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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Welcome to Canada. Here's your broom and slider.

Canadians will be warmly welcoming David Wilkins when he arrives as the newly appointed American ambassador to Canada. That's not a reflection on our feelings toward Mr. Wilkins, whom we hardly know, but on Paul Cellucci, to whom we'll drink a toast. In the words of a fake-o street interview on Monday Report, Mr. Cellucci: "Good luck being obnoxious in the private sector." (follow the link, then March 21, titled "A tribute to America's Ambassador to Canada")

Mr. Wilkins, no matter how badly you do, you'll always look good compared to your predecessor - call it the Batista effect. Enjoy your stay!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dumb politics, Florida edition

Saying that it was "common sense", Jeb Bush has made it legal in Florida to defend yourself with force if you feel threatened on the streets of, oh, let's say Disneyland.

Actually, common sense dictates to me that the government should try to ratchet down the level of violence, not condone a free-for-all. Shakespeare understood that nearly half a millennia ago:
Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,--
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
Throw your mistemper'd weapons to the ground,
If ever you disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.

(------------Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene I)
Then again, perhaps Jeb was moved by the story. Instead of committing suicide, Romeo can simply plead to the constable. "But Paris was being a total dick! Look what he did to Mercutio! Dude totally had it coming." Of course, Juliet might notice the lack of value Romeo places on Capulet lives, feel threatened herself, and cap Romeo. You can see how this goes - instead of just four corpses, viewers of the play will see the bodies stack up like cordwood. They'll think they wandered into Hamlet, instead.

Oh, if only Prince Jeb had shown the wisdom of his fictional Verona predecessor!

Hmm. I digress by quite a distance. Stupid idea, is what I'm saying here.
Dumb politics, Alberta edition

Ralph Klein warns voters consumers not to sign long-term electrical contracts, with the regulated rate option set to expire in summer 2006.
"I don't want to sound insensitive, but buyer beware," Klein said. "I would really ask a lot of questions and I would do a lot of shopping and comparing..."
If only we thought of doing that before we elected the deregulators in the first place. D'oh!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

You can't take the sky from me

My workplace is attempting to arrange for a special free screening of "Star Wars III/VI: Attack of the Yes We Know the Last Two Were Absolute Crap But He's Going to Become Vader and It's Going to be Dark and Scary and Every Bit as Good as Empire so Please Please Please Come See It." Damn - free was pretty much what I was prepared to pay. In fact, I still have a decision to make, because if it's anything like the last two, it's two hours of my life I'll never ever get back, and that's too high a price to pay.

Let's have a free screening of this, instead - it's a movie I'm actually excited about.. The first trailer should be posted today, if Ghost of a Flea can be believed.

Lucas bad. Whedon good! Is there a flag I can post on my blog about that?

Hey, there is!

Canadian Alliance(s)

Tommy Johnson: I had to be up at that there crossroads last midnight, to sell my soul to the devil.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Well, ain't it a small world, spiritually speaking. Pete and Delmar just been baptized and saved. I guess I'm the only one that remains unaffiliated.
Via James Bow, I've been introduced to a new blog alliance, the Blogging New Democrats. You might think I would be a natural to join. After all, I've spoken many times about my NDP membership, my involvement, even my candidacy (twice!) for the Alberta New Democrats. How could I not be a Blogging Dipper?

Well, first of all, I never started blogging to be on a team. I'm not here to do advocacy on behalf of something other than my own opinions.

Further, I don't think the Canadian blogosphere dividing itself into teams is a positive change. There are Tories, Liberals, and New Democrats among my links, as well as several people who proclaim a lack of affiliation. They all have interesting things to say - sometimes, they have convincing things to say. I don't want a tag at the top of every page acting like gang colours. I don't need the shorthand to tell me if I'm going to agree with the writer (and yes, I am that lazy). When the Red Ensign was making its rounds, I only had to see it on the page to decide to move on. I don't want to alienate people who wander by, who see I'm flying the orange flag, and leave, because I would never have anything on the page that differs from NDP orthodoxy.

I'm somewhat attracted to signing up with James Bow's "non-partisan" Canadians, but that would be a bare-faced lie. Because, you know.... NDP candidate, and all. I give them money. I volunteer. So that's not an option for me. And as much as it would be nice to have the links and the extra attention by joining the Dippers, this blog has been too critical on too many occasions of Jack and the federal party as it exists to make my potential NDP "teammates" very happy.

I've got no choice. "I guess I'm the only one that remains unaffiliated."

Monday, April 25, 2005


Until today, when you hovered on one of my links, the font expanded to 13pt. I thought it was a neat feature, but it caused all sorts of problems to my left column of reciprocal links. I've finally given up tinkering, so with regret, I say goodbye to that until I can figure out how to make it specific to some links and not others.

