P.S. I am not a crank.

letters to the editor

It’s a plug for Grandpa Simpson, and not for this blog

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

I am sick to death of receiving junk mail disguised as official Government of Canada correspondence. I’m sure everyone knows what I mean: a standard sized brown envelope with a red maple leaf in the corner. It happened again this week, right around the same time many of us were checking our mailboxes for notices from the Canada Revenue Agency regarding our tax returns. An entirely random accident of timing, no doubt.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this kind of thing is skeevy as all get out. At least the email come-ons from Nigerian princes offering me a cut of millions in ill-gotten gains are refreshingly over the top in their absurdity and illegality. But this has an entirely unwarranted veneer of legitimacy. Well, it may not be illegal, but it sure as hell is not legitimate. This is flim flammery of the lowest order.

If anyone is seriously considering buying from these hucksters, I beg you to reconsider. If they had anything of genuine value to offer, would they have to disguise it and trick you in the first place? Please just throw the junk out, or better yet, fill the convenient postage prepaid return envelope with something exceedingly heavy (your used AA batteries will fit nicely in the envelope) and drop them a note letting them know how much you appreciate their duplicity. There is a special place in hell reserved for these bottom feeders, though they may have to share space with the people that develop cell phone plans.

P.S. I am not a crank.

regards,
Andrew Fogarasi

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What does that come to in eggs benedict?

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

Hi. It’s me again. I wrote a letter to the editor last week whining about the Chronicle-Guide printing a Cheryl Gallant press release verbatim in the form of an article. That didn’t happen this week (so, um… kudos, I guess?), but I did receive a mailout from our esteemed MP and – shockingly – it too failed to pass the smell test. (In other news, water is wet and the sun is hot.)

This time around, our household received a personally-addressed fake “taxpayer credit card bill” for a list of current government expenditures. You might think it is kind of deceptive and creepy to send out what looks like an official bill addressed to you personally… and you’d be right. It is. But you might also think that it presents a compelling logical argument all laid out line-by-line. In which case, you’d be wrong. This list of expenses has nothing to do with math, logic, or fiscal mismanagement and everything to do with getting people emotionally wound up over petty transactions that always were and always will be part of how governments are run.

Do you get ticked off at the Minister of Justice daring to expense a $44 dinner? (I do: that’s barely enough for a drive-thru snack. She should eat better. ) Are you enraged that it cost us over 13 grand for the Minister of International Trade’s appearance on a U.S. national television programme? Of course you are, because how dare the Minister of International Trade publicly promote Canada to our biggest trading partner? Besides, I hear the host is a leftie. And don’t get me started on the Environment Minister spending taxpayer money on photographs at a climate change conference. Because blah blah blah something something climate change. Doesn’t that just burn your britches?

It’s a shame people no longer actually care for logic or math. Otherwise, Ms. Gallant wouldn’t dare send us a note about 3.4 million dollars in federal waste when her government spent north of 1.2 billion dollars on a single G8 summit weekend. One single weekend that wasted several hundred times more than this entire list. But she can happily send this piffle because she knows the actual bookkeeping doesn’t matter. She just wants to see your outrage glands inflamed. Moving expenses. Limo rides. Nannies, for the love of God! (because not even the PM deserves child care in a Tory world.)

Methinks the only way to counter the un-logic and outrage machine is to generate a little outrage disguised as math of our own. This is why I propose looking at the list using Bev Oda orange juices (at 16 bucks a pop) as our currency of choice. A $44 dinner? Why, that’s almost 3 entire Bev Oda orange juices. The Environment Minister’s photography session? That’s over 400 Bev Oda orange juices.

Let’s get to the pulp of the matter, shall we? The entire list of government expenditures Gallant wants you fuming over comes to a combined total of $3,420,750. That amounts to just under 214,000 Bev Oda orange juices. Too much for any single person, granted. But I’m sure you’ll agree with me that to govern a country of 35 million, that isn’t really a lot of OJ. Her list, however, is a lot of BS.

 

Andrew Fogarasi

 

 

Our local fish wrap is starting to smell a little fishy

To the Arnprior Chronicle-Guide:

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant is a national embarrassment and, well, a bit dumb. Now, seeing as you are reading this in the letters to the editor section, it should be rather obvious that this statement is a matter of opinion and not necessarily fact. But imagine if you saw this lede in another section of the paper, or even “Cheryl Gallant’s statements confirm that she is a bit dumb”, followed by several paragraphs of what looks to be factual reporting. Perhaps it could appear under a photo captioned “local MP a national embarrassment.” I’m sure you’d agree that this would be a dishonest and even potentially dangerous misuse of the newspaper format.

