Random and various

1 – Let’s get the big one over with first: Justin Trudeau. How many of us, excluding Andrew Scheer who claims to have never done anything, did some kind of dumb-ass shit in our twenties? For me, that was the sixties and personal video cameras and social media didn’t exist then, so there’s no proof I was anything other than an angel. (And I’m sticking to that story.)

2 – Sticking with the upcoming Canadian election, I won’t try to influence how you vote – there are plenty of fake news sites already doing that. I’m just going to suggest that rather than just accept a single source for information, check other legitimate sites as well and if it is a third party ad google them to see if they have any obvious bias. You may find that ad you saw that said so-and-so is a complete incompetent idiot is a troll site based in some foreign country. CPAC, the channel that provides coverage from inside the House of Commons, is also offering election coverage and I would think their election reporting would be as even-handed as their Commons coverage. But, where you choose to get your information, and what you choose to believe of that information, is up to you. Question claims, no matter the source and vote according to your conscience, but vote.

3 – I’ve seen some ads on television lately for Quickbooks, an online business accounting system. One of the claims of these ads is that you can get paid quicker. I must take exception to that claim. Yes, you can issue an invoice faster, but you have no control over when it gets paid. Unless the terms of the invoice are “2% 10, net 30 days” I’m not paying it until I have to.

4 – I got an interesting text message last night claiming to be from the Simcoe County District School Board, a legitimate school board in Ontario, telling me my phone number has just won me $3,000,000 US funds. Several things wrong with this. First, Simcoe County is north of Toronto, so why would they choose a telephone number with a Toronto area code as a “winner” in a contest I never entered. Second, this is Ontario and Premier Doug Ford is slashing education budgets on a grand scale, so I highly doubt Simcoe County could afford to give away three million. If they had that kind of money lying around, they’d sink it into the system, not award it to some random stranger. I forwarded the message to the School Board. They thanked me and said they were aware of the scam and are investigating.

Okay, rant finished. Since this is the first day of autumn, treasure the few warm days that remain and enjoy the fall colours. Winter will soon be upon us.

Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


They’re at it again

You may recall last year, when Black Lives Matter hijacked the Toronto Pride Parade in order to get some demands acknowledged. Eventually, Pride Toronto told the Toronto Police Service they would not be permitted to enter a float in this year’s parade, but individual officers would be permitted to march – provided they did it in plain clothes, with no indication they were officers. By the way, I heard last week Black Lives has not registered to be in this year’s parade.

Now they’ve demanded that school resource officers be removed from all schools in Toronto as they claim the kids are “intimidated” by the officers. Oh, really? In response to that claim, here is an excerpt from an article by Sue-Ann Levy in today’s Toronto issue of 24 hrs:

They’ve coached the school rugby team.

They’ve established a girl’s club to bring bullies and their victims together.

They’ve helped 16-year-old students set up their first bank account and learn how to write resumes.

They coordinated a community garden.

They deliver a series of lectures to high school students on drug abuse, drinking and driving, partying, bullying, sexting and social media.

Yet Black Lives Matter considers the Metropolitan Police School Resource Officers”dangerous” and “intimidating”. Of course they don’t explain why they apply these labels to these officers, just make the blanket statement. At today’s Police Service Board meeting, where there were many people wanting to speak both for and against cancelling this programme, BLM resorted to their usual tactics of disrupting the meeting. I guess their philosophy is “if we can’t win with logic, we’ll win with noise”. Incidentally, among the many wishing to speak are many students speaking in favour of keeping the programme. But, and this is strictly my opinion, BLM will do the same as they did with Pride – stir up shit, then move on, having contributed nothing but strife for others to resolve.

Last year, a person on a phone-in show asked a good question: If black lives matter so much, why aren’t these people out in the community trying to improve things for black youth? My response to this would be this: They would much rather conduct demonstrations and sit-ins rather than expend the energy to actually do something. You can be certain that if they are successful in having the officers removed from schools (and I pray they aren’t) they won’t be in the schools helping out. In fact I rather hope they wouldn’t be there, indoctrinating the students in their way of thinking.

