Sunday, April 30, 2006
so it looks like I've got a new full-time job
here in charlottetown
so I won't have to move for a while
"The" Kayla Richardson says:
hah, I wish, can't compete with the people who give it up for free in this town
The documentary Why We Fight is playing at City Cinema for the next couple of days. It's definitely worth checking out. It's got a lot more in common with CBC-style documentaries than with the Michael Moore / Robert Greenwald style. Interviews are done respectfully with all of the subjects, there's no effort made to include footage to make someone look stupid, what they have to say stands or falls on its own in the context of the facts presented in the film. This is more subtle, and makes you have to use your brain to sort through the information presented, since there's no clear 'these guys are right and these guys are wrong' cues in the production.
This produces a film that is actually more convincing precisely because it's presented as a piece of reporting more than a sensationalist piece of the worst actions and incidental faults of world leaders.
So William Kristol's and Richard Perle's opinions are presented, along with Gore Fidal's and Chalmers Johnson's, and weighed against the documented U.S. foreign policy actions of the last 60 yerars you are left to put it all into perspective, and sort out false statements from true ones.
The personal stories they presented in teh film were also more illustrative of the range of thought of ordinary people, from the retired police officer who wanted nothing more than revenge for his son's death on September 11, 2001 and who was genuinely aghast that the President would lie to tie Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 perpetrators in order to justify invading Iraq to the 20-something man who had no other options in his life so he joined the military just to feel like he had a purpose to the Vietnamese refugee who became a nuclear scientist. They all have their reasons for supporting or not supporting the actions of the US government and military, and aren't made out to be good or bad. Everyone is simply a participant in the self-propelling system.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Well I made the switch from Primus over to Yak today for long distance. No reason other than Primus's rates got higher and Yak's got lower to 'Nam. Anyone know of better providers? I'll continue to play stingy til the Mrs. gets here.
Friday, April 28, 2006
That's how I describe what goes down at a typical political protest in Charlottetown. Leo Broderick gets out his speed dial and calls up whoever wants to come, and each person comes up and gives their five minute speech about their pet cause to an assemblage smaller than the lunch line at Dairy Queen, someone shouts "Shame! Shame!", a couple of false starts at a protest chant, then everyone disperses becaue it's getting a little chilly.
That's how the little gettogether went down in front of the Stephen Harper dinner at the Delta this evening which I came across while walking the dog. I stayed and chatted with a few people and it wasn't unpleasant. But it's not effective, doesn't change anyone's minds, doesn't attract like-minded but non-activist support, and no one involved has aany notion of adjusting their message or tactics to remedy this.
On another note, though this was a protest against Stephen Harper, all of the issues people brought up, i.e., poverty, troops in Afghanistan, the lack of a proper early childhood care program, are all thanks to the Liberals.
They're at it again. Using legislation as a shield. It's quite genius really. If you've ever had to read through any legal documents or filled out government forms, you'll quickly realize it's not written in English. Oh sure, it has the appearance of English, but it's a dialect unto itself.
I despise it. You take simple concepts and apply some wacky Chomskian transformative grammar, maybe throw in some Esperanto and gazpacho soup for kicks, and out comes legalese. An alphanumeric web of confusion designed to ensnare rational thought.
Grammar be damned. I'mma type it like I's thinks it. Screw the semicolon. Embrace the comma. Welcome the period.
Some policies and acts don't have any set deadlines for an action to occur. If they do, there's generally no real consequence for forgetfulness. Sure, there are general timeframes that are posted but it's a process where indifference can easily take over.
2 weeks ago, I filed a request under the Access to Information Act for information that belongs to me. See how messed up that is?
Hee. My avatar reflects my mood.
Their first meeting didn’t go so well. As she saw it She was knighted to her king and he was a heathen that believed in false gods. As he saw it, he was the top warrior to his clan and she was a horrible fait sent by the demon gods, to torturer and destroys his world.
On a battle field scatter with blood, she hauled a dripping sword from the corps of some small man’s body as he drove his spear deep into the back of an armored knight. Both their opponents died, seconds before their eyes meet. In an unusual pulled they gather their weapons and headed directly for eachother. Stepping through piles of human body parts, weapons posed to strike. The short distance that separated them was closed with vicious intent. As the reached each other they began the battle. Her sword was difflected by his pear and she brushed the point of his spear off with a shield. The battle going on around them continued to wage with great horrors against man kind being committed, the death blow to one of her comerrads would be the most significant moment in either of their lives. Her commerads body fell striking both of them near the knees, cause both of them to stumble in mid swing she reached out with her shield hand and he did with his free hand. IN that second as she grabbed his arm and he caught her hair on the side of her head, it happened. Her sword found it’s mark, his spear found her abdomen and they both felt it in their dying breath. They fell to the ground in a momentary struggle to reach the other and say what they knew to be true. The death that followed was quick and would separate them.
The second time they met, life was no easier than it was the first time. Their whole lives had been spent in war. She was the daughter to a great commander, he was the captain to the enemy’s troups. He found her during an evation. Plucked away from the comforts of her fathers home and tossed in cells with other prisoners, like common slaves. She had been a prisoner for over a month when he was investigation the cages they had been put in. He quickly discarded the bodies of the dead and killed the sick with no second thought. She was huddled in a corner he hopes he would not look at her. He did.
He reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. Both were horrified at what they felt. They knew exactly what the other was going through. He stopped frozen as she gazed up with horror in her eyes.
“Take this one to my tent! And don’t let her escape” His words were spoken to a near by soldier. Who simply did exactly what he thought he should.
If you shave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - you get my uncle. It's quite spooky really.
While we're on the topic of video games, I came across a site full of Sega Dreamcast games the other day while digging up some fonts for Moe, and finally got around to burning one onto CD to try it. Street Fighter Alpha 3 was the one I picked, just because I don't have a good 2D beat'em up for DC. The process worked brilliantly, thankfully since my CD burning program was complaining of errors in the CD image. I guess that's normal.
Anyway, it wasn't until I started the game up and found myself doing oddly rather well considering all the weird systems the game uses that I remember I actually used to own the exact same game for Playstation way back when. (The laser on my Playstation broke in the Summer of 2000 right around the time I was getting sick of the thing anyway, and right before I got my beloved DC.
So playing SFA3 on Dreamcast tells me a couple of things. First, the DC's D-Pad is Terrible for 2d fighters. My thumb hurts like a bastard. Maybe I'll ebay myself up an arcade controller or some such. Also, that game is hard. All the combos and charging and counters and super secret moves are just too much information. I'm sure there are only a handful of squirrelly Japanese kids who can play these things the way they were meant to be. I'm goiing to stick to my dragon punch, thanks
I remember stuff like this game's complexity was enough to make me realize I wasn't a 'gamer', whatever that means, since the time investment vs. reward equation didn't balance out for me, and now to think of what you have to do and how much you have to repeat it to get good at something like World of Warcraft just seems bizarre to me.
