Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My last word on the Liberal Leadership race, for now.

Let me start by saying that before this race started, I would have voted for Harper before voting for either of the two front runners, Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff. That has now changed for reasons stated in earlier blogs. In fact, I would now vote for a retarted monkey before voting for Stephen Harper.

The three front runners.

Bob Rae - The problem with Bob is that Ontario despises the memory of his being in power. He left office with something like 17% of the vote. While some of his failures can be attributed to bad times, he was still a dismal Premier. With Ontario being the largest voting province, combined with it being the Liberals heartland, it doesn't bode well for Rae's chances of going on to win a federal election. That said, I think he is perhaps the most capable candidate. I think his intellect matches that of Ignatieff and his policies and stances are generally more in line with mine.

Iggy - I still struggle to understand why such a profound acedemic supported the Iraq war. Otherwise, you are the perfect candidate. I would vote for you above the others if it weren't for that one blip on your resume. I'm at odds to say whether your folly is worse than Rae's botched premiership or not. Ballot wise, perhaps not. But moral wise, it's still a position I can't get over. That said, your criticising stance on Israel, while lambasted in the media, bodes well with me. I don't hate Israel, but that doesn't mean I love them either.
Something else that seems to be dogging you is the Quebec Nation issue. It's something that stirs up a lot of sentiment among Canadians, yet for me it is a non-issue. Calling Quebec a Nation is like calling a tree a living thing. What's the point of harping on the fact when it is what it is. I don't see the need for any official "Nation" recognition. The stance neither bothers me nor makes me want to endorse you.
All that said, I object to Kennedy's anti-nation stance. He seems to be shooting for the federalist vote by taking a side and focusing on how Quebec isn't a nation. It is, look up the meaning of Nation on Wikipedia, read it ten times so the confusing vagueness of it begins to make sense, and get over it!

Dion - Here's the man I endorsed earlier, and still endorse. Not because I think he's the most intelligent candidate. Nor the best leader of the bunch, but because he is the most likely to beat Harper. Dion's weakness may lie in his federalist stance in Quebec, and his middling spoken English, but neither is in my opinion as bad as Ignatieff's Iraq invasion support or Rae's Ontario premiership. (Kennedy already killed his French vote by whining about Quebec Nationhood.)

To summarise, anyone but Harper, although Dion has the best chance to unseat this muppet.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

African Adventure family travel

As a new father, holding dark-haired little Zack in my arms, I reflect on how my parents did the same with me, and their parents with them, and so on. Seeing Zack reminds me of photos of my grandfather, and my father and even myself as a child.

With my travel writing, I also wonder about my future. I'm fairly confident that I will get published. I've put that much time and effort into being a travel writer, and gotten enough positive feedback from respected peers (and it wasn't always positive) that I feel it's just a matter of time.
With a little crying baby though, I wonder if my African adventurer days are over. So, what's my career path? While the adventure travel writing may be on hold, it doesn't necassarily have to end...

The plan:

Stage one: get the current book published.
Stage two: Hammer through the article writing world and start a second book. Possibly work towards a degree in journalism.

Stage three: In Canada, there is a law that allows parents to provide their children with home-schooling. I'm providing a new twist to this, and call it road schooling. What if, in ten years, I take Zack out of school for a year and into Africa. Let's say we stop for a couple months in Morocco to visit the family and practice his Arabic and French. Onto West Africa and down through the Congo, practicing French with mom and English with Dad all the way. Stop in Angola to learn Portuguese for several months, with a private tutor, while I hammer in maths and sciences. The geography will come from teaching him to use a GPS, not to mention the borders we are crossing and the places we are visiting. As a writer, I'm the perfect candidate to teach him grammar and work on various books. What other subjects are there? Gym - we'll take long hikes, mountain climb, and play rubgy in both Morocco and Angola. History, each country we pass through I'll be reading books about their history and pass them onto him with fun lessons. Art, we'll visit the various artisans throughout different countries. Sculptures in Zimbabwe, pottery and painting in Morocco. Computers - I'll set him up with a blog so he keeps up his writing prowess, and make sure he has his own website which he learns to program by himself.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too keen. He is only ten days old after all!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Zack yack

More vintage baby Zack

And Zack on Day 4

A little Zack video

Zack was circumsized yesterday and screamed whenever he peed. He seems to be doing much better now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's a Boy!

