So I didn’t post my ‘big piece’ about the budget like I promised. My Grandma had major surgery last week, and I’ve been spending a couple of hours each day at the hospital. She’s doing about as well as can be expected, except she’s a bit confused.
I thought I would just share some links I’ve bookmarked over the past couple of days and a few thoughts where appropriate.
- I don’t normally ‘get into’ the Superbowl, but I couldn’t help it this year. Slate.com ran a piece called, “Cardinal Sin: Arizona’s presence in the Superbowl is a disgrace,” and it was then that I decided I would become a temporary Arizona Cardinals’ fan. After the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening 5-minute drive, which resulted in a touchdown, and the Cardinals’ ensuing two-and-out series, I thought the game might turn into a bit of a rout. So I kept it on in the background while I did a few other things. But, like usual, I was wrong. The game went right down to the final minute. There were many weird and obscure rules that factored into many 4th quarter plays that I didn’t understand – and didn’t like. For example, how can you reward a defensive team a safety when the offensive team gets a holding penalty in its own end zone? I don’t get it. Penalties should not reward the other team with points; they’re supposed to take away yards. And that was one of several rules I questioned. But I have to agree with another article Slate ran this week: deciding overtime games with a coin toss is beyond ridiculous.
- This one should be filed under, “I meant to link to this sooner.” The stunning John William-arranged piece played by Yo-Yo Ma and company was not played live at the inauguration. At first I thought, “Why?” But then I realized that this was not an Ashlee Simpson/every-other-pop-act case of lipsynching. The cold weather would have made it impossible to properly tune the instruments. When instruments are cold, they are flat, or under the pitch. I completely understand what they did and why they did it. And besides, we all know these talented instrumentalists can get it done live.
- This piece is just fascinating because it just seems crazy. Apparently all British Prime Ministers write what is known as a “Last Resort Letter,” a letter that is locked in a safe-within-a-safe deep under the sea in a British nuclear submarine. If Britain was to be annihilated by a nuclear attack, the captain of the nuclear submarine carrying this letter would open it and follow whatever directions the Prime Minister-of-the-day had left. You have to read it to believe it.
- Moving closer to home, it looks like Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is making a name for himself. The Globe reports that Ignatieff is the subject of a “fawning [New York] Times profile.” I haven’t read it yet, but it’s available here.
- This is a link from waaaaaaaay back in December. It’s an article from the Globe that talks about female sports reporters and beauty standards. It’s by no means an in-depth article, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about more and more as of late. This past football season, I don’t know how many posts I came across on various CFL websites that were ‘dedicated’ to the discussion of TSN’s female sports reporters; in some cases, the conversations were quite lewd. We’ve still got a long way to go, ladies.
- Lost in this week’s budget was a provision to end the pay equity process for women, the same provision that was in the Conservatives’ fall economic statement. In the wake of the statement’s other controversial, uh, statements (i.e. halt to party financing and public sector strikes), this very important bit was overlooked. In the government’s defense (I will never, ever, ever say that again), the government does not want to stop women from suing for pay equity, but it does not want it to go through the Canadian Human Rights Commission to do so; it wants unions and employers to handle the process. Uh, weren’t unions and employers the cause of the problem? How is giving the process back to employers going to solve anything? It’ll make it harder for women to gain pay equity because they will be dealing with the organization that stopped them from getting pay equity in the first place. Going through the HRC provides an objective eye, something that will not happen when the process it returned to unions and employers. As Janet Bagnall stated back in December, the Conservatives’ attack on pay equity strips its status “as a right to protection from discrimination.” Canadian women are still paid significantly less than men. A report by the Canadian Labour Congress from this past March showed that the wage gap between men and women had GROWN since the mid-1990s, down to 70.5% from 72%. What’s even weirder is that this week, President Barack Obama signed his first bill – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – which makes it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination. Previously, women had only 180 days to sue their employers. It’s very telling that Obama hand-picked this piece of legislation to sign as his first bill. I have not envied women in the US over past eight years, but I do now.
- One more link about women. My first reaction on hearing the budget this week was, “What does this have in it for women?” The money for infrastructure will mostly create jobs for men, as construction is a male-oriented profession. The Globe’s article on what the budget offers women is appropriately entitled, “Stimulus falls short for many women.”
- And finally, here are two vastly different takes on this week’s budget. Andrew Coyne proclaims it as the end of Canadian conservatism, and Paul Wells takes a more sarcastic approach. Wells’ ending comments on university funding sum it all up: money for everyone, but not for everyone. Sigh.