I’m back!

Sorry for the long absence.  For the last year or so, things have been, shall we say, challenging, for lack of a better word. But there have been some positive changes in my life too. However, this is really difficult to write. I have been out of practice due to a living environment that is not conducive to writing, and very few other options. However, as of a few weekends ago, I am much more mobile in my computing, so if my home working environment is not helping, I now have options for relocation.

For this exciting privilege, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my parents, my sister, and my best friend for all chipping in and getting me this wonderful laptop for my birthday. I was so surprised by this great act of generosity that I was speechless and almost in a state of shock for several minutes. Now that I finally have Lappy (the name I have given to my laptop) set up and have software installed, I can now get back to something I have really missed – writing.

On that note, the world is saddened by the death this week of three icons of the 1970’s and 1980’s. First was the famous sidekick of Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon. He died on June 23, 2009. Then, on June 25th, 2009, Farrah Fawcett finally succumbed to the cancer she had been fighting against for several years. Then, as bad timing would have it, Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, collapsed in his Los Angeles home with what seems to be a cardiac arrest or some other possible cardiac problem. The world will know more after the autopsy is performed and the results are made public. It should not be forgotten that we also lost another icon of the 1970’s, David Carradine, of “Kung Fu” and “Kill Bill” fame, on June 3, 2009. For those of my generation, and my parents generation, it has been a very sad month indeed.

Consequently, with all this happening, and everything else that is happening in the world, I could remain silent no longer. It is time once again to rant and rave against the evils and injustices in the world, both real and imagined. Stay tuned. Things are about to get interesting.

New look

As some will notice, I have changed the look and layout of the old blog. I was getting bored with the old look, and decided the old place needed some sprucing up. Let me know what you think of the new look. Both positive and negative feedback is welcome.

Protecting Our Kids?

By keeping our kids safe, are we really protecting them? When I was a kid, I used to travel, alone, about a half a kilometre or so to the local playground, which was right at the end of the Halifax Harbour, in what is known as the Bedford Basin. It was no problem to throw a rock from the play structures to the water, it was that close. In fact, at the time, way back in the day, we used to go swimming in the Basin, when the pollution levels were low enough, which actually happened from time to time back then.

Today, kids of the same age almost never get the chance to go to the playground by themselves, or anywhere else, for that matter. I would even occasionally take off into the forested areas around my home, which covered a fair bit of area back then, just to see where it went. I would even go explore the subdivisions and pathways around the neighbourhood, to learn the lay of the land. I would even get lost from time to time, and have to find my way home again, learning lots of new stuff about my surroundings in the process.

To quote Billy Joel, in the song “Second Wind”, “You’ll learned more from your accidents than anything that you could ever learn in school.” By keeping our kids safe and secure, and not letting them get lost or make any number of mistakes on their own, are we doing them a huge disservice? Is it a child’s right to learn from their own mistakes? Is it a child’s right to make a wrong turn, and get lost in the process, and perhaps learn more about the world around them in the process? Should we be sucking it up, and letting our kids do things more independently, despite the risks, in order to better prepare them for a time when they will need to be on their own, which will occur sooner rather than later?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but that doesn’t stop me from asking the tough questions.

See this Dallas Morning News Story for more perspective on this issue.

Why The Political Party System Needs To Die

I have been closely following Canadian politics over the last few years, and things are getting much worse in the House of Commons and in provincial legislatures. For this article, I will be focusing on the Federal political scene. We have a few major political parties, and a few fringe parties. We have the Liberal Party of Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party, the Green Party, some fringe parties, and those elected members who sit as independents. The current Conservative Party of Canada is made up of what was formerly the Progressive Conservative Party, the Reform Party, and the Canadian Alliance Party. Or, as I call them, the Conservative Reform Alliance Party, abbreviated as CRAP. Gee, with all these parties, it is no wonder most of them spend much of their time acting like drunken teenagers at a fraternity party on a Saturday night.

These days, the CPC is running the show in the Canadian Parliament. They have a minority government, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is itching for a majority like a crack junkie itches for a fix. His reign as PM is noted by his leadership style, which is that of the schoolyard bully who forgot to take his daily dose of Prozac. He forbids his MPs from speaking to the press, they must toe the Party Line or get kicked out of the party, as was the case with Garth Turner and Bill Casey who stood up for their constituents against the wishes of the Prime Ministers Office, and must always remember that the party comes first and foremost, and the people come last. To me, this has gone on for far too long, and I don’t see any way that the problem can be fixed under the current party system.

On the other hand, I do see a possible solution. This is likely not a new idea, but it is worth mentioning in case someone else hasn’t heard of it or thought of it themselves. I would suggest that we should completely kill the current party system and start from scratch with a completely new system. I would propose that each voting district would have several people run to be the local representative, in an independent manner. Whomever gets the most votes goes to the House of Commons to represent the voters of that district. Once everyone who was elected arrives at the House of Commons, and Parliament is in session, the first order of business would be to have the MPs elect a Prime Minister from among their ranks, using a nomination and voting process to elect the Member with the most votes. If no Member has a clear majority, then those who got the lowest number of votes would be removed from consideration, and the process would continue until a majority is reached by a Member. Then, the newly elected PM would then start the process of deciding who would make up the Cabinet, with the assistance of the other MPs. As an elected PM, he could be removed from the role by a majority vote in the House of Commons if he or she became too controlling or was otherwise deemed to be incompetent in the role.

