Attention politicians: we’re electioned out.

This has definitely been a year. Earlier this year, several municipalities held their own elections–including the Ottawa area. Then, not long after that wrapped up, the federal election. Which, it should probably be pointed out, was pretty much being squared off for during the municipal ones. And now, for the majority of the next couple weeks, several provinces are going through their own elections–including this one. And there’s been a common theme to most if not all of them, that I’ve noticed. With the exception of one or two issues of the week, you’ve got a choice of the same, the same, or the same, optionally with slightly differing levels of snore. In Ontario, the federal government run CBC has opted to broadcast the season opener for this year’s hockey go round instead of the results of the election in this here province. Because, hey, it just isn’t all that interesting this year. Hey, guys? That’s a hint. We’re kind of electioned out. Can we get back to running Ontario, and the rest of the country, now? That’d rock.

Music Canada: not much about music, or Canada.

So you’ve probably heard mutterings in recent days about an organization going by the name Music Canada. You’d think they’re an advocacy group for Canadian musicians, wouldn’t you? In an alternate universe, you might be correct. In this one, though? Nope, it’s only the Canadian Recording Industry Asociation renaming itself. This post is just writing itself using bits and pieces of other posts. Like this one. And this one. And probably several others. Ah hell–let’s just chalk the whole thing up to different name, same organization, same good screwing. Cover all the bases? Yeah, I think so. Music Canada? How about no.

Canada’s democratic process not democratic enough for Brigette DePape. Or the PSAC, apparently.

On May second, Canada went through its most recent election. Canada’s conservative party, which despite popular belief up here is far less conservative than the US conservative party, was elected to government. Fairly, insofar as a system can be fair without offending Quebec, elected in a majority of communities across Canada. In most cases, that would be enough to satisfy even the most politically active–democracy is democracy, win or lose, after all. Unless, apparently, you’re a former senate page named Brigette DePape–or Marcelle, as her press release identified her. Then, democracy is only democracy if the guy you voted for wins. And to prove we just weren’t democratic enough for her liking, during the throne speech to open this session of parliament, the senate page turned senate protester. Her reasoning? Well, after she was fired, she educated us.

Marcelle had served in the Senate as a page for nearly a year, but she decided to take action a few days ago because she said Harper doesn’t reflect the majority of Canadians.

“Harper’s agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation,” Marcelle said.

She added that the government is “blowing billions of dollars” on fighter jets and corporate tax cuts, but ignoring important environmental issues like climate change.

But since Harper recently won a majority, Marcelle said that staging “creative” protests is the only way to fight back.

“I think that Harper’s agenda is so damaging that it called for something that is different,” she said. “I think we really need to take action.”

Ms. DePape continues, informing anyone who’ll listen that we could benefit from our very own version of the Arab spring. There’s a comment in here somewhere about just how ridiculous and, dare I say, out of step a call like that actually sounds in Canada of all places–you know, one of those places where people in the midst of their own Arab spring come to and enjoy the very thing she’s telling us to protest. I can’t put it into my own words. Instead, I’ll borrow from this opinion piece.

DePape called for a “Canadian version of an Arab Spring.” That’s right, we should all take to the streets and demand free and fair elections — you know, like the one we had on May 2. Now you’d think that a college student would know that we enjoy the freedom and system of government that thousands of Arabs are fighting, and dying, to achieve. But she somehow thinks that our first-past-the-post system invalidates the entire democratic process. I suppose we should expect contradictions like this from someone who professes to support democracy, but took a job in the unelected Senate.

Thanks for that, Jesse Kline. When asked what kind of people would support such a poor, misinformed soul, you need look no farther than the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), who was gracious enough to offer her a job. Oh, and Michael Moore–yeah, that Michael Moore. Maybe I’m the odd man out or something, but when Jack Layton, also known as Mr. “Harper Is Evil”, says himself what she did was wrong, that should say something.

This kid comes out of the University of Ottawa, lands herself a pretty nifty job for a university student while she’s attending, then turns around and does something like that. And all because the party she voted for wasn’t elected, so clearly there’s no democracy here. A little advice for Ms. DePape, not that she’d take it. What you’re protesting? Yeah, that thing over there? That’s what the Arab spring’s all about. Please, for the love of chese, do a little research before somebody protests the kind of education people are getting at Ottawa U these days.

Randomly curious: does anyone actually miss the mail?

