June 28, 2010

    A billion dollars worth of "security"
and they couldn't even
save their own car ???

April 1, 2010


I couldn't have a blog called "Say Hello To My Little Blog" 
without including this weird little piece of something or other
that was posted on YouTube a couple of days ago, and has
since gone viral. Allegedly a video of a school play version
of the 1983 Al Pacino/Brian De Palma hyperviolent  splatterfest
"Scarface", it turned out to be a hoax, at least according to the 
folks at TMZ.com - and we can trust them, right? 
  The story is that the vid was actually shot by Marc Klasfeld,
who apparently also produced Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"
video. Now I don't know what to believe. And not sure if I 
should laugh, cry or shake my head and tsk tsk. 
The video raises far too many ethical questions to ask here,
and I suspect everyone's got an opinion, but I just don't know
what to make of it. But since it's April Fool's Day, and I love a 
good hoax I thought I should put it up. Enjoy. (or not)

Press Play >

March 8, 2010

When Jupiter Aligns With Mars...And Other Bullshit.

    Every morning thousands of seemingly rational people open
their newspapers, and check their horoscopes.


 But Why?

Certainly in this day and age most people should know that
 astrology is bunk. And it they don't they should be told.

   Horoscopes Are Horseshit

What bothers me most about astrology is that it cloaks
itself in science; or sometimes even claims to be a science.

It's nothing of the kind. It's a pseudo-science.
a pseudo science that falls to pieces under
actual scientific scrutiny.

And yet people still believe.
I bet you know someone who actually 
believes in astrology. 

Here's what I want to say to those people >

Let's walk through this, shall we? 

To simplify things, and correct me if I'm wrong,
astrology basically states that when and where 
you were born determines not only your fate, but also
your personality, and, furthermore, this is dictated by
the positions, and 'relationships' between the celestial
bodies of moons, planets, and stars.

" As above. So below."

It's a wonderfully romantic notion isn't it?
But it's not true. And can not be proven.

If you wanted to scientifically test your theory
here's what you would have to do:
Find two (or more) non-related people who were born
at the same time and place, (Babies born on the same day
in the same hospital, for example) and follow them 
throughout their lives. By the rules of Astrology these 
two (or more) individuals should both (all) have 
similar personalities and fates. 

       I'm betting they don't.

I'm betting you can tell a lot more about someone's
fate and personality by asking them who their 
parents were. Your parents (or at least one of them)
determine where you are born, and, when you are 
a child, where you live, where you go to school, and, 
sometimes, how many siblings you have. 
Not to mention your early financial circumstances, 
and what you watched on TV as a kid.
All far more influential on your fate and personality
than the moons of  Neptune, believe me.

Want another argument against astrology?

How about plane crashes?  

Plane crashes that have no survivors.

In such a crash all passengers suffer the same fate
at the same time.

Does this mean that these victims 
all shared the same sign of the zodiac.
Or were born in the same year?

Probably not.

Here's one last experiment >
One you can actually perform.
Take a copy of today's paper. 
Cut out the horoscope, but remove the sign
of the zodiac from each "prediction".
The next day, show some of your friends these
'predictions', then ask them which of the twelve entries
best described the day before.
The chances of them selecting the prediction that
fits their sign of the zodiac?
About one in twelve I would think.

In the city I live in we have a weekly newspaper that 
dedicates a half  of a page each issue to horoscopes.
What's more, there's an annual edition of the paper 
dedicated to pages and pages of astrological predictions
for the coming year.

The writers and publishers (and, I'm assuming,  much
of the readership) of this particular newspaper seem
to be made up of rational, secular, intelligent human beings.

Why they continue to publish this nonsense is beyond me.

But then, I'm a Scorpio.

March 1, 2010

In Praise of "Chit-Chat"

Last week I spent a most interesting evening at Victoria's inaugural "Pecha Kucha Night".
                                        "Pecha what now ???"
Pecha Kucha- a Japanese phrase which roughly
translates as "Chit-chat". As a format for the public sharing of
ideas Pecha Kucha has become a media phenomenon that now
takes place in close to 300 cities world-wide.
Began seven years ago in Tokyo by Astrid Klein and
Mark Dytham, this movement engages its audience on many
different levels, and yet the presentation itself if quite simple.
              Here's how it works;
Pick 15 people who are involved in interesting projects in your community.
Give each of those people just under seven minutes
to present a slide show to an audience.
Limit each presenter to 20 slides.
Invite the public.

The place was packed.
And, except for a few small technical glitches,
the format worked like a charm.
The producers of the show were smart enough
 to mix in enough variety so
the audience was presented with a wide range of topics.
From Eco-utopian ideals to self-promoting artists,
the presenters all gave us an intense and thought- provoking evening.

And there was a bar.
The show was billed as "An Evening of Thinking & Drinking"

Afterwards I got to wondering why Pecha Kucha has been such a
success, both here and around the globe. After all, we can all
pretty much go on-line and get information about any of these
projects or artists via websites/blogs and social networks, right?
But in this age of instant information we often find ourselves
isolated in front of our screens and laptops, and Pecha Kucha 
has found that people have a thirst for coming together for a
live/public/in person exchange of ideas, outside of academia, 
and outside of whatever church they may, or may not belong.

Any complaints I have are minor;
a public Q&A at the end of the evening would have
made the show a lot longer,but it would have engaged the audience
a bit more, and, for future events I'd recommend more science,music,
and/or comedy.

The people that put together Victoria's first Pecha Kucha Night
are planning three more for 2010. I suspect they all will be
very well attended. Keep and eye out.
And if you want a good seat - get there early.

