Thursday, October 30, 2008

Channel surfing.

Yep. It's come to this: a trip around the dial.

MuchMoreMusic. Coldplay's music is actually pretty crappy. I watched part of the video for "Viva La Vida," and I am thorougly unimpressed. Now I'm watching a video for the latest song by Tegan and Sarah. They actually come up with some pretty decent songs, to be honest — not normally my cup of tea, but I don't mind them at all. When I lived in Calgary for a summer in the late '90s, they were just starting out, and I'd see posters for them all the time. My officemate and I used to joke that "oh, those two dudes are playing another show this weekend."

BBC World News. I think if I watched this more often, I'd be a better person. I used to think this about CBC Radio, too; now I listen to it most mornings. Maybe it's just a matter of time.

CMT. I pay for this?

Slice. It used to be called "Life." I didn't watch it then, either. How desperate does a channel have to be to air a re-run of ET Canada? (I still can't believe Rick the Temp stooped to this.)

Discovery. I saw Jay Ingram speak at a PD session for science teachers in Toronto last year, and he was extremely well-informed about the stuff we're facing in the schools. Good guy.

Comedy. Just for Laughs is featuring my least-favourite musical comedy duo of all time, Bowser and Blue. Their schlock-factor is off the charts. At least the always-entertaining Harland Williams got to interview them just offstage.

Teletoon. I currently teach a kid that totally looks like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Otherwise, this cartoon fucking sucks. Why did people like this?

HGTV. If it ain't Holmes on Homes, I flip right past this bastard.

BET. I've been watching this show for about two minutes, and I have no idea what it is. I think they're doing a behind-the-scenes thing on the set of some R&B singer's video, but because I know exactly zero R&B singers these days, this is completely lost on me. The little graphic in the bottom-right corner, though, tells me that a new season of American Gangster starts tonight at 10, so I'll have to put that on my Google Calendar, now, won't I?

I think this little excursion around the offerings of Uncle Ted nicely validates the reason I (a.) don't watch a lot of TV, and therefore (b.) refuse to upgrade to a fancy new LCD model in the near future. Do I really need to see all these shitty shows in high-definition? They'll look even worse there, I imagine.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The real S-word.

An extremely interesting phenomenon is happening in the wake of the Global Economic Catastrofuck, and is being mirrorred in the US presidential election. But, in order to fully appreciate what's going on, a bit of history is in order.

The year is 1994. Republicans, led by the likes of Newt Gingrich, take control of the US House of Representatives (and name Gingrich its Speaker). The "Contract with America" is proclaimed, which gives American politics a swift rightward kick in the junk. Bill Clinton had nailed Gennifer Flowers, but not Monica Lewinsky (yet). Pie is still tasty, and remains so, to the present day.

It's easy to whip-up anti-Left sentiment when you control both Houses of Congress; it's even easier when you control the Executive Branch, which the Republicans have since 2001. (Remember George W. Bush? That guy is actually still president. Who knew?) The brand of Republican conservatism seen in the past few decades has been especially ugly; outwardly anti-intellectual — yet Bush, Cheney and Rove have more than enough degrees between them — nasty, brutish and, well, just plain mean.

In their wake, they managed to dredge up the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and the ever-skeletal Ann Coulter. These knuckle-dragging pundits have thrown the word "liberal" around like an insult since '94, and usually have had a nice amount of success with it. Hell, the last thing any American politician wanted to be called, for a good long while, was a liberal.

But that's when, quite frankly, pundits such as the above didn't have a whole lot of meaningful things to talk about. I mean, yes, 9/11 and Iraqistan and the like were important to the average American, but let's be honest here: unless you were in the shadows of the World Trade Center that day, or you (or someone you know closely) has been sent to one of them infidel countries to fight a war, all of that international political stuff is probably a pretty abstract topic, and doesn't affect your day-to-day wheelings-and-dealings too much.

