Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew


tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Yearning for CBC

There’s something about being away from home that makes me yearn for the CBC. (Yes, by “home” I mean “Canada.”) I’m grateful to live in a time that allows for podcasts and streaming videos: it helps me feel connected.

It also has an interesting side effect that, to be honest, I just don’t remember from the days when the only station my radio would play was CBC Radio One. Perhaps it’s that, when the radio played I cycled through the daily programmatic offerings, taking both the rises and falls in emotion, music, banter. Perhaps listening via podcast just doesn’t lend itself to the same emotional separation. Or perhaps it’s that I constantly find myself behind in my listening, scrambling to catch up, and listening to several days’/weeks’ episodes from the same program in a row. Whatever the reason, the result is almost always the same. I start to tear up. Sometimes it’s easier to go unnoticed than others (I’m fairly certain the two young women sitting across from me on the 1 train thought I was in great distress; there was that couple on Metro-North who noticed me sniffling, trying to stealthily wipe away a tear, and looked too uncomfortable by my display to resume their own display of, uh, animalistic attraction.)

I find that a biographical snippet submitted to OutFront, even a well penned letter from a fan read aloud by Stuart McLean, can elicit from me the same raw reaction. It’s comforting and comfortable to react to these strangers’ lives as they reach out to the CBC in their own ways while I reach out to the CBC in mine.


Filed under: canada

1000 words x 2

Caught up on my photo-uploading. There are now albums from the crazed NY-Mtl-NY move, and autumn in New York.

IMG_0041 marisa-bday-11
Crazy quick road trip and moving. Driving up to Montreal, enjoying the local foods (poutine! bagels!), packing up the uhaul truck, and back down to NYC. Next night: moving furniture from Brooklyn with the roommates. (September) The usual suspects: International Pickle Festival; cruising the waterfalls and a birthday, with parents; prepping for Sukkot, with challot and shopping on the Lower East Side; roomies; foliage; produce from the co-op. (September-November)

Filed under: america, canada, family, friends, good eats, home, judaism, parties, photos, random, seasons, travels

Cooperation With the Jews

One would think, after a month of not blogging (quite a dry spell for me), that I would have a nice long post to share. Eloquent typings of a month gone by, lessons learned, insight sought, morals immortalised. And yet, all I have for you is a lovely news story.

I recently had a conversation with my step mother about Jews using their position as immigrants to North America, and their success at integration into this society and climbing the socio-economic ladder, to mentor current new immigrant groups. She asked if I knew of any examples of such a partnership; I was sure it existed, but couldn’t think of any off hand.

Today, my father sent me this article:

Somalis reach out to Jewish community

Oct 29, 2008 04:30 AM

Nicholas Keung
Immigration/Diversity Reporter

A first-generation Somali Canadian immigrant, Toronto law student Ayan Hersi didn’t know whom to turn to for advice and help pursuing her career.

But an innovative program, announced yesterday, is expected to give the 27-year-old woman and youth from her 250,000-strong community – one of Greater Toronto’s and Canada’s most impoverished – a needed lift by matching them with mentors from the more established Jewish community.

“Our generation is still young and the future is in our hands. Unlike others, we can’t call so and so and ask for help,” said Hersi, who has an undergraduate degree in equity studies, political science and African studies, and is pursuing a law degree at University of Toronto.

“We always have to go outside the community for help,” she added. “I am the first in my family to have graduated from a university, and studying law.”

The unusual partnership between the Canadian Somali Congress, the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and the Canadian Jewish Congress is the brainchild of the Canadian International Peace Project, a non-partisan charitable organization that helps bring together diverse groups to work on peace, security and development projects.

Hersi is paired with James Morton, past president of the Ontario Bar Association, whose Jewish immigrant family arrived in Canada in the 1960s from Europe via the U.S.

Mark Persaud, peace project founder, said the Somali community has identified the lack of mentorship opportunity as a huge disadvantage for its young people. He hopes the program can be a model for future initiatives.

Wonderful! I hope it’s reaching beyond the legal sector as well.

Filed under: canada, cooperation, judaism

Politics on both sides of the border.

