26 November 2010

Peace & War

As most of you know, I've spent much of the past 3 months working hard on the campaign for Veterans' Benefits. It's been tiring but worth doing.  If you want to know more about that, visit here.

I've consequently spent a lot of time with veterans and I've learned several things:
1 - Owing to US media domination and an underfunded Canadian TV & Film industry, we really know very little about our Forces & RCMP - what they do, how they do, where they go, and why. 
2 - A very high percentage of veterans are writers, of varying skill levels, many of them working on books.
3 - Veterans sure do talk a lot.  Unless you have a clear agenda and are prepared to rigidly enforce it, a meeting will quickly disintegrate into a veterans' storytelling circle.

So I've decided to open my blog up to the vets!

Veterans of Canada: tell us your tales!  Tell us about the funny thing that happened that time, or the horrible thing you witnessed, or the things you have thought about, or the places you have been.  Write anything: short story, poem, essay, email, even just a joke.  Don't worry about keeping it clear or family friendly: we want to hear all the dirty ditties and harsh realities of your experience.  Talk about war, about keeping peace, about winter exercises, about domestic deployment, about walking a beat, about getting shot.  The most common statement I have heard over the past few months is "You civilians don't understand."  My counter is this "Us civilians don't know."  So tell us and perhaps we will understand. 

There's no minimum word count.  Try to stick under a 5000 work max, just to keep the posts of reasonable reading length.  You can post here as a reply, or email me: rosemartland@gmail.com with questions, or if you would rather remain anonymous.

Who knows?  If there is enough interest, I may look into releasing them as a book. (In which case, author's would be contacted regarding publishing rights, etc.)

NOTE: Please no VAC horror stories.  This about your service experiences.  You can send yourr VAC complaints to me via Our Duty.

23 September 2010

Igor, Turn Out Those Lights, I'm Ready

When we first moved in together, my wife was confused by all the emergency gear I had, a pityful amount at the time.  As I added oil lamps and propane burners, setting aside canned food, she grew concerned that I was preparing for the apocalypse.  I told her, "No, not the apocalypse, but if that happens as well, I want to be ready."

I grew up in the rural community of Hr. Grace, on top of a big hill overlooking the bay.  Very scenic.  Also very windy.  We would lose electricity 3 or more times a year and lose the water at least twice annually.  Our house was heated by woodstove, an economic decision in the energy-crisis 70's; my parents were avid campers - the kind that actually camp, not drive a camper; and my father had inherited some 100+ year old oil lamps, from back when they knew how to make such things.  So when a storm hit, we were well set up.  Blizzards, hurricanes, or just over-taxed power grid, a few flicks of matches and it was business as usual at home.

After I moved to St. John's, I hadn't given much thought to emergency gear.  The city is more stable, after all, and I was alone.  But during a couple of big storms, I found myself wishing for the security of being prepared.  Rummaging through a box in the dark, trying to find those pillar candles I bought on sale but never used; trying to heat a can of creamed corn with a propane torch (don't do it, there's a plastic coating on the inside of cans which melts and makes the food taste funny); shivering in my bed, realizing that I did possessed neither enough blankets nor candles to warm up the room - all these events made me vow to get better prepared.  So, after I found a steady job and a significant other, I started building up the supplies. 

It was slow at first, a few purchases here and there.  Candles, also used for romantic purposes.  An old kerosene heater conned from Dad when the price of oil doubled over night (he was back on the wood stove again).  A couple of flashlights, a few more blankets, the 'accidently' bought extra canned goods which languished in the back of the cupboard.  I could justify all those purchases without revealing my fixation on preparation.

When I bought the first propane burner, the truth came out.  She demanded an explanation, which I gave.  She didn't understand.  She had mostly grown up in cities and, as her parents were corps officers in the Salvation Army, they never had to face many emergencies without supplies.  She agreed to ignore my preparations, as long as a) I didn't 'waste' too much money and b) didn't start constructing a bunker.

We had a few blackouts after that, but she still didn't really see the point.  She would observe that we could have eaten sandwiches, that the power was only off for a few hours, that the candles were useful all the time.  Then came the X-mess blizzard, when our son was almost 2.  The city was dark for 20 hours.  She was at work when it hit and came home to find me shovelling the driveway.  The house was fully lit, our son safely playing in his pen, hot food and coffee in the kitchen courtesy of the propane burned, house warm and toasy from the kerosene heater.  The following day, she was a convert to being ready.

So when Hurricane Igor hit, preparations focused on preventing the porch from leaking (failed) and coping with the flooding basement (until the power, and, hence, sump-pump, failed).  As dark came on, out came the 2 burner camp stove, hurricane lanterns, candles.  We had a normal meal with boiled coffee to follow, played and read and listened to the battery-powered radio, and went to bed on time, as normal.  But nor before I went next door to check on how our new-parents neighbours were faring.  They were trying to figure out how to heat up formula for their 2 month old.  I returned with my spare propane burner and sorted them out. 

The next day, while our electricity was on, large parts of the city were still out.  She had heard about crowd of people buying flashlights and remarked that it was awful late in the game to be buying that stuff.  And that was the final evidence that she completely understands the my obsession isn't, that it is just good thinking.  We have the basics covered, but I will keep expanding our equipment.  Right now we can get through a couple days, but I'd rather be able to handle a week without problem. 

During times like this, you never want to be worrying about basics.  Being prepared doesn't take a lot of effort or money, just a few purchases here and there.  Here's a brief list, for those of you who want to start getting ready:
1 - Light - flashlights are OK but batteries decay rapidly.  Candles have a much longer life, but make sure you are aware of the fire hazards they present.  Your safest and best solution is oil lanterns.  You can get them for $5-$10 anywhere they sell camping gear and, while they sell special oil for them, they will also burn any flammable liquid.  I once ran mine on paint-thinner. Lanterns have glass-globes protected by wire, making them difficult to break and also have handles so you can hang them up.  More expensive options: propane lanterns, white-gas backpacking lanterns.
2 - Heat - just about anything you burn for light will produce heat, so if you follow the previous suggests, your house will stay tolerably warm.  You can also pick up some wool blankets at thrift stores for $5-$10 each and even threadbare they are great insulators.  They also will keep you warm when soaking wet.
3 - Cooking - you can get a single propane burner which screws on to a tank for around $15.  Tanks are $5. It's difficult to cook anything big on that, however.  They can handle a small saucepan or frying pan and that's about it.  Bear in mind that you may need to boil all drinking water.  The single burner is a good starting place though.  If you can afford the extra expense, you can get a propane camp stove, which has 2 burners and can handle large pots.  They fit nicely on your existing stove top.  If you own a gas BBQ, that will do in a pinch, but you probably won't want to be grilling in a gale.  Of course, if you already cook with gas, this is all unnecessary.
4 - Food, Water.  Shouldn't be too hard to sort, as you are likely to have food in your cupboards anyway, and all that stuff in the freezer will need to be cooked if the power's off for more than a day.  Still, good sense says to have some extras laid in.  Suggestions: canned hams/chicken, stew, mixed veg.  For water, get a big jug of sealed spring water and keep it in a dark place.
5 - Information and entertainment.  Make sure you have a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries or, better still, a hand-crank one.  Keep a few decks of cards or board games around, especially if you have kids.

There's a lot more you can add: power inverters for the car, gas generators, tools and supplies for making repairs, and so on, but that list of basics will get you through most minor events and and some major ones.  Try to keep everything together in the same closet or a large box so that you won't have to go searching in the dark.

Remember, the problem with a high tech world is that it runs on electricity.  Mother Nature doesn't need electricity and doesn't care about your cel phones, video games, or general welfare.  Look after yourself and, hey, look after someone else too.

20 September 2010

Veterans National Day of Protest

Public Service Announcement

AREA: Newfoundland & Labrador

Veterans National Day of Protest

Disabled veterans of the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces have not been getting the benefits they deserve. The New Veterans Charter does not meet the real needs of the veterans.

On 6 November at 11am, concerned Canadians will be gathering across Canada to show their support for our nation’s veterans.

The Provincial Capital Rally will be held at the National War Memorial in St. John's.

Rallies will also to be held at your MP’s offices:

Gander: Scott Simms’ office - 61 Elizabeth Drive

Grand Falls/Windsor: Scott Simms’ office - 1-A Pinsent Drive

Corner Brook: Gerry Byrne’s office - 14 Main Street

Happy Valley-Goose Bay: Todd Russell’s office - 169 Hamilton River Road

L'anse Au Loup: Todd Russell’s office - 53 Main Highway

Labrador City/Wabush: Todd Russell’s office - 118 Humphrey Road, Bruno Plaza

Stephenville: Judy Foote’s office - 83-B Main Street

Grand Bank: Judy Foot’s Office - 3 Church Street

Those who cannot attend rallies with the MPs are asked to gather at their local Canada Post office. Take a picture of your crew and their signs supporting Vets and submit them to ourduty.org

At 11 am on 6 November, join us in telling Ottawa:

Take Better Care of Our Veterans!

From more information and other ways your can help, visit ourduty.org

07 September 2010

Sun TV News AKA Fox News North (for application click here)

There's been a lot of kerfuffle about the application by TVA to begin a news 24-hour news service in Canada. Much of the controversy centres on reports that it will be a Canadian version of US based Fox News: all commentary and no content. People with more knowledge have raised the point that TVA has applied for their station to get 2 things: 1) to be put on equal footing with CBC & CTV as a news channel and 2) to be granted special status for its first 3 years and made mandatory for carriage by cable/sat providers. My opinions on the matter I will reserve for later, but I have noticed how few people have actually read TVA's application.

