Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Progressive Talking Points: Winnipeg North

I didn't want to label this a "Progressive Talking Point", but I guess it is one. It's a starting point anyway, for the concept of 'vote splitting' is something that comes up again and again on the left. There's a certain madness to the concept that the Left is losing seats to vote-splitting, in that people are usually referring to the combined NDP-Liberal vote when they talk about it.

Gatineau in 2004: The Liberals take the seat with 42% to the Bloc's 40%, but if you combine the Bloc, the NDP and the Greens, you'd get 49% and a win for the Left. That's vote splitting.

The four by-elections held yesterday had absolutely no vote-splitting: they were about as bipartisan as they get. Scarily so, in fact. Some numbers:
  • Vaughan: 96% of the vote to the top two candidates (CPC & Libs)
  • Winnipeg North: 87% of the vote to the top two candidates (Libs & NDP)
  • Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette: 83% of the vote to the top two candidates (CPC & NDP)
  • Kamouraska-Témiscouata: 73% of the vote to the top two candidates: (PQ & PLQ)
The provincial by-election is the only exception, with the ADQ putting on a respectable showing as a third-party candidate. The federal elections were shocking. Look at Vaughan: 96%. Even American elections are more multipartisan than that. Interesting that the three ridings all featured two different players in the top-three, though for our purposes what that primarily shows is that the NDP is much more of a factor in Manitoba than in Ontario. The NDP should be deeply worried by Vaughan. Not like they had a chance at winning it, but to be a mere fringe... That hurts.

It hurts, but not as much as losing Winnipeg North. I found myself looking at the history of the riding, and I have to say I'm amazed. Winnipeg North might just be the most left-wing riding in the country. How left-wing is it? Well, if you want to talk 'vote splitting', have a look at these numbers from 1940:
  • Liberals: 40.9%
  • CCF: 35.3%
  • Communists: 16.7%
  • National Government (Conservatives): 7.1%
 The CCF (predecessor to the NDP) lost, but (a) because 17% of the vote went to a party to their left, and (b) to the Liberals, not the Tories, who could only muster 7% of the vote, even with their hubris-filled jingoistic wartime rename.

The CCF candidate, A. A. Heaps, was the incumbent. In the previous election, 1935, he won with 42.2%, but the Communist candidate took 25.4%. The Liberals served as the main party of the non-left (relatively speaking), with 29.3% of the vote, and the only actual party of the right, Social Credit, managed a mere 3.2%. the Conservatives didn't even bother to contest the riding.

In 1945, with A. A. Heaps having stood down, the CCF held the seat and the Communists came second. Consider that for a moment, as WWII was ending, Winnipeg North was a battleground between Socialists and Communists. The other parties were mere runners-up.

1945 is a long time ago. yet, excepting only four elections in the 26 previous general elections, going all the way back to 1925, Winnipeg North has been reliably CCF/NDP. Before even the CCF existed, they were CCF, electing Heaps as a "Labour Party" candidate. The closest the NDP have in this country to a 'safe riding', and they've lost it to a Liberal. How much does that matter? It's tough to tell. It was the NDP's to lose, but the Battle of the Kevins was pitted between a star Kevin for the Liberals and a relatively unknown Kevin for the NDP. Things could change once again, and remarkably soon perhaps if we're looking at a spring election. So this might be just an occassional blip in the trend. But if the NDP really have lost Winnipeg North, what hope do they truly have?

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Unelected Positions

Strange days here in Canada. The legality of polygamy, the legality of prostitution, the overturning of a bill on climate change. All decisions made by people not elected to the positions they hold.

But some interesting differences: the first two are being mulled over by judges, the third was overturned by the senate. As Stephen Harper carries on on his malicious attempt to rebuild Canada in the image of himself and his distinct minority of followers, the public have, I think, come to regard different unelected positions with different levels of respect.