And yet, that is precisely the sort of thing that greeted my weary eyes in the November 10th Arnprior Chronicle-Guide on page 15: A full half page fluff piece (without a byline, I might add) that is essentially a verbatim reprint of a Gallant press release… in its entirety… with no analysis or commentary and only the faintest whiff of context to give a hint that this is not actually what one would normally regard as a newspaper article. Bonus deception points for the captioned photo that lays it on thick with the phrase “project that was properly funded by the previous Conservative government”, implying that the current government does not, in fact, properly fund infrastructure. It’s nice to see her PR people moonlighting as photo editors at the paper, even if a bit sad that they need a second income. Maybe she should pay them better. God knows it can’t be an easy job.

Shame on the Arnprior Chronicle-Guide. This kind of  ruse should be beneath you and you should know better. I won’t say “shame on Cheryl Gallant”, since she has time and again proven herself incapable of it.

Andrew Fogarasi

 

Protecting our democracy, one non-issue at a time

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

I was a tad confused by Cheryl Gallant’s latest “Report from Parliament” (Arnprior Chronicle Guide, January 21)  as well as her recent mailout “Protecting Our Democracy”.  She sure seems worked up over something (again), but I’m not entirely sure what. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of good old fashioned fear-mongering. But for my fear to be properly mongered, I require more detail than the vague Chicken Little claim that the Liberals are going to change the way we elect our government and they don’t want Canadians to have any say in the matter. So I decided to do a little research into how the government of Canada is planning to unilaterally mess with our parliamentary democracy.

Could she be referring to the hilariously named Fair Elections Act, a dog’s breakfast of a bill that added burdensome ID requirements that made it more difficult for citizens to cast a ballot, and which also attempted to restrict Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer from doing their job of encouraging and ensuring Canadians’ right to vote? No, wait. That was her government that shoved that embarrassment of a bill through. Trudeau says he’s going to scrap it.

In that case, could she be referring to the re-drawing of riding maps in the 2015 election, a nifty bit of gerrymandering that, had everyone voted the same way as they had in the election previous to 2015, would have garnered the conservatives 22 out of 30 new seats according to Elections Canada? No, wait. That was the Harper government as well.

I guess she can only be talking about the Liberals’ plan to reform our antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system after a lengthy and thorough consultative process that includes convening an all-party parliamentary committee to review the matter. If this is indeed what she is nattering on about, I can only express further confusion. How exactly is the implementation of a key campaign platform that led to Trudeau’s election as our Prime Minister something that we had no say on? I coulda sworn it was a mere few months ago that we cast our votes based on this and other issues in a federal election.

 

Andrew Fogarasi

Rejoice lovers of comedy (or haters of science, the environment, human empathy, so on and so forth), for Cheryl Gallant has won again!

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

For many of us, the election results were cause for despair. Granted, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper (what a lovely phrase!) will no longer be actively undermining our multicultural society, institutions, and international standing, but here in our pleasant little riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, incumbent fossil Cheryl Gallant has won yet another kick at the can and at our reputation.

Don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic at the Conservative defeat. The minor detail of who composes the new government and the form it takes is irrelevant, really. We would still be better off had we elected the NDP, the Greens, the Flying Yogic Party, or even a cuttlefish (which, incidentally, would have demonstrated more compassion and empathy than our former PM). Not even the unpleasant fact that the new government has a majority of seats (never a good thing) can dampen my joy.  We’re finally done with Harper’s rule and may actually have opportunity to recover.

And yet… many are saddened by Gallant’s local victory. What does her re-election say about us, our ability to parse deception or think with our heads instead of our spinal columns? Dry your tears, my friends. With her party no longer in charge, she now has even less influence than she did as the backbencher too extreme to speak to the electorate, the press, or anyone, really. In fact, without Stephen Harper around to micromanage and muzzle her outbursts, we can look forward to all sorts of hilarious shenanigans. We’re bound to make national headlines often, and perhaps even international ones. So weep not, lovers of comedy. It’s a great day to be a Canadian, and at least an interesting one to be in this riding.

 

Andrew Fogarasi

Hello, snitch line? I want to snitch on the rotten snitches starting a snitch line. …but I don’t want to be a rat.

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

Did you hear that the Conservatives are planning to set up a tip line for reporting “barbaric cultural practices” to the RCMP? Now, I know that many people are pooh-poohing this idea as more populist smoke and mirrors. Like the whole niqab debacle, you might think that this is nothing more than a shiny bauble designed to distract the hoi polloi from real issues. It’s not like there is anything new going on, and behaviours and practices that are illegal in our country are not going to suddenly become extra special super-illegal or anything.