All that said, SFA3 is still pretty fun even if I do have no hope of mastering it.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
What's in a name? I thought Dreamcast was horrible but it eventually grew on me. Xbox Three Sixty, had the same effect. And now wii get the Nintendo Wii. Maybe they hired Intel's marketing droids.
I fully expect Sony to counter with the PSOMGWTFBBQ. Actually I don't care what they call these things or what goes in em. It's the quality of the shiny discs that count. :)
Is it a lightswitch? Is it ethical to only quote policy when you don't want to do your job? Is it ethical that celebrities (with or without criminal records) and foreign NHL players can get special treatment?
I've got all the sympathy in the world for refugees (I was one). They should be allowed to jump the red tape line. But let's not delude ourselves into thinking it's all a fair 1st come 1st served system.
v) Queue jumping
Some interveners were concerned about the impact that moving applications up the immigration queue would have on applications already in the system (from both within and outside the affected areas). It was noted that the special treatment that refugees from Kosovo received caused some resentment from those who had already been going through the process. The Government should look at ways of not making this a two-tier process.
This is the reply a co-worker got:
On behalf of the Prime Minister, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail.
While the Prime Minister understands the circumstances that caused you to write, there are certain restrictions on the involvement of Cabinet members - including the Prime Minister - in cases like that which you have described. These limitations exist to assure all applicants that the immigration and refugee determination process is independent and free of political interference. Accordingly, the Prime Minister will not be able to make any representations on your behalf to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in this matter.
I have forwarded your e-mail to the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, for his information and consideration.
While I know you will be disappointed by this response, I hope you can understand the reasons for this policy.
Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister.
Expected and beautifully canned. Ah well, it's all good. More ammo for lawsuit.
Ming, this was the quote I was referring to yesterday:
"You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society." - Stephen Harper, The Report Newsmagazine, January 22, 2001
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
C'est une belle journée au jour d'hui, mais je suis encore à la maison. Je pense qu'il faut que je trouve un job plûtot..
Mais maintenant je pense qu je me retournais au plate-forme arrière et liser ma nouvelle livre. Le portion positive de n'ayant pas un job c'est que je ne dois pas compresser tout mes activité loisirs dan les deux ou trois heures au fin du jour, et que je peux apprécier le soleil.
Maintenant je lisait The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight par Thom Hartmann, c'est une fantastique explication des problèmes environmentaux qu'on devrait confronter pendant les prochaines décenies. Mais ce n'est pas seulement negatif, l'auteur offre des solutions et l'optimisme pour la futur si nous agissons bientôt. Je pense qu, avec le travail de David Suzuki, cette livre peut former le base pour un nouvelle movemente environmentale avec une emphase aux aspects climataires et global, avec une relation positive avec l'économie.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Canada's Privacy Act. Can someone explain to me how this act is supposed to protect me? See. During an immigration interview, you're not allowed to tape the proceedings so it's effectively their word against yours. And their word is a sole individual with the power to make your life pleasantly blissful or a meandering hell.
Said person can inquire anything of you in order to come to a decision as to whether or not you're filing under false pretenses. They can ask what size bra she wears, right down to how many times a week you fuck. It's all fair game. Privacy takes a back seat to ensure this nation's security. It's the post 9/11 way!™
Heck. I'd take my wife right then and there on your desk just to prove a point.
So you comply. You play by the rules because you believe ultimately going the official route equates with the fastest processing. Then when you call them up, they indignantly inquire as to how you got their fucking number. Somehow not fully realising they are public servants and that info is public domain.
Then you're put on hold. When they realize you're still there - they quote the Privacy Act. They can't verify my identity so they're unwilling to give out any info. "Please consult our website. Our fax number and e-mail address are..."
Oh. My. We must stem the tide of thousands upon thousands of Canadians calling up to find out the immigration status of complete strangers. Truly this is Canadian policy in action. Thank you good sir for hiding behind legislation. You've clearly demonstrated that you're looking out for my well being.
I also love your automated telephone system that hangs up after making a choice of French or English. Give them the illusion of service. Clever.
I was walking downtown today getting some lunch and wandered into the Absolutely Fabulous store, since the door was open and there was a familiar face behind the counter. This is instantly one of the coolest little shops around, with lots of cute little novelties and whatsits, some stylish ladies' clothes (apparently they only order in very limited numbers of each item so you can be assured of not appearing to be copying someone else. hee.) and little fraggle plush toys that seem to grab everyone's attention as you walk in the door from Victoria Row.
Apparently they're putting out a call to local artists and / or crafts people who want to try and sell their stuff on consignment. Here's a copy of the announcement:
Duke of Claire wrote:Technorati Tags: Charlottetown, PEI, Retail
The good people at Absolutely Fabulous would like to find more local artists to feature at their boutique and their online webstore. They're looking for photography, paintings, jewelry, clothing, music, etc to sell on consignment.
For info, talk to Heather at 367-3398 or abfabsales - at - eastlink - dot - ca
.. If I was the infamous 'Concerned Islander' I'd walk up to Kevin O'Brien's door, shake his hand, introduce myself and take his $1000 myself. Kevin think's the 'scorn of Islanders is 'punishment enough', I'd be curious to see how the chips land public opinion-wise myself, but I don't think it would be quite so one-sided.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Since I've been doing a lot of political bomb throwing lately I figured I'd write about my day. I've been applying for jobs today, sort of a depressing act when you have to send out a bunch of applications and you don't hear back from any that you'd sent out previously. It's coming on time to be less picky. Took the new kitty cat to get her shots today. Now the tradition of my family not being able to come up with names for cats is official. The vet's secretary just wrote in 'Kitty 2' when she looked up our account. Guess it's final, now. Can't contradict what the vet says. Didn't need a crate or anything just had to hold her on my shoulder, with a leash just in case she got away, but she never tried. Poor thing was pretty lethargic for the rest of the afternoon. She was lying on the couch with minimal motion in just the same way as my old cat did when she was in her 20s and was getting to her last days. Sort of sad, but this cat's got a decade or two in her yet. Just got back from walking the dog. It's sort of drizzly out, so her normal hyper enthusiasm when I say 'come for a walk' drained visibly when we got out the door and the first little droplets hit her nose. Ironically, though, she's a lot easier to walk when she's not hyper. Normall it takes a minute or so to establish that yes, I am the boss, I decide where we go, and I'm the one who walks in front. She knows all this, but always wants to test if I forget. Today she just walked along beside me without really making her presence felt at all. I could have walked by myself and it wouldn't have been any different. Personally I love it when there's just a little bit of light rain like that, it makes the air smell nice, and the cloudy sky seems very peaceful.