It will be ironic to the extreme if a handful of judicial breakthroughs leave the Harper Years with an unexpected legacy of progressivism. But it seems to me at the moment that progressivism is much more active in the stuffy halls of the courtroom than in the, well, stuffy halls of parliament. It's been years now since I've actually felt that anyone in Ottawa is very much interested at all in actually moving Canada forward as a country. It turns out that where politicians are unwilling (and let's be a bit non-partisan here: the activist moves in Ontario regarding prostitution were condemned both by Harper's Conservatives in Ottawa and by McGuinty's Liberals in Toronto), judges are more inclined to action. More power to them.

Yet move past Parliament to the upper house, the Senate, and democracy again vanishes. The scam that the Senate is is plain for all to see, really: a house that claims to represent 'sober second thought' but if anything really represents the perpetuation in Canada of an 'old boys' club' committed to holding the actual reins of power while appearing not to. That a bill passed by a majority of elected MPs could be struck down by unelected senators would already be scandalous if it weren't, additionally, hypocrisy of the highest degree from Harper, who spent years decrying the Liberals for engaging in these sorts of tactics.

It's really just reflective of my personal vision of Canada, but it seems to me that judges behave more ethically if they remain non-partisan, and that the Senate becomes a tool for undermining democracy if it is allowed to become excessively partisan. Senators have party allegiances, so it's tough to envision a non-partisan senate. Yet it might be that very thing that would make the Senate more tolerable. Or perhaps nothing can do that. It was an NDP bill that was killed, and this is an area where I agree with the NDP: it is the Senate itself that should be killed. Kill it before it kills democracy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Don't Touch My Junk

So the phrase 'don't touch my junk' is all over the media these days... it's got to do with a very legitimate boundary-crossing issue. But it's also just a really funny phrase too. So in honour of the phrase-of-the-month, here's a few cheap-'n'-cheesy pictures...

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

200 x 400 Photographs, Part 1

So I once had a need for some images twice as long as they were wide. This is, obviously, not a format that you'll ever find naturally, for the simple reason that it's not a very good format. But it stuck in my head, anyway, and I thought I'd try cropping some photos I'd found here and there in this unusual format. In each case, they're 200 by 400. I like the effect. And if you click on any of them, you can see the uncropped original (which, by the way, hey thanks people who made the uncropped originals; it sure wasn't me).

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ten Fetishes and Paraphilias

It's a minor, and maybe ultimately irrelevant, distinction. 'Paraphilia' is essentially any kind of sexual practice that could be considered 'out of the ordinary'. 'Fetish' describes a subset: any paraphilia involving inanimate objects. Paraphilias are many: there are perhaps more than 500 different kinds, existing on a cline from innocuous to deeply problematic. There is disagreement about the usage of the words 'deviant' or 'disorder' to describe the full range of paraphilias. And while certainly an amount of 'Judge not lest ye be judged' needs to be applied here, some of these are definitely more problematic than others. All of them, objective as we might want to be, are capable of provoking spontaneous giggling...

