A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 December 2008


i can haz olive branch?

From CTV
In her New Year Message, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said recent events -- including the global recession and the political crisis in Ottawa -- highlight the need for Canadians to work together. [ ... ] Jean said the magnitude of the challenges facing Canadians requires "us to invent new ways of living together."
Coming from the woman who helped Stephen Harper avoid having to yield power to a group of parliamentarians who at long last had decided to set aside their differences and work together in an entirely new way, this is funny.

And considering that in allowing Harper to run for the cover of prorogument, the G-G helped him avoid the consequences of his own disgusting failure to work with anyone else at all, it's hilarious.

We're baaaack!

So, Everyone Have a Nice Christmas?
Mme and I managed to scrape up a little Christmas cheer of our own, only slightly dampened by the presence of Raincoaster, who had the decency to remain comatose and out of sight of guests for most of Christmas day (My bad--I replaced the lock on the paint cupboard, but forgot to check state of the hinges). Around five she stumbled from the room we keep her in to demand more drink, which we permitted after she promised to at least eat something other than all the toffee pennies out of the Quality Street.

Mme, who rumour has it had been busy doing something-or-other over a hot stove while I attended to the serious business of funding the annual depradations by making myself the terror of Pokerstars, produced from somewhere a perfectly-prepared holiday bird with trimmings. I'll never understand how it gets that way.

Due to weather (with typical Canadian unpredictability, winter has arrived this year) shutting down local highways we were uncertain of the attendance of the Metro-mother-in-law, and due to its similar effects on airports, we weren't sure Creatrix was going to make it either.

So suddenly we were looking at twelve pounds of dead bird meat for a mere two plus Raincoaster. So Mme, ever the early adopter and brilliant organizationalist, posted to her social network: "Hey? Don't want to cook your own turkey? Come help eat ours! Free doggie bags of all leftovers! Full meals: Meat, veg, dessert*"

*Dessert subject to proof of clean plate.

And our friend Girlie replied. She and her husband brought along their some-single-digit-number-of-years-old girl and ten-day-old baby boy. Unfortunately the oven was still full when they arrived, but as I pointed out they freeze quite nicely, although the girl was getting a little long in the tooth for more than stewing.

So we all had a feed, some decent booze, and a good natter.

A table full of guests and good fellowship. Exactly what I really wanted this Christmas. Hope you got what you wanted too.

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24 December 2008

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All

"So this is Christmas,
and what have you done?"
~John Lennon

And so we come full circle on the seasons.

I was having a truly awful time trying to scrape up one scrap of Christmas spirit and good cheer. Mme is frantic because our home doesn't look like the one in Martha Stewart Living (although she denies it, she and her sister share more, at heart, than she seems to believe). We blew off Christmas cards and letters this year, mostly intentionally, so I feel like $#17 about that. Shopping? Are you kidding? Not only have I been pretty much full time in production for the past month (a musical--minor part with some dialogue), but I have had absolutely no inspiration.

What do I really want to do for Christmas? I want to take every penny I spend on gimcrackery (and Christmas crackery) and stuff it into the poor box, or give it to UNICEF or (to which you should all donate $10 before you sit down to eat your ham, turkey, or roast peasant). I want to scoop out mashed potatoes at a soup kitchen, I want to pass out blankets to the frozen homeless ...

Only I don't, you see. Because if I really wanted to, I'd be doing that.

I want to have a decent party, surrounded by friends and flowing with wine, food, and good cheer. Our Christmas dinner this year consists of five people. Well, four people and Raincoaster anyway. It's the smallest we've had, ever. I want to share the joy and cheer of the season with my peeps.

Only if I did, you'd think I'd have made more effort to get more of them here, wouldn't you?

I've been utterly starved of that magical excitement. Everything seems to have boiled down to more housework, less certainty about my job, and even more money flowing down the invisible money hole at a time when we need every penny we can scrape up.

And yet ... Yet ...

Money? $#17, we're both working, and Mme is making considerably more than I do--we're not hungry, nor hurting. We save small amounts between servicing our debt, which is slightly lower than what I heard was the average for a household containing two married people. Our extended families are generally well and wealthy. And our parents (all three of them) are in good health as yet.

Our own health is, blessedly, good (and if you don't think an atheist can feel blessed then you're misprisioned). Mme just finished the final round of toothwork, completing a job we began four years ago.

Careers? I'm writing for a living--something I couldn't even have imagined four or five years ago. And I'm making just little enough that I feel I can ask for a raise even under current economic conditions. This is Canada: They have to have a reason to fire me or lay me off, and I intend not to give 'em one. Meanwhile, Mme is making enough to keep us afloat did I decide to try underwater basket-weaving as a career. Though honestly, if my workplace let me go, I'd begin by trying my hand at poker.

