Seven In 10 Canadians Don't Think Through The Little Details When They Answer Surveys

According to this poll (Leader-Post), most Canadians think it should be mandatory to observe two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day.*

So I guess that NOT being silent would be, what's the word...compulsory?

So, it would be...against the law to talk?

Just checking. Good to know my fellow Canadians appreciate all these "freedoms" our soldiers supposedly die for.**

*Yes, I read the article, and I realize that the poll was probably skewed because 54 per cent of respondents have relatives in a war.

** Yes, yes, I recognize that the article does a good job of pointing this out. I like the one veteran's quote: "We don't need to legislate this. We need to remember our soldiers have fought for freedoms -- freedom of the press, freedom to enjoy the Olympics or the freedom to protest them, and the freedom to observe two minutes of silence." But come on, SOMEBODY around here has to belabour the point. And if not me, then who?

Happy Birthday Carl Sagan

Astronomer, author and famed champion of science, Carl Sagan, would have been 75 today. (He died in 1996 of pneumonia brought on by myelodysplastic syndrome.) His PBS show Cosmos had a huge impact on me as did his book Demon Haunted World. They're a big part of why I can get a little ranty sometimes about the importance of approaching things rationally and not relying on more intuitive types of knowledge. As Sagan put it (in a line used in the video below), "I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this cosmos."

Science is often condemned for being dry, dull, too hard, but Sagan was one of its most eloquent advocates, able to distill down to their essence the biggest ideas our species has come up with. He made science personal and inspiring.

Video from the Symphony of Science website.

Six In The Morning

1 TWENTY YEARS LATER It's been two decades since the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the cold war. The Guardian has a special section on the notable anniversary, including this great photo gallery from whence I nicked this pic.

2 U.S. HEALTH REFORM STILL PASSED It's true. In case you missed it over the weekend. Good news for the estimated zillion Americans with no medical insurance. And here's something fun: Roman Catholic bishops lobbied hard to make sure abortions would not be publicly funded. Because people who are opposed to abortion for religious reasons should get to boss everyone else around. "Yay" separation of church and state. (New York Times)

3 HOORAY HOORAY FOR BYELECTION DAY Four ridings are up for grabs today. Will the Tories win one? They might! How exciting! (Exciting = horrible). (The Globe And Mail)

4 STELMACH STICKS Alberta's Premier holds onto his job. (Calgary Herald)

5 LOWEST OF THE LOW One low-income Regina neighbourhood only had 14 per cent voter turnout in the civic election. (CBC)

6 SOME FOOTBALL TEAM DID SOMETHING SPECIAL Thirty three years between first place finishes and worth the wait, says everybody. (Leader-Post)

Pick of the Day: Vertigo Reading Series

I don't think the title of this reading series is meant to be taken literally. If you drop by Aegean Coffee & Tea tonight at 7 p.m., it's not likely that you'll be swept into a dizzying votex and lose your lunch (pun intended). Instead, what you will be treated to (again, pun intended) is readings by Canadian authors.

The puns stem, by the way, from the fact that one of the authors who will be reading is prairie dog's esteemed dining critic Dave Margoshes. He's got a new book of poetry out called The Horse Knows the Way, and he'll be reading selections from it. Joining him at the podium, or mic, or whatever the set-up at Aegean is, will be Catherine Owen, David Carpenter, Betty Jane Hegerat and Dee Hobsbawn-Smith.

I couldn't find any video of these authors in action, so here's the trailer for the classic 1958 Hitchcock thriller (poster above) to whet your appetite. And as an added bonus, here's the video for U2's song "Vertigo" (YouTube) And as a third bonus, look for one of our patented multi-faceted cover features on the state of SaskLit and the upcoming Saskatchewan Book Awards in our Nov. 19 issue.