Monday, December 18, 2006

11/ 20/ 2006

Review: The Best Game You Can Name by Dave Bidini, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.

Audience: Sports Illustrated magazine or Canadian Living magazine, hockey fans and readers aged 16 – 50.

Dave Bidini has been dedicated to entertaining Canadians since he was a teenager, first and foremost as a front-man of the rock band the Rheostatics but also as a writer of numerous books about sports and music. Bidini is considered to be one of the most prolific people in Canada and a possible candidate to host the television show Hockey Night in Canada, replacing either Ron Mclean or Don Cherry when they retire. This book is not a “Rock’em-Sock’em” reader; it is a roster of Canadian rock celebrities and a history lesson on the legends of the best game you can name, hockey.

The passion Bidini writes with makes the plot flow like skaters off a hockey bench. The pace makes you feel as though you can hear the gate opening and closing as the players and pages change shift. The book moves from Bidini’s losses and wins, with his team the Morningstars, to interviews about the memorable moments the veterans of the sport experienced in their glory days. The not-so-well-known players like Tim Ecclestone, Gary Unger, and Anders Hedberg, share their memories of the best goals, worst injuries and how their love of hockey impacted their lives. Bidini weaves his own personal triumphs and disappointments into a menagerie of CanRock celebrities. The Canadian line-up consists of both teammates and opponents from bands like the Bare Naked Ladies, Sloan and the Tragically Hip. Included are duplicate photographs from the hockey cards of both the professionals and the celebrities, to coincide with whom the topic surrounds.

Being a Canadian celebrity is a difficult gig, the small population and a lack of exposure in the media has made the title of being a popular Canadian artist into an oxymoron. Dave Bidini has accomplished an astounding twenty one years on the road with the Rheos and has written six books along the way, including a conceptual fiction children’s book that was accompanied with a soundtrack by the Rheostatics. Along with touring, his writing, and now the making of documentary films, Bidini is Canada’s unofficial ambassador of hockey, bringing the sport to places such as Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. He maintains his blue collar and down to earth attitude in his works, making them approachable to any reader with an open mind. Newcomers or non-followers of hockey can approach this book with confidence and be surprised with whom or what they know has a connection to the game.

The Best Game You Can Name is in a league of its own, one part a lamentation of lost games, one part a celebration of legendary breakaways and entirely about the love of hockey. This may be compared with his previous books, such as Tropic of Hockey or Baseballissimo, but the spirit that the players, coaches and rock stars add to the book give it more depth than one man alone can parlay. Autobiographies, like history books, provide a narrow or one-sided perception of an event. By combining the views in this layout he puts the perspectives of the teammates, opponents and coaches together, creating a rounded, and sometimes an entirely different account. Letting the players tell the story is like a Shakespearean cliché but it brings these Stanley Cup ring wearing celebrities back down to a human level.

This book makes you wish for the weather to freeze so you can flood the street and bring the neighborhood together for a good old hockey game, or dust off the old skates and get involved in the camaraderie of a local team. The commonality it draws, between the rink and rock stars, shows what the true meaning of the sport is. The shifts between character perspectives seem to come together as one message, and like a change in a line of players, they pass by unnoticeable, the only difference is a revived sense of energy. The message of this book is not meant for knuckle-heads or jocks; it is designed for lovers of literature and lovers of sport. Dave Bidini will go down in the “Hoser Hall-of Fame” as the best Right Winger of writing in Canada, he deserves acclaim for this and his past works, as well as encouragement in maintaining the glamorous title of being a Canadian celebrity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Memoir Essay

09/ 09/ 2006

Personal Essay: Coming out of the Wilderness

To Whom It May Concern,

Due to my department from academia I have attempted to distance myself from the arbitrary constraints that have come to influence my actions and reconnect to the earth as a machine that survives merely to sustain itself. Some may consider this opinion to be narcissistic or reclusive but the comfortable routine which we get lost in attaining has to be stirred around to relearn and appreciate what life is meant to be. My experiment is to return to a rural life in the woods surviving on minimal resources while maintaining a standard of living that is as fulfilling and meaningful as any other. To escape the factitious reality, the entire population can be pacified by or content with the same governing or institutional bodies and be taught the same values that one's monetary wealth has prevalence over their spiritual affluence. The construction of my palatial home cost me under thirty dollars, the majority of the material was gleaned from the white pine forest with sufficient area surrounding it for a plot with which I can grow crops to raise and maintain an income. The purpose of the experiment is to focus on my own actions without the influence of the church, government or academia on my survival in the world.

The Nineteenth Century is thriving with novelty. Men strive to obtain wealth while paying an ever increasing portion to the government. In doing so, they become smothered by trivial actions and possessions. My experiment is not for them. Those who are lost can do as they please; I am not here to change or judge them. This retrogression is not to show that one way of life is greater than another but that the light of God shines into the mansion with the same divinity as it shines into the poor-house. This idea may be better understood by the latter but my experiment is for both to relate to equally. My students have been taken from me, and in their absence I have the opportunity to appeal to a much larger audience, an audience that I am not pressured to strike or intimidate for fear of losing my academic position.

In disobeying this morally repugnant practice of corporal punishment,the faculty at Harvard University has chosen to dismiss me from that institution. In challenging the morality of said practices,I hope to expose the example the institution is setting for the students. A government or persons holding positions of power should lead altruistically to produce a dignity in the people; their popularity should not be gained from fearful actions but from virtuous ones. Too often wealth compromises the integrity of professors and presidents, making their actions immoral or for personal gain instead of the betterment of the people they impress.

Simplicity should be the influence sent by those that inform the population of civility. Luxury is superfluous. The necessities of life are few: food, clothing and shelter. In the winter month's fuel is added but no other possession, other than tools, are required for survival. In my cabin I have stationary and a few books but these possessions are not objects that cause grief or worry over their property rather means of communication and survival. I own these objects but never worry of their value or fear their theft. As for the past two years my doors have never locked and I have no anxiety of that fact or fear of my neighbors intruding on my privacy. No man could molest me more than Harvard has and it is my duty, with this experiment, to show and prove how to circumvent entities such as these while exposing them for what they are.

My idea of earning a living by labour was that it is a life of toil and turmoil. That one spent their entire life turning and fertilizing the soil and at the end of their lives their bodies are turned back into the soil to fertilize the fields for another generation. My view that this was a futile occupation has changed, now I see it as the highest form of living. The realizations that occur as I turn my beans or haul water from the pond are of the truest nature. Carrying my pail in a more efficient way, for example, is a concept that materialized from no book or journal but a communication between my mind and my body like a religious transcendence. This information is the basis of survival and institutions fail to and can not instruct it. Men graduate with degrees in mathematics and philosophy but are unknowing in the essentials like how to make a fire or insulate a cabin. This may sound pretentious, that fundamental skills are of higher value than academic, but without a solid foundation to build a house the structure will be fragile and unsound. These self-proclaimed "Higher Thinkers" would be in dire straights if they were put into an actual survival situation. We often exaggerate the importance of the work we do and I am no exception to this. While teaching at Harvard I considered what I was doing to be of high importance, in a way it is, but I have come to realize that affecting the quality of the day is the highest form of art.

My experiment has not been to become a miser or curmudgeon living alone in the woods because of my conflicting beliefs; it is far easier to hate than it is to love. As I mentioned visitors stopped by the cabin regularly. Without the visits of my friend and landlord, Ralph Waldo Emerson, I would have only my own Cartesian theater to entertain me. Unlike Descartes though, I must be out of bed by noon and out to my fields or the lake focusing on survival but one idea we do share is that our own intuition is as close or closer to God’s message than one that is brought to us by the Church. On my trading trips into town I meet and befriend people with ease and I contently listen to the stories of how their crops are faring. What I realize now is how what they say is far more meaningful than what is written in any New England newspaper or academic journal, to a certain extent. Communication, when used correctly, should be more of a necessity of life than a pest and bring us closer to understanding human nature than dividing us merely by race or religion.

