Friday, December 17, 2010

Underpants for Work

A major Swiss bank has taken the appropriate dress code for the office policy to the extreme by issuing a large document to its employees which strips them down to their underwear. The document has stated that all undergarments should be flesh-coloured and that women were not to wear 'flashy' jewelry. It further stated that those with coloured hair must not have roots showing and that the men must have at least 2 parts of a 3 part suit when they showed up to work.

While it's evident that everyone would like to dress professionally for work, just to which point do we have to be told how to dress? After all, these are adults who are working within a professional institution in good standing. Surely they don't need to be told what colour their knickers can be?

But on the flip side, there's a good part of the population that does need telling and they're likely the cause of this strict fashion regime. While the anything goes attitude of North America and casual Fridays are liberating, they're also horrible for the image of a company or organization. The amount of people wearing pajamas to work, pajama plaid pants, yoga pants and every variety of night club wear Monday to Friday has proven that point. A quick look around the bus usually tells you that someone is heading into an office job looking either like a college freshman who's still hung over from last night and may be wearing someone else's pants or a skirt so short that they may literally have a slip of the cheek at some point during the day.

It seems like this is a common sense principle that our mothers should have taught us. We all know that office appropriate generally depends on who's up top. Some people enjoy a very comfortable, laid back office ambience where people are free to come in wearing sweats, while others have a shirt and tie policy and above the knees for the ladies. There are two distinct schools of thought on this issue:

1- this is a democracy and adults should be free to choose how they want to dress and to express themselves through their clothes

2- a workplace is a professional organization and you have an obligation to represent them properly by coming into work not looking like you're homeless

There are good arguments for both, but what it boils down to comes to this: be reasonable. There's a time and place to wear certain things and your common sense, as well as the social cues of the people around you, should indicate what's proper and what's not. While some people dream of living in a world where they can wander around wearing a tutu and tiara, the truth is, you will have to wear different things for different occasions.

Dressing appropriately for things like work and funerals are a sign of respect for the organization or the event that you're attending. And in a workplace, it's also a sign of self-respect, to show that you're interested in your image, your clients and the quality of your work and that maybe, just maybe, you're thinking of going places.

Fur Flying

It appears that the Trudeau family Christmas card got more attention than it intended when PETA proclaimed that the card was offensive and lurid. PETA activists were shocked that the Quebec politician and his young family would pose for their Christmas card wearing fur and snuggling under a fur blanket. While the fact that PETA found the use of fur offensive didn't surprise me, the accusation that it was lurid did. It didn't seem to mesh well with my understanding of the term. So I looked it up online to make sure that it was being used correctly and came up with the following:

lu·rid (lrd)
1. Causing shock or horror; gruesome.
I suppose that this is the definition that the PETA activist was looking for, stating that wearing fur was a gruesome act.

2. Marked by sensationalism: a lurid account of the crime. See Synonyms at ghastly.
I suppose that this could have been the other meaning, stating that wearing fur is a sensational and ghastly act.

3. Glowing or shining with the glare of fire through a haze: lurid flames.
I checked the back of the Christmas card photo to see if there was a fire in the fireplace which I assumed was crackling festively in the background and couldn't quite make it out. So let's assume this one is also true.

4. Sallow or pallid in color.
Since all the Trudeaus look to have normal colouring and not jaundice, I'm guessing this one's a no.

Whatever the meaning that was intended, the message by PETA is clear: fur is wrong. But is it really so wrong? As newsmakers point out and rightly so, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was often photographed wearing fur collars on his winter coats, looking very much the patriot, the outdoorsman and Canadian. Canada is, after all, founded on the fur trade and lumber. And the tradition of fur in Canada is not based on excess or fashion, but on necessity. Facing a harsh winter often meant that early pioneers would have to seek fur to keep warm. Otherwise, they would not have made it through.

As any red-blooded Canadian will tell you, cotton is useless against wind chill and snow in Canada. Even heavy denim doesn't do anything when it's 40 below. They say the weather outside is frightful for a reason- it's damn cold and most people would have to be out of their minds to go out in a Canadian snowstorm. Just ask Edmonton.

True, the fur trade isn't exactly what it used to be. There are many companies looking to make a killing (pardon the pun) with animals who are beautiful rather than practical. The early tradition of killing animals for meat and fur were a necessity and was done with respect for animals. No pioneer would have dreamed of demolishing an entire animal population on purpose or raising some poor animal for its fur alone. That would have been wasteful and unethical.

But there's no reason to believe that the entire fur industry is running afoul and operating laboratories where animals are imprisoned, skinned and then tossed out like so much garbage. There are responsible fur traders and companies out there who genuinely know and appreciate their trade. If there's anything that activists should get upset about, it's the sale of animals who are endangered and whose meat is useless, and poor regulations of the fur industry that leads to a black market.

They should also protest the idiots in LA who buy fur as a status symbol when they clearly live in a climate that doesn't require it. The luxury fur trade is often ridiculous and lucrative, but it's not exactly 'lurid'. And neither is the Trudeau family Christmas card.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nay to English Education

The British government has passed regulations that allow them to triple the costs of education in Britain, leading to mass student protests, some of which have turned ugly, in the streets of London. The latest hapless victims of this widespread anger were Prince Charles and his wife Camilla who sustained a certain amount of mob damage to their vintage Rolls Royce. It's ironic and unfortunate that the couple happened to be decked out in their finest on their way to a charity event in a plush pleasure car while students protested the prospect of riddling future debts that would bar them from a decent wage earning lifestyle and would thus make them future recipients of such charity. How short-sighted of them.

It's not incredible that the government that got voted in on the promise of tuition freezes for students has reneged on that promise once they were faced with the actual books. Politicians lie all of the time and the jaded people of our generation know better than to expect anyone to actually keep their promises once they're handed power. What is incredible is that instead of attempting to assuage or feign ignorance by upping tuitions by a marginal number which may pass under the radar, they did the truly inconspicuous thing by tripling them.

Now that's just greedy. While a population that's been lied to may have the decency to put aside their disappointment and anger in favour of a middle of the road compromise for the betterment of the country, tripling the rate of education is just highway robbery. It's not like when the guy that you bought your sofa from on Boxing Day tells you that he can't make overnight delivery free as he initially promised, and would you mind if it arrived on Wednesday. It's like you reading the Boxing Day flyer as $399 and coming in on the day of the pick up and finding out it's $999. That's when you throw your hands up in the air and rant and rave all the way home and wave the flyer at people and tell all of your friends and family not to go to that store because they're all a bunch of liars.

Except that this is not as easy to walk away from as a sofa. You can live a few years without a sofa without it adversely affecting the rest of your life. It's a lot harder to do that without a high level of education. Lack of education bars you from the best positions and the best salaries. It also hinders your advancement in almost any form of organization that you can be employed with. Not to mention that it can drastically reduce your mobility and your ability to change careers.

The government is making the argument that the deficit crisis has reduced them to this kind of measure to generate more revenue. Which is little comfort to students to know that their future will be mortgaged based on the errors of some six figure idiots in the banking industry.

There's no way that this plan will work, either. There will be less students paying more within British universities and the rest of the population will go elsewhere. Many of them will likely jam Scotland and Ireland's universities for cheaper tuition rates and some party time away from home. Those who don't have that luxury and couldn't afford university at the current rates before the tripling measure occurred, will simply not go to university. They will either get low paying jobs wherever they're available or they will pick up a trade. This will put Britain on the fast track to becoming the world's supplier of plumbers and electricians and construction workers in Dubai.

A workforce which lacks highly educated professionals will have to outsource, a process which is expensive, competitive and only advantages the professional, who can come and go as they please and determine the conditions of their employment. It also leads to the 'brain drain' problem that many experts say will happen naturally as a result of so many boomers retiring.

An uneducated workforce doesn't buy homes, delays starting families, doesn't take vacations abroad, go to the theatre, or buy mass amounts of presents at Christmas. They are not a serious contributor to the economy as a result. There can be no economic recovery for a country without middle class earning power and consumership. Sadly, the middle class is dying out and measures such as education hikes for higher education are just the nails in the coffin.

Looks like billionnaire Branson may have to do the country's consumer spending for them. He may be one of the last people who can afford to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stalkers Rejoice!

Online stalkers can now rejoice! Facebook is making it even simpler to find more and more information on its users and is now moving towards visuals. The latest changes will allow you to see where the person works, where they live and all of their latest pictures. The company's CEO claims that this will be a more real reflection of peoples' lives and a great opportunity for them to tell their stories, using visuals as the most popular tool.

Yes, because there's absolutely nothing creepy about Facebook's CEO or the fact that the company has seriously violated rights to privacy in the past. And there's nothing wrong with helping crazy exes and stalkers find the people that they are obsessed with or have been wronged by in the past.

It used to be that stalking was a long, exhaustive process that took months of calculating and learning to see through blinds without being conspicuous. Countless of old school stalkers had to perfect the art of impersonating people and plants alike, forging notes or cutting out all those tiny letters out of dozens of magazines so that they could send out death threats without having to learn how to forge.

Not to mention all those heavy breathing phone calls made from pay phones so that they couldn't be traced, which takes a lot of effort. I mean, you need to save quarters and then you have to find the payphone booths and then you have to make sure that it doesn't belong to some homeless dude and then you usually have to make the call at some ungodly hour in order for it be really creepy rather than just mid afternoon strange. And then you had to make sure that you found the right person in the phone book because you were never sure if you were actually calling the hardware store by mistake, in which case the guy who owns the store is generally more creepy than the person making the call, and it can all turn bust in such little time.

