The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'canada'
An Iranian web programmer resident in Canada, who returned to Iran to visit family, has been sentenced to death after allegedly confessing to having worked on pornographic web sites in Canada. Saeed Malekpour's family are saying that the charges are false and that the confession was extracted under torture.
Why is the Iranian government allegedly torturing an innocent man with a view to executing him for a crime he did not commit? Well, one theory goes that it's to act as a deterrent to revived anti-government protests, with him being merely the unlucky soul who best fit the needs of doing so. The successful toppling of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and, before that, Tunisia's authoritarian regime, by public protests has emboldened local resistance movements, and made other dictatorships nervous. (And it's not just in the Middle East; during the Egyptian protests, China configured its national firewall to censor all news or commentary mentioning Egypt, just in case it set off another Tienanmen.)
Human rights groups have expressed alarm over a sharp increase in the use of capital punishment in Iran. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), 121 people have been hanged between 20 December 2010 and 31 January this year. An ICHRI report published in mid-January said that Iran has hanged an average of one person every eight hours since the beginning of the new year.
Elaborate disguise of the day: a young Hong Kong Chinese man boarded an Air Canada flight to Vancouver disguised as an elderly Caucasian man, by virtue of a latex mask:
The man changed out of the silicone mask during the flight, and was arrested on arrival in Canada; he has claimed refugee status.
The mask in question may be purchased from here, for US$689; it's said to be in low stock due to "extremely high demand".
Another horrible example of public transport privatisation gone wrong, this time from Auckland, where the efficiencies of the free market have produced a system that's expensive and inconvenient, and encouraged the public to drive:
City planners impose various pseudo-quantitative performance indicators on the contractors, such as sophisticated GPS systems to monitor on-time performance. But even this minimal nod to public accountability produces unintended consequences. Bus companies fear being fined for missing schedule targets, but are driven by the profit motive to ruthlessly minimize outlays on equipment and staff. The resulting pressure is intense on drivers (some of whom don’t even get paid overtime) to meet unrealistic timetables – a media exposé last year showed this often requires breaking the speed limit. Several times, we’ve watched an awaited bus race by without stopping, the driver shrugging helplessly and pointing at his watch.
Yet Aucklanders still pay for transit – three times over. Once through taxes – subsidies to private transit consume half of all property taxes collected by the regional government. Then again at the fare box. And finally a third time through inconvenience. No wonder Aucklanders take transit one-quarter as often as Torontonians.The article is written by a Canadian journalist resident in Auckland, and is in response to a debate about privatising Toronto's (fairly highly-rated, by all accounts) public transport system.
Pitchfork has a piece looking at government support for musicians around the world, in particular the Nordic countries (where governments plough a lot of money into supporting up-and-coming acts as a matter of principle; consequently, Sweden is the third biggest exporter of popular music and Norway, Denmark and Iceland punch well above their weight), Canada and the UK (Canada follows a vaguely Scandinavian line, more out of fear of becoming an American cultural colony than deep social-democratic principles; the UK still has some vestiges of the pre-Thatcherite arcadia—White Town's government grant-funded first single was mentioned—though apparently the golden age has been sacrificed to Blatcherite mercantilism, with art schools being more efficient assembly lines for producing employable human resources than the legendary hothouses of freeform creativity they were when Jarvis was flirting with Greek heiresses), and the US (where musicians struggle to get health care—something Obama's bill won't help much with—though, at least, they can console themselves that they're not in Iran or somewhere).
The latest salvo from the culture war: Canada's conservative government has scrapped a programme to help Canadian musicians and artists abroad because it was going to "fringe art groups that were unrepresentative or offensive", with one example being the electronica outfit Holy Fuck.
As overt expressions of racism become unacceptable, good ol' boys in the US South have adapted by referring to black people as "Canadians":
Last August, a blogger in Cincinnati going by the name CincyBlurg reported that a black friend from the southeastern U.S. had recently discovered that she was being called a Canadian. "She told me a story of when she was working in a shop in the South and she overheard some of her customers complaining that they were always waited on by a Canadian at that place. She didn't understand what they were talking about and assumed they must be talking about someone else," the blogger wrote.
