Monday, December 08, 2008

Fascinating...

Now that Michael Ignatieff will likely be the next Liberal leader, it's good to learn a bit more about him besides the random snippets of fact found in the media. I thought I would share this exceptionally well-written article about Michael Ignatieff in the Globe and Mail. Am I a fan of him? Not really. But his story is definitely interesting.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A plague on all your houses!

I've been watching the developments in Ottawa closely for the past few days, and like many others, I've been thoroughly disgusted by the conduct of Canada's Parliamentarians. Instead of putting the good of the country ahead of their political ambitions, the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals are locked in a short-sighted death match for power. At the end of all this, it'll probably end poorly for everyone involved. Why?

First of all, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been continually demonizing the separatist Bloc Quebecois. While I have no sympathy for the Bloc, he has effectively employed a scorched-earth policy and burned his bridges in Quebec. This has destroyed whatever goodwill he worked hard to attain in the past few years. This has strengthened the Bloc and has effectively removed the Conservatives as the federalist option in Quebec.

Secondly, the Liberals and NDPs are playing with fire by taking power from the western-backed Conservatives. Preston Manning's battle cry 20 years ago was "the west wants in". However, if the Liberals and NDP take power, it would be symbolic of kicking the west out. They would destroy what little inroads they've made with the western provinces in the past few decades. There hasn't been a Liberal MP in most of Alberta in a generation, and this action will guarantee that this would continue for yet another generation.

Thirdly, both the Conservatives and the "Unholy Alliance Party of Canada" both lack credible leadership. Stephen Harper's conduct has damaged his credibility as a leader who can bring cooperation and consensus in Parliament. Both are essential qualities required in a minority government but his character and his recent actions were far too toxic. Stephan Dion is no better. He has been overwhelmingly rejected by the electorate and is not fit to lead. Both of them are a liability to the country in their current positions, and will not be able to lead their respective parties in the next Parliamentary session.

IMO, the only way we can get out of this mess is to find strong leadership. We need to get out of this string of successive minority governments. The Conservatives need to ditch Harper, and the Liberals need to replace Dion - fast. Once we get those two out of the way, we'll need to find someone who can bring consensus and reconciliation. And most importantly, they should concentrate with the bigger task at hand - the economy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's not easy being green


Sorry to steal the quote from the famous amphibious philosopher, but I couldn't think of a better title. M* and I had the opportunity to see Wicked, a musical "prequel" to the Wizard of Oz. Normally, I thought musicals were simple, light entertainment. Nothing to make you think, nothing to push the boundaries, nothing but a nice, warm and fuzzy story sung with show tunes. This is probably why I was so impressed with Wicked. It had it's joyous moments, but many sad, nuanced and intelligent moments that made me respect musicals a great deal more. This was the first musical I found truly satisfying.

Wicked, based on a book by Gregory Maguire, offers a more sympathetic view of the Wicked Witch of the West. She was the basic run-of-the-mill the evil villain in Wizard of Oz, but the musical gives an explanation how she came to be. Did she have parents? A childhood? How did she grow up? She even was given a name in the musical (Elphaba). The musical serves as a little biography of that misunderstood green woman.

(Spoiler Alert! Plot details ahead.)



I was surprised at how well the musical worked on so many levels. M* really enjoyed Glinda's character where we watched her grow up from being a ditzy blonde (a la Clueless) to being the polished Good Witch of the North. I was taken by the unfortunate upbringing of Elphaba and her struggle to do what's right (perhaps I'm a sucker for sad stories). But I'm sure others would be taken with the token love story, while others would relate to the musical's statements on governments that rule by fear.

Despite the fact that the songs were rather generic (with the exception of "Popular" and "Defying gravity"), and that the second act was much weaker than the first, the underlying story was more than strong enough to compensate. All in all, I was much more statistfied by this musical than Rent or Phantom of the Opera. Highly recommended.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Humbled but happy



"They're already running up the other side?!" we all said in astonishment.

About 15-20 minutes into our 10k race on Ottawa Race Weekend, my friends and I were feeling pretty good. Having just past the restaurants on Elgin street that were taunting us with smells of food, we hit the long stretch along the Rideau canal. The weather was beautiful, and the crowds were enthusiastic. We were warmed up and were just easing into our race pace when we saw a truly humbling experience.

We spotted the elite runners coming back in the opposite direction. Wow. In the time we covered only 3km, these guys covered more than twice the distance and were already on the homestretch. It was humbling, yet impressive to watch, and gave us amateur runners something to aspire to. They ran at a pace similar to me at a full sprint, but for 30 straight minutes. Phew.

At the end of the race, we didn't post a good time, but what the heck - it didn't really matter. We finished a 10k in one piece, and we're looking forward to doing the next 10k, either on Canada Day or in September. So who's in?