Work is crazy. I’m in the midst of moving (some stuff’s on the UWS, some’s in Riverdale, some’s in Montreal). I’m arguing with US governmental agencies so I can get paid, open a bank account, and receive my health benefits. But I still have time for politics (I always have time for politics).

What Would You Do With 300k is a new blog. Suggest how $300,000 should have been spent (hint: Cindy McCain’s outfit for the RNC is not the answer).

The Canadian election has been called for October 14th. Early polls show the Tories taking a majority government. Please vote responsibly in your riding for the party that’s most likely to beat the Tories. (I’ll be investigating my riding to see whether a vote for the NDP or Whigs will go the furthest.)

Please register to vote. In Canada, you can go to Elections Canada to register to vote early, on October 14th, or by mail. In the US you can register via Rock the Vote (or you can swing by my work where we have registration cards).

Filed under: america, canada, politics

Zigging, zagging, and filling in the blanks

It’s been a hectic week or two.

There was the lead up to ‘tute and the week of Summer Institute itself. It was busy, genderful, discussionful, friendful, cuddleful, teachful, and learnful. A few of us blogged about it over on Jewschool. I was left wrestling with some wonderful conversations, which I will have to continue back in the real world, possibly with margaritas in hand.

Sunday evening, upon my return, I had a lovely, if short, sleep in New York before heading to Montreal yesterday morning. Or at least, that was the plan. The short version is that I was “denied entry” to Canada, forced to return to the US. Which worked out, as I was able to get my work visa Monday evening, but meant I didn’t get to spend the night in Montreal catching up with a fantastic family, couldn’t get to my storage locker, and wasn’t able to have poutine for dinner or bring a dozen St-Viateur bagels back to New York with me. Alas. But, as I said, it worked out: I am now a legal alien in the US. (In the 36 hour period that started with pulling out of the parking lot at FPU in Rindge, NH, and ending with my return to my lovely hosts in the Bronx, NY, with the trip to the border in between, I traveled 1638km, passed through NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, and for all of three minutes QC, and both chased lightning storms and raced to avoid them.)

Today I dealt with the social security office. Seems I was too efficient; the US Border and Customs folks hadn’t yet entered my work visa in their database, so I couldn’t actually get the SSN. Most likely this means it’ll take 2-3 weeks to get a SSN instead of the 1-2, but worst case is that it could take as much as 4-6 weeks. I plan on following up with them both on the phone and in person.

I also had the joy of filing an FCC complaint today. While driving south through Albany last night, I was scanning the radio dial when I came across some sort of sermon or Bible study. I heard the word phylacteries and continued listening. That is, until I realised that it was anti-semitism masquerading as moral/Christian superiority. Ugh. I hope they’re fined.

And now? Now I try to burn through the rest of my to-do list, possibly have a nap, certainly call a few more leads on apartments, then try to get a good night’s sleep before my first day of work tomorrow.

Filed under: america, canada, friends, home, nhc 'tute, random, travels, work, wtf?

Alberta = Texas

This article about McCain and Senator Brownback (republican from Kansas) visiting Calgary confirms two things that I have often said:

  1. The Conservative Party can no longer claim to be merely right of centre in their politics;
  2. Alberta is Canada’s Texas (politically, in their mentality/outlook, and with cowboys and oil).

So long, Alberta, so long Tories, it’s been nice knowing you.

Filed under: america, canada, politics

Israel, Palestine, and… Montreal?!

Cross-posted to Jewschool.

One of the many frustrations I have when it comes to Israel is the whole settlement situation. It is illegal to start a new settlement in Israel. Every week, new settlements are started, and the government allows the majority to remain. It’s illegal, but the government doesn’t stop it. Huh. Israeli law, international law, the Geneva Convention, and Oslo are often sited in support of stopping, and removing, the settlements. But, still, Israel does not move on it. In fact, we often hear that the Israeli government is building houses in the territories, er East Jerusalem. (Because if you call it Jerusalem, the media’s less likely to call out the illegality of it.)

But what happens when the legalities play out elsewhere? Like in the Superior Court in Montreal?

[T]he gist of the case is the assertion that Israel is violating the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state from transferring its population into territories it occupies. Canada has incorporated that provision into its domestic law and it applies to Green Park and Green Mount. … [T]he lands in question are under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Bil’in and are part of Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

And what’s the case against Green Park and Green Mount?