These last two years have gone from one season to the next with their tell tale signs like Walden pond making guttural moans and developing puddles on its surface. Two Springs ago, when I arrived, I thought I could create my own Utopia. Since I have had the solitude to become attuned with my mind I have come to the realization that Utopia is wherever I/you am/are. The light of Dawn shines for all those that are awake, everyone and everywhere, the grandest sojourn one can experience is to travel nowhere but inside of themselves.

Henry David Thoreau, 1847*.

*All historical information and references were paraphrased from:
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life In The Woods . Toronto: Dover Thrift Publications, 1995.
"Encyclopedia." Wikipedia. 9 Dec 2006 .

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Persuasive Essay

Jordan Keats
09/ 09/ 2006 Persuasive Essay: Skate And Die.

To The Mayor Of Victoria,

Your Honour, I am writing this letter in regards to the criminal breeding ground that is commonly known as a Skateboarding Park. I live in the Vic West area and have observed more crime taking place in this "Recreational Park" than in the downtown core as a whole. From first thing in the morning until well after dark, criminals and drug addicts mix with impressionable youths influencing them to vandalize and harass the respectable members of this community. As you are aware, the violent crime and vandalism rates have increased since the construction of the VicWest Park; the most evident example of this is the trail of vandalized bus shelters and spray paint as you drive down Esquimalt road leading to the taxpayer funded concrete monstrosity which itself is littered with the same graffiti. This lack of respect for the structure and community is evidence and reason for its destruction or for the need for legislation to be brought in place to outlaw the gathering of youths for the purpose of skate boarding.

My opinion may seem controversial but I stand firm in my believe that the area has been misused and it is doing the town more harm than good. It may take youths skateboarding out of the downtown core but the park brings youths to a neighborhood that is struggling with high densities of low income citizens and the symptoms associated with that classification. The image of a skateboarder is that of a rebel, someone that goes against the grain, combine that rebellious idealism with a low income environment, where drugs like alcohol or marijuana are more readily available, and what you have is a melting pot of peer-pressure, the naivety of youth and the availability of drugs. Skateboarding is exclusively, with the exception of maybe curling, the only sport that the participator can be drunk or smoking a cigarette while competing. When I walk through the Victoria West Park's field and past the skateboard park the area is littered with cigarette butts and beer cans, which bring more derelicts to collect this waste. They are the only members of the public that make money from having the park in the neighborhood. If there were something else there in its place perhaps the community could generate some income from the real estate. Perhaps the structure of the park could be reused for a foundation of a community center with supervision and guidance for the teens well being.

A community center or a YMCA is where I spent my years growing up. We played real sports like basketball, swimming or bowling. In the winter we played hockey with referees to keep us in line and following the rules but with skateboarding there are no referees to blow the whistle when someone steps out of line which leads to bullying and gang violence to settle disputes. If drugs or alcohol were found on the premises of the community center adults could deal with the individuals involved while at the skate parks it is the adults that are supplying the narcotics and they know exactly where the most vulnerable can be found. As the cliché goes, idle hands are the devil's play thing, when youths are not learning useful skills they are lead astray into delinquent and devious acts. With a community center, closer tabs could be kept on what our children are doing and who is influencing their decisions. Positive role models would be looked up to instead of whoever is the "coolest" or "most groovy" skateboarder in the park. I will admit that some of the maneuvers done in skateboarding are intricate but they lack the coordination and grace of sports such as swimming or diving. The injuries that occur at the skateboard park are a liability to the city and are far more dangerous than those that take place in organized sports.

If you were to ask a physician about the injuries they have encountered related to skateboarding they would tell you brutal horror stories from broken femurs to serious head injuries. A physician would also stress that encouraging this type of behavior is bordering on criminal negligence. The city's reputation and liability are at stake if this sport is not, at least, frowned upon or, at best, outlawed. How many lawsuits have been filed on the city due to skateboarding injuries since the skateboarding park was created? The private sector has learned from years of legal battles that by not allowing skateboarders to use your property you avoid these liability disputes and can afford to hire a security guard, who will enforce the rules and patrol the property, with the money saved from law suites. The City could learn a lesson from this and use their security guards, the police, to patrol the property of the taxpayer and prevent having to pay financial settlements. You may think that this will take away from the important work our police force has to do currently but I see it as nipping the problem in the bud, preventing the would-be criminals from congregating and teaching them a lesson early on in life before the go down the wrong path indefinitely. A fine should be implemented as punishment and the proceeds could to go to the police force to absorb the added burden of having to write them. Downtown has been designated a "Red Zone", meaning that anyone caught skateboarding in the downtown core is subject to a fine, I propose the entire Greater Victoria Area be designated a "Red Zone".

Some may disagree with this policy, those that see skate parks as an equalizer where all classes can join together as one, but to those people I point to the evidence of injuries, litter, violence and drug use that is bred at sites like these. It is only a matter of time before there is an incident in which a youth is either seriously injured or killed because of the issues surrounding the existence of the VicWest Skatepark, an incident that the city will be liable for. This problem needs to be dealt with either with the closing of the park or by transferring the responsibility and maintenance to an independent organization that will accept the onus if such an accident would occur. As a taxpayer and member of the community, I believe that my hard earned dollars should be spent in a more responsible manner than to allow such a safety hazard like this to remain open.

Along with my concerns I have given numerous suggestions for what could or can be done to rid our city of this menace that we call a skate park. A summation of these suggestions are that the structure could be used a foundation for a community center, the park could be sold to a private organization, private security guards or the police could patrol the park on a regular basis, and the entire skateboard park could be destroyed. The reasons are numerous but the overall outcome is a necessity. Skateboarding is a fad and it's popularity will decrease, what I am asking for is that you speed this decline by ridding the facility in which it synergistically depends on. This will not only benefit the community but increase the overall safety of the population. I thank you for taking the time to consider my proposal.


A Concerned Citizen.*

*The views expressed in this letter are not that of the Authour

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Issue Analysis

Jordan Keats
10/ 25/ 2006 Issue Analysis: Tar Nation

Nationally, Canada has a decision to make: boost the economy or protect the environment. The global demand for oil is growing, as the resource is declining, bringing Canada's northern reserves into the spotlight as the spare tank for North America's requirements. It has been stated that there are enough resources, at the Athabasca tar sands, for North America to continue our oil-dependent lifestyle for the next 100 years, a figure that includes the inflating demand and a decline in imported oil. Much to the chagrin of the Canadian and international oil barons, the Earth's climate is changing. Global climate change has been correlated to the burning of fossil fuels. Many uncertainties still remain but there has been conclusive evidence correlating Carbon dioxide and Global Warming (Dearden, 188). Lobbyists, as well as the press, manipulate the uncertainty around climate modeling leaving the public confused as to what the concern about fossil fuel use and climate change is. Globally, the Kyoto Protocol has been suggested to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Each region of the world has an individual perspective on the Kyoto Protocol some agree that it is necessary to preserve our way of life, some disagree and say that it will handicap their economy and limit their country's ability to compete in the industrial sector. Federally, the Canadian government has ratified the Kyoto protocol with an amendment not to implement until it suits the needs of Alberta and the oil production industry. The suggested made in Canada alternative to Kyoto will break our international commitments and increase green house gas emissions because of the enviromental costs of extraction.. This compromise shows where the federal government stands but where should the public stand? This will be a critical isssue for next federal election, and a closer look at the Athabasca oil sands project is needed so Canadians can determine the future of their country, economy and environment.

