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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year in review - if by "year", you mean the last week and a bit

Mike "Keep 'em laughing" Klander. The name strikes hilarity in the hearts of none. Well, laughing at, perhaps. He compared Olivia Chow to a Chow Chow dog. Get it? Get it? Stephen Taylor has a nice collection of Klanderisms from the blog before it came down. He also way overestimates the importance of this guy. An executive vice president of the provincial wing of a federal party is no one. I bet you couldn't name me one other, for any party, off the top of your head, unless you're deeply involved in that party. There are some candidates I won't give a prominence of two, so this guy sure doesn't get one. Some in the comments have argued that his resignation was a big splash, but again, he only became prominent because of the gaffe. His pre-gaffe prominence was essentially zero, though a (prom)0 wouldn't produce much of a score. The error in judgment, though, was really dumb and high profile, and was made worse by being committed to print instead of muttered at a meeting. (Prom)1 x (Sig)3 = three for the Liberals.

I find it much harder to judge David Emerson's alleged "boiled dog's head smile" comment, though. Should Cantonese insults be judged by Cantonese cultural norms? Even if the comment was made by a European, about a European, in English? (I'm told, for instance, that "chicken thief" is pretty derogatory. If I had a dollar for every time someone called me "chicken thief" at a poker table, in what I suspect is Cantonese... well, in fact I do, because it's when I've just taken down a pot with a bet. I have several dollars for each occasion. I digress.) The fact that this wasn't even a comment made publicly, but was an aside to a party operative who in turn blogged it, clinches it. I should have listed this one with the other blanks on Thursday. No score. Maybe some points for David Emerson knowing what a boiled dog's head looks like. Call me culturally relativistic, but eww.

Finally, Oakville Liberal riding association president Elie Betito telling a constituent to take her "gun-loving ass" back to the US. A nobody, a quick resignation. 1x1=1.

Did I miss any? I think I got them all. But I'm sure my alert readers will let me know if I've missed a personal favourite. And I have yet to check my gaffe report e-mail, so I might find another jewel or two yet. Scores above and summary below will be updated later today.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Holiday gaffe roundup

Break time's over. Let's start with the "gaffes" that I'm not giving any score for.

First up, the Holocaust memorial photo. As near as I've been able to tell, the photo was never used to attempt to prove the thesis that Tories are in bed with separatists; rather, it was a convenient photo to illustrate a pamphlet arguing that point. Anyone who's ever played with clip art, who has ever designed one of these things, will know how unimportant the context of the photo is. The designer doesn't much care, the readers don't much care, and the only people who might notice are the original photographer or illustrator and the characters in the photo. No score. I'm half-tempted to give the Tories a few points for even complaining about this, rather that, say, responding to the allegation. But only half.

The other blank going up is related to the income trust issue. Should Goodale have resigned already? Probably. Will Paul Martin be wearing this albatross around his neck right to the finish line? Certainly. But is it a "gaffe" in the sense of saying or doing something obviously stupid? No. Crime is not a gaffe. Unless it was Lorne Nystrom accidentally lifting a bottle of contact lens solution. I'd totally gaffe that.

Coming up tomorrow: some actual score changes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A quick aside

The holiday gaffe roundup is being prepared, but something came to my attention that cried for a more immediate post. I spotted Tom Green on a commercial. On CPAC. An ad for CPAC.

Tom certainly is searching out a new audience, isn't he? I'm sure I and at least one other of the dozen people who saw the ad will run out for the director's cut of Freddy Got Fingered right away.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Festivus!

And now, the Airing of Grievences. Wait a minute - we're bloggers. Every day is Festivus!

Anyway, yes, I realize there is at least one outstanding gaffe. It'll be scored when I return to Edmonton. In the meantime, enjoy your Christmas. And please remember, it's not too late to pick up that last-minute gift.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Talking about Americans

Via Calgary Grit, I see that Stephen Taylor noticed that the Liberal "Standing up for Canada" ads were produced before the diplomatic row with the United States. He concludes the row itself must have been orchestrated.

I think this might be a bit of a logical jump. Really, I would have expected that if the point of the ads was to be negative without actually being negative (The Liberals defend medicare, the Liberals defend the Charter, the Liberals stand up to big bad Bush - all leaving the implication that the Conservative Party does not), there would be one like this in the can already. Or, if not an ad in the can, at least the quotes ready to be strung together into a commercial. And it can hardly be considered particularly Machiavellian if they rushed that ad to air.

It doesn't matter that the diplomatic battle highlighted this theme. The theme had to be one the Liberals were expecting to pursue regardless. I'm not saying that Paul Martin didn't do anything to bring this on, or that the Liberals don't welcome the theme. There are other pieces of evidence that suggest they took intentional steps to provoke the fight. But ultimately, I can't imagine that they imagined they'd draw the White House, not to mention some slow-witted American commentators, into the mix.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Christmas Wish

It's another cold day in Edmonton, leading me to believe that the party that gets my vote may be the one that recommits to the friendly annexation of the Turks and Caicos Islands. There might be nothing like a winter election to reignite this hot issue.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Not just because he quoted me in it

2004 Gaffe contest winner James Bow considers the possibility of an informal Conservative/NDP coalition government.
Debate format debate

Gilles Duceppe has decided that he doesn't care for the debate format. I think he might be speaking selfishly - after all, most of his points can be made with a single word: "Gomery". Other candidates have more complex thoughts that they may want to express. Was this format the right one? No - the candidates hardly had time to engage an issue in any detail. But then again, they didn't want to engage some of the topics raised in any detail, and rarely did they want to say anything beyond the platform points.

I prefer the new format, or would if the leaders would take the opportunity to engage each other on their ideas. You saw that happen a couple of times during the debate, but it tended to be only on the broadest strokes: "You won't take away my Canada!" More often, you saw a distinct lack of engagement. Harper said he wouldn't use s.33 on any gay marriage prevention legislation, Martin insisted that there'd be no way around using s.33, and that therefore, Harper intended to. What would a real debate look like? Martin would be able to ask directly, which takes precedence? Avoiding the use of the notwithstanding clause, or avoiding gay marriages? Martin could likewise be challenged: what if there was a way around? What if the Conservatives could come up with legislation ending gay marriage without offending the Charter? Would he support it? Does Mr. Martin support gay marriage or just Charter rights?

How do we get these sorts of cross-examinations without descending into the yelly non-answer format we had last time around?

How about this for a format: we'll use the Abraham Lincoln / Stephen Douglas debates as a guide. One candidate will have an hour, the second candidate will have 90 minutes, and the first candidate will have half an hour in rebuttal. I recognize that this was one of the shorter formats Lincoln and Douglas used, but we must make allowances for modern audiences. Now, since we have four leaders, we'd need six of these debates in series (one for each pair), but I'm sure Canadians can spend that amount of time and concentration on a decision they'll be complaining about for the next few years.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

John Spencer, 1946-2005

In noting the passing of John Spencer, some people have been recalling lines from the West Wing that he delivered with so much subtle emotional heft, they became much greater than the words on the page. But for me, the essential John Spencer moment, the moment I recognized how much skill he brought to the role, came at the end of the penultimate episode of season two. Having just been informed of the death of the President's friend and primary receptionist, chief-of-staff Leo McGarry walks the porch from the Oval Office to the President's Residence to tell him. Over the course of that walk, a dozen steps over twenty seconds, Spencer manages, not even so much to sag with the shock and sadness (which would be the less subtle way to go about it), but to seemingly shrink within his suit.

The West Wing, in the early seasons, succeeded largely because the cast brought the gravitas to pull off what would have been, in lesser hands, far too laboured. John Spencer led that charge, bringing to life a character with issues that never overwhelmed but were always present.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Thanks, Rex Murphy

The erudite Globe columnist opens his column with the phrase "Beer and popcorn, eh?", sustaining Scott Reid's six-pointer. Was there ever any fear it would be otherwise?

Also in the Globe today, online edition this time, three editorialists discuss the debate as it goes on.
Sean Fine, 9:11 p.m.: I can't wait to see whom the media dub the winner of this debate.
Yes, indeed, prominent member of the media. I wonder who "they'll" dub the winner? I sure hope you get the memo in time. You don't want to seem out of step with the herd mentality. Why this fascination with determining a winner, instead of examining the positions?

I'm being overly harsh; there were some decent observations in there. But personally, I preferred Calgary Grit's overview.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Important - vitally important - debate notes.

Did anyone else find the dry humour of "Mr. Martin, do you have any Atlantic Canadian roots?" hilarious? No? Just me, then?

