Lama?s strange friends
"Right-wingers love the Dalai Lama" reads the headline on your cover (NOW, November 8-14). Not just Bush and Harper, as Alice Klein documents, but even further right. Like Jesse Helms, the racist Cold Warrior former senator from North Carolina.
Helms courted the Tibetan spiritual leader in the mid-1970s because he figured he was part of the "world-wide anti-Communist movement."
Helms writes in his memoir Here's Where I Stand that "We have been friends now for many years."
So what was I doing reading a Jesse Helms memoir?
I was afraid you'd ask.
The editors of NOW write that I "crossed the line" by mocking the Dalai Lama's pidgin English in a satirical account of his North American tour and that I offended the many "hyphenated Canadians" who have trouble with English (NOW, November 8-14).
Their sensitivity is curious.
Why did they not object to my mockery, in the same piece, of Stéphane Dion's accent or the others we have mocked: Mahmoud Abbas, O. J. Simpson, Pope Benedict, Elizabeth May?
We even had Naomi Klein talking to herself on the toilet, and she writes in NOW.
Suddenly, NOW thinks we've disparaged every ESL student in the land?
If they'd kept closer watch, they might have seen my earlier six-part coverage of the Dalai Lama's tour, which involved a private 30-minute interview.
Compare the Post's coverage to NOW's - one rambling editorial that joked about the Tibetan Buddhist belief in reincarnation.
Am I the only person who was taken aback by the news that the Dalai Lama disagrees with homosexuality but agrees with heterosexuality (only for procreation of the species)?
Accenture on fairness
I want to provide some background information on Accenture's project with the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services referred to in Crash This Pad (NOW, November 8-14) - specifically, a claim by Josephine Grey that the project was baseless.
Accenture helped the ministry build a system to ensure that social assistance rules are applied fairly across the province so that individuals in the same circumstances are treated equally, and that recipients receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
The company did not receive any upfront payment and would not have received any payment had the new system not generated real savings for the province.
As of the last independent report in 2002, the project had delivered $692 million in savings, weeding out 42,000 ineligible cases, 25,000 overpayments and 8,000 underpayments.
By the end of 2005 the savings were estimated to be $700 million.
Media Relations, Accenture Canada
I'd like to commend NOW and Live With Culture for running such an amusing, smart and informative cartoon strip these last five weeks or so. I've been captivated by the Chester Brown Zombie series. I'm completely addicted.
I especially like how this story encompasses the diversity that is Toronto!
I hope this series is a long-lasting one - it's given me something new to look forward to with each edition of NOW, and I can't wait to see how the zombie-human love story plays out!
Snag in TTC's security
RE TTC's security breach (NOW, November 1-7) You raise some good points in your Reality Check about the TTC's plans to install cameras. One's missing, though. Citizens have the right to exist in a civil society in anonymity.
To institute this system, wouldn't the TTC first need every passenger's permission to film us?
Maybe we should ask for payment for being part of their big production.
Being a bookcrosser, I read Chasing Pages (NOW, November 1-7) with interest, and then with many loud guffaws.
Your writer doesn't even register the book she releases?
This is vital or you're missing the point. By registering the book (it's free, it's anonymous), you can follow the book's travels and sometimes connect with other book lovers.
A book I released in the UK has gone through 10 readers in two years. Perhaps your writer would have benefited from a visit to the wide-ranging, informative, fun, karmic Bookcrossing website.
Then she would have sounded half intelligent.
Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine
Pity the plow
RE Bank prophets (NOW, November, 1-7). Wayne Roberts notes that for thousands of years farmers have been "told to produce cheap food by underpaying themselves."
This is an interesting statement, because I have yet to encounter any person in any profession who does not believe he or she isn't underpaid. Indeed, the term "underpaid" is largely subjective.
Craig Laskey and Jeff Chen best club bookers (NOW, November 1-7)? I call bullshit on this.
While they may bring in the names (who already have established fan bases), I think you should be giving this honour to the smaller guys like Wavelength or Pitter Patter Nights.
Other people are actually out there building a scene, putting local indie bands on bills with lesser-known touring acts.
With so much over-saturation, indie bands face a difficult challenge trying to get anywhere in this city, and get nothing but love and support from the smaller guys, while Laskey et al. seem more interested in keeping bar sales up.
Fiesta fails the test
I was surprised that NOW chose Fiesta Farms as the best place to buy organic, citing the store's involvement in the Local Food Plus retailer program.
I agree that Fiesta Farms is a great place to shop, and a worthy cause to support within the chain-dominated grocery retail scene.
But as a dedicated shopper of organic foods, it's hard not to notice that Fiesta Farms has a relatively small selection of certified organic products.
I think we'd all agree that when shopping, the most sustainable choice is the one that's both locally produced and certified organic.
However, there is a distinction between the two, and there are times when we have to choose one over the other.
Being an organic producer is not a prerequisite to LFP certification.
Unfortunately, NOW's best place to buy organic selection only confuses the matter further.
Psych survivor stories told
On behalf of the members and supporters, I'd like to thank NOW for selecting the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project as best memorial in the Best Of Toronto issue.
Credit must be shared with the members of the Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto (PSAT), Among Friends members in the Lakeshore area and the local community history buffs, who all contributed time and labour to help improve the site.
The Ontario government has taken up the challenge to right past neglect to maintain and improve the cemetery for future generations.
Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project Toronto
it is sickening and absurd that in a country where we boast about our freedoms, we are free to wear a plastic poppy on our lapel but not to grow a single poppy plant in our own backyard. The irony is that this pain-relieving plant is illegal, and therefore lucrative for the Taliban, who are using the money they make from opium prohibition to kill more soldiers. Some freedom.
Medical Marijuana Licence Holder