May 2013

fox news on female breadwinners

Screen capture from FOX News, with additional editorial caption by Yours Truly.

“Something going terribly wrong in American society,” says one of the talking heads on FOX News, “and it’s hurting our children.” What is this thing? Women who are breadwinners. In the FOX News (surprise, surprise) video segment below, an panel completely made up of men and none of FOX’s popular women hosts, talk about the horrible apocalypse-causing things that can and will happen if men are not allowed to dominate everything.

The money quote belongs to Erik Erickson, conservative blogger, editor of RedState.com, and guy who is completely unaware of how the insect world works:

“I am so used to liberals telling conservatives that they are anti-science. But I mean this is — liberals who defend this and say it’s not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society; in other animals the male typically is the dominant role, the female is not antithesis or is not competing; it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships.”

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Turning 30 This Year: The The’s “Soul Mining”

by Joey deVilla on May 31, 2013

the the - soul mining

“Amused and confused by life’s little ironies,
he swallows his bottle of distilled…
damnation!

— from Perfect, by The The

One of my favourite albums from the ’80s turns 30 this year: Soul Mining, the debut album by The The, released in September 1983. It’s got a lot of range — from the proto-Nine-Inch-Nails-ish synth-and-drums-heavy track GIANT, to the Smiths-y The Sinking Feeling, the dark and danceable album version of Perfect (the one with more minor chords and a bigger beat), the cheerful-or-mopey This is the Day with its gorgeous lead lines that show how well the accordion can work in pop music…

…and the heart and soul of the album: Uncertain Smile, which concludes with a piano solo that could stand very well as its own piece:

“A broken soul
stares from a pair of watering eyes,
uncertain emotions force an
uncertain smile”

— from Uncertain Smile, by The The

Here’s a high-quality recording of Soul Mining that someone’s posted on YouTube. Listen and enjoy!

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Button of the Day, Starring Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

by Joey deVilla on May 31, 2013

you crack me up

Photo by Hibaq G. Click to see the source.

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eye of stephen

The brouhaha surrounding Toronto’s city hall over a video that allegedly shows the mayor smoking crack is still small potatoes compared to what’s going on in the federal government. There’s a scandal over expenses inappropriately claimed by senators and even more inappropriately paid for and covered up by the governing Conservative Party. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to distance himself and claim no knowledge of any of those happenings, but given that’s he’s a bit of an autocratic control freak and the incident involves his hand-picked Chief of Staff writing a $90,000 personal cheque to a senator who expected the Prime Minister’s Office to cover improperly-claimed expenses, it’s pretty unlikely.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair did an excellent job grilling the Prime Minister by dealing with him as one would deal with a petulant adolescent who’s been caught lifting the scotch from the liquor cabinet: ask short, simple questions, and if the answers aren’t satisfactory, ask again. The video below shows the outcome: Mulcair does a killer job as our weaselly Prime Minister dodges, weaves, misdirects, and like that petulant adolescent, wishes he could tell Mommy and Daddy to “eff off”, but for all his vainglorious claims to being the boss of himself, can’t.

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Oops

by Joey deVilla on May 28, 2013

It’s a grey day in Accordion City, so here are some pics of things gone wrong to lighten the mood. Be thankful they didn’t happen to you, share them with friends and enjoy these random internet finds!

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Fordapalooza and its Valuable Distraction

by Joey deVilla on May 28, 2013

everything's fine - rob ford

Photo by the National Post, with captions by Yours Truly.

Take a look at the photo above. Pictured on the right is Accordion City’s Peter Griffin-esque mayor Rob Ford at the press conference in which he said — a full week after the “crack video” story broke — that “I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine”. In the middle is his protective older brother, Doug Ford, city councillor and co-star of a talk radio show in which they portray themselves as “everyman” types to the gullible sort that take talk radio seriously. Standing in the doorway, perhaps looking to the heavens for guidance, is Mayor Ford’s then-press secretary George Christopoulos. He’s now former press secretary George Christopoulos, because along with deputy communications officer Isaac Ransom, he quit yesterday. The CBC reports that the two left “on principle”.