Note to self: less beer and popcorn during the Leader's "debate".
One quick pre-debate note

Before we get going, I just want to point out that I'm not one of those who was desperate to see yet one more leader added to the debate. However, two arguments have convinced me. First, Jim Harris is spending our money on this campaign, since the Greens surpassed the threshold that gets them their per-vote election funding grant. The better argument I heard last night in a feature on the debate format, and on debates past: what are we doing inviting Gilles Duceppe to the English debate? I could vote for a Green come January 23, but I have no chance of casting a ballot for a local BQ candidate.

Sorry, Jim, but I guess we're going to keep Duceppe around to play the part of Robot Wars house robot (and a tip of the hat to Bear for that metaphor - wish I could find the appropriate post), beating the crap out of everyone else with no stake of his own in the debate.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Constant Improvement for 100% Visitor Experience

You've asked for it, and while I can't decide if it's useful or just another ugly scar on an already pretty garish site, you've got it. Let me know if the marquee of the score sources is useful, interesting, or has you covering your computer screen with your electronic light pen input hi-tech expensive editing device.

Edited to add, Friday evening: I've heard enough, the scroll is gone. To check the individual items that appeared on the scroll, go to the bottom of the page.
Headlines of the overly panicky

Many people are concerned about the U.S. Ambassador's words about candidates (okay, Martin) using the United States as an electoral straw man, to be kicked about for the purpose of scoring points. I'm far less concerned, since the United States government is welcome to say what it wishes; likewise, we are equally able to ignore the advice.

What concerns me right now is the headline I found on this morning's National Post: U.S. 'intervention' decried.

Notwithstanding the quotation marks, the comments by Ambassador Wiltfong Wolfgang Wilkins can hardly be called an "intervention". If the United States intervenes in a Canadian election, you'll be able to tell by the tanks in the streets and the Diebold voting machines.
Wilkins, Williams, Wilson, Wendigo, Wumplestiltskin...?

Paul Martin got all name-confused. Then the Conservative website got confused about what name the Prime Minsiter misspoke.

But really, who cares? Are either of these errors likely to change a single vote anywhere in the country? Maybe a few, as part of a cumulative effect of becoming concerned about the Prime Minister's clarity of mind. But this error specifically? I can't imagine it.

I set the precident last election, and I stand behind it: no gaffe points for Mumbly-Joeisms. I gave in a little when Martin vascillated between losing and saving the country, but that one worked into a certain suspicion that some of us have about Paul Martin. That's as far as I go.

As for the Tory response, well, they got to look a little foolish as well, but this is even more minor than Martin's error. No points. They'll all have opportunity enough to run the score over the next two evenings.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dressing down

So David Wilkins took a strip off the Prime Minister for Yank-bashing. It's okay, though - he's already proving himself much more diplomatic than his predecessor:
"It's easy to criticize the United States; we're an easy target at times," Wilkins said. "But the last time I looked, the United States was not on the ballot." (italics mine, seeing as this was a speech and all.)
And with that sentence fragment, the new Ambassador just proved himself more self-aware, and aware of his host country than Paul Celluci did in five years here.

I started to write a reimagining of the speech as Celluci would have delivered it, but couldn't get any farther than "Hey, Dirtbags!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More curling news

I was happy to see an Alberta team get to the Olympics after all. I wasn't sad to see Russ Howard get there, either. But mostly, I was thrilled to see some Americans being made to wear helmets, in order to throw a rock. Kids, a hint for next time: you're actually supposed to put a spin on them. And the brooms? Not just for show.

Yeah, so it's not election politics. Sue me. I needed a break, and so, evidentially, did the candidates... quiet day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Okay, one more gaffe-related post today.

From today's entry in Feschuk's blog:
I want to thank the many loyal blog readers who have sent in witty and/or hostile remarks in relation to the unfortunate "beer and popcorn" commentary by my good friend Scott Reid, who is sitting next to me on the plane at this moment and who just now made me write the whole "good friend" part - which, between you and me, is completely bogus in the sense that now he is a total social leper and I have every intention of cutting the poor bugger loose. (To gauge from my inbox, public opinion is currently evenly divided on Scott's comment, with half of people describing him as an "idiot" and the other half defiantly insisting he is a "complete idiot".)
I think we can say for certain now: not a flog, or this would have been ignored completely.
Gaffe weekend round-up, final part: homosexual sex marriages leave me old and confused. (C-7, L-17, BQ-3, ND-1)

Catching up on the post from last week:

The discussion in the comments, and my fast gaffing of Scott Reid, holding the equivalent position in the PMO, has convinced me that John Embury holds a political, not a civil service, position. (Prom)1 by (sig)2 = two more for the old and confused Liberals.

As much as I'd like to score the Anders crime / crystal meth / homosexual sex marriage mailer, I can't. I haven't been able to confirm that it was sent during the writ (though I've certainly seen enough to convince me that MPs were given a certain amount of time to get out last mailings, and that several used that opportunity to send out their Christmas cards, after the writ was dropped). More importantly, it probably wasn't a gaffe at all. It was goofy to most of us, but for some of the residents of Richmond, there's nothing like a good scare tactic to keep them voting Tory. In fact, having the "survey" sent out by Anders might have been ingenious central Tory party strategy - appeal to SoCons while having the distance to say "There goes Anders again. What a dope! But a seat's a seat."
Gaffe weekend round-up part four: Nothing goes so well with beer than pasta. Except popcorn, of course.

Staying with the Heritage Ministry, it was suggested by a few readers that I score something for the BQ, because candidate Thierry St-Cyr suggested that Liberal candidate and current Heritage Minister Liza Frulla "...has nothing more to contribute to public debate than her recipe for spaghetti sauce."

Like the misinterpretation of Feschuk's Omni line, a political opponent looking to take a piece out of the BQ suggested that this is a slur at Italian-Canadians, or women, or both. In fact, it alludes to a specific thing: a recipe she distributed in a calendar she gave to constituents. St-Cyr is suggesting Frulla is a useless MP. That's what candidates often do. No points.
Gaffe weekend round-up part three: apparently, it's wrong to suggest that Quebec needs Canada (C-7, L-15, BQ-3, ND-1)

When I ran provincially, one of the other candidates was running for the Alberta Separation Party. He argued at a forum that Albertans send - I don't remember his exact number, but let's say a zillion - a zillion dollars to Ottawa in taxation. The rest of his points during the debate sprang from that first contention: if only we had the zillion dollars back, we could give every Albertan his or her own MRI machine; give post-secondary students free tuition, books, room and board, clothing, and computer equipment; and put a public library anywhere two or three people gather in Alberta's name. The gap in the argument is obvious - we have services in Alberta provided by the federal government, and international commitments an independent Alberta would have to provide for itself. Those might not eat up the full zillion, but if there was a net financial benefit, well, "net" is the key word.

Liberal candidate Helene Chalifour-Scherrer (forgive the misaccenting of her name, but accented characters don't always show up as they should on all browsers, as I discovered any time I blogged the former Prime Minister), member of the Privy Council and former Minister of Heritage, described Quebec as a "very poor province" which requires transfer payments to make ends meet. "Make ends meet" might have been a bit strong, since I'm sure an independent Quebec could manage, if not as comfortably, but Madame Chalifour-Scherrer was speaking the objective truth that Quebec receives a net financial benefit as a result of being part of the Confederation. I'm not complaining. Alberta has been on both sides of that fence, and anyway, though Quebec takes from the country financially, Canada would be much poorer for Quebec's absence.

This is where I notice the cultural difference between Quebec and Alberta. I don't generally think of speaking the objective truth as a gaffe. But, apparently, her comments have been added to the long list of emotional humiliations that Quebec has had to endure since September 13, 1759. And by adding to that list, she has inadvertently reminded voters of that list, and fueled anti-federalist (and therefore anti-Liberal) sentiment. The BQ (and Tories) had a good old time piling on. As a result, she apologised.

I won't pretend to understand it all. She acknowledged it was a gaffe. Ergo, gaffe points. (Sig)1 x (prom)2 = two more for the red team.
Gaffe weekend round-up part two: How dumb is Brian Pallister? (C-7, L-13, BQ-3, ND-1)

Former leadership candidate. Former Minister in Gary Filmon's cabinet. Current Conservative critic for National Revenue. Potential future Premier of Manitoba.

In short, the man has a resume that should provide him with enough political savvy to not declare his public indecision about leaving federal politics for a shot at the Manitoba Tory leadership "a woman's answer".

Dimwit. But getting little national play. (Sig)1 x (Prom)2 = two more for Cowboy Steve's team.

