Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Food, family, friends, and the end of an era?

It's been an exceedingly excellent late-December festive period thus far.

In years past, I've blown it when it comes to Christmas dinner. You know the story: you see those pies on the counter beforehand and you're all, "I'm going to pace myself this year and save room for delicious desserts," but you end up stuffing yourself with stuffing and slurping down more green Jell-O than you ever thought possible, and you end up cramming one measly little slice into you as the button on your pants begs for mercy?

Well, this year, after many, many attempts, I saved room for dessert: a giant slice of grandma's awesome apple pie, topped off with vanilla ice cream, and a ton of cookies. I did it! And yes, it tasted stupendous.

On Christmas night, my cousin and his two kids (aged 10 and 5, I think) stopped by for a visit. The older one has had some troubles with (we think) social anxiety disorder, which is kind of like "x-treme shyness" (to a debilitating degree). But, using my shiny new iBook as a lever, I managed to have my first conversation with her in, like, ever. She's a really bright kid, and it must be incredibly frustrating to not be able to communicate your ideas with the rest of the world. It looks like she's turned a corner, though, which is fantastic.

There have also been gatherings of the UW Physics variety this festive season, as old pals Sascha and his girlfriend Jess were in from San Francisco to grace the Great White North with their presence. I was party to the lighting of a Menorah for the first time ever, which was kinda neat. In exchange, I took them to the Great West Steak House which, if you're ever in London, Ontario and you're looking for the sweetes salad-bar-and-steak-combo this side of heaven, head on down to the corner of Horton and Waterloo. (Mad props to anyone who caught the Guy Lombardo reference in the preceding sentence.) There was also a Physics gathering in Paris the next night, with myself, Sascha+Jess, the inimitable Hubes, Howie+Connie, and Molten-Hot Magma inundating the Arlington Hotel with E&M problems and punctuating the smoky air with peals of laughter. Good times.

In an unrelated story, though, things may change next year for Christmas. My brother and his wife have an honest-to-goodness family now, which would suggest that they spend Christmas morning in their very own home. They were here (at my parents') this year, but we're thinking of moving the whole rigamarole down to Woodstock (where they live) for '06. This means I've likely spent my last Christmas morning at my folks' place with my brother. I guess it had to end sometime, and I'm really happy my brother has a wife and kid these days, so... well, it looks like it'll be a happy ending after all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This is what procrastination looks like.

Those bastards'll be lucky if they get their papers back by Arbor Day.

At any rate, I happened upon this little point-form dealie, and I thought you might like to do a little comparison along with me. Click here if you're a fellow time-waster.


Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
Seen a few stars-and-stripes lapel pins, phone book covers, and everything else lately? Of course you have.

Disdain for the importance of human rights
"C'mon, now, let us keep torturing people."

Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
"We'll fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."

The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
Well, this one's a no-brainer. He even donned a flight-suit to declare "Mission Accomplished."

Rampant sexism
Condi's a token. A sexy token, but a token nonetheless. It's a boys'-club.

A controlled mass media
And how! (Fortunately, this seems to be crumbling of late.)

Obsession with national security
Dear lordy, yes.

Religion and ruling elite tied together
Can anyone say Ashcroft-and-the-boob, Intelligent Design, fundamentalist Christianity?

Power of corporations protected
Halliburton, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, the Carlyle Group...

Power of labour suppressed or eliminated
Has labour ever had less power since the 1930s?

Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
Oh, that liberal elite, sitting in their universities like Yale and Harvard.

Obsession with crime and punishment
Draconian zero-tolerance drug laws and Mexico-fences, ahoy!

Rampant cronyism and corruption
"Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job."

Fraudulent elections
Florida '00, Ohio '04, Iraq '05.

If you haven't already guessed, the descriptions are of the George W. Bush administration. What you might like to know, though, is that the stuff in bold is essentially a checklist for the presence of good, old-fashioned, Hitler-and-Mussolini-style Fascism.

Hooray!

It's a Festivus miracle!

Actually... it's just Yahoo! TV listings.

But still, if you've never seen the Festivus episode of Seinfeld, or if (like me) you can't wait to get your fix of Aluminum Pole, watch TBS on Wednesday, December 22 at 9:00 pm.

Yeah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Easy on the bow-ties, Tucker.


Anybody with any ambition at all, or intelligence, has left Canada and is now living in New York.
. . .
Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada.
. . .
[Canada's criticism of the US] only eggs them on. Canada is essentially a stalker, stalking the United States, right? Canada has little pictures of us in its bedroom, right?
. . .
It's unrequited love between Canada and the United States. We, meanwhile, don't even know Canada's name. We pay no attention at all.
— Tucker Carlson

Americans are so cute.

Holy fuzzbusters!

I've completely forgotten about it... until now.

FRIDAY...
IS...

FESTIVUS!

Bust out the aluminum poles and air your grievances!



Fun fact (modified from an op-ed piece that recently appeared in the Globe and Mail:

In 2004, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, tax collections by all levels of government absorbed one-third of our GDP. That ranked us twenty-first out of thirty industrialized nations, and fifth among the seven largest.

Tax cuts indeed, Mr. Harper.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A programming note.

This fall, I've been co-hosting the Tuesday Indie Wake-Up Call on CFRC (101.9 on your FM dial, or streaming on www.cfrc.ca). I'll continue to do this, of course, because playing bone-jarring rock from 8-10 in the morning is kind of a fun thing to do. (I'll be doing the show alone on Dec 20, as my lovely co-host will be heading back to Sudbury that day.)

However, if you're either (a.) too lazy to get up at such an ungodly hour to listen to admittedly awesome music, or (b.) already on your way to, or (c.) already at your place of employment, you have a rare chance to hear yours truly: this Monday, December 19, from 10 pm until midnight. Since we normally play short, upbeat tunes in the morning, this will give me a chance to stretch my wings a bit, and play more extended pieces that take up as much time as perhaps three of our normal selections. Also, expect a lot of vinyl. Sneak preview song: the title track from Television's amazing Marquee Moon album, with which I'm obsessed lately.

Wow. Talk about yet another shameless plug for something I'm doing on the radio. Oh well... it's a noncommercial station — ya gotta get the word out somehow!



Aside: Someone else found my blog recently with the search keyword "phoenix prostitutes". Who the hell out there thinks I know anything about whores in Arizona?



Aside #2: Who the hell is doing internet searches for prostitutes in Phoenix, anyway?!? Someone using AOL, according to my StatCounter tracker.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Know your party stances.

Head on over to the Vote By Issue Quiz to see where your true political affiliations lie. Click here to see how I turned out.




Jack Layton
Agreed on 10 issues, Disagreed on 2 issues

Paul Martin
Agreed on 5 issues, Disagreed on 7 issues

Stephen Harper
Agreed on 3 issues, Disagreed on 9 issues

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sore throats, Montreal, and holiday gatherings.

If I can haul my lazy ass out of this cozy, reasonably warm apartment and into my car, I'll hit a Shopper's and buy me some of those throat lozenges that have the anaesthetic in 'em. Good god, I need some numbin'. Eating spicy Pakistani food tonight? Not a good idea. (Tasty as hell, though. I can totally recommend Rahim's Cuisine on Princess.)

It didn't help my sore-throatedness to be roaming the streets of Montreal all day yesterday. I helped a friend celebrate her birthday by hitting several giant, interconnected malls, watching Harry Potter on an IMAX screen (Hagrid at eight stories high is a truly frightful sight), and sampling some of Rue St-Catherine's finest establishments. You can let your imagination run wild on that one.

This Christmas holiday will feature a gathering of a bunch of old Physics doofuses in assorted locations. (Let's call the holiday for what it is: Christmas. Because if there ain't no manger, it doesn't matter if you're Christian, Sikh or Sun-worshipper, you ain't gettin' no time off in late December.) Native-Londoner-turned-San-Franciscan and puffy-eyeball-wielder extraordinaire Sascha and I, along with the lovely Jess, will be pelting Boxing Day shoppers with snowballs from strategic locations near mall entrances. And, if you can believe it, the one and only Mr. Matt Hubert will be up to the land of ice and snow from his Brazilian retreat to partake in extreme geekiness amongst our former haunts, along with Howie, the man I consider to be the most accurate earthly representation of an alien.

Good times will be had by all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I picked the wrong school... again!

(Think "Polkaroo".)

First time through, I went to Waterloo. Strong academics, but zero fun.

Then I worked for a while. Having money was alright, but I thought to myself, "You know, the abject poverty associated with being a graduate student sounds too good to pass up."

So, second time through, I'm here at Queen's. Definitely more fun, and I'm enjoying my program.

