Monday, August 10, 2009

Dear Tim Hortons: Really?

Joe.My.God. reports that Tim Hortons is sponsoring an anti-gay-rights event held by the so-called “National Organization on Marriage” in Rhode Island: Tim Hortons Sponsors NOM Event.

Now, Timmy Ho’s doesn’t strike me as being the world’s most progressive organization—I don’t see them sponsoring Pride events any time in the near future—but appending their corporate name to something this far in the other direction strikes me as both unethical and unwise.

Feel free to contact them to note your distaste.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Toronto Parks and Rec = Photoshop Disaster

So I headed over to the Toronto Parks and Rec site to see when my strike-affected yoga might recommence, and I was greeted by this monstrosity:


Immediate reaction: check blogs to ensure this horrorshow has been recorded for posterity. And indeed it has, over at Photoshop Disasters, which even managed to acquire the original photo. City of Toronto: Token Brilliance

And oh man, they cite a National Post article. All I can assume is that somewhere, a man with a goatee and a pitchfork is putting in an order for ice skates, because I am in agreement with NP on this one…this was insane. Was the original family, delightfully non-WASPish, somehow not diverse enough?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is CSIS untrustworthy?

My personal and professional experience with them has been, let's say, uneven. Over the last few weeks especially, I have more than once declared that I was moving abroad out of lack of faith in the government, and especially the intelligence sector.

This story is therefore both validating and infuriating:

Judge orders recall of CSIS witnesses in Harkat case (

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Best TORCHWOOD quote?

Jack: That's weird. Because when I'm about to murder someone I'm really careful not to talk to myself about it while I'm in the street.

Tosh: No, sure. I mean, that's lesson one.


(from 1x07, "Greeks Bearing Gifts")

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What law owes to science fiction

Interesting item over at Whatever about the possibility that the Neanderthals died out because we ate them:

Technically It’s Not Cannibalism If They’re Not the Same Species

The comments are particularly tasty (ba-dum-dum)


I am particularly fond of the conclusion:

Even if it wasn’t cannibalism, I would still call it murder, since “murder” in my book (that book being a science fiction book) involves killing sentient creatures, whether they’re of the same intelligent species as you are or not. This is why one needs science fiction, incidentally: to model such legal conundrums. You’re welcome.

Which reminded me of a discussion (by which I mean argument) I once had with a post-colonial lit prof who insisted--INSISTED--that there was nothing wrong with cannibalism, that communion in Christian churches was cannibalism, and it was just another example of the intense and undeniable evil that is western society that we forced the South Pacific Islanders and other groups to stop being cannibals because of our own narrow-minded hang-ups.*

I of course pointed out that, while I agree that ritual cannibalism isn't particularly immoral (especially funerary cannibalism), it does cause prion disease and was probably a good idea to avoid it.



*Which was itself part of a longer argument over whether everything bad that has ever happened in or around a colonized society was entirely the fault of the colonizers, my point being that it's extremely racist to assume that any such society is so passive that they are incapable of screwing up without help.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TDS best argument against DADT ever

Clip from May 14

Also, on the torture photo issue, I have to say that while I support transparency, I get that it may not be necessary to release everything, when you've released all the substantive/significant information, releasing more information which won't add to the information, but will add to the outrage, is unnecessary.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

In a perfect world, I’d be liveblogging my bus ride

Once again I am off to work on a Sunday morning, albeit relatively late morning, and I left work relatively early yesterday. None of this prevents me from being utterly handbagged. Sarah needs a huge coffee, or frankly, to break into my stash of wake-ups.

Because yes, I do have a stash. In fact, the past weeks in trial would not have been as smooth without them. You see, one cannot have coffee in the courtroom, which I find pointlessly cruel. We have water, which we spill with some frequency. But no coffee. It is perhaps the one thing the Respondents and us can agree on. I’m tempted to ask the boss to ask the judge for an exception to be made.

What we do instead is leave our cups on the table in our conference room (a misnomer, since it seats about four, but I refuse to call it a “breakout room”. It then gets cold, unless you (like me) think to bring a travel mug.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My first thought was: "We still have warships?"

Canadian, British, U.S. vessels foil pirates in Gulf of Aden

A Canadian warship helped thwart a pirate attack as part of the NATO mission to keep vessels safely moving in the Gulf of Aden, officials said Sunday. (Full story @ CBC)

This is a real thing, and everyone must know of it (NSFW, but awesome)

Ron Jeremy + Sci-Fi/Horror movie = WIN

No seriously, that's the title. And again, NSFW

Monday, April 13, 2009

Abdelrazik disaster continues

Ottawa cites international obligations in denying citizen's return home (Globe & Mail)

The government has unveiled new and unprecedented reasons barring the return of Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, claiming every country he might fly over on the way home from Khartoum needed to give explicit permission.

This is flat out wrong. I only hope the Federal Court doesn't buy into this nonsense.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Is it just me, or does Lenora Crichlow of BBC's Being Human:

Bear an uncanny resemblance to Billie Piper, of Doctor Who and Belle du Jour fame?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Name game

So I was browsing the Society for Creative Anachronism's pages on historically accurate names, and got to thinking...what would I have gone by in days of yore?