The controversy surrounding Alberta's fossil fuel reserves stems from the extraction and refinement process. Surface strip mining, the first step of extraction, involves sifting the sand and clay from the tar sand or bitumous rock, a process that disturbs ecosystems, destroys forests and creates polluted waste water. The low grade crude bitumous rock is then taken and mixed with high grade oil in order to create a sellable product. This process, although environmentally damaging and costly, is profitable at the current costs for a barrel of oil. This method is profitable enough for the Alberta Provincial Government to give each citizen a four hundred dollar prosperity check and take the province out of financial debt, making it the only deficit free province in the country.Giving a pogie to the citizens may pacify their objections to the pollution but the stance the provincial government took isolated them from the rest of country, refusing to put the surplus from the resource revenues into the Federal deficit. This has forced the "have-not" provinces to explore their own oil and gas exploration possibilities, threatening their environmental sustainability, and further our country's required levels of green house gas emissions, according to the Kyoto Protocol. Both neighboring provinces, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, stand with the Albertan Government in criticism of Canada accepting the Kyoto Protocol because they both produce natural gas and oil. Major criticisms stem from Quebec and Manitoba who export hydroelectricity, which is considered "green" energy, but meet the acceptable levels of emissions (221, Dearden). Environmentalists and Oil executives agree that if extraction and mining continue Canada will fail to meet Kyoto standards. Some see the Kyoto Protocol as a device to slow or stop oil production in Alberta, paying close attention to how the resource has affected the economy and turning a blind eye to how it has affected the physical and political environment.

An example of perspective shift is how the Athabasca project in Alberta has been viewed in the past and how it is viewed now. Before present extraction methods were developed and profit was minimal, the product was called tar sands, down-playing its worth due to the low profit margin for extraction at that time. With the present boom, new technologies, and the high price of a barrel of oil, the "tar" sands are now titled "oil" sands portraying a new view on a previously undervalued commodity. The estimated amount of "tar" or "oil" sand on the surface is estimated to rival Saudi Arabia's reserves, and below the surface sands there is estimated to be over a trillion barrels of oil (Mihailovich). Imagine what the extraction of a trillion barrels of oil would do to Canada's economy. Federal and Provincial Governments could pay all citizens a prosperity check and create jobs for anyone in need. Presently, jobs on the oil rigs can pay tradesmen enough to retire in under ten years of work. A colleague of mine, after two years in Fort McMurray, has bought a house and is currently on a year long trip to Africa. The prosperity of the Albertan oil fields is distracting from the pollution it is creating. Consider that for each barrel of synthetic oil created 80 kg of green house gases are emitted but also take into consideration that Alberta's unemployment rate is at the lowest it has been since 1976 (Statcan). Both of these statistics are staggering but this is not a black and white issue.

The Prairie Chapter of the Sierra Club is calling the tar sands an "energy onslaught" and are trying to police the industry into implementing sustainable practices.They state that alternative energy is the best option for Canada's environment but the Government is not regulating oil extraction or sale. The evidence of the environmental degradation is blatant, still their concerns and suggestions are falling on deaf ears. Many of their suggestions could be adopted without noticeable impact on the economy and would actually increase profits of the oil and gas industry by conserving oil use nationally allowing more resource for export internationally. They suggest an integrated energy plan, where a combination of resources are used, instead of the dominant use of fossil fuels. This plan is easier said than implemented. What needs to be done, according to the Sierra Club, is to have government legislate a limited amount of extraction along with investment in the alternative energy sector and programs for rehabilitating the forests for carbon sequesturing. This middle ground solution may seem reachable but so far no part of the boreal forest has been replaced and a gas pipeline, along the Mackenzie River from the North West Territorries to Alberta, futher threatens Canadian Ecosystems (Wiki). Enviromentalist groups have their hands full in contesting the progress, of oil and gas exploration, but companies and government must act to increase profits.

This debate is complex, Oil Companies are seen as a threat to Canada from enviromentalist groups and as a cash cow by the Canadian Governrment. The voice that will effect how this all pans out is the public's. Even against International business, the people of Canada will have to be aware and influence this issue. An ideal resolution would be for the Federal Government to claim responsibilty for oil production, like Venezuela did with their company PDVSA, and have non-governmental oganizations police their actions. This nationalistic approach may be what is needed to avoid an environmental catastrophe but is unrealistic judging from past decisions. Prime Minister Steven Harper is correct, we do need a "made in Canada" solution, but this approach should include all stakeholder's imput not just those that have profits at stake.

Works Cited:

Dearden, Philip. Enviromental Change and Challenge: a Canadian perspective. Second. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Freeman, Matt. "America's Gas Tank." (2002) 1 - 23. 04 Nov 2006 .>
Mihailovich , Draggan. "60 minutes." The Oil Sands Of Alberta. 25 June 2006. 4 Nov 2006 .

"Sierra Club of Canada." Tar Sands. 03 Nov 2006. Sierra Club of Canada. 4 Nov 2006 .
"Tar sands." 01 Nov 2006. Wikipedia. 4 Nov 2006 .

"The Daily." Labour Force Survey. 03 Nov 2006. Statistics Canada. 4 Nov 2006 .

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Diagnostic essay

Jordan Keats
English 250
Debbie Gascoyne
09/18/2006 Diagnostic Essay: Tai chi and Me

The young fool in the quote, "It is not I who seeketh the young fool, the young fool must seek me, only in this way can instruction take place - in the right manner and at the right time[.]" by I Ching, I've come to realize is me. In the years since high school I have become a full time gardener, also a part time partier, the toll that this lifestyle has taken on my body has caused numerous physical problems. I was taught yoga by my gardening partner and found that it not only increased my flexibility but the chance of pulling my back out. What I needed was something or someone to teach me how to properly move my body and discipline me into getting my life together.
My Step-father, Gord, was a competitive kick boxer until a kick in the head damaged his inner eardrum. His balance was lost as a result. He changed fighting styles from external kung fu to internal tai chi and studied Yiang style in Minnesota, Seattle and Winnipeg. Gord worked as a computer programmer until the company downsized and he was laid off. He never enjoyed sitting in front of a computer all day and through some connections he learned another form of Tai Chi, called Chen style, coming from the Chen family's tradition. Gord found this style to be superior and could apply what he had learned from the Yiang form to the Chen style. He went to China, with Master Chen, competing in a tournament with the other disciples and was awarded a Mastership in the form. He has been teaching both Chen and Yiang styles in Victoria for four years and has a class of about thirty people.

I ignored the available Tai Chi instruction that was at my disposal, I had equated it with lawn bowling or something only seniors did, and thought it was just a series of slow movements with no actual benefits. As my lifestyle of hard labor and hard partying took its toll on my body I realized that Yoga was doing me more harm than good I turned to Gord for something that could help my back/hip condition. He showed me a few exercises that targeted the areas my pain was coming from but said that if I wanted to increase my pain tolerance, balance, and inner strength to go and participate in one of his classes. I had figured that it would be too much effort for me to make it to his class after a long day of mowing lawns and gardening but I mustered up enough energy one Monday to make it happen. The class consisted of a warm up, a portion of the Yiang form, an application of the form as a partner drill and a cool down/ shake out.After that first class I felt as though I had stepped on to the first rung of a ladder climbing towards the correct usage of my body and I hadn't even tried the Chen style.

The difference between Chen style Tai Chi Chaun and Yiang style is as old as the art itself. Both forms are traditionally passed along, the Yiang style by the Yiang Family and the Chen form by the Chen family, but the origins are connected through a tale Gord told me about a young fool that was going into town drinking and chasing women. His father became concerned about this and locked him in their basement for six years (this was acceptable way back then) forcing him to do the family's style of Tai Chi until he had become a master. When he had achieved this feat he went and taught this skill to the proletarians of his village. After word had gotten out about his Tai Chi Chaun style, or in English his Grand Ultimate Fist style, the Emperor requested that the young fool come and teach this style to him and his court. If he refused he would be beheaded but he didn't want to teach the true style to the Emperor so he taught them a watered down version, that has come to be known as Yiang style, he did this because as he put it,"Rich people don't want to work hard". That may be true but both styles are accessible to anyone who is willing to become disciplined in internal martial art. The Chen form focuses on creating strength from the Kua, or intergroinial region, and Dang, the circle around the knees, while keeping muscles relaxed by using the body's frame to generate strength.

