Thursday, March 29, 2012

Me and Michelle. A Quiz.

Answer the following quiz to determine if you know more about Nan (who writes this blog) or more about Michelle (the matriarch from 19 Kids And Counting):

1. True or false, Michelle's quiver is full, whereas Nan is just fine not raising up an army of God's soldiers who share a profound fondness for tan skirts or slacks and string instruments.

2. True of false, Michelle said "Well, first off, the idea of overpopulation is not accurate because really the entire population of the world, if they were stretched shoulder to shoulder, could fit within the city limits of Jacksonville."

3.  True or false, Nan doesn't like to be touched by strangers and will be declining Michelle's invitation to visit Jacksonville, PLUS Nan knows that the earth has a finite carrying capacity and overpopulation by humans is a serious threat to our society's high standard of living and our species' continued existence.

4. Who said "Husbands are commanded to govern their wives; God works through a man’s decisions — good or bad" with a straight face?
a. Nan
b. Michelle

5. Which woman has trouble differentiating between a bad habit and a tradition, to such an extent that she's given all of her children names that start with an -J?
a. Nan
b. Michelle

6. True or false: Nan feels badly for Jinger who won the Duggar's Shitty Name Lottery. Second prize is split between Johannah, Joy-anna and Jana.

7. Who could win a "Working Girl" look alike contest?
a. Nan
b. Michelle


8. True or False: Nan publicly endorsed Rick Santorum for president because "We want a man that honors God to lead our nation. We have been praying to the Lord that if you want the heart of the voters to turn to Rick Santorum, then please do so."

9. Who can say "the Earth is over 4 billion years old" without nervously glancing at the sky wondering if she will be struck by lightning?
a. Nan
b. Michelle

10. Who thinks that calling Genesis is a "parable" does NOT invalidate the bible or Christianity?
a. Nan
b. Michelle

Give yourself one point for every answer you chose without the assistance of your husband Jim-Bob! You're an automatic WINNER! Email Nan and let her know which prize you'd like to claim:
1. a field trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, or
2. an all-expenses paid trip to Jacksonville as part of their "Come to Jacksonville and rub up against 7 billion people" tourism campaign.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homeward Bound.

I've been thinking a lot today about Jacob Acaye and Omar Khadr. Why are we full of sympathy for the former, when we villify the latter?

Jacob Acaye is the Ugandan citizen whose story inspired Jason Russell to create the Kony 2012 film and campaign. In the film, 13 year old Jacob mourns his brother's death, and wishes he were dead. Today he is a university student studying law in Kampala. Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay by the United States for actions he undertook at the age of 15. After almost ten years, Omar will be repatriated by May. Hopefully.

Are child soldiers only "victims" if we don't know their family's politics or background? If Kony's Lord's Resistance Army had targeted Americans, would Jacob be imprisoned? Is this a "sins of the father" scenario? Is anyone else uncomfortable with the notion that our government doesn't care when the US violates the rights of Canadian citizens? Is there a two-tiered system of citizenship in Canada? What message is this sending to citizens who are visible minorities? Who is more guilty of child abuse: Omar's father who placed him in a war zone, or the American military interrogators who have mentally and physically abused him?

When I mull over these questions, the picture doesn't change for me. Omar Khadr's parents let him down. The US military let him down. It's time for the Canadian government to stop shirking their obligations and responsibilities and bring Omar home.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Vulcan Neck Pinches, FOR EVERYBODY!

It seems like we're hardly done with one holiday and the next is upon us. Halloween is barely over, and the stores are stocking Christmas decorations. The shelves are cleared of Valentine's Day cards and candy on February 15th, and the Easter junk takes over.

Personally, I'd barely taken down my William Shatner's Birthday Day ornaments, and it's already time to celebrate Leonard Nimoy's Birthday.  Mind you, I've always got a little something Nimoy-ish around my house:

Hey, you've got your false idols, I've got mine.