Theoretically, I suppose I might have the same name, since my given name is Biblical and my surname is at least early modern (see here). This is how British my last name is: my ancestors immigrated to Scotland...from Ireland.

Other appropriately venerable family names are Katherine, Mary, Elizabeth, and Martha, any of which meet the SCA's circa 1600 cut-off.

"Laura", of which my middle name is a variant, is old enough that Petrarch was writing poetry to a Laura in the 1300s.

And apparently the Gaelic given name "Mòr" is equivalent to mine. Or Sorcha or Saoirse.

Other surnames which could have been my lot:

  • Bryant (from my father's name, Brian)
  • Ní Bhriain (like "O'Brian", but with the feminine prefix and Gaelic spelling)
  • Dalton (a male family name)
  • Clarke (for the occupation association, Clarke = clerk = any job to do with writing = literate person)

Interestingly, my mother's mother, mother's father, and father's mother all also come from Britain for centuries back. I mean, British-from-the-dawn-of-time, with maybe a dusting of conquest Norman thrown in.

Good lord, small wonder I'm so terribly pale.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reflections on watching the TRANSFORMERS movie

It's really nice to see the feet-on-the-ground American military portrayed as the righteous fountain of ass-kicking and protectors of freedom that we used to know and love.

Also, I enjoy that the "secret weapon" was a bigger, better, hotter gun. Hells yeah.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SickCity, the social network for hypochondriacs

Check out, which uses Twitter to track tweets about illness and categorizes them by city. Apparently Toronto is 7th sickest. Colour me not surprised.

On a related note, my not-shingles still haven’t decided what they are.

Arar Commission Website

So, Annette Demers over at Slaw asks What Happened to the Arar Commission website?

Since I just happen to know, having had to look it up about 30 million times, I dropped her the link…and for posterity, and my future reference, here it is:

Thursday, March 05, 2009

CSIS: Disregarding International Law Since (at least) 2003

So this is horrifying, although I suppose not really surprising: CSIS asked Sudan to arrest Canadian, files reveal

Mr. Abdelrazik is a political refugee who became a Canadian citizen in 1995. In 2003 he was arrested by the Sudanese authorities on the advice of CSIS. In prison for 11 months, he was tortured, and was interrogated by CSIS agents as well as US intelligence operatives. Finally released—because even the Sudanese authorities, well known for their disregard of human rights, could not justify holding him. He was rearrested in October 2005, and held for a further 10 months. At least one of those arrests was at the request of the Canadian government.

Throughout, the Canadian government not only denied Mr. Abdelrazik his rights under international law, including consular protection, they actively obstructed his return to Canada by refusing to issue him emergency travel documents, even after promising to do so as soon as he had arranged a ticket to fly home. They have seized his assets and stated that anyone who gives him money to pay for the ticket is committing a crime and will be charged under terrorist legislation.

The RCMP investigated Mr. Abdelrazik and exonerated him in NOVEMBER 2007. He still can’t come home.

Think Maher Arar was a one-time mistake? Think again.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

25 Random Bits of Misanthropy, Part I

So the “25 random things about me” meme seems to be circulating again. I’ve decided to put a bit of negative spin on it, because hey, I’m in that kind of mood. I therefore present “25 things that make me mutter obscenities under my breath”:

  1. Small, shrill children, especially on the TTC
    People always laugh when I say I transferred out of teachers college ‘cause I realized I hate kids … it’s not a joke. If I’m engaging with the kid I’m fine, but if they’re in the background it’s worse than nails on a chalkboard.
  2. People who stop at the very top/bottom of stairs and stand there
    I’m looking at you, 1Ls.
  3. The total lack of stability on TTC vehicles
    I can only assume a perfect storm of bad roads, lousy shocks, and freakishly reckless driving, but it’s unusual for me to be on a bus these days and not think I’m going to be thrown to the ground.
  4. People who lie to obscure the fact that they’re not doing their job
    Pretty much anytime I hear “But I told you to do that” or “I never told you that” I assume the speaker is lying
  5. Medication where the side effect is as bad as the condition
    What the hell, people. I only want to be able to breathe through my nose, is that so much to ask?
  6. Legal questions that no one understands, but no one ever resolves, like certiorari versus declaratory relief
    Thank you, authors of four different books on administrative law, for those fascinating chapters on how no one knows what which remedy is for
  7. People who go out of their way to screw with an immigration application because the applicant won a court case
    I don’t know who these people are, but it says something about the world we live in when a court decision in your favour will probably lead to even more problems for you
  8. Updates that freak out my computer
    What is the point of that, Microsoft?!?! How hard is it for you to patch my security without making my IE schizophrenic?
  9. Technological improvements that aren’t backwards compatible
    Yay high-speed internet, boo my wireless network rejecting high-speed internet
  10. USB ports at the back of a CPU
    I spend an inordinate amount of time at my office on my knees inhaling dustbunnies, reading the ports like braille
  11. My office window
    It’s stuck open and has been all winter.
  12. Coffee going cold immediately
    The pot seems hot, and it’s not like I use milk ice cubes, but I can barely through it back before it’s frigid, and I need the warmth (see #11)
  13. My desk blotter calendar
    Mocking me with its January-ness. Because my desk hasn’t been totally clear since January, so I haven’t ripped off the old months

