Archive for July, 2009

“From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee!”

I first became interesting in the subject of whaling when I ate whale (admittedly, quite tasty) in Akureyri, Iceland. The Lonely Planet guidebook took a decidedly anti-whaling stance and not without good reason: whale watching is actually a much more profitable industry than whaling and unsurprisingly the two are somewhat mutually exclusive.

Whaling is one of those things we’re just instinctively opposed to without knowing why. The “I love the animals” argument doesn’t hold water because considering the amount of fish whales eat you actually save lives by killing them. The endangered species argument is valid but misleading. And finally the argument that whales are uniquely intelligent creatures is not backed up by any real science with the possible exception of the sperm whale which nobody hunts anymore. Dolphin hunting (dolphining?) is related but not the same.

Back to the endangered argument: “whales” is a very broad term that envelopes dozens of different species, many of which are not endangered in the least. Of the whale species that are endangered probably the most famous are the blue whale and the right whale. Nobody hunts these species anymore. Not even Japan, and that’s saying something.

Enter the International Whaling Comission (IWC), a well-intentioned but emasculated body. In 1986 the IWC voted to impose moratorium on commercial whaling. However, not being a formal treaty organization this is all non-binding. The chief whaling states–Japan, Iceland and Norway–have largely ignored the moratorium. Canada’s response was the most hilarious: we just simply left the organization.

Japan is the strongest defender of whaling on the IWC, its anti-whaling counterpart has been the United States. Both have been accused of using trade or other outside influence to buy votes within the organization.

This is getting too long, which means there will inevitably be a part two.

The Unveiling of the Ice Cream Flag

The tricolour is an old flag design that has been widely copied the world over. The prototypical examples are those of the Netherlands (horizontal) and France (vertical).

Now it comes as a surprise to me that noone has thought of creating the Neapolitan ice cream flag. I mean, I’m sure somebody, somewhere has at least pondered this concept but in searching the Internet I wasn’t able to find anything. And thus it goes without saying that the flag of Naples unfortunately does not resemble Neapolitan ice cream.

So without further ado, here it is:

The idea first came to be when I was looking at the Newfoundland tricolour, which had already been an inspiration for the Irish flag.

Happy Dominion Day!

Dominion Day, or as it’s known now, Canada Day. The name was changed in 1982 after the patriation of the constitution. I guess they figured that we were no longer being dominated by a foreign government. But we are still bound by the fetters of a foreign monarch. Sure, she has no power, at least not in the traditional sense. But what our queen (or “Her Majesty the deposed Queen of Fiji” as I like to call her) is is an impediment to our development as a sovereign nation.

Our monarchy was once an important symbol and reminder of that which separated us from the republicans to the south. It was a beacon of freedom carried by our troops in foreign wars; wars that we did not enter out of necessity but out of duty to king and country. But not anymore. It has now become a relic of days gone by and a memory of a once mighty but now dormant empire. It embodies an age of brutal colonialism and the unsuccessful attempt to cleanse British North America of its French and indiginous populations.

“Our” queen she is not. Legally, yes, but not at heart. Upon seeing a picture of Elizabeth II, how many people do you think say, “oh that’s the Queen of New Zealand” or “hey, wasn’t she was Queen of Pakistan in the 1950s?” No, she is regarded as being a British queen. In fact, I’ve often heard her referred to as the “Queen of England,” a position that hasn’t existed for over 300 years. But the confusion is understandable. Just look at her name: Elizabeth II. There has never been an Elizabeth I of Saint Kitts and Nevis nor of Tuvalu nor even of Scotland. Hell, there technically has never been an Elizabeth I of the United Kingdom. Only of England, where she lives and rarely leaves. A symbol of all that is Canadian she is not.

We must rid ourselves of this antique once and for all.