explains why she gave up on hip-hop. Somewhat depressing, but totally understandable as she explains it.

--Weird Al hits the Top 10 for the first time in his career. Respect.

And with that, it's late, Windsor. I want to finish watching RAW and go to bed.

The State of the World: I Don't Like Mondays

I want to burn the whole day down.

Good weekend for Lancers
The Lancer football team finished the regular season 6-2 after defeating the current Vanier Cup Champion Laurier Golden Hawks 38-29 on Saturday.

The wind gives Windsor home field advantage this weekend in the opening round of the quarter-final round of the playoffs.

And they're playing Western. Stakes is high, yo.

Two local notes
The Voice of Windsor [the most thorough local blog operating today] directs us to, your one-stop shop for all things related to the current municipal election campaign. VOW also draws attention to a number of break and enters that have been reported all over the city lately, and wisely reminds you all that these sorts of crimes are likely to increase as Christmas approaches, so be careful out there.

Military plan slammed as 'act of desperation'
A plan from the Department of National Defense to use Canadian naval and air force personnel for ground combat in Afghanistan is facing harsh criticisms from opponents.

Said a leading military analyst, "I just can't see how you turn a sailor into a soldier without taking as long to do it as it would take for you to take a recruit off the street."

The plan was proposed as a way to prevent sending army units back to Kandahar a second time.

One sailor interviewed in the piece said it makes no difference how he serves: "It doesn't matter if we're in the navy, in the air force or the army -- we all signed the dotted line. We're all here to defend our country and that's what we're paid to do."

Law prof says YouTube can dodge Napster's fate.
How? By gaining the support of the people who initially wanted to sue it out of oblivion.

Why? Because unlike Napster, YouTube is a new form of distribution, not ownership. YouTube is not P2P. When you watch a video on YouTube, you don't get to keep it, you watch on whatever site it's embedded on, you don't save it to your hard drive and/or burn it to a DVD to watch whenever. That and the fact that so much of YouTube is created by the users gives it a protection that Napster never had.

Woman goes to hospital complaining of flatulence, promptly gives birth.

Newfoundland teens beat up boy, videotape it, make boy watch it as they continue to beat him.

Florida woman gets phone call from man threatening to kill her, does nothing, gets shot in face.

It takes all kinds, Windsor.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ethical Questions, and a Disappointment

No snazzy pic today, Windsor. It's been so bloody miserable out all week I haven't made it out into the city.

As I said, Lady Trail picked me up a couple books for the old b-day. One of them was Chuck Klosterman IV, which I mentioned in the earlier post on the reading list [the other was the Murakami collection, fyi. Ain't she a good woman?]

Klosterman's always been known for putting weird little gimmicks or anecdotes between segments of his books, and this one's no different. For the section collecting his shorter columns from Esquire or SPIN, he presents a bizarre ethical question before each one, and answering them can make for a very interesting afternoon. So I present a couple of them here, and in true essay style, you can choose one or the other, and answer in the commments thread.

If you like these, buy his book! It's only responsible.

Think of a friend. Not your best friend, but someone you would consider better than a casual acquaintance. Now, this friend is about to be attacked by a grizzly bear. The friend will survive the attack. This is imperative: they will live. But the extent of their injuries are unknown. Maybe a few scratches, maybe the loss of a couple limbs, but he will live. Maybe in a wheelchair, maybe not, but he or she will live.

Now, you can stop this from happening. For some reason, you can prevent the attack, but if you do, it will always rain. Not everywhere, just where you are. Sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a downpour, but there will always be something, and you will never see the sun again. So do you save your friend or take your chances in the sunshine?

For some reason, you find yourself in Berlin in 1933, and you have the chance to steal Adolf Hitler's wallet. Should you do it, nothing will change: he will still rise to power, World War II and the Holocasut will unfold in exactly the same way. All you will do is rob him of 40 Reichsmarks and ruin his evening. You don't need the money and you will not be caught.

Are you ethically obligated to steal Hitler's wallet?

