Monday, May 17, 2010

A Quick Guide to Different Governments

Bill, James, Tyler, Andrew, and Mike get together every Friday night and order pizza. They can never agree on what to get, though. Bill wants to get Meat Lovers'. James wants to get Canadian. Tyler wants to get pepperoni made with free-range meat because he is against animal cruelty. Andrew is a vegetarian, so he wants to get veggie pizza. Mike is vegan and wants to get vegetarian pizza with soy cheese. So how do they decide?

Direct Democracy
All five guys vote on toppings and eventually come to an agreement. Mike disagrees with their choice, but he got outvoted, so fuck him.

The five elect Tyler to choose the toppings. Tyler considers the preferences of his buddies when choosing.

Bill tells his friends that they're ordering Meat Lovers', and anyone who doesn't like it can order a knuckle sandwich.

James claims to have special pizza-related knowledge due to the time he spent at the Institute of Italian-American Cuisine. Although this claim is never verified, James ends up ordering every week, regardless of how good or bad his choice is.

Constitutional Monarchy
James suspects that someone is about to call bullshit on him, so he lets Tyler and Mike pick the toppings, but he still acts like he picked them himself.

Once the pizza is ordered, Andrew realizes that he's a few bucks short for his part of the pizza, so Tyler spots him a few bucks, knowing that Andrew is never going to pay him back.

Bill offers to pay for the pizza if they get Meat Lovers'.

James orders plain cheese pizza, then adds each person's choice of toppings individually, after they've filled out the Pizza Requisition Forms and allowed 6 to 9 hours for processing.
(Alternatively, James calls up the pizza place and asks for a pizza that is 1/5 meat lovers', 1/5 Canadian, 1/5 pepperoni, 1/5 vegetarian and 1/5 vegan. When the pizza place tells him that they're not going to make a pizza like that, he says "fuck it" and orders half Canadian-half meat lovers'.)

Mike declares vegan to be the One True Pizza, and scares everyone else into agreeing by telling them stories of the awful things that happen to meat-eating infidels.

Andrew knows that his friends are too dumb to know what's good for them, so he orders the pizza himself, for their own good.


Mike and Tyler choose the pizza toppings, since they are cooler than Bill, James, and Andrew.

The guys order pepperoni, and they like it so much that they call the pizza place back and have them change everyone else's order to pepperoni as well.

The five guys argue until after the pizza place is closed. They end up eating whatever they can find in the house: instant mashed potatoes and breakfast cereal. Andrew steals Mike's breakfast cereal.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Favourite Ten Books of 2009

So as a year-end wrap-up type article, I thought I'd write about my favourite and least favourite literary experiences of 2009 -- the books that I've read this year -- as well as mention my literary hopes for the New Year.

The Best Ten Books I Read in 2009
10. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
This early-twentieth-century modernist novel was one of the few silent-personal-drama types that actually really kept my attention. Ford plays with chronology, detail, and character development in such a way that the affairs of Edward and Leonora unfold like a murder mystery.

9. The Divine Ryans by Wayne Johnson
Taking place in St. John's in 1967, the endearing failure of a nine-year-old hockey-loving anti-hero struggles to cope with his father's recent death and his family's suffocating under his matriarchal aunt. It's a funny coming-of-age story that touches on the importance of family, religion, and hockey to Canadians in the sixties.

8. A Bird in the House by Margaret Lawrence

7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This novel is ostensibly about a kid who survives almost a year in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, but I personally was more enthralled by the religious subplot. Pi is hailed by his religious leaders as an excellent Hindu, Christian, and Muslim boy -- at the same time. Even when lost at sea, Pi prays five times a day facing Mecca and says Hail Marys during storms. The end will leave you wondering: what does it all mean?

6. Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
This 1944 novel would have been much better had it been finished, but considering the circumstances (Irène Némirovsky was an ethnic Jew and Russian living in France during WWII and died in Auschwitz) the fact that we have it at all, not to mention how exquisitely well-written it is, is a minor miracle. The appendices -- notes from Némirovsky's notebook for the unwritten three movements and correspondence between her, her family, and her publisher -- are almost as interesting as the novel itself. The intertwining and overlapping stories of people of all ages and classes fleeing Paris and then living under the Nazi occupation is enthralling, with a fair number of surprises. You could call this the WWII novel for people who don't like WWII novels.

