Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The Scene: A cosy warm sitting room. All the lights are off in the room and a fire is roaring in the big stone fire place. An old man wrapped in a shawl sits in a rocking chair while a young man sits at his feet. Outside the snow is blowing hard around the window.
Young Man - "Grandad, tell me more about this "company morale" thing you talk so fondly about.
Grandad - "Well, back in my day, when employees did a good job the managers of that same company used to walk around and actually praise them for doing a good job!"
YM - "Wow! These days you're just expected to do more work."
G - "Well, back in my day, a company would be so happy for the hard work you do for them every year that they'd actually share some of the profits from that year!"
YM - "Wow! These days they just tell you to be happy you get a pay-cheque!"
G - "Well, back in my day they'd throw a big Christmas party for all the staff and their spouses as a thank you."
YM - "Wow! These day's they just let you go home early on Christmas Eve if it doesn't interfere with productivity."
G - "Well, back in my day people wanted to show up for work and do the best job they could do because they knew the company appreciated it."
YM - "Wow! Now people show up for work in the morning dreading what the day will bring and how many problems they can fit on their shoulders before they have a complete and total mental breakdown!"
G - "Wow! Shitty being you!"
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I commute. Every weekday. 180kms a day to and from work. I am one of many that do this. The city I live in is a bedroom community for a much larger city to the south east. There is a major highway that connects the two cities and many, many, MANY people use that highway. The province I live in is renowned the world over (probably not but don't interrupt) for getting much snow during our winter months. It has been this way for eons.
"Between the months of October and April there will be much snow falling like leaves upon the unsuspecting citizenry below" - God, quite some time ago.
So why is it such a shock for most of the vehicular lemmings that there was snow on the ground this morning? And what is in the water supply that makes long-term memory such a rare commodity?
"You know, I have a vague recollection of some moist, wet white substance lying on the ground at some point about 12 months ago. I also recall that driving became less safe as a result." - An Idiot, this morning.
On a good day, in the middle of, lets say, July, my drive into work takes about 50 minutes +/- 5 minutes. Today it was 2-1/2 hours because there were far too much 1) morons 2) pin-heads 3) moronic pin-heads driving their vehicles into ditchs because the moronic pin-head in front of them suddenly jammed the brakes on to avoid the moronic pin-head steering their vehicle into the bumper of the moronic pin-head talking on the cell phone to their aunt in Florida about the mysterious moist, wet white substance that wasn't on the road yesterday and is making the drive less safe.
Time to get my rotary-wing license and fly above them.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Since I can't seem to find the time or brainpower to maintain this thing on my own, I've invited my politically conservative brother and my politically inert friend to become members. Well, it was more like I mutinied Kev by lifting his comments from my music blog. It was a little out of place there, but perfect for the 'Obstacle.
I wonder if ol' Big K still feels this way now that the Canadian general election is set for January 23rd. Hey, I think it's a great time of year for an election -- what the hell else have you got to do in Canada in the middle of January? Other than the obvious...
1. Stick tongue on frozen metal flagpole; marvel at your own stupidity.
2. Go carp about the government with your single buddies at Tim Horton's. No married guy is allowed to do this. Or wants to.
3. Go tobogganing and rupture your spleen.
4. Drink copious quantities of beer until you pass out. Marvel at your own stupidity.
5. Watch the Leafs lose another crucial game, then go home to their wives, children and Scrooge McDuck-sized money bins to cry themselves to sleep, using $100's as tissue paper.
As you can see, there are limited options in this country in the dead of winter.
Here's K's post from October:
So parliament has resumed, and Stephen Harper, AKA the devil, has gone to bat for all you sorry Canadians who think he's some redneck Albertan with a hidden agenda. Well, that's what uncle Paul and the Libranos wish for you to believe.
Satan, also known as Stephen Harper to most, has requested that the government actually give Canadians some relief at the gas pumps. He asked when this government is going to end its "100 days of inaction" and actually cut fuel taxes.
As if. . . .
Both the PM and Ralph 'Acceptable Beer' (Goodale) have both predictably pooh-poohed the idea. Goodale said that since "complexities and volatility were at play," any tax break would become invisible, by which he meant taxation issues are better left to the "natural governing party", the Liberals, the approved experts in spending other people's money.
The Liberals. You keep voting them back in because Stephen Harper or Mike Harris or Brian Mulroney are incarnations of the devil. You listen so closely to the liberal media who tell you this, and refuse to think for yourselves. At least, that's the way I see us here in Canada.
It's my belief that even if there are some problems with the Conservatives, the Liberals need to spend some time in the political wilderness to get their act back together. Justin Trudeau said this back in June. They need to be given the boot from parliament rather than have us put them back in AGAIN. Don't even go elsewhere ; the socialists and the far left are a much worse choice than heading over to the right ever so slightly.
