Saturday, July 29, 2006


Quebec agency offended by “Outgames”

Not by the existence of the event, a sort of gay and lesbian Olympics, but by the fact that organizers didn’t bother to give the name "Outgames" a French translation.

People unfamiliar with Quebec society might think I am making this up.

I am not.

Social values here are among the most liberal in North America, with the pendulum still swinging leftwards after the oppression of the days when the Church ran French society here. In fact, it was only in 1998 that school boards reorganized themselves along linguistic lines (French / English) rather than denominational ones (Catholic / Protestant, with each having French and English sections. A jurisdictional nightmare.)

So for Montreal to host the First World Outgames,

the largest and most magnificent gathering of gays, lesbians, bisexuals,transvestites,transsexuals and heterosexuals coming together in a festive spirit of celebration in North America's City of Festivals

is almost a no-brainer.

However “out” and “games” are English words, and the website of the OFFICE DE LA LANGUE FRANCAISE (aka Language Police, and other names too nasty to repeat) has put out a special little popup section bemoaning the lack of a French translation for the name.

What it says is, it’s a shame that there is no French equivalent for the word "Outgames", especially since the event is held in Montreal, a French-speaking city. They hope that this will be remedied in time for the next Outgames, in Denmark in 2009.
For now, why not call the games “Rendez-vous Montreal 2006” (Get-together Montreal 2006) which it is called on the French version of the official website?
This would be much more sensitive to the feelings of the French-speaking citizens who host the games and would also reflect the open spirit of this important occasion.

Okay, first of all, on the French section of the website they do call it “Outgames”.
Second, is there just something a little bit wrong with a society that is SO inclusive it doesn’t bat an eyelash at gay parades, gay marriage, gay olympics, but thinks it has the right to legislate what language is spoken?

Of course this is nothing new here. The OFFICE DE LA LANGUE FRANCAISE has been the agency we (English Quebecers) love to hate for the past 30 years. It has brought us such abominations as

manche a balai (joystick)
feux d’artifice (fireworks)
pommes de terre frites (french fries)
oiselet (birdie, in golf)

They even tried to muck with the internet, way back in the day, as evidenced by this page from Electronic Frontier Canada. a rights and freedoms watchdog group.

Its “tongue troopers” can be seen, (and were seen by me several years ago) notepad in hand, wandering through appliance sections of furniture stores to record which manufacturers comply with THE LAW, and which do not, and they even publish shit lists on their website!

Again, not news – but what IS news, and what brought this to my attention today, was this report:

Iranian Leader Bans Usage of Foreign Words

Way to go, Ahmadinejad, your repressive tactics have finally caught up with those of the Province of Quebec.
Iranians can no longer eat pizza but must eat “elastic loaves”, just as we must eat, er, poutine?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wake-Up Call for the Left

All you "progressives" out there, marching for peace, equating stars of david with swastikas...


If you need further explanation, try this.

You may want peace. I want peace too.
THEY do not want peace until Israel no longer exists.

If that is a price you are willing to pay, consider this:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

-Pastor Martin Niemoller, on Nazi Germany

Thursday, July 20, 2006

One Giant Leap - Backwards

One day short of the 37th anniversary of the moon landing, a feat which looks more and more spectacular (if not improbable) as time and technology advance, one day short of this milestone, the current US President took it upon himself to unilaterally impede the progress of science in a way that could benefit mankind far more directly, and far more rapidly, than the space program.

I am referring of course to President Bush’s veto of the stem cell bill passed by Congress, the one that would loosen restrictions on research using human embryos as stem cell sources.
The veto does not outlaw this research, but prevents it from being funded by taxpayers, which for practical purposes prevents it from being done to any significant degree in the U.S.

Thus, the U.S. is destined to fall behind the rest of the world in a technology that could be one of the greatest medical advances of the century.

Beyond the arguments pro and con, and the fact that the President’s moral/religious beliefs are being used to defy the will of the people, beyond all that, I can’t help but be struck by the difference in outlook between 37 years ago and today.

