Friday, October 29, 2004

Hiatus

Busy guy these days. Amid the other challenges of getting set up on my own, I had a pretty good day yesterday, and got myself a new (official) kid. The previously referenced Aldini Jr. was actually my stepson, until yesterday afternoon, when a judge granted my adoption of him.

Good times. Past that, I haven't had much to say over the past week. Congratulations to the BoSox, obviously. The best part about their win, frankly, has been reading Bill Simmons and Colby Cosh on the topic. Excellent insight and damn fine writing to boot.

A theme that Simmons has touched on a few times before, but hasn't come up much through the celebrations, is this: I really don't think you can underestimate the impact that the new owners, and their revamping of the Red Sox organization, have had. It goes way beyond their willingness to spend money on salaries (and carry the #2 payroll in baseball). Doing more for the players and staff they're paying all this money to. Renovating and cleaning up Fenway Park. Adding the Green Monster seats. These are all things they could have gotten away without doing; they have a nice tradition with lots of fans who aren't going anywhere, so as long as they put a team on the field, they're going to be profitable.

To oversimplify a bit, but make a true and relevant point: it is amazing how much easier it is for an organization to achieve a goal when the owners and leaders of the organization are demonstrably committed to achieving it. If you're looking for a contrast, there's probably no better example than the hockey team in the same city.

I don't think you could find even a member of the Bruins organization who would say that their primary goal is to win the Stanley Cup. Instead, you get the longtime owner being one of the "hardliners" in contract negotiations with the players, presumably because he wants to make even more money than he is now with even less effort. It's pathetic. I'd have considerably more sympathy for the owners if it was the 18 smallest ones who locked out their players, saying they wouldn't put their teams back on the ice until things were changed so they could compete with the 12 big ones more fairly.

On a unrelated note, I saw fellow Queen's alum Chris Turner being interviewed on Global Calgary's morning show the other day (remotely from their own newsroom, for some bizarre reason). He was pimping his new book Planet Simpson, which is getting pretty good reviews all around. It's definitely going on my Wish List. When I make one. Here's the Planet Simpson blog, which I have yet to peruse.

Good day to you all.

Friday, October 22, 2004

"Thanks, beautiful."

Hello, and happy Friday out to everyone in darkened-home-office-land. I'm presently enjoying the 2nd day of the rest of my life, and except for the periodic panic attacks and vomiting, it's been great.

Speaking of mixing exhiliration with fear, The Sports Guy has posted the transcript of a mostly-real (accurate but maybe not authentic?) online chat from earlier, discussing the aftermath of Sox-Yankees, and the Sox-Cards World Series matchup. (Oh, as expected, he really doesn't have much enthusiasm for the NFL at the moment). He has some excellent responses to the real and phony questions. On the matchup of managers:
Rob (Fredercksburg, VA): ...I am worried about the La Russa vs. Francona matchup when they are in St. Louis. Do you have any comments? How much of more of an advantage do you give La Russa in games 3-5?

Bill Simmons: I just threw up.
On the left side of the Yankee infield:
Julie (Boston): Do you think Jeter does the fist pump everytime he disappoints a woman in bed? Or does he save it for when he's with A-Rod?

Bill Simmons: Whoops - I didn't mean to post that. Really, I didn't.

Chris (Arlington, VA): Bigger choke artist: A-Rod or Manning?

Bill Simmons: Jeez, sorry about that -- another accident. My mouse isn't dragging properly.
On life's greatest mysteries:
Jeff Suppan (St Louis): How did I manage to suck so much with Boston and somehow pitch a game 7 of the NLCS with St Louis? Can my team with such awful pitching take out the Red Sox?

Bill Simmons: That's an excellent question: You were absolutely beyond terrible with the Sox. Now you're an effective groundball pitcher with the Cards. It makes absolutely no sense. You didn't even make the playoff roster for us last year.
And of course, a few digs at the Fox broadcast team, or more correctly, the now-obviously senile Tim McCarver, referenced ad nauseam in his ALCS columns:
Bill Simmons: I'm planning on starting a website under an assumed name so I can complain about broadcasters. This is my new plan. One of the baseball announcers (I won't name him) drove me CRAZY this week. Crazier than I've ever been about an announcer. And I can't vent about it.
[...]
Tim McCarver (The Booth): Bill -- Why the animosity towards me?

Bill Simmons: Because you were openly rooting for the Yankees. That's why.

Julie (Baltimore): How about Al Leiter? I was very impressed by him. He definitely has a career when his playing days are over.