5. Fight Club by Chuck Palihaniuk
I read this in my Studies in American Literature seminar, which was focused on utopias and dystopias. I thought this was a bit of a cryptic choice for a utopia class; is our very world of today a dystopia? (Typically "dystopia" novels are of the 1984 variety; tyrannical government control, mass unhappiness, or at least a nuclear holocaust or endemic zombie problem.) And why do fistfights make men feel better about their dystopia? I have my own theories, the scope of which don't fit here; read it and draw your own conclusions.

4. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munroe
When I wrote about this novel in my Canadian Fiction seminar, I wrote about how I loved Alice Munroe not shying away from sex in a coming-of-age story. Del's pregnant friend tells her that "Everyone does it," meaning sex. Look! People have been promiscuous forever! (Anne of Green Gables, for example, never had sex.) Friend and fellow reader Bruno pointed out that women seem to write disproportionately about sexual freedoms whereas real women "like doing other things" besides sex. While women pretty much like sex about as much as men do (and when we like doing something, we really enjoy talking about it), I don't want Bruno or you to think that this novel is just another feminist sexual liberation novel; it's funny and thoughtful and explores social pressures and relationships and pride and belonging and individuality among girls and women in small-town Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. If you've read and liked Lives of Girls and Women, I recommend you check out The Birth House by Ami McKay.

3. Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King
If Canadians are known for their sense of humour, this book's sense of humour is distinctly Canadian. Centered on a handful of members of a Blackfoot community in Alberta, the novel draws on oral storytelling techniques and King's delightful character of Coyote, the mischievous character who talks to both the narrator and hangs out with the cryptic, mysterious characters of Hawkeye, The Lone Ranger, Robinson Crusoe, and Ishmael. The humour is cynical at times, ridiculous at others -- and I challenge you to see if you can get each and every joke and reference.

2. La Guerre, Yes Sir! by Roch Carrier
Before I read La Guerre, Yes Sir! I knew Roch Carrier as the guy who wrote Le chandail de hockey, the children's book about playing pond hockey and quoted on the $5 bill. This short, hilarious novel is about the funeral of a WWII casualty and his wake in his small québécois village. One woman is town is hiding both her husband and her lover in the attic to save them from the draft and to ensure she always has a man to, ahem, meet her needs; another soldier is home on leave and has brought his recent bride, a prostitute and an anglophone; the dead soldier's family try to offer tourtière and cider to the anglophone army men who don't understand them and condemn the québécois, who spend the wake not only praying but getting drunk, telling dirty stories, and fighting. An excellent read, and you can tackle it in an afternoon.

1. LAMB: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
This is probably the funniest book I have ever read -- and yet, it offers a very fair treatment of the life of Jesus, a boy coming of age and curious about sex even though he is supposed to be without sin. I read it for a class called The Historical Jesus (more a history class than a religion class), and so duly noted that Moore did his research when including historical details about life in Nazareth in the first century AD. Moore imagines Jesus' childhood, his lost years (i.e. before he started his ministry), and his life up until his arrest, through the eyes of his childhood best friend, Biff. During the "lost years", Jesus and Biff journey to the east to find and seek wisdom from the wise men who attended Jesus' birth, and who teach him about Taoism, Bhuddism, and Hinduism before Jesus returns to start his ministry. There are a lot of gems of wisdom -- and history -- tucked away in this uproariously funny novel; it's the kind of thing you can read while on holiday, and still feel like you've read something important when you're finished.

The Biggest Disappointments of 2009
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquart
I'd always heard that this was a big one in CanLit, and my reader-aunt loved it, but when I finally got around to it -- what a letdown. There was nothing original about the main character, Klara, and although her brother Tillman was interesting, not nearly enough time was devoted to him. I had to force myself to finish the book; the ending was trite and horribly contrived. It was as if Urquart forgot what she wanted to say by the end and just kind of threw everything into place at the last minute, like a school play in which things go awry backstage during the second act.