But alas, it appears that I should have gone to Western.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Read this.

This is an essay-length excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut's latest book, A Man Without a Country.

Just do it, alright? Sheesh.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Partisan journalists.

Today I caught a debate between the candidates in the riding of St. Paul's on Don Newman's show on Newsworld: the incumbent Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Public Health), the (paradoxically) economist/banker NDP candidate Paul Summerville, and former Global TV news anchor Peter Kent, pictured below. It's a peculiar riding, as it encompasses both Forest Hill (possibly the richest part of Toronto) and the Bathurst/St. Clair/Eglinton area (which contains a lot of new immigrants); it's where the difference between mean income and median income becomes crucial. (Bust out the stats books, kids.)



It seemed odd to me, as I watched the debate, that someone who puported to be a neutral, nonpartisan face of television news for many years could've been a closet Conservative all this time. Granted, journalists are people, too — they're allowed to have political beliefs, just like the rest of us. Still, it struck me as strange, watching someone who one might think would have been merely a conduit for current events, extolling the virtues of Stephen Harper's "$1200 of free money for every kid" day care plan (which is full of shit, in my opinion).

Then again... it was Global we're talking about here. Global = CanWest = National Post = Fraser Institute. I guess it's not so surprising that Mike Harris is backing Peter Kent after all.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ooooh, you crazy corporations.

Inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our government.
  — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I don't remember my dreams.

If you were to ask me what I dreamt about last night, even if it was two minutes after I woke up, I wouldn't be able to tell you. However, sometimes I'll see something during the day, and it'll jab at the soft, grey underbelly of my brain, and say, "Hey, you dreamt about this last night!"

Well, about five minutes ago when I was reading Sports Illustrated (yeah, I should really be marking papers, but... meh), I had one of these moments. What was it?, you ask?

Dave Coulier, whose most famous acting role was the beloved Joseph "Uncle Joey" Gladstone on Full House, appeared in a dream last night and an article I read today. (He was apparently in a Fox TV series filmed recently and to air soon called Skating with Celebrities, which will also feature the oft-incarcerated Todd "Who the fuck's got the Blow?" Bridges and former teen pop sensation Debbie-cum-Deborah "I really like Tiffany, honest" Gibson, and skaters Scott "The One-Ball Man" Hamilton, Nancy "Ow, my knee!" Kerrigan, and Dorothy "No relation to Mark" Hamill. Oh, Fox... ultra-conservative news and pointless programming. You do it all!) For the record, Mr. Coulier's appearance in my dream was a bit-part, as far as I can recall, as himself, sitting behind a white counter of some sort, with a set of white shelves behind him. I believe I chatted him up about hockey, and specifically the Detroit Red Wings; his character on FH used to wear a Wings jersey now and again, and the actor himself hails from southeast Michigan.

It's funny how the human brain works. There's so much flotsam and jetsam up there, lying dormant until it's awoken by something random and pointless. God knows how much other ridiculousness is up there, collecting dust.

Aside: I now have Paula Abdul's song "Forever Your Girl" stuck in my head, as I had to think about late-1980s dance-pop music as I wrote about Ms. Gibson. Time for a Zeppelin-based cleansing!

Another extremely random aside, which actually made me shout, "Holy fuck!": I was reading up on Mr. Coulier on his IMDB page, which contains the following exceedingly random and interesting facts. My comments follow each one.
  • Introduced Candace Cameron Bure, then his co-star on "Full House" (1987/I), to hockey player, and her future husband, Valeri Bure at a charity hockey game.
    "Alright, that makes sense; DC likes hockey, and his co-star Candace Cameron (Kirk's little sister) could very well have accompanied him. This is plausible."
  • He has said he is the person Alanis Morissette is singing about in her song "You Oughtta Know".
    "He's WHAT?!? Yeah, I'm sure, buddy. You and Alanis. Riiiiight."
  • First lover of Alanis Morissette — they met at a celebrity hockey game.
    "Ouch. I think my head just exploded."

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Abe Vigoda content.

Abe Vigoda is sort of a weird-looking actor-kind-of-guy. He's been in tons of movies, he was Detective Fish in the '70s TV show Barney Miller, and he occasionally makes goofy cameo appearances on Conan O'Brien's show. But, back in 1982, People magazine had mistakenly reported that he was dead; he took it in stride, and later appeared in a picture holding the magazine, sitting up in a coffin.

The Internet is a holding-pen for ridiculous and useless ideas. So, why not make something completely superfluous regarding Mr. Vigoda's current status: is he alive or dead right this minute? This is a tiny little extension for Firefox which tucks itself down into an unused corner of your browser window.


Abe's alright, folks!

Now that's useless, folks. Well, unless you happen to be a close personal friend of the actor; then you'd sort of want to know if he's alright.

But, in conclusion, I'm all about the random humour. And this makes me giggle.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Waiting Game, part 2.

It's all well and good to get the go-ahead (at least verbally, anyway) from a school board office to do research in their schools. It's a completely different thing to actually work your way through a principal's to-do list — "Who's this jackass from god-knows-where, and why does he want to talk to a couple of my teachers? Into the round-file you go!" — and I'm currently not being very successful at it.

Granted, principals have it rough; I wouldn't want that job for all the money in the world. You're basically the lowest form of school board-based management, but you happen to be in a school; straddling the divide between drunk, cocky teenagers and elected officials. Vice-principals have it even worse, though — they get all the crap-jobs delegated to them, and it seems like they're always dealing with kids who get in trouble. Noooooooo thanks; I'd rather have two dozen pairs of glassy, glazed-over eyes watching me singe/scald/horribly disfigure myself in a demonstration.

It's a fine line between "firm but gentle pressure" and "being that nagging asshole who won't leave me the hell alone." I'd like to think I'm figuring out where that line is, but I may be way off.

In other news, if you have nothing else to do from December 10-17, you can get yourself an all-inclusive trip to Cuba, airfare and booze and food and everything, for as low as $486 through various travel websites. (Sorry, Americans. It really is quite a nice little country, and the beaches are spectacular.) I'd go, but I have a couple of prior commitments during this period of time; I didn't last year, so I went to Germany, which was fun.

Argh. Come September (really May, if all goes well), I'll have to say goodbye to having such a flexible schedule. It was nice while it lasted. Really nice.



I think I've pretty much decided that my LJ page is for memes. So, I'm posting another one over there. Enjoy!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Buddy. Pal. Come ON.

Most of you know what Facebook is all about. For those of you who don't, and/or aren't enrolled in a post-secondary institution, it's a website where you sign up, show everyone who else on the site you know, then see who else knows who, or is involved in what club, or who thinks (as I do) that Homer Simpson's question, "Don't you hate pants?", was probably his most brilliant line to date.

Damn, I need to get out more.

Anyway, I received an email recently saying an old high school buddy of mine, who went to Sir Wilfrid Laurier University (right down the street from UW), signed up and asked to be added to my list. I obliged, and took at peek at what he had up on his page on the site. To guarantee anonymity, I've blocked out his name (but conveniently left his picture; as if anyone who reads this would know him). Let's call him X.


I skipped Grade 2, which means that from then on, everyone in my grade was born in 1976 (whereas I was born in '77, the year The King died). X had a birthday in January, which means he was nearly two full years older than I was... that meant he got his licence two years before I did, turned 19 two years before I did, and could get out of class to donate blood two years before I could. (Hey, high school is boring, alright? Sheesh.)

(Except for the classes I teach, bitches.)

And now the guy wants to make like he's a few months younger than me?!? This very well may be the vainest thing I've ever seen him do. Hell, X was a "metrosexual" before anyone ever dreamt of the term.

So, in conclusion... I thought I was delusional about getting older, but it seems that some people are going way, way past me in that department.

Baked-good recommendation of the day.

Crumpets.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wasabi ho!

Q: Who brings sushi (namely, California rolls) to a pot-luck, complete with soy sauce, chopsticks, wasabi and ginger (for palate-cleansing)?

A: My new best friend.

Best pot-luck ever.



"If I Had My Way" is probably the Big Sugar song which gets played most on radio. That usually means it was way overplayed when it was new, and now you're sick of it, and you never want to hear it anymore. But, I suggest you take another listen... that 12-string electric just kicks my ass every damn time.

Friday, December 02, 2005

And the campaign has begun.

I'm keeping surprisingly abreast of issues early in this campaign, which I didn't expect. Largely because we all pretty much know how this election, provided giant bombshells aren't dropped, is going to turn out.