Most importantly, in spite of the worst storms we've handled, it continues to be me and Mme Metro against the world. We share (sometimes are) each others' greatest burdens, and triumphs. We achieve as a team things we might never have pulled off as individuals.

It is in full knowledge that I tell you, O Avid Fan, and all my friends, that every good thing, every smart decision, and all that is positive and beneficial in my life starts from Mme. And by this and by her above all I am truly blessed.

Last night we had seven guests over. It wasn't, perhaps, everyone's idea of a Christmas party. No mince pies, few carols, and no gift exchange. Instead: a hundred bucks' worth of pizza and a bloodthirsty game of Monopoly (What other kind can there be? It's a very capitalist game). It began to feel a bit like Christmas.

And both Mme and I began to feel fairly Christmassy.

Let me leave you with a snippet of one of my all-time favourite Christmas poems, which was running through my mind as the glooms slowly drifted away:
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled and puzz'd, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
Maybe it's not about who we are, or what we are, so much as what we aspire to. Trite, I know, but I'm starting to get into the seasonal mood, and it's only trite if you're not sincere.

If you prefer a more traditional sentiment, here's one of my favourite monologues on the subject.

The most important words are to be found at 1:02

May you experience the blessings of the season, in whatever form they take for you.

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Peace on Earth, Good Will to All (1)

Except teh gay.

Pope Benedict a day or two ago, in the spirit of the season (which the Catholic church considers its second-most-important, although why the birth of Mithras should rank so highly I know not), made the traditional address to the Curia. In essence he was giving the cardinals their marching orders for the next year.

During this speech, in the spirit of the season, he claimed that:
"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."
Wow--"Hug a tree, hug a human being--Signed His Holiness Himself."
Which is fine. As far as it goes. But unfortunately it goes rather further. Because that noble sentiment was preceeded by this one:
In his address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, he described behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God's work" and said that the Roman Catholic Church had a duty to "protect man from the destruction of himself".
I have long had an issue with the Church's stance on homosexuality. Essentially, it says that since god created gays, and god can do no wrong, being gay is fine. However, in accordance with the dogma laid down by prior Popes whom said dogma, though not history, claims can also do no wrong beacause they're inspired by teh god, actually engaging in "gay acts" (like hugging, kissing, fondling, licking ... you get the idea) is evil and sinful and will surely lead the practicioner to eternal damnation.

That is, it's just fine to actually be as velvet-tuxedo-with-frilly-shirt-wearingly, drippy-jewelery-dazzling, sequined-thongingly queer as you like. But if you actually prove you're gay (which admittedly no-one wearing the wardrobe described above need do) by kissing another man/woman/other, then you're screwed. Or rather, not; If you take my meaning.

The Pope made these statements while wearing a flowing gown with matcing hat and accessories. And, according to gossip, Prada shoes (And we all know who wears Prada).

However, I'm concerned. As we all know, some trees are self-pollinating, which is just a politically correct mealymouthed liberal word for "bisexual". What happens to Catholics who, out of ignorance or sheer misguidedness, happen to hug a bisexual tree? That's engaging in teh gay behaviour. And whether you're straight or gay, engaging in teh gay behaviour gets you sent to teh hell. Clearly this Pope is misleading God's chosen people.

To be safe, we should probably just continue ripping up rainforests. Sure, a couple of non-homosexuality-optional trees might die, but they'll go straight to heaven, so that's okay.

Although I hear hell is better-decorated, and at this time of year that's important.

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22 December 2008

Is There a Secular Equivalent to Poe?

Poe's Law states that without some indication of humourous intent, it is impossible to tell a parody of religious belief from an actual one.

I need a secular equivalent--or just to broaden the definition, to make room for stuff like this year's hot gift for men:
Still can't think what to get him for Christmas? Socks don't seem to cut it any more? Fret no longer because Burger King is here to help.

The mass purveyor of grilled meat is offering, for a limited time, something even better than their usual piles of beef patties. This week, American men were given the chance to smell like their favourite meat snack with the launch of Flame, Burger King's contribution to the perfume market.

The company describes Flame as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat".
That's right: For just $3.99, you too can smell like a plane crash in the Dominican Republic.

I don't honestly believe this is real. But if it is, then look for a rise in trailer park dog attacks in 2009.

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19 December 2008

Deep Throat

Is deep sixed.

Mark Felt, the man who met with Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to tip them off to Richard Nixon's criminal misdeeds, has died.

Felt spent thirty years convinced he had betrayed the FBI. It was his family that eventually convinced him he was a hero.

He was a man who stayed true to the values and principles of his office and his nation, and who questioned for decades whether he'd made the right decision.

He was a hero. And the terrible shame of the Bush years is that we have not yet seen his like again.

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K/S Fiction!

No, no, not what you're thinking at all probably.

K/S is shorthand for my thinking about Prime Minister Harper. It's short for "Kidney Stone." Like a kidney stone, Harper causes a great deal of discomfort, and like a kidney stone there's little one can do except hope he passes quickly and without doing too much damage.

