Mr. Simon's thrilling adventures north of the border.

Well... considering that I only created this blog because I got tricked into while I was trying to post on a friend's blog... I have no idea what it is about. If I ever use it, I suppose it will be about my continuing adventures in adapting to Canadaland!

1.18.2005

God Is a Theory Too

WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS MATERIAL ON GOD. GOD IS A THEORY, NOT A FACT, REGARDING THE ORIGIN OF LIVING THINGS. THIS MATERIAL SHOULD BE APPROACHED WITH AN OPEN MIND, STUDIED CAREFULLY, AND CRITICALLY CONSIDERED.

Okay. So if you know me well, you are preparing yourself for me to launch into a screed denouncing the evangelical Christian movement attacking the right of non-believers to not believe in peace in public venues that they pay for with their tax dollars. Or how the Christian right is going to slip away with the USA in the night while the rest of America discounts them as silly, ignoring the power they wield because of the perception that they hold the moral high ground and can do no wrong because they follow the cross. Or about how silly the Christian right is for truly believing that Bush is a Christian. (This is a man who did nothing but party, do poorly in school, piss others' money away on mismanaged oil and baseball ventures, and dodge military service before he "found God". Since then he has lied to America and the world and used the deaths of some three thousand at the World Trade Center to justify destroying civil and human rights and due process and send our brothers and sisters to die invading a country to depose its ruler, undoubtedly the devil incarnate, against international law. But finding God absolves him right? Jesus died on the cross to absolve us of our sins so that we can enter heaven right? So it is okay to do whatever we want, however immoral, as long as we "accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour," right? Mob bosses go to church too. Does that justify their work?)

Nope. Not today. I am feeling charitable today. Plus, this blog is really supposed to be about my experiences living in Canada. I just cannot let this go uncommented on. As a compromise, I am just going to point out one thing, as concisely as I can, that strikes me as being humorous:

The Christian Right has managed in past years to get the schools of Cobb County, Georgia (among other counties and municipalities around the nation) to put warning stickers on science textbooks. These warning stickers state "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered." While this message is good advice for anyone approaching any theory, and much of what is presented as fact in our schools (knowledge is power and societies generate knowledge that is overwhelmingly supportive of those in power), the intention of the warning is to call into question the theory of Evolution because it contradicts Creationism, the Christian theory of the origin of the universe and everything in it (make no mistake, it is a theory, no matter how much you want believe in it).

The Christian Bible says that the Christian God created the universe and everything in it in six days, rested on the seventh, got tired of the wickedness of his creations and got Noah to build a boat, round up two of every good species on the boat to be saved, and buried the rest in floods and mud, creating what evolutionists call fossils. This theory is called Creationism. Creationism is a Christian, of or pertaining to the Christian religion, theory.

Science says that life began over three billion years ago when single celled organisms emerged (no one knows how chemicals magically came to life... maybe lightning struck a pool of crazy chemicals (anyone ever see the 80's movie Weird Science?) and screamed "It's alive! It's alive!") from primordial ooze and evolved into all existing species through a process called natural selection, more easily and commonly understood as "survival of the fittest". This theory is called Evolution. Evolution is a secular, worldly rather than spiritual, theory.

I don't want to debate which is right. I believe in one over the other but they are both pretty wacky when you really ponder them. I don't even want to debate the separation of church and state (I mean I do want to debate it because I am passionate about it, but I won't). I just want to point out one thing. All science is a theory. Scientists have developed a cosmology based on experimentation and observation to attempts to explain and understand our surroundings but it cannot really be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. Christianity is all theory. Christian scholars have, over centuries, developed a cosmology based on religious texts and supporting documentation that attempts to explain and understand our surroundings but it cannot really be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Individuals side with one or the other or an alternative cosmology because of personal experience. Those who have felt the touch of God in their lives believe in the Christian cosmology, including the theory of Creationism. Those who put their stock in hard physical evidence that can be measured believe in the scientific cosmology, including the theory of Evolution. Most people are torn in the middle. Neither is "Fact." Scientists accept this. A great many people who consider themselves Christians also accept this. But we, as a society, do not put warning labels on every single book to warn people that what they are reading is theory and should be approached with an open and critical mind. To do so would be ludicrous. But, if the Christian Right wants these stickers on science textbooks that I paid for with my tax dollars then I want Christianity to put a warning sticker on those Bibles that I paid for with my donations at church when I was young. That warning label should read, as stated above:

WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS MATERIAL ON GOD. GOD IS A THEORY, NOT A FACT, REGARDING THE ORIGIN OF LIVING THINGS. THIS MATERIAL SHOULD BE APPROACHED WITH AN OPEN MIND, STUDIED CAREFULLY, AND CRITICALLY CONSIDERED.

12.08.2004

Come liberals... there's free beer over the border!

What's in the can Rob? Love Potion Number 9 you ask? Designer Maple Syrup? Generic State-issued "Soma" beer in tall-boys to keep the masses in check? (Canada is a "socialist" country after all. There must be a Big Brother controlling everything, right?)

It's actually free beer. That's right! Free beer! I know I know. I was skeptical too! It really is beer and it really didn't cost me a red cent! In fact a nice young lady named Adrienne delivered it to my home. No catches, contracts, legal mumbojumbo, or embarassing ID'ings! She simply rang up to my apartment and told me to come get my free beer.

Well... to be truthful, it did cost me a bit. One day, after exiting a Canadian news web site a pop-up ad appeared on my screen offering me prizes for answering questions about my consumer choices. Always a critic of conspicuous consumption (and a hopeless hypocrite who loves to justify justify justify) I was more than willing to tell the marketing world what I thought about their crappy products!

They wanted to know what I thought about beer! Great. Right up my alley! So I told them. In particular they asked what I thought about two new ideas for containers for beer. One was an insulated can to keep the swill at the bottom from being to warm to drink. The other, was a temperature sensitive sticker on a can that would tell you when your beer was properly chilled.

I replied that the first was a nice idea but anyone whose beer got warm either was not drinking quickly enough or had never heard of a beer cozy. They do not deserve the millions of dollars that you are spending on market research and new technology. How about developing a glass you can pour large North American breweries' beers into so that they do not suck... like a decanter for brews?

As for number two, I responded that no one should need a sticker to tell if their beer is cold enough to drink. 1) Beer tastes just fine warm. 2) Putting your beer in the fridge and waiting is not rocket surgery. 3) If you cannot wait for your beer to chill, you need Alcoholics Anonymous, not a space-age sticker! 4) This is Canada! How hard is it to find a cold spot to put your beer?

In any event, at the end they thanked me and asked if I would be interested in their giving me free beer in exchange for my input. I thought "did you miss the part where I trashed your ideas?" And then the skeptic in me kicked in. "Is this a trick question? Where's the catch? What do I have to sign? I am not giving you my credit card information to 'secure' my 'free beer'!" I clicked yes anyways. Who wouldn't? The screen read simply "An agent will contact you soon to set up delivery of your free beer."

And that's what happened. No contract. No disclaimers. She did not pester me. I made her promise to not sell my contact information. She simply came by one afternoon, rang my buzzer, and delivered the beer. She asked if it would be okay if she sent me an email later in the week to ask what I thought about the new beer technology he had just delivered. I said suuuuurrrrreeee.

I lovce this place. I filled out a survey and no one tried to sell me anything. I got offered free beer. Someone delivered it to me with a smile. Nobody asked me to sign anything. I have no fear that my taking a picture of the beer can (see above) and putting it on the web and talking about the fact that I think that the technology is a joke (I have "used" the beer as the instructions that came with it prompted me to and the insulated can actually does keep the beer colder longer) is going to lead to litigation or any other sort of backlash.

Who can beat that? Anyone want some free beer? We have a comfy couch and I know a crackerjack immigration lawyer!

12.02.2004

What is "Blame Canada"?

