Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's testy out there

Thanks for the laugh, Karin....

Last Five
1. Why do they leave - Ryan Adams
2. Hex (live) - Neko Case
3. One thing leads to another - The Fixx
4. Stand and deliver - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
5. Somehow, someday - Ryan Adams

Lowering the limit

There was some racket last week about the Conservatives planning on listing the names of offenders who committed serious violent crimes who were as young as 14. And charging them as adults. I confess, it's one of those issues that I'm a bit perplexed as to why the prime minister decided to make a big deal out of it by dragging it up in the middle of an election campaign. There are plenty of big issues to deal with in this campaign. And I know violence, especially in places like Toronto and Vancouver, is a concern. But is it that big a deal?

(I would add Nunavut to this list, but realistically, if someone commits a serious crime up here and is charged, everyone in town knows who it is within a day, if not less. So the legislation doesn't make a tinker's damn worth of difference).

But the point is, would it make a difference? Would it deter crime in the slightest? Would it make things actually worse?

There are, I'm sure, some very smart people arguing both sides of that point. But when I was scrolling through some comments on a Globe and Mail story, someone floated up what I thought was a particularly clever idea that I would enthusastically support.

If you're going to start holding people as young as 14 accountable to this level, if you going to start treating and punishing them as adults, well clearly you need to start giving them some of the same rights as adults.

That means lowering the voting age. I think 14 might be pushing it a bit too much, but I would certainly support the idea of lowering the voting age to 16. I think that would prove to be an interesting shift in the way elections are run. The youth vote is traditionally ignored by most campaigns. You'll have some leaders show up on university campuses and speak a few words, but that's about it.

But just imagine if they actually had to start paying attention to people in high school? If when the prime minister floated the idea of tougher standards in youth criminal justice, the same youth that this would impact would have a say. I imagine more time might be spent discussing educational and environmental issues as well. For that matter, it would also get students more interested in political issues and the world around them. Again, all good things as far as I can see.

It would provide an interesting, and mostly positive, shift in the public discussion. Yes, some will argue that at 16 they would be too immature to handle the responsibility of voting. My first counter to that is to tell them to read the feedback section on the Globe's and CBC's websites. If you're going to use immaturity to discount someone's right to vote, I suggest you start subpoenaing their websites for the names of people posting so you can start banning them now before they have a chance to cast their vote and do damage.

Some will take it seriously, some will not. Which means they're perfectly inline with the rest of the Canadian public.

Yes, you have to draw a line somewhere. There has to be a cut-off point for when a person can vote. And people do grow up a lot from 16 to 18. But I don't think 16 is so immature that they can't listen to the arguments and make a decision on which candidate and party would best serve their interests.

So let's see some party float that out there as a suppliment to the discussion on youth criminal justice. I'd like to hear the debate.

Last Five
1. How to save a life - The Fray
2. Feelin' alright - Joe Cocker
3. Blush - The Raveonettes
4. Good is good - Sheryl Crow
5. The last worthless evening - Don Henley

Monday, September 29, 2008


"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." - Obi-wan Kenobi

Or, you know, maybe it was the US economy being destroyed. You know, six of one, half dozen of another. It's often hard to tell the differences between big noises to the south when you're this far north.

To think that I would live to see such times. It's going to make that meeting with my investment counsellor that much more interesting next week.

There are times when I think George Bush is Darth Vader's retarded little brother, I swear to God...

Last Five
1. Fingers in the factories - Editors*
2. The dreaming - Kate Bush
3. I'm ready - Tracy Chapman
4. Skinwalker - Robbie Robertson
5. Eventually - Brendan Benson

Sunday, September 28, 2008


So, I'm just curious about something on the ground in Newfoundland.

Judging by nearly every story and piece of commentary I've read on the Canadian election so far, the Conservatives are going to win. And it's looking increasingly likely that they're going to pull off a majority. Now, somehow I'm going to have to make my peace with that. I don't really recall the last time the Conservatives had a majority in Canada being a particularly fun time for me or the country, but 15 years have apparently dulled the memories a bit.

But anyway, it's probably going to be a Conservative majority. Oh, things could change, but it's going to depend on a massive Harper screw-up. At this point, Canadians aren't going to magically discover the charms of Stephane Dion. It's fairly safe to say that as far as the Canadian electorate is concerned, he has no charms. I've already read stories about the Liberals sharpening their knives for after the election. So Dion is doomed. There's nothing he can do about it. There's nothing the Liberals can really do about it at this point. It's been two years, people just aren't warming to him or the Liberals. The only way they get elected is if Harper is found with kiddie porn on his computer. And that's a hard way to base a winning political strategy.

So given that Harper is going to win, what does this do to Premier Williams ABC strategy? Perhaps it makes no difference whatsoever. Maybe the premier doesn't particularly give a damn one way or another.

Now, I thought ABC was a particularly silly strategy....the wisdom of having our province represented in the federal cabinet by someone from Nova Scotia is...? But sure, if you want to use it as a strategy to maybe slap the federal Conservatives around, see if you could get a few concessions (assuming you hadn't just spent the last year in a immature pissing match the prime minister, that is).

But, the Conservatives are going to win. So, do you take your foot off the gas with about two weeks left? I know the premier isn't going to do anything silly like saying he's changed his mind about ABC or even tell people they can go ahead and vote for whomever they want.

But is he going to stop talking about it so much? Are cabinet minister going to stop campaigning for Liberals and NDP in different federal ridings? Is there going to be an easing up? Will ABC drop off the radar?

Probably not. I imagine the premier's ego is exactly that large. And the only two riding where the Conservatives have a shot are Avalon and St. John's East. And given Williams' personal grudges against Fabian Manning and Craig Westcott, you get the feeling he would be trying to sabotage even if they weren't running for Harper.

But hell, I'm curious. Does anyone see a slowing down of the ABC campaign? Or does anyone think it will slow down?

Last Five
1. Lost together - Blue Rodeo*
2. Don't think twice, it's all right - Bob Dylan
3. First day of my life - Bright Eyes
4. Twisted logic - Coldplay
5. Toys - Colleen Power

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate results, part II

So, 24 hours later who won the debate? It's a distinction worth mentioning. At the end of the debate, I thought it was pretty close to a draw. No knock-out blows, no gaffes and both men spoke knowledgeably about the issues.

However, 24 hours is a long time in post-debate spin. Both sides have had their partisans out in force, plus there's a veritable ton of media, bloggers and everyone else out there shooting off their opinions. Oh yes, and polls.

So who won? Obama, it appears. FiveThirtyEight has its usual excellent analysis of what happened with overnight polls. While pundits were saying it was a draw or maybe a small victory for McCain, people watching tended to favour it toward Obama. Plus, he seemed to have alleviated the worries of some voters on whether or not he's capable of being president.

The most interesting thing I've seen post-debate hasn't been a fixation on the issues, but on McCain's body language. It was something I noticed a bit last night. He never looked at Obama when they were debating. He had a hard time looking at him even when they were shaking hands. Talking Points Memo, an admittedly pro-Democrat site has an interesting theory - that it might not be condescension towards his opponent, as some thing, but rather an anger management issue. McCain is infamous for his temper and this might be his way of dealing with it. People with anger issues often don't make eye contact with people they're really pissed off with for fear they might lose it.

So that might explain the weirdness involving body language. There also appears to be some interest to see what Saturday Night Live will do this evening. Now, I'm long past think SNL is that influential, but their skit spoofing Sarah Palin a few weeks ago certainly caught fire. If they do one mocking McCain's body language, well, McCain could find himself having lost the PR spin batter despite not losing the debate. Impressive feat, really.

And things don't get any easier. There's the vice-president's debate on Thursday. And it's becoming increasingly evident that whatever love affair the Right might have had with Palin is over and done with. Some are really unhappy. And if you believe this report there appears to be genuine despair inside the McCain camp on how she will do on Thursday, having bombed in both a mock debate and press conference.

I tend to be wary about this sort of thing. Expectations games are being played all the time in debates and they can't possibly get much lower. So if she's not a complete blubbering idiot, then that will be a victory of sorts. Sadly, I won't be able to watch as I'll be on my way back to Newfoundland. But if she does crash and burn, on top of everything else that's happening in this race, McCain might be looking at a slaughter come November 4th.

Last Five
1. Love is a place - Metric
2. Ode to lrc - Band of Horses*
3. A stone would cry out - Sam Roberts
4. Spare parts II and closing - Tom Waits
5. A villa in Portugal - The Pursuit of Happiness

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate results

Well, they're on TV spinning the hell out of things both on TV and online. And, of course, each side is claiming they won and analysts are giving their take on things.

And in my own small corner of the universe in which no one in the United States likely gives the slightest care about? I really would call it a draw. Both men spoke intelligently and passionately about the issues. Yes, McCain might have more experience and been to more parts of the world, but I think as was ably shown, it doesn't mean he made better decisions with that knowledge.

