Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


(Summer semi-hiatus continues while I clean up code and links. Posting will be infrequent for a little while longer. And yes, by popular request, I will be posting the full results of the Gaffe contest. Eventually.)

So Google's about to be a public company, eh?

This Wired article from eighteen months ago describes both the underlying philosophy that makes us love Google so darn much, and why the short-term profit demands of public ownership may threaten that guiding philosophy. I'll go further than the article - watch Google following the IPO if you want to see a microcosm of the biggest problem with entrusting the world - the environment, the heatth system, our education system, name it - to capitalism, as the Fraser Institute types would have us do. In the short term, share purchasers will be buying because they trust the current leadership to know what they're doing. But it won't be long before huge shareholders like pension plans and mutual funds, who are under enormous pressure to show the highest possible results quarter to quarter, will begin to pressure Google to do the same, regardless of the long-term ruining of the Google environment.

The good news is that unlike the real environment, we can leave Google's planet and head to another any time we like. And there will always be another company producing a net environment we like.

But in the meantime, click through on a Google ad once in a while. You'll note I don't host them, and I certainly don't stand to profit by telling you this. But so long as Google continues to be rewarded for being the sort of environment we want to see on the internet, it will continue to be that environment.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Random radio notes

--- Radio note number one: I was criticised at length by our dear friend Brock! On the attack! for not rushing to the defense of radio station CHOI in Montreal. CHOI will not be getting their broadcast licence renewed, because the morning man wants to euthanize psychiatric patients and thinks African students at Laval are the children of dictators, or something along those lines. I didn't look into it too deeply.

Long story short, Brock! On the attack! thinks I should be standing up for freedom of expression, because doesn't the left stand up for freedom of expression?

Well, I tend to be more libertarian than most of my left-leaning friends, and certainly don't want to silence this fellow. But, to paraphrase what I said in Brock!'s comments, giving the guy a right to speak doesn't mean we have to renew his licence to put 20,000 watts of broadcast amplification behind ideas that more appropriately belong scrawled in three different colours of ink on lined pages and hand-delivered to the city desk of the local paper. Or, the modern equavalent - those sorts of ideas belong in a blog.

--- Radio note number two: CBC has become famous for comedy that really isn't funny. Too many years of the Royal Canadian Air Farce (now there's something to euthanize) and the Mercer-less 22 minutes on television has injured the repuation. As for radio, it's been a disappointing decade for the Saturday morning comedy slot. I won't bore you with a litany, but the slot managed to make even the witty and reflective Thomas King seem preachy and tiresome.

One show in my memory has succeeded brilliantly in that same time slot: The Great Eastern - Newfoundland's Cultural Magazine. So imagine how thrilled I was to discover that the host, Paul Moth, has returned to the airwaves to bring us Sunny Days and Nights as a summer replacement. It deserves a careful listening - feel encouraged to give it one. And hey, CBC? This deserves to live beyond the scheduled end date of August 31.

--- Radio note number three: Here's a new-to-me blog watching the media: radio weisblog. Marc Weisblott has set up links to all variety of fantastic resourses, and his overviews of media issues can save you all sorts of tiresome reading and watching and listening. I'll be keeping an eye. Review the media coverage of the CHOI decision along with Marc: it's worth your time, if such issues interest you.

--- Bonus multimedia note: via radio weisblog, I see that pogge takes the crap out of the various right-wing columnists claiming the CRTC prefers al jazeera over Fox News. If they'd said it about me, they'd be right, but that's not what the CRTC has said at all. And look at that - one of the right-wing columnists is Calgary's very own Ezra Levant, to whom pogge offers up a nice big cup. Not to worry, pogge - Ezra has a standing bottomless cup waiting for him right here at RevMod.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Around the web


I followed Kinsella's link to David Frum's Blog. Why do I do it to myself? 

Took my kids to the multiplex on the weekend. The multiplex being in DC, close to half the theaters were showing Michael Moore's pseudo-documentary. But that's OK! Because the other half were showing the great pro-Bush movie of the summer: Spiderman 2.