RIP Jeopardy Champion Ken Jennings, pride of nerds the world over. This mighty Jeopardy giant fell on Novemer 30th after a run of 74 victories and winnings of greater than CAD 3,062,626.32 (USD 2.5 million). He will now return to Salt Lake City, Utah to resume his life as lowly computer software engineer.

However, the story that Canadian media outlets have been sitting on for the most part is that the blame is Canada's! In a story buried deep in its December 1, 2004 edition the Toronto Star reported that Jennings was tired when he finally lost because of a whirlwind trip to Canada.

Ken Jennings's (I can't remember if I am supposed to add that second "s" or just drop an apostrophe on the end...) final episode of Jeopardy was taped on Monday September 6th. Ken spent the weekend prior in Canada. He went north to mix business with pleasure, throwing out the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game and visiting his in-laws in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capitol city for the Labo(u)r Day Weekend.

Was it the beer Ken? I wouldn't blame you man. I have been through a Canadian "Labo(u)r Day Weekend" myself. The only "labo(u)r" that goes on is opening the beer fridge door and doing 12 oz. curls. Did visiting Canada make you seriously consider moving north and becoming a Canadian citizen because their tax code has a neat little clause that designates gameshow winnigs as "windfall earnings" that are tax-free? Did all of taxes you would save (over a milion dollars US!!!) by moving north muddy your brain and hinder your supernatural powers?

Conspiracy theories abound, with "Jeopardy pundits" pushing theories including a)he threw the game to regain his real life b) he threw the game to preserve the one gameshow record he had yet to beat (75 consecutive wins... he only won 74) and c) Jeopardy! producers conspired against him by stacking categories against him and choosing a Final Jeopardy! answer that was easy for his conqueror to get. The category: Business and Industry. The answer: Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year. The correct question: What is H&R Block. He guessed incorrectly. His conqueror correctly guessed. Many think it was too much of a coincidence that this "giant killer" happens to be friends with an H&R Block employee. Further evidence: the "giant killer" Nancy Zerg was defeated ion her second game, finishing in third with $2, hardly "giant killer" material. Also, during the interview portion of the episode, during which Alex Trebek interviews each player, Alex asked Ken if he had kept his day job. Did Alex know that Ken was going down and ask the question to demonstrate sympathy?

The world may never know the answers to any of these questions. But I love conspiracy theories and my favorite is that Canada is to blame. Blame Canada Ken! Blame Canada!

11.29.2004

Hockey and Health Care, Tete a Tete.

Just when I thought that Canada had it all figured out, I watched the final episode of "The Greatest Canadian" last night with my wife. This show solicited nominations from the country for Canadians that they considered to be the greatest. Then, the Canadian people voted and chose ten top candidates from among them. Each of ten "celebrity advocates" chose one candidate and argued on their behalf via one-hour documentaries and an on-air debate.

I didn't watch the other umpteen episodes of the show. I had heard about it on the radio and thought it would be good to watch while I made guacamole. I certainly wasn't prepared to be as shocked as I was. A few observations:

There were no women among the top ten and only one person who was not a white guy. Now, to be fair, I cannot say that, if a similar show were done in the US, women and minorities would necessarily be chosen. I cannot say that this is not simply another demonstration of the fact that history focuses on rich white men because it has largely been shaped by them due to their acquired position of power. I just know that I expected to see at least one woman in there... more than one minority... and Canada is always talking about being a multicultural nation...

Wayne Gretzky was on there. Okay. It should not have surprised me that Canada loves hockey so much but, I did a quick count of the greatest Americans (in my mind) and the only sports figure I could think of that would come anywhere close to the top ten is Jackie Robinson... and that would be for his contribution to racial equality not his base stealing prowess. Maybe Canada is hockey thirsty in a strike year?

