Monday, December 17, 2018

a news service

Dictionary entries are filed alphabetically: choose a letter to view entries.
The dictionary contains 611 entries.


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NAFTA

1992 Agreement between U.S., Canada and Mexico aimed at funneling jobs to Mexico, profits to U.S. multinational centres, and distracting Canadians with empty new conservative slogans about becoming more competitive while the countries assets are trucked south by American trucking companies using Mexican drivers.

Napo

National Anti-Poverty Organization. It is nearly as predictable as its contrary BCNI, and certain to raise diametrically opposite views. Somewhere between these two lobbies and their hurrah-for-our-side positions the real issues are asphyxiating in self-justification and righteous ideological bullshit.

Nash, Steve

Twenty-six year old Victoria, B.C. native who almost led Canada’s national basketball team to an Olympic medal, and having done that, turned down one of the Spice Girls for a local girl he was already dating. He plays in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, leads the league in free throw percentage and couldn’t do a slam dunk if they put a trampoline out for him. But if the Toronto Raptors had any brains they’d trade Vince Carter straight up to get this guy. He has a heart, and he could make basketball a popular sport in Canada, which is more than any those attitude-heavy Americans can hope for.

National Anthem: True Patriot Fondness

There, there, now that didn’t hurt so much, did it? Last week (or was it the week before? the hazy, lazy parliamentary summer is upon us), the Canadian House of Commons voted 219-79, during second reading, for a bill that would change two words in the country’s national anthem, “O, Canada,” to make it gender neutral.

The flag.

The flag.

If Bill C-210 makes it all the way through the legislative process, the anthem’s second line will be changed from, “True patriot love in all thy sons command” to “True patriot love in all of us command.” Unfortunately, the bill’s sponsor, Liberal MP Mauril Belanger couldn’t be present for the vote because of illness.

MP Mauril Belanger.

MP Mauril Belanger.

Belanger, who is suffering from the terminal condition, amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and is able to communicate verbally only by using a text-to-speech computer program, made the proposal to revise the national song last month, but a churlish Conservative Opposition refused to grant the unanimity required for a private member’s bill to be heard. Naturally this led to a typical stop-kicking-the-dog Canadian controversy. The Globe and Mail headlined its story, “Conservatives stall national anthem bill from MP with fatal disease,” while the Huffington Post lamented, “Tories block dying  MP’s bid to see gender neutral anthem pass.” The permanently outraged social media mob weighed in with similar sentiments.

What wasn’t clear was what the Conservatives had against the change. In fact, the former Stephen Harper government had made a similar proposal in 2010, but backed off after angry traditional lyrics-loving constituents gave the then prime minister an earful about new-fangled words.

In the current squabble, one Tory MP, Peter Van Loan, accused the Liberals of trying to impose their worldview on Canadians. Trying to impose fairness, inclusiveness and equality on poor, oppressed, basically bigoted Canadians? Huh? Like the national anthem lyrics, the idea barely scans.

Andrew Coyne, otherwise the country’s sanest, if rather humourless, conservative columnist, devoted an entire column in the National Post to explaining why the change was unnecessary. Coyne first properly pointed out that the fact that the bill’s sponsor suffers from a fatal disease is not a logical argument against attempts “to delay, debate or defeat legislation.” True enough. (Andrew Coyne, “Debate over O Canada lyrics is about language, not gender equality,” National Post, May 9, 2016.)

Alas, Coyne then goes on to make the case that this is a dispute about “language, not gender equality.” Says Coyne, “Let’s stipulate off the top that no one sings the national anthem with the intent that it should apply only to ‘thy sons.’” Gee, I’m not so sure we should “stipulate” that, or anything else, “off the top.” After all, the lyrics — penned by one Robert Stanley Weir in 1908 — do say, “all thy sons,” and don’t mention women. Actually, as historical sticklers will be quick to point out, Weir’s original 1908 English language lyrics didn’t say “all thy sons,” but rather “True patriot love thou dost in us command.” Weir didn’t change the line to its present reading until 1914. In 1926, a further change added a reference to religion. So, in any case, the lyrics, in all their soupyness, are not sacrosanct.

