January 31, 2013

"Investigate some abortions as homicides"? Um, not exactly

I have just read what may very well be the most egregiously slanted writing on an abortion-related news story that I have ever seen—and that's saying something.

The headline on the CBC Web site reads: "Investigate some abortions as homicides, Tory MPs ask RCMP." Similar headlines have been published all over Canada, as Google News indicates, since the original story comes from the Canadian Press.

Here are the salient points from the CBC article:

Three Conservative MPs want the RCMP to investigate any abortions performed after 19 weeks in Canada as possible homicides.

The MPs from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario make the request in a letter on House of Commons letterhead to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.

In the letter, the MPs say abortions performed at 20 weeks gestation or later breach Section 223a of the Criminal Code. . . . (emphasis added)

A longer version of the story from The Huffington Post includes:

In their letter, the MPs wrote that between 2000 and 2009 there were 491 abortions performed on Canadian women who were pregnant for longer than 19 weeks. They contend that at this stage of gestation, the abortions involved live babies.

"These are vulnerable, innocent children that homicide has been perpetrated on," Vellacott said Thursday from Ottawa.

The comments sections of the various papers make the predictable response the 3 MPs are morons, are trying to bring Canada back to the Stone Age, "My Body My Choice," yada yada yada. Many commenters claim that late-term abortions are illegal. In fact, there is no law whatsoever regulating abortions in Canada: they can be performed at any time, for any reason.

However, the CBC site did something that none of the other news outlets did that I saw: they included a copy of the actual letter. Addressed to RCMP commissioner Richard Paulson, and sent in the names of MPs Maurice Vellacott (using his letterhead), Leon Benoit, and Wladyslaw Lizon, the letter reads, in part:

Recent public reports have revealed the possibility of numerous breaches of the Criminal Code—to be specific, homicides—in Canada which need to be investigated.

These killings appear to have started out as attempted abortions, but the babies were born alive. At the blog, Run With Life, you will learn: "From 2000 to 2009 in Canada, there were 491 abortions, of 20 weeks gestation and greater, that resulted in live births. This means that the aborted child died after it was born. . . .

According to the Criminal Code, a child is considered to be a human being and a person after proceeding fully from the mother's womb, therefore, based on Section 223(2) of the Criminal Code, there should be 491 homicide investigations or prosecutions in connection with these deaths.

Nothing in the CBC's article mentions that the real thrust of Messrs. Vellacott, Benoit, and Lizon's letter is the alleged practice of allowing live human beings to die after they have been born and become a human being (by legal definition) during a failed abortion. Had the abortions been carried out successfully, and the fetuses died, they would have been perfectly legal. As it is, however, if these born human beings were allowed to die through neglect, then there are 491 cases of culpable homicide that ought to be investigated and, if necessary, charges filed.

And yet the CBC set the actual letter side-by-side with the slanted CP story, and never noticed the disconnect between claim and reality. Your tax dollars at work.

January 29, 2013

Those precious words keep me hangin' on

For the third week running, Men at Work's "Down Under" owned the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 29, 1983.

Meanwhile, the latest single from Phil Collins was rising up the chart. On the 29th, it was at #11, and it would peak a week later at #10, although it had already been a #1 hit on the UK charts. It was Collins' cover of the Supremes' hit, "You Can't Hurry Love":

The video, though somewhat awkward in execution (this was after all, the early 80s, and music video production was still at the toddler stage), is great in concept. Collins can certainly channel his inner Diana Ross!

January 26, 2013

Superman Saturday: On the sidewalk, sunny morning, lies a body oozin' life

It has been several months—nearly a year, actually—since we last tuned in to The Adventures of Superman. So here I am, on this chilly January day, cappuccino by my side, to bring us up to speed before digging into the continuation of "Donelli's Protection Racket."

The story so far

Episode 1 of "Donelli's Protection Racket" marks the debut of Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen, the Daily Planet's 14-year-old copy boy. Jimmy confides in Clark Kent that his mother's candy store is being shaken down by local racketeer, Chip1 Donelli, for protection money. After hiding in the store when Donelli's collector, Spike, arrives (and getting a punch on the jaw for his pains), Clark changes to Superman and follows Spike back to Donelli's hideout. Superman beats Donelli until he hands over all the protection money the Olsens have paid, then leaves.