So will either man benefit? I'm not sure. On the one hand, McCain needed to come out and show he knows what he's doing. After the last week, he's looked fairly incompetent and irrational. So it's good for him that he sounds knowledgeable about foreign affairs.

The bad news for McCain? Obama sounded like he knew what he was talking about just as well. And saying "Senator Obama just doesn't understand" or "Senator Obama is naive" a lot just doesn't make it so when Obama sounded quite reasonable in his arguments.

The other downside for McCain? Foreign policy is his strong point and that debate is now over and done with. Oh, there might be another chance to discuss Iraq in the second debate, a town hall, but most people from here on in are going to care about the economy. And while neither man wowed on that front this evening, you get the feeling the longer McCain has to talk about it, the more uncertain he's going to seem.

Neither man harmed themselves this evening. Given that Obama is up by about three points in most national polls and battleground state polls are swinging his way as well, a no-lose debate is probably a small victory for Obama. He didn't put McCain away this evening, but realistically speaking, that wasn't all that likely anyway.

Next up, the vice-presidential slaughter, er, debate. Interesting the Joe Biden was there for Democrats to give a response. Sarah Palin was offered the chance to respond, but the McCain campaign refused to let her. That's probably the saddest thing I heard this evening, actually.

Last Five
1. My party - Kings of Leon
2. I want to be the boy to warm your mother's heart - White Stripes
3. If I had a $1,000,000 - Barenaked Ladies
4. Easter (comedy) - Bill Hicks
5. We'll never sleep - Rilo Kiley

My prediction

Still some uncertainty this morning about whether or not the presidential debates will go ahead this evening. My prediction is that they will. McCain will say something like "I'm confident enough that a deal is close that I can go down to Mississippi and do the debates and then return to complete the deal."

Which is bullshit, of course. No one in politics or media thinks he's making the slightest bit of positive difference in Washington and more than a few think he's made things worse.

But he really can't give Obama a 90 minute prime time forum to talk about foreign policy and the economy without being their to rebut him. It would be a serious blow to the campaign.

So yeah, he'll be there. Whether or not he'll be in any kind of proper shape to give a lively debate is another matter altogether. He's looked pretty ragged the last few days.

Last Five
1. The twist - Chubby Checker
2. Dumb - Garbage*
3. And your bird can sing - The Beatles
4. The complex - Blue Man Group
5. Sinkin' soon - Norah Jones

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tunnel to Nowhere

There's still plenty of time left in this absolutely massive political cycle. There's nearly three weeks left in the federal election, more than a month in the territorial election and 40 whole wacky days left in the US presidential election. So I don't want to name the stupidest thing this cycle because, hey, there's lots of time left. Something stupider might actually come down the pipe.

I mean, today alone we had VP candidate Sarah Palin try to explain how being near an isolated part of Russia counts as foreign policy experience. If I'm the Democrats, I want her explaining that all day long. That's too much fun. There's no way it sounds any more intelligent or reasonable the more she explains it.

And hell, whatever John McCain is up to in Washington may well be the stupidest thing that we're likely to see in quite some time. But the jury is still out on that one.

But for right now, the winner for the stupidest things I've heard so far, goes to Canada. To which we can narrow it further to Newfoundland, and specifically Walter Noel, the Liberal candidate for St. John's East. Because with discussion happening in the United States about the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, maybe now is not the time to raise the idea of a Tunnel to Nowhere.

I'm sure the people of Bell Island would argue that they're nowhere, but a tunnel that would sure cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to an island with a population of 2,400, well, it might as well be nowhere. Hell, we can't get a tunnel built from Newfoundland to Labrador and that one almost kind of makes sense (Hey, how is that study going Danny?). This? This is the sign of a truly desperate man who just took a long walk off the edge of a wharf.

There was a time I liked Walter Noel. He's still the subject of one of my all-time favourite photos that I've taken, which would be this one.

Why do I like this photo so much? Because it was taken about a week before the 2003 provincial election. And while the other two candidates that I photographed for that riding profile flashed the big politician smile, this is what Walter gave me...an honest, tired look of a man who knew he was well and truly fucked in that election. And he was. It's an honest look, which is why I like it so much.

However, that lost and the past five years have clearly eaten Noel's mind. A tunnel to Bell Island. Dear God. It's that stupid and crazy I almost wonder what the hell he's thinking.

Fortunately, there's no need to dwell on it too much. Noel has virtually no chance of winning that seat and there are two other far better candidates running in Craig Westcott and Jack Harris. Still, always a bit of a shame to see a half decent man clearly have lost it that badly.

Last Five
1. Clocks - Coldplay
2. I am talking to this flower - Camper Van Beethoven
3. Tonight tonight - Smashing Pumpkins
4. Past in present - Feist
5. Put your hands on me - Joss Stone

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Assorted snark

Apparently one of these days where I read something and a flippant comment immediately comes to mind. Such as...

1. Singer Clay Aiken comes out of the closet. In other news, snow is expected to fall in Iqaluit this winter.

I actually saw Aiken perform when I saw Spamalot in New York back back in April. He was...all right, I guess. I kept think how much more fun it would have been to have seen the show when David Hyde Pierce was in it. Also, there were a lot of women screaming everytime Aiken did something and were lining up to buy things being auctioned off at the end of the show for charity that he had signed. So I think they might be disappointed. Not to mention deeply deluded for quite some time.

2. Is it wrong that the first thought that came to mind when I read that porn star Jenna Jamieson is pregnant with twins was "well, I guess she won't be needing a c-section"?

3. Some people get freaked out by clowns. I'm not one of them, but I do have friends who hate clowns and get the seriously hebbie jebbies over anything to do with clowns. So here's something to deeply freak them the fuck out...a link to a story about a naked clown calander. Yes, people wearing face paint, naked, except for strategically placed...pies. Among other objects.

You know, I don't even want to think about the kind of search results I'm going to get going through this blog now that I've included the words "naked clowns."

4. Nicole Kidman credits special "fertility water" for getting her pregnant. Yes, I think the rest of us call it semen, but if your husband calls it magic fertility water and you believe him, well, good for you.

Those Scientologist sure are wacky.

However, on the off chance there was magic water in Kununurra, I note that it's in western Australia and myself and Cathy will be sticking very much to the east coast. So despite the fact that it looks like quite a nice place, I think we're safe from any magic pregnancies during the trip.

5. Best snarky political quip of the day from the always relaible for snark Maureen Dawd of the New York Times - "Sarah (Palin) speed dated diplomacy on Tuesday."

Edited to add: A search for "naked clowns" came through at 3:47 am last night. So (a) that didn't take long at all and (b) it's best probably not to think about what kind of person is looking for naked clowns at that hour of the morning.

Last Five
1. Hymn of the medical oddity - The Weakerthans
2. Mo ghile mear (our hero) - Sting and the Chieftains*
3. God put a smile upon your face - Coldplay
4. MLK (live) - U2
5. Down in the ground where the dead men go - The Pogues

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clever, but bad

If I never heard the phrase Great Depression 2.0 again, that would be all right with me.

I mean, it's clever and all, but I want to find the person who coined it and smack the crap out of him. Repeatedly. For many hours.

It is such an odd feeling, continuing on with your life as normal while everyone else is screaming that the sky is falling and that we're all doomed. I don't know if it's the bizarre isolation bubble that comes from living where we do or just the reality of the world these days. We've all been doomed so many times through so many different ways in recent years (Avian Flu, terrorists, Anthrax, giant asteroid strikes, Paris Hilton) that I wonder if the general public just builds up a certain level of immunity towards disaster after awhile.

"The US economy is about to catastrophically collapse! We're all doomed!"

"Cool, is that the new Will Smith movie where he plays a banker with the secret codes that can save Wall Street and jump start the economy? I've been wanting to see that."

I suspect that if the world ever did come to an end, it wouldn't be with a bang or a whimper. It would be with a "WTF? Is that it? Dude, that was lame."


In other amusing things from the growing disaster to the south, I managed to find some mirth in these two things.

First, beware if you get an email from Minister of Treasury Paulson looking for $800 billion. It might be one of those scam emails you hear about. Or even more scary, completely legit.

Secondly, if you think reporters are getting frustrated with the McCain campaign and the almost complete lack of access to Gov. Sarah Palin, take a gander at this lede from the usually reserved AP. It is quite possibly the best lede I've read in ages.

Less than a week after balking at the Alaska Legislature's investigation into her alleged abuse of power, Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday indicated she will cooperate with a separate probe run by people she can fire.

I challenge local reporters to come up with a lede more snarky and dead on than that one.

Last Five
1. I sing the body electric - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. Spring haze (live) - Tori Amos
3. Fantasize - Liz Phair
4. It makes me wonder - Blue Rodeo
5. The miller's daughter (live) - Spirit of the West*

I love the world

I absolutely cannot explain why we love this ad, but both myself and Cathy do. It's also terribly addictive. We saw it last night and Cathy spent the next couple of hours humming it. Then again, I believe the song is from Guides and Cathy was involved with them for years. So I can see where it would get stuck in her head easily.

I just think it's clever and cool. And I love the bit with the Mythbusters.

Last Five
1. Rainy day women #12 and 35 - Bob Dylan
2. Hard way to fall - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
3. Belief - John Mayer
4. Emergency Roadside Assistance - Sean Panting*
5. It's a disaster - OK Go

Monday, September 22, 2008

No sign

I was reading this story about how some Obama organizers were in a minor panic because they were not able to get campaign signs. There was a concern that they were losing the ground game because there were more McCain signs around.

Quinn, whose site is a must read if you're interested in polling during the US presidential election, nicely smacks these people around. Signs make people feel good and give them a nice souvenir, but accomplish little when it comes to getting people out to vote or, you know, actually winning the election.

However, while reading Quinn's amusing post, I had another thought. One of the things I'm absolutely dreading when I get home is the staggering volume of political signs that will be littered everywhere. I imagine when I drive down the parkway I'll have to deal with the usual bullshit of passing one political sign for every second the car is in motion.

But here's the thing, if political campaigns hate signs because they're a waste of money and are a tremendous drain on volunteers' time in ordering and distributing them, then why do so many campaigns go absolutely batshit insane over them? Yes, I understand the weird psychology that goes along with them - that if your opponent has more signs up than you, he or she must be doing better than you are. Retarded, but there you go.

So can I suggest something? It can be at the provincial or federal level, I don't really care. And yeah, sign makers will hate this, but they can fucking deal. A ban on all political signs on public property. In fact, the only place you can advertise is on private property. If an individual wants to stick a sign up on his lawn, go mad. If a business owner wants to put a sign up in her window, no problem. A politician wants to stick a sign up on an island with a stoplight on it, no way.

Less hassle for politicians, a prettier looking area for the electorate and sign makers, well, they'll take a hit. But if it means not having to look at 100,000 signs while I'm home, I'm all about it.

Last Five
1. Talk about the passion - REM
2. Lord, I'm discouraged - The Hold Steady
3. Experiment IV - Kate Bush
4. Suzanne (live) - Tori Amos
5. Paddy's lament - Flogging Molly

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No more Sundays

I don't know why I'm surprised, but I confess the news that The Telegram is folding its Sunday edition did catch me off guard. However, it makes perfect sense, really. The Sunday Telegram was never really about making money for the company. Oh, if it did, that would be nice and all. No, the Sunday edition was all about making sure the competition didn't make money. It was brought into existence to kill The Sunday Express and did it's job quite ably (with some assistance). It lingered around long enough to also do the job on The Express and The Independent.

Of the local papers left in town - The Muse, The Current and The Scope - none are going to be competition for the Telegram. They're all niche papers. That's not ripping the quality of either The Muse or The Scope, by the way (I don't care much at all for The Current). They're both good papers, but certainly no threat to The Telegram's circulation or ad revenue. And with no immediate competition, why keep around the Sunday edition?

I am curious if the Sunday Telly was losing money, or not making enough to make it worth the effort. I'm also curious if this will mean any staff lay-offs, either in editorial, sales or production.

You know, I've heard the complaint about editorial copy and direction in The Telegram being influenced by Transcontinental offices in Quebec. And I actually side with the people at the paper annoyed by those complaints. I don't think that's the case. Having said that, I've never liked the way Transcontinental does business. I didn't like what they did to The Humber Log, although it was always a troubled paper. I despised what they did to The Express, which had its troubles but only really started to go down hill after the company bought it. And I'm sure the folks who worked with The Daily News in Halifax might have a few words to say as well about Transcon's business schemes.

Look, I'm not an idiot. I know the newspaper business is in trouble. Circulation numbers are taking hits everyone. I think you're going to see a lot more papers fold over the next decade. Well, those with uncreative publishers who have no clue how to adapt are going to fold.

And I remained to be convinced that Transcontinental is one of the clever publishers. They haven't shown me much of anything so far. They seems far too willing to cut their losses too quickly or have no clue how to make something that might be struggling work.

I come back to the same quote I like to use whenever Transcon does something that kind of annoys me. When The Express and the rest of the old Optipress papers were bought, I asked a friend working with The Telegram what to expect. He said, "you'll love them for the first six months. After that, well...."

Last Five
1. Loose translation - The New Pornographers
2. The town halo - A.C. Newman
3. You're going to quit me - Bob Dylan
4. Riding the flame/Little beggarman - The Flash Girls
5. Save this house - Spirit of the West*

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Northern exposure

Well, that goes to show how out of it I was today. The Prime Minister of Canada swings by the capital for a visit and the first I hear of it is a story on the Globe and Mail website. Not that I would have gone out and seen him anyway. I'm still feeling sick, the weather up here sucked today (flurries, winds around 75 km/h and a wind chill around -6C) and I've met enough politicians in my day that the opportunity to gawk, or mock, one is nothing special.

Still, there are two things worthy of noting by this visit. First, he came up here. As the story notes, he basically blew a whole day on the campaign trail to come to Iqaluit. What does that mean? Well, that he must be feeling pretty good about his chances of landing a majority if he's willing to waste a day to win one seat. And that yeah, he also must be feeling pretty good about his odds of winning Nunavut.

This is also about the only interesting that's happened in the riding since the start of the election. Granted, things tend to be quiet up here during federal elections, but outside a few signs and posters you'd hardly know anything was happening. Most of the signs appear to be for the Liberal candidate Kirt Ejesiak, but I'm not sure sign volume has much to do with anything. Although one of the people living in my building does have a Leona Aglukkaq sign up in her window.

And what's the second thing of interest? Well, Harper's commitment to create a northern regional development agency. This should somewhat familiar to anyone living in Newfoundland as it appears to be somewhat similar to ACOA. What will this mean for Nunavut? Hard to say. On the surface it appears to be at least some attempt at taking northern, and specifically Nunavut, issues more seriously. Whether it leads to any significant improvements in infrastructure, housing, resource development and social issues is another thing all-together.

It'll be worth watching to see if anything more come of it. For that matter, it'll be interesting to see if Dion, Layton or May makes a venture up here in the next three weeks or so. Somehow, I kind of doubt it.

Last Five
1. From me to you - The Beatles*
2. Farewell ride - Beck
3. Getting down - The Kills
4. Walcott - Vampire Weekend
5. Trip through your wires - U2

Friday, September 19, 2008


Alas, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and I'm home sick with a head that feels about two sizes too large to be contained in my current skull, combined with a wicked sore throat and sneezing. All in all, not very pirate-y feeling. I can barely muster up a half-hearted "arrgh". There will certainly be no looting or pillaging in my current state.

Instead, I encourage my northern blogger brethren to feel free to go on a pirating spree. Go forth and terrify your local communities by wearing an eye-patch, swinging around a cutlass and generally making a massive nuisance of yourself. Besides, isn't it past time you had people in town looking at you even more strangely than normal.

As for myself, I think I might settle down and watch the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and read "Polly and the Pirates".

It's not a particularly terrifying pirate tale, but the story of a boarding school girl who finds out her mom was a Pirate Queen and hid away a massive secret treasure is amusing enough fare when your brain is a stage up from mush, as mine is today.

Anyway, go have fun. Arrgh and all that good stuff. Drink a grog or two for me.

Last Five
1. When we are together - Texas
2. City of blinding lights - U2*
3. Over my head - The Fray
4. Sleep spent - Death Cab for Cutie
5. Gypsy biker - Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, September 18, 2008


One of the few new movies coming out between now and the end of the year that is a must see is the Bond flick - Quantum of Solace. Considering how good Casino Royale was, the standards for this one are obviously pretty high. And I even like the title. God forbid you use an unusual word in a movie title.

One of the things I've been curious about is the new Bond theme song "Another Way to Die" mainly because they got Jack White to do it with Alica Keys to help out with the vocals. I give White the big benefit of the doubt on most things simply because the White Stripes played Iqaluit last year. That might not get you a life time pass on producing bad music, but it certainly buys you a lot of extra grace.

The song was up on YouTube earlier today, but got pulled by the label. However, you can listen to it here.

I've only listened to it a few times. So far, it's....all right. I mean, it may grow on me, but it doesn't have the feel of an instant Bond classic. It's no "Live and Let Die" or "The Spy Who Loved Me". On the upside, it is certainly better than the last two Bond songs - "You Know My Name" and "Die Another Day". The last Bond song I really liked was "The World is Not Enough", but I've always been fond of the band Garbage.

What do the rest of you think?

Last Five
1. Simple love - Allison Krauss
2. Fantasize - Liz Phair
3. Yankee bayonet - The Decemberists
4. Wind it up - Barenaked Ladies
5. Still fighting it - Ben Folds

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I've been on quite a roll with my writing the last couple of weeks. One of those bursts of energy where you have no problem finding something to write about. I could go to a website and find five things I wanted to write about. I always enjoy those bursts, but they're a bit manic-depressive because I know they won't last and at some point the well is going to run dry again.

It's only one day, of course, and tomorrow there might be five things begging to be written about. But this evening, nada. Not even Anonymous hacking Sarah Palin's Yahoo account can really get me worked up. I'd actually feel some degree of sympathy for Palin because hacking an email account is a horrible breech of privacy. Except, of course, it appears the account was set up as a way of Palin and her inner circle to discuss controversial issues without being subject to Alaska's Access to Information legislation. Government emails can be subject to an Access to Information request, but not private email accounts like Yahoo or Gmail. Nice. There goes the sympathy right out the window.

Then there's the notion of an $85 billion bail out of a fucking insurance company is a good thing. I'm still wrapping my mind around the idea that is a good thing. Judging by the stock markets today, so are a lot of other people. As I like to say from time to time, that one is above my paygrade. A lot of very smart people seem to have absolutely no clue what all of this means, except that it's probably going to get uglier.

And that's all I've got. Sad, but true. Plus I feel a cold coming on so the ability to ramble on at length is abandoning me. Maybe tomorrow.

Last Five
1. Tell me a lie - The Fratellis
2. The end - The Beatles*
3. Shape of my heart - Sting
4. I am a rock - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
5. Australia - The Shins

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Assorted silliness

A nice couple of hours out last night in what turned out to be an almost informal gathering of the Iqaluit Blogging Society, what with me, Kate, Elvis and Dooner hanging out for a couple of hours. Despite my statement last night that I was off to go drinking, I didn't. Never have managed to find an alcoholic beverage that I enjoy. Beer doesn't do it for me. I can tolerate red wine or rum and coke, but it's not anything that wows me enough to make me pay the silly prices of alcohol up here.

Oh well, one of these days I'll figure it out.

Anyway, yes, nice time, with people patiently listening to me talk about curling and kindly not slipping into a coma when I talked about the novel. And myself and Elvis are both in agreement on celebrating the day when major record labels will collapse and die because they are no longer needed.

However, I will stick by this curious observation. Perfectly nice weather in Iqaluit the past few days. A few flurries, sure, but nothing serious. Kate lands in town yesterday afternoon. This morning, the ground in Iqaluit is covered with snow.

Coincidence? I don't know. I've suggested to Kate that she needs to return to Rankin Inlet until we can scientifically verify whether or not she's the cause. She seems....unenthused about the idea.

I don't think I can bear to comment on either the US presidential or Canadian elections today. The Canadian election continues to be deeply boring on a national level. Things remain quiet on the northern front, with the only headline from CBC today that the three candidates are travelling. Woo....hoo. And I haven't heard anything fun out of St. John's East in the last couple of days. Boring.

The US election is shaping up to have one of those deeply silly days when instead of looking at the different platforms from Obama and McCain on how to deal with the econmic crisis, there are stories on whether or not McCain is claiming to have invented the Blackberry and that one of his financial advisors said neither McCain or Palin could run her old company.

At least it's not debating whether the phrase "lipstick on a pig" is sexist makes you either a heroic defender of women's right or a complete moron. I should be greatful for minor favours.

Although I guess I should note some improvement on the presidential front, even if it's at the university level. Gil Dalton, MUN's Board of Regents chairperson, will not renew his term. The very least he could do, really, given the damage he did as chair of the Regents. It's not viewed as very serious body right now. Someone needs to step up and do a much better job of making it very apparent the Regents are not in the premier's pocket.

The bad news is, doesn't look like MUN is going to have a president any time soon. Disappointing, if not unexpected.

Finally, Alumni Affairs still hasn't sent me a reason why provincial privacy legislation precludes them from releasing the Board of Regents election results. It's going on about three weeks since I first made the request. I've been patient and tried to work quietly on this, but it's starting to get a bit silly again, I fear.

Last Five
1. What would you say to me, lord? - Hawksley Workman*
2. Lentil - Sia
3. Night moves - Bob Seger
4. Sunday mornings - Maroon 5
5. Naked as we came - Iron & Wine

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is it time to freak out yet?

Much like John McCain, there's a great deal about economic issues I don't really understand as well as I should. However, on the plus side for me, at least I don't aspire to be president of the United States so the only really damage inflicted my lack knowledge on the issue is on myself and Cathy. And not, you know, the entire planet.

This has obviously been one deeply scary 24-hour period. Nothing like watching huge investment banks collapse like, well, since it's that time of the year, giant towers. Things you thought could never fail and then are reduced to rubble in the blink of an eye.

It's some deeply scary shit no matter what your level of expertise on economics and fiscal matters (I take some small, cold comfort in that if I'm having problems grasping the extent of this crisis, then people much smarter than me are also having problems defining its scope). Cathy and I have been chatting about some of these things in recent weeks. With my impending return home, the plan was to meet with our financial advisor, top up our RRSPs and put some more money away for the "house fund."

Hell, we were even thinking about using the house fund sooner rather than later. Given how small our apartment is and the highly unlikely possibility of finding another apartment in town that meets our needs (reasonable size, allows dogs, and where I won't want to kill the neighbours) anytime soon, we'd begun to think about buying a house in Iqaluit at some point next year.

It was, of all things, something in the Scope which said the average house price in Canada in July of this year was a shade over $300,000. Which does put into perspective that the $350,000 to $400,000 for something similar up here is out of whack, but not completely mental, like I've thought for the past three years.

But then you read the news this morning and my first reaction was probably something similar to what my grandparents and great-parents had....that is to find a large pillow or to start hollowing out the mattress.

I know that "this too shall pass", but there is something about giving your advisor, say, $5,000, and watching it magically turn into $1,000 over night that does give you pause. I was talking to my dad the other day, letting him know I was coming home and what was on the agenda. He said investing some money right now would probably be a good idea because the market had probably reached bottom.

Understand, my father is pretty adept at his investments and is considered in my family to be very well off and to have his retirement finances nicely lined up. So seeing him proven this spectacularly wrong in quite so short a period of time does give you some pause.

So I guess we'll see about investing more money right now. Or buying a house.

In the meantime, I'm off to join the recently returned Kate Nova and friends for an alcoholic beverage or two. Drinking seems a sane reaction to the day's events, when you think about it.

Last Five (this is quite the random set of Canadian 80s/90s pop music.)
1. Misunderstanding - Grapes of Wrath
2. Moonlight desires - Gowan*
3. Arias and symphonies - Spoons
4. I will remember you - Sarah McLachlan
5. She kiss away - The Pursuit of Happiness

Sunday, September 14, 2008

National Post

Because my weekend couldn't get much stranger....the National Post links here because of the St. John's North battle between Craig Westcott and Danny Williams. Well, technically it's between Westcott and Jack Harris. Maybe even Walter Noel, if you're feeling particularly generous.

But no, it's really Westcott vs. Williams. It'll be interesting when this is all over to take a look at the list of people who will donate money to Harris's campaign, now that I think about it. I wonder how much Williams is good for?

But anyway, I've been linked to by one of the most conservative bloggers in Canada and by a conservative national newspaper all in about 24 hours. Bizarre.

Last Five
1. Words of fire, deeds of blood - Robbie Robertson*
2. Leather (live) - Tori Amos
3. Waiting for nothing - Hot Hot Heat
4. It's over - Tom Waits
5. Silver dove - Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens

And so it begins

It had been a gray day in Iqaluit today, so when I saw some sun start to break out a few minutes ago, it was cause for some rejoicing. Then I looked off in the distance and noticed the sky around the airport seemed....weird.

It looked like it might be fog. Then I noticed the flags were flapping full tilt and thought maybe it was some dust being blown around, although that struck me as being a bit weird. Then the cloud started moving closer and I could make out the details.


So mark that on the calendar, my first new snow of the season was September 14. Apparently it snowed the other day, but I was at work and my office doesn't have an outside window, so I missed it. But there was no missing this. It only lasted a few minutes and it's gone now. But still,....there's your omen. Winter isn't far off.

As for the rest of the day here at the Chateau, it's mostly one of sloth. We did lots yesterday, today's the day to relax. So Cathy's reading and after a long break I'm back to editing the book. The new resolution is that it is finished by the end of November and then send it out into the world. I can keep picking at it forever. At some point it has to go and live and die on its own. Besides, I have a couple of other novel ideas I'd like to start working on, and that's not going to happen until I start to move past this one.

It's hard for me to judge, but I think it's all right. It's no work of staggering genius or anything, but it might be good enough to get published. I'll find out soon enough, I guess...

