Quotulatiousness

July 5, 2015

Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson

Filed under: Cancon,Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

From the recent Rolling Stone profile of Rush:

Lee has been friends with Alex Lifeson since they were nerdy teens in the Sixties; the guitarist set Lee up with Young, whom he married in 1976. Clearly, Lee has no issues with commitment, though touring strained his relationship with his family until Rush cut out European dates in the Eighties. “The worst thing you can do in marriage is to look at your partner as your wife or your husband,” says Lee. “We decided to treat each other as if we were still boyfriend and girlfriend. That subtle bit of semantics helps a lot, I think.”

Lee, born Gary Lee Weinrib, is the child of Holocaust survivors, and he traces some of his drive to his parents’ legacy. They met in a Nazi work camp in occupied Poland in around 1941, and had fallen in love by the time they were both imprisoned in Auschwitz. “They were, like, 13 years old,” Lee says over a late-night beer in a sleepy Tulsa bar, “so it was kind of surreal preteen shit. He would bribe guards to bring shoes to my mom.” As the war went on, his mother was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, and his father to Dachau.

When the Allies liberated the camps, his father set out in search of his mom. He found her at Bergen-Belsen, which had become a displaced-persons camp. They married there, and immigrated to Canada. But years of forced labor had damaged Lee’s father’s heart, and he died at age 45, when Lee was 12. Lee’s mother had to go to work, leaving her three kids in the care of their overwhelmed, elderly grandmother. “Had my dad survived,” says Lee, “I might not be sitting here talking to you — because he was a tough guy, and if he didn’t want me to do something, I may not have done it. It was a terrible blow that I lost him, but the course of my life changed because my mother couldn’t control us.”

[…]

Close to midnight, with Rush’s tour kickoff less than 24 hours away, Alex Lifeson is kneeling on a relocated couch pillow by the open window of his hotel room, exhaling pungent weed smoke into the humid Tulsa air. (If you’re in Rush and you want to get high, you do so considerately.) He breaks into a violent coughing fit. “Well, that’s the thing with this pot these days,” he says, passing the joint. “It’s so expansive in your lungs.” The streets below us are post-apocalyptically empty. “It’s busy in town tonight,” Lifeson says.

Earlier that night, over a pleasantly boozy dinner, I ask Lifeson if weed has helped him write Rush’s music. “Maybe just 80 percent of the time,” he says, roaring. “I find that smoking pot can be a really great creative agent.” (Lee quit pot in the early Eighties; Peart says, “I like marijuana, but I’m not going to be the poster child for it.”) “But when you’re in the studio and you’re playing, it’s sloppy,” Lifeson continues. “And cocaine is the worst, for everything. If you want to feel your heart pounding on your mattress at 7:00 in the morning when the birds are chirping, it’s perfect. It’s awesome. What do kids do now for drugs?”

Lifeson was a fan of Ecstasy in the early Nineties, and hadn’t heard that it’s called Molly now. “I’m glad you told me, just in case,” he jokes. “My wife is a totally nondrug person, but for some reason I talked her into it. We cranked the music and we were dancing, and then we talked for hours about deep personal stuff for what seemed like the first time, even though we’d been married for years. We were going through a bit of a difficult time in our relationship, and that opened up a lot of doors.”

July 3, 2015

For possibly the first time in military history…

Filed under: Cancon,History,Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

… an air force has significantly under-reported the number of planes downed by one of its aces:

On June 26, the RCAF/Canadian Forces issued a news release stating that the new complex for the RCAF’s Chinooks at Petawawa will be named in honour of First World War flying ace Major Andrew McKeever of Ontario.

“Major McKeever was the epitome of what it means to serve one’s country, with an impressive 17 aerial victories to his name in the First World War,” stated Defence Minister Jason Kenney.

The RCAF news release also credited McKeever with 17 kills.

In addition, Kenney tweeted the details of the news release.

Defence Watch later cited the CF news release.

But a sharp-eyed Defence Watch reader pointed out that the Canadian Forces news release contained a major error.

McKeever had significantly more than 17 kills.

Nearly twice that number, actually. (But you can pick pretty much any number from 18 to 41 and be correct by at least one of the competing “standards”.)

“People with money have alternatives”

Filed under: Cancon,Economics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Frances Woolley on the hidden advantages even a modest amount of money can provide:

Less often observed is that wealth itself generates consumption benefits, even if one never spends a dime of it.