But I for one am stoked for this tip line. The first thing I am going to do as soon as the number is announced is report the Canadian government’s unconscionably barbaric practice of making a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a nation that beheads teenagers and does not allow women to drive. Frankly, it turns my stomach. But finally we have a place where we can let our objection to this sickening practice be heard. Surely the propping up of a malicious nation state by selling them weapons of destruction is precisely the kind of thing this tip line was designed to expose. I urge all decent and right-thinking Canadians to also call in and report this barbaric cultural practice.

Vetting the verbage about veterans

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

Earlier this year, there was a flurry of news items about the federal  government shutting down over 10% of its Veterans Affairs offices. You may even remember Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino treating a group of veterans with an appalling degree of rudeness and disrespect when they were scheduled to meet with him on the issue. Except, of course, the Conservatives are hoping you don’t. In fact, they are counting on it.

How else to explain MP Cheryl Gallant’s recent mail-out trumpeting the joyous news that veterans now enjoy over 600 “points of service” for their dealings with government? Never mind that these exciting new points of service are nothing more than existing Service Canada outlets, already understaffed and unable to effectively serve their areas. Never mind that instead of having instant access to dedicated professionals intimately familiar with the ins and outs of each client’s case, veterans are now expected to wait in line for God knows how long in order to speak with someone who has no clue who they are or how to handle their questions. Why, if the feds only had the foresight to stuff a pile of forms behind the counter of every McDonalds in the country, they could be proudly announcing thousands of points of service!

The gall of MP Cheryl Gallant and her fellow Conservatives simply boggles the mind. They not only expect Canadians to approve of this reduction in the scope and quality of services for veterans, they are actually trying to spin it as a great achievement. What’s next for the Conservatives and their friends? Perhaps “Mike Duffy has done more to expose corruption in the Senate and the PMO than any other Canadian in recent memory.” Or “The Fair Elections Act: improving democracy by making it harder for those who are likely to vote against us to vote at all.” And I look forward to Rob Ford’s new mayoral campaign: “Rob Ford, getting crack off the streets… one rock at a time.” Unfortunately for every Canadian, the Orwellian doublespeak from the federal government is not really a laughing matter. The way they treat those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country is shameful. The fact that they are trying to convince Canadians that they are improving things for our vets when they are actively making them worse is disgusting. These are the kind of people who would kick you in the teeth and praise themselves for their forays into dentistry. The liberals and their scandal-plagued days in power look downright quaint in comparison.

Andrew Fogarasi

Wherein our hero laboriously addresses a longwinded and largely insubstantial counterargument from a homeopath in a point-by-point manner regardless of how confuzzled said counterargument gets: Or, WTF?

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

Ms. Mueller-Code’s letter in defense of homeopathy (Arnprior Chronicle Guide EMC Nov 15) covers so much territory yet manages to say so very little of substance. Still, since she’s gone to so much trouble, it would be churlish of me not to respond. Let’s start with the numbered points, so useful in giving the illusion of a reasoned and organised argument, and meander from there, shall we?

1. The function of the media.

Ms. Mueller-Code maintains that the function of the media is to inform and not to judge. This redefinition stands in absurdly stark contrast to every pundit, columnist, and radio call-in host that ever drew breath. The media is not an encyclopaedia of just-the-facts. The reality is far more complex, and has been since before William Randal Hearst. And even though a discussion of objectivity in the media could prove quite interesting, (I personally feel that a bit more fact-based reporting would be a good thing), I am at a complete loss as to what any of this has to do with homeopathy.

2. Our constitutional rights.

I’m afraid Ms. Mueller-Code is on another tangent here, and one that is equally wrongheaded. There is really no call for confusing the constitution of Canada with an Ayn Rand novel. “Choice” is not the central tenet of our constitution, and my Canadian sensibilities (peace, order, and good government, eh?) are offended by such a blatantly American-style appeal.

Furthermore, to claim that “nobody has any jurisdiction over anyone else” is dangerously wrong. Last I checked, we were a civil society governed by laws. Not only do courts and police have jurisdiction over those who would harm others or themselves, but there are countless codes and regulations that make sure our food and water won’t poison us, our businesses won’t cheat us, our institutions will serve us fairly, etc.

I suppose a dialogue about choice and free will (without trying to shoehorn the constitution into the picture) might be fun, but again, I’m a tad mystified as to what it has to do with the main point of contention, which would be…

3. The effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.

Ms. Mueller-Code seems reluctant to offer any concrete proof, scientific studies, or factual arguments in favour of homeopathy. Perhaps the recent class action lawsuit against homeopathic manufacturer Boiron’s false advertising and the resultant $12 million settlement has given her cause to avoid any statistical claims. Instead, she tells us that since homeopathy has been around for about 200 years, it must therefore be safe and effective. Just like international communism, that jar of mayonnaise that I’m afraid to touch in the back of my fridge, and anything else that happens to be around 200 years old.

