Monday, September 29, 2008

Watch both of these

One video is Sarah Palin's actual appearance on Katie Couric's show. The other is the SNL spoof. You know we have a huge problem when the spoof is almost exactly what the woman actually said. Sigh...

The real ridiculousness in the second video starts at 1 minute 40 seconds:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let's Do the Twist!

One little misstep is all it takes... To be honest, I'm not actually sure which misstep I took, but I had a little "incident" stepping out of the mosque last night and now my ankle is twisted...
One night's sleep, one pressure wrap, and one chocolate bar later, I'm feeling fine, but boy was it sore last night!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yay for Attack Ads

From Last week's SNL

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Celiacs, do you miss Pizza?

This is just a quick tidbit to share with my fellow allergy sufferers about a yummy product I discovered in the frozen food section of the grocery store yesterday.... Glutino frozen pizza. I have a problem with wheat, not specifically gluten, so I tend to buy or make spelt / kamut bread, which have a small gluten content that can cause problems for those with celiac. Glutino products don't use spelt or kamut, but rather rice flour, tapioca flour, and the like... The last time I bought gluten-free pizza, I wasn't impressed, but I decided to treat myself to a frozen pizza anyway (somewhat overpriced in a pretty tiny package at about $6, but hey, that's why I said "treat") and - are you ready for this - it was really.really.good.
Their other stuff is probably okay too if you can't have any gluten at all... Hope you enjoy like I did...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Clichés for the Campaign

From the latest Issue of MacLean's:

I come to praise this land of bounteous clichés

SCOTT FESCHUK September 17, 2008
My fellow Canadians:
Election day approaches. We have as a nation arrived at a juncture near a precipice that is located alongside a crossroads on the edge of the potential of a new horizon. So, please, watch your step.
My friends, I have been travelling our vast country to spread the message that we must bring change to Ottawa. But not just any kind of change. It must be bold change. It must be progressive change. It must be crazy change. I'm talking about change for its own sake — wild, flailing change unburdened by rational thinking.
My opponents talk about change, but what kind of change will they bring? Will it be unthought-through enough? Will they, like me, replace O Canada with Sign of the Gypsy Queen? Because I'll do it. If it makes you vote for me, I swear to God I'll do it.
In the 21st century, we must move Canada forward, not backward. Upward, not downward. Diagonal, not perpendicular. Also, Barack Obama was on CNN talking about the world becoming more competitive. So we should probably look into that, too.
Now is not the time to retreat to the garrisons of fear or the barracks of prejudice. Now is the time to push ahead toward the huts of progress, the condominiums of hope and that huge castle of unicorns. You see the one I'm talking about? Next to the Arby's of common purpose? Just hang a left at the forest of metaphor.
Let me say for the record that my rivals in this election are good people. They are decent Canadians who happen to require medication to combat their fetishes and chronic narcolepsy. In their defence, there is nothing in our Constitution that disqualifies a Canadian from seeking public office just because he killed a hooker.
Besides, I want this to be a campaign about the issues. I want my words to serve as eloquent testament to the power and virtue of my ideas. For more on my solemn commitment to elevating our public discourse, please visit my website. Just click on the ostrich that's taking a leak in my rival's ear.
My friends: this is the most important election since Canada was formed, since democracy was birthed, since prehistoric man gathered to focus-group the discovery of fire (consensus: too orange). The differences between my positions and those of my rivals are enormous and critical.
I would lower your taxes by a negligible amount. My opponents would lower your taxes by a slightly different negligible amount. I would reduce greenhouse gas emissions eventually. My opponents would reduce greenhouse gas emissions ultimately. I believe children are our future. My opponents told me they think your children are ugly and stupid. (You're not exactly easy on the eyes yourself, they said.)
People of Canada: I come before you tonight as just a man — a humble, ordinary man wearing a sweater selected for me by a team of stylists and advisers. The sweater is powder blue: feminine enough to appeal to women 35 to 44, with just enough navy undertones to keep men from actively debating my sexual orientation. Got it at Banana Republic.
At this point, I would like to mention my family in a forced and obligatory manner.
I love my family. My family provides me with strength, spiritual nourishment and heartwarming anecdotes for my television commercials. Basically, I'm just a family man. In fact, I'm such a family man that one family is not enough for me. I must travel the country meeting other families, entering their homes and yards trailed by 50 reporters, pretending to find their children adorable. There may even be a family standing awkwardly behind me right now. There usually is. Hello, Wongs. What's that? But I asked you if you needed to go before the speech, Grandma Wong. Just hold it, okay?
In conclusion, let me say: Canada is a country whose health care system defines us — as a nation with tremendous patience and a high tolerance for pain. Canada is a country with old people in it, and they must be pandered to, often while using the word "dignity." To them I say: you deserve to live with dignity!
From the down-home hospitality and fishing villages of the East to the open spaces and soaring mountains of the West, Canada is a land of bounteous clichéd images used by politicians to crudely evoke patriotic sentiment. Also, there are prairies.
Canada is a great country. In fact, it's the greatest country in the world. What I'm saying is: Portugal can suck it. Ditto Japan. Those places are holes and we all know it. Don't even get me started on Greece.
shall now speak French in a manner that suggests I'm merely repeating what I just said in English — when in fact I'm telling Quebecers they're my favourites and giving away the farm.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cell Phone Funnies (Explainable This Time)

