Hugs for Haiti

If there's a country in the world that needs a big hug right now it's Haiti. It's not really practical to hug a country, of course. But Friday the University of Regina Education Students' Society will do the next best thing. From 9 a.m.-noon they'll be at Riddell Centre on the university campus dispensing hugs and collecting donations. Then from 1-3 p.m., students will be doing the same thing downtown at the Cornwall Centre's main floor kiosk. Other student societies on campus are engaged in fundraising projects of their own, and at the beginning of February the money will be pooled and donated to earthquake relief in Haiti.

Last Call for Submissions

Saskatchewan musicians and filmmakers are reminded that Sunday, Jan. 31 is the final day for them to submit their music or film to organizers of the NXNE Festival which this year will run from June 16-20 in Toronto. This is a big-ass festival with concert showcases, conferences featuring music industry heavyweights, and a music-themed film festival with concert flics and indie docs from around the world. Over the years, NXNE has helped boost the careers of artists such as Feist (pictured), Billy Talent, k-os and Sufjan Stevens. For more details on how to apply, check out www.nxne.com

SCES gets new website

The Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society has a new, shiny website.

It's an immediate improvement over the old site. It links to all their social media pages, there's the space to include bios and information on bands, and it just looks really nice. (For the record, Saskatchewan company Squareflo designed it.)

The site also reflects some changes in the past year at the Exchange, most importantly the creation of the 8-Track Gallery.

It would be wonderful if they could consistently post links to the bands' websites and post events more advance. Keep the ball rolling, SCES.

Tech Talk

Will Apple's new Tablet which is scheduled to be unveiled later today in San Francisco by Steve Jobs meet with a better reception than this Sony product did last year, I wonder? (Onion News Network)

No D&D for Prisoners

An inmate of Wisconsin's Waupun prison has lost his legal battle to play Dungeons and Dragons behind bars.

Apparently, the ban against the world's nerdiest pastime was imposed because prison officials were concerned that the game promotes gang-related activity and could be a threat to security.

Okay. A few things....

Back in my day, the worry was that D&D promoted Satanism. Glad to see that we've moved on and that had nothing to do with this ruling.

But "gang-related activity"? First of all, the game doesn't promote gangs, they're called "adventuring parties." Way to make yourself look stupid, Waupun prison officials.

Frankly, I think the only gang-related activity they should be worried about are all the pantsings being doled out to D&D boy by prison gangs.

Second, shouldn't the prison officials be happy to see their inmates playing D&D? Isn't that better than them doing drugs? Or making shivs in the metal shop? Afterall, a ruling like this is just going to drive the trade in D&D paraphernalia underground. And, how many cigarettes does a d20 go for these days, anyway?

One argument advanced in defense of the ruling is that part of the justice system is punishment and taking away a prisoner's access to a preferred hobby is part of that punishment. But you know, if you don't let prisoners have any hobbies and expect them to do nothing but stare at the walls in penitence, you really haven't thought through this whole "imprisoning people for life" concept. Take away everything that helps these guys pass the time and, you know, keeps the human and you're just asking for riots.

UPDATE JAN 28: Damn. Damn. Damn. I just today realized what the title for this post should have been: "Prisoner Fails Save Versus The Man"

Canadian Cynic is on to something

The gang at that blog (Canadian Cynic) is demanding that Conservative politicians, who said that they were so busy with work that Parliament had to be prorogued, account for their time off work. Well, one of them -- Randy Hoback (Prince Albert) -- should provide a report to his constituents and the House of Commons about the price of suntan oil in California during his vacation (Prince Albert Daily Herald). Lazy idiot.

Canada's Health Care System Doesn't Suck

First off, I'm not dying. I'm not even sick. Just having a bit of back trouble. Nothing serious.

But, I did have to have an MRI. As a precaution. Now, considering how often I've heard in the media how crazy long the MRI waiting lists are and considering how on talk radio, the MRI backlog is one of their many canards used to justify further health care privatization, when I was told I was being signed up for one, I figured, well, it'll be months before I have to worry about that. Up to a year, I figured I'd be waiting around.

So, how long did I have to wait to get an MRI?

Three weeks.

That's it. Three weeks. And it's not like they were calling me in on short notice to fill a cancellation. They phoned me a week in advance to schedule my appointment.

And you know, when the doctor was filling out my paperwork, there's a triage rating from one to five that he had to circle. And I was put at the lowest priority for an MRI. So, when the MRI people were surveying their list to decide who gets to go next, I was one of the last people they picked.

And still I got in in three weeks. I'm sure if I had something really worrisome they could have had me in even sooner.

Hats off to the folk in the General Hospital MRI clinic.

You know, I hear a lot about how broken our public health care system is. And I can't deny that I've had a few frustrating encounters with it. But most of the time I've nothing to complain about. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Pick of the Day: Shumiatcher Sandbox Series

I'm cheating again. But this urge I have to do a post tomorrow on Motley Crue is one I simply can't deny. So today's pick is for a show that opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Globe Theatre as part of the 2009-10 Sandbox Series.

If you pick up a copy of the Jan. 28 issue of prairie dog (due to hit the streets tomorrow around noon) you'll find a preview by Carle Steel. I don't want to steal her thunder by lifting stuff from the article to give to you now, so I'm just going to offer up some bare-bones info. Created by Melanie Hankewich and Jeremy Sauer (pictured above), the work is titled The Unforeseen Journey of Nathaniel Dunbar & Other Tales of Whimsical Sadness.

For ten years now, Sauer and Hankewich have been performing together in the local jazz group The Continos. With this project, they've created a musical narrative that, according to the press release, relates through songs and vintage photos the story of one man and his philosophical exploration of mortality and infinity.

I'll be checking out Thursday's opening night performance, so look for a Dog Blog review on Friday. Run dates for Nathaniel Dunbar are Jan. 28-30 and Feb. 3-6.