So here it is. The important bits anyway. If you wish to read the whole package, click here. The entire application, regulations et al, comes as a zip file of pfd docs from the CRTC, available to all. The link above will take you to the application page, which includes instructions on how to file your comments, pro or con. The CRTC is the broadcasting regulatory body and serves the public interest. Not business. Not Government. Us. And if you don't believe that, look up a few of their past decisions.

(The plain language explanation of the station. Edited for juiciness but quoted verbatim. FYI: 'BDU' stands for Breadcast Distribution Unit, a cable or satellite provider)


4.1. When the number one all-news channel in Canada is a struggling cable news laggard

from the United States, CNN, it is time for a change; it is time to shake up the current

players of the Canadian broadcasting system. It’s time for a new choice, a new voice,

a new all-news specialty service for Canadians. A new information specialty service

committed to leading its American rivals, not following them. A new specialty service

that is given the same fair chance to succeed as the two existing, national all-news

specialty services – specialty services that, taken together, merely match their top two

American rivals in viewership.

4.2. Television remains a vital source of news and information for Canadians. And allnews

specialty services play a vital role in keeping Canadians well informed on a

minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis and ensuring that news coverage is both broad

and deep. However, being well informed means more than being exposed to dry

news. MSNBC and Fox News have understood this. Sun TV News proposes to go

beyond the obvious day-by-day headlines and to cover the full range of stories that

impact our society, our democracy and our economy.

4.3. Unfortunately, over the past 2 years, English-Canadians watched 73%1 less news

channels than Americans. And the number one news channel in Canada is CNN, a

struggling American network that beats both CBC News Network and CTV News

Channel by a country mile. In fact, taken together, CBC News Network and CTV

News Channel merely match the combined ratings of CNN and Headline News.

Altogether, Canadians are paying for these Canadian all-news channels around $80M

a year for such a performance.

Table showing ratings by minutes watched, ages 2+. For 2008/2009: CNN=59.9, CBC Newsworld=48.7, CTV Newsnet=25.1

4.4. Not surprisingly, less than one third of English-speaking Canadians are satisfied with

the current news coverage available on television2. Together, CBC News Network and

CTV News Channel have had respectively 21 and 13 years to get it right and they’ve

failed to win over Canadians despite their obvious domestic advantages. It’s time for a

change. It’s time for Sun TV News.


5.1. By leveraging the human, capital and technological resources of Toronto’s Sun TV and

transforming the struggling conventional station’s general interest mandate to an

innovative and proven information specialty service format, the new Sun TV News will

provide Canadians with a new choice and a new national voice for information and


5.2. Sun TV News will be different from the all-news channel we already have in Canada;


1 * CNN, CBC Newsworld, CTV News Channel, CNN Headline News, BNN, CNBC.

** Fox News, CNN, HLN, CNBC, MSNBC.

Sources: Canada - BBM-NMR, InfoSys, 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 Broadcast Year, All Persons 2+, Mo-Su 2am-2am.

USA - Nielsen Media Research, 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 Broadcast Year, All Persons 2+, Mo-Su 2am-2am.

2 Leger Marketing, Sun TV Television News Information Needs, Fall 2009 (See Appendix A1).


offering Canadians an attractive mixture of “hard news” reporting during the day and

“straight talk” opinion journalism at night. “Hard news” during the day and “straight

talk” at night is a proven formula for commercial success. This is very different than

what CBC, CTV and CNN have offered Canadians on their “all-news” platforms.

5.3. “Hard News” will almost exclusively rely on live reporting and real-time conversations

with journalists covering breaking news – as opposed to the more traditional news

wheel format that features a revolving set of news stories. But these headlines will be

analysed, commented upon and discussed at length. The host will question the

reporter and will have an intelligent exchange that will often open to further debate.

News will not be read like in a news bulletin. Daytime “hard news” will be covering a

broad range of political, economic and lifestyle stories that matter to Canadians both

rural and urban. So even its “hard news” portion will not be “all news” like it has

traditionally been done in Canada. Short traditional news bulletin may be programmed

but not more than once an hour.

5.4. “Straight Talk” will be programs featuring hosts and guests that deliver strong opinions

and analysis of stories that are important to Canadians that day. “Straight talk” opinion

journalism at night will be clear, intelligent and engaging – featuring a broader array of

television personalities and signature hosts who will challenge viewers to think – and

decide – for themselves. The challenging of ideas in itself may feed the news but at

least will attempt to have Canadians make their own mind on the events occurring

every day in Canada.

5.5. Here in Canada, the French-language all-news specialty service LCN saw its ratings

more than triple3 when it moved toward that formula just over one year ago. Today

LCN is not only a commercial success, but it has re-energized news coverage for

French-speaking viewers; providing them with a new choice and a new voice that

previously had been absent in the French-language news broadcasting space.

Contrary to Sun TV News however, LCN is built on the news-gathering infrastructure

of TVA for traditional newscasts.

5.6. In the United States, Fox News, the cable news network that led the development of

the “hard news/straight talk” format, has been the number one cable news network for

many years running. Fox News’ total audience was as high as CNN and MSNBC


3 In the timeslots that switched to more opinionated programs


combined. Fox News holds the Top 10 cable news programs in the United States.

Today both CNN and MSNBC are modifying their programming approaches to mimic

Fox News while remaining all-news channels with limited documentaries, as well.

5.7. Given the success of the “hard news/straight talk” format in both French-speaking

Canada and the United States, as well as low levels of satisfaction amongst Englishspeaking

viewers with traditional news bulletin coverage on television, there is clearly

a market for a totally new approach to information specialty service in Canada.

5.8. This is an altogether different programming service than the all-news currently licensed

in Canada. Sun TV News is an information service with zest.

5.9. Sun TV News will be modern; demonstrating true value-added content convergence

with Quebecor’s print properties across Canada. …Something Canada has not seen


6 - Section 6 is details on how the news will be gathered using TVA/Sun Media/Quebecor reporters


7.1. The time has arrived for Sun TV News. But given that CBC News Network and CTV

News Channel have enjoyed the benefits of a carriage that is mandatory for BDUs and

“almost mandatory” for subscribers for 21 and 13 years respectively, Sun TV News

requires short-term and time-limited mandatory access for a maximum period of three

(3) years by BDUs in order to effectively expose and promote its programming to

viewers across Canada. We do not ask for mandatory basic distribution, but only to be

available on cable and satellite distribution undertakings allowing the public to have

access to Sun TV News without any obligation to choose it.

7.2. - 7.5 - arguments for expedited license and equal status with CBC/CTV for carriage


8.1. At a time when Canada is exhibiting considerable economic, athletic, artistic and

humanitarian leadership on the world stage, it is simply unacceptable that our leading

news channel is an American cable news network that is struggling in its home market.

The time has arrived for a new choice; a new voice; a new information specialty

service for Canadians.

8.2. With its proven format of “hard news” during the day and “straight talk” opinion

journalism at night, Sun TV News will be well-placed to succeed commercially and

may well put Canada back into the lead of its own TV information, while

simultaneously preserving jobs and strengthening the conventional general interest TV

market in Toronto.

8.3. A seven year licence issued quickly featuring short-term and time-limited mandatory

access would allow us to complete the transformation of Sun TV into Sun TV News

and provide Canadians with a new information specialty service offering for the first

time in several years an additional editorial voice in Canada and for Canadians.


9.1. The first objective of the Act is to make sure that Canadian programs are produced,

programmed and seen in Canada by Canadians. While doing this, the Commission

aims at the maximum use of Canadian creative resources. Since a minimum of 90%

of our programming will be Canadian, we will make maximum use of Canadian

creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming, all this

while respecting high standards.

9.2. QMI/TVA has evolved, in the last 50 years or more, specifically in the information

business and in the creation/promotion of a genuine Star System. QMI/TVA’s

ownership is as Canadian as it can be.

9.3. The proposed service will serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the political,

social, cultural and economic fabric of Canada, with a schedule offering a wide range

of programs that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas and values by displaying

Canadian talent as well as by offering information and analysis concerning Canada

and other countries from a Canadian point of view. Sun TV News will reflect the

circumstances and aspirations of Canadian men and women, including equal rights,

the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and

the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society.

9.4. Sun TV News will provide balanced information with a reasonable opportunity for the

public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern,

information that will be drawn from local, regional, national and international sources.

9.5. In the first year of operation, Sun TV News projects to expend $4 589 000 in the

production of Canadian programs. This amount will grow to $6 301 000 in the 7th year

of operation.