A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that "fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians.... They're all yours.' "
Stefan Dollinger, a postdoctoral fellow in linguistics at University of British Columbia and director of the university's Canadian English lab, speculated that the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other. "This ‘code' word, is the replacement of a no-longer tolerated label for one outsider group, with, from the U.S. view, another outsider group: Canadians. It could have been terms for Mexicans, Latinos etc. but this would have been too obvious," he said. "What's left? Right, the guys to the north."The comments to the Boing Boing post which mentioned this are enlightening as well:
I work with an American who recently emigrated to Canada from one of the "suh-then" states. He tells me our early stance against the "war" on Iraq left a bad taste toward Canada in the rural south. Raw hate and "we should invade those b*stards and kick them out on an ice flow" rage was quite common in his semi-rural area. Using "Canadian" in this fashion would be a logical progression. They're not being ironic at all.
My friend has parents that used to use the word frequently until she married an actual Canadian. When she told them that he was Canadian they went totally ape-shit. She informed them that they were not invited to the wedding. When they found out he wasn't black (oh the relief... you should've seen it), they apologized. They're still bigots, but possibly one degree less so now.
I live in Pennsylvania, where I've heard a similar practice; many of my father's friends use the term "Democrat" instead of "Canadian" for the exact same purpose. Most of these guys are old, white Republicans, and many of them are also Freemasons.
Actually, the term "Canadian" in reference to black people has been around and in prevalent use for years, like seven or eight of them. It can't have taken that long for the mainstream to have figured that out. The new term is "German" because it was feared that black folks were catching on to the "Canadian" thing a couple of years ago.It is not clear whether "Canadian" started off as restaurant slang for "cheapskate" (presumably due to Canada not having a tipping culture as in the US due to higher minimum wages?) or was a racist euphemism all along.
(via Boing Boing)
An African-American woman in Toronto who recently bought a sofa was shocked to find that it was labelled with racial epithets. Packaging on the chocolate-coloured sofa described it as "Color:Nigger-brown".
"She's very curious and she started reading the labels," Moore explained. "She said, `Mommy, what is nig ... ger brown?' I went over and just couldn't believe my eyes."The retailer blamed the incident on the manufacturer in Guangzhou, China.
This is not the only incident of English-language labels on imported products having been written seemingly with ignorance of taboo words. One I heard about involved the assembly instructions for a piece of furniture. Next to a diagram of a screw being driven into a hole was the one-word instruction, "Fuck".
These days, Canadian immigration authorities are attempting to search the contents of all laptops entering the country for pornography (at least that stored in really obvious places):
But he is stuck. There is nothing familiar. So he clicks on the start menu and finds "My Pictures". You know, if I was into that - that is precisely where I would stick all of my porn - right there in "My Pictures". He goes into it - and sees all of my folders. And al of my pictures, which we looked at. He said "wow, you travel a lot", I said "yup".
Now, after about 15 minutes of looking at my pictures (I have to resist the urge to point him to my favorites :) he shuts down my computer and says "Ok sir, thank you very much, have a nice trip".And in the comments:
At the US border they are allowed now to seize your laptop and search for porn. Then your laptop will be returned at some other time if nothing is found. Some people have not had their laptop returned after almost a year.Recently, US transport regulations have mandated that all luggage checked at an airport be unlocked or else be locked with a special approved padlock that can be opened with a master key by the authorities. Perhaps in a few years' time, they will mandate that all laptops have a means by which the entire contents can be copied at the airport, for external scanning for pornographic/terrorist/copyright-violating content.
Wired Magazine has a piece about how Canadian independent label/music management company Nettwerk is gently undermining the foundations of the traditional recording industry and setting up something new to replace it:
"This one's a real wingdinger," he says, leaning into the speakerphone so New York, Denver, and Los Angeles won't miss a word. "Let's give away the ProTools files on MySpace. Vocals, guitars, drums, and bass. We'll let the fans make their own mixes." The room falls quiet.
A voice from LA breaks the silence: "For the single, you mean, right?" McBride's features screw up in concentration, then quickly expand into a grin. "What I'm proposing," he says, "is that we make all 29 songs available as ProTools files. In two weeks."