I own a 12 year old Toyota Matrix. The front fender has collided with one too many snow banks, and is now held together with string. The exhaust system has seen better days. It breaks down occasionally. But overall it’s very cheap to run.

If I was poor, it would be tough having an old, unreliable car. The unexpected, yet inevitable, major repairs would be a financial nightmare. $750 to repair the clutch. $200 to fix the axle seal. If the car broke broke down, and I couldn’t get to work, I might lose my job.

But because I’m financially secure, I can afford a cheap car. I can self-insure against financial risks: unexpected repair costs, taxi fares, rental cars, and so on. I can afford to get my car towed. If it was beyond repair, I could get another car tomorrow.

The real value of having $10,000 in the bank isn’t $200 in interest income, or the stuff $200 in interest income might buy. $10,000 in the bank creates a little bit of room to take risks. One could call it the “implicit value of self-insurance generated by own capital.” It’s the comfort of being rich (or having rich relatives). It’s real. It’s valuable. But it wouldn’t be taxed if Canada had a consumption tax.

Admittedly, the insurance value of having wealth isn’t taxed under an income tax either. But at least under an income tax some of the return on wealth is taxed, so there is, at least potentially, some shifting of the tax burden onto those with wealth.

The greatest freedom money offers is the freedom to walk away. Your bank doesn’t offer you unlimited everything with no monthly fees? Walk away. There’s always someone else who wants your money. Your phone plan is too expensive? Walk away (o.k., that may not be the best example).

People with money have alternatives, which makes their demand for goods and services elastic. Food may or may not cost more in poor areas. But a rich person can shop at Value Village if he chooses. A poor person may not be able to afford expensive purchases which save money in the long run, like bread machines or high efficiency appliances or pressure cookers. Consumption taxes aim to tax the amount of stuff people actually consume. But if poor people pay a higher price for their stuff than rich people, is a system that taxes only consumption spending, without taking into account the ability to command consumption wealth conveys, fair?

July 1, 2015

Riding the “Budd cars” from Sudbury to White River

Filed under: Cancon,Railways — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Malcolm Kenton reports on his recent trip on VIA Rail’s unique passenger service between Sudbury and White River, Ontario:

VIA Rail Canada’s Sudbury-White River train (formerly known as the Lake Superior), consisting of two (sometimes three) Budd-built Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) that operate three days a week in each direction along a 301-mile section of Canadian Pacific’s transcontinental main line, is the only passenger train of its kind in North America for several reasons. It is currently the only regularly scheduled intercity passenger service using Budd RDCs (the only others being used as backups on two commuter lines, Tri-Met’s Westside Express in Oregon and Trinity Railway Express in Texas, and on a handful of excursion trains). It is the only intercity passenger train in Canada that uses Canadian Pacific trackage for a significant stretch (western Canada’s privately-run Rocky Mountaineer excepted). And it is one of three passenger train routes in northern Ontario that delivers people, supplies and equipment to points along the line that are not accessible by road (except for a few dirt logging roads) or air (except for a few wilderness lodge sites that have small landing strips for bush planes). I had the opportunity to travel aboard this service — whose parallel cannot be found on this side of the 49th Parallel — last week (June 18 & 19).

VIA refurbished all three of the RDCs within the past year, giving them new seats, electric outlets at each seat, restrooms, heating & air conditioning systems, and wheelchair accessibility features. One car has a large restroom whose doors slide open or closed and lock with the push of a button. A crew member on my trip referred to it as “the Cadillac bathroom.” Next to the engineer’s cab on each coach is an area that doubles as a baggage area and a crew break area, with refrigerator, sink and coffee maker. The highest passenger train speed limit on the route is 75 mph, reached for just a brief stretch between Sudbury and Cartier. Otherwise, it generally tops out at 60 — though on rare occasions where the train has had to run with just one RDC, it is limited to 45 mph — meaning the trip is usually completed just barely within the engineers’ legal limit of 12 consecutive hours of service, between which periods crews must be given at least eight consecutive hours of rest.

