Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mad Men

To be a man in 1960 must have been something. To be a woman looks like it mostly sucked, 'cause it was a man's world back then. Men ruled the business world and the home. These were the days when men could slap their wives, tell them what to do, and keep an apartment in the city for extra-curricular entertainment. Women were essentially servants and mistresses, Well, in the world of the advertising executive, at any rate.

The chain smoking makes me feel asthmatic, or like I am once again a child with my mother smoking in every conceivable place at any time of the day. And then there's the alcohol. They drink and smoke all day - at home, at work, on the train, in the car. It looks like everyone was a chain-smoking alcoholic.

It makes me wonder what would happen if I set up a bar in my office. I'd just need a few bottles of booze, some crystal, and an ice bucket ... and a secretary. Damn, I forgot about that. I'd need her to wash the glasses and fetch the ice, so I am not sure if this would work, but I'd like to try. Would anyone say anything? Would my office become a party zone? I'll run an experiment and report back.

Mad Men has been praised for its historical veracity and its visual style. I concur. It's well-acted, engaging, and highly entertaining. It confirms for me that the business world is not the place for me. I prefer academia and the associated complete lack of supervision.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spoon by Can

One of my fav Krautrock songs. More info about the band here or here. Keep your eye out for the juggler.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Funny Flashback

I am in a most-of-the-day meeting today, off campus. So, this is the best I can do:

The recent (maybe ongoing is a better word) conflict in Georgia reminds me of a brief conversation I had with another student in a fourth year history seminar, during my undergraduate days. At some point, Joseph Stalin's nationality was raised as it related to a discussion about Hitler's nationality. Hitler was Austrian, not German; Stalin was Georgian, not Russian. It's an interesting thing to ponder, at least for a few moments.

At that point, the woman sitting to the right of me (she was also an upstairs neighbour in my residence) turned to me and quietly said: "Stalin was American?" She hailed from Vancouver, but that is probably not important.

I did wonder how in hell she got into a fourth year seminar. How did she pass all of the prerequisites? Can one really be that ignorant of geography in University? It made me think that there ought to have been entrance exams.

I thought this was very funny, until a colleague informed me that a student recently posed this question at the reference desk: "Who is this Hitler guy?"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Room 101

I have notched a count of two dead rats: one by poison and one left by a friendly cat, I think, on my back porch. I am disappointed to learn that a new rat has moved into the house. But, I will strangle him or her soon enough. I promise.

I keep all of the food tightly packed away in glass containers and out of reach of rats, mice, children, and guests. I have no idea what s/he is finding to eat, 'cause there's nothin' to be found anywhere. And yet, a new rat bastard is here, making a hell of a noise under the stove. I've seen the droppings and can assert that this is no mouse. And then there's this crazy episode.

If you want to be freaked out, keep reading. My basement tenant told me that a rat jumped head first into his toilet and swam down out of sight. Yes, he flushed. After a web search, I confirmed that this is possible because rats can hold their breath for ages. They can come up and go down. Below the joint, the area is free of water. Even a person could hold their breath for that short of distance.

A dude has patented some sort of cage that one can affix beneath the toilet's wax ring to permit one's business to be flushed away but prevent rats from coming up. I imagine it's like a reverse lobster trap. I have no idea where to get one.

My question is, what the hell is attracting the scurvy rodents to my house? I asked the neighbours, and they have no rats. I've had rats; they haven't had rats. The mice seem to be gone, probably chased away by the rats or captured by them and served up as rat lunch.

Sure, I have read all of the things you are supposed to avoid, and I am going to stick with them. No more fat down the sink. One is supposed to wait for it to congeal and put it in the green bin or soak it up with paper towels and put it in your green bin. Grease is bad for your pipes anyway. They recommend putting bleach down your pipes every now and then. That sounds environmentally-dubious to me, so I am not sure about that. Oh yeah, sealing all of the holes in the house is recommended, but how is that really possible?

"Welcome death, quoth the rat, when the trap fell"

-Thomas Fuller

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stephen Harper is no Ordinary Canadian

Now the truth is out. We have proof that Stephen Harper is an imbecile or maybe an idiot and possibly a moron. He is so out-of-touch with average Canadians, he thinks we don't care about the arts! Imagine a Prime Minister who believes that artists are 'rich'. It's mind-boggling. Only a truly stupid person would say such a thing. Clearly, he moves in social circles that keep him well away from the toiling artists in this country.

But, it's all part of a Regressive Conservative Party platform of cultural destruction that includes censoring our movies and cutting $45 million from arts funding. I have to agree with Jack Layton that Harper's yahoos are Culture Killers, or les Conserva-tueur de la culture.

