The Oxford English Dictionary defines icon as ‘a symbol or graphic representation on a screen of a program, option, or window’, which doesn’t work until you look at the second definition, which is ‘a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.’

There are few words in English usage today more overused than ‘icon’. It’s gotten so bad — even Khardashians are called ‘icons’ of one sort or another — that I vowed not to use the term. But this year, the word has been used correctly — again, and again, and again.

Consider the icon toll of 2016. David Bowie, genuine music icon. Prince, another true icon. Harper Lee, literary icon, even if it was for only one book (To Kill a Mockingbird). George Martin, music icon for his production of The Beatles albums. Garry Shandling, comedy icon. Merle Haggard, country music icon. Morley Safer, TV news icon. Last week, Muhammad Ali, a cultural and sports icon. And now, on Friday, the first Canadian icon to fall. Gordie Howe, Canadian icon, sports hero and the greatest hockey player in the history of the game.

Gordie’s best playing days predated my interest in hockey. In fact, he was around for so long, Gordie’s career pre-dated me entirely. Even though the only time I would have seen him play was in his waning days in the old WHA (where he played with his sons, Mark and Marty), Howe was one of those people — yeah, an icon — who dominated the Canadian sporting landscape by being the best at Our Game. While Wayne Gretzky has been proclaimed by many (but not Wayne himself) as the game’s greatest, Gordie was clearly the best, the total package. He could score, of course, but unlike many other scorers, he didn’t need an enforcer to protect him. In an era of hockey where men were men, if you took a run at Gordie, he would extract his revenge — maybe months later, but he would get ya. But as ferocious a competitor he was on the ice, Gordie was a beloved gentleman off the ice. There are countless stories of Gordie, just being Gordie, leaving fans awestruck at the most fleeting of meetings. Gordie Howe was, in many ways, the ultimate Canadian hero. Small town roots, tremendous success (mostly in the U.S.), and a dignified retirement and exit. Icon, indeed.

Stunning mass killing surpasses all others

Early this morning, in an Orlando, Fla, gay nightclub, a gunman opened fire. A hostage taking incident ensued that went on for three hours. When the police finally stormed the nightclub, killing the gunman, they came upon a scene of unparalleled carnage, even by American standards. The death toll today, which was initially pegged at an appalling 20, is as of this morning at a stunning 50. Fifty! It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The story is still developing.

Here comes the carbon tax

The NDPs carbon tax is now the law. What impact will this tax on consumption have on our carbon emissions, on our reputation around the world, or our ability to get pipelines built thanks to our new green cred?
Uh, well, nobody knows. Certainly not the government. The NDP is essentially experimenting with carbon taxation in the hopes that all sorts of wonderful things (see above paragraph) will happen, with no firm guarantees any of them will. Even Liberal leader David Swann, who is greener than Kermit the Frog, couldn’t support the bill.  “The government has essentially given itself no goals and no measures to which they can be held accountable,” Swann told the legislature. “Even our proposed amendment requiring the Auditor General to review the program after two years was voted down by the NDP.”
He’s exactly right. Good intentions, no proof that the plan will have any impact on climate change. Even the name, the “Climate Leadership Implementation Act” sounds like a PR exercise, which is exactly what it is — a multi-billion dollar PR exercise.

Hillary makes history, and history shrugs

South of the border, Hillary Clinton made history (or should that be ‘herstory’ … no, it shouldn’t) by becoming the first woman to win the nomination of a major American political party. Based on the polls, and the daily jaw-droppers from Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America.
So why are so few people excited? Shouldn’t there be ringing declarations about this Great Moment in Womankind? Why is the excitement so, well, muted? Almost perfunctory.
Maybe it’s because so few people really seem to like Hillary. While Barack Obama was a transformative figure — the first black president of a nation that practiced official racism well into the 20th century — Clinton’s victory looks more like the final victory of a grasping, calculating, say-anything-to-get-elected type of politician. The difference between Hillary and all of the other White House strivers over the years is that they wore pants, while she wears pant suits.
Clinton may be the luckiest person ever to win the Democratic leadership. She will face Donald Trump, the single worst presidential candidate in history, and the odds are pretty good that he will not only lose the White House, but bring down the Republican party. And a crushed Republican party will give Hillary Clinton and the Democrats the kind of power that Barack Obama has long been denied.

O, Canada, our home and PC land

Parliament moved a step closer to officially changing the national anthem this week. A private member’s bill to change the exclusive lyric “in all thy son’s command” to the inclusive “in all of us command”, passed second reading, and now goes to the Senate. But I must ask, why stop there? There are other lyrics that exclude members of the Canadian family. Take immigrants, for example. Shouldn’t we change the lyric “our home and native land” to something like “our home and chosen land”? After all, there are millions of Canadians who are not native to this country. What about these poor excluded people? And what of the the line “God keep our land”? What is God doing in our national anthem? How to atheists and agnostics feel about this? And what God are we talking about? There are lots of them, after all. Why should we do this? To paraphrase Justin Trudeau … because it’s 2016.

RIP

Kimbo Slice, 42, mixed martial arts star, … Theresa Saldana, 61, American actress (Raging Bull) … Peter Shaffer, 90, British playwright (Amadeus, Equus) … Bobby Curtola, 73, one time Canadian teen idol (Fortune Teller).

 

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