In retaliation, Spike and another goon ambush the Olsens in a dark street after they close the store and go home. Superman arrives just in time to rescue them, As Clark, he promises to expose Donelli in the newspaper, and calls Lois Lane to sit with Mrs. Olsen, who passed out during the attack. After he leaves, Donelli calls the house posing as Clark, luring Lois and Jimmy out of the house . . .

Episode 29: Donelli's Protection Racket, Part 3 (1940/04/19)


Clark informs editor Perry White what is going on, and White heartily approves of his exposé on Donelli's extortion racket. Amusingly, he launches into a rather jingoistic tirade about how people like Donelli don't deserve to live in a democracy, and are more deserving of life under a dictator with concentration camps. You can almost hear "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" playing in the background if you listen closely enough. (Historically, of course, World War II had then been raging for nearly 8 months, and although the United States would not get directly involved in combat for another year and a half, clearly the scriptwriters had some strong opinions about Hitler and friends.)

Just then, Jimmy rushes in and reports that Lois Lane has been captured by Donelli's men, though he didn't fall for the ruse and escaped. Clark quickly makes himself scarce, and jumping out of a handy window (yay!), streaks away to Donelli's house to try and rescue Lois. In Donelli's office, he grabs an unfortunate goon and tries to beat Donelli's location out of him, but before he talks, the goon dives out a third-story window to his demise. Noticng a crowd gathering, Superman escapes out the back.

One of these days, I'm going to throw together a sort of damage tote board for Superman: running up his body count, number of crimes he commits, and so forth. When you were raised on the Silver Age or later incarnation of the character, it's quite surprising to hear these old programs and realize that Supe wasn't always the Big Blue Boy Scout. And, it bears repeating: This is a kids' program, too.

Clark reports back to Perry White that Lois wasn't at Donelli's hideout. "How do you know?" demands White? "I, uh, just have a hunch," Clark backtracks. Perry wants to notify the police, but Clark talks him out of it in case something bad happens to Lois. Why is it, again, that no one manages to catch on that Clark Kent is really Superman? Although later characterizations portray him as a super-genius, here he just doesn't seem all that swift. He's been on earth for all of two months (in radio time), during which he's obviously managed to get a job and forge an identity for himself, but he still can't lie too convincingly. (Kids' program, kids' program.) Fortunately for Clark's alibi, the phone rings. It's Chip Donelli calling for Clark: "Is this Clark Kent of the Daily Planet?" he asks. "No, this is Clark Kent of the Gotham Gazette. You must have dialed the wrong newspaper," Clark doesn't answer. Superman is surrounded by morons. That must be how he gets away with such a transparent disguise.

Donelli threatens harm to Lois if anything about him gets printed in the paper, then hangs up. White, eavesdropping on another phone, has traced the call to a drugstore in the town of Little Falls. Clark makes a move to leave, but White and Jimmy both insist on going as well, thus putting the kibosh on any immediate Super-escapades.

At midnight, in a forest cabin outside Little Falls, Donelli and Spike wonder what's happened to someone named Tony, who should have been with them by then. I guess Tony is the goon who took the swan dive into Donelli's driveway. "Maybe he had a flat," suggests Spike. Ha ha, macabre dramatic irony! They have Lois tied up in a back room, but Spike unwisely left a briefcase full of incriminating paperwork in the room with her. They discover that Lois has managed to escape out a window, and taken the briefcase with her. Spike accidentally knocks over a kerosene lantern, setting the cabin and the woods on fire.

Will Lois survive the fire with the incriminating briefcase?

Can Clark, Jimmy, and Perry White get to her in time?

Will we ever hear from Lois, or will she be in the third person for the entire serial?

The answers to these questions, and more, coming soon!

Episode 30: Donelli's Protection Racket, Part 4 (1940/04/22)


While their cabin and the surrounding woods burn, Donelli and Spike escape in their car. To make sure no one can put out the fire, which will destroy all the evidence of their crimes, Donelli has blocked the road with a large tree, booby-trapped with explosives. Then they are stopped by a tire blowout. At that moment, Perry White pulls up in his car (with Jimmy and Clark along for the ride) and asks directions to Little Falls. Donelli, recognizing Clark, decides to head back to Little Falls hoping to "knock off" the whole lot of them.