From their actions here in Toronto, I am left with the impression that black lives, other than their own, don’t really matter to these people, but the organization’s name gives them a platform to spew their anti-police venom.


It isn’t necessarily accurate

I haven’t picked on commercials in a while, so I think it’s time I did.  Three targets today – one television, one radio and one from Facebook. Let’s start with the TV ad.

Recently the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has been running ads touting the joys and ease of using on-line banking to pay bills.  One such spot shows someone getting out their chequebook, some stamps and envelopes in preparation to paying their monthly bills – you know, that thing we all do once a month.  The ad also shows their identical twin sitting at their laptop doing the same thing and finishing much faster.  CIBC is pushing this so hard you would think this is a new concept and the “best thing since sliced bread” (what really is the best thing since sliced bread anyway?  Just asking.)  News flash for CIBC: while I know you were the first to computerize your account records back in the ‘60s, I’ve been paying my bills on-line through my bank for a couple of years.  Time to join the 21st century.

Radio next.  I’ve been hearing an ad for Pearle Vision (did you know they’re part of the Lenscrafters group).  At one point the woman voicing the spot mentions something to the effect they consider eye care a “sacred mission”.  Don’t know about you, but anytime someone says something is a “sacred mission” I run the other way.  Everyone’s eyes are different – different problems, prescriptions, or whatever.  If these people are fanatical enough to consider eye care a “sacred mission” I worry whether I’m going to receive what I need, or what they think I need.

Finally, Facebook. If you have a profile, you have seen all those annoying ads running down the right side of the screen. Sometimes I think these are written by people who have only the barest knowledge of English. The other day I happened to glance at one that suggested I could buy a vehicle with bad credit today.  Now why on earth would I want to buy a vehicle that has bad credit?  My credit is pretty good so why would I want to buy something that’s going to ruin my record?  A few more minutes working on the text for the ad would have been well spent and cleared up any possible misunderstanding – such as what I wrote here.  Perhaps that I was educated back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, when teaching English was taken seriously accounts for my “language police” attitude on occasion, so I blame the education system.  A sidebar on this one.  About three months ago, a man and his son applied for passports and that was when the man discovered his son couldn’t write his name.  Cursive script is apparently not taught in  Durham Region schools any longer. Printing yes, but actual handwriting?  Don’t be so silly.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


By the way, I usually write these postings in longhand, then enter them.


Get it right

I have a friend on Facebook whom I originally met on WordPress.  We’ve had many wide-ranging conversations on various topics, so yes, I feel comfortable calling her a friend.

This lady is what is commonly referred to as “African-American”.  Notice the quotation marks around that label.  Had her origins been say, Japan, she’d be called (by others, not me) Japanese-American, or if she were from perhaps Germany, she’d be German-American.

Africa is a continent made of many separate and distinct nations, so why, why, why do people insist on the term “African-American”?  They wouldn’t dream of calling that German-American “European-American”, or the Japanese-American “Asian-American”, so can anybody explain to me the reason behind lumping emigrants from countries like Kenya or Botswana or Cameroon into the vague category “African-American”.  What that shows is that the person using the term considers the country of origin inconsequential – it doesn’t matter what it’s called, its in Africa, so that’s close enough.

I believe part of the problem with this inaccurate label is Hollywood.  Hollywood movies tend to depict that whole continent as one humungous country, when such is not the case.  This is also reflected in some photo galleries.  They’ll have a photo taken in Kenya for example and place it alongside another photo taken in Ghana and label them both “Africa”.  Hello!!  Never mind the fact they are two separate countries, one is on the Indian Ocean and the other on the Atlantic.  There’s a whole continent separating them.  And they don’t seem to understand why people from those respective countries get upset with the mislabeling.    A comparable error would be a woodland scene from North Carolina and one from Northern Ontario, both labelled with the generic “North America”.  Don’t you think  both Americans and Canadians wouldn’t get upset over the obvious error?  So why should people from Africa not get upset over similar ignorance?