Green Park International and Green Mount International, acting as agents of the government of Israel, are violating a host of international laws that govern conflicts, as well as Quebec’s Charter of Rights.

Also being sued is Annette Laroche, sole director and officer of the two corporations. Two million dollars in punitive damages are sought, as well as an order to cease construction.

The court documents allege the defendants, “on their own behalf and as de facto agents of the State of Israel, are… aiding, abetting and assisting and conspiring with the State of Israel in carrying out an illegal purpose.” [Full article.]

This case will be complicated, certainly. Israel has thus far refused to try cases on the grounds of jurisdiction, but will Quebec? As Green Park and Green Mount are both Quebec-based companies, they have to abide by Quebecois, Canadian, and international law; it seems clear that they’re not.

I’d like to see this case go through the system. If the plaintiffs win, it would set precedent for other Palestinian towns to file similar legal cases. And could possibly also deter international (ie, not Israeli) companies from supporting (building or funding) the illegal settlements. I mean, could you imagine how great it would be if Palestinians actually had a legal way to sue American Jews who buy homes in the territories (er, “Jerusalem”) sight unseen (such as the new Nof Zion community)? Will Quebec be an open enough venue for a case like this, with such strong opinions on both/all sides, especially in light of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission‘s findings?

* * *

In other, only vaguely related news, a bank in Canada is being sued by Canadians who live in Israel. They claim this bank, Lebanese Canadian Bank (somehow related to Royal Bank of Canada, which isn’t being sued), knowingly dealt with Hezbollah. And Hezbollah’s to blame for the Lebanese war in 2006, during which the plaintiffs’ homes were damaged/destroyed. I’m not sure how this will play out. [Full article.]

(Is there something in the water, Montreal?)

Yes, those are muppets (Judge Gavel Doozer from “Fraggle Rock;” muggaphone player and Judge Marvin Suggs from “The Muppet Show”). Why not?)

Filed under: canada, israel, palestine, politics, war

Pickles and Poutine

Motzei Shabbos I was exhausted, and planned to trek home to sleep. Instead, I was convinced to make an appearance at a friend’s going away party. He’s a good enough friend to not mind me saying that I was won over by the promise of deep-fried pickles. Seriously. To say I was intrigued would be a gross understatement. So after we separated Shabbos from chol, welcomed the new week, we walked over to Dive Bar.

We were pleasantly surprised by the numerous vegetarian offerings to be found on the menu. Then, while debating between a veggie burger and beer chaser for the deep-fried pickles, or just a beer, my friend spotted it: poutine.

A well known Quebecois comfort food: A heap of Dive Bar Fries studded with farm fresh cheddar curd cheese that melts under hot, thick gravy! Tremendously satisfying. Goes well with a cold beer! Vegetarian gravy available.

The menu said everything it had to. We ordered a side of poutine for our pickles.

The pickles were good, but not great. I’m not a huge fan of salt (the flavour that is; I certainly am a fan of its chemical reaction in cooking and baking), but even I was giving the salt shaker a work out. They were lightly beer battered then fried. The pickles were still crunchy on the inside, while the batter was golden brown. I’d order them again, but maybe from another establishment (you know, in hopes of finding a better purveyor).

And then the poutine. Oh, the poutine. It was not poutine. It was possibly passible as disco fries. Maybe. The gravy was clearly from a vegetarian gravy mix; I could recognize and taste the dehydrated peppers, onions, and celery in the sauce. And the gravy was under the fries, not spooned over the whole dish to help in the cheese melting process. But no worries – the cheese was melted in an oven (gah!) or under the heat lamps (oy!) so it didn’t need the gravy’s assistance. And the cheese. Certainly not cheese curds. Probably not of the cheddar variety either. (We guessed it was mozzarella.) So entirely disappointing. Lacking the necessary components, it had no hope of tasting good, let alone tasting like real poutine. They should not be allowed to call it poutine on the menu. I feel quite strongly about this. I mean, what if some unsuspecting New Yorker ate this alleged poutine, not understanding the dish to be an imposter, and then never sought out the real goodness in Quebec? Tragedy. (The above picture is what poutine should look like. Saturday night’s poutine was nothing at all like this yummy concoction.)