White and company pull up at a gas station to ask further directions, and the curmudgeonly attendant is able to give them the exact location of Donelli's cabin, inform them that the road is blocked, and confirm that Lois was with them (though they apparently left her behind at the cabin. Clark decides to walk to the cabin and rescue Lois, while White drives off to the nearest phone to call the police, and Jimmy stays at the gas station to watch the road in case Donelli and Spike come back. Clark instructs the gas curmudgeon to fire his gun into the air if Donelli's car comes back.

Clark changes to Superman and flies to Donelli's roadblock—a three-foot-diameter, 70-foot-long tree. Trying to throw it clear, he accidentally triggers Donelli's booby trap (which, fortuitously, throws the tree clear of the road).

As three gunshots boom out, Perry White pulls up in his car, and asks Clark (now back in his civvies) if he has seen Jimmy, who has left the gas station to follow Clark to the cabin. They realize that he has probably gotten lost in the woods, and with the fire spreading and Donelli on his way back, Perry and Clark start searching for him . . .

Will Perry and Clark rescue Jimmy in time?

Will Perry and Clark rescue Jimmy in time to rescue Lois?

Will Lois ever put in a personal appearance, or is "Donelli's Protection Racket" a juvenile fantasy adventure version of Waiting for Godot?

These two episodes present the Man of Steel at his most boneheaded since the North Star Mining Corporation story, in which he basically saved the day by accident. Most notably, he allows a goon to fall to his death rather than give up information that, as it happens, Perry White was able to get by tracing a phone call. Also, we are now four episodes into this serial—one hour of airtime, with commercials—and the co-star, Lois Lane, is still being only spoken of rather than heard, despite being a crucial part of the plot. I can only guess that Helen Choate, the actress who portrayed Lois for most of 1940, was on holidays that week.

Next week: The exciting story of Chip Donelli's protection racket concludes. Find out if Lois and Jimmy die!


1 Upon a repeat listening of this story, I'm becoming convinced that Donelli's actual first name (or nickname) is "Gyp," rather than "Chip." In the interests of political correctness, I'm going to stick with "Chip," for consistency. These Superman stories have enough bad ethnic stereotypes without adding to them. (Besides, "Roma" Donelli doesn't really have quite the same mellifluence.)

Is there a Bible study on, or something?

I just looked over my blog stats for the last month, and found, much to my surprise, that the most-viewed post on the site was this one.

If you don't want to click on the link, the basic gist of it is this: a quotation of Nehemiah 6:1–9, with a brief comment from me about its "certain amount of relevance to some Top News Stories."

That was August, 2005. More than seven years later, I have no clue which Top News Stories were current at the time, so I have no idea what this post meant—and, hence, even less of a clue why this relatively content- and context-free post would suddenly be so popular. I can only guess someone preached on Sanballat and Tobias. Hm.

January 24, 2013

And now . . . this - Jan. 24/12

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die."

The infamous line from "The Princess Bride" has been repeated the world over by fans of the cult classic but some Aussies on a Qantas flight on Sunday didn't appreciate the humor.

Wynand Mullins boarded his Sydney flight wearing a T-shirt with the movie quote and was asked to change his attire after his fellow passengers complained that they felt threatened.

[Full Story]

Unless they've got six fingers on their right hand, what's the problem?

And inside they have Richard the Lionheart, encased in carbonite

Lego has been accused of racism by the Turkish community over a Star Wars model that supposedly resembles one of Istanbul’s most revered mosques.

Austria’s Turkish community said the model was based on Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul and that the accompanying figures depicted Asians and Orientals as people with "deceitful and criminal personalities."

The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria released a statement calling for Lego to apologise for affronting religious and cultural feelings.

The anger was provoked by "Jabba’s Palace," a model of the home of Jabba the Hutt from Lego's Star Wars product range based on the blockbusting series of science fiction films.

[Full Story]

Yet one more item to add to the List of Things Offensive to Muslims, along with humorous drawings of the False Prophet Mohammed, ice cream, Nike shoes, Bluetooth, rape victims, cucumbers and tomatoes: Lego models of fictional buildings having a superficial resemblance to a church they stole from the Christians.

January 23, 2013

Carleton U.: where the stupid goes in before the student goes out

Oh, not again.

I have lost count of the number of times this has happened, but yet one more time, Last Chance U. has beclowned itself thanks to the authoritarian moonbattery of its student leadership.