Answers in the comments thread. Thanks, Chuck. Even if you hate bloggers, you can still make us think. Which is more than we ever do for you, I'm sure.

In other news, I spent a considerable portion of time at the neighborhood Indigo Books flipping through a thick hardcover called '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.' Despite my surprise at seeing two Dinosaur Jr albums(!) included, it wasn't very surprising, but the book was laid out well, with quality printing and at least a three-to-five inch column for each album, with some getting full page spreads.

Apparently there's another one out: '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.' The biggest criticism of the list will be that it only covers fiction. No non-fiction, poetry or philosophy. Most of the Greek classics aren't even included because they're mostly poetry, philosophy or historical record.

At any rate, a lot of people out there on the web have been going through the list and tallying how many they've read. So I did the same. All I wanted to do was break 50, and I did, barely: I checked off 56, had a little cry, and made a vow to get a library card and get cracking on my 20th Century Literature.

At any rate, the full list is here, and I'm sure the book is worth a look, too. Let me know how you stack up.

In conclusion: remember when I said I needed a Dunny fix? Well, November's taking care of it (scroll down). Hotness.

Have good weekend, y'all.

The State of the World

Sorry for the delays, Windsor. Blogger's been giving me lip all morning.

Windsor, Ontario: Still loaded with drugs
Police apprehended three people and seized over $11,000 worth of drugs from a residence on Shenandoah Crescent after executing a search warrant late last night.

Cocaine, ecstacy and marijuana were among the goodies seized.

Canada: Our politicians can be asses, too!
Yesterday during Question Period in the House of Commons, the Conservatives' new environmental plan came under fire from the opposition. Liberal MP David McGuinty was on quite a tear, taunting Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, saying that if the Tories didn't care about the health of Canadians, they should at least care about the health of the animals.

"Don't you care about your dog?" McGuinty asked MacKay.
Said MacKay in response, "You already have her," in what is thought to be a blatant shot at his former girlfriend, Liberal MP Belinda Stronach.

Stronach and MacKay's relationship ended when Stronach unexpectedly switched he allegiances from the Conservatives to the Liberals.

Official transcripts show no record of the exchange, but a number of Opposition MPs claim MacKay pointed at Stronach's empty seat on the Liberal bench, and the comment can be heard on audiotape.

Clearly, a number of people were outraged in the expected fashion.

North Korea: WTF??
The latest, straight from the mouth of Kim Jong-Il, is that his country regrets its nuclear tests, and has no plans to conduct another one.

The North Korean leader also suggested his country would return to talks, if the U.S. backed off a little bit. While unconfirmed, both Chinese and Japanese news agencies have reported the news from seperate sources.

Who knows what the hell he wants.

Bill O'Reilly: Blog Terminator
Last night Billy and his guests were talking about blogs, and how things out here can get a little nasty on both sides of the political spectrum. Bill then mentioned that he knew for a fact that President Bush didn't follow Internet goings on, and says The Prez e has a healthier attitude on blogs than he does, because if he could, Bill would "go in with a hand grenade," whatever the hell that means.

Bu that's not what's baffling about Bill today. What's baffling is before that, when he says bloggers are paid very well to smear people. Who the hell's getting paid very well to blog? And where can I apply?

Mark your calendars
We're all going to die when an asteroid hits the Earth in 2035. But you don't really have to worry about it until 2028.

So go get drunk this weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Word'em up

Yes, it was good. Lady Trail got me a couple of the books on the reading list [that I couldn't afford] and took me for sushi at a swanky place with terrible service. Considering she hates Japanese food, I was very touched. Walking with her on the rainslicked streets of downtown Kingston makes this town all right. Nothing else to speak of, really. Canada Post is irregular, so who knows when anything might turn up. But Daddy needs him a Dunny fix.

Hey look, a video!

Go behind the scenes at your favourite student newspaper with footage from our recent open meeting for interested volunteers.

Which reminds me: Why aren't you volunteering at The Lance? Seriously, it's a great experience, you can get out and meet people in your community, see your name in print recorded for posterity, and have some good experience for your resume. Just don't apply to The Kingston Whig-Standard, that experience ain't worth shit to them.

