"Oh sure. Even communism works. In theory."
-- Homer Simpson

Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty

OK, once again, it’s been forever since I posted. I had some thoughts to lay down in bytes, so I thought I’d wander over here and do so. And while thinking about that, I decided to get the blog software up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress, and try out a new look-and-feel…like the new colours?

Ottawa Downtown Most of the folks who might possibly read this blog already know that I’ve been living in Ottawa’s centretown for the last few months. While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the re-discovery of hassle-free apartment life after years of being perpetually behind with home maintenance, being right downtown is definitely starting to wear on me. For anyone pondering a life in the core of the city that sleeps at a reasonable hour, here is what I’ve learned:

  • From Bronson to the Canal and the 417 to Parliament Hill, every outdoor breath you take is filled with cigarette smoke, and the density increases exponentially as you approach any building entrance
  • Many, many people don’t know that you can turn left on a red light at an intersection of two one-way streets (not that this is documented anywhere, mind you) and these individuals become quite agitated if you honk at them
  • When driving across a one-way street, you need only check for oncoming traffic in one direction…and it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone which direction they check
  • During periods of heavy traffic, it is perfectly acceptable to advance into an already-blocked intersection (of course, why would people think otherwise), and if someone ahead of you does not do so, you should honk at them and throw a hairy fit
  • Making a left turn from the right lane with no notice whatsoever is fine if you really, really need to get somewhere
  • On a small street with no lane markers, the most sensible thing to do is stick to the middle, so that those other annoying cars on the road can’t sneak past you
  • The superhero moniker used for parking cops is completely inappropriate…they are much more like the Flash than the Green Hornet
  • The prevalence of Starbucks franchises (seemingly on every corner) is completely understandable once you attempt to buy a latte during regular business hours
  • Despite the many thousands of cars that enter and exit centretown every day, there isn’t a drive-through coffee shop or restaurant to be found, and this phenomenon extends for kilometres in every direction

Hopefully, this accumulated body of knowledge will be helpful to someone out there… :-)

3

Notes

"Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty" is from Downtown by Petula Clark, which I chose for the obvious reference to the main subject of my post. I've been enjoying the usage of this song as Juliet's theme on Lost.

Following the herd down to Greece

At first glance, this study would seem to confirm the usual male stereotype of always going for the hot chick. However, after a closer read, I think it’s nothing more than bad science.

In order to be able to evaluate a larger sample size, the study was performed in a speed dating environment. And after 20-some couples all went through a speed dating exercise, the study concludes that men make their decisions based on superficial characteristics like physical appearance. Apparently, when given a couple of minutes to decide, men weren’t making their decision based on the woman’s perspective on the sociopolitical outlook of African nations in the context of a post-colonial world.

What I thought was even more offensive here was that the study was concluding that women adjusted their expectations based on their own evaluations of their appearance. The “scientist” states that “They knew what they could get and aimed for that level”.

Listen, I’m not going to try and argue that, on the average, men aren’t more appearance-focused than women, but I worry when studies are engineered to “confirm” that conclusion…

1

Let’s Split!

I’ve been griping about Harpers’ new campaign move tax relief plan with mom (being single she would get the shaft in this setup) so i thought I’d bring it to the blog (knowing how all of you enjoy a good gripe). So the idea is that if you’re married and your spouse makes significantly less than you then you can split your income between the two of you, working the tax brackets in your favor. It’s a great plan for single income married couples and families, married pensioners, and of course the wealthy generally get a little extra money to throw around during their next money fight; and all for the low low estimated cost of 5 billion dollars. But it’s OK! Because apparently that’s about what our estimated federal surplus is looking like, which Harper claims he always meant to give back to the canadian people in the form of tax breaks. Of course, by ‘Canadian people’ he doesn’t mean all of us (I mean, why should a single parent get any extra cash?) he’s more refering to families with a stay at home parent, the rich, and pensioners (wait, who are his core constituency again, i forget…) because tax cuts that benefit all would clearly be unreasonable (i mean, could you imagine if someone was expected to pay the same taxes as someone who did the same job but wasn’t married? I know, it’s just preposterous…). Personally I think we just need more things to claim, since there’re such different things to claim if you have kids (regardless of being married) then if you were a pensioner, etc…

2

Divergent journeys, but we will meet again in Hell

Since Bill C-38 was passed last year, anti-gay marriage groups have continued to lobby for its repeal, despite that fact that the bill merely confirms the interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms made by the Superior Courts of eight provinces, in order to provide uniform application of the law across the country.

With the Conservatives in power and planning to honour their promise to hold a vote on revisiting the same-sex marriage debate, a coalition of 43 religious leaders has issued a Declaration on Marriage, calling for the restoration of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. I’ll ignore for the time being that three of the signatories represent religions that currently allow for polygamy.

According to the declaration, “changing the definition of marriage involves a repudiation of millennia of history and experience.” Is it really a repudiation? I believe we’re actually learning from millenia of history and experience, and are now choosing to end millenia of discrimination and persecution.

The declaration also places a great deal of emphasis on the impact of Bill C-38 on the children (a certain Simpsons character springs to mind). Apparently, the primary purpose of marriage is to procreate, in which case there should be special protections for marriage in our laws. I guess married couples who don’t have children shouldn’t be allowed the right of marriage, nor should we tolerate single people who choose to raise a child on their own.

The conclusion of the declaration brings home the real point of this argument: somehow, these religious leaders believe that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, their respective belief systems are somehow challenged. According to them, “the freedom of conscience of marriage officials and service providers is already being violated”, although no evidence of this controversial (and, to my knowledge, false) statement is provided. Apparently, religious freedom trumps individual freedom (even when the individuals are holding a pair).

Sigh…can’t we all just get along? :-)

5

So it seems I must have won

I didn’t get a chance to post about this last week, but Ottawa’s mayoral race resulted in a bit of a surprise for most of our crowd…I’m pretty sure all of us had pegged it as a showdown between Munter (the pinko lefty) and Chiarelli (the populist middle-of-the-road guy). When the big-business right-wing guy took the race, I guess we all got a reminder that Ottawa tends to be a reasonably conservative town…something that may have been masked in the last decade by the growing geek quadrant that has been somewhat stifled in recent years.

Also last weekend, the boat came out of the water. BogMan and I got out for one last (and very cold) sail on the Friday before taking the batteries out (well, actually, he took the batteries out by climbing under the cockpit again…I just directed from above). Then on Saturday, Righteous Guy joined BogMan and I in lowering the mast, while The Grabber and SMC watched from a safe distance. Then, finally, on Sunday, BogMan and I pulled the boat out of the water (with the help of one of the sailing club service providers), and wrapped it up like a big blue enchilada. Only six more months before the next sailing season… :-(

Last but not least, BNL has provided another song for the soundtrack of my life. This one hasn’t bumped the already-established theme song, but it’s definitely on the “Songs About and Inspired By” CD… :-)

3

Everybody begs for self-esteem

I’m finding it greatly amusing to watch the fortunes of the federal Liberal party succumb to a high-stakes game of “Not It!” :-)

Looking at the available candidates, I think that Belinda Stronach has a pretty strong chance at becoming the next Liberal leader, which is definitely not a phrase I expected to be typing even a year ago. I think she’s either a brilliant strategist or a nimble opportunist…or possibly a bit of both. But it looks like we’ll be waiting almost a year to see if it does her any good — the Liberal leadership race won’t be starting until at least the fall.

16

Canadians are idiots

Well, we went and did it…a Conservative minority. And not even a weak minority — we went and gave Harper a minority government where all three of the other parties need to unite in order to bring it down. Which means we’re probably stuck with him for at least two or three years, and quite possibly a full term.

Of course, Martin’s done. There’ll probably be a Liberal leadership convention in less than a year now, and my bet is that someone like John Manley will end up as the new leader of the federal Liberals, along the theory that they need a younger face to go up against Harper next time. Unfortunately, Manley has all the charisma and leadership potential of a rainbow trout. I’m starting to think that this minority government is going to pave the way to a Conservative majority, which will be a disaster for this country.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this is Jean Chretien’s legacy…the destruction of Paul Martin at the expense of the federal Liberals and of Canada. Chretien held out long enough after removing Martin from cabinet to let the future PM’s popularity of 2000/2001 wear off, but not long enough that the sponsorship scandal could rightly be pinned on him politically.