Arun Smith isn't a member of the Carleton University Students' Association, but he could have been. Last year, the "seventh-year human rights student" ran for election to a councillor's seat from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). In his candidacy video, he promised to create "inclusive, open spaces that are safe spaces, where every voice is empowered and every student's voice is heard."

Fast-forward to Monday, when the Carleton Students for Liberty erected a "free speech wall"—basically a freestanding plywood wall covered with paper—in the Unicentre to promote the free competetition of ideas.

Some time between November and Monday, Arun Smith must have had a change of heart about inclusiveness and hearing every student's voice, because he took it upon himself to destroy the wall, then boast about it in a ponderous manifesto on Facebook with the byline "Arun Séamus Surinder Smith." I'm guessing either that his parents didn't contemplate the implications of his given names' initials, or that they can see the future.

January 22, 2013

What do you want?

Men at Work's "Down Under" continued to top the Billboard hot 100 on January 22, 1983.

January 20, 1983 was the release date of Def Leppard's third album, Pyromania. This album, which made the hard-rock band into a household name, is 30 years old.

Personally, I don't feel that Pyromania is as accessible as its 1987 followup Hysteria, but it's still quite listenable. Of course, the best track on the album is "Rock of Ages."

This is the one time in your life that you will see bad hair, tight pants, Union Jack boxers, a giant glowing sword, and chess, all within 4 minutes. Unless you watch it twice.

And now . . . this - Jan. 23/12

A Canadian man who opened fire on a Philippine courtroom today — killing two and wounding another, before dying in the shooting violence — carried a Canadian passport but was born in the U.S., police say. . . .

Pope was in court to face illegal possession of firearms and other charges in central Cebu City, where he lived, when he pulled out a gun.

[Full Story]

The prosecution rests, Yeronner.

January 19, 2013

Enter: The Saint

As I mentioned on New Year's Eve, one of my better discoveries last year was The Saint. I was (vaguely) familiar with the old British TV series starring Roger Moore, having seen a few episodes now and then. But it wasn't until late last summer that I learned the Saint was a full-fledged media empire.

The Saint began as a series of novels and short stories by Chinese-British author Leslie Charteris, featuring his Robin Hood-like thief-detective, Simon Templar (aka the Saint). The first began with Enter—The Tiger!, published in 1928. Charteris wrote Saint stories until 1963, after which his name was used for many collaborations by multiple authors, until 1986. In the meantime, it spawned several movies, comic books, two TV series, and a radio serial.

Apart from the novels, it was the radio series that intrigued me most—especially after I discovered that amongst the several voice actors to play the debonair Saint was the legendary Vincent Price, somewhat before he became known for his roles in ironic horror movies. Mainly, though, what kept me interested was the dialogue. The writers have a certain flair for witty repartee, which is also the reason I'm such a big fan of the Coen brothers' films and Decoder Ring Theatre. Here is a wonderful bit of banter from an episode titled "Nineteen Santa Clauses" (which is dated in 1947, but I strongly suspect that not to be the case):

[The Saint is in his apartment, where he has changed into a Santa outfit for a charity event. His friend Louie the cabbie has come to pick him up. They are interrupted by a blonde with a gun.]

Blonde: Get in.

Louie: I'm already in!

Blonde: Back up.

Louie: Backin' up.

Blonde: Now reach, gents.

Saint: You know, that gun in her hand looks loaded.

Louie: Now that you mention—

Blonde: Reach!

Saint: For what?

Blonde: Uh, er, for the chandelier!

Saint: Can't.

Blonde: Why not?

Saint: No chandelier.

Blonde: Oh, a wise guy, huh?

Saint: If you're going to shoot me, I insist on knowing your name.

Blonde: Uh, just call me Sally.

Saint: Sally. And your last name?

Sally: Never mind that! How would you like to get plugged in the—in the—

Saint: Breadbasket?

Sally: Where?

Saint: Oh, let's pass lightly over that. I wouldn't like to get plugged anywhere!

Sally: Then shut up.

Saint: All right.

Sally: Where is it?

Saint: Uh, right down the hall, and—

Sally: Are you trying to be smart?

Saint: Not especially.

Sally: So it's gonna be like that, huh?

Saint: Like what?

Sally: Now you listen to me, Fats Boylen—

Saint: Huh?

