Sunday, March 28, 2010

I hurt.

Part of our beer-league softball team rented a batting cage at Playdium in Mississauga for an hour yesterday.

Wow, do I hurt today. Mostly the upper half of my back. Switch-hitting means I'm not only hurting on one side, so I guess that's good, I suppose.

Still, though.

Ouch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ann Coulter's Somewhat Excellent Adventure.

Aw, isn't it nice that America's Number One Non-Traitorous Commentator wants to talk to our good little Soviet Canuckistani university students?

The preamble:
  • She speaks at the University of Western Ontario, apparently without incident.
  • Next stop on her speaking tour (sponsored by a group which calls Muslims the world's greatest threat to democracy and freedom): the University of Ottawa.
  • The provost and academic VP of UofO, Fran├žois Houle, sent her a little letter beforehand saying, "You know, you might want to be careful what you say here, because Canada has anti-hate-speech laws. Heads-up."
  • Coulter takes this and runs with it, suggesting Houle wants to "prosecute her with hate speech" (which he can't do, because he's not a cop, duh).
  • Last night, Coulter was scheduled to give her speech, which is entitled "Political Correctness, Media Bias and Freedom of Speech" which I think is both hilarious and ironic, for reasons explained below.*
So.

According to this Washington Times article (n.b. the Times is a very conservative newspaper, and was incidentally founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon back in the '80s), there were about 2000 protestors outside the event — something she's experienced often before — but things got particularly hairy when someone inside the building in which she was to speak pulled a fire alarm.

(Aside: that was a fucking brilliant idea. I'm not normally a fan of abuse of the fire code, but I have to hand it to whoever thought that up.)

In light of all this, the event was cancelled before Coulter could even say a word. Naturally, she had some comments afterwards, concerning the event:
  • The UofO is a "bush league" university
    Strange that she'd agree to go there in the first place, isn't it?
  • At UofO, "their IQ points-to-teeth ratio must be about 1-to-1"
    Presumably this means the students, perhaps including those who'd paid to hear her talk
  • She thinks she'll be able to prosecute a hate-crimes case against UofO because they believe "conservatives are more likely to commit hate crimes in their speeches"
    Funny, I don't see David Frum getting targeted the same way you were
  • Now, provost Houle's name is, "in English, Frank A-Hole"
    UofO is bilingual, as is our country, so if that's a crack against the French you're aiming it in the wrong place
AP has a piece which you can watch here. Standard-issue protestors, natch (hell, if I was in Ottawa, I probably would've been there), but what I noticed most was how empty the place was inside. The AP suggests about 100 people were inside, waiting for her to talk. Really? Is that all you can draw in a metropolitan area of a million, Miss Conservative Celebrity?

In conclusion... don't change a bit, Ann. We love you just the way you are: Dartboard Target Number One.
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* One, I'm no fan of overwhelming political correctness, but its presence does manage to get people to think about how they use language, which can be really, really sexist. Two, all media are biased, but people only tend to notice the media which are biased against their views. Three, we have the freedom of speech, but as the old saying goes, "Your rights end where my rights begin."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On crushes.

I've written about them before here, but my ol' Queen's buddy James has an interesting perspective on them, in amongst a post on his ol' blog over on here.

His key idea:

Crushes are great because they hold so much promise. When you're sitting in their midst you get to revel in the magic and take time to imagine what might be. By forcing a resolution you miss the chance to soak.

If nothing is going to come of a crush I'll find that out eventually, and in the meantime I get to discover what's great about a person, laugh at their jokes, be amazed by their passions, and maybe, JUST maybe, share an amazing kiss that was months in the making.

Sigh.

That's some right-powerful stuff, right there. Kinda makes me want a crush myself... lord knows it's been a while.*
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* I don't necessarily believe in a god, but it's really hard to speak English and be deity-neutral, so I roll with it when need be.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Republicans are fucking dicks.

Evidence.

But, you already knew this.

Welcome to 1960s Canada.

