Thursday, July 29, 2004

Any girl in the world could have easily known me better,
She said "You're strange, but don't change" and I let her

A CBC newsreader, on the premiers' conference:

"Mr. Klein said that televising the first ministers' meeting would turn it into a Gong Show, a reference to a seventies talent show known for its outrageous stunts."

And *that*, my friends, is what separates public broadcasters from the riffraff.


Monday, July 26, 2004

What's important is that you have a system

Important notice: I've re-ordered the links on my sidebar. Individual blogs are now sorted in descending order of letters in the author's last name, with number consonents in the author's last name serving as the first tie breaker and the blog's longevity serving as the second. Group blogs have not been touched. I've also culled the dead blogs (Hello, Vanessa and Ross) into their own category, and created yet another one for blogs missing and presumed dead, defined as those that haven't been updated for at least a month. This new system may be a little unfair to some blogs - notably Nick's, which remains excellent; I'll try to compensate by linking to blogs whose content is truly exceptional in my posts.

In other news, I wish to deny these persistent rumours that I have too much time on my hands.

You ever wonder what happened to Mark Jess?

You know, the S.U.'s only ever Open Studies Councilor, founding member of the Gateway Student Journalism Society, and leg-wrestler extraordinaire - *that* Mark Jess? Well, it turns out that he's in Lethbridge, alive, (relatively) well, and blogging!

The word of the day is "meninges"

First, sorry for my absence. As if I owe you daily blog posts, you vile e-lampreys. Though you seem to be doing just fine with my comments section.

Anyway, those of you who haven't already done so should check out Joel's Fifty-Second Post Extravaganza, because it features an interview with yours truly.

Also, I seem to have been designated (though not by anybody with the capacity to do so, I don't think) See Magazine's city affairs writer, meaning that you all need to read that particular rag for something other than Dan Savage from now on.

In other news, I have continued my strict regimen of not acting unduly weird towards customers when my boss (whoever that is) is around.

Better, more coherent, and more substantive post to come, after I catch up on everybody else's blogs. In the meantime, keep commenting, and rejoice in the knowledge that I am alive and blogging. And if you have time leftover after you've finished that, drop into the Varscona Theatre at eight o'clock any night this week for the Improvaganza! international improv tournament. I was there this evening (in the company of Chris Samuel, Sara Katz, Tyler Botten, and Janet Lo) to see our local team beat the pride of Vienna, and I wet myself numerous times. Not that me wetting myself in public is unusual.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Insert Your Own Damned Commentary

I'm too tired to put together any sort of coherent commentary right now, but were I to do so, it would probably be on the following two items from today's news:

1. Martha Stewart: "There are many, many good people who have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela." Nonetheless, Martha, I would suggest that the average goodness of people who have gone to prison as compared to the population at large is rather low. Or perhaps not, given all of the people I know who are not in prison despite being extremely bad people. At any rate: being jailed for lying to federal investigators is different from being jailed for political beliefs.

2. The WHA, in an attempt to dispel any rumours that it's not a complete fucking joke, held its inaugural draft. Among the players selected: Theo Fleury, Kirk Muller, Doug Gilmour, and Maurice Richard. Okay, I'm pretty sure I was kidding about Fleury.


Saturday, July 17, 2004

Blogger's Block has reduced me to posting poetry

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Therefore the term "violet",
Is something of a misnomer.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Hello darkness my old friend,
I want my fucking money

I failed the Safeway cashier test again, and this time I'm positive it was the personality portion that did me in. I'm going to keep taking it oncer per month, but since it's been made clear that my actual personality is unsatisfactory (incidentally, it's one thing to have one's personality be judged wanting by an actual person, but being judged inadequate by a computer is a feeling that can't quite be described) I'm going to answer questions in all future tests as if I had the personality of a famous historical figure. August: Charles Manson.

On an abrupt change of subject, I trust that the person who found this site by searching for "anti-Liberals are assholes" found confirmation of this theory by reading this anti-Liberal's blog.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Goat of the Month Club

So while cleaning (er, sort of) my room, I came across some documents from my second year in University. Among these was a sheet of paper containing business plan ideas I had jotted down for a Business 201 assignment. Among the better ones:

mail order Communists
luxury zinc
deep fried banking
spring loaded ear plugs
nuclear powered mustard
sheep club for men
online health club
Self-Actualize 'R Us

I can't believe those assholes haven't given me a degree yet.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

This business of "no debt": is it all wet?