The public was told, and believed, that the US would not allow the Russians to get ahead, in science or in any venue, and that this was vital to the survival of democracy and freedom and the American way of life. I never quite followed that logic, but apparently it was true because the real issue with the space race wasn’t the pursuit of pure science so much as staking a claim for any weaponization of space that might one day be feasible.

Be that as it may, the initiative did foster a culture in which science was cool, kids aspired to be astronauts, the attitude was positive, forward-looking and productive, and the education system took full advantage of this outlook.

Not everyone was behind the goal of putting a man on the moon but the chief objection was that the incredible sums of money that went into it would be better spent on practical things such as alleviating world poverty and (duh) medical research.

Fast forward 40 years and what do we have?
A congress, senate and public sentiment that wants tax dollars spent on medical research, research that would likely have a tremendous impact in our lifetimes, on diseases as common as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

It’s a sad irony that just as one President ignited the spark that brought knowledge and achievement to his country, another has chosen to defy the will of the majority, relegating the US to Third World status in the global scientific community.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Just Imagine...

What if:

George W. Bush had not rushed right back home from Russia the other day, had hung around to chill with, say, the Prime Minister of France...
Maybe catch up on a little world news...
And spot an opportunity.
An opportunity to not only make a flamboyant statement - a la MISSION (not) ACCOMPLISHED - but actually contribute, if only a little, to a solution and make an effort towards repairing some ill-will that understandably flew his way.

Say George W. Bush were to throw the evil MEDIA and all but essential staff off of Air Force 1 - fly down to Cyprus, not all that far, really, and MEET THE FIRST CRUISE SHIP TO BE EVACUATING HIS COUNTRY'S CITIZENS.
And use the spare room on his plane to bring as many as he could - travelling WITH HIM - back to the US, while chartering planes for the remainder.

Far fetched?

For George, maybe, but that is exactly what Steven (Steve) Harper is doing.

I suspect his critics will find something wrong with this, as could I if I looked hard enough, but you gotta love his spunk.

Especially the part about the media. It is no secret that Steve and the media do not get along, but if you're going to do the GRAND GESTURE, wouldn't you at least want network coverage?
But of course he will get that in any way the networks can manage, and I do look forward to it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm Back...

You know you haven't blogged in awhile when Blogger makes you log in afresh.

Starting up again after a lull is difficult, in a way.
Not difficult as in waging urban warfare in Iraq, or staffing the Tim Horton's in Kandahar, to be sure.
But difficult as in overcoming the Inertia (heh. Inside joke).
No, really. When you blog every day, or at least regularly, it's like a conversation. Especially when the blog is dedicated to a topic such as the recent Canadian election. At least that narrows down the choices of topic.
When you haven't blessed the world with your opinion in a couple of months, there is so much to choose from, it's, er, difficult to decide.
With all that's going on in the world, the first thing I want to mention is, of course, the sad demise of yet another Canadian groundhog, poor Wiarton Willie the most recent.

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote this, in the predecessor to this blog:
The story of the groundhog scandal of 1999, which, like all good scandals, involved a cover-up that was worse than the original misdeed.
Groundhogs will die, after all, but to throw a surprise funeral instead of a party, and failing to acknowledge that the *thing* you were burying was not even the deceased but a stuffed facsimile, is beyond acceptable Canadian procedure.
Six years later, the replacement groundhog has now also departed, and I am glad to say that whoever is in charge of these things at least learned something from the debacle. This time it's all properly disclosed, media informed, funeral plans and all.
I suppose it helped that the creature died in the off-season.

In the interests of full disclosure (as they say on the financial websites) I must reveal that a groundhog died under my front balcony this spring. Or at least, crawled out from under it to die on the lawn which was, I thought, really decent of him/her. I can just imagine having to look around to figure out what was causing that smell.

So now that I've gotten past choosing that all important first-topic-back, keeping going should be a breeze.