Well, Stephen Harper tried to drop one yesterday by pledging that a Conservative government would lower the GST to 5%. This isn't some abstract thing, like paying "$300 less income tax for a family of four making x dollars per year," which is pretty far-removed from your or my everyday experience (unless you work at H&R Block). You deal with the GST every day when you buy a book, a t-shirt, or a book about t-shirts.

Something Mr. Harper said at his big press conference, replete with big blue-and-white circular logos with giant 5's in them, struck me as funny: "I believe that all taxes are bad. Better taxes are lower taxes."

...which is asinine in its simplicity as well as its message.

Taxes bad! Tax cuts good! Cut them all! No more taxes! Liberal corruption! I win vote! With us? With terrorists?

I swear, Stephen Harper is getting more and more like George W. Bush every day. And not just because he wants to kill all the queers.

To say that "all taxes are bad" is to discredit everything a government does for the citizenry that elected it. Even something as simple as fixing a pothole in a road (something which the city of Kingston feels is a "frill") is paid for by tax revenues. Besides, this is yet another "tax cut" which heavily favours the rich. Wealthy people spend more, and will hence save more, than poor people with a reduced GST; who would save more, someone buying a $90k Cadillac, or an $85 TTC Metropass? At any rate, it looks like the Conservatives are off to a roaring start in their 50-some-odd day sound-bite-a-thon.

A couple of former leaders have weighed in with their opinions. Kim Campbell — remember her? — expressed her dismay at her former (sort-of) party's wooden leader. "Their positions are too socially conservative, I think, to form a government in Canada. People may like their fiscal policies but they're frightened by their social conservatism." Very true.

Your buddy and mine, Ed Broadbent, was equally refreshing when talking about how, during the last election, the NDP was bilked out of quite a few seats (some say a baker's dozen) when the Libs used Frankenharper to scare the bejeezus out of those of us who bleed Orange but voted Red instead: "The Liberals came in with a pile of crap in the last week of the campaign and tried to frighten voters — and it worked in some places. But it's not going to happen again."

Not if I can help it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Another tick on the odometer.

I turned 28 yesterday, and I managed to successfully conceal it from most of the world. (Damn you, Liz.) At any rate, I am now firmly planted in my late-20s — no more of this, "Well, I'm 27, I guess I still could technically be a mid-20s guy."

Nope. I'm staring down the barrel of 30. Let the countdown begin.

Damn.

Thirty?!?

Wow.

My little excursion back into the safe, warm cocoon of postsecondary education has been a bit of a Peter Pan trip. I've more or less been telling myself for the last year-plus that, yes, J, you can seamlessly blend into a roomful of undergrads. However, as the numbers click ever higher, that mirage becomes increasingly illusory, and the fog of delusion begins to lift — much to my chagrin.

But, you know, getting older isn't necessarily a bad thing. On my way out of the QP last night, it struck me just how much this culture (and, by dint of me being tangentially related to it, me) is obsessed with youth: movies and music are marketed towards teenagers, anti-wrinkle creams are worth billions, and Ponce de Leon seemed to have more than just a passing interest in it.

While armwrestling an entire ridiculous paradigm into submission is an eminently formidable undertaking — as is working in numerous unwieldy words into a single sentence — all I can really do is accept the onset of laugh-lines, track the losing of hair, and listen as my body vigorously tells me, "You really should've warmed up more before playing baseball last night." Otherwise, it's a losing battle from the outset... if you see it as a battle, that is.

So, come May, I'll be rejoining the "real world" in The Big Smoke. My 22-month break from reality will end, and I won't be surrounded by roving packs of firm, nubile 20-year old women anymore. You'd think I'd be 100% bummed-out about that... but, y'know, it might help me not feel like such an old-ass perv anymore.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wise words.

Only after the last tree has been cut down;
Only after the last fish has been caught;
Only after the last river has been poisoned;
Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten.
Cree saying

Monday, November 28, 2005

New stuff sucks!

It took me a long, long time to "upgrade" to MSN7, but I finally did it. I haven't been a very happy camper, because it's all cluttery and full of crap I don't need or want, and the latest version of gaim, while all wonderfully open-source, still is a little... um... chunky, for lack of a better word.

But "upgrade" I did, recently. File transfers are actually a lot faster; kudos to Microsquish* to getting something actually fixed. However, the number of ads and clutter and buttons and extras and doohickeys was driving me (more) insane, and I turned to your pal and mine, Google, to figure out if there was a nifty way to do all that.

Turns out there is.

Now, doing this is technically a violation of your end-user licence agreement that you never read, yet to which you blindly said OK as you dutifully installed the latest version on your machine. But, I bet the illegal copies of Windows and Office you probably have on your computer cause Bill Gates to lose more sleep than you doing a little tinkering with software that he gives out for free anyway.

I've never been one to shy away from popping the hood on something, figuring out how the innards work, and doing a little adjusting as I see fit. I have a little bit of experience in the worlds of Java and HTML (or, more generally, SGML languages, of which HTML is an application... oh man, I need a girlfriend, pronto), which makes this process a bit smoother.

However, if you follow the directions outlined in the link above, you'll end up with a much cleaner MSN, free of ads (both the picture ads on the window which contains your contacts, and those new stupid text ads on the bottom of all your message windows), and all the little things which happen to piss me (and possibly you) off to no end.

Enjoy.

*"Microsquish" comes from old Bloom County/Outland cartoons... a nerdy, socially-backwards millionaire not unlike Mr. Gates was featured in some of those strips, and he was the owner of a software company of that name. I thought it quite appropriate.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

There's going to be a federal election soon.

And I don't care, for three reasons.

1. Most of the issues about which I care are provincial, not federal.
Public education is the key one here, and that's squarely within provincial jurisdictions. I suppose there's federal oversight on health care (would someone please give a Taser-shot to Ralph Klein's testes?), but the nuts-and-bolts stuff is taken care of by the provinces. Foreign policy and trade is interesting, I suppose, but let's face it — the Americans' stances, save for Iraq, are basically our stances. So that's out.

2. Big changes need a pissed-off populace, and we don't have one.
This one is a little more nuanced.

In places like, for example, the Ukraine last year, Georgia (the country) a couple of years ago, or Cuba in the 1950s, you're more likely to pull a million people out to a protest and/or overthrow the government, because life there can be pretty bad if you're not of the privileged classes.

But, let's face it: a few million bucks going to shady business dealings in Quebec is not enough to trigger a revolution. Most of us have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies, and a warm coat for a snowy day; we're comfortable and, dare I say, complacent. We're not at war (very much), our economy's doing fine (despite what all the Chicken Little right-wing fuckies are saying), and the NHL is back (keep up the good work, Wings).

Canadians are generally satisfied with how their lives are going, and I don't think Stephen Harper's monotone rants and Lexan®-based hair are going to incite the burning of Paul Martin effigies on the streets of Flin Flon. The Libs haven't taken a giant dive in the polls (yet?), and I don' t think they will, unless maybe a picture of Chuck Guité in a Malaysian whorehouse surfaces, in which he's holding a giant sign saying, "Thanks for the beejers, Canadian Taxpayers".

And yes, I am trying to blackmail Chuck Guité. Pay up, prick.

3. Three is the Magic Number in comedy.
If you haven't already picked up on every joke I write in Golden Words, they're all in threes: straight item, straight item, punchline. So, in order for this blog post to be complete, there has to be a third item. Whoops! Guess this one isn't funny.

Friday, November 25, 2005

An OLP confession, intrustive Flash ads, and transcribing.

Back when Our Lady Peace released their Naveed album in 1995, I was all over it. Listened to it tons, and eagerly anticipated their next release. But, starting with Clumsy in 1997, Raine's singing voice changed into this nasally, growly thing, all their lyrics seemed to talk about what a shitty childhood he had, and the music was sludgy and boring as hell. Through the magic of Can-Con, though, they continuted to get their depressing songs played all over the place on radio.

So, for the past eight years, I haven't really been a big fan of OLP, and I wasn't terribly excited when I heard they were releasing a new album. However, after listening to a good chunk of it at a friend's place recently... I'm almost ashamed to say it... it's not that bad. They've actually turned a bit of a corner, hauled themselves out of the "woe is me" pit of black despair, and said to themselves, "Alright, let's lighten it up a bit and write music that doesn't make people want to shoot themselves." I won't be buying it, that's for sure, but if one of their new songs comes on the radio, I won't reflex-flip the station like I do with Nickelback.

As I was looking Naveed up on allmusic.com (I bought my copy in early '96, if memory serves, so I wasn't sure the exact year of release), the first two times I fired up that website, there was this giant Flash-based ad for something or other covering up half my damn screen. These seem to be pretty plentiful lately. PISS OFF!!!