Please, Canada, do not vote for Harper's weird anti-Canadian, pro-McBush party.
Please, vote ABC: Anyone But Conservative.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Keyword Mayhem, part 8

It's official. The most common search terms that bring people to this wonderful blog are searches like crocheted penis warmers, or knitted penis warmers, or peter heaters, etc. It all goes back to this post. Once again, I will state that I have no idea why people continue to be interested in such a garment.

Second in popularity is some sort of spin on sybil sheppard naked. I get this over and over and over again. Why her, of all people? I mean, if I were searching for photos of naked women, she would be way down the list. Way way down, in fact.

Other people are searching for Japanese penises, rob black in porn with fish, can you catch an std from touching used hygiene products?, NICOLA KIDMAN PORN, second life female genitalia, helpful head librarian porn, and have a thing for chicks that say aboot.

I am losing hope for humanity.

Most of the rest are people seeking answers to dreams about eating glass and/or cockroaches. I am not alone, it seems.

Lunch is calling me ...

Monday, September 22, 2008


What is the world coming to? I will never understand why people would choose to use a computer as a stereo system. No matter what speakers you attach to a computer, the sound will never be as good as a hi-fidelity system. MP3s are fine for portable MP3 players, but you will never convince me to dump my stereo and rely on a computer. As I have said before, we ought to be investigating options that improve sound, not degrade it.

So, I was disheartened to learn that SanDisk is working with four record labels to sell music on SD cards. I just don't get it.

The really interesting thing is that the vinyl that is sold these days is superb. Most of it would equate with the old half-speed masters produced for audiophiles. But, I guess audiophiles are now all old men - all old men, and me, that is.

At least SanDisk plans to include the cover art, which you can look at on your computer, which is something, I suppose. But, it's like fake cover art, since it's not really a cover. I miss the LP format for many reason, mostly because of the large cover art and legible liner notes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From the Mouth of a three and a half year old

"I like to put my hand on my penis because me penis is warm."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Then and Now

(Started 9:21 AM)

While strapping a helmet to my son's head, I reflected on my experience of learning how to skate. My mother tied a pair of used skates to my feet, pushed me out onto the ice, and sat in the heated area where she drank coffee and smoked. I had no instructors, no mentors, no guides -- aside from the speedy skaters flying past me on the expansive ice -- and no helmet.

Nor did I have a helmet when cycling or skateboarding. You'd have thought that children where expendable back then, especially considering that seat belts were rarely used, except for fun. Sometimes, my brother and I would buckle-up mostly for kicks and because it was a weird thing to do. That is even more interesting when I recall that my parents were not always sober when driving. I remember cruising down rural Ontario highways at 100 KM per hour after my parents had spent a night drinking with two other couples.

Six of them would pile into one car and hit the various booze houses. My brother and I stayed at a house with the children of these three unions, the eldest trying to exert some sort of control over chaos. At 2:00 or 3:00 AM, the parents would roll in and we divided into families: two families headed out into the darkness once again, and one family crawled upstairs to bed. After 45 minutes spent on the highways and side-streets, my dad would steer the huge Ford into the driveway and I would climb out, find my bed and sleep.

The most curious thing is that one of the drinkers in the sextet (there was no swinging, as far as I could determine) was a cop with the Ontario Provincial Police! But, this was back in the days when drinking and driving went together like ham and cheese. These were the days when kids could stand up on the front seat of the car to get a better view, or even crawl onto the back dash just to see if you could fit.

Oh, and there were no infant car seats. I think I was brought home from the hospital in a straw basket that my mother perched on her lap. Yup, kids were expendable and easily replaceable. I remember riding my tricycle and age three on the street in front of my house with no parents anywhere around. I knew enough to move aside when a car came. At age four, I walked to school by myself. The school was maybe half a mile away, but still. I sometimes wonder why I ever made it out of my childhood in one piece.

(Finished 9:25 AM)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prison Sex

Following on from yesterday's story about a man who had 86 wives -- I have no idea how he could possibly manage to keep them all happy -- I read about a recent survey in Australia regarding sex among inmates. First, the good news. Only 6% of men reported that they had sexual contact in prison, and 5% of that was consensual. This is a relief. I won't be so worried if I ever get sent to jail. Of course, Canada is not Australia.

Now, the more interesting news. 36% of women said that they were having prison sex. The lead researcher, Juliet Richters, added, "which really is quite a lot of sex." It sounds like it to me. Could it be that women are more naturally inclined to bisexuality?

Feel free to read the full article.

Tool is not everyone's cup of tea, but this video (for Prison Sex) is fascinating. It's kind of a nightmare.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random Thoughts

1) Why does everyone say Farve when his name is Favre? Of course, this is simply metathesis, or the alteration of the order of phonemes, but it irritates me.

