The Rules For Alberta and Edmonton

1. Bring your own house.
2. If going to the Oil Sands, bring your own house, school and hospital.
3. If going to Edmonton, wear your flak jacket. Winnipeg is the murder capital of Canada, but Edmonton comes in at #2.
4. If driving to Edmonton, be warned, it is also the auto theft centre of Canada.
5. If you are bringing drugs, head to West Edmonton Mall, the drug capital of Canada.
6. If you are looking for work, look no further. Minimum wage is $8.40 per hour.
7. If you work downtown, parking costs $10.00 per hour.
8. If you are able to buy a house in Calgary, why not spend the money on a 15 year holiday?
9. If you drive a Hummer, look out. We sit among the highest gas prices in Canada.

1. In Edmonton we have 5 hospitals. 10 years ago we had 7. Don't come here sick.
2. In Calgary, the population has exploded. The last road was paved 12 years ago.
3. Calgary is a no-parking zone.

1. You must first learn to pronounce the city name, it is: 'ED-MIN-TIN'.
2. The morning rush hour is from 5 am to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 8pm.
3. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.
4. Calgary Trail, Gateway Boulevard, Highway 2 and the QE2 are the same road. Oh, and if you drive to Calgary, you can throw Deerfoot Trail into the mix.
5. The minimum acceptable speed limit on most freeways is 130 kph. On the QE2, you are expected to match the speed of airplanes coming in for a landing at the airport. Anything less is considered 'Wussy'.
6. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Edmonton now has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, Southwest Edmonton, SUV-driving, Starbucks drinking, cell-phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.
7. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.
8. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's another offense that can get you shot.
9. Road construction is permanent and continuous in Edmonton. Detour barrels are moved around during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting, but nothing ever gets finished, and more construction starts everyday.
10. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, cats, deer, barrels, cones, cows, horses, mattresses, shredded tires, garbage, squirrels, rabbits, crows, and coyotes feeding on any of these items.
11. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been 'accidentally activated'.
12. If you are in the left lane and only driving 110 in a 80-90 km zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be 'flipped off' accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot.
13. For winter driving, it is advisable to wear your parka, toque, fur lined mittens and mukluks. Make sure you have a shovel, food, candle and blankets in the vehicle, as snow removal from the city streets is virtually non-existent until the spring thaw.



God is merciful, but only if you're a man

Jew, Christian or Muslim ... whatever the faith, women are still treated with disdain or worse.

There is plenty to criticise in Islam's view of women. Last year, the Observer told the story of a man in Basra who stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed to death his 17-year-old daughter for becoming infatuated with a British soldier. The relationship apparently amounted to a few conversations, but her father learnt she had been seen in public talking to the soldier. When the Observer talked to Abdel-Qader Ali two weeks later, he said: "Death was the least she deserved. I don't regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion."

This was clearly extreme, but the truth is that the God many people believe in - whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish - hates women. Take America's Southern Baptist Convention, which declares in its faith and mission statement: "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband." That's fair enough, isn't it? After all, he's probably stronger than she is.

Or there's the Catholic church. The Pope put things more suavely in an address in 2008: "Faced with cultural and political trends that seek to eliminate, or at least cloud and confuse, the sexual differences inscribed in human nature, considering them a cultural construct, it is necessary to recall God's design that created the human being masculine and feminine, with a unity and at the same time an original difference." The insistence on difference is the necessary first step to insisting on inequality and subordination and it is a step that popes have been taking at regular intervals for decades.

In November 2006, Nicaragua enacted a ban on all abortion, with no exceptions, even to save the mother's life. The law was ratified by the National Assembly in September 2007. Both the original enactment and the vote in September 2007 were widely attributed to the influence of the Catholic church. In a report this month, the United Nations Committee against torture called Nicaragua's total ban on abortion a violation of human rights.

Then there is Judaism. In one neighbourhood in Jerusalem, religious seminaries flank streets with yellow signs that warn: "If you're a woman and you're not properly dressed - don't pass through our neighbourhood."

So why is it so often women who fill the pews? Is it a form of Stockholm syndrome? Religions do a good job of training people to be obedient and loyal to the authorities and women in particular are raised to be both devout and submissive. Religions are sticky: they are hard to abandon and that is doubly true for women, given that subordination and unshakable fidelity are their chief duties.

The fact that women are defined as different from men ("complementary" is the religious euphemism) and confined to narrower, more monotonous lives as a result, means that they have more need of the excitements and passions of religion. For women, religion often is the heart of a heartless world. All they have to give up in exchange is their right to shape their own lives; as long as they behave themselves, all will go swimmingly.

The intimate and inescapable connection that contemporary liberal believers like to see between God and love, theism and compassion, is largely a modern invention. It's far from universal now and it was vanishingly rare in the past. St Francis was an eccentric, not an exemplar. The painful truth is that still, to this day, most people who believe in a god believe in a god who is often vindictive, punitive and sometimes just plain cruel. The Ryan report on abuse of children in Irish industrial schools, released two weeks ago, provides a mountain of searing evidence for that. For decade after decade, generation upon generation, the religious congregations in charge of the institutions saw nothing wrong.