Totally bitter, haha!

I know there's at least a couple of you here who fancy yourselves writers. So stop by our offices in the Student Centre basement or call D'Arcy st 253.3000 ext. 3909, and see how you do when you're not self indulgent. But don't call him until Monday, he's gone to Vegas.

See you in the morny, Windsor, and thanks for the well-wishes.


The State of the World

Paper Trail celebrates birthday
And if that don't get some comments out of you people, I'm seriously done with all of you.

Today's crime I didn't know existed: swarming
A Kingsville girl is facing charges of criminal harassment after her and her friends swarmed a 14-year-old girl. Police said it was not the first time the 17-year-old girl had threatened the younger girl.

Swarming, a criminal charge? Then flash mobs must be on the most wanted list.

Hard times for Tories
Conservative MP Garth Turner got booted from the party for violating caucus confidentiality, just as his colleagues expressed sentiments that the Tories need to do a better job of getting their message out, particularly to Quebeckers.

On his website Turner criticized details of the Conservatives' Clean Air Act, scheduled to be released today.

Turner says his ejection casts doubts on who MPs are expected to represent: the party or their constituents. Said Turner, "Is my leaving caucus a shot across the bow [to other Conservative MPs]? Yes, of course it is."

The article also quotes Liberal leaders teasing how, given all the ink the party's leadership search has been catching, along with the fact that they're tied with the Tories in popularity without a leader, perhaps a return to the polls this spring could be worthwhile.

Here we go again.

Fake world, real money
Last week I mentioned my bafflement at Second Life, the online world that allows users to wander and do whatever they want, basically. However, unlike something like World of Warcraft or City of Heroes, Second Life is just that: a second life. You don't really do anything there Build a house. Maybe start a business. Play a few games to alleviate boredom. Meet people. And as its grown, it's developed its own virtual economy, which for some has translated into real world dollars.

Still cornfused? Well, the NY Times has the lowdown for you.

Even when you agree, it still gets repetitive
Olbermann goes all Edward R. Murrow on the U.S. administration again, this time on the Military Commisions Act, which basically allows the U.S. military, legally, to detain suspects indefinitely without trial. Remember to be media literate, Windsor: Keith knows his bread and butter just as well as Bill O'Reilly does, and is just as undeserving of slovenly devotion.

North Korean leader makes first appearance since nuke test
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il made his first public appearance since his country tested a nuclear weapon, reports said yesterday.

So what brought Kim Jong out from under his rock? A concert. Of songs praising him. Of course.

Some of the hits performed include, "Who's Awesomer Than You [No One]" and "Your Dick is Bigger than America".

News of Kim Jong's appearance comes as U.S. Secetary of State Condoleezza Rice makes the rounds of Japan and South Korea on diplomatic business.

And with that, I want to make an omelette, ready a cup of tea, and do some reading on my birthday morning. It's a hard life sometimes, Windsor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Manifesto. Kind of.

So I've been devoting a little thought trying to figure out what exactly this blog is supposed to be, specifically the video component. Now that I know I can do videos, the difficult thing is trying to figure out what they should be or relate to.

It really doesn't make sense to use them to do "Paper Trail Classic" style rants on campus subjects, not because I'm out of the loop or not entitled to speak on such matters now that I'm in Kingston [as some would have you believe], but simply because since I'm doing these on my own, whatever subject it might be has been talked to death by the time I get to it. Except for those subjects that break through the looking glass from campus life to the real worlds, most aren't worth my breath.

And really, how many times can I gut the UWSA? It just gets boring after awhile, and this year's crew is like fighting a one legged man in an ass whuppin contest.

So we come to two questions: 1. Do I keep doing the videos. Well, yeah. They're fun, and people seem to enjoy them, and the skills I've picked up doing them are useful for later. Which leads to: 2. What do I talk about?