Since I've been doing a lot of political bomb throwing lately I figured I'd write about my day. I've been applying for jobs today, sort of a depressing act when you have to send out a bunch of applications and you don't hear back from any that you'd sent out previously. It's coming on time to be less picky.
Took the new kitty cat to get her shots today. Now the tradition of my family not being able to come up with names for cats is official. The vet's secretary just wrote in 'Kitty 2' when she looked up our account. Guess it's final, now. Can't contradict what the vet says. Didn't need a crate or anything just had to hold her on my shoulder, with a leash just in case she got away, but she never tried. Poor thing was pretty lethargic for the rest of the afternoon. She was lying on the couch with minimal motion in just the same way as my old cat did when she was in her 20s and was getting to her last days. Sort of sad, but this cat's got a decade or two in her yet.
Just got back from walking the dog. It's sort of drizzly out, so her normal hyper enthusiasm when I say 'come for a walk' drained visibly when we got out the door and the first little droplets hit her nose. Ironically, though, she's a lot easier to walk when she's not hyper. Normall it takes a minute or so to establish that yes, I am the boss, I decide where we go, and I'm the one who walks in front. She knows all this, but always wants to test if I forget. Today she just walked along beside me without really making her presence felt at all. I could have walked by myself and it wouldn't have been any different.
Personally I love it when there's just a little bit of light rain like that, it makes the air smell nice, and the cloudy sky seems very peaceful.
Just this weekend the Canadian Auto Workers union passed a resolution ending all official support for the NDP at all levels of government. There's a post discussing this at Stageleft: Link. Curiously, the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW), over 200,000 members strong, voted this weekend to drop all official support for the NDP at all levels. It appears as though the feud between the unionÂs boss, Buzz Hargrove, and NDP leadership has escalated. The last election featured several incidents of what many might describe as treachery on the part of Hargrove against the NDP campaign efforts. This leaves the CAW out of what is the largest labour coalition on the Canadian political landscape. The other large unions like CUPE will be there and will be driving NDP policy. The CAW will not have a seat at the table. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months if there is an election again anytime soon. Does the CAW honestly believe that the Liberal Party will give it the same kind of voice in policy as it had in the NDP? Are the NDP looking to align with the Green Party? There are plenty of questions that remain. Any thoughts? I find this move most perplexing.
And now both sides of this breakup are acting like they're finally free of the old ball and chain, and now they're ready to really shine. I suspect both sides are being a tadover-optimisticc. But still, the divorce was coming, since the NDP and the interests of Buzz Hargrove haven't been in line for a while. The CAW is following the path of American big labour, trying to guard the jobs they have now with no spirit of outreach or expansion or real spirit of labour rights. If my dream of the NDP renewing the spirit of labour were to come true, it probably wouldn't be helped by the CAW in its current form.
So what is the NDP left with? There are a few shining lights, a caucus full of guys as down-to-earth and straight-shooting as Yvon Godin would be a dream come true, but I said the same thing about Lloyd Axworthy being the kind of Liberal I wished all Liberals could emulate.
Over the last two elections the NDP has transformed from a partywhoses base was in the rural prairie provinces to an almost completely urban party, fighting with the Liberals for downtown Toronto and Vancouver seats. Now, Canada is about the most urbanized country in the OECD, but our House of Commons is still weighted to favour rural votes over big city ones. (my vote as an Islander is worth about 4 Torontonians' votes.)
And urban voters are somewhat more insulated from government than rural voters are. The municipal government affects them more directly in their daily lives, so they aren't asconcernedd with the actions of thefederall government when it comes to farm or fisheries or natural resources policies. It's harder to get an urban voter fired up about federal issues when they aren't affected by them nearly to the extent that a rural Westerner or Northerner or Maritimer is.
This reduces the contact points between the federal NDP and their new voters, who might be well-intentioned and as progressively-minded as they come, but try getting them to man a phone bank and you're going to get a lot of blank stares.
The Democratic party in the U.S. is finally starting to wake up to the potential of on-line communities to aid in real political organizing, as a way of getting the attention of younger, more sophisticated citizens who had no previous experience in the world of organized politics. Canadian small-l liberals should realize that the old, corrupt core of the Liberal party won't come back and save Canada after some time in the penalty box and realize that they have to rebuild an entire political movement based on ideas and social justice instead of on acquiring and keeping political power.
This political death and rebirth happened on the right with the rise of the Reform party, and if the liberal side of the political world doesn't go through a similar examination of what it means to be a liberal or progressive then they will continue to be seen asirrelevantt to the lives of people who have better things to do than politics.
Update: Bonus snark from nottawa:
NDP to CAW: "We only wanted you for your money"The NDP lost 260,000 members today.Technorati Tags: NDP, Canadian+Politics, Labour
And their reaction:
"NDP spokesman Ian Capstick voiced disappointment but said the impact will be much less than it would have been five years ago, because of legislation severely limiting political contributions by unions or corporations."If "much less impact" means watching the silver spoon socialists in the neighbourhood down from mine chip their precious nails driving in their own lawn signs next time around then this could be entertainment for us all.
Curiously, the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW), over 200,000 members strong, voted this weekend to drop all official support for the NDP at all levels. It appears as though the feud between the unionÂs boss, Buzz Hargrove, and NDP leadership has escalated. The last election featured several incidents of what many might describe as treachery on the part of Hargrove against the NDP campaign efforts. This leaves the CAW out of what is the largest labour coalition on the Canadian political landscape. The other large unions like CUPE will be there and will be driving NDP policy. The CAW will not have a seat at the table. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months if there is an election again anytime soon. Does the CAW honestly believe that the Liberal Party will give it the same kind of voice in policy as it had in the NDP? Are the NDP looking to align with the Green Party? There are plenty of questions that remain. Any thoughts? I find this move most perplexing.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
So let's say you're a PEI business or politico type, and you've been getting away with some allegedly shady dealings for quite some time, so much so that Islanders start to think of such connection-mongering as just part of the charm of this little sandbar.
Now, let's say someone started calling you on your practices in an anonymous weblog. What do you do? Well, if you're smart, you would maybe pay attention, see if there are any factual accusations being brought up, and if so, know that the jig is up and that you should try and do a better job at your business / political post.
Of course, if you got an 'F' in 'how to avoid blowback, you idiot', you offer a reward for his identity, and cause a huge stink in the media about it, and suddenly a page that was getting 700 or so hits a day is now posted on MetaFilter, one of the world's biggest group weblogs, and now tens of thousands of people get to read about your business deals and backscratching. (alleged. hee.) And of course the MeFi post was diligent enough to include the Google Caches of PEI Liberal and the blog about the Guardian. (now if the Guardian thinks it has a case that people would confuse that little blog for their own paper then I'm going to sue them for causing me to confuse them for a worthwhile British paper.)