The vast majority of passengers on “the Budd cars” (as most locals refer to the train) — usually only a handful on each trip, though occasionally all 48 seats on both cars are occupied for a portion of the trip — are visiting remote cabins along the line to fish, hunt/trap, canoe or kayak, mountain bike, or otherwise enjoy the great outdoors. There are also year-round residents of the mid-route communities of Ramsey and Chapleau who use the train to visit family and friends and go to medical appointments in Sudbury (as there are no medical specialists in their hometowns). Passengers bring aboard an array of gear for wilderness expeditions — canoes, fishing gear, coolers, etc. — which is loaded into the baggage section of one of the RDCs (in the busy season, a third RDC car is added that is solely a baggage car, as was the case on my jaunt). And owners of cabins and retreats near the line use the train as a parcel service, having others buy groceries and supplies at one of the endpoints and drive them to the train, to be loaded into the baggage hold and unloaded at the stop nearest their outpost.

Eastbound train 186, with the RDC baggage car in the lead, passes a CP freight train carrying backhoes at the small White River, ON yard on June 19, approaching the station to begin its run towards Sudbury. (Photo by Malcolm Kenton)

Eastbound train 186, with the RDC baggage car in the lead, passes a CP freight train carrying backhoes at the small White River, ON yard on June 19, approaching the station to begin its run towards Sudbury. (Photo by Malcolm Kenton)

QotD: The CRTC, Canada’s most fascistic government body

Filed under: Bureaucracy,Cancon,Media,Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The CRTC is an even more odious organization. Back in 1920s both the Canadian and American governments declared the broadcast spectrum to be public property. So a technology pioneered and commercialized by the private sector, in both countries, was essentially nationalized by the state. Since it was a new industry it lacked the ability to effectively lobby Washington and Ottawa. The result has been that a large and important sector of our modern economy now lives and dies at the whim of an unelected government agency: The CRTC.

Of all the organs of Canadian government the CRTC has always struck me as the most fascistic. You could rationalize socialize health care, public education and government financed infrastructure as doing useful things in a terribly statist way. The CRTC is at an exercise in make work at best. At worse it’s an attempt to impose indirect censorship on the Canadian people. Beneath the reams of government drafted euphemisms the blunt truth behind the CRTC is that we mere Canadians are not clever enough, not patriotic enough or sufficiently sensible to watch and listen to the right things in the right way.

The existence of the CRTC explains much of the timorousness of Canadian broadcasting. The Americans did away with the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, thereby triggering the explosion in talk radio in the early 1990s. While Canada never had an exact equivalent, the regulations surrounding who could and could not receive or retain a license were sufficiently vague to make such a rule unnecessary. A nod and a wink from the right people at the right time was enough to indicate what type of broadcasting would or would not be acceptable.

The result was an insufferable group think that could no more be defined than challenged. There were unwritten rules of etiquette that forbade serious discussion from talking place on a whole host of issues: Abortion, capital punishment, race relations, linguistic issues and any frank discussions of our socialized health care system. It wasn’t that these discussions didn’t take place in a public forum, the newspapers and magazines were largely unregulated, but broadcasting was the late twentieth century’s pre-eminent mass media. It’s where ordinary people got their news and opinions.

Richard Anderson, “And All Must Have Prizes”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2014-09-24.

June 28, 2015

The obsession with “rape culture”

Filed under: Cancon,Media,Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At sp!ked, Ella Whelan talks about Canadian reporter Lauren Southern’s public dissent from one of the main talking points of the feminist movement:

Southern had previously sparked debate by posting a picture online of her holding up a sign that explained why she didn’t ‘need feminism’ – a response to a popular feminist selfie campaign. Following this up a year later with a video entitled ‘Why I am not a feminist’, she called out feminism as a ‘faux form of equality under a gender-biased word’. In Southern’s report on the Vancouver SlutWalk, she explained that she had attended the rally to ‘challenge the fearmongering feminist narrative about men, women and violence’. It is this ‘rape culture’ narrative, she tells me, which is really trivialising rape. ‘Women are going to equate things that aren’t rape with rape because they interpret guys whistling at them as rape culture’, she says. ‘The misuse of the word [rape] is very dangerous because it allows for false accusations.’

Southern sees feminists’ obsession with ‘rape culture’ as a languishing in female weakness. ‘I’ve always thought that the main feminist issue was empowering women, in real terms; telling women to go out there, get the job, do what you want, not run around screaming “trigger warning” and crying.’ Her assessment of contemporary feminism is astute. Following her visit to the rally in Vancouver, Southern received a barrage of messages from self-proclaimed radical feminists who told her ‘they were vomiting all night because they were so triggered’ by what she had done. That’s right, these women felt physically sick just because someone disagreed with them.