So, as many of you (especially those of you not presently in comas) have probably noticed, Ralph Klein has declared Alberta to be "debt-free". The New Democrats have swiftly countered by pretending that the province isn't debt-free at all, and that the Klein government has simply hidden the debt, or something (this seems an odd strategy for a party that has spent much of its time accusing Klein of understating the robust state of the province's public finances, but I'm a pundit, not a strategist). Let's briefly resolve this debate before we move on to my main point, which is, as usual, that Ralph Klein sucks.

Is Alberta "debt-free" in the sense that most layfolk would understand it? No. The public coffers still owes money to various creditors. This money owing is debt. The province is not debt-free. What the government *has* done is set up an account with exactly enough money in it to make all remaining debt payments as they become due. This means that the debt will go away without future budgets required to allocate a single cent for debt repayment. For this reason, I think it is acceptable for the province to call itself "debt-free" in the course of normal discourse.

Now, the big question: so what? What advantage has the province gained by setting up this account? Well, let's see: it means we don't need to allocate money in future budgets to pay down the debt. But it also means that we had to allocate more money this year to debt repayment. And, all other things being equal, the time value of money (note to people who have no idea what I'm talking about: "time value of money is a fancy term for the common sense principle that you're better off with a dollar now than you are with a dollar a year from now) means that it's better to spend that money later. Of course, that account will be generating interest, but unless that interest exceeds the interest accumulated on the unmatured debt, this was a terrible financial move.

Until, of course, the value of that kind of election-time PR is factored in. . .

My one hundred and forty-first post

I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate the fine folks over at POI (chiefly me) on being named one of Canada's top blogs for the month of July. If this doesn't prove that good things happen to bad people, I'm not sure what does.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Fair-and-Hyped 9/11

For those who correctly believe the above to be pretty much the worst blog post title ever, you would be well advised to stop reading right now.

So, for those of you who tire of reading reviews of Farenheit 9/11 by reviewers more lucid and eloquent than myself, I present you with my thoughts.

First of all, either the Cannes judges were just trying to make a political statement of some kind (in which case they could have just implemented a new category called something like "Worst Performance in Leading the Free World"), or they were subjected to an unusually weak crop this year, because of the three Moore movies I've seen (the others being Bowling for Columbine and Roger and Me), this was easily the worst. It was disjointed, harped on facts of questionable relevance, and came across as highly manipulative.

For example, who cares if the Bushes and the Saudi Royal family are tight? *All* rich oil families who also happen to govern nations are tight. I'll bet you could find some ties between the Saudi royals and the Roosevelts too, if you wanted to. Likewise, the community of American rich people is sufficiently small (and, inevitably, well-connected), that I'd wager that I could find as many suspicious looking ties between Clinton and businessfolk who benefitted from Democratic policy as Moore did with Bush.

As for manipulative, when you make a film featuring a woman who has lost a son in war, you can spin it pretty well however you like - Moore could just as easily put together a film that garnered support for the "War on Terror" by having the mother blame Al-Qaeda for her son's death. Therein lies the danger of using anecdotal evidence, which is why it's a favoured tool of propogandists and not of credible analysts.

But then it hit me, around the time that Tom Daschle was pledging his willingness to give Bush the authority he needed to fight the WoT. Michael Moore has always delighted in portraying the Democrats as Republicans-lite, and yet, in this movie, he acquiesces with a single clip of a single Democrat. Why? Because this film is propaganda - that is to say, its primary objective is neither to entertain nor inform, but to achieve a political aim, in this case the defeat of George Bush. So, rather than making a movie whose target audience is people who already agree with Moore, and featuring in it cerebral analysis of his point and well-documented evidence to back it up, he made a movie that uses all of the traditional tools of the propagandist, and which aims to make its case to the Great Unwashed. On some level, those conservative groups who are trying to get advertising for the film regulated as third party advertising in the Presidential election have got it right - Michael Moore is pulling out all the stops to get John Kerry elected, even if it means glossing over some facts, exaggerating others, and appealing to a region about a foot and a half south of his viewership's brains. Michael Moore is nothing less than the Joseph Goebbels of the American left.

Is this a bad thing? To those who view Moore as a beacon of truth in a murky world, yes. But really, Bush certainly has his share of propagandists in his corner, and in a political era of big money and simple messages, perhaps the best way to ensure that coverage is, in total, fair and balanced is to give each side the means to spout an equal amount of propaganda. If you know any Americans, make sure they see this movie.


Friday, July 09, 2004

A Portrait of the Blogger as a Drunk Man

Thanks a lot Heather.


Thursday, July 08, 2004

I robbed from the rich - kind of like Robin Hood, except I kept it

1. The news media should immediately stop deciding what message Canadians were trying to send during the federal election. Canadians did not get together in a big room immediately before the election to apportion out their votes such that exactly the message they wanted communicated would be sent. "Canadians" did not send a message last Monday, they (we) sent several million messages.