One survivor of Goldenbridge, the most notorious industrial school for girls, run by the Sisters of Mercy, told the commission: "The screaming of children will stay with me for the rest of my life about Goldenbridge. I still hear it, I still haven't recovered from that. Children crying and screaming, it was just endless, it never, never stopped for years in that place." Many of those children were there simply because their mothers were unmarried or divorced.

The God we have in the Big Three monotheisms is a God who originated in a period when male superiority was absolutely taken for granted. That time has passed, but the superior male God remains and that God holds women in contempt. That God is the one who puts "His" imprimatur on all those tyrannical laws. That God is a product of history, but taken to be eternal, which is a bad combination. That is the God who hates women.

So why do so many women put up with it? Partly because God gives with one hand what "He" takes away with the other - God consoles people for the very harshness that God creates. It's the sad, familiar, heartrending bargain in which the victim embraces the perpetrator, in some complicated, confusing, all-too-human mix of appeasement, need and stubborn loyalty. The fact that the embrace is all on one side is resolutely ignored.


The Lord Justice Hath Ruled: Pringles Are Potato Chips

Britain’s Supreme Court of Judicature has answered a question that has long puzzled late-night dorm-room snackers: What, exactly, is a Pringle? With citations ranging from Baroness Hale of Richmond to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lord Justice Robin Jacob concluded that, legally, it is a potato chip.

The decision is bad news for Procter & Gamble U.K., which now owes $160 million in taxes. It is good news for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs — and for fans of no-nonsense legal opinions. It is also a reminder, as conservatives begin attacking Judge Sonia Sotomayor for not being a “strict constructionist,” of the pointlessness of labels like that.

In Britain, most foods are exempt from the value-added tax, but potato chips — known as crisps — and “similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour,” are taxable. Procter & Gamble, in what could be considered a plea for strict construction, argued that Pringles — which are about 40 percent potato flour, but also contain corn, rice and wheat — should not be considered potato chips or “similar products.” Rather, they are “savory snacks.”

The VAT and Duties Tribunal disagreed, ruling that Pringles — which have been marketed in the United States as “potato chips” — are taxable. “There are other ingredients,” the tribunal said, but a Pringle is “made from potato flour in the sense that one cannot say that it is not made from potato flour, and the proportion of potato flour is significant being over 40 percent.”

An appeals court reversed, in a convoluted opinion that considered four interpretations of the law before ultimately rejecting three of them. In the end, it decided that Pringles are exempt from the tax, mainly because they have less potato content than a potato chip.

The Supreme Court of Judicature reversed again, in an eloquent decision. Lord Justice Jacob, in an apparent swipe at the midlevel court, insisted the question was “not one calling for or justifying overelaborate, almost mind-numbing legal analysis.”

The VAT and Duties Tribunal took an eminently practical approach, he said. It considered Pringles’ appearance, taste, ingredients, process of manufacture, marketing and packaging, and concluded that “while in many respects” they “are different from potato crisps and so they are near the borderline, they are sufficiently similar to satisfy that test.”

The tribunal was not obliged, he said, “to go on and spell out item by item how each was weighed as if it were using a real scientist’s balance.” It came down to “a matter of overall impression.”

The Supreme Court of Judicature had little patience with Procter & Gamble’s lawyerly attempts to break out of the potato chip category. The company argued that to be “made of potato” Pringles would have to be all potato, or nearly so. If so, Lord Justice Jacob noted, “a marmalade made using both oranges and grapefruit would be made of neither — a nonsense conclusion.”

He was even more dismissive of Procter & Gamble’s argument that to be taxable a product must contain enough potato to have the quality of “potatoness.” This “Aristotelian question” of whether a product has the “essence of potato,” he insisted, simply cannot be answered.

In the Pringles litigation, three levels of British courts engaged in a classic debate over line-drawing, a staple of first-year law school classes. At some point, a potato-chip-like item is so different from a potato chip that it can no longer be called one — but when? Lord Justice Jacob invoked the wisdom of Justice Holmes: “A tyro thinks to puzzle you by asking you where you are going to draw the line and an advocate of more experience will show the arbitrariness of the line proposed by putting cases very near it on one side or the other.”

In other words, sometimes you just have to call them as you see them.

Conservatives like to insist that their judges are strict constructionists, giving the Constitution and statutes their precise meaning and no more, while judges like Ms. Sotomayor are activists. But there is no magic right way to interpret terms like “free speech” or “due process” — or potato chip. Nor is either ideological camp wholly strict or wholly activist. Liberal judges tend to be expansive about things like equal protection, while conservatives read more into ones like “the right to bear arms.”

In the end, as Lord Justice Jacob noted, a judge can only look at the relevant factors and draw an overall impression. His common-sense approach was a rebuke not only to Procter & Gamble, but to everyone out there who insists that the only way to read laws correctly is to read them strictly.