27 October 2006

Eco Granola Hippy Travel

In a bit of last minute preparation for my jaunt to Africa, I’ve been investigating ways to make my trip “climate neutral,” whereby the pollution generated by my air travel is offset by investment in reforestation and renewable energy sources.

Air travel is one of the largest producers of CO2 gas and releases emissions high in the atmosphere, where the climate change impact is even greater. I was somewhat horrified to learn, for example, that my return flight to Ghana will contribute as much to climate change as an average household's gas and electricity use over a whole year! Yikes!

Rough Guides together with Lonely Planet and others in the travel industry are supporting a carbon offset scheme run by climatecare.org. They have interesting projects which would seem to have direct and beneficial impact to local people, such as distributing fluorescent lightbulbs in Central Asia or efficient cook-stoves in Bangladesh. (There's also carbonzero.ca if you'd prefer a Canadian slant on carbon neutralisation).

Offsetting my flight is going to cost about 40$, a tiny fraction of what I paid for my ticket, and definitely money well spent. While I generally dislike all the additional fees that come along with buying a plane ticket, I would support a mandatory ‘climate change tax’ to be included. If IATA made this mandatory for all air travel, the impact it could have would be tremendous.
If off to the airport in about an hour. Enjoy my blog while I'm gone!

26 October 2006


Pelican swallows pigeon in park

Families and tourists in a London park were left shocked when a pelican picked up and swallowed a pigeon.

The unusual wildlife spectacle in St James's Park was caught on camera by photographer Cathal McNaughton.
He said the Eastern White pelican had the unfortunate pigeon in its beak for more than 20 minutes before swallowing it whole.
An RSPB spokesman said: "It is almost unheard of for a pelican to eat a bird. Their diet should be strictly fish."
Mr McNaughton, from the Press Association, said: "The pelican was on the towpath preening itself, and there were a lot of tourists watching it.
"Then the bird got up and strolled along until it reached one of the pigeons, which it just grabbed in its beak.
"There was a bit of a struggle for about 20 minutes, with all these people watching. The pelican only opened its mouth a couple of times.
"Then it managed to get the pigeon to go head first down its throat. It was kicking and flapping the whole way down."
There are currently five pelicans living near Duck Island in St James's Park - four Eastern Whites and one Louisiana Brown.
Pelicans were introduced into the park during King Charles II's reign as a gift from the Russian ambassador.

As Rick James would say: SUPER-FREAKY!
(BBC article)

25 October 2006

He's worse than Governor Schwartzenegger

I’m talking about Shintaro Ishihara, the evil, insane, xenophobic, misogynist governor of Tokyo. This ultra-right wing, über-nationalist mo-fo says things to the press that continually shock and disgust, yet he enjoys tremendous popular support among some. How this man has managed to get elected time and again just boggles the mind.

Here’s a sample of Ishihara highlights, (keep in mind that these are things that he actually said directly to the media, not overheard conversations or half-rumours);

※ "Old women without reproductive functions are useless."

※ Refering to the Nanjing Massacre in WWII where the Japanese Army raped and pillaged the then Chinese capital of Nanjing, killing hundreds of thousands of people; the lovely Mr Ishihara told Playboy magazine "They say we made a holocaust there, but that is not true. It is a lie made up by the Chinese."

※ Should a major earthquake occur, the governor is worried that "there is a possibility that foreigners who reside here will do something out of hand."

※ Mr Ishihara told a member of parliament who tried to encourage open political dialogue with North Korea, and thereby received death-threats and a letter bomb; "A bomb was planted there. I think it was deserved." !!! (That one’s my favourite).

Could you imagine, say, idunno, Dalton McGuinty standing up in the House of Commons and saying that so-and-so MP deserved to die because their opinions were different!?! He'd be lynched on the street probably, and would definitely have to resign toute suite.

But not Shintaro Ishihara, no, no. He just got re-elected! Even better, he’s a contender to be future prime minister of Japan!

And as if being and ultra-right wing über-nationalist dick wasn't bad enough, he had ties to the Aum Shinrikyo cult which killed 12 people with a poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, and is a member of a crazy doomsday cult which may or may not have detonated a nuclear weapon in a secret underground facility in western Australia. I know it may seem lurid, but i'm not making any of this up.

Mr Ishihara; your views are abhorrant and disgusting. You are an evil, evil man. No ‘On Notice’ for you —do not pass ‘Go,’ do not collect 200$; you are officially… Dead to Me!

Japanese voting public, I’m putting you ‘On Notice’ for re-electing this jerk-face over and over. If new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proves to be less of ultra-nationalist lackey than old Koizumi, you might be able to get yourselves off notice. You’ve been warned.

24 October 2006

Happy United Nations Day!

Today is United Nations Day everyone.

I think we should all take a minute to appreciate my nerdiness for both knowing that October 24th is United Nations Day and for being able to name all of the flags in this picture.

Thank you United Nations for make the world a better place!


