Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do I Ever Agree with this!

Dennett hits it again.

As it would make the arbitrariness so obvious to a half-thinking creature.

To Die For

A somewhat laid-back, but also very interesting, discussion of memes by Daniel Dennett.

It astonishes me that 20 years ago there was nothing like TED or the Internet that makes TED so valuable. I hope deeply that TED helps the 'good' memes win.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Favorite Sentence of The Week

Because I know so much, my actions are not fully intelligible to those who observe them.

From a wonderful article describing the job of University Provost, but applicable to all sorts of people in management roles. I think I would enjoy having him as a manager.

h/t the real Craig Newmark

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Everything's amazing and nobody's happy

Funny and excellent reflections on the times:

h/t Johan Norberg

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I know it when I see it and I just saw it as I stood on my front porch.

OK I am willing now to agree that winter is coming again.

But where is my global warming when I need it?

Monday, October 20, 2008

That is What 'Free' Gets You

Too true from a great TED speech.

"Can I tell you how un-Canadian that is?" She is not quite right - I am past deferential stupid queuing for no good reason.

Her angle is neat, but the fact of the matter in a system like ours, who you know determines how long it takes you. I won't worry so much about the claimed benefit to society.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Strange and Wonderful

I have seen the story below posted many times in the last couple of days, but I think I like Brad DeLong's summary at the end more than anyone else's.

The punch line is great and likely uniquely American only in the good way.

We're votin' for the n---er!

DeLong's last line is my favorite.

This is a strange and wonderful country.

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And now a Family Member is Being Endorsed!

He's there in the picture. I found him.

He's more easily found in the details on his project. Be warned that he is the guy standing at the right. It seems they are reporting from the left looking out from the picture. (Actually - it is even worse - I do not know now whether the silver-haired guy is Laberge or Busby - too many contradictions). But the guy in the blue shirt is by far my favourite brother-in-law in Canada.

Congratulations, John, and to all your colleagues!

Swan Update

Best proof that we still have five swans at Ashbridge's Bay. (Shot week of Oct. 13, 2008)

They are so cute when feeding!

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Another endorsement for Obama

Hey I know that woman looking out of that apartment. She's my niece-in-law!

Nobody needs my endorsement, but ...

I am not sure how anyone could articulate it and most of my reasons better than Colin Powell now has.

Watch here:

h/t Te-Nehisi Coates.

Like Te-Nehisi, I found too the final answer on Obama being a Muslim just right.

UPDATE: Via Harry's Place I discover this picture to complete Powell's story.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Starbucks Party and My Canadian Election

A political scientist this morning commented on the Canadian election on the CBC, and particularly outcomes around the Greater Toronto Area, and contrasted the Conservatives and Liberals as the Tim Horton`s and Starbucks parties.

This seems to me about right, and explains how the City of Toronto votes Liberal or NDP, and the whole region around the centre city votes Conservative. He really ought to have said "Starbucks parties", as I suspect the latte-drinkers are even more concentrated in the New Democratic Party than in any other party.

I voted Green in the last two elections, but Elizabeth May`s apparent instruction to Green voters to vote strategically to keep the Conservatives out of power made me decide not to vote Green ever again. So what would I do? A Conservative vote would be an utter waste in this Starbuck riding, so I went for the only sensible strategy. I voted Liberal for the first time in years, mostly to keep the execrable Marilyn Churley out of office.

Unintended consequences abound in politics as well, and I fear that her failure to win this seat will re-involve her in civic politics, where she can do even more damage to me.

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An Eerie Silence

After somewhat of an absence, SillyWife and I went for a walk at Ashbridge's Bay last weekend.

What stood out for me was the silence. The red-winged blackbirds have left. So I am waiting now for the oldsquaws.

The swans were in place - still 3 kids at this point, and as large as mom and dad now.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

To the Barricades!

Continuing the election sign discussion, I particularly liked this one in the group I pointed to earlier, as it says an awful lot about the candidate, who is also the incumbent. There is not much bombast here!

One of my relatives votes in that riding (maybe more) and I know where I want that vote falling (not with the party I will be voting for).

A Story of Four Signs - Cult of Personality

I spent part of last week in the Ottawa South riding and took particular note of this collection of election signs at a busy traffic corner.

What is not completely obvious is that of the four political parties represented here, three have signs decorated with the name of the local candidate, and one displays the name of the party leader only, with no hint of the name of the local candidate.

Why am I not surprised it is the New Democratic Party that appears to lean to the cult of personality? After all, it is the most lefty of the bunch.

It's That Time of Year Again

A benefit we get for the winters we suffer is the show our trees put on around now.

(On what used to be called Highway 7 west of Perth, Ontario, Oct. 3, 2008.)

Unhinged Fool

Mark hits it exactly.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More Snippets from the Maclean's Canadian Live-Blog

9:24 PM Andrew Coyne - “We need to bring the manufacturing sector back.’ Also the horse-and-buggy industry…

9:25 PM Andrew Coyne - “We shouldn’t be shipping raw logs.” Take that, BC logging industry: what do you know about your business compared to Jack?

