Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Westminster Abbey, the heart of the matter in Da Vinci Code London Posted by Picasa

Da Vinci Code

So the much hyped movie of the summer has hit the screens. This critic gives it three stars since it has some personal interest. See my great grandparents, William and Susanna Old, lived and died in the village of Roslin, location of Rosslyn Chapel. Susanna's dad owned Wright's the butcher on Main Street. Yep, Roslin is also where Dolly the cloned sheep first bleeted. Why is this corner of rural Scotland of such current interest? Some claim the chapel is connected with the hidden resting place of the Holy Grail. Whether or not there is actually a vault at the church I don't know, even though I was at the church last December. The builder of the chapel purportedly was an influential Knight Templar, descendant of those who defended Jerusalem after the First Crusade. He may consequently have been in on long held biblical secrets. Nice place to visit but maybe not this summer since the Da Vinci sleuths will be out in force. Oh yes, the Apprentice Pillar whose helices may duplicate DNA (before they became known to science), well apparently the master mason killed the upstart apprentice in a jealous rage.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Water, water every where but not a drop to drink. Niagara Falls, downstream of Love Canal. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Run to Rona

Rona Ambrose is the new Canadian Minister of the Environment. Apparently she will host the upcoming Kyoto Protocol II in Bonn. A fox in charge of the hen house. The Conservatives have made it clear, George Bush style, they want no part of the protocol despite Canada's ratification under the Liberals. So to-day she was in Regina meeting with provincial ministers of the Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources. And industry (private sector) reps. This is part of the so called "Made in Canada" solution. The topic most discussed, ethanol. Canada is to go from .5% to 5% ethanol content in transport fuel by 2010. Since at best ethanol is a marginal energy saver and, correspondingly, emissions reducer, (depending on the process it may be a net loss to the environment) what is behind this strategy? This is how I distill the question. What it does is provide for the USA, whom we are imitating, a measure of independence of fuel supply. Ethanol will substitute for imported oil and reduce vulnerability to political vagaries from the likes of the arab states, Venezuela etc. In the USA they use biomass such as starchy foods like corn. In Canada the source is to be starchy wheat varieties or imported US corn or, alternativley, cellulose derived from trees, grain stocks, or leaves . Brazil uses sugar cane and accounts for over 20% of its transport fuel needs with ethanol. The enzymes are expensive to develop, Ottawa's Iogen being a world leader. So is Ambrose using this dubious ethanol initiative to distract us from our government's Kyoto machinations? I am still learning about biofuels and have no clear opinion. But we can always run to RONA to solve our problems, as the home supply retailer claims in its ads. Ethanol is the flavour of the month. A couple of years ago the hydrogen economy looked to be our future.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Last night the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired my comments on their flagship program of tv evening news The National. The evening before they had run a five minute item on the research by an architectural archaeologist from Yale who has found what he claims to be evidence of Chinese settlement in Canada, Cape Breton Island on the Atlantic coast to be precise. If China indeed came to North America before Columbus there is some rewriting of history to be addressed! I made two submissions to the segment Your Turn, as follows, and then I quote the edited version they aired;

1. China had the means to explore beyond its territory long before 1492 and Columbus. It did not await to be "discovered" by the likes of Marco Polo. Zhang Qian travelled Central Asia and defined the eventual Silk Road for his Chinese emperor around 140 BC. Admiral Zheng He sailed to Africa with an impressive flotilla around 1400 AD. What is surprising about Professor Chiasson's findings is their location, on our Atlantic coast rather than our Pacific coast.

2. With respect to Professor Chiasson's findings, connecting the dots I now understand why Lachine is named as it is. When Champlain arrived at the rapids the Chinese were already there, unapologetically imposing a head tax. They had come from the West by rail which they had just built with great loss of life. As any Prairie dweller can affirm they were already proud owners of restaurants and laundromats all across the grasslands. Just think of the Sea Miles points Admiral Zheng He must have racked up getting here. Enough to earn a free Caribbean cruise I bet.

3. and this is what aired
"China had the means to explore beyond its territory long before 1492 and Columbus. It did not await to be "discovered" by the likes of Marco Polo. What is surprising about Professor Chiasson's findings is their location, on our Atlantic coast rather than our Pacific coast."
Colin Old, Ottawa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cup Fever

Yes it is spring, but I am not talking size Ds here. In the world of sport there are all kinds of noteworthy goings on. Lehmann gets sent off in Paris depriving the Gunners of the Champions League (formerly the Europen Cup), handing it to Barca. Even Henry in his hometown couldn't pot one. Meanwhile Scotland goes to Japan and takes the silverware in the Kirin Cup, certainly a competition known the world over if only since this shattering exploit. Only a tsunami would get more attention. Gretna are greeting after losing in extra time on penalties to the Jam Tarts at Hampden. They probably want to elope to England after that. I would grudgingly like Hearts if they hadn't beaten Motherwell so many times over the years. They are more of a nemesis than 'Gers or The Bhoys. Middlesborough were shameful and a disgrace to the English game. Damn if I didn't miss The Reds doing the business in Cardiff (tv rights not sold in Canada I guess). Sorry about that Steve, a dyed in the wool Hammer fan, my former teammate and roommate of Winnipeg Fort Rouge days (around the time of the model T and 'Ontiac our car which had the P kicked out of it). Scotland avoided the wooden spoon this year in the rugby with dramatic wins over France and England but not enough legs for Wales and Ireland. Italy doesn't count. Senators are in disgrace not unlike other political animals on the Ottawa scene. How many years in a row? Now Canada's team to coalesce around on the Stanley Cup quest is the outfit from Edmonton. Lets hear it Leafs, Sens and Hab fans. Start off slowly, don't choke (unlike your teams) and repeat after me; "Go Oilers Go, Go Oilers Go."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mao 70% Wight, 30% Wong Posted by Picasa

Mao, 70% Right?

To-day marks the 40th anniversary of the unleashing of the Cultural Revolution by the Great Helmsman. In 1981 Deng Xiaoping uttered what has become the Communist Party's official line concerning the author of not only the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) but also the Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s, "Mao, 70% right! 30% wrong!" The two cataclysmic events in themselves were responsible for best estimates of 60 million deaths. So where does one scrounge up the evidence to suggest 70% right? If you were to read the much talked about new book Mao: The Untold Story my guess is you would be hard pressed to come up with 30 wight, but hey I haven't coughed up the money for the book yet. He completed the epic Long March did he not (no taking the subway like that woman fraud in the Boston Marathon some years back) and he fought the Japanese occupation and was one with the peasants? Well maybe not, to all three. To be explored.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Envier des etres que l’on méprise, il y a dans cette honteuse passion de quoi empoisonner toute une vie.........

Est-il possible, pendant pres d’un demi-siecle, de n’observer qu’un seul coté de la créature qui partage notre vie? Se pourrait-il que nous fassions, par habitude, le tri de ses paroles et de ses gestes, ne retenant que ce qui nourrit nos griefs et entretient nos rancunes? Tendance fatale a simplifier les autres; élimination de tous les traits qui adouciraient la charge, qui rendraient plus humaine la caricature dont notre haine a besoin pour sa justification... Peut-etre Isa vit-elle mon trouble?
Source; Francois Mauriac, Le Noeud de Viperes (sorry about some missing accents)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mary My Scotch Bluebell, Aylmer, Quebec Posted by Picasa