This guy was lamenting that bloggers weren't coming out in support of Mr. ANonymous, And goes on to do the usual bitching about why PEI is a backwater that will eventually sink in to the ocean, which is a phase I go through sometimes before I realize that other people's bad behaviour that doesn't affect me shouldn't prevent me from enjoying my life. All I can say is that, though the writing was next to incoherent, and I had trouble connecting the dots to any kind of coherent narrative at all, and that it read like a Tory getting his digs in whikle the other guy is on the mat, the posts about the Liberal Party and the Guardian were full of publicly verifiable facts and figures, and that the truth is the best weapon against a libel suit, so if the local powers-that-were do manage to convince Google to give up this guy's identity (they should let the US Department of Justice know how to get to Google if they manage this.) then the legal fight wouldn't be in their best interests anyway. But I don't know enough about the events to personally say anything about them, so I will stick to commenting about the embarrassment this has become for those involved.
I've never eaten trung vit lon (pronounced chiin yit lownge). It reeks and doesn't agree with my whitey upbringing. :) My wife eats it behind my back. On account of me making gagging noises that one time. Hee.
Then there's dog. Ummmm ummmmm UMMMMM! Kidding. I never ate any. My in-laws and some of my relatives don't either. Just like here, not everyone has the same view. Most folk don't eat the ones they keep as pets. If you're dirt poor though, protein is protein. The funny thing is I overheard the Catholics, in order to entice the locals, serve dog meat every Sunday. Snakes, cats, rats, you name it. If it's edible - it's at the market.
I don't 'get' the asian fascination with numerology. It makes us seem less creative. The calendar is all referred to by numbers. Days of the week can also be locations. I drove past Thursday on my way to Tuesday. Shops are numbered. You wouldn't go to McDonald's. You'd go to Eatery #4, after you've bought some pants at Tailor #6. The number 9 is everywhere as it's a good luck number.
Lotto tickets are sold everywhere you go. By that, I don't mean kiosks. I mean there are folks who'll ask you to buy them. The divide between the haves and have nots is pretty big. You'll see the Hilton right next to slums. Guns aren't a problem though. The commies don't let ordinary citizens have em. Easy to quell rebellions that way. But on a much more positive note, gun deaths are rare. Knife deaths however... :)
I noticed that my sidebar links weren't displaying today, so I finally ditched RSS Digest (which was being deprecated in favour of some sort of pay service.) and switched the links over to FeedBurner. It seems to be faster, updates more frequently, and looks at least as good as RSS Digest's output did. (RSS Digest was more flexible formatting-wise but I ended up just making it spit out an HTML unordered list, which FeedBurner does anyway.)
Setting up a 'links of the day' sidebar is pretty easy, and it's a great way to publish links to interesting sites without having to make a new post, and choke your aggregator, for each one. Just go to del.icio.us and create an account if you don't already have one. It will show you how to put little bookmarklet buttons on your browser so you can easily 'bookmark' sites you find interesting. (del.icio.us calls itself a 'social bookmarking' site. Basically it's to feed the egos of people who think even their browser bookmarks are worthy of public exhibition.)
Once you've got yourself a del.icio.us account and have bookmarked a couple of pages with it, you can right-click on the RSS icon at the bottom of your del.icio.us user page, and choose 'copy link location', then go to feedburner.com and paste the RSS feed URL you just copied into the big text box in the centre of the page.
Follow the basic set-up steps, you don't need to do anything special to the feed, so just set it up with the defaults. Once you're finished you'll be at the main feedburner configuration page. Click on 'Publicize', then click on 'Buzzboost'. This will create a piece of HTML that you can embed into your blog's sidebar that will show the titles and descriptions of the links you added to your del.icio.us page. For mine I unchecked the options to include post date and feed title, and made sure the word length of the content excerpt was 'full text'.
Once you click 'activate' it will give you a text box with some HTML code in it. Just paste that somewhere into your blog's sidebar and you'll have something similar to my links section on the right.
But I wasn't there to mingle, the sound was good, though you always get the feeling that it could be fine-tuned a bit better. I only got picturesw of OFU because the crowd got pretty thick once Slowcoaster started and it wasn't worth it to try and get up front.
Musically Out From Under seemed to be a little more 'on' than Slowcoaster were. They have their identifiable sound which they keep coming back to, where Slowcoaster would meander a little too much and sometimes seemed to paint themselves into a corner with their musical wanderings.
Out From Under @ MySpace
Slowcoaster @ House of Rock
Saturday, April 22, 2006
So there's a big hubbub going on in the United States about whether phone companies have the right to charge companies like Amazon and Google extra to ensure that traffic to their websites gets through and that they get the bandwidth they need for adequate performance. Link.
This is a monumentally stupid idea, of course, but it's also a wonderful example of how you can tell when an industry becomes harmful, when it would rather fight to keep control of its old business models to the detriment of consumers, like the music industry has been trying to do. Phone companies in the US are also pushing for laws in state legislatures to outlaw municipal wireless projects, including the emergency network that was set up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and is proving to be a wonderful addition to the quality of life in the city. BellSouth even withdrew a donation after the city announced its free WiFi plan: Link.
Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.So where does all this leave Canadian consumers? The CRTC is, fortunately, generally responsible to Canadian citizens (I nearly typed 'consumer' there but figured I deserved more respect than that.) Will our access to American websites be subject to a toll to the US backbone providers? NAFTA has some pretty nasty provisions against interfering with US companies' ability to be as useless and dangerous as they wanna be.
According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.
City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city. Around the country, large telephone companies have aggressively lobbied against localities launching their own Internet networks, arguing that they amount to taxpayer-funded competition. Some states have laws prohibiting them.
I'm envisioning a massive fibre pipeline going from the Silicon Valley up to British Columbia where all this contraband internet traffic can reach the free world. Given the amount of spying the US is doing using AT&T and other phone networks there's another appealing aspect to this idea.
Phone companies have a particular kind of memory disorder that allows them to forget that all this infrastructure they so kindly built up was done under the protection of legal monopolies. Now if they want to compete in an ostensibly free market, it's only sensible for them to be divested of the infrastructure that government mandated them to create. Not that the concept of 'public good' carries much weight in the US anymore as Roosevelt's memory slips further and further away and Americans start to believe that their standard of living was a bounty from God.
Update: Here's a video that explains the issue very well: Link.
Technorati Tags: Net+Neutrality, Telcos, Regulation
Friday, April 21, 2006
My prescence on the net has been pretty much nil as of the past few years. Ming knows I've been suffering from depression. I had hoped not to resort to this, but life isn't always fair. Friends, I need your help again. It seems petitions are readily dismissed, so this is the last step before litigation.
I would be most grateful if you could all spread the word to as many people as possible. I've gone to the CBC and they will be airing my story shortly. I'll let you know when. But, right now every little bit helps. A concerted effort just might get Immigration's attention.