Nowadays, though, when people are losing their jobs and houses and cars... well, now we have something to talk about: the economy, and how it's melting down before our very eyes, and how it's probably affecting you or someone close to you (as it is for me, or someone close to me). Suddenly the talking-heads on CNN are yammering-on about something which actually affects a lot of people directly.

Enter the US presidential race, and a certain half-Kenyan-half-Kansan that is talking about re-jigging the tax rates so that the rich pay more and the poor pay less.

Nope! Can't do that!

"Why should people have to give up their hard-earned money?"

"That sounds like income redistribution."

"This is no time for America to be experimentin' with...

SOCIALISM!!!"

(If you can't tell by the "g" cut off of "experimenting," that last one is a direct quote from Sarah Palin.)

Baaahhhh!!! Barack HUSSEIN Obama isn't only an elite lattĂ©-sipping America-denigrating secret-Muslim terrorist-associator who has a laughable track-record of being a "community organizer" (whatever the hell that is — try being a small-town mayor!) and a US Senator for only two years... the guy is a SOCIALIST! He wants to FUCK WITH SHIT SO RICH PEOPLE (who can pay more) PAY MORE! That is so anti-American! Don't Tread On Me (and my Scrooge McDuck-like vault full of swimmable cash)!

So now "socialist" is being bandied-about as an insult, the same way Coulter & Co. have tossed-around "liberal" for the past decade.

Here's the difference, though. Since Obama is talking about things that a lot of Americans (a.) have personal experience with, and they (b.) kinda like what he's saying, and (c.) look like they're going to elect him president in a couple of weeks, throwing the "socialist" label at him — when a lot of people actually are in favour of getting a few more bucks out of rich bastards so they can pay their bills — gets you absolutely nowhere. Hell, they could even call him a sheepfucker on national television, and because his shit doesn't have the stink of George W. Bush all over it like McCain's does, Obama still takes the election.

In conclusion: Ann Coulter's days are numbered. Oh, and eat a fucking burrito already, Skeletor!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greenspan reconsiders.

The US economy is pretty much in the crapper these days for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to):
  • increasing wealth going into corporate profits rather than wages since the '70s
  • banks and lenders being reckless when giving people mortgages and loans
  • rampant deregulation letting The Market somehow fuck itself in its own ass
I'm not sure how the last point would be accomplished in any kind of way that wouldn't result in some kind of personal injury, but I think we're all pretty sure The Market has been able to do it. Hell, even Alan Greenspan himself expressed his surprise at a Congressional hearing today at how badly The Market regulated itself, calling the current financial clusterfuck "a once-in-a-century economic tsunami."

(Too soon?)

Anyway, some other Greenspan nuggets (from this original article):

I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.

I have found a flaw [in his free-market ideology]. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact.
Reply by Rep. Al Waxman: "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working."
Absolutely, precisely. You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

The problem here is something that looked to be a very solid edifice did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me. I still do not fully understand why it happened.

The emphasis is mine on that last little bit, for a reason: If Alan Greenspan, noted economist, long-time Chair of the US Federal Reserve — that is to say, someone who knows a fucking hell of a lot about economics — doesn't fully understand what the shit happened... well, to quote Col. Mandrake in Dr. Strangelove, "Well, I would say, sir, that there were something dreadfully wrong somewhere."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Um.

So, yeah.

Stuff? Stuff's good, I guess. Work is going well, but busy. I sure as hell don't skate in there at 8:55 and out by 3:20, that's for sure.

Gonna see The Who on Wednesday night down in Hamilton. Yeah, I wish they were coming to Toronto too, but I guess the ACC was too busy holding a Celine Dion concert or a Billy Graham Revival or a séance or some shit like that.

Crazy Cat Lady hissed at me (i.e., bashed on her ceiling with something hard) a couple of weeks ago, but I think she's settled down. Perhaps the local LC is out of her favourite rye.

I think I need to buy some new socks.

Does my flashlight need new batteries? Let me check.

Nope, we're good.

JTL out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election recap.

Whadda ya know, another Conservative minority. A few seats changed hands. Big friggin' deal. A party-by-party run-down follows.

