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Archive for November, 2011

Ignorance is not bliss


So now my Dad’s roof continues leaking and needs to be repaired or replaced.  Now.  You’d think the other resident in his house, my brother, would take some interest in orchestrating this project.  But no, he’s too busy saving his patients to bother with the roof over his head.  It’s left to me to make calls to roofers and schedule the project.  Water is leaking in to the kitchen, the basement is a disaster zone which quite frankly would probably cause the fire department to padlock the house as a fire/safety hazard were they to ever pay a visit.  Boxes of brother’s shit remain piled all around the upstairs, never mind the fact the basement is unpassable because of his belongings everywhere.  And yet he continues to motor on with his head up his ass, ignoring these serious issues that continue to erode his father’s quality of life.  This is a doctor, entrusted with the care of people, someone who supposedly exists to heal and make life better.  Am I missing something here?!?!?  So if you should encounter him in some social setting this Christmas and he pretends it is merry, do ask him to define merry for you!  Because he lives in a world of which I am completely unfamiliar.

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Freako


Listening to Max Webster. I remember the first time I heard this great band. It was in ’77 or ’78. My buddy Freako invited me to the big city (Toronto) for a weekend of revelry. I think I was driving a gas sucking Ford Bronco. Black with orange detail striping. Cruising down the QEW on my way to Front St where Freako had a huge loft near the Globe & Mail building. He was setting up his glass art studio/apartment. There was a fire breathing oven in the space, and he had built an elevated bedroom. The building overlooked the railroad tracks if memory serves me. Just the coolest place! Very much in character with Freako. And when I stepped in the front door, an impressive industrial gate actually, the greatest tunes were blasting from his stereo. He pulled out the record jacket and shared his latest find with me. Max Webster. We lit up and listened to the whole album. Freako gave me a detailed tour of his place. Showing off his collection of special glass that he had been accumulating for years. Big table where he had several works in progress. I don’t think we even went out on the town, we were having such a blast in his pad.

I miss you man.

 

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TORONTO – Somebody somewhere must have an accounting of just what this Occupy St. James Park movement cost the taxpayer.

And while we will have to fight as hard to get that number as the occupiers fought to stay in the park, at the end of the day it’s public information that we are entitled to.

Whatever the final tally, that bill should be sent directly to Ontario Federation of Labour leader Sid Ryan and the presidents of all unions who sponsored this illegal squatting exercise.

Of course that won’t happen, but it should.

This movement would have lost steam a long time ago if not for being propped up, fed and nurtured by the unions.

Perhaps there are people who really are homeless asking the question, “Why are the unions so upset at Canada when they make good wages and have great benefits?”

Unions hate questions like that.

In fact, when OFL boss Ryan was posed such a question by Sun News Network’s Jacqui Delaney Wednesday, he not only didn’t answer it but stormed out of the live interview on the corner of Church and Adelaide Sts.

It’s amazing how touchy the left can get when asked a real question.

Normally Ryan is good to deal with such things, but in a lot of ways he may have been frustrated since the Occupy Toronto movement is on life support and about to be extinguished.

Perhaps he was also angry that police have responded so well — making a handful of arrest so far.

The first person arrested — Aiden Hennigs — was detained, booked in a special van and then released. No G20 treatment for her.

It demonstrates how Toronto Police have showed tremendous restraint as they clear out the park.

But with hundreds of police and city sanitation and parks workers working at least 12 hours today, it’s going to be some overtime bill.

If people are permitted without any repercussions to occupy a public park for 37 days, people are certainly entitled to know what this little exercise cost everyone.

………Joe Warmington,  Toronto Sun

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Jonathan Kay:

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania State Police in riot disperse students following a riot in response to the firing of Joe Paterno

Remember DSK? Probably not. The news cycle being as accelerated as it’s become, most readers likely don’t recall even what those three letters stand for. But for a while back in spring, 2011, then-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was much talked about in relation to a sleazy (but apparently un-coerced) sexual encounter with a New York hotel worker. It quickly emerged that this was part of a pattern, and that DSK was a man with a bad reputation that Parisian high society had politely ignored hitherto. In North America, we tsk-tsked at the bizarre French predilection to excuse the wanton immoralities of alpha males: More than two centuries after the French Revolution, they’re still giving their monarchs free license to rut with the chambermaids.