2. Speaking of news media, it's been suggested to me that I attempt to submit some news stuff to See Magazine for publication. The idea is a good one. Now I need some ideas of news stories the mainstream media aren't covering. Anybody?

3. Speaking of elections (well, we were a couple of bullets ago), it appears that I may not get paid for my work as Deputy Returning Officer, which is mildly vexatious, though partially my own fault.

4. Speaking of getting paid for work, it was brought to my attention today that I haven't bothered to pick up a single paycheque since I started working at Safeway. Now everybody at work thinks I'm a freak. Still.

5. Speaking of freaks, I'm having trouble sharing in the public outrage over the nine month jail sentence giving to the adoptive parents who kept their adoptive children in cages to discipline them. This is probably because I hold to this quaint idea about the role of the criminal justice system being (in order) prevention of re-offense, rehabilitation, and deterrent. Nowhere on there is punishment listed.

6. Speaking of punishment, this post has gone on quite long enough.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Another reason Liberal voters are idiots

Also: another reason to vote on the basis of local candidate

So, a lot of people voted Liberal solely to prevent the Evil Conservatives from coming in and denying gays the right to marry. It will take, assuming a full House of Commons (ha!), 155 MPs to vote in favour of gay marriage before gays will legislatively be given the right to marry. It's probably a safe bet that approximately one hundred percent of the NDP and Bloc caucuses will vote in favour, for a total of 74 MPs. There may also be (generously guessing) about six Conservative MPs, including Belinda Stronach, who support it. This means that the measure would require the support of at least 75 of the Liberals' 134 MPs. Pre-election, the Liberal caucus was said to be split about fifty-fifty on the question. Assuming this ratio holds, the Liberals be the deciding factor in the defeat of same-sex marriage (it will be irrelevant, of course - the courts will see to that).

Also - how many votes do you suppose the (presumed) 62 or 63 Liberal MPs who oppose same-sex marriage received from voters voting Liberal just to stave off the evil Conservatives and their anti-gay leanings?


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I have nothing new to say. . .

So I'll defer to a couple of others - [deleted to protect "Julia"'s anonymity] "Julia", and Medicine/Dentistry Councilor and the man Chris Bolivar says is more right-wing than him, Brock Debenham.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

Death becomes you

So I've been focussing pretty exclusively on politics for the last little while, and it's become kind of depressing. Time to move on to something more uplifting, like death. More specifically, it's time to move on to the question of what to do with one's remains when one is no longer making productive use of them.

I got to thinking about this question on Father's Day, when my father happened to consider out loud the question of whether, as long as he was in the neighbourhood, he might want to stop in and say a quick hello to his father's ashes. From here emerged the story that my grandfather - baptised a Mormon, later to found the atheist branch of Clan Smith - left this world without any parting instructions beyond "No goddamned funerals". Apparently, this had lead to some indecisiveness on the part of the Next Of, to the point that his ashes remained in a plastic container in my father's closet for quite some time.

Now, as much admiration as I have for the point of view of the patriarch, I'm too much an egomaniac not to want a funeral. I want a big one, and I want to M.C. it myself via videotape. If my death comes to suddenly for that to be feasible, I want a standup comic there, making as many off-colour jokes as possible. I also want an all night wake on Webboard where people say nice things about me. Got all that? Good.

The question of what I want done with my remains is a little tricker, because, unlike with the funeral thing, I have to be choosy. While there's nothing precluding both the all-night Webboard wake *and* the standup comic, things become a little more exclusive when you're talking about making permanent alterations to my soul's vessel.

For example, I'd like to be stuffed and mounted in Council Chambers, where I could glare disapprovingly down on the proceedings for all eternity (and, doubtlessly, have every bit the effect on the outcome of votes as I do now). If I did that, however, I wouldn't be able to be cremated and then flushed down the toilet, as so brilliantly suggested by a grade school teacher of my mother's. And doing either of these things would make it more difficult to have some select pieces of legislation printed on my skin, which would then be bound into a volume. You get the idea.

Anyway, with any luck I'll have at least a decade more to figure this out. On another note, it would really help me figure it out if some of you assholes would leave the occasional comment - my comments section seems to have become moribund.


Saturday, July 03, 2004

We laughed, we cried, we adjourned

They say you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Similarily, you can't chair a plenary session without reducing at least one of its members to tears. And by "you", I mean "I".


