Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

At this time of year more than ever I feel gratitude for the great country I live in, the great people in my life, and all that I have been blessed with in my life.

So with this note I wish you all and your families a Merry Christmas and nothing but prosperity in the New Year.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Murder Map

Found this on the website for the Edmonton Journal, our source for reliable news. The 2007 Edmonton Homicide map. Complete locations, names, details and even photos of our 2007 murder victims who helped us maintain our title as Canada’s murder capital.

This would be expected from a paper like Sun, borderline tabloid to begin with, but this is a tastelessness move for the Journal. These are victims that should be honored and respected but instead they are degraded to a “place I’ve visited” on a google map.


1984 + 24

Christmas purged from popular holiday song
Choir teachers opt for more ‘inclusive’ lyrics
One of the most popular Christmas songs is getting a slight retooling by an Ottawa elementary school choir so as not to offend any students.

The teachers leading the Elmdale Public School choir — made up of Grade 2 and 3 students — have dropped the word Christmas from Silver Bells and replaced it with the word “festive.” So, when the choir performs the song Thursday at a singalong assembly, instead of singing the line “soon it will be Christmas day” they will say “soon it will be a festive day.”…

…The other songs in the musical program are Candles of Hanukkah,
Candles of Christmas; Pere Noel and It’s Christmas generally reflect the
feelings about the holiday season, as well as the themes of Hanukkah and
Christmas, she said. “The choir teachers are trying to be as inclusive as they
can be because not everybody is celebrating either Christmas or Hanukkah,” said

The initiative for the lyric change came from the teachers and was
not something imposed by the school board, she said. “They (teachers) wanted
to have a song that emphasized the holiday spirit, so they just changed the
Silver Bells song to reflect a more generic flavour.”

This is alarming not only because I value the spirit of Christmas (see last weeks blog) but as a parent and a thinking member of society I find it frightening how easily words, ideas even history can be changed.

Modern technology makes it possible to alter a photograph and change the text of a book; tools that allow anyone to change history. That is scary. Like many others I read the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell and at the time it seemed so ridiculous and impossible. But with every new technology this fiction becomes more real.

What are the limits? If school teachers are allowed to change a song to make it more generic what stops the changing of classic literature to make it more pleasing to the masses? What stops the altering of classic works of art? What stops the changing of the history books?

Books are being replaced with E-Books, schools are moving towards paperless teaching, society is becoming vanilla in the name of pleasing everyone; the ideals of Orwell’s novel seem less foreign every day.

What can be done? I don’t know. I do know I will do my best to stay informed and aware of what my kids are learning. I know I will hang on to books, real paper books, especially the ones of my grandparents with print dates in the 1800’s. And I will question decisions such as the one made in Ottawa, and question those with the power to make these decisions.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Peace on Earth...please

Australian Santa gets old heave ho ho ho
CANBERRA / A Santa in an Australian
department store said this week he has been fired for saying “ho ho ho” and
singing Christmas songs to children.

Employment company
Westaff, which supplies stores with redrobed, white-bearded Father Christmases,
had earlier asked its Santas to say “ha ha ha” because the word “ho,” which is
American slang for whore, could offend women, media

In the latest incident, the Cairns Post
newspaper said 70-year-old John Oakes was fired Monday for saying “ho ho ho” and
for singing the Christmas song Jingle Bells.

trying to kill the spirit of Christmas,” said Oakes, a retired entertainer who
has been a Santa for three years.

Well there you have it, another knock at all that is sacred about Christmas. Think of this well you sing some “festive songs” and hang the decorations on your “holiday tree” or visit your kid’s schools to hear them sing in the “winter holiday concert”.

When did it come to this? So sensitive that we would actually believe that a jolly fellow in a red suit is calling women “whores”. At what point did we become so sensitive that we are offended by anything that even slightly hints of a religious overtone. Or rather a Christian overtone as I don’t see anyone telling the Jews they have to change the menorah to the “holiday candle holder” and the dreidel to the “winter holiday game”.

Now before we get off course here let me state that I am certainly not here to preach or to defend Christianity. Nor is it my intent provide a history of Christmas and its origins. My point here is simply the oversensitivity of the population and how that is destroying traditions that have been ongoing to literally hundreds of years. Traditions that have melded and grown to have their own unique non denominational meaning. Sure there are still the nativity scene and all that it represents just as there is the menorah and countless other religious symbols. And as there should be in a society that values freedom of expression and freedom of religion. So why are there limits on this freedom?

