Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown: How can this not be the time?

I've been told in the past that, as a Canadian, I shouldn't have any opinion on American politics. However, anyone who knows me knows that it's not like me to keep my opinions to myself, and I'm not about to start now. Not now.

I heard about the shooting earlier in the day, but it didn't really register with me at first. I was at work, trying to get ready for an office Christmas party, of all things. After lunch, I left the office briefly to run a couple of errands. It was then that I saw a television news report, and realized the magnitude of what had transpired in Newtown, Connecticut.

Later that afternoon, on Twitter, almost all of the posts related to the shootings. They came in three varieties: shock and horror, dismay at brands who were continuing self-promotion at a time when people were only interested in grieving, and people saying, "Now is not the time to talk about gun control."

If not now, when?

Memories fade quickly. Right now, we are all grieving, but as our lives return to "normal", and we go back to our Christmas preparations, what about the parents who will have presents remaining unopened? After the Colorado theatre shootings it was also "too soon" to talk about gun laws, and the conversation never happened. How many more people have to die before it's the right time?

"But the Second Amendment guarantees us the right to bear arms!" you say.

As a friend of mine so eloquently put it earlier: "Fuck the Second Amendment." My right to send my children to school and have them come home safely trumps your right to own a semi-automatic.

"Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

This is my all-time favourite gun argument. Especially when they couple it with "Guns kill people like spoons made (insert name of obese celebrity here) fat." You know what I say to that? Spoons serve a purpose other than as an instrument of death. Give me one purpose of a gun other than to kill - just one - and I will give up my argument against gun control.

Larry Pratt, the Executive Director of "Gun Owners of America", had this to say:
Gun control advocates have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to ensure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to ensure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.
So there you have it: the answer to gun crime is more guns. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Heck, if EVERYONE had a gun - even little children - no one would ever shoot anyone! Maybe gun training should come right after potty training?

This Christmas, 26 families and their friends, will be in mourning. So many other children have had their innocence taken away far too young. How can this possibly not be the time to talk about gun control?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Five Reasons That "Every Man for Himself" Doesn't Work

1. Not every person is capable of being a CEO or executive.

We are not all born with equal opportunities in this life. Anyone who tells you that is either lying or trying to sell you something (probably a right-wing philosophy). It may sound cruel, but in reality, it's true. Every mother may think that her child is a genius, but in the end, we all have differing levels of intelligence. Not everyone is smart enough to run a company, or operate on another person's brain. For some people, running a deep fryer, or working in some other low-paying job is the best that they are capable of. Are you one of the ones who is extremely intelligent? Fantastic. Guess what? It's as much of a fluke of nature as it is that you were born in a first world country, rather than a dictator-run, third world country constantly hit by natural disasters. Consider yourself lucky and have some compassion for those who weren't born with your gifts.

2. If everyone was a CEO/doctor/lawyer, who would serve them their fancy lunches or drive their airport limo?

The world is simply not set up for everyone to be in a position of power and influence. SOMEONE needs to be on the base of the pyramid. They may not be the ones who run things, but they are the ones who keep things running. You can't have a successful factory without the people on the shop floor, running the machines.

3. Working hard doesn't necessarily equal monetary rewards.

"You have no idea how hard a CEO works." Yeah, I've heard that one before. I have worked for senior executives for years. I know the insane hours that they put in. But what about the parent working two minimum wage jobs, 60-80hrs per week, just to pay rent & buy food? What about labourers working outdoors in freezing cold temperatures in winter, and broiling hot in summer? Don't they deserve seven-figure salaries, too?