Sally: Now you shut up, too.

Louie: I didn't say anything!

Sally: Well, shut up anyway.

Louie: I'm shuttin' up.

Sally: Uh—what was I saying?

Saint: You just finished calling me Fats Boylen.

Sally: That's right.

Saint: That's wrong. I'm not Fats Boylen.

Sally: Ha!

Saint: Well, it helps keep the conversation going, and—

Sally: Look, Fats, are you going to stop stalling and hand over the stuff, or will I have to shoot?

Saint: Since I am not Fats Boylen and I have no stuff to hand over, I'm afraid you'll have to shoot.

Louie: Mr. Templar! That could be fatal.

Sally: You keep quiet, punk.

Louie: Who's a punk?

Sally: You're a punk.

Louie: Mr. Templar, am I a punk?

Saint: Well, Sally is just a little confused this evening, Lou.

Louie: Confused or not, she shouldn't call me a—

Sally: [starts sobbing] Oh, shut up!

Louie: Well, you don't have to start bawling.

Sally: I am not bawling! I am . . . [trails off, bawling]

Saint: You were just about to shoot me.

Sally: Well, I know, but . . . then you'd bleed.

Saint: Oh, I'm sorry.

Sally: I can't stand the sight of blood.

Louie: Why dont you strangle him?

Saint: Louie, don't be unkind.

That stack of rapid-fire wordplay and double entendres takes place in just under two minutes.

All the known extant episodes of The Saint are available at the Internet Archive. Note that the collection includes repeat episodes, of which there are many, and as often as not under more than one title. Still, that leaves (by my estimation) about 30 distinct episodes of The Saint. Supposedly, some of the scripts were penned by Leslie Charteris himself, to take advantage of Vincent Price's particular talent.

Regular Saturday Serials will restart next Saturday, with the return of Superman.

January 15, 2013

He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich

Hall & Oates' "Maneater" was knocked out of the Billboard Hot 100's top spot, after four weeks, by a song that had been virtually ignored for more than a year.

Australian pop group Men at Work's "Down Under" had been released in Australia and New Zealand in late 1981. It came to North America a year later, where it became a #1 in Canada in October 1982—a relatively rare instance of Canadian precedence, for a non-Canadian single. A month later, Americans finally began to take notice, and "Down Under" began its climb up the Hot 100, reaching #1 on January 15, 1983.

This was the second hit for Men At Work, following "Who Can It Be Now" about six months earlier. Their album, Business as Usual, topped the album chart the same week, making Men at Work the only Australian band to have a #1 single and album simultaneously.

January 08, 2013

OK, to make up for missing last week

On January 1, 1983, the #2 single was the former #1 single that "Maneater" displaced: "Mickey," by Toni Basil, one of the great one-hit wonders of the 80s.

Until "Mickey," Basil was probably better known as a dancer and choreographer than a pop singer—the advantage being that, though nearly 40, she was still able to fit into her high-school cheerleader uniform for the video.

The best year ever

2013 is the 30th anniversary of . . . 1983.

And 1983 is, simply put, the best year ever for pop music. I intend to prove this over the next 52 Tuesdays. (Well, 51, anyway—while I was planning this project, I let the first Billboard chart of 1983, released on Jan. 1, skip by me. Holidays will do that.)

For most of 1983, I was 12 years old in grade 7 and 8, just starting to attend school dances, and just beginning to get interested in popular music. It would really be the summer of 1984 that I would receive the lethal dose of AM radio waves that turned me into who I am today, but at this point, I was starting out.

What I intend to do is post each Tuesday about the Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit on the chart released on the corresponding day back in 1983. Where a particular hit topped the chart for more than on week, I'll post about something interesting farther down the chart—or ignore Billboard entirely to showcase something else 1983-related that deserves attention.

1983 began with "Maneater," by the blue-eyed soul duo, Hall & Oates. Technically, I suppose this is a 1982 single, since it was originally released the previous October and hit #1 in late December. But it stayed there for the next four weeks, including the first two chart weeks of 1983. (So even if I did skip Jan. 1, you didn't miss anything.)

"Maneater" was Hall & Oates' fifth #1; their previous chart topper was "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" in 1981.

For a few years in the mid-80s, Boston talk-radio station WBZ used something that sounded suspiciously like "Maneater's" bass line as bumper music for their evening programming.