Zacharia Adam Sturgis came into this world yesterday at 1845 GMT.

We left the house at 3h30am when Siham's contractions were less than ten minutes apart.

It was noon when Siham was moved to the delivery room, and for five hours she was in fairly intense labour. The doctor waited as long as she could, with Siham adamant about not wanting to have a Cesarean section. Finally, the doctor made the call for her, and Siham was taken to surgery. At 18h45, from the nearby waiting room, we heard the baby crying, and shortly later we were told it was a boy and that Siham was well.

Siham in the hospital room

Siham having a contraction.

Me having a laugh.

Siham in the delivery room now.

Come on baby!

And here is little Zack

Zack and Daddy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Al Jazeera English arrives

I used to check out the news online at but quickly got fed up with the ridiculousness of their reporting. For the same reason I never bother with Fox news or CNN;
on, everything was turned into a ranting Israeli or American conspiracy and the tone of it was bordering on fundamentalist nonsense. On the one hand, I welcomed the idea of an Arab perspective to counterbalance the extreme opposite nonsense of Fox news and CNN, but it became more like Fox, if not even worse.

While I can't exactly blame Al Jazeera for anti-American reporting, considering the US bombed their stations at the beginning of the Afghan war, and as if to say, "That wasn't actually a mistake," they bombed them again at the beginning of the Iraq war. Whether it was before or after these instances they stopped reporting real news and focused on being a puranical anti-American and anti-Israeli media outlet I'm not sure. However to gain any clout in my books, they should try to at least emulate the self critical mentaility of the BBC who report for integrity and even go so far as to question and expose the incompetences of themselves.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Phantom Aid and Madonna

I visited Malawi early in the year 2000, crossing the Zambia border after a night of drunken revilry with locals in a popular shack-bar.
Malawi is one of the poorest, if not the poorest country in the world, and for the past few years anyhow, has been on the brink of famine. It is also the most dysfunctional African country I've ever visited, and by dysfunctional I mean not only the government but the entire population right down to the local level. It is a nation with an overabundance of beggers, where the words "Give me money," ring out from every corner of almost every village I happened to pass through.

Type the words "Malawi Phantom aid" into the BBC news website and you will find numerous articles written about the abuse of aid money in the country. For example, five million dollar projects where two million goes into US expat salaries and another $700,000 on wining and dining with government ministers at five star hotels.
The latest craze of phantom aid seems to be focused on Madonna and her recent adoption of a Malawian boy.
A coalition of no less than 67 human rights groups has been pushing for a reversal of the country's decision to allow Madonna to adopt this boy.
Who-knows-how-many dollars are being dished out to object to one boy who has been offered a better life? Little David's father, too poor to keep him, left him with an orphanage and says he agrees with the adoption because he wants a better life for his son. Malawi has one of the highest AIDS rates in the world, with between 12% and 17% of the population infected, and much more than that unable to farm, work or go to school because they have to take care of sick loved ones. (Quite likely the real source of their "so called" famines.)
Approximately 91,000 Malawian children are infected with HIV and another half a million are AIDS orphans.
But I keep coming back to this sad statistic. In a country with so many problems: HIV; education and health care; famine and a crumbling infrastructure - that "sixty-seven" Human Rights groups even operate and take the initiative to focus on whining about the decision to offer some poor orphanage child a better life. I assume these are foreign operated organizations because Malawians have too many other things to worry about to bother wasting time with the human rights of a now spoiled rotten Malawian boy. In my opinion anyhow, the Phantom Aid Malawi conundrom has reached epic proportions.

The photos provided are during my one month trip through Malawi. On that particular day, after a seven hour drive, I came to a bridge that had been washed out. I tested the water's depth and with the help of several Malawians, tried to lift the car to see if we could carry it across. We couldn't. Instead, I decided to return, seven hours back, and take an alternative road. Most irritating though, was that the bridge had been washed out for two years and nobody had bothered to tell us.