If you've never transcribed an audio recording of an interview sometime, you really should. It's a great experience. Ten minutes takes an hour. Page after page of text — we really take for granted how many words we can say in a short period of time. Last year, as part of my TAing responsibilities, I transcribed a 90-minute round-table discussion, and it ended up being 23 single-spaced pages long. Ridiculous.

So, if my fingers fall off next week, you'll know why; I have about 95 minutes (and counting) of interviews to type out. But I guess that's what research is all about.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wow.

Oh, wow.

I just watched the movie Crash.

That is some provocative, daring filmmaking right there.

And who knew Sandra Bullock could act?

This is a great film.

Damn.

Urgent business proposal.

Is it just me, or is everyone else also receiving an increase in the amount of "I am a Nigerian banker who has to transfer funds out of the country, please God bless" spam lately? My Yahoo! account overrunneth with it lately.

In other news, I FINALLY managed to get a certain person from a certain school board on the phone. He shuffled some papers around, found my research proposal, glanced over it quickly (probably for the first time), and said, "OK, go ahead, it's cool, do your research." Chriiiiiiiiiiiiist. He could've said that on October 2, the day I first emailed him the damn thing. At any rate, first interviews tomorrow! Yay, it begins!

In other other news, I'm not going to Vancouver for IB training. I'm going to be spending the weekend of March 17-19 in the one, the only... Houston! I've never been to the Lone Star State before, but if I'm correct, it should be filled with giant steaks, ten-gallon hats, and evangelical Republicans. I'll be sure to pack my gun, as I believe it's the law to carry one in plain view in a hip-holster.

(...actually, I don't own a gun, and never will.)

In other other other news, Gary Glitter diddled minors in Vietnam! Geez, after serving a couple of months for possession of kiddie-porn a few years ago, you'd think he'd have learned his lesson. Guess not!

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm not saying Canada is the shit.

But when all of your major cities (Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver) make it into the Top 20 of "Cities to Live in the World", you know you're doing something right.

Bookfight!!!



If you're looking for something to do, hop on over to the ol' Ell-Jay for a meme; 1998 was a simpler time.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Researching, Vanilla Fudge, and Astronauts.

Next week I get to be a big grown-up research type person! I'm interviewing a couple of people (finally) for my M.Ed. thesis work, which is actually pretty exciting, even though I've known and worked with these people for years. It should make for a comfortable interview setting — sure, the stakes are big, but the faces are friendly. It'll make it easier to do the next set of interviews, when/if the research coordinator from the other school board ever gets back to me.

I'm not normally a fan of covers or remixes of songs. The way I see it, the person/people who wrote the song know what the hell is going on, and having someone else re-record it is a bit, well, misleading. The prime exception to this has been Joe Cocker, who thoroughly reinterprets songs in his own way (compare the Beatles' and his version of "With A Little Help From My Friends"; there's actually merit in Cocker's cover).

However, a new set of cover songs have come to my attention: those done by the group Vanilla Fudge in the late 1960s. Their debut self-titled album is full of slowed-down, funked-up, soul-infused, and completely-transformed versions of songs you know and love. I can highly recommend "Ticket To Ride", "She's Not There" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On". Turn them on, and turn them up. Drugs are optional.

Every April, grad students in the Fac of Ed put together a symposium featuring work that we're doing. It's sort of a "for us, by us" approach to an education conference; last year I presented a paper I wrote for a class the previous fall, and while it was a bit nerve-wracking, it was a pretty good experience overall. This year we're trying to snag Roberta Bondar as our keynote speaker, and today I had a hand in writing the invitation letter. Perhaps if we tell her a breakfast at Cora's is included, that'd sweeten the deal. Hey, I'd pay for that myself; it's not often you get to have waffles with someone who's been in orbit.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

On hiatus.

I don't think I've ever posted anything about my love life. There are three primary reasons for this.

  1. There's not really much to say.

  2. My few adventures in romance lately have been dismal at best.

  3. I'd rather keep some things private from all you cocksuckers, thankyouverymuch.

However, I come before you today as a man who has recently re-realized his place in the Pecking Order Of Lovin'. And that place is somewhere between (a.) Steve Buscemi's long-lost yet miraculously-worse-looking half-brother Jorge, and (b.) Carrot Top on a good hair day.

That's it for a while, folks. I'm making like Lou Gehrig and taking myself out of the game. Unlike the erstwhile first baseman, though, I'll probably return sometime in the future.

This whole thing is stupid, this dance that men and women do around each other. Even though you don't want to, and you think the whole fucking thing is ridiculous, which it is, you're probably going to get roped into doing it anyway, whether you like it or not. And you don't like it either.

Alas, that's how it's all set up, unfortunately... guy has to make the first move, guy has to come up with funky and inventive things to do together, guy can't listen to his wicked Zeppelin CDs anymore because girl doesn't appreciate the beauty of a six-minute John Bonham drum solo.

(By the way, if you're a girl and you can appreciate the beauty of a six-minute John Bonham drum solo, I will bear your children.)

But now I'm sick of it.

I'm sick of the whole god damn thing.

It's stupid, and I don't want to be a part of it anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Westward bound?

So, get this.

I'm still on a leave of absence from my teaching job, which still technically makes me a teacher in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and I plan on returning to said job in September '06.

The person who's teaching most of the physics courses there these days wants to move on to another school at the end of this year. (She's starting a 4-over-5 and wants to have three years at her new school before taking the year off.) Which means when I go back, I'll go back to teaching a good deal of the physics.

Scary to think they'd put me in charge of something, eh?

Anyway.

The school wants to start offering International Baccalaureate (IB) classes within a couple of years. These are courses which are recognized worldwide, which makes it easier for students to apply to foreign universities, I suppose. At any rate, in order to teach these things, you apparently need to attend a workshop, and there's apparently one in Vancouver in February.

To which my principal would send me as the "physics specialist," according to my old department head.

Man, I don't even work there these days, and they're trying to give me free "vay-cays".

Life is good.

Oh, and I got some extra grant money today.

Life is very good.

Ah yes, and I'm actually going to be rolling up my sleeves and doing some thesis research next week.

Life rocks the casbah.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ye gods, that hurt.

I'm still not exactly sure how I managed to type what I did last night (i.e., the blog post below), seeing as I was exceedingly, exceedingly drunk.

I mysteriously awoke this morning at about 8:30 — or perhaps it wasn't so mysterious after all, as my stomach was letting me know that the previous evening's events were not appreciated by my gastrointestinal tract. This included a chugged tallboy of Crest malt liquor (at 10% and 500 mL, we're talking three drinks in the span of about two minutes), assorted mixed-drink-ends foisted upon me by various people, about three shots of vodka at once courtesy of Eric, a whole jalapeño pepper, custard baby food, copious marshmallows, and other assorted beverages which escape my memory.

So yeah... parts of me weren't terribly happy this morning. Advil, you're a godsend.

And now my head isn't happy, either. My housemates have been redoing some floors upstairs all weekend (the reverberating sound of the drum sander at 9 this morning was not appreciated), and tonight I came home after GW to an apartment thoroughly reeking of paint thinner. This isn't too bad for the first few minutes — who doesn't appreciate a good solvent-buzz? — but now this is getting ridiculous. Like, dudes, I gotta live down here! Please don't open up a can of varsol right beside my living room. That door really doesn't keep much out in the way of vapours.

Grrrrrrrr.



So I'm sitting here freezing, because I have to keep the windows open so I don't get a headache from the solvents sitting in the other part of the basement, and the paltry space-heater which is pinch-hitting for my wiring-suspect behemoth baseboard heater is having a tough time taming the chilly November air currently cascading down into my living room, and this place is already freakin' cold as it is, and it doesn't need any help from direct outside air to stay that way, but I need it, so I don't go crazy.

...er.



I saw Shadoe from the K-Rock morning show in a diner close to my place, ostensibly with a few other K-Rock folks, this morning. His voice in real life is exactly as it is on the radio. Creepy, eh?

Crested.

I survived.


I'm now the proud owner of a GW Crest. No thanks to Erin.

Boooooooooooooooo-urns for Erin.

But I'm drunk. So I'll just go to sleep now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I loves me the diagrams.

People have different ways of learning new information. Some people memorize a set of facts; some people need to hear it told to them a hundred times. I draw diagrams. Sometimes a good diagram is all it takes for me, and maybe for you, too.

