A Successful Debacle

The situation in Syria seems to be one perfectly constructed for a course in International Politics. This unfolding example has all the classic players and circumstances: a dangerous conflict in a volatile region, rational actors making assumptions, potential adversaries waiting to be influenced, superpowers positioning themselves for future leverage. Will Assad follow the trend of tumbling dictators and finally fall? Who will govern Syria once he is gone? Will the final result embolden or deter Iran? Looked at in the calculating light of strategy and favorable outcomes, the recent disapproval of President Obama’s handling of Syria seems reasonable. Yet despite a situation that is still fluid and unresolved, overly colorful opinions such as “fiasco”, “disaster”, and “utter debacle” are being tossed around. When looking at things objectively, these expressions of displeasure seem to be disproportionate to the current realities, and so I can’t help but wonder if this stark contrast … Read More

Space, just another frontier

            An epic battle of good versus evil. A madman on the loose. Caskets covered in the flags. A familiar name is mentioned. Citizens look up to the sky as a looming menace approaches. A beautiful blonde woman standing almost completely naked, wearing nothing but a bra and panties… Wait a second. Full-stop, Mr. Sulu. I bang on my tricorder. That can’t be right. Spock, is there a problem with the viewscreen? Negative. Sensors confirm your readings, Captain. Female humanoid. Caucasian. Telemetry shows she is in optimal mating mode. Into Darkness, indeed. I know this is only the trailer, but the fact that she is appearing in any part of the new Star Trek film wearing sexy lingerie sets me to red alert. I mean she’s just standing there, posing, fabric tight and sleek, skin shimmering. It can’t be necessary for the plot, unless to … Read More

Cover your freakin mouth – a public service rant

I am wedged against the wall, face wincing, desperately looking for refuge. My head is lowered and my shoulders are hunched, contorting myself as much as humanly possible, trying to avoid the looming menace. My toes are curled, that’s how stressed this is making me. Nearly every fibre of my being is preoccupied with this lingering threat and I have had enough. Enough, I say. You. Sitting there oblivious. You disgust me. I rank you among the lowest of society’s creatures, lower than the corrupt politician and only just above the thieving street thug. You. Walking amongst us without a care, infecting us all with your disease. In Japan, courtesy towards the public good dictates the wearing of a surgical mask if you are ill and potentially contagious. No matter if it is only a mild cough or cold, this simple gesture of civility is so common that seeing someone … Read More

The Holiday Spirit

This article is featured in the Montreal Gazette opinion section, click here The holiday season is upon us. Outside the temperature drops below zero and snow gathers on the ground. In the streets people bundle up and tuck their hands in their pockets. Festive music plays and red and white lights shine bright. The days inch closer to the holidays, and plans are being made and schedules are being set. I’m replying to Christmas party invites. And going shopping for gifts. And organizing who I’ll visit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But wait a second, I’m Jewish. Getting lost in the all-encompassing rush towards Christmas is understandable. The buzz in the office is all about the upcoming holiday and the closing of files before the break. Social calendars are dominated by Christmas-themed events and cocktails. And in the middle of all of this people of Jewish and other cultural and religious … Read More

True support for the Middle East conflict

middle east

Once more we return to where we once were. “Israel has a right to defend itself” declare the supporters of Israel. “The Israelis are oppressing the Palestinian people” cry the supporters of the Palestinians. One side pointing fingers, the other pointing them right back. Over and over the same accusations and defenses are repeated. It’s getting more than a bit old. A spark ignites in the region, people on both sides lose their lives, their homes, their sense of security – and immediately the cheerleading begins. Jews support Israel. Arabs support the Palestinians. And nothing ever changes. What is most frustrating, and unfortunate, is how neither side ever changes their perspective. Year after year, decade after decade, the same problems arise and the same defensive postures are immediately taken. It’s as if neither party actually cares about solving the issue at hand, only that the other side is wrong. So what is the purpose … Read More

The U.S. presidential election: why we care

The election for President of the United States of America is upon us. Across Canadian airwaves, around dinner tables, and throughout our newspapers, the U.S. election has received not only wide coverage but often in-depth analysis. This reoccurring phenomena begs a simple but elusive question – why do we care? Why, with so many pressing issues of our own, do we consistently turn so much of our attention to a political process that has next to nothing to do with us? You could say that since the U.S. is our largest trading partner that the American election has significant economic consequences for Canada. You could say that since Canada relies on the United States as an ally on the international stage and in foreign policy decisions that the choice of their leader is important to us as a nation. But that’s not really why we care. Whoever is president, Democrat or Republican, will … Read More

9/11

September  11th. 9/11. Every year the same feelings return. All around are the clear signs of what it is I should be feeling; but for me it is never that simple, is always a disturbing mix of conflicting emotions. It’s part flashback. The surreal movie-like scenes. Me sitting at my desk as the 2nd tower collapsed. People caught in that unimaginable dilemma and jumping from a burning building. Part remembrance. The emergency workers running towards the disaster and not from it. People frantically looking for their loved ones. The candlelight vigils held around the world. And part reflection. Not only on the specific act and its consequences, not only on the lost lives and terrible suffering, but on the greater issues surrounding that day and the days after it. What is to be the legacy of that day? What is the point of continuing to mark this event if we … Read More

Going…going…gone? (TSN990 and what really matters)

How much is too much? Does more always equal better? Do we need to review our definition of value? These are some of the questions that arise when I sit down long enough with the “big” questions. As you dig down beneath the surface of an issue, getting underneath the common arguments, reducing the points down to their purest form – you often end up with these sort of existential questions. Problem is that when you’re dealing with an issue that is seemingly straightforward and black and white, these sorts of subjective and incomplete answers don’t seem to be enough. They just don’t cut it. Or maybe, they’re just what we need. Last week Bell Media (part of BCE), the largest telecommunications company in Canada, announced it was going to shut down the English-language sports radio station TSN990 and convert it to a French radio station. Here is the backstory. … Read More

Ohh Canada

Like most young Canadians I know little of our past. Sure I remember the Plains of Abraham, and Sir John A. Macdonald, and some other random bits from grade 10 history. But to be honest, that’s about it. (and I had to Wikipedia those to refresh my memory).  I could give you a pretty decent summary of the major events of WWII, yet know next to nothing of the role our country played. I have spent countless hours watching and reading about America’s Revolutionary War but have no idea how our own nation was formed. But I don’t feel bad; I know it’s not my fault. Tom Hanks has never played a quiet but strong Canadian soldier so I have never felt a burning need to learn much of our history. And there’s another reason that I don’t dwell too hard over my patriotic shortcomings – because the things that … Read More

I used to love her, but I had to kill her (lament for American politics)

For a long time I was addicted. It started with CNN. Was sorta like training wheels, an “Intro to Cable News” 100-level beginner’s course that covered all the basics without getting too specific. The major subjects were there, always with the right graphics and flashing lights, but after a few years the Best Political Team On Television just wouldn’t cut it anymore. The waving flags and constant Breaking News exaggerations began to lose their luster. I kept going back for more and kept leaving disappointed, unfulfilled. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well…well…you know how the joke goes. (ode to W.) The political fix I was getting from CNN was no longer going to be enough. My cravings had become too strong and I was now too advanced for what this increasingly fluffy network could provide. So I moved onto MSNBC and FOX News, looking for something deeper, a more … Read More