Saturday, February 27, 2010

The "C" in IOC stands for "Condemnation"

Old women wept and children screamed. The weak and the lame were trampled in the stands.

All of this occurred as Canada's women's hockey team celebrated its gold medal win on the ice after the game.

For the time those female hockey players drank beer and champagne, and smoked cigars on the rink, the terrorists won.

I mean, think of it, remember it -- women, cigars, drinking, celebrating . . . in an empty stadium.

Western civilization teetered. The stock market dipped. More homes than otherwise might've been foreclosed upon were foreclosed upon.

* * *

The IOC and its "condemnation" of the Canadian Women's hockey team celebrating their gold medals should, itself, be given the gold medal for hypocrisy.

This, from an organization whose members are notoriously corrupt, bribe-soaked, wined-and-dined (and doubtlessly sixty-nined) to the nth degree by countries that can barely afford their leaders' wardrobe.

The IOC should stick to padding its Swiss bank accounts and leave the moral outrage to others.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The GMC Denial - the ultimate illusion/delusion experience

The new GMC Denial has plush leather seats, satellite radio, DVD players, GPS, 19 cup holders, a baby-changing-station/deli-counter that folds out of the glove compartment.

It comes with sun-roof and tinted windows. The upgrade fee for a bullet-proof exterior is the mere price of a cup of coffee (each day for the next eight years).

The GMC Denial can traverse any terrain, and most small foreign makes of automobile.

It's great in the snow, a heartless bastard on the highway, and does not balk at sand or even three feet of water.

For all of the physical, tangible features listed on the GMC Denial's Fact Sheet, the best part of driving the Denial is the sheer, unaccountable sense of well-being that comes from being behind the wheel.

There's a filter on the radio that prevents bad news of any sort from intruding.

Even without that, you drive the Denial and suddenly you feel like:
  • "Yeah, there's plenty of oil on this planet!"

  • "Fuck the recession!"

  • "Gas will be .59 cents a gallon come summer!"
  • "Fuck my boss! I didn't want that job anyhow!"

  • "My wife will stop arguing with me as soon as she gets into the Denial!"
  • "Payments are relative -- they'll get the money when they get it!"

  • "I'll just drive all of my cares away!"
GMC's is like a lava lamp on wheels. The windshield, interior, and electronics have all been psychologically calibrated to keep your troubles away.

Come in and drive one today!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fan Letter to Sawney Beane, wherever you may be

A note that rolled in to the Hotdog Factory this evening:
If you google Sawney-Beane-celtic-windsor, your site is the first one that comes up. It looks as if you know the band, so if you'd be so kind to pass along a message I'd appreciate it.

I went to school in Windsor from 95-99. Probably saw them dozens upon dozens of times. Places like Sandwich Mill, the ditch. I played on the school's rugby team and I think it was at Faces where we once hired them to play for us at a fundraiser.

Anyway, I of course once had their album. I've lived in Montreal for the past decade. In 2001, my downtown apartment got broken into, and all my cd's etc were stolen. Try finding Sawney Beane at a used cd place in Quebec!

I've since moved back to Ontario and about 1 week ago I started humming a song and singing a lyric and wondered why it wasn't on my ipod. Then I remembered who sang this particular song and why I didn't own it. I searched the net for a band home page, and found nothing. So to ebay I went. I found only one person selling the disc and it was listed for $18.89 with a 'make an offer' auction feature. For the bargain price of $5, I'm finally holding their cd once again.

Well, the music plays just as good as it did over 13 years ago. And if I was to read a diary entry from 1996 it couldn't possibly bring to mind any clearer memories of that particular time and that particular place.

So, are they still playing? Have they made any more recordings?

Also, the ebay seller, ironically was based out of Quebec. I'd like to think that I just bought back what was stolen from me almost 10 years ago.

Just thought they might like to know that I haven't heard their album in over ten years, but I still know all the words!

Dress-down flag day

The pikers had struck for the last time.

The social committee was unanimous on the subject: "I mean, the two dollars goes to charity, for gawd's sake!" Sheila said, speaking for everyone.

But people were cheating. A rough head count in the cafeteria confirmed it -- people were wearing jeans to work on Dress Down Friday and not paying the two dollars, charitable contribution.

So, Sheila and the social committee rolled out their solution: every person who paid their two dollars to their soc-com rep received a four foot flag. The flag came with a strap so it could be worn. Don't pay your two dollars, you don't get a flag. The pikers would be weeded out.

Sure, the flags cost $42 a piece, but there was a principle on the line.

"They're reusable," Sheila had said to the managing director who had to approve the $3,696 expenditure. "We're all adults. I can't see anyone wrecking the flags. And I don't think there's much chance of people wearing them home -- they'll get in the way if someone tries getting into their car while they're still wearing it." Sheila tapped her right temple indicating she had thought of all the angles.

"I mean, to cheat a charity," Sheila said, in closing, to the managing director. "How low can you go?"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Great Norwegian Oom Pa Pa Ordeal

Bronson's Bar in Windsor, Ontario was situated in one of the most unlikely locations -- at the edge of the city, kitty-corner to the sewage treatment plant, and across an ancient access road from the Ford Motor factory.

One might guess its clientele was exclusively drawn from the neighboring plants, but no one from either place went near the bar. Bronson's was a biker bar, serenaded by the discordant machinations inside of Fords and accented by the stench of the city's composite shit wafting over from the "water reclamation center." Bronson's was like the Vatican Consulate -- a tiny nation unto itself. The bikers roared drunkenly up and down the pot-holed access road, hooting and hollering. They enjoyed uninterrupted fistfights and fornication in the parking lot.

All was as it should be, until the night the usual industrial lullaby outside was pierced by a low, throbbing sound: Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa. It grew louder and closer as the Waylon Jennings song on the juke inside ground to a growly halt.

A moment later, the front door of the bar was kicked open and a dozen burly, bearded men dressed in lederhosen carrying accordions barreled in with sharp laughs and thunderous, startling atonal blasts from their accordions. The bikers' beer and protests died in their throats. They could handle and dispatch with almost any intrusion, be it a rival gang, police, wayward college kids or some lost, random tough. But this Norwegian Accordion Gang not only had size and numbers in its favor, it had discordant, disconcerting sound on their side, as well.

