Monday, February 28, 2005

Be proud of TVO.

Tonight on Studio 2, there was one of the most kick-ass-est interviews I've seen in a long time — Alan Gregg interviewed Henry Giroux, late of Penn State and now at McMaster, on why he moved northward.

(Turns out Giroux is big in the field of "critical pedagogy," which is all the rage in educational theory circles these days. Basically, that's where you get students thinking about how they fit into the world, usually within a social justice context. If you've heard the name Paolo Friere before, that's his bag, baby.)

The reason Giroux skedaddled out of the States is largely because of the increasing influence of the Right in academia. (Shoot, we've seen a good example of this lately with the Ward Churchill fiasco.) If ultraconservative organizations had plants in the classes I taught, by gum, I'd get the hell out of wherever I was, too. Part and parcel with neocons is the Free Market ideology, corporate influence, and so on. All great stuff.

Alas, if you read this before 12:10 am on Tuesday, March 1 (i.e., late Monday night), you can catch the repeat of the interview on TVO. I'll try to remember to tape it, in case someone comes to me in a panic because they forgot to watch it, or didn't read this in time.

Car-based follies.

Maybe it was for the best that I didn't really go anywhere on reading week, seeing as what happened to my car on Friday in the midst of a simple trip to Toronto.

On the way to The Big Smoke, my car developed quite a thirst for engine coolant. The red "low coolant" light is a tad disconcerting on the 401 when you're in no-man's land between Belleville and Cobourg, that's for sure. Its thirst became even more ravenous on Saturday morning, which prompted me to take it into the kind folks at Addison on Bay. (Shoot, isn't this the second advertisement I've given them? I should ask for some cash.)

Saturday afternoon, they did some tests (not many mechanics around for the half-day), couldn't find anything, topped-up my coolant, took seventy dollars from me, and sent me on my way. Fortunately, before driving it away, I noticed the light on again; I checked it and it was already down a good few centimetres. I said, "I ain't a-drivin' this back to no K-town," and they said they'd look at it Monday (this) morning.

Not five minutes ago, the phone rang. It was the lovely Sue at Addison... yup, it's a headgasket. Give or take, it's going to run me about $1200 to fix 'er up, less the seventy from Saturday. (That's nice of them, eh?) Needless to say, this was not an expenditure for which I'd budgeted when I left my job to come back to school, and this runs a hefty percentage of an entire term's tuition.

Looks like I'll be buying used fruit for the next little while.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A simple request.

This arrived via Ryan. If you have a blog, please cut-and-paste and repost on yours.

Thanks, pals.

Dear Friends:

A number of you have e-mailed me asking what I need here in Kabul. I thank you for your concern, but I actually want, or need, for very little. The weather here is a bit colder than I had expected, we still have snow here.

Kabul itself is about the size of Ottawa, and exhibits the scars of thirty years of warfare. Poverty is everywhere, and orphanages -- one of the by-products of a war -- are filled to capacity, and many of the kids in these institutions don't have a pair of shoes.

If you have kids, or know someone who does, can you send me some used kids footwear -- any size will do, from tots to teens. And while we're at it, socks too!

You can forward these to me and I'll make sure that they end up in the right hands -- or should I say, on they right feet. I can be reached at the address below:

Sgt Topolinsky, D.J.
Engr Sqn
OP ATHENA, Camp Julien
PO Box 5006 Stn Forces

Cheers, and thanks.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Christina Ricci is an alien.

Finally, conclusive proof of what you've suspected all along.

I say she's from Zorgon-5, but she could also easily be from anywhere in the Centauri system. You know those Centaruis and their precocious ways.

(No, but seriously, if you'd seen her on the Jon Stewart show tonight, you'd have come to the same conclusion I have. She looked like a friggin' anorexic Plutonian.)

You heard it here first, folks.

Expect a U.S. invasion of Iran about... June-ish.

This is according to Scott Ritter, UNSCOM's former man-on-the-ground looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and Dahr Jamail, one of the few independent, U.S.-based journalists in Iraq. Also, apparently the Bush administration fixed the Iraq election results as well, skooching the final vote tally for the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% down to 48%. (Look for something from Seymour Hersh on this soon, too.)