Please email the following. You will recieve a confirmation of receipt from the visa office's auto-reply and possibly the PM's office.
TO: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca, Singaporeemail@example.com
SUBJECT: File B047711090
Dear Prime Minister,
I support Duong Thi Bich Trang's admission to Canada. She has been waiting almost 2 years to be reunited with her husband Tuan Vantu. Please bring this matter to a speedy resolution. Details are available at the following website: http://tvantu.blogspot.com
I thank you for your time.
I hadn't heard much about the movie The Rocket that's opening today at the Empire Theatres in the mall. It's a story of, primarily, the 1955 Montreal riot over Maurice Richard's suspension just before the playoffs that was later seen as an early sign of the quiet revolution. I'm always glad to see Canadian, let alone Québecois, films get runs at the mall theatres, and this one actually looks like a pretty accurate historical film, as opposed to a glossy hooray-for-Canada PR job that it could have been if it had gone after much more federal arts funding.
One thing I noticed form the ads, though, is that the team logos all seemed to be blurred out. I'm told this isn't the case in the film itself, and I hope it isn't. This really just makes the NHL look bad by making it seem like theyare actively standing in the way of hockey taking its natural place in our cultural fabric in ways it might not fully be able to cash in on or control. Then again it's pretty standard fare for baseball movie posters to have strategic shots of the players backs so no team logos are shown, either.
Here's a photo from a promotional site:
Here's an article in MacLeans talking about the film and its historical context: Link.
The ads I saw for it were pretty thin for content, probably so as not to scare the TSN crowd away with the thought that they might have to hear some French. I hope this movie does well regardless, just to show that Canadian-produced films can be important, entertaining and successful, even if we have to start with movies about hockey. (though that's as good aplace to start as any.)
I'll writ emore once I've seen the film.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The promoter of this has decided to make it free since the headliner, Erin Tobey, couldn't make it. Here's the post, from PEI Locals:
Can't beat free, and having shows at the Reading Well is a wicked way to get people into the store, which is one of the most under-the-radar local businesses around. If your idea of PEI music is Lennie Gallant and the Chucky Danger Band then you'll be in for quite a little eye-opening show if you do drop by.
mattdistro April 20, 2006, 12:02 AM
Thursday, April 20th
The Reading Well Bookstore
87A Water St. Charlottetown
5PM-7PM - All Ages - Free
[ one man band. guitar + lots of pedals&loops. sounds like gy!be on drgz ]
Hacksaw Jim Thuggin
[ dangerous electro-noise ]
The Barn Kats
[ cute all girl folky-pop ]
Jeremy Richard Experiment
[ indie-folk duo ]
get drunk and shoot things
Literature from This Distro Will Self Destruct
[ no music. only books and zines from the distro will be for sale (cus it's like totally at a bookstore!) ]
- unfortunately due to the size of the reading well only 30 ppl will be getting in. so come early and hangout. matt dixon (that's me) will be spinning records before and show and between sets.
- the reading well is really small but pretty easy to find. directions are as follows: follow queen st. toward the water. turn left onto water st just before the delta hotel. the reading well is on the left on the first block. #87a. it's small. look for it.
Columns, a.k.a. Joel Court, a.k.a. Matt Good's papperazzi decoy, is one of the best innovative guitarists around. The stuff he can do all on his own is pretty mind-boggling. He mentioned on his MySpace blog that he has some demos that aren't up yet, hopefully those will show up soon as well. I don't know much about the rest other than that Hacksaw Jim Thuggin' has the wicked name of any PEI band I can think of. They should go on tour with the Dean Malenkos.
Technorati Tags: PEI, Music, Concerts
Per request, here are some pictures of the resin project in progress. First pic is the workarea, makeshift painting/spray booth and the parts. Of course, the pieces are moved except the ones I'm currently working on. Just to make it clean:
The airbrush and compressor:
Off to the side are all my other tools, paints, etc:
The pieces in progress. . . I was going to post a better picture of the legs and other white pieces to better illustrate how poorly white paint sticks, but they didn't turn out. If you note the green spots, that's the filler/putty. On the body, you can see some of the sanding I've done after the grey primer coat. The body was well masked when I was doing the blue paint, but I removed that yesterday. You can see some of the blue still ends up where you don't want it, but that's a lot better than my last masking job.
That's all for now.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The nasty weather today must have kept people in their chairs longer because there's been a bunch of good posts on my usual rounds this morning. I was going to get to this earlier but here they are: Been reading Kathy Sierra's post on how negative people can be bad for your brain. It's worth a few minutes to read if you can. Got me to thinking who I spend time with and how I've possibly mirrored other's emotions. I think of myself as a pretty happy person overall. Not to say I haven't been unhappy at times or pissed off, or agitated, stressed-out and what not. It's also not to say that I haven't been sad, dark, worried, critical and perhaps a tad over-sensitive…BUT…I think it would be safe for me to say my natural disposition is a happy one. Over the years there have been certain people I've had to purposely stay away from after learning that my mood(s) or actions have been seriously affected in a negative way because of this mirroring we do with each other. Like how if you spend enough time around someone with a British accent you will end talking like them. Spend enough time with a negative person and the result is the same. We've probably all been 'brought down' by a sad sack and we've probably brought a few down with us as well. I’ve learned over the last little while that people who’s goal in life is to cause drama and misery are the most boring people around. Every conversation isn’t an opportunity to share what you both know, it’s a contest to see who’s emotional buttons can be pushed the quickest, and it’s boring and predictable and stupid. It’s very freeing to come to the conclusion that yeah, the world can be a pretty awful place, but I’m going to stick my thumb in its eye and not let the state of the world affect how I think and interact. Your brain is your own private pool to swim around in, and what you put in it matters (I love bizarre analogies almost as much as bad puns. hee.
Go read the whole thing, and the linked article as well. The upshot is that negativity is bad for your brain, and it's notoriously contageous.
Here's what I wrote in response:
Maybe age has changed my desires away from bigger and faster to appropriate and efficient. I do not need a 5000 square foot house and I do not need a thirty-six ounce steak--especially if the house is built with engineered wood that leeches toxins and the steak was slaughtered in an abattoir that processes animals so fast that the feces cannot be washed from the meat before it is packaged.
Been reading Kathy Sierra's post on how negative people can be bad for your brain. It's worth a few minutes to read if you can.
Got me to thinking who I spend time with and how I've possibly mirrored other's emotions. I think of myself as a pretty happy person overall. Not to say I haven't been unhappy at times or pissed off, or agitated, stressed-out and what not. It's also not to say that I haven't been sad, dark, worried, critical and perhaps a tad over-sensitive…BUT…I think it would be safe for me to say my natural disposition is a happy one.