But Coyne’s point is not what the words say, but how they’re understood. “What separates the two sides, then, is not whether they believe the anthem should be inclusive, but whether they think it is. The distinction is not between those who recognize that there is more than one sex and those who do not, but between the phrase’s literal meaning and its meaning as it is intended and commonly understood… which is to say, ‘All of us.’” Hmm, wouldn’t it be simpler just to change the two words rather than to make our eyes glaze over with disquisitions on the nature of language? Coyne goes on (and on) to discourse about the difference between “meaning” and “use,” but it’s not really necessary to follow the columnist into the briny depths of linguistic philosophy. The Commons debate itself will do.

The political rhetoric is unobjectionable and provides reason enough for the change. Echoing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s explanation for why he created a gender-equal cabinet – “It’s 2016” – New Democrat MP Christine Moore said, “We are in 2016… It is not a big change… but the difference is significant for women all across Canada.” Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who has been championing the bill on Belanger’s behalf, added, “This year, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Next year we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. It would be nice if we stopped excluding women from their national anthem.”

Coyne’s column contained a little snort about objectionable “political correctness” (which I suspect is his real gripe about the whole debate). But, as Freud once pointed out, Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (rather than a phallic symbol), and sometimes a dab of political correctness is simply politically correct, i.e., the right thing to do.

Of course, there are those traditionalists in the national choir who fear a slippery slope. Sure, gender-neutralize the anthem, but what about the opening, “O Canada! Our home and native land”? Reeks of colonial privilege, no? Offends natives whose native land it is. How about “our home and cherished land,” as some have suggested. And then there’s “God keep our land glorious and free,” which apparently favours one sky deity over others, as one reader-commenter put it. As for “true patriot love,” or fondness, or mild affection, and whether it aligns us with monarchial regimes, O sigh. You can see why some politicians have wisely kept their amendments to a succinct two words.

If the national anthem bill sustains sufficient parliamentary support, there are still further legislative hurdles, heritage committees, and a third and final reading/vote on the bill. It’s unlikely to get done before Parliament adjourns for the summer.

Some radically-minded types have suggested scrapping the present national anthem and replacing it with, say, some charming sea-chanty, like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Personally, we prefer a tune more appropriate to the national character. How about Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”? Uh, sorry ‘bout that.

 

 

 

 

National Game: Quebec Bans Hockey Mask Face-Covering

Amid criticism from across Canada over a province of Quebec law that bans

Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee.

face coverings for giving or receiving public services or  entertainments,  Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee announced on Thursday that hockey masks for goalies would be banned as part of the “State Religious Neutrality Law.” “Why should goalies be able to hide their faces during the national game?” asked the minister. “Their ability to conceal their goal-tending strategy while a left-winger is taking a slapshot is totally unjust,” Vallee declared.

Hockey mask.

However, in a statement partially walking back her initial decree, Vallee softened the application of the law. “If goalies are taking public transportation to the game,” the minister explained, “they only have to briefly lift their mask for the bus driver to see their face, and can wear the full mask for the remainder of the bus-ride, along with Muslim women, and punks in face-concealing hoodies.”

Person in niqab. Possibly a hockey centre.

Further, Vallee said that hockey centres-in-burkas have to lift their face-coverings only during face-offs. Other “accomodations” will be provided as necessary, the minister promised.

 

Montreal seismological scientists

Jacques Plante, c. 1945.

reported that legendary Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante (1929-1986) rolled over in his grave, and it registered as a 5.8 quake on the Richter Scale. Plante invented the goaltender mask in the 1959-1960 season when his nose was broken by a shot by  the New York Rangers’ Andy Bathgate. (cf. Wikipedia, “Jacques Plante” for the long history of Plante’s argument with coach Toe Blake, who tried to prevent the goalie from wearing the mask, claiming it would harm the “national game.”) According to the scientists, Plante not only rolled over, but was recorded as saying, “Sacre bleu! Goddamned pure laine bourgeois bosses.”

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— Not The Onion, this is The Paul Bunyan Review: Tall Tales for the Time of Trump.