McBride's success will depend on what he calls "collapsed copyright." Nettwerk will represent artists like BNL, but the bands will record under their own labels and retain ownership of all their intellectual property, an anomaly in the industry. The bands, in turn, can expect to earn considerably more money - say, $5 to $6 from the sale of each CD instead of the standard dollar or two.
It's a risk McBride is willing to take. Twelve of the nearly 40 acts on Nettwerk's roster now have their own labels, and McBride says that within six years nearly all his artists will have shed their major-label partners. "The old system kept us from imagining what a music product could be," McBride says. "Now we can really start to have fun."The most recent guinea pig for Nettwerk's new music industry is Barenaked Ladies, whom Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride recently persuaded to dump their major label (Warner's Reprise imprint) and go it alone, holding all their own copyrights, and getting creative with the formats they sell in:
Between ringtones, acoustic versions, and concert recordings, those 29 songs have been multiplied into more than 200 "assets" - song versions - that can be used individually or in conjunction with others to create a product. "Because the copyrights are in one place [in BNL's hands], we can be really creative," McBride says. Hardcore fans can buy 45 of those assets on a USB drive; others can download the special Sims versions (recorded in Simlish, no less). "For decades, people in music have used the number of albums sold as a measuring stick for success," McBride says. "We're trying to get people to see beyond that. It's about revenue from music, however you make it - selling concert tickets, licensing to TV, or selling packed USB drives."Nettwerk are taking on the dinosaurs in other places too: by siding against them in peer-to-peer lawsuits:
Earlier this year, he sparked a music industry uproar when he announced he would pay the legal defense for a Texas man being sued for piracy by the Recording Industry Association of America. "The lawsuits are hurting my bands," he says. "If you could monetize the peer-to-peer networks, everyone would make more money."Though it's not all anti-corporate utopianism: McBride's vision strips away the byzantine, restrictive and vaguely corrupt structures of the traditional recording industry, replacing them not with some kind of anarchosocialist GNUtopia of information wanting to be free, but with a more streamlined form of capitalism, with the artist as entrepreneur:
But even such a radical step is just one facet of McBride's larger strategy. In May, President Bush signed into law a revision of the tax code that will make it easier to sell intellectual property as a stock, with profits being taxed at the same lower rate as other capital gains. "Once we have access to all the intellectual property, we're going to offer shares in individual artists and take in equity investments," McBride says. "Eventually, a major band could be its own public company." The key, he adds, sounding like an overzealous investment banker, is that the value of a band would be measured like a stock and would receive capitalization in expectation of future earnings. "At that point, even a band selling 100,000 units a year becomes profitable," McBride says.Of course, that is a double-edged sword. It makes it easier for bands to be profitable, but it adds a new meaning to the term "selling out". We may soon actually see bands owned by beer companies and mobile phone companies, rather than merely branded. And what will happen if a band wants to do something unusual and risky, while their majority shareholder (let's say Carling or Vodafone or someone) sues them for failing to maximise returns by doing so? Could we see corporate-invested bands being mailed dossiers of market research, telling them in no uncertain terms what they are expected to do ("memo: the grebo revival is the next big thing; get right on it")?
Not that this invalidates what Nettwerk are doing. There will always be commercial bands and indier-than-thou refuseniks; this looks like merely giving the artists more choice.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is letting the public remix Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. Remixes have to be a maximum of 2 1/2 minutes long, may be in any style (such as "classical, dj, world, mash up"), and are due in on the 21st of August. This contest is open to Canadian residents only, though there doesn't seem to be anything prohibiting non-Canadians from downloading the original audio file, remixing it and not entering the contest.