I've also cleaned up my links somewhat, but the job is really only half-done. I regret saying goodbye to some of my earliest linkers, who brought me my first audience and encouraged me to work harder on this page. I hope they'll let me know when they begin publishing again, so I can return the favour.

In the meantime, I've been a little bit generous about my one-month rule (see the end of those links), having inched toward absences that long myself. But I'm resolving to be more persistant about dropping stale links, so keep those blogs active. Otherwise, what's the point? Plus, I have responsibilities, being the 7th most --- well, most something --- political blog in Canada. (Thanks to Socialist Swine for contributing to my vanity.)

Friday, April 22, 2005


If Jack Layton plays his cards right, the New Democrats could be in great position not just to hold the balance of power, but to get their hands on the reins. It all depends on if we can get this message across: "We're like the Liberals, but less criminally inept!" Tell me that's not exactly what Canadians want in their next government.

Layton's reaction to Martin's address last night takes the NDP on a dangerous path. The trick is to convince Canadians that the party is very much like the Liberals, but without the clinging stench of corruption. If instead the NDP is seen as interfering with the legitimate desire of voters to rid themselves of the current government, the party won't be congratulated for getting changes made to the current budget, they're going to be villified as Liberal lapdogs, and we'll join the Liberals in their fate.

And of course, none of this discounts the disadvantages for the NDP of going to the polls, as I outlined in an earlier post. If voters can be made scared enough of the Tories again, or worse, scared for the future of Canada, they might run back into the arms of the Liberals. The NDP needs to be realistic about strategic voting - don't discourage it, just remind voters that in many places in Canada, a vote for the NDP is the strategic vote, particularly if the Liberals implode. Step up and let the public know where a vote for the NDP is legitimately a vote against the Tories, or where it's the best chance of defeating a Liberal - voters will be voting against rather than voting for in record numbers this election. If we're dogmatic, and lie to voters ("Strategic voting never works"), we'll deserve what we get. And, I'll recommend again and again, Layton needs to back off his anti-Clarity position, because there's no way Canadians will accept pandering to the seperatists while the Bloc appears to be on the cusp of filling 65 seats or more in the House.

Layton could gain seats in the coming election, and it would still be a missed opportunity. Political alignment is wildly in flux. If the party misses this chance, it will only have itself to blame.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And somehow, I can't get paid to write

An interesting editorial in the Bismarck Tribune advocates a boycott of travel to Canada. Hey, it's their money, and therefore their business. The specific point of conflict is the drainage of a North Dakota lake, which the Manitoba and Canadian governments are concerned will damage waterways that travel into Canada. On that issue, I have no opinion - I'm pretty conservative when it comes to protecting freshwater, but I'm sympathetic to North Dakota's claim that the time to dispute the plan was about twenty million dollars ago. There are, I'm sure, other writers who are more knowledgable and well-suited to make an argument on the topic (including Americans).

One writer who is not on that list is Frederic Smith, editorialist for the Bismarck Tribune. For the record, allow me to clarify a few things from his editorial.

The editorial accuses "the province of Winnipeg" of obstructionism. Heh.

The local lakes flood, the editorial explains, "forcing ... miles of indirection on school buses, mail carriers and emergency responders." I'm not sure "indirection" is actually wrong, here, but it sure is weird usage.
Adding insult to injury, a flunky with the Canadian treasury board abused U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad to the media recently when the senator declined to drop urgent business in North Dakota -- on the future of the air bases -- to meet with him in Washington about the outlet.
For the record, the "flunky" was Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board. Perhaps "President" equals "flunky" in the eyes of this writer - must be a Dick Cheney fan. Also, Alcock's comments weren't because the Senator "declined to drop urgent business", but because Alcock thought he had been stood up. It was inpolitic, and as it turns out, the missed meeting was chalked up to a scheduling error (perhaps just diplomatic cover, but whatever). Alcock apologised, Conrad accepted and looked forward to the rescheduled meeting. I found all of that out in about four minutes of google-searching, but that seems to be more research than could be expected from Frederic Smith, having already built up a good mouthful of froth at this point.
Perhaps a Winnipeg letter writer (Tribune, April 12) is correct in blaming it all on the silly socialist governments up that way -- the Liberal Party national government in Ottawa and the even more extreme New Democratic Party provincial government in Winnipeg.