Geez, I'm like frickin' Nostradamus over here or somethin'.

A rare bout of insomnia.

Ever since starting uni (way-back-when), I've never had trouble sleeping. I can't think of a single instance — save for the times I've had to sleep on someone's floor — when getting unconscious and staying that way has been a problem. Until tonight.

I just have too many ideas rattling around in my skull... random and not-so-random thoughts, plans I've made recently that have gone awry, past failures put on endless loop, and about three tons of self-doubt. My brain won't shut off, and it ain't playing Knighty Knight Bugs.

Reading Week has been a fucking bore so far. There are some people here in K-town, but they're all busy doing something-or-other or gone out of town, it seems. Everyone I know in TO is working, which means I can't go down there and hang out with anyone until the weekend; even then I don't have anyplace to stay, really. Shit, I have a car and a full tank of gas... but nowhere to go. (I can't even go "home" and visit my parents, as they'll be in Florida for the next couple of days.)

This means I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Today I polished off Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and, in part of the afternoon, Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman. Miller bit the big one earlier this year; if Vonnegut goes, too — he's getting up there, y'know — I'll be uberpissed. Perhaps I'll take a big hunk out of the late Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels tomorrow, too.


This blllllllows.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Something just ain't right.

Oh, it's all fine and dandy for the U.S. and countries reasonably friendly to it (e.g. the UK, Russia, Israel, and Pakistan) to have nukes. But when someone like North Korea or, potentially shortly, Iran develops them, they're all, like, "We must prevent these countries from developing nuclear weapons." Full stop.

Perhaps if Dubya said something like, "We would prefer they not develop nukes," or, "It would be in our country's best interest if they didn't have nukes," then fine. I see your point, and I agree with you. But, as we all know, Dubya and his puppetmasters aren't exactly masters of verbal (or diplomatic) subtletly, and terse, black-and-white, "with us or against us" clips play better on CNN and Fox anyway.

Guaranteed to raise a smile.

Let's say you're having a nasty day. You got splashed by a passing bus, you're out of milk for your coffee, your butler put heavy starch on your collar instead of light starch. We all have 'em.

What you do, see, is you put on a tune by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I dare you to listen to A Taste Of Honey (or anything off the excellent "Whipped Cream and Other Delights," for that matter) and not have a little smile sneak into the corners of your mouth.

Or, failing Herb, anything by Gin Blossoms. Mmmm... nineties-o-riffic.

PS: Is anyone up for seeing some live rock and roll tonight? It's been ages, and really... what else do you have to get up for tomorrow morning? Email me if you want to rokk.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Gonzo: 1937-2005.

Hunter S. Thompson dead at 67

If you've seen the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you've only seen a tiny slice of the frenzied madness that was HST. I've read several of his books, and for my money nothing else comes close to Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 in terms of examining the real levers of power in the U.S. (not even Jon Stewart's America: The Book). His perspicacity — even when full of some pretty funky chemicals — will never be matched, not even closely rivalled, by anyone within a 10-foot pole of "mainstream media."

But then again, HST didn't really care how others perceived him. His sole focus was uncovering the truth, even if it was unpleasant. Heck, I think he wanted what he dug up to be disturbing and outrageous, as if to show everyone that, if you knew what he knew, you'd act crazily, too. Mind you, he had his demons... it looks like they've finally caught him this time, and he can't drown them in drugs or the sauce anymore.

He wrote a column on the past few years called "Hey, Rube!". It always made for exciting reading... you read his stuff and you think, "Man, if only other people wrote like this, journalism would be so much more engaging and exciting and honest." But no, writers have to toe an editorial line, parrot the Talking Points, keep the truth to themselves. Which makes things dreadfully dull and uninformative.

Read about the late author here, and follow the links to the archives of his column. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

News Flash: Bush is a pothead.

Well, not exactly. But, some interestingly candid conversations taped during the late 1990s suggest that yes, Mr. Dubya has in fact tried marijuana in his life.