Happy 81st Birthday, Mr Nimoy. 
You've certainly perfected the live long part 
of "Live Long and Prosper!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hope You Are Having A Happy "William Shatner's Birthday" Day!

In Canada -- birthplace of William Shatner -- today is a national holiday.

Though officially called "William Shatner's Birthday" Day, most people abbreviate the name to Shatner Day. The traditional greeting is "You're looking Shatnerrific!" or "Have a Shatner-tastic Day, Comrade."

As of today Canada officially adopted Shatner's new and improved and FABULOUS lyrics to our national anthem. "O Canada" is seldom played or performed other than at hockey games or public school assemblies, because Canadians are pretty lazy when it comes to patriotism. Which is too bad, because I think the new version is Shatnerful:

Happy 81st Birthday, Comrade Shatner!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Love Letter.

I have heard people describe their pet's death as being akin to losing a child. Until now I didn't understand or agree with the notion.

I still don't agree with it one hundred percent. I have always driven home to my sons (and my husband) that human lives trump animals lives. When we practice our family fire drills, I say they are to save themselves from the smoke and flames and not stop or return to save our pets. I read aloud and moralize news stories about people dying because their dog's fallen through the ice and they think they can save him/her. I never want to know what it's like to lose a child (**knock on wood**), and I will not insult grieving parents by equating Falafel with a human. But "parent" and "child" are the terms that best describe the affectional bond I shared with Falafel.

I ache for her. She was 6 months old when we adopted her, and she was fully dependent on us for the necessities of life. We gave her food, shelter, affection, and protection. She gave us love and asked for nothing in return. The energy in our house is off-kilter because we are missing one of our family. She is suppose to be here to gobble up the last slice of the cucumber, and share my banana at breakfast. We held her close when assholes set off firecrackers. There is a towel hanging in the back hall so we can wipe the snow from her feet when she comes inside.  We did these things because she was a part of our family.  Her reliance on us only increased as she aged and needed more and more medical intervention. Our love for her is fierce. Our willingness to support and sacrifice for her well-being never waivered.

She was like a child to us, and I hope that she thought of us as her parents.

November 2009

• • • • • •

I wrote the post for my own peace of mind. I'm turning off the comments because I am emotionally unable to debate or defend myself to those who disagree.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Falafel. Forever.

Falafel -- our rottweiler-husky cross -- was euthanized today.

Family walk, March 18, 2012

I can't bring myself to say she passed away, or passed on, or succumbed to old age, or was put to sleep. None of these phrases do justice to the amount of suffering she endured in recent days. None of these communicate how tough it was to decide to end her pain.

She was our companion for almost 13 years. She was a good dog. She was the BEST dog. Never once since I went to the Dawson Creek SPCA in 1999 and saw her -- the only dog in the entire pound not barking, but instead wagging her tail and smiling -- have I ever met or seen a dog who was half as sweet, gentle, patient, good-natured, playful or happy.

Tomorrow morning we will wake up and she won't be here. My near-constant companion for 13 years is gone. This hurts so much more than I expected.

• • • • • •

These are some of my favourite photos of Falafel:

January 2000

The photo that earned her a place in a dog calendar. Taken in June 2001. 

June 2011

 August 2011

With Osiris, September 2011

With Ezri, March 2012 

Thanks to everyone -- my real life friends and family and my "imaginary" friends from the internet  -- for being so supportive. I am touched by your kindness and compassion. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Feel Bad Post Of The Year.

Our dog, Falafel, is ailing.

She's 13 years old so this is not entirely unexpected, but it's thrown me for a loop. No, really. I broke down crying at the grocery store today. I am not a crier, so this is HUGE. Falafel's barely eaten since Tuesday. We've managed to get her to take tinned food, bits of cheese, bananas and cucumbers (her top three favourite treats). More alarming is that she's only drunk water once.  Then today Mr Wrath found this huge, ugly, bumpy, hairless lump on her spine that wasn't there before.

We're taking her to the vet on Tuesday, and trying to keep her as comfortable as possible in the meantime.

Here's a recent photo of her with Ezri the cat:

Bonus dose of cuteness: Osiris and Ezri bird-watching:

Ezri is not just a flame point Siamese, she's part tribble and part meerkat. Look at this photo and guess -- JUST GUESS -- how the feline power hierarchy is playing out.

Now I don't want to depress you entirely, so I will share a photo that makes me giggle:

Is George Clooney wearing one of Mr Rogers' sweaters? What's he saying, I wonder? Did you notice the bulge in the crotch area that many a female, Twitter-user found impressive? Is the bald-headed cop sporting a pornstache? Is that Anderson Cooper over there on the far right? But my favourite part is that the cop in the white shirt looks like he stepped out of a Wallace and Gromit film. He is trying very hard to be stern, and he's almost pulling it off. Best day of his life, or BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE?!

Here's my final attempt at making you smile:

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Bitch Is In The Blog.

It was not my intention to write another post about Q104's "The Male Is In The Czech" contest. On Monday morning, I read the Halifax-based station's Twitter feed, saw the photos of the contest's "winner" and figured it was over.
(screen capture from the station's Facebook page)

On Wednesday, I saw this tweet:

I listened to the mp3 file of the interview.  Bryony House's Laurie Ehler did a great job explaining that the mail-order bride business is a known conduit for human trafficking around the globe. She was also exceedingly polite and diplomatic when (at the 3:40 mark) the DJ characterized the contest's opponents as "some people here in Halifax with a lot of spare time, a phone, a computer and a desire to fight for a cause." That would've hurt my feelings, if I were not easily amused by churlish sooks.

I suspect this interview will be cited by the station when they formally defend their behaviour to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. Personally, I do not think that 5 minutes and seven seconds is enough. After all, Q104 did not cancel the contest. Q104 has not apologized for callously portraying the mail-order bride industry as a fun, harmless, sexy, international adventure for men and women. Q104 doesn't concede the contest's name was vulgar. Q104 won't even acknowledge that the imagery in their promo ad was sexist and offensive.

The Q104 damage control strategy is -- in my biased and cynical opinion -- to pretend like nothing happened and hope the public will forget about the whole thing.  The station has deleted the tweets they sent on Monday announcing the "winner." "The Male Is In The Czech" pages have disappeared from the station's website. 

But I will not forget. And so long as the Search Engine gods send people to my site, I will not let Q104 forget, either. 

• • • • • • • •

I'm chumming the waters with search terms:

Halifax, Halifax radio station, Canada, Q104, The Mighty Q, CFRQ-FM, Newcap Radio, sexist, misogynistic,, Flying Hearts, Czech Republic, Prague, Mail Order Bride, Human Trafficking, International Women's Day, Megan Leslie, House of Commons, New Zealand, The Rock, New Zealand Broadcasting Authority and Mediaworks, Win-A-Wife, Win a Trip to Beautiful Ukraine for 12 Nights and Meet Eastern European Hot Lady Who Maybe One Day You Marry, Endless Love Agency, Kiwi, Ukraine, Femen, exploitation, personal introduction, The Bear, 100.3 FM, Edmonton, Win A Wife, Win a Russian Romance, Volga Girls, Thomas Lukaszuk, matchmaking, immigration fraud, or modern-day sex slavery, September, February, 2012, 2011, sweeps, radio ratings, advertising rates, shameless promotion, United Nations, prostitution.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Warp Speed Wednesday: Irishly Going Where No Irish Has Gone Before

March 17 is close upon us. 

Whether you know this day by it's original title (The Day When the Irish Diaspora Rub Their Heritage In The Faces Of Other Ethnic Groups In Hopes Of Assuaging Their Niggling Inferiority Complex That Is A Holdover From The Days When "No Irish Need Apply" Signs Were Common Place) or by it's more modern title (St Patrick's Day), you can rest soundly knowing I am doing my bit to let everyone know that being Irish is swell. 

