How to skewer a hypocrite

As It Happens host Carol Off nails Julian Fantino to the wall in this amazing interview (transcript and audio at link). The former Chief of the Ontario Police and former Conservative MP compared the legalization of marijuana to the legalization of murder. Now that the Liberals have legalized marijuana, he has started a business selling medical marijuana.

Carol Off: As chief of police in Toronto, you were very strict about drugs. You put people in jail. There are young people who are in jail because of people like you. You don’t see any contradiction between your past life as chief of police…you were part of a government that passed a law that put mandatory minimum sentences on people for having as few as six plants. People went to jail, went to prison with six-month sentences the courts had to give them, because of a law you passed even as you knew, according to what you’ve told us, that this was something of benefit to vets…Can I put to you that you’ve had your change of heart since you saw a business opportunity for yourself?

Forgotten Warriors (documentary by Loretta Todd)

We watched this documentary in my Aboriginal Studies class last week. I figured I’d post it in honour of Remembrance Day.

Forgotten Warriors (dir. Loretta Todd) documents the service of indigenous men and women in Canada’s wars, and the unequal treatment they received after returning from the battlefield. From the stripping of status, to denial of benefits, to expropriation of treaty lands, Canada has a dismal track record in the treatment of indigenous veterans.

Thunderbird Strike: Anti-Pipeline Indigenous Video Game

The video game Thunderbird Strike, created by Native designer and Michigan State University professor Elizabeth LaPensée, transforms players into a thunderbird flying across Canada and through the Great Lakes. In dozens of indigenous traditions throughout North America, thunderbirds are considered sacred beings that can bring renewal or destruction; in the game, you restore fallen caribou and buffalo to life, and strike construction and oil equipment with divine lightning. “My goal was to examine the modern through the lens of our stories,” LaPensée told The Verge in an interview.

Her game recently came under fire from Republican Minnesota State Senator and current gubernatorial candidate David Osmek, who described it as “an eco-terrorist version of Angry Birds.” Toby Mack, the president of the energy and oil lobbying group Energy Builder, went further, calling it a “taxpayer-funded political campaign… designed to encourage eco-terrorism or other bad behavior.” LaPensée received a $3,290 state arts grant through Minnesota’s Legacy fund, which was created to “protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater” and “preserve arts and cultural heritage.”

Escape Room Challenge: Homelessness

The Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver has put together an escape room to illustrate how hard it is to get out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness:

To illustrate the hurdles faced by homeless people, the charity has designed an installation based on the popular escape room games, in which participants solve a series of puzzles to escape from an enclosed space.

In the Union Gospel Mission’s design, participants must make it out of four rooms — one for each season — and navigate through barriers such as finding housing, filling up paperwork without proper prescription glasses and juggling various agencies while faced with the unexpected.

The escape room is free and runs until Oct. 14. To register, go to

Nancy Pearl’s rule of 50 for abandoning books

Today I learned about Nancy Pearl’s rule of 50 for abandoning books. I felt a certain kinship as I read it because if I don’t like a book after about 30-50 pages, I will put it down with no guilt whatsoever. I figure I am too old to read books I don’t like. Sometimes, once in a great while, I will return to a book I abandoned, pick it up again and enjoy it because I’m in a different headspace. However, for most cases, I think Ms. Pearl has the right idea.

Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you’re really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you’re not, then put it down and look for another. (Always keep in mind that there’s nothing to stop you from going back to it later, whether that might be in six days or six years. Or 60 years. There is many a book that I couldn’t get into the first time, or even two, that I tried to read it, and then, giving it one more chance, totally fell under its spell. The book obviously hadn’t changed – but I had.)

And if, at the bottom of Page 50, all you’re really interested in is who marries whom, or who the murderer is, then turn to the last page and find out. If it’s not on the last page, turn to the penultimate page, or the antepenultimate page, or however far back you have to go to discover what you want to know. And rest assured that, despite the sophistication of computerized checkout and check-in technology at the modern library, there’s no way that anyone there will be able to tell (even if they were interested) whether you’ve really read every page of the book you just returned.

This rule of 50 worked exceedingly well until I entered my own 50s. As I wended my way toward 60, and beyond, I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger. In a flash of, if I do say so myself, brilliance, I realized that my Rule of 50 was incomplete. It needed an addendum. And here it is: When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, “Age has its privileges.”

And the ultimate privilege of age, of course, is that when you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover.