Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday Broadside

In light of the fact I haven't touched on current news and culture in a while (except for the usual flurry of comments on my Facebook status), and the amount of time and thought and gulp, reading, required in finishing the last 40,000 words on my novel, I thought I'd take a few minutes to post an un-blog like, er, blog on my, um, blog. Hope that's okay. Comments are welcome, as always.

  1. The Whole Ann Coulter Thing
I've already written at least a thousand words on this on my Facebook, so I won't go into too much depth here. (My Facebook badge is on the lower left part of this page. Click and I'll add you as a friend, and you'll be free to enter the discussion.) For those of you not in Canada, you can find the story here about the alleged 'security threat' of a peaceful protest at Ottawa University which caused her, supposedly, to cancel her speaking engagement (for which she normally receives upwards of $10,000 - 20,000 a lecture)

Back in my early twenties, I was a fan of Ann Coulter, then a burgeoning young Republican pundit who'd just written her first best seller. At the time I was a young, conservative zealot and pastoring in a conservative church. Even still, I began to grow increasingly uncomfortable with her as her popularity grew and her arguments, once seemingly well reasoned, became increasingly shrill. I purchased her next two books, including Treason, but finally gave up on her. Somewhere along the way she stopped trying to converse with the 'left', instead trading her ability in discourse for sarcasm and a flailing attempt at 'humour.' Over the past decade she's written a number of best sellers, and with the advent of Fox News (it wasn't always around, believe it or not) she found a home for her ever narrowing views that have finally crossed the lines of race, gender, sexuality and religion into intellectual phoniness and barbarism.

A lot can be said about how the incident at the University of Ottawa was handled, but the most disturbing aspect of it all has been the way conservatives continue to claim her as their own, much the way they claim Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Laura Graham, who would be better perceived as entertainers than pundits. The real conservative pundits and thinkers, people like David Frum, who was fired from the American Enterprise Institute this past week, and Peggy Noonan, whose gracious style befits such a gracious woman, offer us intelligent and thoughtful comments on society and politics and where we're headed. I am no longer a conservative, but I very much respect what pundits such as Frum and Noonan have to offer because you get the sense from them that they actually care about people and that it isn't all about them. Even when I disagree with their commentary, I realize that they're necessary if we're going to sift through the inevitable propaganda that flows down both sides of the river.

2. Health Care, Death Panels, and Stupidity

I'm sorry, but I don't understand the level of vitriol directed at both sides of the aisle right now in regards to the recently passed health care bill in the U.S. And while I'm Canadian, and therefore support the bill, it's hardly revolutionary. It strikes me as necessary. This inevitably leads back to the aforementioned "pundits" who must fill time and drive ratings and so play on people's fears and stoke the fires of anger that fill their coffers but do little for the country.

And can I say that I'm tired of Republicans calling Canada a "bunch of socialists". Please. Every time they speak in this manner they reveal an education paid by rich parents and apparently wasted while doing their best Van Wilder impersonations at school, with little learning since. Every G-8 country in the world except for the United States offers some form of 'universal'(read, every citizen counts) health care more advanced than Medicare.

That said, at some point we're going to have to debunk this idea here in Canada that Health Care reform is not something we can and must discuss. At the end of the day, we still have to pay for it.
3. Charity and NonProfit Waste

Of all the industries that have been hit hard by the latest recession, charities and non-profits have been hit the hardest. The level of giving has dropped, and many of these organizations have not been able to meet their budgets the past two years. To this end, charities need to find a way to cut overhead costs especially rampant in the massive organizations that pay exorbitant salaries to people here, and focus on increasing volunteerism and efficiency. Nobody wants to give to an organization, especially now, to pay for the $80,000 - $100,000 dollar salaries for people working here. If you give for the purposes of making a difference, then that's where the money should be going. A recently introduced private members bill to limit the top non-profit executive salary at $250,000 was introduced this past week. It's a good idea, but it shouldn't be necessary. Organizations like Compassion Intl. already limit their overhead. Another good young startup by the Shannons (founders of Lulu Lemon) is imagine1day.org, an organization that works with primary education in Ethiopia. People can pay for a desk, a text book, etc… It lets you know that you're making a difference on a micro level and requires minimal overhead.
4. Sex Addicts, Sandra, and Celebrity Apprentice

Anyone else feeling sorry for Sandra Bullock these past few weeks? I am. She strikes me as the rare Hollywood star who is well liked for a reason, which is, um, probably why she's so well liked. As a fan of Celebrity Apprentice, her soon to be cheating ex-husband Jesse James struck me last year as a kind, cool cat, which tells you all you need to know about reality shows. The more we read about his various affairs, the more we realize that despite spending nearly two months watching James, (he finished 3rd on the elimination show) we didn't know him at all. We're sorry, Sandra. You deserve better.

Sex Addicts. Tiger Woods. You were expecting a comment. Enough said.

Speaking of Celebrity Apprentice, which along with American Idol is one of my two intellectually challenged candy shows that I enjoy each week, I got a close up view of Cyndi Lauper and I have to say… she is perhaps one the dumbest human beings – and yes, she's a celebrity, which tells you something about celebrity – I've ever seen. ("But Misder Trump, if Ah bring 'dose udders in here, 'day could get fy- yerd") She's also unbelievably sweet and likable and creative. Still, it helps keep things in perspective when you look at your own life. We're not necessarily rewarded based on brains or even talent. Mostly it's about where you end up on the roulette table. And for those with less talent but the willingness to say, throw everyone else under the bus to 'get for themselves', the world needs far more Cyndi Laupers and fewer Annie Dukes (the poker player who finished second in last year's Apprentice) who made a point of throwing nearly everyone else under the bus, and smiling while she did so.

5. Leafs, Raptors and Don Cherry

I can accept that my teams are terrible. I can accept that they may always be terrible. But these past two weeks I've found myself watching the Leafs, in last place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Raptors, fighting for a playoff spot, although I'm a much bigger basketball fan. Why? The Leafs play hard. Shift after shift. The Raptors have talent, but too many individuals playing soft or not playing hard or, as Andrea Bargnani said in a recent interview on NBA.com, sometimes "I'm just lazy. I should be getting more rebounds." The whole Turkoglu mess (sick one night for the game, out partying at the clubs the next) has been the capper of dung piled onto the heap this year. If we were to ask Don Cherry what was wrong with the Raptors, he'd probably snort and whack Ron Maclean with one of those hard elbow pads. "What's the matter with you, dummy. They have too many Europeans." To that, I can only say that the Raptors have too many of the wrong kind of Europeans, and too many of the wrong kind of North Americans.
Authour's note: I realize that this is being published on a Tuesday, but it was written on Sunday night/Monday morning, hence the title. And yes, I'll have more thought-provoking (read:angst ridden and wondering if everyone feels the same way I do) blogs to come. I just need to get past the next 20,000 words or so on my novel.