Conservatives
You're gonna get people like my grandparents who, come hell or high water, will vote Conservative until they can no longer mark an X. But I honestly think that the reason they won is because the average Canadian can't hold a thought for much longer than the average American, which really isn't saying much; in short, they heard Harper yelping "Liberals have a Carbon Tax" and all they listened to was "Liberals... tax", and in this day and age, CUT TAXES CUT TAXES CUT TAXES CUT TAXES. Because people are goddamn dumb. I mean, look at how much people will pay for shitty coffee at Starbucks. Come on. Got any brain cells up there?

Liberals
Dion's a nice enough guy, but this guy isn't going to inspire anyone to do anything but stay the fuck home, which a record number of people did for this election. It pains me to ask this, but... where's your pizzazz? Where's your catchy catch-phrases? You need witty comebacks and a certain amount of media-savviness these days, even if you have the greatest policy document in the world. How long until Justin Trudeau can take this thing over, anyway?

Bloc Québecois
The nicest thing I can say about a party whose sole intention is to break up my homeland, I guess, is to thank them for taking enough seats in Quebec so that the Conservatives didn't get a majority. Also, I think I have a bit of a man-crush on Gilles Duceppe. But that don't make me a queer or nothin'. I'll prove I ain't — hell, let's go shoot some wolves from a helicopter.

NDP
Modest gains from the last election, but Peggy Nash lost to Gerard Kennedy in Parkdale—High Park, which was probably the best thing to happen all night for the Liberals. No gigantic surprises, although they did manage to pick up a couple of seats in the north. Wish they'd have taken a few more in BC, though.

Greens
I really wanted to see them pick up a seat. And I kind of admire Elizabeth May for wanting to run in Central Nova, where she lives... but, at this point in the game for the Greens, you gotta pick a riding that isn't a Conservative lock. Granted, she did (32.2%) give Peter MacKay (46.6%) a run for his money in a riding that his dad once handily owned. But if you put May in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, where a no-name Green (Dick Hibma) came in an extremely healthy second (47.6%—27.2%) against a former mayor in the riding (Larry Miller, a Conservative), you'd sew it up like a tailor. Maybe next time.

In conclusion, this election was a giant waste of money. I just hope the Libs don't completely abdicate their responsibility as Opposition like they've done for the past two years, sitting there like a silent bunch of dopes, too nervous to call out the Cons lest they be forced into another costly election.

It don't look good, folks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stop the presses.

Hold the phone. Take a memo. Boil some water. Jesus H. Christ, listen up!

THERE IS A
NEW MITCH HEDBERG ALBUM
IT IS CALLED
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOSH?

GET IT

The finer points of theology.

It doesn't matter whether or not I believe in God, because if God is omniscient, God will know why I don't believe in It.

(For the record, I don't really care if there's one or if there isn't. I'll just be nice to people, and if Something is keeping score 24/7... seriously, isn't there something better You could be spending your time doing? Quit watching me take a leak already! Christ.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

These people get to vote.

But the question is, will they be able to stop fucking their cousins long enough to mark an X?


Have a good election, America.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Colbert explains the Market Meltdown.

Lifted from The Colbert Report, and surprisingly informative.

You see, a terrible credit disease has infected the market. It's like... business syphilis. It started with a few slutty lenders who jumped into bed with some really sub-prime mortgages. The next thing you knew, you had a credit orgy. People were swappin' derivatives, AIG was all up in Fannie Mae, Wachovia took on Golden West, then turned around and got it on with A.G. Edwards, then Citi Group took 'em all on at once. It was a steaming pile of hot, slapping assets. No one knew who was bundling who, but it felt good and everybody was doing it. And in the end, let's just say the market blew its liquidity.

Hot.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Nuit Blanche Recap.

There was a lot of stuff out there, and I probably missed a lot of great things. But, the top three things I saw were probably...