4. No one NEEDS millions of dollars.

This is admittedly a bit of hyperbole on my part: there are, in fact, people who need, for whatever reason (I'm thinking of medical care, but I'm sure there are other reasons) millions of dollars to survive. These people are not the ones about whom I'm speaking. The average person - or even the average family - does not need millions of dollars to survive. I actually sat down and thought about it once, and if I were to win $5,000,000, taken care of properly, my family could probably survive on that for the rest of our lives, easily, with a comfortable house, food to eat, and a nice vacation every year. I get that people have different priorities, and if you work hard, you should be able to have a new sports car, or a boat, or an emu farm, if that's what you really want. I also know that someone making millions of dollars per year can have all of that, and still afford to pay a "high" tax rate - you know, more than 10-15% - without suffering. Suffering is choosing which meals you're going to eat this week, because you haven't got enough to buy groceries for three meals a day. Suffering is NOT only having one live-in nanny for your two kids.

5. It's just not nice.

Yeah, this isn't a logical argument. I get that. But the truth is, I will just never understand the idea that it's okay to say, "my family and I are okay, so screw everyone else."  I hate hearing people make the assumption that everyone who is struggling is a "welfare bum" or is too lazy to help themselves. God forbid that those people ever go through a hard time beyond their control.

Sometimes, a bit of human compassion can go a long way.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Not About Free Speech

I'm sick of hearing the name "Chick-Fil-A" (stupid name, by the way, but not really the point.)

I want to shut up about it. I really do.

But I can't.

I can't sit here and watch you post pictures of yourself gleefully eating chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, or posting about how long the line ups were yesterday for "National Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" as if this were something to celebrate.

Because hate is not something to celebrate.

"It's not about hate! It's about free speech!"

Dan Cathy has the right to say whatever he wants. I have the right to think he's a bigoted idiot, and move on, but it's not so simple.

Chick-Fil-A has donated MILLIONS of dollars to the "Family Research Council" and "The Marriage and Family Foundation." These organizations not only support the criminalization of homosexuality in the United States, but they go do "missionary" work in other countries, giving support to laws there that would strengthen laws against homosexuality. Including punishment by DEATH. They support organizations like Exodus International who provide "pray away the gay" counselling (I use that term in the MOST ironic sense) that only does NOT work, but it further shames people for simply being who they are - the person that God created them to be.

In the US, it is still legal in 29 states to fire someone solely for being homosexual - and I'm making a totally uneducated guess here that most Chick-Fil-A restaurants are in states where this is true. Still think that CFA has never fired anyone for being gay? They probably did, but it never got any publicity because it was totally legal.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you how this impacts all of my gay friends and family. It doesn't matter. It wouldn't matter if I had never met a single GBLT person in my life. It's about being a decent person, and not reducing a fellow human being to a "less than." It's not okay to discriminate on the basis of the colour of someone's skin, or their gender, so why is it okay to discriminate on the basis of whom they love?

It's not about chicken. I'm Canadian, and to the best of my knowledge, I have never set foot in CFA. It's not about free speech. It's about right and wrong. And hate, however you dress it up ("Love the sinner, hate the sin" anyone?), is wrong.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It Was Supposed to Be the Unsinkable Station...


I mean seriously: this is the kind of stuff that only happens to me.

This morning I happily went on my way to working thinking, "It's Friday!" I got off the GO Train at Union Station, walked on through to the TTC and was about to get the subway up to my office, when I realized I didn't have my wallet. I went through my bag about 4 times, but it was NOT in there. I started to panic. I called my husband at home, who, although annoyed with me for panicking, calmed me down somewhat and agreed to call The Real Canadian Superstore where I had stopped the night before for a few groceries. Sure enough, I had left my wallet there, some EXTREMELY kind person had turned it in, and they had it. Phew.

However, I was still in downtown Toronto, an hour's train ride from home, with no cash, no cards, and no ID. Great. Obviously I couldn't hop the subway up to work. I was going to have to walk to my office, then figure out what to do from there.

But here's the thing: it was POURING rain. Like, not happy little April showers that somehow ended up waiting until June 1st, but a torrential downpour. Great. This is why my 11-year-old daughter is in my good books today: before I left, when I left the umbrellas for her and her sister, she told me, "Well at least wear a coat with a hood." I was DAMNED thankful for that hood while I was walking 25 minutes or so up University Avenue.