Well? It's a little more polite than my earlier idea: "Prime Minister Clap."

Here's the fiction part. Stephen Harper was firm on the possibility of a Canadian defecit, during the last election. We wouldn't have one. Remember, this election happened just a few short weeks ago.

But the voters of Canada are apparently so cowed, stupid, unenthusiastic, or simply short-of-memory, that he feels he can now come out to say:
"The government of Canada today is not planning a deficit. But if the government of Canada decides . . . that we do have to engage in fiscal stimulus, that government spending is essential not just to shore up economic activity but investment markets, that would be the occasion we would go into what would be called a cyclic or a short-term deficit."
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Nov. 23)
Mealy-mouthed bastard.

This "economist" hasn't got a shred of credibility left on his economics expertise. And since his social-policy stance is in direct contravention of compassion, reality, and common sense, and as his governing style in a minority position is unbelievably autocratic and confrontational, it would be best if we drank a $#17load of cranberry juice and flushed the bugger out as soon as possible.

He's spent our surplus, wasted an opportunity to fine-tune us into a small-defecit economic stimulus package ... and watch--When and if he cuts, d'you think the first thing will be Parliamentary salaries? Oh my achin' back!

Watch carefully as the Harperites cut social programs, privatize health-care functions, and shut down more government services, all the while pretending it's "necessary."

Maybe Harper should have a better nickname than Prime Minister Kidney Stone. He ends conversation, you have to watch what he's trying to slip by you extremely carefully, you know someone's about to get £µ©λed, and the sooner he's out of your system, the better it'll be for you.

Prime minister Roofies, maybe?

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17 December 2008

Our Prime Minister, The Windsock of Canadian Politics

Stephen Harper: Steadfast, consistent, forthright ...

Those are the words I'd like you to look up in the dictionary, sir.

From the Globe and Mail:
The PM's evolving views

Oct. 7: "I think there are probably some great buying opportunities emerging in the stock market as a consequence of all this panic."

Asked whether he would unequivocally rule out a deficit under his government: "Yes. ... Yesterday I think I was asked one question about whether we would run a deficit and I said, 'No.' That's my answer."

Oct. 11: "The fact of the matter is independent analysts, including the International Monetary Fund, say that Canada is not going to go into recession with the current world environment and its current set of domestic policies. We're the one country that's going to continue to show some growth."

Nov. 23: "The most recent private-sector forecasts suggest the strong possibility of a technical recession the end of this year, the beginning of next.

"I am surprised at this. I am also further surprised, more importantly, by deflationary pressure that we're seeing around the world. This is a worrying development, one of the reasons why it may well be necessary to take unprecedented fiscal stimulus."

Dec. 15: "The truth is, I've never seen such uncertainty in terms of looking forward to the future. .... I'm very worried about the Canadian economy."

Asked whether the situation could turn out to be a depression: "It could be, but I think we've learned enough about depression; we've learned enough from the 1930s to avoid some of the mistakes that caused a recession in 1929 to become a depression in the 1930s."

"Those are my principles, sir. And if you don't like them, I have others."
~Groucho Marx

Just in case a Tory supporter has made it this far without having his or her head tear itself in twain trying to reconcile the PM's messages, or is still clinging to the idea that Dear Leader is capable of talking from just the one side of his mouth:

You know, the Liberal party certainly has lied to Canadians during its years in power. But at least with them it was an abberation, something they were embarassed to be caught out at.

With the Harper Conservatives it's nothing more or less than policy.

Bring on the next election. Unles Stephen Harper steps down and provides us with an actual leader. If he really wants to do Canada a favour, I'd suggest he appoint Stockwell Day as his replacement.


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15 December 2008

Filling-In Damp, Furry Beaver, Showing Tail!

Beaver with something stuffed up its ... Well it sure doesn't have any sleeves, now, does it?

Parliament's locked while El Presidente and Hero of the Glorious Revolution Steve figures out how to re-announce all the programs he's previously announced in order to make them look like a "stimulus package."

Mme and I are trying to prepare for a Yuletide flux of festive relations. And "flux" is quite the good word, as the tide: a) Will likely make us both feel quite ill b) Is likely to go straight through us leaving a nasty mess, and c) Includes Raincoaster, so will likely create an awful smell.

(Did you know Raincoaster never reads nor comments on Blogger blogs, by the way?)

So entertain yourself with this beaver. Image and accompanying text heartlessly stolen from Fuck You, Penguin, a site to which I was erringly steered by Mme Metro.

I can tell you have some kind of grand scheme up your sleeve, Beaver, or your would if you were wearing a shirt (if you put on a goddamn shirt, I'm going to fucking go apeshit on you). I haven't figured out what it is you're planning yet, but beavers don't just go around tapping their fingers together like an evil genius for no reason. Look, I know you are jealous that we make way better dams than you guys, but that's no reason to plot for our complete and total annihilation. I'm not quite sure yet how to react, but I've got my eye on you, Beaver...