2) I think Stephen Harper has a crush on John McCain. Not long after McCain wore his "gay sweater", Stephen Harper popped up on TV wearing a powder blue knit garment. Sure, the sweater might be a way to sell one's wight wing agendas (rich old white men look all nice and warm and cozy and harmless), but I think there is a deeper meaning - much deeper.

3) Megan Fox, who starred in Transformers (no, I haven't seen it), revealed that she once fell in love with a female stripper. Big deal. Who hasn't? I love her quote:
I could see myself in a relationship with a girl -- Olivia Wilde is so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands. She's mesmerizing. And lately I've been obsessed with Jenna Jameson, but ... oh boy.
4) Mohammed Bello Masaba, age 84, has been arrested in Nigeria for having 86 wives. Apparently, Muslim law limits the number a wives a man can have to 4. What a selfish bastard. He ought to leave a few ladies for his fellow countrymen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Piles and Piles of Files

Right now, I am digging through boxes of 'files' and dumping most of it in the garbage and a recycling bin. It makes me wonder what's wrong with people. Why would someone think that I would need printouts of email sent in 1991 relating to my current area of responsibility? It is useless. I took over the subject liaison from another librarian, and she decided that it would be a good idea to unload copious amounts of crap on me rather than dealing with it herself.

I am on box number 3 or 4 and 95% of it is junk. The other 5% I see no use for, but she seems to think we should keep it. In other words, it can stay in my office, where no one will ever look at it. Here's an example of what's in the current box: twenty-one 5¼ inch floppy disks! Jesus!

In the past, I have had the displeasure of moving into an office vacated by a certain person. She left piles of junk behind that I had to dispose of. Talk about a complete disregard for others.

In other news, I bought a new bike helmet on Sunday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Friday

I am tired, 'cause I hung out with some peeps at Rancho Relaxo last night. There were three acts: Luluc, Leif Vollebekk, and Picastro.

Luluc, all the way from Melbourne, is a duet that sing some very pleasing acoustic numbers. At first, I was reminded of Ian and Sylvia Tyson, but since I know virtually nothing about Ian and Sylvia Tyson, I am not sure that this comparison holds, except for the fact that Ian and Sylvia are or were (are the still alive?) a folky duet.

Leif Vollebekk was an unexpected surprise. He was billed as someone who might appeal to fans of Nick Drake, Patrick Watson, Final Fantasy, and Sigur Ros. Maybe, but I keep thinking Jeff Buckley, although the first number made me think of Bob Dylan, but that might have had something to do with the harmonica. He's funny too. I should have bought the CD. You can listen to his songs on his myspace page (god, how I hate myspace).

Picastro are described (somewhere) as sleep rock. It would be difficult to describe just exactly what that means, but you can hear it for yourself at the band's myspace page (god, how I hate myspace). I hear a bit of post-rock and some references to shoegazing, but in a more acoustic way.

So, how did I end up there last night? Well, Liz (from Picastro) went through the MLS program with the people I was with at Rancho Relaxo, and so she is within six degrees (actually two degrees). I suppose now that we sat at the same table, before and after her set, it is really one degree. For some reason, I find this whole six degrees thing fasincating. I am constantly amazed at the mutual friend thing on Facebook. Why is my cousin friends with someone who is a friend of a librarian I know?

BTW, I think I can make it to Kevin Bacon in six degrees.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


The bastards at Bell Canada, in an affront to the principles of Net Neutrality, have destroyed my once-glorious high-speed Internet connection. It is now a mere trickle that leaks though my phone line like a few drips of water through a rusty faucet. What used to take 40 minutes to download, now takes 10 to 20 days. Why am I paying for a so-called high-speed connection with results like this? I want to strangle those stupid Bell Beavers we have been subjected to over the years.

What this country needs is a bill like US S.215: A bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure net neutrality. Without such a law, ISPs are free to hamper your access to sites and services that they deem are inappropriate. Right now, it's like having Big Brother as an ISP.

This is at least the third strike against Bell Canada. I have already decided to change cell phone providers for many reasons, not least of which is the unspeakably horrible customer service. I have to laugh when the CSRs at Bell answer the phone with "how can I provide excellent customer service today." I think this must be a sick joke.

In case you are wondering what Net Neutrality is, Google sums it up nicely:
Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days... Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet. In our view, the broadband carriers should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content. Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online.
So, I'll likely be downgrading my service to basic DSL, since the high speed is really not high speed at all. And, I will begin to investigate alternatives, but I am under the impression that Rogers is interfering with web access as well.

I am off to speak to a group of 155 students...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Louis de Bernières, 1995.

