Saturday, January 29, 2005

Post Title

So a couple of things that have occurred to me recently:

1. The NHL and the NHLPA should have me mediating their dispute. Not because I could reach a resolution (clearly I couldn't), but I could sure waste a lot less of their time. Their meeting on Thursday (sans Bettman and Goodenow) apparently went on for four hours. What did they discuss during that time? I suspect it went something like this:

NHL: So, you're still unwilling to discuss a salary cap?
NHL: Okay then - how about a proposal that includes a luxury tax and revenue sharing *cough* *cough* and a salary cap *cough*.
NHLPA: That sounds okay. . . wait a minute, what was that last part?
NHL: Revenue sharing?
NHLPA: So, to be clear, no salary cap?
NHL: If you'll excuse me for a moment, I have to take a leak.

I mean, really. Think of all the time wasted. These sessions shouldn't last more than a minute and a half, allowing time for introductions.

2. I am in the unfamiliar position of siding with provincial government apologists like Mike Nickel and Stephen Mandel against its critics, such as Michael Phair and. . . Dave Hancock and Gene Zwowzdesky? Yes, Edmonton's two cabinet ministers have complained that the government's infrastructure funding shortchanges Edmonton.

Edmonton, apparently, has older infrastructure than Calgary. And apparently, even though Calgary has a larger population, Edmonton's infrastructural needs are just as great, since its infrastructure serves the surrounding bedroom communities as well. Sure. I can buy both of those arguments. But the fact is that the provincial government needs some kind of objective criterion on which to distribute this funding, and population makes more sense than any of the alternatives. It could have taken each kilometer of road and multiplied it by its age, giving us the objective measure of kilometer-years, but that's overly road-centric, and doesn't take into account when repairs were last done. Or, to compensate for the bedroom community thing, it could award funding to each municipality not only on the basis of its own population, but also on the basis of the number of people living within a ten mile radius of it - of course, then St. Albert's going to benefit proportionally much more than Edmonton does, which would have the effect of compensating the leeches more than the leechee. Or something. I'm sure other measures to address the relative states of repair of the cities' infrastructure exist, but then you'd be punishing cities that tried valiently to tackle their infrastructure problems using property tax dollars, and rewarding those who ignored them waiting for just such a program.

There are provincial funds available to address specific infrastructure problems - project-based funding. That's not what this was intended to be. Providing per capita funding was the fairest option available to the provincial government, and it should be commended for taking it.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Some of you are lucky that I don't judge people based on the electoral company they keep

So somebody found this corner of the net via a Google search for "what's a dick for?" (yes, with quotes). My life is complete. On some level.

On another, more accurate, level, my life is not complete. Two distinct options are fast crystallizing in the metaphorical solution of my future (don't try this type of writing at home. Or anywhere else). Two roads are diverging in this yellow goddammed wood, and sorry cannot travel both. I'm tempted to resort to the same decision-making method that once put a good friend of mine in Honours Physiology: the coin toss.

Call it in the air.

UPDATE: This is unrelated to anything above, but it's creepy how accurate my Onion horoscope is this week (I'm an Aquarius).


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It lives! If this can be called a life.

I just wanted to dispel any rumours of my demise that may be circulating on account of my having missed my first IRB meeting in my career last night (such rumours did surface after I missed my only ever Council meeting a year and a half ago). I just decided to follow up on a sixteen hour plenary session with a twenty hour nap. It was good.

Here's one of my more amusing experiences from CUP. I'll share more as I remember them:

Steve Faguy (pronounced "Faggy" - you're all allowed an immature little chuckle): So, I have to ask you about your voice. Is that real, or is that just part of the act?
Me: Um, it's real.
Steve: Really? You sound like a young Joe Clark.
Me: Former Gateway Editor-in-Chief Joe Clark? Hey, thanks!
Steve: Say "specificity".
Me: Specificity.
Steve (giggling): Thanks.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Buckley's Mixture: It Tastes Awful, but Wheeeeeee!

Do this post was supposed to be about my puzzlement over Paul Martin's threats to call an election over same-sex marriage, but it turns out that he never actually threatened to do so, and that the media pretty much just imagined it. Neat, huh?