This bizarre prizing of weakness on the part of contemporary feminists is, Southern explains, down to their refusal to engage in debate on a regular basis. ‘It’s not hard what they do. They go on to a street where everyone agrees with them, wearing their underwear, and get to show off for a day… They don’t surround themselves with people who disagree with them.’ This refusal to engage in debate was evident at the protest itself, with Southern having to climb up on to a plinth to avoid her sign being covered up by angry protesters.

So where does this desire to portray weakness as a strength come from? Southern puts it down to an institutionalised victim culture in Western universities: ‘Academia is obsessed with feminism. You’ve got a protective narrative which screams “rape culture” at the slightest thing and students just eat it up. Whether that’s because they want good grades or not, this stuff doesn’t get challenged.’ As a result, she says, sexism becomes a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. ‘If you’re told that you’re a victim as you grow up, you’re going to have a confirmation bias when you’re not hired for a job but a man is. You’ll hear sexism in your head’, she says.

June 25, 2015

Delivering a new streetcar to the TTC

Filed under: Cancon,Railways — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

On Facebook, James Bow linked to this photoset from Toronto Life, showing the stages a new streetcar goes through when the railway delivers it to the TTC:

Click to see full-sized image at Toronto Life

Click to see full-sized image at Toronto Life

June 24, 2015

Ceremonial Guard 2015 Season

Filed under: Cancon,Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 22 Jun 2015

The Ceremonial Guard is one of Canada’s most recognizable military units. For over 50 years, the Changing of the Guard has been a top Ottawa attraction, having thrilled thousands of visitors on Parliament Hill, at Rideau Hall and at the National War Memorial. The Changing the Guard Ceremony will take place daily at 10 a.m. on Parliament Hill from June 28 to August 22, 2015.

Terry McKenna plays the lute at Fluxible 2013

Filed under: Cancon,Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 3 Nov 2013

Terry McKenna is a gifted musician who plays many members of the plucked string family, both old and new. His performance at Fluxible 2013 is music from around the year 1500, played on his six-course Renaissance lute

Terry can be found on the web at:

http://www.torontoconsort.org

Terry performed at Fluxible 2013, the UX party disguised as a conference. Attendees enjoyed dual admission to the Festival of Interstitial Music, which took place concurrently in space and time with Fluxible.

H/T to Brendan McKenna for the link.

June 8, 2015

QotD: German troops on the Atlantic Wall

Filed under: Cancon,Europe,History,Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Formations transferred from the eastern front, especially Waffen-SS divisions, believed that the soldiers garrisoned in France had become soft. “They had done nothing but live well and send things home,” commented one general. “France is a dangerous country, with its wine, women and pleasant climate.” The troops of the 319th Infanterie-Division on the Channel Islands were even thought to have gone native from mixing with the essentially English population. They received the nickname of the “King’s Own German Grenadiers”. Ordinary soldiers, however, soon called it “the Canada Division”, because Hitler’s refusal to redeploy them meant that they were likely to end up in Canadian prisoner of war camps.

Anthony Beevor, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, 2009.

June 6, 2015

Canada at War – Normandy, June 1944

Filed under: Cancon,Europe,History,Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Uploaded on 10 Jan 2012

Part 1 of 3

June – September 1944. D-Day, June 6, 1944. In the early morning hours, infantry carriers, including 110 ships of the Royal Canadian Navy, cross a seething, pitching sea to the coast of France, while Allied air forces pound enemy positions from the air. Cherbourg, Caen, Carpiquet, Falaise, Paris are liberated. Canadians return, this time victorious, to the beaches of Dieppe.

H/T to Gods of the Copybook Headings for the link.

May 27, 2015

Garnet Rogers – Night Drive

Filed under: Cancon,Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 8 Jul 2013

Garnet Rogers – Night Drive
Album: Night Drive

Buy the album here:
http://garnetrogers.com/site/?page_id=47

How bright the stars
How dark the night
How long have I been sleeping?
Sleep overtook me on my westward flight
Held me in its keeping
I had a dream; it seemed so real
Its passing left me shaking
I saw you’re here behind the wheel
On this very road I’m taking

Hurtling westward through the prairie night
Under the spell of motion
Your eyes were clear and bright in the dashboard light
Dreaming of the western ocean
The dusty towns left far behind
Mountains drawing ever nearer
Your face was then as it was tonight
Ever young
Ever clearer