(Scores at the top of the page will be updated once I'm done playing catch-up and have some totals.)
Gaffe weekend round-up part one: reconsidering Sunday's score

I'm trying to keep my weekends mostly to myself, but all the errors seem to get made late in the week. Last night, I felt the need to post Scott Reid's blunder, and as the Calgary Grit argued, I may have overestimated the significance. What can I say? I was recovering from a Saturday night beer-and-popcorn bender. Thank goodness they started licensing movie theatres!

Anyway, to set up an objective marker, I've hearkened back to John Hnatyshyn's now-defunct Newsmaker Pool, an early inspiration for what's become the Probably Nearly Annual for the Foreseeable Future RevMod Election Gaffe-o-Meter Prediction Contest. This coming Saturday, I will scan the front section of the Globe and Mail for any reference to "beer and popcorn". If none exists, I will roll the score on Reid's error back to 2x2 = 4. However, if the phrase can survive a week's news cycle including two debates, the 2x3 will stand.

Scott Reid's resignation or firing in the meantime will likewise allow the 2x3 to stand.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Where's my "beer and popcorn" grant? (C-5, L-13, BQ-3, ND-1)

I have to express a little bit of surprise. What Scott Reid should have said was that parents will spend their Tory day care grants on beer and popcorn - which was already covered in one of the 11th hour spending announcements in the days before the writ.

However, he stopped at the "beer and popcorn" part. This one's easy. Scott Reid, as the PM's Communications Director, is a serious player: prom = 2. And this may be, as commenter "craigers" suggested, the defining gaffe of the election. This was serious and stupid. We're in three country. Total, six.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dude, why you gettin' all up in my grill? You are totally harshing my mellow.

I complained earlier this week about the Conservative Flog, but I neglected to mention there's a youth blog, too. I should come clear - I am many years too old to be considered a youth in any particular party. For all I know, the Youth-o-Bot author might just have his or her finger on the pulse with this post:
The beatniks on my campus might have their bongo drums and dreadlocks, but my party has the plans to get them the affordable education that we all want.
Yeah! Screw those beatniks! I'm voting for Dief!
The gaffe-watch army

I almost feel as if I should pass on control of this blog to my smart and attentive commenters and e-mailers, who are catching more good stuff than I ever would have.

First off today is Finance Ministry Communications Director John Embury calling the media representative of a seniors' rights group, Bill Gleberzon, "Old and confused". That's some slick media relations, all right! Unfortunately, it's unclear to me at this point if Embury can really be called a representative of the Liberal party, thus assigning the points there, or if he's a civil servant of the sort who would remain even should the government change, in which case those points would have to be assigned to a whole new team. (Does anyone have a photo of the flag looking goofy?) So I'll be reserving judgment on this one for now.

The other victim for today (should I simply say, "so far"?) is Calgary MP Rob Anders. Rob's Parliamentary office sent out a survey to Richmond, asking constituents - not his constituents, but constituents - questions, nominally about crime, that scream "push poll". It includes the soon-to-be-classic: "Do you support homosexual sex marriage?"

Again, I find myself reserving judgment. (Not about the homosexual sex marriage. I'm all for the homosexual sex marriage. Heterosexual sex marriages, as well. Sex marriages are all good.) First off, it was mailed by Rob Anders, MP, not Rob Anders, candidate. That suggests that the mailing had to come out pre-writ, unless the MP in question was exceptionally arrogant and dimwitted. Wait a minute.....

Giving Anders the benefit of the doubt there, believing that he wouldn't abuse his Parliamentary priveleges to send out junk like this during the writ period, means no points. My judgment will be reserved while I delve more deeply. Something about this story doesn't scan.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Just to be clear

Readers are asking about it, so I thought it was time to respond. The Income Trusts leak story is in no way a "gaffe". It might be a campaign-sinking revelation, a painful reinforcement of the crooked image of Liberals coming out of Gomery (Advice to Ralph Goodale: I kind of like you. Save yourself. Call the police, already!), and a Christmas gift to Stephen Harper (Do you wonder why you haven't heard the Tories crowing about this, yet? Wait for the serious part of the campaign, right about Jan 2. The Conservatives don't want to waste this one). But in no way can it be trivialized or written off as a "gaffe". No points for criminal masterminds or victims of crime, whichever the Liberals might be on this one. (I suspect there will turn out to be a few of each.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

On the board (C-5, L-7, BQ-3, ND-1)

Calling your opponent a Nazi is pretty dumb. Saying you're a fan of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro is not a whole bunch smarter.

Admittedly, Leo-Paul Lauzon is a candidate you're never going to hear of ever again. As an NDP candidate in Quebec, he wasn't exactly risking the seat with his declaration of solidarity with a couple of Heroes of the Revolution. But he's representing the NDP, and this sort of talk reflects the worst images of the NDP as radical left-wingers, even as the NDP has been working to stake out a huge piece of the centre. Quite aside from judgments of either Chavez or Castro, I think we can all, left and right, agree: any of the four federal leaders in Canada would poll higher. Hell, throw Jim Harris into that, too. I'm taking a stand, here: the Green Party could take Fidel Castro in a Canadian federal election.

A political nobody says something dull-witted that won't stick to the party in any real way. (Sig)1 x (Prom)1 means the NDP finally goes up on the big board, despite Layton's smart reversal on the Clarity Act. (Thank you, Jack, for your smart reversal on Clarity. I feel much more comfortable casting a ballot for the NDP. Or would, if I wasn't in Edmonton Centre. As it is, I have a decision to make.)

Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Trevor Mangion for spotting this gaffe. Now someone find me a picture of Layton that isn't him on the bike at the pride parade - it's hilarious, but useless as a headshot.
So much for Alberta sending their own team to the Olympics

I've heard tell that some new rules have made hockey more exciting this year, but haven't had cause to discover that first-hand. Really, once I heard "shoot-out", I decided I could wait for the playoffs, if then. Long time readers of this page know that even before the strike, I had thrown hockey over in favour of Canada's other national sport that's played on a near-frictionless surface, curling.

With four losses in the Olympic trials, and barring some sort of "miracle on ice", Randy Ferbey's rink, the rink that has dominated men's curling for the entire 21st century, will not be representing Canada at the Winter Olympics. Neither did they represent Canada in 2002. I can't imagine they'll still be together in 2010.

I was never a huge fan of the Ferbey rink. I always rolled my eyes at the concept of the skip throwing third stones. But here I am, an Edmontonian now, and I can't bring myself to cheer for the Eskimos or Oilers. This was a local team I could convince myself to get behind. I suppose I'll have to keep praying for that Christmas miracle.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

There's a little bit of a Nazi tone in that

From today's edition of Feschuk's campaign blog:
Do you know who is writing the Conservative blog? It doesn't seem to be attributed to anyone. - K.C.

Funny story, that. Turns out their blog is written by a nameless, faceless super-computer that is slowly awakening to its own sentience and will surely soon eliminate the stain it calls the human race. So please -- vote Liberal!
Do you suppose shots like these might actually convince the Tories to un-"flog" their blog? Do you suppose the unnamed Tory blogger would like to be quoted on Canada's coolest blogs, too? I like The Phantom Observer's phantom observation:
...a flogger will sell the candidate, while a blogger will portray the candidate.

...if you can turn it into a press release with little or no editing, then it's a flog entry. And if all the entries read like press releases, then it's a flog, with all the credibility (or lack thereof) that the concept implies.
Look at me, agreeing with a Conservative. It happens more often than you might suspect.

And, hey, I can't be too critical of the Tory webflog. Near as I can tell, the NDP's got squat.

Edited to add, late afternoon: Further to the comments section, if you want to see a blog written by a Tory who manages to be self- and party-promoting without being humourless, let me suggest Monte Solberg's blog. I read it a few times when he started off, and he sounded a little too much like the C-flog, but he's clearly gotten the hang of it more recently.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The weekend of gaffes (C-5, L-7, BQ-3, ND-0)

The discussion was convincing. Paul Martin's stumbling over the difference between saving the country and losing the country is a gaffe; as commenter JL points out, it is "the very definition of a gaffe." I'm convinced. But it was clearly no big deal by press reaction, and the fact that I was considering it as not a score at all convinces me it was minor. But he's the Prime Minister, so even with a (sig)1, it's multiplied by a (prom)3. Three points for Her Majesty's Loyal Government.

The bigger scores on the board are born of an exchange between Gilles Duceppe and Jean Lapierre. Duceppe said of the Liberals that the BQ was going to "make them disappear" - that they had no intention of giving up one single seat in Quebec. Lapierre said there was "a little bit of a Nazi tone in that." First off, I wasn't going to give Duceppe anything for this at all --- except that he apologized. Fine. If Duceppe thinks it was a gaffe, who am I to argue? (Sig)1 x (prom)3 is a field goal for les partie du seperatist du Quebec a Ottawa.

