Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's A Stiff

I was going to say that I'm against the death penalty generally speaking: 25% cuz I think it's a sick and macabre thing for a society calling itself civilized to do, and 75% cuz I think that matters of life and death are too important to be left in the hands of the legal system, if you get my drift.

Generally speaking, I was going to say.

I would have added, though, that I lack, sadly, an argument that can correlate the status of your typical psycho killer, no matter how vicious, with that of a certain ex-bastard who used the full power of the state to murder and inflict harm upon his own citizenry in the broadest of terms. That size matters. That it matters because it changes the relationship between the perpetrator and the society that's responsible for meting out justice.

Instead, I'll just say: let's partay. 'Tis New Year's Eve after all.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cheryl Lajoie

From her husband Peter Farncombe comes news that the Cheryl Lajoie Award (for School of Social Work students at Ryerson University) is formally up and running. Cheryl, who died far too young in October '04, was a friend and co-op camp colleague of ours who was very active and highly respected in the family and social services world in and around her Riverdale neighbourhood.

The current bank balance will allow the Award, presented annually, to run for six years.

If anyone's interested in prying open their wallets and making a contribution, or just having a look, I've got a pdf brochure (not on-line) available upon request.

Torstar Declares Open War On Beaches!

Hey, no one has a monopoly on sensationalism (keep in mind that these two stories led the last two front pages).

Overreactions to overreactions suck.

I vaguely recall reading something about this in a local Beaches rag a few weeks ago, but the paper copy's gone the way of all recyclables and I can't find any trace of it on-line. You'd think a determination of whether the complaining group was substantial in number or comprised of two guys and their Weimaraners would be in order before unleashing the snotty editorializing about "tony Beaches enclaves" and widespread NIMBYism (a sentiment no doubt completely absent in less tony areas).

I thought The Star was opposed to collective punishment.*

*Bad Taste level yellow ("Elevated")

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Beardie Weirdos

...givin' it up for their beliefs. God love 'em.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


A few days at the in-laws', a few tourist shots:

The girlz in Victoria Park.

That's not The Messiah--it's fucking Hegemony Or Survival!

Some rifle.

City Hall: don't have a clue why I like it but I do.

St. Peter's fiddly-ass Cathedral.

Another view of the fiddly bits.

London Life building, built in 1874. Makes me feel extremely insured.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Say Your Prayers, Councillor

Or not. There's an initiative afoot [oops, link now behind a sub wall--this one'll give you the background] by a tiny outfit called Secular Ontario (comprised as far as I can tell of members of the Humanist Association of Canada) to compel the removal of the Lord's Prayer from the opening proceedings of Ontario municipal council meetings. SO have identified 18 offending councils, which include St. Thomas, Ingersoll and Owen Sound, as well as a number of other townships and counties in Grey-Bruce.

This has been in the air for a while now, and its recent legal origins stem from the Freitag v. Penetanguishene Ontario Appeals Court decision of 1999. Now, I'm just a layman here mind so take my analysis for what it's worth, but it seems to me that the judge in that case made it quite clear that the practice of using a specifically denominational prayer doesn't have much wiggle room wrt The Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms. In the case of Penetang, the decision was easy-peasy, as the practice wasn't even listed in the town's by-laws, making the actions of the Mayor in leading an opening prayer "not law but governmental conduct," i.e., not defensible via Section 1 of The Charter. Owen Sound, viz the article cited above, does have the procedure on the books--passed soon after the 1999 decision--but would still have to demonstrate the necessity of maintaining the status quo and explaining why a "compromise" invocation wouldn't do the trick, which should prove a hard sell.

The Province hasn't derived any official policy changes from Freitag, so it might take further individual Charter challenges to make the towns in question more compliant.

I'm of two minds (at least) about this. It isn't exactly the most pressing issue in the universe. It won't change the composition of local councils and from a practical point of view it won't effect how the pothole at the corner of Queen and Main (N.B. every Ontario town has an intersection at Queen and Main) gets filled. And are wussy, non-denominational prayers any better, from the point of view of the anti-theist? But, as always it's the opposition that gets the juices flowing. Stunning legal counter-arguments from Peterborough Mayor Paul Ayotte:

"These guys need to get a life," [he said]. "The rest of us have rights under the Charter of Rights. I have freedom of speech and of religion."

as well as Ingersoll Mayor Paul Holbrough:

“Our community was settled on Christian morals and values. It’s not like I’ve started this. It’s a tradition in council and our community . . .

Geez, the next thing is they’ll want to cancel Christmas.”

Someone definitely needs to go all secular humanist on these guys' asses.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Big Effin' Deal

But it is. The Deutsche Oper production of Idomeneo goes off without a hitch, albeit with a ton o' added security. No sign of protests by local radical Islamists or Poseidonites.

Audience members were advised on evacuation measures prior to the performance.

Why this hadn't been implemented for previous Mozart stagings remains unclear.

Related: Deutsche Oper gets new head.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pip Pyle (1950-2006)

I've just heard about the death on August 28th of Canterbury scene drummer Pip Pyle. Independent obit here, and a remembrance by Hatfield And The North/National Health bandmate Dave Stewart here.

Someone's even posted video from the funeral. Youtube, eh?

Pyle was a bundle of energy on the drum kit, always jumping up ahead of the beat no matter what the song's original starting tempo. He wasn't what you'd call a really technical player, but he had a great sense of decorum, whether the music required simple accompaniment or hell-for-leather. He was a very good writer, too: his speciality was the "extended song," some fine examples of which he produced for the Hatfields and Nat Health. He finally released his first proper solo album (loose collection of songs really), 7 Year Itch, in the late '90s and it's got some of his best-realized compositions, a great deal of charm, and some fine-as-ever playing from PP, Stewart and a large cast of characters.

He spent most of his later life, like so many of that bunch, living and playing on the continent, where there's more of an audience for their kind of thang. I regret never having had the chance to see him play.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Third Time Charming, Part The Second

All right, here we go again.

I'll get it right this time.