Now, I've previously touched on what I perceive the level of net savvy of most of the people reading this blog, and the impression I get is that you're competent, but not really aware of what's getting people's backs up in the wired. I think it's a mistake a lot of websites make, they assume that all of their readers will know what they're talking about. I saw the acronym 'DRM' on Boingboing to the point that it pissed me off, and had no idea what the hell a DRM was. But now I do, and I know why Boingboing and other websites has taken up the cause to stop it. And that's something you might be interested in.

Does that mean The Trail is going all tech on you? Not necessarily. But this is where I live now, Windsor. These are the things that I'm emerged in now, these are the things making news on the new frontier of teh interwebs, and some of them might be of importance to you, such as who owns what on here, and why you ultimately get punished for playing by the digital media rules. The iTunes music store isn't as hassle free as it seems. But we can talk about that another time.

So that's well, one part of what I'll be trying to do in the audio/video portions of things around here, among other things. I'm still trying to get to the damn prison museum here, people.

In the background as I type this, Stephen Colbert is mocking a the OHL teams who will be facing the Saginaw Spirit in the playoffs. In case you didn't know, in one of Colbert's prank mobilizations of his fans, he got the Spirit's mascot named "Steagle Cobeagle the Spirit Eagle." He tore through Kingston and Sarnia, but couldn't talk smack about Owen Sound. "It looks like a lovely community," said Colbert.

Oh, and come midnight, The Trail is officially 29 or 2 for 50. Let the misery begin.

I'm onto you

I doubt you noticed, but this site now uses StatCounter, which is a much more thorough app than the old SiteTracker was. I now can see not only how many people have been coming to the blog, but where they're coming from, hell even what browser and operating system they're using.

Poing being, I know you come. I know you read it. Why not leave some sort of indicator that you were here? Leave your scent on the place, it's here for you, for God's sake.

Yes, I'm a comment whore. Don't make me angry, I know where you live now.

Now why does all the UofW traffic come from Sterling Heights, Michigan?

The State of the World

Distinguished Visitor still putting in work
Distinguished Visitor in Women's Studies Lee Lakeman refuses to slow down, offering two lectures for the campus community today:
  • Building a Shelter, Building a Movement at 2:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall's McPherson Lounge.
  • War, Debt and the Trafficking of Women, a panel with Helem Petrimoulx of the Windsor Refugee Office, at 7.00 p.m. tonight in Suite 105 of the Herb Gray Centre, located at 647 Ouelette.
As always, all the details are on the site.

Grits and Tories in dead heat, popularity wise
A poll released in the Globe today shows that the Liberal and Conservative Parties are equally popular among Canadians. According to the poll, if an election was held today, each party would score 32 per cent of the vote, and that Bob Rae is the favoured Liberal leadership candidate to go against Stephen Harper.

The Tories fared the worst in Quebec, where the war in Afghanistan, their stance on the Kyoto accord and insistence on reopening the debate on same sex marriage are all unpopular.

Bear in mind, this poll's a quickie, surveying 1,000 Canadians coast to coast. Hardly an acceptable sample size.

Keeping me below the poverty line since 2003: the McGuinty Liberals
Provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara kiboshed any hopes for a $10 minimum wage yesterday, claiming that the economy could not withstand an increase of that size, and would cost more jobs than it would create.

The Liberals say they've raised the minimum wage three times already since they were elected, with plans to raise it to $8 this February, but the opposition says $8 buys a lot less than it did 30 years ago.

Given the new laws, I should probably lay off of these
But I just can't help myself. ThinkProgress has a couple of links up concerning the festive kick-off to Bill O'Reilly's tree-part interview with George W. Bush.

One is the video of his preface to the interview, where he decrees, "You cannot be confrontational with the President of the United States." Sigh. The second is a clip from the interview itself: Billy gives W the easy lay-up by asking if the "anti-Bush press" is responsible for the American people turning against the war in Iraq [Answer: yes, and Bush finds that disappointing because "the stakes are too high for that kind of illogical behaviour."]

Join us tomorrow when Bill asks such coconut crunchers as, "Just how awesome is America?"

