December 2008

Wedding photos

Dave and Sarah's wedding (Dec. 2007)

It only took me a year or so, but I finally processed photos from the wedding of Jennifer’s brother before our trip to Calgary. (The wedding itself took place on December 28, 2007.) The happy couple got a DVD of the photos in time for Christmas; the rest of you can see lower-resolution versions here.

Flying to Calgary

We’re in Calgary for the holidays. Our trip on Monday was not without incident: the flight itself was fine, but our plane left Ottawa four hours late and we spent nearly an hour on the tarmac in Calgary before we could get to a gate. It turns out we got off easy: people trying to get to and from the Maritimes, for example, had a much worse time of it. Once I saw hundreds of people on the floor at the departure gates in Calgary at nearly two in the morning, I realized that this was bigger than our little flight. Neither Ottawa nor Calgary was directly impacted by the weather, but virtually every plane was delayed by weather elsewhere, as the entire system backed up. We were lucky, all things considered. At least we got where we were going.

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Tax cuts are the answer. What was the question?

Tax cuts to stimulate the economy — wait a minute, weren’t we just cutting taxes because the economy was doing so well that government coffers were overflowing and it was only right to return some of that to the taxpayer?

I’m no economist, but I would presume that if conditions dictate that tax rates should be lowered, then when those conditions are no longer operative, the tax rates should go back up. Right? Right? Anyone? Hello?

On getting rid of books

This essay on the need to periodically cull books reminds me of my own blasphemous attempts to weed out my always-growing book collection, which now sits at around 1,200 titles. Before every major move, I usually winnowed out the books that wouldn’t be coming with me. If I owned a book for more than a decade, still hadn’t read it, and wasn’t likely to read it in the future as a result of my own changing tastes, then the likelihood was good that it would be accompanying me on a trip to the used book store.

For example, I divested myself of virtually all my history books: I gave some to a fellow historian of France shortly after I quit my Ph.D., and sold the rest to a couple of Montreal book stores specializing in academe just before moving to Shawville. I’d accumulated a lot of them during my graduate studies; most were the sort that would have been worth owning only if I’d actually gone on to my expected professorial career; absent that, I can always consult a library copy on the rare occasion that I need to consult one. (That’s been, maybe, once in the past decade.)

IKEA comes to Winnipeg

Though some Winnipeggers seem opposed to the idea, or to the company, or to its products, IKEA appears to be finally coming to Winnipeg. My family was shopping at IKEA for decades before this — we just had to go to Calgary or Edmonton to do it. It seems we weren’t the only ones. Pooh-pooh the idea of cheap furniture all you want, but this can only be a good indicator of Winnipeg’s economic health.

Consider that it was once a city too cheap for IKEA. This was what Winnipeg furniture stores were like in my day:

Separatism isn’t treason and other fun facts

In the frenzy that was whipped up in the past couple of weeks over the opposition’s attempts to defeat the government, much was said about how it was unacceptable for the Liberals and NDP to cut a deal with the Bloc Québécois. How, essentially, consorting with separatists was somehow treasonous.

There has always been a certain, McCarthyite, corner of conservative Canada who cannot, for the life of them, understand why no one has rounded up all the separatists and charged them with treason. We saw it in Ottawa during the David Levine controversy, when deranged Lowell Green fans were convinced that since Levine had been affiliated with the Parti Québécois, he would therefore administer the Ottawa Hospital towards his nefarious separatist ends — treating francophones preferentially, serving poutine and crétons, and drinking the blood of anglo babies.

Whatever. The point is that for this lot, separatists are the new Communists, with whom there can be no truck nor trade, and any association with whom leaves you irredeemably tainted.

Let’s talk about the facts on the ground, brought to you by me, a Trudeau federalist anglo Quebecker.

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On the recent political nonsense

Imagine you’re a country being attacked by a well-equipped foreign army — infantry, tanks, amphibious assault units, artillery, paratroopers, air assault, the works. You have no armed forces to speak of — except a big honking nuclear warhead that you can detonate over the enemy capital. You have no other way of defending yourself: it’s surrender or go nuclear. What do you do?

That, in a nutshell, is what a minority Parliament is like: the ultimate in political asymmetric warfare. In the Westminster system, the governing party has almost every advantage. It controls the public purse and the legislative agenda. In the case of the Harper Conservatives, they also have a considerable financial advantage over their opponents. They can, if they choose to do so, run as roughshod over their opponents as the Constitution and parliamentary procedure will allow. But if they do not have a majority in the House, the Opposition retains the nuclear option: push us far enough, and we will defeat you.

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