Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Speech from the drone

This is what I would have liked to have heard from today's Speech from the Throne by Lt. Governor Ed. Roberts:

"My government, in continuing its promise to be fiscally sound, has decided, effectively immediately, to eliminate the position of Lt. Governor, as it is a total waste of money and the person holding the job can't even manage to sound excited during one of the few moments of actual work we require of him during they year. Furthermore...

"Hey, wait a minute...this wasn't in the draft I got yesterday. What the fuck is going on, Danny?"

Ah, I can dream.

Considering the number of high profile people that Danny has bumped off in recently months - The Child and Youth Advocate, the Ombudsman (Oh, Frazer March is toast, we all know it) and a high ranking bureaucrat who was involved in putting together the budget (I'm blanking on her exact title and name), ol' Ed might want to start getting nervous.

Seriously though, the Speech from the Throne is one of those outdated bits of British democracy that's still kicking around for no good reason (Much like the post of Lt. Governor). Nothing of importance is ever announced. It's so maddeningly vague and dull that some reporters have been know to seriously consider launching themselves from the gallery onto the floor of the House in an attempt to end the misery. If they time the leap right, they might be able to take the Lt. Governor with them. Or at least a random MHA.

After I had finished shooting photos on the floor of the House of Assembly (this is only one of two times photographers and cameramen are allowed in the House. The other time is next week when the budget is announced) I went back to the reporter's room and lamented to one of them that a friend of mine got to cover the opening of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing and I was here covering the Speech from the Throne. Woo hoo.

"Look on the bright side," she said. "Both events are probably just as staged and devoid of any real newsworthy announcements."

Which, you know, is a fair point. However, at least Chris is in Beijing. Which has to count for something.

Mea culpa

See, now I have to apologize to student politicians. This sucks.

For months I have mocked student politicians, activitists, lobbyists, what have you, because they were in the middle of lobbying the provincial government to not increase tuition fees in next week's budget.

"You're fucked," I told them, and predicted if they were lucky they would only get nailed with a 10% increase. And I really did think that was the minimum they would get away with. It was rumoured that MUN wanted something like a 17% increase.

Because, and this was the way my logic went, Williams had already broken his promise to unions about not laying anyone off. The excuse was, "We made that promise before we knew how bad the books were. Because of how badly the previous government managed things, we have to go back on that commitment."

So yes, Williams promised a tuition freeze for the length of his first term in office, but I thought it was toast. He'd just dump the same excuse on them that he did with the unions. CFS had a decent strategy of saying to Williams that "You held the prime minister accountable when he made a promise - we're doing the same thing to you and the promise you made."

I never thought it would work.

It worked.

Fuck me.

No tuition increase, barring major economic collapse, until 2008 (The next provincial election is October 2007, that means an increase can't be announced any earlier than the March 2008 budget.) And it's across the board, which means MUN and CONA students are safe. Hell, med school, engineering and business students are safe as well. The one thing I didn't think to task is if international students are safe as well.

So, you know, mea culpa. Williams backed down and gave you your freeze. So does this mean student politicians are more effective and organized then when I went to MUN?


Monday, March 14, 2005

R-E-S-P-E-C-T...or not

It's not that NAPE president Leo Puddister is a bad guy. From the times I've spoken to him, he certainly seems nice enough and obviously passionate about union causes.

But after seeing the cover of this week's Independent, I have to wonder if he's losing his mind.

Now, Leo's always been colourful. Lord knows some of the suits have been designed to catch people's eyes. And he couldn't be more proud of his Irish heritage. He brings Irish acts into St. John's and I don't know if he makes much money off of them He simply wants to see them play here.

Having said that why, why, why would you decide to dress up like a leprechaun on the front page of a newspaper?

Yup, there he is, with a green suit and bow tie with a giant St. Paddy's day hat pearched askew on his head. And just to prove that he's not going down without a fight, he's in a boxing pose. The fighting leprechaun. Good lord.

I'm not sure if that bell toiling in the distance in the death knell for any respect he had left among non-union people. I mean, it's all well and good to be the fighting leprechaun, but you got your ass kicked badly by the government last year. You went on strike, got nothing but a two year wage freeze and a small raise for the last two years. You drove yourself millions in debt with strike pay and an ad campaign. And any bad will that might have been aimed at the provincial government has since evaporated when Danny brought home $2 billion and change from Ottawa.

That, my friends, constitutes an ass kicking.

And it just keeps on coming. The federal Supreme Court ruled in favour of the government not giving money owed to women for pay equitity because they were in fiscal crisis. There were lay offs, there will likely be more lay-offs after the next budget. Oh, and the only thing the last strike accomplished was that it so badly scared the teachers and nurses that they delayed going on strike, hoping to avoid the same fate. Oh, and isn't NAPE involved in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit?

So overall, not a great 12 months in the life of Leo Puddister. So perhaps the way to generate some respect and confidence from your membership and the general public is to not appear on the cover of a paper wearing a fucking leprechaun outfit.

Ye gods...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The coat makes the man

Way back when I was a member of The Muse (and I occasionally like to depress myself by thinking just how long ago that was. It's now more than 10 years since I left) there was a small group of us who went by the monkier "The Trenchcoat Brigade." It wasn't an original name - writer Neil Gaiman first used it in his excellent comic mini-series "The Books of Magic." Since several of us were enamoured with trenchcoats and wore them everywhere, it only seemed to make sense to adopt it.