(via Boing Boing)
A recent issue of The Times has a fairly detailed section on rail travel today; this section includes a survey of the state of European rail travel (summary: it's enjoying a renaissance, thanks to Eurostar and environmental consciousness, likely to improve further when cheap flights dry up, though ticketing still has some way to go before booking international rail journeys is as easy as booking flights), a section on travelling across Europe on Inter-Rail passes (along with four recommended European rail journeys to make with one's pass), as well as articles on train travel in Italy and India, shinkansen journeys in Japan, the backpacker-infested Trans-Siberian Express (whose 1-week journey time, the previous article notes, could be slashed to 18 hours if it was rebuilt using maglev technology soon to be deployed in Japan), as well as various luxury train journeys, such as the current holder of the "Orient Express" trademark (an opulent art-deco train journey from London to Verona), the Canadian Rockies and opulent Hungarian luxury trains. Also, Australia's Adelaide-Darwin rail link gets a writeup, getting rather mixed reviews (apparently the "Darwin" terminus 18km from the city centre is an afterthought, the carriages aren't quite as luxurious as one would believe, and the ride is bumpy; not to mention the fact that, catering only to tourists (it's too expensive for casual commuters) and having no stations along the way, it's "not quite a proper train" compared to others).
For anyone wanting more information on rail travel in various parts of the world, there's always The Man In Seat Sixty-One, a (somewhat UK-centric) one-stop information shop for rail buffs and travellers with an aversion to air travel.
For your daily dose of socially-approvable schadenfreude: bait car videos; video/sound recordings from specially wired "bait cars" left by Canadian police to trap car thieves. Watch the perps squeal like bitches over the movie-hip soundtrack coming from the stereo. (Which makes one wonder whether the cops pre-supply the cars with Franz Ferdinand CDs.)
(via bOING bOING)
Pissed off about Bush winning a second term? Planning to leave the US or renounce your citizenship? It's not that easy. Getting permanent residency in Canada takes more than half a presidential term in itself, and other countries are equally difficult (unless, of course, you are fabulously wealthy, in which case various Caribbean tax havens are more than willing to sell you citizenship, or if you prefer, you can live on a Liberian-registered ocean liner on the high seas with other cranky rich people). Meanwhile, the US State Department won't let you renounce your citizenship unless you have another one to fall back on, and apparently even if you do go overseas, the IRS will still require you to keep sending the income tax cheques back to fund all those wars of conquest and faith-based missile-defense systems and such. (via bOING bOING)
What does a radical Muslim lesbian look like? Probably something like Irshad Manji, the Canadian-based author of The Trouble with Islam, a manifesto for a new Islamic reformation, for which she has received very specific death threats:
The core concept in Manji's thought -- and that of all progressive Muslims -- is "itjihad". It's a simple idea, and devastatingly powerful. Itjihad is the application of reason and reinterpretation to the message of the Koran. It allows every Muslim to reconsider the message of the Koran for the changed circumstances of the 21st century.
"For example, the next time you hear an Islamo-fetishist, an imam of the ninth-century school, wax eloquent that Muslim societies today have their own forms of democracy thank you very much, we don't need to take any lessons, right there, ask him a few questions. What rights do women and religious minorities actually exercise in these democracies? Not in theory, but in actuality. Don't tell me what the Koran says, because the Koran, like every other holy book, is all over the map, OK. No, tell me what is happening on the ground." She continues, her voice hard and rhythmic, "Tell me when your people vote in free elections. Tell me how many free, uncensored newspapers there are in your 'democracy'. There is, I believe, such a thing as the soft racism of low expectations. And I believe that there is more virtue in expecting Muslims like anybody else, to rise above low expectations, because you know what? We're capable of it."
Manji offers a specific solution for undermining Islamic fundamentalism and ushering in a reformation; her plan involves diverting a large chunk of the West's foreign aid and national security budgets to small business loans to Muslim women, which would have the effect of empowering women in Islamic societies, and undermining the culture that created al-Qaeda.
This feminism shouldn't be alien to good Muslims, she adds. "Muhammad's beloved first wife Khadija was a self-made merchant for whom the Prophet worked for many years. I sometimes point out to Muslim men that if they are serious about emulating the Prophet, then they should go work for their wives."
