Monday, September 27, 2010

Ten Things Popular Music Wants You to Shake

I've moved this, and similar 'Ten Things', content to the "A Lust for Lists" blog. It can be found here: - I'm keeping th epictures here for now just because they're so pretty.

Shake Your BootyShake your Tail FeatherShake Your BonbonPoor Kitten About to be ShakenShake Your MoneymakerShake Your TreeShake the DiseaseShaking Hands in a Sexless WayShake the FoundationsShake What Your Mama Gave You

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dear Rural Canada

Dear Rural Canada,

As a so-called Toronto élitist, I feel I ought to defend myself against ad hominem attacks by the Conservative Party, a party that is hoping to further its domination of rural Canada at the expense of electibility in urban Canada. The Conservative Party has sat down with a map of Canada and figured out precisely who they can connive into voting for them and who they should give up on. Perhaps this is why they are opposed to the long-form census: they already have all the demographic info they need to suit their purposes.

But let's call their bluff, in part. The fact is that urban Canada and rural Canada have a lot of differences. Hell, our country at the moment is pretty much defined by its polarities: Anglo vs. Franco, West vs. East, male vs. female, rich vs. poor. Seems our actual opinions on the best way to manage the country amount to little more than an extension of our demographics. Or so Ottawa would have us believe. I'm not about to suggest 'in our hearts, we're the same'. The truth is that to a rather frightening degree we are not. It's no wonder our parliament has become so dysfunctional.

The only thing I really want to defend is urban intentions regarding the long-gun registry. At the moment, we're defined by our ignorance of the other side. The newspapers here in the city really make very little effort to present, rationally, the arguments underpinning rural opposition to the registry. This is either because there are no rational arguments or because the papers are too lazy or too politically motivated to bother. I don't know which. But for my part, I think I can speak on behalf of the majority of Torontonians when I say support for the registry has nothing at all to do with urban people putting rural people in their place or any sense of superiority or any such thing. The reality is that I've never held a gun in my life. In the life that I lead, there is no reason at all that I would ever even see a gun that wasn't crime-related. If guns, long or short or whatever, simply vanished off the face of the planet, I would find no reason to complain. In fact, I would sleep better at night and would have a sense that finally something good had happened to make the world a better place.

I suspect you might find that a bit precious. I suspect it might seem like urban ignorance of rural realities. You might think, 'but you're happy to eat the meat of an animal that was shot with a gun'. I can accede that. I don't know how the meat in my supermarket gets there, and the truth is I'm not overly interested in learning. But when confronted with the question of 'how much control should the government exercise over gun control', what you need to realise is that no city person starts to think of the meat in their supermarkets. Immediately they think of crime. It's extremely disingenuous to say that supporters of the long-gun registry are treating law-abiding citizens like criminals. I know of nobody who would say that hunters are criminals. But hunters aren't a part of the day-to-day reality of my life; criminals are. It's not at all surprising that we would frame gun ownership as a crime issue. Realistically how else is a city person to see it?

It's my personal belief that there is nothing to be gained by huffing and puffing about élitism and to frame this debate as city people vs. country people. Now, if you wanted to frame the debate around the extent to which city people are ignorant of country lives, I think that's valid. I think what's been lost in the debate here is a sincere tempt to both explain and to be explained to how guns are used in small-town Canada. Personally, the idea of widespread gun ownership terrifies me, and I'm keen to maintain 'extent of gun ownership' and 'views about the government's right to regulate gun ownership' as critical distinctions between life in Canada and life in the USA. But at the same time I'm willing to be taught; I'm more than willing to be exposed to a different perspective on the issue. At the same time, though, I think rural Canada needs to understand the extent to which our goals and motivations here in the city are noble. Here in the city it really isn't about rural vs. urban, and it's insulting to see it painted as such. Here in the city, we see experts in the police telling us that the registry is a good thing, and we think, "why isn't that enough?" It baffles us that a tough-on-crime party could be so passionate about dismantling something that the police tell us helps catch criminals. And it baffles us that the same party is so willing to make this issue as divisive as possible, that while claiming to have a mandate to govern Canada and represent Canada to the world, they would be so blatant in forcing an us-and-them divide, by attempting to make urban Canadians seem ghoulish for wanting the police to have tools to stop crime.