Bill Simmons: I liked Al Leiter a lot - very balanced, very knowledgable.
[...]
Mark (Boston): How do you feel about having the WS broadcast by a play-by-play guy who works for the Cardinals, and a color guy who won 2 WS with the Cardinals??

Bill Simmons: Well, they were totally balanced during the ALCS, so I'm sure it won't be a problem here.

Indeed. Here's hoping the World Series goes 7 games, so that as Simmons notes, we could have Mike Myers pitching on Halloween night. eep.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Post Title of the Year

Congratulations, Kate. (And be sure to read the comments).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A meme I can get behind

Colby Cosh:
"In your heart, you know we have to get Don Cherry elected as The Greatest Canadian."

"It would annoy everyone worth annoying in this country."

"Above all he stands up for moral qualities lying neglected in a dusty corner of our civilization: courage, honour, patriotism, and squeezing more out of your talent than the Good Lord put into it."
The Monger (this made me laugh for 15 minutes):
"Anyway, lots of people...are suggesting voting for Don Cherry, both as a recognition of the man himself and as a useful thumb in the eye of Our Socialist Betters at the MotherCorp.

Not only do I heartily agree (show those leftie wanks the error of their ways, giving us peasants a chance to speak our "minds"!), I think Cherry could actually win. It's all vote-splitting, baby!"

"And now the 3-way. Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, and David Suzuki. Sounds like the set-up to a bad joke about beet soup: so a socialist, a marxist, and a communist walk into a bar..."

And Evan Kirchhoff, with the cherry on top:
"For these and many other reasons, I believe it is clear that Don Cherry deserves to be voted Greatest Canadian, especially when compared to finalists such as Lester B. Pearson (inventor of "Scotch" tape), David Suzuki (conservative publisher), or Terry Fox (champion sniper).

Apropos of absolutely nothing, Mailinator is a site where you can create unlimited numbers of temporary addresses for receiving e-mails."
I'm George Bush, err, Matt Fenwick, and I approve this message. As Cosh notes, the "professional liberal sourpusses" are already going on record, horrified that Cherry even made the top 10. George Johnson, on A3 of today's Calgary Herald ($$ubscriber only), piles on with Garth Woolsey (and counting!), and actually concludes his column with the words "For shame."

Yes, that is reason enough to vote for Cherry! Me, I'd do it just to hear Bruce Dowbiggin's voice go up another octave.

Game 6, tonight, 8:05ET

The Sports Guy's account of being at Fenway Park for the Game 4 & 5 heroics of Señor Octubre is not to be missed. (The dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, the creamy middles, etc.).

I sincerely hope, for Simmons' sake if nothing else, that the Red Sox pull off this wild comeback. It'll soothe the pain of his abject failure in progressing towards his bakery-in-the-sky goal of being 50 games over .500 on his NFL picks this year. (Through Week 6, he's 46-39-3. Not awful by any means, but not the kind of pace (which is a false concept in gambling anyway) that will get him to 150-100-6). (Holy Brackets! I must be channelling Bob.)

I'll also note unhumbly that the prediction I made at the bottom of this post came true - mostly. He didn't quite say the exact sentence in his Week 5 column (the explicit Lesson in it was, "Never put all your eggs in one basket on a team with only one above-average offensive player, especially when that same player is plea bargaining a federal indictment in a drug conspiracy case that same week."). However, the teaser for the column on the SGW page was right there in white & black: "The lesson is, as always, I'm an idiot."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Dead Horse, meet Whip

Looks like the Kinsella Kerfuffle has been wrapped up to nearly everyone's satisfaction (previous related posts here, here, here, and here). I'm certainly tired of it, but I can't let the whole thing fade away without a final comment, in light of Kinsella's final word.

While stating that "there are indeed limits, even out in the blogosphere", he continues to accuse Damian Brooks (without naming him) of writing that he was "personally responsible for the death of Lieut. Chris Saunders" and "falsely accusing someone of murder".

This is wrong, false, untrue, (unfair, incorrect, etc.) and it is not right for him to be perpetuating this smear. Brooks made a nasty slumlord reference, and stated: "You were part of the problem". Pretty immoderate, but also pretty damn far from a murder accusation. Indeed, the whole point of the post was that Brooks deplored Kinsella's attitude, not his actions. That is why the concluding paragraph of the thing was approximately, "Go ahead and blog about politics, punk rock, your kids, whatever, but when it comes to the military, you need to shut the hell up."