The accordion gang filed in and stationed itself in the corner, eclipsing the silent, stunned jukebox, and crowded around the pool table where all play ceased. Their audience of bikers looked on, dumbfounded, distraught, bewildered and somehow disappointed -- the likelihood of familiar, fun ass-kicking suddenly seemed dim.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa said the Norwegian Accordion Gang.

The hands of the bikers flew up to their ears.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa, boomed the grinning lederhosen legion.

The bikers fled. The Norwegian Accordion Gang stayed until dawn, jamming, drinking beer. The police were not called. When the owner ventured back into the place the next afternoon to survey the damage, all he found was a pile of money on the bar, which paid -- to the penny -- for the beer that had been consumed.

* * *

John Walsh on America's Most Wanted two Saturdays later: "Help us get these accordion-playing creeps off the street and into an institution where they belong. This is the first time we've featured people who haven't yet broken the law. But if there was a law protecting good taste, these scuzzballs would've broken it over and over."

* * *

The Georgia Peach Festival in Shoot-Yer-Mama, Georgia was in full swing -- banjos were being flailed, en masse, the peach pie eating contest had just begun, Miss Georgia Peach had been crowned; most dress overalls were distended with full, contented corn-dog-eating-beer-swilling patrons; Confederate flags waved in the breeze.

In the corners and byways where the banjo music didn't reach, there were guffaws a-plenty and hearty knee-slapping-fun.

And then:

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

Faint at first. Only dogs raised and quizzically tilted their heads.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

The guffaws grew less hearty. The leader in the peach pie eating contest faltered, mid-gorge.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

Into the fairground walked the Norwegian Accordion Gang, all green lederhosen and waxed mustachioed, grinning like evangelists.

The banjo music stopped. The pie eating contestants turned their pie-gored faces away from their demolished meals. The dirigible airships in overalls paused mid-corn-dog and mid-beer-gulp, to gape and cringe.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa came the tsunami of sound.

As the Norwegian Accordion Gang gathered around the Ferris wheel, the ride-masters abandoned their controls. Vendors fled their tents. Patrons scurried, waddled and wheeled into the food tents.

* * *

John Walsh on America's Most Wanted two Saturdays later: "Nothing burns me up more than people using bad music to spoil patriotic Americans' good time! Let's get these Oom Pa Pa goons off the street tonight. All it will take is your phone call!"

* * *

Street corner in Compton, California, 2 a.m.. A rap battle was in progress among two dozen youths. Some of them had prerecorded backing beats, some went acapella, some had their friends provide backing.

When the first stirrings of Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa a few of the bystanders thought some low-rider from the barrio was in the neighborhood.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

The rap battle halted.

"What in hell -- ?" someone began to ask as the Norwegian Accordion Gang rounded a corner and approached.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

Those among the bystanders who had weapons, drew them. Those who did not, got ready to run. The approach of a group of people unknown to the neighborhood at this time of night did not usually herald fun or warm feelings toward the brotherhood of man.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

As the accordionists passed beneath one of the few working street lights, the rap battlers and audience caught their first clear glimpse of them. Various exhalations of questions rose from their midst.

"They makin' that sound with car parts?" one voice asked.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

"They squeezin' small animals in those boxes?" said another.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

"Look like pump-action something-or-others!"

The first of the group to get a good glimpse of the accordions fled.

"Them's some kinda machine guns!"

The others didn't need anything more than that to follow.

Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa . . .

The Norwegian Accordion Gang assembled on the corner where the rap battle had just been going on, and serenaded the neighborhood.

* * *

John Walsh on America's Most Wanted two Saturdays later: "Word is, we're finally rid of those atonal sickos have hit the road. They're on their way to Mexico, and good riddance to bad rubbish. We've never gone after a group who hadn't yet broken the law, but this group of accordion-ear-assaulters were clearly up to no good! We'll keep an eye out for them, and definitely an ear. Let's not have a repeat of their spontaneous musical terrorism. Write your legislator today so we can get some laws on the books to deal with these clowns in case they choose to come back!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mysterious Rumble in Ottawa traced to Senate Chamber -- someone actually showed up and an idea was put forth!

A royal commission is being assembled to look into the strange circumstances surrounding Canadian senators actually showing up for work and piecing together a "position paper."

Early reports indicate that senators had no idea that parliament was prorogued by Prime Minister Harper, in his continuing effort to dodge investigations into what he knew about Canadian forces in Afghanistan handing over detainees to be tortured. Since no Canadian senator has an email address, and the few who can read usually horde their special skill, senators were thought to be simply floating in their usual womb-like malaise and disarray.

Then, today's headline: Mounties should have cameras on their uniforms, senators say, appeared in The Globe & Mail.

The appearance of this position paper coincides with an increasing number of reports of mysterious rumbling sounds and strange lights in the sky in the area of the Canadian Senate. Until now, these reports had been dismissed out of hand because of a general, unwritten policy shared by law enforcement and the public: that nothing occurring near or around the senate is ever believed or taken seriously.

But now this position paper has surfaced: a 102-page report titled Toward a Red Serge Revival. Not only are senators, apparently, creating position papers, but they are actually titling them, as well!

Aside from the sheer oddity of anything occurring in the Canadian Senate, was the idea that police have camera's wired into their uniforms. It was a quaint, though hilarious and absurd, attempt by the senate to assert itself on a contemporary issue.

Also contained within the position paper were the following recommendations for other areas of Canadian life:
  • Canadian currency be made of edible material and citizens taxed based on their weight
  • Automobiles be made constructed of Nerf in order to soften collisions
  • "The Slinky" be the official symbol of the Canadian Senate
  • Tim Horton's coffee shops double as voting stations during elections
  • A Royal Commission be set up to look at ways of softening public attitudes toward urination in swimming pools
  • All hockey be played on rinks of frozen green Jell-O with bright yellow pucks
  • Fastfood drive-thru lanes be equipped with their own drive-thru lanes in order to speed up service.
Now, a royal commission is being established to investigate the events leading up to the Canadian Senate not only gathering -- somewhat -- but actually forming ideas. A shortlist of commissioners is expected by Christmas 2011.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In search of choke-proof hotdogs

Inside the Hotdog Factory has been closely following developments of scientists and food engineers as they devise a "safer" hotdog.