Also, your tail is showing.

For some excellent relief from rampaging internet cuteness, and to make damn sure the spirit of the season comes primarily from a bottle, visit Fuck You, Penguin.

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12 December 2008

Extra, Extra! Read All About It: Robot Gorilla Head Stolen!

It is a wonderful world, is it not, where a bored gentleman, taking a mental break from work, might enter the terms "robot gorilla" into Google News and get a result?

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11 December 2008

The Liberals Play a Good Game

The Liberals have, in the past, stooped pretty low in their quest for power. One need only look at the situation two weeks ago, when the leader who was no longer fit for the job according to the party knives was mooted as a possible Prime Minister.

But in the realm of self-serving hypocrisy they're outshone--or maybe the proper word is "outdarkened"--by the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Conservatives and their Supreme Leader, Mr. Harper, to whom the title "The Right Honourable" should no longer be applied.

For example, let's consider Mr. Harper and his passion for "democratic" acts. Well, actually, as you might imagine with an evangelical power-freak with a hard-on for getting his own way, it's really more about democratic-sounding words.

The Words (1):
Stephen Harper, supreme dictator of Canada earlier this week:
The Liberal party's appointment of Michael Ignatieff is undemocratic for not polling party membership.

The Acts (1)
So allowing members to freely express their opinions is a good idea, right Mr. Harper?

So why have you muzzled

The Words (2)
Stephen Harper, minority PM: The coalition, representing 62% of Canadian voters, is undemocratic for trying to take the reins of government.

The Acts (2)
To answer the which, Mr. Harper democratically shut down all debate in Parliament by simply asking the Governor-General, representative of a (democratically-inclined, but still ...) monarch, to do so.

The Words (3)
Stephen Harper, pre-first-minority: If the Canadian Senate is not reformed into an elected chamber, then it must be abolished.

Harper promptly, and undemocratically appointed two people to the Senate upon first acquiring power. One was from Quebec, and the appointment was made so that Harper could put a Quebecker into cabinet without having to try and find one among his own MPs who'd actually been elected--because he hadn't any.

And finally:

Stephen Harper announced this week that he would be appointing 18 senators.

Eighteen. Hell, only Brian Mulroney has ever appointed more, to the best of my knowledge.
Mulroney was a money-grubbing, power-hungry crook. He was eventually caught accepting $300,000-plus in a brown paper envelope in return for certain favours to companies with whom his government contracted.

With what vessel is it possible to measure Harper's unmitigated gall?

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While I was Out of Town #12

So the Liberal party has adopted Michael Ignatieff as its leader.

This happened because Bob Rae, for the good of the party (or possibly seeing the prospect of becoming leader as being akin to fighting for the Captain's hat on the Titannic) threw himself under the bus leaving Ignatieff unchallenged and sparing the party the agony of deciding whose votes to count (since they couldn't hold a caucus in time).

This instantly made Bob Rae the most grownup Liberal leadership candidate, and strongly suggests that he should have been awarded the post.

Me, I feel that (expression stolen from [goes and checks] ... Pearce Richards' comment at thae link) "being offered a choice of Rae or Ignatieff is like being offered a choice of being kicked in the right or left testicle. Both, however, are preferable to having one's nuts cut off by Harper."

Ignatieff comes with a boatload of baggage. He supported the Iraq war, has publicly defended torture, and spent most of his professional life in the US. Oh, and when the coalition began to coalesce, Ignatieff sent word through messengers saying, in essence, "I'm not with stupid."

Which essentially means, as far as I can tell, that the Liberals have found the Stephen Harper lite they seem to have been looking for.

I guess the party feels it may have to rush rightward, though I have no idea why. Most Canadians clearly feel that the Conservatives don't have any good ideas. This could possibly just send the Liberals off the ice for their earned season in the penalty box.

The party is already centrist--even right-leaning--as they come just as it stands, and I don't want my choices to be simply "Neo-conservative" (Conservative Party), "Socialist" (New Democratic Party and no, that's not a swear word--purely descriptive and no bad thing necessarily), "Conservative" (Liberal party), and "Green to Exclusion".


I wonder if the Bloc Quebecois will put up a candidate in my riding?

However, I seem to be in a slight minority. Polls tend to support Harper through this latest crisis. At which I can only conclude that my fellow citizens a) aren't paying attention, b) don't understand their own political and social system, or c) actually support neo-conservatism.

I'm betting on b) with a side of a). Although there is an increasing "I'm-alright-Jackism" that lends itself to neo-con talking points. But really I think the problem is the poll questions. I feel Canadians would support anyone who had a plan for the economy right now. And Harper doesn't--but the coalition lost its economic focus in those heady days when it seemed like they just might manage to wrest the wheel from Harpers clammy hands.

