May 1, 2007

Happy Loyalty Day, America!

Has it been a year already? That's right, it's that time where the President hereby proclaims May 1, Loyalty Day!

So show your loyalty by buying a magnetic flag for your back bumper! Be better aquainted with America's place in the world by eschewing a Geneva convention or two! Show your love for the free market by awarding a no-bid contract to former cronies! Demonstrate your support for democracy by voting in an election, or, if you're the President, vetoing a bill!

But most importantly, get out there and SHOP!

Remember, if you don't show your loyalty, the terrorists have won.

20:55 | America | Comments (0)

January 16, 2007

Virginia Is For Racists

I don't know what's making me sicker, the food poisoning I've apparently come down with, or Virginia Delegate Frank Hargrove's remark that black people should get over slavery.

He also wondered aloud whether Jews should apologize for killing Christ.

At least he didn't join the Virginia legislative bandwagon of calling random brown people "Macaca"

15:13 | America | Comments (4)

January 11, 2007

Brother, Can You Spare A Surveillance Device?

According to this AP article, American defense contractors working in Canada have discovered tiny surveillance devices inside Canadian coins.

Sound incredible? It just might not be true.

This Globe and Mail article tells that the coins believed to have been tampered with are actually special commemorative coins produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. I can't say I blame foreigners in Canada for getting confused about our coinage, it seems every other year the Mint is commemorating something new, from the Terry Fox Loonie to the 12 different quarters marking Canada's 125th anniversary, to the 24 different quarters marking the new millennium, to the coloured quarters (link). I collect these things and I get confused!

It would seem to me that coins are a bad way to track people, since they get spent, lost or given away so easily. Who knows, maybe some foreign intelligence service is really concerned about how much Second Cup baristas get tipped?

16:58 | America , Canada | Comments (1)

November 29, 2006

US Tries Dollar Coin, Again

The US Mint is trying once again to get people using the dollar coin, but unlike Canada, it is not discontinuing the paper dollar bill. So how are they going to get people interested? The Susan B Anthony and Sacagawea dollar coins weren't very popular, so who are they getting to replace them? Why, all the presidents!

That's right, the US presidents are back, in coin form. I bet no one thought Nixon would ever be on a coin, and he won't be; until 2016. Personally, I'm waiting for the dollar with my favourite US President ever: William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia a month after taking office.

What's interesting is that there's a federal law prohibiting still-living presidents from gracing American money. I wonder how they're going to handle a 71-year-old Clinton holding up production in 2017.

20:30 | America | Comments (0)

November 14, 2006

The Military Commissions Act

As a bearded non-citizen living in the US legally, stuff like this case of a legal immigrant being detained for five years and counting without charge or access to a lawyer, scares the heck out of me.

But I guess since I'm not Muslim a terrorist, I have nothing to worry about, right?

08:04 | America | Comments (0)

November 10, 2006

American Terrorists

The Vietnamese government has just convicted seven people, including three American citizens, on terrorism charges, claiming they plotted to take control of a radio station and call for revolution against the government.

The defendants, all of Vietnamese descent, had been jailed without charges for more than a year, prompting Washington to pressure Hanoi to move forward swiftly and fairly.

In case you missed the irony in the above paragraph, here's a hint.

08:28 | America | Comments (0)

November 9, 2006

Staying The Course

As of right now, Allen (R) has not yet conceded in Virginia, delaying the final election results. Most news networks are calling it for Webb (D), which would give Democrats a majority in both houses of Congress.

In related news, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigns. I'm currently listening to Bob Woodward's State of Denial on Audiobook, so this news is especially interesting to me.

The book describes Rumsfeld as a man who helped mastermind the Iraq invasion, took charge of the military, was unable to delegate responsibilities, ignored advice from generals and intelligence experts, and was a generally unpleasant guy. I can't say I'll miss him much.

08:27 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

November 8, 2006

Election Roundup

As of right now, the Democrats have taken the House of Representatives, six governorships and are tied with the Republicans for the Senate.

MSNBC has a roundup of vote issues and irregularities. Issues ranged from illegally requiring photo ID, to poll workers not knowing how to turn the voting machines on. Fortunately, it looks like most counties with voting machines were able to use backup paper ballots to minimize wait times. Good job!

Speaking of the reliability of voting machines, Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb is more optimistic than I:

History has shown that the machines are far more accurate than paper so we're quite confident in it. There is absolutely no reason to believe that there will be any security issues, any hacking going on.

07:41 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

November 7, 2006


If you're one of my American readers and you haven't already, go out and vote!

If you're not American, be prepared to be inundated with news reports about voting irregularities for days to come. Looks like some states are off to a great start. Keep in mind that this is the country that wants to bring democracy to Iraq.

08:00 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

October 3, 2006

Hypocrite Of The Worst Kind

"It's vile. It's more sad than anything else -- to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain."

Mark Foley, about Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct (from DailyKos)

07:51 | America , Politics , Quotes | Comments (0)

September 7, 2006

Everyone Knows Mr. Ed

You know what pisses me off? In a time where the US has wars in two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), are posturing themselves for a third (Iran), where the administration's policies are being criticized (warantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, to name a few), where reconstruction of New Orleans, a year after Hurricane Katrina, is stalled, and an election is less than a month two months away, the most pressing issues for the House of Representatives to debate is that of Horse slaughter?! Just ask Rep. John Sweeney, R-NY why he thinks this issue should take the spotlight:

Everyone knows who Mr. Ed, Secretariat and Silver are. I dare anyone to name a list of famous cattle or chickens... They are American icons that deserve to be treated as such. Would we ever think of slaughtering and serving a bald eagle in this country? The same should be true of the horse.

