Random Thoughts and Ruminations

Where this occasional contrarian, freethinker and all around opinionated sob rumbles on about just about everything under the sun from the movies to art, culture, literature, politics, science, history, blogging, the web, web design, maybe even friends and family and current affairs. (And then some) And if you flatter me a bit, I may even claim to have all the answers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple IPad is out

Ok, considering the hoopla and web buzz that has been building up to the release of this new Apple gadget, you would think this was the 'Second Coming of Christ'. Just to give you, the valued reader, an idea of the momentousness of this event, it seems to have, at least for the day, displaced the word 'Haiti' from the radio waves I listen to.

To stay with the religious metaphor; there is something almost pathetic about the knee jerk admiration of everything Apple so typical of the millions of Steve Jobs groupies worldwide. They remind me of the Moonies, the Jehovah Witnesses or the Hare Krishna's.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Great Movie by a great Canadian

I couldn't wait to see James Cameron's new movie after an eleven year hiatus from movie making. Well, the wait for this James Cameron fan has definitely been worth it and "my" Multiplex does not even have 3-D capability, just good old 2-D, and my town does not have an IMAX theatre either, unfortunately. In spite of my "handicap" I can describe the movie in one word: AWESOME" or in three words: I was impressed. Having seen real tropical rain forest on three continents, I could relate to the setting, but even if you haven't seen the real tropical rain forest you cannot help but be impressed by the computer generated rain forest which is essentially the product of Cameron's fertile imagination. As a passive viewer, I could not help but get completely caught up and "sucked in" by this beautiful fantasy realm. Even though this film would be considered Sci-Fi or fantasy fare, it is really much larger than either of these categories because it has so many obvious parallels to our world which is generally not the case with most Sci-Fi and fantasy films. This is one reason why I found this film so compelling. Even though the essentially simple story is taking place in a distant future on a ficticious planet, in a sense it is really taking place on our planet Earth as we speak. And that is the real magic of this movie.

It transcends the usual categories of Sci-Fi and fantasy and is really part fable, part polemic, part morality tale and in typical Cameron fashion all wrapped up in a generous part of great entertainment. This is no mean accomplishment.

I spoke of magic earlier. I believe this film is a real step (leap?) forward as far as the magic of computer generated moviemaking is concerned. Here, it is becoming obvious that the boundary between naturalism and cutting edge animation is increasingly becoming blurred and in the process is perhaps inventing, as I would suggest, a whole new fusion genre or 'mash up', - to use a contemporary term, -that one could call 'magic realism'.

In closing, (and at this point some discerning readers might question my sanity) I will go out on a limb and say something I rarely say about any movie: I really hope this movie will do well at the box office so Mr Cameron and 20th Century Fox will be inspired to make a sequel and a third one and perhaps even a prequel. (But please, please: NO MADE FOR TV MOVIE VERSION !!) This is where I draw the line.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Has humanity gone collectively insane ?



This summit has been billed as the most important summit in the history of mankind. Hmmm !, Okaay ! After I heard this example of shameless, self serving media hype, my immediate thought was.


What about such issues as growing world poverty, capitalist greed gone berserk, a world wide military budget and the attendant waste of the world's finite resources that is going through the roof, the fact that we still live side by side with nukes, bio weapons and chemical weapons, the world's population that is still growing unabated and faster than our capacity to reduce third world poverty.



A while ago the excellent idea of taxing all currency trades world wide with a minuscule tax of (0.5 %, I believe) was proposed. (I can't remember if other financial products were included), (remember, these transactions or "investments" don't really produce actual value) The idea was to use this tax to tackle some of humanity's most pressing problems.


The idea never gained traction for reasons that any cynic worth his or her salt can piece together for themselves. You may ask: WHAT IS YOUR POINT? My point is: most countries, including most if not all of the rich ones are border line broke and are running high deficits again.

We were not willing to tackle just ONE! of the world's problems during good economic times when we presumably had the money. What makes us think we will tackle one pressing problem now during tough economic times? (It's the ECONOMY, stupid)


The way the media carries on about climate change you could be forgiven for believing that solving the problem of climate change (whatever that actually means) will solve all of humanity's problems. ---- ARE WE REALLY THIS NAIVE ? -- (AND BRAIN WASHED ?)


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To be filed in the "I just want to scream" folder

I really have to get this off my chest even though I have no time at the moment to do any blogging. (notice I haven't posted for months)

(Nr. One)
Just heard this morning on some gossip radio program that Amy Winehouse set her hair on fire and that Hugh Grant had plastic surgery. (File this in under "So What !!" or Who Cares ??") It was also mentioned in this program that these juicy items might be hoaxes started by the tabloid press desperate to create new buzz for itself or perhaps some desperate soul's attempt to claim its 15 minutes of fame. Andy (Warhol); who knew at the time you said that, that you would turn out to be such a prophet? (You can also file this in the "Who has got time for this shit" folder)

(Nr. Two)
I also heard recently (on another radio program, by the way) that the number of starving people has surpassed a billion and that the annual defense budget of the world is somewhere well over one trillion. (I forgot the exact amount) (File this under "I just want to scream").

Is it any wonder that so many people feel helpless and don't know where to start? Anyway, need I say more?

I have this sinking feeling that most of the few people that will bother to read this post to the end will mentally file this in the "Whatever" folder. Sigh !

