I like to keep in touch with Stephen Harper by email, you know, to remind him us peasants care about issues like the environment, the seal hunt and human rights. So far the Prime Minister hasn't emailed me back but I do receive the occasional form letter from whatever Minister his office has forwarded my complaint to. And of course there was Stephen's Easter card, which was interesting but a little unsettling.

So anyway, it's not like the PM and I never communicate. Why just yesterday I received a thoughtful message from him informing me that Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is a goofy French guy who wants to steal all my money (and yours) through his idiotic carbon tax plan.
Dion's Tax on Everything. Will you be tricked into paying more?

To be honest, I found this a bit confusing at first. I'd been under the impression that Canada should take decisive action on cutting its carbon emissions. Of course, that was before I really had time to let the leaflet from the PM's office sink in. I mean, get a load of this wimpy Dion dude. The picture says it all. There's no need to even open the leaflet up and read about how "foolish" and "misleading" the carbon tax is. Obviously Dion doesn't understand what's good for Canada! I don't even think English is his first language—otherwise his name would be Stephen instead of Stéphane right?

Clearly Dion is a trickster and a loser! Or so I thought until the below leaflet showed up in my mailbox this afternoon.

Stephen Harper as a Sith Lord: Death Star Coming Soon!

Yep, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's transformation to Sith Lord is almost complete. Harper has zilch interest in imposing a carbon tax on his subjects but what do you want to bet there's talk of a Death Star tax on the horizon? Those gargantuan death stations don't pay for themselves, you know.

I can't believe he had me fooled—even for a day! Really, we should've guessed this was coming, what with the company he's been keeping from day one.

Stephen Harper and Stormtrooper

. Where are Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker when you need them? Yoda? Chewy? R2?
taserA seventeen year old Winnipeg boy died after being tasered by police last Tuesday. Michael Langan is the 22nd person since 2003 to die in Canada after being tasered by police and we can expect a 23rd, 24th and 25th death any day now. What should be a last resort for police is clearly becoming a popular choice for dealing with anyone they deem the least bit problematic. Take the November case of a sixteen year old Manitoba girl who was tasered on her legs and groin area while confined to an RCMP holding cell as four officers held her down; if police are so ready to use tasers in a situation where the numbers and circumstance are obviously in their favour, we can expect them to show still less restraint in more complex or risky scenarios.

“Statistics prepared by RCMP officers show that Mounties drew or threatened to draw their Tasers more than 1,400 times in 2007, up from 597 in 2005.” That's one hell of an increase and the taser is one hell of a crutch to lean on—up to 50,000 volts of electricity jolting its target (aka the human body), which as of May had resulted in 290 deaths in North America since 2001.

Across Canada, 73 law enforcement agencies use stun guns. The RCMP currently have 2,800 tasers which 9,100 officers are trained to use. The Manitoba girl mentioned above, now seventeen, admits she fought back against the police the night she was arrested but if the best solution officers can come up with every time they meet the slightest bit of force is to reach for a taser seventeen year old boys and girls (and let's not forget you, me and grandma!) across the country are in danger from a weapon that officially isn't being considered potentially lethal.
I had to retie the running shoes I bought in Ireland twice while I was out today. This is a common occurrence with these shoes (and, yup, I double-knot them). I've also had to take them to a shoemaker to glue on a bit of the sole which was coming off and he told me he couldn't guarantee it wouldn't come loose again. Fair enough, it's not his fault the shoes kind of suck.

They're also really hard to pull on and I have to wonder why it ever seemed like a good idea to buy them instead of a pair of replacement Doc Martens (for the ones that bit the dust while I was in Dublin).

Conclusion #1: I need new Docs.

Conclusion #2: When those as yet to be acquired Doc Martens wear out I will then require yet another pair of Docs (running shoes are well and good for numerous purposes but they're no stand-in for a dependable pair of Docs!).

Conclusion #3: They better not stop making Docs in my lifetime.
This afternoon my editor called with the wonderful news that I Know It's Over received a starred review from Kirkus:

One relationship ends, another begins. Shortly before he leaves to spend Christmas with his father, Nick’s ex appears on his lawn to announce she’s pregnant. While Sasha ponders her options, 16-year-old Nick relives the rocky course of their relationship. He remembers their encounters in the hall, their rules for dating and their gradual detachment from one another. Martin’s freshman prose, whether depicting the parent-child bond, pressing decisions or sexual encounters, balances the heartwarming and the humorous elements that form the pillars for any relationship. In its focus on Nick’s connections, whether with Sasha, gay best friend Nathan or his father, the tale rises above the typical teen-pregnancy melodrama. Whether encouraging Nathan as he comes out, supporting his parents’ divorce or talking with Sasha, Nick worries about the personal impact of these situations in classic adolescent fashion, simultaneously self-absorbed and self-sacrificing. Authentic and sophisticated, the teen banter appeals to both casual readers and literary enthusiasts. Rich characters and honest interactions set Martin’s debut novel apart, and readers will look forward to whatever gestates next.

Needless to say I'm beyond thrilled and don't know quite what to say! Maybe I'll just sit here listening to Mic Christopher's Heyday (thanks for the introduction, David Yoo!), a song which has been lending me its positive energy in a big way lately, and enjoy the moment.

