Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Last Election Related Rant (I hope)

We’re Becoming A Democracy! – Due to expected free-votes “experts say that… the new minority government (could be) the most democratic in Canadian history.” How is this a bad thing? I’m sick of majority governments being elected with far less than 50% of the vote and then ramming legislation down the throats of the people. Run off elections anyone? Expensive, but much more democratic. Perhaps Proportional Representation?

Check out: Fair Vote Canada

Sour Grapes Award: Long time conservative and founding member of the Reform Party, Elizabeth Craine – “There is no Canada. There’s Quebec. There’s the Maritimes. There’s Ontario. And there’s the West. They’re all different. Let’s wake up to reality – it’s time for us to form our own country.”

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Oh no, boohoo, I didn’t win, now I want out. Whiner. Make up your mind. Are the Conservatives a national party or the Western Reform in drag?

It’s not like the Liberals are the Ontario Block. The Liberals are a populist party that won seats across the nation. Just because the Conservative’s narrow-minded platform and pathetic slate of candidates didn’t translate well it must be a backlash against the West. Yeah. Sure.

From conception the Reform was a regional, rurally oriented party. It still retains many markings from its birth. Why is it any surprise that cities (in the West too) and other regions of the country rejected it?

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The House Martins

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Although they didn't get a seat it must be "happy hour" at Jim Harris' HQ, where "the light is always Green". They certainly now have results to "build" on.

I didn't vote Liberal but I would have to say I'm pleased with the election results. Although not quite "joy joy joy" any government that doesn't have the Regressive Conservatives at the helm is fine by me.

If the resulting minority is stable I'll have to turn my political rantings to the Beautiful South.

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Objectivity

The headlines on the front page of the G & M today really irked me. In half inch font:

MARTIN: Stop Harper
from becoming PM


What is this? A reminder to vote against the Conservatives. Sure it's a tad pathetic but for those riding the fence it may prove just enough impetus to change their vote.

HARPER: Pledge to put
West at Canada's helm


Yeah, like this isn't intended to cause a backlash amongst Ontarians.

I know it's hoping for too much but I'd really like my news to be as objective as possible.

At least there weren't "carefully" chosen pics accompanying the article.

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Reformed Lurker

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Now that I have almost two (whole) weeks blogging to stand on I would like to suggest a change in blogoshere nomenclature. I find the term lurker to be distinctly pejorative.

Perhaps non-participative visitor (NPV)? Mute? Even Eavesdropper would be an improvement.

Any other suggestions?

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Pop Culture Filler (I got nothing)

I don’t really watch much television but wow, Six Feet Under is fabulous. I haven’t followed a show this avidly since Mulder left the X-Files Twin Peaks was bizarre Miami Vice seemed cool The Six Million Dollar Man.

It’s hit or miss but Television Without Pity offers some hilarious summaries of your favourite shows/guilt-ridden indulgences.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Zero Expectations, a Ton of Fun

Last night I went out to support an old friend who had a short film showing in the On the Fly festival. I had no idea what it was all about and did no research to find out. Basically, a dozen or so filmmakers, some experienced some not, were given 24 hours to shoot a film and 24 more to edit it. The results were surprisingly good and occasionally great. It’s showing again on July 10th for more information check out the link.

Even in the line-up prior to the show the atmosphere had this great positive charge to it. Video cameras, and the press abounded, taking in the buzzing, schmoozing, dressed to the 7’s crowd (thank goodness, if it had been the 9’s I would have been sorely underdressed). Throughout the evening the crowd was raucous and very supportive of all the entries, continuing the great vibe. Sadly, my friend’s entry didn’t get any awards but he was approached by a buyer from one of the local networks; mostly to do with his film, I think.

The after-party was a blast. They even had one of my favourite T.O. deejays spinning. Much socializing, drinking and dancing was had by all, ‘nuff said.

It’s great to be surprised and just fall into evenings as fun as this.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Translation for a Translation

A number of months ago I’m over at a friend’s house and I’m admiring a couple of interesting posters he has hanging on the wall. Both have Cyrillic text and appear to be examples of (Soviet?) propaganda, unfortunately my friend never had them translated. Being the kind and curious soul that I am, I volunteered to try to get this girl-friend’s- roommate’s-girlfriend acquaintance of mine who is a native speaker of Russian to translate.