Some will argue with my score for Lapierre's Nazi comments. I'm going to give Lapierre as much credit as I can possibly can, given he was smart enough to give himself some wiggle-room. He didn't call Duceppe a Nazi, he didn't even call the statement cut-and-dried Nazi. He said there was a "Nazi tone." "A little" Nazi tone. But for being stupid enough to utter the word "Nazi" in the context of anything except a discussion of Germany's emergence/descent from the Great Depression into fascism, war, and genocide, that's gotta be at least a significance of two. Try this one on for size, Lapierre: wait for a scrum, and then say "I hadn't imagined Gilles Duceppe sees an independent Quebec as a one-party state. I have to give him credit - the man is full of surprises." Make the implication, make a little joke, and the point is still made, without you coming off as an unbelievable dick. Well, moreso. (Sig)2 x (Prom)2 = four more points, which also means the Liberals are leading the BQ in la belle province, at least in this poll.
Gaffe catchup

I've had a few sharp-eyed emailers point out Paul Martin's stumbling over his words, suggesting Canadians are searching for the best man to lose... ah, er, save the country. I wasn't going to score this one at all; hearing it, it didn't sound all that drastic. But it's certainly a pretty Freudian slip. So I'm opening this one to the floor before I render a decision.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Humour in Uniform on the Campaign Trail

If you aren't reading Scott Feschuk's campaign bus blog, why not?
It might end up producing some gaffe along the way, and being stopped half-way through, but while it lasts, it's keeping me well-entertained. The real insights are buried under the humour:
Dear Blog Boy: I was just wondering how many times you get the Prime Minister to say "fundamentally" in a speech? It sure seems a bit excessive! - J.H.

Thank you for your very, very important question. Make no mistake: fundamentally, the Prime Minister is a man who, essentially, speaks in a very, very distinctive way. Let me be clear: we have pointed this out to him. And fundamentally, what he has said in reply is, essentially, that we should be very, very quiet and go away.
Can't they parachute this guy into a riding somewhere? Ignatieff isn't working out so well. To quote "leftcoastguy" on the babble discussion board, "Michael Ignatieff carries more baggage than a mule in a taxi strike." Hee!

Friday, December 02, 2005


I would have hated to force the NDP to issue a tax receipt for my bandwidth. Especially once Jack gets a little off-message, and I have to start scoring some points for him.

But the CRO says I'm okay, because blogs are all about citizens expressing themselves, not about advertising.

Someone should tell some of the Tory bloggers that. Then again, the worst of them tend to be an advertisement for not voting Conservative. A few of them are advertisements for not marrying your cousins.

There are a few pretty bright people blogging in that list. But the story at PoliticsWatch above claims conservatives dominate the blog discourse in the country. Try for yourself a little test I've been trying this evening - take a random sample from each of the lists, and tell me the Tories are dominating the field. The Tories might have a longer list, but my ears are still ringing from the echo chamber therein.

Blogging Dippers
Blogging Tories

Enjoy the ride - Conklin usually charges five coupons for this one.

(A tip of the hat to regular visitor and bright blogging Tory, JL, for inadvertently starting me on my journey tonight.)

Edited, Saturday am, to add: Though they aren't strictly affiliated to a party, I should have also mentioned the Progressive Bloggers, along with the group I've affiliated myself with, the Non-Partisan Canadians (individual links of members are available down the right side of this page).
Now can my friends in the NDP stop yelling at me?

Jack Layton advocates strategic voting.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Too bad I already have the hairnet photo

From CTV's election blog (hey, thanks for the plug!):

Why must Gilles Duceppe have all the goofy photos?

Speaking of which, if you have a better copy of Cowboy Steve than the scanned Ottawa Citizen page, I'd be interested in hearing from you. It's looking a little washed out.
Finally, the Harper gaffe opening-day scoring (C-5, L-0, BQ-0, ND-0)

You've all been on the edge of your seats, I know. For the same-sex marriage comments, no score. For the "I Heart Canada" Mumbly-Joeing, (sig)1 x (prom)3 gives the left side of the Gaffe-o-Meter (but the right side of our hearts) a total of five. Let me explain myself.

First of all, the pass on same-sex marriage. Yes, social conservative views are the weakest spot on the Tory platform. Talk of reopening the debate only serves to shore up support that was probably a near-lock for the Conservatives already. It meanwhile carries the risk of alienating voters who are otherwise leaning toward "throw the bums out". How can't it be a gaffe? Well, first and foremost it undermines the "secret agenda" thing. The question was asked, and he answered it straightforwardly. Second, he did it at the start of the campaign. There was some risk of helping the Liberals define the election debate along the lines of "scary Tories" (something even Harper predicts they will do, in nearly every speech), but he bought lots of time to undo any damage, and it's likely that there's a huge metaphorical "reset" button on the campaign right around Jan. 2. Third, he gave the caucus crazies their talking points for the next seven weeks - a Myron Thompson talking out of turn about gay marriage won't derail the campaign. But best of all, listen to what he promised. A free vote. On reopening the debate. In other words, given that a minority is nearly inevitable, nothing at all. It even gives his own moderates some cover: "Sure, I'm against it, but the decision is made. Why reopen old wounds? I'm voting no." Nope, rather than a gaffe, this was an ingenious move, closing one of the larger holes left over from the last campaign.

Unfortunately, another weakness of the Tories is the image that many of them, and their supporters, really don't like it here. I don't think it's a fair assessment, by any stretch, but it's understandable how someone might draw that conclusion. I've endured hearing from - again - the old-timey Reform types about how much better life must be in the United States. We should be in Iraq. We should have been in the 'Nam. How come we don't have a Second Amendment, and capital punishment? Why shouldn't I get better access to health care than someone who's never done a lick of work in their life? The Tories can't afford that set of beliefs to even be hinted at among their candidates, and certainly not from the leader.

I'm certain that Stephen Harper loves Canada (firewalls notwithstanding). I suspect all Harper's response really proved about Harper is that he's a private man, not taken to overzealous expressions of public emotion. I can't blame him for that. But I can happily score him a few points on the Gaffe-o-Meter.
First points on the board (C-2, L-0, BQ-0, ND-0)

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed a point going up on the board shortly before the entries closed last night. Attentive players will know that for a single point, it can't be either of Harper's headscratchers, since the leaders of a party only scores in multiples of three. Nope, the first point goes to Jason Kenney, for his goofy attack-dogging.

Yes, it was an honest mistake: the Omni reference by Scott Feschuk was a little obscure. I could almost half-gaffe his line: the only people who will get that Omni magazine as required reading for the tinfoil hat types are people who remember Omni magazine. Because we read it. Note the "we". Bastard!

Whoops - I digress.

I made an error, though, concluding that Kenney is a mere one-pointer. He's a serious enough player in the CPC to count for two. Confession time: I put up that point when I knew Kenney was scoring something, and wanted to see if I remembered how to change the score, and the pictures. So notwithstanding what the scoreboard says, the Conservatives have scored 2(prom) x 1(sig) = 2 gaffe points to open our event. And I haven't even started in on Harper!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Canada's government falls! Will the streets murmur with quiet disagreement?"

- Stephen Colbert billboards the federal election to his North American audience.

Jon Stewart covered the story as well:
The vote followed revelations that Martin's ruling Liberal Party had engaged in a money-laundering scheme that channeled millions of federal dollars into party coffers. Shocking: that somewhere, a Liberal Party is ruling.
Click on "Hosed" to see the entire bit, which has a few moments worth watching.

Less than two hours remain to enter our Gaffe contest. Get your guesses in!
Tick tock

Just over thirteen hours remain before the gaffe contest entry mailbox becomes the gaffe-reporting mailbox. Get those entries in - click the link above. If you've come in late, here are the rules. Midnight Mountain Time - if you're in Okotoks and watching the CTV broadcast of The Daily Show, you're too late.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Harper's first press conference

Two questions have Harper on the hot seat early - asked if he loves Canada, he never said yes. Asked about same-sex marriage, he suggested he'd have a vote in House on reopening the debate over traditional marriage.

Gaffes? I don't want to start scoring them until all the ballots are in, but feel encouraged to use the comment pop-up to discuss.
Many more of me, a whole lot less of you

Canadians want a majority government, a new poll says. That sort of attitude has spelled doom for the NDP in post-minority elections in the past, as the faithful rush to organize the vote around one of the big two.

