Sunday, March 25, 2007

Must Be Santa

Santa? We'll get there... bear with me for a second...

You see... I found the original Battlestar Galactica series (1978) online at and am forcing Mel to watch at least the first 3-hour premiere (watching anymore could probably be considered cruel and unusual punishment).
Note: lots of other streamed tv series there as well; also check out, particularly if you watch Lost or the new Battlestar Galactica, or (which I'm not as familiar with, but I think is good)

I was trying to explain the series and cast to Mel and this is how it went:
David: "Lorne Green is Commander Adama in the 1978 series."

Mel: "Who is Lorne Greene?"

Me: "What? You serious? Do you remember Bonanza, with Michael Landon?"

Mel: "Bonanza? Never seen it. Who's Michael Landon?"

Me: "Sheesh."

So I got on my computer and did some quick searches and such. For a second I also thought Lorne Greene was the Friendly Giant, a favourite childhood show of mine (a few other million kids no doubt), but I was wrong . I should have known because I went to the CBC Museum in downtown Toronto last year (had a couple hours before my train) and they had a display and Friendly Giant shows being played. Anyway, I remembered good things about Lorne Greene (besides just being the Commander of the Battelstar Galactica), but I was foggy. So, here's a snippet from wikipedia and a few of the better links I found, if you're interested:

Lorne Greene

Greene was born in Ottawa, Ontario to Russian Jewish immigrants, and began acting while attending Queen's University in Kingston, where he also acquired a knack for broadcasting with the Radio Workshop of the university's Drama Guild on the campus radio station CFRC.

He gave up on a career in chemical engineering and, upon graduation, found a job as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He was assigned as the principal newsreader on the CBC National News. The CBC gave him the nickname "The Voice of Canada"; however, his role in delivering distressing war news in sonorous tones following Canada's entry into World War II in 1939 caused many listeners to call him "The Voice of Doom". During his radio days, Greene invented a stopwatch that ran backwards. Its purpose was to help radio announcers gauge how much time they had available while speaking. He also narrated documentary films, such as the National Film Board of Canada's Fighting Norway (1943). In 1957 Greene played the role of the prosecutor in the socially controversial movie Peyton Place.

The first of his American television roles was as family patriarch Ben Cartwright on the long-running western series Bonanza (1959–1973), making Greene a household name. He garnered the role after having turned in a highly-regarded performance in a production of Nineteen Eighty-Four for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). After the cancellation of Bonanza, he was host for the CBS nature documentary series "Last of the Wild" from 1974 to 1975. During the 1977 miniseries, Roots, he played the first master of Kunta Kinte, John Reynolds.

Greene's next best-known role was Commander Adama, another patriarchal figure, in the science fiction feature film and television series Battlestar Galactica (1978–1979) and Galactica 1980 (1980).

In 1964, Greene had a #1 single on the music charts with his hit ballad, "Ringo." [[1]] He was also known as the host and narrator of the nature series, Lorne Greene's New Wilderness. He also appeared in the HBO mockumentary The Canadian Conspiracy, about the supposed subversion of the United States by Canadian-born media personalities. For nearly a decade, Greene co-hosted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. He is also fondly remembered as the founder of Toronto's Academy of Radio Arts which had been founded as the Lorne Greene School of Broadcasting.

Greene died of pneumonia on September 11, 1987 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 72. He was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, Culver City, California. Only weeks before his death, he had been signed to appear in a revival of Bonanza.

A click from the Lorne Greene wikipedia site takes me to the Sci-Fi Channels Lorne Greene scipedia site, which I get the following information from the Canadian link:


Canadian refers to a person or thing from Canada.

Canada is a country in North America.

Canadians have contributed some of the most iconic Sci Fi images. William Shatner (Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk), Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, the Coneheads), and Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty, The Mask) are all Canadians.

So seems Canada is represented by William Shatner, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, and though not as noteworthy, Lorne Greene. Interesting.

A Battlestar Galactica clip with some great acting worthy of James T. Kirk!

And a Bonanza compilation:

And lastly, with respect to Christmas... you must click on this link and scroll down to the bottom to listen to Lorne Greene sing Must Be Santa.

Monday, March 19, 2007

CBC programming

I can say for the first time in a long time (years?), I actually planned a night around television. I even ate dinner in front of the tv. And it was Canadian programming even!! Got to be worth an online babble?

The Next Great Prime Minister

Very interesting concept and great potential, but TNG PM was too rushed and unorganized. It felt like a high school video production. CBC could have done a better job with this. In fact, I think this could have been a great 3 part series with 2 rounds of eliminations and the final show / round having the final 4 contestants quizzed by the former prime ministers. The early shows would have worked out the kinks giving a final show where CBC and the "contestants" more skilled and relaxed. A much better reality show than Idol (which, for the record, I've never seen for more than 1.3 minutes).

