Archive for November, 2013

I’ve always found it irritating how our high school English curriculum is mired in an ancient funk. Kids spend an inordinate amount of time studying Shakespeare and other truly dead authors. Yes, they penned some masterpieces, but surely there are other authors just a little more contemporary, like maybe a few hundred years, that we should be exposing students to? Pick any author on the Giller Prize short list. How about combining literature and history? Joseph Boyden anyone? If dead authors must be studies, then I suggest Arthur Rimbaud be included. Let’s educate a generation of leaders and original thinkers. How are you going to get a progressive society without encouraging a little rebelliousness? Here’s an excerpt from Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell”. Imagine tying this passage into a study of contemporary civic politics, Rob Ford perhaps??!!

Pagan blood returns! The Spirit is at hand, why does Christ not come to my aid and give nobility and freedom to my soul. Alas! the Gospel belongs to the past! the Gospel! the Gospel.
I am starving for God. I have belonged to an inferior race since time began.
And now, here I am on the shores of Brittany. Let the cities light up in the evening. My day is done; I am leaving Europe. Sea air will scorch my lungs; remote climates will tan my skin. To swim, to tramp down grass, to hunt, and above all to smoke; to drink liquor as strong as molten metal – as my beloved ancestors did around their fires.
I shall return, with limbs of iron, a dark skin, and angry eyes; from my mask, people will think I belong to a strong race. I shall have gold: I shall be idle and brutal. Women nurse such ferocious invalids on their return from the tropics. I shall be involved in politics. Saved.
But for now I am damned, I loathe my native land. I’d best fall into an utterly drunken sleep, by the sea-shore.

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Utterly fascinating! Who would have thought this Ford drama unfolding in Toronto could be such a riveting spectacle? This buffoon mayor really is a comedy writer’s dream, as noted by Jay Leno. Ford keeps on providing a seemingly endless stream of new material every day. The latest imbecilic remark was his analogy between the invasion of Kuwait, and the “war” he and his brother will wage on Toronto councillors. It’s the Mutt & Jeff show. Abbott and Costello. These two goofs are linked by some invisible cord. Both of them in a tandem interview by Peter Mansbridge. Did you see that one? I didn’t hear one coherent answer to Mansbridge’s questions! It’s as if the Fords are in some kind of parallel universe, spewing out invective and commentary regardless of questions asked. Kudos to Toronto city council for finally stripping the bigger Ford (literally as well as via his position) of most mayoral powers. But the show will definitely go on. It almost makes me want to get on the train to Toronto and sit in on a council meeting. You just know big boy Ford will not ride off quietly into the sunset. Keep it up Robbie, you make the rest of us look like veritable geniuses.

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As reported in the National Post, and heard by me in today’s radio shows:

“Ford then said he never said “I want to eat your pussy” to a former female staffer, an allegation contained in the court document.

“I’m happily married, I have more than enough to eat at home,” he said, drawing gasps from the reporters gathered around his office. ”

The more this guy opens his mouth, the more astonishing the words that come out! It is truly embarrassing for the city of Toronto, that the chief magistrate is nothing more than a buffoon and idiot. How legislation cannot be enacted to remove him from office is really beyond me. We basically have a dictatorship wherein the dictator is a moron and jackass. Aside from the obvious disturbing emanations from his mouth, and his erratic behavior which surely signals some kind of mental illness, the dangerous and troubling issue is this. Our municipal laws and policies do not provide for any means to remove such persons from office. That someone so troubled and devoid of common sense can be allowed to continue in office, speaks volumes about the immediate need for change to the Municipal Act or whatever piece of legislation governs our public leaders. Get a move on madame Premier Wynne, and do something fast before this Ford guy demolishes himself and completely destroys Toronto`s ability to function as a world class city.

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Let’s have some word fun and expand our vocabulary. Here’s a few words off the top of my head, describing the infamous crack smoking mayor of Toronto. Add your own in my Comments section.