Anyway, once I got over that shock, I learned that Don Cherry was among them. Okay, he was a great coach for the Bruins but he was a horrible player who only played in one NHL game in 20 years on the ice. He is lauded as a brilliant hockey analyst and commentator and often accused of being anti-gay. Loved and loathed across Canada, Canadians are divided on him. Whatever your take, I just don't understand how he could have beaten out Margaret Atwood, Captain Kirk, Neil Young, James Naismith (the founder of basketball)... or Pamela Anderson for that matter. But then again, I am not Canadian and struggle to find the blue line let alone understand when icing is and is not enforced so...

Nothing against Don Cherry, but I have to keep harping on him here. His fellow Canadians chose him over Gretzky, Alexander Graham Bell, and Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's George Washington. I understand that pop culture may be more exciting than history some times and not everyone can stay awake in 8:00 classes but... can you seriously imagine voting for Bill Parcels (I am a big Giants fan) or Terry Francona (I bleed Red Sox blood) over George Washington as the Greatest American? I hope a lot of Canadians were joking when they cast this vote.

Brett "The Hitman" Hart was one of the advocates. Granted, he fought for Don Cherry, not the guy who discovered insulin, but come now. The CBC is publicly funded so Canadian taxpayers paid for a former wrestler to debate on national TV. Yikes! Talk about gross mismanagement of funds.

Okay. Enough griping. I guess I just have a lot to learn about Canada and Canadian values. I have to remember that hockey is more important than basketball (I agree), Star Trek (a matter of taste I suppose), and national unity (come on now Canada, shame on you).

I was glad to see that, in the end, the winners were deserving. The runner up was a man named Terry Fox, who, having lost most of his leg to cancer decided that, rather than wait to die like many people would, he would run to raise awareness of cancer. He raised $24.17 million and made it 5,376 km across Canada.

The winner? Tommy Douglas. "Who?" my fellow US citizens might ask. I had never heard of him either until one day, swinging on a swing and complaining to my then fiancée (now my wife) about 45 million US citizens living without health insurance because of costs, she told me his story. He is the father of Canadian Medicare. He fought tirelessly to give every Canadian the human right of access to medical care. One of the quotes they played last night gave me chills and spoke to my soul. Speaking on health care as a fundamental human right he said "Man can now fly in the air like a bird, swim under the ocean like a fish, he can burrow into the ground like a mole. Now if only he could walk the earth like a man, this would be paradise." I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with a human being that would deny another access to health care because it means an extra couple dollars in taxes each year.

Seeing Canada vote the father of Medicare as the Greatest Canadian restored my faith in my adopted land. In a year in which Health Care in Canada (and for sure in the States) is under attack, Canadians restated their belief in the value of their famous Medicare system. They voted for humanity. Either that or they voted for the guy because he is the grandfather of Keifer Sutherland, the hero of the best TV show ever, 24 (does anyone else see the irony in the grandson of Canadian Medicare starring in a show on the sister channel of the neo-con sledgehammer Fox News?). So, in the end, whether they cast their votes for morality or pop culture, Canadians showed me again that they have their priorities mostly straight. Phew. No need to pack the bags and move yet again. ;)

11.23.2004

Apology Accepted...

For anyone that cares, my apology to the world for the re-election of Shrub has been accepted and can be viewed on page 638 of the gallery at sorryeverybody.com. My moments of fame or condemming evidence when, 40 years from now, a right-wing dictatorship has eliminated the freedom of speech and comes hunting past detractors? Who knows? Isn't the future exciting?

11.22.2004

Assumptions and Stereotyping are Easier and More Fun Than Actual Thought

Wow!

I am now hated. One short month into my blogging career I have officially received my first scathing review/ attack/ hate mail! I am so important that someone took the time to put fingers to keyboard and tell me what a dope I am. Wahoo!

Unfortunately, it was a bit of a dud. I would have hoped for some well thought out words of dissent in response to what I posted on November 18th regarding sorryeverybody.com. But noooo... all I got was some sophomorish drivel about the world hating us and Bush being the man and thank God I moved to Canada because America doesn't want me.