But all of the planning, the calculating and the investment into binoculars just doesn't have to happen anymore. Now you can stalk from the comfort and convenience of your own home. You can even do it wearing pyjamas. You can do it on the bus on your iphone. You could leave the country and still stalk safely from a distance and keep up to the second on the person that you're after. Stalking has never been easier. It is a golden age for stalking. Not to mention that Facebook allows you to stalk people you've never even met before, people who have never so much as waved at you in your life. The Internet opens up a world of possibilities.

Given all that information, how can you possibly be expected to make a sound decision on who to stalk? No fear. There are thousands of people online. You just have to pin down your motivation first. Revenge? Love/ Hate obsession? General hate at the world for being unfair? The choices are endless!

Oh, for a cabin in Walden.

A Whole Lot of Hatin' Goin' On

I am not proud of Canada's culture, cuisine or that water-based concoction that's supposed to pass for beer. What I generally am proud of is Canada's openness, the multicultural tradition of welcoming all types of people and not identifying them by their race or religion. But I must have missed the memo that said that Canada was switching to racism.

Admitedly, it would be in keeping with the times. What with the rough economic situation and the looming threat of terrorism at any given moment, it makes sense that countries are naturally turning inwards and protecting themselves against what they consider outsiders and visible minorities are the easiest targets. It is, after all, easier to spot enemies when they look different. It's also natural that when people are at risk of losing what they have or have been entitled to in the past, such as pensions, jobs, benefits, etc, that the desire to share with others is somewhat affected.

It's also very de rigeur at the moment, ever since the German Chancellor proclaimed that multiculturalism was dead, that the project had failed. France has always been very hostile to outsiders, so this is nothing new to them. Greece, even though it's not rich in minorities, has also lashed out against their minorities in the fight to protect their rights. And even Switzerland has gotten into the act in years past when they passed a law forbidding turrets on mosques within their communities.

So why not Canada? It seems that Canada has finally jumped on the racist bandwagon. Our neighbours to the South are probably relieved. Maybe we'll finally get rid of that Mexican problem they've been griping about for years. And don't forget all the Cubans that we're supposedly harbouring.

MacLeans has fearlessly led the charge with an article critiquing Canadian universities as being too Asian. And now the Ontario Minor Hockey Association has dealt a blow at a disobedient coach who dared to pull his team off the ice after a racial slur towards one of his players. Yes, the rule book is about to be thrown at this non-non-discrimination believer! He may be banned for the rest of the season.

And wouldn't that serve him right? I mean, to think that there was still someone out there who still believes in all of this multiculturalism garbage? It's so passe. It went out with the 60s and all that can't we just get along crap. The answer is no, we can't. We tried, it failed. Everyone should just move on, get with the program and continue to hate each other and make life as difficult as possible for those who are not exactly like us. Conformity and silence are the new waves of the future.

Tolerance will not be tolerated.

I'm not a proud Canuck right now. But like most Canadians, I will follow the age old tradition of every other displeased Canadian when faced with something unpleasant: I'll be quiet.

Except for this blog, of course.

And I apologize in advance for whoever this will offend. I do realize that even haters have their rights.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Praise of Older Women

The timeless divine like beauty of Sofia Loren, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and Catherine De Neuve all point to the obvious fact that older women have something on their younger lacklustre counterparts. The Lindsays and the countless ambiguous blondes out there are all missing something, fading together into the background like so many worn out blossoms before the winter. What is it? They're young, good looking, with firm bodies and smooth skin, and yet, all of them seem so unspectacular.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about a woman which makes her a true woman: class. It carries with it a mystique. It can't be defined, but it can always be felt. Those women are more than pretty faces- they are not fly by night operations who are easily erased the next day, they are not replaceable. They are enduring, simply because they carry themselves with true elegance, playfulness and charm.

What ever happened to the days where women dressed to go places? The clutch purses, the gloves, the neatly pressed dresses, high heels, hats? You only see women dressed like that heading to the derby and if anyone came dressed like that to the supermarket, you would frankly think that they're the crazy bag lady. But it's not just a question of style. It's more a social intuition- the ability to know how to be and when to be it, manners, a sense of time and place and please and thank you.

It's no wonder that there used to be a time when men dressed to go places and tripped over themselves opening doors for women like that. And no, yoga bunnies in your $80 seaweed pants, that doesn't include you. You may consider your yoga pants the pinnacle of fashion, but no matter what day and age you live in, no man is going to fall all over himself trying to help that out.

And can you really blame them? A beautifully dressed woman is a piece of art, just like the naked feminine form. The small, delicate steps in heels, the sashay of hips that only women have, the swish of skirts, trailing perfume like roses behind. It's not sexist to appreciate those things. It's not de-liberating to feel that way for women. In fact, women feel more confident when they feel good about themselves. And while yoga may make you feel better when you're doing it, you're not tree posing 24 hours a day, so leave them aside when you step out into real life.

One last example of ageing women having the upper hand on the young, awkward, generic youth? Betty White. That woman has made a comeback in the entertainment industry like you wouldn't believe. Her sass wouldn't be so funny without her class. And only an older woman can have that.

Boom Boom Shake Shake The Room

Macleans continues to shock and awe the Canadian public with its hard-headed news reports which look more and more like US style fear mongering. First, we had to be afraid of the Asians taking over University campuses and turning them into places of study rather than the carefree keg parties that we have all been hoping for all of our adolescent years. Now, the focus has shifted to old people, stating that the boomers will leave in their wake a 'screwed generation' of young people unable to make ends meet. It claims that boomers will take every last crumb that it feels it's entitled to and expect the future generations of workers to foot the bill for them.

Well, so much for a fun peaceful lunch at grandma's.

The first problem that I have with this article is the fact that it calls the next generation the 'screwed generation.' What kind of name is that for a Generation? Generations X and Y belie some form of intellectual creativity, while the Lost Generation continues to inspire, beguile and revile people. But the 'screwed generation' is just so literal. It's pure intellectual laziness. Surely we can do better than that.

The second problem that I have with this is that it's incredibly presumptuous. Yes, all the doom and gloom stats indicate that the next generation will be swimming in debt, overstretched from the demands of caring for the elderly and the young at the same time and that there will be a bleak economic future ahead of them. And that's without even taking into consideration the disastrous effects of climate change and the constant threat of terrorism. Oh, it's all so hopeless, just so utterly hopeless. Let's all wring our hands at the same time. Wait, let's not, we might all get the avian flu.

Why would we assume that things would get steadily worse in the future? I'm not exactly a glass half full person, but at the same time, there needs to be some relativity. We are the generation that gets ipods and Xboxes for Christmas. We are Guitar Heroes and our phones do everything short of living our lives for us. Even the most out of touch bumpkins have some idea of what sushi is, even if they think it's yucky and we've probably travelled the world more than any generation ahead of us.

We're also the healthiest, most highly educated generation with the most social choices. We decide if and when to marry, who to marry, we divorce, we leave jobs, we leave town, we live in a world of more choice than people could have dreamed of even 50 years ago. We live longer and not only that, we live better quality long lives, working way into our 60s, 70s and 80s depending on our chosen professions.

Of course, there is the increasing debt, the burden of social services and health care, as well as providing long term care for masses of ageing people. And there are those boomers who feel that they can double dip by working a little bit on the side and collecting a pension as well. But we shouldn't start thinking like they stole that pension; they worked for it. Don't be fooled.

You want to know who's entitled? The generation that thinks that it doesn't have to care about the ageing population, the one that acts like older workers steal pensions and that health care services are being hoarded by the elderly. The one that complains about how much harder they have to work to make a living.

On the other hand, it's clear that the next generation of people is worse off than the previous and this is a disturbing trend. If the politicians were smart, they would know that long term solutions involve a generalized decrease in the cost of living for the next generation of people. It will be up to them to be accommodating of the new demographic, which is part of the reason why keeping the long form Census is such a good idea. They will know where the gaps and trends are and they will have a better sense of what to plan for in the future. Because the best way forward towards an ominous future, is a plan.

But since politicians are opportunists and not planners, they'd rather scare us all off with the idea that greedy boomers are to blame for the ills of our society and they'll shake their shoulders and claim that they're powerless to stop them. Yeah, because the image of a bunch of grown men acting scared of the elderly really inspires confidence in the population.

Painting an ageing population with the image that they're a bunch of free loading entitled bloodsuckers is ageism, pure and simple. Just like calling Asians a bunch of overachieving university degree hogging nerds is racist.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Too Asian To Handle

Macleans magazine has been feeling the heat after releasing an article entitled Too Asian, which blames Asian people for transforming the culture of universities across Canada and causing a large divide between the 'white' universities and the 'Asian' universities. The University of Toronto has been identified as an Asian university along with the detrimental characteristics of being hard working, overachieving and no fun at all, while good time drinking universities like Queen's has been identified as white.

BC has been the first province in Canada to speak out against this article and to propose a measure against it, all while vowing to educate the public against stereotyping and racial misconceptions. Which would be useful except for the fact that BC itself is the too Asian province in Canada, given its geographical proximity to that continent and with it having the oldest Chinatown in the country. So, sorry BC, you're not white enough to speak out on this issue.

And honestly, nobody needs to speak out against it. I think all Asians out there are breathing a sigh of relief that the truth has finally been revealed, that yes, indeed, we slitty eyed people are planning to take over the world.

