Ah, Canada. The wonderful thing about Canadian politics is that it’s been the same thing for the past 139 years. Quebec is still whining about becoming a nation.
The problem comes down, as it usually does, to semantics. That’s probably one of the ugliest words in the English language. Semantics. People debating over the definition of words. I don’t think it’s coincidence that it rhymes with pedantic.
For those asleep, let me wake you up. Our Great and Mighty Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested that Quebec be recognised as a nation within Canada. As you might expect, this did not go over well with the Bloc. It definitely threw the Liberals through a loop, however—they apparently did not see this one coming.
Now I will admit that my first reaction was this: That’s stupid! Quebec isn’t a nation! Look, either you‘re nation or you’re not, and Quebec isn’t a nation.
But some part of me knew I was wrong, or at least suspected it. So I trundled over to Wikipedia and looked up what a nation actually was, because believe it or not, but I didn’t know—and I doubt many people do know the difference between nation and country. I draw your attention to the ambiguity in usage section.
After reading the article, I’ve changed my opinion. Quebec certainly does fit the definition of a nation; it has a very distinct and rich culture that has existed throughout all of Canada’s history; the Québécois are indeed a people. If more people understood what the definition of a nation was, maybe this wouldn’t be such an issue.
Now as if that wasn’t shocking, I will now make the revelation that I particularly agree with Stephen Harper on this issue! At least, this is what I think: Quebec should be nation, since it fits the definition. It should not, however, be politically independent from Canada. In other words, Quebec is not a sovereign country. I like you, Quebec. Why go?
The issue of Quebec sovereignty, unfortunately, is hard to separate from the issue of Quebec nationalism. Nationalism is a really complicated concept that causes a lot of inconveniences on any side of the debates. I respect that Quebec has a strong culture, but I don’t think that it would benefit either the rest of Canada or Quebec for Quebec to become its own country. Look at Nunavut: the Inuit have their own culture too (well, okay, what’s left of it after we suppressed it for a century or so…), but should they separate? No. Politically, we are stronger as a cohesive body. Canada has always been a country that is supportive of multiculturalism—we are a country of many nations. I’m rather proud of that.
Smoking is bad for you. This should not be news, since we know it has been bad for people for a very long time (even if we didn’t want to admit it). Second-hand smoke is also bad.
Now, the entire premise behind smoking is to ingest nicotine, no? (I realise that the tactile experience of smoking a cigarette may be important to some people, but let us set that aside for the moment.) Surely there must be better ways to get that nicotine fix.
Why hasn’t some sort of big evil corporation developed a sports drink or something similar which contains the quantities of nicotine needed by addicts? It would be way more convenient than cigarettes: one could drink it anywhere, whereas smoking is becoming increasingly prohibited. One still gets their nicotine fix, so they don’t have to do those difficult things like, oh, say, quitting. And, of course, the tobacco companies can still make money, just on sports drinks instead of cigarettes. It’s a win-win-win scenario.
The debate over the morality of stuffing one’s lungs with smoke will not go away anytime soon. I have no problem with someone smoking if they want to do it; that is their choice. I am, however, very paranoid about second-hand smoke, partly because I have asthma, and partly because, well, it just doesn’t make sense to pollute the air that other people breathe. Common decency and all that.
So I’m just rather surprised that no one has come up with a smoke-free alternative to smoking. (I’m aware of the nicotine patch, but I am under the impression that such a device exists purely to help people quit, as opposed to what I am suggesting, which would be a replacement.) Maybe someone has; maybe someone did and it proved impractical.
Anyway. Just a thought. If any representative of a large tobacco company happens to drop by, feel free to let me know why my idea is totally unrealistic. Or steal it and revolutionise the industry. Doesn’t matter.
Tonight I went to see Stranger Than Fiction with Laura and Rhiannon. Now I am not a big fan of Will Ferrell, but this movie was not the typical Will Ferrell comedy, which is good.