I imagine that Damian has probably learned a bit of a lesson through this. (Ian is contrite, in a broad sense). He'll probably be reluctant, in the future, to use a military tragedy to make a political point. But, but, he did not accuse Kinsella, directly or indirectly, of murdering Lieut. Saunders, and Kinsella should not given a pass for claiming that he did. And that's why, as far as I'm concerned, he can take his conciliatory statements and [... (deleted on advice of counsel) ...] horse he rode in on. Good day!

"Not now, you fool!"

Lileks is in fine, fine form today. The whole Bleat is great, but part of it is devoted to "advice" to director Roland Emmerich, after viewing The Day After Tomorrow:
5. Next time, have Dennis Quaid set his Acting Face on something other than “woke up to the sound of the smoke alarm.”

Be sure to check out the AFP photo too.

Cue the Boomtown Rats

It's a mighty depressing day here in Lethbridge, and not just because it's presently -4C, with a forecast of more of the same.

Here and all across Alberta, it's Municipal Election Day. Mayor, city council, school boards, and a smattering of VLT plebiscites. In Lethbridge, the only "interesting" race (and I use that term very loosely) is for City Council. Eight aldermanic positions, 26 candidates, and no wards - just one long ballot (our own version of an Incumbency Protection Act).

Naturally, it's tough for aldermanic candidates to stand out among 25 competitors. Or is it? I thumbed through the election preview pullout in the Lethbridge Herald (not online), where everyone got roughly 200 words to say their piece, and noted the following:
  • Number of candidates who mentioned the word "tax" in any form or respect: 15
  • Number who indicated, one way or another, that they aim to "keep taxes down": 3
  • Number who stated explicitly that taxes are too high, and should be reduced: 1
  • Of the 21 challengers, number who identified a single specific previous or proposed spending item as unnecessary or wasteful: ZERO
  • Of the 21 challengers, number who specifically outlined a way in which they would change or reverse any existing policy or program: 5*
*The phrase "pushing for more provincial and federal government funding", mentioned by six candidates, does not qualify a plan. This is lazy and ignorant. If you said this, I will not be voting for you.

Some more choice words from the candidates:

- One actually began her piece with this sentence: "I am an avid CBC listener and this has kept me informed of the political issues of the day." Damn, and I was actually going to vote for her. It's a doubly bizarre thing to say considering there is no local CBC affiliate here. Can we look forward to municipal resolutions opposing the Iraq war if you're elected?

- Another has a slogan, "A New Attitude". Fine, whatever, but if you're going to push that, you probably ought to identify at least one passably concrete thing you plan to do or support if elected. In the absence of that, your slogan, ma'am, is self-parodying.

- The pandering for seniors' votes is epic. Prime example: "My father instilled in me a great love for seniors..." - good grief.

I have no desire to run for city council, but if I did, I am absolutely positive I could get in the top 8 by a MILE, without misrepresenting myself in the slightest. I believe it's called "grazing where the grass is", and I'm stunned that none of the 26 candidates are doing it.

I'll be interested to see the results tonight, mostly because I have no earthly idea how my fellow residents distinguish between the candidates, and the results may provide some insight.

Developing!

(Note: Updated, 750PM, to be nicer.)

Friday, October 15, 2004

Be healed! You know, maybe..

Charles Krauthammer as Neal Page, and John Edwards as the rental car place:

"You're messing with the wrong guy!"

Two sides to every story, etc.

Since a lot of people seem to be counting, the Kinsella threat-of-whatever is not new, and has not been confined to four bloggers (Brooks, Ianism, Shamrocks, Daimnation).

Please refer to this old apology at Let It Bleed, and note:
  • Bob Tarantino is a lawyer as well
  • Apology appears to have been made a full calendar year after the original post was made
  • If you consider defamation to be a "shades of grey" thing, rather than black/white, Bob's apology appears to be for comments rather more defamatory than what Brooks, Ian, and Patrick wrote.
Take it all for what you will; I just thought I'd bring it up because it seems to have disappeared down the memory hole (or more likely, most of the folks active in the present discussion were less plugged-in back then).

Sorry to Bob if he was hoping it would stay there. Maybe now this statement, about me in July, makes a little more sense to everyone else:
...plus, Jerry sometimes wonders whether Kinsella is a [deleted on advice of counsel].