"If you were to take the best engineers in the world and try to design the perfect plug for a child's airway, it would be a hot dog," says Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Although that statement is unduly harsh, and has been condemned by the Fraternal Order of Hotdog Manufacturers and Vendors, it is, nonetheless, true.

In an effort to remove the danger from hotdog-eating, space-age design and technology has come up with some innovative alternatives.

Spleenberg Food Labs has been at the forefront of food engineering for more than half a century. Today, spokesman Charles Gumsom unveiled a few of their designs.

"Among our enhancements to hotdog-eating has been the 'CocoDog,' a hairy, coconut shaped hotdog. When barbecued, the hair burns off and forms a hard, coconut-like shell around the meat. The traditional hotdog bun would not be used with something like the CocoDog, which requires a machete to break through its tough outer husk and get at the meat. Unfortunately, the bun industry has fought us tooth-and-nail on this design. Also, we're getting a little bit of push-back from parents who, for some reason, are reluctant to provide their children with machetes."

Moving through his slideshow, Gumson continued, "We also have the DonutDog. Since donuts are among the safest of foods, Spleenberg engineers decided to bend the traditional hotdog and fuse its ends together, forming a perfect circle. This move has been lauded by bagel makers and has been extraordinarily popular during beta testing."

Gumsom clicked to the next slide. "Here we have novelty hotdogs shaped like a fire hydrant and a blacksmith's anvil. No one in recorded history has ever choked on either of those items, so we're merely latching on to the proven safety track record of these venerable designs."

At that point, Gumsom revealed Spleenberg Labs' centerpiece in safe hotdogging: the O2Dog.

"It looks just like the hotdog we all grew up eating," he said, "but we've infinitely improved it with science. When a person takes a bite of the O2Dog, the morsel instantly disintegrates into oxygen-rich component pellets. Not only is the risk of choking eliminated, but the O2Dog delivers a healthful dose of oxygen with every bite -- something your body needs, anyhow.

"In fact, the O2Dog is so safe be the difference between life and death when someone has an asthma attack. We've all seen it -- Little Bobby or Big Johnny forgot his inhaler and goes into a horrible fit of wheezing. Until now, we could only look on, helpless. Now it's possible for a bystander to simply jam an O2Dog down the asthmatic's throat, and then see them relieved of the attack within seconds.

"We're also tackling issues that have less to do with safety, and more to do with peoples' dignity. Spleenberg engineers are working on stain remover condiments, coffee that freshens breath, and a nail-clipper-compass.

"And last, but certainly not least," Gumsom said. "Say goodbye to the days of milk coming out your nose when someone makes you laugh while taking a drink. We've come up with Milgurt -- a thick, yogurt-like milk substitute. We've exhaustively tested this invention exposing hundreds of beta testers to today's hottest comedians. There may be cure for the spit-take, but we're confident that milk-out-the-nose will soon be a thing of the past."

Better living through science.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods apologizes to the world that he's not Jeezus Christ

Today, the world's most irrelevant billionaire put on a veritable clinic in insincere public apologies.

Since Tiger Woods believes it's the world he has wronged with his alleged infidelity, he addressed planet earth. He, of course, loses points on originality, since Conan O'Brien made that move about the galaxy-shattering news that he was losing or leaving The Tonight Show.

The only thing that could have made Tiger Woods' presentation more hollow and phony was if he had stood behind a life-sized cut out of himself, placed his lips in the cut-out mouth hole, and delivered his presidential address that way.

Tiger Woods is a golfer. People who wear visors with no sense of irony admire him. He has let down people who believe that "You da man!" is cool slang. He has ruffled the silken feathers of people who engage in what George Carlin once rightly described as "an arrogant, elitist game."

If he had a publicist worth anything, Tiger Woods would now shift gears, try some asymmetrical warfare, and run for governor of New York.

Today, Tiger Woods apologized to the world for not being Jeezus Christ. The world did not forgive him.

He should hit the RESET button and go on the old-new-new-again Tonight Show and drive golf balls into a net.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Five Guys: The community speaks out

In his ongoing series on the Five Guys, Phalguni Fanibhusan of Toronto Now sought the community's response to the recent cultural flaps that occurred in their collective backyard.

Neighbor, Lawrence Howell, 69, had this to say: "Well, those Five Guys are sure a sight in those in those masks. I's taking my dog for a walk one evening, the first time I ever met the Five Guys. They were all gathered around the neighborhood mailboxes, like they were having a prayer service, or something. I said hello to them, but nearly jumped out of my socks when they all turned around and I got a load of them masks!"

Dora, 33, declined to give her last name. "I don't understand why or how the Five Guys got Hallowe'en banned at our public school. I mean, they don't even have any kids who go to the school. What do they care what goes on there? But, no, Hallowe'en this year is now called 'Black and Orange Day.' Who ever heard of such a thing? What really gets me, is that the Five Guys make it so kids can't wear Hallowe'en costumes to school, and yet they walk around wearing ski masks all year round. What's up with that?"

At Dalgowski Warehousing, Ron Dalgowski, 45, commented, "I don't care where the Five Guys come from. Everybody in the community is either an immigrant or the children or grandchildren of immigrants. I do know that when my people came over from Poland, they didn't try and turn Canada into Poland. And the Armenian family down the street from me -- they didn't come here trying to turn Toronto into New Armenia. But to say that the name of this country is too western, and should be changed? Honestly, the Five Guys don't need citizenship classes, they need a few basic lessons in manners."

Then Phalguni Fanibhusan ventured into the Sunnyside Tavern seeking some homespun wisdom. He found it in Frank Nuberhardt, 71, a retired autoworker. When asked how he thought the saga of the Five Guys would play out, Nuberhardt sipped his beer and shook his head. "Don't know," he said.

Did he have any insight into the recent cultural flaps?