But people elected those governments, and the writer finds Winnipeg Premier Gary Doer playing to an appreciative crowd of "the large number of ideological anti-Americans in Manitoba."
Ah, those silly socialists, like the Prime Minister. Remember when he nationalized Canada Steamship Lines? Crazy commies. As for the "ideological anti-Americanism", I haven't seen a lot of it, but I've seen plenty of people reacting to anti-Canadian rants such as this one, or anti-Canadian policies such as trade restrictions on Canadian beef and lumber, with a pretty strong "screw you, too." Sometimes, the brush we use with that phrase is too wide, and our anger at one level of American government or another ends up indirectly insulting the American people. (Our insults, you might say, suffer from "indirection".) So, in that light, let me say to most of the citizens of North Datoka: I enjoyed the time I spent travelling there. You have a very nice state, and I look forward to returning some time. To Frederic Smith: screw you, too.

(An aside - he's quoting a letter-writer who identifies Manitoba. Do you suppose Smith thinks Manitoba is somewhere near the province of Winnipeg?)

Finally, after entertaining the idea of boycotting Canadian tourism, he ends:
Keeping it south of the border this year would be an excellent way of showing that we are paying attention and keeping score.
Keeping score? My own sense of diplomacy and desire to see cross-border relations improve prevents me from running a tally sheet at this point, but Mr. Smith, if you're serious about keeping score, you let me know and I'll dust off Excel and see what we come up with.

Meantime, enjoy your one-man boycott.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another day I wish I was Jewish

I don't even know what this is, but boyoboy does it look cool.

Tell your Chavrusa!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What to do?

It's a beautiful spring morning in Edmonton, another in what's becoming a decent string of them. It's tough for me to get worried about the revelations made to a Commons committee by one-time government insider and high-profile Canadian blogger Warren Kinsella. I'm having a hard time getting excited about the Martin government, all of a sudden, announcing a bunch of policy. (Gee, I wonder if the Liberals are already fighting the next election?) I can't even get myself worked up about the installation of Benedict XVI.

But I'm a leading Canadian blogger. I have responsibilities.

Aw, screw it. There are plenty of opinions out there, most of them interesting. Let me tell you about what I've been watching and reading, instead.

First of all, the second season of Arrested Development has come to a close. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a sitcom, and part of the secret of the success is that the humour here is in the "sit(uation)" part. Standard sitcom formula has several people gathered together (in a home, a workplace, a coffee shoppe) and they say witty things to one another. Plots aren't the source of the humour, they're the launching point of the witticisms. In AD, the situations and plots are funny, but the moment the characters make any effort to be witty, that character invaribly is greeted by embarrassed silence and discomfort. The show is clever, in the way Faulty Towers was clever, with twisting plots that often manage to dovetail, sometimes only in future episodes (or even just the fake "next episode" clips at the end). The show is genre-referential, perhaps too much so, but it adds to the rewatchibility of each episode (as do the details, every bit as richly laid in as any episode of The Simpsons). Without going to far into detail, here, an example: Ron Howard is the narrative voice on the show. Henry Winkler plays a sleazy lawyer. You can't possibly hear those two voices together without noticing the man behind the curtain. Another example: Jason Bateman plays the uber-responsible anchor to his disfunctional family. The ultimate straight man, for the first while it's impossible to see him without recalling his lengthy bad sitcom history.

Long story short (too late for that, I suspect), the show is sharp, and makes me believe in the potential of sitcoms again. And yet it's in a fight to be renewed, since Fox has it up against Desperate Housewives. Note to Fox: stick with Arrested Development. DH has the future of Ally McBeal - It starts out sharp and clever, feeling fresh and funny. In two seasons it'll deteriorate into unbearable melodrama. And if I'm wrong, hey, there's just some shows that can't be beat. You have to schedule something against them - why not a show where you can recoup your losses in DVD sales?

As for my reading selections lately, there are advantages to moving to Edmonton. I'm excited to have my first library card in years. (Note to residents of the County of Wheatland - next municipal election, put your representitives' feet to the fire. When will they begin subscribing to library services again, or produce their own as they claimed they would do when they withdrew from the Marigold Library system? I'm sure there are other municipalities in Canada that offer no library services to its residents, but I don't know where. It's shameful.) So the first thing I searched for in the card catalouge (okay, it was a computer catalouge. It's been a long time since I've had a library membership) was Michael Chabon, author of one of my favourite recent reads, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. That book was a fictional account about the co-creators of doubly-fictional Golden Age superhero The Escapist. Others agreed with me - this was a fine book.

Imagine my surprise to discover that Dark Horse Comics has begun publishing The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist, allowing artists and writers to create stories fitting into the false history Chabon crerated for this character. Imagine my further surprise that the Edmonton Public Library offers graphic novels.

Anyone who has enjoyed comics with any seriousness (I'm talking to you, Mr. and Ms Bear, and you, Mr. NZ teacher, and --- well, actually, much of my readership. If you read The Dark Knight, or better yet, The Watchmen, consider yourself included.) should start with Kavalier and Clay, and then discover the most interesting thing happening in comics today thinks it happened years ago.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I'm not worried. I'm a penguin.