I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

If Evan Kirchhoff is as capable a computer geek as he is a writer, he must be a kojillionaire. Here he is on the final Presidential Debate, which by the way, he says he didn't watch, because "..I heard it was on domestic policy, which I'm pretty much against...":
Also, apparently this also came up as a recipe for cheaper healthcare:

(1) Back empty delivery trucks up to Pfizer factories.
(2) Fill trucks with cartons of newly-produced drugs.
(3) Drive north on the nearest interstate and cross the Canadian border; allow drugs to be bathed in mysterious Canadian "cheap-o-rays".
(4) Turn trucks around, drive south, unload drugs in U.S. warehouses.

Obviously I'm simplifying -- the real scheme would have more steps and be considerably stupider.

He continues:
Here's a suggestion: you know how sometimes when you go to the doctor, he'll open his desk drawer and rummage around and then give you a few days' worth of free drug samples in those pretty promotional packages? Screw the driving-to-Canada stuff -- let's supply America's prescription drug needs from Magical Doctor Desks and save one hundred percent of pharmaceutical costs!

Some people obsess about getting the most marginal members of the electorate to haul themselves to the polls every four years, but I have the opposite view: let's have a qualifying skills test, and for god's sake let's include a question to ensure that anyone who believes that either of the above concepts would scale to a national U.S. level is not allowed anywhere near a ballot.
Magical Doctor Desks and "cheap-o-rays". I am so not worthy.

"You were part of the problem"

Man, what a shame. Less than 48 hours ago, we had, out there, a relatively straightforward moral and legal question to ponder:

"If a man is an active supporter of a particular government and prime minister, is it fair (and legal) to opine that he is at all responsible for the consequences of the spending and policy decisions of said gov't and PM?" I think it probably is, as long as you're not holding him personally and directly responsible for a specific consequence in the absence of evidence.

Unfortunately, that question has now been relegated to a side note in the kerfuffle that is Kinsella v. mouth-breathers, and that is most certainly to Warren Kinsella's benefit. The original post by Damian Brooks which made the argument above has been withdrawn, so that people now stumbling onto this story are unable to judge it for themselves. My quasi-summary is here; the offending sentence from Brooks' post was most certainly, referring to Liberal "support" for the military, "You were part of the problem". Kinsella, on his own site, is now characterizing this as dually "one of them wrote that I was actually responsible for the death of this child's father", and "if someone publishes that I killed a soldier...".

The post that IS still up that Kinsella objects to (by Ian Scott) represents a much less interesting question. While it doesn't appear defamatory either, it's much less mature insight than Brooks', it's rambling, and it pretends to insult Kinsella's parents, one of whom died a few months ago. In short, it's exactly how Kinsella would portray Canada's "right-wing" blogs if he could write it himself.

I said before that few or none of us doing this web-comment thing are in it to make enemies and cause serious trouble. I still believe that's still mostly true, although there are a few who wish to drop trou with Kinsella and get out a ruler. I don't see why you'd want to get into it with someone whose #1 career skill is "winning arguments". His post today underlines that pretty well; he manages to combine ad hominem attacks with quotes that aren't exactly "quotes" and characterizations which are not so wrong as to be false. I mean, wow!
  • Rightist bloggers are mostly guys and white (and "aroused" by Mark Steyn's website)
  • This is an "avalanche of hate"
  • He gets hate mail which he doesn't quote from directly, but characterizes as Puce-style (Jean Chretien's conversations with his homeless buddy come to mind here)
  • Paints all his detractors as people who would sympathize with someone who uses the term "race-mixer" (presumably as a negative - again, it's unattributed)
Why would you want to mess with that? He's periodically insightful, but he's a jerk - and I don't think there's much more to say.

UPDATE (minutes later): Kinsella also makes a bit of an issue about people not using their real names. I know this is also a big talking point whenever blogs are discussed in large media. Anyway, I'm Matt Fenwick. I never wrote this site under an alias so that readers wouldn't know who I was - most of you who have received an email from me know this. It was so that people who know me, but don't know I have a blog, wouldn't find out via Google. You may think this is equally gutless, I don't really care.

So I don't get tarred with a wide brush: my name is Matt Fenwick, I'm a Leo, and I'm presently wearing a golf shirt and Dockers.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Paging Jay Jardine!

Jardine was seeking suggestions on how to avoid striking PSAC workers.

He wouldn't be reluctant to call a 12-year-old boy his hero, would he?

UPDATE: Jay's comment to this post should be up for an award. "Harnessing market forces to undermine collectivist obstruction" - sounds like something from the mud farmers in Holy Grail.