"Indeed, I do," Nuberhardt said. "Canada has a weird dynamic. Here, minority rules. The smaller, more obscure your group is, the more power it wields. Because Canada doesn't want to seem like it's Mama, Britain, which created an empire by brutalizing the weak. We've swung way, way, way in the other direction, to where the smaller, weaker, more obscure you are, the more lofty and pedestal-ready you are.

"No offense, but these Five Guys aren't used to living in civilized society. If what I've read about them is correct, the theocracy they come from is extreme and run by madmen. It's the Canadian officials who should have their pants pulled down and tossed out of their jobs.

"Canada is run by people who are so privileged, elite and arrogant, they view themselves almost as gods. They imagine themselves so all-powerful, all-knowing, that they can do nothing except take pity on the poor, small wife beater, child abuser, bank robber, murderer, or ignorant, demanding, angry, theocratic immigrant. They look upon their constituents like St. Francis looked upon a caterpillar.

"Our comatose, apathetic, hockey-obsessed, tax-numbed populace has paved the way for such a country. So, when one of our demigod bureaucrats, administrators, politicians hear that someone within the borders of Canada might be offended by something, they take action! Particularly if a very small number of marginal people are offended. Then the federal troops are called out. I guess it comes from being established by nations of butchers -- England and France -- that to this day we bend over backwards not to be like that.

"To rational adults who live and work in the world, it's a ridiculous state of affairs. But our politicians, judges, administrators, etc., exist in such a rarefied air, so utterly divorced from reality, that they give us ethereal, otherworldly solutions to very worldly issues.

"I once had a neighbor who was a principal at a Catholic grade school. A few of his parents were born again Christians. They complained about Hallowe'en, and about depictions of Santa Claus at Christmas time. They wanted Christmas to be called 'Jesus' Birthday,' no kidding. They even tried getting some of those Harry Potter books taken out of the library. And every time, my neighbor told those born again Christians 'No.' He told 'em 'no' and some of them took their kids out of his school and enrolled them in a born again Christian school. Fine. That's their right. And when it comes to these Five Guys and their demands, I think our duly elected officials owe it to the community to say what my neighbor said to the born agains -- 'No.'"

At which point, Nuberhardt took out a cigarette. He reached for his lighter and stopped. And smiled. "Ha, there you go," he said. "Old habits. Was a time, a person could smoke in here. I understand there are those who don't like the smell of smoke. But there also was a time when people were viewed as being adult to be capable of choosing where they wanted to spend their time."

He put his cigarette away and looked into his beer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Five Guys in the sky: Shut Up Airways

It didn't take long for the Five Guys of Toronto, Canada to see the following story in the news:
USAToday: Airport body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslims say -- Saying that body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslim-American groups are supporting a "fatwa" — a religious ruling — that forbids Muslims from going through the scanners at airports.

The Fiqh Council of North America — a body of Islamic scholars — issued a fatwa this week that says going through the airport scanners would violate Islamic rules on modesty.
Well, it's not just Islamic law that prohibits adherents from going through airport body scanners. The Visageban religion also forbids it.

So, Canada's most famous -- in fact, only -- Visageban followers, the Five Guys, wasted no time in securing emergency loans and grants from Cultural Pacification Canada to start their own airline.

Aqua Shirt Guy, leader of the Five Guys, explained, "Our airline is called 'Shut Up Airways.' Only Visageban may fly on it. This way, we don't have to compromise our religious and cultural beliefs by going through secular, unreligious airport body scanners."

Phalguni Fanibhusan of Toronto Now inquired, "Since there are only five Visageban in Canada, are you going to allow a non-Visageban pilot to fly your jet?"

"No!" Aqua Shirt Guy shouted. "Don't be insane! Coffee Drinking Guy has some flight training. He never had any interest in learning to land or take off, but he can fly the plane once it's in the air."

"But how --?" Phalguni Fanibhusan began, but was cut off.

"Silence!" Aqua Shirt Guy demanded. "Now, the regulations of Shut Up Airways are simple: Men sit in first class. Women travel in the baggage hold."

"You said that only Visageban may fly on your airline," said Phalguni Fanibhusan.


"How is that possible? You've started the airline with public funds. You can't take public funds to set up a restrictive, discriminatory business."

"Yes, we can."

Phalguni Fanibhusan investigated this angle of Shut Up Airways. He interviewed Lem Snarkfeneau, spokesman for Cultural Pacification Canada.

"Yes, they can," Snarkfeneau replied in answer to Fanibhusan's question about how the Five Guys could use public funds to create a restrictive, discriminatory business.

"But how?" Fanibhusan pressed. "I couldn't take public funds and, say, open a restaurant that only served people of a particular race or faith."

"No, you could not."

"Then how is that the Five Guys can?"

"Because they are a repressed minority."

"Do you mean oppressed? During all my research and interaction with the Five Guys, I haven't encountered anyone who's oppressing them."

"No, they are repressed. And it's their self-imposed repression that makes them eligible to run their business as they wish."

"But that doesn't make any sense whatsoever."

Snarkfeneau shrugged. "I don't make the rules. I merely abide by them."

So, what is the next step for Shut Up Airways?

"You have your jet," Phalguni Fanibhusan said. "Where will you fly first?"

"At this moment," Aqua Shirt Guy said, "no airport, city or nation state will accept us."

"What about your country of origin, Visagestan?"

Aqua Shirt Guy fixed Fanibhusan with a particularly hostile scowl. "Why would we want to go back to that hellhole?"

"So, as it now stands, you have a plane, but nowhere to fly," said Phalguni Fanibhusan.

"Yes, but we are taking the world to the World Court on charges of discrimination and causing offense and insult to our culture and religion."

"You actually have some money left over from procuring the plane to pursue this?"

"Of coure not!" Aqua Shirt Guy bellowed. "The Canadian government is funding our case!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver -- the Olympics where everything will be said twice

Welcome to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, where everything will be said twice.

Bienvenue aux Jeux de 2010 Jeux Olympiques d'hiver à Vancouver, où tout sera dit deux fois

The first name in First Names kill-joyery, Phil Fontaine, would have been the MC for the opening ceremonies, but he was in Brantford, Ontario, at the home of Norman Hackel, a man who had recently told an off-color joke about "Indians." At last word, Hackel was being roundly berated on his front porch by an irate Fontaine.