Back to the point I was trying to make : Would someone please tell me why Stephen Harper has such a bad reputation with Canadians? Everything I have heard him say makes sense to me, and should make sense to almost every Canadian. Anyone who thinks we cannot afford a tax cut in this country would be well advised to track down the size of the federal surpluses in each of the past ten consecutive years. Funding the military adequately does not necessarily line up with George Bush's neocon aggression seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. But as soon as Stevie H. says he'd spend a few bucks on our dilapidated military, he's automatically in bed with George Bush.
End political rant.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Excuse: I've been somewhat busy pretending to be a entrepreneur, but that's another story. My wife is also 15 weeks pregnant with our first child, if that's of any help... ;)
What's new & notable? I've let everyone under the sun know about a new (to me) comic strip called Medium Large, available here: http://www.drinkatwork.com/mediumlarge.html
It's a current affairs / pop-culture take on the world, and I like it... a lot. In fact, I laughed out loud several times while perusing the archive... It's not too abrasive, but very sarcastic in a subtle way, and that makes for good art in my book.
Francesco Marciluiano, if you're out there, thanks for the inspiration to restart a "graphic novel" my brother and I did in the 80's, based very loosely on people we knew at the lake our cottage was on, and our own family.
If Kev gets to see this, maybe I'll have to actually sit down and start drawring (sp.) again. I'm the world's worst (or is it best?) procrastinator.
To the left is the proposed first frame of the revamped story, which revolves around shenanigans in the outboard motor industry; specifically a very highly fictionalized take on the Kiekhaefer family which started Mercury Marine many years ago. Mix heavily with composites of people we knew or were related to and you have the essence of it. It's absolutely ridiculous, and from what I recall, very funny. It worked well, 'cause we did a few panels each, then handed it off to the other. No getting bored or losing focus.
I hope I have more to talk about next time.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Ever hear the term "these are the good old days?" It's not just a bad Carly Simon lyric. To kids in their teens, it's absolutely true. I particularly look back in wistful fondness to the mid-1980's as the "best time of my life". Mainly because life then entailed absolutely no reponsibilities other than waking up, (and occasionally going to school) so that I could borrow my dad's car, stay out doing various stupid things until 3 am, then sneak back into the house through my bedroom window. I believe I did, at least in my own mind, rock and roll most of the nite, and party every other day.
It's not unique to me, though; every generation since James Dean cracked up his Porsche (and himself) feels the same way. But I do believe us Gen X & Yers may be the last to make that claim. We humans are on the downside of the bell curve of our time on this planet. Read this excerpt from Maclean's magazine and see if you agree:
Increasingly, young women are treating themselves and each other like pieces of meat. Why?
She and her friends talk about it constantly. How to go out and have a great time. How to make their way through a sexual landscape that somehow has upped the ante in racy behaviour. The challenge, says Shauna (not her real name), a 20-year-old third-year psychology major at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., is how not to feel like a misfit just because she thinks that the sexual titillation factor has gone too far. "One thing I have noticed more and more," she says of the student scene, "is that girls spend as much time, if not more, dancing provocatively with each other as they do with men. Many girls have made out with each other in front of a group of boys, or for their benefit after having been dared, or even without provocation. I was recently at a bar with a group of friends from high school," she continues, "and a group of girls came wearing short skirts and low-cut tops -- they had each written words on their breasts or upper thighs and were willingly showing this to the guys when asked. The club scene where this behaviour often happens is one that I avoid most often, and look for other ways to have fun -- and I am in a minority in that respect."
So what's the majority up to? New York journalist and author Ariel Levy thinks she has the answer in her compelling new book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. And that answer isn't pretty. Witty and provocative, painfully funny and just plain painful to read as it documents the rise of trashy, raunchy, really really bad female behaviour, Levy's newly published book may well provide the next "aha!" moment in how North American women see themselves. At the very least, it will make you wonder how, in the past decade, the culture has become infused with what Levy describes as porn or red-light aesthetics and values, which used to be confined to the tawdry outer limits of girlie mags, adult films and strip clubs but have now become part of everyday life. She's not the only one to perceive the intersection of porn and ordinary life. In Pornified, another newly released book, American Pamela Paul declares "pornography has not only gone mainstream -- it's barely edgy."
Levy, at 30, is no prude (after all, she admits she got a Brazilian bikini wax at least once in her 20s, hoping to capitalize on her "feminine wiles"). Nor is she a hardline ideologue of any persuasion with an agenda to shut down sexual expression. "I'm for more sexual liberation, not less," she told Maclean's in an interview, "and I don't think the answer is more chastity. I'm not here to outlaw pornography or impose a minimum-fabric requirement for high school girls." When she started work on Female Chauvinist Pigs, which grew out of an article Levy wrote for online Slate magazine, she intended to dispassionately document the new raunch phenomenon. "But as I got deeper into it," she says, "I began to think, 'This is ridiculous.' So I had to weigh in." What she concluded is that "raunchiness and liberation are not synonymous."