World Without End by Ken Follet
I've always been a fan of Follet for easy summer paperback reading; although his characters can be formulaic at times, his plots are always page-turners, and he writes very interesting and multifaceted villains, often refusing to make his villains pure evil or his heroes morally spotless. I especially enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, to which this novel was a sequel. Unfortunately, Follet scooped out everything good about Pillars and wrote a huge tome that, despite being moderately entertaining, had villains that were evil to the core, heroes who were perfect, a plot that dragged heavily by the end, and a happily-ever-after ending played out by characters who seemed like minor variations on the ones from Pillars. Twenty-five years, and this is his long-anticipated sequel?

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I was looking forward to reading this as it seemed like a crowd favourite among many of my reader-friends. And though I absolutely love the concept, I just couldn't get into Kerouac's prose; I found it thick and difficult. I didn't feel like the character of Sal (the narrator) was developed well either. Dean may have been the hero, but it seemed like Sal didn't consider himself an important character. At times I felt like I was waiting for things to happen while Dean spouted off his craziness. It was an okay book, but not nearly what I'd been hoping for.

Books I am Excited to Read in 2010
Extraordinary Canadians: Pierre Elliot Trudeau by Nino Ricci
When I first heard about the new series, edited by John Ralston Saul, I knew right away that I'd want to read most, if not all of them. These are biographies written by novelists, instead of journalists or other nonfic writers, and if the excerpt from Daniel Poquelin's René Lévesque is any indication, it was a fantastic idea.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
It won Canada Reads 2009 among other awards, and also came highly recommended by a few of my reader-friends. It's been sitting on my bookshelf after my mother loaned it to me six months ago -- why haven't I read it yet??

La grosse femme d'à côté est enciente and Thérèse et Pierrette à l'école des Saints-Anges by Michel Tremblay
Another book that's been on my shelf for six months. I even started reading Thérèse et Pierrette over the summer, when I bought in in a used book store in Montréal. Why haven't I finished it yet? All I can say is, man, reading novels in French is hard.

Bonjour Tristesse by Françose Sagan
Another French book that I've so far neglected to read, but this one is on quite a few must-read or best-book lists, and also, my copy is purse-sized, so I've no excuses really.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
I found this one in a used book store for an unbeatable price and, after reading Slaughterhouse-Five and A Man Without a Country, I couldn't resist. (I've also read Bagombo Snuff Box. Being some of Vonnegut's earlier stuff, its ho-hum-ness is forgiveable.) School reading and whatnot made me forget about it until now. Maybe I should just read less for school?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Misogynists Love Coors Light!

Have you seen this ad?

[I can't find this ad on the internet. I will photograph it next time I see it.]

(For those of you with poor French and no English equivalents nearby, it reads, Colder than the 24-year-old girl whom you thought was 32!!)

Wow. I guess the Coors marketing department thought that "Coors: No Ugly Chicks!" lacked a certain subtlety. Now I'm not one to cry misogyny. I thought last summer's beer ad, "For the equality of the sexes: once at your place, once at hers" was amusing, unconsciously doing its little part to chip away at the sexual double standard (I am not sure what it said in English; as with this summer, I passed the fairweather months of 2008 in La Belle Province). Hey, even the old "scantily-clad women" fallback is okay. I mean, men like beautiful, scantily-clad women. This is a fact of life. (Women, on the other hand, like scantily-clad people in general, but ads still prefer to play instead to our often-crippling insecurities about how attractive we are.) But Coors really lost it on this one. This ad is being displayed to the general public, not exclusively in men's toilets and locker rooms. Therefore the ad gives off two distinct messages:
"Hey guys, if a girl rebuffs your come-ons, she must be frigid, ha ha ha!"
"Hey ladies, you have until 31 to land a man before you become unattractive. Quick, get married for your lives!"
And Coors is wondering why women don't buy their beer?!
Well, Coors, I hate to make generalizations, but I'm guessing that when your marketing department sits down to profile their target audience, "concerned about gender parity" doesn't quite make the list. So, I'm going to go ahead and suggest that you hire new marketing people, and maybe this time throw in a woman or two. Here, I'll even make you an ad to get started.