We’ve officially been on some kind of a postal strike or something on this side of the border now for over a week. The strikes have been rotating, and they’re talking about making it a full on national strike if their demands for $millions aren’t met. They’ve already reduced delivery to 3 days a week due to the lack of actual business brought on by the strike. This whole event’s got me wondering something though. Does anyone who’s been affected by the strike actually miss getting the mail? I don’t mean the 95% of the mail that usually only goes with you as far as file 13 anyway. Is there anything you receive, either regularly or occasionally, that this strike has made more difficult? How about those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure? If your city/town was to suffer a postal strike tomorrow, would it actually affect you? I’ll follow up later with my answer to that question, but if you’re bored, feel free to slap yours in the comments. And give the folks over at Canada Post some free advice while you’re at it–I get the impression both sides could use it.

So much for fair play. Thanks, Ontario soccer league.

Remember when you were always being nagged at to play by the rules or you’d wind up watching instead? Anyone? There are 10 girls on one local soccer team who won’t be getting that lesson–and 10 more who probably wouldn’t mind if they did. After using a player during the season who wasn’t listed on the team’s actual roster, the Louis Riel Rebelles were shocked to learn they’d been disqualified from the tournament that was taking place this week. So shocked were they, and so put out in disbelief that such things would actually be frowned on, the school took the league to court–and, surprise, had the decision overturned. The decision came down only a few hours before the tournament in Hamilton was to begin. The team they replaced? They got to find out after already sitting in Hamilton for the games. Ten grade school girls got to hear from their coach, “Thanks for coming out–oh, and by the way, you’re not playing today. The court said so.”. Fair play? Not in this league. So another group of kids gets to learn all about our definition of follow the rules, and they all lived judicially ever after. Way to go, Ontario.

Your attention please. Coffee and pickles can give you cancer. Oh yeah–your cell phone, too.

So a new World Health Organization (WHO) study came out earlier this week potentially classifying your cell phone as a class 2B carcinogen. In other words, possibly carcinogenic. In simpler terms, potentially cancer-inducing. Yay. Go World Health Organization. In response to this, the 80 millionth study declaring such things (soon to follow: the 80 millionth study declaring the opposite), Ontario’s NDP would like to see warning labels indicating the things are potentially linked to cancer slapped on any and all cell phone by the manufacturer. And now, Ontario’s government is investigating the issue. For a little perspective, the Ontario NDP–and potentially our liberal government–is investigating the results of the World Health Organization’s having just potentially tossed cell phones into the same category as, we’ll say, coffee. Or pickles. And now it’s time for warning labels. Watch this space. Next month, beware of early morning caffination–it’ll kill you. Only in Ontario.

The Canadian justice system hard at work. Or not.

Until a couple days ago, I had no idea if you were a member of the RCMP, you were entitled to use stress as a defense against an assault charge–even if the assault charge was because you pounded on an innmate. Apparently, if you’re an RCMP officer in Alberta, that’s the defense that keeps you out of jail. An RCMP officer, after admitting he did a number on an innmate who’d already gotten whacked one in a bar fight, blames the stress of having been one of the officers called to the scene after the murders of 4 police officers.

Now, before folks jump all over me for being a cold and uncaring bastard, I get that it’s a mental kick in the teeth dealing with something like that. Obviously he worked with and was probably friends with those people, so yeah it’s going to be hard. I get that. But if you’re still bothered/stressed over that kinda thing, the absolute last place you should be is right back at work–particularly work wherein you’re dealing with other people. And the absolute last thing you should be doing is leaning on that as an excuse for having lost it and pounded the crap out of some shmuck you brought in on charges of his own. And yet, that’s precisely what this officer did, and then walked away from it.

Maybe I’m a nutter over here, but if average Joe who’d just been handed a craptacular week or two, complete with losing a family member, friend, coworker or whatever, haulled off and let some other average guy have it, he’d be sitting in jail right now for–oh–we’ll call it a year or two. This guy? Nope not so much. Six-month conditional sentence, 3 of which spent under house arrest. Barely a tap on the wrist–and still nowhere near the 6-9 months in jail that was asked for. And all because of stress. Guess it really does pay to be in law enforcement. Where do I sign up?

Hey look, it’s another election! yippy!