Buffoon: wag, jester or mocker
Moron: adult with intelligence equal to that of average child of 8-12
Idiot: person so deficient in mind as to be permanently incapable of rational conduct
Naive: artless, innocent, unaffected, unconsciously and amusingly simple
Simpleton: foolish, gullible, or half-witted
Silly: innocent, simple, helpless, foolish, imprudent, unwise, feeble-minded, imbecile
Goof: foolish or stupid person

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Where’s the crime in ‘wasting time’ at university?

Don’t let careerist naysayers derail your dreams. Study what you want.
by Emma Teitel on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7:56am –

If you are a university student or a university-bound high school student you probably have the impression, thanks to Canadian media and possibly your parents, that the future is bleak. They would have you believe that learning for learning’s sake is a waste of time and picking a potentially lucrative major is not. There are no jobs, they warn, certainly not in art history or philosophy or whatever allegedly dead-end major you plan to pursue—so you may as well learn something “useful.” They are right about jobs. The future, not to mention the present, is bleak. Youth unemployment in Canada is exceedingly high; in Ontario, according to a September report, one in two persons between 15 and 24 has a paid job—the worst ratio we’ve seen since Statistics Canada began recording the numbers in 1976.

The establishment is wrong though, about university majors. After all, if job prospects are dim for everyone, you might as well study whatever you like. The Margaret Wentes of the world love nothing more than to belittle young people who major in supposed vanity disciplines: women’s studies, queer history, French poststructuralist pining, etc. But they seldom mention the students who’ve majored in so-called “useful” subjects (law, chemistry, engineering, insert-other-subject-armchair-boomers-never-bothered-to-study), because the “useful” grads among us are also wallowing in parental basements. Numbers don’t discriminate; 2:1 is a bad ratio in Canada’s most populous province and unless every other young person is a women’s studies grad, there are a whole lot of would-be doctors and lawyers walking around jobless too. Why? Because beyond the depressing job market, the reason for rampant youth unemployment and malaise is simple: people change their minds. And no one changes his or her mind more rapidly and readily than a young person.

In my last year of university I had no idea what I wanted to do. Neither did any of my friends, the majority of whom are now pursuing completely different things post-graduation and could not have had the foresight in first year to know what would interest them down the road. When I started university, I assumed I’d become an English professor, but my essays always came back with lousy grades and comments like: “Fun read but no substance, sounds like a magazine column.” (In rejection, I would find my calling.) My best friend studied commerce, intent on becoming the next judge on Dragon’s Den. Today she teaches math to 10-year-olds, something she discovered she liked a lot more than spreadsheets and elevator pitches. If you had told her that when she was 18 though, she would have called you crazy. Dreams change—sometimes for the better. (Thurgood Marshall originally wanted to be a dentist.)

Having an idea about what you want to do isn’t a bad thing, nor is having a plan of execution. University tuition is outrageously high, not to mention grad school. And seeking education in the highly employable trades is for many students, a far more desirable path than pursuing pricey master’s degrees while waiting for the job market to change. But in our mission to beat the employment market, we risk squelching personal interest, creativity and ignoring, at our own peril, the fact that interests and expectations are wont to drastically change.

The psychological difference between a first-year university student and fourth-year student is equivalent to the difference between a Grade 9 and a Grade 12. Four years is an eon when you are young; something well-meaning parents and fear-mongering journalists should consider before pushing rigid career plans on high school students. And students should consider this: Unless you’re some kind of phenom, chances are you won’t get much done mapping out your entire future with an untested and superficial notion of success. Half of you will change your major, and a lot of you will wish you had. So read books and have fun. As Jeanne Meister writes in Forbes, citing Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert, “Since humans have been proven to be terrible at predicting what will make us happy, it’s crucial that we find it through trial and error.” Your major will not make or break your future. And thinking far ahead is often the least productive, most paralyzing thing a person can do. Think about next week instead. People fall into things. Let yourself do the same.

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