Over the years there have been certain people I've had to purposely stay away from after learning that my mood(s) or actions have been seriously affected in a negative way because of this mirroring we do with each other. Like how if you spend enough time around someone with a British accent you will end talking like them. Spend enough time with a negative person and the result is the same. We've probably all been 'brought down' by a sad sack and we've probably brought a few down with us as well.
I’ve learned over the last little while that people who’s goal in life is to cause drama and misery are the most boring people around. Every conversation isn’t an opportunity to share what you both know, it’s a contest to see who’s emotional buttons can be pushed the quickest, and it’s boring and predictable and stupid.
It’s very freeing to come to the conclusion that yeah, the world can be a pretty awful place, but I’m going to stick my thumb in its eye and not let the state of the world affect how I think and interact. Your brain is your own private pool to swim around in, and what you put in it matters (I love bizarre analogies almost as much as bad puns. hee.
For those people that don't know, I've spent the last week working on a resin model kit, my latest project. I've done a lot of plastic models back in high school (my collection is actually in boxes in the basement storage room), however I've never worked with resin before. I've always wanted to do a resin kit, but the cost (to a non-working high school student) and availability of resin kits was quite prohibitive. Not only are the kits more expensive, the tools used for resin are much different and the kits themselves require a lot more work.
I actually ordered the kit back in November of 2005, and due to difficulties from the company I bought it from, I only received it two weeks ago. Well, I got a free poster for my trouble.
The kit I got is of high quality; not a lot of defects, residue, or seams and the pieces actually fit together half decent. That said, it wasn't perfect either and I quickly realized I had a lot of work ahead of me. I should have taken a picture of the pieces before I started, just so I could do a before and after comparison, but I was a bit eager to start.
First step was to get the proper tools. As I mentioned above, I've never worked with resin before and therefore didn't have the proper tools to work with it. So, off to the store. Modelling putty to fill the gaps, holes and seams, $12. Percision knife set (my old blades were dull and I needed more variety), $12. Files! Ended up buying a complete set which contained 6 mini-files mainly because they had handles and were only a few dollars more, $30. Wanted to switch to acrylic paints, my enamel paints are at least 10 years old and not worth salvaging. Besides, acrylics easier to work with and easier to clean up afterwords. Got a set of paints with most of the colours I needed, $17. The set also had some cement (which I can't use on resin), a hobby knife, sandpaper (sweet!), 3 paintbrushes (might come in handy). Found a double-action airbrush at Walmart (always wanted one of those), $60 and included some more paint, and a can of propellant to run the airbrush with. Not quite the set I was looking for, but considering the one I did want was $200 USD and I'm not too sure how many more kits I was going to be doing, not a bad compromise. Well, the propellant lasted a day. So, instead of buying more propellant (which I didn't like in the first place), I was off to find an actual air compressor. Cheapest compressor I saw online was $99 USD. Found craft store in Moncton, they were all soldout of compressors, but the cheapest one was $240 CAD. As fate would have it, the other Walmart in Moncton has the Mighty Mini. . . . an starter airbrush kit with cheap brush bundled with an air compressor. It's listed on the company's website for $99 USD, Walmart price: $70 CAD. So, I bought that, chucked the cheap brush into the corner and went back to work.
Prepping the pieces for painting has been quite challenging. It doesn't help that the putty I got isn't quite the right compound for resin work. It's been quite the learning curve. After doing a preliminary primer coat, all the mistakes really show up. So it was back to square one.
Airbrushing is quite a change from conventional painting with a brush. I've always had a hard time minimizing visible brush strokes from the finished product. Airbrushing eliminates that which is awesome. However, airbrushing uses up a lot more paint. . . there's just as much paint on the cardboard box I'm using as makeshift paint booth as on the model itself. Changing colours is a lot more of a pain. Other beginner mistakes like using too thick/too thin of paint mixture, air regulation problems (especially with the propellant can), poor masking technique all add up. Other painting mistakes I should have picked up on but forgot (such as how thin white paint really is and how hard it is to get it to stick) are proving to be frustrating.
So far, I've put well over $200 CAD into the project in addition to the price of the kit, which was around $60-$70 CAD. It's starting to look pretty good. I'm pretty surprised how well the flesh tone paint I mixed by hand turned out. Getting better, fixing mistakes and applying new techniques as I go. The final product should look pretty good once I'm done.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Found this at They Hate Us For Our Freedoms: Link.
Island NDP leadership phone-in on Eastlink What I'm sure they won't be expecting are hard questions from literate people armed with statistics and a keen ear for logical fallacies and platitudes. Have you ever tried to debate an NDP party loyalist? It's like talking to a little man in a box who thinks no one comes to visit because his furniture isn't arranged in the optimal way, but has no idea exactly who it is he wants to come to his house or why, or why they go to visit his neighbours instead.
Dean Constable and Mike DesRoches will appear on Eastlink Television tonight, where they will discuss the leadership and direction of the Island New Democrats with Wayne Thibodeau, Chief Political Reporter for The Guardian. They will also take calls from viewers. You can watch throughout PEI and Nova Scotia, and the toll-free number, 1-877-788-5999, is good throughout PEI.
The party blames its utter failure on the backward nature of Island politics and voters, and get to take satisfaction of a colony of monks who live near the simple folk, who think they know better then the poor famers and labourers, but who don't care to hear about their problems or change their ways to suit what the population might really be wanting.
Take the last by-election, they couldn't even be bothered to find a candidate from the riding to even run. If they even bought a single campaign sign for the race it will have meant that the couple of dozen votes it did get were probably the most costly exercise in also-ranism in years.
The dirty little secret of the NDP party is that it's populated by school teachers and artists wh odo quite well from the generous social democratic state we have, yet they try and speak the language of radical reform and idealism. Populist ideals were a powerful force when espoused by depression-era farmers, no so much when it comes from comfortably middle-class people who largely aren't living at the mercy of the market economy.
Everyone you talk to knows that politics on PEI is a rotten little game of connections and favours, and to see the one party that isn't totally mired in this game be so ineffective is sadder than anything else, because they like to say they know better. But what is more sueful to an entrenched system than a limp, emasculated opposition that siphons off the energy of real reform?
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Seeing a well-made concert film in a theatre is a unique experience. Most people would say that a theater experience is best for action movies, but there's a whole atmosphere to a concert film that you don't find anywhere else. Heart of Gold was produced by Jonothan Demme, who did Stop Making Sense, the Talking Heads concert film that pretty much defines how to do this sort of thing.
The opening camera shots set the mood for the concert footage to come. You are going into Nashville, looking across at a statue and going along a street passing some older brick buildings which give you a feel for what kind of city Nashville is. The camera work is deliberately shakey but uncannily perceptive. You catch signs pass exactly in front of the lense in a way that makes it look like a wonderful accidental shot. This is repeated many times over during the concert where the shots line up two players at interesting angles and lets your eye wander from one to the other and watch the interaction.