I know this road
And its every curve
Where the hills commence their climbing
We rested here
If my memory serves
The northern lights were shining
You lit a smoke
We shared some wine
We watched the sky in wonder
Your laughter echoes after all this time
In that high and wild blue yonder

I don’t know why I write these lines
It’s not like I could send you the letter
It’s that I love your more after all this time
It’s that I wish I’d shown you better
Years have slipped
Beneath my wheels
Dwindling in my rear view mirror
As time has passed
Your life has seemed less real
But these night drives bring you nearer

So tonight I’ll wish upon these stars
As they rise upward to guide me
That I’ll see you here just as you are
Now, as then, beside me
Scares me how the years have flown
Like the leaves drift in September
They’ve lost sight of you as your legacy’s grown
But this road and I
We remember

May 26, 2015

Canada in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Cancon,Europe,History,Military — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 25 May 2015

One of the countries that found its identity in the trenches of World War 1 was Canada. During the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Vimy Ridge the Canadians and Newfoundlanders proofed their worthiness over and over again. Indy takes a special look on Canada in World War 1 and how they became one one of the feared enemies of the Germans.

May 25, 2015

Garnet Rogers interview

Filed under: Cancon,Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Garnet Rogers’ Recovery And Music After Stan: Garnet Rogers talks about addiction, getting clean, and misunderstandings about his brother and folk music in the ’70s.

May 23, 2015

The rise of the Donair

Filed under: Business,Cancon,Middle East — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

I first experienced a donair in Halifax in the summer of 1982. I won’t claim it was a life-changing experience, but it was a revelation that “street meat” didn’t have to be awful. At The Walrus, Omar Mouallem explains how the humble donair is on the verge of conquering the streets of Alberta:

Like shawarma and gyros, donairs are a meaty delicacy shaved from a rotisserie spit and wrapped in pitas — only spicier and sweeter. If you require further explanation, then you’re from neither the Maritimes (where they were invented, in the 1970s) nor Alberta (where they’re most consumed). Topped with a sweet, creamy sauce, they are a Canadian take on tzatziki-coated beef and lamb gyros, which themselves are a Greco-American take on centuries-old Turkish rotisserie lamb (a dish that also spawned a blander German variant called döner kebab). Adding to the cultural confusion, most donair operations are run by Lebanese immigrants such as Tawachi — or my father, Ahmed Mouallem, who introduced Athena’s product to my hometown of High Prairie, Alberta, in 1995. The town of 2,666 now supports four different restaurants that serve the food, but only three traffic lights.

[…]

No one, including John Kamoulakos, who with his brother Peter invented the street food in Halifax, is quite sure how donairs migrated from east to west. Aaron Tingley of Tony’s Meats (based in Antigonish, Nova Scotia), a supplier that purchased the Mr. Donair trademark and recipe from Kamoulakos in 2005, thinks Maritime labourers might have driven Alberta’s demand: “They want to experience a taste of home.”

That’s what Chawki El-Homeira was thinking in 1978, when he left Halifax to chase the Alberta oil patch. Only he was going to feed the workforce. The sixty-seven-year-old remembers his first encounter with the donair, in March 1976, as if it were yesterday. He’d arrived in Nova Scotia from Lebanon with neither family nor English and got a job washing dishes in a restaurant that served the delicacy. “Something attracted me to it,” he tells me. “It was close to our food: it’s pita bread and spicy, quality beef, like shawarma. I thought, someday I’m going to open my own donair shop.”

After watching Maritimers migrate to Fort McMurray, he packed his bags and followed. The timing was terrible. The oil patch dried up in 1980, before he could secure a lease (like a true Albertan, he blames Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program). So he drove a cab instead, first in Fort Mac, then in Edmonton, looking for commercial vacancies while the meter ran.

On a fellow cabbie’s tip, he purchased a submarine-sandwich shop on Whyte Avenue in 1982 (the same year Tawachi opened his) and introduced his Dartmouth recipe to Albertans one slice at a time, offering customers free samples. Word spread of “Charles Smart Donair” (his anglicized name and a poorly translated Arabic adjective), and soon he had a monopoly as a supplier to other Lebanese shop owners. Then his best customer tried to copy his technique and, he claims, sabotage his business by spreading rumours to his predominantly Muslim clientele that he, a Christian, spiked his product with pork.

If anyone knows of a good donair place in Toronto’s financial district, feel free to drop a hint in the comments…

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