10. MARKET CAPACITY - about HDTV content


11.1. Even if Sun TV News will have a certain impact on the all-news national services

available in Canada, in Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-100, the Commission

has determined that the existing all-news services are strong and healthy enough to

introduce direct competition:

“it would be appropriate to immediately introduce competition between Canadian services

operating in the genres of mainstream sports and mainstream national news. The services

operating in these genres - The Sports Network (TSN), Sportsnet, Le Réseau des sports

(RDS), CBC Newsworld, Newsnet, Le Réseau de l'information (RDI) and Le Canal Nouvelles

(LCN) - are strong, healthy, highly popular, and highly competitive.” (Emphasis added)

11.2. We are of the opinion that at first some audience will shift from CBC News Network

and CTV News Channel but within less than two years, we expect to expand

Canadians interest in news and information services as well as a repatriation of

viewers from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. In the long run, we believe the impact on

the existing Canadian all-news services will be negligible (See Carat market research -

appendix B):

11.2.1. Only 30% of Sun TV News’s audience will come from existing Canadian all-news


11.2.2. English Canada is served by only 2 national All News channels: CBC News

Network and CTV News Channel. French Canada, a market 4 times smaller

than English Canada is also served by two all-news channels: RDI and LCN.

This supports the fact that the Canadian English-Language market has room for

a new news channel.

11.2.3. Finally, Sun TV News is different than the two all-news channel licensed by the

Commission. This is an information programming service that is new and

different because news is the matter to be discussed and analysed from different

angles. This is far from being a service licensed to program wall to wall news.


12.1. Sun TV News will expend an average of 31% of its gross revenues in Canadian

programs over the first licence term. On the first year, the amount will be $4 589 000

growing to $6 301 000 in year seven. (See financial projections - Appendix C)


13.1. Before addressing this issue, it is important to remind that the Commission has

decided that the wholesale fees will not be regulated anymore.

13.2. Furthermore, being distributed in BDU’s line up does not mean that this service have

to be necessarily chosen and paid by the public. Therefore, the applicant does not ask

the Commission to rule on the wholesale fee.

13.3. This being said, the applicant believes that, as shown in the financial forecast in

appendix C, Sun TV News will be generate a positive cash flow on year five with a

$0.25 wholesale fee. This is a lot less than CBC News Network service but, like in the

French-language market, we are confident that the Canadian public will demonstrate a

higher satisfaction for Sun TV News by choosing the service either on a standalone

basis or in a news package.


14.1. An application for a new licence is surely not the best forum to engage a discussion on

the appropriate level of closed captioning. In order to obtain the licence we are

applying for, we gather that the Commission will impose to Sun TV News a condition of

licence requiring closed captioning of 100% of programs.

14.2. Nevertheless, we ask the Commission to note that, however commendable this

obligation is, the sums that need to be invested in such an amount of closed captioning

means a lower amount is left for Canadian programs. Some digital specialty services

may not be launched in particular because of the cost of closed captioning on all


14.3. As an example, the average hour of closed captioning costs around $300 for an

Information & Analysis service depending on the format of the support used. Based on

this figure, 85 hours of original programs a week would cost $25,500, which represents

close to one and a half million dollars a year. For some diginets, this represents the

entire yearly programming budget.

14.4. Sun TV News will attempt to improve on the quality of the captioning and will cooperate

with the associations of deaf and hearing impaired persons so that the closed

captioning offered satisfies as much as possible the needs of those Canadians.

14.5. The licensee commits to respect, by condition of licence, the standards of quality

established by the industry task force as soon as such a quality code is approved in

line with Regulatory Broadcast and Telecom Policy CRTC 2009-430 of 21 July 2009.


15.1. The last national voice that the Commission licensed in Canada was in 1997. In the

United States, changes have occurred in the Information Business during that time. It

seems that in Canada, the two leaders have accepted their respective positions and

have demonstrated little innovation.

15.2. Unlike all-news channels already licensed, Sun TV News is different.

15.3. This new information channel will add Canadian content to the broadcasting system

since it will program primarily original Canadian programming.

15.4. We consider this application a proactive operation and we ask the Commission to

process it as a matter of priority. QMI/TVA will be ready to launch this new service on

January 1st, 2011. This is why we request some distribution rules, but only for a

maximum period of three (3) years (7 times less than CBC News Network and 4 times

less than CTV News Channel).

15.5. Sun TV News is a solution to a problem: the problem being that the most popular news

service in Canada is from another country and that the TV stations in the most

crowded market of the country are struggling. We hope the Commission will recognize

this situation and approve the proposed solution quickly.

15.6. We thank the Commission for taking into serious consideration this application and for

studying our application on a fast track basis for a new editorial voice in Canada

06 September 2010

I see it's been a while since I posted anything. The reason: the veterans affairs campaign. Since my last lost, our website has launched, a committee has been formed, and I've been writing and tweeting and learning and promoting.

The committee
A campaign launched in Ontario is calling for rallys on 6 November at 11am, called the Veterance National Day of Protest. Obviously, when striving to achieve something national, one needs local groups. One of the national organizers appraached myself and another guy to take the lead in Newfoundland and Labrador. the other guy is running a sister group to Our Duty. We met, decided that we could divide the labour up enough, and agreed to take on that task. Now we have a committee of about 8 and are planning. We'll have some official releases in plenty of time. If you would like to help us, drop me a line.

Other Things
It's somewhat disturbing that this issue has pretty much fallen of the media radar this past week. I know we have short attention spans, but this issue is certainly AS important as Harper's arctic adventures. I'm working on some editorials to try and bring the spotlight back.

Oh, and there will be a revamped Our Duty website this week.

Join the campaign.

26 August 2010

Our Duty continues

I've been slogging away since the last post, writing and setting up the Our Duty campaign. I must have written boatloads of material in the past 48 hours if you count the email and about 9 versions of the petition. Speaking of which...


I'm glad to see the amount of media attention the veterans affairs issue is getting and that I'm not the only one pissed about this. The politicans are playing their usual games right now: Opposition trying to score points, Harper off in the Arctic, but I don't think they are really grasping how deeply angry we citizens are. It's kinda like we asked them to make Gramma's lunch and instead they locked up the food! Obviously, the veterans and military people are shouting, but the volume of the civilians is very high. If we can stay focused on the issue and not let the politicians turn this into politics, we may even be able to accomplish something.

24 August 2010

Our Duty

Our Duty on facebook

After getting very disturbed by the veterans' benefits story, I contacted the ombudsman, Colonel Pat Stogran. The result of several emails is that I have started a campaign to help sort this out.

Our Duty is based on a simple and clear thought. As Canadians, we request people to provide service in our military. This makes us, as Canadians, their employer, not the government. As their employer, we have a duty to provide benefits and pensions. For nearly 100 years, we have failed to do so. We have failed in our duty.

It doesn't take much research to find out how badly we have treated the women and men who serve us. Bring up any Canadian news story on veterans' benefits and read the reader comments. You will learn things that will make you want to scream: pensions short-changed and clawed back, soldiers denied treatment, amputees denied claims, the list goes on. First, you will be amazed, then angry. But if you really understand what we have allowed to happen, then you will be ashamed. And then furious beyond words. If you want to act, join the campaign by clicking the link above.

21 August 2010

We Stand of Guard for... Not Them.

CBC: The swelling anger at Veterans Affairs

This is a ridiculous situation. Forces pay itself is by no means great wages and the treatment of veterans is appalling. But this can by no means be laid at Harper's door, or the Conservatives, or the Liberals. This has been going on for far too long to point the finger at any single government or individual. Who is at fault? Us, the citizens of Canada.

We have decided to have an armed force. We have decided that our troops should be sent on missions. We have required of them that they put body and soul on the line, for us, for our country, and for others. We ask them to put others ahead of themselves, to follow orders, to keep peace, to wage war. We ask these men and women to sacrifice their families, their sanity, their bodies, that we can feel secure and proud. In return, we offer low wages, little support, and a cold shoulder. If we think of the soldiers at all, we regard them as being of low intelligence or freaks. After all, who else would willingly do such work?

We should be ashamed.

We should be ashamed of our ignorance, of our disregard for those who serve us, of our tolerence of their mistreatment. We should be ashamed that we buy a poppy in November and feel this is tribute. We should be ashamed that we are hypocrites: that we believe in peacekeeping but not the peacekeeper, in the wars but not the troops, in the aid for others but not for our own.

If we, as citizens, have any integrity then we, as a country must make amends. If we want and need troops then we must be willing to pay for them. We must demand any and all troops be paid well for their service, be treated well for their sacrifice, and be well cared for in their aftermaths. To do less, to accept less, is to lessen ourselves and our nation.

19 August 2010

Facebook My YouTube, Please! The New Author in New Media

Joe, I wish you all the best! If you got an advance, I hope you used it wisely and didn't waste it on liquor and women.

New technology has had little impact on the writing process - except for the ongoing fights with printers and wordprocessing software. All the change is on the delivery and marketing side. And that change is both rapid and slow, depending on where you stand. The direct to consumer model OR is following is perhaps too far ahead to be practical: consumers are not yet seeking books from publishers (this would be the slow part). My novel is not in stores (making sales low) but is on the etailers (where most of the sales have come in) and the publisher (no sales). Right now, the best shot at any sales is broad availability. Publisher direct isn't working (yet?) because readers are only looking at amazon. Even then, you have to market your butt off just to get readers to take a look, let alone scramble for their credit card.

The problem with being on the cutting edge is that you tend to bleed a lot.

All the Best,

Jeff Rose-Martland

author of Game Misconduct.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

30 July 2010

A Canadian writer, a Canadian retailer. BUY CANADIAN!

24 July 2010

The Gatekeeper Exposed. The Big Lie of the Literary Industry
http://ping.fm/6tUek publishing writing books

The Gatekeeper Exposed.

