Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Toronto Star vs. Conrad Black

The Toronto Star continues its vendetta against Conrad Black. The latest salvo was the publishing (October 30, 2012) of a Star-sponsored survey purporting to show that a majority of Canadians want Black stripped of his Order of Canada. As if the Order were a popularity contest.

The poll was conducted by Lorne Bozinoff of Forum Research Inc. whose website describes itself as "Canada's most  unique (sic) research firm."

As most people know, poll results depend to a great extent on the wording of the questions. The Star informed its readers of neither the pertinent question nor or any other questions likely posed at the same time.

The report then morphed Bozinoff into a critic of Black's recent appearances on British television. Needless to say, he did not like them.

The report ended with unrestrained delight: "Black was stymied last week in a court bid to present arguments why he should remain a member of the Order of Canada, and told to submit a written proposal like everyone else."

For the Toronto Star, "everyone else" does not include Henry Morgentaler. As pointed out in my earlier post, Morgentaler's appointment to the Order of Canada violated the advisory committee's own rules. The Star did not complain because Morgentaler is that newspaper's abortion poster boy.

Follow up. In his National Post column of December 8, 2012, Conrad Black aptly wrote this aside, "(unlike these jokey polls the Toronto Star likes to cite, including in matters related to me, in which recorded telephone conversations are randomly launched in small numbers around metropolitan areas, producing whatever results the Star seeks)."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Enlightened Alberta and Wrong-Headed Ontario

A letter to the National Post published October 26, 2012

Re Alberta affirms homeschool rights, Oct. 25:

Enlightened Alberta has got its educational priorities correct. Ontario has much to learn in this regard. The new Alberta Educational Act states that "a parent has the prior right to choose  the kind of education that shall be provided to the parent's child, and as a partner in education, has responsibility to act as primary guide and decision-maker with respect to the child's education."

Ontario is heading in the opposite direction with regard to parental rights. Teachers deem themselves as "co-parents." Toronto school boards refuse to tell parents when objectionable material will be taught. The government itself recently enacted its own agenda, against parents' vociferous complaints, and they call that transperancy.
It is not difficult to see the next step in Ontario's quest for complete control of our children's education. Following the lead of Sweden and Germany, it will declare homeschooling illegal. Over there, parents have gone to jail and had their children made wards of the state. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has authority to censor homeschooling teaching materials.

In forcing their version of mind control on our children, abolishing parental authority is the aim of Big Brother and Big Sister in Queen's Park.

Order of Canada Special Pleading

Email to the Toronto Star, October 28, 2102. Unpublished.

Re Court orders Black to play by the rules, Oct. 26:

"It can no longer be said that Orders of Canada are awarded as a result 
of an impartial consideration of merit," according to Michael Bliss, 
professor emeritus, University of Toronto. Dr. Bliss was informed, 
"Once a candidate has been  considered and judged not suitable, 
the file is only re-opened if there are significant new achievements
that justify reconsideration." 

He was referring to the reconsideration given to Dr. Henry 
Morgentaler after the doctor's first nomination had been rejected. He 
made no new achievements, unless one considers more abortions
as adding to his oeuvre. Yet, he was awarded the Order on second
appeal. In violating its own rules, the advisory committee indulged 
in the "politicization of the process".

This comes to mind in the advisory committee's rejection of Conrad 
Black's request to make oral submission to defend his Order of
Canada.The refusal was based on the advisory committee's rules.
Dare we deem the committee applies its rules when politically
*  *  *

The complete letter of Dr. Bliss in the July 5, 2008 issue of The 
Globe and Mail:

Your good coverage of the Morgentaler appointment to the Order of 
Canada misses a vital procedural issue. It appears that the advisory 
committee reopened the Morgentaler file and reversed previous 
decisions by earlier advisory committees.

In the course of trying to nominate people for the Order of Canada, 
I have been told that once a candidate has been considered and 
judged not suitable, the file is only reopened if there are significant
new achievements that justify reconsideration (such as a novelist
adding significantly to a body of work).

It is fairly obvious that there are no significant new achievements
in the Morgentaler case. Instead, it appears the advisory committee
has singled him out for reconsideration, violating past procedures
and discriminating against other worthy Canadians whose files are
closed, and that it has done this in response to an intense
lobbying effort.

The result, is, prima facie, a politicization of the process. It can no
longer be said that Orders of Canada are awarded as a result of an
impartial consideration of merit. Instead, getting honoured depends
on who you know and getting lucky in the committee position of the
advisory committee.

Michael Bliss, professor emeritus, University of Toronto

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Toronto is Great by Our Own Efforts

Allan Levine claims that Toronto "does not quite measure up to the truly great cities of the world like London, Paris and Rome." (Hogtown's badass side, National Post October 2, 2012).

Each of these cities was once the capital of an empire. They had colonies to exploit. The magnificent vistas, monuments, galleries and museums we see today in many European cities were paid for by their colonies, one of which was Canada.