Congratulations, USA — you managed to (sort-of) do something your "hat" did decades before, by making health care coverage (sort-of) universal. (Sort-of.)

Details here. Obama still has to sign the thing after all the t's are dotted and the i's are crossed, or something like that. Who am I, friggin' Doris Kearns Goodwin or something?

The 34 Democrats in the House who voted against this should be rounded-up, forced into a small room, and be forced to listen to John Denver's Greatest Hits over and over again, at a high volume, Noriega-style. (Frankly, I'm surprised that didn't find its way into the infamous "Torture Memos" from Bush & Co.)

People might say Obama's future depends on this bill; to that, I say, "Poppycock." If he's going to get another term, it's going to be because the economy will have recovered by 2012 and everyone's safely in another bubble. (Don't tell them it's just going to burst again; that's bad for the polls.) Health care is nice, but the economy is (somewhat) sexy.

In completely unrelated news, a street sweeper just went by my building. It's nearly one in the morning; that's a good time for them to do their thing. I've seen street sweepers doing their thing during rush hour, which is completely asinine. No wonder this town is going down the crapper; first Giambrone, now this. Time to move back to Hooterville, I say.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm on vacation, bitches.

Greetings from the Sunshine State... and it has been sunny, don't you worry — sunny enough to remind me that I'm sometimes sloppy with the sunscreen and manage to miss various appendages and parts thereof. (Ouch.)

The past three days I've been nerding-out on baseball in Lakeland, hanging out with a couple of people from the Tigers-themed blog/site, Bless You Boys. Good times indeed, highlighted by the following:
  • getting my picture taken with Miguel Cabrera* and Brandon Inge
  • seeing the Tigers win three straight games
  • drinking at a dive biker/redneck bar, the awkwardly-named "Cocktail 33 19th Tee" on the outskirts of Lakeland, on two consecutive days
  • talking about baseball practically 24/7 with other baseball nerds
* Holy crap, this guy is as big as a house when you get up to him. And the ball really does sound different coming off his bat; you don't hear just a crack or a pop, but there's a thump to it as well.

My two BYB buddies had to leave today, though, which means I'm flying solo for the next two days in the Kissimmee area. If you're not familiar with central Florida, that's the part that's closest to the Disney empire... and it's, ahem, "blessed" with more than its fair share of tacky, touristy crap. I don't think there's any way humanly possible to cram any more t-shirt stores onto any given mile of US 192 than there are here.

But, I'm not here for the crappy t-shirts, or anything Disney, or the hot- and cold-running college babes** down here on US Spring Break. I'm here for the baseball. And, to quote a wise man from a time long, long ago: "Base-e-ball aaas been berry berry GOOOOOD... to me."

** Number one, there haven't been hardly any that I've seen. Number two, can I really pick up a 19 year old girl anymore? Number three, would I even want to? They're like little kids to me now. Sexy little kids.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Florida bound.

Y'know, like the Gordon Lightfoot song, but with a state containing real live Major League (exhibition) Baseball instead of a province containing real live Conservatives.

I think I'll take the ol' laptop with me — I get free internet at all the places I'm staying, so why not? — so you might hear from me in the next few days. If not, rest assured that I will be (a.) drinking a lot, (b.) nerding-out on baseball, and (c.) wearing a lot of sunscreen.

Later, you bastards!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Kids, man, kids.

First off... I'm listening to WOXY and Wolf Parade's "Fine Young Cannibals" is playing, and it's a fine young song, it is, but in no way (as far as I can tell) does it reference the late-'80s pop band of the same name. I don't remember Wolf Parade being this guitar-y... but, boy-howdy, do I enjoy this song.

Whoops, now the song is the very-excellent "Last Days" by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Nice guitar tone — a bit aggressive, but still rather jangly. I dig it.

Anyway, on with our (ir)regularly-scheduled rant.