1. I Promise It Will Always Be This Way, Jon Sasaki
He got about a dozen of his buddies to dress up in ridiculous mascot costumes at Lamport Stadium to try and whip up the crowd... (a.) with typical stadium music, (b.) for 12 hours, and (c.) with no actual sporting event on the field. Some of the mascots waved pom-poms, slept on the field (much to the dismay of the crowd chanting "Bum-ble-bee! Bum-ble-bee!"), wrestled each other, chilled out with their heads off, or haphazardly danced to the music by themselves off to the side. It was so absurd and random, yet brilliant... my sides hurt from laughing. (Update!!! Video here.)


2.
SMASH! Droppin' Stuff, The Custodians of Destruction
Get a SkyJack scissor-lift, load it up with TVs and computers and kids' toys and chairs, and throw 'em down from 25 feet up. Think about your trash, people!


3. Stereoscope, Project Blinkenlights
Take both halves of City Hall, put lamps in all the windows, and have an entire building act like a pixelboard video display, for a very cool effect. (Tough to take a picture of, because of the darkness and the motion of the picture.)


In conclusion... art!!!
(photos courtesy of SA, used without permission)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Stephen Harper: Serial Plagiarizer.

You've heard about the time one of Harper's main speechwriters cribbed a pro-Iraq speech from the Australian PM a few years ago. But, did you know he also stole from his fellow right-wing fuck, Mike Harris?

Check this shit out.

Harris, December '02:
Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is never easy. It takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that in taking a new and innovative course, you are making change for the better. ... Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing.

Harper, February '03:
Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is not about reading the polls and having focus group tests. It is never easy because it takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that taking a new and innovative course is going to make change for the better. Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing.

I wouldn't trust Steve Harper farther than I could throw him with one hand.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm watching the Debate.

You know, I thought I'd be watching the Biden-Palin debate tonight. I really did. But, at the moment, I'm watching the Canadian debate on CBC — and I don't feel like flipping back to the Americans.

Palin and Biden are throwing around vagaries, trying to amuse us with charming anecdotes, and making a huge fake-fest out of the whole thing.

The Canadian debate, on the other hand, is:
  • extremely specific
  • chock-full of policy
  • an example of people "gettin' in each other's grills"
  • vicious at times — but not the stupid-vicious stuff you see in the States
Goddamn it... I'm actually really liking this debate we're having up here. To suggest that Canadian politics (and politicians) are somehow boring or pointless or petty means you haven't been paying attention. You would never, ever get a conversation this honest, this specific, this direct in the US, ever.

My impressions of the leaders, in alphabetical order:

Dion. Sure, he mangles the language, but the fellow actually makes some good points. I just wish people would, y'know, get past the fact he mangles the language. Hell, Chrétien barely spoke either of our languages, and he ran the place for a decade. Did this guy really win the Liberal leadership? Whatever they were smoking at the convention, I want a truckload of it.

Duceppe. Nothing to lose in the English debate, for sure, so he takes off the gloves and calls Harper out like the little bitch he is. I'd like the cut of his jib, if only his jib didn't advocate cleaving my homeland in twain.

Harper. The most American of all the debaters. Coincidence? Not at all. The hot air this guy's spewing could melt the polar ice caps. Also, I get the impression that, oddly, he doesn't really care too much for Canadians. Finally, watching Harper talk about the environment is like watching Don Rickles talk about mutual funds; you get the impression he really doesn't know much.

Layton. "Where's your platform? Under your sweater?" Holy shit. Great line. Name-dropped Tommy Douglas, too. Fiery and fiesty, and looks out for the workin'-man. Uses specific examples of manufacturing jobs that have recently vapourized (John Deere, that place in Goderich). I get the impression he actually, y'know, likes Canadians.

May. Name-dropped her friend Bill Clinton. I think this is the first time a lot of us have heard her for more than ten seconds. Oooooh, just name-dropped Sweden and Germany — both are places I've visited, and both are places I like. She knows her stuff, especially in terms of the tango that taxes and pollution can do with each other.

In conclusion, if Steve Harper says "tax cuts" again, I'm going to throw a shoe at the TV.