Pro-Bush? Well consider this. Spiderman 2 is the story of a hero who is regularly belittled and ridiculed by almost everyone who knows him. Fashionable society despises him; the press lampoons and attacks him. Spiderman nearly dies saving a bank from Doctor Octopus - and the next day the New York Bugle, which functions in the movie as the Michael Moore of Gotham City, accuses him and Doc Oc of robbing banks together. The good news is that the movie ends with a barrage of hints that Spidey will soon return for another term .....

Sure - lovely comparison. Except that unlike Dubya, it seems to me Peter Parker understands that with great power comes great responsibility.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Raj Against the Machine


The Alberta NDP is going to miss Dr. Pannu as leader, I think.  Elected as the only other member of what should have been Pam Barrett's big ND wave, he was entrusted with the leadership practically by default when Pam got some sort of religion going toward the light on the dentist's chair.


Raj is an intellectual heavyweight.  Had he hung around as leader for this election, it might not have been as noticable alongside Kevin Taft, another very serious leader with the capacity to keep track of, and connect, several issues at once.  But last election, the leader of the third party looked like the only leader with the gravitas to be running, if you consider such things important.  (Albertans, it seems, tend more toward the "common touch" candidates.  Which is why we prefer a Stephen Harper to a Jean Chretien.  No, wait.  No, I think Albertans just vote for the Tory.)


So, Alberta needs a new NDP leader.  I need a job.  Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


The headline refers to the province of Alberta, not to me. I still have student loans from a decade ago. I built the debt up while the Klein revolution withdrew a fifth of the government grants to post-secondary education, but allowed the institution to make it up from me, and then lent me the money to give the institution. Neat little shell game, eh?

I rant about my own circumstances because it's a good example of the various ways the Alberta government reached this exciting debt-free status. It withdrew money from the health system, but increased the premiums. Decreased funding forced increased fees to basic services like K-12 education, and passing on service provision to private industry made things more expensive for users, but the government described this all as "no tax increases".

But fine. We've reached this point now. The government is asking what they should do with all the brand new money they used to spend on debt payment. May I make a couple of suggestions?

Lose the health premium. It's a poll tax. Nothing could be more regressive. They could have done this for half the money they gave up four years ago when they made the wholesale changes to the provincial income tax system, but getting rid of the premium wouldn't have put a quarter of the tax reduction benefit in the hands of people who earn a taxable income over $250K a year, so they went for the "give the rich the money" option, instead.

Quit the P3 talk. The province has the money to build its own schools now - why invite private industry in to charge you rent until the thing falls down? Isn't that essentially accepting debt for future generations? Isn't that precisely what you've been trying to stop? Let government be government - quit trying to cut corners.

Find a project. There was all sorts of talk about the great provincially-funded daycare programme in Quebec. Alberta can spend Quebec under the table - make the program the envy of the world. Or perhaps seniors' residences. Perhaps a bullet train between Edmonton and Calgary, to help reduce our carbon emmissions by getting cars off of Highway 2.

Reinvest in the sorts of small-money projects that got cut at the beginning of the "revolution". Help small and rural communities construct or improve community centres. Let some government money help to keep Alberta's arts community vital... never let Calgary's Philharmonic come as close to death as it did last year, ever again, because it would be pathetic if Calgary couldn't sustain an orchestra.

Don't forget the poorest Albertans. A province as wealthy and debt-free as Alberta shouldn't require a single food bank. Make that the top goal for the first debt-free government term: close the door on every food bank in Alberta for lack of use.

This isn't a pipe-dream wish list. This could all be done, if the government set these priorities.

But what will happen? Royalty cuts for oil and gas exploration. More money for health, to compensate for what the fed takes away if the province goes too far afield of the CHA. Some tax cuts, probably by percentage on income tax accross the board, leaving the greatest benefit at the top end. More money for education, because they got way behind on education - thus the offer of spending nearly two billion dollars on unfunded pension liability if only the teachers would sign a long-term contract.

We'll have an election in the fall. Albertans will have the opportunity to decide between these sorts of options for themselves.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Another reason the war in Irag is unjustified: US Troops no longer defending Democracy

(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

This is arguably the most frightening piece of news I have come across in a long time: the United States is on the verge of suspending the November elections.