 

Outgoing Penn State Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno isn’t accused of rutting with anyone. But like DSK, he was the alpha-monarch in a world where power-worship trumped basic human morality. The world of elite American college football couldn’t be more culturally removed from the salons and conference rooms of Paris. Yet the two worlds are identical in the only way that matters to victims of sexual violence: Paterno bought into the idea that he and the people around him played by different moral rules. If he didn’t, he would have done what any ordinary human being reading these words would have done when presented with eyewitness allegations that a 10-year-old boy had been anally raped on Penn’s athletic premises by a former coach and colleague — called the police. Instead, he kept the news within the network of his own palace guards and gatekeepers, who then did likewise. Dialing 911 is for ordinary people.

I don’t need to add anything to the millions of words that have been written about the corrupt, cynical, decadent and academically bankrupt world of America’s TV-star “student athletes.” Just Google NCAA and “Frank Deford,” and you’ll find everything you’ll need to know. Last year, for instance, the legendary Sports Illustrated and NPR journalist reported on the rampant cheating that goes on to get dummy athletes to pass academic benchmarks.

“Saddest of all, when some courageous academics have dared blow the whistle — at places like Tennessee, Ohio State and Minnesota — they’ve all too often been castigated as tattletales — Hey, professor, get on the team,” Deford reported last year. “I’ll never forget a tutor from a big-time school literally crying on the phone to me as he confessed to his part in the corruption of athletics. He felt especially ashamed because it was his alma mater. ‘They tell me everybody does it,’ he said. ‘Is that really true?’ If it makes you feel any better, I replied, yeah, probably — probably just about everybody. There are no referees in big-time college classrooms.”

Two months ago, Deford recommended an NCAA-eviscerating essay by Taylor Branch in the October issue of The Atlantic Monthly, which Deford called “the most important article ever written about college sports. It describes how student-athletes are essentially money factories for universities: They earn TV contracts, bring in alumni contributions, and generate free publicity for recruitment. Men like Paterno and the university administrators who watched over him were the bankers who controlled this machine at Penn. None of them, it seemed, were going to let a little matter of pedophilic anal rape close the mint.

Worst of all, the students on campus — as on campuses all over the United States — have bought into their mythology: On Wednesday, Penn students staged a violent riot in response to Paterno’s resignation. Remember that this is the same modern cohort of students who have been taught since grade school that “inappropriate touching” — let alone all-out rape — is the gravest of sins. These are not old-school louches of the type DSK surrounded himself with. Yet when it came down to their football cult versus the sexual exploitation of some kid they didn’t know, it was no contest.

This isn’t just about Paterno or Penn or even football. Penn State 2011 will be for the NCAA what the Boston archdiocese 2002 was for the Catholic Church — an exposé of not just a set of acts, but of an inhuman mentality that privileges an institution’s prestige over the sanctity of young lives. American college football will never be the same. And I can’t say that’s a bad thing.

National Post
jkay@nationalpost.com


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Chinese wine proverb


A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of minds.

 

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As I watch my Dad sink further into a paranoid abyss of depression, I wonder how much of that mental state is caused by the ongoing and irritating presence of his eldest son.  My brother has now been occupying space in Dad’s house for three years.  His stuff is everywhere, piled in corners, stacked along walls, thrown into piles in the basement.  He’s been asked to leave, to find his own place to live yet he continues to ignore his father’s wishes.  This ignorance of reality and inability to engage in any friendly dialogue with his father is beyond mystifying.  It is pathetic.  How one can choose to live in such squalor (believe me I choose my words carefully, go visit Dad for yourself and see what I mean) while maintaining an external professional life that is seemingly normal, defies all logic and common sense.  It is embarrassing.  It is disgraceful.  It is inexcusable.   And yet it continues.  Art has lost the capacity to stand up for his rights.  And that is not surprising.  He is after all a ninety year old senior who wishes only to live in peace and to do what is right by his sons.  Is it right for anybody to use a domicile as a storage locker and a place to sleep?  If it is your own house sure, do whatever you want.  But when you compromise the health and happiness of your father, and refuse to move on with your life, the situation becomes abhorrent.  Tragic.  So readers, the next time you see my brother or our father, remember this situation and ask yourself if there might be something you could do to help them both. I’m out of ideas.

