A Note On…The Latest

 Nov26aa

A note on kismet …

Just when they thought they could not only “Imagine the Freedom”, but live it, fortune threw a wrench into those 19 Bell Canada employees’ $50-million lottery New Year celebration when eight others step forward claiming they wanted in. ‘Imagine the Annoyance’ of having to wait two years for the whole mess to be cleared up. ‘Imagine the Disappointment’ of the eight whose lawyer could not convince the courts that they had a legitimate claim.

On a note of pious appreciation…

It can be so charming the way some churchgoers express their appreciation for that which the secular would view with blatant lust. As two Christian-minded gentlemen admired the bountiful curves of a pulchritudinous lady, one commented to the other with unrestrained enthusiasm, “God has really, really blessed her so very generously.” By the fourth or fifth fervent repetition of his heavenly praise, all those nearby got the message.

A note on signs of eccentricity everywhere…

The Toronto Transit Commission’s recent poster campaign to stop people messing up the subway with discarded chewing gum had one passenger pressing his finger into an enlarged photograph of a chewed wad of gum, apparently checking if it was real gum. And if it was, why touch something that appeared to be already chewed? Then in another subway car, there was the unknown person who took his or her already chewed gum and stuck it over the image on the poster, maybe for the 3-D effect. Gotta love this city’s craziness.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk

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We may laugh, but Rob Ford is a monster we created

We may laugh, but Ford is a monster we created

Fordpic

Television, it’s been said, is the medium that allows you to have in your living room people you would not otherwise invite into your home. Thus it is with Rob Ford, current mayor of Toronto, and his eldest brother Councillor Doug Ford, two politicians who are currently in the spotlight because of behavior deemed for the most part socially offensive.

But this troubling set of circumstances – evidence of a video of the mayor of Toronto consorting with criminals, spending his leisure time in what appears to be a crack den, blackmail, extortion, obscene language, and just plain spectacle, along with his enabling brother – involves not just these individuals, but all spectators.

We may allow ourselves to gawk at this show in disgust, amazement or amusement, but prudence requires some context and perspective, otherwise we may be surprised at where our participating in this whole mess will take us.

First, we have all become part of a scenario that can best be described as an alternate reality. Or if you will, some form of insanity, because soundness of mind is not what is operating at the source – that source being the Fords.

The Ford Circus creates psychic and emotional dissonance. Normally, when someone in a position of public trust breaches that agreement he resigns from that position. This has so far not been the case with Rob Ford. This leaves pundits with no formulaic answer for what is happening and what will happen next.

Part of the confusion is that Ford retains loyalty among his supporters in the face of undeniable antisocial behavior. But it bears remembering that other politicians who have been in the spotlight for scandals have seen their popularity ratings also go up, former U.S. president Bill Clinton being a prime example.

Another matter is the politics of the dollar has taken primacy. Ford repeats after just about every apology that he is keeping spending down, that he is ‘looking after the little guy’ and that he’s saved Toronto a billion dollars. All of these claims can reliably be refuted, but as the saying goes, if you repeat a lie often enough it comes to be believed as the truth. Even the liar believes it.

Politicians have made hay with economic insecurity to the extent that a significant enough portion of voters will make allowances for all kinds of oversights as long as politicians can convince them that they are looking after “taxpayers’’ money. This reaction has not happened in a vacuum.   There has long been dissatisfaction with the way money given up by everyday people to various levels of government has been mishandles or wasted.

The votes that brought the Harper Conservatives to power a decade ago came after revelations about funding improprieties by the Chrétien Liberals, the so-called sponsorship scandal in which monies were paid out to Quebec advertising agencies for work that was not done or overpayments were made. It was a $2-million debacle that eventually put the Liberals in third place in Parliament. The current Senate scandal involving inappropriate travel expense claims that saw three senators censured is also about money.