Likely Switching the TV Permanently to Palin-Biden

I have seen roughly the same economic inanity from the three insignificant opposition leaders as last night - I feel sorry for Harper, and opine with Andrew Coyne from the Maclean's live blog:

# 9:18 PM Andrew Coyne - Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a party to the free-market side of Harper? Somebody to criticize him for spending too much, not too little? Somebody to contradict the NDP/Bloc/Green wackos?
# 9:18 PM Paul Wells - I went offline for a bit, grrr, but I was trying to make the point Coyne made: Canada’s situation is indeed stronger than in the US, but “It’s not so bad” is a very difficult hill to defend.

Now I feel sorry for the Harper who is trying to explain some very basic economics to these idiots, but he has also produced some howler policies in this campaign, like the tax credits for parents sending their kids to art classes that will require the creation of some facility to define 'arts'.

Almost completely exhausted 15 minutes into the debates

Tonight we have the English-language Canadian party leaders' debate running directly against the Palin-Biden debate and I don't have a way to tape either of them. Worse, or better, each of them is accompanied by a Maclean's liveblog - here and here.

So I am physically exhausted, from pressing keys on the TV remote, and on the laptop keyboard, already!

I am also mentally exhausted from the inanity I am forcing myself to hear.

(Though I guess I have the energy to type this post.)

UPDATE: About an hour later, the fingers are really struggling - I just discovered Megan McArdle live-blogging the Palin-Biden debate!

An Interesting Observation on the Debate

At Angry in the Great White North, Steven Janke makes a fascinating observation, which I think I had partly noted, though I did not see the whole round of answers.

Everyone used this simply [ed. typo for 'simple'] question -- say something nice about the person to your left -- to say something nasty or promote themselves.

Everyone, that is, except Stephen Harper. He didn't trash Jack Layton's policies. He listed two of his government's successes, but only in the context of sharing some of the credit with Jack Layton.

Why does this matter? Because it shows that Stephen Harper can turn it off. He can compartmentalize. He can look at Jack Layton, a take a measure of the man without necessarily looking for a political opening.

That's a healthy sign. As for the others, everything they touch turns into a cheap political commercial. Elizabeth May was clearly the worst, but the others were little better.

There is something significant in that ability to stop being a politician and turn into a normal guy. I think it is that I trust Stephen Harper to be the least consumed with ideas of power. The others, given a chance to just be normal folks, couldn't pull it off. The kept on being partisan politicians. Do you think people like that would ever give up political power willingly?

But when Stephen Harper was asked to say something nice about a politician he disagreed with, he said something nice. When the time comes, Stephen Harper will likely give up the reins of power with little fuss or fanfare.

I get the feeling Stephen Harper knows there's a lot more to life than politics. I find that very reassuring in a politician.

But then I seem to be the only one who gets it, so maybe I'm wrong.

We'll see how right Steve is when Harper does finally yield power.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Very Nice Summary from Andrew Coyne

From the stomach-turning arts subsidy discussion in the Canadian leaders' debate - Coyne summarizes what Harper actually quite sensibly said, which hardly got well-put tonight:

9:32 PM Andrew Coyne - He never said ordinary Canadians don’t relate to the arts. He said they didn’t relate to subsidized artists, at subsidized galas, complaining about subsidy cuts that haven’t happened.

Amen! (And I am someone who exploits those subsidies like mad by getting theatre and opera tickets at far below what would be their cost, thanks to millions of people who probably earn a lot less, neither go to theatre or opera, but contribute through our government arts subsidy programs to my tickets. Thanks, guys!)

A Lovely Mondegreen

As indicated below, I am watching the Canadian party leaders' debate, interpreted live into English.

Whoever is interpreting for Elizabeth May caused me to think that in a discussion on gun laws she had a major concern about "semiotic weapons"! My ears perked up. Finally I realized it was "semi-automatic".

There probably are quite a few semiotic weapons being fired in this debate.

"Mondegreen" explanation here.

Recommendation for Tomorrow Night's Debate

I am watching the French-language debate among the leaders of the contending parties in the Canadian election, since I think Biden-Palin is a far more attractive tomorrow night.

For the first twenty minutes it was wildly boring, and completely inane as numerous economic illiterates debated against one person who seemed to know anything, but who has sacrificed a good deal of his knowledge to expediency (had he not, he would not have been there).

But it all became a lot more fun when I found the Maclean's magazine live-blog.

The suggestion for those watching tomorrow - read that live-blog as you go!

A couple of highlights so far.

# 8:54 PM Andrew Coyne - Say something nice about the person to your left?? Where did they FIND these people..
# 8:55 PM Chris Selley - At Hallmark, Andrew. They found them at the Hallmark store.

# 8:58 PM Chris Selley - A good father! HA!
# 8:58 PM Martin Patriquin - This is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo pointless.
# 8:58 PM Aaron Wherry - “Your kids are lovely.” Family really is everything.
# 8:58 PM Andrew Coyne - You’re a good father? That’s the best she can come up with? And Hitler loved his dog!
# 8:58 PM Andrew Potter - I actually *like* this segment. It’s the logical consequence of having five people at the table.
# 8:58 PM Philippe Gohier - May to Harper: You’re a good father
but you’re a dangerous fascist.

That's enpough. Time maybe to go to watch the DVD of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall".