Wednesday, December 28, 2005

When in doubt, make a list

I haven't made any blog entries in a while, but I'm feeling a bit lazy, so I'll just do an end of year list of random stuff. It's a lot less heartbreaking than trying to come up with something intelligent to say about the latest Toronto shootings.

Fave movies:
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence

King Kong
Star Wars III:ROTS (although it's hard to be disappointed by Star Wars anymore)

Some music I liked in 2005:
Weezer-"Make Believe"
Sarah Harmer-"I'm a Mountain"
Sexsmith & Kerr -"Destination Unknown"

Most annoying tech gadget:
The ever evolving iPod

Most inspirational politician (although it has no effect on his poll numbers):
Jack Layton

Most disappointing politician (although it has no effect on his poll numbers):
David Miller

Least welcome political topic making a comeback:
Same-sex marriage

Political Topics needing a comeback:
The Arts
The Environment
Nuclear Power/Nuclear Waste

Best Christmas Present:
Maja riding her tricycle
runner up: painting of me and Maja from Irena

Most annoying holiday season media crutch:

Friday, December 16, 2005

The fact is...

I'm just watching the rerun of the debate. You could have one hell of a drinking game based on how many times PM th PM says "the fact is." You'd be wasted in 10 minutes. It's almost bizarre how often he says it.

Saying it don't make it so.

Jack's doing well. He sounds a bit pre-scripted, but sincere. Harper and PM seem weaker to me, but that's probably just because I can't stand either of those weasels. The only one who seems spontaneous to me is Duceppe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Three Way Soccer

The story (or non-story) for Jack Layton the last few days has been that he's "having trouble getting his message out." Of course, the media wastes time telling us this rather than, God forbid, delivering the message.

Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that a 3-way race (or 4 way or 5 way if you include the Bloc and Greens) makes for a less straightforward narrative than Red Vs. Blue. It reminds me of when I was a kid, sometimes in gym class we would play 3-way soccer. It was a novelty, but it never really worked that well. I think a lot of people who are tuned in to politics, particularly the papers and the TV stations, feel the the NDP is kind of just in the way of a good juicy two-side battle.

People prefer 2 choices to three. The challenge for Jack is to lump the other guys together as one choice, and him as the other.

As an aside, it kind of sucks that the power colours are taken, and we've got orange. Didn't green also used to be an NDP colour? You can't have it, Green Party. Orange AND green are ours. You can have Yellow!

Bring on the friggin' debates already!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Whacker

I just got back from my first volunteer session with Gord Perks. I got to meet him, briefly, as he was heading out to canvas. He actually asked if I was the guy whose blog he'd seen. I said no, not intending to be deceptive, but it just didn't occur to me that he meant me. After all, this site is only seen by a few people a day. It's mostly read by family and friends and, as I like to say, it's cheaper than therapy. But anyway, if Gord does read this thing, apologies. I'm a bit chagrinned at my previous post. I could have been a bit more positive . God knows running a campaign is not easy and he and his team are working very hard.

Anyway, I got off my ass and helped put up some signs today. We were using a big metal contraption called "the whacker" to drive in the posts. My arms are TIRED. Yowza! On the plus side, the guy working with me called me a strapping young lad, which was nice. I'm borderline on the young part, and definitely not strapping.

Anyway, it feels good to get out and do something. By the time we got back this afternoon the office was full of volunteers. No more naysaying. We've got a campaign to win!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Lately I find myself trying to wrap up my work by 4:30 everyday so I can catch some of Politics with Don Newman on CBC Newsworld before spending the evening with my daughter. He's very good at what he does, whether acting as interviewer or referee, and he's got a bit of a goofy side which manages to shine through.

Some days I even record it to watch later. It's a sickness.

( is posting blogs posts while Maja zones out in front of Toopy & Binoo. I better go.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Perks me up!

I dropped by NDP candidate Gord Perks' campaign office today. I was hoping to feel pumped up and inspired like I did when I attended his nomination meeting, but it was not to be. There were only a couple people in the entire office and it looked like absolutely nothing was happening. The signs aren't in yet, even as Mario Silva slathers Bloor Street in Liberal red. Of course, he is the incumbent, but come on, people! Gord was declared our candidate well over a month ago! I think this riding is winnable, but only if the NDP effort is a well oiled machine. Sadly I saw no evidence of that today. I was greeted with the same level of enthusiam I'd expect from a bank teller. Still, it is early days and perhaps I'm reading too much into a slow Tuesday afternoon. I've volunteered to go in on the weekend. Hopefully by then I will see a spark.

On an unrelated topic, my wife and I stayed home with the kid this weekend, but took turns going across the street to the Paradise Cinema to see The Constant Gardener. It was one of the best movies I've seen all year, so check it out if you get a chance. It makes our politics seem pretty tame by comparison.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Happy Birthday

Today would be my grandfather Ed's 86th birthday. He passed away about a year ago. So I'm sending out a Happy Birthday message into the cyberspace ether.
Ed served in WWII, was married for over 50 years, had 4 kids and lots of grandkids. He even lived to see a couple great grandkids.

Again, Happy Birthday Ed, wherever you are.

Monday, November 28, 2005

No Province is an Island

The big news is the government falling today, but we all knew that was going to happen. I was more interested to see how the vote for electoral reform would go in PEI.

Answer: Bad. If you favour electoral reform, that is.

And why should they bother fixing their system anyway? The entire island has the population of Belleville, so it makes no difference who their elected officials are. All they really have to decide is how to distribute their time between digging up taters, reading Anne of Green Gables and trying to convince themselves that they are a province.

Unfortunately, those of us in the rest of the country could have used the precedent.

Ontario gets our chance in 2007. (maybe) Bring it on!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ad it up

I just found out today that a friend of mine has been hired to do a bit of work on Harper's ad campaign. Normally I would be horrified at this, but I actually kind of wish the Tories (reasonably) well this time around. It's the wrong end of the spectrum from where I'm sitting, but sometimes things just need shaking up. The Liberal forest is full of dead wood, and a if we need a Tory fire to clean it up, so be it. We just don't want the fire to get out of control and land us a Harper majority government. That's why we need lots of Dippers. Harper's the fire, Jack's the water.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

So it begins (again)

So the campaign will most likely be officially underway come Monday. I'm sort of on the fence about helping out with it this time around. I already gave a bit of $$$ to the Gord Perks campaign here in Davenport, but part of me feels like I'm not really worth my salt unless I get out and knock on a few doors. On the other hand, I really have my doubts about the winnability of this riding, and knocking on doors is a DRAG.
It should be an interesting challenge for all the parties to get the volunteers mobilized over the holidays. I'm sure most people really don't feel like it right about now. Put that together with the potential for E-day to be a nasty winter day, and the commitment of the base could really be a factor.
Oh, hell, I guess I'd better get off my ass!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

...and for some, a corrupt and arrogant governing party may be their El Guapo.

So the 3 opposition parties have finally gotten 2gether to see if they can box PM in2 a corner, calling on the Liberals to drop the writ in early January...

This should be interesting. I really have no idea what the Liberals best move is in this situation, but you can bet that they do. Jack has been light on his feet lately, deftly playing politics while managing to come across as calm and reasonable. But the Liberals are just so damn good at this game, it's hard to see how they will let the 3 Amigos get the best of them.

The Liberals are kind of like the Republicans in the U.S. They stink at actually running the country, the majority don't like them, but they are maddenly good at surviving.

Interesting days ahead.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Amusing ourselves to death

I'm going into full curmudgeon mode today after seeing some info on HD for Indies about downloadable TV shows for your iPod. I don't think this is available in Canada yet, but you can be sure it's coming. 99cents to download Law & Order or countless other shows. (Didn't TV shows used to be free?-now we pay for them on DVD and iPod)

Are we really so pathologically unable to enjoy the world around us that we need to watch TV on a 1 inch screen everywhere we go?

Meanwhile, everyone makes a big fuss over the possibility of an Xmas election, like we couldn't possibly deal with the distraction of having to take 10 minutes out of our holiday season to vote. I don't think it's the time involved. I think people just object to having to do all that pesky thinking. Maybe people won't mind voting so much now that they can watch TV in line.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Greg at Sinister Thoughts has posted a couple things about the upcoming PEI vote on Proportional Representation over the past few days. The powers that be are doing whatever they can, it seems, to stop proportional representation. The goverment is limiting the publicity and number of polling places, and now a group of Grits & Tories are mounting an official "No" campaign.

This is a shame, but unlike the tactics of the government I don't think it is scandalous. The fact is that any system that allows appointed members into an elected parliament is problematic. Not that anybody's asked me, but I posted a far more elegant solution a few months ago. It was about the federal parliament, but you can apply the same idea provincially, although it might be slightly trickier with a tiny jurisdiction like PEI. Oh, what the heck, I'll spare you a click and just repost it right here:

The first change I would make is eliminate the local ridings for the party leaders. Instead, any party that gets 1% of the vote should have their leader automatically sent to Parliament, but without representing any particular riding. The rest of the MP's should be elected as they are now but each party caucus should get a weighted vote in the house for all votes along party lines. Thus if the Liberals got 60% of the seats but only 30% of the votes, each members vote would only count as half a vote. Conversely if the NDP got only 8% of the seats but 20% of the votes, each NDP's vote in the House would be worth 2.5 votes. If smaller parties such as the Greens got say, 5% of the vote but no MPs, at least the leader would be in the House with 5% of the votes in the Commons. For free votes, each MP would get 1 vote.