Weird tech note of the day
MTV bought Quizilla. Now while this may seem odd to me, mostly because I always found Quizilla an annoyance [friends, stop sending me homemade quizzes on how well I know obscure facts from your childhood], it's also one of the top five destinations for teenage girls, averaging 3.1 million unique visitors in September alone. MTV has already purchased AddictingGames and, websited that provide free flash games for users, and popular among teenagers.

All further proof that the MTV really needs to change that first letter, or what it stands for. Whichever.

Badass. With a healthy dose of crazy.
Arkansas man gets cut off. Man gets angry. Man shoots at guy who cut him off. With crossbow. He just so happened to be drunk and driving with a suspended license but DUDE. A crossbow!

Is there anything they can't do?

It Ain't Hard to Tell

The 2006 VH1 Hip-Hop Honours were on tonight, giving respect back to some of the forefathers of the thing called hip-hop: The Beastie Boys, MC Lyte, Afrika Bambaataa, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Russell Simmons, Wu-Tang Clan and Rakim. The honourees are all highly deserving, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a soft spot in my heart for Rakim. He totally changed the way lyrics were composed, dropping rhymes at the start, middle and end of his couplets. I once heard someone say that what made Rakim so wild is that you never heard him inhale, it seemed like he rapped the whole song on one breath.

I don't know that I've ever really made my relationship with hip-hop public. It slips out sometimes, but I worry that it comes off as insincere, just one more old fart trying to use hip-hop language in a feeble attempt to be cool or edgy or young. And my life in hip-hop wasn't lived on the mean streets, unless you consider Amherstburg mean [and if you do, I want to be where you live]. All I knew was the music.

Hip-hop is the first music I remember liking. Before that, I don't know if music really sunk in for me. Well, maybe Hall and Oates, and that synth song from "Beverly Hills Cop." I liked those. Then the first black kid I ever met played me some Run-DMC in our advanced placement class when I was 9, and blew my little mind. By the time the whole Aerosmith thing broke, it was all over for me.

That love never really went away. I don't know what it was, maybe I knew then I wanted to be a drummer and loved the beats. Maybe I was really just a nascent James Brown/George Clinton fanatic, and had no idea their music was being repackaged. By the time I entered high school, I had such a crush on Chuck D I demanded Raiders clothing at every holdiay. The team still holds a place in my heart for that reason. The fall weekends when I could roam the suburban streets in my corduroy Raiders cap and matching grey sweatshirt were the happiest.

I even loved the dancing. Oh yes, Windsor, The Trail was a breaker, of sorts. Of course, back then I didn't know what I was doing wasn't real breakdancing, but more new jack swing choreography: no headspins, just frenzied footwork. It was part of the deal, back then, you had to dance. Big Daddy Kane could slay you on the mic or the dance floor. Hell, there may or may not still be a video of me and my best friend, 12 years old, executing a complicated dance routine to 3rd Bass' "Product of the Environment." God help us if that ever gets on YouTube.

My love went all over the map: New York had Public Enemy, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, 3rd Bass, Stetsasonic, LL Cool J, EPMD. LA had Ice T, Digital Underground, DJ Quik. Not gonna lie, NWA scared me a bit. Even Canada was breaking out with Maestro Fresh Wes' first record, the Dream Warriors and Michie Mee. I was still too young then to really grasp what was going on, I just knew there were more kids in the neighborhood who knew what rap was. Detroit radio was a godsend back then. How many of you remember when 96.3 was nothing but rap?

At any rate, the rap of the mid-90's was a little freaky to me. The gangsta stuff was really coming to the fore, cursing seemed to be the norm instead of the exception, I was put off by 2Pac and thought Biggie's lisp made him a bad rapper. Maybe I was just rebeling from the music's popularity the way I alwways turn away from things when my personal loves become known to all.