Spending baggage is also haunting Ontario’s Liberal government. By now we should all be familiar with the litany of fiscal waste attached to the current provincial Liberal legacy. Add to that the outrage fueled by right-wing media reporting on retiring municipal politician Kyle Rae’s $14,000 send-off party and we begin to see why and how an outlier like Rob Ford won through. Ford had, after all, made a reputation of railing against pretty much any government spending. No one likes having his or her trust abused. When government leaders do that at the most base level of concern – money – they are stepping deep into the public’s vested interest. So if a person with political ambitions comes along with a message that he will “stop the gravy” train, desperate people will cling to it like a life raft.

We may laugh or be aghast at Ford, but he’s not the only one creating this dystopian drama. He is but a nick-nack from our collective focus on the ‘almighty dollar’. This then is what happens when we make money our god; it turns around and makes a mockery of us all.

The preceding article is a modified version of my column in the November 21 issue of Share newspaper. Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper. Visit sharenews.com

Image by Theo Moudakis  taken from the Toronto Star

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk.

A note on…

 Image

A fanciful note on the facts of life in the 21st Century…

These days if a young child bypasses the Internet and instead asks the parents were babies come from, they might explain thusly: When a mommy and a daddy meet at university and find out that they really, truly love each other, and after the mommy has her law degree and the daddy gets his MBA, and after they have gotten married, paid off their student loans, bought their first home then traded up to a family-size home, and, provided their income is secure enough that they can afford to pay a nanny and their retirement savings is well underway, they have a baby.

On a completely different note…

Is it true that construction workers and road workers are often seen in groups of three (or more) with one working and two watching because the other two are making sure the one who’s working is doing it correctly and working in relative safety?

On a note of absurdity…

We live in a world where even eyelashes generate their own multi-billion-dollar niche industry, and are taken so seriously that a new mascara stick is being promoted as having a “revolutionary” design. Who would have thought that “mascara” and “revolution” would one day be paired?

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.

Latest Rob Ford fiasco nothing new

The article below ran during the summer, following what at the time had been yet another Rob Ford folly. The heat has turned up exponentially since then, after police confirmed they possess a copy of the video – allegedly showing Ford drunk, uttering racist and homophobic comments and smoking crack – first reported on by U.S. website Gawker, followed by the Toronto Star.

Countless voices have called for Ford to take time out from his post as mayor and seek help for his problems, but he refuses. That his substance abuse problem is playing out in public may be a service to many as we witness this social illness in its many aspects, from the way it affects everyone who comes in contact with such troubled individuals to the way the condition left untreated afflicts such individuals.

Thursday August 15 2013     Drink and Drunk, Yes, that’s me name…

Should we be grateful that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford spared Toronto’s Caribbean carnival parade the distraction of showing up inebriated from “a couple beers”? With its own image problems, at least that wasn’t a part of this year’s carnival event.

Apparently, Ford was found wandering the streets on the weekend and, having been scheduled to make an official appearance at the Taste of the Danforth Greek festival, ended up there but not before being caught on video looking and sounding like a man under the influence. “Slurring” is the way news reports describe him.

Ah, the modern world’s ubiquitous video recorder.

After the fact, the Ford brothers took to their usual game of defence, also known as their regularly scheduled Sunday radio program, to deny the seriousness of the mayor’s activities. There’s a name for that: it is called minimizing.

If you are a Ford supporter, or you are the kind of person who feels that Ford is being bullied by news media (Toronto Star, CBC, Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, Macleans, The Chronicle Herald, The Daily Show, Kimmel, etc.) then you will likely have sympathy for this beleaguered individual.

It is hard to watch.

In many businesses, certainly in government-run organizations, when an employee is exhibiting behavior related to substance abuse, he or she is called into the supervisor’s office and presented with the option of going through the employee assistance program (EAP). He is provided the means to receive treatment or face being let go if his behavior does not change.

To say that you were just letting your hair down and having a few while you are supposed to actually be on the job is a sure sign of problems. There are people who show up to work intoxicated, but there are consequences, sooner or later.