Beyond everything else, though, I’m most upset with the Canadian voters — we are stuck in this perpetual loop where we never vote for anyone, we only vote against them. Every single change in federal government (and some of the provincial ones, for that matter) for the last thirty years (or more) has been us moronic Canucks voting someone out. And then we get all huffy about the new guy that’s left saying “Holy crap, I won“. It’s as if we don’t care enough about ourselves to do something positive, but we’re always up for a little passive-aggressive voting to really screw ourselves over.

Sigh…

12

Well, I wanted to be an a$$hole, but all the TV pundit jobs were taken.

Jerk.

I came away wondering, if I was ever to meet Tucker Carlson, if I would have the guts to actually strike him, or if I would wimp out and merely throw a drink in his face. Now Ann Coulter on the other hand…

3

What is a working family anyway?

Harper is in the news again for offering a tax cut to “working families”. Anyone know what that is, exactly? What kinds of jobs are available to families? Do kids under 5 have to work, or are they exempt? :D

5

Curious…

Pet peeve du jour.

Ever notice how:

Jingle Bells
Winter Wonderland
Frosty the Snowman
Let it Snow

…make no mention of Christmas?!?!? Are we not able to celebrate winter without associating it with gift-giving?

Post some more if there are any!

3

What is lost can never be saved

The following was taken from The Ottawa Citizen archives on canada.com.


Hefty special bonuses gild Owens’s Nortel parachute

Bert Hill, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, December 03, 2005

Former Nortel Networks chief executive Bill Owens got more than $5.5 million U.S. in special bonuses as he left his job.

The company disclosed yesterday that he got a $2-million severance payment based on two times annual pay, $3.4 million in double bonus payments based on his maximum annual bonus of 170 per cent of salary and a lump sum to cover nine weeks of unused holiday time.

The company also immediately vested Mr. Owens’s 2.9 million stock options, which means he can cash them immediately, rather than over four years. He also got unspecified relocation and tax-preparation services.

Earlier this year Nortel approved a special pension payment for Mr. Owens, who was a director for one year and chief executive for 19 months. He gets $703,913 in June and equal monthly payments of $99,073 through to November 2010.

Nortel also said Mr. Owens could get another bonus under a success incentive plan if it is are granted for 2005.

The Owens payments are another sign of the high cost of changing top leaders at Nortel.

New chief executive Mike Zafirovski received pay, bonus, restricted stock, options and other incentives that will likely generate about $4 million to $7 million in his first year. Nortel also paid him $11.5 million so he could repay Motorola Inc., his former employer, to settle a breach-of-contract lawsuit.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2005

4

But with a different meaning since you been gone

Well, that didn’t take long. The typical jackassery that we poor fools have come to accept as what constitutes an election campaign has begun in earnest.

Stephen Harper today pledged to cut the GST from 7 percent down to 5 over the next 5 years. Sound familiar? It should…our morally-challenged former prime minister promised to abolish the GST entirely way back in 1993, a couple of years after the Progressive Conservatives introduced the damn thing in the first place.

But it gets better…here’s how Harper explained this promise: “I believe all taxes are bad. Lower taxes are good.”

Wow. It’s hard to believe that we don’t just hand this guy the keys to the kingdom without waiting for that pesky election. With pearls of wisdom like these, who needs all that complicated “planning” or those responsible “commitments”?

In some kind of twisted effort to sabotage all the work gone into making him look less redneck, Harper first pledged to backtrack the equal marriage bill if he were to become prime minister. I’m sure that’s going to win him tons of votes in Ontario and Quebec, where governments are made.

Of course, Martin isn’t exactly winning any points yet, either. So far, all he’s done is bad-mouth Harper and spin stories about how wonderful Liberal rule has been over the last 12 years.

Mr. Martin? Mr. Harper? I’ve got some free campaign advice for you, because you both really seem to need it. It’s pretty simple, actually: Implement a sustainable solution for public health care. Address the rising cost of education. Provide incentives for the accelerated development of “green” technologies. Fund our military appropriately for their commitments.

This election was a waste of time before it even started. A couple of days into the campaign, it sure looks like it won’t be improving anytime soon.

14

With a blue moon in your eyes

It’s been a while since I posted, but life has been keeping me busy yet again. Since my last posting, I’ve finished the deck frame, and I’ve gotten back to the roofing over my entrances. It’s getting mighty cold out there…

The renovation update aside, what got me posting again was the latest bit of stupidity from our “leaders”. The Grits are all up in arms because the Conservatives (I refuse to call them Tories) used the phrase “organized crime” in reference to the sponsorship scandal. The Liberals have their lawyers sending warning letters to Harper and his cronies, which is of course only for the publicity, since remarks made in the House of Commons are not subject to slander or defamation laws.

I’m not often in agreement with Harper (I prefer my conservative with a small c), but I have to admit, in this case the shoe kinda fits. There isn’t actually a common definition of organized crime, but here’s the RCMP definition (taken from their site):

A “criminal organization” means a group, however organized, that:

(a) is composed of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and,
(b) has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences, that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any one of the persons who constitute the group.

The various components that comprise this legal definition are based on the exclusion of a group of three of more persons that has formed randomly for the immediate commission of a single offence.

South of the border, the FBI has the following to say (taken from the FBI site):

The FBI defines organized crime as any group having some manner of a formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities. Such groups maintain their position through the use of actual or threatened violence, corrupt public officials, graft, or extortion, and generally have a significant impact on the people in their locales, region, or the country as a whole.

By either definition, I don’t really see how the sponsorship scandal doesn’t apply. Have a look at The Globe and Mail’s representation of the parties involved. Definitely more than three people, who do have a formalized structure.

According to the Globe’s summary of Gomery’s initial findings, “a complex web of financial transactions existed among Public Works and Government Services Canada, Crown corporations and communications agencies, involving kickbacks and illegal contributions to a political party in the context of the sponsorship program.” Sounds like graft to me. Also, “there was “clear evidence” of political involvement in the administration of the program.” So we also have corrupt public officials in the mix.

I could go on, but I’m pretty sure I’ve made my point. Just because the Liberals weren’t carrying guns and eating down on Preston Street doesn’t preclude their actions from qualifying as organized crime. Harper is of course using this phrase for political capital, but Martin needs to choose an approach other than denial. This country needs to recover from this shameful interlude and move on, and fighting against the reality of the situation is just going to draw it out even more.

17

White Phosphorus

Just a small, but pointed, rant here, sparked by the white phosphorus story.

Now, I’m not going to get all bleeding-heart lefty-indignant about the horrors of the ‘weapon’ itself and claim that it should be classified as a chemical weapon or WMD and be banned by some international body. But I do have a problem with the arguments that use semantics to defend its use, pointing to some list that says some weapons are ok and some aren’t (rumours of the use of napalm notwithstanding). Or the arguments that point out burning jet-fuel in a WTC tower as justification.

Here’s my point. Aren’t the U.S. supposed to be the good guys? I asked the same rhetorical question when Abu Ghraib became public and some pro-war types scoffed because the ‘terrorists’ had it coming to them.

You can’t just brand yourself as The Good Guys and then do whatever the hell you want. You’re not The Good Guys because your flag is made of primary colours. You’re not The Good Guys because your God is better than other people’s God. You’re not The Good Guys because you adhere to certain standards of conduct that you find convenient, and argue semantics to keep doing things that may be as horrible as things that are outright illegal. Being The Good Guys means acting that way and showing the rest of the world that what you’re doing is a good idea. The hypocrisy of the WMD justification for war just makes this worse. I realize that WP does not deliver ‘mass’ destruction, but again, let’s not argue exact number of deaths due to skin melting here.

I could be way off here, but I can’t help but come to the conclusion that many pro-war Americans or hawkish Westerners in general actually believe that the terrorists or the insurgents or Muslim kooks from the Middle East overall admittedly think of themselves as The Bad Guys and they’re out to get the prissy American Good Guys, and that neutral parties see it this way too therefore the Americans can behave as they please.

If more people realized that the Muslims that hate America think of themselves as The Good Guys also, and that it is the US who are The Bad Guys (try and put yourself in their shoes and see how easy that would be), then more people might see how pointless this all is.

edit: Oh, and another thing. I don’t get all in a huff when I read stories about messy weapons, prisoner abuse, and civilian deaths, etc (apart from the above rant, obviously, and the occasional ‘told you so’), because I was all in a huff about the war in the first place, largely because this is the kind of shit that happens in war, duh. If war consisted of flag football and tickle fights you’d find far fewer people opposed to it.