Last Five
1. Rags to riches - Tony Bennett and Elton John
2. Girl - Beck
3. Proper nice - Joss Stone
4. Song for you - Andy Stochansky*
5. C'mon - Blue Rodeo

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday notes

An assortment of points.

1. I've been really pleased with my traffic through the blog lately...I suspect it's partially my political rantings, but who knows. However, today was looking like a slow day....that is until Damien Penny linked to my article on Craig Westcott. I think I've had about 100 people so far come over to read what I've said about Craig in the space of a few hours.

So yeah, that sort of puts into perspective what big traffic numbers are. Dear God, how many people must read his blog in the run of a day?

2. Since there seems to be some confusion about this and perhaps I didn't make it clear in the last post. If you're a member of the Conservative party, then that a big 'C'. If you just a have a few conservative beliefs, then that's a small 'c'. For example, if you were to ask me about Westcott up until last week, I would have said he probably had some conservative beliefs, but I wouldn't have been sure if he would vote for the Conservative party because of some of the things he's said in the past.

Then again, considering Westcott's yelled at pretty much everyone in recent years, I don't know who he would have vote for.

3. An almost busy day for us up here at the Chateau. Cathy was up early calling Aeroplan to take care of the last bits of trip to Australia next year. Then we were off to the mass registration. Cathy signed up for badminton, scrap booking and swimming. I have curling and, sigh swimming.

I never learned how to swim growing up. I actually did take some adult swimming lessons about 10 years ago, but then promptly stopped swimming. Use or lose it, as the saying goes and I lost it. So while I'm not expecting miracles in these lessons, it would be nice to have enough confidence to get into the water in Australia next year to go snorkeling or, in a dream world, maybe learn how to do some basic scuba.

So yeah, swimming lessons. We'll see how it goes.

4. We also hit the Arctic Ventures sea lift sale. I'm kind of immune to price shock up here at this point. You buy it and you barely even look at the price anymore, because most of the time you need it, so stop griping over the price. But I think some of those high fuel costs people have been complaining about down south have finally taken hold up here. Those prices today certainly struck me as being a lot more expensive than they were last year. Or maybe it's just me.

5. And because it wouldn't be a post without something political, two observation into the ongoing racket involving VP nominee Sarah Palin.
a. Saying "screw the media" for either legitimate or illegitimate reasons might work in the short term and motivate your base, but it's a losing strategy in the long run. No campaign wins by trying to do a long war with the media.
b. And now that the initial frenzy over who Palin is (and I confess to being part of that initial frenzy) and the more serious, thoughtful journalists are doing proper investigative work, the kind that can take days or weeks, it's not looking any better for her. This wave after wave of negative coverage questioning previous judgments and fitness to be vice president is just going to wear away the initial enthusiasm.

But as with all things, time will tell...

Last Five
1. Lady Madonna - The Beatles
2. Beauty of speed - Tori Amos
3. Music - Joss Stone
4. O Valencia! - The Decemberists
5. July Jones - The New Pornographers*

Friday, September 12, 2008

In defence of Craig Westcott

I've watched Craig Westcott get kicked around for a few days now, by both bloggers and media. Now, lord knows Westcott is a big boy and doesn't really need anyone to rush to his defence. But I think what amuses me the most is the shocked "But why on Earth would he run for the shudder....Conservatives?"

Ummm, because he is one?

Now, understand, I've never had a discussion with Westcott (and I hope he forgives the rudeness of me using his last name and the presumption that he needs defending. From what I've read, he seems to be doing just fine so far) about his politcal party leanings. However, I'm guessing he's a Conservative just by observation. Westcott created a business newspaper. Prior to that, he was also editor of publications focusing on the oil and mining industries. He's very comfortable, in fact enthusiastic, in writing about subjects that would put me in a coma if I tried.

You don't have to be a conservative to find these things interesting, but it helps. And he also runs in these circles a lot, knows the people, gets along with them and understands their problems and, I suspect, to a degree empathizes with them. Remember, he's a businessman. He's running the Business Post practically by himself. It's something that tends to get overlooked when focusing on his journalism background.

So yeah, I think he's probably a Conservative.

What people have a hard time grasping is that he's not a Harper Conservative. And he's certainly not a Williams Conservative (whatever the hell defines Williams particular brand of conservatism). I suspect he's just a Conservative whose particular brand of it isn't popular right now.

Can you be these things? Sure, why not. Look, in the United States there are plenty of Republicans who are horrified by George Bush and aren't thrilled by what they see in McCain/Palin. But they still get involved because, hey, they believe in a certain kind of Republicanism and think it's worth fighting for. Should they not run and give over the party to a fringe wing that they despise, or should they get in there and fight for it?

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Westcott believes in a certain kind of conservatism and believes that's worth fight for, even if it means he has to fight or, even harder for him, cozy up to people that he might not particularly care for. And before the usual suspects cry "sell out!", no, it's politics. Grow up. And that means every politician, at some point in his or her career, has had to make friends with someone they'd just as soon strangle in order to achieve their long-term goals.

"But it's Harper! He's evil!" cry the masses.

Yes, and who says he's going to be around for much longer? Perhaps others have said this, but this election is a huge gamble for Harper. He needs to win a majority or at the very least a very solid minority. If he only gains a seat or two or, worse yet, loses some, he's in real trouble. Some people are going to start asking this very legitimate question: "If you can't win a majority when the political left is as fragmented as it is, and when the Liberals have a leader with virtually no charisma, what exactly are the conditions required for you to win a majority?"

That's a very serious question. Don't be surprised if the results of this election don't go the Conservatives way that Harper's iron grip on his caucus starts to severely fray. He might be out of a job sooner than anyone thinks.

As for Westcott, all I can say is that he's my friend, and that obviously inserts a high degree of bias into what I have to say. And it's not like I have anything really bad to say about Jack Harris either. He's a nice guy.

But if you ask me which one would do a better job representing constituents in Ottawa, which one would be more vocal in fighting and defending the interests of Newfoundland, I'm going to go with Westcott. I watched this man stand up at a Senate Committee on media ownership and accuse his employer - Transcontinental - of deliberately trying to ruin the Express (and hey, how is the Express doing these days?) knowing full well how negatively that action was going to be viewed by his bosses. He has a family to help provide for and he did that anyway because he believed it was true, that it needed to be said and that it might possibly help a growingly desperate situation with the paper.

If you think that doesn't require guts and conviction, then you don't have a clue.

If nothing else, I look forward to the candidates debate. Someone tape it and stick it up on Youtube. It should be highly entertaining.

Last Five
1. Avenue A (Live) - Tom Cochrane
2. Lives in the balance (live) - Jackson Browne
3. Shame on you - Hot Hot Heat*
4. Win, win - Sean Panting
5. City of blinding lights - U2

Thursday, September 11, 2008


An annual rite of fall in Iqaluit (yes, fall doesn't start until Sept. 22. The high here today is 4C. It's fall, all right?) is the Mass Registration. It's a clever enough idea. A lot of new people come to Iqaluit in August and September, chosing to start new jobs with the beginning of the new school year. So why not make it easy for people to figure out what's happening around town by doing a massive registration for all activities happening around town for the next year.

And by everything, I mean pretty much everything. You can sign up for Guides, hockey, swimming, the green house, ball room dancing, ahem....curling, and a bunch of other activities. If you're in Iqaluit, it's certainly worth your time to swing by. I remember going to one just after we moved to Iqaluit and it really helped ease us into living here. We found things to do that might have otherwise taken months for us to discover on our own.

The registration takes place from 11 am to 2 pm on Sept. 13 at the Arctic Winter Games Complex. For those new to town, that's the big hockey arena on your way to Apex that is slowly sinking into the tundra and that is never actually used for hockey. It's best to get their early as some activities like swimming tend to have long lines with people trying to snap up all the spaces available as quickly as possible.

And since I'm talking about curling, a little update on things. The ice goes down at the curling club shortly after Thanksgiving. On Oct. 18-19 there will be workshops for those interested in volunteering in the 2009 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships. I also think there might be a coaching clinic for those interested. Oct. 25 will see a clinic for beginning curlers. So if you've never stepped on the ice before, this is your chance to come and learn.

League play begins October 28. A mini-bonspiel will take place on November 1 and the Mixed Nationals will begin on November 8. If you're interested in volunteering, or have a desire to get involved with curling this year, drop a line to iqaluitcurling (at) gmail dot com.

As for the rest of you, see you at the mass registration. Three guesses where I'll be...

Last Five
1. Sunday morning, coming down - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. One step up - Bruce Springsteen*
3. He lied about death - Stars
4. The New Year - Death Cab For Cutie
5. Two out of three - Meatloaf

Where exactly is the breaking point?

It's a basic political tactic that when a minister screws up, the oppositions howls for that minister's head. The downside with that plan is that opposition parties start howling at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, the shallowest, silliest things or innocent mistakes get blown wildly out of proportion. So that when a genuine, massive screw-up happens, its easy enough for the government to try and brush off the incident as the opposition just making noise again to score political points.