Personally, I would think America's elected representatives would be more concerned with the 2658 American dead in Iraq than the three horse slaughterhouses in the US.

Update: The bill passed the House. Another choice quote, this time from Representative Nick Rahall, D-WV:

Horses are part of our identity and heritage... yet the merchants of slaughter will have us believe that is fine and dandy to slaughter our horses for the sole purpose, the sole purpose, of sending their flesh overseas to support some warped demand among foreign diners for horse meat.

"Merchants of slaughter"? Well, I guess that's technically accurate, but "warped demand"? Personally, I've eaten horse meat, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Take that, Seabiscuit!

Here's a fun game: substitute Rahall for the name of a member of the Indian parliament, and the word "horse" for "cow". Or maybe a member of the Knesset decrying other nations eating Israeli-farmed pork?

Update 2: Looks like the Washington Post is just as appalled with the House's ridiculous priorities.

01:09 | America , Politics | Comments (2)

September 2, 2006

Chris' Guide To The Washington Primaries

Primary elections are coming to Washington. For those who aren't intimate with the American electoral system, a primary is a vote between party members to decide who will be the candidate for a particular position. That person will then run against the other party's primary winner for the seat in question. I would like to offer this guide out the primary candidates running for United States Senator for the Evergreen State, based on their primary pamphlet profiles.

The Democrats
Michael "Goodspaceguy" Nelson

Nelson is in favour of abolishing war on Earth with world-wide free trade, although is light on details on how this can be achieved. He is also in favour of eradicating homelessness though abolishing the minimum wage and establishing a head tax. Oh, and he wants to spend the state's tax money on space colonization.

Strong point: He has a blog.
Weak point: He's a total nutjob.
Best quote: "Unfortunately, much of our space money has been wasted. It is as if our leaders have not been educated in orbital space colonization."

Michael "The Mover"

The Mover is in favour of putting Saddam Hussein back in control of Iraq, and letting the Iraqi army patrol the borders. He assures us that this will lead to cheap, plentiful oil for America. He is against British Columbia dumping their sewage into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, threatens to wage war with Canada to stop it, and calls the Queen of England, the "Queen of Pigs".

Strong point: He is willing to fight Senator Ted "Series of tubes" Stevens.
Weak point: Has loose grasp on foreign relations, reality.
Best quote: "Listen to the thunder, hear the Governor roar; Mike the Mover's loose again, and knocking at the door!"

Mohammad H. Said

Said claims all Muslim aggression towards America (including the 9/11 attacks) are due to America's support for Israel. He then sums up the last 600 years of Middle Eastern history. Not much of substance besides that.

Strong point: Sure knows his Middle Eastern history, which is more than I can say for most US Senators.
Weak point: Has little to say besides how evil America's support for Israel is.
Best quote: "This is the answer to all this conflict, a One State Solution where all Semitic people (descendants from Patriarch Abraham), Jews and Arabs (Christians, Jews and Muslims) can live in a secular state like us."

Hong Tran

A refugee of the Viet Nam war, Tran claims to be the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling for the quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which is verifiably untrue. In fact, she's not even the only Washington candidate calling for a quick withdrawal. Besides that, she's in favour of universal health care, protecting civil liberties, and is willing to stand up to the Bush administration.

Strong point: Solid Democratic policies.
Weak point: Really should check her facts before claiming to be the "only Democratic candidate calling for <blank>".
Best quote: "I am the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling for a repeal of The Patriot Act and an end to the trade policies sending good jobs overseas."

Maria Cantwell

Cantwell is the incumbent senator, and calls for a quick withdrawl of troops from Iraq. She has also stood up to the Bush administration on issues like privatizing Social Security, funding for No Child Left Behind, and increasing energy rates.

Strong point: Incument senators enjoy at 90% reelection rate.
Weak point: Talks a lot about what she accomplished, not much detail about what she will do if reelected.
Best quote: "I'm working to preserve our quality of life and stand up for our Northwest values."

The Republicans
Mike McGavick

McGavick longs for the days when the Senate "actually produced results". He is against deficit spending, in favour implementing of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, and securing borders.

Strong point: Acknowledges Senate partisanship and is willing to work to produce results.
Weak point: Is willing to "make hard choices", but not tell us what these hard choices are.
Best quote: "While the Senate is gridlocked by partisanship, our problems get worse. They have closed their minds and hearts. But it hasn't always been this way."

Brad Klippert

A full-time law enforcement officer, and pilot in the National Guard, Klippert believes in being tough on crime, a strong military, and outlawing gay marriage. Klippert also stands for American self reliance, (not reducing dependence on oil per se, rather dependence on foreign oil), fiscal responsibility, and the Pro-Life stance.

Strong point: Clear on what he believes in.
Weak point: Likens his point of view with those of Dr Martin Luther King. Clearly Klippert has a high opinion of himself.
Best quote: "Like the five brave men on flight 93, join me now as I stand up and step forward to make a positive difference!"

William Edward Chovil

A self-proclaimed expert on government, Chovil is staunchly anti-communism and anti-socialism, and proudly pro-Americanism. His profile asks a lot of questions ("Do you want school vouchers to help your children attend the school of their choice?") while cleverly skirting how he would answer them, prompting me to ask whether he's asking them rhetorically, or sarcastically.

Strong point: Pro-Americanism.
Weak point: Doesn't realize the Cold War is over.
Best quote: "If you believe America can do better with more National and Global Communism and Socialism and less Americanism I can't help you."

Gordon Allen Pross

Pross is a man who likes numbers. He had the uncanny ability to reduce complicated issues like tax reform to analogies involving pennies. This simplification allows him to explain that only one tax is needed to pay for all of America's important programs (healthcare, education, career track and paid vacations), and that tax is: tithing! 10% of everyone's net worth should be the only tax anyone ever pays. Plus, he has found the solution to campaign reform: a rounding error!

Strong point: So patriotic, can't say the word "cent" without prefixing it with the word "Lincoln".
Weak point: Clearly has no idea what he's talking about.
Best quote: "Now Washingtonians' Vote justifiably abolishes censored auctions for public office. Washingtonians' Proudly Resurrecting Sparks of Deity for First Amendment Primaries!"

Warren E. Hanson

Hanson starts off his spiel pretty bleakly. Immigration, both legal and illegal, has caused almost unsolvable problems. He wants stronger borders, citizenship for the US-born only, felonies for illegal workers and English as the national language. He also takes pride in his physical strength and stamina.

Strong point: The issues he wants to tackle are clearly important in the state of Washington.
Weak point: I guess I'm biased, being an immigrant worker, but I'd have to say he certainly borders on xenophobia.
Best quote: "For my years I am in excellent health and quite strong (BP ˜ 118/66 – no addictions)."

B. Barry Massoudi

Massoudi loves America and hates deficits. He believes that "each single issue can be solved easily with American ingenuity and perseverance". Although I appreciate his optimism, I have no idea what that statement means.

Strong point: Damn, he loves America.
Weak point: A little naive in thinking that the world believes "U.S. global leadership, power, and influence are trusted as a force for good".
Best quote: "The United States is the greatest and freest country on earth."

I hope this guide has been helpful, illuminating, and didn't crush your belief in the democratic process too badly.

10:33 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

July 6, 2006

Birthday Gifts For W

Prime Minister Harper will be presenting President Bush with some authentic Canadiana for his 60th birthday, in the form of a belt buckle and a genuine Mountie Stetson.

These gifts will probably be more appreciated than former PM Martin's gift of an Inuit sculpture, valued at $350, or Chrétien's fantastic wooden pen rest, valued at approximitely $20.

Wow, a pen rest... I wonder if Jean forgot it was George's birthday and picked it up at the airport.

00:26 | America , Canada , Politics | Comments (0)

July 1, 2006

Canada Day Mixed Bag

The nice thing about getting the 4th of July off work, is that it usually shares a weekend with Canada Day. So today, after dropping Bonnie off at the airport (she's going back to New Mexico for a wedding), I'm kicking back. Sadly, good Canadian food is hard to find around here (no peameal bacon, no Creemore, although one of the Microsoft cafeterias was serving poutine on Wednesday), so I had my customary swig from the maple syrup bottle, for that little taste of home.

So far, 2006 has been an interesting year for Canada. The planned terrorist attack in Toronto, complete with threats to behead the Prime Minister, had me shaken up, and I was relieved the plot could be foiled before anyone was hurt. South of the border, the news didn't get much attention. Most of my peers either hadn't heard of it, or didn't care. I just hope Canada can handle the situation without the government taking illegal measures, like what's happening here.

Also, today is the day the much-hated GST is reduced by a percentage point. I must say, paying the measly 8.8% sales tax here in Washington State has spoiled me.

Well, back to my weekend of house parties, barbeques and fireworks. Happy Canada Day!

11:31 | America , Canada | Comments (1)

June 28, 2006

The Most Important Issue

The Washington Post put this question to the US Senators who voted for the proposed flag-desecration amendment : Is this most important issue facing the nation?

"I don't think anybody would say it's the most important,": Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

"No, no, not even close,": Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)

"Ha, ha, ha,": Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.).

"This is the day we're dealing with it,": Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

"It's not a burning issue,": Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).

"You know, it's interesting, in terms of the question of why, why, why now... Is it important? You bet it's important,": Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)

"I think we have some misplaced priorities...I don't think it's the right time to bring up the issue... I'll vote for it,": Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

"I'm not going to put it 'the most important,'": Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

"I wouldn't call it the most pressing,": John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

And Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the author of the amendment:
"In my opinion, there's nothing that would supersede this in importance."

My tax dollars at work.

07:32 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

Different Gifts

The American Episcopal Church's bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori told a convention that she believed homosexuality was not a sin, rather one of the many different gifts God gives each person. This news that religious leaders can be tolerant, accepting and modern puts such a happy smile on my face.

I realize this article is from a conservative "Defend the family" website, but I felt its reporting was relatively fair. I did find this quote interesting: "'This is yet another example of the culture influencing the church, in lieu of the church influencing the culture,' [Joe] Dallas told CitizenLink."

Looks like Joe Dallas should do some research on how Christian denominations have changed to meet the needs of society, and not the other way around.

19:44 | America | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Money Where Your Mouth Is

Yeah, I know I haven't been blogging much lately. Hopefully this video will appease the masses until my "blogger's block" goes away.

Georgia Representative Lynn Westmoreland, a Congressman who co-sponsored a bill to require the display of the Ten Commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate is asked by Stephen Colbert to name the Ten Commandments. He only gets two.