2

Put the BMI to bed

Well, it’s about time. Finally, a comprehensive study showing that hip to waist ratio measurement is a more accurate predictor of heart disease the the body mass index.

I have found all the recent talk of the “obesity epidemic” quite disturbing. It’s almost as though we have forgotten all about teenage girls’ eating diorders – and don’t seem to really be noticing that the boys are starting to catch up in this department too. The pendulum has swung from skinny-is-bad to fat-is-bad, and it’ll be just a matter of time before it swings back again, I fear. Furthermore, when people start to link the increase in obesity with smoking cessation campaigns, it seems the war on obesity has the potential to take people to some weird & disturbing places indeed – hey, I may be giving myself lung cancer, but at least I’m a twig. I’ve wondered for quite some time now just how much of the “obesity epidemic” has to do with the skewing of the data that occurs when you use the BMI.

For those of you don’t know me, I’ve lost some weight, give or take about 20 pounds. While before I certainly felt I could lose a little weight, I certainly didn’t feel that I was unhealthy, and the curves were still looking OK. The musculature was well padded, but still substantial, and my athletic performance was pretty good and improving steadily. However, my BMI indicated that I was obese. My doctor told me I was obese by looking at her computer screen, not by looking at me – boy, was that ever a strange day. Now, a bit lighter, I don’t feel too much different (OK, my yoga practice has improved dramatically!) although the complements I get are nice. But my BMI still puts me just shy of obesity – in the “your-weight-could-lead-to-health-problems” range. Loosing 20 lbs brought me down one and a half points only. If I didn’t know any better, I’d be on the weight loss fast track, and probably really hurting myself in the process. Fortunately, I have the brains to look in the mirror, see that I’m fit and toned (& can even see a couple of ribs), decide I look OK and that my doctor is a flake and not worry about it. Impressionable teenagers may not be so lucky.

I won’t deny that we might have a problem. But so long as the true scope of the problem is masked with inaccurate measurements, and those measurements result in inappropriate assessments at the indivudual level, we’re just going to replace one problem with another.

2

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies

Before I get into my rant, I’ll mention that there are updates on the deck log.

So the first part of the Gomery report has been released, and guess what? It looks like Chretien shares some of the blame for the corrupt sponsorship program that was run from the PMO, by his chief of staff. Our current lame-duck leader is very likely innocent of any wrongdoing, which (if upheld in the final report) would help provide some stability for our stuck-in-the-mud political scene. Hopefully, Canucks will be willing to put the past in the past in next spring’s election, get us to a Liberal majority and let us all move on with our lives.

But wait! Our old power-hungry, fame-seeking, legacy-building ex-prime minister wants none of that. He’s not willing to roll over and take the blame for a program he started. Instead, he’s using his (bewilderingly powerful) influence to cast doubt on the veracity of the Gomery findings, encouraging all of his (confusingly numerous) loyalists to believe that the report is not worth the paper it’s written on. Rather than taking one for the team (which would have no real impact on him, since the Gomery findings incur no civil or criminal liability), Chretien has decided that maintaining his legacy (which doesn’t actually exist anywhere other than in his mind) is more important than allowing Canada to move forward from this embarassing chapter. He even went so far as to directly implicate Paul Martin in holding responsibility for the kickbacks…a move which makes no sense to me, as this also kind of confirms that Chretien himself knew what was going on.

Canadians need to realize that Chretien is a narcissistic loon who can’t handle the idea that anyone might have a harsh word to say about him. Because of this, he invents the appropriate spin to cover his own numerous failings, and expects everyone to fall for it. I truly wonder if he even knows the difference between reality and his media-friendly ramblings anymore. Between his own do-nothing tenure and the impact that his mismanagement has caused (i.e. years of minority governments), Chretien is responsible for allowing this country to shuffle along without any clear direction for over 12 years now, with no end in sight. This man does indeed have a legacy, but it’s a legacy of shame. It’s time Canadians clued in to that.

2

NOOOOOOOO!!!!

George Lucas, marketing whore that he is, has finally sunk to aligning himself with that lowest of lows, that darkest of dark sides, reality TV unscripted programming. The picture at right is the actual image defiling my inbox this morning, sent by those bastards at starwars.com.

Over and over again, last year’s decision to stop watching TV keeps getting re-affirmed. I’ve been loving my new approach (i.e. watching TV programs as they’re released on DVD, via zip.ca). I get to watch pretty much anything I want (albeit a few months after broadcast), and I get better A/V quality, no commercials, and most of all, I don’t have to put up with the vagaries of culturally bereft, ratings-hungry morons (aka network execs) who screw around with the broadcast schedule just to rake in a few extra dollars for the next day’s money fight. The only remnant of that era for me is that I still have to deal with them cancelling quality shows just because the ROI isn’t up to the same standard as having Paris Hilton prance around the world pretending she’d know how to live life without a gajillion dollars.

Oh well, at least it’s only nine more days until Serenity.

11

The Return of Hockey

As many of you know, the National Hockey League strike/lockout (it’s all the same, really) officially ended late last month. The weeks since have seen a flurry of off-ice activity with the entry draft and plenty of trades and free-agent signings, which have been made more interesting (and necessary) because of the new salary cap and the strategies and dumping of payroll that go with such a financial scheme.

From my perspective, the recent uptick in league activity has been accompanied by a proportional increase in interested chatter, both in the media and by the public. Radio sports shows seem to be discussing nothing else besides all the player movement and the outlook for the teams involved. The TV networks and their hockey personalities can barely contain their glee at the return of their prime commodity, and are advertising as though the season starts next week. Bar talk and internet banter have picked up hockey as a regular topic with a vengeance once again, and I know my friends and I have had many conversations about which player is going where, which teams are moving up, and how the Senators will fare this season.

All this from a population that generally proclaimed to be “not able to care less” all last winter and spring concerning the potential return of hockey. I thus offer this theory: they were all LYING.

Seriously…how many people did you speak with last fall and winter that did not seem to be bothered by the lockout? Seemed like plenty. How many people professed to not miss NHL hockey during the cold, dark nights of January and February, claiming something silly like “I’m going outside more” or “I like to play sports, not watch sports”. Right. I’ll keep an eye open for you on the cross-country skiing trails at 8pm on a Saturday. I suppose playing poker (which includes watching it on TV, apparently) counts as staying active as well.

General conversation, polls both informal and scientific, and anecdotal evidence all seemed to support the notion that Canadians did not miss hockey one bit and did not care if it returned or not. These responses were given as though it were the highest-paid players themselves that were asking the questions, for the alleged apathy was an obvious reaction to the greedy antics of the two primary participants in the lockout, the league and the players, with the third, and most important, participant – the fans – being blatantly ignored in the process. In reality those fans were mad, not disinterested, and were offering the silent treatment as a response, instead of something a little more constructive and mature.

Sports recap shows filled their gaping holes of airtime with basketball highlights, and people pretended to be interested – when they weren’t cross-country skiing of course. Poker dominated the sports channel airwaves, and people pretended to be interested. Even the dreaded NASCAR has a growing pretend following north of the border.

But worst of all, Canadians pretended to be interested in politics. And not in the good way. Here’s a little rule of thumb for future reference: never have a hockey lockout during a minority government. Or maybe it’s the other way around. How much political bickering occurred in the last 12 months, both in public and behind closed doors? Do we even remember what we were arguing about? I think Canadians were just testy in general because of the lack of hockey, and then filled the vacant hours with pointless, heated debate.

As many of you know, the Gomery Inquiry testimony was reportedly the most popular reality television program in Quebec this past spring. If I may put forth that televised sports was the original incarnation of reality TV, then let me theorize that had the Habs been playing hockey last year then Gomery would have fallen to number two. Since the Liberals’ moral authority to govern seemed to fluctuate daily based on how damning that day’s testimony was about events of ten years ago, I’d say that the discourse about the potential fall of the government would have been lessened had fewer people actually been paying attention. Stephen Harper must have been loving every non-hockey moment of 2004-2005, whereas Paul Martin was probably the happiest man in Canada the minute the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed. Remember, the CBC News gets pushed back by up to several hours almost every day for two months beginning in April to make room for playoff coverage. Do you think anybody would have heard of Gremant Grewal had the Canucks, Flames, Leafs, or Senators made it to the Stanley Cup finals?

