August 21, 2007

It was our 6th anniversary on Friday, so Mark and I decided to do a quick get-away to Ottawa, where we stayed at the lovely Rideau Inn just off Elgin Street. We had a lovely and remarkably well-priced 4-course meal at Mamma Teresa, Ottawa's most famous Italian restaurant. The genial host seated us in a small dining room right in front of a fireplace. Our evening ended with a lovely stroll along the Rideau Canal, over to the Byward Market, and back...

August 20, 2007

Fans of the late "Firefly" series will no doubt be sympathetic towards those loyal viewers of the ill-fated NBC show "Surface". When massive, new marine life forms begin to threaten the existence of humans, the fate of four individuals become inextricably interwoven. With some high-level government consipiracy and good, old-fashioned suspense thrown in, "Surface" certainly had the potential to be as popular as any of its peers that enjoyed the sci-fi watermark during the 1990s.

Much like the recent "Transformers" movie, what really sells "Surface" is the stellar work of lead kid Carter Jenkins, who anchors the rest of the cast with an uncanny realism. You develop immediate pathos for him and, like Shia Labeouf, it is his work on-screen that makes the digital effects both believable and worth caring about.

This is a very fine piece of sci-fi and I highly recommend it, even if only for the terrifying yet brilliant scene shot high above a boat on a lake that I'll never, ever forget. If you enjoy the series, join the fight to bring it back at
Save Surface.

In memory of 907 Canadians lost as a result of the "Operation Jubilee" raid at Dieppe, 19 August, 1942

August 16, 2007

January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977
When exactly did CNN become America's Page 6?! At 2:15 PM today the top of CNN's site (ostensibly reserved for the most important breaking news) actually read "President Bush’s daughter, Jenna, is engaged to be married, the White House says." Meanwhile, the top link is about stocks tumbling, the second about Jenna Bush's engagement (in case you missed the two-inch, red banner), the third is about the Minneapolis bridge collapse, and the fourth is about an earthquake in Peru. Hmmm...for some reason apparently 450 dead Peruvians is trumped by the impending nuptials of a President's daughter.

Oh, and remember the 20 million people displaced and hundreds killed by the massive floods in Asia? Good luck getting an update on the aftermath from CNN. Hmmm...for some reason the plight of masses equivalent to the population of Australia just doesn't merit the kind of in-depth coverage they've applied to a collapsing bridge responsible for less than a dozen deaths.

Now, to be fair, CNN is covering a report that 8 million Iraqis are "without water, sanitation, food and shelter and need emergency aid", although you have to click on CNN World and then scroll down to the middle of the page to find the link. Indeed, that 8 million souls are in imminent risk does not warrant bold, red banner headline remains a mystery to me. It's not even a top world story, according to CNN.

Each of these stories is a tragedy, and surely all are deserving of our tears. Yet,
I remain baffled at the choices made as to whose lives are more important, what is news worthy, and who most deserves our sympathies and attention.

August 15, 2007

These are the places that were my neighborhoods

I've recently discovered Wikimapia, which is a great way to see the world without lining up at the airport. For fun, I've decided to look for the places where I've lived.

One of the finds to tug at my heart is my childhood home, where I lived from 1978 to 1987. I have such fond memories of living in the country on the Ottawa River, as do my sisters. In 1987, we moved down river to Aylmer, where my family has lived ever since. I moved to Kingston to attend Queen's and, save for two years, have been here ever since.

I've lived at the following addresses in Kingston: Leonard Hall, Victoria Hall, 323 William St.,154 King St East, 236 Wellington St., 558 Frontenac St. , and I currently live at 17 Rideau Street. My next place will likely be the house Mark and I stay tuned!

August 12, 2007

Are you gettin' enough? This poor little fella isn't.

August 7, 2007

Anyone who knows me can attest that I am a huge movie buff. So I was delighted to stumble across a great site called Editing Room whereby the host, Rod Hilton, hilariously rewrites the scripts of major studio releases. He calls them "abridged scripts" and they serve to mock the contexts and real-world meanings of the films. In fact, many aspects of a given film are up for criticism, and Hilton "takes a piss" of just about everyone (including actors, the dialogue, the director, etc.) so he is quite fair in his scathing and witty critiques. This is more than mere parody, and is a worthwhile comment on what passes as artistic greatness at the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

August 4, 2007

As reported by Doug Saunders in the Globe and Mail, Steven Pressman, an economist at Monmouth University in New Jersey, has released an intriguing study entitled The Decline of the Middle Class: An International Perspective. In it he examines the movement of the middle classes (those who earn 75% to 125% of a nation's median income around the world from 1980-2000.

Some interesting results: The middle-income ranks in Britain shrank by 4.5%; in Sweden by 7.1% ; and in the U.S. by 2.4%. Switzerland and Germany stayed at pretty much the same percentages, while Norway and Canada were the only nations to see a rise in their middle classes. Canada saw an increase by 4% so that 37% of the population was middle class. While this did mean that Canada's upper class shrank by 1.9% to comprise 33.3% of the population, the good-news story is that more movement occured from poor to middle class.

For some context,
StatsCan reports that the median after-tax income for Canadian families with two or more people rose 1.6% from 2004 to $56,000, after adjusting for inflation. This increase in after-tax income came on the heels of a 1.3% gain in 2004. Median after-tax income of "unattached individuals," or singles, remained stable at $21,400 in 2005. About 14% of the population lived as unattached individuals in 2005, up from 11% two decades earlier.

What is Canada's secret sauce? Government. As Pressman tellingly comments, “I am not sure that the middle class can be self-sustaining. It seems to require active government policies. The market tends to produce great inequalities in income; these inequalities seem greater in a global economy.”

However, the
Canadian Council on Social Development warns that, "In one of the most prosperous decades in Canadian history, incomes among the 20% of Canadians just below the median bracket – low-income working Canadians – actually fell. Among the 10% of families with the lowest earnings, average income was $10,341 in 2000, only a slight increase from $10,260 a decade earlier." Clearly, we have more work to do to genuinely tackle poverty in our country.

Still, the Canadian middle-class, a global success story, owes its sustenation to Canada's long policy of government intervention to protect the quality of life of its citizenry. Indeed, our beloved "Soviet Canuckistan" should take pride in this tradition and progressive vision.

August 1, 2007

Today marks the official announcement that Fort Henry, the Rideau Canal and Kingston's fortifications have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canada's 14th to make the list and Ontario's first.
The stone Fort was completed in 1837 (replacing an earlier wood structure), the 202-kilometre Canal was finished in 1832, and the 6 Martello towers (4 towers and 2 redoubts) were completed in 1848.