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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