I for one was always quite honest about my disappointment over the lost season, even if the result is better for the game. That the same result could very well have been achieved without the season being lost is now moot. But allow me the satisfaction of labelling Bob Goodenow as a pig-headed egomaniac as a parting shot. A good hockey game on the tube is often an important ingredient of a fun Saturday night in fall and winter, something to enjoy over beer and pizza with people over or before going out, or watching another game. With the amount of alleged hockey-haters coming out of the closet in recent weeks, it’ll be like it never left. Those two-foot blue lines are sure going to look ugly though.

4

Information nation of hysteria

OK, so I haven’t been posting for a while…there’s been too much going on in my actual life to pay much attention to my virtual one. Most of my time has been spent on the yard (for which I’ll be posting new pictures soon to the landscaping log) and in my garage, and occasionally at work.

However, I thought I’d hop on to say that today’s PvP pretty much summarizes my view of the whole Hot Coffee crap that’s been so visible in the vidya-gaming news lately. I’ve never understood why the Yanks are so dead-set on treating sex as an obscenity, while gory violence is perfectly acceptable.

Then there’s also the issue of the ESRB rating on GTA: San Andreas being changed from Mature to Adults Only. Here are the official definitions of the two:

  • Mature: Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.
  • Adults Only: Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

So, essentially the difference between the two is one year of age, nudity, and the length of time that the objectionable material is available in the game. I don’t know where to even start with this…first off, GTA games (at least since GTA III) have absolutely qualified for the Adults Only rating, just on the violence aspect alone. However, the two ratings are so close in actual meaning that I don’t understand why so many people are in outcry over the fact that GTA wasn’t rated as AO to begin with. In fact, most people seem satisfied now that the rating has been changed.

Right, right, I forgot…people are idiots. :-)

9

Everything is super when you’re…

I’m having a strange feeling this morning, one I can’t quite identify. I’ve been reading the big news this morning, and I feel so full of…what’s the opposite of shame? :-)

For once, I will sing the praises of our government. They’ve managed to brave the electoral backlash, particularly in the mid-western provinces, and achieve something that only two other countries in the world (Belgium and the Netherlands) have so far done. Same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, but one that most of the world does not allow, notably our neighbour to the south.

Today, I’m a proud Canadian!

7

Musicindustryareidiots

No surprises here. I was always fairly certain that previous piracy-sales correlations were exaggerated. But what would you expect from an industry that sues its (former) customers? Did the horse-and-carriage industry sue people that acquired motorcars?

On a related note, Cineplex has purchased Famous Players. If they know what’s good for them they need to do an about-face toute suite if they want to avoid a download calamity themselves, and remain in good standing with the studios. I’ve heard that some American theatre chains are removing some ads following public pressure (and maybe a lawsuit or two, I can’t remember). Bravo!

1

Informatics lack of intelligence

I phoned our in-house informatics folks a month and a half ago to upgrade the operating system on my computer. Last Wednesday, they finally came by and picked up my PC.

After a couple of days of working on my boss’s PC, with no access to my email, I phoned informatics back Friday morning and asked how much longer I would be without my computer. Despite providing my ticket number, the person I was talking to had no clue what kind of work was being done on my PC, but eventually figured out who my technician was and attempted to contact him. As there was no response, and there was no indication as to how much longer I would have to be without my computer, I asked to have a profile created on my boss’ computer so that I could check my email. This was done, and I started sifting through the backlog of email.

One of the first messages I had was from the technician, dated Thursday, emailing me to let me know that my computer was almost ready, but that he needed a software CD from me in order to complete the work. Could I please get in touch with him ASAP since he would be away on Friday…

I struggle to understand how he expected me to answer his email when HE HAD MY COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is he allergic to the phone? The mind boggles…

3

Stop Referring to Yourself as “Myself”!!!!

This is a brief grammar lesson rant.

“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun. A reflexive pronoun is used as the object of a verb when the action of the verb returns to the doer. In other words, a reflexive pronoun is used when the subject and the object are the same person. For example,

“I play with myself.”

In this sentence, “myself” refers back to the subject, “I”.

Sometimes, a reflexive pronoun is used to refer back to the object. For example,

“Allow me to introduce myself.”

In this sentence, “myself” refers back to the object, “me”.

“Myself” is NEVER used as the subject. For example, you cannot say, “Myself will go to the movies.” Likewise, you cannot say, “James, Lars, Kirk, and myself are going to the movies.”

“Myself” is NEVER used as a stand-alone object. For example, you cannot say, “James, Lars, and Kirk went with myself to the movies.” Nor could you say, “The movie was watched by myself.”

The basic rule is this: you only use “myself” when you’re already the subject or the object. If your sentence doesn’t already include “I” or “me”, you don’t say “myself”.

Next week: Conditional sentences with past perfect verb clauses.

9

RANT : U-haul

UPDATE TO THE RANT .. so I have canceled with the below Mentioned A-holes.. and have booked with a different company discount .. it will cost me a little more but piece of mind does have a price i guess.. so I will pay it .. having said that .. who wants to help me move .. lol! seriously though.. anyone who would like to can and will be treated to the very best beer and pizza i can find

Rant complete until Uhaul tries to screw me even though I cancelled

So .. I feel the need to share my Experience about this company .. deep breath .. so I book a truck for my upcoming move through the U-haul website , they say a rep will contact me to confirm my reservation by 5 pm the next day .. so Ok this is the 17th of March .. St-patricks day .. sooo I think nothing of it .. maybe they are drunk .. that is why i get no call .. so .. fast forward to today .. i call the 1-800 number I have for Uhaul .. from the confirmation Email.. .. they say yes .. we have your reservation and we have given it to the REGIONAL center to process .. and here is the number .. 613-733-2665 .. so OK I call the number … Ring ! Ring !Ring ! X 10 … no answer .. no voice mail.. Ok .. so I call U-haul 1-800 back .. they say yes that is the number for them .. it is a sub-contracter ( Two small men with big hearts ) .. Uhaul only has that number for them.. SO I get the yellow Page out … and look up U-haul .. find the local number for a dealer .. on coventry RD .. ( down the Road from 2 small men place. ) and the coventry Rd guys don’t want to deal with me .. cause they don’t have my Reservation.. .. When I elude to the Un=professionalism of this situation .. I get attidude from the clerk or whatever you call them people … i can’t help you , kinda thing … Really .. I am a customer … booked with your company and you can’t help me sort out a problem … So I am told to call the 2 small men place so i do with there REAL number and get this.. this will Kill you .. they aren’t set up to be a Uhaul Dealer !!! they have had a people refered to them all the Time ..!!! and they aren’t dealers .. they are in the process of becoming.. ( they were asked if they wanted to be ) .. but they aren’t hooked up on the system .. they have no Uhaul LAN or hook-ups for phone or computer.. hence the reason the F!#$!#% phone number doesn’t work .. anyway had a good chat with the 2 small men guys… they apologise ALOT about it , cause it makes them look unprofessional .. etc.. .. I would have booked with them .. but get this .. they only rent out trucks With Movers !! not Stand-alone .. so i call the Uhaul 1800 back .. and Explain to them “the Situation” but they don’t seem to want to deal with the ” Situation” except to say Ok we have rebooked you with the Coventry office instead and thanks and have a good day .. can’t wait for them to call me back ….

you know .. as a customer .. I feel that i should be able to ask a simple question and not get shit as a response . maybe I am asking too much ..
and yes .. i am waiting for the Phone call .. cause I still need a truck .. but man am I ever going to get it for Cheap ..

end transmission

12

Represent the seven games in a government for hire

Apparently, 60 Minutes did a piece on videogame violence last night. This is one of those issues that gets lots of attention every year or two, usually triggered by some event, like the Columbine massacre. This time it’s the murder of three police officers in Fayette, and the resulting lawsuit against the makers of the Grand Theft Auto series of games.

I wouldn’t exactly call the report “balanced”; it presents a very anti-videogame position. I didn’t actually watch the televised report, but nowhere in the web article do they even mention the ESRB. This is a rating system for videogames, much like the MPAA ratings for movies. The Grand Theft Auto series have all been rated M (for Mature), and are not supposed to be sold to anyone under 17 — while the perpetrator of the murders in question is now 18, there is specific mention of his having played at least two versions of GTA, which means he was playing them when he was 16 (and probably before that).