I have a thing for politics. Call it a hidden streak of sadism. Whichever. I’ve kept a relatively close eye on it since highschool. which, quite surprisingly, meant I got to play witness to nearly an average of one election every two years since shortly after I got out of college. In 2004, our majority liberal government under former crook–er I mean Prime Minister–Jean Chretien shrunk to a minority liberal government under former partner in crime–er I mean Prime Minister–Paul Martin. In 2006, we kept the minority but switched parties, and ended up with the conservatives and Stephen “accountability” Harper. In 2008, we landed the exact same government in the exact same position–huge thanks to Stephane “green shift” Dion. And in 2011, we get treated to another one with the help of Michael “No coalition, maybe” Ignatieff. I’m not even bothering to comment on the role Jack “your money for everyone” Layton or that member of provincial parliament from Quebec played in any or all of them, simply because, well, nobody but they really care about it.

I voted in the 2004 election. I even voted in the 2006 election. When 2008 rolled around and we went for a third straight vote in 4 years, I didn’t bother. The platforms were the same. Most of the major players were the same. My local representative remained the same–mostly because the alternatives to him remained pretty much the same. And truth be told, I’d much rathered be at work than standing in line for an hour and not getting paid for it. I will not be voting in 2011. Why? See my reasoning for 2008, minus the whole being at work thing. It’s been 3 years since the last election, and for the better part of 2 of them, they’ve been talking about the next one. Hi, really really old Michael Ignatieff quote. Nice to see you. And of course, surprise of surprises–here we are again. I can has stability plz? No, somehow, I didn’t think so.

A year later, Quebec still hasn’t let go of the olympics.

After the opening festivities of the olympics last year, my take on which can be found in its asociated category, the Quebec language police were up in arms because almost no french was actually used in the event. Neverminding the fact that if it had been, it would have gone pretty well not very understood by the majority of people actually there. That was around this time last year. Here it is February 2011, and wouldn’t you know, they’re still at it. And once again, they’re ignoring the fact that the rest of the world, with the exception of Quebec, pretty much speaks english and some other language that isn’t french. And that’s assuming they speak more than one language at all. Personally, I rather enjoyed the fact I could actually understand most of what went on at a Canadian event for a change.

Okay, I get it–everything that may remotely involve Quebec must be completely bilingual, french first, and must shine a light on just how wonderful and glorious Quebec is. Yes, even if it’s a factual account of Canadian history–can’t have Quebec coming out like the spunge it is, after all. But really, now. This was 2010 when it happened. And it was one evening. That Quebec is still to this day going on about it, I think, says more about Quebec than the events they’re complaining about. Thankfully I’m no longer surprised the ones doing the complaining are the pro-Quebec, anti-Canada political parties currently in opposition in Quebec’s “national” legislature. But still, you’d think they’d glom onto an issue to beat dead that’s a little newer than this. After all, regardless to who’s side holds the more truth, if any of them actually do, you can’t undo the cerimony. It still happened the way it happened. And hey look, Quebec would still be complaining about it. And the rest of Canada’s tax dollars are paying for the complaint. Only in backwards Quebec.

The CRTC snaps its fingers, and unlimitted internet no longer exists.

I’m not one for capped internet connections. Never have been. Not even if I’m only checking email. I took full advantage of one ISP on my way out for reasons of capped bandwidth/traffick shaping policies–that they’re still continuing with, last I’d heard. I ripped into another for offering its own customers an on-demand streaming service a la Netflix and deciding hey, our internet customers don’t actually need a reason to use our service over torrents, so we’ll just count it against their bandwidth cap. I went at them again, this time for lowering their already ridiculously low caps in response to the launch of the offending Netflix in Canada. At the time, while none of the big 3 ISP’s (Rogers, Bell and Telus) were offering unlimitted internet services, the smaller ISP’s TekSavvy, Primus) were. And life was great. I ditched Bell for TekSavvy, who I ended up leaving for other reasons over 2 and a half years later–but that’s been beaten to death over here already, and avoided both issues. Bell decided not long after that that they didn’t much like us playing that game. So they wined to the CRTC. As did Rogers, as did Telus. Because, you know, competitive advantage in Canada just shouldn’t be allowed to exist. This past week, the CRTC agreed. Now, as of February first, even the smaller ISP’s are mandated to piss off their customers by charging them for any and all usage that takes you beyond 25 GB. After 25 GB, your options are to pay $x for every gig over that amount, or pay another price–usually only slightly less–for blocks of bandwidth, some companies (hello, TekSavvy) are calling it insurance, that you may or may not actually end up using for a month–more than likely, you’ll end up using.