I view it as a sign of disrespect for the person and their country of origin to refer to them as “African-Americans “.  As I wrote above, it indicates the speaker (or writer) either has  no consideration for the person they are addressing; views the country of origin as some backwater, or is just too lazy to find or use the proper term.  For those who may consider many of the African nations little more than uneducated tribes, remember that at the same time Egypt was flourishing as a centre of learning, so were many cities in the interior of Africa.  In some cases, it was the Europeans from various nations that destroyed so many of the libraries and centres of learning because in their view (and probably based on nothing more than skin colour) the people they were conquering were simply savages. They weren’t.  From what I’ve read and from what I’ve seen on some of the educational channels, in some instances these African nations were more advanced in areas like mathematics and science than the so-called conquerors.

And, a final question: If, as an American president once stated, America is a melting pot, why is the distinction necessary?  Why not just call everyone unhyphenated “Americans”?


It isn’t romance

I recently posted an interview with author Rusty Blackwood.  A few days ago, Rusty posted the following, which I found interesting, on her website, and she has graciously allowed me to copy it here:

Posted on September 28, 2012 by Rusty Blackwood


What does it take for human beings ( in this case the reading public) to  possess even the slightest possibility of a brain cell in the area of reading genres to FINALLY realize, let alone understand that erotica is NOT romance? What is the matter with everyone? Are you just one of the millions of mindless brain-washed zombies who have just got to have the latest hype in words regardless of what that might be, or how utterly mistaken the branding is? Honestly!

As a writer of romance I, and countless other writers – hard working writers who actually strive for something worth putting our name on; something to be proud of, something which carries our emotions, hard work and sweat in order to obtain a well crafted piece – only to find this continued outrageous nonsense surrounding this ‘erotic story’ – yes, that’s all it is – erotica – NOT romance – far from it – the two are in no-way connected nor are they the same. For crying out loud people if you can’t get it straight then at least get a clue!

Everyone is entitled to their opinion – just as I am – but as the title of this post says:  PEOPLE — ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! When it comes to actual romance, erotica, and the writing of such is 50 Shades AWAY!

As always, support your local authors ( regardless of genre) as well as all local talent in the Arts.


Unfortunately for writers such as Rusty and I, many people don’t want to read something that will require them to use their brain, they’d rather have things spelled out for them. The quality of the writing does not enter into the decision of what to buy and read. That decision is mostly influenced by word of mouth – what everyone’s talking about. All they want is titillation, and 50 Shades apparently provides that in spades, although from reviews I’ve read, the quality of the writing itself isn’t that good. The popularity of this series seems to be based more on the effectiveness of the hype and the rumoured kinkiness in it than any literary qualities.

Thinking again about what Rusty wrote yes, romance novels may contain elements of erotica but only if it comes as a natural progression of the romance. On the other hand, books that have the main characters simply jumping from bed to bed, possibly stopping along the way for some , umm … “interesting” diversions contain no elements of romance and very little in the way of plot development.  They are “erotica”, in other words what some would call “soft porn” or “smut”.  But one thing they are not are romance novels.

There are many examples of romance novels and romance writers, Rusty among them, who do not see the need to resort to “erotica” to make their novels more acceptable.  Their writing holds the readers interest and, unlike books like “50 Shades”, they require the reader to use their imaginations.  Writing in a fashion that leaves things unsaid, left to the readers’ imaginations, isn’t as easy as it sounds.  It is actually easier to describe events and locations in detail than it is to just hint at what’s happening.  That ability to entice readers with subtle clues as to what is going on and make it sound believable is the mark of a good writer.  Anyone can describe in detail, but that isn’t writing, that’s just reporting.