I don't know what brought the love back. Maybe when things lightened up a bit after Biggie and Tupac's murders. Maybe it was the emergence of so-called 'conscious rap', the 'backpacker' subculture. Maybe it was how acts like Portishead, Massive Attack or DJ Shadow used hip-hop's rhythmic sensibilities to bob your head while their melodies moved your heart. Maybe it was just Kanye, I honestly don't know, but I know it's stronger than ever. I bought Jeff Chang's "Can't Stop Won't Stop" on a whim, and it was the best book I read this year, I just didn't put it on the list because I didn't think it would appeal to many readers of this blog. Looking not only at the history of the music, but the social, economic, and geographic trends that influenced it. If anything, it almost lacks in its musicology, but by design, as Chang felt that story had been told before by other writers.

I listen to hip-hop with a classical ear. I hear things in DJ Premier's cuts that an enthusiast would hear in a piano concerto. At their best, Rakim or Jay-Z's lyrics are like Longfellow to me. Make no mistake, there's a lot [a LOT] about hip-hop I don't like these days. But all it takes is one song like "Kick, Push" or one album like "Be" to remind me why I love it.

Respect to VH1 for once again putting on a show that truly respects the pioneers in what has become a global movement.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The State of the World

If you haven't mailed me my birthday present yet, this would be the time, to guarantee its arrival by the end of the week. Just so you know.

Skunks: your friends
Windsor City Council approved funding for a public education program to give skunks a better rap. Turns out they and other 'urban wildlife' like raccoons provide a valuable service, eating other less desirable fauna like grubs, mice and rats.

By simply putting a lid on your garbage can, the animals will head out of urban areas, to where the eating's better.

I love how in a city where drug and gun violence is shooting through the roof lately, a skunk education program can still catch some ink. Keep hope alive, Windsor!

North Korea continuing to threaten second nuclear blast.
The U.N. says, "North Korea, nuclear weapons tests are bad. We're sanctioning you."
North Korea says, "That's a declaration of war."
The U.S. says, "That's not helpful. You think this is making us respect you, when really you just look like brats."
Canada says, "Yeah!"
North Korea says, "We don't have to listen to you, we have nuclear weapons!"
South Korea yawns and says, "Learn some new tricks."
China turns to North Korea and says, "Damn, will you just shut up and chill out?"
Japan says, "They're gonna do it again."
South Korea says, "Probably, but not anytime soon."
To be continued.

Next time you want to feel superior over Americans, remember this
A Winnipeg teenager with spina bifada narrowly escaped death after a group of children, all younger than 12, shoved him into a burning woodshed, jammed the door shut with a stick, and laughed and danced while the fire burned.

The teen, 14-year-old Brian McKay, was rescued by a neighbor who saw the fire from his window. McKay suffered only minor injuries.

The incident occured in Winnipeg's Gilbert Park housing project, an area police describe as run down and high in crime. Large gangs of children roam the area unsupervised. The older ones encourage the younger to fight each other for entertainment, and kids as young as 7 have been spotted smoking and pounding back a few beers.

Why I'll always be a dog man
Cat starts fire in elderly woman's house. Dog rescues disabled owner, dies trying to rescue cat, who was still in house.

Dogs make heroic rescues. Cats start fires.

This is emo

Sorry, Windsor, but tonight I received [after some polite prodding] confirmation that I was not even considered for the one-month temp job at the Kingston Whig-Standard filling out the municipal election coverage.

The reason? Because I had no experience at a daily newspaper. The suggestion? That I focus my efforts on working with a small daily and work up from there.

What might be a smaller daily than the Kingston Whig-Standard, I have no idea.

Point being: I just don't have it in me tonight, Windsor. I want to put on some downtempo, have a glass of wine, and go cuddle with Lady Trail, who will hold my head, and tell me it will be all right, and somehow make me believe it.

The pavement gets pounded again tomorrow.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The State of the World

Distinguished Speaker has busy day
Lee Lakeman, the 2006 Distinguished Visitor in Women's Studies, will be giving three lectures tomorrow, Tuesday the 17th, on a number of topics.
  • At 11.30 a.m. in the McPherson Lounge of Alumni Hall, she will deliver The Racialization of Women's Sexuality: The Case of Aboriginal Women.
  • At 1.oo p.m. it's How Are We Doing in the Struggle to End Violence Against Women?, also in the McPherson Lounge.
  • Finally, Doing Research that Matters to Women Everyday, will be delivered at 7.00 p.m. tonight in Room 1115 of Erie Hall.
As always, further info can be found on the Women's Studies page.

