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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

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.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tactics and strategy

I have no problem with the tactics now being used by the Conservatives and Bloc, adjourning the House whenever they feel like it. Forget a recognized confidence motion - if you don't have the confidence of the House, you can't govern. The opposition has found precisely the right tool to demonstrate that fact.

But what of the optics? This tactic invites a criticism, employed by both the Prime Minister and Mr. Layton, that the Bloc/Tory opposition coalition is somehow frustrating the normal functioning of the House, that Canadians expect the work of government to continue. Perhaps the B/T members are lazy and shiftless, wanting to spend a sunny spring afternoon contemplating the flow of the Rideau, while honest, hard-working Canadians are putting in a regular day's work.

It's a disingenuous criticism. There have probably been few moments when members of the House of Commons have worked harder. Admittedly, they're working toward a budget vote, perhaps doing as much pre-election campaigning as can be managed from Ottawa, but I expect there are very few MPs who didn't have something more pressing to do than waste a day in a non-functioning House of Commons.

And yet, the criticism dovetails with the cynicism voters have about the functioning of government. Unless you're a huge fan of CPAC, likely your image of the work of the House is informed mostly by clips of Question Period playing on the evening news - the part of the process where the most drama, and by far the least productive work, occurs. And even if you watched the House every moment it sat, it would seem like long stretches of boredom once QP is over - and the room is normally half-empty or more. Childish, lazy and shiftless - isn't it obvious?

Both the adjournments, and the Liberal and NDP spin on the adjournments, are excellent tactics - everyone is playing the game hard and smart. But it's all lousy strategy, because they're feeding the cynicism voters feel about politics as a whole. It's not fair, and it's not right - overwhelmingly, the people we dismiss as "politicians" are sacrificing time and money to do work they think is important, and while I often find themselves at odds with their political leanings, I sincerely believe that their convictions are based on a desire to do right by their constituents and Canadians as a whole. Witness David Kilgour, a man I often find myself disagreeing with. He's in a situation right now where his vote may make or break the government, and he's put a price on that vote: more Canadian troops to prevent genocide in Darfur. Tell me that's the bargain of the greedy, slick, lazy "politicians" that live in the electorate's collective head.

I don't blame the opposition for taking the steps they are. I would expect the government to fight just as hard and well. But both sides need to find tactics that don't engender disrespect for the institution, and all the members thereof.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

So, what else is going on May 19th?

Now that Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Harper have the scent of blood in their nostrils, they've done everything they can to pressure the government to a vote on a confidence motion sooner rather than later. And so they should - the government serves at the pleasure of the House, and the Liberal attempts to duck and weave this showdown have not endeared them to Canadians.

But honestly, May 19? Because there are a lot of people here in Edmonton who already have Victoria Day plans. Those people will not be thanking the Conservative Party if those plans go awry.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Technical problems originate with the webhost. Please stand by.

Sharp-eyed observers will have noticed that this site went missing for a day or two, followed by a further day or two of many missing recent posts. My webhost moved me, retiring some old servers. A combination of my not being technically savvy enough to understand the implications or if the change applied to me, and their lack of automated support for the change for domains ending in something other than ".com", ".org", or ".net", left us all temporarily out of luck.

Let me now offer mad props (or whatever it is the kids offer one another these days) to Marilee at avidhosting.com, who hand-held me through most of the fixes in an online chat window that just didn't seem to get along with Opera at all. (Still, better than IE!)

(Since I'm actually linking to my host, giving them a free almost-plug, let me offer the full review: live support (as I've already indicated), top-notch; price, pretty cheap (helped even more my the exchange-rate improvement); more space than I'll ever need, more bandwidth than I'll ever need, and a much improved (speed-wise) server now that I've been moved. On the bad side, the webmail functionality has heavily downgraded from the nice one on the old server. It's a small thing, but if they have the power to swap it off, I sure do wish they would. I'm also not as happy with the newer control panel, but that might be a matter of getting used to it.)

Any mail sent to me since the weekend has been irretrievably lost, unless you still have a copy in your "sent items" folder. Feel encouraged to send it along again.

I have to admit I'm a little frustrated at the timing of this. I didn't really get my chance to call the leaders of our federal parties "tools" for not agreeing collectively to head for Holland, before they figured it out for themselves.

I guess I'll just have to wait for them to do something else stupid. Gosh, can I wait that long?