As a general guide, let me let you in on a little hint as to just how ridiculously tiny 25 GB is. If you’re into the whole online gaming thing, even if it’s just one of those games you find on Facebook to kill half an hour on your coffee break, you can blow through 25 gigs easily in a month. If you’re doing anything more demanding than that, for example playing World of Warcraft, even if it’s not for very long at a stretch, 25 gigs goes by pretty quick. Get a lot of email? Use a fair bit of Twitter? Decide you want to install your favourite OS on a spare computer? Or virtually? Do pretty much anything that isn’t your typical half-hour of internet usage a day for checking email/paying bills? Your 25 gig cap waves goodbye in an aweful goddamn hurry. Yep, you guessed it. Youtube, streaming music, random TWAudio or Q-audio things, they hurt too. And don’t even get me started on what any even moderate amount of file sharing of any kind, legal or otherwise, does to the bandwidth cap–which would be the entire reason for the cap in the first place.

The major players in the Canadian market have been calling the shots pretty much since the advent of the CRTC and the granting of regulatory authority to the CRTC over our portion of the internet. Bell, Rogers, Telus all started throttling traffick, manipulating things in such a way that traffick that fell into specific categories was slowed or otherwise given headaches–we call that throttling, or traffick shaping. The big push from the smaller ISP’s at that time was “we’d never do that to you!”. And, ironically, they were right–they usually never did. So shortly before I officially was to switch ISP’s from Bell to Teksavvy, Bell thought they’d extend a favour to the smaller ISP’s, and do the traffick shaping for them. Nice, no? Naturally, the CRTC was perfectly fine with it–prompting at least two complaints and a petition that didn’t actually end up getting a whole lot of anywhere. And voila, one third-party throttle, served monopolistically. It’s been that way escentially since. Same with the newest issue of usage-based billing.

Bell and Rogers began instituting, and later lowering–hence those first few links at the top of the entry–bandwidth caps. They started out mildly reasonable and didn’t hang around there long. Instead, prices went up, bandwidth went down, and–at least on DSL–speeds escentially stayed the same. Suddenly, we weren’t getting what we’d call our money’s worth. Once again, up comes the smaller ISP, this time with an unlimitted bandwidth offering and a promise of “We wouldn’t do that to you!”. And, once again, they’re usually right–they, specifically, wouldn’t do that to their customers. And once again, Bell, Rogers and Telus, who the smaller ISP’s have little to no choice but deal with if they want to be able to offer internet service, volunteered to do them the favour of instituting bandwidth caps for them. And once again, they did it with the complete backing of the CRTC–poof, usage-based billing is born, the unlimitted internet is dead. As before, there’s a mass amount of appeals underway to try and convince the CRTC to see reason, but so far, it hasn’t done much but take up space in the news. And once again, the CRTC is stuck in 1995 or 2000, in the land of the barely above 56k. And just like that, like the land of barely above 56k, the CRTC snaps its fingers and unlimitted internet no longer exists. Now if we could just see *improvements* to our internet services come through as quickly as hinderences. Well, can’t have everything. At least someone’s seeing some quick progress.

Canada Post gets a hard lesson in accessibility. And they’re about to get another.

Carin over at the Vomit Comet already laid good into Canada Post for this one, but since I’m procrastinating with this whole packing thing anyway and a little backup never hurt anyone, they get a friendly little reminder from me.

In December, I decided I had 30 seconds between the other 80 million things I was trying to get done that last week or two before Christmas to actually fire off some cards to family and a couple friends. You’d think an effort that’d take a grand total of 30 seconds, right? Last year, yes. The year before, definitely. This year? Yeah, no. What should have taken 30 seconds instead turned into a moment of temporary oh shit.

As part of their move to supposedly “improve the customer service experience”, Canada post had at some point late last year decided it might be fun to go all touchscreen, all the time. Their reason for doing so? It’s a requirement to deal with the new chip-equipped debbit cards. Much like Carin in her experience, postal chick and I went a round or two over that one. Not only could they have easily gone with another, more accessible model, but–in my case in particular–the unit I was staring at was stuck to the counter, which was roughly chest height for me (I’m 5’11 or so). Which meant, in simple terms, not only could the blind/low vision not do anything whatsoever with it, but lord help anyone who came rolling on up in a wheelchair. I’d of loved to see just how the local post office was going to handle that one. They weren’t doing a whole lot to handle this one, in any event.

Lucky for me, as you quite literally can’t get to 90% of what’s available in this town without wheels, I just so happened to have a pair of eyes handy. Equally lucky for me, they’re eyes I actually don’t mind knowing my PIN–hey, sometimes stuff has to get done and I’m busy. But I’d of been in much the same boat Carin was otherwise. And the explanation of such to the postal employee? Prompted the much anticipated and not at all favourable–for her–standard responses of, “You’ll just have to make sure you bring someone with you, I guess.”, and, “Well, there’s an ATM not far from here. We still accept cash.”.