Well, the current media might be screwed up, but there's plenty of hope for the future of media, as evidenced by the fact that the Canadian University Press could think of nobody better than me to chair its plenary sessions. A hundred and eighteen main motions, twenty hours of meetings later, and a bottle of Buckley's Mixture later, I can report that on the upside I didn't make any old ladies cry, while on the downside I didn't make any old ladies cry.

The future? Still pretty undecided, thanks for asking.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

More stupidity about same-sex marriage, part III

So I gather, by the zero comments garnered by each of my last two entries, that the subject of stupidity about same-sex marriage is one of great interest to my regular readers (or possibly said readers have just had their computers confiscated by their block wardens - no matter). Because of this, I continue with the series.

You know what's stupid this time? Suggestions that legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to challenges to Canada's prohibition on polygamy. People levelling those accusations are every bit as ignorant of the way Canadian law - and Canadian constitutional law in particular - works as is the Prime Minister.

As in my last entry, the piece of legislation at work in this instance is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The question at play (legislation works and questions play, obviously - duh) is whether the current prohibition of polygamy is consistent with the guarantees of religious freedom in the Charter. This is a question to which I don't know the answer, and I think a court study on that would be immensely interesting. I hope it happens, not least because I have been advocating the elimination of the rule for half a decade, most notably in my call to arms in the Faculté Saint-Jean's Mouton Noir four years ago (tragically, said call to arms, along with my accompanying tribute to Pierre Trudeau, was so heavily edited that I resolved to never again run anything in that particular rag).

What effect, you may well ask, would an amendment to federal statutes (such as the one that will presumably soon be proposed by the Martin government to legalize same-sex marriage) have on such a question? Well, none. At all. Either the Charter requires the government to allow polygamy or it doesn't. If it does, it does with or without legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. If it doesn't, no legislative action short of an amendment to the Charter is going to change this.

In keeping with my tradition of alternating targets, my next post will be on my persistent puzzlement over the Prime Minister's threats to call an election on this issue.

Also: is this the new badgerbadgerbadger?


Friday, January 21, 2005

More stupidity about same-sex marriage, part II

So I've been fairly harsh recently on those who oppose same-sex marriage, on the grounds that most of them are dumb. In fairness, I should point out that a lot of people who support same-sex marriage are also dumb. Take Paul Martin, for example. He says that he's willing to fight an election over same-sex marriage. That's very nice. I feel pretty strongly about the issue, so I'm glad to see somebody who feels similarily is occupying 24 Sussex.

But what's this? Martin says "Am I ready to go into an election to uphold the Charter of Rights against those who would attack it? The answer is certainly yes."

Um. Paul. First of all, it's not yet been finally determined if the Charter guarantees Canadians the right to marry other members of their sex (though I'm almost certain that the Supreme Court, if and when it is finally required to make a decision on the matter, will rule that it does), so it's perhaps a little glib to portray this as a question of upholding the Charter. Beyond that, though, even if the Charter *does* guarantee this right, you don't need to fight an election to uphold it. See, upholding the Charter isn't your job - that's the courts' job. In fact, if the Charter *does* guarantee this right, the only ways you could stop same-sex marriage even if you wanted to would be amending/repealing the Charter (which would be exceedingly difficult, as any four premiers could block you - to say nothing of the likely caucus revolt and your equally likely inability to get such an amendment/repeal through a Commons that you don't control) or invoking the Notwithstanding Clause. By doing neither of those things, you're automatically "upholding the Charter), and inactivity doesn't require an election (if it did, you would have gone through much more than one election during the past year).

So legalize same-sex marriage because it's the right thing to do, but don't go dragging the Charter into this. Thanks.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More stupidity about same-sex marriage

I realize that everybody's tired of hearing about same-sex marriage, and that something approximating my blog's entire readership agrees with me on the matter in any event, but something else just occurred to me, and when things occur to me I post them (yes, that means that things occur to me only about once every couple of days or so). If we assume that the state must define marriage (and it appears that the BNA Act didn't contemplate the state failing to do so), opposition to defining it in such a way that it includes same-sex couplings seems to be predicated on the belief that marriage is more a cultural/religious institution than it is a legal one, so the state shouldn't deviate in its definition from what God and tradition says it should be (I find this a little specious, but I can live with it for the purposes of this argument). So how do these opponents deal with the fact that Canada's largest Protestant denomination - and the second largest denomination of *any* religion in Canada - is all about same-sex marriage? Even if marriage, at the civil level, *is* fundamentally cultural/religious as opposed to legal, why should Parliament be sanctioning the Roman Catholics' version of what it is over the United Church's? Why are these advocates for religious freedom (a point on which they're quite right) not up in arms about the fact that Parliament is, effectively, denying the United Church the right to perform same-sex marriages?