Ignatieff has scored half a point in my estimation, by saying he'd "talk to Harper". I mean, I still think the smartest thing Harper can do would be invite the Liberals into a power-sharing government (And I'm certain that it'd work every bit as well as it's worked for Mugabe, for the same reasons). Since I think the actual "conversation" will consist of Harper telling Ignatieff what to do (I mean, why would anyone think he's learned a lesson now?) I'm still betting on an election in early 2009.

But there are two other disturbing possibilities:
1) The two men may find a great deal in common: Harper also supports both the Iraq war and torture, for example.

In that event, cover your sex organs, because the country's about to get raped like a 14-year-old girl in a Mormon compound. Ignatieff will posture in opposition, Harper will continue to govern as though he had the support of the nation, and when the wreckage comes to rest Ignatieff will wind up Prime Minister of the remains of the country, which will by then look like a smaller, meaner, probably broke-er, US.

2) Harper manages a sufficiently conciliatory tone (I know, I know, but maybe his handlers could fit him with one of those attack dog shock training collars, and dental work might enable him to smile without bits of baby falling from between his teeth), and persuade Iggy that a new era of prosperity and co-operation awaits two men of the world who understand each other.

In which case Iggy will almost certainly go down as the Chamberlin of Canada, yielding important ground to an ideologue whose viewpoint precludes one's very existence.

In any case, I still want my Oppostion parties to oppose.

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08 December 2008

Avid Fans: Hey--We Thought You Weren't Posting!

And we thought you were going to fix the sidebar, and add some links, and get the plumbing fixed, and make the trains run on time ...

To which I can only say: Well I'm adopting Harper-style blogging. This isn't a post--it's an entry, see? Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.

Gosh, I'm not bad at this. I could become leader of the Tories in a heartbeat, if I didn't feel I'd prefer catching a chronic social disease.

So with that settled, let me introduce you to this morning's coffee-all-over-my-keyboard moment, courstesy of Rick Mercer and the Globe and Mail:
Not long after Stephen Harper took office as Canada's 22nd prime minister, a polar bear was born at the Berlin Zoo. Known as Knut, the cub was summarily rejected by his mother and so was nursed by human beings. Now, two years later, animal psychologists admit that he has become so addicted to human laughter and applause that, the instant those things disappear, he becomes desolate and cries for attention. This has led to irrational behaviour never before seen in a polar bear. Experts fear that, without constant applause, Knut could lose the will to live.

Enter Stephen Harper.
Go read this. Harper's psychology laid "bear".

If Rick Mercer runs for Parliament, I will move to his district in order to vote for him.

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06 December 2008

Still Not Posting, Round 2

See how well this works? I can quit anytime I want!

This is just way too good not to steal from Orac--Whose name sounds like a very nasty drink in some space epic.

For years one great ideological divide has split SF fans. "Who'd win in a fight, The Empire or the Federation?"

Now we know.

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05 December 2008

In Which my Resolution Not to Post Lasts as Long as Stephen Harper's Conciliatory Tone

Stolen from Mighty God-King of All Blogs

A little humour from a teh-stupid situation.

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Okay, So What Now? #54

Sometimes you gotta suck back and reload.

Perhaps Governor-General Jean's accession to Harper is an opportunity for all parties to have a time-out.

Unfortunately I don't believe Harper will learn the lesson here. I believe he sees this as a win, even though the country loses greatly.

Mr Harper tried to get through an economic crisis sure to cost jobs by doing nothing at all, followed by a ruthless attempt to neuter the opposition parties in Parliament.

When they stood up to him, he first demonized them, using the code-loaded words "socialists" (defined as anyone left of Rupert Murdoch) and "separatists" (an accurate description of Bloc members). Though it was noticed that he used, in French, the word "severeigntiste (English: sovereigntist) for the Bloc.

Having failed to defang the grand coalition, he has run and hidden. Presumably plotting how to demonize and demoralize further, and we're drifting rudderless into what Mr. Harper lately called the worst economic crisis in seventy years.

Worse, Mr. Harper ignited the Canadian unity debate. Quebecers are furious at the broad smears against themselves and their (poorly, I feel) chosen representatives. Albertans are fulminating about the Bloc gaining influence in a government coalition that might oust their golden boy in the new year and claiming that "The West" (which doesn't seem to include BC) is being somehow marginalized--a ridiculous sentiment.

But in short, Canadians have been poorly served by Mr. Harper's hubris and lust for power at any price. The coalition was taking desperate measures, surely for their own gain, but also in support of Canada's democracy.

There are a couple of things we need to do in this country. First, encourage the parties to keep meeting--even the Conservatives should be included. This country will still need governing in six weeks, so if some compromise could be worked out, that'd be good.