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I praise the great radiant law

An exchange of emails or a well-timed question; simple enough right? Apparently not. A soap opera erupts full of plots, sub-plots, misunderstandings and histrionics. Understandably the unfolding drama renders poster translation unimportant and results in delay after delay. Recently, I gave up pursuing this approach (amongst other things) and found an alternate translator. Though not a native speaker of the language the results were much more timely and thankfully drama-free. I’m very appreciative of the help, but as you can see from the results [glasnost (i.e. openness), but for the settlement of individual accounts] it now appears that I’m in need of a translation of the translation.


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glasnost (i.e. openness), but for the settlement of individual accounts

Through all this time my poster-owning friend never asked once about the cause of the delay. When I mentioned the difficulties causing the delays he was sympathetic. Finally I forwarded him the results yesterday. His response: That is SO cool! Thanks so much. When are we getting together for a drink?

That is so cool.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Space Cadet

You’ve probably already read about the space plane and it’s successful flight to 100 km above the surface of the earth. If they do it again within two weeks using the same vehicle the developers are in line to win the $10 M x-prize. I love the concept of this prize, driving the private sector to come up with solutions that may not be possible within big bureaucracies like NASA.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Space flight is apparently at a stage where a $10 M prize can actually make a difference. A prize of this size wouldn’t make a dent in the R & D costs for programs that are in earlier stages of development. For prizes like this to work for bigger projects development could be divided into benchmarks and a prize awarded at the completion of each section. Hey, it could work. Coming from a physics background two concepts that I would like to see treated this way are:

Nuclear Fusion – The energy generation process that occurs in stars. If harnessed fusion plants would produce clean, renewable, non-weaponizable and eventually cheap power. Currently there are two major approaches to harnessing fusion. Both look promising but perhaps if the private sector became involved new ideas might be introduced that would speed up these paths or find even more promising methods of tackling the problem. I’m still pissed off that the Canadian government balked at helping fund an international fusion research centre that was set to open here.

Sure, maybe money should be poured into solar, tidal or wind power but as concepts they simply aren’t as neat.

Space Elevator – Rocketships and space shuttles may be sexy but damn, this is a cool concept. I couldn’t do it justice describing it. Check out the link, it’s just so cool. So cool.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Card Insert

Dear Dad,

Happy Father's Day.

It's been less than two months since your heart surgery and there is no way that I can sufficiently describe my relief, gratitude and joy that you are well. I am still often almost moved to tears when I think what could have happened had the difficulties not been detected or repaired.

If I've ever said this before, I'm sure I didn't express the sentiment adequately: I'm so proud of you. In fact, whenever I talk about you with others I always worry that I come off as a braggart.

Please forgive me for giving you just this. I know that I should have spent the day with you, not playing baseball out in the sun. This is no excuse, but I'd like you to know that I love the game because of you. All the time I spent as a child playing while you coached or watching games together on television has made the sport indelibly associated with you.

I wish it was as easy to say as to write; I love you Dad.

Your son,
Ben

P.S. There's no need to thank me for this, it is something I should have said a long time ago.

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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Honestly, I love the Saturday G & M

Warning: The vitriol in following entry may be hazardous to you health

Why do I insist on reading some of the columnists in the Saturday G & M? I know that doing so will get my hackles up but week after week I come back for more punishment. Egad.

Leah McLa.ren’s column particularly rankles. Every week she bemoans her poor, privileged existence. Today’s article was a whine on the trials and tribulations of preparing for her upcoming vacation to a villa in the South of France. Oh, poor girl, my heart bleeds for you. As usual there were the usual self-aggrandizing bits. Most notably this week she compared the packing for her trip to Tom Ford’s retirement from Gucci. Yeah, right, I see the similarities. In her defense, at least this week there was a no name dropping and minimal mention of expensive products or exclusive clubs. I know of no one who actually appreciates her ramblings. There must be scores of other masoc.hists like me; I can’t otherwise fathom how she has kept her column for so long.

I am also perplexed by Lynn Cros.bie’s column, Pop Rocks. Someone at the paper apparently thinks that having a poet (Cros.bie) write a weekly column about celebrities is a good idea. I guess the juxtaposition of writerly prose and the frivolous behavior of the famous is intended to be particularly illuminating. Label me a heathen; the combination just doesn’t work for me and any “deeper” conclusions that are drawn I usually find terribly forced. I read her column to expand my vocabulary (this week’s word: plangent) and to count how many successive weeks she can use the word concomitant. My favorite phrase from this week: “the concomitant bio-info is an anguish of PR pandering.” Damn, I wish I could use anguish in a phrase like that. I also appreciated the analogy “squealed… like a pig staring down at a hammer.” Now that’s good analogy.