A couple of weeks ago, while waiting for my sister in front of my building for an errand we were going to run, I found a text from Rogers on my phone saying I could pick and download a free ring tone. Among the options was Julie Andrew's "My Favourite Things", so click I did, and my ring tone was downloaded.
I didn't get any calls for the rest of that day, but the next morning, as I sat down to work, I suddenly heard Julie Andrews singing at a surprisingly high pitch... I had completely forgotten. Instead of checking my phone, I assumed I had a window open on the Internet on some site that had audio attached, or that some pop-up was taking over my computer. I hurried to close all the windows, but couldn't find any pop-ups. Still, the singing had conveniently stopped (this, of course, was my phone going to voicemail). Twenty minutes later, she was back:
Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens!
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens!

It clicked: that's my phone!!

I'm such a nerd.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Slightly Less Depressed Now

Yay! We do have a thinking population... One of my least favourite shows on CBC Radio is Cross Country Checkup with Rex Murphy, mostly because he's too right wing for my tastes... But today, while I was doing some cleaning up around the house, I turned on the radio and there he was, taking calls from across Canada about peoples' concerns/impressions about the election so far. The calls were overwhelmingly anti-Conservative and anti-Harper. These people were knocking the puffin ad, the sweater-vest family-guy ad, the attacks against Dion, all of it. They were also pointing out the fact that we need to focus on issues, not the leaders' personalities, and finally, they called out the media on the poor job they've done of fair and balanced coverage, instead of just mimicking whatever insults the parties (principally the Conservatives) have been throwing at each other. I found myself agreeing with almost every caller's points. Such a relief! I hope enough Canadians are thinking this way next month that we can avoid a Conservative majority.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Do you play nasty so you can eventually play nice?

Back to my current obsession: politics... So, we're off here in Canada now, and the polls are showing a possible Conservative majority. *shudder*. I had a good email conversation with a friend of mine about how we're all in a lot of trouble if the Conservatives get a majority and if the Republicans *shudder shudder* manage to win AGAIN to our south.
One of the reasons we're convinced these parties are doing well? They play negative. Sometimes, they downright lie. The lies in Sarah Palin's speech at the GOP convention last week are documented here, but you can bet that most people won't bother double checking whether she was telling the truth or not. And the jab at Obama's community organizer job in Chicago when he first finished university? I'm trying to understand why it's funny or witty to belittle the people Barack Obama was trying to help...
Here in the great white north, the Liberal party has decided to go negative against Harper. It's something that's been debated back and forth. Attack ads are typically nasty and below the belt, but they're also exceptionally effective. Can you say you're going to be above the political bickering, as Obama has done, that you're going to stay above "politics as usual" and then run attack ads against your opponent? It becomes a question of "does the end justify the means." This article argues that you have to, that the stakes are too high otherwise. At this point, I'm okay with the Liberals or the Democrats running attack ads. That's the game right now, and without it, their chances of winning, (or stopping a Harper majority here in Canada) are slim. And besides, there's lots to attack the Republicans and Conservatives on that wouldn't involve lying. They've set themselves up.

Finally, check out Jon Stewart's clip below, illustrating some typical hypocrisy on Palin's qualifications, and playing the sexism card.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