That, and of course mountains of coke off strippers' breasts through rolled-up $100 bills courtesy of his dad. Oh, and the booze (for which he was never formally treated), which led to the DUI in '75. Not to mention an illegal war costing even more than a subscription to NME.

No wonder he's freaking out about Social Security for no reason. It's the Paranoia, maaaaaan.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Oh, Lenny.

Take away the right to say "fuck," and you take away the right to say "fuck the government."
— Lenny Bruce

I say this after musing about two instances of censorship which come to mind.

1. The latest Rolling Stone contains a two-page excerpt of an interview with the late Johnny Carson originally done in 1979 (you can view the original here; it's really quite interesting, if a bit lengthy). Carson didn't do many interviews — he was really very shy and introverted — and he was asked if the audience objects when certain words are bleeped-out of a show.

He answered, "It's a little ridiculous to bleep a dirty word, whatever it means. Even 'damn' and 'hell,' for years, were not used in motion pictures, which always intrigued me. ... Would children be corrupted [by not censoring the s-word on television]? I doubt it, since every four-year-old says that word."

2. More recently, I was listening to K-Rock and Lenny Kravitz's song "Mr. Cab Driver" came on. Now, you know as well as I do that said song contains the f-word; the central idea of the whole song is Kravitz's anger towards taxi drivers who don't pick him up because of how he looks. (This was back when he was sporting copious dreadlocks.) But, true to form, the aforementioned radio station substituted "fuck you" for two cutesy horn beeps, trivializing the song's point and cheapening the entire artistic endeavour. From now on, man, it's all CBC and NPR and college/indie stations for me, thanks.

As if on cue, the ubercool KEXP plays "The Power Is On" by the quite excellent Go! Team ten seconds after I put up a post decrying the state of commercial radio.

Wow. Cosmic.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Oh, man.

The wait is over. Magglio, do your thing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Me and Gandhi's tight, yo.

See where you fall on the grid at Posted by Hello

Nothing makes sense these days.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.
— John Stuart Mill

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Your cure for Corporate Radio.

I friggin' love KEXP.

I'll have it on for hours and recognize maybe three songs, but the ones I don't still rock my socks clean off my feet. Take the last song by local Seattle band The Transmissionary Six (according to the DJ)... I've never heard it before and probably never will again, but it was mellow and soulful and a bit countrified, and 103% pure goodness.

When I go to bed at night, I play a little game called "Name That K-Rock Tune." I'll have the radio on for two seconds, and more times than not I'll be able to pick it off, simply because commercial radio stations have such tiny playlists. (Last night it was the admittedly-good "Message In A Bottle" by The Police.) I'd listen to CFRC more, but their signal's a little weak at my place. (Shoot, I even live south of Princess.)

So, in conclusion: Fuck you, Corporate Radio.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The obligatory February 14 post.

So, here we are... the day honouring St. Valentine, and the J-man is all set up for a romantic solo dinner of Mr. Noodles.

It's not that I'm bashing all the happy couples who are spending this day canoodling -- hey, you've found something good, by all means celebrate what you have and have a blast. And it's not that I'm all melancholy about being single -- heck, it's been easier on my bank account lately.

I think my parents have it just about right, though. I don't think they've ever bought each other flowers, or candy, or... well, anything on this day, really, as far as I know. They've been together for 35-plus years, and they just have this, for lack of a better word, "understanding." As in, gifts or trinkets like the ones you often see on this day are superfluous and artificial.

Depending on your perspective, the fact that I've inherited that mindset could be either a plus or a big minus. I guess if you're the type of person that really looks forward to these tokens of affection, it's a gigantic detriment if you manage to hook yourself up with a fella like me. Then again, if you're that type of person... well, I doubt I'd want to get involved with a girl like that in the first place.

Things like that tend to work themselves out, I find.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I'm *incredibly* drunk right now.

Fortunately, even though drunkenness quite impairs my ability to type without having to judiciously use the backspace key, I believe I can coherently express my thoughts using many ten-cent words, even in this altered state. So, here goes, with the aid of a numbered list.

