January 2007

Monthly Archive

While we’re on the topic

Posted by on 31 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Music and Arts

W.B. Yeats, THE SECOND COMING (1919)
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Does anybody here know anything about Yeats? I know virtually nothing, apart from the fact that George Orwell (with regret) expressed the view that he (Yeats) was a fascist. I’d be curious to know more about him.

Cheap Sangiovese redux

Posted by on 31 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Food and Wine

We uncorked a bottle of the 2005 Citra today. Not very interesting, but better than the 2005 Farnese. Sigh.

…the centre cannot hold. Or why I support Alberta Secession

Posted by on 31 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events

It is very simple, and it goes like this:

  1. Alberta is developing the sands and raking in the oil money as fast as it can.
  2. The amount of oil sands in Alberta is not infinite.
  3. When the rigs dry out, all there is left will be the disastrous environment impact and attendant clean-up bill.
  4. The Environment falls under federal jurisdiction.
  5. Just as Alberta is reluctant to share the wealth, it will be quick to foist the prohibitive clean-up bills on the Feds.
  6. Meanwhile, thanks to Alberta, the rest of the country is slowing down the pace of economic growth in order to meet Kyoto targets.
  7. Ergo, Alberta will bankrupt the Government of Canada in 50 years.

However you cut it, it is a rotten deal for the Feds. I say, let them go now, before it is too late.

I love my fellow creatures/ I love them in a pot/I love them seethed or fricasseed/I love them piping hot

Posted by on 31 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Food and Wine

An article in the food section of today’s Star touches on a couple of issues, one of which is the deskilling of butchers.

He says there’s no such thing as butcher’s “papers” nowadays. Butchers learn on the job – except they’re not learning as much as they used to.

Since the 1960s, most meat processing has been done in central plants. Supermarkets and shops receive boxes filled with pre-cut meat – the popular cuts. Their “butchers” subdivide but are otherwise left out of the loop. Ignorance, apathy and bad habits are professional hazards.

Donovan prefers to hire chefs as butcher trainees so he doesn’t have to unteach them. He says it’s entirely possible to interview a butcher who has done nothing but open boxes for 15 years.

I have to say, and I include myself in this, that consumers are part of the problem. My favourite cut of beef is the nice thick steak, can never quite remember what it’s called, that comes in the black package. On my rare forays to the butcher counter, I generally point at what I want – I know what it looks like, but I’m a bit hazy about what it is, other than it’s meat and I like it. The butcher’s professional knowledge is sort of wasted on me, which is unfortunate.

I respect Loblaws for staffing their butcher counters at the bigger stores with actual professional butchers – they could satisfy the vast majority of their customers by piling up plastic-wrapped packages sent from a central depot. I’d be very interested to know what the business model is.

It took a long time to figure out (Loblaws doesn’t advertise it as well as it could – you wouldn’t guess, until it had come up in conversation) that they can source any reasonably plausible thing – geese, for example, or fresh ducks – given a few days.

Things fall apart, part 2

Posted by on 31 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events

Massage chairs recalled after fires

TOKYO, Jan 31 (Reuters Life!) – Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it would recall thousands of massage chairs for free tests and repairs, saying the chairs could catch fire.

Definitely less relaxing than intended.

Things fall apart

Posted by on 31 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Books, Current Events

Unfortunately, I can’t find the actual excerpt of Jack Granatstein’s book that Radwanski summarizes here , or I’d link to it. It certainly sounds promising:

First, if an 8.9 hurricane hits Vancouver, and terrorist cells in both Montreal and Toronto decide this is the time to strike, and one of them has “somehow secured several vials of anthrax spores” to mark the occasion, we will not be fully prepared. This will especially be the case if this happens when our troops in Afghanistan are “right in the middle” of their six months’ rotation, and all the more so if the terrorists’ deadly germs hit the Toronto subway at the precise moment that most of the city’s emergency-room physicians are aboard it en route to “an international conference at the city’s convention centre.” (You have to admit, he has a point…we would be pretty screwed.)

If this makes you want to read more bad disaster-related fiction, don’t forget about the DND novel we all chipped in to get written, Crisis in Zefra. (Hat tip to Techboy.)

In case you were wondering…

Posted by on 30 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events

…you’re not allowed to stone your wife in Herouxville, Que:


This is problematic on so many levels. As to legal validity: (1) To the extent that it’s aimed at the Kirpan, at least the bit about not bringing “weapons” to school is offside the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, according to a recent SCC decision. (2) even to the extent that the “standards” are substantively OK, they lie mostly or entirely within federal or provincial (not municipal) jurisdiction. (E.g., prohibitions on assault, murder, etc. are criminal law and lie within exclusive federal jurisdiction. Human rights are generally within provincial jurisdiction, unless you’re a federally regulated enterprise, e.g., a railroad or a bank.)

Habeas Schmabeas

Posted by on 30 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events

Chris Sullentrop at the New York Times blog Opinionator (sub req’d) writes:

In case anyone was still on the fence on the subject, it’s abundantly clear that, at long last, [the United States Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales has no sense of decency: “Alberto Gonzales in testimony several days ago before the Senate Judiciary Committee denied that the Constitution gave American citizens the right to habeas corpus,” writes Yale English professor David Bromwich at Open University, The New Republic’s group academic blog. “The story was overlooked by most of the mainstream news outlets, perhaps on the theory that no exorbitant statement by Gonzales is news any longer.

Habeas corpus — the right to challenge one’s detention in court — has been a central feature of Anglo-American jurisprudence since the barons forced King John to sign Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215 (if not earlier; Wikipedia dates habeas corpus to the previous century). Even Sullentrop doesn’t seem to find this questioning of eight centuries of jurisprudence all that noteworthy; this was the bottom of three items under a “worth a click” heading.

It is quite remarkable what is unremarkable these days.

A little knowledge…

Posted by on 29 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Food and Wine

Spouse Paul drew this article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times to my attention yesterday:


It’s a very lengthy, though well-written, essay on food, food labeling, nutrition, and the growing difficulty the average consumer has in wading through the trappings of “nutritionism” in search of a healthy diet. I like his bottom line, with which, amusingly, he opens the article:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Paging Gigantic Hound

Posted by on 29 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Toronto

Have you heard about this? 

New photo exhibition at Toronto archives.

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