White people are so trusting, so unsuspecting. They've allowed us to do their drycleaning, dye their hair, and make them egg rolls for years, and all of this time, they never suspected that behind the mask of the innocent dumb short people whose faces crinkle when they smile, that we've been planning to take them over with our superior intelligence. Of course it's superior. How else do you think we manage to starch your shirts so well or hide all of your grey hairs? Do you think that's done by stupid people?

Oh, and we all speak beautiful English, we only speak the shrill broken English to fool you, but when you all go into the other room out of earshot, we sound like Shakespeare. And we wear chopsticks in our hair not because they hold our hair into perfect buns on the top of our round heads, but because we are all secretly ninjas in disguise and the chopstick is the weapon of the true warrior.

We do math in our sleep and our tiny eyes actually see at a 360 degree angle, so we truly have eyes in the back of our heads, which is why we can always see you coming whenever you show up for dim sum. Yes, that's the reason why you always get hit in the elbow with the cart that has the shrimp dumplings. And the shrimp dumplings are secretly plumped up with a preservative that makes you slow and sluggish, another reason why you can barely stand up at the end of the meal. And fortune cookies? They're all codes to launch missiles off secret islands to smite our enemies with the big noses.

When the time is right, we shall release our ultimate weapon: little old ladies digging for bus fare and holding up rush hour traffic for hours as they try to count $1.97 in exact change so that they can have a transfer. They will paralyze the streets of the world's busiest cities and then, the Asian takeover will be complete and all our nefarious plans will come to fruition. Then we shall conquer all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Where's the Beef? Ah, there it is.

A recent study from McGill University has revealed that the sight of cooked red meat calms men down. It was initially believed that the sight of red meat would actually incite aggressiveness in men, as the tribal survivalist urge would be to protect sources of protein. On the contrary, it appears that the calming sensation of the sight of meat that is ready to eat is the result of the survivalist urge and that the calm may also have been an effect of the fact that men eat with their loved ones.

Take that, eco-loving vegetarians who believe that meat makes us more aggressive. The study clearly shows that it actually calms us down. And of course it does. It doesn't take a room of scientists to tell you that. All you need to do is look at your father's face when he's busy at the barbecue with a beer in one hand, watching over the steaks. That's serenity. And when you've had a hard day, what could be more comforting than cooked meat? Handmade hamburgers, spaghetti with meatballs, Shepherd's pie, tortiere...

After a long hard day in the cold, you're not likely to want to come home to a cooked carrot. Let's face it. Meat is good. It's filling, comforting, delicious and full of important protein to make you strong. While I was growing up, the beef industry was pumping out ads to show people the benefits of eating beef as part of a nutritious lifestyle, including getting endorsements from pro athletes. It was much like the current milk ad campaigns that are aggressively lobbying us in movie theatres and sporting events.

Meat has since passed as the darling of the food industry to give way to fish as the healthy alternative, but as more publicity about unethical fishing practices and barren oceans is revealed, the tide may turn. But whether it's fish or meat, human beings need to eat and there's nothing more calming at the end of the day than a good meal. And science doesn't need to confirm that.

Facebook Status: Not Amused

Cheery good news! It appears that the Queen of England has a Facebook page. But alas, it will not be an interactive Facebook page where you can 'friend' her. The page will be run by Buckingham Palace staff on behalf of her Majesty and will be used to send out messages to the public on behalf of the Royal Family. It will also serve to update the public about events that will be held at any of the royal palaces.

While this is disappointing news for all those monarchy fans out there who would love to get daily, nay, hourly updates on the Queen's whereabouts and movements, as well as moods, it does give us an occasion to dream. Let's imagine, for a moment, what the Queen's page would look like:

Name: Queen Elizabeth

Occupation: Queen of All England (and the Isles, too, they just don't know it)

Residence: Buckingham Palace, Windsor Palace, various summer homes and estates, too many to count, LOL

Likes: Tea, Horses, ceremonial robes, tiaras, polo, peas, English cuisine, theatre, history, rugs, museums, visiting dignitaries and making them uncomfortable

Dislikes: peasants, the Duchess of York, soccer hooligans, non-pastel colours, crowds that need to be waved to, talk of marriages, tabloids, the fools in the tabloids, pop music, smiling, that strange man who runs Canada right now for some reason

Facebook Status: Perennially Not Amused

Now that's a 'friend' we would like to have.

I love you- All Staff

A lonely public servant in Australia has apparently mass emailed the entire Australian Department of Immigration in order to find a woman that he met at a party. The email stated that he understood that this was an unusual measure, but that life is too short to experience regret.

He may have used some ironic words, as he is currently being investigated by the values and conduct section of the department for his inappropriate use of work email. This may result in some form of email rehabilitation program, as the government likes to solve its various issues with training modules, as broad and various as they are pointless. Something along the lines of "Your workplace is not your dating pool" or "Cupid doesn't email."

On the one hand, it's understandable that after years of Hollywood drivel and films starring bubbly blondes with stars in their eyes, that people would consider the grand love gesture to be the best and boldest way to find lasting happiness. The run to the airport gate, the love song in the middle of some well known public gathering place, chasing down your love in a stolen ice cream know, those gestures.

Granted, sending off an email is not exactly grand, we probably do it a hundred times a day without even thinking about it, accidentally emailing ourselves in the process, but sending a mass email to an entire department of public servants while searching for love? It has all the hallmarks of the grand gesture: reckless, silly, over the top, fantastic if it succeeds and absolute humiliation for life if it doesn't.

There's been no follow up news to see if the woman was ever found or if she ever responded to the man. As much as most of us romantics out there would like to believe that the man is some form of dashing Hugh Grant charmer who just happens to be a cubicle Charlie who is desperately shy, my guess is that he was that awkward guy with the tie that doesn't match his shirt lingering by the punch bowl. Which means that this woman may not want to be found.

Let this be a lesson to you guys out there, lingering around the punch bowl and thinking about talking to girls- go talk to the girls. We're not scary and we don't have cooties. We won't act like supreme bitches and toss our hair at you and make below the belt comments about the size of your manhood (well, maybe in LA and New York). We're just people, like you, and if you never make a move, we'll never know you're interested. And a mass email the day after is not the best way to get our attention.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why We Remember

November 11th is Remembrance Day and despite all the publicity and plastic poppies being sold on every street corner, it is my hope that the point of the day is not lost on people. It's not just a day off from work for federal employees and it's not the day that veterans take out their medals to shine them. November 11th at its origin marked the end of the first world war, the first conflict of its kind which shocked the modern world. It was the 11th day, the 11th month and the 11th hour where four years of war, famine, disease and grief finally ended.

This is significant, but it's so far removed from the current reality that this is why I fear the message is getting lost. While teachers often include World War I in their curriculum, it's not enough to throw names, dates, numbers and unpronounceable European countries at them. They should emphasize the importance of such a large conflict to a so-called civilized world and how it started from the war that would end at Christmas to the war that lasted 4 grueling years.

People are generally more aware of the Second World War, the 'Nazi war' as most people know it. There is something about the mystique of the Hitler regime and the horrors of its cleansing regime which stun and stimulate the mind. But the First World War, while it lacks the glamour associated with the Second, was stunning because of its nature. It is a demonstration of how pride, politics, past bad blood and basic human greed can push humanity to the brink; and it very nearly did.

And that's another thing that people should not forget: how close we came to destroying everything we created over the years by tearing each other apart with guns and tanks. How close we came to wiping out the human race in the name of national pride, territorial gain and racist notions of the right of certain races to rule. And how we nearly destroyed an entire generation which drowned in muddy fields or were killed by gunfire in trenches.

Today's wars are mired in politics and industrial interests, but Remembrance Day is not about those things. It's about remembering what war is and how we should do everything in our power to prevent it. That's the best way to honour our veterans and freedom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Best for Hockey

I'm totally in touch with my inner dude. I love having a beer, watching the game, yelling at players and errant pucks and checking up on my hockey pool as if I was actually some sports god rather than a geek who thinks I know my stats. But lately, there have been two serious issues that are facing the game of hockey right now and they both pose a threat to the sport that I love and to my inner dudeness. They are:

1- Cheerleaders.
2- Head Shots.

1- I'm in touch with my inner dude, but I am not a dude. Let's make that clear. I love the game and I love watching it, but the last thing that I want to see is a group of bouncing blondes in skin tight clothing encouraging me to cheer. Not only are these figures merely ornamental, they don't make the game any better (are you listening, Edmonton? Your team will still suck even with Cirque du Soleil in the background).

I'm against cheerleaders because they're pointless and they trivialize the game. Your main focus if you're a real fan should be on the rink. And if your team's any good, they'll give you something to cheer about. Not a bunch of bunnies in the bleachers.

2- Head shots. They're dangerous and they're detrimental to the game. I love a good clean check, but thugs on ice is not my style. Head shots are ruining careers and putting people's very lives in dangers. We're past the Coliseum and the gladiators, people. It's time to put an end to vicious head shots to players when they don't even have puck possession.

You can argue the policy over and over again and come up with a million scenarios, as long as you get the issue resolved. As complicated as the issue may seem, lawyers deal with worse every day in basic assault cases using mitigating and aggravating factors. Yes, it's time to call in the lawyers.

Aggravating factors: player doesn't have puck possession, opponent sought out the victim at high speed, opponent made contact with his elbow with a clear intention to hurt, opponent used undue force.

