Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

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12 January 2006
Filed under:Current Affairs (Canada) at11:27 am

Canada is not merely not a page turner but even a socially acceptable synonym for boredom among otherwise apparently open-minded people. Why should this be? The same people who perk up at the mere mention of Palestine, or who become instantly animated over Venezuela, show more interest in the drying of paint than about Canada.

A Guardian columnist recently tried to get Brits interested in Canada – more particularly the upcoming election – but spent two thirds of his column making fun of Canada’s dullness and the remaining third completely misinterpreting the current Canadian political situation (does anyone really think that if Harper does win (God forbid) it would mark a true Conservative revival?)

23 May 2005

Having decided on a Dell Latitude 410 in the end (see comments to earlier post), I went online to Dell Canada to see what they would charge and found it would actually cost me 20% more to have my parents buy it there (never mind the cost of them getting it to me from there etc). Bizarrely, for example, they charge about 75 pounds for delivery in Canada… Of course I qualify for the education discount here which helps.

4 April 2005

A “fellow ex-pat Canadian”:http://www.claritycp.com/exec_profile_jb.html lent me a book – “Mondo Canuck”:http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0132630885/qid%3D1112610903/702-9110123-7216867 which made me feel more Canadian than I had in years. It’s a compendium of Canadian popular culture which sparked many memories. I found myself indulging in a favourite Canadian recreation – looking for famous people and organizations I didn’t realise were Canadian and I was also reminded that I am (loosely) connected to several Canadian phenomena.

  • My parents live in Oakville for example so I knew all about the importance of nearby “Sheridan College”:http://www1.sheridaninstitute.ca/ for Hollywood’s animation industry but I also know several people who worked at “Alias”:http://www.alias.com/ – animation software giant – including “Reid Ellis”:http://rae.tnir.org/ who used to host this blog.
  • Another friend of mine – “Harald”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/ – (present host of this blog) knows several of the people from the bizarre Canadian comedy sensation “Kids in the Hall”:http://www.kithfan.org/ (I met them once).
  • I serialised “Douglas Coupland”:http://www.coupland.com/’s excellent early novel “Microserfs”:http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.01/microserfs.html in a computer magazine I worked on and my mother knows his aunt.
  • Now that I am a media studies academic I feel as if I have some connection to “Marshall McLuhan”:http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-342/life_society/mcluhan/ as well – if only because a friend of mine has studied him extensively and I recently attended two lectures on his work.
  • I went to the “same college at university”:http://www.trinity.utoronto.ca/ as “Atom Egoyan”:http://www.egofilmarts.com/ and “Michael Ignatieff”:http://ksgfaculty.harvard.edu/Michael_Ignatieff (though not at the same time).

    Mondo Canuck is a fascinating book for Canadians of all ages to thumb through but, despite being endorsed by Citizenship Canada, is out of print.

16 December 2003

Isabel Vincent at Canada’s National Post has gone to Kosovo four years after the war and finds it a mess, with ethnic cleansing continuing (of Serbs by Muslim extremists) and drug and people smuggling:

“More than 80% of Western Europe’s heroin comes through Kosovo, where several drug laboratories have been set up, Interpol officials say.”

The sources are more than a little one-sided – anonymous Interpol officials and a lot of data provided by a Serb diplomat (as well as an ex-Canadian ambassador) but it’s certainly not encouraging.

Let’s not forget about the former Yugoslavia while we try to take care of things in Iraq and Afghanistan (and numerous other countries around the world…)

22 August 2003

Foreign Policy and the Centre for Global Development have produced an interesting “generosity league table” which balances rich countries’ aid, trade, investment and environmental policies to measure their overall effect on poorer nations. (I think it’s a mistake to put in a measure of environmental impact alongside the other straight economic measures, but let that pass).

Japan, which I always thought of as one of the good guys (it was until recently the largest foreign aid donor) turns out to be at the bottom of their league table because they don’t welcome foreign goods or workers and the large past aid loans are balanced by large debt repayments by poor countries.