Here's the thing, though....Joan Burke has to go now. This story along with the accompanying documents make that evident. She clearly interfered with the hiring process of MUN's president.

Plus, there's been a couple of other screw-ups, like accidentally issuing a press release without checking with the university or maybe the security breech regarding student aid information.

Here's the scary part....these are all stories from this week. If I were Jacquelyn Howard, the department's communications director, I'd be looking for a tall bridge to jump off of after a week like that. And it's only Thursday. There's still a time left for Burke and her department to screw up some more.

I know it looks unfair to blame the minister for everything. It's a bloody big department. But you can't tell me all this ineptness would be happening if Elizabeth Marshall was running education. So once again, for the love of sanity and reason, let the premier make the smart decision - demote Burke, who is obviously in over her head in education - and put Marshall in charge of the department.

I don't know how much more Burke can screw up and I'm really not all that eager to find out.

Last Five
1. The mother who bore - Ron Hynes
2. Let it take you - Goldfrapp
3. Stupid now - Bob Mould
4. Free fallin' - Tom Petty*
5. Red light indicates doors are secured - Arctic Monkeys

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A couple of twists and turns

I mostly stay out of Nunavut politics because I don't have a death wish. However, two events today are certainly worth mentioning.

First, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced she won't be running in the next territorial election as she will be the Conservative candidate in the federal election. I won't get into whether or not she's done a good job as health minister, I'll leave that to others. She's probably better known territorially than either Liberal candidate Kirt Ejesiak or New Democrat Paul Irngaut. And, probably most importantly, she's not from Iqaluit. Ejesiak is, Irngaut and Aglukkaq aren't.

Seriously, never underestimate the anamosity that the rest of the territory tends to have against the capital city. Hmmmm, the population of a large geographic area not much caring for the capital of that region. It's almost like I've experienced this somewhere else before....

The other bit of local political news is that Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik is going to run in Iqaluit West in the territorial election next month. I offer that bit of information up without comment as well except to note that:
1. The mayor is pretty well liked in town and ran unopposed in the last municipal election.
2. Iqaluit West is the district we currently live in.
3. It's the district currently represented by the premier.

Suddenly, Nunavut politics just got a lot more interesting.

Last Five
1. Feeling no pain - Josh Rouse
2. Breakfast in America - Supertramp
3. Cigarette dangles - The Pursuit of Happiness*
4. Poison pill - Drive
5. A man and a woman - U2

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Going to hell, apparently

So I saw this picture online of a sign outside a church in Ohio and, you know, wanted to whack my head off of something. Because Ohio is a big swing state in the US elections and if this is the mindset kicking around there, then I have cause for despair...

Now, I'm not a big purveyor of big pop songs. I rarely listen to commercial radio anymore, but I did manage to hear that song "I kissed a girl" by Katy Perry a few times. Did nothing for me, but I understand I'm not exactly the audience for that song. Still, this strikes me as a tad harsh. You're a 17-year-old girl, you kiss a girl and you're going to hell? Harsh, dude.

You know, I thought when I read the comments from the pastor that I would get depressed and once again wonder what the hell is wrong with the United States and, in particular, Ohio. Then I read the story. And yeah, it's infuriating. But the thing that made me feel good were the comments by Equality Ohio. Which was, "that's fine, we have plenty of churches in Ohio that accept gay people. They've just made it easier for gay people to know where not to bother."

A mature and reasonable answer to something as petty as this. Bravo.

Anyway, here's something silly to cheer everyone up, because there seems to be some grumpiness among the northern bloggers. I blame the dawning reality that it's going to be -40 again in a few months making everyone cranky. Anyway, here are some elderly ladies singing the Sex Pistols "God Save the Queen."

Last Five
1. Buffalo - Kathleen Edwards
2. Stand down at sundown - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
3. Expo '86 - Death Cab For Cutie
4. My mathematical mind - Spoon
5. Leather (live) - Tori Amos

Monday, September 08, 2008

Suddenly, I'm intrigued

No sooner do I bemoan anything interesting happening in the federal election than two things pop up on the radar that have caught my eye. Granted, both of them are happening in Newfoundland and not at a national level, but still, it's a start.

First there was the news that Ryan Cleary is trying to land the NDP nomination in St. John's South/Mount Pearl. That alone would have bought me some amusement. Until recently, Cleary was editor of The Independent, an interesting, but flawed weekly in St. John's. It folded and I guess Ryan was looking for something to do, so he figured why not federal politics.

It would have been intriguing to follow for any number of reasons. First, Cleary has spent many, many hours ranting against how unfairly Canada has treated Newfoundland with more than a hint of a suggestion that Newfoundland would be better off on its own. Now, I have special contempt in my heart for Newfoundland nationalists, who I consider the most delusional and stupid breed of creatures inhabiting the Newfoundland political landscape. So watching Cleary trying to say nice things about Canada in an election campaign would have been amusing.

The more cynical might believe that Cleary is running in the hopes that Premier Danny Williams might throw his support behind him. For those outside the province who read the blog and are baffled by Newfoundland politics, well, join the club. The premier has entertained the genius notion of creating the ABC campaign - Anybody But Conservatives. Yes, the premier is a conservative, but that's a small matter. Williams is upset because Harper took the unprecedented historical move of lying to a premier.

Instead of growing up and getting on with it, or guilting the prime minister for this move, Williams launched his own little jihad from his home base. He is hoping to not only convince all Newfoundlanders, but a chunk of Canadians that they should listen to a Newfoundland premier and not vote for Harper. Because, after all, who knows better about the political concerns of Ontarians, for example, than a Newfoundland premier.

If Dalton McGuinty pulled the same stunt, most Newfoundlanders would feel insulted. But never underestimate my countrymen's ability for self-delusion. Playing politics has always been an artform in Newfoundland; Williams is now the Picasso of it. You're so blinded by the supposed brilliance of the work that you fail to notice it really doesn't make any kind of sense.

Anyway, Cleary. Who was also going to be amusing on one final level because local reporters, for the most part, loathe him. He at least partially built The Independent by taking shots, often cheap ones, at his competitors in the local media. Cleary has always had a healthy ego and chip on his shoulders. I realized that quickly enough when I worked with him briefly back in '95. But if this is any indication, he's going to be in for a rough ride. Consider that the warning shot.

But the absolute best news is that my former colleague and still very good friend Craig Westcott has decided to run for the Conservatives in St. John's East.

Now, under ordinary circumstances, I'm not the biggest fan of the Conservative Party in the world and over the years I have many reasons for coming to that conclusion. Hell, I have many reasons this election to be distrustful of the party. But Westcott running for them....this is genius. It's madness as well, you understand, but it's also genius. There's always been a fine line between the two and this dances right on the edge. But if you have to elect a Newfoundlander who absolutely will not be bullied or cowered, which so often seems to happen, then I can't think of a better person.

Craig could die and go to hell, meet the devil and tell him to go fuck himself. He's as close to fearless as I've met in a reporter and person. I've no doubt - none - that he would make a fantastic MP. He would also likely inject some much needed colour from the Newfoundland caucus, something that has been missing for years. My regret is that I can't vote for him. But I will send him a cheque and nag family and friends to vote for him.

However, it makes St. John's North that much more interesting. It's one of the most deeply conservative ridings in Atlantic Canada, which would seem to favour Westcott. But Williams hates Westcott for the many critical stories he's written about the premier over the years. Deeply and seriously. Plus, Williams good friend Jack Harris is likely going to run for the NDP in the riding.

See, all I need was some good drama to go along with my politics. It helps it go down easier. Now, I wonder if anything interesting will happen in Nunavut in the election?

Last Five
1. Battle of who could care less - Ben Folds Five
2. Come calling - The Cowboy Junkies
3. Fix me now - Garbage
4. Snowy night - Figgy Duff
5. Save the population - Red Hot Chilli Peppers


Just an absolutely reprehensible decision. Realistically speaking, the Green Party has no chance of winning the election. But the Bloc has no chance and realistically neither does the NDP. And yet, there they are.

However, they do have have an MP in the House and routinely hit around 10% in national polls. They will also have candidates running in most federal ridings. That counts as serious enough for me to be included in a national debate.

I might not vote for them even if they could manage to get a candidate in Nunavut. But that doesn't mean I think they should be excluded or that they shouldn't get their chance to debate on a national stage.

And really, I don't care for the notion that the leaders don't want Elizabeth May in the debate, so they won't play if she's included. Jesus....is it politics or Cathy's grade 4 class? You decide.

Last Five
1. Exhibit 13- Blue Man Group
2. Famous last words - My Chemical Romance
3. It's been awhile since I was your man - Matthew Good
4. A legal matter - The Who
5. Gotta serve somebody - Bob Dylan

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Election a go, but who cares?