1.TAMAKERI: The name translates from the Japanese as 'Ball kicking', and that tells you all you need to know, really. It's a paraphilia, and also a genre of pornography involving women abusing men by their testicles, marketed to masochistic men excited by the prospect.Tamakeri_Ball_Kicking
2.MASCHALAGNIA: This is the fancy word for 'armpit fetishism', which is sexual attraction to armpits. This particular fetish can lead to what is called 'axillary intercourse' or, on the street, 'bagpiping'. If you've ever seen bagpipes played, you can perhaps guess what's going on here.Maschalagnia: Armpit Fetishism
3.CIGAR PLAY: A form of smoking fetishism. While tobacco actually has a negative effect on physical arousal, there are a wide variety of sexual practices that incorporate it. Smoking fetishism is often seen as a kind of substitute for oral sex, but in particular in cigar play, the cigar might not be limited to the mouth. Er, enough said.Cigar Fetishism
4.FROTTEURISM: FROTTEURISM: There's a tricky minefield of terminology here. "Frot" or "frottage" describes non-penetrative sex of the 'rubbing' variety - with women this can be called 'scissoring'. Frotteurism differs in that it's non-consensual. Frotteurism can be seen as a variety of groping, and like groping is a concern in places like crowded subways. Where groping uses the hands, a frotteur will use his (or rarely her) genitalia, semmingly-unintentionally brushing or pushing his pelvic area against an unsuspecting stranger.Frotteurism_on_the_Subway
5.SECOND SKIN: This concept describes a variety of clothing-related sexual fetishes. Usually skin-tight clothing, especially rubber, latex or leather, is envisioned as an additional layer of skin or in some way a replacement for one's own skin. These people claim an additional level of arousal from stimulation of this artificial 'skin'.Second Skin Fetishism
6.OMORASHI: There are several fetishes involving bodily functions. Urolagnia is the umbrella term used to describe fetishes involving urination. "Golden showers" is primarily what one thinks up here. Omorashi is a bit different, in that the fetish does not involve urination so much as the feeling of wanting (or needing) to urinate. Essentially it's not peeing but 'having to go pee' that excites people. It is particularly prominent in Japan, where the TV show from which this picture is taken involves women trying to 'hold it in' for as long as possible.Omorashi_Japanese_Television
7.DIAPER FETISHISM: A particularly well-known fetish, prevalent in our association with sadomasochism, involves diapers. This often involves the subject wearing a diaper. Paraphilic infantilism, sexual arousal from behaving like or being treated like a baby, is an overlapping but ultimately separate paraphilia. Here the diaper itself is very much the object of the fetish, though in only some cases is 'soiling' the diaper a component of the arousal.Diaper Fetishism: a Man Wearing a Diaper
8.ASFR: This term for robot fetishism derives from the defunct usenet newsgroup alt.sex.fetish.robots, where fetishists once congregated. The fantasies involved in robot fetishism are generally either of a variety called 'built', involving artificial ready-made androids, or 'transformation', involving a human (perhaps the fetishist himself) willfully becoming an android.alt.sex.fetish.robots
9.VORAREPHILIA: Eat or be eaten. In a non-oral-sex way, either or both of these arouse the vorarephile, whose particular arousal comes from the idea of being consumed (but possibly not digested) - by a human (the partner) or by some kind of monster. For obvious reasons, it is reenacted through gameplay or in literature more often than carried out in practice. Although there have certainly been a well-publicised case or two involving precisely this, which leads to the next one...Vorarephilia, Cannibalism
10.AUTASSASSINOPHILIA: This is a paraphilia involving the risk of death. People with this paraphilia get aroused at the thought of themselves being killed. Not an especially uncommon paraphilia, it raises some very uncomfortable legal questions, especially in cases where people have willingly consented, for sexual purposes, to their own murders.Autassassinophilia

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ten Pictures of Vladimir Putin Looking Heroic

I'm moved the content of this page to the following link: http://a-lust-for-lists.blogspot.com/2010/11/ten-pictures-of-vladimir-putin-looking.html on my "A Lust for Lists" blog. Please access it there.

Vladimir Putin Portrait for Time MagazineVladimir Putin BeefcakeVladimir Putin in a Judo Competition in JapanVladimir Putin Attacking a Small BoyVladimir Putin Taking AimVladimir Putin Hunting TigerVladimir Putin and a DolphinVladimir Putin on HorsebackVladimir Putin on a Harley-DavidsonVladimir Putin as David Caruso in CSI: Moscow

Ten Noteworthy Jesuses, Part 1

The wide world of Jesus... There are a million different Jesuses out there, and here are ten attention-getting ones. There are plenty more, so expect a sequel. In the meantime, though, Jesus Ahoy!