This is the word for "breakfast" in Arabic, both breakfast when you're having it any day in the morning, and breakfast when you're breaking the fast after a day of no food, no drink, no bad behaviour, no blowing up...
Back in university, we would be sitting in the computer lab pre-iftar. At first, this was "the Cube", a grey little cube shaped building filled with computer stations, for Computer Science students, and then we would be in the cornily named "library of the future", in the basement of the SITE building, once it existed. We would be scrambling to finish up some assignment or another, perhaps writing the last few difficult lines of code, or hitting compile and praying there would no compile errors, knowing we still had the horrible run-time errors to face. Maybe we'd have already found them; maybe we'd be debugging slowly, exhaustedly, ready to pull our hair out from the effort at looking the same line that seemed fine but was clearly throwing our whole program into disarray. Or, possibly, we'd have given up on all of the above, and had our programs open in some random window on the computer but were only pretending to work. Possibly, instead we were chatting, or checking hockey scores, or surfing away those last few minutes until we had a mandated break to break our fast and clear our heads of the "if-thens" and "elses" of the code that had started to infest our heads...
The SITE building was on one end of campus and Iftar was in the University Centre (shortened to the Uni-Centre, because what's the fun in saying the whole name of anything?), and we had two options to get there:
  1. Follow the long, wining path of tunnels through about 5 buildings, zigzagging across campus from the inside to avoid the cold.
  2. Take your jacket, go upstairs and brave the elements in what was a shorter trek than in 1, but also a colder trek.

I used to alternate between the two, depending on how much time I had, how cold it was, how long of a break I was affording myself for this communal fast-breaking and prayer.
In the Uni-Centre, dates were passed around or set on a table. Milk or water in Styrofoam or plastic cups was also there, and the desks had been pushed aside in the small room to make space for prayer. Half the time, you didn't know half the people you were breaking fast with, after all, this was a campus of thousands of students, in thousands of programs, and you overlapped here because you were Muslim, and you had class or lab keeping you here to this hour, and so weren't already home. Regardless, you said salaam (peace, our greeting in Islam), you said taqabbal Allah (May God accept your good deeds), and there was a sense of being in it together, of having spent the last 12 or 13 hours in a state of un-having, of emptiness of material so you could fill yourself with something else, some form of perspective, or discipline, or appreciation for the rest of the world, who fasted, not voluntarily so many days of the year. After prayer there were tables set up for big foil containers filled with rice and salad and chicken. If we were lucky, there was samosa, every one's absolute favourite. The food came from people in the community, and it was free: in Islam, we believe there is a great reward for helping the fasting break their fast.
We would sit on the floor or lean against the pushed-back tables and desks, those with classes and labs to get back to eating quickly, those with a little more time winding down. We'd learn each other's names, forget, and ask again a week later when we happened to overlap at another iftar. We'd clean up and go.
This was one of the things I missed most about university, this ad-hoc coming together of a community in a place where the world doesn't revolve around your traditions, where the days are not cut short during your month of fasting and the schedules made more lax. Last night, I felt it again at the McGill MSA iftar. There is something about students and student culture. Something more fluid, more flexible than at the office, where things are set and established, and it's really very... nice. I sat with girls I'd never met and some whom I'd met once or twice, or three WHOLE times, and laughed and talked and got to know them better. We turned the cafeteria into an iftar hall, pulling tables together and pushing them back when it was over. There were those same, massive foil pans filled with rice and salad and a pot full of delicious, Indian style meat. There were taqabbal Allah's and come again's exchanged. I think I will.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Let's Impeach the President!

Yet another reason to love CBC radio. I heard this song today and just really really enjoyed it. Thi is Neil Young's "Let's Impeach the President". My apologies to non-political junkies who follow this blog. It's just impossible to ignore politics right now with everything being the way it is, an election campaign happening south of us and one about to get called here in the great white north... Bear with me. Eventually, I'll be writing more and sharing less youtube vidoes.
In the meantime, enjoy:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

For One Month

This is Ramadan. Between dawn and sunset, we don't eat. We don't drink. We don't ingest in basically any form (because I've had questions about chewing gum, popping mints, cigarettes, etc. But no ingesting happens. Nothing.) Before dawn, most Muslims will get up to eat something in order to go the rest of the day without. After a couple of days, the hunger pangs tend to subside and you get used to feeling a little emptier. One of the hardest parts for me is going without the coffee. I've taken to just drinking it before dawn...
The other, less talked about aspect of Ramadan is controlling your temper and behaviour. The food we don't eat is really more of an outward manifestation of the self-control we're supposed to exhibit through out every aspect of our lives. It's almost what I'd call a spiritual-detox period. We use this time to get back on track in our habits, our behaviours, our spiritual / ritual devotions, etc. Things we've let creep in that we don't like, we try to stop. Things we've let slip by the way-side that we want to do, we pick back up. It's like New Year's Resolutions in some ways, except for one month, as the whole community prays together, fasts together, and spends more time together, the hope is that the resolutions won't be broken a few days later, but become ingrained into our daily lives, at least for a while.
Happy Ramadan to all!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hilarious Videos

I can't really help it now. After three days with M's family, I have completely converted into a politics addict.
These two videos K shared this afternoon, and they're so hilarious I thought I'd share with the rest of you...

22 Minutes: Support our troops

John.He.Is with the spoof for John McCain