There exist a handful of novels that I would describe as brilliant. Among these are Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov, Don Delillo's White Noise, Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers, and François Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. I would add Louis de Bernières' Captain Corelli's Mandolin to this list. (Let's forget about the film, which I have not seen and do not intend to see. I gather it ruins this book in a rather spectacular fashion).

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is the kind of book that hooks you on the first page and will not let you go. I could not put it down, could not break myself away from de Bernières' prose and the compelling story. 533 pages have never passed so quickly. Perhaps it appeals to me as a former student of history. But, this is far more than an historical account of a small portion of World War II. It's a grand story about a handful of well-drawn characters living through the good and the bad.

We are treated to a first-hand and very personal account of the failed Italian invasion of Greece in 1940, and the subsequent rescue by German forces of the useless Italian army. The author has drawn both enemies and friends in a very human way, even the occupying Italian soldiers and the brutal Nazis. He crafts a wonderful sub-plot about a gay Italian soldier (which I gather was left out of the film). One of my favourite moments is an oblique reference to Leonard Cohen, which might pass many readers by. Of course, there is a love story, a rather unconventional one, and the kind that does not generally appeal to Hollywood.

I will say one thing about the film, even though I have not seen it. The casting of Nicholas Cage as Captain Corelli is an abomination. Penélope Cruz as Pelagia, I can live with.

This novel is nothing short of gripping; it's often funny and ultimately very life-affirming (in truth, I am not really sure if this book is life-affirming, but I have always wanted to use that term, and now I have). Go read it and enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Death of John McCain

The American public should not vote for John McCain, and here is why. Everyone knows that he is old. I mean, did you hear his speech? He remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor, for God's sake. He's ancient. The problem is that he will most likely die in office, leaving the country in the hands of a 40-something ex-beauty pageant contestant and opponent of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Just imagine having a President who thinks it's OK to ban books in libraries! She doesn't like certain books because that clash with her religious views and wants to deny you the right to read what you want. That's scary. Maybe she'll get a good ole' fashioned book burning going.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pet Peeve

One thing I hate about my MP3 player is the fact that when you rip a CD, it is alphabetized incorrectly. Neil Young should be under Y not N. It can't be that difficult to reverse the first and last names, can it? It's almost as bad with band names. Some of my CDs from The Smiths end up as "The Smiths" while others are rendered as "Smiths" meaning that they are in two different places. So, one either has to re-tag all of the songs, or live with the less-than-perfect results.

Of course, this is a problem all over the web. I loaded iRead (soon to be WeRead) on Facebook. It permits one to list and review what you are reading or want to read. When your books are sorted by author name, it simply fails to do it properly. Under titles, "The Engineer of Human Souls" is listed under books commencing with T. Did everyone forget what their public school librarian taught them? If the title begins with an article, you drop it when you search for the book.

I find it difficult to operate in such anarchy. The web is a chaotic mess. All new apps or tech ought to be vetted by librarians so that we can avoid things that look like a 7 year old designed them. Maybe librarians ought to run all levels of government. That way, we wouldn't have Sarah Palin trying to ban books that offend her religious views. I am not American, but I can't see why anyone would want a VP who wants to be all fascist against freedom of speech.

I think I hate all Blogger templates

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Moving Mess

I have moved the contents of my office to my new office and am trying to put everything in its place, but everything doesn't have a place because there is a distinct lack of places to put things. So, the old saying, a place for everything and everything in its place doesn't quite work yet. It might, once I get some places to put everything, and then I'll be sure to keep everything in its place, at least for a while.

Political Mess

I am laughing at John McCain (ha ha, ha ha). Maybe if the republicans hadn't deleted all of that information about birth control on government web sites - and replaced it with all of that abstinence crap - he wouldn't be in this mess. Anyway, his choice of a woman VP is so transparent, despite the spin he tried to put on it.

I my recent reading review, I forgot to mention:

Platform by Michel Houellebecq - This is a novel about sex tourism, or about a company that sets up sex tourist resorts. It is an interesting read, with lots of sex and some death. I gather that the praise and outrage have been handed out in equal measure in reviews of this book. There is some anti-Islamic sentiments in the book, but it's impossible to say if they are those of the protagonist or the writer. The Arab League condemned the writer when the book was published back in 2001. For some reason, I just got around to reading it recently.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Digging Out

Not much to say today, as I have just carted the contents of my old office to my new (and slightly smaller) office with less furniture. I am out of space and trying to figure out where to put everything. The keyboard tray has been installed in a crazy place. It's useless where it is. I wonder how they expect anyone to work with a keyboard tray in this location. I need a bookcase, a garbage pail, a recycling bin, chairs for visitors, and a filing cabinet that works, for starters.

I am planing my fall TV schedule. So far, it includes Fringe.