Part II tomorrow…

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blogging from Lilliput

Well no, not exactly. But I am blogging from my gorgeous tiny netbook. All 8.9” of it. Takes a little getting used to… nevertheless, I predict it will rock when taking notes at trials and hearings, and I can actually toss it in my purse…hell, I think I have pockets this would fit in.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

BBC Top 100 Reads...yeah, I'm a joiner

According to the BBC, the following are the top 100 books in the UK (at least, as of April 2003) and, like everyone else, I'm commenting on what I've read.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien NO
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen YES
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman NO
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams YES
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling NO
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee NO
Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne NO
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell YES
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis YES
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë YES
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller NO
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë NO
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks NO - nor have I ever heard of it...
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier NO
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger NO
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame NO
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens YES
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott YES
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres NO
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy NO
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell NO
Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling NO
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling NO
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling NO
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien NO
Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy NO
Middlemarch, George Eliot NO
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving YES
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck NO
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll NO
The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson NO
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez YES
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett NO
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens NO
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl YES
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson NO
A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute NO
Persuasion, Jane Austen NO
Dune, Frank Herbert NO
Emma, Jane Austen NO
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery YES
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams NO
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald NO
The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas NO
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh NO
Animal Farm, George Orwell NO
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens YES
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy NO
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian NO
The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher NO

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett YES
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck YES
The Stand, Stephen King YES
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy NO
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth NO
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl YES
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome NO
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell NO
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer NO
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky NO
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman NO
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden YES
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens NO
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough NO
Mort, Terry Pratchett NO
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton NO
The Magus, John Fowles NO
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman NO
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett NO
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding YES
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind NO
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell NO
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett NO
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl YES
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding YES
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt NO
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins NO
Ulysses, James Joyce NO
Bleak House, Charles Dickens NO
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson NO
The Twits, Roald Dahl NO
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith NO
Holes, Louis Sachar NO
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake NO
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy YES
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson NO
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley NO
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons NO
Magician, Raymond E Feist NO
On The Road, Jack Kerouac NO
The Godfather, Mario Puzo NO
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel YES
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett NO
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho NO
Katherine, Anya Seton NO
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer NO
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez NO
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson NO
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot NO
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie NO

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Further to my tea post...

...which is here:

It was pointed out to me by commenter melanie that I had my Fairmont's mixed up. The Toronto Fairmont is the Fairmont Royal York, at which afternoon tea is served in the EPIC restaurant at the following times: Sunday to Friday, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. More info here.

Unquestionably the best two sentences I have ever written

Notwithstanding the Respondent’s insistence on deference, the Applicant submits that the question to be asked is whether the immigration officer’s decision was reasonable. Given that the decision was clearly based on a deficient analysis which misapprehended the evidence and failed to seek clarification in the face of that misapprehension, it is submitted that the decision was unreasonable.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Ignorant whippersnappers

(Leaving WWRY, the iconic "Carry On Wayward Son" started to play in the emptying theatre)

Twentysomethings behind me: Hey, it's that song from Guitar Hero!

Me: (choke on laughter)

(A few minutes later, I am relating the tale to my classic-rock aficionado stepdad)

Me: They fail to appreciate the brilliance that is Kansas.

Him: Uhhhhm ... I don't know about tha-


Sunday, January 11, 2009

High Tea in Toronto

Obviously, you can do a basic teatime at any Second Cup or Starbucks, anywhere in the city.

However, a few places do still offer proper teas.

Zoe's Lounge at the Fairmont Royal York has a few options, ranging from $27 to $49.

The Windsor Arms Tea Room also has a few options, for $18-$45.

The Park Hyatt has both packages and an a la carte menu.

The C5 at the ROM has a high tea on Wedgewood China!

The Old Mill has one, natch, for $18 to $20.

Although not an official High Tea, the Gallery Grill at Hart House offers a wide selection of teas and desserts.

Another a la carte option would be 7 West Cafe. Ditto Cafe Maroc.

Other places I want to try are:

Other placed I love are:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Canajun English

Which American accent do you have?


You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you`re just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don`t really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.


I also did this "Are you a Rebel or a Yankee?" test and came out about 70% Yankee, unsurprisingly. What was odd was the number of times I basically picked one answer out of multiple applicable ones. For instance:

What is your regular word for the thing you push around the supermarket?

  • A (shopping) buggy.
  • A (shopping) cart.
  • A (shopping) trolley.
  • A (shopping) basket.

A shopping cart or a buggy (though never a shopping buggy), rarely a trolley, and a basket is something altogether different.

What do you pack for travel?

  • A suitcase.
  • A bag.
  • A valise.
  • My spouse packs for me.

Well, I pack a suitcase if I'm packing a suitcase, and a bag if I'm taking a bag (generally smaller, for shorter trips).

Do you generally . . .

  • mow the lawn?
  • cut the grass?
  • mow the grass?
  • cut the lawn?

Any and or all of the above. I can't even tell you which is more common.