Second: I feel that Stephane Dion and Stephen Harper should resign from the leadership of their parties forthwith. Harper no longer brings anything to the table but a track record of poison pills and astoundingly small-minded meaness, and Dion, though he had better ideas, was incapable of inspiring the voters to back him up. Gilles Duceppe and Jack Laytons' departures would be nice too, but are too much to hope for and not neccesary.

They've got six weeks to find interim leadership. Surely there's someone better out there?

Meantime, I'm still on the side of the coalition, and I hope the Conservatives lose the next confidence vote. But I'd feel a lot better if they saw the error of their ways and replaced Mr. Harper.

Speaking of sucking back and reloading: For a while I've felt this blog needed a bit of maintenance. But I hardly have time these days. So I'm going to work on that over the next few days. Of course we know how successful I am at that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, I declare the comment thread open for any discussion anyone might feel like raising about the current political crisis, or anything at all.

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04 December 2008

Sick. Just Bloody Sick.

I happen to be a monarchist. And as such, I like having the office of the Governor-General. It is in fact necessary for proper separation of powers under our form of government.

So I am at a loss to explain Ms. Jean's accession to Harper's stiff-arming the country into January before he acts on anything at all.

Harper has no mandate to govern, much less in the confrontational style he's been doing. He invited a vote of confidence and lost, and he damn well knows it.

The circumstances are dire, willing leaders are at hand, and yet the Governor general chose to help the PM circumvent Parliamentary procedure?

I'm fairly sure the GG's mandate must have something in it about acting for the good of the nation, no?

Read more here, if you can stand to. Link stolen from the Canadian Cynic, whose sentiment disagrees with mine only in the strength of expression.

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Metro of Future Passing

This is a post I wrote about on November 18th, before Stephen Harper's hubris left Canada facing, without leadership, a financial crisis, a parliamentary crisis, and possibly a national unity crisis simultaneously. I spiked it, because I thought the Conservatives might not be dumb enough to start a scrap of this magnitude with the opposition parties. More fool me.

Please bear in mind that it's a rough copy, and a little stronger than the general tone I prefer to try (and often fail) to maintain.

Bipartisanship Blows Dead Bears

In the US today, the Democratic Party senators who control the place are giving a reward to Joe Lieberman. A man who deserves, even more than Ralph Nader, Hunter Thompson's epithet: "A worthless Judas goat with no moral compass.

Why? It's in the spirit of working together and bipartisanship.

Let's recall that the Democratic-controlled organs of the US state took impeachment off the table--Having fought Bush by ... well, actually having rolled over and enabled Bush for six years, they got power to impeach him, and they threw it away and instead spent the next two years appeasing.

Now, having won an overwhelming victory, having heard the voice of the people crying "SIC 'EM", they've decided to lie down and nap on the porch.

This should be "sweeping clean with a new broom" time. Karl Rove should be booking a flight to somehwere without an extradition treaty. Dick Cheney should be entering the Witness Protection Program, and that lousy traitor Scooter Libby should be stuffing cartons of smokes up his collective to use as trade goods in prison.

But noooooo. It's "bipartisanship" time. That's right, the same "bipartisanship" that allowed Bush to run roughshod over the Constitution without so much as a murmur.

The only consolation is that the Republicans would have been worse, far worse.

But that's not an excuse.

I'd be so mad I could puke, if I wasn't even madder at the $#17heads we failed to return to power in Ottawa (for some unaccountable reason).

Headlines in the national press today:
"Parliament Opens With Conciliatory Tone"
"Layton Seeks Peace in Parliament"
"Share the House, Spare the Voter"
"Making Parliament Work, This Time"
"Tough Times Require More Civil Discussion"

Um ... What to say here except:

"FOR &^%$'s SAKES NO!"

Last minority parliament, just a few weeks ago, our Prime Minister displayed precisely the Conservative view of bipartisanship: "You scratch my back. What? What are you looking at me like that for? Hey--you better cut that out--the voters don't want another election, y'know! Okay--you asked for it ..."

I don't care if I go to the polls three times between now and Christmas, I want my Loyal Opposition to loyally bloody well OPPOSE.

Co-operation is fine when you get the right things out of it. The economic "stimulus package" (they'll call it that to avoid the term "corporate bailout") will be an okay thing, probably*.

But last time the Tories beat the Liberals bloody with "bipartisanship".

They screwed over anyone who wants to immigrate to Canada for starters, in a disgraceful move worthy of the Head tax supporters from whom the modern Conservative Party is descended. They created terror laws that were unnecessary. And only vocal public protest kept them from screwing us over with a US-style Digital Copyright Act.

The "Opposition" either ran away (abstained) or voted with the Conservatives. The Bloc Quebecois naturally voted with anyone who'd give the nod to the silly notion that Quebec is some sort of separate country--which Harper passionately did. Oh--and of course they enjoyed voting against immigration ('cause they're suspicious of people who speak weird foreign languages, eh?).