National Post

Conrad Black’s giddy experiment in news-reporting without even the slightest pretense of objectivity and printed exclusively in red ink. The writing was better than that in the Globe & Mail, which might have had something to do with the fact that most of the Post’s writers were twenty years younger and hadn’t had their brains pickled by job security and/or the carbon monoxide being re-circulated by closed-system office air conditioners. The paper, under the bottom-lining Aspers who bought it from Black, became barely distinguishable from the Financial Post Conrad Black educed it from, except on the weekend, when it turns into the Jerusalem Post–with better writing than the Globe, and more locally-sensitive coverage.

Nationalism

Canada’s nationalism is unique in the world. It is not xenophobic and does not require citizens to wave flags, get drunk at high-school and college football games, place our hands over our hearts, start wars, or engage in other jingoistic behaviors. Canadian nationalism has an exquisitely noble purpose: to keep Canadians from becoming citizens of the United States.

Native Self-determination

Determination of native leaders in Canada to be able to sit on and oversee the activities of all government bodies and corporate boards of directors in Canada and to make long, boring speeches about animals and spirits without anyone having the courage to tell them to lighten up and get real.

Native Self-government

Euphemism adopted by Canadian governments to tag the practice of allowing Pre-European immigrant enclaves to determine what they would like to be and do provided that it doesn’t impinge on corporate resource harvesting and any other high-priority financial sector pastimes.

Native-born Immigrants. Huh?

In the wake of the one-man terrorist attack at Westminster, London — the parliamentary site of Britain’s government — on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Dooney’s Dictionary is asking an oxymoronic question (emphasis on the moronic part): How does a native-born Brit get instantly transformed into an “immigrant”?

Westminster.

Of course, the real answer is: he doesn’t. A native-born Brit, especially one that stays in the United Kingdom, does not become a British immigrant, or an immigrant of anywhere else unless he migrates to somewhere else, say, Pango-Pango, or Pakistan, or Mexico or… wherever.

That is, a native-born Brit doesn’t become an immigrant or an almost-immigrant or a sort-of-immigrant until his identity falls into the hands of right-wing European politicians in Britain, France, or Poland.

Yes, Poland. When British-born, 52-year-old Khalid Masood (born in Kent, England, by the way) committed an act of terror by driving a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing three people, then crashing the car into the wall surrounding Parliament, and finally rushing into the guardhouse entrance and stabbing to death a policeman before being gunned to death by other on-duty police officers, the conservative Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, of the Peace and Justice Party (PiS), simply had to weigh in.

Polish PM Beata Szydlo.

Although Szydlo knew little of what happened, and even before the terrorist was named or otherwise identified, she quickly drew a link between the attack and the European Union’s migrant policy, saying it vindicated Warsaw’s refusal to take in war refugees under the EU’s quota scheme, which tries to equitably re-settle people fleeing war-torn countries like Syria.

“I hear in Europe very often,” she said, “do not connect the migration policy with terrorism, but it is impossible not to connect them.” Her false assumption was that if there was an act of terrorism, it must have been committed by an immigrant. She unhelpfully added that the EU migration commissioner had visited Warsaw “to tell us, you have to take these migrants… and two days later another terrorist attack in London occurs.” Whoops, logical missing link here. (John Henley and Amber Jamieson, “Anti-immigration politicians link London attack to migrant policy,” The Guardian, March 23, 2017.)

Szydlo wasn’t the only politician promoting idiocy. Even after it was learned that the attacker was British-born, France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen “joined anti-immigration politicians in linking the London attack to migrant policy, despite the attacker being British.” The attacker, Masood, was born Adrian Ajao, of mixed parentage, and was later known as Adrian Elms among a half-dozen other aliases and real names during a murky career that included violent crimes, jail time, religious conversion, marriages and fatherhood. Undaunted, Le Pen insisted, “We must control our borders,” even though the attacker hadn’t crossed any borders to commit his crime.

The more extreme and bonky interpretations came, perhaps unsurprisingly, from former United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage and other supporters from the Leave.EU organisation. Farage appeared on U.S. television the day after the murderous incident to argue “that the London attacks proved Donald Trump’s hardline immigration and anti-Muslim policies were correct.” Said Farage, “Surely this is the big takeout: when Donald Trump tries to make America safer… we have people… in Westminster out on the streets protesting.”