Let’s draw an analogy — if some kid constantly watches hardcore porn starting when he’s 14 or 15, and then rapes someone at 18, would we be all that surprised? There’s a reason why we regulate what is available to minors — as the 60 Minutes article states, their brains are not yet fully developed, and they’re not always completely capable of differentiating fantasy from reality.

CBS News interviewed Tim Buckley of Ctrl+Alt+Del fame, and he seems to be placing the responsibility firmly on parents, and I mostly agree with him. I think video game retailers need to be a little more stringent about to whom they’re selling M- and A-rated games. However, the ultimate responsibility does lie with the parents — I’ve been at an EB where a husband and wife were debating buying GTA: Vice City for their obviously-underage kid. The wife clearly didn’t know anything about the game, and the husband clearly did. The clerk was advising the pair on the extreme violence, but in the end, they still bought it — I suspect Dad wanted to play it himself (based on the gleam in his eye).

I assume this lawsuit will go nowhere, as most First Amendment questions typically do in the US. The wording of several proposed laws are truly frightening, and would severely limit the content of future games. This could also be used as precedent for expanding this kind of censorship into other media.

As an (arguably) well-balanced adult who enjoys the escapism of video games (violent or otherwise), I very much hope that cooler heads prevail.

4

Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen

I was going to rant about the satanic nature of this arrangement between Sony and Pizza Hut, but the eloquent folks at Ctrl+Alt+Del have already done it for me in graphical form.

1

Gay Marriage Mudslinging

The leader of the aptly named federal “Reform… er, Alliance…oh yeah, Conservatives” (good one, Kaveman) seem so desperate to thwart the gay marriage issue that he is now trying to cloud the issue by dredging up pre-Charter history. The Globe and Mail reported on the gay marriage debate today. (I haven’t figured out how to make handy-dandy links in my posts, but the article can be viewed here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20050217/SAMESEX17/National/Idx)

The PM stated that you cannot revert to the traditional definition of marriage without overriding the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Harper responded that ” ‘The Liberal Party of Canada is simply in no position – either past or present – to lecture anyone about Charter rights or human rights.’ ” To support this, Stephen Harper reminds us of all the atrocious, unconstitutional things the Liberal party has done in the past; that it was Liberal governments that interned Japanese Canadians during WWII, that closed Canada’s borders to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and that implemented the War Measures Act in 1970.

First of all, I have a hard time believing that a Conservative government would not have done exactly the same thing in the first two cases had they been in power, and so I don’t think he’s going to win any moral points there. (I concede, however, that invoking the War Measures Act in response to the October crisis is probably uniquely Trudeauesque).

More importantly, thought, Harper conveniently forgets that it was actually the Liberal Party of Canada that brought us the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Maybe the Liberals ARE in a position to do a little bit of Charter rights lecturing?

5

I think I thought I saw you try…

And so it begins…

Our minority Liberal government were just dealt their first defeat in Parliament last night. Since it was just a proposal to restructure the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, it wasn’t considered a confidence issue, but I’ll say again what I said last year: it’s only a matter of time (um…but I said it months before I setup this blog, so you may not have known that I said it). I predict we’ll be back at the polls by year-end at the latest.

In fact, it may be even sooner — next week’s federal budget could very well be it, although I don’t think the Reform…er, Alliance…oh yeah, Conservatives will want to be seen as dismantling a government less than a year in power (and thus wasting several months of legislative work). After 18 months or so, they can melodramatically throw up their arms and say “we gave and we gave, but it just won’t work”…

20

A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies

Ontario Superior Court judge Paul Rouleau has apparently absolved Dalton McGuinty of any responsibility to keep his election promises. In response to a request from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to kill the new Ontario Health Premium, the Honourable Mr. Justice Rouleau responded by saying that anyone who believes a campaign promise is naive about the democratic system.

I’m on the hunt for the text of the ruling, as I don’t want to just take the media’s spin on this ruling as fact. However, I can’t seem to find it in CanLII, and I don’t have access to QuickLaw. I’ll let you know if I manage to get hold of it.

Now don’t get me wrong — I didn’t buy into McGuinty’s shopping list of election promises back in 2003 myself. He was promising everything to everyone, but was quick to state that they might have to reconsider their commitments if they found that the state of the provincial finances was not as expected once they got into power. Translation: they needed a get-out-of-jail-free card, and doing it this way would also make the provincial Tories look bad. Kamelot can attest to my having predicted exactly what came to pass (i.e. McGuinty breaking most if not all of his election promises), seeing as she was living with me at the time and was privy to almost-daily vitriolic diatribes about the way people were falling for McGuinty’s manipulations.

Now, we have a Superior Court judge telling us that we’d be naive to expect anything less. This particular broken commitment wasn’t something said in a meet-and-greet, baby-kissing stop on the campaign trail — no, this was a major component of the Liberal platform in the 2003 election. They worked with the CTF to draw up a contract committing to respect the Taxpayer Protection Act, which states that new taxes shall not be introduced without a referendum approving that tax. To get around this contract, McGuinty’s administration has modified the TPA to exempt the Ontario Health Premium.

(As a side note, the Liberal election platform from the 2003 provincial election is no longer available anywhere online — it has conveniently been removed from distribution. However, here’s where being a pack rat comes in handy; I happen to still have a copy of their document, and have made it available to you. Pages 15 and 166 are of particular relevance.)

Mr. Justice Rouleau, I disagree with your ruling. I believe it is incumbent upon all elected representatives to live up to the commitments they make during their campaigns, for what is a campaign other than an outline of how the candidate will behave if chosen by the electorate? If we cannot trust that the candidates are acting in good faith, on what criteria shall we base our voting decisions? I understand that practicality must be respected, but we must set some standard of honour for our leaders.

In the immortal words of Fox Mulder, we must not tolerate those who have conspired to deceive, inveigle, and obfuscate.

31

I find their lack of taste disturbing…

If you needed any additional evidence that George Lucas is a marketing whore, read on!

It seems that Lucasfilm has gotten tired of missing out on the truckloads of cash raked in for Love Day, so they’ve decided to release Star Wars-themed cards this year. I don’t even know where to begin with this — these things are worse than the Jar Jar Binks plastic head with the candy tongue.

Also, one of the cards puts some kind of romantic overtone onto the dynamic duo of Threepio and Artoo, which I find greatly disturbing. Now, I consider myself pretty open-minded when it comes to the principle of live and let love, but do we really need to spoil our pleasant memories of innocently enjoying tales of galactic rebellion with some kind of retroactive robo-erotic subtext?

Sometimes I just don’t understand human behaviour…

8

In natural selection I’ve avoided all detection

According to a recent editorial in The Washington Post, opponents of the Theory of Evolution have begun making some headway in influencing how our origins are taught in American public schools. Having not had a whole lot of success with pushing Creationism, they are now using Intelligent Design as an alternative explanation. While I wholeheartedly support the Darwinian view of things, I can’t say I’m all that keen on the argument made by the Post, specifically: “To teach intelligent design as science in public schools is a clear violation of the principle of separation of church and state.”

We have an extraordinary amount of evidence supporting evolutionary theory, but many people forget that it is still a theory. We haven’t proved it as fact yet, and it’s doubtful that we ever will. It’s been a looong time since first-year Bio (grumble), but there are a couple of elements to the evolutionary explanation of our existence that are a little weak:

  1. Life began as a random collision of amino acids and proteins in the primordial soup. We’ve reproduced this event in a laboratory setting, but let’s acknowledge that it’s still a big assumption.
  2. Intelligence equals sentience and self-awareness. There is a good explanation in evolutionary theory of how intelligence has developed, but I don’t know of any explanation of how sentience comes about (someone let me know if the explanation exists). Again, we typically make the big assumption that sentience and self-awareness are the result of intelligence, but we don’t really know that this is true (despite what the makers of the Terminator and Matrix trilogies would have you believe).

For the rest, i.e. natural selection and everything, we have ample evidence and other than Phoebe‘s doubts (“So now the real question is, who put those fossils there, and why?”), I think most people in the know will acquiesce…especially since we have direct observational experience for much of it. But using evolution as an explanation for humanity’s existence does hinge on accepting the two points above.