07:34 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

May 8, 2006

Bush's Best Moment

When asked by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag what was his best moment since he became president, Bush replied "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake,"(link).

For once, I agree with the president.

Curious how other presidents answered? Check out Carter and Clinton's responses here (note, neither of them involve catching big fish in a stocked pond).

16:13 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

May 3, 2006

Nuestro Himno

On Monday there were numerous demonstrations across the country by immigrant workers protesting the proposal of a new immigration bill. In time for the protests, a Spanish-language version of the American National Anthem was released to the airwaves. President Bush's reaction to the song was less than supportive:

"I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English"

If that's the case, then I guess the US Government should update their web pages to remove not one, but four Spanish versions of The Star Spangled Banner.

Although I agree that knowledge of the English language is an important skill to have if one wants to live in the United States, I don't agree with people who take offense at a Spanish (or any other language) version of the national anthem, considering the United States (unlike most countries) has no official language. One can imagine any politician proposing an English-only America kissing Hispanic votes goodbye.

07:48 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

April 4, 2006

Car Seats Too Small For American Babies

This is the most disturbing piece of news I've read in a long time. American children are becoming too fat for car seats.

According to the study published in the latest Pediatrics journal, more than 282,000 overweight children under the age of seven cannot fit into most child safety or booster seats in the market and they remain improperly restrained inside the vehicles. "As the number of obese children in the United States increases, it is essential to develop child safety seats that can protect children of all sizes and shapes," says the study's author Lara Trifiletti of Ohio State University in Columbus.

Yes, car seat manufacturers will have to start building seats in larger sizes to accommodate obese babies. I really want to make a joke here, but am too disgusted with this news to think of a good one.

07:48 | America | Comments (3)

November 24, 2005

Give Thanks... Or Else

Happy American Thanksgiving! Today is the start of a four-day weekend (unlike Canadian Thanksgiving which is a Monday in October). Thanksgiving here is an important holiday. Most people want to spend it surrounded by friends and family, and lots of food. Some friends of ours have even put together a dinner for "orphans and Canadians", where we will celebrate in an orthodox way: dinner at a vegetarian Asian restaurant, followed by a night of karaoke. I'm thankful for the good friends I have here that want to make sure I feel welcome on this, the most turkey-filled of holidays.

Doing some searches online for American Thanksgiving traditions, I came across this comic. It explains how to properly give thanks by getting down on your knees and thanking God LEST YOU BURN IN THE ETERNAL FIRES OF HELL. Thank goodness Uncle Mort is here to show us the way.

11:05 | America | Comments (1)

October 6, 2005

Torture: The Pros And Cons

I don't know what sounds worse, the headline "Senate votes to ban torture" or the fact that President Bush is threatening to veto it.

08:20 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

Move Over Osama, Paris Hilton Is Next

The FBI is now recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad as part of the Bush Administration's War on Porn.

Yes, you read that correctly. It appears that the War on Terror is going so well for the Bush Administration, that they can afford to put agents onto this new squad that targets - not illigal child pornography - but the legal hardcore kind.

The priorities of this administration never cease to amaze me.

08:05 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

July 20, 2005

E Pluribus Napkin

I was at the grocery store the other day buying napkins. I picked up a 500 pack of "Everyday Napkins" but I seriously considered shelling out a mere dollar more for the 100 pack of "Patriotic Napkins", which featured blue stars and red stripes.

I mean, what can be more patriotic than wiping your face with your nation's flag?

Apparently my local grocery store isn't patriotic enough for some folks, who would rather shop at stores that deal exclusively in patriotic paper products

Clean up spills with the absorbent powers of democracy and liberty!

07:47 | America | Comments (4)

May 5, 2005

In Kansas, Evolution Is On Trial

Here we go again. 80 years after the so-called "Monkey Man Trial" in Tennessee, the Kansas Board of Education is holding hearings on whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in schools.

As I've stated before, I feel ID has no place in science class. Maybe in a Social Studies class, but it's certainly not biology.

I wonder if this will end similarly to Georgia's textbook sticker policy.

22:39 | America , Politics

April 6, 2005

Activist Judges Deserve What They Get

That's it. I'm officially disgusted with American politicians.

Senator John Cornyn: "I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that’s been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." [Senate Floor, 4/4/05]

00:53 | America , Politics | Comments (5)

February 27, 2005

Questionable Science

One of the funniest political cartoons I've seen in a long time: When Kyoto Meets Missle Defence.

22:23 | America , Politics

February 2, 2005

Virginia Is For (Straight) Lovers

State legislators in Virginia are proposing to change the motto on the state license plates to "Traditional Marriage" and include an image of two interlocked rings over a heart. This is the same state that last year prosecuted a woman for receiving oral sex.

Meanwhile blogger Waldo Jaquith came up with his own plate design.

20:32 | America , Politics | Comments (4)

January 13, 2005

Unconstitutional In Fact, Not Theory

A federal judge in Georgia declared stickers on school science textbooks that stated evolution "a theory, not a fact" unconstitutional.

The issue came down to that the school board who has put the stickers on the books was implicitly endorsing religion (Creationism). Note the stickers did not call out any other scientific theories, only evolution. Although this ruling is encouraging, there are still battles to be fought:

Officials in Alabama said they do not think Thursday's ruling affects the several-paragraph evolution disclaimer in the front of that state's science books.