Merely an excerpt, and cold chills are running across my arms - I've been thinking this way for at least a decade, and now there's a chronicle of this stupefying phenomenon that started sometime around when wearing baseball caps backwards became "cool". I shudder to think where we'll be as a society when my unborn child is approaching his or her teen years. I'm no prude either, as anyone who knows me will attest, but where in the hell is personal pride these days? Probably engaging in a mock menage-a-trois with decency and common sense.
Of course I'm going to come across as an old fart for even entertaining the idea that life was better and simpler 20 years ago, but guess what -- it was.
It's official: I am old.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
That's right - I've decided to become a corporate shill in the time elapsed since my last post.
Actually, it was just last night that I discovered the wonderful, free, open-source browser Mozilla Firefox, available at http://www.mozilla.org . It is a huge improvement over the bloated corporateware that Microsoft's undeservingly ubiquitous Internet Exploder has become over the years. I've only been using it for one day, and I may never go back.
Points in its favour vs Internet Exploiter:
- Faster loading time.
- Uses less system resources.
- Customizable themes - make it look the way you want it to.
- More secure.
- Built-in search engines including Google, Ebay, Amazon, Yahoo, and you can add more or remove ones you don't want.
- Tabbed browsing keeps your desktop uncluttered.
- Live RSS Bookmarks (haven't ried this one yet, but it sounds cool...)
- Bill Gates doesn't get to add a dime to his money bin.
Download it at http://www.mozilla.org and see what you've been missing...
*Shudder* - I feel so dirty...
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
It seems the current obstacle in our automobile-obsessed society is the price of fuel. Gasoline prices in Toronto were approaching $1.20 per litre this morning, but are expected to back off some as the day progresses, and the aftereffects of the devastation created by hurricane Katrina are more fully understood. Just like the stock market, of which the energy sector is a large part, speculation on what might happen is the major influence on what does happen.
Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but does it make any sense to you that a possibility of a shortage in fuel supplies causes the price of what is already in the tanks at gas stations to rise, often dramatically, and then fall, all in the same day? That'd be like charging a dollar for a newspaper in the morning, doubling that later in the day because there was a forest fire raging near a paper mill, and then lowering it again when the fire gets put out. I realize there are intricacies to the oil business which I don't fully understand, but how smart do you have to be? George W. Bush is in the oil business, and he calls it "oal"...
People in North America have still got no real reason to bitch, kvetch, piss and moan about the price of fuel when they refuse to give up their gas -sucking behemoth SUV's and pickup trucks with V-8 and even V-10 engines, and then drive alone to Costco to save a nickel on a 45 gallon drum of relish. We have an unreasonable sense of entitlement on this continent that will become our undoing. Just look at the crime in Toronto right now, or the general rise in terrrorism in the years before 9-11... We also do nothing about it. Canada is worse than the USA in this regard. In other countries, if you don't like what the government is doing, you stage a demonstration, or start a revolution. Here, we stage a Tim Horton's whine-fest (20 minute maximum at the table, please) and demonstrate only if it doesn't cut into our TV time.
Get used to some of the things we take for granted being under fire. this is only the beginning. All I can say is pay attention - and make mine one cream, one sugar.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Boy, is it way too easy to while away hours of your precious time sitting behind the computer. I've been thinking about the purpose of this blog, and all I know is it'll be a work in progress. I may ditch the political content altogether. It's boring as f***, and so many learned (thanks to Homer Simpson for the correct pronunciation) folks are doing such a terrific job filling up cyberspace with wearisome political ranting, that I believe I'll leave it to the dullards. Have at 'er, boys!
I think best outside at night with no distractions, and usually get all kinds of great ideas for entertaining and enlightening posts. I then get behind the desk and the ideas have magically vaporised. Lousy brain! Good for nothin'!
So right there I've come up with today's topic (thanks, Bob & Doug MacKenzie - coo roo coo coo coo roo coo coo). This technology thing, while great on the surface, is pretty much all sizzle and no steak. I have in my possession a cell phone that takes pictures - why? I dunno, came with the plan. Do I need it? No, not really. Does anyone really need to be in the rutabaga section of the grocery store with a phone stuck to their ear? What kind of decision is so momentous in the vegetable aisle that you need to make a call home? Act unilaterally, dude!
Somehow, man has survived eons and progressed for centuries without the aid of tri-mode, colour display digital bric-a-brac. I wish I had the cojones to really make a statement and ditch all superfluous electronic shite, but alas; poor Yorick, it is not to be.