But you might want to photoshop it better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sarkozy and the Burqa

French president Nicolas Sarkozy's recent controversial statements about the status of the burqa or niqab have divided the French blogosphere (according to a news article I read somewhere). No big surprise there. The complete veiling of Muslim women has always been something of a controversial issue in the West, so it's no surprise that such a strong stance against it, in a country with the largest Muslim population in western Europe, would draw considerable comment. Especially since the small number of veiled Muslim women in France is growing.

In a statement from Verseilles on Monday, M. Sarkozy said that to veil or not to veil was not a religious issue, but one that dealt with the subjugation of Muslim women, and finally that "la burqa n'est pas la bienvenue sur le territoire de la République française," (the burqa is not welcome in the French Republic).
"In our country, we cannot accept women imprisoned behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all
identity. That is not our idea of dignity for a woman."

- Nicolas Sarkozy, translation by me from this article

It isn't, or often isn't, a strictly religious issue -- I'll give M. Sarkozy that. But his comments betray an enormous ethnocentrism on his part. Westerners tend to view the niqab, the burqa, and even the hijab as a restraint forcably imposed on Muslim women by their misogynist or mistrustful male relatives, garments that keep women in their subjugated place. However, Muslim women tend to have a very different view of the role of veils. Ladies, how many of you have noticed a marked increase in wolf-whistles, creepy compliments, and other generally pervy behaviour on the parts of strange men (frequently on public transit or at stoplights for some reason) during shorts-and-t-shirt weather? Muslim women have figured this out, and they've realized that shapeless clothing makes you invisible to creepy pervs. For them, being veiled is not about being subjugated or objectified -- rather the opposite. And they have different standards of what is considered appropriate. In the same way that you wouldn't wear short-shorts or a tube top to your job at the bank, Muslim women don't want to go around with their necks and hair hanging out there for just anyone to see.

That being said, M. Sarkozy has a badly-phrased point. The burqa "issue" is one that goes back -- last summer, a veiled Muslim woman was denied French citizenship. Although the report made little mention of her niqab, the media made much mention of it, suggesting that the xenophobic immigration officials just wanted to keep Muslims out of the country. However, the real reasons for citizenship denial were rather more alarming.
A report from a French government commissioner submitted to the council said the woman told officials she was unaware of her right to vote, and would only remove her veil after men left the room. "She lives in total submission to the men in her family ... and the idea of contesting this submission doesn't even occur to her," the government report said.

There is nothing wrong with denying citizenship to someone who is unaware of their right to vote. Citizenship is far more involved than merely living in a country. Citizenship requires civic, social, and cultural education. To become a citizen of a new country implies a willingness to learn about and fit into it. Not being aware of your right to vote could not be phoning it in more. If this woman wanted to be a French citizen, she could have at least glanced at the workbook.

Bearing in mind that citizenship means accepting and integrating into a new culture (not necessarily abandoning your old culture, but not just taking advantage of the economy and living standards of a new country), a case can be made for abandoning veils. Eye contact is extremely important in Western culture, and we become unnerved and a bit weirded out when we are speaking face-to-face with someone we can't identify visually. And yes, women who choose to wear the veil must understand that it is perceived very differently in the West and that there are some who are going to feel pity and assume that it is a sign of subjugation, no matter the actual reasoning behind it. Perhaps those who criticize M. Sarkozy for stigmatizing and marginalizing Muslims in France should consider that, by choosing to dress differently from the traditional garb of the country in which they have chosen to live, these women are marginalizing themselves.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bilingual sign analysis time

One of the things I love most about living in the Ottawa/Montréal area has to be examining the translation idiosyncrasies in bilingual signage. Nothing ever quite reaches Engrish levels, but there are sure some interesting translations nonetheless. Today's bilingual sign comes from the window of a Montréal city bus.