A work colleague of mine went to a talk on Intelligent Design (basically Creationism without mentioning the Bible or God). He even lent me a DVD on the subject, which I will watch. It's one thing to make an informed decision about a theory, it's another to knee-jerk react to it. Especially since the ID supporters' main argument is that students should be taught conflicting views. I agree, as long as the views have scientific merit. Maybe I'll even post a review of the DVD...

21:35 | America , Politics | Comments (2)

December 23, 2004

Voting Is Hard

The 2000 federal election in Florida, (among other things, eligible voters being turned away because they were erroneously labeled as felons, who cannot vote), the 2004 federal election in Ohio, (where black voters were allegedly denied the vote) and now, the gubernatorial election in Washington state, where, after two recounts, the tally is still being disputed.

For a nation that is supposed to be leading the free world and bringing democracy to overthrown dictatorships, the US sure has trouble counting their own votes.

20:27 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

December 3, 2004

Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fungus

A study ordered by California Congressman Waxman found that some US federally-funded abstinence sex education programs lie to students. Some of the lies include:

  • 50% of all American teenage gay men are HIV positive
  • condoms fail in 31% of cases of heterosexual sex
  • abortion can lead to sterility and suicide
  • you can catch HIV from a person's tears

And my personal favourite:

  • touching someone's genitals can make you pregnant

Keep in mind that the Bush Administration's grand plan to help stop the spread of AIDS and HIV in Africa involves pumping over $1B into, you guessed it, abstinence programs!

07:06 | America , Politics

November 4, 2004

US Fighter Jet Shoots NJ School

Wednesday night at about 11:00 pm, an F-16 US National Guard fighter jet unloaded 25 rounds of ammunition into a New Jersey elementary school. Luckily no one was hurt.

Could it be there was an anonymous tip that terrorists were meeting in New Jersey classrooms? Was this a way to show local dealers that the US is serious about the War on Drugs? Could it be that the US military training is severely lacking, considering the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the US bombing of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan?

Does anyone else find it disturbing, not that a school was shot by a military jet, but that the commander of the fighter wing has no idea why?

21:19 | America

November 1, 2004

Voting Is Sexy

To all my American readers: please take the time tomorrow to vote.

To all my non-American readers: don't bother trying to vote. Take it from me, they won't even let you into the polling station.

After work tomorrow, I'll be monitoring the election results with some friends. I wager by the end of the night, we'll either be celebrating, or crying.

22:11 | America , Politics

October 26, 2004

Cross Border Vaccines

The recent flu shot shortage in the United States, has inspired more than just cross-border shopping.

The Victoria Clipper, a ferry line that offers trips from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia has recently thought up a new marketing scheme: offer flu shots with every trip to Victoria.

But remember folks, federally controlled health care is of poorer quality than America's "envy of the world" health care system.

22:11 | America | Comments (3)

October 1, 2004


Did I watch the debate?
Do I think the candidates said anything we haven't heard before?
Do I think the debate convinced any undecided voters?
Do I think that the candidates ventured away from their pre-canned answers to have an honest and candid discussion about foreign policy and the current insurgency in Iraq instead of attacking each other's perceived weak points on these issues?
Do I have anything interesting to blog about today?
Well, there is this story about a man who shot his wife after mistaking her for a monkey.

07:40 | America , Politics

May 11, 2004

You Snooze, You Lose

Since I moved to the US, I've noticed certain small differences with Canada that have forced me to modify my behaviour. Like using Imperial Measurements instead of Metric, saying "restroom" instead of "washroom", not making eye-contact with strangers, etc. But there was one thing I was wholly unprepared for, something, after over a year after moving here, I still have not adjusted to: The American Snooze.

Unlike the nine-minute snooze I grew up with and loved for the last twenty years, the American Snooze is seven minutes long. That means four snoozes in a half hour, as opposed to three. This has both good and bad sides. The good side is that more snoozes make me feel like I'm getting more sleep, and more chances to actually get my sleepy ass out of bed. On the bad side, when I'm that groggy, I can't keep track of how many times I've snoozed. One morning I ended up snoozing seven times, because I lost count and had to start over. In Canadian Snoozes, that's over an hour! Luckily for me, I was only forty-nine minutes behind schedule.

Thank you American Snooze!

22:00 | America

May 4, 2004

Anyone But Bush

Living on the Left Coast as I do, I've met a number of people who aren't very impressed with the current US Administration, and would not like to see them re-elected in November.

A large percentage of these people favour the "Anyone But Bush" philosophy. In other words, these people will vote for whoever of Bush's opponents is considered the most electable. That's fine for people who were going to vote Democrat regardless, but it also means people who would otherwise have voted for the Green Party, or an independent would instead vote for the nominated Democrat.

That's fine. I'm not trying to belittle anyone's political strategies. If you hate Bush more than you like Kerry, and are comfortable with that, cool (I'm currently pondering that strategy for the upcoming Canadian election...)

What I do find funny, are the people who were die-hard supporters of Howard Dean who have now switched to the Kerry camp. There's an apartment I pass everyday on my way to and from work that until a few weeks ago had a Dean campaign poster in the window. Now's it's a Kerry poster. I wonder why they didn't just save themselves some money and put up a "Vote Democrat" poster, since they're going to be in favour of whoever is nominated anyway?

20:20 | America , Politics

March 24, 2004

And Justice For All

As you may have heard, the constitutionality of the saying the American Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is being challenged in court due to the words "under God".