Mitigating facotrs: player did have puck possession, player's head was down, player fell against the board of his own accord as a result of the hit and not by intention of the hit.

Sure, there's lot of grey area in here to argue for and against. Acknowledging the complexity of the issue is part of dealing with it- not dealing random 6 game suspensions for every act. A case by case analysis is going to be costly and time-consuming. Nobody ever said justice was easy or fast. That doesn't change the fact that we need it.

Hockey's in danger of being trivialized and brutalized. We don't need more violence to up the ante and make the game interesting for people. It's a contact sport, but not a blood sport. We don't need sexy cheerleaders to make it more appealing; the game, if played well, is beautiful to watch. What's best for hockey is hockey.

Anti-Octopus Songs

Paul, the octopus who has successfully predicted the winners of the World Cup, has died peacefully in his sleep in his aquarium in Germany. While this event has caused a stir in the sports world, resulting in everything from a Facebook memorial page to a 'written statement' issued by the deceased animal,the most hilarious passage from this news clip taken from has to be the following:

"He then fell offside with bitter German fans who threatened to turn him into sushi after he correctly predicted a semi-final defeat for the Mannschaft against Spain.

Stung by Paul's "treachery", some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd watching the game on giant screens in Berlin sang anti-octopus songs."

Wow. Turning him into sushi. That's cold-blooded. There are no other words for it.

But then you have to ask the question: what is an anti-octopus song? What does it sound like? And how do you convince 350,000 people to sing them? And how can 350,000 people in the world know the same anti-octopus song? It's kind of a mind-boggling mystery like reindeer games. What the heck are those? What is Rudolph the red nosed reindeer missing out on? Is there some form of reindeer Wii that we don't know about?Or poker?

But back to the songs. What could they possibly be?

Oh, octopus, you are so slimy. You only have 7 tentacles. You have suction cups for brains.

Apart from the fact that it doesn't sound the least harmonious or sing-songish, it's also slightly ridiculous. I mean, what kind of fault can you find with an octopus that would sting so badly in song?

Oh, octopus, your predictions are so bad. You couldn't predict 6pm at 5pm.

That doesn't make sense either. Especially considering his incredible record.

Oh, octopus, you live in a tank, your mother stank, you're out of rank and one day you'll be calamari.

Even if that did work, I still have trouble picturing entire stadiums full of grown adult men singing that.

But then again, stranger things have happened.

I guess we'll all get a chance to learn anti-octopus songs when the next World Cup occurs in 2014 and Paul's successor is chosen. We'll see if he has the same uncanny abilities- or if he's delicious.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The End is When?

According to new studies surrounding the calculations of the Mayan prophecy which has foretold our doom, the end of the world may already have happened- and the worst part is that we may have missed it. It was probably one random Tuesday at 3pm while I was thinking about how long it had been since I got a haircut when it happened. But of course, the calculations have always been harder to do than most people would imagine and the end of the world is such a tricky thing to nail down.

See the following excerpt from an article on

"A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" (Oxbow Books, 2010), argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years. That would throw the supposed and overhyped 2012 apocalypse off by decades and cast into doubt the dates of historical Mayan events. (The doomsday worries are based on the fact that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, much as our year ends on Dec. 31.)"

(end of quote)

So it's another one of those perplexing good news-bad news thing. The good news is that 2012 may not be the end. The bad news is that we still have no idea when the end will be because the first calculations were supposedly wrong- but on the off chance that those calculations are actually right, the end will, in fact, happen in 2years from now and we'll just all have to wait and see.

It's funny that so much has been put into the Mayan calendar. Some scholars have said that the calendar has been right on several other counts, just like Nostradamus, predicting the world wars, pollution and some say, even 9-11. But the problem with prophecies is that they're a lot like fortune cookies; vague, entertaining, sometimes a little spooky, but more often than not, interpretations of the things that we are inclined to believe already.

The original prophecies did not say 'world war will break out in Europe in 1914 after the assassination of the archduke Franz-Ferdinand.' They probably said something more general, such as 'war shall plague the earth for several years and leave behind a trail of destruction and human misery.' A pretty good guess from an ancient civilization that was regularly prone to the same fate years after the arrival of the Aztecs. Hardly surprising when you open any history textbook. War is a matter of fact for human history- and it's not that hard to predict.

The saving grace about the ambiguity of prophecies is that it leaves room for hope. Nothing is pre-determined or inevitable, other than the fact that we will all somehow die. We just may not all suddenly die at once in some apocalyptic scenario worthy of a Jerry Bruckheimer film.

I hope that I have time for that haircut first.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Terrorists have to eat, too

A US blogger has claimed that Canadian soup is being monitored and controlled by terrorist groups. Pamela Geller, who runs an anti-Muslim blog, has called for a boycott of Campbell's soups from Canada. She claims that the Islamic Society of North America, ISNA, who does the certification of the soup as halal, is affiliated with Hamas, a terrorist organization.

The blogger is clear that she doesn't oppose halal food any more than she opposes kosher foods, showing some clear tolerance for the pesky presence of 'cultural differences'. But the ISNA has denied any claims to Hamas and/or any other religious extremist group and the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that ISNA claims to have ties with, is not listed as a terrorist organization by the US itself.

The boycott has prompted a Facebook page with 3,500 members. Of course, this boycott would have been more helpful with the following conditions:

1- The soup is not sold in the US; therefore, a US boycott of a Canadian product that is only sold in Canada is going to have something less of the desired impact that boycotts are generally intended to have, which is to hurt the bottom line of a company and give it bad press to its clientele. This boycott will achieve neither one of these intended impacts.

2- While the site offers claims, it does not offer proof. Further to that, the New York Times, a credible piece of mainstream media and journalistic integrity, has printed a rather unflattering portrait of Pamela Geller, an activist who led the protests against a Ground Zero mosque and is the leader of Stop Islamization of America. It's not difficult to decide who one would rather believe in this situation.

3- The Muslim Brotherhood is not listed as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. It's difficult to argue the danger of an organization that your own government does not list as dangerous. One would have to wonder if it's not so much the actual nature of the organization that is the problem for Geller, or its Islam affiliation, which is, to date, not a crime.

It's clear that Geller is part of the population that closely monitors the Muslim population of America for threats, both real and imaginary. So much so, she's willing to go against an iconic American company, Campbell's, and to accuse them of funding an organization that's dangerous to America. Forgetting, of course, that Andy Warhol's iconic image of the Campbell's soup can is an enduring symbol of American corporatism and its cherised capitalist system which is supposed to uphold democracy.

But there appears to be no contradiction for Geller, who makes this claim obviously on 'sources' and good faith that all Muslims in America are up to something, whether it's funnelling money through Campbell's soup cans or building mosques on US soil.

To those in Canada who may affect the boycott: eat more tomato soup. Let's show the US that we think this is ridiculous.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good for Vancouver

Vancouver is one of Canada's coolest cities. It's got that grassroots, bohemian chic, community-based, eco-loving vibe that makes it one of the best places to live- not to mention the mild weather and the proximity of the ocean. They have the Vancouver Canucks, Stanley Park, and like any major metropolis, quality shopping and dining.

They've also recently shown that they have class. Sarah Palin dropped into Vancouver to give a speech to some well-heeled Conservatives out West, an invitation only affair that cost about $500 a head to hear her speak about her book about herself. And the greatest part? Nobody else showed up.

The only interested protester was there to protest Canada's poor Kyoto record. There was no fanfare, no mass protest and not even curious citizens. This sends a pretty clear message out there about how Vancouver residents feel about Palin: indifferent. And good for them.

The people who admire her are generally hardline Conservatives who have no regard for the environment. These are the people who dropped the money to see her. The people who criticize her are giving her a power that she doesn't deserve to have because it assumes that her opinions are valid or fact-based. You don't engage a person like that anymore than you get into a debate with the crazy street lady with the shopping cart full of cats.

Good for Vancouver to show her the recognition that she deserves. Good for them for not giving her credence or press.

If Tina Fey, however, showed up dressed as Sarah Palin...

Then I think you'd have to close Robson street.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I must be 52

A recent study in Britain has shown that the average person becomes grumpy once they hit the age of 52. See the following excerpt:

"The poll of 2,000 Britons found those over 50 laughed far less than their younger counterparts and complained far more.

While infants laughed up to 300 times a day, that figure had fallen to an average of six laughs by teenage years and only 2.5 daily chuckles for those over 60, the survey for cable TV channel Dave found."

I guess becoming old isn't a laughing matter, what with the ageing, the wrinkles, the loss of mobility, the numbers game that shows that you're ever closer to death...
the loss of all your childhood dreams, the years lost worrying about yourself and others around you, the time devoted to others that you'll never get back...

Of course infants laugh up to 300 times a day. They have no clue what's going on! They think that everything shiny is interesting and that toes taste good. They have their innocence and their dreams and their every need being taken care of by other people.

Teens may have their acne and peer pressure type issues, but they're still able to laugh at themselves and at each other. Have you ever seen a high school yearbook? There are hours of laughtime entertainment right there.

Does it not surprise anyone that the years associated with midlife crisis and the fact that half your life is over and that half may have been wasted will cause some distress in people? Is it any wonder that this distress may result in decreased laughter?

Grow up, people. Getting old is not fun. These people are grumpy and they have every right to be. I'm pretty cantakerous myself and nowhere near 52; I guess I'm only 52 in my spirit.

Vera Wang in a recent edition of InStyle put it best:

The best part of ageing? The wisdom. The worst part? The mirror.