So as most people know, a federal election was called today. Which ought to be prime red meat for any blogger with an interest in politics.

And yet, it's been hard for me to get interested. I suspect it will be hard to keep my level of interest up for most of this campaign. Why? Several reasons, I suspect.

Part of the reason is that any Canadian election will pale in comparison to what's happening in the United States. In terms of drama, in term so the stakes involved, what's happening in the United States blows away the stakes in the Canadian election. I don't get any sense of urgency or necessity for this election. It's pure politics, not over any grand debate or fight for the future of the country. Plus, I get the sneaking suspicion not much will really change.

Barring a collapse from one of the parties, it will be a minority government at the end of this election. It will either be a conservative one or, less likely, a Liberal one. Does it really matter much if a few seats change one way or another? That's why it's hard to be interested.

Then there was the second reason that became clear when I was talking to my father this evening. That this is the least inspiring group of political leaders that I can recall in my life time. Oh, there have been plenty of awful, bland and useless political leaders before. Each party has had their share. But I don't think there's ever been such a concentrated gathering of mediocre in a federal election in my lifetime.

Harper looks like the Joker sans green hair and make-up. Dion is an absent-minded and particularly clueless poli-sci professor. Layton looks the kind of arrogant git you try and fend off if you're in a bar when he's hitting on you. And May....I don't know. I'm impressed enough with how far she's managed to take the Green party, given how raw and new it is to big league politics. But it's still hard to take her or the party seriously.

So yeah, I need something to get me worked up over this. It is important. As I've said, I haven't really decided who I'm going to vote for. Hopefully one of the parties steps up and shows me something special. Or at least something to amuse or infuriate me. Because right now, this election is about as exciting and interesting as drying paint.

Last Five
1. Some unholy war - Amy Winehouse
2. Well, well, well - Rocky Dawuni
3. Missed the boat - Modest Mouse
4. I taught myself how to grow old - Ryan Adams
5. Two hearts - Ryan Adams*

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Like most people, I love The Daily Show, however it's not often the show actually has me laughing and pumping my fist like I did last night. And yes, the anti-McCain documentary was funny ("A maverick who crashed his plane not once, but five times."), but it was the clip below that got me going. It takes some of Bush's 2000 RNC acceptance speech and runs it as a comparison to what McCain said on Thursday.

Let's just say the similarities are kind of eerie. If the Democrats had any brains, they'd buy this spot and run it as an ad everywhere.

Watch and enjoy. Or be terrified. Whichever...

Last Five
1. Streams of whiskey - The Pogues
2. Who are you? - The Who
3. Mother's little helper - The Rolling Stones
4. The first inside - Bob Seger
5. One - Vampire Weekend

Back in the Muse

Well, I never thought I'd see my name back in the Muse, but there it was in this week's editorial. Thanks Kerri, that was amusing.

I haven't talked much about the Board of Regents recently and there are a couple of reasons for that. First, it was apparent that I was coming off as a poor loser and that wasn't something I wanted. Secondly, I was talking with officials at the university and didn't feel like yelling at them while they were making what I believe is a genuine effort to get the results out. I don't think there's a conspiracy theory to hide the results of the Regents election. I think they are genuinely trying to figure out how to release them within the confines of the government's privacy legislation.

I'm still not 100 per cent sure how privacy legislation impacts the release of the results, but I'm expecting to see the exact reason why shortly. Once I know why, I'll mention it.

By the way, as should be apparent, the results can't be released because one or more people who ran opposed it. I'd love to know who that individual, or individuals, are but I'm guessing that's not likely. However, I will say this....you, sir or madam, are a wanker.

Anyway, back in the Muse....that made my day.

Last Five
1. Bixby canyon bridge - Death Cab For Cutie
2. Inside and out - Feist*
3. Jacksonville - Sufjan Stevens
4. Fired - Ben Folds
5. Waltz (Better than fine) - Fiona Apple

Friday, September 05, 2008


And now a step back from US politics...well, for the moment anyway. God only knows when the story about why Palin's husband's ex-business partner suddenly felt the urge to try and get his divorce papers sealed yesterday will break out...

Anyway, I mentioned before that I might be going back to Newfoundland in October and now I can confirm that. I land late on October 2, fly out early on October 12 to Ottawa where I'm hoping to catch up with an old friend and her new daughter, then back up here on October 13, with a day to spare so I can vote in the federal election.

There are several reasons for the trip home now. It would have been nice to do it over the summer or over Christmas, but for logistical reasons that wasn't possible. I'd like to see my parents. It's been suggested that I might want to see my grandparents since if I was planning on waiting (the original idea might not have seen me back in St. John's until Christmas 2009), well, they're both over 80 and have had some health problems in recent years.

Also, I have to deal with my comic books. As some might recall, I'm a collector and I have lots. How many? Best estimate puts the total around 10,000. They're currently sitting in boxes in my father's basement. Last time I was home he had bottles of homemade wine stored on top of them. So yeah, something needs to be done about that.

That means going through the collection, tossing out stuff that is too damaged or absolutely worthless (The Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley? Pretty sure I can lose that one) and getting it reorganized and put into new storage boxes. Which is a bit of work. Cathy has her concerns about my ability to do this as she rightly points out that I tend to get distracted (Cool, my Garth Ennis Hitman run....ooooh, my Ostander/Mandrake Spectre run, etc....). But as I only have a limited amount of time to get them reorganized and moved to a new storage place, I'll just have to bear down.

The other thing, of course, is that it would be nice to see some friends while in town. So if you're around town and would like to meet up for a drink, meal, etc, drop me a line and we'll try and arrange something.

It'll be nice to get home again. And really, fall has always been my favourite time in St. John's. It's when the city looks its best.

Of course, it dawns on me that I'll be there in the middle of the federal election campaign, so my beautiful city will be plastered with gaudy campaign posters and signs. sigh

One good thing about Iqaluit, we're not likely to see many campaign signs and posters. At least I didn't during the last election. Then again, the election was held in January, I believe. Not many people want to be out putting up signs in -40. So maybe it will be different for an October election. Here's hoping it won't be. There is something to be said about the idea of elections with no signs...

Last Five
1. Start me up - The Rolling Stones
2. Hungry like the wolf - Reel Big Fish*
3. If I ever lose my faith in you - Sting
4. Blacklisted (live) - Neko Case
5. If Venice is sinking - Spirit of the West

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Levi Johnston's 2008 so far...

How Levi Johnston life has been going the past five months.

Bonus - My hot girlfriend is finally ready to go all the way. Wondering if we need to use condoms or if she should be on the pill or something, but not sure. They should seriously have a class about that in school or something.

Uh oh - Hot girlfriend tells me she's pregnant.

Not Good - Informs me that religious beliefs prevent her from "taking care" of the problem. But the pre-marital sex was all right, though. Aw man....

Bad - Her mom is governor of Alaska with a popularity rating over 70 per cent. She knows how to shoot a rifle and gut a moose. Her popularity might actually go up if she kills me. Could be in serious trouble here.

Maudlin - Sitting at home looking at old myspace page. Laugh ironically at section where I say I don't want any kids. Consider deleting it, but fuck it, it's not like anyone reads myspace anymore.

Depressed - Residents in Wasilla snicker behind my back that I'm the dumb bastard who knocked up the governor's daughter. At least it can't get any worse than this.

Shock - Just heard on radio, hot girlfriend's mom is now vice-presidential candidate. Soon, whole world will know I knocked up her 17-year-old daughter. God hates me.

Shock and awe - Have just read online I'm getting married. This can't be happening. I'm, like, a sex god. And a good hockey player. And now I'm getting married at 18? Harsh, man.

Suspicion - Palin family wants to make up after unfortunate incident where Todd Palin tied me to the back of his ski-doo and drove at high speeds for several hours after he found I got his daughter pregnant. Invite me to come to Minnesota and hang out with them for the week. Told that Minnesota Wild might be interested in meeting and perhaps drafting me. Not sure I trust Palins anymore.

Truly fucked - Greeted at airport by, like, hundreds of cameras. Everyone has these weird, forced smiles. Some old dude takes me aside. Smiles. Whispers to me that he's going to be the next president of the United States. And that if I fuck it up for him he will show me what torture techniques the Vietcong used on him when he was a prisoner of war for five years. Old dude creeps me the fuck out, man.

Drugged - Woke up several hours later. Last thing I remember is getting in limo. Told a device has been implanted that zaps me anytime a camera is pointed at me when I'm with hot girlfriend, I mean, wife-to-be, and I'm not smiling.

Doomed - Dragged to hockey arena filled with old white people. Minnesota Wild nowhere to be seen. Fuck. Given suit to wear. Repeated blasts of electric current makes me smile for four hours straight. In agony. At one point, handed Sarah Palin's new baby, Trig. Told to look like an ecstatic and eager father-to-be or Secret Service will kick the shit out of me later.