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By Graeme Hamilton

MONTREAL • On a Sunday morning two years ago, Paula Celani and about 80 members of her Catholic lay group gathered in a hall they had rented from the city. They watched an inspirational video, they prayed, they celebrated mass and they capped it off with a potluck lunch. “We had a beautiful day,” Ms. Celani recalls.

But now that beautiful day has generated a nasty court battle after she was hit with a $144 ticket from the city, which alleged her event was illegal because it involved religious worship.

This week her lawyer advised Montreal municipal court that he will challenge the fine on constitutional grounds.

 

The case illustrates how far the pendulum has swung in a province once dominated by the Church. Public displays of religious faith have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as Quebecers have embraced secularism. The opposition Parti Québécois has proposed legislation that would prohibit members of the civil service from wearing “ostentatious” religious symbols. In a move targeting Muslim women who wear the niqab, the Liberal government has introduced a bill to require that those giving and receiving public services do so with their faces uncovered.

John Zucchi, a McGill University history professor who is president of the non-profit group that organized the 2009 event, said the case against Ms. Celani is evidence of state secularism gone overboard.

“I think there is something wrong here when you’re renting space for private use that you cannot be free to do what is very important to you,” he said “There’s this idea that there’s a new norm in Quebec, a secular norm, that we are all supposed to subscribe to.”

Ms. Celani is named on the ticket because she signed the rental agreement with the borough of Lachine, on behalf of the En Route Foundation. The activities of the foundation, a federally registered charity, include the distribution of religious literature and the organization of spiritual symposiums and retreats.

In emails provided to Ms. Celani, borough employees alerted their superiors that in their eyes something fishy had transpired during the Oct. 4, 2009 gathering at Lachine’s Maison du Brasseur.

“François, Daniel and I realized that it was a religious event,” Virginie Gagnon, one of the witnesses against Ms. Celani, wrote. She reported that participants “celebrated mass in the Entrepôt room, and there was a meal and religious songs in the Maison du Brasseur afterwards.” A ballet instructor who happened by “was even asked if she wanted to buy a rosary. However, if I am not mistaken, activities related to worship are prohibited in municipal buildings.”

Another employee reported that the audio-visual presentations included a PowerPoint featuring Biblical passages. He confirmed that a mass was celebrated “roughly between 11:15 and 12:30.”

About seven months later, Ms. Celani opened her mail to find a ticket. At first she assumed she had parked illegally or been caught speeding, but she quickly learned it stemmed from her rental of the Maison du Brasseur.

The fine print of her rental agreement, which she says she was never shown, spells out some restrictions: no smoking, no confetti inside or out, no propane tanks inside the building. Then it cites a zoning bylaw to declare that no activities of worship — “prayer, religious song and religious celebration” — are permitted. The area of Lachine where the Maison du Brasseur lies is not zoned for places of worship.

“When I got the ticket I thought, it’s easier just to pay it. But I was really upset,” Ms. Celani said. “I remember when I got that ticket I sat with it and thought, I can’t believe that I’m getting a ticket because I participated in something that is very dear to me. . . . I was stunned.”

She is now represented by a lawyer, Robert Reynolds, who in a brief court appearance Tuesday was granted more time to submit constitutional arguments. He said in an interview that he would first argue that the city is simply misinterpreting its zoning rules, which he said are supposed to govern the regular use of a building. “Saying that to rent it out occasionally for religious purposes somehow changes the destination makes no sense,” he said.

If that fails, he will invoke protections of religious freedom enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Freedom of religion includes the right to practise one’s religion openly,” he said. “Sure there may be restrictions. However in a situation like this, we are contending that it is overstepping the bounds.”

Denis Gaumond, a political aide at Lachine borough hall, said the borough would not discuss a case that is before the courts. Ms. Celani is scheduled to return to court Feb. 22.

Mr. Zucchi said he is worried about the message that will be sent if the ticket is not overturned. “I just wonder how far the state’s going to go,” he said, noting that the building in question is also used for wedding receptions. “If a minister or rabbi or priest comes in to say grace, are they going to be stopped from doing so, or fined for doing so?”

National Post
ghamilton@nationalpost.com

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