You will probably hear me mention this every day, but for the love of God, people, Dj Jazzy Jeff is spinning at Dirty's Lounge this Sunday. The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff, that is. Of Dj Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince? You know you remember. This marks the first time I am disappointed I'm no longer in the Rose City. If you love real hip-hop, you owe it to yourself and to me to be there.

Liberal leadership race no tea party
The race for the Liberal Party leadership got nasty over the weekend as the top contenders made sharp remarks on each other's records.

Michael Ignatieff took the most heat over his "war crime" comment concerning Israel, but Bob Rae didn't get off easy either, with Stephane Dion especially taking him to task over his financial record as NDP Premier of Ontario, comparing Rae's spending during his run as Premier to tossing out "Monopoly money," for Ontario residents.

But it was the longtime friends and former college roommates Rae and Ignatieff who got the most snarky with each other. Ignatieff questioned Rae's position on the war in Afghanistan, prompting Rae to muse, "For a guy who's changed his mind three times this week..."

Ignatieff later called foul, telling reporters Rae was "stirring it a bit." Replied Rae, "I don't think I was stirring pots. I was just having a good discussion. I mean, is he thinks this is stirring the pot, what does he think Question Period is like? This is not a tea party here."

Telemarketers: Dealt with
It's possibly more than a little illegal, but this is probably the quickest and easiest way to deal with a telemarketer ever.

Beats paying rent
An Ohio man who couldn't find work at the age of 62 came up with a scheme to ride out the next couple of years until the Social Security started coming in: he robbed a bank, handed the money right back to a guard and waited for the cops to show up. Next stop: jail for three years.

Said the prosecutor in the case, "it's not the financial plan I would choose, but it's a financial plan."

Full circle
Rounding out this news day, wondering why women get paid less than men? Well here's an upstanding Australian woman to let you know why.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Trail, Listed [for Chappy]

Believe it or not, Windsor, if there's one thing I miss about home, it's my crappy job at the local Canadian Tire. Lord knows I dreaded walking in everyday, but truth be told, as the sort of 'part-timer elder statesman,' there was more good than bad.

One of the better parts of the job, near the end, was an 18-year-old straightedge kid named Chris, whom I nicknamed 'Chappy,' as a play on his last name, because I'm an asshole like that.

Anyhoo, I became sort of a mentor to young Chappy, because well, you know The Trail has never been afraid to say whatever pops into his head, and because Chappy thought The Trail was knowledgeable on a wealth of topics. Be that as it may, one day the young Squire asked The Trail for a sort of reading list, since at the time Lady Trail had already moved to Kingston and I was powering back a couple books a week just to stay sane.

So I figured, on a late Saturday night with a freshly topped off glass of Chardonnay, feeling more superior than usual, why not give Chappy, and by extention all of you, that reading list. Some of these will be books I've actually read, some suggestions sight unseen, but in good faith.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a favourite from way back since his days working on the 75-issue comic series Sandman back in the 90's. He's one of the few comics writers to make the leap to bestselling author, and any new book from him is worth a look.

This collection of short stories and poems was released last month, and guarantees to be both sweetly innocent and charmingly macabre. I'm a big proponent of short story collections. The best times are when I have two or three going at once, and I can pick and choose from them as I see fit, and this is one of those times, as we'll see. At any rate, Gaiman is a sci-fi/fantasy author who won't make you feel like a nerd for liking him.
Also read: American Gods; Coraline; Good Omens

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

Lady Trail and I were discussing favourite authors the other night, and I had mentioned that while I love reading someone like Douglas Coupland because he's such an easy and relaxing read for me, I love Murakami because he's a little more difficult. Finishing one of his books feels like a bit of an accomplishment, even if I have no idea what's happened. His work most of the time has these threads of surrealism or just plain absurdity that are approached as though they were as normal as doing the laundry, and his short fiction is like concentrated dosages of that sort of weirdness.