As mentioned before, I am only on the first rung of the figurative Tai Chi ladder and my knowledge of this art is in the beginning stages but with every breakthrough I am starting to understand the desired outcome. When I asked Gord about mentoring a keen student he said that there is a level of skill that an individual must reach on their own before he can show them what they are missing and improve on their own learned technique. I am in my sixth month of practicing Tai Chi, but with each class I notice improvements. Learning the art is starting to seem less like a slow boat to China and more like the path to creating increased strength and confidence. By inquiring into Gord's knowledge of martial arts I have begun a transformation from the young fool in I Ching's quote into a mature man with an amazing practical skill to aid on my path of life.

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Feature Article Essay

11/24/2006 How's Our News?: The Quality of Canadian Newspapers

Audience: Macleans magazine or a weekly independent publication.

Recently, a concern arose about the lack of coverage of a certain news story received and it inspired a question: does newspaper conglomeration affect the information that is presented to Canadians? If one does not know where the news in print comes from it is either gleaned from a news service wire, such as Reuters, Associated Press or United Press International, or submitted from a local reporter before it is rewritten and edited for content. Advertising plays an enormous part in maintaining a profitable newspaper because of a transference away from conventional services to online and television resources. Some believe that press organizations and editorial staff are biased, misrepresenting facts and spin doctoring news to achieve political agendas. I have chosen to challenge this notion by gathering representative daily editions from each of national papers that are not owned by the same company. Hollinger international owns the majority of newspapers in Canada, the largest being the National Post. In fact, all of the newspapers available in Newfoundland and New Brunswick are distributed from Hollinger. Leaving the Tomson Corporation, publishers of the Globe and Mail, and Torstar, publishers of the Toronto Star, as the other English based national papers. By purchasing and comparing the headlines from Saturday, November 25, 2006, publications of these I attempt to uncover if there are omitted or spun articles and if coverage of specific stories vary by publisher. I have specified three types of stories to focus on: human rights issues, environmental issues and coverage of the situation regarding the war in Afghanistan.

The story that inspired this experiment was the allegation by the Canadian Broadcasting Company that there was inadequate coverage of a German court charging Donald Rumsfeld of committing war crimes during his tenure as the Secretary of Defense of the United States. An alleged cover up, such as this, could be an abuse of power on behalf of our newspaper producers. Accusations of bias circulate through the media mill in the United States, magazines such as the New York Time are claimed to be left wing propaganda, but has this occurrence spread to Canada? Many agree. An example is that Prime Minister Steven Harper refuses to make statements to Canadian journalists claiming that they are biased in favor of the Liberal Party. Political spin doctoring is big-business many parties engage in tactics such as writing phony letters to the editor as an effort to sway public opinion and some go so far as paying editors or reporters to add a beneficial slant to their reports. Evidence of corruption surrounds Lord Conrad Black from the time he spent operating and owning Hollinger International but no evidence of him obstructing information from reaching the public. As a branch of Hollinger International, CanWest Media holds ownership of the majority of Canadian newspapers it may seem that I have singled them out, in particular, of wrong-doings. Each national paper that was assessed underwent the same conditions of evaluation, leaving bias out of the equation and strictly using the example of the random sample edition. The categories chosen are politically based, although they were not political themselves, but measuring political coverage was not part of the criteria. Human rights, the environment and the war in Afghanistan are issues that in the fore-front of public concern and also they are indicators of political contention. If an agenda is involved one would think that it would be surrounding these matters. These are issues that there is much debate and reporting on, making them into an indicators of coverage and covering.

The Toronto Star is Canada's largest daily newspaper and one with the largest readership in Ontario.On the weekend, their name changes from the Toronto to the Saturday Star, which is the most extensive edition of the week. Inside I found the second best overall coverage of my criteria: two articles on the war in Afghanistan, one on an environmental issue, and eleven pieces pertaiing to human rights. Another observation was that this paper published twelve letters to the editor and that there was an article on editorial accountability providing pictures and names of the editorial staff of the Torontor Star. The world coverage was obtained from the Star's and Reuters' Wire Services, respectively. As far as obvious bias, there were columns and letters criticizing Prime Minster Harper, no blatant agendas were represented.

The National Post has been compared to America's Wall Street Journal, having the most extensive business report in our country. For their reporting, they too rely on the Reuter's news wire as well as their own service, CanWest. Canwest Media also owns Global television so many of their stories are echoed across Canada numerous times throughout the day. Hollinger international owns the National Post as well as a long list of others, in British Columbia alone the corporation owns fourteen daily newspapers, the largest three are the Vancouver Sun, the Province and the Times Columnist. The National Post and Times Columnist were the only papers with flyer advertisements included, also the Times Columnist had more of a local focus and better world coverage than the Post. Through the same process of evaluation the National Post contained five human rights pieces but no articles on either environmental issues or the current situation in Afghanistan. The majority of the paper was focus articles on political and business analysis, with a report on reinventing American foreign policy by Lord Conrad Black. Their letters to the editor page published fourteen opinions, covering a range of view points representing both the left and the right side of the political spectrum. This newspaper is pro-business, the majority of the publishing represents their target audience, not to imply that the editorial team softens items from the news-wire but presents them with their prevalence from a financial perspective. There was a great deal of political satire but none concerning the issues of evaluation in the criteria.

The Globe and Mail had the highest result of occurrence of the guideline principles, with sixteen human rights stories and one article on both the war in Afghanistan and an environmental problem. This outcome reflects their reputation as a left-wing publication, and although the chosen day in news may have been slow, they presented extensive coverage of world events. They receive their topics from Reuters as well as the Associated Press News service. There were fourteen letters to the editor and commentary from respected political analysts such as Rex Murphy. In comparison, the Globe and Mail contained more news than any other newspaper represented.

This conclusion may have been predictable, the paper with the reputation of being bleeding-hearted or left-wing had the most human rights news items and the one that is considered a hard-nosed right-wing paper is aimed towards business. My objective of determining who is publishing the most accurate news has not been entirely proven. The evaluation process concerned the occurrence of certain types of articles not the article's content and it would be immoral for me to judge each article in my opinion, as I myself may have an unrecognized bias or a personal stake, that could interfere with the outcome. With my evaluation process, determining what consisted a human rights report was difficult but the end result was that it concluded some newspapers report on items from the same service with a prioritized perspective. There is no responsibility,on behalf of the publishers, to print everything that goes over the wire service. These companies have audiences that they must entertain to remain competitive in the marketplace and this may mean that their focus will vary. This experiment showed that coverage is not consistant across the country, our national news differs between publishers and that their may be information withheld from citizens. Freedom of expression under the Canadian Bill of Rights is protected and Canadian news providers should not be involved in protecting those expressions from reaching the public, no matter who they are associated with or owned by.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Week 11: Shake Off All That Hate