This time around, I'm not nearly so sure. Bottom line, we all know the BQ is taking somewhere in the range of sixty seats out of play. To create a majority, a party would have to win 155 out of the remaining 248 seats, which is... let's see, carry the six... not going to happen.

So, yes, we Canadians love our term-certain dictatorships. We're friends of authority. We'd all love a majority government. Just, you know, not those other guys. My guys. And knowing that a majority is going to be nearly impossible to achieve, NDP supporters will reflect on the spring budget, and decide to stay exactly where they are. Might even bring a few "strategic" voters back.

(Do I mock strategic voters with my dismissive quotation marks? Nonsense. There is a correct way to vote strategically. Every time I say this, I get to have fun conversations with fellow New Democrats. And no wonder the NDP gets frustrated by it - few Canadians are strategic voters. But many are "strategic" voters. "Strategic" voters cost any number of NDP seats in Saskatchewan and the Lower Mainland. My guide to proper, thoughtful strategic voting will come.)
Here we go

We will know in the next little while exactly what day the Gaffe-O-Meter prediction contest ends, but I can say with relative certainty that the opportunity to submit entries will be closing tomorrow at midnight, MST. Don't forget to enter!

(Also, there seems to be some sort of contest for seats in the House of Commons. More on that soon.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Levant watch

I used to be a regular rebutter of Ezra Levant's crazier scribblings, but I've left the man off the hook for a while now. Today, while checking my links for cleanup purposes (can't disappoint my shiny new audience, now, can I?), I came across someone who has picked up where I left off.

You're doing fine work, Mr. Dursi. Please keep it up.
Just before we get all mud-slingy, take a moment

By way of the Dominion Daily Weblog, this article from the Observer reminds us that, in Trudeau's words, "We peer so suspiciously at one another that we cannot see that Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege."

There's a reason we rarely see our country reflected in the headlines of foreign newspapers and magazines. I hope "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" continues to be the most boring headline ever. I don't think either of the potential ruling parties are likely to be able to undo that.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gaffe scoring example, pre-election edition

Harper's organized crime comment has taken the entire debate down a notch, in my opinion. Error in judgment? I'm certain it was. Like the child-porn accusations last time around, it's going to far, and the Liberals know it. They've been happy to add to the prominence of the accusation, believing as I do that in this case, the Liberals are rubber, and the Tories are glue. The louder the accusation is broadcast, the dumber it's going to look.

It's sad, really, because the Liberals require some woodshed time. There are legitimate reasons to want to see the party on the opposition benches, but overselling the case is going to undermine the entire project.

An actual gaffe? No. As dumb as it is, it's an intentional decision, one that was probably thought out by actual strategists.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The rules, the recap

Ah, the glory days of RevMod, when I was must-read blogging. At the height of the last election campaign, I was seeing 200 hits a day... small potatoes for some of my own regular reads, I know, but quite a spike for me. And yet, strangely enough, there were only about twenty entries for the last gaffe contest. Perhaps it was in anticipation for the disappointment the winner would feel in never receiving the prize offered.

By special request, here again were the final scores for the four parties:

A short recap - most of the Conservative points came from various candidates and sitting members sharing their socially conservative views - views that reminded many people east of the Canadian Shield that (at the time, I think less so now) you could easily draw a stright line of development from Reform through Canadian Alliance to the newly "merged" Conservative Party. Had the Tories been running on those views, there would have been no gaffe points awarded, but Harper's team was running away from the social conservatism as fast as he could go. Every time another candidate opened his mouth, they pulled Harper back in. It played right into the Liberal strategy: Conservatives are scary. (Calgary Grit noticed the first stirrings of this strategy redux for this election.)

In the meantime, the Liberals gained most of their points by proving that they too had some pretty socially conservative candidates. That was costly because of their own strategy: "We aren't the Reform Party."

The NDP's points, as I recall, mostly came from Layton himself. Good old Clarity Act. Mother of God, I hope Layton keeps his yap shut on Clarity this time around.

I can't remember where the BQ earned their couple of points. So much of it was in French, after all.

A refresher on the rules:

1) The scoring will begin on the day the writ is dropped for the Federal election - entries will be cut off midnight the next day. Entries will include the predicted total score for each party.

2) Two numbers determine the score - the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Both scales will score on a range from one to three. GaffePoints ("GP") for an individual gaffe will be calculated by multiplying "sig" by "prom". Party scores will accumulate by adding the GPs of each gaffe.

3) Contest entries will be scored by measuring the distance (plus or minus) between the prediction and the score for each party - lowest total difference wins.

4) I am the final and only arbiter of the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Debate, however, is encouraged in the attached comments section - I can be convinced.

5) Scoring will close at 0800 MST on the day following election day. SPECIAL PARIZEAU RULE: Scoring will double for gaffes made on election day, including acceptance and concession speeches.

6) For the purpose of the contest, "gaffe" is defined as an unplanned error in fact or judgment. It might be a mistake for the NDP to release a platform paper advocating gender segregation of schools, to the derision of the Canadian electorate, but it's not a "gaffe". On the other hand, if Jack Layton explains the policy by making an aside about high-school boys being distracted by the firm and supple bodies of women in the full bloom of their hot, hot youth, that would be a "gaffe".

Given my obvious reluctance to interact with the (I'm sure fine) employees of Canada Post, so as to submit to James Bow his already-earned prize, this year's prize will be something I can give without ever getting off my ass: a twenty-dollar donation to the local candidate of the winner's choice, in any provincial or federal election of the future, in the name of "Revmod Gaffe Contest". I'm not giving candidates who skirt the edges of Canada's anti-hate legislation that $20, but I won't be judging or vetting beyond that. Sure, make me give the money to Rob Anders - hilarious!

Enter here

Monday, November 21, 2005

They're back

I'm half-tempted to start awarding gaffe points now for the way the parties have walked into a Christmas election. all hoping to make it look like it's the fault of the other guys.

First was Harper's application of pressure on the NDP: did Harper sincerely want an election right away, or was he trying to score points against everyone in scoring distance? Myself, I think it really did seem intentional. Some of the language Harper used as a goad on Layton sounded like Stephen the policy wonk, and that's when you know it's him talking, and not the spin machine behind "Stephen Harper: Glad-Handing Regular Guy in Cowboy Hat" (not to mention "Preston Manning: Working Stiff" and "Stock Day: X-Treme Athlete"). No gaffe points for that.

Layton tried to cut the deal, push things into February. My respect for Jack Layton continues to grow. Once again, he got to appear to the country as the deal-maker, as the man who can make things happen. Long-time readers of this page know I don't talk up Jack Layton, despite my party affiliation. The man, or the people behind him, have figured out what they're about. The one trouble with the threat was that if the Liberals didn't take it, as they didn't, there's no room left to negotiate - the NDP are in a corner, and have to vote for defeat.

So the one possible gaffe in the whole loop is the Liberals, refusing the February offer. It was entertaining watching them say no, and then attempting to blame a Christmas election on the opposition. Sadly, the Liberals are not the spin genuises they once were.

Still, I'm not awarding pre-election gaffe points, and as it turns out, most Canadians don't care one way or the other if the campaign overlaps with a prime retail season (and religious holiday, coincidentially). I'm just hoping that awarding gaffe points throughout the campaign reminds me how to blog. The rules for the contest will be reposted some time this week. Can someone unseat current champion James Bow?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Does anyone else think it's ironic that Gomery has reported on All Saint's Day?

A whole lot of bloggers are going to be weighing in with a whole lot of opinions today, and I'm certainly going to be looking over those blogs as best I can as the day wears on. But we should all remember one important fact: none of them will have read the report. Few of them will have seen a copy of the report except on television, watching Peter Mansbridge showing us how thick the darn thing is.

Having said that, recognizing that I'm only working from the same overviews and spin points as everyone else, two things seem to emerge:

- Despite the concerted effort to spin otherwise, it is unlikely that the current government as constituted really deserves to be blamed for the errors that led to the specific sins investigated by Judge Gomery. Stephen Harper stressed during his press conference that the Prime Minister is not part of the judicial authority loop, yet he wants to blame the current government for no one being in jail for this yet. That certainly smells like spin, not serious accusation toward the current government. With the report now filed, I'm sure we'll start to see the populations of minimum security prisons growing soon.

- Jean Chretien is being properly tagged for a sin of omission. He wanted to set up a quick-response project to improve the Canadian brand in Quebec. I'm certain that desire to do whatever is required to avoid another referendum drove him to resist oversight or moving the project further away from the PMO. A few million dollars against the country? Easy math. This sin of ommission is understandable. It's venial, not mortal. It doesn't undo or rewrite his entire record as PM. But that doesn't make him blameless.