The NDP voted like a barnyard full of wet hens, with much the same significance.

If we want co-operation in Parliament, it's useless to look for it from the Conservatives. Harper missed the episode of Sesame Street where co-operation was discussed.

Co-operation must come from the opposition parties. Probably from the Liberals and NDP working together to thwart the Conservatives and render the Bloc irrelevant. Unfortunately, the two of 'em together don't have the votes. But imagine if they got a few Bloc moderates onside (or Conservative moderates--but lately that term's an oxymoron).

Bipartisanship is fine, as long as both parties get something they want, US Conservatives and their Canadian allies have amply demonstrated over the past few years that they're incapable of it.

So let's have more acrimony and bickering. Until both parties either get what they want, or pitch us into another election.

I'd be okay with that.

*From the hindsight is 20/20 department: The budget the Conservatives brought down didn't mention stimulus, and included no measures for it.

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03 December 2008

Prop 8--The Musical!

Stolen without mercy from Pharyngula.

John C. Reilly's appearance alongside Margaret Cho was enough to convince me this had to be Metroblogged. But my life seems to contain ridiculous amounts of Neil Patrick Harris lately. A houseguest introduced me to Joss Whedon's (director of "Buffy","Angel", "Firefly") writer's strike production: Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Oh, and watch for His appearance. You'll know who "He" is when you see Him.

It's Proposition 8--The Musical!

It's sometimes said that Heaven has all the best choreographers (who else would know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?), but the Devil has all the best tunes.

Humans: Part angel, part devil. Sometimes both in glorious, schlocky harmony.

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02 December 2008

Interesting Times to be Canadian

Canadian politics has a reputation for being boring. Especially with the Whamma-Bamma-Obama election taking place just south of us. But not any more!

For my non-Canuckistani Avid Fans (what are there, two of you?) let me explain:

Canada had an election about six weeks ago.

In violation of a law he inflicted on us at the start of his first minority government, promising fixed election dates, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled the trigger and precipitated us into our third election in four years. At a cost of roughly 300 million dollars.

The outcome pleased nobody
--the Conservative party retained a minority, the Liberals lost seats, the NDP gained a bit, and the Bloc Quebecois stayed at much the same level of support it's had since 1988 or so.

As the financial crunch deepened, Harper, facing accusations of not doing anything to blunt its impact, decided to slash ... democracy.

Briefly, Canada pays $1.95 per vote to its federal political parties. This was introduced in order to better regulate donations and donation limits. The Conservative party has a great deal of private money backing it up, as you might expect of a party clinging to the "don't-tax-corporations-or-the rich," economic policies of Reagan and Bush.

So in nothing less than a naked power grab, calculated to gut the opposition's finances, Harper decided that the way to save money in Ottawa was cut that $1.95 per vote--which would have saved about $30 million. A drop in the ocean, truly, when the auto sector is begging for billions.

Harper's supposed to be an economist. Supposed to be. Yet he introduced no stimulus measures, against the advice of any number of economists,and announced that, in utter contradiction of his own campaign promises, we might be facing a federal deficit (following his government's waste of the rainy-day surplus that successive Liberal governments had built for precisely such a contingency).

{Actually, the budget was predicted to remain balanced--based on assumptions that amounted to a Canadian astronaut discovering rubies on the moon.}

And when Harper gored the Opposition's ox he did Canada a favour. Because he woke them up.

The Liberals would have been floundering about looking for a leader for the next eighteen months or so, allowing Harper to possibly find another few folks to give him the mandate he's been claiming he got last time around.

The NDP and the Bloc would happily have continued voting with or against the government, as served their interests. But when the money gets yanked out of their hands, politicans get testy:

The Liberals, NDP, and Bloc have apparently worked out a coalition power-sharing agreement. Which could mean Harper will soon be off to his retirement ranch, presumably overlooking the oil sands his power was based on.

In response, Harper and his supporters have claimed:

1) It's some sort of dirty politics, possibly illegal.

Which fails to explain why Harper tried to do it in 2004.

And as for dirty politics--try taping an opposition conference call. Did someone say "illegal", Mr. Nixon ... I mean Harper?

Of course, Harper believes it's illegal only when it's his conversation being taped.

(Side note: it's long been suspected that the last election was held to forestall the parliamentary investigations into Harper's bribe to dying MP Chuck Cadman, as well as into the Conservative Party's "in-and-out" financial chicanery.)

2) It's "undemocratic".
Harper may believe this to be true--after all, he continually confuses his minority with a mandate.

But let's just check the numbers: 5.5 million voters went for the Conservatives. 8.5 chose one of the opposition parties.

So a coalition clearly represents more voters than the current government.

3) It's a "back-room deal" done without an election to really affirm the will of the people.

