Archive for November, 2008

The Country Roots of The Beatles

November 30, 2008









Listening to Alberta’s Country Legend 790 on the AM dial today I heard one of those hokey old country songs that I love the most – it was called Bird Dog by the Everly Brothers. This song went to #1 on the Top 40 Billboard in ’58:

Johnny is a joker (he’s a bird)
A very funny joker (he’s a bird)
But when he jokes my honey (he’s a dog)
His jokin’ ain’t so funny (what a dog)
Johnny is a joker that’s a’tryin’ to steal my honey (he’s a bird dog)

Johnny sings a love song (like a bird)
He sings the sweetest love song (ya ever heard)
But when he sings to my gal (what a howl)
To me he’s just a wolf dog (on the prowl)
Johnny wants to fly away and puppy-love my baby (he’s a bird dog)

Hey, bird dog get away from my quail
Hey, bird dog you’re on the wrong trail
Bird dog you better leave my lovey-dove alone
Hey, bird dog get away from my chick
Hey, bird dog you better get away quick
Bird dog you better find a chicken little of your own

Johnny kissed the teacher (he’s a bird)
He tiptoed up to reach her (he’s a bird)
Well he’s the teacher’s pet now (he’s a dog)
What he wants he’s been gettin’ now (what a dog)
He even made the teacher let him sit next to my baby (he’s a bird dog)

Hey, bird dog get away from my quail
Hey, bird dog you’re on the wrong trail
Bird dog you better leave my lovey-dove alone
Hey, bird dog get away from my chick
Hey, bird dog you better get away quick
Bird dog you better find a chicken little of your own


He’s a bird

(lyrics from here)

Oh, you have to hear them sing that line “he’s a bird dog”.

Judging by the comments to that Youtube video at the time this wasn’t even country – but rockabilly. For guys you’ll only hear on really old time country stations their Rolling Stone biography stunned me:

The Everly Brothers are the most important vocal duo in rock. The enduring influence of the Everly Brothers’ close, understated yet expressive harmonies is evident in the work of such British Invasion bands as the Beatles and the Hollies and of folk-oriented acts, such as Simon and Garfunkel…

The Stone’s review of their ’72 album puts it this way:

The Everly Brothers brought harmony to rock and roll. They also brought sensitivity, the result of their having been weaned on old-time country music. They were the end of one line and beginning of another. They were also hugely influential, and everything they gave to rock was positive.

It got better. I clicked on an article by Paul Simon – who I didn’t realize is the Simon of Simon and Garfunkle until halfway through. (I know, I know) It’s #33 in a series called The Immortals – The Greatest Artists of All Time. Simon wrote that the Everlys melded country with early rock and roll perhaps even more powerfully than Elvis and this:

The Everly Brothers’ impact exceeds even their fame. They were a big influence on John Lennon and Paul McCartney — who called themselves the Foreverly Brothers early on…

Oh that’s unbelievable.


Acid Hypocrisies

November 30, 2008

Stageleft is loving the Harper hypocrisy. (doubly so because his first post about this was about Harper’s pokerstar brilliance for doing what kicked this crazy thing off. Oh how the Pokerstars have fallen!)

I remember the scathing fury of conservatives when Martin was unprecedentedly avoiding opposition days before his government fell because I was one of them. Stageleft’s right – this is hypocritical with an acid burn.

But it’s pale beside the opposition who days ago were exploding over the partisan myopia of Harper risking the stability of the country and a 300 mill election by… gee, cutting the 30 mill of public money going to the parties.

Now they’re going to leap headfirst into either a 300 mill election or a coalition government equal part Liberal to NDP and Bloc Quebecois because they think they smell a chance to take Harper out and realize that they are willing to work together if it means sitting on the government side of the House.

Harper stepped off of his supposedly destabalizing partisan move – which I would say had a lot to do in the first place with the conservative instinct to make sacrifices of your own first and that the taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook in any case. Who do you think looks better to the people when they wake up to NDP and the Bloc in their government because Harper tried to end the taxpayer funding of all the parties – and despite the concessions the Conservatives are making for stability?

Which is why I like this idea. Especially the Liberals and Bloc sitting in government together. I like it as a partisan that is… as a Canadian, not really.

(globe links via National Newswatch)

Why I nominated ‘no feminist’ for best feminist

November 30, 2008

Says Sara Landriault of Choice for Childcare: “I have been nominated for the “best feminist blog”, which totally confuses me because in my heart I am no feminist.
To put it totally bluntly, I am just me and I am very proud of that.”

When I was in high school I read ‘The War Against The Family’ by William Gairdner. It was one of the first political books I read and of all the controversial topics it broadsided one thing really stuck with me – that when the advocacy group REAL Women of Canada applied for the federal women’s groups funding they were turned down because they were “not promoting of womens rights”.

Who is anyone to tell women what it means to promote women’s rights?

When the Conservative government shifted that advocacy funding to concrete programs meant to promote women in Canada through shelters and other things it was a blow for equality. The paternalism of the Liberals in both assuming that Canadian women needed funding for their voice to be heard and their chauvanism – which deserves to be called misogynist – in presuming to choose for Canadian women what qualified as promoting their rights were finally ended.

Since then the Conservatives have restored the funding – I hope it wasn’t taken from the programs. But they have left a more lasting legacy on this field. For me, the most important accomplishment of this government is choice in childcare. I like economics in a bit of a nerdy way and because of economic arguments I was always going to prefer a child tax credit to a bureaucratic model. But that is such a small part of why it’s important. The Liberal plan was simply the paternalism of their advocacy funding done large. Beer and Popcorn is all I need to say – which just happens to be in Sara’s ‘about me’. And it’s more than just general paternalism. We haven’t gone from the dark days of male chauvanism straight into the light. I have this picture in my mind of the partial tragedy of what we call feminism. I see a bunch of good old boys gathered round, smoking cigars, they’re yakking and backslapping:

“Good work this week on the chauvanist front, lads!” – a portly red faced fellow in tails

“Aye! Just this morning I patronized the old gal – patted her on the back and said it sure was nice to come home to a clean house where I don’t have to worry about Important Happenings” – portlier and redder faced

“Well I ‘ave to admit I’ve been a tad remiss,” says a third, “I’ll get on it this very evening… lemme see, a bit of The Singular Importance Of What Men Do aught ‘a do the old trick, or just your standard letting her know raising up the kids is simple stuff that I’m proud to leave to her to do up on her pedestal”

The fourth man has been leaning back like a cucumber – cool. There’s a smart look on his face as he speaks his piece. “Gentlemen, we’ve got it good. The girls do the drudge stuff, we do the big stuff. But we can do better.” The others can hardly imagine this, giving involuntary jerks of their heads in his direction as he goes on. “Look boys, it’s simple – we take a lot of trouble puffing up the importance of what we do and running down the stay-at-home stuff and all I propose is that we get the women to do that for us too.”

And so modern feminism was born. A lot of good done I’m sure, although I’m too young to appreciate that, but there is an element to feminism that acts as though they just internalized the put-downs of the chauvanists and took it further. They despise stay-at-home moms far more than any male chauvanist ever did and they act as if the only important work is policing, firefighting, and big business. You know, what used to be known as man’s stuff. There are good reasons to dislike the idea of Sarah Palin as Vice-President but there are bad reasons too, and these “feminists” were all over that – mocking her for having been in a beauty pagent and for having had such well used reproductive organs. For some feminists, having five children made Sarah Palin too much a woman. Instead of fighting for both the freedom to achieve success in a career and for respect for more “traditional” roles they chose to honour the chauvanist slurs and assumed that equality had to mean making women more like men. Because men did the Great Things.

What did any of those things ever matter if nobody was choosing to have children? What does it matter to build a country if there’s nobody to build it for, and nobody who will keep building it? A woman or man who lives one life to the hilt can never have the same impact as one woman who has one child and sets in movement a thread that could be part of history for a thousand years. It’s incredible that anyone should ever look down on someone that does that.

That chauvanism trickled down to us with feminism. It was in the Liberal plan for childcare that would have taken the taxes of Canadian families and said “you can have that back if she puts the kids in our daycare program and does Real Work”. That is why someone who says “I am just me and I am very proud of that” is my choice for the kind of true feminism and real equality that Choice for Childcare stands for.

The Definitive Political History of the Past 40 Years

November 29, 2008

Liberals: “We need to use government to direct culture in better paths and schools to make children into better people. The wisdom of the courts should supercede the choices of society.”

Conservatives: “The government is going to direct culture? Huh… better make sure we get our kind of guys in there… and judges that don’t legislate.”

Liberals: “FASCISTS!”