It may be clear that I have very little respect for Prime Minister Harper and for the party that he leads. But that doesn't mean I don't respect rural Canadians, or generally speaking that I don't respect the people who vote for the party and who support its policies. It's not élitist at all to believe that the Conservative Party is attempting to divide Canadians as much as possible and is attempting to introduce American-style obstructionism. It's not élitist at all to believe that such tactics are ultimately bad and even potentially dangerous for the country.

And trust me - it's not élitist at all to sincerely hope that all Canadians - rural and urban alike - will see the Conservative Party's current rabble-rousing for the cheap partisan shot it truly is and treat it with the contempt it deserves.

And then we can build an approach to weapons regulation that suits both sides' needs as much as possible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Party of Freedom

"Republican Party Elephant" logoImage via Wikipedia
So it has come to pass that the Party of Freedom, the party so concerned about individual rights that it has fought socialised medicine tooth and nail, the party who claims the President is out to destroy all Americans' civil liberties, the party that gives so much importance to the US Military's attempts to bring 'freedom' to the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan... this party has bravely stood up for what they believe in and told the people of the USA that only heterosexual Americans (and liars) have the right to defend the USA in time of war.

The deceitful nature of the Republican Party just continues to be more and more obvious as time passes. They (and 'Tea Party' 'activists' are 'them' just as much as the party administration) can make all the noise they want about the importance of freedom, but when it comes to preserving the status quo and to preserving whatever privilege their traditional voting base can maintain, suddenly the government's ability to keep anyone different in their place becomes paramount. Suddenly they're as statist as a Stalinist.

They call the GOP "the party of 'No'." These days it's tough to disagree with that. I never thought I'd miss Ronald Reagan, but in the 1980s the Republicans appeared at least to stand for something. I may not have agreed with their ideology, but at least I can acknowledge they had one.

Today? Well, you might be wondering what they actually do support, what they actually do believe in. But if you are wondering, don't ask. You'll get no answers. And you may have some ideas about how to bring American conservatism away from its current poisonous head-in-the-sand contraryism and back into a party with something to say. But if you do, don't tell. No one will listen to you anyway.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weezer and the Layers of Nostalgia

So it's 2010. I'm sitting here watching YouTube, which is of course a thoroughly 21st-century thing to be doing. Many people use YouTube to see what's new and hip and current, but a good many also use it for the purpose of misty-eyed nostalgia: watching crap from generations past and pretending that it's magnificent. Commenting, "They sure don't make 'em like they used to."

So there I am watching Weezer's "Buddy Holly". Thinking about how the years have gone by. How this song that still seems kinda newish to me is actually over fifteen years old. How it was released in an era when people actually paid for music and actually used the TV to watch videos. Actually the video was forward-looking: Microsoft launced its then-current version of Windows on a CD-Rom that included this video on it. Watching a video on your computer. Wow: the future.

And now it's idle nostalgia. Now Weezer uses YouTube to release their videos, and in fact lampoon YouTube in its videos. They've released a new album in tribute to Hurley from "Lost", a seven-year-old show that's just ended, proving that either they're just way slow on hipster references or else they've invented instant nostalgia.

But wait - they always were nostalgia merchants. At the height of mid-nineties Gen-X irony, they hired Spike Jonze to make a super-clever video-cum-tribute to "Happy Days". A fond look back at a TV show from their youth. Nostalgia for the seventies. Great. It's 2010 and I'm nostalgically watching omeone from the 90s being nostalgic about the1970s.

Except wait. "Happy Days" was an intentionally retro look-back too, back in the seventies when the people in charge of the show were feeling nostalgia for the sock-hop rock-and-roll days of their youth in the 1950s.
Jesus. You can just drown in this nostalgia if you let it. In 20-year intervals, I put myself all the way back more than half a century ago to the 1950s, an imaginary take on the post-war world filtered through generations of  misty memories. The 1950s reimagined in a 1970s sitcom, subject of an homage in the form of a 1990s music video, being watched by me here in 2010. Fond memories of fond memories of fond memories.