A few nights ago, the sky was clear and the Sun had set about a half-hour before... and there was Venus in the southwestern sky, easily the brightest object up there. Lately I've been able to look at that planet in a new light (if you'll pardon the pun) — being able to envision me, on the Earth, looking at a planet which is closer to the Sun, and picturing the whole thing in 3D. I gotta say, it clicked for me, and now I see the sky in a whole new way.

In a class in which I'm a TA, the following diagrams were on a handout, and they help in spreading this "solar system awareness," if you will. First we have a drawing of a typical sunset/sunrise, in your typical Earth-centered kind of way:


Now here's a different way of picturing the exact same scenario:


Isn't that cool? It really gives your head a spin in terms of picturing how the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the other planets are situated in the sky. And all it takes is the right diagram.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I wish my high school'd had football.

That way, maybe I could've played for the Carolina Panthers, met their cheerleaders, and gotten in on some hot hot lesbian sex in a bathroom in Tampa.

(The inclusion of the above four hyperlinked words should send my site's hit counter into the stratosphere.)

In other sports news, whoa, Ugueth Urbina was charged with attempted murder with a machete! Good thing the Tigers traded him away last June. (Remember, this was the same guy whose mother was kidnapped for a few months about a year ago. Violent place, this Venezuela.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tyranny of the majority.

It's a phrase which was brought up in conversation with a colleague yesterday; we were talking about the structure of Parliament and representation in general in Canada. He's from Alberta, which feels political alienation because it's, well, neither Ontario nor Quebec (which, combined, have 181 out of 307 seats, so whatever we say goes, essentially). Proportional representation might help resolve issues like this; he suggested something simpler, more along the lines of "disproportionate represenation" which would just, say, up PEI's number of seats from its current 4.

At any rate, the phrase sprang to mind just now while reading a Reuters news item from Kansas, that hotbed of scientific adventurism:

Intelligent design, or ID, proponents have also been active in pressing for the changes in Kansas, but school board members there stopped short of including intelligent design ideas in the state standards.

"ID is making enormous progress," said John Calvert, a Kansas City lawyer and ID proponent. "Is it going to happen overnight? No. Is it going to happen? Yes."

Calvert said museum exhibits such as the one in Lawrence are flawed because they ask visitors to believe humans evolved randomly, with no specific purpose or design by a higher power — a theory polls show a majority of Americans do not believe.

Well, I bet there are poll questions to which a majority of Americans would have said No too, at some point in history:
  • Should the US abolish slavery? (1700s/1800s)
  • Should doctors stop prescribing pregnant women thalidomide? (1960s)
  • Did Saddam Hussein have a hand in the 9/11 attacks? (2003)
  • Do you believe in angels? (today)
Just because the majority of a population believes in something doesn't mean it's the truth, postmodernism and the Bush administration be damned.

(Actually, if there is Someone/Something up there, would You mind damning the Bush administration? They could use a little damnation these days. Thanks. Sincerely, J.)

I'm a science teacher (currently on leave to do some drink... er... studying). My job is chiefly concerned with evidence, which describe facts. These in turn form the basis for theories, which can be confirmed by applying them to new cases to see if they're correct. Using ID's "biology is just way too complex for it to be random, man" argument is asinine, because it throws evidence out the window as its first step; it's a belief-based system, WHICH IS NOT SCIENCE IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, AND SHOULD NOT BE TAUGHT IN SCIENCE CLASSROOMS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

Lipps Inc.

Am I the person that gets the song "Funkytown" in my head for hours after driving by Produce Town on Bath Road?

Happens every time.

I hope this isn't construed as an ad for that place. Although they did supply the pumpkins for Pumpkin Theatre this year, at a very reasonable price.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Why was I a year too late?

Last night, after a cover band and an (I shit you not) acoustic Dashboard Confessional tribute band, campus legends Khaki Snack (accompanied on drums by Adam of the Radical Dudez) played a set at Clark Hall Pub. Technical snafus were abundant at the beginning, but most of the crowd (myself included) was too blitzed to care.

(I seem to be enamoured with parentheses today.)

At any rate, I picked up the KS CD, entitled "Quantity n ot QUality"; I've been listening to a couple of tracks I downloaded (completely legally) for the past few days. Over breakfast/brunch/lunch today, I listened to the whole thing, which contains songs listing guys who have beards, advising which dishes are the best at Cambodiana, and the infamous "Barnone," which tells the tale of how Derek's girlfriend dumped him on Christmas Eve via ICQ. Also included are bonus tracks, I believe from KS's last official Monday night show at Clark, which just gets sloppier and sloppier as they get drunker and drunker; one song towards the end is a paean describing Chris' desire to do something to his girlfriend which is illegal in some jurisdictions.

Where was I last year every Monday night when these guys were playing? And why did nobody tell me about them until it was almost too late? I did manage, though, to catch most of one of their sets late last year at the Grad Club; I believe it was in a fundraiser for something or other, after which I talked with Derek for a good long time about KS's failed attempt to win the AMS elections, music, and a variety of other topics. (Golden Words, in interviewing all of the AMS slates, had a blast with the BMP ticket, because they really didn't care about winning the election at all. This gave them carte-blanche to say anything, which they did, and you can read the interview here. Very funny stuff.)

In conclusion, if you have five dollars — and I know you do — pick up their CD if it's being sold somewhere.



PS: If you're looking to test your knowledge of (a.) film, (b.) me, and (a.+b.) my taste in film, head on over to my derelict LiveJournal and take yourself a little quiz. Shouldn't be too hard. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Breakfast cereal, you're a fetching maiden.

I ate dinner a little less than three hours ago. A good amount, I might add.

But now I want to rip open that new box of generic Honey-Nut Cheerios I bought this morning and have a giant bowl of 'em.

Even though I'm not technically hungry.

I think the point of this is OHMYGODDAMN I LOVE BREAKFAST CEREAL.

And now, your turn: What's your favourite cereal, and why? I'll go first... mine is Life, because it's simple (scores big points there) and stays crunchy in milk longer than one would expect. Also, barring differences in hair colour, may have looked a bit like Mikey, the kid in the ads for the stuff back in the day (I'm on the right):

I'm on the right.Well, alright, maybe we didn't bear a whole lot of ressemblance to each other. But if this only elicits swooning of the "oooooooh, Jason was soooooo cuuuuuuuute when he was a little kid" variety from dozens of hot, single ladies on this fine campus willing to jump my bones, then I guess it was all worth the trouble.

(For the record, I don't think I was trying to give anyone the death-stare in that photo. It was at my grandma's 70th birthday party, which was incidentally the day before I started Kindergarten.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hither and thither these days.

It seems like I've been away more than I've been home over the past few days. And, I won't lie to you, a lot of those outings have been booze-related. Does this make me a bad person? Of course not.

I'm just... uh... enjoying... um... my time here... to its... uh... fullest.

......yyyyyyyyeaaaaahhhhhh.

We'll go with that.

At any rate, Hallowe'en at the Grad Club was múy fun. One guy was Bonerman, a superhero with, um, a pointing problem. A friend of mine came as Che Guevara ("¡Viva la revolución!"). The best costume of the night, though, was a guy dressed as Toronto — yes, the city of Toronto. He was wearing a Leafs t-shirt, with a "Hog Town" sign on his back, and strapped over his shoulders, hanging down to his waist, and shaped like the giant phallic symbol it truly is, was a three-foot-high CN Tower (with a very scrotoral SkyDome). He won the costume competition, natch.

At the same event, I played a little game called "Drink the Liquor." I won!

In a completely unrelated story, I now have a bottle of red wine. Whoever would like to come over and help me give it a good home while watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoons is more than welcome.

Monday, October 31, 2005

I seem to be having a lot of free time lately.

But it's not my fault.

Believe me, if I had my druthers, I'd be up to my neck in my thesis research. However, moving forward with my interviews — I'm talking to two science teachers and two guidance counsellors — has been impossible because of the elusiveness of two very specific people: the research coordinators at two Ontario school boards, which shall remain nameless because this whole thing is supposed to be anonymous.

I've been playing voicemail-tag with these two people for, and I'm not even joking here, two solid months. Alright, it's been less "voicemail-tag" as me calling up their phone numbers, leaving a message, and not hearing back from them ever again. Same for emails; as I described to the coordinator of grad studies at the Fac of Ed here, I feel like I'm just throwing my efforts down a giant black hole.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I have managed to get each of them on the phone one (1) time. And each time, I had to change my pants afterward, it was such an orgasmically amazing breakthrough. But alas, arranging to do research is more than just a one-phone-call affair — unless you're my friend in Journalism, then it truly is, because then there's no such thing as Research Ethics Boards who you have to consult (both at your institution and at the school board at which you conduct your research) if you want to do so much as think about a school at which you want to do your work, even if you're only interviewing board employees and not coming within a hundred miles of a child.