Friday, July 02, 2004

How the Conservatives either exceeded or fell short of expectations, depending on who you ask

A few scattered "points" (the term, as always, is used loosely) about the Conservatives' performance in the election:

1. If you had told me a month ago that:
(i) the Conservatives would win 99 seats; and
(ii) Stephen Harper would be under pressure to give up the leafership,
I wouldn't have believed you. In fact, I'm not sure I believe it now. Canadian politics are a strange beast, even to those of us with an unhealthy interest in them.

2. On the other hand, the plan behind the "Unite the Right" movement was to combine the bases of support of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives, which would result in an overall gain of seats for the so-called right-wing (what with the much ballyhooed "vote splitting"). This should have resulted in a base support level of 37.7% (25.5% for the Alliance combined with 12.2% for the P.C.s), a level which, presumably, would only have increased throughout Paul Martin's reign of error. Instead, the vote - after a very poor campaign by Martin and a fairly good one by Harper - *climbed* to 29%. Indeed, if the uniting of the right were simply a matter of summing the P.C. and Alliance numbers from 2000 - *before* it became apparent that Paul Martin was a waste of perfectly good genetic material - we would be looking at a Conservative minority government. What really happened is that Stephen Harper was able to take the Alliance support from 2000 and build on it, especially in Ontario and Saskatchewan (the seats the Conservatives won in the maritimes were a little different and were actually the result of the P.C. vote moving over to the Conservatives, but loyalty to a party name is a very different affair there than it is in the rest of the country). Bottom line, the "unite the right" drive was successful only insofar as it removed some of the competition from the fray - it did the Liberals and the New Democrats as much as or more good than it did the Tories.

Update: this point was perhaps best driven home by a Journal editorial not long before the election which referred, apparently without irony, to "the conservative movement since its merger with the Progressive Conservatives". Weren't the P.C.s supposed to be the *part* of the conservative movement already?

3. The Conservative gameplan at this point has to be to embarass the New Democrats into toppling the Liberals before the Liberals have a chance to engineer their own defeat for strategic reasons.

4. Incidentally, Mustafa's arguments over at POI, while characteristically logical, don't hold water simply because I cannot be convinced that the leader of a major federal party would knowingly give up the Prime Ministership for long-term gain. You don't get to lead the Conservative Party without being ambitious, and it's that same ambition that would preclude him adopting the strategy suggested by Mustafa. This is all conjecture, of course, but so's Mustafa's post.

5. While it's all moot for the time being, I'll let you in on an interesting little debate Spencer and I had before the election on what would happen if the Conservatives won a plurality of seats. We both agreed that Martin would allow the Conservatives first kick at the governance can. We both agreed that the government would probably fall on its first confidence vote. We both agreed that Harper would then go to the people in the same way as Trudeau did in '74, claiming he needed a majority to fulfill his mandate. We differed on whether he'd win.

I took the position that, as soon as Canadians saw what a Harper government would look like - not so much the "what" as the "who" - the Liberals would have a whole lot more ammo in their smear campaign. For example, Stockwell Day would have to be in cabinet, and I can't imagine there are many Canadians who both believe that dinosaurs predate humans and want that to happen.

Spencer, on the other hand, figures that Harper would leave the crazies out of a minority cabinet, promising them they'd get their due when he finally won a majority, and that he would therefore present to Canadians a deceptively moderate face. The problem with Spencer's line of reasoning, of course, is this: when have Stockwell and his ilk ever shown a propensity for strategic silence?


Thursday, July 01, 2004

We interrupt this prolonged silence for an important update

I have a hit from Finland.

Guess Who's Back?

My thoughts on the election results will follow, but for now I'd just like to note that this is the best parody of a classic rock song that I've seen since my own R.E.M.-inspired response to W5's special on students turning to prostitution to pay for their educations was deemed "too offensive" to actually use. All together now:

That's me on the corner,
That's me 'neath the streetlight,
Paying my tuition...

Also, in response to Anand Sharma's triumphant (or, at the very least, oblivious) return to Students' Council, Alex Abboud, Kyle Kawanami, and I put together the following, to be sung (obviously) to the tune of the Ed Broadbent rap:


Guess who's back?
Anand's back!

My droning voice is like a drug,
I'm Anand Sharma - gimme a hug!

Guess who's back?
Anand's back!

CASA deserves a kick in the face,
We'll join the CFS in its place!

Guess who's back?
Anand's back!

Once upon a time I was VPX,
Montreal is where I go for sex.

Guess who's back?
Anand's back!

I think Jack Layton's really swell,
He picked up the tab for my hotel.

Guess who's back?
Anand's back!

I beat Sam Jenkins before the electors,
Which is more than can be said for my successor.

Guess who's back?
Anand's back!


Feel free to submit additional verses in the comments section.


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