Trust Me, In These Parts, Hot Dogs Actually Repel Bears” by Ian Fraser:
This is a humorous piece where Fraser parlays his experience as an inexperienced traveler. The title insinuates that there would be a situation of someone trying to ward off a bear with a Hot Dog but there is no such scene. He uses the title as an example of bad advice that is readily available by tourist loathing locals, which is also the message of the piece. The disappointment of there not being a scene with a Hot Dog defense against a raging Grizzly was enough for me to disregard any message that Fraser had intended on conveying. The element of humor in this piece works because it is common to receive and follow bad advice.
Little Red Riding Hood Revisited by Russell Baker:
It is obvious that Baker is trying to make a joke by revising a classic story but what he actually does is suck the fun and life out of it. Many people have converted fairytales well, such as Gregory Maguire’s book Wicked, but Baker fails to deliver the same effectiveness. What was lost in this revisiting is the innocence and simplicity of the story. Baker convolutes the dialogue with out of date slang and the use of advanced words, losing the concept of the original plot. After all of the brilliant readings for this course I found that this piece was anti-climactic and that it isolates certain people from relating to a simple story.
I apologize for these negative reviews. The sands of our lives are falling through the hourglass fast and the last thing I want to do is spend that valuable time being complacent. This is one of many of my favorite quotes and I want to leave it with everyone to help shake off all this hate:
To be is to be related. To isolate is death. To me, ultimately, martial arts mean honestly expressing yourself. Now, it is very difficult to do. It has always been very easy for me to put on a show and be cocky, and be flooded with a cocky feeling and feel pretty cool and all that. I can make all kinds of phony things. Blinded by it. Or I can show some really fancy movement. But to experience oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly, now that is very hard to do. - Bruce Lee

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Week 10: enecS ehT nO kcaB

The Comics by Arthur Asa Berger: In Berger’s review he explains how and why comic strips have impacted our lives. He uses Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes as one example of how a caption can be used as more than just a funny strip. Comics can hold some undesirable qualities, which Berger touches on, like the enforcement of gender roles in Archie comics, but any controversy is drowned by their popularity. I felt as though I was drained after I read this piece because I was squinting to see what was going on in the strips. Overall I think this a well rounded overview but not a very good review. Where were the Freak Bros.?
How to write a review: By Zachary Schrag
This formula for reviewing is effective and useful. Critical reading is a difficult skill to learn and it is hard to tell when you are being constructive or a bastard. What I learned to focus on, which can be applied to editing, is provide more constructive criticism and not be concerned with being a bastard.
How to write a movie review:
A nine step guide for writing a movie review, I’m not a huge fan of formulas or movie reviews but this was actually interesting. What I dislike about this site is that one of the steps isn’t to be knowledgeable about the history of film. What I liked was that I found a couple more Baraka style films on this site, called Chronos and Dogora.
If anyone was wondering what this title means it is the title of a One Be Lo song. I found it applicable to this review because in the song there is a verse that goes "you should learn the difference between dissing and constructive criticism". One Be Lo is one of those rare artists that is true to his art, unfortunately I will never see him perform because he has a criminal record that prevents him from coming into Canada.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Week Nine: Right/Write About Now

Exposing Ourselves in South Park by Tessa Sproule:
I have always been taught to avoid the use of clichés like they were the plague but Sproule spends clichés like a millionaire. Her subject is relevant and her observations hit the nail right on the head but her use of clichés throws off the wealth of knowledge that I have acquired in my years of studying English. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” and “take no prisoners” are two of the most common adages used in conversational speech. I thought we were not supposed to use jargons or slang in professional writing but Sproule lets them loose like a bull in a China shop. There is no motive for me to let the cat out of the bag over her use of overused phrases. She pushes the envelope by stating that criticism of entertainment is wrong and the real world should be the subject of scrutiny. In a rant, Jello Biafra states that those that want to protect us from vehicles of entertainment such as pornography or heavy metal music are trying to withhold from us our right to information. This could be what a controversy around a cartoon like South Park might be about but I didn’t think that there was much of a buzz about this or Team America World Police. Remember the words of Ghandi, which are almost becoming a cliché, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. There is a massive concern about the influence governments and businesses have on the F.C.C. and C.R.T.C., many people fear that their main purpose is to censor information from the public. Maybe we should start complaining about those that complain and practice our freedom of speech, just watch what you say.

Pushing the Envelope by Steven Austad: That was a bit of a rant on that last piece, so I’ll keep this one short. Pushing the Envelope is an in depth review of adventure traveling. My only exposure to travel writing is Jon Krakuaer and his books Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. I found his writing to be pretentious but there must be a large degree of egotism in adventure writing. The whole genre exists on being one-up on the last guy and it makes for interesting stories. This piece was factual and maintained my interest as I read.

Nirvana Is A Click Away
by Christopher John Farley: Spoiler Alert! This piece is not about Buddhism but exposure of independent musicians on the internet. This is a strong argument for file sharing because it makes the lesser heard music readily available for little or no cost. Talib Kweli, a musician who has publicly come out against file sharing also has a relationship with Jimmy Iovine, who was mentioned in Farley’s essay. Kweli was signed to Rawkus records until Interscope Records bought them. Due to Jimmy Iovine buying out his label Kweli dropped them and started his own production company. Talib Kweli is an artist that you can play for your grandma, one such song of his with Black Star is called For Women that was adapted from the Nina Simone song, but few listeners have been exposed to works because of political opinions that are not compatible with the large record industries. The next Nirvana is out there but so is a lack of interest in intelligent music, too bad for us.

Explorations: Paper Sky: This Exploration was saved on Word, where I write my blog because blogger's word processor sucks, and I lost track of where it goes so wiht out further ado.
This site is an animation based website with a short cartoon as the entrance. The cartoon is a interesting concept, being created completely out of brown paper, but pales in comparison to some of the free animation sites on the net. One would think that there would be more animation on the site but after the intro the site consists of links. The idea of a list of free cartoon sites is great but none of these links can contain as much free entertainment as, on which there is endless amounts of independent video and cartoons. I can see the relevance as we are so busy working on our serious essays to lighten the subject matter up. Thanks!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Week Eight: Love Me or Leave Me Alone

Water Incorporated by Maude Barlow: An informative yet depressing essay about the threat to the world’s water supply. We recently covered this topic in our geography class and it was also the subject of one of the Canadian Voices lectures. Looking at this piece as a persuasive essay, Barlow lays out the facts and creates her argument from the evidence. The lesson that I took from this piece is to remain neutral and put the strongest argument forward, and let it speak for its self.
Future Schlock by Niel Postman: This is the best essay so far. Postman’s cynical satire is so stereotypically American it is like a cartoon of its self. He points out the obvious deterioration of entertainment quality and reflects on the increase of half-minded programming. The end he is trying to reach is valid but he never mentioned the fact that people want to turn their brains off when they tune in to television. It is a method of relaxation but Postman brings forth the idea that it is wrong to zone out and be programmed by network television. A point that I have heard is that what is on television is called programming for a reason and we should have realized that long ago. Postman also makes mention of The Great Dictator, where the “Look up, Hanna!” speech is from, contrasting the difference between it and The Producers. Mel Brookes and Charlie Chapin both use comedy as a way to lighten controversial topics, these films are in my opinion the best works from these actors and I have yet to see either film on television. This topic is easy to pick on, we are entertained by novelty and to point it out is a cheap shot. It seems like pointing out the obvious is a way for people to feel better than others and makes them appear sophisticated.
Pornography by Margret Atwood: Margret Atwood brings forth her opinion on pornography after visiting the Film Censor’s office. Her talent as a realistic author works well with this essay. “What happens when a boy educated on porn meets a girl brought up on Harlequin romances?(MR,112)”, this passage is reminiscent of another Atwood piece called Happy Endings but the kicker for this passage is truly original, “The clash of expectations can be heard around the block”. For a persuasive essay Atwood leaves her opinion out of it and does what Barlow did and left what she thinks out of forming her issue. This was a great piece and the only beef I have is with what is said in the last paragraph. Atwood thinks that life would be perfect “if everyone [was] in love all the time” and this idea is unrealistic. Love is like any other emotion that comes and goes as it pleases. Love has nothing to do with sex.
Explorations: Wow, how do I get on that list? I sure these people know what the word on the street is. I find it funny how North Americans have abandoned the idea of a local community for online ones. This site doesn’t appear to be anything but a secondary search engine. This may prove to be handy if one is looking for a certain review but I believe in forming an opinion myself. There is so much payola in media that it is impossible to tell if the view or review is genuine. Do your own homework of the criterion of film and you can make an educated evaluation or informed recommendation.
Classmate Comments:

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Week Seven/Eight: A Clock With No Hands

Filling the Open Mind in the Information Age by Wiley Miller, It is nice to have a break from the literature with a comic and not one that is as watered-down as the For Better or Worse caption, previously in the readings, by Lynn Johnston. This piece is relevant to my next essay in which I am focusing on newspaper conglomeration in Canada and how it effects the information we receive. In the comic, a couple is trying to buy a newspaper but they don't want one that will upset them or their ideals. My room-mate and I sometimes watch channels like CNN and comment on how what they discuss is more of opinion than news. To use the example of the Glen Beck show, the host, Beck, goes on rants that some may consider to be racist or fear-mongering but yet he remains one of the largest rating generators for the station. This not only proves that bad news sells but that there is a market for selling controversy, to those that want their news and opinion handed to them instead of digging for the truth themselves. This is an phenomenon that seems to be spreading and the outcome is frightening, especially when the government has a finger in the business of broadcasting. Throughout history we have been warned about what happens when governments control the information of the public. I. F. Stone
put it simply when he said "governments lie", and if they control the media then dissidents will be a thing of the past. This comic is great and reminds me of something out of the New Yorker, and to have someone pointing out critical issues like this with humor is better than being defeatist or complacent.
"I'm Not Racist But..." by Neil Bissoondath: The reason I chose to write about this piece is because the other two to chose from were harder to read than a clock with no hands. This was the second shortest piece but one of the others was a cartoon strip. To make it sound better, Bissoondath's essay was the most blunt. Racism can be found in anything, I use a HBO comedy special as an example, but as Bissoondath points out it is often unnoticed as it is done and done more than we believe. The sensitivity of the issue makes it difficult to bring up, humor allows us to laugh about how touchy it is, and there is a line that is too easily crossed. Ignorance does not improve the situation either. Many people see comedians pushing the boundaries and think that they too can do it, making them seem like racists when their intentions are purely to get a laugh. It is my belief that we should stop looking at the problem in such a small scale and start making fun of humans as a whole. An example, why did the human cross the ocean? To troll the sea bottom and kill all the large fish. Take it all on or nothing, don't be specific. This piece finished with two lines and it was enough of a reiteration to show the message, be aware not afraid that racism is out there.
Classmate Comments: shopaholic1818: I have heard that people are anti-Atwood and I can kind of understand but she is one of the biggest female writers out there. Is it hatred or jealousy? So many people overuse the word hate without backing up why they hate. I am nottrying to pick on you, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but maybe say why you dislike her not just that you hate her.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Week Six/Seven: Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievance

Our Daughters, Ourselves by Stevie Cameron: This piece may not be about to my gender but it is for my gender. Sexism is a bitch, sorry, bad joke but I couldn't resist the pun; in all seriousness, the Montreal Politechnique massacre was a gruesome event and Cameron's use of it as an example grabs at the heartstrings of anyone that knows of what happened that day. My mother is a nurse and was going to school at University of Manitoba when that man shot those women. She told me about that day and what it did to all of the nurses and women at her university. This is an extreme example of sexism but by using it in the essay Cameron's point becomes ultimately serious and breaks the issue down to the brass tax. The essay is gloomy but we should not forget about issues like this, to quote Daniel Johnston "don't let the sun go down on your grievance", or to use a cliche the squeaky wheel gets the grease. What I am trying to get at is that by not forgetting the events of the past we are less likely to repeat them, and that is Cameron's motive for writing so graphically, which opened my eyes about this issue.

Don't You Think It's Time To Start Thinking? by Northrop Frye: While I read this piece on the bus I asked the fellow sitting next to me if he knew of Northrop Frye. He turned out to be a geography teacher at UVIC that had gone to University of Toronto, where Northrop Frye was a professor. He told me that all the student dreaded getting Frye as a teacher, because he was so adamant about being articulate. In the essay, Frye uses Prime Minister Trudeau as an example of articulation and how refreshing it to hear him speak in the political realm. Most politians are too aggressive or defensive to respond coherently so when someone brings lucidity it forces those emotional persons to remain focused. Frye is well ahead of his time with this piece, writing it before there was all of the technological advances of the last decade. Also, the point he makes about practicing thinking is more than just controlling whether one says something stupid but using the right words to express one's thoughts. This idea is a Buddhist principle, part of the eight fold path to living correctly. To use this in academia is refreshing but also ancient in the history of Buddhism and genius to incorporate into Western lifestyle.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Week Five/Six: See Positivity

My Body Is My Own Business by Naheed Mustafa: Mustafa's piece is an expression of the tribulations women, in this case Muslim women, go through growing up and living in the western world. Recently I wrote an essay, for philosophy class, on Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, my perspective was like that of Mustafa and reading her paper reinforced my perspective. My view on Canada's army being in Afghanistan, briefly, is that we as Westerners are as guilty of mistreating and disrespecting women as fundamentalist Muslims are. We should not comment on another society's practices when we are not perfect ourselves. Women in Western society are taught from birth that they are nothing but baby factories that have to have a body like Barbie. This generates eating disorders and insecurities, Mustafa mentioned she was a borderline bulimic before she adopted a hijab, which gave her the security of a unknown identity but brought hear fear of the religion she represents. This is an interesting topic but negative and seemingly insecure, even though she has overcome her physical insecurities, she focuses on the negative aspect of the stigma of her religion. The human mind can be a prison if one believes themselves to be seen a certain way, they can get trap themselves in negative self perception, turning them into a self fulfilling prophecy. It's hard to break out of the ego's constraints but if one can then nothing anyone thinks of them matters because it's only what they think not what really matters. I think that Mustafa has a valid point but is creating negativity towards herself, perhaps because of insecurities impressed upon her growing up, but not seeing the negative and focusing on the positive would improve her point of equality, more so than being contentious.

The Case For Curling Up With a Book
by Carol Shields: Carol Shields' enforces of the necessity of involvement in literature and less in the mindless entertainment that we are programmed with through mass media. This is a important point and one that I agree strongly with. Whether it be television or the internet, we are subjected to more information now than ever and we need to learn to be selective about how we get our information. Reading takes silence and concentration, things that are being stripped away from us by the abundance of entertainment. It has been a thought of mine that television creates attention deficit disorder, people can't concentrate because they are programmed into needing a commercial break every ten minutes or less. This may not be factual but it is an observation that I have witnessed and Shields writes passionately about. Great works of literature are being lost in technological transitions, an example of this is that VHS movies are not being transferred to DVD because they are not what is considered a "hit". This seems to be an Orwellian conspiracy but its true, the availability of non-mainstream litereature is becoming less appearant, just go to your local Movie Gallery or Blockbuster and try and find a winner of the Pomme d'Ore, or go to Chapters and try to find any works by Bukowski or Camus. The presence of independent works is as important as reading them, the best works are those that are the hardest to find, and a harder thing to do is find time to read them. Carol Shields brings forth an important issue, one which those in acedemia should pay closer attention to.
Explorations: Znet:
This website is interesting but not very useful as most of the info you must pay to obtain. It's a shame because many of the videos caught my interest, especially the video called War Without End. There is never a shortage of issues to comment on and people will complain about the day of the week. What a wise man once said can be related to these types of websites, "you gotta take care of you and your's", meaning that one can only affect so much around you so act accordingly.
Classmate Comments: nirwin : It was interesting to read what a woman thought of the Sheild's piece because it was geared towards the opposite sex as myself. Nirwin seemed to share the same opinion as this essay, back off, my body is my own damn business. I don't think that having too much homework is an emotion, what would be wrong with saying overwhelmed instead?