1. Standardized tests are the devil. Read Susan Ohanian's book, One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards if you don't believe me, and/or if you're from Alberta. Or, if you're looking for something slightly more light-hearted but still on the same topic, I can recommend Alfie Kohn's The Schools Our Children Deserve.

2. Valentine's Day blllllllows. It's not just that it's a HallmarkTM-endorsed holiday; it's that, for those involved in serious relationships, it's the make-or-break day which apparently proves your worth to your significant other. And, let's face it, it's mostly the guys who are under pressure here; we're the ones who have to come up with the flowers, the romantic dinners, the rubber sheets and gerbils. That's a lot of pressure for one side of the relationship. (Assuming you're in one. Which I'm not, at present. But, oh well... guess that means I'll be drowning my sorrows in a bottle of J.D. two sleeps hence.) At any rate, I fuckin' hate it.

3. Communication, whether it be in a simple friendship or in a more-involved relationship, is key. If someone's expecting a call from you... call, dammit, or else the person's going to spend their entire existence wondering why you didn't.

That's all for now. I'm going to bed.

Friday, February 11, 2005

An open letter.

Dear Billy Talent,

Easy on the angst, fellas.


Everyone over 15

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I "heart" GYWO.

The best way to bring light to a situation is to satirize it. Witness the latest Get Your War On:


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I am a statistics junkie.

You see on the right side of the screen, below the Blogger logo, which is below the Archives section, there's a little number? As of this moment in time, it reads 1829. Click on that, and it'll take you to StatCounter (I saw this first on Ryan's blog). SC is a service that gives you information on visitors to whatever site on which you put the counter -- basic stats are free, more in-depth ones cost the bucks.

Things I've noticed:
  • Lots of people drop by and read, but few leave comments. Please, I invite you to scrawl e-graffiti on my pages. This is an open forum, so just give'r.
  • Most people use Windows XP. There are a few 2000 users, and a couple of oddballs using Me. Someone out there has a Mac. And then there's me -- and one other person, I believe -- using good ol' Windows 98. Stand proud, brother-or-sister, for we have not been swayed by promised bells and whistles... we know 98 is fast and small and stable. (Well, for a Microsoft OS, anyway.)
  • The majority of visitors are Canadian, but someone from Bloomington, Illinois pops on now and again. So, hi there, American Midwest... and Obama in '08.
  • Once in a blue moon, someone will pop on from a random place like Singapore or Australia. So, to all you foreign-folk... quit a-treadin' on mah Nawth Amurrican proper-tay. Bunch of terrorists.
  • Firefox is pretty popular these days, but some stubborn people still use Internet Explorer. Switch already! Sheesh.
That's about all that StatCounter collects that's worth mentioning. Oh, except for the fact that Kelly still sucks her thumb when she goes to bed, Richard has a Linus-like safety blanket, and I don't even want to begin telling you what Howie does in his spare time.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Irony is scrumptious.

Seen on the side of The Daily Show's website, in a Flash-based ad for the U.S. Army:

  Alice, 20

Yeah, Alice. I know where you're going: Mess O' Potamia.

An observation about pundits.

You know political pundits -- "talking heads" on news shows, people who write opinionated pieces in newspapers, and the like. In an insightful article by Alexander Cockburn of Counterpunch, he compares the way in which two political columnists -- Ward Churchill on one side, and Tom Frank on the other (not the one who recently wrote What's Wrong With Kansas? and appeared on The Daily Show) -- go about making their point.

Two excerpts serve for comparison purposes.

Churchill, commenting just after 9/11 on why someone might ram an airplane or two into a bastion of U.S. commerce:

[I]f U.S. foreign policy results in widespread death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned.

Frank, in "The New Republic", reacting to Stan Goff's (a former Delta force soldier, current antiwar activist, and organizer for Military Families Speak Out) speech at an antiwar panel:

[W]hat I needed was a Republican like Arnold [Schwarzenegger] who would walk up to [Goff] and punch him in the face.

Similar rhetoric can be easily imagined coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, or the ever-affable Ann Coulter. Yet, I can't picture Noam Chomsky or, shoot, even Richard Clarke making that kind of statement.