Le premier nom dans la joie prénoms, meurtre, Phil Fontaine, aurait été le maître de cérémonie pour la cérémonie d'ouverture, mais il était à Brantford, en Ontario, au domicile de Norman Hackel, un homme qui avait récemment déclaré à un hors-joke en couleurs sur les «Indiens». Au dernier mot, Hackel était vertement tancé sur son perron par un Fontaine furieux.

Canada is known as a laid back place, filled with ardent, eager-to-please, courteous people. This is actually a complete misconception. It's just that Canadians have been worn down like ocean shore rocks by their bureaucrat rulers. Also, we've just gotten used to tolerating Quebec, and accommodating the Quebecula by sitting through translations of everything. On the whole, saying anything in Quebeculese takes 25 percent more verbiage than saying the same thing in English. It takes its toll.

Le Canada est connu comme un endroit décontracté, plein d'ardeur, avides-à-s'il vous plaît, les gens courtois. C'est en fait une conception complètement fausse. C'est juste que les Canadiens ont été usées comme des rochers océan rivage par leurs dirigeants bureaucrate. Aussi, nous avons juste pris l'habitude de tolérer le Québec, et répondre aux Quebecula en siégeant à travers les traductions du tout. Dans l'ensemble, en disant quelque chose dans Quebeculese prend verbiage 25 pour cent de plus que de dire la même chose en anglais. Il tire son péage.

The Vancouver Olympics will, undoubtedly, be an enormous and unqualified success. Canadians do things well. If there is one blank spot in the Canadian psyche, it is the propensity of Canadians in positions of responsibility and power to take undue -- irresponsible, even -- risks with the safety of others. As Canadian judges, for instance, carry on the tradition of Slap-On-the-Wrist-Justice, always holding up the rights of miscreants over the safety of the community, so, too, have the makers of the Vancouver Games' luge course taken a very stupid -- and fatal -- chance in their reckless design. So it goes.

Le Vancouver sera, sans doute, être un énorme succès et sans réserve. Canadiens font les choses bien. S'il est un endroit vide de la psyché canadienne, c'est la propension des Canadiens dans une position de responsabilité et le pouvoir de prendre indu - irresponsables, même - des risques avec la sécurité d'autrui. En tant que juges canadiens porte sur la tradition de Slap-On-the Wrist-Justice, tenant toujours le haut les droits de mécréants sur la sécurité de la collectivité, donc, aussi, les décideurs ont bien sûr les Jeux de Vancouver luge pris un très stupide - et fatale - chance dans leur conception téméraire. C'est la manière.

And there throughout the opening ceremonies sat Stephen Harper, the round-headed hobbler of Canadian democracy. At the time of the Games, Canada is a banana republic, with no functioning federal government -- or, no federal government worth much of a shit. Democracy in action -- you don't like where a touchy investigation is headed, prorogue Parliament. Pull the flush chain, and enjoy a three-month paid vacation. If Stephen Harper had any dignity, any humanity, any anything, he'd have given his tickets to some east Vancouver drug addict, and himself checked into a Circle 6 motel to view the opening ceremonies in flickering, analog loveliness.

Et il y eut, Stephen Harper, le plein-cintre Clopinel de la démocratie canadienne. Au moment des Jeux, le Canada est une république bananière, sans gouvernement fédéral fonctionnement - ou, sans valeur gouvernement fédéral une grande partie de la merde. La démocratie en action - que vous n'aimez pas le cas d'une enquête délicate est dirigé, proroger le Parlement. Tirez sur la chaîne de chasse d'eau, et profiter d'un à trois mois de vacances payées. Si Stephen Harper avait toute dignité, toute humanité, toute chose, il aurait donné son billet pour certains toxicomanes à l'est de drogues à Vancouver, et Stephen, lui-même, vérifiez dans un Motel 6 cercle où il pouvait voir le ouvert les cérémonies en beauté analogique.

Hopefully Phil Fontaine will be finished berating and brow-beating Norman Haskel in time to attend the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Et nous espérons que Phil Fontaine sera fini réprimandant et le front de battre Norman Haskel à temps pour assister à la cérémonie de clôture des Jeux olympiques d'hiver de 2010 à Vancouver.

Canadian luge track -- don't mind the steel pillars mere inches from the course

Everyone at Inside the Hotdog Factory would like to extend their sincerest, heartfelt condolences to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili. What a tragic start to the Vancouver Games.

* * *

If there is one truism about Canada, it's this: Canada always keeps you guessing.

Take our luge track. It's probably the most expensive, most expertly engineered in the history of the sport. Just don't mind the steel pillars mere inches away from where lugers shoot past at speeds in excess of 120 km/h.

Who in the name of gawd thought this was OK?

There are more stories on the Web than anyone could count listing the ways in which life in Vancouver has been clamped down upon, to ensure that the 2010 Winter Olympics come off without a hitch.

And no one thought to have some kind barrier between the lugers and those steel pillars? No Plexiglas barrier above that small wall was possible? No space-age foam wrapping could have been put around the pillars themselves? This was the best we could do? Christ!

Now, a 21 year old man, an accomplished athlete -- someone's son, someone's teammate, someone's friend -- is dead. This is about the time when Olympic officials declare, "We're not going to play the 'blame game.'"

Certainly, blame will not bring back Nodar Kumaritashvili, but a little common sense, a basic sense of safety might have saved his life.

Nothing can be taken for granted in Canadian life. And certainly not on a Canadian luge course.

Video of the tragedy demonstrates just how fast Kumaritashvili was moving and how patently unsafe the luge course is.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Five Guys at Scatman's Skateteria

A clash of cultures has been playing out in newspapers across Ontario, ever since five guys -- identifying themselves as "Five Guys" -- have been seen around the city and local businesses clad in black ski masks and black gloves.

The Five Guys made news when they launched simultaneous cases against Toronto Metropolitan Police, various private citizens and a handful of journalists, in the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. They are now petitioning Queen's Park to create a third human rights hearing board because they claim redress in the other two bodies takes too long.