So, other than pissing off all my scientifically-minded friends and amusing my philosophically-minded ones (and just confusing the conspiracy-minded ones), what’s my point? All I’m trying to say is that we should include any theory that has a significant body of evidence behind it in our educational programs. We’re talking about kids of at least high school age (I don’t remember discussing animal reproduction in grade school), so why not expose them to what is known (and how that knowledge has been parsed) and let them make up their own minds?

Last but not least, there is this assumption that if someone messed with life on this planet (either by kick-starting it, or just designing it outright), well then, it must have been (drumroll, please) God (or at least one of them, depending on your beliefs). How about the possibility that Earth was indeed seeded, but with genetic material from an extraterrestrial source? I hear the snickering, but is it any less likely than some all-powerful, non-corporeal (or extradimensional) entity having nothing better to do than treat Earth as his/her/its petri dish? I guess Q was right: it’s difficult to work in groups when you’re omnipotent.

I’m putting this in a very jocular (or blasphemous, depending on your beliefs) way in order to make a point: teaching about the origins of life on Earth cannot be completely separated from religion, nor can it be discussed without scientific reference. Again, I suggest presenting the various theories, what evidence there is to support each one, and let people make up their own minds.

The difficulty of course is that the powers-that-be have issues with allowing the population to think for themselves, especially south of the 49th.

(ok, ok, that last bit was put in to appease the conspiracy buffs…)

11

What’s good for the goose…

Well, here’s my poor bud Kaveman trying to drag his broken body about his place after a day of skiing. As a doctor, I can hardly condone the statement “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, but I have to admit this seems to ring true in much of Kaveman’s life… After all, his recurrent bouts of car trouble have only made him a tough nut to crack for auto mechanics (which translates into better estimates, and hence a more robust financial health picture), the pain from exercise over-exertion translates directly into extra sympathy points (which, as any MD worth her salt knows, emotional health translates into much more longevity than physical health. An average of 16 years of life.), or mockery (which may shorten one’s lifespan, but at least gives one the tools with which to handle stress effectively. If Kav putting his hand through a wall could be classed as effective.). Either way, my best friend did NOT indeed die, and IS indeed all the stronger for it.

Same bat time, same bat channel next Sunday? :D

Cheers,
The Grabber

PS: As for my actual patients, what doesn’t kill them – well, it doesn’t actually doesn’t seem to make them any stronger. Case in point: my non-compliant adolescent renal transplant patient, who comes to ER looking like death warmed over, and complains he can’t have a smoke. Nearly died of his Pneumococcal sepsis, and now has all the strength of your average newborn lamb. Stronger? No. Smarter? Unlikely – especially given he’s asked (by writing – he’s presently on a ventilator with 40% oxygen getting piped in) when he can leave the hospital “for a smoke. ‘Cuz it makes my lungs feel better”. Sigh.

0

Approaching infamy

Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire…I don’t say to him before that operation, “Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it.”… I don’t want $15–I want my garden hose back after the fire is over.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
December 17, 1940

That was then. Today, we apparently have to decide if it’s cost-effective to send help to those in need.

4

Cool, let’s join this thing!

I can’t believe we’re waffling about joining a rocketship playgroup featuring toys that DON’T WORK.

Liberal cynicism aside, I think compromises should be made on this one. The Americans were right pissed about our Iraq snub (despite neo-con pundits whining about how allegedly insignificant we are). The mad-cow “scare” showed that there are economic ramifications for not blindly following US policy, not matter how absurd we think it is.

Where I think our government is going with this, and I think I agree with it, is to join on to the plan, but with plenty of clauses. After all, the Americans don’t need our money, manpower, or technology, they are mainly just looking for moral support on this one (although some of our land could prove useful). I think we need to suck it up and remind them that we really are allies. Unfortunately that means adhering to at least part of Bush’s ego-driven “with us or against us – feared by enemies, worshipped by allies” foreign policy.

So, we should:
- agree to the plan, but promise no money
- agree to weapons-less installations on our territory, but we get to build them
- with their money
- and we staff them too, and allow whatever techies they need
- kinda like NORAD! Remember that?
- we reserve the right to abstain from plans for putting weapons in space, which will happen

Having said all that, this BMD idea of theirs is stupid, and not just because it won’t work. What happened to pre-empting enemies in their backyard and not waiting for them to come to us, eh George? This is all about growing the military-industrial complex, which will create an arms race.

0

True North Strong and Free…but only if you stay here…

Since this issue was adding to the heat of the Korean grill on Friday night, I thought I’d pass on some of the background info.

I would love to live in a world where peaceful, respectful debate is used to solve every conflict, and I’m willing to make efforts to realize such a world. However, I’m not happy about letting people fend for themselves when they (gasp!) decide to leave the borders of their home country.

I believe the role of a national government is to protect its citizens against harm and injustice to the best of its ability, wherever they may be. Standing behind this principle would of course mean that we must be willing to engage in conflict as a last resort. As it stands, our current military state does not always allow us that option.

I know, I know, believing in the need for a reasonably strong military makes me a bad Canadian in most people’s eyes. Everyone always assumes that I want us to mortgage our future the way our southern neighbours do in some vain effort to control the world. Call me crazy, but I actually believe that there’s a halfway point (maybe even a one-tenth point) between American military excess, and the often-embarassing state our military is in.

Of course, a strong military is only useful when you have the will to use it if needed, and this is where I believe our leadership fails us in the long run.

3

I am the very model of a modern government department

Well, I’ve moved into a new office on the 16th floor of our building. Since we were on the first floor before I have to say I am not the least bit amused at having to waste my time riding the elevator again. That being said, my actual office space might actually conform to Treasury Board standards, which is much more that I can say for my previous teensy weensy digs.

This is the second time we have moved since January. What’s worse, apparently one of the guys who moved us knows more that we do; this move is not, in fact, permanent.

In addition to being physically moved around, the department is currently undergoing a re-organisation (or a “restructuring”, or maybe, in fact, a “transformation”, depending on who you talk to… Although “transformation” really makes me think I’m going to pupate this winter and emerge as a pretty little butterfly come spring. Boy, having wings will be cool!!! Wait a minute, that’s not what they mean….Sure had me fooled though!). The problem is that my little branch was reorganised (or restructured, or transformed) about 2.5 years ago, and this current round of changes will in many ways wind up putting us right back to where we were before. Why are we doing this again?

Here endeth the lesson, kiddies. Now you know why the civil service can never actually get anything done.

0

I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed

I was listening to some older R.E.M. this evening, and one of the lines from What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? reminded me of something I wanted to blog about, related to BogMan’s post on electoral reform (not quite in response, but more along a parallel track).

I have to admit, I haven’t done as much reading on what’s right and wrong with our system. I know that I’ve found myself pretty jaded and disappointed by the workings of our political machine, a hopefully not-unreasonable response to over a decade of one-party rule in our supposedly democratic country. I could more fully explain what I mean by that, but I don’t think my database server has enough storage space for me to start Chretien-bashing. Hopefully, I’m not the only Canadian frustrated by our do-nothing government, so that others will just know what I mean…or quite possibly you’ve already heard me rant about this, since only my friends and family read this site anyway… :-)

One of the things I thought would be a helpful addition to our election process would be providing an option for abstention on the ballot. Because of my distinct lack of palatable options, I chose not to vote in the most recent Canadian federal election, but there’s no way for anyone to separate my conscious choice from the actions of some poor slob too lazy to get up off the couch. As a result my little protest just gets lumped in with the “voter apathy” numbers, which everyone assumes is due to people not being interested (hence all the new options Elections Canada now provides for voting).

In addition to the more in-depth analysis of our electoral system that BogMan espouses, I’d like to have the option to officially state that I have abstained from an election. Basically, I want it to be visible just how many people took the time to get off the couch and make it known that our political parties are not in any way representing their needs. I want this because I believe that number would be pretty damn high, and it’s just getting hidden inside the omnipresent voter apathy stats.

The line from the song that made me think of all this was, of course, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy”. Michael Stipe is actually quoting Richard Linklater (he’s the “Richard” referred to in the song).

Or maybe I should just listen to some blink-182 instead…

5

I so need S-foils on my car…

OK, to all the idiots out there who drive 50kph up the on-ramp and merge lane to the 417, and begin accelerating after they’ve inserted themselves into faster-moving traffic: that’s not the way to do it, you dillholes. Let’s go back to Driving 101, shall we? The on-ramp and merge lane are for accelerating up to the speed of traffic, so that you have a smooth transition when inserting yourself onto a crowded highway.