To get you in the mood, here's a partial list of Irish-y things in Star Trek

The students from Worley Elementary School in Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland: the children wrote letters to the crew of the Enterprise NX-01. This is one of the few Enterprise episodes that I've seen. It didn't suck too badly, but it was a total rip-off of a MASH episode.

Finnegan: an upperclassman who bullied Kirk at the Academy. He appears in an original series episode as a illusion. He has a faintly Irish name, so I'm including him. 

USS Gander: name of a runabout from Deep Space 9, named after the Gander River in Newfoundland. You know the only place more Irish than Ireland? NEWFOUNDLAND. Hence I'm including this on the list. 

Kate Mulgrew and Robert Duncan McNeil: actors of Irish extraction who appeared on Voyager

Miles O'Brien: a character from the Next Generation and Deep Space 9. He was portrayed by Irish actor Colm Meaney, who was reportedly adamant that his character never be written as a caricature of Irishness. 

Fair Haven: over-the-top, fictional, 19th century, twee village created on the Voyager holodeck. WHY WAS COLM MEANEY NOT CONSULTED?! GAH! It's chockablock full of stereotypes. The only thing that saved these episodes from being 100% horrible was the character of Michael Sullivan whom Captain Janeway fancies. 

The Bringloidi: sweet Jesus, this Next Generation episode is also rife with ugly stereotypes. The drunken father. The harridan daughter upon whose lovely, girlish shoulders all the work falls. The meek, cowed women with umpteen children. The useless men who don't work, because they are drunk. ALWAYS DRUNK. ON POTEEN, NO LESS. Their society is agrarian, and deeply suspicious of technology. The conclusion of the episode is essentially the heroine saying "Oooh. But that cloned fella looks like he's got two coins to rub together, and that's worth putting up with all kinds of bother."

Fionnula Flanagan: famous Irish actor. She appeared on two different Star Trek series, and is known as a champion of young Irish actors working in Hollywood.  

Jill Ireland: Is she Irish? I don't know. But her name is, and that is good enough for me. She was Spock's love interest in This Side of Paradise from the original series. 

The Delaney Sisters: seldom seen, but often discussed, Jenny and Megan served aboard Voyager.

Molly: Captain Janeway's Irish Setter. Molly -- unlike Archer's damn Porthos -- never lived on the ship. Thank heavens. 

Lieutenant Kevin Riley: briefly appeared on the original series as a young bridge officer. 

"Take You Home Again, Kathleen:" an Irish-American Ballad sung by the aforementioned Kevin Riley whilst under the influence of an alien…aroma. Don't quote me on that last bit. It's been a while since I watched this particular original series episode. 

This clip: it's from the DVD extras on the rebooted Star Trek 

Well. God love 'em both for trying. 

• • • •

Any Irish-Trek references or associations I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Calling All Robots.

The big issue in Canadian politics this week is the Robocall Election Fraud story. In last May's federal election thousands of Canadians received automated phone calls directing them to the wrong polling stations. It's still not known if the blame lies with a few misguided, idiotic members of Conservative Party campaigns, or if this was a conspiracy that reaches the upper echelon of the Conservative Party.

What is known -- and what no one but me seems to be alarmed by -- is that robots now have access to phones and are making calls. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!? Who gave those robots phones? When did this start? Is it still going on? Could I receive a phone call from a robot at any time? I'm concerned, because I have a deep abiding hatred of THEIR kind.

Here's a list of robots who I hope never call me:

Robocop. The unseen, unknown force behind the Conservative Party's anti-gun control, anti-gun registry stance.

Vicki (aka "Voice Input Child Identicant"). My husband doesn't remember "Small Wonder," and hence would probably NOT react with an appropriate amount of fear upon hearing her creepy monotone on the phone. I fear for his safety. He needs to watch this clip so he can protect himself:

Scary, right?

Wall•E. Intergalactic cyber stalker.

