Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Save a Life, Raise Your Insurance Rates

Here's an interesting, not so trivial factoid.

If you see this little guy here on the side of the road and he suddenly decides to jump out in front of you, the insurance companies in Ontario want you to hit him rather than swerve to avoid him and maybe end up in the ditch or hitting a tree.

Why? Because if you hit him, there's proof that an animal was involved in your collision. Therefore you're not at fault and your insurance rates won't rise. If you miss him, however, and hit a tree, you can't prove that there was a deer on the road. Therefore, it looks like and is treated as a single-car collision, and you (you compassionate, caring, deer-saver) are totally...100%...utterly...completely at fault.

(I hate to say it, but I can see the insurance companies' logic here. However, I'd still be doing my best to avoid hitting Bambi.)

(More Trivia: During mating season, early November, 65-70 deer are struck on the highways per day! Not sure if that's just Ontario, or all of Canada. Just Ontario I think.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Canada Post?


Try to figure this one out. I saw three of these driving in a convoy down the highway towards Hawgtown today. All of them had Minnesota licence plates. One of them was towing a car that had Michigan plates.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What's Bugging Me Now





A rough drawing of the bug climbing up my water bottle in the early morning.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Shipbuilding

Words & Music by Elvis Costello

Is it worth it
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy's birthday
It's just a rumor that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we'll be shipbuilding
Well I ask you
The boy said 'Dad they're going to take me to task
But I'll be back by Christmas'

It's just a rumor that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of this shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls

It's just a rumor that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks they'll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin
Once again
It's all we're skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls


Since I’m on anti-war songs. This one has always impressed me because it, too, is incredibly powerful and never once uses the word war.

Here’s what the website Songfacts says about it:
Elvis has said in interviews that this was written from the perspective of workers in British shipbuilding seaports during the buildup to England's war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982, an event that then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher seized (as most politicians would) in order to use the cacophony of nationalistic fervor to drown out the groaning sounds of a crumbling economy. The song is set in a region that's economically depressed, one where essentials like "a new winter coat for the wife" is hard to come by. But there's a "rumour" that the local shipyard will soon have work, building ships for a war. The townspeople want to be happy that they will soon have jobs, but it is at the expense of their own boys who must go fight the war. Chet Baker plays the mournful, lonely trumpet solo on this ballad. It is rumored to be Baker's last recorded performance.

The lines, “we will be shipbuilding, diving for dear life, when we could be diving for pearls”…these are priceless. And Costello repeats the diving for pearls line a couple times at the end, and leaves us hanging with an unresolved note.

Many of Costello’s songs are difficult. They’re not pure pop. They’re not always easy to sing along with. And this one certainly requires you to think.

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Words and Music: Eric Bogle.

Copyright: Larrikin Music, Sydney, Australia

    When I was a young man I carried my pack
    And I lived the free life of the rover.
    From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback
    I waltzed my Matilda all over.
    Then in nineteen fifteen the country said, "Son,
    It's time to stop rambling, there's work to be done."
    And they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun,
    And they marched me away to the war.
         And the band played Waltzing Matilda
         As our ship pulled away from the quay,
         And amidst all the cheers, flag-waving and tears
         We sailed off to Gallipoli.

    And how well I remember that terrible day,
    How our blood stained the sand and the water.
    And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
    We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
    Johnny Turk he was waiting, he primed himself well,
    He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell,
    And in five minutes flat he'd blown us all to hell,
    Nearly blew us right back to Australia.
         But the band played Waltzing Matilda,
         As we stopped to bury our slain.
         We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
         Then we started all over again.

    Now those that were left, well, we tried to survive
    In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
    And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive,
    But around me, the corpses piled higher.
    Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
    And when I woke up in me hospital bed
    And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead.
    Never knew there was worse things than dying.
         For I'll go no more Waltzing Matilda
         All around the green bush far and free,
         To hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs,
         No more Waltzing Matilda for me.

    So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
    And they shipped us back home to Australia.
    The armless, the legless, the blind and insane,
    Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
    And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
    I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
    And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
    To grieve and to mourn and to pity.
         But the band played Waltzing Matilda
         As they carried us down the gangway.
         But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
         Then they turned all their faces away.

    And so now every April I sit on my porch
    And I watch the parade pass before me.
    And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
    Reviving old dreams of past glory.
    And the old men marched slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
    They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war,
    And the young people ask,"What are they marching for?",
    And I ask meself the same question.
         But the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
         And the old men still answer the call.
         But as year follows year, more old men disappear,
         Someday no one will march there at all.

    Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
    Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me ?
    And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
    Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me ?

***

I can't listen to this song without having tears come to my eyes. This is one of the most powerful anti-war songs I know of. Eric Bogle says that the battle of Gallipoli marked the coming of age of Australia because it was the first time the Australian army had home-grown officers rather than British. Judging by the lyrics of the song, though, the results were not very positive. Nevertheless, the Aussies commemorate it still. ANZAC day, I think it's called. In April?

Two nations came of age in WWI, the other being Canada. Shame on me, though, I can't name the battle that applies to Canada...was it Dunkirk? Ypres? Passchendaele? Vimy? What's the difference, eh? A lot of men never went waltzing Matilda any more after any of them.

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