There is a movement in Canada, a nation not known for its imperialist ambitions, to annex the Turks and Caicos islands. The islands are a British Crown Colony (i.e., essentially one of the few remaining parts of the British Empire; they are written up in Simon Winchester's Outposts as such), though, the site argues, closer ties with near-neighbour Canada, perhaps leading up to union, would have advantages for both sides (the Canucks would get a warm, sunny province and a foot in the door of the Caribbean/Latin American market (not to mention a forward base for their eventual invasion of the USA), while the islands would get a reduced cost of living, increased investment, expanded educational opportunities and subsidised health care. (via MeFi)
- Parrot knows 950 words, has grammar, can coin phrases and shows evidence of a sense of humour. Which calls into question the accepted belief that parrots act as sound-recording devices. Mind you, the article also claims that the parrot has telepathic abilities, which makes it sound rather dubious. Perhaps the BBC News has been acquired by Pravda?
- FBI computer expert talks about (in)security:
American companies have tried to respond to the massive fraud being perpetrated online. One common preventive, adopted by most companies that sell products online, has been to refuse shipments outside of North America, or allow international shipping, except for Eastern Europe. Criminals have figured out a way around this, however. They hire folks to act as middlemen for them. Basically, these people get paid to sit at home, sign for packages from Dell, Amazon, and other companies, and then turn around and reship the packages to Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine. You know those signs you see on telephone poles that read "Make money! Work at home!"? A lot of that "work" is actually laundering products for the Russian mob. Of course, anyone caught acting as a middleman denies knowledge of their employer: "I had no idea why I was shipping 25 Dell computers a day to Minsk! I just assumed they liked computers!"
Dave also had a great quotation for us: "If you're a bad guy and you want to frustrate law enforcement, use a Mac." Basically, police and government agencies know what to do with seized Windows machines. They can recover whatever information they want, with tools that they've used countless times. The same holds true, but to a lesser degree, for Unix-based machines. But Macs evidently stymie most law enforcement personnel. They just don't know how to recover data on them. So what do they do? By and large, law enforcement personnel in American end up sending impounded Macs needing data recovery to the acknowledged North American Mac experts: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Evidently the Mounties have built up a knowledge and technique for Mac forensics that is second to none.
- The amazing story of three blind brothers who became Israel's most formidable phone phreaks, partly by dint of their acute senses of hearing:
Two hours into an afternoon-long interview with the Hebrew-speaking Badirs, my translator's lips lock. He shrugs and tells me that the Badirs have shifted into a secret code. Ramy later explains that as kids he and Muzher developed their own language - reordering letters in mathematically complex ways - after they discovered that other boys were snooping on their conversations.
Ramy, Muzher, and Shadde were arrested on a variety of charges relating to computer fraud in connection with their hacks of the radio station and Bency Levy's phone sex operation. Police took them from their home in wrist and leg cuffs, but even in custody, they could not help but show off by conversing in their secret language and announcing telephone numbers that were being keyed in by law enforcers.
- Warning: blogging can endanger your career, relationships or general wellbeing: (via FmH)
"The blogging community is terribly incestuous," Lapatine admits. "If the relationship doesn't go well, all your mutual friends will read about it. This," he adds, "is how a friend of mine learned that he had halitosis and was a bad dancer."
Some bloggers run into difficulties from seemingly mundane reports about their daily thoughts and activities. "As an Asian girl, I get weird Asian-fetish e-mails from people who read [my] site," says Lia Bulaong, the twentysomething Manhattan author of Cheesedip (she includes tame photographs of herself in everyday clothes). "Also, stalkers I had in college that I didn't know about have come out of the woodwork."
- The prognosis for the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide film looks somewhat dubious, what with Karey "Chicken Run" Kirkpatrick rewriting the script (undoubtedly crushing out anything that doesn't fit the standard Hollywood rules of characterisation and plot) and a rapper being cast as Ford Prefect. The thing about Trillian having been rewritten as a "brilliant scientist" also seems dubious. But you knew that already.
- A proposed Trainspotting-themed tour of Edinburgh has run into problems because the city has been cleaned up too much, with many of the locations in the novel and film no longer existing in any recognisable form (via Lev)
Increasingly many Americans are looking to move to Canada. The reasons range from dismay with the neo-conservative political monoculture since 9/11 to canny consumers shopping for a better social contract (i.e., health care, decriminalised marijuana, tougher gun laws and/or gay marriage), or just for more pleasant weather (and not everybody agrees that "good weather" means "hot and sunny").