According to this article in the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Senate approved two resolutions encouraging the US Supreme Court to keep the Pledge as it is. Senator Patty Birkholz (R) is quoted as saying "We proudly stand up and recite the pledge, showing our allegiance to our country and two-word reference that dates back to the Declaration of Independence".

It's a real shame how politicians know so little of their own country's history.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written for a Columbus Day celebration in 1892, over a hundrend years after the Declaration of Independence, and it did not include the words "under God". Those two troublesome words were added in 1954 to help differenciate God-fearing Americans from Commie Athiests. Really.

I guess no one told Senator Birkholz that the Cold War is over.

19:51 | America , Politics | Comments (4)

March 6, 2004

Bush Pissed-Off List

President Bush defends his use of 9/11 footage in his campagn. Let's enumerate what groups Bush has managed to piss off since he came into office:

  • The Left (no surprise there)
  • Gay Republicans (yes, they do exist)
  • Fiscal Conservatives (what was the deficit this year?)
  • Families of 9/11 victims
  • Firefighters
  • The United Nations (good thing they don't get to vote)

Let me know if I forgot anyone.

16:15 | America , Politics | Comments (5)

February 16, 2004

Run For The Border

In the news today, a woman who wanted to head south to Vancouver, Washington (just north of Portland, Oregon), got confused and instead headed north to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Why is the story of a lost driver news? Because she was carrying a grenade in her glove compartment. I guess the second amendment means something altogether different if you're from Texas.

It really makes me wonder how many Americans cross into Canada with explosives in their cars. Especially now that the US has labeled Canada a "transit country en route to the United States" for terrorists.

20:58 | America

January 13, 2004

Bumper Stumpers

You know those white oval country code bumper stickers? They were originally developed in Europe to display the country to which the car owner belongs. Since I don't live in Europe, I can only comment on the use of these stickers in Canada and the United States.

Canada (Toronto area):

I've seen a lot of different country codes, mostly European countries, which, presumably, pertain to the ethnic background of the car owner (I, D, F). There, of course, is also a Canadian sticker (CDN), and I've seen a good many novelty stickers (BNL, DMB, LNX), but I'd say the vast majority were of European countries.

The United States (Seattle area):

The only country sticker I have seen since I moved to the US in April has been, perhaps not surprisingly, USA. The rest were novelty stickers like in Canada (popular rock bands, operating systems), but there are also a large number of obscure abbreviations from small bands, political organizations, local shops, American vacation spots, etc. Since the number of stickers that actually represent country codes is so small here, I'm forced to wonder if most Americans know where these stickers originated, and what they're actually for.

Perhaps this demonstrates a more fundamental difference between Canada's multi-culturalism and the American Melting Pot, or maybe it just means Americans bumper sticker manufacturers know their audience.

07:27 | America | Comments (4)

December 24, 2003

Mad Cows!

Mad Cow Disease has been contracted in the United States. Hope they don't expect Canada to keep importing, especially after the warm reception our beef got last spring.

17:43 | America | Comments (1)

December 9, 2003

Americans Annoyed By Canadian Pride

According to this story, Americans in a focus group expressed annoyance by Canadians who wear the maple leaf on their backpacks.

This is coming from a nation that plasters its flag on everything from car bumpers to store windows to breakfast cereal boxes. Not to mention advocating replacing the word "French" with "Freedom", boycotting French-sounding companies, going against an international body, then turning around and asking it for help.

Granted, the Canadians who go around shooting off their mouth about how much Canada is "better" than the US are annoying and deserve little respect, but simply wearing a flag on one's backpack shows pride for one's country and its achievements. And last time I checked, Canada was a sovereign and seperate nation than the United States.

We don't wear that flag to show we're not American. We do it because we're Canadian. At least, that's why I wear mine.

07:39 | America | Comments (8)

November 28, 2003

Prove Me Wrong, Children

It appears I've been viciously spreading lies and half-truths about American Thanksgiving. Contrary to what I said yesterday, Thanksgiving is not the busiest shopping day in the US.

Boy is my face red.

15:12 | America

November 27, 2003

Giving Thanks, American Style

Today is American Thanksgiving. It's quite different than Canadian Thanksgiving in the sense that Americans take it much more seriously. First of all, it's always on a Thursday, and many companies (including Microsoft) give the Friday off as well. Most people take this four-day weekend to go home and spend it with their families, eating turkey and wearing those tall black pilgrim hats. Ok, maybe not the hats, but here, Thanksgiving is much more of a family event than in Canada.

And let's not forget the shopping! Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day all year in the US. It's like one big pre-Christmas Boxing Day sale. And, much like Boxing Day, I am not braving the mobs. I'll be perfectly content feeling thankful for my job, my friends and family while sleeping in and spending all day in my pyjamas.

11:22 | America | Comments (2)

November 14, 2003


Today marked my eight-month anniversary as a full-time employee at Microsoft. Although I have gained extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the product, having less than a year's experience still makes me feel like a bit of a noob.

So what's so special about eight months? In itself, nothing. But if you include my four-month internship, then I've been living in the United States for a whole year! It's the longest I've ever lived in a foreign country, including Japan.

So how am I doing? I'm having a great time. I love my job. I love Seattle. There are some people here that care a lot about me, and a few that I care a lot about too. I'm looking forward to my next year as an expatriate Canadian.