Turns out the most generous countries are Denmark and the Netherlands and (to my surprise) Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland. The UK is, “Consistently middling across categories, and dead center—11th—in the overall standings” while Canada’s extensive participation in peacekeeping operations is undercut by low aid and high greenhouse gas emissions – it ends up just 18th out of the 21 countries surveyed. The US is second lowest of developed countries – only Japan scores worse.

Of course you could change the weightings and come up with a different league table but still I think this table is thought provoking.one monitoring 3 in creditscore one 3 credit inneed credit american consumerstax 2007 federal creditaccreditation healthand credit services education americaneducation accounting credit5 card credit start Maptechnician psychiatric in schools california accreditedonline aba degree accredited lawcredit affinity in mn unionsunion utah america ogden credit firstchase aarp card credit bankarea cosmetic accredited in bay dentistveterinarian at-home degrees accreditedcredit american personal card express Map

4 August 2003

There are several sites available to let you compare your favourite nations to one another online. Each has its merits and specialties so if you don’t find what you want from one, try one of the others.

NationMaster – the one I found out about most recently – lets you look at statistics in hundreds of different categories. Earlier I found the similar Your Nation.com – which relies on rather old CIA Fact Book data (1998) – and the UN’s “Infonation” aimed particularly at schoolkids which has a somewhat eccentric navigation system and a shorter list of countries to compare. It’s a pity someone doesn’t make a comparative database like these but which is dynamically linked to the latest sources of information – these while interesting will become increasingly out of date.

If you want to dig deeper Offstats provides a database of links to official statistics from several countries across the Internet, but without the whizzy direct comparison engine.

One key measure missing is the UN’s ever-popular quality of life (“Human Development”) index (report / index in PDF form). Of course how you score a country depends on what you value – one could come up with a different ranking with different criteria – but it’s always interesting to see how different countries fare. Canada long valued its top position through much of the 1990s (it dropped to 8th this year – behind the US(!)) and I notice the EU is blowing its own trumpet with six of the top ten countries.

The State Department’s assessment of the cost of living in many world cities is also entertaining, though it seems to find most places more expensive to live in than Washington DC which suggests to me that the “basket” of goods and services they use to generate the index is a little skewed.

Thanks to Eszter for the NationMaster linkringtone amber pacificcode nokia ringtone 3390650 free midi ringtone treoctu tv 24 show ringtoneringtone composer free nokia 3310ringtone blackberry 7290free 8390 download nokia ringtonedownload ringtone mosquito alarm Mapringtone nokia 33608700c ringtonephone ringtones alcatel cellfree absolutely ringtone sprintfor mp3 verizon agency ringtonesringtones alltel funnyringtone palm treo 6007600 nokia ringtones Map

23 April 2003
Filed under:Current Affairs (Canada),Personal at9:18 pm

I was talking a day or two ago to my parents who live in Oakville, a small town just outside Toronto and they said they were not going into the city because of fear of SARS. I thought at the time they might be over-reacting a bit but it seems both the World Health Organization and the UK government are recommending that travellers stay away from Toronto! Needless to say the mayor is not happy about this.

I tend to be pretty phlegmatic about these kinds of media panics but now I’m starting to worry a bit – lots of my friends live in the city. Though they’ve exchanged a few emails about SARS they don’t seem too concerned yet. I hope they stay safe!3360 ringtones nokia for free polyphonicnokia downloads ringtone 3588i freemotorola 5 ringtone composer linkringtone 3390 phone cell nokia freedownload ringtone free nokia 3588i6102i nokia ringtonesamsung ringtone a920the field across ringtone Mapmerchant account texas credit accept carddvd architect using add creditsloan with horrible credit aaccept credit gasoline cardmasters online degree accreditedmerchant credit account florida card bankcashback credit 4 cardstatistics report credit african-american Map

19 November 2002

You know those Switch to Apple ads? Well some’s done a John’s Switch to Canada one. It’s no I’m Canadian but it is amusing nonetheless.

I suppose I could do a “Switch to England” ad but 1) it would be very un-English to do one (just as it is un-Canadian to beat that drum) and 2) I quite enjoy being Canadian sometimes…