City sidewalks, pretty sidewalks

Well, today was a shoveling day for this Haligonian.  I chose to clear my own sidewalk, rather than allow the contractors working for the city to do it.  These are the reasons:

1)  Weather event one:  A fairly minor freezing rain event which left a thin sheen of ice on every surface.  Nothing like the latest ice storm that hit Ontario-East, but enough to make the sidewalks very slippery.  No salt was deployed by these contractors.  Anywhere.  That was a fun walk to work.

2) Weather event two:  A major snowfall (30ish cm) followed by a lot of rain, and then followed by a plunge in temperatures to the land of deep-freeze.  The contractors working for the city actually got their equipment out for this one.  They either didn’t have the right equipment, or didn’t know how to use it.  The wet snow was not cleared to the base of the sidewalks, but was rather compacted down under the equipment, leaving a frozen mass about 2-3 cm thick on all of the sidewalks.  This ice, which I referred to as the city-wide luge training facility, was not salted nor sanded, and persisted for about a week.  That was a fun series of walks to the bus stop.  Which is on a hill, at one of the steepest parts of the luge track.  Did I mention no salt or sand was put down?

3) Weather event three: More of the same.  This just added to the fun.

Which brings us to today, and weather even four.  I cleared my own sidewalk today.  Down to the concrete.  The snow was easy to move…there was only about 10 cm of it, and it was just a little mushy on the bottom, which suited the plow-style shovel just fine.  I was tempted to put a sign up in front of it for the contractors, saying “Don’t you dare!  You’ll just ruin it!”, but I had to go to work.  I’m glad I cleared my sidewalk, because the on the walk to work, I noticed that the contractors have once again left a 2-3 cm base of compacted wet snow and/or slush on the sidewalks they’ve gotten to, rather than clearing to the base of the sidewalk, as stipulated in their contract.  If our temperatures were dipping into the deep freeze again, we would be enjoying the luge training facility for another week or more.

Somebody either fire these jokers or get them trained up on how to do the job correctly.  I can’t imagine how much their incompetence is going to cost the city of Halifax, because if I injured myself on a salt- and sand-free luge track sidewalk 3 days after a weather event, I know I’d be looking for someone to sue.


Peter Van Loan knows his base!

Peter Van Loan worries about the effects of the so-called Reform Act:

Van Loan believes there are “real problems” with the Reform Act. He says the bill may be well-intentioned but it isn’t needed and doesn’t provide for sufficient vetting of potential candidates. Chong has suggested riding associations have the final say over selection of candidates, rather than a party leader.
“I don’t want to be on the same team as people who have been convicted of fraud, charged with influence peddling or are holocaust deniers,” Van Loan said.

All I have to say is that I’m a little surprised Mr. Van Loan holds the same low opinion of the Conservative Base as I do.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though; this gang does engage in base-whispering on a regular basis.  The Conservatives obviously are aware that most racists, fraudsters, and other unsavory types vote for their team.


A Tale Told of an Idiot: Ranting about Robbie

With apologies to William Shakespeare

I won’t bother linking to the many news stories on the web about Rob Ford’s pedophilia accusation. There are too many of them anyway.  What can you even say about Rob Ford anymore? Every week he proves again that he’s failed as a human being. He’s barely worth the effort of contempt. I’m saving my scorn and derision for Ford nation, a political body that deserves all of it that we can heap upon them and much more besides. They’re the ones whose childish spite towards the elite of Toronto  anyone who’s different  put Ford in office. And let’s not forget the selfishness that keeps them supporting this guy.  You don’t have to look to deeply into comments sections to start finding claims that it’s better to have a drug using bully with friends in organized crime for a mayor than the alternatives because the bully said he’d save them a few dollars on their taxes. Their general consensus that only Rob Ford is willing to do that and that a guy born into money is one of the little guys is a straight up example of willful blindness. I’m convinced that Paul Bernardo could get their votes if he made the same promises. Hell, if they vote for me I promise to not raise taxes and not be a perpetual train wreck and stumbling buffoon of a man. And I’ll record my drunken stupors, which will make keeping track of the crack use (which in some circles is apparently viewed as mandatory for the mayor of Toronto) that much easier. I may have to move to the Greater Toronto Area, although I’ll bet that Ford nation doesn’t see residence as a requirement as long as I don’t live in downtown Toronto.

Canadian politics, Conservatives, Stephen Harper

If I Go There Will Be Trouble….

with apologies to The Clash

Here’s a few names for you.  Richard Hatfield, Kim Campbell and Brian Mulroney.  What’s the significance you ask?  Well, One was flung out of power like a union rep in a Walmart, bringing about a one party legislature in New Brunswick, one learned from his example and skipped town before it happened to him and one got to take the blame and become the PM that saw her party flung out of power like the aforementioned union rep.  Say what you will about Mulroney but he could read the writing on the wall and decided that he wasn’t going to be another Dick Hatfield.  He’ll let Kim Campbell hold that honour instead and more power to her.