My personal belief system embraces freedom. I love that we live in a country with such a vast diversity of culture and belief. And I respect the personal freedoms of every individual, though I may not agree with them I do respect every persons right to an opinion and a belief.

I respect that if your belief would have you wear a certain head dress; that should not restrict your pursuit of a career in the armed forces or police. I believe that if your children should have the freedom to worship as your beliefs dictate and this should not bear any restriction in their right to an education. I am elated to know that the education my children receive teaches about other cultures, beliefs and diversity. So long as the personal rights and freedoms of all are not compromised through the spreading of hate; then we are each entitled to these freedoms and beliefs.

I only ask that these freedoms not be compromised by fear and sensitivity. I do not ask you to believe what I believe. But I ask you that the long standing traditions surrounding Christmas not be compromised and rebottled into generic holiday jargon that can be easily consumed by the hypersensitive masses. I hope that the true Christmas feelings of love, peace, unity and harmony not be lost.

I have a Christmas Tree. My family sings Christmas songs. I respect your right to celebrate this time of year in anyway you see fit.

But my Santa says “ho ho ho” … and he is not a pimp.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

The media does math

I find the media frustrating. Journalism whether print, radio, television, internet or other media has a responsibility to report verified factual information. A task that is proving difficult for mathematically challenged reporters in the capital city.

The following examples all come from recent reports in sources that I hold to be reputable resources for accurate information.

1. A recent report on Global news by long time anchor Gord Steinke. The actual story is of little relevance and in fact my memory of the actual facts is over shadowed by the statements made in the report. Mr.Steinke was discussing a particular parties change in policy, a change which would have them heading in the opposite direction to their initial course. Opposite, okay. I quote “xxxxx has taken a 360 degree turn to head in a new direction”

A 360 degree turn ! It is requires very basic grade school knowledge of math to know that if you turn 360 degrees, you are heading the same direction.

2. The Edmonton Journal on December 5 reported on the shortage of beds in local hospitals and the elective surgeries that were cancelled as a result. “25% of elective surgeries were cancelled…”, “…of the 50 surgeries scheduled 25 were cancelled” Well which is it 25 of 50 therefore 50% or 25% of 50 which is 12.5 surgeries (aside; I would hate to be the guy getting half a surgery!)

I won’t even comment on the fact that they reported from “The University Hospital of Alberta Hospital” ?!?!?

3. And the final straw, albeit not the most solid of sources for news and the reporter won his job in a contest. However this again required only the most basic of math skills. The report on Sonic radio this morning was about the marathon session at the legislature this week. “the 22 hour session started Tuesday at 6 pm and ended Wednesday at 9 pm” hmmm seems to me that “22 hour” session lasted 27 hours.

These are but a few examples of miss information in the media and really they are small miss spoken facts. Though the details may be small in insignificant to the meaning of the stories, it is the lack of attention to detail that I take offence with.

Next they will tell me that the ‘Trixy’ the sunshine girl doesn’t really have a love for animals and hope for a career as a legal assistant!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Joshua Tree

And so she woke up
from where she was lying still
Said we got to do something about where were going
Step on a steam train
Step out of the driving train
Maybe run from the darkness in the night
Singing ha la la la de day
Singing ha la la la de day
Sweet the sin
But the bitter taste in my mouth
I see seven towers
But I only see one way out
You got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice, you know
I took the poison, from the poison stream,
Then I floated out of here
Singing ha la la la de day
Singing ha la la la de day
She runs through the streets
With her eyes painted red
Under black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway she brings me
White gold and pearls stolen from the sea
She is raging
She is raging and the storm blows up in her eyes
She will suffer the needle chill
She is running to stand still

20 years after its original release; U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’ has been fully remastered for release in a series of special formats.

If you don’t have already have a copy of ‘the Joshua Tree’ you need to get one. For so many reasons this is a masterpiece of songwriting and performance and an album that changed music and influenced so much that has come since.

As a side note the first song I ever performed for a real audience was “With or Without You” in Grade 9. Also to note my first born son is named Joshua in honor of this album.

Check it out….