We are also informed that homeopathy works because the royal family has been using it for generations. This would be the same royal family with members that take pictures of their naked drunken Las Vegas parties and dress as Nazis for Halloween, so you just KNOW their judgement is sound.

Another reason homeopathy works, according to Ms. Mueller-Code, is because there used to be a place called the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. Mind you, they changed their name to the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine over 2 years ago, probably in an effort to stop tying themselves exclusively to an increasingly discredited practice. But still, they’ve had the words “royal” AND “hospital” in their name for the longest time, therefore homeopathy works. Wow!

Ms. Mueller-Code closes by encouraging “everyone to become more open-minded in order to make their own educated choices.” I couldn’t agree with her more. The more that people educate themselves, the closer homeopathy gets to the dustbin of history. By all means, learn all about alternatives and keep an open mind. Just, please, don’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out.

Andrew Fogarasi

The king of homeopathy

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

If I were being interviewed for an article and told the reporter that I was the King of Norway, I would expect the statement to be presented not as fact, but as a claim –  a rather dubious one at that. And yet this is precisely the sort of thing I found myself reading in the October 25 Arnprior Chronicle Guide under the heading “Free homeopathic oral flu prevention”. Stating that a homeopathic “remedy” is effective does not make it so, nor does attempting to lend it credibility by citing fictitious statistics regarding its effectiveness. (99% of marketers agree, numbers make things appear compelling!)

For the record, there has never been a single legitimate study that conclusively proves homeopathic “medicine” to be any more effective than voodoo, wishful thinking, or – my personal favourite – doing nothing. There have, however, been countless peer-reviewed scientific studies that have revealed it to be exactly as effective as a sugar pill placebo.

Homeopathy is based on the utterly discredited theory that a purported active ingredient becomes more effective the more diluted it is. Thus, homeopathic ingredients are measurable in parts-per-million or even parts-per-billion: present to a far lesser degree than the concentration of heavy metals or poop in safe drinking water. In fact, the most “powerful” homeopathic remedies are likely to contain not a single molecule of the supposed medicinal ingredient.

As a father of two, I encourage everyone to think very carefully before making their children ingest some magical mystery powder under the impression that it will help prevent the flu. It will not. Your children’s health will be just as well served by staying home. In fact, by staying home and doing nothing, not only will your family enjoy flu prevention that is proven 100% as effective as a homeopathic “remedy”, you will also greatly reduce the chances of anyone being injured in an accident on their way to getting the treatment.

Conversely, if you genuinely want to increase the chances that you and your loved ones will avoid the flu this year, you could go to the flu shot clinic at the Nick Smith Centre on November 6th. See you there.

Sincerely,
His Royal Highness,
Andrew Fogarasi

The understated dignity of Ms. Cheryl Gallant

To the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

Imagine my utter delight upon reading last week’s Arnprior Chronicle Guide and finding a letter from local MP Cheryl Gallant in which she takes the third party defence critic to task for his unprovoked attack on our military. John McKay (of the third party) may have thought he was being clever when he said the government knowingly lowballed the price tag of the F-35 fighter jets to the tune of $10 billion, but what’s $10 billion when it comes to protecting our freedom? (answer: $10 billion) In reality, Mr. McKay of the also-ran party was actually showing a shocking disregard for our men and women in uniform. And our stalwart Ms. Gallant was having none of it.

You see, she is above such petty politicking. She’s even above actually addressing any of the points Mr. McKay raised in his letter. And she is most certainly above offering an explanation as to why the Conservatives deceived the Canadian public about the price of these jets.

In fact our Ms. Gallant is so, well, gallant that she won’t even stoop to fear mongering. She is perhaps too reserved when she states that it was the liberals who had originally decided to make the purchase, and falls short of expressing the sheer horror any decent Canadian would feel at the thought of whatever voodoo mind control the third party exerted on Mr. Harper when they forced him to announce the purchase in 2010.

There is one thing that the intrepid Ms. Gallant is not above, however: pointing out that any criticism of our government’s handling of military procurement is no more than a shallow attempt to “score cheap political points”. Oh, and implying that to question the government is to somehow invalidate and disrespect all the sacrifices our Canadian soldiers make on our behalf.

Did I happen to mention that Mr. McKay is from the third party? Because he is. And for some reason that is as yet unclear to me, it is crucial to repeatedly drive this point home when one is above taking political cheap shots.

At any rate, shame on you, Mr McKay of the third party. Why do you hate freedom?

Andrew Fogarasi