Which makes me wonder: now that Howard is hell-bent on remaking Australia in his own image, transforming a formerly liberal, pluralistic social democracy into a warlike, xenophobic, censorious, paternalistic corporate cowboy state, are Australian small-L-liberals emigrating en masse to anywhere? Is New Zealand going to be full of left-leaning Australian expatriates in 10 years' time, for example? Or are those who don't fit in in Howard's Australia going to be either squatting in Earl's Court and pulling pints in pubs (in the hope that Phony Blair pretends to not be a complete and utter Tory) or else building some kind of neo-Whitlamite Port Watson somewhere on the beaches of Thailand or Papua New Guinea?
A reportedly brilliant Canadian physicist with bipolar disorder is fighting a court case to prevent psychiatrists from forcibly medicating him. Scott Starson asserts that forcible medication would slow his thinking, dull his inspiration and make him appear disoriented, and that that he would rather be locked up for life than medicated. The psychiatrists, however, don't see it that way. Starson was committed to a mental institution after threatening a neighbour.
"Being 'normal' would be worse than death for me, because I have always considered normal to be a term so boring it would be like death," he remarked bitterly during one hearing.
(Amen to that.)
Mr. Starson, who repeatedly insisted that he be called "Professor Starson" and that the word "if" not be used in questioning him, said he is confident that he will prevail. Breaking off a train of thought involving moon-walking astronauts, his claim to have invented the modular telephone and his plans for a team of 200 lawyers scattered worldwide, Mr. Starson addressed his case: "Here, I'm basically dealing with the bottom of your species," he said. "Your species deals with force so much. Force is not the way science operates. And the worst religion on the planet is psychiatry."
U.S. officials complain about Canada's human rights. That's right, not "human rights abuses" (which are only a bad thing if the other party has oil and isn't willing to share), but human rights. Canada has too many civil liberties to effectively pull its weight in the War On Terrorism. The U.S. has also singled out Canada's plan to decriminalise marijuana, as something that will have Serious Consequences if it goes ahead. Clearly the Canadians have abused their sovereignty, and if they continue to do so, their sovereignty may, by the rules of the Rumsfeld Doctrine, be forfeit.
On a similar theme, Little Johnny's loyalty to Washington has paid off, with Uncle George offering him a "free trade deal" between Australia and the U.S., agribusiness lobbyists permitting. Mind you, one aspect of the treaty will involve harmonisation of "intellectual property" laws, which will be bad for both sides. It's not just the matter of Australia's copyright laws being co-written by Jack Valenti and things which inconvenience Big Copyright becoming crimes in Australia; Americans stand to lose when their politicians decide to amend the DMCA and realise that they can't because international treaties prevent them. Closer to home, one effect of the "free trade" treaty's copyright provisions is likely to be a ban on multi-region DVD players and "mod chips", neatly sidestepping Alan Fels' attacks on DVD region coding.
Anti-US T-shirts seem to be all the rage in Canada, with Canadians eschewing peace signs for angrier statements, of the sort that might get one hospitalised south of the border.
Anti-war slogans seemed to be getting increasingly anti-American, with people going to everything from protests to the gym to trendy parties wearing tops that say Bush is a Terrorist or Twin Terrors above pictures of Bush and Osama Bin Laden.
Reaction in kind to FOXNews-style flag-waving triumphalism, or a futile passive-aggressive statement from a junior partner? How much do you want to bet that if US troops were to invade Canada (let's call it Operation Second Term), all those Canucks with "American Psycho" T-shirts would claim that they were just kidding?
"As far as clothing went, it was more about the peace symbol. Though you would see people sewing U.S. flags on the seat of their pants, so they'd always be sitting on it."
You know, one could probably make a killing selling shoes with American flag-patterned soles in the Middle East (where stepping on something is considered the most grievious insult).