"Even when they do, finally, hand down their decision," said Aqua Shirt Guy, leader of the Five Guys, "we have every expectation that it will not ask for the caning or flogging or beheading of our enemies. We are bracing for that disappointment, and we'll take the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario before the third body we're petitioning Queen's Park to establish."

Outside of the Commission and Tribunal, the latest "Five Guys Flap" -- as local media are calling it -- occurred this week at a Toronto roller skating rink called Scatman's Skateteria.

The Five Guys had just laced up their skates and taken to the rink when they skated over to the DJ's booth and began loudly protesting the selection of music playing over the sound system.

"It's just the stuff you'd hear on any new music station," a shaken and bewildered DJ Rick Roll said after the incident. "And these five guys came over, all freaking out. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but I was afraid for my safety!"

"The music is too western!" said Aqua Shirt Guy, outside the police station where he and the rest of the Five Guys were booked and released. "That secular, unreligious, unholy music is offensive to our culture and our religion! We merely demanded that some of the short harmonica compositions of D'ligny Zeitgeist be played, and the next thing we knew, the police had been called!"

To which Toronto Now's Phalguni Fanibhusan asked, "Why would you go into Scatman's Skateteria, in the first place?"

"People always say to us, 'You must try to be more western!' So, we attempt to take part in this western practice, but they always offend our culture and our religion!"

Spokesman, Gordon Aftergood, of the C.L.O.W.N. (Canadians for a Less Offensive Way Now) had this to say: "It's very unfortunate that this situation had to be blown out of all proportion. We are working vigorously to persuade Premier McGuinty to proffer a written and verbal apology to the Five Guys. We're also trying to arrive at a compensation deal for the wronged parties, but I can't go into any detail about that just now."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Canadian Police Combat the Awful, Unforeseen Consequences of Civilized Society: Boredom

Although falling crime rates in Canada have been met with pats on various political and social backs, one dire, unforeseen consequence has arisen: Canadian police are bored.

In fact, if it weren't for the continuously bumbling, hopelessly corrupt and inept RCMP -- and the odd recalcitrant and thuggish city cop -- municipal police would have almost absolutely nothing to do. The careless and brazen actions of Winnipeg police officer, Constable Daniel Aminot and legendary RCMP miscreant, Constable Benjamin Robinson, of late, have kept a few cops busy, but overall a distinct sense of malaise has descended upon police departments across the nation.

Politicians have been scrambling to create new laws for dispirited police to enforce. One new piece of legislation that's become a real hit among some officers: cracking down on motorists who talk on hand-held cellphones while driving.

With no other real crimes to investigate, police have jumped onto this latest bandwagon as quickly as they can.

According to Captain Travis Skudobel, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Canadian Law Enforcement Officers, "We had high hopes for an up-tick in calls when the provice banned cigarettes from view two years ago, but we've been very disappointed to find virtually one hundred percent compliance."

Observers and watchdog groups have noted that police have resorted to committing crimes, themselves, in order to simply keep busy.

Says, Captain Skudobel, "If it weren't for our judges who release almost every actual criminal we bring in to court, we'd have nothing to do."

One police officer who declined to give his name had this to say: "I signed up for action and excitement, and of course, the ultimate 'Get Out of Jail Free Card' -- the badge. But things have gotten really dull. If I wanted to make my living just sitting around, I would have joined the fire department."

The bane of office existence

Speakerphones possess an unmistakable aura of arrogance.

That the user is someone of such high-powered importance, who is in such demand, that they need their hands free at all times while speaking, in case they have to perform some emergency medical procedure, sign a billion dollar cheque or finish typing some crucial report.

But there's an inherent contradiction to that -- if you're engaged in any of those activities, then why would you do such a weighty, important thing while distracted by the phone? Yes, you're desperately, invaluably important. Indispensable. Absolutely irreplaceable. But don't important tasks merit their own time?

And people with speakerphones don't write reports. They read the "executive summary" of reports, that's it.

Innate arrogance, aside, the practical aspects of the speakerphone are reprehensible: the noise, the disruption, the shrieking "Look at me! Look at me! Hear me conduct business! I'm conducting business!"

There is only one thing speakerphones actually accomplish -- they broadcast for all with ears to hear how stupid and banal and incompetent people are. Thing is, this need not be broadcast. Anyone who works in an office already knows this. So, there again, is more abuse perpetrated by the speakerphone. It's like a bully's hand grabbing one by the neck and shoving their face into the armpit of this knowledge: "Know it! Breathe it! Love it!"

Here's how speakerphones should be advertised: "Connecting idiots with assholes," or "Broadcasting banality since 1974."

And what is this 19th century speaker technology used in speakerphones? AM radio sounds like full, rich Bose technology in comparison. Sure, some people on the other end of speakerphone conversations are on shitty cell phones, or on great cell phones with shitty reception, or have great cell phones and coverage, but shitty voices.

That's yet another strike against speakerphones: they are painfully susceptible to the "shit" factor, where the shittiness of a given call is exponentially amplified and exacerbated by speakerphones.

Maybe it's just that people exist on different frequencies. I cannot stand telephones. The only valid use of a telephone is to call for an ambulance or to order a pizza. My frequency has never served me well. I'm sensitive to noise in a world that can't seem to hear itself scream. The human voice is a hammer and the air is a nail, and sometimes it feels like it's being driven right into my skull.

Just as the speakerphone would have it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

When the Crime is the Punishment

Lysiane Gagnon published an editorial in The Globe & Mail on January 29, saying "Can it be that in just four years, Stephen Harper's government has managed to change the views of Canadians toward crime and punishment?" citing an Angus Reid poll that found Canadians believe convicted criminals should receive tougher penalties.

Ms. Gagnon has it all wrong. Our judges are the reason Canadians are less tolerant of criminals, not the Harper government. For too long, our justices have handed down insultingly lenient sentences to criminals who have done real, terrible harm to the community. The Danyelle Snively case readily comes to mind.

This week, Antonio (Tony) Raco was sentenced to six months in prison for sexually assaulting two of his students in the 1990s. The Lakeshore mom who sexually abused her two-year-old son and broadcast the images over a webcam, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. These are ridiculously light sentences that, yet again, send the message that our judges have no idea how to deal with criminals who are actively harmful to our community. It's the flaccid, lethargic, inexplicable leniency of our judges that has Canadians clamoring for tougher sentences for criminals.