I know, I know, I bring this all on myself. I should stop reading and just save my invective for worthier subjects (Nao.mi Klein’s column later this week?) Ah no worries, I have irascibility to spare for both.

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Friday, June 18, 2004

Questionnaire

Please feel free to select multiple answers if they apply.

1.) How did you find out about blogging?
a) Curiosity - I read/heard about it in the media
b) Procrastination – While avoiding working I stumbled upon it on the net
c) One of my friends/family convinced me to start, damn/bless them
d) I needed to know how badly I was being slandered in my ex’s blog
e) Other __________

2.) Why do you blog?
a) To update friends and/or family on how my life is going
b) Why work when I can do this?
c) I felt like a dork commenting on other blogs without one of my own
d) To improve/refine my writing skills
e) No one listens to me; damn it they will now
f) Other ___________

3.) How long have you been blogging?
a) < 6 months
b) < 1 year
c) < 2 year
d) An eternity, dammit
e) Other ____________

4.) Have you met other bloggers in real life?
a) No, but I’d like to
b) No, I like to keep my distance from those weirdoes
c) Yes, they were even more charming in person
d) Yes, ack, what a disappointment
e) Other ____________

My results: 1. d), 2. c),d), 3. a), 4. c)

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Experiments in Anime

A nifty little anime icon generator from Radmila:

I’m quite pleased with the result.

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A little over a year ago a friend of mine was taking a cash grabbing scam very expensive course in make-up and special effects. Knowing that with minimal arm-twisting that I’m up for just about anything I was conscripted as a guinea pig model for one of her experiments classes.

In exchange for a morning of my time, challenges to my malleability, gaining full knowledge of how uneven my complexion is and having loads of goop applied to my face, body and hair I received a composite of some of the images taken for her portfolio. Just to be clear she was trying to get me to look like her favourite anime character.


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I wish I could take credit for all the muscles but I think they’ve been photoshopped (does this have verb status yet?). For several days after I was working bits of gummy adhesive stuff out of my hair that was used for the extensions. Thanks to Radmila at least I now have a not-entirely-forced excuse to show the picture.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Irritable Blogger Party of Canada

I find it very curious that not only do many bloggers select names that warn others of their irritability but also the percentage of them that are thinking of voting Green. Maybe there is a correlation between crankiness and voting patterns.

A couple of articles in the G & M caught my eye this morning. The first “Other parties stealing Greens’ platform, leader says” is basically coverage of the whine and cheese the Greens’ held during the debate that they were excluded from. While it is true that other parties take platform ideas from each other, I’m unsure what the problem is. Perhaps I’m just an idealist. As a politician I certainly would hope to get elected but my main goal would be to elicit change. If another party adopted part of my platform and then enacted it I would count it as a victory.

The second article by Murray Dobbin (sorry, I can’t find it on the net) lambastes the Greens’ for numerous failings, most notably that small government and environmental consciousness don’t mix well (In his opinion). I think this is too much scrutiny, too soon. Why is it any surprise that a marginal party trying to legitimize itself has holes in its’ platform, inconsistencies in policy and a weak roster of candidates? This is where strategic voting (to steal a phrase from Snobby) is key. Goodness forbid they form the government as it would likely be a larger debacle than the Rae NDP Ontario government, but that’s not really in question is it?

If you endorse the main body of the Greens’ platform you should consider voting for them. Who knows maybe the policies you support will be stolen by the new government and put into place.

Cheers to the new demographic; the irritable bloggers of Canada.

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Not About the Debate

One of my oldest friends sent me an email yesterday inviting me to attend the screening of a film he’s involved with that is playing at a small festival next week. I should be simply happy for him but I’m not; I’m happy for him, it’s just not simple. Like most of my friends of his vintage our lives have taken such disparate paths or been so changed by the addition of children we have drifted apart. In a good year, this group of friends will get together at Christmas and for two or three birthdays. This trend of increasing distance between old friends is becoming more prevalent in my life as I grow older and for reasons both petty and profound I’m not happy about it.




I’m not assigning any blame. In truth, I am probably as culpable as anyone for not keeping my friendships alive, vital and robust. Who knows, even if I had done my utmost, time and circumstance would likely have overwhelmed all my efforts. Perhaps this is just a typical experience for people in their thirties, I’m just unwilling to accept it.