Revelation - I think I might vote for that Obama dude in November. He seems nice.

I know some people might things it's cruel or mean to go after the kids like this. But honest to god, after the roiling disgust I had at watching what seemed like every member of the Palin/McCain family get to have their 30 second photo op with Trig at the convention last night and then watching Sarah Palin drag the poor kid up on stage in front of 30,000 screaming Republican lunatics....

Roger Simon hit it pretty well on the nose. You drag the kids out to promote yourself, you don't get to go on your high horse when the media uses them to criticize you. Live by the sword...

And as for Johnston, the guy should be a safe sex PSA. Seriously, Planned Parenthood should approach him. I assume the poor, dumb bastard just wanted to get laid like most normal 18-year-old males. Now look at him.

"Hi, I'm Levi Johnston. Like many teenage boys, I didn't understand the implications of not wearing a condom when having sex. But instead of a disease I've managed to knock-up the daughter of a vice-presidential candidate and face vast public scrutiny that is ruining my life. Many people in the US think I'm a dickhead. So remember, always wear a condom. Because you just never know..."

Last Five
1. The simplest thing - Hey Rosetta!
2. Brick - Ben Folds Five (swear to God)
3. If I'd been the one - 38 Special
4. Dawn Anna - Ron Sexsmith
5. Name without a face - Ron Hynes*

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Future political commentary

Palin fact of the day: Her minister in Alaska had David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus (I remember seeing their posters in New York in 2000 and laughing, thinking they couldn't possibly be serious. Yes, yes they are) give a guest sermon two weeks ago, which Palin attended, saying that attacks against Isreal were God's punishment for them not converting to christianity. Her regular minister said, no kidding, that just because she attended that particular sermon, doesn't mean she believes what Brickner says. Given what Obama went through earlier this year with his reverend, that's almost funny.

Jews, meanwhile, are about as thrilled with this revelation as you might expect.


So, an interesting way to start your morning is to walk out of the apartment, run into your next door neighbout, exchange the usual morning pleasentries and then have him say, "Oh, by the way, I'm really enjoying your blog."

"Ummm, urrr...thanks."

"By the way, if you were wondering, you can never go wrong with more blog posts involving Steven Harper being zapped with a cattle prod."

Well, never let it be said that I don't give the people what they ask for. I mean, I hated the ad at first and that terrible, rictous smile that Harper had at the end. I used to lunge for the remote to flip the channel. Since that the mental image of Harper being zapped off-screen to produce that Joker-like look (some white paint, green hair...hmmmmm) is firmly in my head, it's much more pleasant to look at. Now I just lunge for the remote to hit the mute button.

In fact, I've used it once or twice to help me drift off to sleep. Now, I imagine for many of you, the last image you want in your head is you drift off to sleep is of Harper. However, I normally try and imagine something to help relax me before going to sleep and really, the thought of Harper being zapped with cattle prods oddly does fill me with a sense of calm. It's quite soothing, actually.

This is also as good a time to clear up a few political commentary matters for the weeks ahead. As other northern bloggers have noted, there's the US election, a soon to be announced Canadian election and Nunavut will hold its third territorial elections in late October.

So to be clear, I'm going to keep commenting on the US election because its deeply fascinating to me. I have a clear Obama bias, so keep that in mind.

I will probably comment on the Canadian election. I hate pretty much all of them and will treat them all with contempt. But I think I hate Harper a little bit more, so he might get zapped a bit harder. I honestly don't know how I'm going to vote, so it will be curious to see if any of them can muster up something that interests or impresses me enough to get me to sway in their direction.

I'm not going near the Nunavut elections with a 20-foot cattle prod. I think it's a fairly open secret that I work for the GN. And yes, the argument could be made that as a citizen of this country and territory I have the right to express my opinion if I choose.

And I'm choosing not to. It's not worth the all-but-inevitable racket just to satisfy my urge to shoot off my mouth.

So if people think less of me for that, I'll just have to deal. It's been amply proven already that Nunavut bloggers who shoot off their mouth on Northern matters can occasionally run afoul of their employers. And as there is no Nunavut Bloggers Union (and, in fact, I believe some unions have told people who have gotten in trouble with their employers for blogging to shut up, apologize and remove any offending posts) I'll just err on the side of caution, thanks. Politicians are touchy enough at the best of times, let alone when they're running for their political lives.

Besides, any time I get the urge, I'll just write about curling or comic books. That always makes the readers happy.

Last Five
1. Rosalita (Come out tonight)(Live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band*
2. Shut up and let me go - The Ting Tings
3. The luxury (live) - The Tragically Hip
4. Bright end of nowhere - Matthew Good
5. Walk on - U2

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

And I thought I liked to complain

Palin was a member (or at least supporter) of the Alaska Independence Party...

Dear God.

Anyway, something other than US politics.

I found this story about the federal government kicking in about $36 million to improve the quality of high speed internet in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Now, I imagine most northern bloggers are jumping for joy. We all have our internet horror stories. About connections dropping out for days on end, about speeds dropping down so slow in feels like the website is walking up to the arctic and taking its sweet time about doing it. That internet is too slow, with too many limits for the exorbitant price we pay.

So yeah, bring it on. Send the check up. I know it's probably a blatant attempt to buy off northern voters, but I'm not that worried as it will likely make no difference. I can't speak for the NWT, but the odds of Nunavut swinging from Liberal to Conservative in the next federal election is pretty damn small.

However, my mistake, as usual, was to start to read the comments. There were the complaints about fattening up already rich telecommunications companies, that the money should have gone to improving other aspects of northern living, that other areas of Canada aren't getting their fair share of money and that the internet is inherently evil and destructive to northern youth since it bring evil information from the south that corrupts them.


Yes, I would prefer it if telecommunications companies didn't get lots of federal funding, but that's the way it works sometimes. And really, if I have to wait for Northwest Tel to improve internet services out of the goodness of their hearts, I will be an old, old man.

Don't even get me started on whether the North gets its share of federal funding, because it doesn't. There ought to be lots more money for a whole host of desperately needed programs. This is a start. Be happy we got it, but not content that it's enough. But for christ sake, don't go whining about how the money should have went somewhere else instead.

And as for the people saying the internet is evil and some how the cause of social problems in the north, you're absolutely right. Clearly there were never any problems in the north before the advent of easily accessible internet. What could I possibly have been thinking....

We have money. It might actually make things better. Why can't people just be happy about that? Just for once....

Last Five
1, The sharpest thorn - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
2. Erie Canal (live) - Bruce Springsteen*
3. The stone (live) - The Cheiftains
4. You have placed a chill in my heart - Eurythmics
5. If it feels good, do it - Sloan

Monday, September 01, 2008

Presidential reality TV

I swear to God, I mean it, I swear to God I sat down with every intention of not writing another blog post about Gov. Sarah Palin. Because I really don't know if anyone reading this blog cares all that much about US politics. Palin could be the equivalent of curling, for all I know.

But when you get stories like this, then you have to throw up your hands and give up for the moment. Because you know you're in the middle of something truly special and historic when a vice presidential campaign, in an attempted to squash scurrilous rumours that your fifth child is not actually yours, but your 17-year-old daughter's, by saying that's impossible because she's currently five months pregnant.

Oh dear God....

In the past 72 hours I've begun to wonder if Fox gave McCain a shitload of money to make him pick Palin as his VP nominee just so they can film a reality TV show about it. You know, the adventures of a wacky northern governor and her family as they're thrown into the national spotlight of a presidential campaign. Sit back and watch as crazy hijinks ensue as they try to deal with being way, way, way over their heads.

Obama has rightly said that people should back away from the story and that what happens with the Palin family shouldn't make a difference about her ability to possibly be vice president. But it does call into question, once again, McCain's judgment. He should have known how big of a distraction this was going to be. He's been around long enough to know better. This circus atmosphere just distracts from the issues and the job of trying to become president. Instead, everyone wonders what other weirdness is going to happen next.

Campaigns sometimes give an idea of how the administration will do (Bush's was a ruthless efficient smear machine with an evangelical engine. And for about five to six years, that's how his government functioned). Obama's campaign, for the past 18 months, has been a smooth, logical, efficient machine that has run with few hiccups. Given what's happened with McCain in the past 72 hours, you'd swear someone tossed sand in the the engine.

The Canadian election campaign is going to be awfully dull in comparison. Especially if Harper keeps producing God-awful commercials where he smiles at the camera and I wonder if someone off-screen is zapping him with a cattle prod to produce that hideous look on his face. You know, that look that passes as an empathizing smile....

Tomorrow, something not on the US election. Although at the rate things are going with Palin, God only knows what tomorrow will bring.

Last Five
1. Na na na na na - Kaiser Chiefs
2. Pamela's waltz - Kelly Russell and the Planks*
3. Five days in May - Blue Rodeo
4. Plans for the boys - Mark Bragg
5. I will follow (live) - U2