National Novel Writing Month

So I have decided to join National Novel Writing Month, just because I have so much time on my hands and nothing else to do. Well, that’s a lie, but see? That makes me a perfect candidate to write a 175 page novel.

175 pages. Oh dear me. What have I gotten myself into this time?

Something that 15’000 people got into last year. And apparently, some of them were quite good. Although it does seem unfair that so many people are going to get to read so many books for free (and musicians thought they had it bad…), I’m looking forward to rising to the challenge and writing 175 page in 30 days. That’s what, between 5 to 6 pages a day? If I use a 24 point font and double space it, I could do it in no time.

Just kidding – I’m going to use a normal font, no worries.

And now, to come up with a good beginning…

Best Halloween worthy X-files episodes – Seasons 6 through 9

Halloween is over, but autumn is perfect for watching scary movies at least for another couple of weeks (before Christmas movies start rolling). I have received a couple of email asking me for my favourite Halloween-worthy episodes of the seasons 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the X-files and so, here they are:

Terms of Endearment (6 x 06): Halloween being the night when demons and goblins come out, it’s only normal that this episode, about demon babies, made the cut.

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (6 x 08): This episode is the perfect bridge between Halloween and Christmas; our fearless X-files agents explore a house haunted only once a year, on – you guessed it – Christmas day. Witty and a little spooky, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a mug of steaming hot chocolate.

Tithos (6 x 09): Imagine if you could see which person could die, in the moments preceding their deaths. What would you do? This creepy guy chose to… photograph them. It’s an… interesting choice, to put it nicely, isn’t it?

Arcadia (6 x 13): Picture-perfect neighborhoods are often only perfect on the outside; if you want to be creeped out by the newest developments in your area, watch what kind of monsters lurk in this development.

Agua Mala (6 x 14): Rain, rain, go away, and take away the man-eating monster you carry while you’re at it.

Trevor (6 x 17): Try hiding from a man bent on revenge who just got out of prison. Oh, yeah, did I mention that he can walk through walls?

Millenium (7 x 05): The X-files’ first (and, if I am not mistaken, only) zombie episode. Halloween, the millennium, zombies – do I really need to go any further?

Signs and Wonders (7 x 09): Creepy sect with creepy snake related rituals and weird people being possessed – get ready for some major chills!

Theef (7 x 14): Revenge & voodoo: the perfect combination to ensure you never are able to sleep with a doll ever again. Perfect therapy – cheaper than a therapist!

Invocation (8 x 05): It seems that many episodes featuring creepy kids are making this list. Here is yet another kid, creepy by the fact that he returns to his parents ten years after having been kidnapped looking exactly the same as the day he disappeared.

Badlaa (8 x 10): Definitely one of the creepiest X-files episodes, in which a mystic smuggles himself out of India to go on a murderous spree in the United States.

Scary Monsters (9 x 14): Remember thinking their might be monster under your bed, and your parents would tell you it’s just your imagination? Unfortunately, these monsters cannot be contained in this little boy’s imagination.

And then it was over, and, six years later, I’m still grieving.

Review: Ugly Betty, Episode 6, Season 3

Last week’s episode of Ugly Betty was great, even if, yet again, poor little Justin wasn’t given much space. OK, OK, I admit, I’m pushing the Justin angle a little too much. Maybe they should just do a spin-off (God save us…).

I was wondering if thing lightening up between the Meades and Wilhelmina would take from the show the spice that made it so wonderfully unique. While there does seem to still be space for intrigue and manipulation, it’s nothing compared to what was going on during the first two seasons. Will it be enough to keep the show the success it has been up to now?

Let’s take a closer look at what went on last week.

The fight between Betty and Kimmie seems to be an assistant-level reproduction of the tension between Daniel and Wilhelmina vying for the Editor-in-Chief position. It was quite entertaining and gave the feel-good lesson of sticking to ones values, as well as justice prevailing when intelligent parties are involved in the situation. It makes you wonder if justice will prevail if the parties hasn’t been intelligent… But maybe that’s an angle the show can explore. I also like the message that while you can definitely get places by backstabbing and manipulating others like Kimmie did, you run the chance of eventually getting caught up in your own lies. Speaking of Kimmie, I liked Lindsay Lohan’s performance on the last two episodes, although I wasn’t too impressed with reports of her diva-ness on set.

While it was obvious from the beginning that the way too timely arrival of Connor Owens was suspicious, I have to admit that I didn’t see the friendship between him and Daniel coming. This could (hopefully) be the beginning of increasing tensions between Daniel and Wilhelmina.

Speaking of which, Vanessa Williams’ portrayal of Wilhelmina continually impresses me. I and, I’m sure, many people out there have a fabulous love/hate relationship with this woman who is so determined to get what she wants by any means possible, and yet seems so vulnerable at other times. The only thing that bothers me is that Wilhelmina’s typical white outfits are, well, gone! It’s unsettling to see her wearing anything other than white. Is this a reflection of the new Wilhelmina? If so, come back, oh evil Wilhelmina wearing white, white and more white!