General Motors, the company partly responsible for dismantling public transport systems across North America, is running ads in Canada calling public transport users "creeps & weirdos", and recommending that, to avoid sitting next to deranged, hygienically-challenged or psychotically dangerous people, one should buy a GM car and drive everywhere. Ah, laissez-faire transport. I wonder if VicRoads will pick up the theme for its own ad campaigns around here. (via bOING bOING)
Brand USA has a hell of an image problem, it seems; it's not just al-Qaeda who hate what America stands for these days. Now American tourists in Europe and other places are finding themselves the targets of abuse over their government's unilateralist policies and thirst for war and/or their compatriots' penchant for oversized cars. The abuse ranges from people spitting at them and calling their names to being interrogated by taxi drivers about "America's megalomania". Something else to thank the President for.
But one incident really stung. "Man, it was bad," says the Rat Pack-y star of Swingers. "These girls saw us and were kind of flirting, and they kept asking us if we were American. Finally we said, 'Yes,' and they just took off. "One girl turns and says, 'We were hoping you were Canadian.' Canadian? Since when was it cooler to be Canadian?"
(Mind you, it could be argued that that is a small price to pay for your nation being feared and respected across the world; at least until China takes over as the dominant superpower, and follows in America's unilateralist footsteps. If you want a good future for your kids, make sure they can speak Mandarin.)
Meanwhile, Americans abroad are advised to blend in, avoiding fast-food restaurants, clothing bearing the US flag or sports team logos and discussion of politics. To which one might add learning to say "I'm Canadian" in many different languages. (via Reenhead)
Tying in with Bowling for Columbine, Switch to Canada; a parody of the Apple TV ads about Canada vs. the US. And then there's this Graun article about why Canada's a possible candidate for future regime change. (via 1.0)
An aide to the Canadian premier has been forced to resign after calling President Bush a "moron", comments which the Iraqi press (no, not the Guardian) picked up on gleefully. She should be careful; that's either giving succour to the enemy or revealing state secrets.
While ~40% of Britons want to invade Iraq, another poll shows that 40% of Americans want to annex Canada. Though the article stresses this isn't a manifestation of belief in America's God-given manifest destiny or desire to dominate the continent, but a gesture of friendship and good will to their friends up north. (Hmmm.. could it be something like "let's liberate our Northern brothers from the shackles of state-funded medicine and gun control and give them citizenship in a real country"?) Meanwhile, just under 20% of Canadians favour Canada joining the United States. (via rotten.com)
(Does anyone recall the proposals floating around during the dot-com boom for northern California, Oregon and Washington state to unite with British Columbia, all parties cutting loose Washington DC, the Bible Belt, Quebec and other such liabilities and making a new manifest destiny out of dot-com stock options?)
Canada's outgoing Prime Minister wants to decriminalise marijuana. Not because he's a pothead or anything (he's not), but for more practical reasons. The US is unhappy with this, and has made threatening noises about trade restrictions and more. Perhaps if it happens, we'll see Whitlam-style "regime change" in Canada?
Two English teenagers thought they were going on a holiday to Australia -- only to discover that they were in Canada. They suspected that the aircraft was too small, and discovered where they really were uon seeing a sign reading "welcome to Sydney, Canada". The mistake was believed to be the fault of the travel agent.
As the hardline government of the United States redoubles its' crusade against the evil of marijuana, medical marijuana users are seeking asylum in Canada. (While some US states have ruled medical marijuana to be legal, the federal government is zealously prosecuting all involved in its provision. And with all those FBI agents assigned to the War On Drugs and son-of-COINTELPRO, makes you wonder who's actually doing something about boring old-fashioned crimes like murder and robbery.)
Canada's legislators debate decriminalising or legalising marijuana; in response, U.S. Government threatens to impose trade sanctions, which would devastate the export-oriented Canadian economy, unless Canada toes the line.
"To antagonize government leaders and grass roots leader because you insist on having a radical drug policy that we will not ignore in the long term, then its going to have adverse consequences and I hope we would be able to rectify it before it comes to blows," explains Maginnis.
Canada's Globe and Mail held an unofficial poll to select the nation's first poet laureate. And melancholist songwriter Leonard Cohen won by a landslide, getting 59%. His nearest rival was Margaret Atwood, with 19%. Unfortunately, as he lives in Los Angeles, he is probably ineligible for the post. (via bOING bOING)