There has been a raging debate recently about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Simultaneously, another debate arose about the need for agents and increasing their pay rates. At the core of both arguments was the same flawed concept: that agents and publishers serve as gatekeepers of literature. The premise is that publishers and agents must be valued (and compensated) for wading through slush piles, finding books of quality, and bringing them to market for the reader. The other implication of this idea is that any writer who circumvents the gatekeepers by self-publishing is delivering sub-standard goods; if the trend towards self-publishing continues, readers will stop reading altogether due to the sheer frustration of being unable to find decent books.

That’s the argument anyway.

This idea that houses and agents are guardians of quality is not a new one; it’s the backbone of the literary industry. But never before has this vision been obviously wrong. It is so patently false that even average readers can point out the flaws in this perspective with very little effort.

First, if the gatekeepers are looking out for our best literary interests, then why is there so much crap on the shelves? I’m not referring to books I don’t personally like. I mean crap - bad premise, worse writing, and awful construction. This is no longer a rare-occurrence; a reader has to shift books by the ton to find something worth reading. If the gatekeepers serve to protect us from bad writing, they need better training. Either that, or the overall quality of writing has declined so much that these offerings are the best of a bad lot. But if our society has become that illiterate, then surely we do not even need book industry.

Then there are the self-publishing fallacies. The gatekeepers would have us believe that every submission to a publisher, having been rejected, will be a) self-published, b) be published exactly as offered to the publisher, and c) be loathed by readers. Let’s take those one at a time.

Not every manuscript will be self-published. Self-publishing takes work and knowledge. Un-assisted, the author must edit and re-edit the manuscript; even substandard writers will not release a book un-spellchecked and loaded with bad grammar. Also unassisted, writers must learn layout and how to format for printing. If this is not done correctly, the book cannot be put on paper (or e-readers for that matter). All this hard work outside of the creative process will, and does, keep many amateur writers out of trouble.

As for slush-pile offerings: writers have known for decades that there is a significant lag-time between submission and review, sometimes as much as a year. Just because draft #2 was submitted does not mean that’s the draft which would go to press. In fact, by the time the agents or editors extract that manuscript from the pile, the actual book is probably ten or more drafts down the road. As much as writers hate editing, we are drawn to it like flies to s--sugar. We certainly wouldn’t have a book sitting about when we could be messing with it.

Regarding that final claim: why shouldn’t readers like the book? Perhaps the gatekeepers don’t see it selling millions, or even thousands, but it may sell a couple of hundred. That trite, overdone, cliché-driven, vampire romance has an audience and if the writer can tap it, the book will sell. For that matter, the protectors of literature have notably rejected scripts which, once self-published, have won awards and/or sold millions. So much for their good judgement.

Now let’s take a look at industrial fear-mongering: a market flooded with self-published crap will make people give up on reading. Funny, a market flooded with traditionally published crap hasn’t made that happen. In fact, readership is up around the world for both types of publishing. But the gatekeepers are scared about becoming irrelevant and out of work. Therefore, they must ensure there is a need for their services. To accomplish that, they are scaring the public. This is akin to bicycle repair people shouting that the automobile is dangerous and should never be driven.

A do-it-yourself arts industry does quite well. Look at the popularity of independent films. Even better, look at indeed music! The entire world of punk was founded on do-it-yourself-because-the-industry-doesn’t-like-you. You needn’t look hard to find other examples in music: alternative, heavy metal, grunge... scenes spawned by public interest and driven by bands willing to ignore corporations. If they had not, there would be no REM, Nirvana, or Iron Maiden.

The gatekeepers would have us believe that they are the only ones qualified to judge quality literature, a conceit we readers have allowed to grow into this festering pustule. They have deluded us, and themselves, into the belief that all books must be vetted by so-called qualified individuals. Otherwise, readers will despair of finding anything worth reading and may decide to watch TV instead. This is patently untrue. Any reader is quite capable of sorting the wheat from the chaff. After all, we’ve been doing it for all of our reading lives. We skim covers and pick the one that catches our eye. We read the blurb and, sometimes, the first few paragraphs. Then we buy or, most often, decide the book is not for us and slip it back on the shelf. Why would this process change with self-published works? It wouldn’t. Bad or plain covers won’t get a second look. Uninteresting blurbs or bad writing will get immediately rejected, and we will move on to the next book. Just like always.

With one difference: these books have not been pre-selected by people who think they know better than you. In a retailer, you get to browse books published on the basis of what someone else thinks you will want, and you pick from that. With self-publishing, you get to browse a broader range - indeed, an entire catalogue - of books on offer. The difference is night and day. Buying from a retailer is like eating at a restaurant chain: you know what you will get and that it will be of a certain standard. Not necessarily an exiting meal, but edible. Browsing the self-published world is like going to a food fair: a huge variety of dishes on offer, some really good, some less-so, but all of them different.

The gatekeepers would have us believe that they are guardians of the written word, protectors of literature. Actually, they are the bling-draped bouncers at an exclusive club. The famous and the rich and their friends get to pass. The rest, no matter how well dressed or how skilled, are turned away. Now, not content with that, the bouncers are following their victims around, telling everyone that they are worthless. Elitist in the extreme, the gatekeepers are telling you, the audience, what you shouldn’t read. Luckily, the sales figures show you are no longer listening.

23 July 2010

Response to @MargaretAtwood 's take on g20 protests:

The Lady Protests Too Much.

I read Margaret Atwood’s article of 6 July (A Second Chance Or A Boot In The Face) in The Globe and Mail with fascination. The views of a leading Canadian author deserve to be read and considered. Atwood’s comparison between protests - one peaceful, one definitely not - was intriguing. Atwood’s speculations regarding government conspiracy to turn Canada into “Tinpot Dictatorship North” were alarming. Given her propensity for writing dystopian fiction, one can perhaps forgive Atwood for being incendiary.

What really bothered me was that this great thinker overlooked a fundamental point. She, like so many others, has drawn a line between government and protesters, as if the two are alien races. This pervasive Us-Versus-Them attitude is feeding the conspiracy minded and encouraging paranoia. Atwood’s unsubtle suggestions paint the government and police as dark forces aligned against society. Read too much of this sort of thing, and you may start seeing conspiracy everywhere. However, the only plotters that I saw were the black bloc.

The reality is that we are all one society: protesters, police, government officials, and the public. We live together, work together, and share the same values. As Canadians, we have built a county together and we run that country together. We all agree on certain things. We have delegated the operation of the country to government: people we select to represent us and do the grunt work. As voters, we control the government: we watch what they do, we evaluate their work, and we determine if they keep their jobs or not. There is no conspiracy. There cannot be because, unlike other so-called democratic countries, we the citizens pay very close attention to what our government does. Any attempt to seize total power in Canada would be met with immediate and determined response from us citizens in the form of elections, protests, or, in the extreme, revolt and assassination. Unlike dystopian models, we would have other vital citizens alongside us: the military and the police.

Speaking of which, these feebleminded denizens like to paint anyone in a uniform as agents of power, as automatons who exist only to do the bidding of the dictatorial government. That’s a good tool for fiction, but we must remember that underneath those uniforms are Canadians. People who live like us, who work like us, and who, like us, are opposed to the idea of government domination. Can you really believe that veterans from Afghanistan would blindly march into cities and open fire on the populace? More likely they would turn their guns on those who gave such orders. The police are even closer to us. They live with the rest of us, empowered by us to keep order and to protect us. Will they arrest criminals? Absolutely, that is their job. Will they quell riots? Of course, that’s what we want them to do. Not to mention that the police are protecting their own homes as well as ours. The police would not live in a dictatorship anymore than we would.

The idea of anyone trying to seize total control of Canada is laughable. How could that possibly work? We spend much of our time arguing now! Someone could declare themself king and overlord, and we’d likely all laugh at the lunatic and go on with our lives as normal. Canada is a country of consensus, a nation of discussion, and a society based on agreement. We work together to solve problems equitably and, above all, we are most concerned with our survival. Think of any major disaster in Canada: floods, ice-storms, hurricanes, forest-fires. What do we do? Everyone turns out to help. Along with the expected civil and military groups, individual citizens arrive from across the country to lend a hand. We all send donations. We make sure needs are met, people are helped. There is no sense of ‘someone else’s problem’. How could anyone achieve domination of a people that dedicated to each other?

We even back protests. Strikes, public information campaigns, marches, blockades... we may disagree on the issues, but we all agree that people have a right to be heard. The police presence at the G20 was not sinister, it was standard. We see it every time any large group of people hold a protest. We also see it during parades and celebrations and during the Stanley Cup. The police arrive to ensure order, prevent criminal activity, and provide assistance to everyone. From lost kids to drunken brawls to people who are just looking to cross the street, the police help. They even help protests by closing off the march routes so cars don’t run anyone over. When did these become acts of domination?

Look at the black bloc footage again. What do you see? Masked criminals trashing buildings and torching cars. If that had been a Grey Cup celebration, we wouldn’t still be talking about it. The offenders would be awaiting trials and life would be back to normal. But because the black bloc used the guise of protesting, some people feel the need to defend them and blame the government.