What is it about the wacko-Right that makes them so prone to being jackasses? I mean, the wacko-Left has its share of nut-jobs (e.g. the Trotskyites), but they lack the smugness posessed by their neoconservative counterparts. Beats me.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Stuff sucks.

We're all caught up with this idea that I've got to work longer, harder in order to make money to get all this stuff. Nobody's asking, "Am I happier because I've got all this stuff?" I think it demands a reassessment of what our core values are.
-- Dr. David Suzuki, Jan. 26/05, speaking at UW

The good doctor makes a point. People watch big-screen TVs, drive giant SUVs, and own dozens of DVDs. Why? Does the accumulation of stuff make you a better person?

I moved from a nice-sized apartment in Toronto to a cozy basement in Kingston. I don't have room for a kitchen table or a loveseat. Yet, this lack of room has been a blessing rather than a curse; it's forced me to make decisions about what I need and what I don't.

Being a nomadic co-op student for five years, every four months I was forced to examine all my worldly possessions, and deem what was worth moving and what could be chucked. Consequently, I stopped accumulating stuff. And, y'know what? Stuff sucks. You have to find it, pay for it, lug it home, find a use for it, and have a place to put it when you're not using it. Who could be bothered?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

News and notes from Jasonland.

Goings-on and points of note...

Last night was spent at the Journal House drinking with the GW crew, on GNO/BNO. Much fun was had, many beers were consumed, and much table tennis was played. The girls came by 'round about midnight, and regaled us with tales of their pillow fights and kissing practice.

(Okay, they just drank and played Dance Dance Revolution.)

Earlier that day, I was part of the army of volunteers (paid with sandwiches) who'd signed up to read the "personal statements" of the people applying to the B.Ed program. I did fifty of them in all; each one needs to be read twice, and there were 3300 of them in total. I had no idea there were that many applicants for essentially 440 spaces in the program, and am amazed that I even got in myself. (Granted, I did slip in through a back door.) Good luck, Kelly -- I'm sure you'll be amazing next year here.

Haven't decided yet whether to lay low tonight and watch a movie, or meet up with a friend at Clark to see a few bands in a fundraising concert. Given the late night last night... I'm still very much on the fence.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I am a useless-fact junkie.

Here's something I felt compelled to share:

Tiger Stadium, home of "my boys" from 1895 through the end of the 1999 season (first known as Bennett Park, then Navin Field, then Briggs Stadium before its final name was given in 1961) saw this many home runs in all those years:


Neat, eh?

Have any useless facts you love? Post them here, and I'll love ya to bits.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Random notes for a random world.

Just some assorted mental flotsam and jetsam.

* I like my new Discman-like portable CD player, in general -- the earphones cover my ears, unlike its predecessor, which came with those tiny in-ear ones. But, when you press the stop button, it doesn't go all the way back to the beginning of Track 1 -- it holds its place until you press play again, then it resumes where you've left off. This sounds handy, but it's unconventional, so it's often irritating.

* Whoever thought to put things like electrical wires and water pipes in the walls, as opposed to having conduits hugging the baseboard, was a genius. I just stick a plug into special holes in my wall, and there's a hundred and twenty volts, stat (as they'd say on ER, which I don't watch). And no, I have no idea why I've suddenly found this to be such a brilliant idea.

* It's been a long time since I've shot a hockey puck. If anyone wants to hone their skills on the rinks at Victoria Park, let me know, and I'll bring my skates and stick. Please note that I am a subpar hockey player; as a kid I focused on baseball. But, my skating skills are fine.

* The song "Ymaelodi Â'r Ymylon" by Super Furry Animals is as catchy as malaria. It's also in Welsh, which means I can put it on in the background and not be distracted by pesky lyrics.

* I'm fully convinced that the legendary S&R department store in downtown Kingston has everything under the Sun. There aren't too many places where I could purchase, at one time, a shirt covered in palm trees, Q-tips, a boot tray, and a dozen eggs.

* Happy February, everyone. Only 326 shopping days 'til Christmas.

* Coffee is delicious. I love you.