And, big surprises: there is a new love interest, as Betty flirts with her neighbour. The preview for next week shows Amanda moving in – which could create quite an interesting entanglement. Already the idea of Amanda and Betty living together is quite hilarious; the idea of Betty and Amanda vying for attention from the same guy, even more so.

The writers continue delivering some really funny lines. A couple of noteworthy ones:

  • Betty came home with a huge basket of fruits and Ignacio quips: “I left Mexico so that my family wouldn’t have to sell fruit on the street!”
  • Amanda, referring to Kimmie, tells Betty “We are facing a problem that affects us all: global warning”, right after which Mark quips that “the inconvenient truth is that Kimmie is taking too much space”.
  • Hilda recommending a haircut “the Senator Clinton, the style that never quits”.
  • Kimmie, not wanting the necklace in the Adriana Lima shoot, telling Wilhelmina: “Don’t worry baby! Sit back, relax, and have a doughnut”, to which Wilhelmina replies: “Do you have a death wish?”.
  • Wilhelmina, panicking about the lack of tico berries for the same photo shoot (which, by the way, don’t exist), tells Betty: “I know what they say about models, but this one is a smart one”; then, on cue, Adriana Lima is shown brandishing a Rubik cube she just finished solving then asking for the Sunday New York Times crossword.

Speaking of which, Adriana Lima is gorgeous and so was the dress she wore for the photo shoot.

While Ugly Betty is still lovely to watch and I am looking forward to next week’s episode, I have to admit the show is definitely not yet at par with its own performance during the last two seasons and even at the beginning of this season. Hopefully the arrival of Connor and the birth of Wilhelmina’s baby will stir up a little trouble. And hopefully Alexis will also come back. This show wasn’t made for tidy endings, not when they come with a pretty little bow.

To allow or not to allow – self-preservation, racism or selfishness?

The longest part of this post was the title; I didn’t know if I should be direct, subtle or what. You can see that I decided to go all out and be direct.

This story popped into my inbox today, courtesy of a lovely lawyer friend of mine who works with immigration cases. A personal note said: “This job is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Five years, and I am ready to switch. Do you think corporate law would be easier?”

First of all, especially in today’s world, I don’t think corporate law would be easier.

Second of all, I deeply sympathize with my friend, because it’s cases like these that make one question everything about our ‘Canadian’ culture – are we really the wonderful people that we think we are? Or rather, is it difficult to hold on to our collective ‘wonderfulness’ when the world around us is trying more and more to take advantage of us?

MD rejected for immigration because daughter could burden Medicare

A Calgary critical-care doctor’s application for permanent residency has been rejected because one of his daughters might be a drain on the health care system. South African physician Stanley Muwanguzi says his 22-year-old daughter has been institutionalized since she was a toddler and he has no intention of moving her to Canada.

“It has been a nightmare…. [That] this is happening in Canada is truly shameful. That is the only way to put it,” he said.

Muwanguzi, who works at the Peter Lougheed Hospital, has been practising in Canada since 2002. A letter from the government sent to Muwanguzi says he doesn’t meet the requirements for immigration to Canada.

The letter says that under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a “person whose health condition, severe developmental delay associated with cerebral palsy, might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services,” is inadmissible to Canada.

Since Muwanguzi’s “non-accompanying family member is inadmissible to Canada,” he is also “inadmissible.”

(…)

Doctor son also wants to immigrate

Muwanguzi said if he doesn’t receive an answer soon, he will have to move to the United States.

Wendy Danson, his lawyer, said Canada needs doctors like Muwanguzi. His son in South Africa, another practising doctor, would also like to move here, she said.

“Here we have someone so skilled, who has a son equally as skilled that would join him in a flash. There is no logic behind it.”

Muwanguzi, a father of five, has two daughters living with him and his wife, Susan, a teacher in Calgary, as well as two sons living in South Africa. One of his daughters is a pre-med student at the University of Alberta and is paying high international student fees of about $30,000 a year.

The couple returns to South Africa once a year to visit their sons and their daughter with cerebral palsy, who isn’t capable of recognizing them or even talking. (Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect control of movement and posture and that limit activity.)

Muwanguzi said it’s wrong he is being rejected “because of the notion that my daughter would be a drain on the Canadian economic system.”

“I told the Immigration [Department] very clearly that I didn’t want to destabilize my daughter. She has been in the same institution since she was 18 months old.… They are looking after her very well,” he said. “There is no reason to move her. It would actually be detrimental.” (…)

You have to admit, this is one tough dilemma. On the one hand, the Canadian government has to make sure it protects the interests of Canadians, while on the other hand extending a helping hand to all those it can possible help.

But how do we calculate this? It seems to cold to calculate a person’s worth by the money they will make (and, consequently, the taxes they will pay) and their contribution to society. But I don’t see any other way of going about doing it.

The one insight that I did gain from reading this article is this: these are the cases which makes people disengage themselves from involvement in the affairs of their countries. Why dirty your hands and participate in a discussion bound to make one uncomfortable?

Maybe we will not figure out anytime soon how to solve these ethical dilemmas, but one thing is certain: the more we wait before starting a truly open and honest discussion, the more we delay their resolution.