Watch the videos again and you will see something which should send chills through you. Don’t look at the people in black. Look at the people around them. Do you see crowds of ‘peaceful’ protestors watching the action? These bystanders claim innocence because they didn’t toss a brick. I say: you were there and that makes you a contributor. Did you try to stop the destruction? So you are peaceful protesters: why didn’t you surround the black bloc to prevent their actions? Did you shout at the criminals to stop? Did you call the police and tell them what was happening? Did you get out of the way, so security could do their job? If not, then you endorsed that violence and participated just as surely as if you smashed a CBC truck. You cannot be that close to the action and claim you were not involved.

If you witness criminal acts, then you have a responsibility to society. As a member of a community which protects rights, you have an obligation to intervene when those rights are violated. You are quite vocal about police excesses; what about the acts of protesters? Who is fixing windows, collecting money to pay for damages and unemployed staff, scrubbing off graffiti and soot?

If your response to those accusations is ‘That’s not my job!’ then you are declaring that you are not part of our community, not a member of our society, not a Canadian as we see ourselves. In which case, why should the rest of us be concerned about your rights? You obviously are not worried about ours.

We had an opportunity at this summit. We had a chance to show ourselves and the world that Canada is a country of peace, a place where protests can be held without violence. We blew it. Protesters themselves could have quashed the black bloc and didn’t. Instead, they endorsed the action and, by their mere presence on the streets, ensured the police would be overstretched. Protesters even permitted the criminals to mingle and avoid arrest. Yes, there will be investigations into police misconduct, and I’m sure the protesters will be only too willing to help nail a pig. How many will help turn in the black bloc?

Where’s the conspiracy now?

14 July 2010

Really, Really, Really, Innocent Victims of Columbine

This is a tale of media and public stupidity and how they can combine to destroy lives.

Cast your mind back to 20 April 1999: the Columbine High School shootings. We sat riveted to the TV as it unfolded, watching the massacre live. All the news agencies were there. Over the next 24 hours - and months ahead of the investigation - the media was offering evidence of the shooters’ motivations: violent video games, Hitler’s birthday, satanic music, being outcasts, black trench coats. Well before police had established what had happened, news agencies were giving us the why.

Remember what you did the day after? Remember how we all talked about the murders, the bombs, how teenagers could be so well armed, how they learned to make explosives, how much information was on the Internet and in the library? Remember how judgemental you were? If you were an adult, you blamed teens for being nuts. If you were a teen, you blamed adults for not understanding. If you had been popular in school, you blamed the outcasts for being weird and psychopathic. If you had been an outcast, you blamed the popular kids for being bullies. Whatever it was, we all had an opinion on who was responsible. And we were all talking about it.

Zoom in to a small town high school. In this case, one in rural Newfoundland, but any one will do. During morning recess, an average teen approaches an acquaintance. Normal asks Trenchcoat what he thinks about Columbine. The two chat away. The subject of bomb-making guides on the Internet is raised. The 15-year-old, black-clad, cyberpunk tells jock-boy it’s very easy to find, that he’s read some, and that the recipes are more dangerous to bomber than victim.

Nearby, a girl, rooting in her locker, overhears the words ‘bombs’ and ‘Internet’. She looks at the boy in black and runs to the principal’s office. She reports the incident and promptly departs for home.

Boy in Black is summoned to the office. Inside, the principal and guidance counsellor confront him. Do they ask about the conversation? No. Do they state the complaint and ask for an explanation? No. They demand to know why he wants to take chemistry the following year. He glibly answers that he is interested in fireworks and wants to work in theatre. Then he is asked to explain his attire. He answers that he likes his outfit. They ask about his Internet time. Plenty. Video games? Lots. Music? Variety from classical to heavy metal. The Boy in Black answers honestly, suspecting nothing, thinking this meeting is about his course selections for the following year. Imagine his shock when Principal and Guidance share a knowing look and then tell him he is to leave the building immediately and never come back.

Boy in Black refuses, demands to know what is happening. He is finally told that he was overheard making threats to blow up the school. He is, therefore, expelled immediately and is to leave school property forthwith. The janitor is searching his locker and bag (left in the outer office) and, if safe to do so, the contents will be turned over to the Boy at the exit. Boy tries to protest and is told the police would be called. Distraught Boy is escorted out by Principal and Guidance, handed his bag, and the door securely locked behind him. Boy walks home and calls his parents to tell them the confusing tale.

Fast forward a few hours. It is early evening in early spring, darkness falling during supper. Boy and parents are watching TV, wondering what to do about school. Sirens approach. Flashing red, white, and blue lights race around the walls. They all jump up to see which neighbour is in trouble, only to discover they are the ones with a driveway full of police cruisers. Hand on guns, two RCMP officers pound on the door, requesting entrance.

The girl who fled told her parents what she heard, described Boy, said he scared her. Her parents filed a police complaint, adding ‘information’ that Boy had guns and bombs and had threatened the school. One officer explained this as he questioned Boy and Mother at kitchen table. The other officer was searching the house. First, Boy’s unkempt bedroom and his pile of computer scrap. Then the officer inspected Father’s guns. As a hunter, he had several, all racked, firing pins and ammunition locked in a safe in the parent’s bedroom.

The police found nothing. After questioning, they concluded this was a case of over-reaction and that they would tell the girl's parents everything is fine.

The following morning, before the school board office was open, Mother went to the mall. There, she heard all the news: that her son was a criminal, a bomber, a psychopath; that he had guns, bombs, knives; that he threatened to blow up the school, the mall, the town; that he had been arrested, locked in a psyche ward, was on the run and a danger to everyone. Mother tried to say otherwise, but talking back to the town rumour mill is impossible.

Lawyers were called: nothing could be done about rumours or reputation. After all, the police had only been doing their job. The principal make have handled things badly, but he was still doing his job. Boy would just have to deal with it.

School board was called. Parents were told the expulsion stood. Parents called their government representative, who called the school board and told them that Boy has a right to an education. Three days later, a meeting was called and terms were announced. Boy would get a 2 week ‘leave’ to let things settle down and he could return to class after that. Provided, that it, he would be so kind as to visit a psychiatrist and provide a certificate saying that he was not a threat to anyone. After all, it’s only appropriate that the school should demand certificates of sanity whenever they want. Therefore, no certificate, no class.

All because of a conversation which everyone was having that day. Oh, and a black trenchcoat.

Eventually, Boy enrolled in a different school, did home schooling, then GED. He went on to do computer programming. Unable to find work in his field, he was hired at a call centre. He failed his security check. Even though there had been no arrest, no charges, no convictions, somewhere there was a record that he had been questioned by police.

Boy became Man and dreamed of serving his country. He applied at CSIS and failed his security check. He was told to get his record cleared. He couldn’t; there was no record, seemingly. He applied to the RCMP, passed the physical test, the medical, but failed his psych test because his medical record said he had seen a shrink about threatening his school. He tried to enlist in the Forces and failed both the psych and the security checks.

Five more years working in call centres, having to periodically explain to HR what had happened, that he couldn’t pass a security check because he had been questioned, but that he couldn’t get his record cleared because he didn’t have a record. At the end of five years, his centre closed and he was let go. For months he looked for work, had interviews, but no offers.

Meanwhile, the world had changed. The Internet had gone from a mysterious playing field for geeks to an essential tool for society, including prospective employers. One day, Man types his name into the most popular search engine. What does he find? The very first entry - indeed, the only entry - about him was a news story from 1999: Bomb Threats Lead to Expulsion. Which possibly explains Man’s inability to get a job.

All of the above is absolutely true. Don’t look for the article; the news agency in question was kind enough to remove it. No, it wasn’t me. But it did happen to someone I know.

In the weeks and months following Columbine, then Taber, we all discussed what happened. What could possibly drive a teen to take up arms? I don’t think we found an answer. But I did hear of a number of incidents like this one: teens suspended or expelled or otherwise humiliated because they wore overcoats, used the Internet, listened to the wrong sort of music. The media had created a profile and supposedly intelligent educators and psychologists seized an opportunity. Whether they intended to get rid of the ones they thought were trouble or actually believed these people really were threats, only they can say. What I can say is that these actions were exactly the sort of thing to push any unstable person over the edge to violence.

Sometimes, I think about Boy and wonder how much longer he is going to have to pay for the accusations of a scared girl. Then I think about the others, those that share his experience, and wonder if they are having the same problems now. Or did they simply drop out, give up, and flee? Or, are they off somewhere learning how to make bombs, how to shoot to kill, and planning revenge?

I try not to think about that last one too much.

13 July 2010

Buy Game Misconduct at BetterWorldBooks and support literacy (yours and someone else's)http://ping.fm/jX3Np

02 July 2010

New Blog Post: Uncivil Rest
#g20 g8 protest globalization

Uncivil Rest

I've been mostly avoiding commentary on the G20 since I wasn't there, but I've gotten sucked in to the accusations. I spent most of this afternoon reading the account of someone who was detained, watching related videos, and playing catchup. Here are my conclusions:

1 - If the accusations of misbehaviour have any validity, then some police need investigating. The police are supposed to defend and protect us all, even detainees. Threats of rape, beatings, and other horribleness are not proper police behaviour, they are the actions of power-mad bullies. They are the acts of criminals and are every bit as vile as burning police cars and trashing businesses

2 - There is a recurring theme from 'innocent' protesters, the non-violent ones. That theme is "we weren't doing anything!" Well, yes, I noticed that. I noticed a lot of regular protesters following or walking beside the black bloc, watching their destruction, not egging them on but not interfering. Yes, you weren't doing nuthin. No one so much as raised a voice to say "Put down that brick, don't set that car on fire, stop trashing the media vehicles." You were there. You could have stopped them. You didn't. That makes you complicit.