Am I bitter?

Heck-yes I'm bitter.

And here I sit, waiting by the phone.

Waiting.

Don't make me call in the Big Guns.

'Cause I'll totally do it.

Vaccines are the devil.

About 3700 women every year in the US die of cervical cancer. It appears as if this variety of cancer can be caused by exposure to HPV (human papilloma virus), which is fairly common — you can have it for years without even knowing it. (Therefore, be sure to get yourself tested.)

The good news is, there's a vaccine for HPV that women can receive, which could really cut the rate of cervical cancer. The bad news is that some (surprise-surprise, people in the wacko conservative contingent) feel that if you immunize teenage girls against this virus, they'll go out and fuck everything and anything (because HPV is spread through sexual contact).

I see three main problems with this line of thinking; there are likely more.

First, you have a vaccine which will save lives. This is not a complicated issue; giving women this vaccine will save their lives. Period. Give it to them.

Second, the wackos are assuming a great deal about people and how they live their lives, and this is a dangerous thing no matter how open- (or in this case, closed-) minded you are. For example, I'm immunized against tetanus. (Ladies, I'm also single.) Does that mean I'm going to run around looking for rusty nails to step on with my bare feet? Billy has the flu shot; is he going to lick random strangers? Sally is immunized against HPV; will she become the "town bicycle?" Conceivably, yes... but the shot you received to protecting you from something does nothing to force you to participate in risky behaviour. That's something you'd do on your own anyway.

Third, it's another case of The Establishment (largely controlled by men) telling women how to live their lives; essentially, to keep chaste and pure. Let's turn the tables, shall we? Let's say, for argument's sake, that testicular cancer — which can affect men at any stage in their lives, so guys, be sure to do that self-exam now and again — was caused by a virus which was spread through sex. And let's say there was a vaccine that immunized men against testicular cancer, which is proven to be effective. Would guys start screwing everything because, "hey, baby, I'm not going to get nut-cancer, so let's go upstairs"? Of course not. So, cut out the hypocrisy.

And give them the vaccine already, ya morons.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A firm smack upside the head.

This is what most people need, I find. And when I become Jason, Benevolent Dictator of the World — this is going to happen, mark my words — people are going to receive them.

(Most of the time, the smack is going to be a more figurative one than a literal one. But, in extreme cases such as, e.g., George W. Bush, the gang that tipped over the car on Aberdeen at Homecoming, and whoever in Treble Charger decided to make their sound more pop-punk, and Grieg Nori, I'm looking at you, it will be accompanied by crisp, firm, slightly-open-handed contact to the head, behind the ear, in a sweeping, upwards motion.)

(And yes, I think about this a lot.)

In the meantime, though, the good folks at The Airing of Grievances (named after the notorious part of Festivus in which George's dad starts off by screaming, "I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're gonna hear about 'em!") do a fine job of discovering idiocy so we can all laugh, point, and laugh some more.

In other news, I'm not the artistic type, so my costume's gonna suck. At least I'll be drunk, though.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A nice, wholesome, family musical act.


Blonde, blue-eyed, twin 13-year-old girls from California singing as a duo. Second coming of Mary-Kate and Ashley (minus the coke)?

Not so fast.

My favourite line:

It's just music, it's not like you're handing out AK-47s.

Ah, white supremacy. Gotta love it.

(For those of you who don't know me personally, that was sarcasm.)

Graphs ahoy.

I freakin' love graphs. They're so concise, and they can give you so many insights that a giant table of numbers might not be able to.

So, I was fiddling around with OpenOffice tonight, plugging in some numbers from the Double Cohort Study (a paper around which I'm basing part of my thesis research), and cooked up this little beauty:

It's supposed to show how marks in the SNC14 class (Grade 9 Essentials/Locally-Developed Science; it would've been "Grade 9 Basic," back in tha day) have changed over the first five years of it being offered. I hope the overall trend — since 2000-01, marks have generally been getting better (dismissing the 1999-2000 year because it was the first year that course was offered, not many schools offered it, and teachers were just figuring out what was going on), but there's still a disturbing number of kids who fail it — is clear.

Oh, man, I likes me the graphs.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

More search terms!

I'm not quite sure why I find this so amusing, but I do. People have found something on my site after searching for...
  • will ferrel goulet clip
  • phantastic photos
  • aj pierzynski with strippers
  • oga nwobosi (I will make her my bride someday!!!)
  • no booze for donald trump
  • jason mulgrew
And my new personal favourite, which makes my blog completely unique on the entire Internet (as it contains the only page which fits all these criteria):
  • "national post" and "commercial" and "swedish berry"

I'm a *what* now?

With apologies to Erin, I'm not entirely sure how accurate this test is.




The Playboy
Random Gentle Sex Master (RGSMm)

Clean. Smooth. Successful. You're The Playboy.

You're spontaneous, and your energy is highly contagious. Guys therefore find you fun to be around, and girls find you compelling. You have lots of sex, and you manage it all without seeming cheap or being hurtful. Well done. You probably know karate, too.

Your exact opposite:
The Mixed Messenger

Deliberate Brutal Love Dreamer
It's obvious to us, and probably everyone else, that you're after physical rather than emotional relationships, but you're straight up with potential partners. And if a girl you want isn't into something casual, it's no big deal. You move on. BEFORE sleeping with her. Usually. At least you try to. Such control is rare.

If you're feeling unfulfilled, maybe you should raise your standards. New conquests will only be satisfying if there's a possibility of rejection.


ALWAYS AVOID: The Priss

CONSIDER: The Dirty Little Secret, The Nurse


Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Church and The Syph.

Push abstinence-only sexual education programs on kids, send them to Mass every Sunday, put the Fear o' God in 'em, and watch the STD, teen pregnancy, homicide and abortion rates go down, right?

Not so fast.

The thing I like about this study is that the US is so wildly off-the-charts when it's compared to its industrialized colleagues. Like, "here's a clump of countries including Canada, the UK, Australia, Italy, and the rest... and waaaaaaaaay over there is the States." Pictures really do speak a thousand words, so scroll down to the bottom of the study linked above to view Figures 1 through 9.

Don't get me wrong; I really do like Americans and their country. On the whole, though, they're just a little... different. And God bless 'em for being that way.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A quick letter to an organ.

Dear Liver,

I'm sorry for putting you through four consecutive nights at the Grad Club. I also apologize to you for Ritual earlier today; you've been used to double-rye-and-cokes in short glasses, but I made you do more work filtering the alcohol out of several cups' worth of Keith's. Believe me, after taking a drunken nap on my couch and waking up in the middle of you doing your business to the CH3COOH in my bloodstream, which normally happens overnight after an evening of boozing, I could feel the pain to which you were subjecting my body.

This is why I was nice to you tonight, and only put cola through you. (Although my stomach disagrees with that decision. Don't worry, pal, I'll find my Rolaids as soon as I'm done typing this.)

I just want to give you a heads-up about tomorrow night. There may be a bit of alcohol involved, but I promise I'll take it easy. I realize we're not 19 or 21 or even 26 anymore, but hey, we're back at school, so we're going to make the most of it.

Again, I apologize for the recent excessive inebriative experiences. When things get hot 'n' heavy in the research part of my life, you can pretty much just go to Florida and come back when I'm done.

Sincerely,

Jason's brain and body

PS: If nothing else, be thankful I'm not a fan of tequila.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oh, those crazy search terms.

Recent things people have entered into search engines and found something on this ol' blog:
  • a.j. pierzynski fiend
  • tea lake damn - tom thomsons
  • will ferrell goulet avi
  • hydrocarbons spillings (several times from Chile)
And, my personal favourite:
  • pictures showing how to have sex your partner
Could I make this up?

Television recommendations.

If you know me, and you might (but you might not; that's how this Inter-Web Net Highway thing works), you know I despise most television. I love the CBC, I mute the cyclops during commercials, and I basically watch three stations: Comedy, Newsworld, and TVO.

(Then again, I do have an unhealthy addiction to the Weather Network. Groovy tunes, hot babes, radar imagery... TWN has it all!!! Oga Nwobosi, I will one day make you my bride. That's no lie.)

At any rate, assuming I'm not watching a geeky documentary about the fall of the Soviet Union, playoff baseball, or Studio 2, I'll probably blast on over to the Comedy Network to see what's going on. Two shows imported from Comedy Central scratch two particular itches of mine: political satire and absurd comedy.