Don't get me wrong - I do love all this stuff, but I'm realizing that it infringes heavily upon my do-nothing time, which, as a somewhat typical male, is sadly important to my well-being. I must divide my time between TV, frittering away the day at the computer, stereo, stereo in car, stereo in garage, the cell phone has to be at welded to my side at all times in case of a grocery-related emergency, and; oh yeah, dealing with the real world. To compensate, I actually don't watch TV. At all. Come fall and the colder weather, that may change, but right now in the middle of reruns of shows we didn't watch the first time, nah.
Something my wife says to me from time to time is the old expression "anything for a simple life". I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, and aim to start simplifying right away.
First just let me pick up my voice mail, check the email, get that last text message from someone I don't talk to in real life, check the posts on my music site, finish burning copies of a few CD's after I convert them to .mp3, make sure I set the VCR for Corrie (not for me, I swear), and call my wife from the store to see if she knows the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga. Hey, I'd look it up, but I don't have time right now.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Source: The Globe & Mail.com
Stronach spent $4-million of her own on race
By CAMPBELL CLARK
Saturday, August 20, 2005
OTTAWA -- Belinda Stronach, the Liberal government's Human Resources Minister, spent $4-million of her own money on her failed bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party, records released by the Tories show.
The money ponied up by Ms. Stronach, daughter of car-parts tycoon Frank Stronach and herself a former $12-million-a-year executive in the family's Magna International Inc. empire, amounted to more than three-quarters of the $5.5-million she raised, according to the documents.
The belated filings from the March, 2004, leadership convention were released yesterday. Tim Powers, a member of the leadership organizing committee, said the timing was due to long delays in filings partly caused by the 2004 election, not by any desire to embarrass Ms. Stronach since she crossed the floor to the Liberals in May.
Ok, the red flag went up for me when Ms. Stronach was touted as the "bright young face of the New Conservatives" a year-and-a-half ago, but I think all she really needed was to get out of her multimillion-dollar house and get a real job. Talk about being born with a silver spoon - hers was platinum. She could have done almost anything else with that money and have made a difference - donate it to a charity, build a wing on a hospital, go on a gambling binge at a casino, thrown it into the wind from her Aurora rooftop. Thank God she lost the leadership race. Hopefully Peter MacKay isn't still pining for her from across the floor. Remember, she's now an actual Liberal cabinet member: the Rt. Hon. Minister of Shoes & Purses; a title you may recall she had to fight Adrienne Clarkson for in a hot oil wrestling match.
Hey, Paul Martin, buddy; I quit my job, - can I be a cabinet minister too? Pretty please? No? Guess I'm not rich enough...
But the real reason is I'm tired of the political bullshit on all the other blogs that I've read. Partisanship is a vessel I try to avoid at all costs. It killed the career of Dennis Miller, still one of the smartest comics of all time. Besides, what's the point of yet another Liberal or Conservative posting how crooked / bad / smelly / ugly the other side is? It's always the other side's fault that things aren't working out. To that I say horse hockey, to paraphrase Col. Sherman Potter.
The gist of this bloggage is poking holes in the stupidity that goes on around us in such large numbers. I'll have to tread very carefully there, as I've been known to indulge in more than my share of dumb-assedness. It goes with the territory. Sarcasm, parody, satire, acidic rants; it's all good stuff and more than welcome here.
Music debate is always fun, and new bands that you actually like are hard to discover at age nearly-forty. So, if you're an American or Canadian Idol fan, please leave now, 'cause there will be talk of Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Terramara, Joe Jackson, Ben Folds, John Hiatt, Sloan, The Tragically Hip, and other actually talented people, as well as my own struggle to get a band together.
(We even have a crappy, homemade CD that we self-produced and there are exactly two copies in existence - one for me, and one for my partner in musical crime, who we'll just call Lister for our porpoises. I'm sure he'll show up here from time to time...)
Yeah, it still hasn't happened. Yeah, I know I should give it up. *Sigh*
However, you can visit us at http://www.last.fm/music/The+Indifference+Curve
I will encourage some political and / or social debate as it relates to people who live in the real world and how it affects them. I guess I'm going to wing it, as I have everything else in life thus far. i will mkae mistakes and stupid comments. Of that you can be assured.
What's the deal with the title? I needed one, and it seems to me that most of these gripe-fest blogs are always dealing with the current obstacle to getting what they want, whether it be a sunny liberal free-for-all, do-whatever-you-want world, or a conservative blue-suit-and-tie fest hosted in part by some gigantic corporation that grinds baby seals into a fruity-smelling shampoo that leaves your hair feeling vibrant and touchable. Hey - I should be in marketing... or not.
As a general rule, many people always feel that there's just one thing standing in the way of their true happiness, be it an ex-wife, a lottery win or a raise at work. It's common knowledge that as soon as you remove one obstacle, another quickly pops up to replace it. I don't think I want my life to be obstacle-free; what the heck would I do with my time?
So it's a reaction - I'm gonna run with it.