In preparation for my trip to Africa, I’ve been going to the tanning salon to get a bit of a tan so that I don’t burn to a crisp as soon as I step off the plane onto the sizzling tarmac of Accra’s airport.

Now before everyone throws up their arms in a fit of protestations, I’m well aware of the melanoma implications of suntans, and am feeling considerable guilt for doing something which is so clearly bad for you. The simple fact of the matter however, is that tan people are damn sexy!

I would love to be able to keep up the tanning once I get back from my trip, but unfortunately am going to lapse back into wintery pale pastiness because of stupid UV radiation. Why is it that every fun and good is bad for you? Just once I’d like to hear a report saying that fried chicken cures cancer.

Am I going to hell for even considering keeping up the tan once I get back?

23 October 2006

Pope calls same sex-unions 'weak and deviant'

As if it wasn't bad enough that we had to wait a million years for John-Paul to die, now we're stuck with awful Ratzinger who is even worse!

This article is so chock-a-block full of the Pope's contractions that it makes my head want to explode

First he says the Church must say "'no' to weak and deviant forms of love." Now I didn't pay a whole lot of attention in Sunday school, but I'm pretty sure Jesus loved everybody, no matter who they were, or what kind of love they had. But I guess the Bible has been wrong this whole time, and we should only love old white European men who wear eccentric hats and who try to micro-manage everyone’s lives.

Then he said that the Church did not want to be “a political agent” but wanted to help shape social policy. Given that he won’t shut up about equal marriage and threatens Canada’s politicians with eternal damnation for not forcing their private Catholic views on our civil government, I can’t see how he’s not trying to exert his political influence. A theocracy might be fine for some right-wing lunatics, but a mediaeval church state is not my idea of a good time. Quite frankly, in the 21st century the Church has no business whatsoever trying to tell Government what to do. We already gave the Church a chance; it was called the Dark Ages, and no one really much cared for it the first time around.

And finally, in a fit of hypocrisy so overwhelming as to be literally sickening, the Pope complained that “unjustifiable,” “ancient prejudices” were hindering state funding for Catholic schools in Italy. Since ancient prejudices are something Catholics are experts at; it must be quite difficult to have the tables turned now. Oh boo-hoo, people in Italy don’t want to give money to religious schools. How upsetting that must be. Well on behalf of the millions and millions of women, non-Christians and gays who have suffered and died because of the Church’s ancient prejudices: Screw You!

That’s it Pope Benedict! You’ve barely been around for a whole year and you’ve already pissed me off far too many times. You are officially: Dead to Me! —I can only hope that unlike Pope JP, we won’t have to wait too long before you’re dead to everyone else as well.

Hey Benny, here’s a tip: if you’re worried about nose-diving church attendance all over the world, maybe you should try modernising your Nut-Job House of Rules and Prejudice and stop trying to pretend that we’re all living in the 13th century.

19 October 2006

Morning Radio Indignance

I was listening to the radio this morning while I was getting ready to go to work and an ad for the movie Flags of our Fathers about the American flag raising at Iwo Jima during the Second World War. Now normally I wouldn’t go in for this kind of Jerry-Bruckheimer-esque-schlock-o-rama, but if that’s your cup of tea, go right ahead —we can’t all like art flicks about suffering Albanian orphans.

However, after listening to this commercial, I’m now on a mission to make sure no Canadian worth their poutine sees this movie. The commercial announcer was talking: “Blah, blah, blah. Schlocky patriotic rah-rah …it was our country’s greatest battle…”

—I have a hard time understanding how the Battle of Iwo Jima could be Canada’s greatest battle since no Canadians were actually there!

Clearly, Warner Brothers just took the American commercial and slapped it on the radio up here thinking everything would be just fine, in a clear lapse of know-your-market advertising. Consequently, I’m calling for a boycott of this film (which you probably wouldn’t have seen anyway) to defend our national honour and to protest American ignorance and steamrollering.

I officially give Flags of our Fathers two thumbs down!

18 October 2006

Jeff Probst: "Tilley hats represent your life on the island"

See Jennifer's blog to watch my Africa travel companions Jenni and Ash go head to head in a What Not To Wear: Africa Version as they hash out the demerits of money belts and hole-y underwear. They've been warned that at the first sign of Jeff Probst-esque clothing, I’m ditching them in the market with their safari vests and cargo shorts so they can embarrass themselves without me.

Besides, I’ll be too busy on the beach ogling sexy Euro travelers to try to save them from their heinous fashion crimes.

Just remember ladies, “khaki” is an Arabic world for “Hello, I’m a fatty tourist dumb-dumb with lots of expensive camera equipment. Please steal and take advantage of me.”

12 October 2006

Ça plane pour moi

Looking out my office window, somewhat hungover, staring at the first freaking snow flurries(!!) of the year, i became instantly depressed. Blah! So I decided to post this here to make myself feel better.

How awesome is Plastic Bértrand? This new wave punk-pop masterpiece was named one of the best songs ever by Joey Ramone and is featured in pretty much every teen movie where the characters go to France (including a personal favourite of mine National Lampoons European Vacation).