The CBC reports that the United States has been actively avoiding lax about discovering BSE cases.

Tip of the hat to Greg at Sinister Thoughts for pointing this out. I need to read his blog more often.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I feel like I've over-waited to post on the revelations at Gomery, as they increasingly seem poised to bring the government down. I'm not sure that's a good idea right now. And I also can't see how it can happen, if the opposition parties are at all savvy.

Let's start with my own party. Does the NDP really believe it can improve its seat-count in the House of Commons? When minority governments fall, Canadians have a long-standing habit of abandoning third parties, and organizing their vote around one or the other of the possible governing parties. It gets worse - Layton's public opposition to the Clarity Act was damaging enough last election. If this election turns out to have a strong sovergnist edge within Quebec, the divisions in the NDP over Clarity will be front and centre. It'll be a disaster.

The Bloc seems to be riding a wave of Liberal unpopularity in Quebec, so they'd want to go to election. (I don't entirely understand this wave, beyond what the rest of the country is experiencing. There's no good reason for Quebecers to be angrier about the scandal than anyone else. I think part of the complaint from Quebec is that there was a sponsorship program in the first place - naturally the sovergnists wouldn't like that. They were angry that busloads of Canadians arrived for a rally during the 1995 referendum as well. Tough shit, sovergnists.) But really, where does the Bloc hope to grow? They have almost every seat they have any chance of winning already - most of the seats they don't have are so strongly federalist, they'd vote for any yellow dog that wasn't the BQ. Maybe even the Tory. Letting the Tories get their feet in the door in Quebec is probably not good for the long-term life of the BQ, notwithstanding a successful referendum.

Now, I can understand the Tories wanting to go. In several ridings, the last election became a referendum on Stephen Harper - will he protect my individual rights? Does he respect the Charter? That referendum didn't go well for Harper. The revelations at Gomery shift that focus to the government. At the same time, I think he still risks those questions re-emerging over the course of the election. He needs to find opportunities before he goes to the polls to prove his dedication to the Charter. Tonight's vote on same-sex marriage is not likely to help - it may shift the focus right back off of the Liberals, in fact, in favour of displaying the cracks in the Reform/Tory plaster job.

Don't mistake me. The numbers are small (by government spending standards, anyway) but the accusations are extremely serious. Canadians deserve an accounting. But an election right now might only serve to put the Gomery inquiry on hold. Paul Martin wants the election to be delayed until the inquiry has a chance to report. The opposition parties are probably not in the best position to punish the Liberals for Adscam. Just like my argument around the publication ban, my desire to punish the Liberals is not as pressing as making sure it's done right. We'll get our chance, and soon, but now would be a mistake - a tactical mistake for the opposition parties, but far more importantly, a mistake for our ability as Canadians to mete our justice upon the Liberals and upon the individuals responsible. Patience will only help us on both counts.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Big ol' spike

Yesterday, RevMod saw traffic that was reminicient of the old Gaffe-o-Meter days. Some people, I know, were searching for information on testimony in front of the Gomery commission that can't be found in the daily paper. You won't be finding it here, and I'm not going to go out of my way to link to where it can be found. If you're determined enough and curious enough, I'm sure you can find it.

I do want to link one e-mail conversation that was brought to my attention. It was between the American blog that first published the testimony and a Canadian blogger respecting the publication ban. From the American blogger:

"...in a fashion that resembles Castro's Cuba or the current Chinese regime, your press is restricted in order to protect criminals." (Do I even need to mention that this is a blog of the conservative ilk? I'm glad the Canadian blogging community seems to be much less divided and more respectful than this)

Let me address this idea directly. I tried to answer it a little more subtly yesterday, but I don't think I was clear enough.

The publication ban is not intended to "protect criminals", you thick-headed moron. It's intended to protect the justice system, so that we can eventually have fair trials and potentially punish criminals. If the publication ban is broken widely and flagrantly enough, a fair trial may become impossible and an unspecified number of criminals may continue to walk free.

The only logical conclusion is that the prosecutions of long-time Bush supporters like Kenny Lay have made this unnamed right-wing American blogger sympathetic to the hard road of the white-collar criminal, and wants to protect those involved in Adscam from the same unfortunate fate.

Now, for myself, those are my taxes that were spent, very possibly misspent, quite possibly stolen in the course of the events now being investigated by Gomery. I'm looking forward to seeing someone frog-marched in front of the cameras to give Canadians a sense that someone is answering for that alleged theivery. And if prosecution becomes impossible because some fuck-witted American jack-off wanted a few more hits on his website, perhaps another nickel or two for click-throughs on his page's ads, Canadians deserve to be pissed.

Why does the American right hate justice?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Confidential to "Blogger in Canada":

If you would like criminals to go to jail, you have to start by respecting the rules laid down by the court.