Stepping back a bit

I'm not overly interested in saying more about Kinsella and Damian Brooks, but since not too many people seem to have read The Babbler's original post, and even fewer have offered up much in terms of what defamation exactly is, I thought it might be worth a few words.

My experience, in communicating with fellow "web-loggers", is that no one is out to make enemies or cause serious trouble. We do it because it's an opportunity to think and to write, and by extension, to learn. So maybe a quick review is in order for learning purposes - feedback, of course, is very welcome.

First, I don't remember the entire post word-for-word, but I assure everyone that it did not stand out as particularly malicious or acidic in the slightest. However, one of the comments, by a Tracy in Winnipeg, certainly was. This may have affected Kinsella's perception of the original piece.

Basically, Brooks referred to consecutive posts Kinsella made on October 11th and 12th, which you can read for yourself. Brooks then argued that Kinsella reinforces one of Steyn's points, represented by: "We honour Christine Hanson's memory by righting the great wrong done to her, not by ersatz grief-mongering." This segued to a couple of sentences expressing how he found Kinsella's grief to be distasteful, considering his longtime association with the Liberals, and the fact that they have been governing (and responsible for the military and procurement) for roughly 30 of the past 40 years. This thought ended with the sentence (Brooks' italics): "You were part of the problem".

Is this defamation? Here's a pretty clear and concise description of the concept, thanks to my research assistant:
The more modern definition (of defamation) is words tending to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.

So in the absence of any exceptions, Brooks certainly was defamatory. Of course, there are defenses:
1. The "defamatory" remark was basically accurate.

2. The plaintiff agreed with the defamatory remarks. For example, if the plaintiff subsequently publishes the remarks, they would be hard pressed to succeed in a defamation claim.

3. Some special privileges exist for remarks made in certain venues such as in a court room during trial or in a legislative assembly or one of its committees. A privilege against defamation claims also exists for judicial or legislative reports.

4. There is what is known as a "qualified privilege" where remarks that may otherwise be construed as being "defamatory", were conveyed to a third party non-maliciously and for an honest and well-motivated reason. An example would be giving a negative but honest job reference. [...]

5. Citizens are entitled to make "fair comment" on matters of public interest without fear of defamation claims. A good example of this is a letter to the editor on a matter of public concern. The author of the remarks may even go so far as to presume motives on the part of the person who's actions are being criticized provided only that the imputation of motives is reasonable under the circumstances. The rule of thumb is that the fair comment must reflect an honestly held opinion based on proven fact and not motivated by malice. It should be noted, however, that some provinces have enacted laws which give their citizens varying rights to "fair comment."

Damian would seem to be well-protected by Item 5 - Kinsella muses several times a week on his free, no-login, no-restrictions website, which you can fairly say invites comment. And certainly anyone who has read Damian's website for any length of time would agree it appears to represent "honestly held opinion", and it certainly is not motivated by malice.

But even if he wasn't protected by Defense #5, how about #1 & #2? The remarks were certainly accurate, in the sense that the Liberals have been governing since 1993, and are responsible for our military. The only grey area is regarding whether Kinsella had any significant role in the government or party. That's where #2 comes in: whether true or not, and regardless of any specific relevant statements he has made, he has plainly traded on being a person of some importance in the Jean Chretien Liberals over the past several years - it's what makes people interested in what he has to say. (Is there another reason?)

Again, comments are encouraged. Obviously, I think Kinsella's tactics are strange, and agree with the bullying characterization. It also seems odd that he is devoting so much energy recently to asserting his irrelevance - Don at All Things Canadian has a roundup relating to this and Adscam.

I certainly would not hold Kinsella personally responsible for the death of Chris Saunders, and there's no way anyone could have thought Damian was, either. However, if you're making a list of people who have actively or loudly pushed for increased funding for the Canadian military, neither Kinsella, nor me, nor 95+% of our population would be on it. And as Grandpa used to say, if you're not part of the solution...

UPDATE (Oct.15): More, a day later.
UPDATE2: And more.

He's back, and as usual, he's right

Good to see Andrew Coyne back devoting some time to web-based commentary. His take yesterday on Quebec's new private clinic and the Canada Health Act (ÞLet It Bleed) sensibly comes to this conclusion on the CHA: "For good or ill, it has become a dead letter."

The gist of his post, even if you dispute his explicit conclusion, supports an argument both he and I made in July, which amounts to this: there is no excuse for any province to blame the federal government for the state of their own health care system. Consider:

1) No province has identified any particular service they would stop providing in the absence of the Canada Health Act
2) Now, no province can say that the CHA is preventing them from running any kind of health service which they would otherwise be offering or permitting

Health care, constitutionally, belongs to the provinces. There is no evidence that the feds will prevent any province from running their own health care system however they damn well please. Again, the only quarrel any province could have with the feds is that they overtax, preventing said province from raising its own taxes to pay for its health system.