Harper’s Memior – The Early Years continued…

November 29, 2008

(Part I)

Part 2… Steve learns the importance of senates, witnesses an epic moment in Ginnie’s life, and emanates SHUSH waves

…The good news is little Jimmy’s walking stick still lies unused in that park. He has always understood that it was Mom’s fault I couldn’t buy his planes anymore and he and Kellie and I remained pretty good freinds. The three of us would often play on the same team for neighborhood street hockey games – Jimmy always playing center no matter where he started because he could not help but rush straight for the net on offence and race all the way back to play defense on his grateful legs, Kellie a sometimes spectacular goalie, and myself playing something although nobody seems to remember that. I remember how the nets we used were of differing proportions – one was bigger than the other one. Before each game the teams would vote on who got the small net. The other team usually included the James’s – a family of four girls and three boys who played on the same team by subbing off. They won the vote for the small net every time! After the third time this happened I told everyone that we shouldn’t just have a majority vote about the nets. I suggested we create a special group that would decide fairly on who got the small net. So we had a vote about who would be in that group and the James’s team voted for themselves! All seven James’s were in the special group, and Kellie – because the James boys liked her. It was at this point that I realized that an equal and effective senate is crucial to a federal democracy.

After those early happy days of moving in what were probably definable fractal patterns on the streets of my youth I went to school. There wasn’t much there for me to learn but there was one thing that was definately new to me – it was at an early age that the stirrings of mutual attraction awoke in my rib cage vicinity. One day most of the kids were out in the field playing soccer while I was near the school building skipping rocks on the pavement. Suddenly a girl named Ginnie came up beside me – grabbing my sleeve – and pulled me towards the building. Ginnie Young was the cutest girl in Grade Four, I thought, although she wasn’t quite one of the cool kids. Perhaps this was part of her attraction to me and I guess she had noticed. My physiological reaction approximated that which is commonly expressed by the saying: “My heart skipped a beat”. Closing her eyes and pulling me close, Ginnie leaned back into the brick corner and coyly pursed her lips. In that moment of presumbable emotion I leaned closer still, so close that I could sense her warmth and inhale the taste of salt from her peach freckle skin so that I still remember her in visceral flashes of memory on beautiful days at the beach – and I took her hand and shook it. The shock of the moment blew her eyes open. Not many people witness the instant in which another human being first understands the sheer irony of life but I am one of them. Later that day we were all working on math sheets (I was done and was reading a book inside my desk) and Ginnie raised her hand. Our teacher looked up and nodded to her. Plaintively, Ginnie said: “Teacher, Stephen is an alien.” I was caught off guard and I looked sharply over at her with a finger at my lips, emanating SHUSH waves. The other students all looked at me strangely and I realized that overreacting would create problems so I quickly emulated a relaxed format, smiled, and blew her a handshake. Mr. Childers, a balding and confirmed bachelor who wore ineffective spenders and whose two inch long nose hairs mingled with a walrus salt and pepper mustache that somehow ran into a goatee said, “Yes Ginnie, it is probable that Stephen is an alien but he is still part of the class. So ignore him, Ok?”. It was always a wonder when Mr. Childers spoke – his stout nose hairs seemingly stirring the flowing masses of his facial hair – and the issue was forgotten. As you can see, my understanding that a country can comprise more than one nation has deep, bristly, roots.

Of course, except for beautiful days at the beach, Ginnie is a forgotten memory as the true love of my life Laureen has taken that place. You may have heard of how I would go around oblivious to missing buttons on my shirt before I met her and obviously she has really filled me in on a lot besides having that sexiest of things – keen intelligence. Frankly, our life since we met has, of course, obviously included its share of missing buttons – resulting in our two precious children Ben and Rachel. Obviously, you – of course – don’t want to think frankly about that. Obviously, of course – frankly. Frankly of course. Obviously. I will mention though, that our personal life has certainly gained an edge now that I occasionally make the joke that – now that I’m Prime Minister – I’m finally good enough for Laureen for her to take my last name, lol ; ) 

Anyhow that’s enough for now. I need to get back to governing this country so I can finish that and return to my passion – that book I’m writing about hockey statistics.

Stephen Harper

The General Manliness

November 28, 2008

Lotta people trying the gender analyzer on their blogs. 2 poems in, the General Wolfe is 99% man. Ooooh yeeeeaaaah. Mine is a trancendent manliness – you know, the kind that can’t spell “transcendent”. Trancsendent?