(As I said the first time I posted this, I freely admit that I am a nerd.)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Circus Fever: Catch It

My wife and I took our daughter to see the Moscow Cat Theatre today. It started about 40 minutes late which just killed it for us. Maja was reasonably excited to see the cats when we got there, but after waiting so long to get in she was pretty restless. Half an hour in she had had enough and demanded to go home.

As for the show itself, I can't say we were too upset at having to leave early. It was basically a clown act, with some cats and dogs thrown in. Most of the cats just sat on big colourful things that moved around. There was one cat that could stand on its front legs, but for the most part it was not apparent that the cats were actually even alive.

Um, good though.

The moral of the story? Apparently NDP meetings are more entertaining that Cat Circuses.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rick's Schtick

I see on the TV sked that Rick Merceris back, now on Tuesdays. About time. Last season he managed to miss the election and filled his episodes with lame segments like Canada's worst pothole. I don't know what happened to the sharp satirist of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, but his Monday Report was limp and weak. Let's hope he's learned a few things from the dissappointing first season. If I see Daryn Jones again, I'm tuning out!

In other news, The Colbert Report is coming to Canada next week. Yay!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Thinking Outside the Block

We had a stressful weekend due to some, um, friction with my wife's family. This is pretty common for us, but it's starting to feel like it's not going to blow over as easily this time.

For the past year my wife and I have been working fulltime and shipping our daughter to her grandparents as needed. While my wife's parents do a great job of looking after our daughter, the personal family conflicts that take place under their roof are a source of constant tension. Furthermore, we're starting to feel like she's just spending too much time with them, regardless. She spends about 4-5 hours a day over there most weekdays, and we don't want to deligate our parenting duties that much anymore.


It's time for a change. We're trying to think outside the box and break out of the traps of conservative thinking regarding how to live our lives. We are very lucky to have a house that's paid for and money in the bank. We don't have to both work 9-5 jobs. We don't have to waste energy trying to "educate" family members who are never going to wake up and smell the coffee. We don't have to live one street away from my wife's family. We don't even have to live in Toronto. OK, my wife might take issue with that last one. But anyway, we're trying.

And in political news, uh, the Liberals suck.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cop Out

We had a nasty surprise this afternoon when we discovered someone had smashed our VW Golf's back windshield. The car is parked behind a tall gate at the back, so it seems the perp came right into our backyard from the front. There was a trail of broken glass leading back out to the street. Strangely, all they took was a worthless bag containing an old gazebo canopy. The stereo and other stuff was untouched, as was my parents car which was right beside ours.

It's very unsettling. It feels personal, and for all we know, it was.

We called the cops, but they couldn't be bothered to come over and try to solve the crime. There's no way to tell if this is part of their job action or if they are always this lazy. Either way, they hardly seem like they deserve to be the highest paid cops in the country with service like that.

Regarding the person who did this, I will quote that great master of the pithy one liner, Mr. T.

"I pity the fool."

Friday, October 28, 2005

NDPing in davenport

I took my 2 year old daughter Maja to an NDP nomination meeting the other day. It's always nice to convince ourselves that our guy can win, if only for an evening. I think Mario Silva will be pretty tough to beat, but Gord Perks (who was acclaimed) should make a fine candidate. Last time around there were several people vying for the nomination, this time just one. I hope that's more to do with Gord's quality as a candidate rather than a perception that the riding is unwinnable.

The highlight of the evening was Maja. She sat in her seat quietly, drew pictures, ate popcorn, and listened to boring speeches for the better part of 2 hours. Not bad for a 2 year old.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New Orleans Thoughts

It's hard to come up with anything original to say about the Katrina disaster. It is appalling. The number of issues this event raises is staggering.

Systemic failures of foresight, leadership and organization at all levels of government, with a tinge of racism thrown in. One thing I haven't seen much about is the environmental angle. From what I have seen global warming is not relevant, but what is a factor is the destruction of wetlands and the mismanagement of the landscape in general which created the environment for this flooding to be as bad as it was.

