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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Free advice

IOC President Jacques Rogge thinks Canada should spend more money on winning Olympic medals. Thanks for telling us our business, buddy. Who's this guy think he is, Paul Cellucci?

I've expressed that I'm okay with Canada only winning a few. Judging by call-in shows and streeter interviews, I think that attitude is spreading. I'm glad Canada makes sure our world-class athletes have coaches, have places to train, and can get to the games to perform. But if there's spare money in the pot after that, I would much rather see it spent on a lot of amatuer athletes (building hockey and curling rinks and soccer fields in small communities for instance) instead of spending hundreds of thousands on one athlete to try to get her from fifth-best in the world to second.

I listened to an advocate of Rogga's plan talk about the money that could be spent giving our velodrome bike racers better opportunities, through scouting opponents and tracks (which are, apparently, all different. Who knew?). Forgive me, but didn't a Canadian win that? Didn't she win against athletes who probably had those advantages?

I suspect that our government feels much the same that I do. I think Rogga will be given a polite welcome, as befits an IOC President who isn't also a war criminal, but if the Prime Minister politely told him to mind his own business, I'd be behind that.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Holy shit!

Actually, Bear, what has captured my attention today isn't so much Canadian Idol or the Olympics - it's a sober consideration of our species, and if we might collectively be up for a Darwin Award.

In my past few years with TELUS, before my current employment as card sharp, my primary responsibility was setting and resetting passwords. The role expanded and changed, but to the very last day, I was still setting an obscene nuimber of passwords every day for TELUS employees. Over the four years, I used a single generic password for network accesses. I guarentee you that there are still thousands of TELUS employees using that password, because they couldn't be bothered to secure it through changing it.

I heard a lot of password-security horror stories over those years. Here's a favourite: I was stepping a user through setting a passcode that had to be numeric. I blanked the passcode, and with some difficulty walked the client to the appropriate point where he would be able to set one for himself. The screen prompted him. He asked me, at the other end of the telephone, if it would be okay if he set the number to be the same as his bank card PIN: 462213.

That was my favourite password horror story... until today.

According to the Harper's Index in the September issue of Harper's:

Secret access code to the computer controls of the U.S. nuclear-tipped missile arsenal between 1968 and 1976: 00000000
Mother of God! How have we managed to survive the nuclear era so far? Perhaps it was my time at TELUS, or my time now spent playing poker, but in my experience, human beings are by-and-large not very smart.
(RevMod guest host and surplus bandwith filler BEAR pops by with...)

The Games So Far...

While Don is absorbed by the further commodification of the music industry that is Canadian Idol, I've been watching the further commodification of sports that are the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad. Since I work relatively early and live on the west coast, I'm seeing half of it live, and half of it on tape, mostly on CBC, some on NBC, et un petit peu avec Radio-Canada. Athens appears to have become the Y2K bug of international events, as with three days to go until the flame extinguishes, the organizational breakdowns and terrorist threats have yet to materialize. Mind you, Colin Powell plans to pop by for the Closing Ceremonies.

Like Don, I'm not choked with the medal count, but as a baseball fan (yes, everyone who writes at this blog goes in for sports most people consider boring in their non-violence), it would have been nice to see Canada come back with something from the diamond: doesn't Stubby Clapp deserve to be a household name? As we go to press here, Canada has seven medals, and "we" have potential in canoe/kayak, diving, sailing, and maybe something else that splashes. It's by no means the disappointment some of us have been led to believe: both 1976 in Montreal and the 1988 winter games in Calgary saw "us" come away with five medals at each games, none of them gold.

As for the quotation marks around "we" and "us", I think that's coming from the recurring nausea from the counseling sessions/inquisitions masquerading as post-event interviews with Canadian athletes who come up a little short. Sure, they did their best, just being there is an achievement, wash, rinse, repeat, but if the media took that seriously (and I'm looking at you, CBC), don't these athletes deserve their space and a few minutes to collect themselves, instead of coming crying and apologizing like they ran over your Mom? At the risk of skirting the "our athletes need more funding" mantra, I'm pretty sure that none of whatever funding they get goes to dealing with Scott Oake shoving a mic (and whatever you said about your chances before the starter's pistol) in your face, right after you've been swimming your guts out to 28th place.

Anyway, it will be all over but the shouting come Sunday. When you started to lose interest in the women's beach volleyball tournament, you knew the end was coming.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Canada medal count


I keep hearing I'm supposed to be upset about this, but this is the summer games. Is there curling? No? Then who cares?

We have six kids on our Idol show who played instruments to go along with an amazing rendition of Canadian Railroad Trilogy. American Idol could never have pulled that off. Plus, they probably don't even know the words to the Lightfoot classic. Take that, American Olympic team!

So, to recap:

One! Which is okay by me.

edited to add: Two! Add trampoline to Canada's synchronized diving medal. Thank goodness the Olympic rules allow countries to make shit up, when they can't win any real events.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Campaign Comedy Review

Thanks, Bear, for looking in on the cats and bringing in the mail. I'm back.

All the new incoming links will be appearing to your left in the next couple of days, so if you think you're missing from my list, just hit my page from yours and I'll notice it in SiteMeter.