Who writes poems anyhow? Manly poetry went out with honour in war. Not that modern poetry and art are womanly – I’m not that misogynist! Then again, who says what I write is poetry…

Stephen Harper’s Memoir – The Early Years

November 26, 2008

Part I – Mom’s Cookie Tariff

Hello Canadians, and Harper fans in the U.S. Many leaders write their memoirs to set the record straight after they leave public office. This is quite illogical because by then nobody cares and so I have determined that I will write my memoir now, in the middle of my service as Prime Minister. The value-added of this strategy is that there will no longer be any point at all to the biased reporters on the hill. Anyone who wants to know what I’m up to can just read this straight from the guff repor’ – that is to say “report”, only with the ‘t’ left unpronounced like Stephen Colbert when he says “it’s the Colbert Report!”. Just a little humourous pop culture reference there.

I recently read Brain Mulroney’s ‘Memoir’ and noticed that he spends a great deal of time on his childhood – spinning fond warm-sweater memories of what it was like to be a boy from Baie-Comeau living in a company town with a hardworking dad and close-knit family. In that vein, I would like to frankly admit that I have had a childhood. Certainly, I seem to have residual memories of some kind of idyllic small person existence and I presume that this is what “childhoods” are for – although I do remain open to correction on that point. I try not to let this strange, kind-of bubbly, emotional residue affect my judgement but I do appreciate the memories and I feel that my principles and character have been much informed by my childhood experience.

My first clear memory revolves around the unfair tariff Mom placed on paper airplanes. Perhaps my favorite joy as a small person was to launch paper planes into the autumn sky and watch them make ways through swirling leaves flitting and falling to the ground. I was not a proficient plane maker, but my sister Kellie was excellent – sometimes spending hours in a day crafting her buoyant creations – and I would often spend my entire allowance buying her planes for 15 cents each. One day little Jimmy Cratchit was hobbling through the park with his walking stick and stopped to watch my sister’s planes carve their scientifically determinable yet delightful earthbound paths. “Wow! Did you make all these Stephen?” Jimmy asked. I engaged him in conversation: “Oh no Jimmy, the planes I make are generally deficient. I bought all these from my sister with my allowance.” Jimmy’s eyes opened wide and he squeaked, “You get an allowance?”. I never saw anyone hobble as fast as little Jimmy did on his way back to his house. Three days later I was at the park with Kellie trying out some new plane designs and Jimmy showed up with a cardboard box. “Stephen!”, he cried from the tree lined edge of the park. Little Jimmy started hobbling towards us carrying his box, faster and faster. There was something exciting about the moment and I found myself yelling “Run Jimmy Run!” The next thing we knew he had both hands on his box and his walking stick lay settling in the leaves as he streaked towards us. Little white things began to pop out as he came near and I realized they were paper planes. “I learned how to make good planes too!” Jimmy said breathlessly through rosy puffing cheeks. My sister and I were amazed by Jimmy’s run and we hugged him and bought the whole box for 5 cents a plane. And they were good! That box lasted me all week and although I still bought a few planes from Kellie she had stopped making very many by next Tuesday and she didn’t really know what to do with her time anymore. Well, Mom noticed this and asked her why. Kellie explained to Mom that I was buying Jimmy’s planes now for three times as cheap. When I came in for supper that night Mom told me that if I didn’t buy Kellie’s planes anymore I would only get one cookie every week instead of two. The colour drained from my face (where it remains to this day) as my world crashed down around me. I searched my soul for a way to make my mom understand little Jimmy’s plight. “But Mom!”, I said, “Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage suggests that if Jimmy can make paper planes three times as cheap as Kellie and if she can make something he wants more efficiently than he can, then if we trade him those things for his paper airplanes we will both have more of what we want than if we try to make both things for ourselves!” Mom, who often looked worried for me, furrowed her brow and replied, “Eat your food Stephen”. To this day, I am convinced that Mom’s Cookie Tariff was sub-optimal for the general welfare of our neighborhood. When as Industry Minsiter Maxime Bernier lifted the tariff on Chinese bicycles – although there is bicycle manufacturing in his constituency – I considered it one of the greatest vindications of my childhood in office… or, no, yeah, dammit yes – vindications of my childhood! Justice! Harper Justice baby!

(It continues…)

An Opinion Unfirmed

November 26, 2008

I’ve read Canadian blogs for several years and my opinion of Red Tory is firm. Nobody has ever had such an eloquent case of severe indigestion. I once called his writing style “faux-intelligence” and I bet I will again.

But he’s right as right about the Carleton University kids who decided that Cystic Fibrosis isn’t worth fundraising for because they thought its victims were all white males.