But, regardless of the quality of the attack, I am going to respond to it with a posting. So, be proud Mr. Artestisking, you have made the front page. Note to future detractors: I do not have the time to respond to all comments to my postings with corresponding response postings so do not expect to see your name in lights every time you spout of some half-wit Limbaugh crap in response to my opinion.

The text of my first angry comment: Good, i am glad more of you lilly livered liberals are moving to Canada. Lets face it, the world hates and wants to kill us. Bush is the man because he makes no excuses for defending us from those who hate us. If kerry was elected we would have already had a terrorist attack > bush is re-elected and we haven't had an attack concidence. I think not.

First, let me point out and debunk your assumptions. 1. I am not lilly-livered. Mine is reddish brown. 2. I am not liberal. Socialist maybe, but not liberal. And, I doubt that, if pressed, you could name the liberal values without help... or conservative ones for that matter. 3. You assume that I moved to Canada as a result of the election. I actually moved here to be with my wife, who is Canadian. Had I not married a Canadian I would have stayed in the US to fight to take my country back from people as easily tricked into thinking their current government cares about them as you. 4. "The World" does not hate and want to kill us. A few select radical idiots, whose leaders were largely trained by the US government to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 80's, hate and want to kill us. The rest of the world just moderately detests what they see as our abuses of power. 5. "Bush is the man..." Well... okay... but you also think that Ron Artest is King... 6. "... because he makes no excuses" Well, actually he made lots of excuses for starting a preemptive and illegal war in Iraq. Among them were Sadam's harboring of terrorists, his ties to Osama bin Laden, and his WMD programs... all of which have since been proven to be out and out lies. And if you think Colin Powell (you know who he is right?) resigned because he wants to relax, I've got some land to sell you in the Yukon... 7. "...for defending us..." Bush is not defending us. He skipped out on the military. He let people like John McCain and John Kerry get shot at for our freedom during Vietnam. I promise you that he has not sent any of his family members or friends either. He has sent normal Americans, not born into privilege. He has sent my cousin. He has sent my cousin's husband. He has sent both of my grandfathers. He has sent the woman who used to cash my checks at the bank. He has sent the students that I have worked with over the years. He has sent those of us who pay taxes to pay his salary so that he can ship our jobs overseas and let education and health care become unaffordable, fight for him. 8. "If kerry was elected we would have already had a terrorist attack" - With all of the wise commentary you have made I should not doubt your understanding of global politics but... I do anyway. Call me silly. Whether or not they have a leg to stand on, the terrorists that you are referring to do not hate us for our freedom. They hate us because of what they perceive to be the negative impact the US has on their countries and lives. Given a regime change in the US, I doubt they would have attacked right away. I guess they would have waited to see whether or not Kerry would be softer on terrorism than Bush before deciding to piss him off. But for us to argue about this would be moot because as you, for once, have accurately stated, 9. "bush is re-elected and we aven't had an attack." But your otherwise solid argument falls apart with your parting words. "...coincidince [?]" Again, pointless conjecture, but I would guess that this has more to do with coincidence than with anything that Bush has done. But who knows... I don't. Unless you are Bush. Which would explain your logic. Which brings me to 10. "I think not." I would agree with you here. You do not think. You regurgitate what you are fed by the "liberal media." If you cannot think, then at least question. This is the most patriotic thing you can do. Question your government and the people running it to make sure that they are doing the right thing for the US and her allies. If you can't question then you should leave the US and give me my !@#$ country back!

11.18.2004

Apologies accepted?

I will not write much, for once, because I think the Sorry Everybody site says it all. I posted my own contribution.

My statement may be hyperbole but all political statements are to an extent... and apologizing to the world is in itself a bit extreme.

If you want to look for my picture on-line to see if it made it, go to the site above, click on gallery, click on last. I suspect that it will appear in one of the last galleries at some point. If I locate it, I will post the location.

In the mean time, whatever your initial reaction to my image and to this site, the question of whether or not we owe an apology to the world for the actions of our nation is an interesting one.