Once in a while, we have to fill in for a half-period in someone else's class if that teacher is gone for part of a day; this is called an "on-call" coverage. I was in for a math teacher a couple of weeks ago and dealt with a grade 9 class who were, shall we say, not entirely enthralled with the subject (which is certainly true for a goodly number of 14- and 15-year-olds).

But, we seemed to muddle our way through the topic which was left by the teacher alright — fractions and percentages and decimals, if memory serves — and when it was time for me to leave, I even got the, "Hey, c'mon, stay for the rest of the class!", which is always nice.

Fast-forward to a couple of days ago... same class, similar on-call (or so I thought). There was a girl in the class both times, who was one of the first to arrive in the classroom, and who was, well, pretty loud. I can handle loud kids, if they're nice, for half-period stretches, so this was no big deal.

"If they're nice" is the key phrase in the above paragraph, if you couldn't already tell. The girl in question (whose name escapes me, but let's call her Laura) was eager and fun the first time I had to deal with her, and I genuinely enjoyed having her in the room to liven things up a bit, even if she tended to dominate the place (which I imagine was her goal).

The second time, this past week... well, suffice it to say we weren't quite as lucky. The class started off by writing a quiz, and then afterward I tried to lead them through the lesson, which involved finding the volume of a pyramid, and yes, it's as boring as it sounds, which is why I'm glad I teach science and physics, because we usually do something interesting.

As I was going through the ins and outs of pyramids and such, I heard what sounded like music coming through headphones. We have a pretty solid rule about not allowing these things in class (and even more solid when the teacher's talking), but I couldn't tell where it was coming from, and it was driving me crazy. Eventually I asked Laura if it was her.

Laura: "Huh?"

Me: "Do you know where that music is coming from?"

Laura: [takes one earphones out of her ear] "Yeah, it's me."

Me: "Could you please put that away? I'm trying to do a lesson here."

Laura: "Well then, go ahead, teach your lesson." [waves her hand dismissively at me, then puts earphone back in and goes on doing what she was doing before]

Now, I'm not normally a hardass. I pick my battles, I roll with the punches, I care about the things that matter and don't care about things that don't. I joke with the kids, including openly musing about who in the class and/or which principal or vice-principal I could beat up, and who could beat me up, in a no-rules back-alley street brawl. But, as you might be able to tell (again), this really, really got to me.

Verbal fireworks ensued, as they sometimes do with a combatant who has a chip on her shoulder the size of metropolitan Cleveland. I could actually feel my blood pressure rising, which I haven't experienced in a good long while in a classroom. Finally, after some jabs were exchanged, a guy in the front row (who I gathered had some experience dealing with Laura) got my attention and said, "Sir, trust me... it's not worth it with this one."

(Aside: girls are a hundred times harder to deal with than boys, in situations like this. When you get some girl lipping-off, it's practically by-definition that they know how throw verbal haymakers that perfectly lodge under your skin. Guys who feel like they want to take a teacher on are usually too stupid to realize that they'll always lose to anyone who has a decent amount of comeback-skill; I don't think I've conceded defeat to a male student yet, and it's been eight years.)

At the end, what could I do but laugh it off? I wasn't going to stand there and argue with her, because her sense of logic and mine clearly don't intersect anywhere. It's like trying to talk to an evangelical, biblical-literalist Christian: you can make well-reasoned arguments until you're blue in the face, and in the end nobody gets converted either way.

The kid in the front row was right. It's not worth it.

And thus ends another stupid chapter in my ridiculous career in which I have a graduate degree but have to stand for the national anthem for approximately 65 seconds every morning.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Presidential Advice.

I'm not sure if you've seen this or not, but it's worth a look: recent ex-presidents who have screwed-up the US financial regulations visit Barack Obama in a dream.


Hooray! Clinton's still a cad, Ford's still a klutz, the Gipper's sportin' a pair, and Dana Carvey's still got it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's a good debate.

This site gives some excellent points to think about... endless beginnings to rich debates which could consume you and your friends for a good long time:


Click and enjoy, and don't blame me if you spend hours on that website. I know I did.