Now that's what life is like in 2010.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, September 13, 2010

Park51: a (violent verb) in the (body part) to all Americans

A quick observation. I've been fascinated with the right-wing response to the Park51 project. One thing I just noticed today, that I can't believe I hadn't noticed previously, was the shockingly large number of metaphors being floated around regarding Park51 that use the same logic: a verb of violence (stab, slap, poke, punch) to a body part (face, eye, heart, nose). It's frankly bizarre. Some examples:

  • Sarah Palin calls it a 'stab in the heart' (link)
  • Pamela Geller calls it a 'stab in the eye' (link)
  • Rick Scott calls it a 'slap in the face' (link)
  • The son of a 9/11 victim calls it a 'kick in the face' (link)
  • This person calls it a 'kick in the teeth' (link)
  • Raheel Raza is paraphrased as calling it a 'poke in the eye' (link)
  • Carl Paladino is possibly paraphrased as calling it a 'jab in the eye' (link)
  • There's a comment here calling it a 'thumb in the eye' (link)
  • Alternately, 'finger in our eye' (link)
  • A comment here sees it as a 'kick in the ass' (link)
  • Naturally, a comment here sees it as a 'kick to the balls' (link)
  • Or, if you prefer, 'spitting in the face' (link)
  • Maybe, as this site accuses Obama of doing, 'spitting in the eye' (link)
  • I wish it really was Palin who came up with 'dagger in the heart', but I doubt it (link)
  • Someone here worries it will cause a 'jab in the hearts' (link)
  • This one is nice: 'flipping the bird in America's face' (link)
  • Ron Johnson ups the ante with 'poke a stick in our eye' (link)
  • Some blogger comes up with the awesome 'poke around in the sensitive hearts of people's wounds', which is refudiate-worthy (link)
  • A comment here comes up with the awesome grammar of 'pissing us in the face' (link)
  • Seeing a comment here come up with 'a punch in the face after a kick in the rear' leaves me so flabbergasted and awestruck that I have to end here. (link)

Alpha Inventions and Adsense

So I've been using Alpha Inventions and Blogsurfer. Not even sure why, really... I guess I thought it would be a worthwhile way to get my blogs 'out there' in the wider world somehow. I was using them a lot back in December, January, etc. and have more or less gotten bored of them. But I think I realised something: I had a blog, Montréal Through Google Maps Street View, that seemed to be doing well on Adsense. Well, by 'well', I mean it had a good per-view value. Higher than other blogs, anyway. Now, the per-view rates (per-thousand, actually) on Adsense are more than a bit of a mystery to me. So I was curious why this one blog was doing well. I decided to put it on Alpha Inventions, which is only good for about 40 hits or so, to test a thing or two. I wasn't surprised that hits from Alpha Inventions got a lower value than usual - makes sense, really, seeing as people don't actually watch Alpha Inventions - they just have it running in the background. But I was horrified to discover that after using it once on that blog it seemed as if all subsequent hits were devalued too. Alpha Inventions appears to give a permanently lowered value to your websites. Which sucks.

So I guess it's better not to ever use blog surfing sites if you use Adsense. Wish I'd known that before...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Guns of the Left

Model 1 Second issue .22 rimfire revolver c po...Image via Wikipedia
It's never been easy being the NDP. The main problem with any traditional left-wing merger of farmers' and workers' interests is that farmers' and workers' interests differ, and that diversion has only increased with time. You only need to look at the NDP's numbers in rural Saskatchewan vs. the Conservatives' numbers in the same place to see the extent to which the NDP has already lost ground in its 'traditional' ridings. They're still doing well in BC, but otherwise the NDP is slowly mutating into an Eastern Canadian urban party.

As an Eastern Canadian urban NDP supporter, I can't say I mind: the party is starting to look more and more like me. What's to complain about? But I know that any party that wants to present itself as a legitimate alternative needs to present itself as as nation-wide as possible. Not only West/East but rural/urban as well. Plus those rural NDP seats are in many cases long-term seats.

But to what expect are the NDP required to turn away from values that the majority of their supporters have? When it comes to economic matters, there's little divergence. It's the question of social matters that matters, no pun intended. Rural voters tend to be more socially conservative, and while 'economically progressive and socially conservative' is not an impossible position for a party to have, I'd like to think it's an one for the NDP to have.

I am bothered by the notion that any or some NDP MPs would vote against the gun registry. It's not that I don't understand the delicate position these rural MPs are in - I do - but ultimately I am a supporter of partisan politics, and the reason why parties exist is to establish voting blocs in parliament along lines that can be anticipated. That the NDP would be in favour of stricter gun regulation is one of the things we ought to be able to anticipate. Putting aside all the nonsense both the Liberals and the Conservatives are tossing about at the moment, I still feel that the party I support ought to be one that's unwavering on gun control.

I have faith they will be. Jack Layton should have put his foot down sooner, but I think he will. But will it be too late? Will the NDP brand have been tarnished too much?
Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...