Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

I’m working on a theory, not yet totally formulated, that goes like this:

John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the United States, nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of black people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needed to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably Martin Luther King Jr, culminating in the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, to really get on board.

Barack H. Obama, the first black President of the United States, has nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of gay people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needs to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably ????, fulfilling the promise of his Democratic nomination acceptance speech on August 28, 2008, to really get on board.

Both as a civil rights supporter and as a data person, I was pleased that the Obama Administration is “determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are accurately counted” in the 2010 census. “The Administration had directed the Census Bureau to explore ways to tabulate responses to the census relationship question, to produce data showing responses from married couples of the same sex.” One does not need to “believe in” same-sex marriage to want a reporting of what is actually taking place.

There have been other positives such as the extension of benefits to gay federal employees.

These do not make up for my disappointment with Obama’s foot dragging on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and his Justice Department’s defense of the deplorable Defense of Marriage Act. But as he reiterated to some GLBT leaders Monday, the day after the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, he says he’s working on it.

As I pondered all of this, I came across a piece by Robert Reich called, What can I do to help Obama? The crux of the issue is in the subtitle: “The public has to force him to do the right thing.” Reiterating, we need to bug him AND Congress to, as the title of the best Spike Lee movie, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Do the Right Thing.
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As I’ve mentioned, I only recently discovered that an old friend of mine moved to Canada because same-sex unions were untenable in the U.S. and her now spouse already lived there. This bugs me tremendously. Still, since yesterday was Canada Day, props to the U.S.’s neighbors to the north.
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I came across an interesting survey: Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults Provides Surprising Insights. “People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts…The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians…It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles.” As someone noted, some of their margins of error are ENORMOUS. And identifying sexuality on a phone survey, when some people are terrified of answering Census questions about when they go to work, raises an eyebrow. Still, it is is an interesting repudiation of a stereotype, which is always good.
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Here’s a peculiar story briefly referenced in my local paper: Could gay marriage reduce HIV/AIDS? A study by two Emory University economists suggests the answer is yes. They “calculated that a rise in tolerance from the 1970s to the 1990s reduced HIV cases by one per 100,000 people, and that laws against same-sex marriage boosted cases by 4 per 100,000.” Not sure I buy the entire premise of their study, but I accept this sentence: “Intolerance is deadly.”

ROG

I find myself thinking a lot about Natasha Richardson, which is strange because, unprompted by IMBD, I couldn’t tell you one thing I’d seen her in; Nell and the remake of The Parent Trap, as it turns out. Whereas I know about lots of films in which I saw her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, or her husband, Liam Neeson.

Besides the strange way she died, there’s that weird argument that always seems to happen when a famous person passes away. In the comments to this nice article in Salon, one person essentially hijacks the issue with “Aren’t there more important things in the world to worry about?” Lots of back-and-forth that you can read yourselves. Or not.

My feeling is that if someone is uninterested in a “celebrity death”, then he/she oughtn’t to pay attention. But it’s one thing to say, “I don’t care.” It’s quite another to say, “And you shouldn’t either.” People should be allowed to grieve even those they’ve never met, yet because of their artistry or personality or for whatever reason, has moved them in some way. Their loss is real.

And invariably, the death of a celebrity shines a light on the cause of said death, if it’s unusual. (“Wear a helmet when skiing!” “No, it’s too restricting to see and hear properly.”)

I felt the same way when Jennifer Hudson lost three family members to murder. There were those who offered, “People are murdered all the time in Chicago. Why should I care about THIS?” I say: by all means, please don’t. But offer not your analysis about “the celebrity culture”, as though others might not be moved by the American Idol/Dreamgirls performer’s situation. Besides, even in the Windy City, a triple homicide is not an everyday occurrence.
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Looks as though I’ll still have Dora the Explorer to deal with:
The daughter would normally “age out” of Dora in a year or two. But now that the daughter has dubbed the tween explorer as “beautiful”, I guess I’ll be stuck with her for a little while longer. Why they just didn’t come up with an older cousin so that the original Dora could entertain the younger crowd, I just don’t know.
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I found this background for a seminar interesting.
In June 2008, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-61, new copyright legislation that closely followed the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The public response to the bill was both immediate and angry – tens of thousands of Canadians wrote to the Minister and their local Members of Parliament, leading to town hall meetings, negative press coverage, and the growing realization that copyright was fast becoming a mainstream political and policy issue.

The “Canadian copy-fight”, which includes many new advocacy groups and the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group that has over 90,000 members, has attracted considerable attention from the mainstream media, with many wondering how copyright had emerged as a contentious policy issue.

So the Canadians are having as much trouble with expanding the copyright law as some Americans did a decade ago, including (need I say) me.
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There’s an online petition to save Proctor’s Theater in Troy, NY from demolition. Apparently, the current plan is to “save the facade” and tack on behind it some ugly badly-built auditorium. The rest of the beautiful building is to end up in the already overloaded landfill in Albany County.