Which brings us to Prime Minister Harper, who, with a senate scandal around his neck that looks to get worse before it gets better and more importantly, before the election, may be thinking that Mulroney had the right idea.  Or so John Ivison says and I can see no reason to doubt him.  Like Mulroney, Harper has always been pretty good at reading the wind.  He’d be a fool if he’s not thinking that his political legacy could easily turn into being known as the second Kim Campbell, given recent bi-election results and the press that he and the CPC are getting.  I’m sure that he’s done many other things he’d prefer to be remembered for.  Besides Mike Duffy and the Rob and Doug Ford never-ending  train wreck are the most recognizable conservative faces right now and don’t look to be going away.  Entitled scam artists and substance abusing bullies don’t generate a lot of sympathy and will be remembered in 2015.  I’m pretty sure that Harper would like to be a distant memory by then.


Greetings from Winnipeg, you infidel atheists!

Just in case we waver and forget how the base Conservative actually views those of us who have eschewed organised religion:


Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says he didn’t mean to offend anyone last week when he wished everyone, including “infidel atheists,” the best of the holiday season…

“I’m always disappointed when people misrepresent the meaning of the words. What I was trying to do there is include everyone in my best wishes over the holidays,” he told a press conference this morning he called to blast the Selinger government over its tardiness in calling a byelection in Morris.

Sure you did, you old dogwhistler, you.

entertainment, general silliness, Lighter Things, Things We Should Know

From the Blevkog Archives – April 21, 2006: Cultural Relativism: An Example

Note to readers: I’m not entirely sure why, but this has always stood out for me as one of my favorite pieces of writing that I’ve done on Blevkog. This particular frivolous item comes from the prior incarnation of the blog. I may have written better entries since then, but I don’t think I’ve ever written anything more memorable. It has been edited slightly to remove what must have been evidence of a sale on commas and to add a photo at the end. Fortunately I am no longer so prone to being Captain Subordinate Clause. Enjoy.

Apropos of nothing except the spirit of Friday afternoon, I present the following.

As regular readers may know, in a rather lengthy comment to my compadre kevvyd’s item here, I made reference to the concept of cultural relativism. Simply put, it is the unfortunately rare ability to judge a culture or its members on its own merits, and not on the basis of another country’s cultural norms. The opposite of cultural relativism could therefore be called ethnocentrism.

Other cultures are different, that’s pretty much why there are other cultures. It makes the world an interesting place to live, all too often in the sense conveyed in the Chinese curse.

Japan, as a culture, has some interesting and unique qualities similar to our own, but just different enough to make us cock our heads sideways like a dog when you make a funny noise. For example, comic books are for the most part intended for adult consumption, and many cartoons are also so intended. The output of the anime culture, as it is called, is immense.

For quite a while, different business interests have made deals to bring some of these products to North America – the comic books are experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, for example. The cartoons have enjoyed a longer history, with Astro Boy closely followed by Speed Racer. Japanese cartoons, as a rule, have often seemed badly animated and poorly dubbed, which is partly true: often the dubbing is a result of the stories needing to be changed to more appropriately, shall we say, North American values.

Which leads me to this: many of my generation look back with an embarassed fondness on a show called Battle of the Planets. You know, the one with the flaming spaceship. In said battle of the titular spheres, Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop and Tiny save the world each weekday (or whatever) from the forces of the evil Zoltar, from the planet Spectra.

With me so far? Great.

Not long ago, I was excited to find at my local library a copy of the Ultimate Collection of B.o.P. (if you’ll excuse the acronym). What intrigued me, however, was the inclusion of the original Japanese episodes of the series that became, after the meaty paws of Sandy Frank was finished with them (anybody else thinking about the ‘Sandy Frank’ song from MST3K?), Battle of the Planets.

Originally, the series was entitled ‘Science Ninja Team Gatchaman’. In this series, Ken, Joe, Jun, Jinpei and Ryu battle the forces of Galactor (from somewhere on earth, not from space), represented by the evil Berg Katse. In this series, the characters, particularly Joe (the moody one), swear a fair bit, using the ‘S’ word more than once, per episode. As I said, these things were relatively easy to remove, since the dubbing process would change the language anyway.

Further to this, the show is considerably more violent – in one episode, we are shown the corpses of victims of one of the monsters, and people obviously die by the hundreds in some of the attacks on cities. This content was cut to reflect the North American culture at the time, and since it resulted in a considerable amount of material being cut, the U.S. producers hastily animated the robot 7-Zark-7 to act as a narrator and time waster.

This is going somewhere, honest.

As I watched one of the original Japanese episodes, I was completely surprised by something. We open the episode in a fictional country, in which there is a large peak, Blue Mountain. Upon said mountain are carved the faces of three of the country’s past presidents (sound familiar?). The work has taken three generations to complete, and the young lady is just about to finish the fourth head, that of Jesus. Yes, Jesus.

The Gatchaman episode is, in the original translation from the Japanese, “The Magma Giant: Emperor of Hell”. One of the heads from the mountain is used by Galactor as the head for the roughly 500-foot tall lava monster. Can you guess which one?

Cultural relativism: the ability not to totally laugh your ass off at any culture in which this phrase is even possible:

500-Foot Tall Molten Lava Jesus.


Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to discuss YOUR FIERY DEATH?