I got to work, where one of my coworkers kindly loaned me $20 until Monday, and although I was still having that uneasy "I don't have my wallet" feeling, I was much better.

Then came the news after lunch that the TTC portion of Union Station had flooded, and the subways were closed from Osgoode to Bloor - so essentially most of the downtown loop. I was going to have to walk back down. Ugh. (I normally do walk in the afternoon, but not in weather like that!) I was very happy when I got out of my office and found out that the rain had stopped momentarily, but WOW, there were a LOT of people on the streets, not to mention news vans, police cars, and a screeching fire truck that I still don't know where was headed. I was SO glad to get on the train and start heading for home tonight!

But, since I've been home, I've been looking at the photos and videos of the flood. Wow!

I've also been loving the memes that I've been seeing tonight. Some of them are absolutely hilarious.
Nuh nah, nuh nah.. nuh nah nuh nah nuh nah...
Rose and Jack try to escape Union Station: "I'll never let go!" "I'm the King of the Subway!"

And my absolute favourite:

Mayor Rob trying to help disperse the water!
I should mention that I don't know what geniuses created these, so I can't give credit, but whomever you are, you're brilliant!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How I Became the Font of Ben Mulroney Knowledge

Photo Credit: @BenMulroney1976
 Two years ago, I did a series on this blog entitled "The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney." It was a tongue-in-cheek look at Canada's favourite political son/entertainment reporter, and it was kind of a poke at my good friend, Sam (AKA The Pop Culture Addict). For 30 days in March and April, 2010, I posted all kinds of fun facts about CTV's Golden Boy. I honestly figured no one was paying attention. I was pretty sure my friends were rolling their eyes at me (I'm still pretty sure that they were.)

After the 30 days were over, I really didn't think about it again for a long time. Because really, who spends their days thinking about Ben Mulroney? (Except maybe Ben Mulroney.) Then I noticed that despite the fact that I had all but abandoned this blog, barely posting on it in recent memory, I was still getting hits on the site. I was curious to know what people were looking for, and I was shocked at the answer: Ben Mulroney.

It was vaguely amusing to watch the stats, and see just how many people were interested in his wedding photo. It kind of tickled me in the secret places to know that I had become the "go-to" blogger for all things Ben.

Today, though, I noticed a major upswing in the hits on my blog, and sadly they weren't reading my article about the 10 Things Lindsay Lohan Should Do While Filming in Toronto (which is really too bad, because I think it's some of my finer work!) They were LOOKING FOR BEN MULRONEY! What the heck?!?

Then I realized: Ben Mulroney co-hosted "Live with Kelly" this morning. More than half of the hits came from the US, and at least a few of them were from searches for "Who is Ben Mulroney?"

Ben has invaded the US. God help them all. It's not bad enough that they're plagued with Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum: they need Ben, too?

I'm only kidding, I swear. Despite my good friend's rancor, I harbor no bitter feelings towards Ben. He's doing his thang as the kids say. All of my kidding is done with an affectionate virtual pat on the head.

In the meantime, if you've come across this blog searching for answers to the age old question: "Who is Ben Mulroney?" I'll direct you here where all of the answers lie. Good luck, and God speed!

Monday, April 2, 2012

10 Things for Lindsay Lohan to Do While in Toronto

In case you didn't hear, Lindsay Lohan was FINALLY released from formal probation last week, afer what the judge called "the longest DUI case in history" (this all stemmed from a DUI in 2007!) and now she just has to stay on the straight and narrow, without any brushes with the law, for the next 2.5 years.

Shortly after her probation hearing, a work permit was quickly issued for Lindsay to begin work on her new Lifetime movie - a biopic of Elizabeth Taylor.