The Dark KnightColour me surprised, it turns out The Dark Knight hype is true. I mean, I quite liked Batman Begins and I'll even admit that I thought Michael Keaton was pretty good in the first Batman flick but lately The Dark Knight and Oscar have been mentioned in the same sentence, which suggests a depth of quality rarely seen in superhero movies.

The thing is, this doesn't play like your average superhero film. It doesn't even play like an above average superhero movie, it shirks off the comic book label entirely and soars! There's a very good chance you may sneer at Iron Man, Spiderman, Superman, and The X-Men and still be impressed with The Dark Knight. It's one hell of a good movie, even if you have no love for its genre.

I even found myself agreeing with its central message—the importance of hope. Hmm, it looks like Barack Obama and Batman have something in common.
Brave New Films has created a collection of Fox News clips smearing Michelle Obama. Personally, I don't think Fox should be allowed to attach the word 'News' to their name. If you're sick of the racist, sexist Fox crap too sign this petition and hold them responsible for the stereotypes and lies they seem intent on spreading.

There are a few blog reviews of I Know It's Over online now and YAY, they liked it!

i like books


Libr*fiti (*spoiler warning for this one!)

I'm also doing an interview with Carol (my first!) and it'll be up at Genre of the Month in August.

So the G8's latest climate change deal is a steaming pile of crap. Canada, the United States, Japan, Russia, Britain, Italy, Germany and France have agreed to try to halve worldwide emissions by 2050. I mean, hey guys, let's not knock ourselves out, right? By 2050 aliens will have arrived with their superior technology to help us out of this jam, surely!

Antonio Hill, spokesperson for Oxfam International, had this to say: “At this rate, by 2050 the world will be cooked and the G8 leaders will be long forgotten. Rather than a breakthrough, the G8’s announcement on 2050 is another stalling tactic that does nothing to lower the risk faced by millions of poor people right now.”

Why no mention of the aliens, Antonio? Gah, what's with the negativity?

Anyway, Canadians don't have anything to worry about because our nation topped the list of countries best equipped to endure climate change in a recent British study.

Andy Thow, one of the report's authors, says that Canada “scores well across all aspects of the index. This is because of the low pressure on natural resources resulting from a low population density and large land area, combined with high agricultural capacity, a healthy economy, few development and health challenges and excellent public institutions.”

Hmm, maybe this explains Stephen Harper's underwhelming dedication to battling climate change. We're sitting pretty up here. All you poorer nations can just wait for that alien rescue ship (it's on its way, really!)—us, we're going to sit back and enjoy some cool ones by the lake. It's *so* nice this time of year.

Bush and Harper at the G8 summit in Toyako, Japan.
If you live in Canada you're probably aware that on July 1st (Canada Day) Dr. Henry Morgentaler, one of the country's leading pro-choice activists, was named to the Order of Canada. This highest honour in the country is bestowed by the Governor General on the recommendation of a nine person panel.

Morgentaler, a Polish Holocaust survivor, is a passionate believer that women should have, as a basic human right, access to safe abortions. He opened his first abortion clinic in Montreal in 1969, when the procedure was still illegal in Canada, and as a result served ten months in Montreal’s Bordeaux Jail.

He battled tirelessly for women's right to choose, suffering subsequent arrests, his clinics enduring several raids and one firebombing in Toronto in 1992. On January 28, 1988, a day he recalls as the greatest of his life, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the nation's abortion law unconstitutional.

“Well-loved children grow into adults who do not build concentration camps, do not rape and do not murder,” Morgentaler said when awarded his first honorary degree in June 2005 at the University of Western Ontario.

At last, at 85 years of age, Henry Morgentaler is being honoured by our nation for his dedication to women's reproductive rights. Doctor's no longer face possible life sentences for performing abortions. Women no longer have to appeal to a three doctor hospital committe to exercise their right to choose or risk injury undergoing unsafe illegal abortions and serving up to two years in prison. The right to choose is ours alone and seeing as of last Friday, 124 of 163 faxes and emails sent to the Governor General's office condemned Morgentaler's inclusion to the Order of Canada, many Canadians may now be taking this right for granted.

I believe the majority of Canadians support women's access to safe abortions but right now those majority voices aren't being heard. This week Shameless Magazine is asking pro-choice Canadians to turn up the volume and email, fax or write your support for Henry Morgentaler's naming to the Order of Canada to the Governor General's Office.

I got my letter sent off last week. Want to make your voice heard?

E-mail: info@gg.ca
Phone: 613-993-8200
Toll-free: 1-800-465-6890
Fax: 613-998-8760

Mail: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1
Like Billy Bragg says, the beach is free. So what better way to spend a gorgeous July day?

On the beach, July 5, 2008
On the beach, July 5, 2008
On the beach, July 5, 2008

Getting your beach reading sandy is par for the course.

Skin Deep by E.M. Crane on the beach, July 5, 2008

But the sand's a big part of the fun and there's also plenty of inspiration to be had, like the below image which desperately makes me want to write another summer YA novel:

I swear there has to be a book in there somewhere! It can't be an accident that it's the best shot I got today (and nope, these weren't our slushees—I discovered them abandoned just like this). The novel I'm writing at the moment is set in the middle of winter (brrrr) but maybe some cold day in February I'll look back on this picture, get that warm summer feeling and be inspired to start something new.

For now, though, I don't even want to think about February. Probably some of the best advice you'll hear this summer is: “Just turn around and come on down, the beach is free.”

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