23:30 | America

November 12, 2003

Poppy Day

Yesterday, November 11 was Veteran's Day here in the US. In Canada, the UK, and most Commonwealth countries (including Ireland and India), it's called Remembrance Day (or colloquially "Poppy Day") and is observed by wearing a plastic poppy on one's lapel. It's a day to remember those who fought and died (and who continue to fight and die) in war for our respective countries.

The Canadian soldier-physician John McCrae's In Flanders Fields immortalized the poppy as the symbol of remembrance, but it was an American woman, Moina Michael who started the trend of wearing poppies.

Even though they don't wear poppies, I know there are Americans here that try hard to cut through the post-9/11 propaganda and teach today's youth about the real meaning behind Veteran's Day and Remembrance.

07:40 | America | Comments (1)

October 9, 2003

The Wheels Of Democracy Part 2

Californians have spoken and have decided against electing an experienced politician to run their state, instead opting for action-film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. All of the sudden, Dalton McGuinty doesn't look so inexperienced.

The CBC has a feature on celebrity politicians, including a circus leader, a professional wrestler, and a Hungarian porn-star. Even Canada's "celebrity" Adrienne Clarkson is on the list.

07:10 | America , Politics

August 26, 2003

Southern Man

It's been 140 years, you would think that Americans would have gotten over this whole Civil War thing. I found out this weekend, quite by accident, that to imply that someone who grew up in a northern state was "from the south" is quite the insult.

Case in point, a friend of ours from Nebraska was proclaiming her love of Country & Western music. My American geography not being what it perhaps should be, I made a witty remark about Southerners and their music. Let's just say I learned quite a bit about the American Mid-West and the role of border states (although I did once have to correct my roommate who thought the Underground Railroad was a subway). I have another friend from Virginia (technically a southern state) who also takes offence to being called a Southerner.

I find it amazing that people are still uptight about this. I don't think anyone from Upper Canada gets upset if someone implies they're from Lower Canada, and the term "newfie" is more endearing than insulting. And I for one am first to the defence of the Québécois when the Canada bashing starts (which it does quite often around here).

Just for fun, I started asking Americans if they had the choice of any of the 50 states to expell from the Union, which would it be. So far all but one of the states mentioned are from the South.

22:57 | America

August 3, 2003

The 51st State

One of the most popular comments I've heard about Canada is that it's the 51st state. I find people who make the comment have either never been to Canada, or are ignorant of current world events. Let's review a few differences, shall we?

And that was just in the last six months!

So considering those points, along with bilingualism, socialized health care and being part of the British Commonwealth (just to name a few), you've really got to wonder what the American education system teaches about world affairs when people still refer to Canada as the 51st state.

17:03 | America , Politics | Comments (3)

July 5, 2003

Miniature American Flags For Others

Yesterday was a lot of fun. It was an uncharacteristically cloudless day in Seattle, and we spend most of the day outside. As expected, there were American flags on everything. Megan even bought me an miniature flag which I carried around all day. We saw some fantastic fireworks over the bay and had a great time.

00:00 | America

July 4, 2003

Independence Day

Today is America's birthday. Last year at this time, I was working at Microsoft as an intern, and Ang came up to visit for a few weeks. On the Fourth of July we went on a mini road trip around Redmond. We eventually stopped at a small town called Carnation, which was having a big celebration. It was the kind of small town that I grew up around in sub-suburban Toronto, but with an American flavour (like a bluegrass band).

There were flags covering every surface that could possibly be covered. Women had red white and blue ribbons in their hair, and men wore star-spangled shirts. One old man wore army fatigues and an American flag bandana. He started yelling at me when I took his picture, so we didn't stay in Carnation long.

Observation: Americans are much more overt about their patriotism than Canadians, but Canadians are a lot more defensive about theirs.

I let Andy and some other Americans plan the activities for today. Whatever we end up doing I'm sure I'll have a great time. I'll bring my camera and add to my long-neglected photo gallery.

Happy Fourth of July to my American readers!

00:00 | America

May 22, 2003

Part Of A Patriotic Breakfast

My roommate went grocery shopping the other day and brought home some cereal. I don't know if he picked up this box of Celebrate America Corn Flakes because he just loves his country so much, or just to annoy me (no the actual flakes aren't coloured red, white and blue).

I've had Americans ask me why Canadians sew Canadian flags on their backpacks when travelling the world. From now on, I'll just point to the cereal aisle in an American grocery store to shut them up.

00:00 | America

May 19, 2003

Zed's Dead Baby

It's usually after meeting me a few times before most Americans realize I'm not one of them. Whether it be my pronunciation of out, or my adversarial views on America's foreign policy (I don't want to go on a rant here...), there's just something about me that's different.

One of the things that I've noticed is the way a conversation abruptly stops when I say "Zed". If I'm in the middle of a sentence, and that letter comes up (it came up a lot over the weekend trying to solve word puzzles), every American in the room feels the need to interrupt me by exclaiming "Zed?! You mean Zee!", and then I have to take the next few minutes explaining how the US is the only English-speaking nation that pronounces the 26th letter in that way. As a result, the conversation is derailed and my original point (which was undoubtedly important) is lost. So I've found myself pronouncing Z the American way, if for no other reason than to be able to finish a conversation.

And yes, I feel dirty every time I do it.

