Thursday, 31 March 2011

5 Questions Mr. Harper

“The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being”-Thomas Jefferson

I have remained rather quiet since the government fell last week and we here in The Great White North found ourselves embroiled in yet another federal election campaign. Five trips to the polls in a little more than ten years is more than most Canadians ever bargained.  Frankly, I am weary. I am so tired of the pontificating, the brutally vicious attack ads, the robo-calls, the out and out mendacities, and the lack of civil discourse that used to be a cherished hallmark of Canadian politics. I long for the days when elections used to promise at least the hope for something new, but I have come to understand that those days are long gone. I honestly didn't think that it could get worse, until today's news that our Prime Minister is refusing to answer more than five questions a day on the campaign trail. Those five questions are being split between media from both official language media, and one question is being reserved for local press. FIVE QUESTIONS!!!!

Now it certainly isn't unusual for politicians on the trail to carefully control what is doled out to the press, nor is it unusual for press secretaries to manage every syllable that the candidates utter so as to avoid pitfalls, but it seems to me to be the height of arrogance for any leader vying for the top job to slough off the press caravan travelling with them and treat them with total disdain. It seems counter-productive to the messages that they are attempting to convey to totally piss off the reporters and attack them as the source of all of their ills. After all, isn't a free and unencumbered press a hallmark of a democratic society? With that in mind, I thought that I would pose my own five questions to the Prime Minister and I would hope that the people who actually get to pose the queries don't let up until they are adequately answered.
  1. How can you claim to represent all Canadians when you refuse to answer our questions?
  2. Can you adequately explain the spending frenzy that went toward cosmetic improvements in advance of the G20 summit of last year, and why your government was so negligent in adequately planning for the obvious security issues? 
  3. What is your long term national child care plan given that 62% of women are now in the workforce fulltime and that Canada is one of only a handful of G20 countries without a cohesive child care initiative? 
  4. Given that national crime statistics show a precipitous drop in violent crime, isn't the proposed massive spending on mega prisons merely a scare tactic utilized for purely electioneering?
  5. Où trouvez-vous ces chandails?
    These are just a few of mine. I have many more but since Sweatered Stevie will only answer 5, I have used up my daily allotment. Feel free to add your own.

    Tuesday, 15 March 2011

    The "If....Then..."

    It seems to be the fashion lately. Some pseudo-celeb idiot publicly makes an ass of him or herself, spouts off in some form of verbal vomit while the tape or cameras are running, and is caught red-tongued. The interweb hits top gear, the Twitterverse scalds each and every megabyte, et voila-said jackass is stuck between the proverbial boulder and unyielding setting. We wait with bated breath as we know what is coming next-the dreaded and incomplete "If...Then..."

    We have all heard it before. "If my words or actions have offended anybody, then I am truly sorry for the hurt that was caused." You mean you are only sorry if somebody was offended? You mean it wasn't shitty enough to cause pain to an entire group, race, religion etc? The only reason that you are apologizing is because somebody was offended? What a crock! This statement isn't an apology. It is a non-apologetic apology. It is apologizing for getting caught and called out on crappy conduct.

    Look-people are fallible creatures and we all make mistakes, sometimes ugly tasteless ones. When such a thing occurs the right thing to do is to apologize, but apologize sincerely. Don't creep in the backdoor like some kind of kid trying to duck curfew. How about the following: "I am truly sorry for my words and actions. I behaved and spoke badly and my actions were intolerable. I hope that all of you can forgive my outright stupidity and callousness." 

    As parents, one of the first thing that we teach our children is the art of the apology. We tell them that they can't always be right and that they can't always be perfect, and when they do err they need to express remorse fully, completely and sincerely. Many adults have forgotten these lessons or at least their publicists have. I don't think that I can stomach one more insincere crappy "If...Then..."

    Thursday, 10 March 2011

    Looking for the Perfect Hamentaschen

    Last year at this time, some friends and I embarked upon on a search throughout some local North Miami haunts for a decent hamentaschen. Given that it was Purim and we were in no mood to bake for ourselves, we thought that the local Jewish community could come up with some reasonable facsimile of what we were used to at home. Boy were we ever wrong. The stuff we eventually settled on had a distinct institutional flavour of cardboard and oil based products. The fillings were bottled jam and the mohn (poppyseed) was starchy. Suffice it to say we were tremendously disappointed.

    This year the Reform Judaism blog has started the Great Hamentaschen Debate asking those willing to state their preference for their favourite Hamentaschen fillings. While I have definite ideas about this question-mohn is yucky, fruit based are heaven-I am more inclined to believe that the real art of great hamentaschen is less about the filling and more about the dough. So, dear readers I am asking you to share. Do you have a favourite hamentaschen recipe? Are you more inclined to cookie dough or yeast doughs? Oil or butter? I hope that you won't mind sharing Bubby's ancient family secrets with the blogosphere, because frankly I am sick and tired of commercial bakeries thinking that they can do it better than we can. Please post your favourite recipes in the comments section below and I will post them to share. Hamentaschen lovers of the world unite. Be happy! It's Adar-again!

    Tuesday, 8 March 2011

    Be Happy! It's Adar!

    Purim has never been my favourite holiday, but I have to admit I am enthralled with G-dcast. They do it up right. Enjoy their take on the Purim story.