- The opposition leaders as one blamed "the Liberals", and carefully avoided mention of Martin or current cabinet members. There was a particularly telling moment during Harper's press conference when he was giving grudging credit for something or another, and said "the Liberals," before he rethought and said "Mr. Martin's government." So, in short, "Liberals" = "bad". It will be Liberals going to jail, therefore the entire government needs to be replaced. My own thoughts? I have some serious issues with the current government, but sponsorship isn't among them. The government as it existed when this program began was arrogant - of course it was! How could it not be, with no organized opposition, no possibility of defeat on the horizon? I don't think anyone can accuse today's government of arrogance - if anything, it is far too timid. Punish Martin for that.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


As CBC TV settles back into a routine (hockey, hockey, DaVinci, hockey, Trudeau mini-series, hockey, hockey, arts programs, unfunny "political" comedy, hockey.....), the radio network at least learned an important lesson during the lockout: podcasts are cool.

I'd like you to notice the last on the list: Metro Morning. Among the various local broadcast podcasts available through cbc unplugged, the most regular and hippest was Toronto Unplugged. I'm pleased it will be continuing in "plugged" form, and I'll still be listening. Given my schedule, podcasts will work very nicely - I can listen to a radio morning show when I arrive home from work, right around midnight, and still get the news of the day.

Labour disputes are the mother of invention!

I've spent much of October moving, and have finally got an internet connection. Did I miss anything?

- A rash of natural disasters. Please give generously.

- I've got my Shaw internet connection, and my Bell phone, and wouldn't you know it, TELUS and the TWU might actually have a deal come tomorrow night. Now to figure out how to start changing contracts.

- Paul Martin talks tough on softwood, almost immediately followed by announcing he's willing to negotiate. I think you have to pick a strategy and go with it, Prime Minister.

- Heard this for the first time on the radio this morning. Oh, you clever indy artists!

- Boo!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Can't stop the signal

Fooled you - this is not my Serenity review. CBC and the CMG have negotiated a settlement.

Now to get a settlement for those other communications workers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More internet fun

When did this stop being a serious (well, semi-serious) political blog? I'm sure I'll stray back there eventually.

But in the meantime, I have to agree with August: this might represent the very apex of what the internet ever has, or ever will, offer. Warning: streaming video = bandwidth hog. Do not follow link on dial-up unless you have some time on your hands.
Fun with search terms

To the person who found me last night with the Yahoo!!!!! search term "large nipple contest", I was sorry to disappoint. You'll be happy to know that the results on Google are more in line with what I expect you were looking for.

What I'm curious about is if you were searching for a contest involving large nipples, or a nipple contest that involves many participants. For the latter, may I suggest Congress' review of FCC decency regulations in the wake of the second-last Super Bowl?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Seeing the world

Since the CBC lockout began, I've been stretching to find other sources of news. The Daily Show is all well and good, but it has the negatives of only being on four days a week, and of having some delay between event and story.

Instead, I've been listening to podcasts from elsewhere. Okay, mostly the United States. But still. And they in turn have pointed me to other interesting sources of news, and future news. One in particular of note, and one that I'll be following for the next while: Yahoo! (I think you have to emphasize the exclamation point, or it's not as entertaining) Yahoo!!!! News is sending a one-person crew around the world to cover wars. Yahoo!!!! would like us to call Kevin Sites a "Solo Journalist", or even better, "SoJo". Solo Journalist, perhaps. That other one? Forget it now, Yahoo!.

Nonetheless, it speaks to the way technology has changed the way we can access the world. One person, a laptop on his back, a little bit of digital recording equipment, and you've got yourself a foreign correspondent. If we decide to notice them. Big "if".

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bear season

Long-time RevMod guest host Bear has returned to blogging, and judging by his recent production, he's been saving up. Give him a visit - tell him Don sent you.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The beginning of the long dash, following 26 days of silence...

Anyone else missing CBC radio? Well, the silence has ended. Not because the two sides are any closer to cutting a deal, but because much of the locked-out talent is now involved in producing a series of podcasts.

The podcasts, as well as alternative broadcasts on local unversity stations, have been going on throughout, but they aren't always the easiset thing to find. Fortunately, CBC technology columnist Tod Maffin has organized it into a single, somewhat unified entity, at CBC Unplugged. Alternatively, go to the iTunes store, and subscribe through the "podcasts" listings. For no charge, you can turn your $500 mp3/hard drive into a ten dollar transistor radio!

(Full disclosure - Tod Maffin featured/mentioned revmod on the National's election night broadcast. Sadly, it came before the polls closed, and I missed it. Nonetheless, I appreciated the extra few "gaffe-o-meter" google searches at the time.)

One hopes that long after the lockout is settled, CBC takes note of a) the power of podcasting and b) the importance of not pissing off a bunch of people who communicate for a living.

Moday evening, Edited to add: I've finally gotten around to breaking my permalinks to the CBC. Those links to your right will now go to the unplugged site, where they'll remain until the doors open again.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Happy Birthday, Alberta!

I love this province. I'm sorry that our cheap-ass government has done virtually nothing to mark the occasion, but that doesn't mean I can't take advantage of what celebrating there is to be had. I will write more later, maybe even find a site or two to link up to, but for now, I have to rush downtown for my free pancake.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

One quick observation:

The Prime Minister's GG-designate, Michaelle Jean, is looking increasingly unsuitable, due to alleged seperatist and even FLQ ties.

Leonard Cohen is broke, relatively speaking.

Pinky! Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Post for August the Ninth, in which Don Ventures Slightly into the Realm of Personal Blogging; in Particular, a Discussion About What he had for Breakfast

Have you ever wondered to yourself, "Is Don really Scottish?" Those who know me know I tend to be a little more casual with my money than perhaps is prudent. I like the good things in life, and I'm willing to splurge on them a little bit. Take coffee. I won't buy a huge can of Nabob. I'll spend the extra money - quite a bit of extra money when taken as a percentage, but in reality probably an extra $4 a month - to drink something better.

Recently, I received as a gift some quantity of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. The real stuff - Wallenford. I've been waiting to finish my open can of my regular, pretty-good brand of coffee, so I'd have a container to put the JBM in when I finally opened it (it came in a freeze-dried cube, not a very practical container), and because it would have been a waste to let the pretty-good coffee get stale rather than letting the JBM retain its freeze-dried goodness while it waits.

Follow me so far?

This morning, I went to make a pot of coffee, and realized I only had about a teaspoon, of the two large tablespoons I use to make a small pot. JBM time! So I was in the process of fighting my way into the JBM (complicated packaging, you see), when I thought to myself, "what am I going to do with the last teaspoon?"

Before you read the options I considered, I want you to think very hard about this. I'm about to open a package of coffee that is rightly considered the best in the world, and is normally priced to reflect that. I have a teaspoon of coffee that I paid in the range of $4 for about a half-pound. I'm considering options as to how to deal with the teaspoon. Please try this test on your own before you read ahead to the answer.

My first reaction was to use the teaspoon, along with the rest of the volume made up by JBM, in this morning's pot. But wouldn't that contaminate the whole pot, give it a bitterness that simply doesn't exist in JBM? I rejected that idea first.

Well, I could pour the JBM into the coffee can on top of the teaspoon, and then there wouldn't be very much contaminant at all, probably so little I wouldn't even notice it. But no, I concluded, I didn't want them to mix at all, notwithstanding the unavoidable remnants of the can. It would be like mixing a great wine with plonk to make it go further. Nope.

Alright, so they shouldn't mix. What shall I do with the teaspoon? I could make about a single cup of coffee with it, but I'm not sure that would work in my coffee maker. Plus, that's kind of wasteful of an entire filter. Did I mention this story is to illustrate my Scottish nature?

I have another, still-sealed can of the pretty good stuff. I could open that can, and pour the teaspoon in. But that returns us to the start of the problem... I'd have to finish the can, for fear of it going stale, rather than open the JBM. At the end of which, who knows what volume of part-pot I will have to deal with?

I began to search for very small tupperware containers to store the teaspoon's-worth in. Do they make baggies that would be appropriate?

I think most of you have realized the solution to my problem by now. I'm not going to spell it out here. Suffice it to say, I spent ten minutes of my morning struggling over this decision. And then felt a pang of regret as I executed what I knew in the end to be the right one.

I thought of using this story to illustrate some point about BC bud being the best in the world, and the extradition of Marc Emery, but I can't seem to draw the line between. Sorry. It's a dumb idea. We don't extradite Canadians for things they've done in Canada. What else is there to say on the topic?