So true.

Say It Aint So, Diego

The voice of Dora the Explorer has claimed that she has been cheated out of big profits from the Nickelodeon franchise that hired her to sing such classic songs as "We did it!" The young actress, Caitlin Sanchez, states that her contract unfairly denied her a share of the billions of profits generated from the hit kid show and that she was coerced into signing it 'as is' at the risk of losing the role.

While the studio claims that the lawsuit is without merit, it looks like it may go forward anyway, much to the chagrin of the studio. It doesn't make an educational children's show look good when the child star sues the studio for such treatment. Parents may not react well to that kind of publicity.

But while the actress is making claims that her contract was unfair, she did make a staggering $5115 per episode. The actress claims that this didn't take into account the hundreds of hours spent in the studio making the episodes, yet, it's hardly an amount to cry over.

Then again, the $40 a day stipend to travel and promote the show doesn't look nearly as generous. While it's safe to assume that being a child actress has its other merits and perks beyond the poor per diem, it's a fair bet that the show has generated a lot of profit and that the studio wanted to keep as much of it as it could. After all, who would have thought that a show about colours and numbers could turn into such a consumer generating machine?

The lawsuit claims damages in the tens of millions worth of potentially lost revenue due to the shoddy contract. While this is likely a drop in the bucket for the studio, they will do what all people with money do- protect it to death. Deny the charges and claim that they've been 'more than fair'. It's a familiar song and we've all heard it before.

I just hope that this actress does get what she deserves. And that she doesn't dance when it's all over.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Someone call the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Quick! Someone call the Heart and Stroke Foundation! It looks like a new wave of arterty clogging is about to take over the country, as KFC introduces Canada to the infamous Double Down, a hand held sandwich with no bread that has two pieces of original chicken, bacon and two kinds of cheese. See the following link for a picture, along with the suggested variety combo add-ons, namely a fountain drink and fries.

KFC already has a bad reputation in Canada due to its sodium content, its fat and its supposed cruelty to chickens as declared by PETA. In the past, Canada has been a marketplace that has been mostly reluctant to take on "American-sized" fast food, what with the new big Beefy from Taco Bell just making its debut in a hilariously accurate commercial featuring shocked Europeans and Japanese. "Why does everything from America have to be so big?" asks the snooty cricket player. Although this commercial is meant to poke fun at him, I think it's safe to say that most of us actually agree with him.

It doesn't surprise me to see yet another fatty snack coming to Canadian franchises courtesy of the nation that invented baconnaise, an innovative spread that combines the fatty power of bacon with the cholesterol raising power of mayonnaise. It is disappointing, however, to see commercial profit considerations coming before health considerations.

90% of respondents in a survey for KFC stated that they thought that the Double Down should come to Canada. Only 45% of them said that they would actually try it themselves. Meaning that we support the consumer's right to choose, even if they're not choices that we ourselves would make. I'm pretty sure that the 90% knows at least one person who will try the Double Down just to say that they did. There's a glutton for punishment in every group.

I just hope that more AEDs will be installed within a certain distance of the KFC. This is one celebration that we might want to break out the paddles for.

Eyes on the Prize Indeed

It appears that the athletes at the Commonwealth Games have more to feel good about than just medals. An article on has shown that the athletes have clogged the plumbing at their village with around 1000 used condoms. For a village that houses about 7000 athletes, that's not a bad percentage of active engagement.

Commonwealth Games Chief Mike Fernell has stated that this is a positive sign that athletes are engaging in safe sex. The introduction of a condom vending machine in the villages, no doubt, has aided this cause.

Disturbing trends in condom use have shown that people are less and less vigilant about the use of condoms, probably due to the perceived threat of catching the AIDS virus and other STDs. In the 90s, increased awareness and ad campaigns highlighting safe sex practices resulted in higher use of protective measures such as condoms. It appears that this message has been lost to some, with rates of sexually transmitted infections increasing and condom use decreasing for other population age groups. The most startling result of a recent survey on condom use showed that it was actually middle-aged people who were the most negligent in condom use, and contrary to popular opinion, the youngest demographic was also the most responsible.

It's an old message, but it's still worth stating: practice safe sex. Let's not be naive and think that sex won't happen. Even before the plumbing at the athletes' village took a beating, there were probably enough shenanigans when condoms weren't so readily available. All jokes aside, it's better to protect people rather than put our heads in the sand and deny that sex is going to happen.

That said, it baffles me that athletes are this active during a time of competition. I guess the old Muhammed Ali philosophy of abstinence in times of competition isn't for everyone. Or maybe we should acknowledge that athletes are people too.

I hope that this isn't a cause for more than one form of performance anxiety.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today in News

The following are a series of immature observations on today's news for October 1st (it's also Friday- so we all need a break from the serious stuff).

Don't make the little people angry- it appears that Peter Jackson and his company Wing Nut Productions is under fire for labour disputes with actors involved in the two Hobbit movies, prequels to the famous multilbillion earning Lord of the Rings series. Peter Jackson claims that the actors' union in New Zealand is not a certified union, which is why they've refused to negotiate minimum terms and conditions for actors from the country. I'm no Tolkien genius, but I'm pretty sure that I know what all hobbits want: 3 breakfasts a day.

China and India may go to war- or not. It appears that speculation is growing that the two super powers of Asia may go to war over political, economic and territorial disputes that date back hundreds of years. This duel may come as the two countries increase their power and fight for top spot on the world's list. Both countries have millions in their armies and nukes. This begs the obvious question: can Chinese dragons win a fight against the multi-armed Vishnu?

China is planning to send people to the moon- catching up late to the space wars that characterized American and Russian jockeying for power back in the 60s, China is catching up with a heavily subsidized space program just as other nations are facing budget cuts. Looks like a giant step for Asia is ahead- maybe India will follow suit.

South Korea is more than a little disgusted and mystified that North Korea's successor to Kim Jong Il is his portly son. The obvious question of how one man can be so fat when his people are starving to death has been asked several times over in the South. Looks like dictatorship comes with endless fridge privileges.

And finally, coming back to local news, Canada has bid farewell to one Governor General and called in another. While some nations find it puzzling that Canada maintains this old symbolic tradition of the Queen's presence in Canada, others will be even more mystified by the fact that it's a dude. The funniest part of the whole story? No matter how well-educated and honourable this man is in his write up, the real newsmaker has been his granddaughter Emma, blowing kisses as he was announced in his new post. People are interested in credentials, but they will always be swayed by sweet children and puppies. Just check out youtube.

And they say Diamonds are a Girl's best friend...

It's not just women who loves diamonds after all. It appears that even the world's burliest, toughest and manliest of men also love diamonds- 404 of them, to be exact- like the latest Stanley Cup champions rings awarded to the Chicago Blackhawks. It used to be that the rings were simple in their design and awarded to commemorate what was already the Holy Grail of the hockey world, the Stanley Cup. But now it appears that the rings are not just a mark of status and hockey success; they are also playing double duty as serious bling.

I guess it's good for the NHL players to have a little street cred. These diamond-loving divas may have no teeth and no idea what a stiletto is, but they know a status symbol when they see one. See associated article:

Personally, I think it's funny to see men wearing rings that have more diamonds than their fiances. I also find it funny that there was a point in time when men acted like they were immune to diamonds and that this was just a woman's needless obsession with shiny things. But I guess that falls in line with men's increased sense of vanity over the years which has stimulated the invention of various metrosexual product lines for men and has even declared that certain shades of pink are acceptable to wear.

While I find that the new rings are beautiful and impressive, I really hope that this is not a sign of things to come. It appears that every ring wants to out-do the ring from the year before by adding on the bling. But more isn't always better and a ridiculous amount of diamonds won't make the rings more beautiful- in fact, there's a high risk of gaudiness there and any lady would have told you that.

A simple ring is more effective. It captures the elegance of wearing victory on your hand and a more intelligent use of symbols, numbers and characters does more to enhance the personalized trinkets than the tacking on of more diamonds. As any self-respecting diva who is accessorizing her look will tell you, Chanel put it best: always take off the last thing you put on. You can own Leboutin shoes, an oversized Prada purse, a fur coat, a Hermes scarf, Dolce and Gabbana aviators, and a complete 3-piece Cartier set- just don't wear it all at once.

Let's remember that the most important thing is winning. If you fight through 82 regular season games and 4 rounds of the playoffs right into the summer months, you want something pretty special to commemorate that. But the commemorative object should not be more important than the fact of winning itself. And no prize should be grander than the actual Cup itself.

Making the World Meaner

An unemployed Detroit-area mother has been charged with fraud after claiming that her son was dying of leukemia and shaving his head bald for several weeks so that she could accept donations for his treatment. Apparently, the mother went so far as to tell her son that he had leukemia, and crushing drugs into his apple sauce to give him a listless appearance in front of other people. She received $7,500 from a church fundraiser, along with some other donations and a gift of an XBox for her son.

There has to be a special place in hell for people who fake having cancer. On the one hand, it's an insult to every cancer survivor out there who has truly suffered and needed support in the past. On the other, it is incredibly manipulative and abusive to take advantage of the good will and generosity of other people and repay it with treachery.

Acts like this are part of what makes the world a meaner place to live. It causes cynicism and jadedness and makes people less likely to want to help each other. It causes peoples' faith in each other to erode and makes us want to close the door on the next person who comes looking for help.

