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Are Canadians humorless?

Dead Things ON Sticks: The Single Girl, The Jerky Pol, And The Hoity Toity Press Corps

Canadians who leave Canada are excepted from this columnists attacks.

Canadians are not funny. There are comics who happen to be Canadian. And nine out of ten of them go to the United States to be discovered and enjoy their greatest success. Why?

Because there’s a persistent strain of priggishness and humorlessness that runs under the psyche of this country. Maybe not down east – but in most other places in Canada you’re going to find a certain schoolmarm-y squeamishness.

Comedy commercials in Canada get complaints. I’ve read them. They have to change lines and tweak shots here all the time because some dear in Abbotsford or Wingham was outraged. You want to know why ads in Canada are so toothless? There's your why. It's a mug's game to try to get anything above the level of a scottish-sounding honeybee on the air here, cause someone is going to take umbrage and get the spot changed. Quick to judge, easily goaded into self-righteousness – Canadians may not have the religious right driven humorlessness of some U.S. states, but they more than make up for it with a lack of generosity of spirit when it comes to laughing at yourself.

Northern Ireland refuses to cede peace

Northern Ireland refuses to cede peace | csmonitor.com
"These gunmen can't destroy the peace process," says Aidan Gillespie, walking with his daughter on the grounds of Antrim Castle, adjacent to the Massereene Barracks. "It's only society that can destroy it, by how we react. If we stick together against these murderers, then they will never win." The reaction in Antrim was swift and unambiguous. The morning after the attack, hundreds of worshipers from the local Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, and Methodist churches congregated for prayer at the police cordon where the shooting took place. "People had three reactions," says the Rev. Tony Devlin, of St. Comgall's Catholic Church, which is just yards from the barracks. "First of all, they were upset by the death and injury to the soldiers and civilians. Secondly, it made raw again some of the evil events of the past, and, thirdly, they were upset that it happened in our town." His parishioners were determined to show their outrage, but they wanted to offer it collectively with neighbors from other churches, he says. "In the past, if something like this happened people would withdraw into their own community," he says. "This time everyone is united because it was an attack on everybody, on the peace we all own."

March 08, 2009

Sarah Haskins' ode to Barbie

Barbie's Little Secret - washingtonpost.com

Barbie. Happy 50th. You haven't had it easy, serving as both the template for idealized female beauty and a lightning rod for controversy. So, congrats on weathering the storm. And since we're talking: I need to tell you something. -- In the debate over whether you and your pronounced bosom, platinum blond locks and teetering stature have objectified women, well, I objectified you. Wherever and whenever I could. -- Let me explain. I had anti-Barbie parents. You know the type: Parents who want you to have your birthday party at a museum. Parents who think that the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer is a "fun" show. Parents who secretly wish that all you played with was a collection of hand-carved wooden spoons from a non-Western culture. To these parents, Barbie was anathema, a symbol from an earlier time, a Stepford wife in waiting. They looked at her, even in her '80s corporate wear, and saw the same plastic pin-up who debuted at the New York Toy Fair on March 9, 1959.

Sure, Barbie had a lot of professional careers, but how could she really be an independent woman when she couldn't even stand on her own? To my baby boomer mom, and the many moms like her, the marketing drive to present Barbie as a woman with "choices" was a crock. These were women in a generation that actually made difficult choices about work and family, a generation that knew that real change took a lot more than slipping into a power suit. . . .

March 07, 2009

San Francisco to crack down on recycling poachers

Judge orders scavengers to stop raiding trash

As in: people who steal the recyclable material from your trash.

Small groups converge on a neighborhood on the night before regular weekly trash and recycling pickups. Runners go from bin to bin, gathering glass bottles, plastic and aluminum, which are thrown into a pickup truck - often rickety and modified with tall, wooden boards to carry bigger loads.

When the truck is filled, the drivers take the cargo to a recycling center or scrap yard.

Depending on the prices offered for the material, the crews can net hundreds to thousands of dollars on each load.

The garbage company says those figures add up quickly - totaling $2 million to $5 million a year. Ratepayers ultimately pick up the tab through higher trash bills, said Robert Reed, spokesman for Sunset Scavenger.