As a writer, I credit my readers with intelligence – after all, they are reading my writings – and therefore feel they are capable of using their minds and imaginations.  Here is a description from a piece I’m still writing:  The city was one of those anonymous places that comprise what politicians and pollsters commonly refer to as “the industrial base.”  The signs at the city limits proudly proclaimed population figures from the last census, but several minor recessions and a major depression had taken their toll and the signs were wildly optimistic.  I could have gone into much greater description, for this was based on an actual place, but by leaving it as I did, I’m encouraging the reader to “fill in the blanks” with scenes from their own lives.  And that is also the main difference between romance and erotica.  In erotica, there are no blanks to fill in.

As Rusty wrote above “People – enough already”.  Learn to tell the difference.


May as well use loose leaf textbooks in school

I caught an item on the early news just now and I’m ashamed to say this was a Canadian idea.

We’ve all heard of the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas” by Clement Moore, or maybe you know it better by its first line “Twas the night before Christmas”.  Some publisher in Vancouver thinks it needs to be updated for the twenty-first century.  Her new version omits the following two lines found in the original:  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;  I would imagine illustrations will also reflect this change.

This poem has been around about 180 years, so why does it need “updating” now?  Is this political correctness run amok, or something else?  Yes, I know smoking is no longer as socially acceptable as it once was, but is that any reason to revise a poem that has reached icon status?  If so, how long will it be before any reference to tobacco is removed from history texts, despite the fact it played such a huge role in the settlement of North America?

If history as we know it is subject to revision at the whim of the god called political correctness, history texts may as well be published in loose leaf binder format because any page could be changed at any time.  All it would take would be one person objecting to the way something is portrayed!  And as we are aware, all it takes is one person to point out something they personally find politically incorrect and they will have no problem getting supporters for having that banned.

If you’re of a certain age, you may have studied Shakespeare in high school.  One of the plays I studied was “Merchant of Venice”.  It’s been fifty-odd years and I can still remember parts of Portia’s courtroom speech.  To my mind, that speech is still one of the better monologues in all of Shakespeare: “the quality of mercy is not strained …”  Today’s students can’t study that.  It isn’t politically correct and has been removed from classrooms as being anti-semitic.  Shakespeare was only reflecting the general view of Jews that existed at the time he wrote that play, yet because it doesn’t fit today’s modern view, students are being deprived the opportunity to study it.  History is the same.  Things happened, be they good or bad.  We can’t change them.  Even if we revise history, we still cannot change the past no matter how hard the political correctness police may want to.

Sorry, got carried away there.  As I was saying, changing “A Visit from St Nicholas” is just as bad, just as serious, as attempting to change history because you don’t like how something turned out.  Leave it alone.   I don’t know of any kids who, upon hearing those two lines, decided to go out and try smoking a pipe because Santa smoked one.  Most people don’t even remember those two lines are there.

That lady’s gonna get a lump of politically incorrect coal in her stocking this Christmas.


Glad I don’t live there

In my posting of earlier today, “They can’t be serious”, I talk about a Toronto District School Board study into launching a “queer-centric” school, a school where LGBT staff and students can feel safe.

Shortly after posting that, I came across the following article in today’s online Toronto Sun:  http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/24/warmington-serious-gender-bender.

I am really glad that I one, don’t have children in the Toronto School system; and two, don’t live in Toronto.  What on earth are the people on the Toronto District School Board thinking?  Or are they?

What message are these educators trying to send to children?  The school years are times when children are very susceptible to ideas.  These posters could, in fact I’m almost tempted to say would, influence some children in ways their parents wouldn’t want them influenced.  I like the quote from an advertising manager the columnist spoke with “We have to get the educator’s heads out of the underpants and start looking toward the moon again, and beyond”.

Who are these people on the School Board?   Where are they getting their ideas from?  The messages contained in these postings belong in high school – but not until grade 11 – not in public schools.  Grade school children don’t need to be told cross-dressing is fine, or that it’s all right to be in a same sex relationship.

And before you think I’m just some prude hiding behind a keyboard, I’m transsexual.  Big  deal.  I also have red hair.  Again, big deal.  And my friends love me just as I am.