1.CHOCOLATE JESUS: "My Sweet Lord" by Cosimo Cavallaro is a work of art depicting Jesus and made from chocolate. While this is not the only example of a likeness of Jesus made from chocolate (Tom Waits has a song called "Chocolate Jesus", too, not that that has anything to do with anything), it's definitely the most controversial, having gotten all kinds of Christians upset, largely because Jesus is depicted in the anatomically-correct nude. His Christ-pose appears to be sans crucifix as well.Chocolate Jesus
2.HOMO SUPERIORIS: This is the theory, believed by nutballs, that DNA evidence from the bloodstains on Jesus's cross reveal that Jesus was not human after all - or at least, not quite human. He was, in fact, an entirely different species, Homo superioris, as identifiable by a triple helix as opposed to a double helix (representing the Trinity, surely). His being a different species explains his ability to perform miracles.Roswell Alien
3.MITSUO MATAYOSHI: Among the many lunatics claiming to be Jesus, a personal favourite must be The only God Mitsuo Matayoshi Jesus Christ, a politician in Japan who heads the World Economic Community Party, a party based around his own divinity as God and Jesus Christ. Part of his campaign for Second Coming involves being elected as Prime Minister of Japan, a position from which he can proceed to throw the corrupt into the Fire. So far he has been electorally unsuccessful.The Only God Mitsuo Matayoshi Jesus Christ
4.JESUS IN THE CLOUDS: Apparitions of Jesus are everywhere, and while the Toast Jesus and the Sofa Stain Jesus are awesome in their own way, I was most impressed by Jesus in the Clouds, a phenomenon where people around the world are apparently able to take more or less the same picture of a giant headless Jesus floating in the sky. The one I've included is apparently from the North Pole, but really you just have to check out the whole list here, which is intercontinental awesomeness.
Jesus in the Clouds
5.ORAL ROBERTS'S 900 FOOT JESUS: Another giant Jesus. This one comes courtesy of Oral Roberts, the slimy but extremely successful televangelist whose communications with the divine across the years apparently inspired him to buy a Buick and to claim that God would kill him if he couldn't recieve a few million dollars in donations. In 1980, a vision of a 900-foot Jesus appeared, telling Oral to build a hospital.Oral Roberts's 900 Foot Jesus
6.GG ALLIN: GG Allin, a musician broadly classifiable as 'punk', had a 15-plus-year career based largely around varying kinds of 'shock'. His performances were very scatophilic, containing on-stage defecation or even the consumption of faeces in addition to plenty of blood and other enjoyable things. His lengthy discography is filled with songs such as "Suck My Ass It Smells" and "Last in Line for the Gang Bang". The reason he's on this list is because of the actual name given to him at birth by his father, who claimed Jesus had visited him: Jesus Christ Allin. A brother's incorrect pronunciation of this name led to the nickname "GG".GG Allin Jesus Christ
7.JESUS LUZ: I could have filled this whole list with Hispanic people named 'Jesus'. The joke gets old. But this particular Jesus hangs around with Madonna, which is a pun way too good to overlook. He's apparently 22 and she's apparently 50. Which makes her old enough to, ahem, be his mother...Madonna and Jesus Luz
8.THE JESUS OPTICAL ILLUSION: I don't get this one. Stare at the dots in the centre for a little while, then glance at a wall and see Jesus floating there. Well, obviously. It's a negative image of Jesus that your brain then reverts back. That black-and-white castle that you see in colour is way, way cooler. And so is that paper dragony-thing that always seems to be looking at you. That one might be evidence of a miracle.The Jesus Optical Illusion
9.CESARE BORGIA: The Borgia family were a notoriously corrupt band of thugs in medieval Rome. Machiavelli's The Prince refers repeatedly to the Borgia clan and Cesare in particular, to the point that the behaviour today described as 'Machiavellian' describes the Borgias most of all. Cesare's father was pope, and as pope conspired to get as much power for Cesare as possible. Why he's here is because of the long-standing belief, attributed to Alexandre Dumas, that the (very European) image of Jesus we know now from countless paintings and imagery is in fact a picture of Cesar Borgia. Based on this painting, I'd have to say... I'm not sure. If I ran into Borgia on the street, I don't think I'd confuse him with Jesus.Cesare Borgia a/k/a Jesus Christ
10.VICTOR GARBER IN "GODSPELL": A white afro, a heart painted on his forehead, a "Superman" t-shirt... this is pretty much how I, at least, have always pictured Jesus.Jesus in Godspell
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