There are many other musicians on the stage along with Young, a bigger country music afficianaodo than me would be able to spot more than just Emmylou Harris, whom I love and who accompanies Young on a lot of the songs. The camera often pans around to show you whoever might be doing something interesting at any given moment. Interestingly I never noticed the camera go in or stay on anyone else's faces, but Young's face and his expressions is the unstated focus of the film.
Uncharacteristically, he far less taciturn between songs than he is known for, and he told little stories to explain where the next song came from.
The first half of the music was from his recent album, Prairie Wind, which he wrote around the time he had his brain aneurysm. He must have seen the medical event as a sign to really commit some important moments to song as a way of keeping them. He sang songs about losing his father slowly to dimensia, and having his daughter move away and then come back, and long-time lovers sharing their days together.
There was also a wonderful amount of references to Canadiana in these new songs. The Nashville audience might not completely grasp bitterly cold prairie winters or small Manitoba towns or the Trans-Canada highway, but Young was unabashed about presenting Canadian country music in it's full context. I won't ruin the set list but there's a wonderful surprise near the end that cements this theme.
Watching this in the theater was a communal experience. Everyone was dead silent aside from the odd chuckle at the same time as the live audience of the performance were laughing at one of Young's funny stories or allusions. If you pressed your foot to the floor you could feel people tapping their feet along with the music. After the first song if I didn't have a drink in my hand I may very well have applauded.
This show let you see Neil Young's life in a wonderful backwards narrative, and as you watched him perform these songs and looked into his eyes as he sings about heart-wrenching moments you get an quiet sense that he's one of the brightest souls in music, and you fall in love with him.
Technorati Tags: Movies, Music, Neil+Young
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I was going to title this post "kids and LaTeX a good match" but thought that the it might get unwanted attention of several varieties from Charlottetown police who might not be familiar with computerized typesetting systems.
I came across this classic article last night: Word Processors: Stupid and Inefficient. It argues that when you combine the visual formatting task with the content creation task you end up with a muddled mess, which makes things ugly and inconsistent-looking and also kills the train of thought of the writer.
What I realized was that kids these days are being taught, completely by accident, to write in a much better way. Because of the ubiquity of HTML in email and LiveJournals and MySpace pages and blogs and comments and message boards, kids are intimately familiar with marking up text with different attributes, and learning to work in a simpler view than what the final published version will look like.
I would bet that if you sat a kid down at a computer and told him or her to write a story and use formatting to make it look good, that the kid who is told to do it in HTML will work much more efficiently than the one plopped down in front of Microsoft Word and made to navigate the toolbars and menus and dialog boxes to find the different options, and praying to God all the while that he doesn't click the one wrong option that might casue the whole program to start acting completely weirdly.
Using markup (or markdown as it were) forces the user to start from nothing and only learn the things that he or she needs to do. Throwing a whole screen full of tweakable options at them when the start makes for an ugly interface and the feeling of not knowing where to start. It would be like giving a kid in grade one a graphic calculator and telling them to use it to add a series of numbers.
So there's room now, I think, for an enterprising individual to make a word processing program designed to meet the sensibilities and mindset of the MySpace generation, with 'preview' and 'publish' functions, and actually using style sheets to their full potential. There are many editors now that separate the content from the look and feel, but they're all targed at crusty old Unix geezers.
Google Calendar is out now. Link. It lets you log in with your gmail account but I'm not sure how well-integrated it is with gmail yet, I created a test event and told it to email invite myself by email at 2 different addresses and I haven't received the notication yet.
In the mean time, it's fast as blazes, and the Thunderbird calendar plugin developers should be embarrassed at their slow-as-molassas application that is running on my desktop and takes half a second to bring up a new event dialog. This is why cross-platform GUI libraries are such a dead-end, at least when they're implemented as poorly as XUL seems to be performance-wise, and looks ugly on Mac OS no matter what skin you put on it. It just looks out of place.
Google calendar seems to have everything I have expected from calendar apps since Sidekick for DOS, nothing too innovative just yet, but maybe it's just under the surface. Sometimes too much innovation isn't a good thing, with Google Reader being a good example of trying to do things too differently and making it worse for it. I wrote about this here: Link.
Update: Wow, screw google calendar, go use 30boxes intead.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I've mentioned his blog before, but today there's a particularly stark set of news stories coming from Iraq summarized on Juan Cole's blog here: "Political Gridlock, Violence, Continue" - that paint an incredibly different picture from what you see on the 24 hour American news channels.
I've been fascinated by the political maneuvering that's been going on in Iraq between the various groups before and after the election, and how they tie in to the insurgent movements.
I have no idea if he sectarian fighting is completely natural of ir there were policies in place by the U.S. occupying forces to pit the Sunnis and Shi'ites against each other for political reasons. After all, they'd been managing to co-exist for a thousand years before the nation of Iraq was created, and even Saddam Hussein was smart enough to keep things in some kind of equilibrium. The trouble is that the Sunnis have made up almost the entire Iraqi urban middle class, with Shi'ites living in smaller towns and villages and in the Sadr City slums of Baghdad. This means that the Sunni insurgency will have disproportionate effectiveness thanks to the resources and minds behind it, that the inexperienced and undereducated Shi'ite rising majority will make many mistakes and act irresponsibly simply for lack of guidance and a deep-seated resentment, and also that the flight of the Iraqi midddle and upper classes that is happening now will leave Iraq as a completely dysfunctional country for decades, where it was a more or less modern, industrialized nation in teh 20th century before the Iran-Iraq war and sanctions in the 1990s.
What seems to be the one suspicion that even people like Madeline Albright are afraid to acknowledge is the idea that this is planned chaos, that it's easier to steal oil and infrastructure money when a nation is in a civil war and people are worried about their day to day survival. This might be effective for the Haliburtons of the world right now, but it's an incredibly inefficent way to run an empire, and I can't picture the US holding anything like an effective position in the middle east for very long if it continues.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
When I was little, small enough my reading ability was mostly looking at pictures and the recognition of a few words, I had a fantasy. Most of the reading I did was done by Mom or Dad, the books and stories they often read, or even many of the stories I watched on TV showed woman in love. They had false images of pretty princess, and handsome princes. When I was that young, I dreamed that there was a prince out there for me. I would find him and we would know just by looking at each other. This fancy stayed with me as long as I have lived, even today at the back of some thoughts (though very different from that little girl having stories read to her in her hospital bed) I can some times find that joyous little fantasy.
In time I got older, I watched everyone it seems get there first boyfriend/girl friend and I even turned down one young fella, cause I was moving in a few weeks. I felt then that when I got to my shining new living place I could find someone. AT this time my fantasy had changed from handsome prince, who I would live happily ever after with, to cute boy on the Volley ball team, whom I would have fun with. But the thought really wasn't different at all. I was still living in a world of perfection in fantasy.