Oh, and while we’re at it, when I flash my high beams at you, it doesn’t mean “go about your business as if nothing whatsoever just happened”. It actually means “get the fuck outta my way, you slow bastard”.

That is all.

0

Mustard

My simple love for mustard has now crossed over into the relm of obsession. no longer do i just long for a little mustard with my chicken now i just long for a little chicken with my mustard. i have just now aquired some cranberry mustard from the hickory farms booth in the mall and have also come up with future mustard plans. after christmas when the hickory farms stock goes on sale i am buying one of every kind of mustard they have and stocking up for the year.
also i tend to find myself day dreaming about the time i can go home from work and brake out the mustard and the lunchin meats. i do belive is hould see someone about my little mustard problum but i’ll have to wait tell after i finish eating my big bowl of mustard….
on a final note that has nothing to do with my rant. i want to know how i get one of those little picture things instead of a name….i’m computer dumb so please speak in computer dumb terms. than k you

3

Ahh… a rant-worthy topic finally surfaces

So Bush Junior is back in. Well from my (liberal minded) perspective, that pretty well sucks rotten eggs, but probably not worth actually ranting about. Way too much of that lefty-venting blowing across the border already. Don’t get me wrong, I think the man is a morally bankrupt, war-mongering, puppet for a technocratic, corporatist world-view, interested only in benefiting his “kind”, which I personally find abhorrent despite participating (at least passively; though to some extent resistively) in what I like to think of as a less-so version thereof. (Okay, mini-rant… But then, if I go down that route I’ll just be angry all day, and as there’re enough other people who are so much more talented at being angry than I am (and who don’t feel the need to get bogged-down by giving voice to their own parenthetical doubts), I’ll desist somewhat.)

So, no, I don’t think I’ll bother ranting about the American electoral system, colleges and all. Parts of it seem screwy, but I’ll leave it to others to provide their hopefully more informed take on just what’s screwy about it (screwiness is in the eye-of-the-beholder?). At least my (vague) impression (at this point) is that the system worked more or less the way it was supposed to (whether we like the way it was supposed to work and/or the results it produced or not). Yes, lots of issues around absentee ballots, voter registration and provisional ballots (and so on) but at lest there seems to be a significant improvement on the 2000 election. And check-out the voter turn out (almost 60%; highest since 1968)! At least the election results (the numbers rather than the win-lose) are more representative. Now if we could just get the side that won to pay attention to the fact that just under half of the voters wanted something else!

That said, I’ll put in my little plug for electoral reform here in Canada: The Law Commission of Canada has an electoral reform project which published it’s Final Report (“Voting Counts: Electoral Reform For Canada”) early last spring. Funny how under Canada’s current system (a “First past the post” system) a party with significantly less than half of the popular vote can win a significant majority of seats in parliament (as was the case with the last Chrétien government, and seems to me similar to the newly elected situation in the States).

Okay, so maybe it’s not so “funny”; this can be seen as a strength, with our system tending to produce majority governments with enough power to actually make things happen: historically a ‘desirable’ thing(?). Personally I value collaboration more (as distinct from compromise!), and feel this approach would be more useful in our current context of social diversity.

The report gives a good primer on various electoral systems, including their impact on the proportion of parliamentary representation to the popular vote, and recommends one system in particular (a “mixed member proportional system” for those of you who care). And yes, the obvious “drawback” is that it results in minority governments most of the time; if that were the case, then they might have to learn how to cooperate like the rest of us did by watching Sesame Street.

…I think there’s also an argument for fixed election dates lurking around in there somewhere, but I’m not sure how I feel about that yet — a gut reaction against American ways; being challenged by the fact that I haven’t even read the article that I just linked to. :(

The Law Commission’s report also deals with other important aspects of electoral reform, but since the proportionality issue is merely technical in nature (essentially about math and the systems for transferring votes into seats in parliament) it’s relatively easy to be clear about and to give clear recommendations around (though whether agreement exists about the values underlying those recommendations is a completely other issue; at least the mechanics of the systems under consideration are fairly straightforward). But then, for other issues –like how to improve women’s and aboriginal representation in parliament– the analysis isn’t as simple (not just math and vote transfer), and so the recommendations come out feeling a little weak. That said, I like the intentions behind the recommendations, and I only wish that they could be more clearly defined, implemented and generally useful.

Ahh… such is the murk of complexity.
Hop in! Wallow a bit!
Bogman

p.s. On a related note, B.C. is currently in the process of changing their electoral system. (Prompted partly by the massively lop-sided victory in the last election, despite what I think was approximate popular balance?) B.C.’s work in this area (as well as that of other provinces) was part of the input into the Law Commission’s study; B.C. seems to be leading the pack in this aspect of reform here in Canada.

P.p.s. For those interested in more fuel against the US occupation of Iraq, CBC‘s Ideas program (of Monday, November 1) presented “War and Fleece“, a very interesting lecture by Naomi Kline (of No Logo fame) about the US’s on-going attempt to transform Iraq. A similar article, “Baghdad Year Zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neo-con utopia” (in text rather than audio) appears on the No Logo site.

1

Idiots…

Damn you Ohio!!

2

The Joys of Student Life

So in honour of my first post, I thought I would take you all on a walk down memory lane (current lane, for some of you!)

Remember when you were a student, and you felt like you had no time, and that nobody (least of all, financial aid officers) had any respect for you? And then remember when you started working and you thought, Geez, when I was a student I had it MADE!? Well I’m here to tell you – the grass is ALWAYS greener, my friends. Being a student SUCKS. It’s hard to sleep regularly when you know that you have homework to do – and believe me, you ALWAYS have it, and it will NEVER be done, and there is NO SUCH THING as being caught up on your reading, even when you are only taking one course!

The good thing is the flexible schedule. You have all this time that you can play with. Of course it is deluding yourself to think that it is “free” time, for the reasons mentioned above – and since you have no $$, what’s the point anyway? grin

No seriously, I am enjoying student life, and for those who know me, you know that I have this love-hate relationship with being a perpetual student. (Must be mostly love, considering my current status!)

So my rant is brief and in two parts, and related to the “joys of student life” theme. My recent interactions with the Bank of Nova Scotia Government Student Loan administration office and OSAP have proved to me that even interest-free loans aren’t worth the headache. Not that I have a choice in the matter! Warn your young friends and children, people – student loans are not friendly, and the time you spend trying to give “the Man” what he needs must be part of the reason why students from lower income families don’t succeed as well. There’s a social science study for you.

The second part is something sad that I have discovered. Here I am working and studying in a school of Rehab Science. Two of my students have disabilities, which I know because they had to be “documented” at the office for students with disabilities last year. What I found out THIS year is that they have to do this every semester (3 times a year), for every course they take. Why? Because the office is understaffed and they can’t possibly link in some meaningful way with the Registrar’s office to do this automatically and save the students the effort and time required to make an appt. to see a counsellor and have the SAME disability documented AGAIN.

Oh, this is fun! I might get addicted!

Have a great Halloween, everyone -

Limbo.

0

In support of the NGPMF community…

I went to buy a birthday card for a female friend of mine yesterday, and I ran up against the same problem I always have — there are very few cards for straight men to buy for women they’re not sleeping with (or trying to sleep with). In fact, there are none — the only ones that us NGPMFs can count on are the gender-neutral ones. This is what I get for not trying to do every woman I know (but I’m a heterosexual man).

So, card company executives take note! There is an untapped market here which you could be the one to ‘discover’. Wouldn’t that impress all the other folks at the weekly project review?

Oh, and the cards with PMS jokes aren’t funny.

5

Grrrr…

I hate it when neighbours call the cops before knocking on the door themselves. If it’s too noisy, a couple swift knocks against the ceiling with a broomhandle should send the message fine, thanks. It’s not like we were blaring music and dancing or anything.

Phoning the police shouldn’t become a default option just because you’re already in your jammies.

Anyway, aren’t progression parties supposed to progress? We never made it out of venue 1, though it turns out Evan and I are a formidable fuzball team.

0

Intruder Alert!