Toronto, in contrast to the "truly great cities of the world" has always paid its own way. Everything we see and enjoy in our city today we bought and paid for by our own efforts.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Translating Tapestries -- Something Like That

"Translation from one language to another is like looking at a tapestry from the wrong side." When Miguel de Cervantes put these words into the mouth of his protagonist, Don Quixote, he was speaking for me and countless others.

I first read Death in Venice by Thomas Mann in 1973, in English. As is my habit, I made margin notes which I transcribed to the inside back cover. About ten years later, I read a later English translation of this German masterpiece.

During this second reading, I kept waiting for remembered turns of phrase and certain metaphors to make their appearance. In vain. What I was searching for was the work of the translator. A 1952 translation reads, "His steps followed the promptings of the demon who delights in treading human reason and dignity underfoot." In 1954, this became, ""His footsteps guided the demonic power whose pastime it is to trample on human reason and dignity." I prefer the earlier rendering.

At best, we hope for a translation to convey the thought or idea of the author into our language. Witness the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Among the English translations of Omar's insights, the best known being that of Edward Fitzgerald. It's a magical blending of the poet's thought and the translator's formidable command of the English language.

One of my English professors was critical of the only (I believe) English translation of the French gem The Little Prince by the lamented Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Much meaning has been missed. He urged us to read the original. I did, and noted significant differences.

The English dedication says that the author's friend needs "cheering up". The French states that he "a besoin d'être consolée." Not the same at all. More than merely cheering up, the dedicatee needs to be made more comfortable. After all, it's the dark days of the Second World War. The friend is cold and hungry in German-occupied France. The author is warm and well fed in New York.

All this comes to mind as I consolidate, as it were, two translations of Baldesare Castiglione's Renaissance work of sheer delight, The Book of the Courtier. Comparing two editions, "a salutary craft" becomes "a healthy deception", "a grossness of dull wits" reads "obtuse insensitivity" and "subtleties" is "sophistries". Unless we check the front of the tapestry, we will never know which translation approaches closest to the author's intent.

Each new translation conveys a variation from earlier translations. This perhaps illustrates the awesome growth and changes in the English language. Even staying within our beautiful language, we have problems.

The various editions of the works of William Shakespeare present problems. We can accept "tainted" in one edition becoming "diseased" in another. But can be see "the all-binding law" as "the all-building law"? In Measure for Measure, Angelo has been transformed from "precise" to "prenzie". What is the difference between "headstrong jades" and "headstrong weeds" when they both mean rogue horses?

Given all this, perhaps Cervantes did not write the opening observation of this essay. I may simply have quoted one of his many translators.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Media Hysteria

A  2012 survey by The Environics Institute revealed that Canadian trust of the mass media to be at an all-time low of six per cent.

Comes to mind last month's much ado about nothing involving a Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, Yunel Escobar, who wrote in ungrammatical Spanish on his adhesive facial patches Tu ere maricon.  According to José Latour, a Cuban-Canadian author writing in The Globe and Mail of Oct 3, this common expression in Cuba means a number of things: You are a homosexual, fool, coward, cheapskate, wife-abuser, deceitful, and despicable.

No one in the media asked the accused which meaning he attached to the word. Lack of research did not hamper knee-jerk reactions, and presentation of the event as would best create an issue and attract readership. Newspapers used gallons of ink to condemn this multi-meaning word, choosing of course that meaning which created the greatest media stir, the homosexual angle.

Editorials and opinion pieces proliferated, along with reports, think-pieces, the usual word peddling, and letters, some verging on the hysterical. Long after the story was no longer newsworthy, the Toronto Star kept stirring the ashes of a superficial issue gone cold.

Escobar was vilified, condemned and everything but crucified at the goading of the media. A normally calm CBC morning radio sports reporter raged that he be "fired". He seemed unaware that the Blue Jays organization cannot fire Escobar with multi-million-dollar contract. He can only traded to a club with equally deep pockets. [Along with five other Jays, in a purely business deal, he was later traded to Miami.]

Will readers, viewers or listeners trust the media when they report something truly and not fictively offensive? Or will believers remain limited to that six per cent?

Society versus the Child

Our secular society believes that children exist for the parents. The reverse is true.

A year or so back, the Toronto Star featured a report of a pregnant woman living in Canada and of Indian heritage. Amniocentesis indicated the mother was carrying a girl. The woman wanted the girl, but her parents wanted to send her to India for an abortion. There was not a peep from pro-choice feminists defending the prospective mother's choice. Pro-choice is secondary to pro-abortion.

Our values have become so warped that some people now speak of "gender disappointment" and "gender grief" in the birth of a child whose sex is not of the parents' choosing. They claim there's even a "stigma" about it.

The Toronto Globe and Mail (Sept 21, 2012) describes this "disappointment" as "a private feeling of shock and dejection [that] washes over some parents when they envision the life with a boy or a girl, only to give birth to a child of the opposite sex". This misguided feeling has spawned in the U.S. a business where doctors promise "family balancing", that is, abort until you get what you want.

A University of Alberta law professor, Timothy Caulfield, is quoted," If someone has three boys and they want a girl, is the harm such that the state should ban choice?"  We wonder to what other mischief the professor exposes his students.