If you’ve ever worked in a toxic workplace, you’ve seen this departure pattern before.

go away and get help

All this follows the Thursday firing of the Mayor’s chief of staff Mark Towhey. No official statement has been released to explain the firing, but reports say that it’s because Towhey suggested that the mayor “go away and get help”.

Other reports says that the firing was over football.

rob ford football

The Mayor has ducked out — sometimes during city council meetings, and even once during the trial in which he was being sued for libel — to do what he seems to really love: coach the Don Bosco Eagles, a high school football team. He’s shared the love with his staff, some of whom have been “voluntold” to help out with his football duties, as well as with Toronto commuters, after they were left stranded in the rain while a public transit bus was commandeered to whisk the football team away before a fight broke out with an opposing team. He’s even been brought to trial over a conflict of interest over this football team.

Unfortunately for Ford, the Toronto District Catholic School Board, who oversee the city’s various Catholic schools including that of my alma mater, chose to fire him last week. Ford’s various antics, including referring to the school’s neighbourhood as “crime-ridden” and some of the students as “gang bangers”, didn’t please the board, so they jettisoned him before he could do any further damage, phrasing it nicely in an official statement as “”This decision is based on what is best for our students, our school and the Don Bosco community.” Of all the things that have happened over the past few days, this one is likely the one that stung Ford the most.

A report in the Toronto Sun — home of Ford cheerleader Sue-Ann Levy — says that the firing was over a goodbye party that Ford planned to throw for the football team after his firing and that he was using his staff to put it together. The report says that Towhey suggested the party was a bad idea.

Xhejsi JC Hasko

But worry not, football and Ford fans — there’s still a little football in the Mayor’s life. He recently hired Xhejsi “JC” Hasko, former Don Bosco Eagles football player and one of his old assistant coaches, to as a special assistant to the Mayor’s office.

rob ford crackstarter

In the meantime, the Rob Ford “Crackstarter” campaignGawker’s fund-raiser to collect $200,000 to buy the “crack video” from the dealers who claim to have it — has reached its target.

I have argued that the campaign is a bad idea, but the free market has spoken. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of giving money to people who thrive on misery and produce violence as a byproduct, as well as the “chequebook journalism” that my friend Ethan Zuckerman suggests this is. Enough people feel strongly enough to have donated enough money to make it a success — or a would-be success, as the people who purport to be in possession of the video have not responded to Gawker’s attempt to reach them again.

I think that journalist, friend and fellow accordionist Ivor Tossell hit the nail oh-so-squarely on the head when he wrote:

Years hence, we’ll cringe to remember that, for a few days, a cross-border scheme to funnel $200,000 in crowdfunded money to drug dealers was widely viewed as Toronto’s last, best shot at political accountability.

doug ford

In the media brouhaha over Rob Ford is a non-story about his brother Doug. The Globe and Mail did an expose on Doug’s alleged days as a weed dealer back in the 1980s, citing unnamed sources. As much as I disagree with the Fords on any number of their policies (I also agree with a few), any stint he may have had selling marijuana 30 years ago is as germane to the issue of Rob Ford’s fitness for duty as mayor as his sister’s alleged flirtation with white supremacist groups (which was likely a misguided form of rebellion against her parents) or his former brother-in-law’s vicious knife attack that blinded a woman in one eye.

At worst, they tell the story of a family beseiged by a run of bad luck or a tendency to make bad life choices, but they have nothing at all to do with the way Rob Ford runs the city.

mike duffy in a donut

Image from The Bupner Report.

In the meantime, the federal government is probably thanking its lucky stars that Ford’s follies are providing excellent cover for weightier stuff, such as Senator (a nice word for “person who gets to make laws, despite being unelected”) Mike Duffy inappropriately claiming $90,000 in expenses, and then being written a personal cheque by the Prime Minister’s Prime Minister’s chief of staff to cover those costs.

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Meet the Fords

by Joey deVilla on May 27, 2013

Here’s one Queen Street restaurateur with a low opinion of the Mayor’s family (and the reasons why):

meet the fords

Found via Reddit.

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