Friday, October 12, 2012

Joanne's Journal: October 12, 2012

Edition No. 10


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run

- John Keats (1795-1821), English poet
From To Autumn [1820}

If I lived in a warm or tropical climate, I would really miss autumn and the changing of the leaves. Some would say that's a small price to pay to live in Hawaii or the Caribbean.  I have met people from Uganda who had never seen a maple tree or autumn colours.  I guess it all evens out, though.  I have only seen a banana tree once in my life, in Mexico.  I first set eyes on an olive tree in Italy in 1996 even though I have always had an affinity for olives (It must be my Sicilian ancestry).



Beginning on October 12, 1810, the first Oktoberfest took place in Bavaria and the occasion was a royal wedding.  The good citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later King Ludwig I) to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  Five days after the October 12 nuptials, an estimated 40,000 Bavarians gathered in a field outside the gates of Munich to watch a horse race and join in festivities.  The horse race proved so popular that the royal family held it again the next year.  In 1819, responsibility for the festivities was transferred from the royal family to the city of Munich.

The horse race continued until 1950.  The meadow where Oktoberfest is held now is known as Theresnwise or Wiesn in honour of Princess Therese.



Whatever you think of him, Justin Trudeau's entry into the Liberal leadership contest has given Canadian politics a much-need jolt of energy.  Where Justin's concerned, Canadians have seen plenty of sizzle - now he has to show us the steak.  It's not a matter of age.  Trudeau is 40 years old.  He will turn 41 on Christmas Day.  In 1979,  when Joe Clark, became Canada's 16th prime minister, he was one day shy of his 40th birthday.  To be eligible for the office of president of the United States, an American must attain the age of 35. So Justin is not too young at all to lead his party or to become prime minister. It's just that with his wavy, tussled hair, the boyish Trudeau appears younger than his age. Joe Clark, on the other hand, did not have a boyish appearance when he was in politics.

Is it a matter of experience?  Well, Justin Trudeau has been a Member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Papineau for four years, since October of 2008.  He worked diligently to oust that riding from its Bloc Quebecois incumbent, Vivian Barbot, by less than 1,200 votes.  In the 2011 election, Trudeau won re-election by a greater margin.

The Conservatives have been in office since 2006, so Justin has always been an opposition MP.  He has never had the opportunity to serve a s a cabinet minister as did his father, Pierre, who held the post of Justice Minister before becoming Leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada.  The younger Trudeau would have benefited greatly by having cabinet experience.  Remember, however, that Brian Mulroney had never held public office when he was chosen leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1983.

What about his oratorical skills?  Justin is, of course, fluently bilingual.  His voice is clear but his presentation is somewhat theatrical.  He needs to tone it down a bit.

Justin's last name has been both a help and a hindrance to him.  It has brought him recognition and attention that he would otherwise not have received.  Yet he must greater scrutiny because of his name and he must endure  constant comparisons to his father or accusations that he has risen on his father's coattails.  Some have been tougher on him because they don't want him to have a free ride.  Others have been easier on him because of their admiration for his father.

Conservative critics such as Michael Coren have delighted in describing Justin Trudeau as a former "substitute drama teacher."  The fact is that he worked as a social studies and French teacher at West Point Grey Academy and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver.  Yes, he did teach some drama. Is there something wrong with that. or do far-right conservatives not regard teaching as an honourable profession?  Even though Trudeau has considerably more political experience than Brian Mulroney did when he became Tory leader, Mulroney had a business background and not a background in education.

After six years of Stephen Harper and his brand of neo-conservatism, Canadians are more than ready for a fresh approach and different policies.  If this were a contest based on charisma alone, Justin Trudeau would win hands down.  It's not.  He has great potential and may develop into a wonderful leader.  His future is in his own hands and he's really going to have to demonstrate his worthiness, perhaps because of his name and his fathers' political history.  It's quite a challenge for Justin to be his own man while being the scion of an iconic political figure.  How does one separate oneself from one's DNA without disowning his entire legacy?

Justin Trudeau should not be given a coronation and I hope that someone such as Marc Garneau gives him a tough battle.  On the other hand, he should not be underestimated and cavalierly dismissed as a lightweight. Canadians will know more once he really spells out his ideas and his polices.


U.S. President Barack Obama's performance in the first televised debate was indeed a disappoint.  Obama himself is quite aware of that.  For some reason, he was really off his game that night.  He seemed distracted and nervous, as if he really didn't want to be there,  As a result, he did not challenge Mitt Romney's distortions of the facts.  Nor did he hold him to account for his infamous 47 percent speech.  Thankfully, Joe Biden was much stronger in his debate with Paul Ryan.  I'm expecting Obama to be much more effective in his second debate with Romney on Tuesday, October 16th.


How much was the pirate charged to get his ears pierced?


A buck an ear.



Americans are too busy watching the World Series and NFL football to care about hockey.  Apart from some fans in the northern states, the absence of NHL hockey bas been barely noticed in the United States. Hockey has certainly not been missed a great deal south of the border. If NHL players are still locked out after the Super Bowl has been played, Americans may take notice, but they won't be terribly upset.  Even here in hockey-crazy Canada, I sense that people don't care as much about the NHL as they used to.  Gary Bettman and his cohorts have seen to that.

Bettman has been commissioner of the National Hockey league since February 1, 1993, almost 20 years.  The owners are quite pleased with him because he promotes and defends their interests vigorously. If that were the one major task of an NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman would be an overwhelming success.   It's too bad he isn't as vigorous about upholding the best interests of the game of hockey.


I don't have a strong allegiance to any team remaining in World Series competition;  If I had to make a choice, I would like to see the Detroit Tigers win it all.  I don't want to see the Yankees win it.  They have won too many times.

The Toronto Blue Jays are once again looking to next year after a disastrous 2012 season.  After watching the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals, as a Blue Jay fans long for a season like those two teams had.  I'm pleased that GM Alex Anthopolous has finally realized that his team's starting rotation is far from satisfactory and that the Blue Jays will not contend until it improves.  I don's pretend to be an expert (not by a long shot), but it was painfully obvious during the 2011 off season that the Jays' starting rotation would not cut the mustard.  Nobody could have predicted Ricky Romero's meltdown.  Yet even if Romero had performed well, it would not have been enough for the Blue Jays to contend.  The Jays finished the season with a mere 73 wins, their lowest single-season total since 2004.  Even if the team had had fewer injuries and Brandon Morrow had remained healthy, they probably would have won between 80 and 85 games.  That's not enough to contend in the AL East.

As for the John Farrell situation, going to be difficult to demonstrate confidence in him without extending his contract.  Yet he has really not merited a contract extension.

- Joanne

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