Perhaps also an interesting way to bring some politics issues to the masses, some of whom likely never come anywhere near a typical news broadcast. I haven't heard much about Canadian news audiences, but the US network news numbers have been making lots of news this past year (with Katie C. being a women and Dan R. on cable), but my take is that more people are watching The Daily Show on Comedy Central now than network news (or if not, soon). So maybe if we want to educate the public and have a electorate that doesn't elect cowboy morons who follow right wing crusaders and invade other countries to spread their religious and democratic values... Anyway, just my thought...

Test the Nation: IQ

Test the Nation was also interesting, though I was expecting more Canadiana trivia rather than purely an IQ test, and at 2-hours, was a tad on the long side (admittedly contemplated switching to CSI on CTV for the 2nd hour). For the record, I only got 42 out of 60 (IQ=111, above average, but barely, which doesn't jive with my ego). HOWEVER, I do have an excuse, for which I can only somewhat blame the CBC for. You see, I don't have cable and the antenna reception really sucks (CBC partially to blame since I don't get good non-cable reception and CBC plans to cut over-the-air distribution). So everything is fuzzy with wavy lines and there are double or ghost images of everything. For the text questions it wasn't a problem, but when it came to matching up puzzle pieces and finding the patterns and such, I sucked (for patterns, there were black dots that it turns out were just doubles / shadows of the white dots and it took me till the 3rd question to figure this out, which proves my IQ is actually lower than my test result suggests). How bad you ask? Well, I got 40/50 up till the visual questions, then 2/10 for the final 10 visual questions. So that's my excuse and I think it's a good one. If you don't thing so, then just accept that this is my blog and I don't want to hear your opinion :)

Also interesting, in ~6 months (after my birthday), the same score would have given me an IQ of 113. So does that mean I'm getting smarter with age? Or that I'm getting dumber / less capable with age and they therefore give me a handicap?

I didn't know this (maybe they said?), but they've done the same (or similar?) IQ test for other countries, so we'll have to wait and see how Canada ranks.

Funding of the CBC

The Next Great PM show had a question about whether the CBC should continue to get government funding. With shows like the Next Great PM & the IQ Test (that perhaps other stations aren't willing / interested in producing?), I would say Yes. For the National, I'd say Yes. For coverage of Canadian topics that are important to the country (be it sometime smaller groups) but don't bring in advertising dollars, I'd say Yes. To Little Mosque on the Prairie, I'd say Yes. To the hours of syndicated shows such as the Simpsons, Arrested Development, etc., I'd say No. If the CBC gets funding to further the Canadian identity, American sitcoms shouldn't be part of the programming. Not that I don't like the Simpsons, but aren't there plenty of non-government funded channels that can broadcast US syndicates? Anyway, I'd probably be qualified as pro-CBC, but... check out Friends of Canadian Broadcasting if you're interested in more (biased?) talk, or as always, wikipedia for a description of the CBC and the CRTC.

Monday, March 12, 2007

web skills

I used to build websites back in my university days. Now the most basic html seems to boggle my mind. I guess I'm getting old. But haven't the last couple posts been a bit better? And the last one even with embedded table as opposed to pictures.

I changed my blog template so that it is wider and automatically stretches the text to the window size. Otherwise tables and pictures don't fit nicely. Let me know if this doesn't work. I don't particularly like the colours, but I'll change that another day.

I've also gotten the newest version of Corel lately and have been playing with PhotoPaint (similar to Photoshop) and Draw (my usual for work). I'm getting to be a professional with business cards. Well, it's pretty easy actually, but getting a good logo, fonts, layout etc. does take a bit of work.

Quebecker vs. Quebecer

So is it Quebecker or Quebecer (or Quebecois). I was sending an email and wasn't sure whether to put in a "k" or not. So I hit wikipedia and found an interesting page ( and... Seems both are in wide use - perhaps one is more French and one more English, but I didn't care to look that much.

Then there's the Quebecker vs. Quebecois issue. I guess I usually interpret Quebecois as a person of french upbringing, though some may say ancestry, some say just living in the province. During the recent Nation-within-a-Nation issue, I saw several interviews of minorities living in Quebec (some recent immigrants, some who'd been here for more than a generation). A common theme was they felt they would never be considered Quebecois regardless of how long they lived in Quebec. Personally, I feel about as Quebecois living in Montreal as I did American living in San Francisco (granted I've only been here a handful of months).