As if she didn’t probably already figure she maybe shouldn’t have said that–I probably should give her a tiny benefit of doubt, here–she got a good dose of education from both myself, and my wheels. There was no actual reply, and we went on business as usual.

On my return home, I’d put together a little something and sent it via Canada Post’s less than well-organized website into, what I’m going to guess, is their customer feedback black hole. As of yet I haven’t heard or seen anything resembling a response, and when the roommate and I went to fill out a money order for the apartment that wasn’t (more on that in another entry, if I remember), things hadn’t changed. Of course, anyone who’s done this dance knows exactly what comes next–a longer letter. Which will more than likely get dropped on someone once I touch down in Rochester. And hey, this time, I’ll have a month to go find regulations with which to beat postal people around a bit. One would suspect I had too much fun doing this. And yeah, they’d be right.

The moral of the story? for the love of cheese, get with the accessibility program already. You’re a federal agency, bound by federal laws. This includes federal accessibility laws–which, I’ll admit, the actual government’s having a hell of a time following but that issue’s already been beaten to death on every blog but this one. Get your shit in order. Or, hell, better yet, hire me and Carin–we’ll do it for you. I expect this from the private sector–rant on that coming probably when I hit Rochester. After all, they don’t make much money off us blind folks. But really? Canada Post? They don’t make much money, period. Let’s half some equal playing field up in here, and maybe they’ll make a little more. In the meantimie, where’d I put my regulations?

Brought to you by our Canadian content laws.

Just when we thought Canadian content couldn’t suck any more than it did with Corner Gas, we get a special treat. From the folks who brought you that steaming pile comes this attempt at comedy.

Shooting begins in July on InSecurity, a 13-part “action comedy” about bumbling Canadian spies, producers said in Regina.

The series stars include relative newcomer Natalie Lisinska as a rookie agent; William deVry, from the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, as her boss; and well-known Quebec actor Remy Girard as a jaded veteran.

I accidentally saw a trailer for the show on Sunday night, and almost immediately wanted to change the channel. That’s after the preview–I’m scared to watch the show. Folks, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If we didn’t have Canadian content laws in place, people up here would actually be inclined to create a show on par with a CSI, or hell, even a Simpsons. Here’s the problem, though. Most Canadian shows, well, suck. Yes, I’m looking at you, Little Mosque On The Prairie. But even if they suck, the CRTC says they have to be played. So Corner Gas, Little Mosque, and now this sad attempt at something vaguely resembling a TV show get air time. And hey look, they all get plenty of airtime on CBC–no wonder I only watch that channel for Hockey Night in Canada.

We lose the Can Con laws, we get decent TV shows, kids. Keep the laws, we get crap–and it still gets airtime. Seems like a simple enough choice to me. So why have no Canadian governments dared bring up such sacreligiousness? Good question. Any political types care to weigh in with an explanation? Inquiring minds kind of wouldn’t mind knowing.

No, it’s not officially winter yet. This is just practice.

If you live in Ottawa or the valley, you’ve seen craptastical weather. Below freezing, and there’s crap of various types falling from the sky–some of it, from what I’ve been hearing, coming down white. For the record, no, winter didn’t start a month early–though some days, you may wonder. This is what I like to call the winter warm-up.

Just a bit ago, we were treated to a very impressive 20 minutes of freezing rain in Pembroke. I got to run outside with a couple dogs for the tail end of it–lucky, lucky me. And then, just to screw with us, Environment Canada has decided hey, tomorrow we get to see April-style weather. Bright side: minimal actual preparation before going outside. Not so bright side: consistency, let’s have some.

Yeah, you guessed it. I got nothin’. So have a random local weather related blog post instead. More content tomorrow. Or not.

I wonder if she’ll ask the CBC to pull this article?

It’s a standard practice, at least up here in the great white north, that the winner(s) of a provincial or federal lottery have some pretty basic info belonging to them attached to a lottery advertisement after they’ve won–usually their name, city of residense and a photo or something. The daughter of a robbery victim who recently won the lottery is blaming that advertising for the fact she was robbed, even though she’s admitted it’s very likely the victim knew her attackers, seeing as they demanded she hand over a very specific bracelet belonging to her as well as money. She’s since asked Loto-Quebec to stop including the victim’s info in their announcements/advertisements. Which prompted the linked article, which in turn includes everything the advertisement had except, presumedly, the victim’s photo–not being able to see the screen makes it kind of difficult to confirm that assumption. If her solution to her mother’s being robbed was to demand Loto-Quebec pull the advertisement(s) that included her information, will the daughter then ask the same of CBC? Inquiring minds want to know.

It’s hockey time in Canada!

Drop the puck, and the gloves. Better than the world series–and only because Toronto hasn’t been there since 93, it’s all about that other major sport they do down there. Yeah, that one. If you’re a CBC fan, it’s about to be taken over by Toronto versus Montreal for the hundred thousandth time since the dawn of HNIC. If we do better than last year, I’ll be extatic. If we make the playoffs, I’ll be through the roof. If we make it to the finals, I’ll be just about in orbit. And if I can remember the number to my pizza joint of choice, I’ll be satisfied–at least for tonight. Hockey is here, folks. And I’ll be putting my team’s entries over here for the curious–it even has its own RSS feed. Now this is how a Canadian winter should be spent. To get you in the mood, have a video, courtesy Toronto’s last preseason game. We’ll call it practice for Montreal tonight.

Now why didn’t I think of this?

This would have solved my employment issues ages ago. A law professor at the university of windsor, Emily Carasco, has launched a discrimination claim against the university for not appointing her Dean of law. And while the claim is still being heard, the human rights tribunal of Ontario has decided to come out and state rather clearly it has the authority to remove the current Dean and appoint her in place should her claim be successful.

Apparently, she and another candidate were rejected, thus prompting a new search. She’s insisting a colleague of hers sabotaged her efforts to actually gain the position.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario says it has the power to both remove and appoint university deans, according to a new ruling in the case of a woman who claims racism and sexism were behind her rejection as Dean of Law at the University of Windsor.

Professor Emily Carasco alleges a colleague “sabotaged” her candidacy last spring by raising historical allegations of plagiarism with the search committee, and as part of her human rights complaint, she asked the tribunal to over-rule the school and appoint her dean.

And sure enough, according to the article, our lovely human rights tribunals do have that power.

This surprising power derives from the section of the Ontario Human Rights Code that empowers the tribunal to make “an order directing any party to the application to do anything that, in the opinion of the tribunal, the party ought to do to promote compliance with this Act.”

Although it is relatively common in labour relations law for successful complainants to be restored to their rightful jobs, even if they have since been filled, there is no precedent for such a high-level job being dictated by a human rights tribunal, and academic freedom would surely figure prominently in arguments over such an order.

“Anything”, in this case, could potentially include handing over a position to someone whom the university has, for whatever reason, determined doesn’t actually meet the qualifications–or is otherwise unsuitable. I wouldn’t begrudge Emily her day in court–even if I don’t agree this case should have gotten this far, but it kinda makes me think. If all that stands between you and a well-paying job is a discrimination claim, neverminding whether or not the people doing the hiring think you qualified enough for the job in the first place, my employment fortunes may just complete a 180-degree turn. To hell with that other guy’s half dozen more years of experience than me–I’m disabled, and therefore I’m entitled to that job. Yeah, now tell me Canada’s human rights codes haven’t gone out to lunch.

Making piracy look good. Again, thanks, CRIA.

God knows there’s about a hundred million arguments in favour of downloading music for free and, supposedly, illegally. And about 3 against it. Argument number 100000001: the licensing fees they’re asking for are a sad attempt at redefining insane. Take the situation surrounding Pandora, an online music streaming service, as an example. The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), in its latest attempt to make itself look so hard done by, has decided if the service wants to come to Canada, it’s going to cost them nearly half its gross revenue in Canada to do so. Naturally, in response to the CRIA, Pandora has once again told Canada to go straight to hell. Here’s the kicker, though. According to CRIA president Graham Henderson, it’s not the CRIA’s fault. No, couldn’t be them.

The music industry, meanwhile, says its fees are not the problem. It says music-related businesses are reluctant to enter Canada because of the country’s reputation as a file-sharing haven where music fans can download songs illicitly without fear of penalty.

“Why would you spend a lot of money trying to build a service in Canada when Canadians take so much without paying for it?” said Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, which represents major record labels.

“(Canadians) just seem to have no appetite for a legal marketplace.”