Rosey the Robot Maid. I'd like to believe that in the future, robot maids won't play into gender stereotypes.

The Daleks. "Exterminate! Exterminate the Liberals!"

Roombas. They're small and they terrify people's pets. They must be stopped. Or I should buy one.

C-3PO.  When people list the misdeeds of Anakin Skywalker, they tend to focus upon his slaughtering the Tusken Raiders on Tattooine, or killing Padme by breaking her heart, or sanctioning the Ewok genocide on the forest moon of Endor. Personally, I think the worst thing Anakin ever did was create C-3PO. Whiny, anxiety-ridden, self-absorbed, good-for-nothing bit of tin. 

R2D2. If he called me on the phone I'd probably just assume it was a fax machine. Why does he only communicate with beeps and squeaks? And why -- when it suits the narrative -- can the humans understand him, but not at other times? Does a voice processor really take up so much space in a droid's body?

The Borg. "Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated into the right-wing, conservative collective. Liberalism is futile." Okay, technically they're not robots but cyborgs. Still, they're freaky. I hope they NEVER call me.

Hal 9000. "Dave. What are you doing. Dave? Dave, you're not thinking of voting NDP are you? Dave, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question."

Do not get complacent with the robots. This is what they want. To lull you into a false sense of security until you have forsaken all your personal liberties, your universal health care AND you do their bidding without a second (critical) thought. Same goes for the Conservatives. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nothing Controversial Going On Here. Move Along. Nothing To See.

This week I tried and failed to write several posts. My readership stats have spiked since last Sunday. I feel like I have a target on my back. Does that make me sound paranoid? If yes, please be assured that  it's just a mild, temporary case that will abate when you are no longer all out to get me. Or when my new silent, Haligonian readers move on. But in the short term, the fear that someone is going to willfully mis-interpret my humour for their own ends is crimping my creative impulses.

Rather than let my blog go dark, I'm posting photos.

Mr Wrath and the Wrathlets were skiing yesterday. I don't ski, but I do fret. I'm great at fretting. For the sake of my sanity, and their fun, I stayed at home. Which gave me the chance to tackle this project for the guest room:

I'm really grateful to the Baroness Emma Willer. When I whinged on Twitter that the shipping fees for this Royal wedding commemorative tea towel from Emma Bridgewater were astronomical, Emma came to my rescue. She and her lovely mother-in-law graciously shuttled this across the Atlantic Ocean, then sent it all the way up here to the wild Canadian hinterlands.

As an aside, it's much more fun to shop at UK online shops. Instead of Mrs, Mr, Miss, or Ms, you can have assume the title of a Baroness, Dame, Lord, Master, The Countess, The Duchess of, The Duke of, The Earl of, and more. My favourite is "Contessa." If I can't live in a Regency Era novel, I should at least be able to have my correspondence delivered in the style of those heroines.

In completely un-Contessa like fashion, I picked up some new glasses at the thrift store:

Klaxon and Zarf hate these glasses. Firstly, they have no association with any of these characters. They keep calling him Donald McRonald and want to know what species is Grimace. Secondly, Klaxon says he hates how they stare at him while he eats his dinner. "They're creepy. They LITERALLY have eyes and make me uncomfortable." I'm tempted to line them up on his bedside table tonight after the falls asleep. Mr Wrath won't let me.

HEY! Look at that. I wrote a whole post.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Five exclamation marks is code for ANGRY. Three question marks, means "irony." Periods are passe. Facebook rules of grammar simplified !!!

At the top of my "Things I Learned Today" list is the notion that a person's ability to use punctuation correctly is in direct proportion to their ability to discuss gender politics and sexism intelligently.

Lest you doubt there is a correlation, I direct you to the discussion occurring on Megan Leslie's Facebook page. Ms. Leslie is a Member of Parliament and this week she stood up in the House of Commons and denounced the vile and misogynistic "The Male Is In The Czech" contest being run by a radio station in Halifax. She received a standing ovation. She also received an influx of Facebook users who think ellipses contain five dots and are meant to link disjointed, rage-filled sentence fragments.