They can’t be serious

In addition to the “mainstream media” I also read the website for Xtra!, which describes itself as “Canada’s Gay and Lesbian News, among others.  Every so often, something interesting comes up there, such as an item from today that elicited the comment in the title.  The Toronto District School Board is launching a study on the question of whether they should have what they are describing as a “queer-centric” high school. This they define as a school where LBGT teachers and students wouldn’t have to worry about bullying and other problems.  As the TDSB sees it, this would be modelled on the “Afric-centric” high school started last year.  In that case a portion of an existing high school was set aside.  I saw a news report earlier this month that said the “Afric-centric” high school had six students enrolled.

I have problems with this, in fact with both of these ideas for various reasons.  One reason is that the TDSB is once again wasting money on a needless study.  Last spring, after much debate in Queen’s Park (Ontario’s government) an Act was passed calling for GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) in all Ontario schools, including Catholic schools.  Considering this, which is supposed to be safe haven for LGBT students, is now required in schools, why would the Toronto Board feel they should have separate schools?

That brings me to my main point of contention with both the “Afric-centric” and “queer-centric” schools.  I went to school in Ontario starting in the 1950’s.  Granted memory fades, but I don’t ever recall a time when Toronto schools weren’t integrated.  Now, with the “Afric-centric” and these “queer-centric” schools, it appears the TDSB is trying to introduce segregated schools. Makes me wonder if this is 2012, or 1912.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


(To answer the question:  yes, the avatar is really me.  It’s from a modelling shoot I did in May)

From the Monday morning news sites

1 – We here in Canada and the US can, if we so choose, criticize our governments freely in our blogs.  I haven’t done so recently, but when the Conservatives had a minority, more  issues made the news before they were passed and I had no problems ripping into the government if I felt they were wrong, or trying to mislead the public.  I’m sure there are others out there, on both sides of the 49th parallel, who do so as well.   I came across an  item on the CP24 news site this morning that said three bloggers in Vietnam have been sentenced to terms ranging from 4 to 12 years for writing blogs critical of the government.  Sorta helps remind us just how much freedom of speech we really do have, doesn’t it?

2 – There is a big furor at the moment, created by first year art students in Toronto.  Again, from the CP 24 news site (although I’ve seen the exact same article on other sites, so it’s obvious from Canadian Press), these students are, rightfully in my opinion, upset that they are being asked to spend $180 for an art text that contains no art.  Where the art should be, there are blank spaces.  Students are expected to go online and find the art there.  According to someone from the book industry or university interviewed for this, the alternative was to put the art in and charge $800 for the text.  Art class with no art.  About the only thing sillier would be an instrumental music course with no instruments or music.

3 – Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, went to Chicago for two days last week.  This was a city trip and involved himself and some councillors and was intended to improve ties between the two cities.  Robbie hosts a radio show every Sunday on one of the Toronto stations.  As part of yesterday’s show, he claimed the trip wouldn’t cost city taxpayers “a dime”.  Once again, this man is off on his own little planet.  It may not cost “a dime”, but what about the dollars some of the councillors will claim for expenses on this trip.  Robbie is wealthy and could (and may have) paid his own way, but if he thinks other city councillors are going to do that, he’s dreaming.  His visit received little to no media coverage outside of the Toronto media entourage who also made the trip.  NBC Chicago, according to an article on the Toronto Star news site today, posted a blog calling Robbie “obnoxious”.  As a commenter said, “how bad do you have to be to have an American call you ‘obnoxious’?”

And, under “biting the hand that feeds you” file, Robbie and brother City Councillor Doug ripped into media coverage of his domestic screwups, such as improperly using city property and staff for personal uses.  Among the media mentioned was the very station hosting their show.  Dougie is about as dense and self-centred as his brother and mistook a newsbreak for an ad criticizing the Ford trip to Chicago.

Just think – Toronto is stuck with them for another two years.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.