People have a natural willingness to want to help each other and be charitable to those less fortunate. When this nature is abused often enough, people will give up rather than be taken for a fool again. And meanness can spread like butter and permeate other aspects of our lives, making us less charitable with our money, our time and ourselves.

People who are swindlers like this take humanity two steps back in its progress.

Research Matters- just not all of it

It's nice to see scientists have a sense of humour. Recent awards have gone out to the IgNobles, the opposite of the Nobel prize for science, to award scientists who have studied oral bat sex and whale snot. The IgNobles are the Razzis of the science world and have made a tradition of honouring weird science and proving that scientists are humans too. Among their notable awards, they've also praised BP for showing that water and oil do mix and Goldman Sachs for creative economics. Science, politics and humour combined- this is a fake awards show that I would love to attend.

In other interesting weird science news, a group of scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center has been studying whether or not asparagus pee really exists. Many people have complained about a strange, sulphur-like smell after consuming asparagus and apparently, this myth has been so compelling that this group of researchers decided to investigate further. See following excerpt from online Yahoo article:

"In the new study, the researchers recruited 38 participants who gave urine samples twice, before and after eating bread or asparagus (the eating sessions were spaced at least three days apart). Then the participants returned and sniffed other participants' urine and their own in separate sessions, which were limited to prevent nose fatigue. At each session, they were asked three times to distinguish between urine produced after eating asparagus or bread and between urine produced before and after eating asparagus. The scientists also tested their general olfactory ability."

I find it astounding that anyone thought that this was an important enough scientific mystery to seriously investigate pee. Can anyone really be that fascinated with the study of pee smells? I'm also dumbfounded that they found a group of participants willing to smell other people's pee in the name of science.

To be fair, I suppose that science is any kind of research that is curiosity driven and seeks to answer a question. Scientific methods can be used to unlock all sorts of mysteries, and it doesn't all have to be in the name of saving the world. I'm just glad that one of the IgNobel prize winners discovered that swearing helps to alleviate pain when you stub your toe. Now that makes me feel better.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where's Leboeuf?

With the new release of Wall Street part 2 starring the infamous Michael Douglas and Shia Leboeuf, I have to ask the question: what's the big deal with Shia Leboeuf? How is it that he gets all these plum roles in Hollywood, starring in legendary series like Wall Street and Indiana Jones (as Indy's son, no less!) and big hits like Transformers? What's so special about him?

I've been wondering about this ever since the critics cried foul when he was called in to Indiana Jones and did his 'Born to be Mild' motorcycle entrance in a pitiful rendition of Marlon Brando's Wild One. What the heck was that? Leboeuf doesn't have the manly frame or slick charm of Marlon Brando for one thing, and has nothing of the wit and James-Bond style cool of Harrison Ford that temporarily made archeology the sexiest undergrad study across America during the 80s for another. So how was it that he got the golden role?

On the one hand, I can buy the argument by scouting agents that Shia has that ambiguous boy-man look that makes him appealing to a variety of audiences. When he wears a suit, he can play a man. When he wears a t-shirt and jeans, he can play a boy. That makes him suitable for the 18-30 range of men who go to the movies. Fine. But aren't there other men with this kind of look that can fill this spotlight? And couldn't we find one with more charisma? Shia doesn't ooze charm, charisma, appeal, intelligence- well, he doesn't ooze anything- on screen. In fact, nothing makes him special. That makes him a prime candidate as an extra on film.

Successful ambiguous on-screen men include the likes of John Cusack and Hugh Grant. But these men are charming, irreverent, hilarious and engaging. I have yet to see Shia Leboeuf be any of those things.

This is not to say that Leboeuf doesn't have any talent. I just have yet to see any proof of it. From what I can see, this is a kid that just got lucky and has managed to land more roles than he rightfully deserves, as he has yet to prove that he has any acting chops or specific charm. Maybe his time is yet to come. But in the meantime, the most memorable thing about Shia Leboeuf for me is the fact that he was once arrested for walking into a Walgreen's for no specific reason. That's the one interesting thing about him that I've heard thus far.

Hollywood will always be a mystery to me, so long as couch-jumping love nuts and revolving door rehab stints continue to characterize Hollywood success.

Losing (other peoples') Religion

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in United States has shown who knows the most about other people's religions:

"Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions."

That's right; traditionally perceived as the most ignorant on matters of religious practice, it turns out that non-believers, fence-sitters, Jews and Mormons are the most religion-savvy. That's probably because experience as new, highly persecuted or just plain curiousity-driven people has taught these groups to educate themselves, not just on a faith, but the tenets of the faith. It's no surprise to me that atheists and agnostics alike scored the highest. The constant quest for knowledge about religions drives a theoretical curiosity around religion as institutions and cultural practice, seen from a practical point of view, rather than concentrating on dogma. That's why these people can often answer not only fundamental religious questions about traditional, dominant faiths like Christianity, but also, about Islam and Hinduism.

Being open-minded is the best way to acquire, gain and maintain knowledge. Most religions are inward-focused and only seek to educate those who are members of their flock. But contrary to what some groups think about religious education causing their people to turn away from their faith, studies have shown that education can actually enrich a person's faith and religious belief.

After all, how can one be expected to know what to believe if they don't know what others around them believe? What would be their basis of comparison? And doesn't a knowledge of other people enrich your knowledge of yourself, forcing you to think about what it is that you believe and why? And if what your congregation fears does come true, and you leave their flock in favour of another, isn't that your right to do so as a free individual with your own will and brain?

Even if you don't practice religion, religious knowledge is valuable. It's ingrained in cultural practices, history, language and politics. It can offer important and interesting insights into behaviour, practices and laws. It's expressed in our art and architecture and can be the foundation of some of the most beautiful stories ever told and some of the most magnificent art pieces ever made.

I think it's useful for everyone to learn something about other faiths. It gives a great basis for understanding our fellow man. Even if we don't believe in what they believe in.

Famous Last Words?

Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals may have penned his famous last words as he tweeted to his fans to pick up his cereal and 'start the day with a lil suga'. Given the benefit of the doubt, it would be safe to assume that Ochocinco was not yet aware that the charity phone number on his cereal box to promote the cause of Feed the Children, actually led to a phone sex chat line. This is a classic case of why you should do things yourself rather than trusting people to do them for you; Ochocinco will probably not endorse another charity or associated product without first calling them up himself. A good lesson learned for the future.

As expected, this has caused a little bit of controversy in grocery stores across the U.S, who are madly pulling the cereal boxes off the shelves. The company responsible for this mishap will surely get its knucles rapped for being so negligent. As funny as the situation appears to the average reader, it's a real detriment to the image of the player associated with it and to the charity which will not be benefitting, as promised, from donations. It tarnishes the reputation of everyone involved in what was supposed to be a good cause and would probably make most athletes think twice before signing on for similar good endeavours.

It's unfortunate that this happened out of something that had good, wholesome intentions. But maybe some good can come out of this. Maybe the adult sex chat line will pony up with a donation to the charity- their business must be good, after all, since they're getting so many calls, misdirected as they may be.

A final lesson: be careful what you tweet.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Should have been a banker

I should have been a banker. Not only can you fully recover from a financial crisis through government subsidies that you can later ignore, 'talented' bankers can choose whether or not to settle for a half a million dollar salary a year. Citigroup, still struggling even after its bailout from Washington, has argued in favour of increases for its staff based on the fierce competition from Wall Street. As such, they've decided to subsidize the $500,000 annual salary cap of a talented banker with stocks and other incentives that aren't based in cash.

The greed of Wall Street is legendary, along with the fat salaries that go with the job. It's been popularized in the media with films and exposed in the media more recently with scandals. A couple of years back, bankers were the scum of the earth as far as the rest of the population goes, and it was tough to be one. But for $500,000 a year, I think that I could handle a little hate.

It's been tough on bankers, having to scale back their lives to accommodate the salary cap. It's been even tougher on the rest of the population that pretty much lost everything, their homes, their savings, their jobs, their futures. And yet, here we are again where we were before the crisis happened, with the talented bankers arguing their inflated worth, saying that the world is competitive and that you have to retain the best talent with the most money.

I wish that I had been a banker. If I could do it all over again, I would go straight to the money jobs. Sure, when you're young and idealistic, you think that money doesn't matter and that you would like something more meaningful. You think that you'd rather work for not-for-profit groups that bring water to towns in Africa and you have great images of yourself pumping clean water for happy, smiling children.

But that's not what happens. Those groups pay peanuts and are up for renewal every 3 years, so you don't even know if you'll have a job, and those do-good groups are always the first to get slashed in a time of financial weakness. And the water rarely ever gets there. You can spend years in some cubicle fighting over semantics with government agencies and filling out blue forms in triplicate. And the water pump may never be a reality.

Even if you do some good in these countries, you do it at enormous risk and then there are the people that don't want you to help in the first place or who have a vested interest in your groups not being helped. Because corporate interests always find a way to trump charity and charity has little power or appeal stacked up to cold, hard cash.

But if I had become a banker, I could have coasted through years of handling other people's money and treating life like a big board of monopoly and then have all my errors erased through a bailout package by the government. In good times, the money is all play and you can have champagne at lunch. In bad times, you don't make waves and you wait it out for that time, keeping your Prada bags in the closet. You wear a sympathetic face and wear more black and talk to clients in a somber manner, like the guy who runs the funeral home and you wait for better times to come around. And then when you get your $500,000 contract offer, you can decide whether or not you can take that kind of paycut, or if you'd rather swim with the big boys on Wall Street.