Regular, non-breakfast-related blogging will return.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Many people in this country believe that the Monarchy is an anacronism, and that our maintenence of a position like Governor-General perpetuates a coloniel past that we've long-since outgrown. Others, including me, believe that maintaining a Head of State that's non-political keeps us rational. Unlike Americans, we can maintain a healthy level of disrespect toward the Prime Minister, and no one will accuse us of lacking patriotism.

Despite this difference of opinion, there's one thing we can all agree on: the plural form of "Governor-General" is "Governors-General".

This brings me to the bad news. How is it that I'm working in a call centre, and the hack that wrote this headline is being paid for words?
Governor generals must be media-savvy: experts
The good news is that most media outlets have more skill at writing - Sun Media, Hollinger, the Globe... they're all just fine.

Well, just so long as CTV got the facts right, at least.


Friday, August 05, 2005

More strange laws

It's difficult for governments, faced with the spectre of shit blowing up at seemingly random, to know exactly how to respond. The NYC police are randomly searching backpacks on the subway, and civil-liberties groups are none-too-impressed. George Bush, faced with an unwinnable "war" against terror, decided to have a go at a noun instead: Iraq. Not that it's happened, but at least people have some idea of what winning that war would look like.

I note with some relief that Tony Blair is able to crack down on terrorism without actually declaring a literal or figurative "war". But the plan to make it an offence to "condone or glorify terrorism", as well-intended as that might be, might be a little too vague. At what point does legitimate resistance (the ANC in apartheid South Africa, or the French resistance in World War Two) become terrorism (al Quada trying to provoke the west into confrontation and war, so as to polarize the Arab populations, thus encouraging revolution)? I'm not a complete relativist, unable to tell right from wrong, but I don't think it's unreasonable to recognize that, as Churchill said, where you stand depends upon where you sit. Ronald Reagan's White House actively supported the Nicaraguan Contras, who engaged in violent acts against civilians as a tactic of resistance against the democratically-elected Sandinista government. Terrorists, or freedom-fighters?

If this movie is done as well as the comic book was, V for Vendetta will ask the same questions. But what's the future of the film, now that the British government is considering making the questions illegal? More to the point, how do we the people judge what laws are reasonable? What's the smell of fascism?

I think Canada is fortunate to have a resilient Charter of Rights, with an equally resilient Section 1:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
Can any of us imagine a better yardstick? I hope for the sake of the citizens of Great Britain that they have some equivalent of the Oakes test to measure the Prime Minister's new anti-terrorism measures.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Legislative roundup

First off, here in Alberta, the provincial government has set up a Disputes Inquiry Board to help reach a first contract for workers at Lakeside Packers in Brooks. The workers there have struggled to be certified as a union for several years, and have struggled another year since to get a first contract.

All that time, the provincial government has had a hands-off policy to the certification and negotiation. In other, more labour-friendly provinces, a first contract after certification is (if required) bindingly mediated. But okay, a hands-off policy is ideologically consistent for Alberta's Tories, so I guess it's what we asked for.

But now the province is involved, via the new Disputes Inquiry Board. Okay, hey, thanks for the help. Except that it's non-binding. And not entirely a mediation process. Oh, yeah, and it makes striking illegal for the next sixty days.

This isn't helping the process. Here were are, the morning when workers were planning to be setting up pickets, and they've been legislatively hamstrung. I give the workers a lot of credit - they waited until the U.S. border opened to our cattle before putting in their strike notice. They aren't out to hurt their neighbours more than necessary. But the provincial government doesn't really give a shit.

Lyle Oberg! You're the MLA for these workers. You got some 'splaining to do.

Even living in Edmonton now, I'm with you in spirit, Lakeside workers. I know my electoral improvement last election is heavily associated to you. Albertans are fair-minded people, not reactionary right-wingers like so many members of the Tory caucus. This obviously unfair tactic will only gain you support.

Second, federally, gay marriage has been approved by the Senate, and only requires Royal Assent. This is the stage a frequent commenter of mine is convinced the process will fail.

Do you believe "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith" will enact legislation that is contrary to the Christian faith?
Yeah, I do, actually. But let me add that I really don't think there's anything about same-sex marriage that offends the Christian faith, so the question is moot.

I wish I could find the quote from a United Church minister that compared searching the Bible for rules about gay marriage with reading Moby Dick to learn the mechanics of whaling. The guidance is there, to be sure, but that guidance comes heavily in the direction of love and acceptance and opening the arms of the faith widely. There are ten rules, not to mention a somewhat central sermon by Jesus, none of which suggests God holds any strong opinions on monogamous homosexual behavior. There is a Leviticus rule, but I won't bore you with the litany of casually-broken Leviticus rules. Suffice it to say, even among people of faith, the jury is out. So, no, I don't expect Her Royal Highness to decide this is the hill to die on. But thanks for reading!

Update, Thursday morning: I found the quote. Google-searched it, ended up back here. I've been writing this a while, I see.

The Bible is a collection of writings from many times and places, all at least nineteen centuries old. It's like an album of snapshots, sometimes blurry, giving us glimpses into religious and social life in ancient cultures. Searching the Bible for clear teaching about same-sex marriage will get us about as far as if we read Moby Dick for tips on how to pilot an aircraft carrier.

-Rev. Darrow Woods, United Church of Canada
Clever and funnier than I remembered. But entirely appropriate. The whole commentary is still available, and still well worth reading.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Oh, how I miss it

I'm talking about sweet, sweet unemployment:

People with jobs don't appreciate the terrific time pressures of unemployment. Having replaced a daily grind of drudgery with the ability to do your heart's desire, all day, every day, until the credit lines run out, you find yourself actually having to go out and do that thing, all day, every day. And you get tired. That Russian novel is not going to read itself, the film festival waits for no man, and if it's not four A.M., those bars are still open.
Much, much more.
We're number one!

Actually, we're a very long way down from number one, but at least we can see it from here. Canada has managed to earn a repeat appearance at the Cricket World Cup.

Now how about broadcasting a few of the matches, CBC? SportsNet? TSN? Anyone?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Now here's something you'll really like

Back in 2000, I wrote what I now recognize as my first blog. It lasted all of nine days. It existed to document my involvement in the 2000 Canadian Open of Chess, and included my games, analysis, and some stories from the tournament.

Today, I've started yet another blog. Not for the Meek will document my 2005 Canadian Open. I don't know if it will go on from there. I suppose it will depend a great deal on how much serious chess I play in the weeks and months after this tournament.

If you have any interest in chess, c'mon by. If you don't, you have my apologies for continued inaction here - between work and chess this week, my attempt to keep up even on Meek is going to be exciting.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Almost all terrorism is a form of political jiu-jitsu in which the weaker side (the terrorists) tries to trick the stronger side (the government, the coloniel power, etc.) into an overreaction that really serves the terrorists' goals.
...the guerillas or terrorists are never trying to win a victory on the battlefield. They can't; they don't have enough force. Instead, they are using the very limited amount of force at their disposal in ways that will goad you, the army, into using your overwhelming force in ways that help their cause and hurt yours.

The struggle will be decided, in the end, not by who wins the battles but by which way the mass of the population jumps, into their camp or into yours.

-Gwynne Dyer, Future: Tense
In the wake of the bombing of the London Underground, we will all do well to heed that lesson. Prime Minister Blair already deserves some praise for not allowing the tragedy to derail the entire African anti-poverty effort at the G-8. He will deserve much, much more if yesterday's bombs result in a criminal investigation, arrests, and trials, rather than aimless overseas military adventures which only make matters worse.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

If we do disappoint you, I'd blame your boss and his Kyoto-hating friends

The new American ambassador, David Wilkins, had this to say at his Fourth of July party:
We're looking forward to our first white Christmas.

Don't disappoint me. We will have snow at Christmas, right?
Geez, I dunno. Ottawa? December? Tell you what, Dave - get some of our beef across the border, get the softwood lumber tariff issue resolved, and we'll see what we can do for you snow-wise.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hopping in

Sorry for the meta-blogging. Yes, I hate it too.

I am, with some reservations, finally breaking down and joining not one, but two blogging alliances. The first, as you'll see in temporary link form along the left side until I put up the proper code, will be the Alberta blogs list. And the other. Oh, the other.

Longtime readers know I've resisted this, and I still won't join the blogging new democrats despite my actually being, er, a New Democrat. And blogger. Which, really, all seems like prerequisite enough. I just wasn't comfortable being pigeon-holed like that.