The Harper government -- of which I am no supporter -- cannot be credited with changing Canadians' hearts and minds on the subject of crime. Our experience has done that. Every new, egregious headline in the newspaper, announcing some other criminal has virtually "gotten away with it," solidifieds in Canadians' minds that we cannot rely on our justice system to provide anything but outrage among the law-abiding. When will we finally bring justices to the bench who share the community's values and sense of what's right and wrong? The wait has already gone on too long.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Larry King Live: Tonight's guest, Biathlete Ross Mettlecune


LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Tonight, prime time exclusive -- what is "Biathlon," who are "Biathloners," and are they a threat to this country's security.


Montage of images: World Trade Center buildings falling; cross country skiers cross country skiing on a sunny day; a crowd at the security checkpoint in a O'Hare Airport; an American flag burning in a demonstration somewhere in the Middle East.


LARRY KING: I'm joined tonight by "biathloner" Ross Mettlecune who says he can explain away the recent controversy surrounding his group's stated intent to disrupt the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

(turns to Mettlecune and speaks in his patented Larry King "come on" voice)

Why do want to disrupt the Winter Olympics? They're fun. Families and dignitaries will be there. What sick pleasure do you get out of scaring people like this?

ROSS METTLECUNE (bewildered): I don't understand what you're saying. I'm competing at the Vancouver Games. I'm a biathlete.

LARRY KING (confused): What is the "biathlon" I keep hearing about? Is it some kind of newfangled ideology? Are you part of a cult?

ROSS METTLECUNE: No, no, no, it's a sport. It combines cross country skiing with target shooting. It's been an official Winter Olympic sport since 1960.

LARRY KING (long pause): What's it feel like to kill a man?

ROSS METTLECUNE: I'm not sure you understand. I shoot at targets, not people. I've never shot a person in my life.

LARRY KING: But you were up in that clocktower for hours. We saw you -- there was live coverage -- !

ROSS METTLECUNE: I have no idea what you're talking about.

LARRY KING: What do your parents think about all of this?

ROSS METTLECUNE: They're very proud of me going to the Olympics. They've been extremely supportive of my dream, ever since I was a kid.

LARRY KING: How did you get started in the biathlon. Did you grow up in a militia?

ROSS METTLECUNE: No, no, I grew up in Chicago. I've always loved skiing and I got into target shooting with my father.

LARRY KING: And he would be Donald Drag, the infamous white supremacist.

ROSS METTLECUNE: No! My dad's a dentist! His name is Kyle Mettlecune! Where did you get your information? It's completely wrong.

LARRY KING: On this show, we believe in letting all sides tell their stories. So, what was life like on deathrow?

ROSS METTLECUNE: You've got me mixed up with some other person. I'm a biathlete. I'm going to compete in the Vancouver Winter Games. I'm not a militia member and I've never killed anybody.

LARRY KING: Then what was your link to Charles Manson? Were you one of those rich music moguls who screwed him around?


LARRY KING: Biathlete. Biathlete. Is this some sort of "don't ask, don't tell" king of thing?


LARRY KING: Now that the Innocence Project has gotten you out of prison, are you rehabilitated? Do you still crave having sex with young children.

ROSS METTLECUNE: (gets up from his chair and walks off the set)

LARRY KING: Because, if I remember correctly, it was Dean Martin who convinced Frank Sinatra to raise minks for their fur, and ferrets as pets. (chuckles) Ole Dean-o!

He could sing, and tell a joke, and sculpted the hedges at his Burbank home into Disney characters engaged in depraved sex acts. (chuckles) Ole Dean-o!

And that D.B. Cooper. I'll never understand how he avoided arrest for driving O.J. Simpson around in that Prius that had no brakes. Murder is always a terrible thing, but to have murdered Gerry Spence and his suede, tassled Navajo jacket. That's the definition of tragedy.

I was the DJ on the midnight shift at W-something-or-other in New York. Ah, that call that came in -- the woman with the Lauren Bacall voice. Putting on the longest record I had in the booth: Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall. And then going over and giving the woman with the Lauren Bacall voice the business.

The business.

Busy O'Business.

Was that before or after I lost my second fortune? No, it was after I'd lost my second fortune, but before the wreck of my third marriage.

No, that's all wrong. It happened after I lost my first fortune, the crack-up of my second marriage and my second heart attack.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Fuck the Super Bowl

Games I'd watch before watching the Super Bowl:

* professional ladies Twister
* squash
* bowling
* lawn darts
* horse shoes
* hurling
* Gaelic rules football
* football (soccer)
* arm wrestling
* basketball
* competitive hide-and-seek

The lake and the land

I went out for my long walk and came back with the idea, or at least, the inspiration to write about Lesley, I had another idea. It was a very productive walk.

I had this intense image of the world from which we've all come -- before birth -- as being a lake. Our birth into this world is us rising out of the water and walking toward shore -- not unlike that scary-as-hell image used in that episode of In Search Of . . . where the ghost of the drunken duke rose from the water and approached shore.

So, we're born and we wander onto the shore, onto the land, into the woods, down roads, across fields, over hills, over mountains, through deserts, everywhere.

When it rains, the wet drops remind us of that other world from which we came. Reminds us of our mortality; that we'll one day return to the lake.

Some of us stay close to the lake, knowing it's home. We're curious about the world and we give it a look, have a walkabout, climb a tree, run through some tall grass, lie in the sun. But we always return so that we're within view of the lake.

Art comes out of the lake. Art comes from that other world from which we came. Those of us who keep a connection with that world, by staying within view of the lake, tap into it to varying degrees.

My approach to life, or at least, the only way I know how to live, is right on the shore of that lake. I walk into it up to my ankles all the time, sit down in the water and wave my arms back and forth, trying to recreate that floating free feeling of when I could exist beneath the water without consequences. Sometimes I'll have a swim, dunk my head, do a somersault. But I always have to surface because my landborn body cannot breathe underwater. No matter how long I stay beneath the surface, I have to come up again because I need air -- I need the World's air.

