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The Stone Lady Wept

stone angelI don’t cry much any more. You see, I’ve borne witness to more suffering than the average bear, and I am exposed to trauma on a daily basis.

Some people think that it’s hardened me, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s just that a lot of folks don’t know me that well. By well, I mean beyond a few cocktails, a politely entertaining dinner party, or a quick shag. It’s a precious few who have earned a place inside my lair of friendship and loyalty.

Today I cried twice. No it’s not hormonal, and no I’m not PMS’ing. Valid questions though.

Watching the 60 Minutes report on the use of Sarin in Syria, I cried for the unimaginable vastness of human suffering at the hands of other human beings.

I cried for the little school girl who witnesses her father’s anguish and knows that her happiness comes at a great price.

Is it because we’re too tired to care, or because we’ve become so numb to the suffering around us? Why bother watching the latest 60 minutes episode that challenges us with footage of the massacre in Syria when we can click to a baseball game, the latest drama, or simply have a few glasses of vino and curl up with a juicy spy novel? After all, with the widening of the income gap, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and everyone has to look out for their own.

Sometimes you see so much suffering that your whole world just shatters. There is no bubbly, no handsome men-folk to drool over, no juicy peaches to quench your sweet tooth. There is just suffering, and the irony is, it makes you grateful, complacent even. So grateful you’re afraid to want more, or rock the boat, or risk your family’s happiness to stand up for someone else.

So I wept today for suffering, and for the reasons why our own little corner of the world remains apathetic.

Makes you think about what makes the news and what doesn’t darlings. It’s no accident.

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Oh Bother

haveaballoonWinnie the Pooh – I don’t want to take up too much of your time with this, but it’s just too silly to let rest…yet.

The councillors in Tuszyn, Poland  have spent time debating Pooh’s lack of pants and therefore,  the obvious abomination it would be to have Winnie the Pooh be the town’s playground mascot. Tuszyn’s debate has placed the small town front and center on the world stage for their 15 minutes of fame.

My immediate reaction was, ” Seriously? We’re wasting time on our national news talking about Pooh Bear’s dungarees”? Too tired to be outraged, instead of tweeting about it, I laughed. Chuckled, smiled even.

News is such a joke anyway, why not report on Pooh’s pants? If you’re telling us about Pooh’s pants, what aren’t you telling us?

Having started upon the long and winding road of my career as a newspaper reporter, I have an insider’s appreciation of the passive aggressive as well as blatant gagging of the idealized journalistic objective reality of writing for money.

It is no secret that reading the Saturday paper at my favourite coffee shop constitutes an ideal weekend morning. What you may not understand is that I read the paper as a clue to what isn’t being reported, written about, recorded or otherwise documented in popular media.

So I thank you CBC for not being afraid to report on something seemingly insignificant.

From what are you trying so hard to steal our attention?

 

 

 

 

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Noses, Vaginas and Other Things That go Bump in the Lab

Yes, you read that correctly.

petri_dish
“It’s no use reminding yourself daily that you are mortal: it will be brought home to you soon enough” ~Albert Camus~

Today, the Globe and Mail was clearly needing to fill some inches in the Life and Arts section. Just as clearly, they didn’t have much to choose from.

Having worked in the news business and as a health care advocate, I have to say that the Globe and Mail stooped to a bold, new, blatantly obvious journalistic low today.

The article used to fill the gaping 8 inch hole on page L6 was headlined, “Vaginas and nose parts grown in lab”.

No, I’m not kidding.

This is not only a bad headline, but a really bad article.  Bad as in, it insulted the integrity of, “The super seed square-off”, article which dominated the page.

Seriously? Our newspapers are giving more room to seeds than what we’re spending billions of dollars on in an effort to out-smart mother nature and father time?

According to the Canadian Press style guide (at least when I was writing for a newspaper), journalists should strive to write for readers at a grade five level. Except the Globe and Mail. They had much higher standards.

Those standards have obviously changed.

To insist on writing that any type of tissue or organ transplantation, ‘carries a risk of complications’ seems a bit patronizing at best. Hell, if it didn’t carry a risk of complications, we’d all be walking around with new parts, and none of us would ever die.

Why not write about the ethical issues surrounding organ and tissue donation? Why not report the news?

I have known people who have been the recipients of organ and tissue donation. I have known people who have clung to hope while their dying bodies are riddled with cancer and the side-effects of the drugs that are supposed to miraculously stop them from their inevitable death.

I have never known anyone stupid enough to have to be told that organ transplants are  risky.

We should demand that our national newspapers at least make the news entertaining, or just give up the charade of trying to pretend that they report any news at all.