Indeed, 'twas but a partially-opening window.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The ignored abortion debate

Garson Romalis: Why I am an abortion doctor

The "abortion debate" between the left and the (frequently religious) right that centers on whether or not abortions should be legal is irrelevant when dealing with situations such as those described by Dr. Romalis. The pro-choicers versus the pro-lifers caught up in the issues of the right to life versus the right to choose what you do with your body (and any other smaller bodies which may be contained therein) is, philosophically, about as useful as whether or not war is a good idea. Very few people are pro-abortion. And of course, the legalities of the issue are not unimportant. But wars and abortions are going to happen whether they are legal or not. Theoretically, a woman does have the option to procure abortificants, or at least throw herself down the stairs or get a friend to punch her in the abdomen. No amount of legislation or pro-life ad space is going to change that. Sure, making safe abortions illegal might result in a few more unwanted, unhappy, impoverished babies being toted around by their unhappy, impoverished baby-mamas and -daddies, but it will definitely result in a lot more gruesome failed backalley or DIY abortions and dumpster babies.

The real issue is not abortion versus no abortion. It's safe, legal abortion versus horrifying deaths and illnesses resulting from illegal abortions. This is not about women being able to choose when to reproduce -- it's about women having access to proper physical and psychological care. Attacking abortion doctors because some women choose -- or are cornered into -- abortions is like attacking police officers because crimes have occurred.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pro-life murderers: a further exploration of mental deficits among select members of the Religious Right

There's been another abortionist shooting -- the first since 1998, but alarming nonetheless. The man was shot on a Sunday morning, while in church. I am sure that the pro-life groups, not to mention Jesus, are very proud of you, Mr. Roeder.

Probably the vast majority of people (most of those involved in pro-life groups included) can condemn this as anything from a really bad course of action to a crime against humanity. But, like many fundies in the near-theocratical USA, certain people have slightly disturbing views on the matter. From the New York Times article:
'Of Dr. Tiller’s death, Mr. Leach said, “To call this a crime is too simplistic,” adding, “There is Christian scripture that would support this."'

Oh. My. Fuck. For the benefit of Mr. Leach (and perhaps, unfortunately, others, who do not understand that disestablishmentarianism was one of the founding principles of America), let's review what "crime" really means.

Crime (noun):

1. An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction.
2. Unlawful activity: statistics relating to violent crime.
3. A serious offense, especially one in violation of morality.
4. An unjust, senseless, or disgraceful act or condition: It's a crime to squander our country's natural resources.

Apparently, Mr. Leach missed the part where it did not say, "An act not supported by Christian scripture. KJV only. Acts condemned by other religions still fair play." Because the act perpatrated by Mr. Roeder quite clearly fits definitions one through four (minus the stats bit).

Perhaps yet more disturbing were assassin Scott Roeder's apparent motive. You have to give credit, however begrudgingly, to someone who stands up for the defenseless and all that s/he believes to be good and right.
Someone named Scott Roeder posted a message on the Operation Rescue blog about Dr. Tiller that read, in part: “Tiller is the concentration camp ‘Mengele’ of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation.”

However, someone who's just trying to chuck a scapegoat on the flames in order to save his own ass from "judgement"? You know, Mr. Roeder, I am not sure that offing a guy in church is the best way to avoid God's wrath. Jokes aside, statements like the above are apalling all on their own, even without the accompanying murder.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The National Post has a sense of humour

After Michaëlle Jean's controversial seal heart eating shennanigans (which, in my opinion, was awesome on several levels) and Europe's heart-stopping horror, and all this being in the wake of the EU's seal product ban, the National Post has demonstrated an understanding of satire. NP blogger Matt Gurney today wrote part one of a (implicitly) series on the horrors committed by Europeans for the sake of cuisine. The first harmless, helpless creature? The snail.
    These helpless creatures' defences have proven no match for the cruelty of man. For thousands of years, they have been hunted and subjected to bizarre tortures before being consumed as a delicacy by heartless and out-of-touch Europeans.

I was as surprised as you and my officemates were to find this delightful bit right of the National Post's yellow banner, but there you have it. If we can expect more of the same from Mr. Gurney, I'll finally have more reason to read the Post than idle wondering about what the right-wingers are saying about things.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stop Banning Baby Seals!

So the EU wants Canadians to stop cruelty to animals -- well, the cute ones, anyway.

The EU has banned seal products, in a sense. They can still be imported and even sold, just not promoted or advertised. Basically, Europeans who want some sweet sealskin or delicious healthy seal oil now need to whisper discreetly to the shopkeeper and take their purchase home in a brown paper bag. The reasons for condemning the seal hunt are about as obvious as it gets: baby seals are freaking adorable.