In honour of the lack of squeaky cheese (cheese curds squeak, when you bite them, oh yes), I revive danse la poutine:

Filed under: america, canada, friends, good eats, wtf?

More DMCA Crap

Following up, and making sure you’ve written to your MP.

Because this isn’t over.

  • Canadian Industry Minister lies about his Canadian DMCA on national radio, then hangs up: CBC Radio’s Search Engine just posted/aired its interview with Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice about his Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Before hanging up on interviewer (and my cousin) Jesse Brown, Prentice “lies, dodges, weaves and ducks around plain, simple questions like, “If the guy at my corner shop unlocks my phone, is he breaking the law?” and “If my grandfather breaks the DRM on his jazz CDs to put them on his iPod, does that break the law?” and the biggie, “All the ‘freedoms’ your law guarantees us can be overriden by DRM, right?” (Prentice’s answer to this last one, “The market will take care of it,” is absolutely priceless.)” [This link includes the MP3 to Search Engine, in case you’re not already listening to the podcast.]
  • Canadian DMCA will criminalize emailing your kids’ class photos to their grandparents: “Did you email your grandmother a photo of your kids’ kindergarten photos? Call her up and tell her that you won’t be able to do it again with the grade one pics next year unless she calls up her MP and puts him on notice that he’d better oppose the CDMCA or lose her vote. Did your brother back up his DVDs to his laptop when he went away to university? Call him now and let him know that he’ll be a criminal next year unless he calls and writes to his MP and lets her know what he thinks of Bill C-61.”
  • Canadian Parliament shoutfest over the Canadian DMCA:

To borrow a term/pronunciation from a friend, this is total bullshis. Stop Prentice!

Filed under: canada, music, politics, teevee/movies

Canada Needs Your Help NOW!

Meanwhile, in Canada, there’s a storm brewing, and it’s going to get ugly. I urge all Canadians who read this to contact their MPs regarding changes to the Canadian DMCA, Industry Minister Jim Prentice’s no-consultation copyright law.

  • Canadian DMCA is worse than the American one: The Canadian DMCA allows every single exception to copyright to be eliminated by adding DRM: whatever the law allows you to do, a corporation can take away, just by using DRM to prevent you from doing it. Breaking DRM is illegal, unless you fit into a tiny, narrow, useless exception for security research. It used to be that Parliament got to write copyright law. Now, it’s Hollywood companies, who get to overrule Parliamentary law with whatever “business rules” they put in their DRM.
  • PSA Video on Canada’s new copyright bill, C-61
  • Comic book explains the fight over the Canadian DMCA: Canadian copyfightin’ law prof Michael Geist sez, “Gordon Duggan of Appropriation Art has created a remarkable comic book [PDF – 2.8 MB] chronicling the recent battle over Canadian copyright reform. The book includes over 100 links to websites, articles, and other resources as every quote or reference is hyperlinked. It concludes with references to groups actively involved in copyright issues and suggestions for how to get active. This left me absolutely speechless.”
  • How Canada’s DMCA will criminalize everyday Canadians: I’ve been hearing from Boing Boing readers who’ve written to the government to protest the bill, and the government line is “We’re not taking away rights, we’re giving them to the public! We’re making it legal to rip CDs and make other personal copies!” (Indeed, Prentice sent a letter to the Toronto Star that says just this). This isn’t mere disingenuousness: it’s a flat-out lie. Yes, the bill will legalize ripping your CDs, so long as there’s no DRM on them, and so long as the EULA doesn’t forbid it. The Canadian DMCA says to rightsholders, “There are no exceptions to copyright law, except the ones you permit. If you want to prohibit a use that Parliament has protected, go right ahead! Just add some DRM or stick it in the EULA, and whatever you say will become the law of the land.”
  • Talking points for Canadians speaking to their MPs about the Canadian DMCA: This bill is bad for Canadians for a number of reasons…

Please write/call/email your MP NOW! If the bill passes, our copyright laws will go from decent to worse-than-America’s, with the goal being to strip Canadians of rights will empowering Hollywood. Let’s do something about it. Now.

[Much thanks to BoingBoing, from whom I blatantly copied for this post.]

Filed under: canada, music, politics, teevee/movies, wtf?