Has the Immigrant Code of Conduct being making headlines elsewhere? Several smaller communities in Quebec have brought out these rules or conducts for immigrants (aka behaviour "expected" from newcomers or Reasonable Accommodation for Religious Groups). The code touches on everything from the tradition of Christmas trees to forbidding stoning of women, genital mutilation and women from covering their faces in schools. Of course most of us will agree that stoning women isn't really acceptable, though I personally wouldn't have thought the Charter or Human Rights already covered that stoning anyone, especially based on their race, religion, sex, etc. is unconstitutional. So it's already law that you can't stone women, unless of course you use the Not-Withstanding Clause, then it might be legal :)

Some of the quoted responses on this issue (mostly from the first CBC article I found) range from strong to "I'm not sure whether they agree with it or not given such wishy washy political responses" (i.e., the exact same response could be applied to the trade of a hockey player, the trend in Canadian currency, the warm winter, etc.).

Mario Dumont, Opposition Party Leader (Parti Action Democratique)
"Anybody who looks at the way things are evolving in the last year or so, it's obvious that things are slipping."

Gilles Duceppe, Leader of Bloc Quebecois (Federal Party)
"I think that we have to take that more seriously, and we have to take time, and discuss it with those people."

Jean Charest (somewhat indirectly), Provincial Premiere (Liberal)
"In my view, [it is] a very exaggerated phenomenon, that is linked with ignorance,"

André Veillette, Mayor of Sainte-Thècle (neighbouring town in region of Maurice)
"The real Mauricie is welcoming," he said. "It's a region where quality of life is exceptional, and we have no reservations about accepting newcomers here."

And my favourite:

Andre Drouin, Councillor in Herouxville
It's not that the community of about 1,300 doesn't want immigrants - it doesn't have any - but it just wants them to fit in.

On the wikipedia site they have the following table, which is a very appropriate summation to the Reasonable Accomodation topic (worth noting that the first Quebec Independence referendum was in 1980):

Interprovincial Migration Between Quebec and Other Provinces and Territories by Mother Tongue Source: Statistics Canada
Mother Tongue / Year1971–19761976–19811981–19861986–19911991–19961996–2001Total

Friday, March 09, 2007

federal finances

I just finished blasting equalization payments and provinces, so I'll try to be more optimistic for a second and look at federal finances... :)

Federal debt is down (in real dollars, but more so in terms of per cent of GDP) and seems headed in the right direction. And Canada is the only G7 country to not be running a deficit! I hadn't really paid much attention to this stuff since I remember people saying Canada was going bankrupt back in the late 1980s or so.

I think the real thing to take from this is we should all buy more Toyota's and Valpolicella (Italian red wine) as the Japanese and Italians need some help!

More "exciting" reading and loads more graphs at:

Quebec election & provincial finances

So, I'm living in Quebec in the midst of a provincial election. Let me sum it up (in my own cynical, biased way)...

- separation talk still dominates the election

- negative comments about separation are referred to as "scare tactics" (this reminds me of the US where negative comments on the war are referred to as "unpatriotic")

- students have the lowest tuition in Canada by far ($1600/yr vs. ~$4000/yr for the rest of the provinces - don't quote me on exact figures except for the $1600 figure)

- a lot of election talk is about how much money the province can get from the feds

- debt and deficit are hardly mentioned (instead see above RE: separation talk)

- seems Quebec demographics are the worst in Canada in that it has (or soon will) have the most number of old folks relative to the number of taxpayers (read skyrocketing health costs with the fewest number of taxpayers, relatively speaking, paying for the healthcare) - none the less, see above lack of discussion about the debt / deficit

Which brings me the following tables that I came upon and which got me thinking about this in the first place:

I mentioned this to a friend in San Francisco and he essentially told me I was being American. Here's my thoughts for the topic:

- In the long term, is there a limit as to how much one part of the country subsidizes another? I support / understand (?) some of the the socialistic / federalistic reasons for equalization payments, but how long is this sustainable?

- If one part of the country really has that low productivity (logistical reasons? such as no fishery?), do transfer payments just stop people from moving to where econmics suggests they should be living?

- Why are Manitoba's per capita subsidies so high relative to Saskatchewan? Is oil & gas really helping SK out that much?

- Ignoring per capita equalization payments, it's pretty funny that Quebec gets virtually half of the equalization or 5.5 billion dollars last year. I wonder how many separtists factor this into the separation equation? I assume this is essentially money from Alberta & Ontario? I'd think this would be called a "fear tactic", but given Quebec has the 2nd largest total debt and the largest provincial debt ratio with the exception of little old Newfoundland (where they're clearing drinking too much screech).

- How come these sorts of quite simple tables don't get shown more during such things as say campaign elections? Do people not want to see them? Are they not popular topics? Or maybe the people (Quebeckers? Canadians? Americans?) too stupid to understand them? Definitely Americans must fall into this latter category (or at least about 49 million of them, if I recall that number correctly) since they elected Bush not once, but twice!!