Condemning the death of adorable animals is about as uncontroversial a statement as you can make (usually), roughly on par with declaring that you are in favour of world peace or fewer reality TV shows. This is probably why so many celebrities oppose the "seal slaughter".

However, the reasons for supporting the Atlantic seal hunt are rather more complex. Canada's 2007 export of seal products was worth about $13M, a small but nevertheless significant amount. An estimated five to six thousand people are to some degree employed in sealing during the season. Some say that the bans are really unnecessary and that a free market should decide the seal hunt's fate. But with its bad press, well, the fate of this industry does not look good. Imagine this:
JANE: Hey, I love your jacket.
SUE: Thanks, it is made from dead baby seals!
Sue may as well hang a dead puppy around her neck. (Also, Jane and Sue are speaking Norwegian since 80% of sealskin goes to Norway.)

Opponents of the seal hunt need to ask themselves exactly what makes the seals so special, other than the fact that they are cute. A (slew of studies) found clubbing to be the most effective way of rendering seals dead, or at least brain dead. The seal population is anything but endangered, with caps being set on how many seals can be caught each year (actual numbers often fall quite short of these caps). No one is issuing a ban on the live boiling of lobsters, a more ugly and delicious source of meat. Most non-Muslims couldn't care less about the cause of death of their hamburger, at least when there are no mad cow scares going around. And if people had decided that the fact that chickens running around after their heads are cut off was indicative of severe pain and cruelty, there would be quite a hole in the fast food industry. Hell, it looks like all these celebrities and Europeans care more about baby seals than, say, waterborded US war prisoners or Tamils caught between terrorists and government armies.

The biggest proponents of the seal hunt ban are, of course, the folks at PETA. For those of you who are unaware, PETA is the organization that tries to convince people that cruelty to animals is wrong because hot naked girls think it is wrong, and also think that using human breast milk as an alternative to cow's milk is more humane. The sophists over at PETA have invested significantly less energy in saving lobsters and political prisoners.

The people in parliament want the Canadian Olympic Team to incorporate sealskin into their uniforms to help the cause. Opponents say that this will unnecessarily politicize the games. Superficially, sure, it is a political statement. But really, while it might be controversial to those who can't see past a whitecoat's big dark eyes, is it really any more "political" than any athlete wearing or using his or her country's trademark products? To anyone who thinks logically, it's about as inhumane as serving maple syrup.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four-Twenty on the Hill

One of the many things that makes me feel proud to be a Canadian is the fact that I can sit in front of my nation's legislative building (as well as one of its prominent landmarks) and peacefully smoke marijuana without anyone bothering me.

Marijuana enjoys a degree of bad PR, being associated with stoners and potheads who spend so much time getting and being high that they are incapable of basic responsibilities like paying rent, or more benignly, hippies who enjoy their pot with dreadlocks, organic food, hackey-sack and clothing of questionable cleanliness. However, a surprisingly large number of "normal people" enjoy smoking the wacky tabacky as well, as the Reefer Madness stigma gradually wears off. Marijuana is smoked by students, young professionals, and celebrated Canadian author and journalist, the late Pierre Berton.

Every year on 4/20, Parliament Hill is crowded with a greater-than-usual RCMP presence, to bust up those who get out of line. The thing is, I have never seen anyone making trouble at 4/20. Sure, they do produce a lot of litter (mostly food wrappers and discarded Green Party literature), but the stoners aren't there to cause ruckus. They blow bubbles, play guitar and hackey-sack, throw frisbees, and sunbathe. They crowd (patronize) all food-serving establishments within about 1.5km of Parliament Hill. They are too mellow to get into fights or deface public property. And the RCMP, apparently, understands this, and leaves them alone, providing they are not openly consuming alcohol.

(Another possible explanation is that it's really not plausible to arrest a thousand 15-to-35-year-olds, no matter how obvious it is that they are all smoking dope.)

The cheer that goes up from the crowd on Parliament Hill when the Peace Tower clock strikes 4:20, followed by profuse coughing, is more than a demonstration to legalize marijuana. It's symbolic of what a great country we live in -- a country that is reasonable, a country that does not let baseless morality prevent its citizens from engaging in harmless recreation.