Credit where credit is due - unlike Paul Martin, who played election-date guessing games with the country all through the spring, Ralph Klien telegraphs his election timing intentions months in advance. Alberta will be having a provincial election in November, barring some unusual circumstances, and it looks increasingly likely I'll be the NDP's provincial candidate for Strathmore-Brooks once again. If you're a constituent, or headed east on highway #1 from Calgary, watch for the outdated signs. I'm way too cheap to buy fresh.

Acknowledging that Lucifer will take up ice-skating to celebrate my election-night victory, I think I'll use my speaking time at forums to hone my comedy skills. The good news: perhaps people will come to election forums if they think they're going to be entertained. The bad news: you poor sods get to be the sounding board for my writing.

"I've spoken with some of you over the last few months, and people in this riding are frustrated. We're mad at the Liberals for giving money to their Quebec advertising friends. We're mad at the Tories for giving away tax money that ended in the pockets of their American meat packer friends. So my party settled on a new slogan: 'Alberta's NDP. We have no friends.'"

(after popping open Don's last beer and running up his long distance bill, safe in the knowledge our moderator hasn't been seen in days, RevMod guest host/loiterer BEAR asks...)

Damn it, where's Malibu Hilary?

America is truly the land of opportunity, where any fashion doll or action figure can run for public office!
(RevMod vagrant/guest host BEAR says...)

Say it ain't so, Edgar!

Went to Safeco Field on Thursday to see my beloved Seattle Mariners drop a 6-3 decision to the Minnesota Twins. It was probably my last opportunity to see Edgar Martinez, whose prowess at the plate defined the Designated Hitter position.

I've followed Edgar's career since when I lived in Calgary in the 1980s, and he was toiling in obscurity with the Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League. Thursday was probably the last time I'll be able to root for him, as one, he's announced his retirement at the end of the season, and two, he sure seemed happy to meet George Bush when he rolled into Seattle the day after I did!

For a guy who did a lot of damage to the team that Dubya ran into the ground as an owner, it's too bad, despite telling reporters "No Politics!", that a class act like Edgar would allow himself to be a pawn in Bush's bid to run America into the ground for another four years.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

(RevMod guest host and hanger-on BEAR spies trouble off the East Coast...)

Bear vs. the Volcano: No Contest

Everyone who lives in Vancouver knows that sometime within the next 400 - 500 years, there's going to be a major earthquake, much like the one that wreaked havoc in Kobe, Japan. Depending on where you live in the Lower Mainland, you'll be either scrounging for batteries or digging yourself out from the rubble. If you live in Richmond, you might be taking a little swim.

Meanwhile, if you're on the East Coast, you might be looking at a much bigger swim, thanks to the wrath of La Palma. A jumbo tidal wave laying waste to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, as seen in "Deep Impact" or the "Day After Tomorrow".

Of course, this might not happen in our lifetime, but I'll take the earthquake which might not happen in our lifetime over the tsunami which might cut short 100 million lifetimes.
Serious political blogging? Bah!

If you aren't watching Canadian Idol, why not? Unlike American Idol, which features dueling syrupy ballads, we have actual entertaining singers. We have a skinny Ukranian Saskatchewan girl celebrating her accordion-rich upbringing. We have a crazy kid from British Columbia doing Paul Anka one week and David Bowie the next, in full costume (sweater-vest to sparkly blue unitard in seven days). And the local favourite is heartbreakingly shy until he starts banging out his latest hard-driving classic rock selection. Even the group song-and-dance number on results-nights don't suck.

But don't believe me. Believe an American:

The host is probably about the same quality as Ryan. He's not quite as good an improviser and is sometimes a bit awkward in trying to get the show moving along, but he is very personable. Apparently, he's the son of a previous Canadian prime minister or something. Canada, I have to respect you for that. You put the intellect-challenged son of your previous leader in charge of talent show competition. We put ours in charge of our military. I think you guys made the smarter move.
Do your patriotic duty. Watch Canadian Idol, or Ben Mulroney might enter politics.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Sensing a lull in the action, RevMod guest host BEAR advises readers (at least U.S. readers) to...

Vote for George W. Bush

Hey, doesn't every American want a President who can keep his promises and means what he says?

(Edited by Don, who just hates the all-caps thing. Sorry, Bear.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

(Meanwhile, occasional RevMod guest host BEAR checks in with...)

Postcard from Portland

Hey Don,

We arrived at Union Station last Monday just in time to miss Dick Cheney skipping town after being shouted down by a few trainloads of demonstrators, who were miraculously whittled down to about 7 later that night on Fox News. Went shopping at Nob Hill and was repeatedly accosted by Democrats. I kept thinking to myself "wow, what dedicated, idealistic young people determined to punt Bush's a*s from the White House": at least until I picked up the local Arts & Anti-Establishment Willamette Week and discovered these kids are pulling $1500 - $2500 a month to pull the vote.

Spent most of our time here at Washington Park, poking through the Rose Garden, the Oregon Zoo, and the Japanese Garden. Picked up the new edition of Al Franken's book at Powell's World of Books (the biggest independent bookstore in the work, staffed by proud members of ILWU Local 5). Didn't do anything Lewis and Clark related, with the possible exception of driving by the the Sacajewea statue.

Did I mention the beer? Portland is easily North America's microbrew capitol. I didn't see a 'Bud' or 'Miller' sign until PGE Park, where the PCL Beavers play to 20,000+ empty seats, as Portlanders stay at home and wait to be deemed worthy by Major League Baseball. It's always sad when people don't know they're being used. Portland's nice enough that I'll probably threaten to move there sometime too.