"I am the king of the divan!"

(Maybe it's just the hot pink leather jacket, but does Monsieur Bértrand look like a really cute gay man or what?)

10 October 2006

Tout le monde en parle

When I was home for Thanksgiving this weekend, I sat down with my family after the turkey was tucked away to watch the Société Radio-Canada show Tout le monde en parle. For all you têtes-carrées out there, this is a hugely popular frenchie talk show sort of akin to Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher with lots of guests talking about different stuff. Now admittedly I don’t watch it often as it cuts into The Amazing Race, but things are always lively —for example CBC chairman Charles Fournier revealing that he likes pooing more than sex, or head of the Raelian church storming off after the host pulled his hair and made fun of his clothes.

This episode was interesting in that Michael Ignatieff was one of the guests. He spoke impeccable French, and if I were a Liberal, I would probably vote for him (being an intellectual Trudeauesque man of ideas and vision, both of which are in short order with this country’s politicians). He spoke in favour of equal marriage, gun control, etc., however, when the host asked him about Bill 101 –Québec’s French language laws– his answer really creeped me out.

He said he thought that Bill 101 was good because it promoted the status of French while protecting the rights of minority language speakers. I don’t know if saying this was pandering to Québec voters, but Bill 101 clearly violates the rights of minority language speakers in Québec. A Canadian Supreme Court judgment ruled that forcing businesses to have monolingual signs or making parents enroll their children in French-language schools impinged on rights guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A United Nations tribunal agreed also that Bill 101 constituted a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Nevertheless, lovely premier Robert Bourassa used the notwithstanding clause to override these rulings and continue to “protect” French rights by taking away rights from others. I’m a bit disturbed by a potential prime minister thinking this is acceptable.

Was this misinformation on his part, or just vote-grabbing —or an accurate and real reflection of his views?

(As always, French media stories go unreported in English mainstream media. Find some info about MI on TLMEP here, and some more here)

05 October 2006

When are we going to have "Defense Against Idiot Prime Ministers Act"?

Honestly, I’m getting tired of writing angry indignant blog posts about how much of a jerk Stephen Harper is. He is such a jerk! Now that it’s clear that his proposal to reopen the equal marriage debate is almost sure to fail, he’s planning to put forward a “Defense of Religions Act” to protect the rights of civil servants from performing civil weddings which they find objectionable because of their religious beliefs.

Now suffice it to say that religious freedoms are protected up the yin-yang under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; but if your job is to perform civil weddings for people whom your religion tells you are uncool, then you need to find a new job!!

Also to be protected under the purported act are the rights of people to criticise homosexual behaviour. Now in my mind this contradicts the provisions of the Freedom of Expression Act which protect people from harmful expression on the basis of their sexual orientation. Who is to say where to draw the line between what is critical and what is hurtful? –Conservative judges appointed by Stephen Harper perhaps? Well, isn’t that handy then.

The most surprising thing about this whole situation was that i didn’t read anything about it in the Toronto Star. I had to resort to getting my news from The Globe and Mail, (shudder), and even then I only knew about the story because I walked past a newspaper box and saw the headline. Only after some hunting did I manage to dig up stuff from the Star in the nether-reaches of their website. I can usually count on the Star to bring me the lefty-loosey progressive kind of news I need, but now instead I’ve got some kind of topsy-turvy world where the Globe is putting homo stuff on their front page. What is going on?

Anyhow, again, Pwpth!! –I spit on you Stephen Harper. My indignation knows no bounds.

(Globe & Mail article)

03 October 2006

Best Moose Ever!

This past weekend I went camping in Algonquin Park with some friends. It was the first time I’d ever been up to Algonquin ever and the first time I’d been camping in about ten years as well. Superfun. Although it was stoopidly cold on the Friday night, otherwise the weather was really cooperative considering the forecast before going up had been horrible and rainy. We really lucked out in that when it did rain, we were either asleep in the tent or driving in the car. So all in all a Best Algonquin Ever!

We even saw some moose, which were actually pretty boring. I wanted to make loud noises and wild gestures to get them to do something interesting, like stampede or gore me with their antlers, but instead they just stood there in the swamp calmly eating grass like some dumb animal, with blatant disregard for my entertainment needs.

I had really hoped to see a porcupine, because I think they are really freaky and I’ve never seen one in the wild before. However, despite much treetop staring, all my efforts were in vain and I went home un-porcupined. I did come up with the next biggest haut-couture fashion item though; first it was stingray leather, then ostrich leg skin, and now porcupine pelts! –I’m calling John Galliano as we speak– All I have to do is to get Paris Hilton wearing a porcupine quill handbag on the red carpet and BAM, we’re millionaires. I can’t wait. –And I thought camping was a running-water, refrigerated insult to our pioneer ancestors who struggled so hard to build a civilisation and get away from all that dirt and clean air, but instead it’s a treasure trove of high-fashion accoutrements! Who knew?