Of course, no province will make this argument directly, because it requires them to (A) acknowledge that there is such a thing as an optimum (or maximum!) tax burden on its citizens, and (B) concede that its citizens are already paying it.

We are no doubt in for more months and years of political BS and bafflegab before any of these plain truths are spoken. It's mind-blowing, because we have a serious problem confronting us in the future of public health care, and every political pronouncement and new piece of legislation in the past 5 years seems specifically designed to deny it and make it worse. It seems appropriate to conclude with Tarantino's words on this same topic:

"..we are currently governed by liars and hypocrites of a breed so refined it beggars the imagination."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Word of the Day

It's "overtaxed".

Shame

Longtime Jean Chretien fart-catcher Kinsella has bullied Damian Brooks into deleting a post he wrote. Brooks had taken Kinsella to task for what he basically characterized as meaningless crocodile tears over the death of Chris Saunders.

I'm one of Damian's fellow dilettantes, and expect I would have reacted the same way as him - not worth the risk to defend such an obvious point. However, I fail to see how "You were part of the problem" and "Shut the hell up" are defamatory. I find it amazing that someone with so much time in politics has such unbelievably thin skin. I guess we've found the one moral difference between Kinsella and Chretien - Kinsella has a problem when his shortcomings are articulated. What the hell would have happened if he was elected in Vancouver in '97?

Chretien, I think of more in terms of this Michael Douglas line from The American President: "Are you under the impression that I'm mad at you, Sydney? Rarely does a day go by when I'm not burned in effigy!"

Shame on Kinsella. If he doesn't like people challenging what he writes, he should probably quit Musing. Damian's retraction is very dignified, and spot-on: "His actions speak louder than my words."

Sudanese rap music indeed

If people can get their TV news from The Daily Show, why not get their print news from The Onion? Sometimes parody gets to the heart of the matter best:

Last week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan set up a commission to determine whether genocide has taken place in the Darfur region of Sudan. What do you think?

"So this might have been a genocide after all, and not a civil war in which only one side was fighting." - Harold Mercer, Systems Analyst

"I think the entire world will breathe a sigh of relief if the U.N. finds that it is not genocide. Well, everyone except for the half-million people who were murdered there." - Patrick Zink, Administrator



Tuesday, October 12, 2004

En-TOO-siasm

Thanks to all of you who passed on an encouraging word regarding my decision to risk my family's well-being on somewhat uncertain grounds. Doom-mongering and sarcasm aside, I am 100% certain I did the right thing, and I'm psyched to jump into the water and sink, swim, or preferably, jet-ski.

I've had lots of relevant words of wisdom passed my way since Thursday. (Is there a Chicken Soup for the Unemployed? There's an opportunity right there!) I have updated my banner quote with one of these pearls, which wasn't aimed at me, but which I felt summed up my present attitude as well as anything.

I should still be posting periodically over the next couple of weeks, while I finish up my transition to my colleagues, secure some short-term contract work, and get paid out by the Corp. At that point, I hope to jazz this place up a little bit, and most likely, start existing under my actual real name.

(If you can't wait, it's Harvey Honkerhill. ssshhhh.....)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

An adventure!

I just quit my job, without having another one lined up. Considering I have two kids, and a wife who looks after them full-time, it may qualify as the most irresponsible thing I've ever done in my life. Luckily, I have some difficult-to-access savings in the mid-four figures!

That said, it was not done in the heat of the moment, and my extended family is behind me. For the next while, I'll either be posting a lot more, or a lot less.

If you do prayers, I'd appreciate one.

Good times.

From Post to Post-Post

The news has been out for about a week now; the National Post has made a puzzling decision to drop Colby Cosh's weekly column. Not surprisingly, amongst the blogs I've read who have weighed in, roughly 0% have been supportive of the move.

Kate uses "satire", and includes a nice dig at Sheila Copps which is probably not strictly relevant, but funny nonetheless. Babbler and Monger reacted swiftly and profanely. David Akin doesn't take issue with the decision (bridges, fire, etc.) but displays a couple of vaguely frightening head shots, including the one Cosh uses on his own blog (self-promotional talent of a ham sandwich, indeed).