See my argument above. But also see Harper's communication policy--"What I say goes." Harper, historically, does more governing in the back room, out of sight of the Canadian populace, than any previous PM. He's muzzled press and his own ministers both--Partly to stop them saying things that might reveal the Conservative Party for the far-right party it actually is rather than the "centrist" organ it's portrayed as by Harper's flacks. Is it any wonder that every paper save the National Post is giving in to the Schadenfreude, just a little?

But even the Post has hard words for Steven Harper! That's gotta hurt.

As to the "will of the people,"--Harper has never had more than 38% of the population behind him. And with that kind of support the Liberals traditionally would have had a majority (as he's fond of pointing out).

4) It's "unprecedented" and that the correct thing would be for the opposition parties to trigger another election no-one wants, instead.

Because, well, Harper would never do anything like, say, get together with allies and make peace for the political good of the nation.

But in fact, there's been one more situation like this--although that coalition was formed to keep government viable, rather than topple it, so that this really is unprecedented in modern memory.

Put me down as inspired. That three squabbling parties with so little in common might just snatch the pie from Harper's mouth is a beautiful thing.

In every "Lassie" episode there was the moment known as the "Y'see Timmy ..." in which the Lesson of the Day was delivered.

Y'see Stevie, some people can get together, like. They put aside their differences and do soemthing that could benefit them all. It's called compromise."

Now don't get me wrong--Having the Bloc Quebecois, a party dedicated to smashing Canada into three parts, in government makes me a little nervous. And I've never been wild about the NDP's economic policies.

But the Bloc is going to have to tread a very tight line alongside the federalist parties. And the NDP may possibly realize how disastrous some of those ideas are (not that they'd necessarily make things worse than Harper's would).

But Harper was wrong for the country, and for this time. The US just dumped his nearest ideological analogue, and had he not set up such an efficient smear machine and been facing an uninspiring opponent in Stephane Dion, Harper'd have been in his rocking chair already.

In response, Harper has given his MPs and supporters the go-ahead to use "any means necessary" to staunch the blood. But he's already lost a lot of support for his astounding hubris. Even his own party thinks he's nuts. If he manages to survive, he may look pretty good. But if the Conservatives lose government, I think we may soon see a leadership contest.

If Harper wanted me to actually admire his cojones, instead of regarding him as the bully he's always been, he'd step forward, apologize publicly to the nation for his confrontational, divisive, positively Cheneyesque governing style and offer the Liberals a power-sharing arrangement.

But that would require compromise. Something Steve Harper has never been able to manage.

There may be terrible things awaiting us under the coming Bloc Canada, or whatever we decide to call it. But it might just be fantastic.

In honour of which, here's the loverly Diana Krall, Canadienne extraordinaire--who sneers just like Mme Metro.

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01 December 2008

I Just 'ad a Mind-Bogglin' Fought

Whilst researching ways to sneak a pill into a cat (Mme Metro has another of those convenient trips to the Big Smoke this week), I spotted several online discussion boards with titles like "Administering a Pill to a Cat, Orally or Anally."

I thought about that second option. I mean, cats like nothing so much as to stand on one's chest and present their hindquarters to the person attempting to read the book they're standing on. It would surely be the work of a moment to surprise the hell out of him.

But I'm kind of attached to my blood--I prefer to keep it inside.

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In Which I Attempt to Start a Meme

Two things:

First, my boss' assistant left a candy "24-Days-to-Christmas" calendar on my desk today--and in fact every desk in the company. She left six in our department, which tell you how well anyone around here knows the Writing Dept, as we have only five employees. Not that I'm complaining. Free chocolate and sex should probably not be questioned ... especially if they are on offer simultaneously which was, alas, not the case here (my boss goes for slim blondes--all four of the assistants I've known him to have had--about one per year--have fit that physical profile to a ludicrous degree).

Oddly, I'm not very comfortable with "24-Days-to-Christmas" calendars. As a Catholic boy, I observed Advent in the slipshod fashion adopted by Catholic boys worldwide--I generally swore off sweets or something (for some reason "homework" was never on the list of options) for four weeks. Or for at least as long as I remembered.

But these calendars seem to take what is a meaningful tradition for a subset of humanity, and outright appropriate it for strictly commercial purposes. I have similar, though not-so-strong feelings about Christmas itself. I guess they're less strong because Christmas itself was essentially expropriated for Christian purposes.

Still--free choccies.

Secondly. I have, along with most of you, noticed that the word verification tool now occasionally throws up meaningful words or syllables, along with the nonsense stuff.

People now post the WV word, on occasions when it fits the topic at hand. For example, one one thread I got the word "buggy" when commenting on either a computer problem or an automotive issue.

So here's the idea: Rather than post when the word makes sense, take the word you're given and offer a definition for it. Best offer wins the coveted Metro No-Prize.

I'll start with this, from a reply I posted to another blog:

(adj) Of an expression used by someone else on a comment thread: To sum up masterfully in a single sentence the point you laboured half-an-hour and used three hundred words to make.

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