The one story I sampled in the store concerned a man looking for his new place of work, which just happens to be down a dark underground tunnel, behind a door answered by a man who looks like he just came out of the bath and won't grant access without a password. Whatever the hell that means. A fine introduction to an author who has reached the top of his form and builds on that excellence with every release.

Also read: Norwegian Wood; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Chuck Klosterman IV by Chuck Klosterman

I love and hate the Klosterman, Windsor. I love him because he writes like I think, and I hate him because he writes like I think. If he writes like I think, why don't I have a column in Esquire talking extolling the virtues of 80's metal. I also hate that, especially in his last book, Chuck began to get almost painfully self-aware. He knew he was "writing a book" and he wanted you to know he knew he was "writing a book."

Or to put it much more succinctly, as my blog-buddy Tera put it: "Whenever I read Klosterman, I can't get over the notion that he's trying to make me want to sleep with him. Not me specifically, but....yes, me specifically."

At any rate, Chuck has long been a favourite of mine, and this volume of short works collects a number of his journalistic efforts over the last ten years. I still remember reading his piece on visiting a Smiths Convention in Los Angeles, only to discover that the band had a large Latino fanbase, something no one could have ever conceived.

Truth be told, after this one, I may be boarding the backlash train, but I'm not there yet, and am more than a little annoyed that I don't have the money to buy this yet.

Also read: Killing Yourself to Live; Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

The oddest Christmas gift I ever received was when Hollywood presented me with this massive doorstop of a book last year. I opened it and couldn't figure out how to decode the pages of doodles, diagrams, text and art. Hollywood could tell I was confused.

"It's for when you get writer's block," he said, "just let it fall open, read for a bit, and muse on whatever's in there."

It has since become a precious possession. Topics include our senses, how we learn and memory, and are illustrated through drawings, anecdotes and facts by master designer Fletcher.

It's not a book I recommend lightly, given the price and girth of the volume, but there are worse things to spend your money on than a book that you can let fall open anywhere and will always give you something to think about.

Also read: none like it

The Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter

If you read this blog, you know how I feel about this book. No, it doesn't offer any real solutions; yes, it can be petty and a little mean spirited. But to me, it continues to read like a pained call to arms from a pair of writers who hate to see causes they believe in maligned by reactionaries too narrow-minded to see that they self destruct their arguments in the name of being revolutionary. In a nuthsell: If we all hate consumerism, why are we still shopping? Look across any university campus to see that in action.

Or, if I can have a private moment with Chappy, Windsor: as you get older, you may find your peers getting political. And you may find yourself more than a little put off with their politics, but you won't be able to express why, you'll just know in your heart that what they're fighting for and how they're fighting for it are diametrically opposed. This book will help you understand why.

Also read: No Logo by Naomi Klein. Know both sides, then choose.

The Game by Neil Strauss

The infamous. First off, it's not what you think it is. It's not a play-by-play. There are little factoids that are useful, certainly, but it holds its cards close to its chest. What it is, is the story of how a bunch of losers take some basic social psychology skills and minor manipulations to make women sleep with them; and what happens when a bunch of guys who have now trained themselves to be the alpha dogs all move into a house together and self destruct.

You may remember when we armed Lance Writer John McNeil with this book and set him loose on an unsuspecting public. Suffice to say, it worked better than he, or we, thought it would. Shortly after McNeil's first article ran, I was doing some quick improv with a friend, to show off some of the techniques espoused in the book. Within minutes I had an audience, and was taking questions. Whether that's amazing or sad, I don't know.

At any rate, Chappy needed some confidence with the ladies when I left, so that's the main reason why this is here, but you all could find something useful in it, I'm sure. Even the ladies.

Also read: Nuh-uh. I'm not about to encourage that. If you're desperate, Amazon will be more than happy to offer suggestions so you might further your debauchery.

So there you are. That's the list at the moment. I know it's hard to think of reading for pleasure right now, kids, but you and I both know there are few things in life more enjoyable. And nothing gives you an easier license to be snobby than to be well read.

Happy Trails.