Furthermore, I think they were all different colours. One was black, another beige, a grey one and mine was deep green. There was an occasion when the four of us (Chris Myrick, Jaap Tuinman, Dups and myself) heard about a story breaking somewhere on campus. The four of us dashed to the coat rack, grabbed our trenchcoats, swirled them on with a big dramatic gesture and then rushed out of the office, coats flapping behind us. Which we thought was ever so cool.

Some might call us geeks. Actually, with the exception of Dups, I suspect its our respective girlfriend/fiance/wife that would call us that. Dups has no one, but is just mocked by society as a whole.

Anyway, for my brothers in the Trenchcoast Brigade, I give you this story. Since it's the New York Times, you need a password, but just go to bugmenot and get the necessary passwords. We're not actually geeks. We're just misunderstood noir characters out to save a world that doesn't understand us. Yes.

Oh, and to see just how cool the Sin City movie is going to be, go here.

Lucas, you bastard

I'm proud that I didn't actually watch the OC on Tursday night just to catch the new Star Wars trailer. Instead, in an epic display of will power, I managed to wait a whopping 24 hours before cranking open bittorrent and downloading it.

If you haven't found it yet, and I haven't seen a website that has the trailer that doesn't require registration first, you might as well go here or here
and download them. Remember bittorrent is your friend.

My reaction? Well, it looks fucking amazing, that's my reaction. But then again, I thought the same thing with the trailers for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. And I'm not going to say I hated the movies outright. It's just that they were very...mechanical. There was no heart in them, at all. You really needed a Han Solo like character to swing in and take the piss out of everyone ever now and then.

Still, I know I'll be crazy enough to go and see this probably on the opening day. Because I'm a sucker. And because I live in hope that somehow, he can pull it off.

But most probably think he won't. Which is why we have this lovely little bit of mockery. The urination bit is, well, a bit too much. But there is still some funny moments in there. And really, you can never shoot Jar Jar Binks enough.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Holy Legos, Batman

At first I thought this was just some silly lego project, but then I took a look at the background behind it. So it actually is Adam West and Mark Hammell doing the voices. How cool is that? I mean, I hate West's Batman, but this is still a lot of fun. It seemed a bit visually dark to me, but I'm not sure if that's the fault of the animators or something wonky with my computer.

It's also damn slow loading up, but I blame that on Rogers high speed as much as anything. I can't wait to move to an area where I can get Aliant high speed again.

Anyway, it's fun. Have a gander at it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Who us, plagiarize?

For those living in St. John's, there was the little blip that The Telegram fired one of their reporters after discovering he'd used information off web sites in his stories without giving credit. This is a no no and The Telly have sworn up and down that the information was accurate, just not attributed properly.

I'm not going to comment a lot on this. I know who the reporter is, but I'm not going to say his name, even though Canada Now, when reporting the story, did.

Why won't I say anything? Because there are more than a few bloggers out there who have said things they shouldn't have about work and found themselves unemployed as a result. The Telegram and The Express share the same parent company - Transcontinental Media. So I'm not pushing my luck too far.

However, I do have to say one thing. When the story broke, Telegram editor Russell Wangersky went on Radio Noon with Ann Budgell. She was asking questions about the situation and then fired off a question on how serious newspapers take plagerism. Or something along those lines.

I won't pretend to know what was going through Wangersky's mind, but his answer was beautiful. He said that newspaper reporters take plagiarism very seriously and that every one in the province can recall the frustration of hearing one of their stories being read out, verbatim, on local radio and television show.

Oh, it was a beautful zinger. I roared with laughter in the office and the interview got decidedly icier after that. Because Wangersky nailed it in one. Local radio, and to a lesser extent television, are brutal for robbing copy from papers and not attributing it.

It's happened a few times since I came into town, but it happend all the bloody time when I was with The Packet in Clarenville. Because we were the only media for about 100 km in any direction . CBC, VOCM and NTV didn't have a presence in the area. So it was almost a regular occurance that if something was happening in the area, they would "borrow" our copy.

I don't mean we did a story, and then they went and did the same story. I don't care about that. It happens all the time. I'm talking about turning on CBC and hearing the first three paragraphs of one of my stories being read. Without a bloody word being changed. It happened so often with our reporter in Bonavista, Ann Barker, that I told her she should send a freelance receipt to CBC Gander for the number of times her copy was used. Without Attribution.

VOCM is just as bad. All we wanted was a bit of credit. Never happend. We should have complained, I suppose. But I think we were just in shock they would be so brazen about it.

I'm not saying what the reporter with The Telegram did was right. But TV and radio should really watch getting on their high horse about it.

Reporters. We're all bastards, in case you didn't figure that out.

With a wimper, not a bang

So this man has duly chastised me for starting off blogging and then letting it shuffle off and die. And since he is, apparently, standing at my wedding later this year, I suppose I ought to listen to him occassionally. Although for any of you wandering over here because Myrick posted a link, I should warn you that listening to Myrick in prolonged doses can have a profoundly negative effect on your mental health. I've known him for the better part of 13 years. I know what I'm talking about.

Then again, he's standing for me, so the damage is done to me.

So what happened? Blogger initeria, I suspect. I've been sick an annoying amount since my birthday. And since I was never going to be one of these people that age gracefully, turning 35 and then being promptly sick for the better part of six weeks with infections, flus and other bugs puts me in a generally surly mood.

However, I get to see my fiance in two weeks, which is cheering. So I shall now attempt to blog a few things.