Let me begin with some observations about movie theatres and how capitalism has affected them. In getting my food and drink combo I received a candy of my choice: Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or a huge package of Nibs. I like the former more than the latter, but I knew that if I took the peanut butter cups then they would melt during the movie. There were n people behind me, however, so I had to make the decision quickly. I took the peanut butter cups and ate them while waiting for Laura and Rhiannon, who were battling the automatic ticket machine.
The second observation that I would like to make concerns cell phones. It’s all well and good that you have a cell phone. Yay. But please, turn it off when you are in the movie theatre! There is something called etiquette, and even a somewhat reclusive 17-year-old like myself, who often exclaims that he doesn’t know all of these unwritten “rules” in life, knows that one should turn off one’s cell phone in a movie theatre. So ignorance is not an excuse. It does annoy people when one’s cell phone goes off during the movie. And for Zarquon’s sake, do not answer it and start talking! (This actually happened.)
Ah, yes, the movie. The movie. Well, at some points I didn’t like it at all. I thought it was poorly done and cheesy and too slow. But near the ending I was hooked. I could not get up to go to the washroom for fear of missing a small yet significant part of the movie. This is not an action movie; it was very serious and involved a lot of dialogue.
The ending was also predictable—not at the beginning, but nearer toward the actual end, I knew what was going to happen and why. But that’s okay. It was worth it, watching the movie build up to its end. I loved watching how Emma Thompson’s character, the reclusive Karen Eiffel, reacts to the news that her character, Harold Crick, is a living and breathing creature. She asks of her assistant how many people she has killed over the years, and reveals that she counted: eight. Can you imagine the revelation that, in writing your books (for she writes only tragedies where the hero dies at the end), you have been killing living, breathing people?
Will Ferrell’s performance goes above and beyond what he has done before. This is not the Zoolander, Old School type of humour, although some of that Will Ferrell does sneak into his portrayal of Harold Crick, which is okay, because that’s what makes the movie enjoyable. Harold reminds me a lot of Arthur Dent, the protagonist of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In fact, I think that part of the reason that I liked it so much is that there were a number of parallels to h2g2. But I won’t spoil that for you.
The movie is well worth going to see. It made me feel so much better afterward. Lately I’ve been feeling stressed and a bit overworked. The ending may be a bit corny, but it was … nice. And it wasn’t the normal cheap sort of Disney-nice that seems to be manufactured in China these days and imported to 9 out of 10 movie screens. This movie had earned its ending.
After the movie we spontaneously decided to go bowling, which was great fun. I acquitted myself reasonably well; we bowled two games and had a great time.
But if I ever hear someone say “Little did he know…” in my head…
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, is one of the best stories I have ever encountered. I once read it, oh, must have been two to three years ago. Then I bought it from Chapters last week on a whim, even though I barely remembered the plot. When it arrived and I picked it up and started to read, I instantly felt better. Just being able to sink into the universe that Gaiman creates with his words.
The tale is compelling, and it blows my mind. Very few books do that for me—I enjoy most of the books that I read. Some of them I find hard to put down (lately, for example, I have been reading some Jennifer Fallon. She is no Gaiman, but I still hurry to reach the end of her books). But my memory isn’t that great, and they slowly slip away. Dune, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, American Gods … these books resonate and impart something to me that transcends that. It’s why books are so great.
I’m going to try and read my entire novel in one sitting now. I finished the second draft a few days ago, and I have found a title. Now comes time for a final look, a gentle dust and polish, before sending it once again to people who say they’ll read it even if they never do. Maybe someone will read it this time. Hopefully.
Anyway, I just wanted to point out American Gods to you if you haven’t read it already. Mind blowing. Read it. That is all.
My Children of Dune DVD arrived today. The other two items have still not been shipped, let alone arrived, but that’s all right. This one got here way faster than I expected, and of course, it is sweet.
Stargate SG-1’s 10th season premiered tonight. It was also awesome. It answered a lot of the questions raised in season 10, and I don’t think I’ve seen a better premiere. Most premieres suffer from too much or too little action. I think that the show has finally gotten the best grasp of Cam and Vala too; they really mix well with the older cast now. I will certainly be watching with much interest as the season progresses.