The first, naturally, is handled by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which you're all obviously watching anyway (either on Comedy/CTV, or on their website). It's been excellent lately; Kurt Vonnegut — probably my favourite author of fiction — was on recently, to drop a name. A corollary: the spinoff The Colbert Report (which unfortunately Comedy doesn't show yet, but you can get clips here) looks exceedingly promising, in terms of lampooning buffoons like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and the like. You know, the "I'm a guy with a show, and I'll say whatever knee-jerk, factually-inaccurate, gut-instinct, no-thinky thoughts pop into my little pin-head" kinds of people. Maybe Comedy'll replace Everybody Loves Raymond, a show I HATE WITH EVERY FIBRE OF MY BEING, which comes on after The Daily Show, with Colbert.

The funny thing is, The Colbert Report started up as a series of satirical "ads" on The Daily Show a year or so ago. As Stewart said, "It was all fake. But someone at the network thought it was a good idea... and they bought it." So hey, more power to 'em.

The second recommendation is a show called Stella. If you've been within a 200-metre radius of me for the past few weeks, I've probably told you how much I love this show. (So far, only one other person in this town, as far as I can tell, has even heard of it before.) The main characters are three guys in suits, and their assorted adventures. That's about all I can really nail down for you here, because the rest of it is just too bizarre to try to describe. It's silly, largely nonsensical, and very random — yes, not coincidentally reminiscent of Kids in the Hall — which makes it much different from most comedy out there these days. Just "check your local listings," as they say in the biz.

Shit, did I really just blog about television?

You better lace up them skates, Satan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Like this is a big surprise.

You are a

Social Liberal
(73% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(15% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist




Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm conducting an experiment.

It's about 11 pm, and I've just consumed one (1) cup of coffee.

Will I be able to get to sleep?

I'll report back to you tomorrow.

Hither and thither.

Who schedules meetings for Friday afternoons? I mean, when you're drinking at Ritual, you shouldn't have to keep one eye on the clock and shouldn't have to think, "I'd better not get too blitzed, because I might have to be coherent later." But alas, four of the clock, I was there, and the whole thing was actually pretty productive.

Quickly thereafter, I was whisked to a covert locale north of Kingston, wherein for the next nearly-two days I ate, drank booze, read a lot, and slept even more. Cottaging is so... productive.

This past weekend, I also wrote my first longer, more narrative-y piece for Golden Words — a love story between a piano and a harpsichord, with apologies to Romeo and Juliet. I usually put out short, list-y type things, or help with page-sized compilations, but I actually had a story idea, and managed to put it together, more or less. I'll let you read about it all on Wordsday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Two dirty words.

I love profanity.

In baseball, there are two particular profane words which seem to have become part of the ballplayers' vernacular: cocksucker and horseshit.

Cocksucker is the insult-of-choice when you really want to nail someone to the wall. As dramatized in the movie Bull Durham, if you want to get thrown out of a game, calling the umpire the magic C-word means you're as good as gone.

Just roll that word around in your mouth a few times.

Cocksucker.

(For best results, wait until everyone is out of your house, and try it at an appreciably high volume.)

Feels like a great insult, doesn't it? Starts with a hard C, has a hissing S in the middle that you can hang on for a bit, and ends with an R you can sharpen to a point if you like. For variety's sake, you can load up the emphasis on the first syllable, or give it a real one-two punch by nailing the first two with equal voracity, punctuating it with a hint of a pause between then. (Think how Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys would say it.)

Now let's take the second word.

Horseshit.

It's probably the most widely-used adjective to denote negativity in the game today. For example, a pitcher might say, "That was a horseshit pitch I threw, so no wonder he hit it out."

Friends, I'm no fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — mostly due to their horseshit name; who are they trying to fool? — but they got a horseshit call against them tonight, that's for cocksucking sure.

Bottom of the ninth in Chicago, a 1-1 game. Bases are empty, full count on the Sox' AJ Pierzynski. Kelvim Escobar's been mowin' 'em down for 1 2/3 innings. Pierzynski feebly three-quarter-swings and misses on a low splitter, which third-string catcher Josh Paul — Jose Molina, of the Fabulous Catching Molina Brothers, was lifted for a pinch-runner in the eighth — catches just above the dirt. Doug Eddings, the home plate umpire, appears to call him out as the Angels trundle off the field to face extra innings. Paul rolls the ball back to the mound, and Pierzynski takes a couple of steps towards his dugout (bringing Mark Buehrle back out for the 10th, making it the first LCS game since 1983 in which a starter has gone into extra innings).

"Wait a second," Pierzynski thinks. "Maybe that hit the dirt first. Down to first I go!"

This was despite the fact that Eddings had already clearly called him out. Twice, in fact, to be sure. Josh Paul was so confident he'd caught the ball cleanly in his mitt, he rolled the ball out to the mound. (Catchers, almost by reflex, tag the batter at the plate if there's any doubt it might've hit the ground.)

So there's AJ Pierzynski, galloping down to first as the Angels walk off the field. Puzzlingly, as he reaches the bag, Eddings makes a motion down to first as if to say, "Yep, he's there now. Strikeout, E-2, and this inning is still alive."

...WHICH WAS A COMPLETE HORSESHIT CALL.

Of course, the Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia (a catcher in his playing days, as Pierzynski happens to be now), is livid, and blasts out of the dugout to argue. They call the first-base umpire, Ted Barrett, in to discuss. Oddly, the third-base umpire, Ed Rapuano, isn't consulted on this; Pierzynski is a lefty, so he'd have the best view of the ball going cleanly into Paul's mitt.

No dice. Eddings' call is allowed to stand, Pablo Ozuna runs for Pierzynski and steals second, and comes around a couple of pitches later on Joe Crede's double off the wall in left. Sox win 2-1, the ALCS is tied 1-1, and Scioscia's ulcers get worse.

(I'm not a fan of either the White Sox or the Angels. I just like to see good, clean, honest baseball being played. Shoot, even when I'm at SkyDome and a Blue Jay makes a good defensive play, I'll applaud. And I friggin' hate the Jays.)

(Also, for those of you scoring at home, Scioscia was on the Simpsons as a player on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant company softball team. He actually enjoyed working in the plant, but was exposed to extreme doses of radiation and got very sick. "Can't... lift... arm... or... speak... at... normal rate..." Yeah, that guy.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A fun- and driving-filled weekend.

If there was a theme of my long weekend, it would have to be getting up early. Too early.

Far, far too early.

It all started Friday. I went to a one-day educational research conference in Auburn, New York, at the lovely Springside Inn. Because Queen's was the "host" this year (it's always held in the same place, but different schools rotate the organizational duties), we had to be there early. Which means leaving early. Which means getting up early. All in all, though, an interesting set of talks, a stupendous dinner (I won't lie to you, the food was the major impetus for my attendance) and, as per tradition, ice cream cones in the front of the Price Chopper in Watertown on the way back.

Saturday, I got up not-quite-so-early, but still too early, to drive to Toronto and hang out with my buddy Dave. His family just happened to have Thanksgiving dinner that night, so I got an invite; yet another great meal. Later, the pair of us, along with Dave's neighbour Mike, shot the bull, had a couple of beers, and jammed... I haven't played bass in a while, and to do it on a fretless was a bit much.

Sunday, again reeeeal early, I left TO to drive to Woodstock, for my own family's T-G feast, and also to lay my eyes on the cutest nearly-five-month-old baby in the world.
Here, she and her grandfather are reading The Brothers Karamazov, in squishy-book format.

Monday, I awoke extra-early to make it back to Kingston by noon, to get back to write The Funny. The trend continued today, as I arose at another ridiculously early hour to co-host the radio show.

So, in conclusion: lots of waking up, lots of driving, but still lots of fun. And remember, the revolution will not be televised, brother.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Woop, a meme.

Read if you like here.



1. Name someone with the same birthday as you.
Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Billy Idol, and Bo Jackson.

2. Where was your first kiss?
In my room. (Yowzas! She came up to my room!)

3. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property?
Does spitting on random SUVs in the middle of the night on the walk home from the all-night bus count as "seriously"?

4. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex?
Nah. I generally don't hit people.

5. Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people?
Twice that I can remember. The first time was in a school play; I think I was in Grade 5 and did a duet with a girl in Grade 4. The second time was also a duet, my one and only experience with karaoke; the song was "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, it was in Kingston, and it was at Lino's, which no longer exists.

6. What's the first thing you notice about the preferred sex?
Mannerisms.

7. What really turns you on?
Tough to put my finger on it; I like to call it a "twinkle in the eye." Like, if they tell a moderately dirty joke and wink at the punchline, that's twinkle all the way.