It's also interesting to note that Wal-Mart was on hand with lots of resources and was blockaded by FEMA. So not only does the American government fail, they also get in the way of the private sector helping. It is a bizarre worst-of-both-worlds scenario, where the aspect of government that should act is paralyzed, but the aspect of red tape and beauracracy is fully up and running.

Let the resignations begin. George, you start.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Films etc.

It's been a crappy summer for moviegoing. I haven't made it out to a flick in 2 months, for a lot of reasons. Too busy with work, too hot, and nothing much out that made us feel like hauling our ass downtown. I'm counting on the Film Fest to make up for it.

We did catch a good film on DVD the other night. A futuristic thriller called Cypher starring Jeremy Northam and Lucy Liu. It was directed by Vincenzo Natali and looked like it was filmed here in Toronto. I liked it better than Cube and way better than his piece of junk called Nothing. Much like Egoyan, I think Natali is destined to make better films when he doesn't write 'em. My question is why did this movie never see the light of day? A year or two ago Alliance/Atlantis made a big push to try to market a terrible film called Foolproof which was supposed to mark a turning point in Canadian distribution. It got an American style P&A campaign but still tanked. This movie was much better but never played in theatres as far as I know.

Anyway, if anybody is reading this, check it out.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Grand Theft

Today there is a blurb in the paper about how stores are taking Grand Theft Auto off the shelves, after Hillary Clinton made a big stink about sex hidden within the game. To me, the real obscenity here is focussing on non-issues like this when there is so very much real work that needs to be done to make the world a better place. News flash-if your kids are sophisticated enough to download the cheat codes to unlock the sex in the game, then there isn't much they haven't seen by this point. Besides, if a person is old enough to play a game where they run around murdering other people for no good reason then they are probably old enough to see a little pixelated sex.

There are plenty of issues that need real leadership in America and the world. It is disappointing to see people like Hillary stooping into Tipper Gore territory when she should know better. Stealing the focus away from Iraq and poverty and the environment etc. really is Grand Theft.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Cut Karl

Check outMichael Moore for lots on the Karl Rove situation. I really, really, really hope some of this sticks.

"President Bush once said he would fire any White House staffer who had leaked the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. But if that source turns out to be Karl Rove, the president's longtime political guru, a firing would be a devastating blow to the White House."

Dare we hope? Forget firing him. How about putting him on trial for treason. Oh, well. Stephen Colbert is probably right when he says Bush will have a hard time figuring out what honour to bestow on "the only man in Washington with flesh coloured hair" for a blunder this big.

In other news, here at home the Liberals are really letting things unravel on the healthcare front, what with Alberta's "Third Way" bull-jive. Check out Sinister Thoughts for some really insightful recent posts.

How can the Grits be such wizards with Parliamentary procedure and so stunned on policy? (Or even on having any policy.)

Oh well. It's a good opening for the 'Dippers.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Cut Karla

So last night Karla Homolka's interview was on. Today Bernardo's comments are being reported on too. The media really needs to give this a rest. There is nothing these people can say that is worth listening to. When she showed up at that TV station they should have had the integrity to shut the door in her face.

It's not news. It's sick reality TV. The whole thing puts me in mind of the film Natural Born Killers. I didn't care for that flick when it came out, but it might be worth another look.

It sure didn't take long to get distracted from the G8 story, did it? Who cares about millions in poverty when the schoolgirl killer is serving up the crocodile tears.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Cold Day in Hell

So the other day our fridge kacked out. I was out of town on the great Michigan adventure (see below), so my wife went with her Dad to buy a new fridge.

She picked out a nice one, with no problems except for managing to pay for it ourselves. Her Dad is like a credit card ninja and anytime you pull out your credit card, he's got his out first. So anyway, the parents bought the fridge. Nice gesture? Not so much. There is a high price to be paid for free stuff, at least in their case. So today the fridge arrives and is perfectly nice, but the first thing out of my Father-in law's mouth is "Oh, there's a dent." Sure enough, if you get out the microscope you can find a slight imperfection on the front door. Now this is the kind of bullshit pseudo problem that people like us tend not to concern ourselves with. We are too busy raising a child and living our lives. But some people, it seems, have too much time on their hands. Next thing you know, he's going behind our back, calling customer service to complain, and telling us to expect a call from the fridge store.

Of course, he thinks he has the right because he paid for the damn thing.

If they call we'll just have to tell them that my father in law is f**king batshit insane.

Tomorrow's mission: Go to the bank to get a wad of cash to buy back "our" fridge.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Over Cooked!