And don't say "that's the cop's job"; you didn't much like the way the cops did their job. And the defense of our community against madmen is the responsibility of us, the citizens. If you don't want to be involved, then stay the fuck home. If you want to protest peacefully, then keep the others in line. If not, go home and write letters. You cannot watch violence happen and pretend you are not involved. You are. As a member of a community, as a citizen, as one entitled to those rights you proudly claim, you have a responsibility. You bear the responsibility to act when you seen injustice, not just globally, but locally.

How to act in the face of violence? You shout out for the offenders to stop. You go to the nearest officer and report. You use your iphone to call 911. You gather your own group and peacefully surround the criminals to prevent them doing harm. You enlist help from bystanders. At very least, you leave the area and make sure that those who will act are not distracted by you. If you want to watch, go home and watch the news. Stay out of the way until the unrest is properly over. Not over for now, not over for this afternoon, over for good.

3 - Your arguements against global corporations may be valid, but they have nothing to do with the owner of that Starbucks, or the fry-guy at the MacDonalds. You may hate capitalism, loath commercialism, despism multinational corporations, and you are entitled to your opinion, and to express it. But what about that business owner with all the broken windows? Who is going to help him fix it? Not insurance; insurance policies do not cover civil unrest. When he has to close down for repairs, how will his staff get paid? Those people working for minimum wage, how will they make rent after losing a weeks pay? And what about you? Where will you get your morning coffee now? These businesses exsist because the community uses them. And, despite what you may think about logos and branding, each of these is a franchise - an independantly owned business which provides services and jobs for the community. The community you just helped destroy.

4 - Stop bitching about costs. Oh, security cost this much! And it didn’t work! Well, guess what? If more money was spent on security, if more police were on the streets, you would complain bitterly about the cost. If there was less spent, you would complain about feeling unsafe. If no money was spent, if there were no police, that mob would rampage through the city and you can be sure property would not be the only things hit. Do not delude yourself: there is no such thing as an ethical mob or a controlled riot. The contained damage was a simple result of the presence of police. Because of them, the black bloc had to change out of their costumes and into street clothes to avoid arrest. Without security, they would have continured until buildings were burning and people hurt and killed. You can bet it is a very short leap from throwing a brick through a franchise window to deciding that anyone wearing a logo is a collaborator and supporter. Then that mod will be after your nikes.

While we are on the topic of costs, how much do you think it will cost to replace the police cruisers and CBC vans? Where’s that money going to come from? From you, dumbass. The police and the media are not enemies, they are not some secret society designed to control us. They are us! Our taxes pay for these services, pay the police to protect us and the media to inform us. You went to a party and burned the couch, and the party was at your place.

5 - Stop bitching about your rights. Your individual rights do not take precedence of the rights of the community. In times of unrest, we must all surrender our rights so that those we have entrusted can restore order. Sure, being in a holding tank for a day or a week sucks if you are innocent. But that is the price you pay for having someone else protect you. That is the price of being part of a society. When the mob takes over, your charter rights will not be worth the price of a free call. If you want those rights, want to exercise those rights, then you have to acknowledge that you only get those rights through being a part of society. Once you have stepped outside of society, you don’t get those rights. You get nothing.

Despite what we may wish, legislate, or even swear, there is no such thing as an inalienable right. Rights are offered by communities. When societies collapse, there are no rights. Look at any area torn by war. The raped and murdered had no rights. The rapists and murderers felt no compulsion to grant any rights. Only when order is restored and society reformed can rights be granted to the victim and punnishment to the guilty. If you don’t believe that, try stopping a bullet with your passport.

If you want your rights, then you need to protect them. You need to be part of society. And that means acting in the interest of society. Protesting injustice is one way. Preventing violence is another. Protect your society, guard your rights, and then you can safely work towards helping other communities.

You want to be responsible global citizens? Start by being responsible period. Fix some windows. Take up a collection to pay the staff. Get a brush and scrub off some graffitti. Make the point that destruction of our community will not help anyone elses community. As the slogan goes, think globally, act locally.

01 July 2010

On canadaday follow the US invasion:
1 July - What is it? Read The Last Post:

The Last Post

There have been seriously conflicting emotions in Newfoundland about 1 July ever since we joined confederation. On 1 July 1867, Canada moved from being a British possession to being a country. Naturally, 1 July is Canada Day - a day to celebrate the country and what it means to be Canadian.

However, Newfoundland sees the date rather differently. On 1 July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme in the Great War, 801 soldiers of the Newfoundland Regiment went over the top at Beaumont Hamel in France. The Regiment was almost eradicated in 30 minutes by German crossfire. Yet, despite the mounting numbers of dead and wounded, the Newfoundlanders still fought hard to achieve their impossible objective. “The only visible sign that the men knew they were under this terrific fire,” wrote one observer, “was that they all instinctively tucked their chins into an advanced shoulder as they had so often done when fighting their way home against a blizzard in some little outport in far off Newfoundland.” Over 500 of the 710 casualties died, but as they were being carried to field hospitals, or lying near death, the Newfoundlanders only had one concern: Is the General pleased?

At roll call the following morning, only 68 members of the regiment answered the call. "It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault failed of success because dead men can advance no further." said the Divisional Commander of the Regiment’s effort. For this single action, the Regiment was granted ‘royal’ status. But the cost was huge: a significant portion of the small dominion’s generation.

Naturally, 1 July became Newfoundland’s memorial day. That is, until we joined Canada. Ever since, we have been torn; do we celebrate or mourn?

The answer is, both. Currently, activities on 1 July go as follow: sunrise ceremony making Canada Day, as we are the first province to get dawn. Then, morning activities consist of wreath layings and memorial services. Afternoon reverts to Canada Day celebrations. Every year, though, people complain about this combination.

For me, I see no problem with doing both. Beaumont Hamel must be remembered, marked, reflected upon. But I can guarantee that those who fought on that day, being Newfoundlanders, would have loved an excuse for a good party. Likewise, we should be proud of being Canadians. Canada is a wonderful country. A nation built upon understanding, consensus, compromise, and agreement. Every province joined by signature, not force. This sets the tone for the nation; we work things out, find appropriate solutions, and do not resort to force. Our reaction to those who do take up violence to make their point tends to be swift, harsh, and condemning. As with the FLQ Crisis, Oka, and most recently, the G20 summit, Canadians do not accept violence as a means of protest. If there is any one thing which is likely to unite opinion from coast to coast to coast, it is this. We don’t fight. We work things out.

Which is why the combination of Memorial and Celebration on 1 July makes sense to me. No one can help that 2 very different and very significant events occurred on this date. To relocate one event to another place in the calendar would be to do a disservice to that event. So we mark both, we mourn and remember and party and celebrate. And that’s as it should be.

A final word on The Great War. This is perhaps the most important conflict in human history, yet it is frequently overshadowed by other conflicts, particularly World War II. We would rather remember the second war. Owing to Nazi atrocities, we can safely and comfortably declare that the Allies were not only victors, but just in their victory. Hindsight lets us justify our violence, World War II in Europe clearly had good guys and bad guys and the good guys won. A wonderful epic which has been used by governments ever since to justify sending troops.

The Great War is very different. There is no clear reason for its beginning. It ended with capitulation rather than victory. There was really no right or wrong side, no good or bad, no black or white. Most of the war involved people dying over stretches of land no further than the corner store. Horrible weapons were used: machine guns, gas, flamethrowers. Millions died. And, in the end, nothing was really achieved by either side.

This makes remembering that war very awkward. We don’t like to be confronted with the idea that war may be useless, that we can never achieve anything by force. We desperately want to have faith that fighting will fix things. Negotiating and compromise is hard; fighting an easy default. We want heroes and villains, not a bunch of similar people dying because a monarch or government is unreasonable.

But this is exactly why The Great War is so important: it proves war’s futility. It also proves that we are not so different. Frequently, opposing forces would exchange pleasantries during breaks in the fighting. Troops singing to each other across no-mans-land. Christmas celebrations were enemies met and exchanged gifts, had pictures taken with each other. Post-battle analysis, when commanders would give credit to the enemy for a battle well fought, like teams shaking hands after a game. Soldiers would die and kill for their countries, because that was their role, but, despite the hatred that is inevitable for one who is trying to kill you, soldiers were also able to stand around, shake hands, exchange knowing looks that said, “I don’t know why we’re fighting either.” And this is a very important lesson. Soldiers, men and women, are unique and should be honoured for their ability to answer the call, to risk everything, because we have asked them to do so. But in honouring them, we, as citizens, must ensure that their sacrifice is meaningful and necessary, not dumb and futile. We must watch our governments closely, guard our emotions carefully, and ask if we cannot find a better alternative to combat.

During the Great War, in Gallipoli, Turkey, fighting was intense and fruitless. British forces - among them, Australians, New Zealanders, and Newfoundlanders - tried to force their way uphill and overland, attacking entrenched positions. Above, in the hills, the Turks held the high ground but were under supplied. Fighting was intense, supplies scarce for both forces. Commonwealth troops displayed many acts of bravery, as did the enemy. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkish commander, told his soldiers at the opening engagements of Gallipoli: "I am not giving you an order to attack, but I am ordering you to die!" Which the Turks did in great numbers, their sacrifice buying time for reinforcements to arrive.