Beware! The forces of evil (i.e. spam) have invaded the happy world of peopleareidiots.com. There have been several pithy but completely random comments made by “free poker online” and “online casino”. To arms, people of peopleareidiots! we must combat the invading foes…’course how we’re supposed to do that is beyond me…

1

Princess Syndrom

Hello It’s me again. So well Kam was down we had to take my cat to the vet cause she had a peeing problem…apparently seeing as she’s a calico cat they are netoreas for having Princess Syndrom. the vet came in and was like once i saw what kind of cat you have i wasn’t surprised. they are high strung and extreamy sensitive….i wonder who that’s like. and so we wern’t sure if she had a urinary track infection or was just moody so they had to take a pee sample and when teh vet was looking her over she was like well i can tell her blader is empty and i was like yeah cause she went in her carrier and on my leg on teh way down. (way gross) so she had to stay there all day….and if you have not noticed this really doesn’t have any direction i just speak as the points come into my head….but anyways back to my story. when i go to pick her up you could tell everyone there jsut loves my cat and thinks she’s the prettiest thing ever. i said i’m her for emily and the lady is like oh emily in a nice happy voice and runs off to tell the guy to put her in her carrier and that guy was all happy to be carrying her out and the doctor just thought she was the prettiest little thing…mind you she is the prettiest little thing but she can be a jerk some times…mostly to other people. so yeah which brings me back to test results. so teh vet called and was like well she has a slight urinary track infection but i think it’s mostly behavioural…..this is the funny part…how much is your pet like you? well apparetly if the problem persest then they may have to resort to mood altering drugs to help keep her stress levels down…..i wonder who that sounds like….i wonder if i should just let her lick mine?…so in my nice little appartment those who are on drugs or should be on drugs is up to a 100 percent ratio including the animals….well i do have a fish that doesn’t need drugs as far as i can tell but his friend did jump out of the bowl and commit suicide…..so o.k. it’s like a 99 percent ratio.

0

Because apparently I have nothing better to do….

Working in government is definitely an interesting cultural experience. The strikes. The griping. The “that’s not my job”-ism. The seniority one-upmanship. And the unshakable assumption that if you work in HQ (=National Capital Region) you apparently have nothing better to do than redo your work on a whim.

It was a memo to my immediate colleagues and no one else. You should see the stuff I get – lousy typing, incorrect grammar, and the complete mangling of language that only a non-native can muster in both official languages. A frustrating lack of actual signatures on emails. And I don’t say anything, EVER, unless there is a risk of major miscommunication or it’s inadvertantly obscene, because as long as it’s understandable I’m not going to point out someone’s gaffes because doing so is RUDE dammit! We’re not talking official correspondence here, people, its not that crucial!

But not only do I have to suffer snotty or sarcastic comments about a few little mistakes, but I have RESEND the sucker. “Your memo is unreadable and you may want to rewrite it” translates into 2 goddam typos – but they’ll make ME ask THEM where the errors actually are.

Of course, I see no alternative but to just get them to proofread everything for me from now on!!!! Because apparentely they REALLY have nothing better to do….hee hee hee…..

0

Paxil Stupor

Hey sorry it’s taken me so long to start blogging. it’s so not my fault! I’d just like to mention that Paxil should only be used on people who are in a mental hospital and have no life because that stuff is like a cemical coma. I have done nothing for a full month. done nothign felt nothing. OH! i did get angry once….but that was about it. So ya it was so not my fault that my brain was turned to mush…good news though. they switched my meds so now i can actually function. YAY for me. cause like bestest best friend is coming back! yay and it would just suck if all i can do is sit and stare…yeah that would be an interesting visit. Hey Kat are you o.k.? Meh….are you hungry? meh……want to go do something? meh……would it be o.k. if i cut your foot off and beat you with it? meh….. tehehe. sorry my brain is still a little mushy.

1

Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side

OK, it’s official…the world has gone mad.

I am a Star Wars freak. I’ve been a Star Wars freak for a long time. I’m one of those people who annoy their friends by speaking the lines of these wonderful movies along with the characters. I incorporate Star Wars quotes into everyday conversation. I have camped overnight to buy tickets to Star Wars movies. I’ve played almost every Star Wars videogame ever made. I own the Star Wars edition of Trivial Pursuit, and can correctly answer most of the questions.

I say all this in order to lend some weight to the following: THEY’RE JUST MOVIES! George Lucas is not Satan. He’s a creative man who enjoys to tinker with his works, and while we may dislike his continual editing of these movies many of us have grown up with, this isn’t a global crisis.

As my bewildered sister just did, I must once again use the name of this site to help explain human behaviour…

0

The W is for War– er, Women!

Idiot!This woman boggles my mind. What woman in her right mind would willingly support Bush? I mean, I can beleive that she’s a pro-lifer, and maybe she’s against gay marriage. And, heck, I don’t know, maybe she just plain doesn’t like poor people (damn you lazy single mothers!). Based on that, sure, vote Bush. But does she also hate women? Is she a self-hating woman? Babes 4 Bush is like Jews 4 Hitler. This president is literally erasing women’s issues. From way up here in the wang of Canada, I look to the states and ask myself: How can people still vote for this man!?!? Then I remember the name of this site…

1

You can’t take the sky from me…

OK, here’s the e-mail I mentioned earlier. This was sent in response to a friend making a smart-ass comment about Firefly getting cancelled because nobody watched it.

From: KaveMan
Sent: April 29, 2004 7:41 AM
Subject: RE: Firefly marathon – part 1

Actually, the show was cancelled because Fox is a vision-less network trying to regain past glories like X-files or Simpsons without taking any of the risks that led to those shows finding some level of success. Firefly was stuck in the Friday 8pm time slot that has historically been a show-killer, and had almost no marketing whatsoever–the only place I saw ads for it was in some DC comics (!). Then, at the 11-episode mark, Fox cancels it, magnanimously allowing the previously-unaired original pilot to serve as series ender (two additional episodes were shot but never aired–they’re on the DVDs).

If you take a look at the ratings, those 11 episodes did better than the first-season episodes of Buffy, Angel, X-files, and many, many other successful shows. A genre show like Firefly takes a little bit of time to build an audience, which is something that Fox experienced (and then promptly forgot about, apparently) with The X-Files. Even so, almost 3 million Americans watched Firefly every week, on average.

Of course, an interesting, well-written, and entertaining show obviously can’t compare to the TV exec’s dream: Who wants to Marry a Big Fat Obnoxious Millionaire Bachelorette while Buildings Collapse and Celebrities Box at Paradise Hotel on Temptation Island….

p.s. yes, I’m bitter….stoopid Fox….
p.p.s. for some laughs, read this Feb 2000 article containing statements from Fox execs, and then check these out: http://www.fox.com/simplelife/, http://www.fox.com/bigfat/, http://www.fox.com/swan/

0

He does pretty well with fiends from hell…

I have no problem with Joss forsaking all others for the sake of Firefly. Serenity needs to come out, make a bajillion dollars, and then get back on the air, preferably on a semi-useful network, and not that short-sighted, money-grubbing, realityunscripted-show-loving, quality-bereft, wouldn’t-know-good-storytelling-if-it-bit-em-in-the-ass network, Fox.

I need to post a rant I sent out via e-mail a few months ago, but I’m not at my own computer right now…someone remind me if I forget.

2

My lover stands on golden sands…

This morning, at a completely unreasonable hour for a Saturday, I along with The Grabber, Righteous Guy and BogMan (in their secret identities) headed down to the Ottawa Sailing School so we could learn to cruise (cruise in the context of sailing, and not the neo-horny sense). We had all signed up for this course several weeks ago, and have been looking forward to it since before even signing up.

Showing up at 9am (as instructed by our welcome letter), we were surprised to find no one there. Now, I’m fairly certain that this sailing school is not a scam, as there are many, many people at the two yacht clubs in west-end Ottawa who know about the school. However, after waiting for over an hour, we spent most of the next hour wandering the grounds of first one, then the other yacht club, vainly searching for some sign of a sailing class. Sadly, we were unsuccessful.

I have no idea from which direction to get upset about this. Should I be more pissed that we were mistreated (at the least) by the sailing school, or that I didn’t get to sail today? I think the answer to that question will depend on the response we get on Monday to our inevitable irate phone calls.

Stay tuned…

1

Why am i not suprised…

Joss Whedon forsake all other projects for the sake of firefly? Who’d of thought…

*sarcasm light flashes*

0