I'm not going to even get into how queasy this makes me. Instead, I'm going to focus on all of the fun things that Lindsay could do in her down time whilst in Toronto, rather than getting into trouble and ending up back in a courtroom!

10. Check out a Jays' Game Men, tight pants, balls... need I say more?

9. Casa Loma She'll probably need a very understanding tour guide, though, when she keeps asking where the Prince is.

8. Check Out the CBC Museum Check out all that the history of Canadian television has to offer. Also, if you hang around long enough, Strombo might interview you, and maybe they'll even offer you your own show!

7. Visit Queen's Park She spent time working at the LA County Morgue. She should feel right at home.
6. Hit the Beach at the Toronto Islands Lindsay's not fond of keeping her clothes on, and neither are most of the other people at Hanlan's Point. It's a match made in heaven!
5. Visit MuchMusic They both used to play music, so it should be a natural fit!
4. Take in the ROM The Royal Ontario Museum has some of the greatest collections in the world. Plus, the mummies there are probably considerably more maternal than Dina Lohan.

3. Go to the top of the CN Tower After all, what better way to see our fine city? She could even try the Edge Walk. Of course, she'd have to pass a sobriety test before going out to see the view, but that's nothing new for LiLo anyway.

2. Shopping in Yorkville That man following you, Ms. Lohan? Oh, that's just Vincent. He's just there to ensure you find everything you need (and pay for it on the way out...)

1. Go to The Courthouse Because if she's looking for a place that she can relax, why not go someplace familiar?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Who's in Charge of this Train, Anyway?

A friend just "recommended" this editorial by Michael Ignatieff on Facebook. My initial thought was to recommend it myself, with my thoughts. Then I decided to post it here, instead. I've noticed lately that I've lost a few FB friends, and although at first this hurt me, I had to wonder if it was due to my political/ideological postings. If that's the case: too bad. I am who I am, and I believe what I believe. Often very strongly.

What I don't understand is why people who disagree with me about these issues are so offended by the idea of society working together for everyone's betterment. Are they afraid for their own standard of living? Do they honestly believe that every poor person is poor because of laziness and/or drug and alcohol abuse? That every New Year's baby born today has EXACTLY the same opportunities for "success" as his/her peers?

I love the analogy in the article: that living in the Great Depression was like riding a train. If you had a job, "it was like being in the heated parlour car in the front of the train, while the unemployed were in the unheated freight cars in the back." I've noticed that those who are so adamantly against government programs to help the poor are usually those who are not only employed, but have been in the same job for a long time; who haven't had to deal with months and months of resumes and applications, and internet job searches; those who don't know that trying to live on $1800 per month (approximately the maximum amount of EI in our area) is nearly impossible for a family who may depend on that income as their sole source of support. For those who have been riding in those unheated freight cars, it is a ride of fear, shame, and despair, made all the more hard by living amongst those who are eating caviar in the parlour car.

I guess I just will never understand how it is that people can be so unwilling to give up a little bit of their wealth to make sure that other people have a reasonable standard of living. There is no way out of this mess while some are zealously guarding the proverbial Versailles and the peasants are crying for bread.

I once had someone ask me "Who are you to decide what's a reasonable income for anyone else?" That's not an easy question for me to answer. I suppose I have no right to say that no one NEEDS over a million dollars a year, but to me, that's just plain logic. To say, "I work 20 hours a day for that money, so I should get to keep it" discounts those who are working 2 or 3 jobs at minimum wage and barely surviving. Are you working harder than the person who's cleaning your office at 2am? The person who's out collecting your trash in -20 degree or 35 degree weather? Are you working harder than the person building the roads for you to drive to your company? The teacher who's educating your children? Who are YOU to say that what you do is worth more than what anyone else contributes to society?

I've been told that this whole "December 21, 2012" thing is more about a societal shift than about the end of the world. I really hope that's true, because until we all realize that we're all in this world together, I don't see us finding those middle cars on the train.