I'm getting pretty sick of seeing Dave Cooke as a panelist on TVO's Studio 2.

The other night he was lining up with Sean Conway and Janet Ecchhhh-er defending the First Past the Post system arguing against a guy from Fair Vote Canada. This despite the fact that Electoral reform is a key plank in the NDP platform. He's always trying to distance himself from the NDP and I am sick of it. I remember in the last provincial election he would praise everyone BUT the NDP. What would you expect from the guy who quit his MPP job to take a job from Mike Harris's goon squad.

Bring back Ruth Grier.

In and Out of America

My brother in law and I made a quick trip down to Michigan this weekend to pick up some items from my late Grandfather's estate. There's definitely a weird vibe you get down there just driving on the highways. We saw about a dozen dead deer by the side of the road, plus there are shredded pieces of tires every couple of miles. Add to that a snarky border guard, all the army recruiting billboards, and the fact that every other car has a yellow ribbon sticker on it (ah, the good old yellow ribbon-literally the least one can do to support the troops), and you definitely feel like you are in a less civilized society.

We got out of there as fast as we could.

(On the way back into Canada we had to fill out some ridiculously unecessary paperwork, but at least they were nice about it!)

That's it. No more trips to the U.S. until President Hillary takes over!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Batman Begins to Annoy Me

Went and watched Batman Begins today, which was directed by Christopher Nolan, who made one of my all time faves, Memento. It was quite watchable, but it is really disappointing to see such a talented director wasting his time with something so banal as a Batman movie. Sure, he did an OK job of it, but couldn't he do something original? It seems all too often the reward for filmmakers who make a great breakthrough is that they get to do "big" movies. But bigger ain't often better.

I hope CN can get back to his roots soon. (And please don't follow in his footsteps Shane Carruth...)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Block the Bloc

The PQ and BQ are in the spotlight this week, with Landry stepping down and speculation flying about what Duceppe's gonna do. Perhaps it's timely then that I jot down a few thoughts (can you jot if you are typing?) about the BQ. For all the talk about the petulant and childish parliament lately, the real elephant in the room is the Bloc Quebecois. I think we need some new rules to enforce some loyalty to the nation for members of what is, after all, the Federal Parliament. It's a sticky area to be sure, and you have to be very careful about not trampling on people's rights to organize, but I think some rule could be cooked up that if you don't run candidates in all provinces and if you don't take the oath of loyalty to the Queen or whatever, that you are not recognized as a federal party. I can't think of any reasonable way to make the Bloc go away entirely, but at least kick them off of committees and stop treating them as a Federal Party.

Treat them as 54 independent MP's. It's still more than they deserve but it's a start.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Darth Side

Check out this! It's a really fun blog for Star Wars fans.

First Post

This is the first real post of my new blog. Who knows if this is even a hobby I want to undertake, but I'll give it a go. I have 3 main topics that I give a damn about: Family, film and politics. The first is most important but probably least interesting for readers (if I get any readers) so I'll probably focus on the latter 2.

It looks like the CPC is playing hooky today from the parliamentary committee looking into democratic reform. Of course neither the CPC or Liberals want any kind of Proportional Representation because they both need the FPTP system to have any chance at a Majority Government. Now is the time for the NDP to push for this. I don't think it even matters how far it gets in parliament as much as making noise about it. Let's face it, with neither the red team or the blue team on board it won't go anywhere until there is major public outcry for it. And of course the Bloc will be against it because it would make Canada run better.

Much has been made of how complicated the voting system would get under a PR system, but I think the real issue would be how Parliament will perform under a permanent minority situation. People point to the current HofC and say it would never work, but my theory is that the relative stability of a PR system would mean each party could count on a healthy caucus but would have to earn gains over the long haul, thus making for more stability and less political game-playing.

As for the voting sytem, here is one workable model:

The first change I would make is eliminate the local ridings for the party leaders. Instead, any party that gets 1% of the vote should have their leader automatically sent to parilament, but without representing any particular riding. The rest of the MP's should be elected as they are now but each party caucus should get aweighted vote in the house. Thus if the Liberals got 60% of the seats but only 30% of the vote, each members vote would only count as half a vote. Conversely if the NDP got only 8% of the seats but 20% of the vote, each NDP's vote in the House would be worth 2.5 votes. If smaller parties such as the Greens got say, 5% of the vote but no MPs, at least the leader would be in the House with 5% of the votes in the Commons.

OK, I'm a nerd. I probably should have just written about Star Wars.

There's always tomorrow.

The Slip Nuts

These guys make an art out of slipping on nuts. When is the DVD coming out? I want to know!