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I’m shocked!

The other day, I have a dim recollection of hearing the President of the United States delivering a line from Casablanca, and then having a talking head explain it all. Of course it was a dream right?

Later the same evening, I came across the source of what seemed like a dream, but wasn’t. Obama was giving a speech to the Democratic National Committee in which he offered his thoughts on Donald Trump.

How can you be shocked? This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya — who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot, wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.1

It’s the last sentence. It echoes the scene from the film in which Captain Renault is closing Rick’s Cafe on the orders of German Major Strasser. Since he has no reason to do this, he makes one up.

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

Captain Renault: [aloud] Everybody out at once!2

That is one of my favourite lines from the film and I have used it in conversation. It was especially timely as I just watched Casablanca again recently with Julie, because she had never seen it before. We certainly had to fix that! Then a couple of weeks later, this!

I find it curious that the television news report felt the need to explain it while the Washington Post article did not.

  1. Nora Chokshi, “Obama’s brutal assessment of the rise of Donald Trump: He’s ‘selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network’” from The Washington Post (as reprinted in The National Post), March 12, 2016.
  2. Casablanca,” The Internet Movie Database, retrieved March 15, 2016.

Canadian news and guns

I watched CHCH news this evening and one reporter was on location showing viewers where a crime took place. She described where the accused jumped out of a vehicle with a shotgun and shot the victim. A moment later, she explained that the bullet grazed the victim’s neck.

Again, Canadian news people show how little they seem to know about guns. In this case you likely know that shotguns do not shoot bullets. Generally, shotgun shooters load their weapons with either slugs or shot. In my fact-checking for this post I learned that shotguns also shoot a plethora of projectiles (including flechettes, for goodness sakes) but shot and slugs are, by a vast margin, the most common shotgun projectiles. Regardless, none of those possible projectiles are bullets.

I was going to ask why these people don’t look up the things they don’t know, but I suspect the problem is bigger than that. They don’t even know that they don’t know! And to think, they’re informing us?

Details from “Shotgun,” posted on Wikipedia, retrieved December 15, 2015

Facebook news is weird

According to Facebook news headlines, the Dixie Chicks will soon embark on the weirdest tour ever.

I find it odd that they’ll be visiting 40 cities, but only playing in four of them. Sounds like the most inefficient concert tour ever.

Either that or the Facebook news people need a lesson in sentence construction, but that couldn’t be it, right?

Image capture from


We’ve been hearing a lot about the niqāb lately, and I can’t remember the last time a piece of clothing has played such a large part in a Canadian election campaign. To bring the non-Canadians up to date, Zunera Ishaq was to become a Canadian citizen in 2012. When she learned that she would have to remove her niqāb to take the oath, she put the process on hold and began a legal battle. The result is that the Federal Court of Canada found the ban unlawful in February and she finally took the oath, wearing her niqāb, last week.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, the whole point of a citizenship ceremony is celebrate your new inclusion in Canadian society and to be seen doing so. If you don’t want to be seen and recognized, there’s no point in a ceremony. You may as well get your papers in the mail.

On the other hand, enacting a law to prevent people from wearing a niqāb at the citizenship ceremony seems like a very blunt instrument.

The problem is that there is no middle ground.

I can certainly see a problem with someone wanting to wear a niqāb for an identification photo. In 2002 a woman sued the state of Florida for preventing her from wearing a niqāb for her driver’s licence photo. A Florida appellate court ruled that covering her face defeats the whole point of having the photo, but allowed for the woman to have the photo taken in a private room with a female photographer.1 Interestingly, 15 other U.S states allow for driver’s licences with no photo to accommodate those who object to having their photos taken for religious reasons.2

Frankly though, the Florida solution makes no sense to me. If you’re pulled over, the police officer asks for your licence and registration, and immediately compares your photo to your face. Presumably, a woman wearing a niqāb who would only accept having her photo taken in a private room by a woman, will not agree to take it off for a male police officer on the side of the road. I suppose getting a female officer to check that her ID matches her face would be the only way, but that will take time. I hope the niqāb-wearing driver is patient because I see no way around this. She should certainly not get a pass because she’s wearing a niqāb.

Seemingly determined to double-down on the issue, the Conservative government has promised to introduce legislation to ban the wearing of the niqāb for all people delivering or receiving federal government services, should they be re-elected. While this may feel like a natural follow-up to the driver’s licence issue, I believe the Conservatives are playing on voter fears simply to get more votes. In fact, the CBC reported this interesting fact:

The leaders of the two largest federal public service unions say they are not aware of a single member who wears a niqāb — and accused Conservative Leader Stephen Harper of trying to distract voters with his plan to consider a ban on the wearing of face coverings in public sector work places.3

I can understand being proactive in hearing of a dangerous problem before it becomes a problem, but the timing of this ‘solution’ and the relative danger involved in the problem makes me agree with the unions’ accusation.

And for the record, I certainly do not agree with banning the niqāb, outright. Since when do we ban articles of clothing? I don’t like wedges, so would I suggest that we ban those too? Hell no. In circumstances where being able to identify the person is important, a niqāb-wearer would not be able to make the desired transaction, for example. If she wants to continue to wear the niqāb despite the inconveniences, that’s her choice.

  1. Wikipedia. Niqāb. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  2. ibid.
  3. CBC News, “Niqabs in federal public service ‘absolutely not an issue’ union leader says,”

Algonquin Park has moved?

Facebook posted this news story the other day:

One wonders why they used a photo of downtown Ottawa to head a story about an event in Algonquin park! That’s not Highway 60, it’s Rideau street. Note the Château Laurier right there behind the police cruiser.

Image capture from

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