Dear modern pseudo-journalists,

Please tell me about vaginas, and other organs being grown in a lab together. Tell me why they didn’t match the headline up with body parts that seem somewhat better paired. Let’s say vaginas, tongues and perhaps penises? Tell me about the vagina, tongue and penis committees established to ensure seamless integration of each part with the others. Tell me who gets along better with the tongue, and how the nose copes living so closely to the vagina.

Whatever you tell me, just don’t write ridiculously insulting news that isn’t news at all, and expect me to take it in like an indiscriminating storm sewer. At least make it entertaining.

 

 

 

 

 

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Canadian Journalism is Dead

broken_typewriter copy
broken_typewriter copy (Photo credit: wvs)

Journalism is dead.

The objective ideal has long since gone the way of cigarette holders and the sassy style of gin-joint flappers.

Today, the  cover of our local news featured an advert at both the top and bottom of the front page, with the majority of coverage going to Anne Hathaway’s smarmy giant-toothed grin.

Guess what I’m using to line the bottom of our bird-cage? Heads up Anne….

A minor few inches of the front page were dedicated to yet another report of a crooked Canadian politician, and an “exclusive’ about the risks of casual and contract work on the vulnerable.

I hate to break it to you Toronto Star, but – no kiddin’.

Canadian politicians are as crooked, greedy and unprofessional as any in nations which we assume political superiority. Not only is journalism dead, but so is real, political leadership and vision.

Very few, if any journalists working for major publications will risk their jobs or lives (no exaggeration) to report on who’s buying who. Besides, what good would it do? No one would publish their work anyway.

During the past few months, Toronto news has been overwhelmed with the mayor’s miraculous escape from being kicked from office, despite clear conflict of interest, and misuse of city resources (including pulling our miniscule transit resources to coddle his football hobby).

Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin have lied about their residences. Bowing to the almighty dollar rather than the great good of the nation. Way to go.

As soon as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne took office, the opposition started acting up like middle school children during a forced indoor recess.

We have become a nation of apathetic Stepford Citizens at every political level.  Democracy in Canada is a joke.

The “Canadian Dream” of living in a progressive, socially responsible society has turned into a nightmare of big business buying out our media, government, and stretching the gap between the working class and the wealthy thinner than an immigrant’s pay cheque.

Keep in mind, this criticism comes from a hopeless patriot, and idealist. I believe our country has great potential, and it’s heartbreaking to see it stripped away.

Are you prepared to be duped into thinking the issues of today are Anne Hathaway’s nipples and Danica Patrick’s crappy driving?

Yes?

Well, maybe that’s for the best. After all, ignorance is rumoured to be bliss.

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Top Ten Irritating News Items of The Week

“No American newspaper will print anything contrary to its own interests”
~George Bernard Shaw~

1) The butter sculpture of Toronto mayor Rob Ford at the Canadian National Exhibition. We go to the ex for the crappy rides and the once a year fair-food indulgence. Spare me the nauseating image of this-little-piggy-a-la-dairy.

2) Lance Armstrong. I work with cancer patients every day. Let’s get a big fat scoop of no-one-lives-forever and suck it up. Instead, how about we live well everyday and learn to practice gratitude and kindness? In the process we might even stop wondering why our polluted earth is making our cells mutate instead of dying a slow, painful death thanks to the vested interest our government has in big pharma.

3) My f-ing horoscope. Honestly, I was supposed to have met the man of my dreams by the 8th of this month and be wealthier than I was on the 1st. What gives?

4)David Letterman ogling Serena Williams. Old men drooling over young, beautiful women is not news.

5)Prince Harry’s naked-I-look-like-a-skinny-bald-dog-humped-over-a-naked-chick photos. Please. Just keep those for your nightstand TMZ. I’d rather see the prince clothed and use my dirty imagination. Thanks to you I now KNOW he looks like any other man naked. Thanks for ruining my fantasies. Thanks a lot.

6)New Blackberries and iPhones. We’ve all been there, done it, and gotten screwed on the stocks. Please report on something truly groundbreaking.

7)The details of the TomKat divorce. Really? Are we that fortunate to have this headline remain in the news like the lingering mucous from a chest infection? I thank God every day that I live in a country where this is news and not some woman being stoned to death. Come to think of it, why aren’t our newspapers full of real news? Oh yah, TomKat.

8)The Blue Jays losing. Losing is not news in this city. Oh what painful, painful, painful hell it must be to live as a Toronto sports fan. The Jays just pave the way for the real rape and plunder, as the Leafs get ready to publicly humiliate their fans once again. Like winter isn’t depressing enough. I’ve moved to the dark side – go Habs.

9)Any talk of referendum in Quebec. “PQ backs away from referendum proposal”. No shit.

10)All day weather forecasts. This has become our news in the GTA /Canada because journalism has sold out and prostituted itself. “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” ~ Oscar Wilde~ Yes Mr. Wilde, I do agree.