David Janes vows to cut back his newsstand grazing; SD has cancelled her subscription, and Kathy Shaidle at the Shotgun is "speechless", prompting a lot of sympathetic comments and one contrarian.

One thing I haven't read any musings on is why the Post would choose to make this decision (apart from, "they're idiots"). I don't know anything about running a newspaper, so of course, I'm going to take a crack at it right here.

Newspapers are composed of what I see as three major components: local news; national and international news; and op/eds and features (call it "original content"). Lileks regularly makes the case that newspapers should focus on local news, because national & international news is now so widely available and free (TEH INTARWEB and all). The National Post can't exactly do that - but they still have the same problem: who wants to buy a dead tree on the strength of news that is 12 to 36 hours old by the time they see it, and already moved to the archives at Yahoo! News?

That leaves original content as the only way for the Post to make itself valuable to anyone. Unique, intelligent, and/or insightful material that you can only get by buying the Post. Obviously, this creates problems for anyone trying to cut expenditures at the Post, because the sole way to get original content is to pay people to create it, and the more original content you want, the more you have to pay.

This is where I get quite confused: if I'm looking to procure original content for my newspaper, I'm probably going to hire talented freelancers, to whom I don't have to pay health benefits, pension contributions, sick days, etc etc. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll get the services of someone who already has a bit of a following from his website, and from consistent high-quality work in other publications.

And if I'm really lucky, I'll get someone who is regularly original if occasionally esoteric. Andrew Coyne is a top-notch writer and thinker. If I had to name a weakness, it would be that you have a pretty good chance of guessing the topic of his column before you open the paper; three guesses would nail it 95% of the time. This is not a problem with Cosh - you get to learn about the Shriners, Monsanto, and Kennewick Man, among other topics, which might escape your notice altogether if you're reading yet another column about the state of federalism in Canada.

Back to topic - I'm hiring freelancers for my paper, which aims to sit to the right of the Globe and Star. If I'm really REALLY lucky, I'll find someone who can articulate a "right-wing" viewpoint with a socially liberal or laissez-faire bent, and consequently may be able to speak to readers across the political spectrum. [Note to reader: DO NOT neglect to follow the link in this paragraph.]

Whatever. He'll turn up somewhere; as he notes, he's still tabbed for "guest appearances" on the Post's comment page, the frequency of which are anyone's guess. Maybe the Post's market research tells them that original content isn't such a big deal. I noticed on the first Friday that Cosh was gone that they ran Charles Krauthammer. Excellent column, I thought, when I read it in the Washington Post online earlier in the day.

Maybe the Post is in extremely dire financial straits, and made the move hoping no one would notice, even though they believed it to be unwise.

Or, maybe they're just idiots.

1992 World Series MVP

There was a lot of surprises and impressive accomplishments in Major League Baseball this year. Ichiro breaks the hits record, B-Bo breaks the walks, intentional walks, and OBP records (is that all?), and the Atlanta Braves, with mirrors and some magical voodoo salve, confound every last pundit by winning their division for the 14th year in a row by 10 freakin' games.

But the biggest shocker of the season for me was last night, seeing this guy was taking at-bats in the playoffs. He's 41 years old, hasn't been a starter since the Jays discarded him 10 years ago, and in the 5 seasons from 1999-2003 had a total of 33 at-bats.

By the way, the picture of the bobblehead I linked to? Represents 100% of the Aldini bobblehead "collection" of one. If the Twins eliminate the Yankees, I think I'll have to put the picture of mine at the top of this page.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Glad to help!

Paul Wells is doing some "bogus market research". Paul: it's only bogus if you wave the results around like they mean something; otherwise it's just called "soliciting input from your readers". There's a couple of other "web-logs" out there that do the same thing every day, using a cutting-edge technology they refer to as "Comments".