Is their sacrifice any less significant than that of the Newfoundlanders at Beaumont Hamel? Is it less than those of the ANZACs at Gallipoli? No. And that is most significant - both forces are equally capable of bravery or atrocity, both are human and equal. Is it not true, then, that war should be needless?

In 1934, Ataturk erected a monument for Gallipoli. The inscription read: "Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives...you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us, where they lie, side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well." I have not seen any similar tribute, any equal monument, which honours and respects both sides of a conflict. (If you have, e-mail me, please!)

Canada is a nation of settlement, of agreement, the nation which invented peacekeeping. We all fundamentally believe that violence is wrong and that it must stopped, even if we need to become violent to do so. While we mark Canada’s nationhood, it is only fitting that we also reflect on this fact. Newfoundlanders and Canadians all, we should take time today to think about our military, the cost of conflict, and the meaning of the Great War. If you cannot attend a memorial, take time to think, make an effort to learn, search out information on the Somme, play the Last Post on your ipod. One thing is absolutely sure: The first day of the Battle of the Somme did as much to shape Canada as the British North America Act.

And we will remember.

Links for more info:

27 June 2010

POD and the Back Catalogue

Ever since I learned about print on demand (and well before I became involoved), I have been very excited by the concept. Many of my favourite books and authors have gone out of print, leaving me scouring 2nd hand stores. Not that I have a problem with that; lots of my best finds come from there and I like them more than retailers. But I had often thought "I wish I could just order this instead of spending months or years looking for it."

Enter POD. Simply put, print on demand works like this: a customer browses a catalogue or otherwise requests a book. Currently, a retailer then orders the book, it gets printed and shipped, and the reader receives a brand-new copy of whatever they wanted. Then there's the Expresso Book Machine - a modified copier-like device - which takes an electronic file of the book block and covers, prints and binds it, and delivers a completed edition. This machine does books one at a time rather than runn print runs. Several universities are in possession of the EBM but, eventually, the EBM may be standard equipment for any bricks and mortar store. Imagine a retailer which has eliminated pallet-loads of titles for a single copy. Your book would be manufactured while you waited!

More importantly, there's all the back catalogues. Publishers will not re-issue a title unless there is a sudden interest to justify the print runs (such as The Silmarillion, after The Lord of the Rings movies). Mostly, excellent books fade into obscurity because there isn't a demand for thousands of copies. But there could be demand for hundreds of copies, one at a time.

For me, the biggest challange is finding Mack Reynolds' books. Mack wrote a narrow offshoot of sci-fi - social fiction - from the 50's to his death in the 80's. He has well over a hundred titles to his credit, most published by the defunct ACE Science Fiction, all out of print. I really like his work and I would love to be able to walk into a retailer and buy a new copy. I'd probably buy one every week until I had them all!

POD will make this possible and I, for one, cannot wait!

12 June 2010

Penguin boss accused of sexual harassment

04 June 2010

True patriot love? Or cowardice in the face of the enemy?

31 May 2010

An insiders look at the Call Centre industry!

26 May 2010

Departed: Irene Urusula Martland @5:40am. Beloved wife of Jack, Mother of Deanna & Kevin,Gramma of Jeff,Joe & Shane,Great-Gramma of Callum.
Passed peacefully into the next world @ 5:40am, Irene Urusula Martland, after a protracted illness. Beloved wife of Jack, Mother of Deanna & Kevin, Gramma of Jeff, Joe & Shane, Great-Gramma of Callum.

19 May 2010

I guess it's payback for all the hyperbole I have written; my son keeps asking "And then?" writer book

16 May 2010

Finally! The callcentre book everyone has been waiting for! PLEASE HOLD! Ruminations of an Agent at a special introductory price. Act now! http://ping.fm/dhdiO
has just uploaded his new ebook: PLEASE HOLD! Ruminations of an Agent. Stay tuned for purchase info.

14 May 2010

has 40,000 words of call centre advice ready for formatting.
Now triple digit popularity! Call Centre: the Musical! http://ping.fm/AFOMr
have your say in canadian politics! marywalsh for governorgeneral!

13 May 2010

is rediscovering how bitter the call centre made him. This new book is an emotional rollercoaster!

11 May 2010

The End is Neigh!

Or at least neigher:

Tyra Banks Signs Multi-Book Deal With Delacorte Press
The first book in a series, MODELLAND, to be published in Summer 2011

Read more: Tyra Banks Signs Multi-Book Deal With Delacorte Press

I expect these will be ghostwriten. Not that I have an issue with anyone making money, but my point is that this is another example of publishers generating drivel because they can sell it without advertizing. A 3 book deal? It used to be a celeb-generated book was a one off, now houses are commiting to multi-year contracts.

It's not about different markets anymore. The retailers are loading up on the drivel-clones and bypassing decent books. Eventually, there won't be shelf space for any real work.

And, lo, what will ye read then?
New author page:
I never realized how much I learned and wrote about call centres!

10 May 2010

MW for GG: How it all began:
Now 1800 supporter for Mary Walsh for GG! Add your voice: http://ping.fm/SXYey?gid=113050448728197&ref=ts
compiling my vast collection of call centre articles and memos to form my next book.

09 May 2010

Selecting a GG:
“Mothers are all slightly insane.” – J.D. Salinger
"I can remember the first time I had to go to sleep. Mom said, 'Steven, time to go to sleep.' I said, 'But I don't know how.' She said, 'It's real easy. Just go down to the end of tired and hang a left.' So I went down to the end of tired, and just out of curiosity I hung a right. My mother was there, and she said 'I thought I told you to go to sleep.'"

— Steven Wright
"My mother had morning sickness after I was born."

— Rodney Dangerfield
"There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it."

— Chinese Proverbs

06 May 2010

ATTN: Coombs-Muramatsu wedding guests! Buy the book, get it signed at the wedding! http://ping.fm/8cFOj

05 May 2010

Why Coulter, or any other individual idiot, should be permitted to say whatever moronic thing flits through their head.

Written 25 March 2010

The Coulter gig in Ottawa got cancelled. Whatever the reason, this has added to her audience, boosted her profile, and sent even me out looking for her comments about the affair. Which is exactly what happens when ever there is controversy and what people like Coulter trade on.

Does Canada have limits on free speech? Yes. And so we should. But those limits are not about stifling a person from expressing their views. The laws are designed to prevent a speaker from inciting a group. Saying “I hate those people” is an opinion to which you are entitled. Saying “You should kill those people” is inciting action in others and illegal.

What pisses me off is when the phrase ‘freedom of speech’ is trotted out by the ignorant. Ann will say that she has the right to express her opinion. I agree. Ann would also say that she has the inalienable right to piss people off. There, we differ. Freedom of speech does not, can not, and should not ever, protect you from fallout for being an idiot. I have the right to walk up to Mike Tyson and call him names. Later, in my hospital bed, if I claim Mike infringed on my rights to expression, Mike claims provocation and the judge rules that I had it coming and should have known better. This is common sense.

So yes, Coulter should be permitted to speak. Put her on TV, Radio, Call-In Shows, and Stages everywhere. Let her open her oversized gob as wide as she wants, all the better to swallow her own pontoon-feet. Because if you have heard her, or read her, then you know: Coulter is an unfortunate sufferer of the horrible affliction knows as common-sense deficiency. The more she talks, the more people will find out.

And sooner or later, she may even meet Mike Tyson.

For further examination of Ms. Coulter’s terrible illness:

04 May 2010

The sensation that's seizing the e-nation!
Now over 1500 for MW for GG!

On Selecting a GG

Dear Editor,

This past Sunday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff raised an extremely important issue; one which was lost in translation as media focused on his offered solution, not the perceived problem. That problem is this: Should the Governor General, as a political appointment, be determined solely by the Prime Minister or should all parties be involved? Should average Canadians have a say? Those questions were buried as Iggy proffered the solution of extending Michaëlle Jean’s tenure.

But those questions bear further examination. We tend to think of the GG as a figurehead, a tour guide for foreign visitors, sort of a site interpreter for the country. In truth, the Governor General is so much more. The GG is the Head of State and Queen’s Representative, although the former far outweighs the latter. The GG is also Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces. And while it is important that the Governor General glad-hand dignitaries to improve international relations and, should the need arise, become a rallying point for the military, Her Excellency serves a more important role. The Governor General is responsible for ensuring that the Government adheres to Parliamentary procedure. In other words, the GG is supposed to make sure that our elected representatives do not play fast and loose with the rules. The Governor General acts for us, the citizens of Canada.

The mere existence and authority of this position helps keep government in line, but don’t think it a toothless position. In 1925 during the King-Byng affair, Governor General Lord Byng Vimy refused to dissolve King’s minority parliament in favour of giving the near-equal opposition a chance. Byng also refused King’s instruction to contact Britain for advice, thereby ensuring all future GGs would be free to act as they saw fit. Byng was later quoted as saying, “Right or wrong, I have acted in the interests of Canada.”

Which is exactly what a GG should do and what, perhaps, Michelle Jean could have done better over the prorogation issue. This is also specifically why the GG should not be appointed solely by the sitting government. The Governor General must look to their duty to Canada and not feel beholden to a Prime Minister for appointment or shared political views. The Governor General must be above party politics and be willing to do the unpopular if it is right for the country.