Friendships come and go, but those that have stood the test of time have special value. There is a commonality of experience that cannot be replaced, substituted for or reproduced. I guess I’m going to a movie.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

My 100 Things

1. I need coffee in the morning
2. Even if I’ve had my coffee I’m still irascible
3. I’m working on it
4. I smoke
5. From thinking of, thinking of, thinking of quitting I’m now finally at the thinking of quitting smoking stage
6. Although Canadian, I love baseball and barely tolerate hockey
7. When I was 15 I stopped playing ball to do teenage things
8. I took it up again at 28
9. I regret ever giving it up
10. I now play whenever I get the chance
11. I have a brother and sister who are twins
12. They are 3 years younger
13. I look more like either of them than they do each other
14. Both of my parents are still alive
15. They are still married
16. I don’t have much contact with my extended relations
17. For the most part I’m very happy with this situation
18. My Myers-Briggs personality type is INTP
19. I’m a dog person though I tolerate cats
20. I’m in my mid-thirties
21. I’m severely myopic (vision wise)
22. Most of my hair is still on my head and is still brown
23. I have three crowns and innumerable cowlicks
24. I can’t be bothered to do much about it
25. This often results in the highly coveted mad scientist look
26. Current music I like: Cinerama, Metric, White Stripes
27. I don’t go to see bands nearly as often as I used to
28. Last show I went to was Franz Ferdinand at the ‘Shoe
29. I still love 80’s music
30. I was at the first Lollapalooza
31. I saw the Ramones play about a half-dozen times
32. My undergraduate studies were in astrophysics
33. After I worked in casinos for 6 years
34. Yes, I know, it doesn’t make any sense
35. While working I learned to speak a little Cantonese
36. Although not good, my Cantonese is better than my grade 12 French
37. I used to play poker for a living
38. The money was more than enough to live on
39. I stopped because the hours suck
40. And I got into business school
41. I still gamble once in a while
42. I recommend Sklansky’s books if you want to learn how to play poker
43. I’d love to talk about my career now
44. Though it’s legal, I can’t discuss it for the most part
45. In short, I’m an entrepreneur
46. I’ve been married
47. We were great friends for a few years after splitting up
48. Now we’ve lost touch
49. I miss that friendship
50. No children
51. Still undecided on whether I want any
52. I’m indifferent about religion
53. No political party represents my views (free-market humanism)
54. I’ll likely vote Green in the upcoming election
55. I read about 70 books a year
56. Far too many are science fiction
57. Favourite sci-fi author – William Gibson
58. Johnny Mnemonic’s a terrible movie
59. Favourite business author – Michael Lewis
60. Liar’s Poker is hilarious and you should read it
61. Author who’s next book I have to read – Chuck Pahalniuk
62. Fight Club is an fantastic flick
63. I really enjoy reading other peoples’ blogs
64. I think that my writing is too stilted and non-conversational
65. Hopefully producing a blog will temper this
66. I’m 192 cm (6’ 3 ½”) tall
67. The most I’ve ever weighed is 175 lbs.
68. This makes shopping for clothes very frustrating
69. And often results in nicknames like Stretch and Slim
70. I used to play guitar
71. I picked it up quickly but then plateaued
72. I stopped when I finally accepted that I’m tone deaf
73. I wish I could sing
74. Although not a vegetarian, I rarely eat meat
75. It usually grosses me out
76. Not sure why, but I hate driving
77. I was often ill as a child
78. My health improved for good as soon as I had my tonsils out
79. Now I’m just ill-tempered
80. I’ve had my nose and both ears pierced
81. But I’ve let all the holes close up
82. I don’t have any tattoos
83. Just because I could never decide on anything I’d want for life
84. I’ve been told that I’m high-strung
85. I’ve also been told that I’m too laid-back
86. I can’t reconcile the difference
87. Maybe it has to do with my caffeine intake
88. I’ve always lived in Toronto or the surrounding area
89. I’ve travelled extensively in North America
90. But I’ve only been overseas once
91. I really should rectify this
92. Hypocrites, apologists and excuse makers really irritate me
93. I don’t seek conflict
94. But I certainly don’t avoid it
95. I enjoy crossword puzzles
96. My favourite is the Saturday G&M
97. I usually complete it but won’t obsess if I don’t
98. When I was in public school they put me through a battery of psychic tests
99. They didn’t tell me the results
100. I sense that I didn’t do very well


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