Lessons hit hard, when I learnt cute boys were not the fantasy handsome princes. Boys were harsh and cruel, especially if the girl wasn't perfect.
As my adolescence advanced, I had comfortably moved to the idea of a boy that was nice, and enjoyed some of the things I do. But I maintain even after numerous rejections, that someone is there.
In my early twenties, things seemed more positive, university had a wealth of intelligent, fun loving boys around. But most of them had not left there high school ways behind yet.
Now toward the end of my twenties, I found hope beginning to diminish. The number of rejections grows with out cease. The courage to try grows weak, even the heart to look has almost been smothered. Then last night an evening that was to be fun, contained the repetitive conversation about what men are like. Looking for something they have been programmed to. I didn't fit. I felt listening to the conversation like I was watching my little candle of hope slowly being smothered.
Come on out to Churchill Arms (on Queen st. next to the Canton) on Tuesday for the most challenging and interesting trivia in town.
I'll be doing the hosting this week and I'm coming up with some devious but broad-ranging questions, so your brain should get a good workout while you kill off your brain cells with Guinness and Strongbow.
Come bring a team or join the champion PEILocals team, and maybe go sing karaoke afterwards!
Trivia starts at 8:30, but you may want to show up at around 8 to get a table.
I've been posting the previous weeks' questions and answers at the Trivia Blog if you want ot get a feel for the kinds of questions that get asked.
See you there!
I'm thinking about maybe doing a podcast of the night, just to hear myself and maybe turn it into a 'play at home' type game, that could be potentially pretty fun.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I've been paying some attention to the US illegal immigration debate that's been going on for the last little while. What I find interesting about it is that it isn't the usual clear-cut Republicans vs. Democrats issue. The Republicans seem to be split between the racist faction of the party and the corporatist faction, with Democrats for some reason feeling like they need to pick one of those two sides or look like wafflers.
Of course the fact that there's an election coming up this year and a clusterfuck of a war in Iraq means Republicans need something else to scare people with, which is probably why this is coming up at all. But I do think it's a legitimate issue. What people often forget about all this is that it's only recently been the case that the US immigration laws have been so universally unenforced.
Cesar Chavez and the old United Farm Workers were very well known for reporting illegal immigrants they suspected were working in the fields. The reason is of course very obvious, they were yet another source of non-union labour that could be used to put the squeeze on pay and working conditions for the rest. This is what's happening now, anyone in the trades in the US is finding it harder and harder to compete in a marketplace and pay their workers proper rates while also paying into their taxes and other benefits.
Any time you increase the supply of labour, and having an entire impoverished country just to your South is a perfect non-finite supply of extra workers, the prevailing wage is going to plunge downwards and hurt everybody. Meanwhile, the status quo is preserved in Mexico because the able-bodied and ambitious members of the lower class (almost everyone in the country) have their aspirations set on leaving the country rather than working for change from within.
When I was in San Francisco I didn't see a single white person in a service industry job, but knowing the cost of living there I knew it was impossible for most of them not to be living somewhere outside of the city and commuting in. There's something very unsettling about having the most livable city in the US being so completely supported by such a visible underclass.
This all seems very obvious, yet I'm reading articles in places like The Nation calling on so-called progressives to take up the mantle of these illegal immigrants and presumably fight for their right to bring down the wages and working conditions of every single American who doesn't live off of dividend income.
The unpaid internships that serve as starting points for employment in most American liberal magazines, ones that can only be filled by kids who's parents can bankroll their apartments in New York City or Chicago while they work for free, almost certainly creates a culture of isolated idealism divorced from the needs of working people. And it seems they've adopted the narrative of economic globalization as being the norm, and forgetting why people formed nation-states in the first place, which was to protect the people in a society from threats which couldn't be handled by individuals. The economic threat of manufacturing jobs flying overseas, and service jobs which have to be done where they are being filled by an inexhaustible pool of cheap labour is a bigger threat than any single other state that the US could face, yet they race to embrace the undoing of their culture from within, thanks to the false idea Americans have that they shouldn't do anything to impede the lifestyles of the super rich because they dream of being one of them some day. The poor white substistence farmer still hasn't learned that siding with the plantation owner isn't doing him any good, despite them having the same skin colour.
The ideas that Jefferson and Franklin seem to be so at odds with the prevailing American mentality that you wonder how they managed to be the ones to get to write the founding document of US governance, probably the only reason the whole experiment didn't immediately fall apart as sono as the last homesteader claimed the final available piece of open land and the country had to become a real economy.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
Anyway, what I was going to write about was hearing Eddie Greenspon interviewed on CBC news today. He's the lawyer for the son of the Canadian couple who were murdered in Mexico recently. He mentioned that he was very appalled by the Mexican president's assertion that Mexico is as safe a place to be for Canadians as Canada is. He mentioned that Mexico has the fifth highest murder rate and the highest manslaughter rate in the wolrd.
Yep, definitely looking forward to my trip down there. And I was only thinking about the sharks up to this point. Katherine should have pushed "the gentle island" as a wedding destination a little harder. It's not like the groom's family couldn't afford to come up here.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
I got to see Terrence Malick's latest film, The New World, today. I was basically expecting a similar film to The Thin Red Line but with muskets instead of machine guns. I was actually a little disappointed by it because it actually had a conventional a to b plot structure at the centre of the movie, but it wasn't very well-written. The visuals, the scene settings, the camera movements and the music were all entrancing, but the story, a rather trite retread of the Pocahontas story, didn't bring very much to the package. This part of the film actually could have been a reshoot of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, with John Smith as Jane and Pocahontas as Tarzan.
Certainly there are some underlying themes to the plot, like a Paradise Lost Adam and Eve, with a little bit of influence from the idea of the noble savage and early ideas of the frontier thesis. But nothing one wouldn't expect, really.
Malick is unmatched at shooting settings. One thing I noticed about the film is that there were very very few shots that were taken above eye-level. So any view you were shown could have been something you might have been able to observe yourself if you were there. At the same time all of the sets were given three dimensional bodies, you knew the structures of the settlement and how they were laid out, you could see the size of the lands that they were just poking into, compared with the fenced-in nature of the English countryside where every square inch of land had been previously set foot upon by some other person.
I've read discussions about there being another cut of the movie that is supposedly far superior. Hopefully what I watched wasn't this second cut because this really wasn't what I was expecting. Weirdly I think I was hoping for something of what angered so many people about The Thin Red Line, a kind of wandering eye observing the goings on at some historic point without taking too keen an interest in any given character or story arc.
It's definitely worth seeing, but be unfortunately the conventional plot is a bit cheesy.
Technorati Tags: Movies, The+New+World