Anyhoo, the 9 questions are at Inkless on the link above. My answers:
  1. Terrible question - that's like asking a 15-year-old boy how often he masturbates. The valuable information you will gain from this question, in conjunction with data from Sitemeter or whatever you use, is that most of your readers are big, big liars. Except me, of course: I visit once, maybe twice a day.
  2. I really don't. I'm a funk man, myself. That said, don't stop. It's important to prove you're not just a politics and news junkie, even to those of us who only read your "web-log" for news and politics.
  3. I've distributed your work numerous times. I usually quote a choice but tiny morsel, then link to your site. Anyone who cares what you have to say must be going to your site; I don't excerpt it in large quantities.
  4. Judge for yourself (i.e. Not Very!).
  5. Probably that you don't take advantage of hyperlinks. It is on TEH INTARWEB after all, but generally I could get just as much out of it if it was faxed to me. It seems like opportunities are being missed.
  6. No. You're a professional journalist, blogging on a site hosted by your magazine. My default attitude about these things is "No I'm not going to pay for something I can get for free, but I don't begrudge the attempt." A "Donate!" button on a Macleans website, though, no. Just, no.
  7. No. I read it in the doctor's office every so often. But regarding this and the previous question - if I want to support the Wells project, I'll buy a Macleans at 7-11. If I do that several times in a row and enjoy it, I'll probably subscribe.
  8. Funny. So funny. When it gets stale, you'll know first, because it won't be as fun.
  9. Haven't seen it. I will say, though, that based on the Sean Penn movies I have seen, I think he peaked with Fast Times. (That's in acting terms - overall, he peaked when he married the Princess Bride).
Hope that helps. Keep up the good work.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

In the Year 2000...

The entire notion of someone meeting their boss after they've started their job is still a little Bizarro to me. Though I'm a mere 31, even when I was in University, TEH INTARWEB was fresh, and the concept of telecommuting was still, well, a concept - not unlike the Segway ("sure, I understand how it works, but is anyone really going to do it?").

Obviously things are different now. I enjoyed this description by The Sports Guy's Intern of meeting his boss for the first time, though he's "known" him for 7+ years:
I made eye contact, started walking away, turned around and made eye contact again, then decided to take a quick lap around the place just to see if I can find a closer match. After a lap around the bar, no luck. Here went nothing:

"Excuse me, is your name Bill?"

"Yeah."

"I work for you."

"HEY! How's it going?"

"Hey, not bad! Sorry about giving you the staredown before!"

"No problem, I just thought you were gay."

So there you go. After seven years, at long last, a first impression.

The Sports Guy. Heh.

CLICK

One of the aspects of electoral politics which is alternately amusing and frustrating is the Do You Want To Agree With People Like This? game, where one side finds an example of a very extreme supporter of their opponent, then tries to portray them as a "typical" supporter.

So, if I were Hugh Hewitt, I would direct you to this post as an example of mushy leftwing logic(ÞPuce). Since I'm myself, I'll just direct you to it to laugh. I couldn't keep a straight face if I tried to characterize this guy as typical of the Left (lousy racist New York Times!):

Kristof proceeds to tell the tale of a Pakistan teenager who was, unfortunately, raped. Well, gangraped. Actually, gangraped as a punishment ordered by her tribal council. For a crime, adultery, which actually her brother committed. Although he actually didn't commit it, Kristof claims.

Anyway, the thing Kristof fails to say is that the same thing probably happens in the Christian world (I'll bet), every day, or at least from time to time. Out in some remote Red-State backwater, where Americans are especially fat, fatuous and inbred, and belong to religious cults that put together councils that sentence little white girls to be gangraped.

So what right does Kristof have to criticize Islam by reporting this supposed rape, which he didn't witness, when he gives Christianity a pass although real rapes, thousands of 'em, happen every day in the Christian world?

Akin to McCarthyism on a global and racist scale. Has Kristof no decency?

Has he no decency?


Bwaaaaahahahahahaha

UPDATE 540PM: Though the express purpose of this post was to point readers to a good laugh, it is not very clear that I acknowledge the Seeing Eye Blog piece is "satire". There is a good explanation for that, and Occam's Razor provides it.

No more gin fizzes for me.

Master Debaters, reviewed

By far the best post-mortem of the U.S. Presidential debate (in the sense of "most interesting to read") comes, unsurprisingly, from Evan Kirchhoff. He thinks Bush won big, provides some excellent food for thought, and has a rather simple explanation for why most of the right-wing bloggers thought it was a push for Bush, at best.

Please read the whole thing. His main point, as I read it, is that the differences between Bush's and Kerry's foreign policy were made clear, and it really doesn't matter how well they were articulated or defended. Perhaps this excerpt demonstrates his thesis best:
More importantly, I imagine that a lot of voters, upon hearing the U.S. accused of wanting nuclear weapons for itself but not for its enemies, will tend to say, Um, yeah. Now what part of that don't you like again, mister I-want-to-be-president?

I have no idea who won, because I'm not intellectually able to get into the head of a typical swing voter, if there is such a thing, which, there isn't. Obviously few pundits are, which is why you can only declare the winner of these things in retrospect.

That said, if Kerry's numbers don't spike, Kirchhoff can pat himself on the back.