Frankly, I’m not big on online petitions. Frankly, I doubt their efficacy, especially when the signatories include people who are not constituents of the officials taking an action. But the real audience is not so much the folks who run Troy City Hall as it is Governor Paterson. “The city of Troy is applying for a grant from New York State to demolish the theater. The petition to Governor Paterson is asking him to grant money for the renovation of the theater, not its destruction.

“The theater was built in 1914 and remains the last existing grand movie palace in Troy. While the building is in disrepair, it does not need to be torn down. In 1979 Proctor’s was placed on National Register of Historic Places – but this distinction may not save it from the wrecking ball.”

Anyway, I add my name here because, in some minuscule way, I helped with the renovation of Proctor’s in Schenectady in the late 1970s by selling ads and performing in the arcade for an April 1978 fundraiser. It’s also the building I worked in for nearly 11 months. Here’s a picture of Proctor’s Schenectady – Troy’s is similar though now in disrepair – but, as the petitioner noted, “with vision and leadership it can look like this again!”


I was playing my one Tragically Hip album for Canada Day – Tragically Hip being a Canadian band – when it hit me: there seems to be a number of Americans who seem to have ascribed to the dominion to the north powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal countries. They seem to think of Canada as just like the United States, only not on steroids. Yet – and it has been proven in poll after poll after poll – Americans don’t know jacksquat about about Canada.

Quick, Americans: how many provinces and territories are there in Canada?
OK, Canadians, how many states are there in the United States? OK, the flag design DOES make that a bit easy.

Americans: Who’s the current elected head of government in Canada? What do you call the elected head of the government in Canada?
Canadians: What do you call the…OK, Canadians, put down your hands.

Lessee. Americans: in terms of size, area not population, where does Canada rank in the world? Bonus question: where does the United States rank?
Canadians: Same questions.

Americans: Mame the two houses of the Canadian legislature.
Canadians: Name the two…oh, never mind.

Americans: Name the two largest cities in Canada, and the capital.
Canadians: Help me find fairer questions.

My point is that some Americans have seemed to have romanticized Canada with having any real sense of the place.

There is, however, one thing to be said for considering moving to Canada. when the global warming really hits – as though it hasn’t already? – and the maple stops flowing in New York and Vermont because it doesn’t get cold enough for long enough, I suspect the provinces at least will be quite temperate.

Top Baby Names in Canada vs. the US.

Background Note: Canada from the US State Department.

Don’t recall the source, but it suggested that when dealing with US Customs agents and they ask you how long you’ll be in Canada, answer as though you know, even if you don’t. Otherwise, you’ll appear suspicious. Siounds right.

This site notes that there are 13 states that border Canada; I had forgotten states whose international borders are actually in the middle of the Great Lakes (Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania).
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I’m not a big fan of Canadian-born singer Sarah McLachlan, but I love this scene from Toy Story 2:

And it’s equally affecting in Portuguese.

ROG


July 1, 1867 was an important date in Canadian history. Do you know why? (For some reason, maybe because I was in junior high school during the centennial, I actually do.) If you don’t (and if you’re an American, you’re not alone), read all about Canada here. Play your Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang or Neil Young. (Anne Murray, if you must.) I think I’ll play my Tragically Hip. (Maybe some Blues Brothers as well, since Ottawa-born Dan Aykroyd turns 55 today.) Take a quiz.
ROG

As distressed as I’ve sometimes been over things in these United States, I’ve never given any real thought about, say, moving to Canada. But people with whom I’m acquainted have considered it, with some degree of seriousness. Even in the midst of the VietNam War, when I had a very low draft number, it had not occurred to me to think about departing, though many did. So, I find it rather entertaining to note that at least some Vermonters want to secede from the Union.

Meanwhile, to the dismay of some, Democrats in Washington want to keep impeachment off the table. I guess I’m in that group that say 1) and make DICK CHENEY President? Are you kidding?, and 2) any impeachment procedure, no matter how justified – and I think it may be, over the domestic spying and signing documents alone – WILL be seen as partisan politics, retaliation for the (idiotic) Clinton impeachment. But I could be persuaded. Should the President be impeached? Will he be impeached? Are things seeming so bleak that you’d leave the United States, if you live here? (And if you don’t, how are you feeling about your country’s government?) And will you be moving to Vermont any time soon?

On another topic, any of you with AOL accounts find the “moustache” version more difficult to open? It seems better now, but initially it didn’t work at all. Once, it didn’t open in German:
Fehler beim Herunterladen des erwünschten Inhalts.
Beim Herunterladen des erwünschten Inhalts ist ein Fehler aufgetreten. Bitte versuchen Sie es später erneut.
Sollte dieser Hinweis weiter bestehen, sehen Sie bitte in den Hilfeseiten nach. Um mehr über den eMail-Service zu erfahren, besuchen Sie bitte unsere Homepage.

It’s good to know the German words for eMail and Homepage.

Finally, is there even one person out there who feels sorry for that person who actually may have to serve a 45-day sentence, the one who cried out, “Mommy! Don’t they know I’m rich, and above the law?” Well, I don’t, and I have found not a soul, not a soul, who, in the words of Mr. T, pities the fool, though leave it to Gordon to take the high road. (I am operating on yesterday’s info that she’s still in jail.)

ROG

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