In this way, there really are no parties. Just people elected to represent the people, hopefully working together for the common good. No party allegiances, no Prime Ministerial browbeatings, etc. There are probably a hundred details, big and small, that need to be addressed, but we need to at least get the national conversations started, and the sooner, the better. The current system is devolving into a chaotic mess, with nothing being accomplished, and every move being aimed at improving the conditions and position of each Party, by the members of that Party, with little regard to doing what is best for Canada as a whole. The more people we have talking about the issues, and thinking about solutions, the sooner we’ll be able to kill this wasteful system, and create a shiny new system that will actually make Parliament work once again. Call me a dreamer if you like, but I dream of a system that is better than the one we have now. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Congratulations to the Anaheim Ducks!

As everyone knows by now, the Anaheim Ducks beat the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup in 5 games. The Ducks played well, and earned their place in Stanley Cup history. Congratulations, guys! Well played!

But let’s not forget the other team that was there. The Ottawa Senators played well too, and worked hard to get to the finals. This team is the first Ottawa Senators team to make it to the playoffs in 80 years. That is nothing to sneeze at. They played well, and showed a lot of the character and gamesmanship that has caused them to have so many fans here in the National Capital Region and elsewhere in all the places where hockey is played.

I will always have fond memories of the 2007 playoffs, as it marks the first time that my son and I shared an interest in the game, and could discuss it together at the breakfast table the next morning. Even my wife got caught up in the excitement when they made it to the final round. It became a common topic we could all talk about together. It was a special time, and I will remember it fondly forever.

To everyone with the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, enjoy your summer, and keep your heads up. You played with honour and skill, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. We are proud of you for making it that far, and we know you will do better in future years, and your time will come. Your performance in the playoffs this year proves that. You brought excitement to the region, and for that, we thank you most graciously.

Until next season, when we will once again yell out as loudly as we can, Go Sens Go!!

Go Sens Go!

I have been following the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs this year, cheering for my local team, the Ottawa Senators. They eliminated Sidney "The Kid" Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 5 games. Then, they went on to beat Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in 5 games. The Sens are now in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1927. This team has gone through a lot of growing pains over the last decade. This year, they finally seem to be a mature team that has a real chance at lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup over their heads in the end.

Last year, Ray Emery was the back up goalie to Domick Hasek. Hasek got injured late into the regular season, and no one was sure of how this rookie backup goalie was going to do. Everyone had hung their hopes of winning the cup on Hasek. I was personally impressed with how well Emery did, given how few games he played in during the regular season.

When the playoffs ended last year, and Hasek was given his walking papers due to his string of injuries and questionable recovery, I was telling friends that Emery should be made the #1 goalie for the Senators. When they signed Martin Gerber for something like $4 million per year to be the new #1 goalie, I felt that they should have made Emery the new #1, and give him a raise, and hire a new #2 goalie. Somewhere during the regular season, Gerber was replaced by Emery as the #1 goalie, and things improved dramatically.

Now, in the playoffs, with 2 playoff shutouts under his belt, I feel vindicated in my faith in "Sugar" Ray Emery. He is as good as I felt in my gut that he could be. And for the record, I don’t feel he has reached his maximum potential yet. The best is yet to come from the young goaltender from Cayuga, Ontario. This is a goalie to keep your eye on in the years to come. He will doubtlessly be the next Hasek or Brodeur. And given some of the fantastic saves he has made so far in this playoff season against such good shooters as Sidney Crosby and Scott Gomez, I think that is a safe bet.

All I have to say now is:

Go Sens Go!!

Fox Broadcasting

I am starting to think that Fox Broadcasting hates viewers like me who like intelligent, well written and acted dramatic television shows. Every time Fox airs a new show, and it doesn’t get ratings numbers in the same range as “24” or “American Idol”, they cancel it before they even finish the first season. Whatever happened to the days where a series was allowed to develop an audience over time, and not expect it to be there right from the beginning?

This week, it was announced by Fox that it was canceling the new series, “Drive”, after only 4 episodes were aired. It was critically acclaimed by both critics and viewers, but it apparently didn’t have enough viewers for Fox to keep showing it.

I have now vowed to never again watch a new series broadcast by Fox Broadcasting until after it is at least a year old, because I am getting tired of getting involved in a well written and acted show, just to have Fox pull the plug again and again. I loved the show “Firefly”, which Fox canceled after 12 episodes. I was really getting into the show “Justice”, until Fox canceled that after only 12 episodes. And now, “Drive” has been canceled too. They also canceled the show “Wonderfalls” as well, which I didn’t see, but I heard good things about it. That show lasted a whole 4 episodes.

The message that Fox is sending to viewers is that it is not worth watching new shows, because unless it is a “reality” based show, it will be canceled in short order, if it is any good. So, from now on, I will watch shows on Fox that I am currently involved in that are longer running shows, like “24”, “House”, “Bones”, Prison Break”, etc., but I refuse to watch anything new they may show.

After all, if it is complete crap, it will stick around, but if it is of good quality, it will be canceled by the suits at Fox. And I have better things to do with my time than watch shows that won’t last a season. And since I don’t watch “reality” based shows, I soon won’t be watching anything on Fox once the current shows I watch on that network get canceled.

My advice to production companies that are capable of creating quality programming: Don’t go anywhere near Fox Broadcasting. It is not worth the headaches and heartaches.