What causes second thoughts about Red Tory supports my thoughts on the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. I think that a kind of Racial Machiavellianism is part of why and how they have been operating. Just as the Carleton kids arguably don’t value fundraising if it’s for something that only affects white males the Human Rights Commissions don’t really bother many people because the targets of their speech hearings have been white, Christian, males. But this is not just because the attitude towards white guys is negative these days. There is an element to these speech hearings for which only a white person is a suitable target – from the perspective of white Canadians as a group.

 The post I link to doesn’t make my main point very well so I’ll rehash the central argument:

Ezra Levant believes that a “hate speech” complaint against him was dismissed by the CHRC because he is a Jew. He printed the same article that a white Christian named Reverend Boissoin did. Boissoin was found by the Alberta HRC and the Canadian HRC to have committed hate speech against homosexuals. Ezra was found to have done nothing worthy of a hearing because his intent was simply “furthuring the public discourse”. “Intent” is not a defense for the commissions, and obviously so because it makes no difference what your intent is when it comes to saying something that “exposes or is likely to expose” an identifiable group to contempt or hatred. So Ezra thinks that it wasn’t intent, but identity, that got him off – that the commissions are biased against white Christians. There are two things this cannot fully explain. If the CHRC is biased against not just Christians, but also Christianity, it doesn’t make sense to let Ezra off because he printed the views of a Christian. It doesn’t matter who Ezra is – by reprinting Boissoin’s article he is likely to have the same effect in promoting Boissoin’s view. It’s possible that the CHRC is just picking it’s battles here because Ezra is too big a fish for them to fry. But neither of these things explain the support of the Alberta government for the Alberta HRC’s hearing against Boissoin. You think the Alberta government doesn’t like Christians? Ah, nope. In fact you’d think whitebread, conservative Alberta would be the last place someone with a bone to pick with the “homosexual agenda” would be subject to a speech trial supported by the government that was so outside of normal standards of human rights in a western country that it was opposed by the gay rights group EGALE on the grounds that infringing on the rights of any individual is a threat to everyone’s rights.

You’d think that. And that’s what the Alberta government doesn’t like. The last thing they want is to be seen as supporting the guy that doesn’t like gays. Alberta’s image is whitebread. Cowboy hats and rednecks, and – to a lot of people – racism and homophobia. Alberta isn’t the last place this should happen. It is the likeliest of places in Canada for a white individual with negative views associated with “whiteness” to lose his freedom of speech. That person symbolizes the things that his group doesn’t want to be associated with them. That’s why Ezra isn’t what they want. He’s not one of them, so he cannot reflect on them as a group and he doesn’t actually hold the view that Reverend Boissoin does so he cannot symbolize homophobia.

Machiavelli advised rulers to purge officials for corruption to create a clean image for the government. The important thing wasn’t the level of actual wrongdoing of the official – it was the effect on public image. In Canada today it’s ok for someone to be banned from ever speaking disparagingly of homosexuals by letter to the editor, radio, and even private email. In Canada today the Alberta government supported subjecting an Albertan to a speech trial so out of the norm for individual rights that EGALE – the kind of people this Albertan has some damn strong views about – spoke out against his treatment. This man was fined for what he said, besides his court costs – which were free for the person who placed the complaint against him. This man was told to apologize, and in fact to effectively recant. These trials have a 100% conviction rate. Their targets are always white males. And that is why they’re ok. It’s something more than bias against white Christians. It is a largely unconscious purge by a racial group. The statement here is that white Canadians reject homophobia. – that the taint has been removed by this extraordinary process which in part is a kind of scapegoating which identifies the sins or source of trouble of a group with an individual and then rejects that person and what they represent. The rejection reassures members of that group that they have been cleansed of their problem and that feeling of cleansing is why it’s ok for an individual member of the group to lose out. The group feels the need to be purified, in both their image and their essence, and that is more important.

Reverend Boissoin symbolizes White Homophobia. Ezra Levant cannot symbolize either of those. In this case, that’s the real difference.

Sleep I to all around me, when…

November 25, 2008

Miles up, so close
Moving spirits
Press ephermal curve
Into blue concave

Moment’s kinship with these
Who may ne’er bend near again
Faces I will never know
Ever beyond my little purview

Yet sleep I to all around me
And feel so close to them

As Blazing Cat Fur says…

November 22, 2008

As Blazing Cat Fur says in the comments to his (ed – her) post, Christianity is associated with white hegemony. People who concieve of themselves as a racial group tainted by hegemony or racism or homophobia scapegoat Christians in order to cleanse their group in a similar way to Machiavelli’s suggestion that rulers purge officials for corruption in order to create a clean public image.