Sorry, Graham, but not entirely accurate. We just have no appetite for being screwed over 6 ways from Sunday by the recording industry, who already gets money from us for things that don’t have anything to do primarily with the recording of music–tax on blank CD’s, potential tax on flash drives, anyone? But best not to let those inconvenient little facts get in the way of your perception of reality. Yep, it’s all the fault of the pirates. Those pirates you could easily be convincing to change their minds–I even told you how. Graham, please, just stop failing. Like right now. You’re only making yourself come off like an idiot.

In the meantime, if you want similar functionality to what Pandora offers–with, I think, a somewhat more useful interface–give Jango a try. It, for the moment, hasn’t been drop kicked by the CRIA. Enjoy it while you can. I think I’ll go fire it up right now in tribute.

Uniquely Canadian, uniquely cool.

When folks think of Canadian music, their first thoughts are Nickleback, or Celine Dion, possibly even occasionally Bare Naked Ladies–though not so much as I’d like to see. When I mention Great Big Sea, anyone who hasn’t spent some time in eastern Canada looks at me like I’ve got 2 heads and 3 eyes. Perhaps surprisingly, though, this group has more of the traditional Canadian than any of the other bands I’ve mentioned–if by traditional Canadian you’re speaking in terms of reflecting some of our actual history and/or heritage.

I touched on this back when the olympics kicked off in Vancouver, and included an example for the curious. And, while folk/fiddle music has a certain place in the Ottawa valley, it actually extends a lot farther out than that–all the way to the east coast, which spawned this group. They draw on that folk history, along with a touch of local to the area influence, and borrow a few things from the Irish and British cultures that seem to have come with most of the folks who settle out there. And, because I’d never turn down an excuse to introduce people to it, have an example of which I speak in the form of an originally British song they’ve since redone–and quite well, too. But first, read this. Then, watch this video.

They’ll be arrested for smoking pot, but experimenting with ecstasy’s okay.

Sometimes, the department of national defense really screws with my head. I think they do it on purpose. Soldiers suffering from PTSD won’t be prescribed marijuana, which the folks on the pro-legalisation and/or decriminalisation side of the issue say can and does help with situations like that among other things. But, the folks who ultimately are in charge of such things apparently have little to no problem with testing out ecstasy under the same circumstances. Yeah, we’ll just throw you in jail at worst and kick you out of the millitary at best for making use of a supposed gateway drug, but here, let us help you blow right through that gateway at warp speed. Did I skip out on logic 101, here? Am I missing something? Or has the DND finally made that left turn at Loony avenue? I honestly lost track about a paragraph into that article. I can has clue plz?

On Quebec: even Jean Chretien gets it.

No matter what you’re opinion of Canada’s twentieth prime minister, you have to admit, the man’s got a huge point when it comes to giving Quebec its own special snowflake status within Canada’s constitution.

“The first time around, it didn’t pass and it didn’t change much,” he said. “The second time it did pass, and it didn’t change much either. Add them together, we talked a lot and not much changed.”

Kind of makes you wonder what certain folks are smoking, thinking the third time around will change a whole lot else, doesn’t it? Someone really should make sure the Bloc Quebecois gets that memo. Hey, Jean? I think I found a new job for you. Call me for details.

We don’t need no Stanley cup. We have the olympics.

It started out innocently enough, when I got a front row seat to the Sens’ big choke. Then, contrary to the predictions of one politician who I’m right now sort of at odds with, Vancouver got stomped rather soundly. And, just to drive the point home, Montreal bought it in the finals–okay, I’ll admit, that last one was very satisfying. At first I thought the hockey gods had simply decided Canada was–yet again–undeserving of lord Stanley’s mug. Turns out, I was wrong.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Canada already proved we were entirely too awesome to handle. And we did it back in February. The gold metal performance in Vancouver for the 2010 winter olympics is Canada’s Stanley cup. It also just so happens to be the most watched thing on TV in recent history. And, yes, it just so happens to be sitting on my computer for my rewatching pleasure–deal with it, MPAA. Let the flyers and blackhawks handle each other for the privelege. This year, we don’t need no stinkin’ Stanley cup. We’ve got olympic gold.

My solution for this national anthem thing.