00:00 | America

April 22, 2003

Welcome To America

This was a lovely sight to see when I turned on the news this morning: possibly biotoxic powder found at a Tacoma mail centre! Tests later turned up negative, but what a scare. Tacoma is only about 50 km (about 30 miles) from Seattle, so my mail could have been contaminated by such an attack.

Welcome to America Chris Lyon. Don't forget your biosuit.

00:00 | America

April 20, 2003


If anyone can help me make sense of the American W-4 form, I'd sure appreciate it.

00:00 | America

October 10, 2002

Political Digression

I guess another good reason to not drive, is to avoid getting shot and killed while pumping gas. My deepest sympathies go to the families of the victims. Especially since the US seems to be so caught up fighting terrorism in the Middle East, that they forgot about their own home-grown terrorists. Maybe they thought they ended domestic terrorism when they put McVeigh to death.

Snipers and bombers keep cropping up in the US, but the government feels it necessary to spend its resources on a war. And during a recession, no less. Does no one remember what happened to the US economy with LBJ and the Viet Nam war? (Ok, I don't personally remember it, but I did take several courses that examined it).

What the hell am I talking about. I'm neither a political pundit, nor do I know what "pundit" means. But I guess that's miracle the of the Internet. Everyone has their own electronic soapbox.

00:00 | America , Politics

October 9, 2002

Fatty Fat Fat-Fat

According to the Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, one third of American adults are obese. Obese doesn't just mean a little chunky, or portly, or slightly overweight. It means really FAT. Scotty from Star Trek fat. The mother from What's Eating Gilbert Grape fat. That girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Who Turned Into A Huge Blueberry fat. You get the picture. Worst of all, these people didn't even realize they were morbidly obese.

Now as most of you know, I've lived in the US of A, although the Pacific North-West is one of its most health-conscious regions. Nevertheless, I saw distinct signs that not even Seattle was immune:

  • Unlimited fries at Red Robin.
  • Claim Jumper restaurant. Home of the Chocolate Motherlode Cake, enough food to feed a starving family of 5.
  • And then there's this. That's right folks, you read correctly. Free chili and free cheese.

And that is why America is the greatest country in the world.

00:00 | America

September 13, 2002

American Tragedy

Thank God the American Military didn't sweep this tragedy under the rug and give the pilots a mere slap on the wrist. The American media did a good job ignoring this issue (most of the Americans I spoke to in Washington had never heard of this. One even went so far as to say the Canadian soldiers probably deserved it). I'm glad justice has been served, and maybe the US will think twice before dropping another bomb.

Oh who am I kidding?

00:00 | America

July 25, 2002

What The Public Wants

I realize that I've been bashing Americans quite a lot lately. I really shouldn't though. I'm a guest in their country (the United States), working for an American company (Microsoft), and making American money (the Greenback). Maybe I should just slow down a little, and give a little respect to the country who, on the whole, has been treating me so well.

Then I checked my page hits for this week. Highest number of viewers yet. So, I guess I'm doing something right. If any of you viewers are truly offended, email me and I promise I'll stop. Until then, I'm giving the public what it wants:

I had a meeting with my school recruiter yesterday about future opportunities with Microsoft. She said something along the lines of "We hire a lot of Canadians from Canadia". At least she immediately realized her mistake and corrected herself. If I didn't correct my office mate, she would still be thinking that July 1st is "Canadian Day".

00:00 | America

July 24, 2002

Canada, Eh?

Have you ever seen Rick Mercer's Talking to Americans? Well, last night at the keg party (thanks to the gracious host Will, or Walt, I don't quite remember his name) a few of were playing the card game Asshole. Apparently the American version has strange rules, one of them being able to ask a trivia question in order to give away your last high card. The question I asked was "What's the capital of Canada?" The three people I was playing with just stared at me. Then they began rattling off every Canadian city they could think of. Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto. One guy insisted the capital of Canada is Ontario. He started to get angry when I informed him that Ontario is not in fact a city at all.

These aren't uneducated street urchins I was playing with either. Two of them go to Brown University (an Ivy League school), and the other one goes to Carnegie Mellon. Keep in mind that Microsoft hires only the best and brightest. After talking to these guys, if I had any MS shares I would have sold them by now.

00:00 | America

July 22, 2002

Flocons, Croustilles Et Dentifrice

As some of you well know, Canada has two official languages: English and French. That means all products must have labels printed in both languages. This means one of two things:

  1. Boxes will have an English side and a French side. For example, one side of a box of cereal is labeled "Corn Flakes" the other side is labeled "Flocons de maïs".
  2. Both English and French will be crammed onto the same side. For example, a bag of chips is labeled "All-Dressed Potato Chips / Croustilles assaisionnées".

Toothpaste falls under category 2. One side says "Toothpaste / Dentifrice", the other side has the Canadian Dental Association section and directions.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Gee, Chris really doesn't have much to talk about today so he's spouting out about cereal and toothpaste." Well, yes. But I do have a point. Here in the United States, there is only one official language (English). That means products that in Canada have crammed text (ie toothpaste) have more than enough room on their American counterparts. So what do the Americans fill up that extra space with? Well, on this 175 gram tube of Crest, our good friends at Proctor & Gamble decided to fill the white space with this helpful tidbit (in bold capital letters, no less):


Now I wonder if they printed this message because people were actually having problems getting the toothpaste out. I can imagine some backwards hick wringing the tube with both hands so he could brush Ol' Chomper.

If Americans need instructions to get the paste out of the tube, I wonder how many could remove the cap without help.

00:00 | America | Comments (1)