Some tough choices. Straggle along on the half a million a year, or work yourself to death on Wall Street for a heck of a lot more?

It's the same old story; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It's just that this time around, the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poorer who are subsidizing their mistakes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cinema Verite?

The Social Network is being promoted as one of the best films of the year. It's strange, then, that the main character on which the film revolves, CEO and founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, is not only refusing to see the film, but actively refuting its accuracy. Imitation is apparenly not the sincerest form of flattery in this situation, and it's hard to tell whether or not this film is worth seeing, controversy and all.

Here are some good reasons for and against seeing this film.


1- It's about Facebook. Blah.

2- For a film that's supposed to be so good, the previews look incredibly formulaic. It could be just the way the previews are structured, but there's pretty much no doubt as to how the film will roll out and we all know how the story ends.

3- The main character on which the film is based has openly said that it's grossly inaccurate. Not a great endorsement.

4- How interesting can 2 hours of a computer geek's life really be? Granted, you get to skip the hours in the basement eating cheeseburgers and programming while debating the merits of Star Wars. But it's still about that kind of guy. How much social awkwardness does one person need to experience in a theatre? Isn't going on a date there good enough?


1- The critics say it's good. That sometimes means it's true.

2- The main character doesn't like how he's portrayed. Doesn't that make you curious to see just how bad he looks?

3- Justin Timberlake is in it. That ups the cool factor right there, even though it's hard to see him in a film without imagining that he's suddenly going to break out into SexyBack in the middle of a scene. Which we would all pay to see.

All in all, it's going to be coin toss. If the film lives up to the critics claims, it will be noteworthy, if not a true cinematic experience. If it doesn't, it will just be more time wasted- like Facebook.

The French know how to do it

Another good reason to move to Montreal: the women there have more sexy time than any other province in the country. 55% of women in Montreal reported being sexually active, the highest percentage in the country, followed closely by Vancouver at 47%, showing that they carry much more than the Olympic flame.

Sadly, Ontario, home to small town farms, overworked Torontonians and sad-eyed public servants, came in dead last at 42%. Not a significant percentage drop, except when you consider the how often scale (once a week, twice a week, up to 3-4 times a week).

The poll was conducted by a Vancouver-based company and reveals what we pretty much already know about the bedroom tendencies of the nation. The French know how to do it. Not just how to get more sexy time; but how to live. That's their joie de vivre philosophy: good food, good wine, good company and you can add good lovelife to that equation. Unlike the anglophone trinity of work hard, save your pennies and try not to die before you get your pension.

Vancouver is also unique with its grassroots, eco-friendly, activist filled population. It makes sense that these people love more because they care more. They're more engaged on every scale: they're politically active, they're environmentally conscious, they have causes and they fight for what they think is right. Of course that translates well into the bedroom. These people care about things. They care about each other. If they didn't, there wouldn't be any reason to fight for anything.

Then there's the Prairies that follow with a reasonable number and finally, Ontario, the province that fun forgot. It seems to me that the Ontario women need to take a cue from their Quebecois counterparts and let their hair down once or twice a week, grab a glass (or two) of wine and take a night off from laundry and Blackberries. It would do them the world of good.

Another reason to love vegetables

There's another reason to love vegetables: they can save your life. A woman in Montana successfully fended off a bear attack in her home by throwing a large zucchini at it during a scuffle. The bear had entered her backyard in order to eat apples off her tree. When she let out her dogs for their nightly ritual, the dogs barked at the bear and the confrontation ensued.

Parents are always telling their children to eat their vegetables because they're good for you and because they help you to grow strong and fit. Growing your own vegetables is even better, because then you can avoid chemicals and pesticides and enjoy the freshest crops. And now, you can defend yourself with them.

If this woman was a couch potato, she would not have been able to fend off a bear with a bag of chips. That would not have worked. She would have had to throw them at the bear and then the bear would have eaten them off the floor and then he would have moved in and she would have had to live the rest of her natural life with her dogs and the bear and they would watch tv every night on the couch with chips.

The simple moral of this story is that it's better to be healthy and to be active, because you never know what will happen next in life and when you might have to defend yourself with locally grown produce. It may also be helpful to learn to run. You never know when you might need to bail on a wild animal attack- and it's helpful if the zombie apocaplypse occurs.

A palace in need

It appears that the recession has affected everyone, rich and poor alike, as the Queen herself has asked for funds destined for the poor to be re-directed towards covering the heating bills for her palaces. Yes, the royal family has a state grant of $15 million pounds that has been described by her aides as being 'inadequate.'

The heating and gas bills for the Queen's residences have increased by 50 percent. This is quite the coincidence, since heating and gas bills for regular people have risen by the same proportion and they are the ones subsidizing the Queen. But now it appears that the British people are not only expected to live on less and spend more to keep the economy going, they're also expected to further subsidize the Queen so that she doesn't shiver through the winter in her palace.

Granted, heating for a large residence is expensive and a life of leisure is harder and harder to maintain, what with inflation and wage freezes and budget cuts. Things that the royal family would surely know about if they were actually a part of Britain's working force. But the people would not be so heartless as to let an elderly woman freeze, especially since she's such an important symbol. Surely that justifies the reverse Robin Hood mentality of taking from the poor to give to the rich?

The Labour Party initially agreed to this measure and then retracted, in consideration of the possible fallout from the public. A last minute of reflection seems to have triggered in the Labour Party that this move would be a public relations disaster. Not to mention that it would make them look like unscrupulous doormats to the Queen who are willing to steal from the common working man and his family in order to pay palace bills.

In a modern age where the royal family rules from afar and only symbolically, it seems ridiculous to keep subsidizing their lifestyle. Decadent monarchies are a thing of the past, just like powdered wigs and mercury tainted wine goblets. In terms of the value for the money that the Queen and her royal family provides, their biggest asset is the entertainment value that they bring into our lives by being such great tabloid fodder. And in my opinion, that contribution is largely 'inadequate.'

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Going to Hell in a (Fabulous!) Handcart

A gay couple in the NorthWest Territories has won their case with the Human Rights Commission when their landlord refused them after he found out that they were a gay couple. He claimed that his justification for doing so was that he feared hell's reprisals for lodging a gay couple and tried to declare that his right to religious freedom trumped the couple's right to dignity.

Here's a great excerpt:
The tribunal heard Goertzen referred to gay people as "an abomination and one of the reasons the world is going to hell in a hand basket."

I think what he means is a FAH-bulous hand basket. Because you see, if we're going down with the gays, we should be going down in style.

It's incredible how there are still small-minded people out there who believe in such outmoded ideas about people and their sexual orientation. But this isn't the only part of the story that makes this man look bad. Not only did he refuse to honour the tenant agreement that was already signed, he immediately put the property back on the market upon his discovery that the couple was gay. No warning, no due diligence, and no obligation to honour the contract that he also signed as a landlord. He also didn't reimburse the couple their two week deposit after they had unknowingly been evicted; because it's not ok to harbour gays, but apparently it is ok to take their money.

He essentially left this couple homeless and took their money, reneged on their agreement, and then tried to hide behind his religious beliefs for what are somewhat unscrupulous acts. Granted, given that this amounts to lying and petty theft, maybe this man has a legitimate reason to fear hell. But it appears that sheltering gays will be the least of his problems when he gets there.

It's funny how religion can be interpreted so conveniently, how this man seems to beleive that God will forgive him from stealing and lying to people who rent from him, but not if those people are gay.

What do we really have to fear from gay people anyway? Mainstream media has basically taught us that the threat of gay people usually results in more interior decorating stores, and can God really hate interior decorating that much?

I'm glad that this couple won their case and that the court recognized discriminatory and unnecessary behavior when they saw it. Because not everyone does.

Yoga is not Duct Tape- it doesn't fix it

Cambridge has decided to take the edge off the bitter news of receiving a parking ticket by including yoga instructions with them. See related article:

I have to say that this offends me. Not because of being a victim to parking tickets, but because I hate yoga. I think it's one of the most prissy new age pretentious exercises which is so far removed from the original Buddhist concept of yoga and has since been diluted and trendified in an effort to get people to pay $80 for pants made out of seaweed and I just hate it. So you can imagine that the last thing that would calm me down if I've been served a ticket is the suggestion that I do yoga.

First of all, this suggestion is condescending. There's nothing worse than being really upset or having a horrible day and being told to just 'get over it.' There are many variations of this helpful advice: 'have a drink', 'forget about it, 'calm down' and 'grow up.' What if you don't want to calm down? What if you've had the most crap day of your life? You know those days, rotten meat in the fridge, your boss yells at you for a half hour, your boyfriend tells you you've put on weight and the stick thin neighbour has just bought herself a $500 winter coat while yours keeps losing buttons.

THOSE days. Those infuriating days that serves you the parking ticket when you're 5 minutes over the meter because you didn't have enough change because the time that your boss spent yelling at you was the time that you had orignally allotted to going to the bank, but by the time the yelling stopped, you were so bewildered that you thought you could get through the day without money and you had a rice cake for lunch. THOSE days.

So when that happens at the end of a horrible day, you WANT to get mad. You WANT to be upset. Why not? Don't you have every reason to be? But then you turn the parking ticket around and there's some snot in the tree position telling you to be happy and that should really be the final straw.

I may not be as smart as the Cambridge researchers, but my guess is this: nobody wants to be told to do yoga when they get a parking ticket. Parking tickets are annoying, unnecessary and usually expensive. We often feel persecuted unfairly or just plain bothered when it happens. So let the people feel that way. They're going to feel that way anyway, even if you put chocolate mints on them. Parking tickets suck.