For about 48 hours after the government of Canada’s throne speech, a whole crap ton of people–yes, including me–were up in arms over consideration being given, after this long with it being exactly the way it is with no uproar from anyone whatsoever, to change a part of Canada’s national anthem to make it more gender neutral. Instead of just rewriting that part of the anthem, and then later on rewriting the parts to do with everything from religion to the fact it’s not some peoples’ native land, I have a perhaps not unoriginal solution. Replace the whole thing with this video. Why? Well, it’s simple. Anne Murry is Canadian. Hockey is Canadian. The song itself is Canadian. It salutes Canada’s national symbol–the maple leaf–and doesn’t offend anyone. Or, if it does, no one’s cried about it yet. And the song is just plain awesome. It doesn’t hurt that it was sung in Maple Leaf Gardens, either, but you know.

A little background on the video: in 1999, Maple Leaf Gardens was officially closed down, and the Toronto Maple Leafs moved to what is now their new home, the air Canada center. Before the last game at the Gardens–a game in which they lost rather badly, there was quite the tribute going on in honour of it. This song, performed before what I believe–my memory fails me at the moment–was a packed house, pretty much sent the message that regardless to where the team plays, or what else ends up changing around them, the team’s still the same. And, they’re still toronto’s team. And, surprise surprise, they’re still not going to be any closer to winning the cup–because they’re still Toronto’s team, damn them.

In other words, minus the hockey references, just like this country. It’s changed a hell of a lot in 20 years, nevermind since 1867–when the original song, not this particular version, was written. But it’s still Canada, and we’ll still call it home. Even if we wouldn’t recognise parts of it from the way things were growing up. This song is Canada, plain and simple. crack open a beer, and let’s kick ass Canadian style. The maple leaf forever, damn right. Now, have a video.

Latest casualty of political correctness: our national anthem?

Admittedly, my ability to be politically correct is practically nonexistent. No, I don’t go around dropping n-bombs every 20 seconds, but I haven’t rewritten a large part of my vocabulary to take into account some tiny fraction of the town I live in–who’s population isn’t all that large anyway–might be offended either. And I have no plans to. I also have no plans to do any kind of supporting the latest gem to come out of Ottawa’s parliament.

In yesterday’s throne speech, it was suggested that Canada’s national anthem needs a tiny bit of reworking. Um, what? Specificly, the part that says “all our sons command”. Again, um, what? Now our very own anthem isn’t gender-neutral enough? There’s accomodation and then there’s just overkill. That, well, is just overkill.

It’s been a complete non-issue for as long as I can remember, in spite of the fact we’ve had multiple governments with their own ideas on gender neutrality come in and screw up the country in their own ways. It’s been pretty much exactly the same in that respect, too. Except in the last decade or two it’s been forced bilingual all across Canada, except maybe in Quebec–do they even still sing that one? And now, after it’d been played about 50 billion times during the olympics, there’s talk of rewriting it for gender-neutral purposes. Someone wanna tell them drugs are bad for you?

Hey, if we’re going to rewrite the thing anyway, here’s a thought. Let’s remove or modify that whole “God keep our land” section while we’re at it. Don’t want to offend the non-Christian folks either. Or, you know, we could leave well enough alone and be happy with not having to sing “God save the queen”. I would vote for that option, too. It’s the national anthem–as much a part of Canada as hockey and beer. Don’t mess with it.

Canada 3, USA 2–our boys are golden!

Don Cherry said victory was in the bag. Mike called it. I had a sneaking feeling. And on Sunday afternoon, we owned it. It took overtime, but Canada pulled off what we couldn’t even come close to 4 years ago. Ladies and gentlefolks, Canada has done exactly what we were supposed to do–own the podium. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Suck it, USA. We win.

A little bit of everything, and the cerimonies had it.

If it could remotely be called Canadian, it was shown off in tonight’s opening festivities. Right down to the problematic hydraulic system, which I sort of halfway joked about having been designed by Toyota. They got all manner of historical on us, hitting on not only Canada’s aboriginal history but our apparent fondness for fiddle music. I’ll admit, I have an occasional interest in that particular genre. Rarely, and usually around the same time of year, also usually while sitting around drinking beer and enjoying Pembroke’s labour day fiddle fest. Naturally, the city of Pembroke website doesn’t actually have anything really link-worthy to explain just how far back that goes, but it goes back far enough and is popular enough that Riverside Park is pretty much jammed full for a week solid. And when they’re not competing–yes, they actually have a contest in among all this, there’s music and dancing and shananigans of all kinds. And, because I have no idea how else to describe it other than a shit ton of people crammed into a can of awesomeness, I won’t bother to describe it in any other way. Instead, have a video. This does a better job of it than I can. Sorry for any issues with being able to actually see it–it seems to have been recorded on someone’s personal video camera. But, it was the best and most involved video I could find. Blame Youtube and Google. I do.