So is there an exception if you are the mayor of the largest city in this country? Is it then okay to show up to work under the influence?

There seem to be many exceptions for becoming mayor of Toronto. You can become mayor even if you only have high school level education as in the case of Mel Lastman, or if you are not a university graduate. In Ford’s case, he left Carlton University after his first year there. Imagine the frustration of young people today who are required to have a university degree for even entry-level service jobs. You will also likely need one to apply for a job in the mayor’s office.

But, if you just can’t be bothered with that costly endeavor, then why not just run for the office of mayor? Character references are also not required.

Many of us have sympathy for people with substance abuse issues. But it becomes harder and harder to do so when the writing is on the wall and the person just keeps ramming into the wall instead of reading the writing.  Rehab professionals helping individuals with substance dependency to recover advise that until the individual ‘hits bottom’ he will have little if any motivation to begin to get well.

We may want him to get well, but he has to get on side. Those on the outside watching the train wreck sense that can’t happen soon enough.

See also: http://sharenews.com/theres-denial-and-theres-being-in-denial/

http://sharenews.com/memo-to-ford-follow-your-heart-go-coach-football/

http://sharenews.com/how-could-383501-voters-have-gotten-it-so-wrong/

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.

Daylight Saving Time, The Sleep Dilemma – E-book Excerpt

Turn Back the Clock2March 8, 2009

Daylight Saving Time – The Sleep Dilemma

 

Blame American Benjamin Franklin for germinating the idea, back in the late 1700s, that has become the annual torment of trying to get out of bed an hour earlier between March and November – the annual discomfort commonly referred to as “Daylight Saving Time” or DST (or incorrectly, Daylight Savings Time).

Save daylight time?

One grating message that weather forecasters and others foist on us unbelievers is that DST gives us an extra hour of daylight. That man has done what God cannot do is truly a miracle since to add an extra hour of daylight is to go beyond the current parameters of nature. In fact we experience greater hours of sunlight as a result of the rotational relationship between the Sun and the Earth, more precisely because the tilt of the Earth as it moves around the Sun results in greater exposure to the Sun at certain times over the course of a 12-month period. Living in the Northern Hemisphere means we experience increasing hours of sunlight as the year progresses from March through to June; thereafter the hours of sunlight begin once again to diminish. For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere the same occurrence can be observed from September to December. Such is the phenomenon.

 Turn Back the Clock2

Yet, there are those who would like to play at adding an extra hour of daylight; or just as absurdly, daylight saving.

There are a few things in this reality that can never be saved, no matter how we word it. One is time; you can use less of it or more of it, but time cannot be saved. The other is energy of any kind, and that includes light.

Perhaps a better term would be ‘annual time shifting’. Although by any name it is still an uncomfortable adjustment, not the least for people who struggle with sleep disorders, or those of us who are not ‘morning people’. While early birds and night owls generally adjust to the shift in waking time, it can take weeks for those who are not morning people to adjust. In the meantime, they are sleep deprived and function less well.

Further, the rate of heart attacks actually increases in the first few weeks following the movement of the clock one hour ahead. Driving while sleep deprived is also a problem. While parents worry about sending their children off to school in the dim light of dawn. A sensible farmer would ignore all this silliness since the sudden change in schedule would have an unsettling effect on their animals.

People living in parts of Northern Ontario – Pickle Lake, New Osnaburgh, and Atikokan for example – do not go through this annual adjustment. They are located in the Central Time Zone and are already one hour ahead, but the point is they do not have to struggle with the annual change. It’s the same in Northern Quebec and Saskatchewan where DST is not observed.

The rest of us now spend close to eight months – from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November – in this shifted time period when we have the maximum amount of sun exposure this region gets. So if the reason for the shift is to have more awake time during the sunniest part of the day, why not just maintain the time year round?

Historically it was the business sector that advocated for this annual change. Well, as the saying goes, what’s good for business is bad for people and vise versa.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.