Repent, ye hypocrites.


Monday, January 17, 2005

He wuz robbed!

So Paul finished third in "Best Blog" and second in "Most Humourous Blog" (which is strange, because he clearly deserved to win the former, but probably didn't deserve to win the latter). POI finished sixth in both categories in which it was nominated. I take solace in the fact that Paul at least thumped the obscenely overrated Colby Cosh. Full results

As for my weekend:

1. Friday I went to the Power Plant for the first time in quite a while (especially on a Friday night) because I'd heard tell that Big Rock pints were on special for $3.75 before eleven. Which they were, but there also appeared to be an Antifreeze event of sort sort going down. The best part was that Council probably could have made quorum. The worst part is that nobody seemed all that interested in trying.

2. Saturday I attended Clan MacNaughton's Robbie Burns night. I'd always considered the bagpipes to be something of a solo instrument, which obviously failed to take into account the sheer terrifying power of fourteen sets of drones kicking in at the same time. Other hilights of the evening included a claymore.

3. I have re-acquired this persistant cough that has haunted me for years. The longest it's ever lasted was thirteen months. Hopefully it will be gone sooner this time. The moral of the story, in any event, is never mix Buckley's mixture with beer. And I'm not joking; that's bad magic.

For those of you who care about student politics, I'll be holding a Webboard press conference to announce my future in them at four pm on January 25. Be there of give the impression of having something better to do with your time.

To my UBC readers (which basically consist of Spencer Keys: Vote Spencer.


Friday, January 14, 2005

You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave

James Crossman, famous principally for being the best four month Councillor in the Students' Union's recent history, has started a blog and will receive, as a token of my esteem, a mention on my sidebar whenever get around to it. Looking for a way that *you* can celebrate this momentous occasion? Go vote.

In other news, I've finally, fifteen or so years late, achieved an appreciation for academia - you know, learning (in a formal setting) for the sake of learning, and all that. There are feelings welling up within me that I have not experienced since those heady days of Math and Chem AP taught by the legendary Percy Zalasky and Gene Osoba, respectively. Only trouble is that this feeling does not seem to apply to business courses, and I'm out of non-business electives after this term. This love of academia has also convinced me that I want to teach - not in University, mind you, since even I'm not delusional enough to think that it's a good idea to follow up on my six year undergraduate degree with another undergraduate degree - in something that actually interests me - and a PhD or some such, but what about that whole two year B. Ed after degree? I mean, teaching math to teenagers is basically what I do for money now, and I love it. Let me teach that and a couple of other subjects (social studies? chemistry?) and I could be happy.

Or what about getting a real job in the near future and moving out of my parents' basement? While its status as a real job is in doubt, my name seems to be coming up in the Students' Union election rumour mill for President, and I'd be lying if I said that the position had lost its appeal for me during the last two years. On the other hand, there's another job that's going to be open soon, in which I've also heard my name mentioned and for which I also have some amount of enthusiasm, as well as a comment from the incumbent - whose opinion I respect on this matter as well as others - that an application from me would be "worth considering" (which basically translates to "unlikely to cause me to wet myself with laughter" - still better than I'd anticipated). But then there's the degree, the completion of which is beckoning like some sort of an elusive mistress who keeps threatening to kick me out of bed (suggestions for better similes are welcome). What to do? Bestow upon me a pellet of your wisdom, Blog!

Just so long as it doesn't conflict with any of my preconceived notions.

Coming within the next month: Steve gets less self-absorbed. But not by much.

(There's something very wrong with a world in whose spell-checkers the word "smilies" is included, but the word "similes" is not. Peace be with you.)