Leave.EU accused mainstream politicians of “facilitating acts of terror almost identical to this throughout Western Europe.” British PM Elizabeth May, said the Leave campaign group, had “failed to implement the British people’s desire to have secure borders and… has overseen unprecedented levels of immigration.”

When someone finally said to Leave.EU, “Hey guys, the terrorist wasn’t an immigrant, he was Brit-born,” the border-obsessed were unimpressed. They replied (in a tweet, of course), “British-born means nothing if he lived in a segregated community and hated the British way of life… Not British at all.” Huh?

 

 

 

 

Ncc

National Citizens’ Coalition. This occasionally funny gang of aggrieved white guys was started by David Smith, made more pointy-headed by David Somerville and now run as a many-headed dog that will bark at anything to the left of libertarianism. It is the highly organized property-rights lunatic fringe of the Canadian Alliance.

Ndp

New Democratic Party: Formerly social democrats with ideas about social justice they occasionally embarrassed Liberals and Conservatives into implementing. Currently a coalition of a.) neophyte capitalists willing to delude themselves that dogs don’t eat dogs b.) Safety Nazis bent on strapping all free-standing objects or persons to walls and floors c.)Trade Unionists who will sacrifice any democratic institution or industry to protect the union privileges of members over 45. d.) The Official Opposition after the 2011 federal election, even though the party is leaderless and half of its Quebec MPs were recruited in Carlton University’s student bar while they were too drunk to know what they were getting into.

Neocons

Disgruntled Liberal and NDP party members, not to be confused with New Conservatives or Conservative Intellectuals, who loathe neoCons. There are a lot of NeoCons running around these days, and they tend to play a lot of golf and threaten to vote for Alliance party at cocktail parties after they get a few drinks.

Nep/neb

Trudeau-era national energy policy instrument (not to be confused with 1930s Soviet New Economic Plans) that crashed shortly after takeoff, leaving behind the massively debt-ridden PetroCan, Alberta’s tar sands project and the Newfoundland Offshore Oil project, which has a much greater capacity for sucking money out of the Federal government than for producing crude oil.

Never Trust Anyone Who Grins While They Speak

Paul Martin Jr., Preston Manning, Ralph Klein, Brian Mulroney

New Conservatives

The ideologically-involved right wing of the conservative movement. They tend to be young business dorks of both genders, and they’re our own special chapter of the international movement that believes employed workers are the chief impediment to wealth, and that the poor should be kicked hard in order to make the rich wealthier. David Frum is a leading New Conservative.

New Conservatives:

Imaginary political beings engendered by the physical fusion of the Western Canada-based Canadian Alliance (a coalition-of-cats that included Christian zealots; Calgary Bushites and other fans of Donald Rumsfeld from the 1970s; Oil Patch separatists; and retired Reform Party millionaires from B.C. who think the earth is flat and was invented in 4004 B.C.) with people from Eastern Canada who knew Brian Mulroney was an asshole but voted for him anyway, and the remaining dozen or so small-c conservatives across the country who were fond of Dalton Camp. No one has yet uncovered a New Conservative, and if it turns out they don’t exist, Stephen Harper is in for a relatively short but extremely painful ride.

New Year

Once an evening and following day when the Scottish got dead drunk and complained gloomily about the English, it has been taken over by celebration culture maniacs and RIDE roadblocks to ensure that future generations don’t have any fun.

New York City

Where Torontonians phone to find out how to they’re supposed to behave in complex situations. Quebec residents would like to do the same, but can’t understand the behavior codings due to the language barrier. Because New York solves problems by hiring more police, it has become the New Conservative’s urban redevelopment model for major Canadian cities.

Newfoundland

Nature park for chronic unemployment, folksingers and icebergs. This former British colony gave up its autonomy and its fish in 1949 for the promise that Canada would find a publisher for Joey Smallwood’s memoirs, provide dental care and climate improvement, and maybe transfer a few viable industries from Ontario. The Federal government dental hygiene programs have been almost as ineffective as the Navy has been in defending Newfoundland’s fishery; unemployment levels threaten to reach 75%; the fishery is closed; the only industry brought in involved imaginary oil rigs that drowned as many Newfoundland workers as it employed. The icebergs are now being studied along with island’s over-supply of comedians as a source of potential new exports, while the remaining Newfoundlanders go around threatening to start clubbing seals again, along with a few people in Ottawa and Quebec they suspect are responsible for destroying the fishery, stealing their hydro resources and otherwise screwing up life on the Rock.

