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The Neon News

February 18, 2006

Hey Fanz!

Haggis gone!

St. Stephens in the Fields

Wow, what a great room! Gordon's Acoustic Living Room! will definitely be doing more concerts in support of St. Stephen's Church, just so we can play again in that amazing room, pipe organ and all!

Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields is a beautiful historic building, now surrounded by the 'fields' of Kensington Market, with an Anglican congregation that has fallen on hard times. Read about the struggle to save it here.

And on Burns Day itself, we had no less than three pipers in the tiny Free Times back room. Rock 'n' roll!

Free Times Café

But for now, it's our regular monthly gig at The Free Times Café, 320 College Avenue, just west of Spadina.

We'll be playing tomorrow, Sunday, February 19, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

As usual, no cover, no minimum!

Chili here!

Thunderation! Just when your digestive system was beginning to settle, it's time for the Chili Blowout, the annual fundraiser for the Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover, or rather, Beautiful Lakeside Port Dover, as we like to think of it.

Here in post-Walkerton Ontario, the potluck supper as an institution is dimly receding into history, so the Chili Blowout now happens in Knechtel's Beach House, a real live restaurant with a certified kitchen.

Meet me there with Patio Dave & the Lanterns on Friday evening, February 24.


By the way, the Lanterns just had lots of fun playing a Valentines show for kids in Dover, and helped raise a few thousand dollars to be split between breast cancer research and Doverwood Public School!

Cod coming!

The date has been set for the Scoff 'n' Scuff, the annual Newfoundland dinnerless dinner-dance and fundraising concert for the wonderful St. Christopher House music program.

Once again, Program director and impresario extraordinaire Sherry Squires will be assembling all her friends and relatives for a down home kitchen party you won't believe.

I will once again be the World's Greatest Sound Man, and this year they might let me sing!

It will all happen on
Saturday, April 8 at
St. Christopher House
248 Ossington Avenue (at Dundas).

For tickets and reservations
call Sherry Squires, 416-532-4828 X127
or email sherrysq@stchrishouse.org.

Election report

We won!

Another great victory for the electoral reform movement, as distorted election results once again show conclusively that our current first-past-the-post voting system does not acurately translate the votes we cast into representation in Parliament.

Read all about it on my blog.

And in other news . . .

diary of a mad law professor by Patricia J. Williams

This article can be found on the web at


Foggy Bottom

[from The Nation, February 6, 2006 issue]

Since it has come to light that George W. Bush, through the National Security Agency, has been snooping on telephone and Internet communications without benefit of warrant or oversight of any kind, there have been quite a few worried, if tentative, complaints that we are edging toward a monarchy. "King George..." is how the conversation usually begins.

While the President could indeed be said to have arrogated unto himself some pretty monarchical powers, I think the comparison does not convey the immensity of the constitutional crisis posed by his intentional bypassing of judicial oversight. Frankly, I don't think comparisons to royalty serve us very well in an era when kings act more like socialites, their crowns slightly askew, disco-ing till dawn. The graver modern risk comes not from kings but from dictators. Those who dictate. Those who rule by their word alone, whose word is law, superseding all other inquiry.


The debate is playing out in the media fuzzily, haltingly, perhaps because of the conflation of two questions. One is whether the executive can eavesdrop on citizens at all. It can. The other is whether exercise of that power rests entirely upon the say-so of the President or his agents. It does not. Yet breathless radio and TV debates pit those two issues against each other. "He has the power to protect us by listening in!" versus "He has no power to invade our privacy!" The issue is better stated by interconnecting the two premises: He has the power to listen in when he has gotten permission by presenting reasons to do so that are within a warrantable range of relevance to law-enforcement goals.

The law is hardly burdensome, as should be well understood by now. The President must go to a special court set up for the purpose of vetting the underlying reasons or suspicions necessitating such intrusion. That court is secret, in deference to matters of national security. If time is of the essence, a warrant may be obtained from the court after the fact. The President may also seek the approval or waiver of members of Congress. These requirements are simple but not at all equivocal: The President must get permission to wiretap, period. It is not a deep or mysterious point of law. If there is law, then this is it. If there is due process, then this is the procedure that is due.

If, on the other hand, we are suspending the law in deference to Mr. Bush's unchecked impulses, then we should call it by its proper name. Benign lawlessness? Gitmo Governance? Fear Factor?

The public discussion I listen to seems to be something on the order of: "The President is a man of action, he doesn't have time." Or: "We're at war! Don't tie his hands!" But if all aspects of the executive function are reduced to "Do what's necessary and just don't tell us"--whether eavesdropping, detaining without trial or even torture and execution--we have a general rather than a President, a secret-police state rather than either a republic or a democracy.


This should not be a debate resolved by Bush's likability quotient or Gore's agreeability score. The implications of this go well beyond Father Knows Best and stretch all the way to Dear Inerrant Leader.

Quote of the Week

"This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fall on the same day, an ironic juxtaposition. One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."

Air America Radio

Oh, my word!


Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my pea sea;
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss takes eye can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather I am rite oar wrong:
It shews me strait away.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee four two long
And eye can put the error rite -
It's rare lea ever wrong!

I've run this poem threw it;
Eye am shore yore pleas two no
It's letter perfect in its weigh -
My chequer tolled me sew!

Test your eyes

Count every "F" in the following text:


How many did you get?

................... 3?



Anyone who counts all 6 "F's" on the first go is a genius.
Three is normal, four is quite rare.

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