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Week 10: New Zoo Review

Practice review:
Bama: Air Conditioning System For Rubber Boots,
While shopping for a pair of new work boots I discovered the Bama insert and was instantly taken aback. All those years of wearing plastic shopping bags on my feet, trying to keep my feet dry as I landscaped were over, and dry warm feet were on the horizon. Finding work boots that don't leak or rip and fall apart is a chore. I have given up bothering, searching and spending. Ever since it has been either soaking wet sneakers and uncomfortable gumboots that leave blisters. This product not only promises dry but warm and comfortable feet. Do they work? Because I sure do.
When the salesman said the his wife wears then as slippers and can stand in a puddle with out getting her feet wet, I was sold. To stand the test of time is another story. The first day I wore them inside my sneakers, the grass was wet but there was no leakage and all day my feet were roastie-toastie. The next day of work was one of the worst days I have ever seen, rain so thick the ducks were running for cover, I stuck it out with the Bamas but had soggy socks by halfway through the day. This is not to say that the Bamas did not do their job but that I should have put my gumboots on. That was a bad move, I dried the foot pajamas out and tried them inside my gumboots. The outcome was incredible, not only did they warm my feet but they kept them dry and sweat free.
Overall, the Bama kept my feet comfortable in minimal amounts of wetness. While wearing sneakers or running shoes these slippers will not keep water out but put them inside of a classic gumboot and they provide stability that no standard gumboot offers. I would recomend this product because it provides a service that makes your day that much better, warm feet can make all the difference in whether or not you have a good day.

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Week Four or Five: Ketchup on Toast

A Walk on The Wild Side by Alice Munro: This piece was great, except for the point Munro made about how she prefers Ontario's landscape over British Columbia's. People do enjoy Ontario but the Canadian Shield has turned from escarpments into a borderline toxic waste dump, and Munro touches on this point. It is a matter of preference but preferring the GTA over the West Coast is a bit distorted. Personally, I prefer tall trees and mountains to Lego land suburbia or the urban sprawl from Alberta to Ontario. Munro's essay shares the same disdain, she is perturbed by the lack of green space and public property available for recreation in Ontario. The reality of this matter is that profit will always be chosen over public opinion, an example of this is how developers bulldozed the community gardens in South-Central Los Angeles so they could put condos on the plot. Munro's plea should be aimed at the government to legislate green space, instead of preaching to the choir of citizens who have already realized this occurrence. Overall, this message should be said as much as possible and for someone like Munro to publish her views brings needed light to our quality of life, or lack thereof.

Letter to the A.S.P.C.A.
by E.B. White: Satire of the cynical style, White's letter has the best sarcasm I have read in an essay, his topic of responding to an attack on this tired old dog is genius. He makes the arguement against him moot, by pointing out how trivial the scandal they are harassing him about is. That is often the best way to end an arguement, simply by exposing the attacker as a bully with too much opinion and not enough brains. Charlotte's Web was one of the best books I read growing up and now I use The Elements of Style whenever I write, White has a legacy that is widespread but I wouldn't have realized it unless I read the intro to the essay.
Cool, if I am looking for something else to complain about I know were to go. Just kidding, I am really not one to complain. After my analysis of the oil sands essay and doing research on global warming I became really depressed about how what I do myself doesn’t make any difference. What I have come to realize is that until the government creates legislation to curb emissions the problem won’t be solved, so all I can do is focus on finding someone to vote for that will make it come true. I wish I could give these guys money but I’m living off loans so that doesn’t make sense. Thanks to these guys for trying to spread awareness.
Classmate Comments: frogger954: While surfing through I noticed a thank you for peer-editing addressed to me, always a nice surprise. A Well maintained and organized LiveJournal site, I should have transferred over to that service when I had the chance. Keep up the good work, we are almost there!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Week Four: Waiting For Atonement

Growing up Native by Carol Geddes is similar to the last two pieces, it is a past account on growing up and dealing with the situation that life has placed you in. From a First Nations perspective, life has been a series of misgivings, Geddes illustrates how since the Second World War her people, the Tlingit Nation, have been disturbed by racism, isolation and the development of the Northern Territories. As Coetzee did in his piece, Scenes From Provincial Life , Geddes used what life was like growing up in harsher times to make a relevant message for the future. Not to be sympathetic but to be understanding and reiterate the message that positive experience can come from negative ones. In Geddes case, she receives her degree but not after going through displacement, physical abuse, and racism. How she succeeded through all the hard years exemplifies how there is hope in struggle, and how you don't wait for atonement you earn it.

What a Certain Visionary Once Said
by Tomson Highway is a piece of First Nation literature that shows how effecient one can be with words. It briefly creates imagery and the moral sneaks upon you at the end. For playwriting class we read Dry Lips Outta Move to Kapuskasing, another of Highway's works, it was in the same intrinsic style as this essay, which I find to be the most beneficial style of fiction. Pieces that are farfetched have merit in a whimsical sense but Highway's way of iterating familiar territory makes the reader involved through experience. The moral of this essay, or what a certain visionary said, is to live and leave enough for the next person to enjoy. This message is obvious but overlooked, especially in our Western society with how wasteful and spoiled we can act when we are unknowing or uncaring.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Week Four: UNB

After reading My Old Newcastle by David Adams Richards, I asked one of the people that I work with, that is from New Brunswick, if he could name one author from N.B. He went to university of New Brunswick, and received an Arts Degree, but he could not name any authors from NB. This is a great example of Canadian celebrities being overlooked and under represented, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if I asked anyone from P.E.I. if they know of any authors from the maritimes the would jump to L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. David Richards piece talks about this situation of how New Brunswick is over-looked in our country. He provides his experience growing up in the maritimes and a comparison of what maritime life changed into within his lifetime. Richards doesn't disagree with what has happened since N.B. has become industrialized but he portrays how it was much more poetically than what it has become. Even in my short lifetime I have noticed changes to my community and society, development of our quality of life has left a few things out. We will never participate in the same innocent acts as Richards and I did growing up, but that might not be a bad thing. Maybe this futuristic lifestyle we have all adopted will give authors like Richards a chance to be better exposed.

Explorations: How to write with Style by Kurt Vonnegut:
Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors and the writer of some my favorite books, the advice he gave in this paper won’t pass me by. His books, like Breakfast of Champions and Slapstick, contain a style that is recognizable just from flipping through the pages. The realism he writes with makes each story personal to the reader, using profanity and comedy to create dark satire is an example of an individual style.
Classmate Comments:
policecat: Well organized blog and probably the best I’ve seen so far. You really are coving the explorations and the readings, keep it up.
Imagine2006: Another Livejournal, I’m starting to see a pattern, but no explorations. The blog outline should have been clearer about that but I guess it is up to us to read the outline. Decent observations around the readings.

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Week Three: Good Morning, Sunshine

This week's reading, Scenes from Provincial Life by J.M. Coetzee, was a three part story about his life in South Africa. He broke it into three different parts to exaggerate his situation within his family and scholastic experience. The most shocking part of this piece was in the second portion in which he describes the boys in his class getting beaten by their teachers. He writes about his friends getting the strap and the disgrace they went through. This was like a scene in Charles Bukowski's book Ham on Rye, where he gets beat by his father because he didn't cut the grass in the correct pattern. Coetzee and Bukowski write about their abuse in terms that those growing up now who aren't subject to beatings can try to comprehend. Most cannot relate to the punishment these folks underwent but the situation is widespread, whether it is in South Africa, America, or Canada in residential schools. This story could have been written anywhere at the time and the reason we find it so shocking now is that abuse isn't evident but in the past it was a regular practice. This story wasn't just about the abuse in the school but of the relation between the protagonist and his family, focusing on their communication and lack their of. This was a excellent illustration of the idioms of family structure and the role a young man plays in shaping his destiny. Bukowski and Coetzee used their tribulations as inspiration, showing that making it through a difficult situation can be beneficial and that one appreciates the light that much more after being in the dark.
Explorations: Tips for Persuasive Writing:
I’ve tattooed these fourteen steps onto my arm permanently. They are extremely helpful with this difficult essay. I preferred this list because it is straight forward and good as a quick reference. This persuasive essay is going to be fun to write by the looks of it. I have chosen to write mine from the perspective of an old curmudgeon, complaining about the skateboard park in Esquimalt. I find it easier to write from the perspective of an argument that I don’t actually believe, I am a skateboarder so I don’t want the park destroyed but I can see both sides of the argument and make the side I don’t believe in have holes in it.
Classmate Comments: Ashley250: I like your title, “Spreading Chinese Culture Everywhere”, makes me want to think of an interesting subtitle for my page. There are no explorations on this page but maybe they will show up.
dstrawberry: This blog makes me feel like I am all caught up with my entries. Sorry to hear that you have to work three jobs but you have to do what you have to do!