Yoga is not duct tape- it doesn't fix all. People's emotions are way more complex than that and you have to let them feel it. People also have their own way of dealing with their emotions; they don't need to be told on the back of parking tickets how to forget the ticket. If they need to go for a run when something upsets them, they'll do it. If they need a beer, they'll have a beer. People know their own emotions and know how to calm them. Don't treat them like out of shape babies that need to stretch and breathe. That's like being told to grow up when your day is plain garbage. It's not helpful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flirting with Success

A recent article on Forbes has caused outrage because it claims that flirting, a known workplace no-no, can be used as a tool for women to get the corner office. The attached commentary on this article points out some really interesting things.

The first is the fact that there's a Forbes Women section. I find this really interesting because I find it hard to believe that our so-called egalitarian society still requires a separate section for women, as if women needed particular career and financial advice. I guess we really need our own special section of the paper to tell us how high the hemlines on our skirts must be. Of course, there are issues that women have in the workplace that aren't necessarily applicable to men, such as how much makeup we can wear before we're considered to be of questionable morality and how to juggle mom duties with work duties.

But even assuming that there are enough issues particular to women to actually fill an entire section or bimonthly publication, how many of these issues are entirely gender-specific? After all, men deal with family obligations as well and balancing a lifestyle is not just a woman's problem. And even if there are issues specifically for women in the workplace, who's to say that men aren't interested? Who's to say that they don't have a stake in this? A man in the workplace may be just as interested in finding out what an appropriate dress code is within their office or daycare services. Workplace issues are as diverse as the people who occupy them and can have an impact on the workers as a whole- so they do affect everyone.

A second thing that boggles my mind is the fact that what this woman suggests is actually not flirting at all. It appears that either she has a very broad interpretation of flirting or that she perceives regular human interaction to have some sort of flirtatious connotation, regardless of the source or purpose.

Flirting is generally defined as the manner in which a human would act in order to attract a potential mate. While there's a fair bit of overlap between what can be considered a simple friendly gesture and a flirtation, a lot of this depends on the context, the person, the situation and the person's motivation. Flirtation is actually more complex than a wink of the eye. A lot of it depends on factors that have little or nothing to do with the act itself. A wink could mean that you're hoping the person will ask you on a date and it could also mean that your contacts have been in too long.

As the article smartly points out, being courteous, dressing well and maintaining eye contact are all common sense moves that we use in the workplace in the interest of being professional. And the author plainly knows what real flirting is all about: dangling the shoe off the toe, for example, a move which can only be described as hot if it's done properly. Compared to that, it appears that the original columnist has learned how to flirt from Mormons.

Clearly the article that should have been featured in Cosmopolitan was written with a spectacular title to attract attention, but falls way short on substance. It's just like the other articles that you see featured on Cosmo, promising you 1600 new sex positions and only featuring 5. It's a classic bait and switch tactic used on women's magazines to make a sexy cover that over-promises and ultimately, under-delivers.

Flirting, the real stuff, is not appropriate in the office. The pitfalls of dating in the workplace are many and they are especially difficult when they fall between management and underlings. Also keep in mind that sexual harassment policies are in place and that they work both ways; even the mere suggestion of inappropriate or unwanted attention in the workplace can be a career-killer. And that's not just useful advice for the ladies.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Defending Defense

It appears that the Canadian Tory government is having a hard time selling the new F-35 plane to Canadians, a $9 billion dollar project that will bring stealth fighters to Canada's air space. The Tory government claims that the new stealth fighter will allow us to see threats before they see us and that this is the right time to make this sort of investment.

Fear-mongering works well in the US, but it's a tough sell in Canad. Here's why:

1- We're not afraid enough.

The US has a constant fear machine with 24 hour news stations like CNN and Fox, churning out the threats to the nation with flashy lighting and stock images. They also have pundits, who make a living out of striking fear into the heart of the nation by telling them that free radicals are attacking the country. If you watch enough of that stuff, you'll start believing that Bin Laden can be hiding inside your taco. Canada doesn't have that kind of fear machine on hand. We're just blissfully unaware, living our lives and our news anchors are like people we invite into our living rooms at night, not the brandisher of evil news. They put on their serious face when they talk about the silly stuff that the city council wants to do, but most of the time, their reports are light.

2- What exactly are we afraid of?

The US makes a lot of enemies, particularly through invasive foreign policy or punitive economic measures. They also have a bad reputation on the international stage. Canada doesn't have such famous or spectacular enemies. Yes, we follow other countries into war-ravaged zones, but in the interest of lending a helping hand, not forcing Canadian values on others. It's hard to argue for more protection for the country because we don't have a clear sense of who we're protecting ourselves from.

3- Economies of Scale

9 billion dollars? Really? Most Canadians can't fathom what that kind of money looks like. Unlike the US, which can funnel billions of dollars into large portfolios such as Homeland Security, Canada doesn't have that kind of money to hide within its overall budget. An amount that large doesn't go unnoticed by the Canadian population which is significantly smaller than that of the US. So you better believe that if that amount of ressources is being pooled into something, we will know about it and we will have something to say. And considering that we're not scared enough as a nation, quivering in our collective boots, and that we're not even sure who exactly we're so scared of, it's not going to be an easy sell to invest $9 billion into this.

This is a two front battle for the Tories, and it's not just the cost or the utility of the investment that's causing problems, but also, the lack of a competitive process to buy this plane. There has been no bidding process due to the fact that there is apparently no other plane that fits the government's specifications and then the Tories have gone ahead and used their oldest trick: the US did it, so why can't we?

Arguing that the US decided to use Lockheed Martin as their supplier without a competitive process is glossing over some pretty important facts, such as the fact that members of the government had investments within the company and stood to make a personal profit from the supply contract. It also glosses over the fact that this contract was designed for American needs and not adapted to Canadian and that a competitive process would have proven whether or not the supplier was up to this task.

Finally, it goes against the government's promise of transparency to the public by not conducting an open bid process for this important contract that the public hasn't asked for. The public has not demanded this service from the government and it has not voiced fighter planes as a priority. I think that if you asked the average Canadian what was top of mind for them, it would be the economy and health care, rather than aerospace defense. Too bad the government didn't bother to ask that essential question.

Diet Dilemma

Every form of print media in the world has new research that indicates diet myths, secrets and tricks. The problem is, they all contradict each other at some point and they're a confusing mess of information that doesn't help anyone. As well, the research on which it is based is generally a small, controlled, experiment-based project with no more real implications than a survey of who likes bread.

Who's right? Is it true that it's worse to eat at night than during the day? Is it true that crabs make you fat? Is it true that eggs are safe? What about nuts, the new 'it' snack for women? Do fad diets work? Is detox safe and effective? Are those super skinny models people we should look up to and emulate, or are they really the vitamin-deficient zombies that doctors claim they are?

As a woman, it's beyond frustrating to read article after article claiming that certain diet tricks really work, then find the ones that contradict that advice, then turn to the page in the magazine that has the model who is the same shape as a starving Ethiopian and then turn to the celebrity diet page where Elizabeth Hurley tells you to eat watercress soup for the rest of your natural life.

Let's get one thing straight- do not take advice from the stars. They are stars. They have the kind of money and ressources that normal people can only dream of. Trainers to keep you motivated, cooks to prep your meals and dieticians to make you dedicated meal and training plans are not accessible to the average working woman. Nor is it plausible to consider doing 2 hours at the gym every single day on two pieces of lettuce when you work a 9 to 5, commute, run your own errands and clean your own house. So forget that.

Forget the celebrity cleanses as well. As impressive as the results may be, and as much as Gwyneth Paltrow claims to feel terrific afterwards, they are not safe and not efficient. Some of their side effects include spontaneous rectal bleeding. Others include such strange and exotic items, you would need to import them or special order them online. Doctors also have chimed in, saying that they're dangerously lacking in nutrients. No wonder.

There are so many diet myths and fads out there, I think that the only advice to follow is the truly practical. They are:

1-Do not strive to be any other size than what you naturally are.

This is the most important diet advice I would give to anyone. Everyone is built differently and everyone has their beauty strengths and weaknesses. It should be all about acceptance and attitude. Accentuate your great assets, down play the rest, and remember that there's always Spanx for emergencies. And a woman with curves? That's one hot mama and that's the way women are supposed to look.

2- Exercise

You don't have to have a 'regime' or train for marathons. It doesn't matter when you exercise. The most important thing to do is have some form of it that you enjoy and try to do it as regularly as possible. Exercise has the added benefit of having a positive effect on our moods and revs us up when we have to tackle a lot of projects-like that long to-do list on the weekends. It doesn't have to be strenuous and it doesn't have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a brisk walk or a few lazy stretches during commercial breaks on tv. You can even do jumping jacks and push ups in your living room. But close the blinds, or else your neighbours might think you're crazy.

3- Be reasonable, but don't deprive yourself

Food is a pleasure. It's meant to be enjoyed. It's not just fuel. Don't rack your brain counting calories or portions or measuring your meat portions to look like a deck of cards. Be reasonable about what you eat. Have more fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains.

One of the best rules to follow is the 80-20 rule. Make sure that you're good most of the time (roughly 80%) and give yourself a free pass some of the time (roughly 20%). That way, you can still enjoy a sloppy burger or an ice cream treat- just not every day.

I've given up on diet information produced by the media. I'm sticking to these.