After walking around on the land, feeling mud squish between my toes, walking barefoot across hot pavement and hot grass, I sit on the shore, looking at the water, thinking, I get it. I'd like to get back into the water. Don't get me wrong -- the land is great at times. The sun is fabulous. The vistas and beauty and sunsets and rain and thunder and morning dew are great. Bravo! Music is wonderful. So are good stories. But really, they only make me miss the lake. Movies? I love them. For the two or three hours of watching a movie, a good, surprising movie, is just like being back in the water and not having to surface.

And I think some people get angry in their lives because they've wandered so far across the land, gotten caught in wire fences, stubbed their toes, fallen out of trees, eaten bad berries that they grow so disenchanted with the land, they want only to return to the lake. But having wandered so far, they don't know the way back. And the rain only mocks them.

And others who are so unnaturally attached to the lake that they just sit on the shore, never venturing onto the land.

And still others, who climbed the right trees and ate the right berries, and found the best places to lie in the sun, and the coziest places to wait out the rain, that they're horrified by the idea of ever returning to the lake. They're so entranced by the land, they've forgotten what the lake was all about.

And while we wander around on the land, we run into others who tell us truth and tell us lies about where they've been on the land, eithe rmaking it sound much better than it is, or much worse. We meet some people who accurately describe where they've been and give us good directions to the fun places. And others who are stingy and secretive about the good places they've been and won't give any directions, and are put out when asked to share.

When we die, do we go back into the lake? Do we return to the place from which we came? I don't think so. Not everybody makes it back to the lake, and even if they did, I'm unsure if the lake would take any of us back. So, where to go? The sun is very far away, the rain comes and goes and takes nobody with it, the wind is selfish and solitary, the grass and trees and mountains just are. They don't care if we sit with them, but they don't have anything extra to offer other than their original appeal and quiet.

Some people wander the land claiming to know where we're supposed to go.

Some people are absolutely convinced the only way is to get back to the lake and jump in.

Other people forsake the land and the lake, believing the sun will reach down for them when its ready for them.

Still others listen to all the differing ideas and can't choose one to believe in.

For myself, I find comfort in the heart-beat-metronome of the waves lapping against the shore. Even when the lake gets rough in a storm, I know it's not deep enough, large enough or powerful enough to do much damage. The rain just teases me.

We come from a liquid state and our brains remain in that liquid state. Look at the birth mark on the head of Mikhail Gorbachev and tell me we don't come into this world from a liquid state. Or, look at my cat's markings and tell me she didn't come from a liquid state into this world. The chemicals that make us who we are and do what we do are liquid. To me, pondering the lake, I can only think of liquids as spiritual. Hence drinking alcohol is something akin to religious participation in my ancient heritage. Whiskey, beer, booze have their origins in water; the lake. Drinking them is like drinking from the lake.

That is all.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Five Guys & Lamaze Class

As recently reported by Toronto Now's Phalguni Fanibhusan, five guys identifying themselves as "Five Guys" have been making quite a stir in Toronto, Ontario.

Emigres from the micro-theocracy of Visagestan, the Five Guys are currently pursuing simultaneous cases against Toronto Metropolitan Police, various private citizens and a handful of journalists, before the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

They claim harassment has been directed upon their cultural and religious practices, which include wearing black ski masks and black gloves in public.

The latest flap occurred when the Five Guys accompanied a pregnant woman to a Lamaze class. The woman claimed one of the men was her husband and father of the baby, but declined to identify which of the Five Guys it was.

The trouble began when the Lamaze instructor began leading couples through the first series of breathing exercises. It was then that Aqua Shirt Guy, leader of the Five Guys, demanded that all of the women in the room be quiet.

"It was freaky enough having these five guys in there, wearing black ski masks," said Susie Gendreau, a student in the class. "They surrounded this poor woman like they were Secret Service or something. But when we started the first exercise, the guy in the blue --"

"Aqua!" Aqua Shirt Guy shouted, as he wrestled with arresting officers nearby. "My shirt is aqua!"

Visibly shaken, Ms. Gendreau continued: "You see, he was shouting just like that. What is his problem?"

The problem, it turned out, was that the Five Guys are adherents of the religion known as Visageban. Interviewed outside the police station where they were booked and released, Aqua Shirt Guy explained:

"Women are forbidden to speak! They must never make a sound unless commanded by a man! Childbirth is a shameful, ignoble act and must be done in complete silence!"

To which Toronto Now's Phalguni Fanibhusan asked, "Then why would you attend a Lamaze class, in the first place?"

"People are always saying to us, 'You must become more western!' So, we attempted to take part in this western practice. But we quickly found it offensive to our culture and religion!"

When asked which of the Five Guys was married to the pregnant woman they accompanied, no answer was given.

"We come from Visagestan to make a new life," Aqua Shirt Guy continued, "and all we find in Canada is prejudice, intolerance, racism and condemnation! If we wanted to live like that, we would have stayed in Visagestan."

Spiritual leader for the area, Barbara Hall, was unavailable for comment due to her work in establishing a National Press Council. She was apparently off, comparing various grades of tethers and ball gags to be used on recalcitrant journalists.

Morgan Flagstaff, spokesman for C.W.S.N.O.A.A. -- Canadians Who Seek Never to Offend (Anyone Anywhere) -- had this to say, "Following this egregious transgression against the Five Guys' basic human rights, the C.W.S.N.O.A.A. is asking the Harper government to suspend all Lamaze classes across the nation, until an amicable solution can be found."

To which Toronto Now's Phalguni Fanibhusan responded: "But we're talking about five men from Visagestan --"

"Five men and one woman!" Flagstaff shot back.

"OK, we're talking about six people from Visagestan. There have never been these kinds of complaints about Lamaze class in the past, but you suddenly want all classes across the country stopped because of six people?"

"We don't play a numbers game in Canada," Flagstaff said disgustedly. "'Majority rules' went out of this country with the Union Jack. Let me tell you: several years ago, we had an emigre from East Lactania who was in a vegetative state on life support in Toronto Grace Hospital. One of his caregiver's intuited that he disapproved of Diet Fresca. That was enough to have Diet Fresca banned in this country. We don't play a numbers game in Canada. It's all about tolerance and justice."