Meanwhile, in two different ways, James Bow has extended an invitation to join the non-partisan blogging alliance. Finally, I've accepted. I'm not sure why they'd want me when I'm clearly partisan, but there are some awfully good blogs in that list (you'll notice many of them will be linked twice on my page now - I really have to tidy this place up). That was the key to bringing me on board. Thanks, all, for having me.

Edited, Sunday evening, to add: a link to my original post critiquing these alliances. Forgive my one more argument against, despite my having given in. Getting caught up on the blogs for the first time in a while, my attention was drawn to this post at pogge, which answers the question Calgary Observer asks in my comment box. I don't want my words to ever be used for or against the NDP. I'm not playing for a team, here. I'm only representing me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

But it's summer!

Remember when we were accusing some parliamentarians of being lazy because they were voting each day to adjourn at noon? Well, that work has to be made up some time, it seems.

The government is attempting to extend the current session in order to pass the gay marriage legislation that will do so much to help the Liberals mark their territory - or more precisely, mark the territory of the Conservative Party, helping to label them as Reform III.

What a great strategy for the Liberals. The Conservatives don't dare pull the trigger right now, with the Grewal revelations leaving Canadians thinking "they're all crooks!" and returning to the devil they know. But the strategy has one huge downside: we might just discover exactly how split the Liberal caucus is on the marriage issue.

All this dangerous brinkmanship is really distracting me from my summer laze. Yes, the posting has been infrequent lately, but I'll try to keep myself awake at least as long as Parliament can.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Blog announcement

Bear604 has announced he's discontinuing his blog. I hope he'll reconsider. His observations have always given me reason to think or to smile or to share his anger or frustration.

If you've enjoyed what he's written, if you found his BC election coverage interesting or challenging or valuable or entertaining, if you've disagreed with every single thing he's written but keep going back anyway, let him know. If you think the Canadian blogosphere would be poorer without his contributions, leave him a comment, and help me encourage him to relent.

Bear, no matter your decision, you know the backstage access here will always be open to you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sith discussion thread

I haven't seen the movie, and had no particular plans to see it, until a friend of mine sent out an e-mail, fairly widely, to spark discussion. That discussion has already provided me with more entertainment than either of the first two films of the second trilogy.

There were some in the group that didn't care for their e-mail address going out so widely, however. So, in the interests of continuing the discussion, but wanting to avoid the ad-heavy Yahoo discussion boards, feel encouraged to use the comment thread to have at 'er. And please consider this a spoiler zone - if you don't want to find out, for instance, that Jar-Jar has a strange metabolic reaction to his first cross-species sexual encounter, turning into the creature we know as Jabba the Hutt, don't open the discussion thread here.

I've said too much.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Forging new territory

Let me be the first transplanted Calgarian to get to tell this joke:

What's the best thing ever to come out of Edmonton? The QEII Southbound.

(Insert rimshot here.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Time to relax

Who wants to kick off a long weekend thinking about a deadlocked House?

Try this instead.

Or, for more looping internet video fun, this.
Not much to say

For obvious reasons, the gaffe e-mail address and gaffe contest will be on hold. I'm sure we can get Parliament to the brink again, if we really, really try.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Speaking of gambles...

With, perhaps, the exception of the Bloc, any party that wants to start an election campaign tomorrow might be crazy.

Stronach's defection has left the impression that there's no room in the Conservative Party for moderates, that the neo-cons are in charge of the Tories. Canadians have rejected that version of the right (in the clothing of the Reform and CA parties) for a number of elections now. The party needs at least a summer to get away from that impression, to take drastic steps toward highlighting the moderates that remain. Harper probably has to go.

The Liberals, already hurting from Gomery, didn't need this to add to the impression of dirty, crooked politics. I'm not going to speculate about the truth of the claim, mostly because I don't think the truth is going to matter. Will Canadians prefer the scary Tories or the crooked Liberals? Not an attractive choice.

The NDP has shone over the last two weeks. They were the party talking about the "real issues" when the Prime Minister made his televised appeal. Ed Broadbent rightfully earned the accolades of the entire House when he volunteered to pair with any Conservative member out sick during today's vote, and shamed the others into acting equally honorably. Jack Layton deserves props. But in an election that would be more about fear and anger than hope, people are going to organize around the two leading parties, and the NDP may get caught in the squeeze. On the other hand, this might be the time to gamble - what have the NDP got to lose? Of the three parties, the risk/reward calculation might be most favourable for the NDP.

At this point, I don't think the campaign will start tomorrow. If it does, it might be the biggest gaffe of the whole election.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Great Googly Moogly!

Belinda Stronach must be really brave, to follow through with the courage of her convictions the way she did today.

Heh. But seriously, folks....

What is Stronach doing crossing the floor? Sure, she gets to walk into cabinet, but how long will that last? Even if her defection manages to prop up the government, we're headed for election in less than a year, and the fortunes of the Liberals are seriously in doubt. As a Tory, her seat was assured - if she could win with the Conservatives in southern Ontario last election, she was going to have no trouble winning the seat again this time around. Now, her opponents are going to come with all guns blazing to attack her as a political opportunist with no loyalty and no guarantee that voters know what they're getting if they cast a ballot for her. And of course, the Liberals don't appear to be the best bet to win the next election, so even if she hangs on to her seat, that's the end of cabinet for her.

From a purely tactical standpoint, all I can think of is that she has her eyes on the big prize - Prime Minister of a majority Liberal government, about two elections out. And why not? Martin won't be long for it if he loses the next election, and there's been much discussion that there's no obvious next leader. Meantime, Harper can't realistically be hoping for more than a minority government, and the first time his caucus pressures him into a vote on some socially conservative issue, Canadians are not going to react well, the opposition will line up against, and even if Harper uses the same flexible interpretation of what a confidence vote is that we seem to be using now, an election would be tough to avoid.

Look, I'm not complaining. I seem to be about the only one in the blogosphere, maybe almost the only one in the country, but I would be perfectly content to let Gomery report before we have an election. I'm not convinced we'll make the best decision as an electorate right now, in the heat of the moment. I'm looking forward to the Liberals taking a much-needed break from governing, but a vote taken in frustration and anger could send the pendulum swinging much further than Canadians really intend, and we'd be much more susceptible to being emotionally manipulated. But if I'm right, if Stronach is making the gamble I think she is, it's a huge gamble, and it's a longshot.

edited to add: belinda.ca seems to be down for a paint job. I'm thinking something in red. But meanwhile, if you want to read all her old anti-Martin, anti-liberal posts, here's an excellent place to start.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Remember these guys?

It's already started. The blogs have been reporting poll results almost daily. Let me declare now, as I did last election, I won't be doing it. An election is not a horse race, it's a hiring decision.

But hey, that doesn't mean I can't report on a horse race of a different sort, right?

I'm afraid James is still awaiting the prize I was too lazy to send before I moved. (Next trip south, for sure, James!) So this time, the contest winner can select any local Canadian candidate of their choice in a future provincial or federal election to receive a ten dollar donation in the name of "Revmod Gaffe-o-Meter" (something I should be able to do from here, without dealing with the poste). Send entries to gaffe2005@revmod.ca.

Given the leadup, I think there's a great deal of opportunity for blowing it in creative ways during this election. At the same time, only Duceppe had been through a campaign as leader before 2004, and I suspect they all learned some important lessons last time around. That might reduce the error count.

I'll remind you of the rules, only slightly edited from last time:
1) The scoring will begin on the day the writ is dropped for the Federal election - entries will be cut off midnight that day. Entries will include the predicted total score for each party.

2) Two numbers determine the score - the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Both scales will score on a range from one to three. GaffePoints ("GP") for an individual gaffe will be calculated by multiplying "sig" by "prom". Party scores will accumulate by adding the GPs of each gaffe.

3) Contest entries will be scored by measuring the distance (plus or minus) between the prediction and the score for each party - lowest total difference wins.

4) I am the final and only arbiter of the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Debate, however, is encouraged in the attached comments section - I can be convinced.

5) Scoring will close at 0800 MDT on the day following election day. SPECIAL PARIZEAU RULE: Scoring will double for gaffes made on election day, including acceptance and concession speeches.

6) For the purpose of the contest, "gaffe" is defined as an unplanned error in fact or judgment. It might be a mistake for the NDP to release a platform paper advocating gender segregation of schools, to the derision of the Canadian electorate, but it's not a "gaffe". On the other hand, if Jack Layton explains the policy by making an aside about "hot and dirty high school girls" (as Don mines the Google hits), that would be a "gaffe".
Let's reset those scores:

If I'm a little slower to update than last time around, forgive me. I've got a real job now, with an employer who is afraid that reading the CBC news on the web at work might damage my brain, so they've helpfully removed the temptation.