Although some media outlets consider these to be preliminary discussions, several commentators at Fox News (the first network to declare Bush elected in Florida back in 2000) have been speculating for weeks about the possibility of suspending the Constitution in the event of an "October Surprise", and Fox has been running push polls in the 60% range to support such a move.

Suspending an election in the wake of a terrorist attack might be unthinkable, but so was having the Supreme Court select the candidate with the second highest number of votes four years ago.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I look all naked!

RevMod is an overwhelmingly text-based blog once more. If you'd like to see the Gaffe-o-Meter, it will live forever at the top of the May and June archives. I suspect that I won't have to change any faces on it when it's unveiled once more during the next election.

By the way, to a couple of readers who've asked, I think Harper's decision to have an Alberta tour on the last day of campaigning, and yak up "The west wants in" and other such Reform chestnuts, was an error (if he wanted to win, which is not entirely clear to me. He might have been sandbagging. That's a question for another day). But it wasn't a "gaffe" per se - it was a pre-meditated strategy. So I didn't score it.

Thanks to all who sent their tips and argued over my scoring. Thanks to those - bloggers and reporters for traditional media both - who promoted me to the world. It was fun being widely read for several weeks.

Mostly, thanks to the new readers who are still here, who came for the Gaffe-o-Meter, and are staying for the hobbyist punditry. Let's see what's been going on in the rest of the world while we've been patiently anticipating Canada's political elite tripping on their own shoelaces, shall we?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Election Hangover

Yes, it's true - I've taken several days off, and may take several more. Let's face it, many of us blogged the hell out of the election. I'm not feeling too bad about taking a little rest. It's not helping that posting here is the only reason I open Internet Explorer any more... sure like that Opera.

But I know many of you are on the edge of your seats about the final gaffe-o-meter contest results. I scored by ignoring the plus-and-minus, simply giving points for every point predicted away from the actual gaffe score earned by each party.

I have to admit, I'm feeling a little sheepish about this: remember way back when, I published what an entry should look like? My own dear brother, font of hilarity that he is, simply cut-and-pasted my sample numbers and mailed that in as his entry. That sample, "Conservative: 15, Liberal: 7, NDP: 11, Bloc: 4" turned out to be two off on every party, for a grand total of eight... we have a winner.

My brother will take home a copy of "If I were Prime Minister", edited by Mel Hurtig. The volume dates back to 1987, and features essays by people who then were barely heard of, running politically from Alexa McDonough ("... is a social worker and leader of the New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia...") to Elsie Wayne (... of Saint John, N.B., is the first woman mayor of the first incorporated city in Canada...") and fifty-eight others in-between. If you didn't win, I'll leave you to scour better used bookstores for it.

He will also take home whatever Shiela Copps swag I still have around from her failed 1990 leadership bid, when the convention was held right here in Calgary. If my brother threatens to, say, wax his car with the t-shirt, this portion of the prize package will be forwarded to someone who may actually appreciate it for its keepsake value - second-place finisher James Bow. James' prediction, "Conservatives: 15, Liberals: 10, NDP: 4, BQ: 1", was nine points off the mark, only really missing by Layton's one-two homeless/Clarity gaffes.

I'll be contacting each of you in the next few days. Congratulations on nearly correctly assessing the size of the feet inserted in the mouths of Canada's leadership.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Random notes

First, happy Canada Day. It's nice to have a little unifying holiday after a divisive election that satisfied so few. Beer and barbecued meat tends to be unifying all by itself, so combined with the holiday, maybe today's the day to have your neighbour over - the guy with that *other* lawn sign. (Check out the cute Google graphic.)

I'm aware I haven't scored up the end of the Gaffe contest. I'm taking a little holiday as well, but I expect to get to it tomorrow. I haven't checked that e-mail account in the past couple of days, but the party scoring will finish right where it is, unless I've missed something.

One thing I've done in the past couple of days is downloaded Opera, and I'm generally happy with it. But maybe the techies out there can explain to me why the Blogger compose page has so much trouble there.

Have a fun long, long weekend.