Checking Back from Vacation to Indulge my Pop Culture Fetish

Those of you who read Kyle's blog may recall that about a month ago I made a prediction about the upcoming season of Survivor - that the twenty contestants would be divided into four tribes of five people. Now we receive word that three contestants will go off in the first episode, which I assume means that immunity will be granted to only one of the four tribes. Seriously. I'm right. And possibly almost back from vacation, though I'll probably post at least one more piece from the print archives first.

And now to class.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

If you haven't seen it, it's new to you

Have you voted yet today? No? Fie on thee, wastrel! Whatever that means.

Well, despite my best efforts (which are really not very good at all), my updates remain as sporadic as they are bad (though my sidebar's recently been culled - *five* missing and presumed dead? Shame on you, hack blogging circle!). It's not that there's nothing about which I could be writing. I mean, I could finally get to that Simon & Garfunkel album review, I could put up my Eric Kierans tribute, or I could write something on how my mind has been focussed on the importance of teachers to the world after attending both a lovely awards ceremony for my incomparable grade five and seven teacher (and a pretty good boxing coach, too) Pierre Rousseau and a lecture by the great Gordon Lee on the same day. Somehow, though, the urge doesn't strike me. I appear to be on a vacation, of sorts. With that in mind, I'm going to tear a page out of some cartoonists' books (not literally - I won't make that mistake for a third time) and publish a few of my past efforts.

Today's rerun is the first piece of writing I ever had published (in Paul Kane High School's student newspaper, the esteemed and defunct "Generation PK"), entitled "Writer's Block, Corporate Punishment, and Black Sevens on Red Eights"). While the piece hasn't held up quite as well as I'd like, apparent in it are some of the elements that make my writing so beautifully distinctive today, such as criminal overuse of paranthetical devices. Anyway, enjoy. Or don't. But don't complain about the lack of new entries.

As I so often do while playing solitaire, I recently got to contemplating the issue of corporal punishment after punching my sister. I blame this on writer's block.

It's really quite simple: submissions to this esteemed rag were due the following day, and I had assured the editor that I would submit something. Not wishing to appear utterly incompetent (I am utterly incompetent, of course, I merely did not with to appear as such) I was attempting to write an article and, to this end, playing solitaire.

Unfortunately, I was unable to locate either of the red eights, and this served only to worsen my already cantankerous condition, so when my ever-lovable younger sibling strolled into the room to point out the ludicrously obvious ("you need a red eight"), I did what any rational and compassionate human being would: I punched her.

This got me thinking about corporal punishment. Like most of my fellow liberal-intellectual-left-leaning-bleeding-heart-probable-communist-criminal-loving-wimps, I oppose it, often rather vehemently. Yet I did not hesitate to impose it on somebody who had committed no greater transgression than to tell me how to play my game of solitaire (it should be noted, in the interests of fairness, that I know several people who feel that this should be punishable by death by firing squad). As somebody who prides myself on abiding by my principles (at least when I'm not priding myself on successfully figuring out, in fewer than three attempts, in which class I'm supposed to be), this element of hypocrisy bothered me.

As I thought about this, I realized that until society elects to abide by reason rather than passion, until such time as we realize that compassion is owed to all, regardless of failings and shortcomings, and until such time as retribution is no longer considered a fundamental element of justice, we are doomed to social stagnation.

That evening, during dinner, I punched my sister for repeatedly chewing with her mouth open.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Back *and* Self-Indulgent

Absences are becoming more routine than I'd like, I admit, but things will get better, Dear Reader. I can change, Baby. Just give me another chance.

So Steve-Stalkee Paul Wells has been nominated for Best Blog and Most Humourous Blog in the 2004 Canadian Blog Awards. Now, I'm sure Mr. Wells considers it an honour just to be nominated, but what must be a greater honour still is to find himself on the same page as Points of Information, nominated in Best Group Blog and Best Blog Design. For those of you who have yet to figure out why this post is self-indulgent, I should explain that POI boasts, as a sometime (*very* sometime) contributor one S. Murray "Steve" Smith, who once starred in a movie with - you guessed it - Kevin Bacon.

What the hell am I talking about?

Anyway, go vote for Paul, and while you're at it see if you can find the time to give a little shout out to Jones, Hirji, and the rest of the POI Boyz.

I'll say something substantive soon; I promise.


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