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Through the wire

On Saturday my roommate, Rusto, was t-boned doing a u-turn in his van. The van is a write off and he is lucky to be alive. He is a professional cab driver and he screwed up, anyone can. Be careful driving in the rain. I've been calling him Kanye West but he doesn't get it.

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Part of Week Two: For No One

What is style? by Mavis Gallant was a great little read. It's true, I finally have something positive to say on here. This piece was short, sweet and pretty inspiring. On someone's blog from class, that I can't find now, they wrote that this piece made them want to write a book. I agree, Mavis Gallant made some points about reading one's own work and differenciating types of style that are right on. Using a "true voice" is what writing is all about. I think Thompson Highway said to only write from what you know. MF DOOM, a rap artist, said "[b]y candle light/my hand will write/ these rhymes 'til I'm burnt out/ mostly from experience/ shit that I learned about/ topics or views, generally concerned about". It's all saying the same message. Keep it real. Gallant stated that you can't be a prolific writer unless you have read widely(21), and I agree with that, but I find it easy to bite someone else's idiosyncrasies unknowingly. reading different authors is a great way to learn new styles but one can get too caught up in reading that they never write anything substantial. On the other hand, what would our lives be like without Tom Robbins or Albert Camus. That is just to name a few. Without pocket books we would have nothing to do while we wait for the laundry or lie on the beach. I'll wrap it up with the imagery of a beach and a book.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Week One: Opposite of Rotten

This week 's reading was How to mark a book by Mortimer Alder. A short piece about using a book to it's full potential, marking pages or writing notes in the margin, something Alder's piece wasn't worth doing but if you haven't ever seen that in a book you haven't read enough books either that or you read only textbooks. Finding an underlined part in an old book is like walking the same path someone has has been down but you're attention is drawn to the same scenery as they were.This may not agree to any of you anti-mainstreamers that don't want to see the same thing as everyone else but when you read something that someone else read or saw fifty years before you it may mean something completely different when you read it.
When my Grandmother passed away in January, I inherited her copy of Jack London's Call of Wild. She had every line underlined and noted. The strange thing about it was that I had bought the book used about a month before her death and lent it to my Dad. It's those little serendipities that make life the opposite of rotten and get me on a long tangent like this. I can relate to Alder's piece, that story was brought to mind from it, although I can't underline the Mercury Reader in fear of the marks ruining its resale value.
Exporations: Soul Food Cafe
This is a captivating site made from the same style of template as our blogs. I hope that we learn to create our blogs into one like this. There were some helpful exercises and facilities to connect with blog teams.
Two Classmate Blogs: guppy1950: Thanks for the blueprint, I was concerned with how to lay my page out but you inspired me to copy. Good luck finding your topic!
keeks5: LiveJournal looks so bland but your comments are easily understood. Your observations about these stories and how 9/11 affected you give me the impression that you are a compassionate person.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Week Three: Loving My Enemy

This week's reading, On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion, was fair. I don't want to be overly negative or critical but this piece was arbitrary blabber about characters that the author notes and actions or sayings that she wants to remember. The meaning of this piece is evident especially after the Alder piece, How to Mark A Book, that had the same semi-instructional from with insights into writing or reading in the Alder piece. It may be that I am jaded after my summer readings but to have to read these pieces, with so little insight or depth, is almost punishing. Ingmar Bergman wrote in the intro to one of his screenplay that what you are about to read are abitrary and to read on if you want but there is no real purpose or meaning to his work. Why couldn't there be a disclaimer before pieces of fluff that don't affect my life in any significant manner? I guess I should approach all writing this way and not be so snobby, as I sound right now. Words can mean so much, when used properly, like when Charlie Chaplin spoke at the end of the film The Great Dictator.
The infamous "Look Up, Hannah!" speech's meaning was amplified by the fact that a mime said it and it was the only time Chaplin spoke in any of his films. In relation to the Didion piece, the Chaplin speech shows how much impact words can have when used selectively and is something that Didion could learn from. The idea that stood out, in On Keeping a Notebook, was that when one writes the diagesis they create is skewed by one's own reality making all writing fiction due to the difference in one's perspective from reality. The message I have to refute is that nonfiction is not solely based on reality, one can take creative license with facts and the story will remain true to life. Exaggeration is part of writing, from added drama or enphasis of past events, making it vital to create interesting stories no matter if it biased from one's perspective.
Stories that are based around actual events are arguably the most significant. They provide historical insight. In the great dictator, if it wasn't an imitation of Hitler's image delivering a speech opposite to his views the effect wouldn't have be as meaningful, even though such an event actually occured. This may not have anything to do with the reading but it is my perspective and that's as real as it gets... right?
Explorations: Inkspell: This website is for aiding in the memoir paper that I have already finished. It helped as I proofread my essay to make sure I had covered everything. I am really stoked on that essay, it was great to go through Walden again with a fine toothed comb trying to extract the main messages and make them more concise. Thoreau is known for being overly wordy.
Classmate Comments:
diver01: Sorry to hear that you are drained… We have just started. But don’t fret, I have felt behind since the first day of class. I feel the same way about the memory archive, it is hard to read and not particularly helpful.
Mmcpherson1: Your coverage of the text is great but are you not commenting on other classmates’ blogs? I reviewed the outline and it says for us to comment on two people’s blogs but it unclear whether it means to leave comments on their blogs or comment on our blogs… I hope one of us is doing it right!

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Week Two: Badly Drawn Boy

Have you heard the rock band Badly Drawn Boy? Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't they change their name to Poorly Drawn Boy and then drop off the face of the earth? Why would they change the name? It makes it look like they never noticed the grammer mistake to begin with instead of keeping the clever type-o as their gimmic. Conform! Conform!
This week's reading, was Reading Ourselves And The World Around Us by Alberto Manuel, was about a young man learning to read. In doing so he draws a picture of a boy using the letters b,o,y. While reading this I envisioned his drawing and thought about what a picture like that would look like and ran some scenarios in my head. The first way the boy ended up with only one leg and a exagerated crotch. The second way I used the "b" as the body and he ended up with only one arm; What kind of pervese book would have a child drawing explicit diagrams of amputees to learn how to write or maybe I read it wrong.
Explorations: Writing From Life
Jessica Morell provides some helpful tips for composing a memoir essay. This is a great outline for this essay, which I am excited about, and contains what I need to know to do my topic correctly. I have chosen to write a memoir from the perspective of one of my idols, Henry David Thoreau. There is an option to post essay to blogger so watch for that essay to be posted.
Classmate Comments: shopaholic1818: Another LiveJournal, am I the only one using Blogger? I like the idea of you not having to be a dry writer any more, time to flex those creative muscles. It sounds like you are going to add some spice to this essay, when we finish, let's compare!
mal003: I don't want to be compared to this Blog, it has tonnes of detail and insight, no contest, you win. I think I missed something about not using blogger, I havent been able to add myself to Debbie's LiveJournal. I hope this doesn't cost me marks!

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