Newman, Peter C.

Czech-born Hudson’s Bay salesperson and author of popular histories that no one outside the newspaper industry reads. This Upper Canada College grad is Canada’s most convincing political gossip, for which, according to a bunch of over-60 journalists who are also UCC grads, we’re supposed to be grateful.

Newspapers

Canada’s most suicidal media/communications subsector. Corporate agglomeration has reduced the total number of papers operating by close to fifty percent in the last two decades, and editorial and local coverage by ninety percent. If all newspapers want todo is list sports scores and stock market results, publish photos ofnewly appointed business executives and pull entertainment industry PRreleases off the wire services, how long will it be before all ofCanada’s newspapers will originate from a single office in Toronto staffed by fifteen or twenty digital technicians who all look and act like Andrew Coyne or David Frum, and secretly wear Conrad Black costumes late a night.

Ngo’s

Non Government Organizations. It is wise to be wary the moment this term appears in conversation, particularly if it is midstream in a torrent of other acronyms. If the speaker is from political right (ROC), he or she is talking about organizations meant to reduce government services while avoiding government’s traditional responsibilities. If the speaker is from the left (LOC), he or she is talking about gangs of activists on payroll (AOPs) trying to make it illegal to move, speak or even think without a permit and a full array of safety devices.

Niagara Falls

Zone of extreme commercial vulgarity overlaid on one of The Seven Wonders of the World. If you want a perfect example of the aesthetic collision between early 20th century public trust and late 20th Century mercantile “trust nothing”, go to Niagara Falls. The Falls have the world’s longest active tenure as a disposal unit for depressives, exhibitionists and fools. And oh yeah. Our falls are grander and prettier than theirs.

The North

A vague area thought by Torontonians to be somewhere north of Barrie and Lake Muskoka and which they believe is best suited for Native land claims, hydroelectric megaprojects, and sanitary landfills. For most other Canadians the North is one of three things: 1.)Something you brag about when you’re drunk and American tourists are annoying you, 2.)a place to avoid, or 3.) a vast area north of the 60th parallel populated during the winter by Native Indians and Inuit, some extremely picturesque but mostly bad-tempered wild animals, ice, air pollution levels equalivalent to those in Los Angeles, and no ozone in the upper atmosphere. During the summer, one can expect to find an additional 40 billion blackflies, and a slightly smaller number of nature photographers.

Notwithstanding

The linguistic rat in the granary of the cultural exemption Canada gained with The Canada U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1988 and with NAFTA in 1993. The “notwithstanding” clause tacked onto the exemption allows U.S. traders the right of retaliation–to equivalent commercial value–to any attempt the Canadian government makes to protect Canadian cultural institutions. Thus, no serious new protections have been attempted since 1988, and those that were already in the works met with a hail of American threats, and thus died quietly on order papers and in Ottawa back rooms. Wary Canadians now duck whenever they hear this word spoken by anyone in a position of authority.

Npi

AKA “New Politics Initiative”: currently a badly-designed web site owned by Judy Rebick and B.C. MP Svend Rob that seems to think that renewing left wing politics in Canada is a matter of pumping some oxygen into the politics of the 1970s and early 1980s, in which the virtuous and the relatively oppressed band together to heap abuse on the ruling classes, and then demand fair play from them. Hold your breath, because it may get better.

Nukes

Canada’s Atomic Energy Commission specializes in the design, development and sale of obsolete nuclear reactors to such politically stable areas as Iraq, Pakistan, Rumania and Ontario. For decades, Northern Ontario was the source of much of the world’s raw uranium, which is only one of the factors that makes it a leading candidate to become the eventual repository for the world’s supply of spent uranium and other nuclear wastes and byproducts. This will obviate the need for street lighting in northern communities or the settling of land claims with Northern Ontario’s Native Indians.