For the past week I have avoided making harsh generalizations about the listeners of Q-104 and about the kind of people who patronize or sanction Mail Order Bride brokers. My conviction waivers when I see comments like these:

So much punctuation. So little of it used correctly. 

The response to that last comment is from me. I would like to state for the record, I do not think Q104's contest is "sexiest." I think it's sexist. And crass. And vulgar. And dangerous. But it sure the hell isn't "sexiest." Sexiest, in my opinion, is a term best reserved for descriptions of Tom Jones. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Blog. The Home of Feminism.

What are you doing on March 8, 2012?

Will you be commemorating International Women's Day by celebrating the strides women have taken toward achieving economic, political, and social equality with men? Or will you be tuning into Q104 Halifax when it announces which listener has won the chance to sexually exploit a woman in exchange for Canadian residency?

As the radio station's program director JC Douglas is quick to point out on his blog, the prize is actually a trip to Prague and four dates with women who are registered with online match making service and there is no guarantee the "winner" will find a bride. In stead of using a marketing slogan that was accurate, they knowingly chose one that was vulgar and vague. Granted it would be hard to get "men" to enter this contest if it was called "Win A Trip to Prague And Eat Dinner With a Pretty Lady Who Will Probably Not Let Your Penis Anywhere Close To Her Vulva Even With The Promise of Canadian Citizenship."

Two weeks ago, Douglas told the National Post that the contest is only "a European dating game" and he appeared genuinely flummoxed that people see the station as sanctioning human trafficking and objectifying women. Statements Douglas subsequently made in the comment section of Hillary Beaumont's post "‘Male is in the Czech’ contest hints at bigger societal problems" make me doubt the veracity of that defense.  He tried to minimize the sexually explicit nature of the contest's name and the sexist promotional image by explaining that the graphic ad appears ONLY on their blog. To me it sounds like the station knew the ad was horrible and tasteless and that the whole contest was questionable. But instead of doing the prudent thing and cancelling it, they limited their exposure to their core audience and hoped no one would notice.  Q104 thinks it's okay to objectify women so long as it improves their ratings. 

The staff of Q104 needs to stop justifying this contest and acting as if criticisms are groundless. They need to understand that many mail order brides are exploited in Canada due to loopholes in our immigration laws, a poor understanding of their rights and cultural differences. This contest normalizes the mail order bride industry which is often used as a cover for human trafficking and prostitution. Offering a human being as a "prize" -- even if it's done in jest -- is offensive. Humans are not chattel. To think otherwise insults women AND men.

I will concede that the agency chosen by Q104 appears (after a cursory internet search) to be above board. In fact, compared to other companies promising to introduce North American men to women in emerging or developing nations, Changing Hearts is  downright classy.  I wonder if the owner appreciates that after years of cultivating a sophisticated corporate image, she is now associated with a radio station that frequently runs low-brow competitions, like these:

It's not too late to show JC Douglas, the finalists, and the listeners of Q104, that this contest is demeaning and harmful. Here are a few suggestions:

1. On twitter, post a link to this post or the articles linked above.
2. On twitter, send a tweet to @Q104Halifax and tell them you're disgusted with this contest. Make sure to include the hashtags #Halifax or #MaleIsInTheCzech (if you have better hashtag, let me know in the comments).
3.  Sign this petition.
4. Comment on Q104's facebook page.
5. Tell companies who advertise on Q104 that you will not patronize their businesses. Start with BMO Hockey Heroes, This is Newfoundland and Labrador, and Steele Mazda who all advertise on the Q104 website.
6. Register a complaint with The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
7. Complain to Newcap Radio that one of their stations is promoting misogyny.
8. If you live in Halifax, participate in a protest organized by Bryony House.
9. Contact politicians on the local, provinicial and federal levels.