Still in a holding pattern

April 22nd, 2009 § 10 comments § permalink

I have finally reached the point where the light I can see at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming express. The last few weeks have been just one damn’ thing after another—none of them major or life-threatening, all of them just gumming up the works, to the point where I haven’t even had time to read a book for weeks, never mind blog. And, as anybody who knows me will tell you, for me, not reading is like not breathing—unthinkable.

But the log-jam is finally coming unstuck and I have a ton of things I want to blog about, not least of which are two wonderful, very different, awards that have come my way in recent days, courtesy of Kate and Smart Mouth Broad. (Please Note, SMB, that I do not “hate it.” I never look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when said nag is saying such nice things about me and my blog!)

Like Ah-nuld, I’ll be back, and soon. In the meantime, here are some interesting tit-bits to discuss among yourselves:

The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, asks the question, Did Clement Freud tell the funniest joke ever told? What do you think?

PBS, bless its woolly little heart, has just launched a most amazing website, on which you can view all kinds of wonderful full-length PBS programs. Best of all, they are available outside the US.

And, last but not least, just in time for Earth Day, Disney Nature Films has released an extraordinary movie about the creatures who are unfortunate enough to share this planet with us. Here is the trailer. Enjoy.

A Canadian beer fridge

January 10th, 2009 § 7 comments § permalink

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Courtesy of The Canadian Design Resource

What “Banana Republic” really means

January 8th, 2009 § 6 comments § permalink

For a neat encapsulation of all that is wrong with our world, you need look no further than this post by Johann Hari in today’s HuffPo.

He writes, about the decision of one corporation—United Fruit—to take a single species of the banana out of the jungle and mass produce it on huge plantations:

There was an entrepreneurial spark of genius there – but United Fruit developed a cruel business model to deliver it. As the writer Dan Koeppel explains in his brilliant history Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, it worked like this. Find a poor, weak country. Make sure the government will serve your interests. If it won’t, topple it and replace it with one that will.

Burn down its rainforests and build banana plantations. Make the locals dependent on you. Crush any flicker of trade unionism. Then, alas, you may have to watch as the banana fields die from the strange disease that stalks bananas across the globe. If this happens, dump tonnes of chemicals on them to see if it makes a difference. If that doesn’t work, move on to the next country. Begin again.

It seems the banana is dying—of a fungus called Panama Disease—and it is taking whole third world economies with it. This is happening because of the stupidity and greed of one huge conglomerate. So, tell me again why we are urging politicians around the world—through so-called stimulus packages—to pour vast sums of taxpayer’s money into huge conglomerates? Doesn’t matter whether their ‘product’ is bananas, cars, or financial derivatives—they’re all the same, interested only in amassing profits for themselves. And, when things go wrong, it’s never the corporate jets, the executive suites, or the expense account junkets that are jettisoned. It’s always people.

Acorn watchers? Who knew?

December 1st, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

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Casing the joint?

According to MSNBC, there is a mysterious dearth of acorns in parts of the US, and nobody really knows why. So what, you say? Well, the problem is, fewer acorns means “starving, skinny squirrels” rampaging through garbage, pumpkin patches, and bird feeders. Now, we’ve got plenty of fat and sassy squirrels in this neck of the woods and they are a king-sized pain in the butt, tearing bird feeders apart and digging up the few measly tulip bulbs I planted some years ago, in an uncharacteristic burst of gardening. I hate to think what they’re like when they’re starving – pretty damn’ mean, methinks.

Dundas Valley’s Autumn Motley

October 26th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.” Albert Camus

If you’ve ever worked in a gummint office . . .

October 22nd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

or shared an apartment with others, you’re just going to LOVE this site!

Oh, shit

October 22nd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

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Slate, the original and still my favourite online ‘zine, has a wonderful article by Johann Hari on Rose George’s The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters.

The article, and I assume the book, is full of wonderful little nuggets like this one, on London’s sewers:

Her journey opens by tramping down at midnight into the place where that road began—the sewers of London. This city beneath the city can be deadly: Stinking clouds of hydrogen sulphide—the “sewer gas” that forms when sewage decomposes—will suffocate you if you get caught in them. Before these tunnels were built, London had “on-site sanitation.” This is a polite way of saying people shat in a covered-up, set-aside space, and their feces were collected and sold to farmers as manure. But in the early 19th century, London’s population rapidly doubled, and the city’s buildup of excrement became unsustainable. The cost of having your private cesspool emptied spiked to a shilling, twice the average workers’ daily wage. So, people took to emptying their cesspools into the Thames, which soon ran brown. By 1848 cholera outbreaks were killing 14,000 people a year, and then came the “Great Stink” of 1858. London reeked so badly people were vomiting in the streets. The drapes of the House of Commons were soaked with chloride in a (failed) attempt to disguise the stench.

It seems we are living in a golden age – somewhere between a time when humans wallowed in their own excrement and a not-too distant future when the world will drown in shit – unless we can come up with an alternative in the next few decades. Where’s Joe the Plumber when we really need him?

Sarah Palin, carpetbagger

October 11th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

I hope this article in Salon by writer and photographer Nick Jans, who has lived in Alaska for 30 years, gets wide coverage. Finally, the truth about Palin ~ that she represents the blow-in Alaskans who were attracted north by the oil boom of the 70s, settling in ill-planned towns like Wasilla, and whose vision of Alaska is a mishmash of oil pipelines, strip malls, fast food joints and highways clogged with gigantic SUVs and pick-ups towing ATVs, Skidoos and power boats,

I was interested to learn, too, that the ear-grating accent is an assumed one – and from Minnesota of all places, a good Democratic state.

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