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The movie "Valkyrie"

I went to see the movie "Valkyrie" the other day and I thought it was a very good movie. It is a great and worthwhile story that needed telling and thank you very much, Tom, for taking a risk and putting this story on the big screen with sensitivity and without any faux "Hollywood style" melodrama.
Keep up your great work and don't worry what Oprah and all your other detractors think of you. (Who cares what they think anyway !)
Before I go, Tom, several words of advice to you (to quote Bono) : "Don't let the bastards grind you down" I hope the movie does well at the box office.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sad sad news

Well, there goes my chance of ever seeing the original Stooges playing at the CN Centre in my town. Their lead guitarist was found dead at his home this morning. I am sure Ron has lived more in his 60 years than others do in a 100. May you rest in peace, Ron.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers

I think I gave it all away in the title. Now I have nothing more to say.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daimler-Benz and McLaren meet Gotham City

2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss
Ooooh boy !! What a sweet looking convertible somewhat reminiscent of MB's Silver Arrows racing cars of the Thirties. MB is planning to show it (off) next month at the Detroit Auto Show. There must still be a market for these toys in spite of the recession. 670 ponies under that sexy hood and 350 "klicks" an hour. Too bad they only plan to build 75 units units and they obviously won't hit the market in time for Christmas.

But I was thinking, maybe next Christmas, hmmm, if they haven't all been sold by then, maybe I should sit on Santa's lap and let him know. What if he tells me I have been a bad boy and only deserve coal; I'll let him in on a secret: This sexy racer's body is made from light weight carbon fibre. Hey Santa ! Carbon fibre = coal! coal = carbon fibre! Get it ??

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Presidential Candidates (Or simply two tales ?)

"Obama DNC Acceptance Speech"

"McCain RNC Acceptance Speech"

I have been fascinated by and addicted to so called tag clouds, mind maps and visualizations of statistics and other assorted abstractions for quite some time now. My guess is that's because to an information junkie and visually oriented person like me they are an interesting way to organize knowledge and information.

I came across these two tag clouds the other day, or rather word clouds since these "tags" are not linked to any pages, (based on IBM software) and I think they are pretty much self explanatory. The word that appears the most often in these two acceptance speeches appears in the largest font and so on down the line. Pretty revealing and funny too.

I have already had a lot of fun playing with this web based "word cloud generator"

Friday, December 19, 2008


"I love an honest man"
(I wonder whether he once worked for General Motors; ... or on Wall Streee?) (ok, so that's not very funny, or maybe it is.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What should our federal government do about that triad of corporate welfare bums in Windsor?

It looks like our government in Ottawa will have to bail out Ford Chrysler and GM to the tune of billions of dollars. Now we have all heard by now that our c(C)onservative government prides itself of taking a very soberminded, fiscally responsible approach to governing. I am curious to see how they will deal with this issue. What kind of security will they demand in return for their "investment"? I sure hope they impose certain strict conditions and demands on these companies. Now I don't claim be a business man nor do I have a very solid understanding of high finance, but I think the government should just buy these plants outright and when the car industry is on the move again, they could sell those manufacturing facilities at a profit just as the US government did years ago with Chrysler. There was a nice tidy profit for the American taxpayer at the time.

Hopefully some Canadian investors (perhaps Frank Stronach, who is already in the automotive business) could jump in and take over these assets.

And I don't want to hear the argument that Canada is too small to support an automotive industry. I say: Bah Humbug, Nonsense, a tired, defeatist argument I am tired of hearing. Sweden, a country of nine million people has apparently not hesitated to come up with billions of dollars to support not just one but two Swedish car makers. And what's so wrong with the state owning a stake in a major car manufacturer? Renault, the French car maker, has been partially owned by the French state for decades and has flourished.

Monday, December 15, 2008

There is a brandnew petition in support of raising awareneness of spinal cord injury and paralysis issues at the highest levels of government.

This petition, started by a very good friend of mine a short while ago and the founder of STEPNOW and a new FACEBOOK petition group has been making the rounds on the internet lately.

I myself am a paraplegic of three and a half years due to an accident that could happen to anybody, could happen to your child, sister, brother mother, father, ... I think you get the picture. The happy picture of the disabled life that the public usually gets to see is one of happy paralympians winning medals and people being engaged in all manner of disabled sports, disabled this and disabled that and the implication that we are really not any different from able bodied people. BUT THE PAINFUL TRUTH IS: WE ARE DIFFERENT. Our lives are not, I REPEAT: NOT THE SAME. I should know; I have been on both sides of the divide.

I have lost two very dear friends (both paraplegics) who have committed suicide because they could not deal with the pain (both physical and otherwise), the huge sense of loss and the bouts of depression any more. Matt and Clayton, this post and statement is dedicated to your memory.

It is high time the worldwide media stopped telling what I would call "THE BIG LIE" by highlighting the "sexy" parts of the disabled life and completely ignoring the dark, ugly, debilitating underbelly of the disabled lifestyle that includes such unpleasant things as depression, infections, skin break down, a diminished social life, social isolation and bowl and bladder movements "gone wrong". I could go on and on and on.

Scientists that work in the field of neuroscience and spinal cord research now know that a cure for spinal cord injury is possible. In light of these new findings and the fact that the pressing issues of accessibility and equality in the workplace, etc have been largely accomplished, it is of the utmost importance that a paradigm shift occur. By that I mean that the disabled community must now shift it's advocacy away from the old accessibility and "equality" issues that seemed to imply in the minds of the general public that we had accepted our disabled fate and focus instead wholeheartedly on advocating for a possible cure.

I would urge all of you to sign this petition if you suffer from paralysis or have a friend or member of your family that does; or simply because you feel it's the right thing to do and freedom from paralysis is a human rights issue.

Thank you.