Sunday, August 24, 2008

There Was no Timmy's at Chautauqua

There was no Tim Horton's at Chautauqua. The local coffee kiosk served coffee made by someone called Starbuck—or something similar. Every time I visit America I have to re-learn the language. I think I've almost got it. "Tall" means small. "Grande" means regular. And I've already forgotten what "vente" means.

I was so glad to get back to civilization yesterday and get a decent coffee in an extra large cup. (And a Boston creme donut.)


  1. Moonbean's in Kensington Market, Larry, it will change your life.

  2. Larry,

    You're a big boy so you should realize that you aren't required to drink coffee; if, however, you choose to do so, you aren't required to purchase it from Starbucks. Note that, if Canada has not yet been invaded by Starbucks, rest assured its stockholders - plenty of Canadians among them - have their sights set on at least a few of the population centers, and when the assault comes, they will import second rate coffee and stupid promotional language, and while you might steer clear of it, lots of your fellow Canadians will gulp the swill and buy into the inane size terminology. And Starbucks execs and stockholders will gloat at their triumph.

    You said, "I was so glad to get back to civilization yesterday and get a decent coffee in an extra large cup." I hail from Lansing, MI where, in the last year, three Tim Hortons have opened. Your gloating about their coffee nudged me to give it a try, but I find it similar in quality to that dispensed at Starbucks. They are both institutional coffees formulated to satisfy customers only to the extent that the bottom line satisfies investors. For me there is much silly irony in your notion that returning to so-so institutional coffee-for-the-masses served in a petrochemical-laced, and, no doubt, petrochemical-leaching, paper or polystyrene cup with a plastic lid, somehow places you in an elevated society.

    Larry, to me you debase yourself when you in one breath rail against some idiot of a religionist for attacking a strawman fabricated from their own willful ignorance and imagination, and in the next breath you denigrate your own ad hoc version of what you consider to be a generic "American" - sometimes you portray all of us as our reprehensible President; other times you target every US citizen as the dishonorable William Dembski - as if the three hundred million people living here are some sort of homogeneous group, all of one mind. Then, on your blog you highlight your visits here as though they are worthwhile and as though you find enjoyment and benefit in them. Surely, Professor, there are many changes you can make in your life to decouple yourself from your perceived myriad of undesirable American influences.

    Truly, Larry, if the US and its citizens are so objectionable to you, you simply should not lower yourself to come here. In fact, I'm sure that both Canadian and US border guards will cheerfully aid you in determining exactly where Canada ends and the US begins that you might not inadvertently dirty your shoes.

    Should non-Canadians sculpt some freakish generic Canadian from your fellow denizen of Canada and Toronto, Denyse O'Leary? Does Stephen Harper make it as a mold for a standard Canadian? No, not at all. I've travelled Canada from Point Pelee National Park to the Arctic Circle and from St. Johns to the Yukon; I fell in love in Moosenee and watched a friend - a Canadian friend - fall and die in the mountains of British Columbia: without a doubt, no such "typical" Canadian exists. While you may not see it through your nationalism, you and your lifestyle, Larry Moran, have far more in common with us Americans you so disdain than you could ever have with First Nation Canadians living an hour's flight north of you.

    Larry, I see you as one of the Internet's brightest lights of reason and rationality. You seem to correctly see evolution as proof that humanity constitutes precisely one species of which you are a part, and yet, you envision yourself having descended from superior stock owing to a geopolitical boundary shielding you from a faulty system of government, some rather twisted corporate influences, and rampaging religion(all of which Canadians share with the US and all of which benefit you personally, from both sides of that border, by the way).

    I respect your science, Larry, and I have gained much valuable science information from your blog, but your broad anti-American sentiments - you know, those Americans who publish, buy($125 in many places), study, learn from your textbooks, send you the royalty checks, pay you honorariums for speaking at places like Chautauqua - are every bit as unbecoming and hypocritical as the Creationist stupidity of Denyse O'Leary you justifiably abhore and criticize.

    For you, I suspect anti-Americanism is a point of national pride and a fundamental trait of your self-definition, and as such, like Intelligent Design Creationism, cannot be countered to any reasonable extent via reason. So, just as you, no doubt, wouldn't expect Denyse to alter her deep-seated, and devoutly-held, but nonetheless irrationally-based ideas, I don't ask or expect anything from you regarding your anti-American tenor. I remain a fan of your reason, your science and your rationally-grounded ideas, but when you depart from these, it's as if you and O'Leary are hand in hand, marching stride for stride.

  3. Calm down, Russ.

    There are plenty of Starbucks in Canada including one in my own building on the University of Toronto campus.

    Tim Horton's is a popular coffee and donut shop founded by a hockey player, for chrissakes. Don't be so sensitive.

    For me there is much silly irony in your notion that returning to so-so institutional coffee-for-the-masses served in a petrochemical-laced, and, no doubt, petrochemical-leaching, paper or polystyrene cup with a plastic lid, somehow places you in an elevated society.

    I find much sarcasm in that statement. That's exactly what is intended.

  4. Dante's first circle of franchise coffee hell: Bridgehead. Good, generally, if you don't have time to/want to do your own. The one closest to me likes to overdo the espresso somethin' fierce semi-randomly, which adds an element of adventure to what might otherwise be an entirely too predictable day. But there are worse things... As we're getting to...

    Second circle: Timmy's. Beats Starbucks by virtue of costing vastly less, and really bein' no worse tho' it's a different flavour of bad. Add enough creamer and sugar as everyone seems to do, and it comes out sorta like a cholesterol smoothy. Which is a good thing. I think.

    Third circle: Starbucks. The drip coffee is roasted all to hell; we are lead to believe they must be makin' some kinda statement, here, as it can't be accidental. The espresso drinks are milky, bland, and overpriced, but consistently milky, bland, and overpriced. Like all well-run franchise virus particles, Starbucks outfits are predictable. You know what you're getting. For better and for worse.

    Fourth circle: Second Cup. Manages to be bland and nasty simultaneously, which, I have to say, is impressive, in its way. Lately, they seem to be trying to ape Starbucks' approach to espresso drinks. More milk, less coffee, keep it smooth and flavourless. So, as imitators, they get the next circle down. Rules are rules.

    Fifth circle: Dunkin'. When it's watery enough you can't taste the coffee--which is most of the time--you should probably be grateful.

    Sixth circle: McDonalds. Technically, no, hhey're not a coffee shop, I know, but they're included here anyway because I can't possibly write anything containing 'franchise' and 'hell' in it without taking a shot at the industry standard target. Also, I actually drank some of this once, and am still paying for the therapy. If given a choice between drinking their coffee and eating their food, go for the food. Because yes, the coffee's really that bad.