8. What do you order at Starbucks?
Nothing. I refuse.

9. What was your biggest mistake?
Deciding to be so shy during most of high school.

10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose?
Nope.

11. Say something totally random about yourself.
I buy bananas in bunches of five only.

12. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity?
Donald Trump, in profile.

13. Do you still watch kiddy movies or tv shows?
I think Spongebob Squarepants is ridiculously irreverent.

14. Did you have braces?
Nope. My teeth kick ass.

15. Are you comfortable with your height?
Five feet, 10.5 inches = pure perfection.

16. What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you?
It doesn't sound like much, but I received a book for my birthday one year from my girlfriend at the time, and it was just... perfect.

17. When do you know it's love?
When you can't imagine your life without that person.

18. Do you speak any other languages?
My French is passable; I had a conversation with a random guy from Montreal, who was looking for directions, in Kingston a couple of weeks ago. I held my own.

19. Have you ever been to a tanning salon?
So, I have to pay to turn pink?

20. What magazines do you read?
Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, and the odd Adbusters.

21. Have you ever ridden in a limo?
Nope.

22. Has anyone you were really close to passed away?
My grandma, when I was in Grade 9. But, you know, time has a way of healing wounds like that. I look back at my memories of her, and they all show an exceedingly kickass woman. Who could bake just the most perfect chocolate chip cookies.

23. Do you watch MTV?
You mean MuchMusic? Fuckno. Except "The Wedge," which is stuck on Friday evenings; it shows indie videos, and it's actually pretty awesome.

24. What's something that really annoys you?
Foot-dragging. For chrissakes, pick up your god damn feet!

25. What's something you really like?
Baseball.

26. Do you like Michael Jackson?
I dare you to listen to "Rock With You" and not want to dance like crazy.

27. Can you dance?
Yes, but I choose not to.

28. What’s the latest you have ever stayed up?
I think I zonked out around 9:30 am.

29. Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room?
Nope.

30. Do you actually read these when other people fill them out?
Sure do!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Thoughts coursing through my brain.

I've been thinking a lot over the past couple of days. This can be good or bad, depending on how you view things like this. But I've come to the conclusion that other people seem to be more "together" than me.

Because I generally find charts and diagrams useful and informative, I will represent my ideas below in bar graph form.

Here's my brain:
Here's a random person we'll call X:
And here's another random person we'll call Y:
Along the bottom appear various facets of personality, and the bars represent how well they're developed. X is a doofus: the kind of person who soups up their Honda Civic with a giant spoiler, thinks McDonald's is "good eatin'," and coincidentally votes conservatively. Y is your complete all-rounder: the student council president, captain of whatever sports team, and is probably a vegetarian to boot.

Y goes through life with few problems, but not because they're not faced with any; they're just really well-equipped to handle anything, which makes everything easy. X, too, sails through with little resistance; little is expected and little is done, which means all their dreams are fulfilled. This type of pleasurable uniformity I'll call "togetherness" — that is, their personalities have developed pretty much as one would expect them to. ("Together" doesn't necessarily imply "complete," as Y is complete but X is not.)

And then you have me. Parts of me are developed quite well — I think I'm a pretty good teacher, I readily feel empathy, and I think I have good taste in music. (But I guess we all think the last one true of ourselves.) But very, very significant parts of me are woefully inadequately developed, and I feel these are the most crucial to my own happiness and well-being. If you know me, maybe you had no idea I was this uneven under the surface. Or, shoot, maybe it sticks out like Sidney Poitier at a Klan rally. Obviously, "knowing how others see me" is one of those short bars on my graph.

Perhaps everyone else has a jagged graph like mine. But they sure aren't showing it. And that makes me feel... not so good.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mr. Trammell, we hardly knew ye.

Today the Detroit Tigers fired Alan Trammell as their manager. (He's on the right, with longtime Tiger manager Sparky Anderson; this picture was probably taken in the mid-'90s, as his playing career wound down.)

This really hits home with me, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think it's a chickenshit move to fire the manager when you give him a bum-hand to start with... the incessant injuries, the dilly-dallying by the GM, the lack of true direction from ownership, the list goes on. It's harder to fire 25 players than it is one manager, so he had to go, I guess.

But, on a more personal note, since I was eight, Tram has been my man. I always endeavoured to wear #3 when I played ball (actually getting it a couple of seasons). My right-handed batting stance is modeled after his, being slightly closed. He's been the ultimate in strength, class, and professionalism, for his playing career, his coaching tenure both in Detroit and in San Diego, and in his three-year stint managing the Tigers, an organization to which he has devoted nearly his entire adult life. Put it this way... when Alan Trammell first became involved with the Tigers, Elvis was still alive, and I was nothing more than a gleam in a pipefitter's eye.

And so it is with a heavy heart, but unfortunately not much surprise, that I received and now report this news. One of my childhood heroes got sacked, and I am genuinely saddened.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Take a hint.

Bill Maher on George W. Bush:

Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend — you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job.

How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: "Take a hint."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

This blew my mind.

Alan Ruck played Cameron Frye, Ferris Bueller's best friend, in the movie you all know.

He was twenty-nine when they made that movie.

Heck, I'm not that old, and am only trying to play the part of a university student, let alone a high-schooler!

Friday, September 30, 2005

A plan.

I think I'm gonna stop "chasing skirts" for a while.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I love the autumn.

I don't write about baseball here too often, but I sure as hell spend enough of my brainpower thinking about it.

A lot of people ask me, "Why do you cheer for the Tigers? I thought you were Canadian, you traitor." Well, it may or may not be an interesting story. Judge for yourself.

The year was 1985. The Detroit Nine had just had a devastatingly good year, had just won their first World Series since '68, and Tiger Stadium would nearly shake itself apart nightly with all the noise generated fifty thousand screaming baseball fans made as it reverberated off the concrete walls and steel beams. (Sure, it meant someone was sitting behind a pole, but lemme tell ya, the last seat in the back row of the upper deck would be closer to the field than pretty much any seat in SkyDome.)

(And yes, I refuse to call it by its new name.)

An impressionable seven-year-old was growing up in a tiny town in rural southwestern Ontario. Because cable TV was not available there (and still probably isn't to this day), and satellite dishes were exceedingly expensive, we had an antenna on a tower behind our house. Owing to our location, we were half the distance to Detroit as we were to Toronto (a 90-minute drive vs. a 3-hour one). Consequently, the stations we picked up included WDIV, Channel 4... and they showed Tiger games.

I can still hear it echoing in the back of my brain, one of my first baseball-related memories... "Welcome, everyone, to Tigers '85. I'm George Kell, along with Al Kaline, and we've got a big, big ball game tonight against the Minnesota ball club." I recall the little cartoon they'd show at the very end... if the Tigers won, it was the cartoon tiger-in-the-circle chewing a bat ferociously to shreds; if they lost, it was a bandaged-up tiger meowing meekly, but following it up with a growl like, "Oh man, next time, those assholes are so fucking dead."

At the time, the Tigers and the Blue Jays were both excellent teams in the AL East. The rivalry was, I kid you not, along the lines of Red Sox-Yankees in terms of hatred. You either cheered for one or the other.

So I picked my logical "hometown" team, and have stuck by them through the years.

Oh, it was rough in the early '90s. I and one other guy were the only Tiger fans in my entire high school (minus my Grade 9 Science teacher who also cheered for them, and my Grade 11 Chemistry teacher who was an Indians fan). My friends all knew this, and when Joe Carter hit the home run to end it in '93, the first thought that went through my head was, "Aw, man, I'm never going to hear the end of this." Chad Clements was particularly vigorous, I recall.

(His was also the first curveball I'd ever faced. How do people hit those things?)

The year 1993 also happened to be the last season in which the Tigers won more games than they've lost. They were the winningest team of the 1980s... and the losingest of the 1990s. But the bad times didn't end with the year 2000; they've kept on losing right up until now. They nearly broke the all-time record for losses in a season in 2003 by losing 119 contests; I can proudly say I was in the stands for the last game of '03 as the Tigers beat the Twins 8-3. Alas, they are... hapless.

Yet, I still follow them. Quite vigorously. Right now I'm listening to the streaming radio broadcast of their 157th game of the year. Sean Douglass is pitching for the Tigers, and is doing a good job of stranding White Sox runners (as Nate Robertson did last night, in a nail-biting 3-2 win for the Bless You Boys).

Shoot, he just went 3-0 on Paul Konerko.

Anyway, the point is...

...hmm.

I think the point is, I love baseball.

And the Tigers.