Friday, April 27, 2007

God's Slow Death

Not much to blog about today. Except, I came across a really cool podcast from The Walrus magazine, which is a somewhat hoity-toity Canadian public affairs periodical along the lines of The Atlantic Monthly or Harper's.

Its a review of three books that challenge not only the existence of God, but also the various "design" theories purporting to support the presence of the almighty.

It almost makes me want to read all othree of them. Any road, here's the link to the podcast:

God's Slow Death podcast from The Walrus

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The whole Don Imus thing

I'm having a real problem with the whole Don Imus controversy. Yes, I know there are probably more important world issues to be blogging about than the firing of a shock-jock-talk radio host, however I can't help but be bothered by the hypocrisy of the whole thing.

For those of you living under a rock, Imus was fired recently over some comments he made on the air, referring to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's". It was a less than tasteful attempt to refer, I gather, to the toughness and/or the imposing physical stature of the women. Offensive as the lexicon might have been, I don't think it was Imus' express intent to insult or belittle the team. I honestly think he was making an attempt to give the team a backhanded compliment.

Apparently, "nappy-headed" refers to the natural, untreated hairstyle of black (I hate the term "African-American") women, and...well...everyone knows what the connotation and denotation of the expression "ho" (short form for "whore") are. As much as anyone else, I think Imus had been desensitized to the significance of the word, as it has become ubiquitous particularly in the so-called "rap and hip-hop culture". And here's where the hypocrisy comes in.

Few have been the people who have called for the firing/cancelling of recording contracts of rap artists who sling the term "ho" (also "bitch" and "nigger") around like snowballs in the playground. Occasionally, you get the Tipper Gore anti-rock lyric types who raise objections, but I don't see artists like JaRule and Tupac and Eminem losing their jobs, much less any sleep, over the issue. I would certainly be much more prepared to listen to the likes of Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, if they were to turn the spotlight on this segment of society who, to this point, have been immune to the collective hysterical disapprobation which did Don Imus in.

Why is it that rappers get off and Imus doesn't? Dare I suggest that the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world turn a blind eye to the rap community on the grounds of race? Do they look the other way because they don't want to be seen as bringing a fellow black man down? Is Imus a more convenient target because he is white?

Don't get me wrong. As someone who has coached female athletics for more than ten years, I feel very uncomfortable when women athletes are referred to as "ho's" as the most pointed way to describe their athletic prowess. I like to think that the English languages offers a lot more. However, I think an apology on the part of Mr. Imus would have sufficed. Unfortunately, Mr. Imus failed to realize that it is this sort of thing that becomes a make-work project for the blowhards, such as the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. They seem to make a career in the spotlight of righteous indignation.

But until they become less selective, for the sake of politically correct convenience, in their targets of disapprobation, I prefer to ignore their shrill cries.....except insofar as they have inspired me to blog about the hypocrisy of it all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Remembering Dinsdale


It is with great sadness that I inform you that Dinsdale was put to sleep earlier this week, after a brief battle with bone cancer.

As many of you know, Dinsdale has been my best friend for over eight years and a part of our family since Cathy and I got together three years ago and since Liam joined us last August. He was the kindest and most loving friend anyone could have asked for. After a brief and less-than-stellar racing career in West Virginia, Dinsdale and I first met at a truck stop in "Nowhere", Pennsylvania when I accompanied members of GLOHW (Greyhound Lovers of Hamilton-Wentworth) to a meeting place where half a dozen retired racing greyhounds were to be rescued. We even had issues getting across the Canadian border that day, as Customs Officials wanted us to pay duty on the dogs!

From the moment that Dinsdale and I took the first walk (the other dogs either didn't want anything to do with me, or insisted on using me as a jungle gym!), he became an inextricable part of my life. He saw me through a stressful career change from law to teaching, and welcomed both Cathy and Liam as his new "stepmom" and "baby skin brother respectively". For five years, it was just he and I at our old one-bedroom apartment at 40 McKay Road. Since then, he has been a part of our family. Throughout the many changes that have taken place over the past decade, Dinsdale was the one constant. He will be missed.

There were some wonderful times, and some not so good ones. The former vastly outnumber the latter fortunately. Yes, he did make a dinner out of one of my other pets - a cockatiel - as many of you will remember. There were the times where a nasty case of the runs destroyed more than one carpet and area rug; he never would do it on the tile or hardwood! And there was the camping trip from Hell to Killarney where, if the mosquitoes that swelled up his face didn't kill him, the rocky trails and fall from the 10 foot high suspension bridge nearly did! And - for those of you in my extended track and field family - who can forget the havoc he wrought during those brief times I brought him to the track for practices or meets? I was able to make him bark and go crazy for years with a simple command of "On your marks......set......". You can't fault a sight hound for a natural chase instinct though,now can you?

However, the times were mostly good. I don't think we ever had more fun than the summer of 2003 when we spent a weekend at Sandbanks Provincial Park. There weren't many mosquitoes that weekend and I can still picture the abject joy with which Dinsdale chased his beloved "Jolly Ball" into the waters of Lake Ontario. We were able to do this a lot at Van Wagners Beach as well, near the Skyway Bridge. For a while, Dinsdale was a so-so jogging companion. He would let me get about a quarter of a mile ahead of him on the Rail Trail, remaining behind to sniff and pee in the bushes and then bolt with all of his sprinter's speed to catch me up in less than 20 seconds. Some of you will remember Dinsdale as the dog who could walk himself, insisting on taking the handle of his leash in his jaws on every walk, that is if he wasn't carrying his Jolly Ball to the park. And I won't even get into the strange glove fetish that he harboured. Suffice to say that I spent many a winter's walk with a bare hand tucked up the sleeve of my Gore-Tex jacket.

Dinsdale's favourite food was, without a doubt, cheese. He could actually discern the sound of it being take out of the refrigerator in its plastic packaging. You will be comforted to know that Dinsdale went earlier today with a belly full of it. Although he was in much discomfort in recent days, his final hours were peaceful and, thanks to the assistance of the staff at Chedoke Animal Hospital in Hamilton, was able to pass quietly in his dad's arms.

Believe, like I do, that Dinsdale is now running pain-free with the greyhound angels.

Now I must really close my story. Good-bye to the boys and girls who may read it and if it is not wrong for a dog to say it, I should like to add, "God bless you all." If in my feeble way I have been able to impress you with the fact that dogs and many other animals love their masters and mistresses, and live only to please them, my little story will not have been written in vain. My last words are: "Boys and girls, be kind to dumb animals, not only because you will lose nothing by it, but because you ought to; for they were placed on the earth by the same Kind Hand that made all living creatures.

-from "Beautiful Joe", by Marshall (really Margaret) Saunders