February 10, 2010

Is The Olympic Flame Worth The Candle?

I'm already sick and tired of The 2010 Olympic Games.
And they haven't even started yet. Living so close to Vancouver
doesn't help any. The media over-kill is brutal. But at least
I'm not living on the Lower Mainland. Amid all the Hoop-la,
both pro and con, one has to ask the one big question-
                          "Is It Worth It?"
Is having the world (or those people in it who have access
to cable television) watch a two week long sporting event
worth what Vancouver (and Canada) have had to put up
with to put the damn thing on? In other words, what's in it
for us?  We know the drill > jobs during an economic 
slowdown > infrastructure > prestige > national pride
vs. the chaos and the clampdown. And the relentless
hype. Will the tourists flood our cities after this circus
leaves town? How much money will it cost to put on
the show? No one knows. 
  We do know that the "security costs" of 2010 are about 
a billion dollars. And who, exactly, pays for that?
The one BIG problem that everyone seems to agree
Vancouver has, above all else, is the number of people
"living" on the streets. For a billion bucks you could give
a thousand homeless people a really decent condo and 
a half a million dollars - EACH. It's nice to know we've got
our priorities straight.

   We are told that these are tough economic times,
which is why Arts Funding have been cut in British 
Columbia. As have School Board Budgets.
Sorry, our Government tells us, we just don't have 
the money. But 15,000 cops and soldiers brought into
Vancouver? Not a problem. Security you understand.

And if Canada doesn't win Gold in the hockey finals-
well, the terrorists have won.

  There are enough reports on VANOC's bullying 
antics to make most Canadian's cringe. 
  The most succinct critique I've read on what the Olympics
have done to the very spirit of Vancouver is written
by Vancouver's own Poet Laureate (and, please, 
don't let that scare you away) Brad Cran in this wonderful
article he's just written >
hope the link works and you get a chance to read it.

Like most Canadians I'll probably watch some of the show
on TV. Cheer when we win, and get a little lump
in my throat whenever I see some kids singing 
the national anthem. But I'll probably also wonder
who's paying for these fireworks?
How much for the smoke?
How much for the mirrors?

February 8, 2010

The Day J.D. Salinger Wrote Me A Letter

That would have been January 2nd, 1980.

Here's the story: I sent a birthday card to J.D. Salinger 
c/o General Delivery, 
Windsor, Vermont,
because I knew, from my research, that was where he picked up his mail.
I can't remember exactly what I wrote in the card, but believe I included a Japanese Haiku.
Awhile later I received a letter postmarked "White River Junction / PM 3 Jan 1980" 
with a 15¢ Oliver Wendell Homes stamp. My name and address typed on the envelope,
and a short hand written note inside that read (in it's entirety):

Windsor, VT
Jan. 2/80

Thank you for
your good wishes,
P. McKinnon. Returned
in full, surely.

That was it. That was all. That was enough.

Thirty years later JDS has passed on, just after his 91st Birthday.

***    ***   ***

What to say about Jerome David Salinger?

Here's the thing >
The last story J.D. Salinger officially published was in 1965.
He only ever published ONE novel.
He only ever published FOUR books.

"What's he building in there?"
- Tom Waits

What was Salinger doing since 1965?
Well, by all accounts, he was writing.
And that, apparently, was just about ALL he was doing.

He was a writer.
He wrote.
And he wrote.
And he wrote.
And he wrote some more.

He just never published anything after 1965.
He didn't have to.
The royalties from "The Catcher In The Rye" made him a wealthy man.
And he lived like a monk.
Cloistered away in a cell somewhere in the backwoods of New Hampshire.

Will any of his work ever see the light of day?
Will we ever get to read any more tales of The Glass Family?
Who knows?
Not me.

And what kind of stuff does someone write about when they've been
living in the woods for 40 years?
What would he have come up with after all that time?

One could never call J.D. Salinger an "ordinary" writer.
"Catcher" blew the doors off the 20th Century American Novel.
And things just got stranger from there.
I mean, what would you even call "Seymour: An Introduction", anyway?
Some kind of "Fictional Memoir"?
"Hapworth 16, 1924", Salinger's last published piece of writing
is, essentially, a seven year old boy's letter to his parents from Summer Camp.

"Hello Mudda/
Hello Fadder..."

Salinger's passing prompted me to start re-reading my copy of "Dream Catcher"
a memoir written by Salinger's daughter Margaret.
It's not very well written, and could have used a good editor, but it did
tell me a few things about JDS that put his writing into a slightly different perspective.
One of those things are the little details of his life that he sneaks into his stories.
The other is Salinger's experience during World War Two.
I knew he was in the war, that was no secret, but I didn't know how DEEPLY
he was in the war. He was a staff sergeant The Twelfth Infantry division,
and landed on Utah Beach on D-Day. He helped liberate Paris.
He was "in the thick of it" - taking part  in some of the most strategically 
important battles of the war. He saw some pretty brutal stuff.
And he suffered a nervous breakdown, known back then as "battle fatigue."
And he carried the scars long after the war.

Anyone who's read "The Catcher In The Rye" knows that, at one point in the story,
all Houlden Caulfield wants to do is find a girl, and go live in a cabin in the woods,
far way from everybody, and everything, and have a couple of kids.

In an amazing example of Life imitating Art, that's exactly what the book
allowed its author to do.
Things didn't exactly turn out as planned.
But that's another story.

Jerome David Salinger
Rest In Peace.

Thanks for the stories
...and the letter.