These facts make choosing a Governor General complicated. Obviously, politicians, sitting or retired, are disqualified as the skills which make a successful politician are unlikely to produce someone who can be both conciliatory when dealing with difficult dignitaries and yet be staunch with our government when required. Former legal professionals may be well qualified to represent the people, but would they serve well as a head of state? Shouldn’t the GG be someone known and respected by the public?

Looking at some of the current top contenders and suggestions, we can rule out many. Former soldiers, even top generals, are too authoritarian to be head of state, especially when called upon to play host to former enemies. The exception to this may just be General Romeo Dallaire, but I think most Canadians would agree that he has far more important work to do as a Senator and with the UN, fighting genocide and the use of child soldiers. Rick Hansen, seemingly the top contender, is certainly high profile through his charity work, but would he be willing and able to impose the people’s will on parliament? Does he have more than average knowledge of parliamentary procedure? Or is the choice of Rick based on the concept of a figurehead of state? Would such a move not further erode parliamentary process? Then we have the sports figures and celebrities. Being an athlete, coach, or commentator really does not qualify one to be the chief parliamentarian, nor does representing Canada in global athletic competitions generate the skills needed to be an ambassador. And, despite the feelings of some, playing captain of a starship does not give you any military or diplomatic skill.

Which narrows the field greatly. What we need is someone who is well known and well respected by the public. Someone who has experience interacting with foreign dignitaries. Someone who is knowledgeable about politics without being involved in such. Someone who has demonstrated that, despite her own political views, she is quite capable of treating all politicians equally.

To me, there is only one person who fits this list: Mary Walsh.

Obviously Mary is well known and well respected. Her high-profile career on This Hour Has 22 Minutes has shown her to have a national and international perspective on Canada. She does not suffer from the tunnel-vision of regionalism. In her various guises as pseudo-media, Ms. Walsh has be in close contact with important visitors to Canada and has comported herself as their equal. In domestic affairs, no party nor leader nor high-profile MP could or can consider themselves free from her criticism. This work has, of necessity, required Mary to learn much about the rules of parliament. As an activist for a variety of causes, Ms. Walsh is skilled in representing groups and working with politicians. As for representing the will of the people, Mary’s late public appearances and career-long commentary has proven she can and will speak on our behalf.

Kindest Regards,
Jeff Rose-Martland
Creator of the Mary Walsh for Governor General of Canada facebook group

03 May 2010

is not a toy. Please keep out of reach of children.
is seeking paying magazines who purchase fiction, creative non-fiction, and horror.

02 May 2010

setting up the sights, linking the links, and generally spreading myself around
Testing, Testing, Testing

01 May 2010

Free Novel for the Military!

Game Misconduct now available as free download to military personnel. email name, rank, unit or uniform pic to to rosemartland@gmail.com for details.

30 April 2010

How it all began...

It was winter, 2002, and I was writing my first novel...mostly to see if I could.

The US had invaded Iraq along with the ‘coalition of the willing’. Canada wasn’t willing. Along with that, our two countries had been arguing over trade since the Clinton administration. After 9-11, Bush neglected to thank Canada for all our help and taking in the displaced air travellers. Some Liberal backbenchers referred to the president in less than glowing terms (I thin ‘idiot’ was the mildest). The press on both sides of the border were doing their best to fan the flames. In the middle of all this, the US entered Iraq with claims that they would be welcomed with open arms.

That bugged me. After all, no matter how bad your government, you don’t want someone from the other side of the world invading. I watched the army roll across the desert. I watched Hussein’s troops surrender in droves. I watched staged media events of American troops being cheered, of Saddam posters being stomped on, of the statue being torn down. It was interesting to flip between American and non-American news channels to get different fields of view. CNN appeared to show crowds of happy Iraqis. The BBC, which had a wider lens, showed the ‘crowd’ was a few dozen people. Most of the citizens of Baghdad hung back, uninvolved. Perhaps they were glad for the fall of Saddam, but they were not cheering. Days later, the counter-attacks started and continue even now. The people of Iraq may not have wanted Hussein, but they don’t want America either.

All of which tumbled about in my brain like a load of sneakers in a dryer - smacking, banging, irritating, and sort of amusing. I considered Iraq. I pondered US-Canada relations. I wondered what would happen if the US suddenly realized that we supply 60% of their oil and that Canada is a lot closer than the Middle East. The answer? Invasion. What would I do? Would I stand back and watch? Would I seize a hunting rifle and shoot back? Would I hide? Would I start making improvised explosive devices?

When the dryer’s buzzer went, I was typing away madly, already scripting the US invasion of Canada. I snatched news clippings of the day, re-worded them, and had a background of declining relations and increasing tensions. I drew characters from across the country, ready to gauge their reaction. I drafted a presidential address and a parliamentary response. I created a President and a Prime Minister from whole cloth.

But I was very careful in selecting a Governor General.

I didn’t want a fictional character. I wanted a real person, someone believable. This would add weight and substance to the fictitious plot. I agonized for days considering athletes, politicians, activists, musicians, and discarding them all as unrealistic. Who would believe Ashley Mac Isaac or Don Cherry could advance to the role of Queen’s Representative?

Then it struck me. Mary Walsh. This Hour has 22 Minutes had become a leviathan of Canadian political commentary with MPs willing to put themselves in outrageous situations just for the chance to appear. Not only was Mary a driving force behind the show, one of the actors and a contributing writer, she had more. She was developing political clout.

During the Chrétien reign, Mary developed the character of Marg Delahunty, an average East coaster who spouted political views from her bed and bath, lacing into whatever MP had the biggest case of foot-in-mouth disease that week. Marg became a recurring figure, cropping up whenever something serious needed to be said. In a funny way, in funny positions (I believe Mary was suffering from back problems at the time), Marg could expose what we all were thinking.

Then Xena Warrior Princess becomes a massive hit. Parliament disintegrates into squabbling over the PM's footrest. And Marg transforms. The bathrobe comes off, the former caterpillar emerges metamorphosed, and Marg Princess Warrior marches off to Ottawa. In the now famous scanty red velvet suit and armed with a plastic sword, Marg is gone to the Hill to straighten out ‘that crowd up there’.

This was exactly who I needed. Anyone who could so brazenly speak for the people could surely be elevated to the lofty post of Governor General. So that’s how I wrote it: Mary Walsh - actor, writer, comedienne, and Head of State for the Country of Canada.
Later, as publication approached, I, somewhat shamefacedly, contacted Mary requesting her permission to enthrone her, albeit in the pages of a novel. As gracious and supporting of the arts as always, she gave me the Yes B’y and off I went.

A year and a different world later, the GG was stepping down and some nerds had the bare-faced gall to start a petition to put Cap’n Kirk in charge. Just what we need, a Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces who keeps wanting to fire photon torpedoes and set Parliament on auto-destruct (not that it needs help).

I stewed. I resisted for 24 hours. I tried had to keep my mouth shut and not let the Trekkies bug me. I knew that no one takes them seriously. Then I thought about how Jedi was a recognized religion in the UK because a whole lot of similarly-minded folk wrote that on the census. Something had to be done of our next official language might be Klingon. So I did. I started a counter petition. I was half-kidding, in that I wanted to show up Shatner. I was half serious, in that I figured IF the PM would listen to the people, the people should recommend a good candidate not a crank or someone who’s claim to fame is the decibel level of their suits. As for an excellent choice, I did not have to think at all. I already had sorted this out.

See, in the intervening years between concept and print, Mary had become even more political. She openly supported a variety of causes and politicians. She appeared alongside the three opposition leaders to show her support of a coalition government. Mary wielded plastic sword and sharp tongue at the Prime Minister, delivering deathly blows of both in open criticism of his policies and practices. In a brilliant bit of political showmanship, Mary held a bonfire sweater burning mocking his attempts to look friendlier on the campaign trail. Yes, now even more than then, my choice for Governor General made complete sense. So naturally, I didn’t expect anyone to take it seriously. I posted the group, invited my friends, and expected them all to give me a pat on the head. That’s how they usually treat someone with my combined condition of creativity and lack of discipline.

Imagine my surprise when, just three days later, the CBC wanted to interview me. They were taking me seriously. Or perhaps they just needed to fill five minutes of morning airtime. And I, like the head case I am, said absolutely! I’ll do it! What else am I going to do at a quarter to eight in the morning? I’ll take a stab at being queen-maker.

Twenty-four hours, 1 interview, and 2 national news feeds later, Mary’s support is growing. I’m not the only one who thinks that, plastic sword or not, Ms. Walsh is a perfect fit for the Governor General’s seat. Mary, for her part, seems bemused by the whole thing. Like me, I expect she doesn’t really expect anything to come from my campaign. After all, she has made enemies in Ottawa as well, especially of our PM, who will be deciding who gets to move in to Rideau Hall. I’m sure she thinks this is a nice tribute but little more.

I’m just running with it. I want to see where it goes. Could the people of Canada really get together and choose their next Head of State? Can we gather so much support that the PM dare not ignore our wishes? Could Mary actually get the job? (After all, it would be her doing, not mine. All I did was point her out. She did the work.) If so, what then? If I managed to predict a Governor General, will more of my book come true? Will the US actually invade?

Probably not.

But if you do make it to Rideau Hall, Ms. Walsh, I like a GG Award for writing. Thanks.