Tag Archives: politics

Predictions

Now that we know the Rapture has been delayed to September (previously at xsamplex), we nw have a couple of months to make sure that things are running as smooth as they used to be. Like make US Politics the laughing stock around the world: to be honest, I laughed when I heard Thatcher snubbed ms. Palin. Reportedly one of her aides said the following:

Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.

You wouldn’t say so?

Earlier this month, Saint John’s Sea Dogs won the (Junior) Memorial Cup, which is a kinda big deal in Canada. The city organized a parade for the winning team, from Kings Square right down to Market Square. I was there also, shooting pictures (my set). I’m not a fan of hockey or something: I was surprised to see a lot of people lining up to catch a glimp of the hockey team. Only in Canada these kind of events go by without any incident, that is, unless you’re talking about those funny blue guys running down the street before the parade started.

As you’ve noticed, I’ve not been writing much the last couple of weeks: this is mainly due to the obligations around the house (yes, it’s fairly sunny these days). Additionally, I found out that I prefer to browse around on my tablet, which is unfortunately less keyboard-inclined than the laptops that are laying around. On the good side, soon it will be time to write a review of this tablet. Soon-ish.

From bridge to evolution

A bunch of links, collected from the Internet:

The prime-minister was in Saint John last Friday and gave away a freebie for the people of Saint John: The toll booths on the Saint John Harbour bridge will disappear. I’m not sure how much traffic hits that bridge (and the Harbour bridge authority’s website doesn’t really reveal a lot either), but apparently it has never been self-sustaining. I believe the fare is 50 cents, which when I heard the first time of this toll, I thought was really low.

You’ve probably heard that the TSA (the American organization that is responsible for the safety at airports) has changed safety rules, by enforcing pat-downs and using backspatter X-Ray machines (wikipedia). The use of those X-Ray machines is (still) controversial because of privacy concerns (MSNBC article with a proud ms. Hallowell showing off, well, her gun so to say. The lady’s photo is also used in ACLU’s campaign against this device). Anyway, Metafilter had a posting about the TSA apparently going amuck out of revenge against a traveller who dared to ask for an alternative screening of her breast milk because she’s afraid that X-rays might be harmful. Regardless if it’s harmful or not, what is exactly the point of X-Raying breast milk? And, yeah, what does the president think of this?

With Winter right around the corner and the snow already on the ground, please take a moment to read the drawbacks of our species’ evolution (link to Smithsonian) into standing hominids: backaches, hernias (that is a wikipedia link) and yeah, a 50-50 chance of choking because:

Simultaneously, our upright posture put the trachea and esophagus in a near-vertical orientation. Together these changes leave falling food or water about a 50-50 chance of falling in the “wrong tube.” As a consequence, in those moments in which the epiglottis does not have time to cover the trachea, we choke. We might be said to choke on our success. Monkeys suffer the same fate only rarely, but then again they can’t sing or dance.

So if you were watching Bristol Palin on ‘Dancing with the stars’ and you enjoy watching hominids dance: the combination of dancing and eating can be fairly dangerous.

Civilization vs. Technology

I read that the ozone layer depletion has been halted: this week, UN scientists published a report that the ozone layer should restore itself by 2050. This reminded me of one of the most obscure collaborations in musical history between singer Michael Stipe and rapper KRS-One, which is a song, or rather, an agitprop rap, warning against the dangers of the depletion of the ozone layer, commonly attributed to the use of CFCs and industrial pollution. The general consensus is that the 1987 ban on CFC production contributed to the slowing down of the depletion.

Which brings us to today’s ‘Past The Bridge’ posting, the track ‘Civilization vs. Technology’ which features Harmony, Jane Scarpantoni, KRS-One and Michael Stipe (
30+ sample mp3). I’m extremely mixed about this song (or rap): it’s the better track of the record with the same name, but, the production of it seems half-baked. The excellent use of cello (Scarpantoni) sounds fragmented. The same can be said for the lyrics: Stipe’s contribution is fairly limited (but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote the majority of the lyrics). The song slightly veers back on rails during the second verse and after but, yeah, the overall result is half-baked.

So, while I don’t think Michael Stipe and KRS actually stopped the ozone layer from depletion personally, they do deserve credit for creating awareness: I don’t think too many artists have raised this issue in the 80s or 90s. That is, not that I can remember. It’s a kind of sad that the rest of the tracks on the Heal project’s ‘Civilization vs. Technology’ album are of such dubious quality that they make the contributions from Billy Bragg, Ziggy Marley, Michael Stipe and Tina Weymouth fall into obscurity. Good intentions (generally speaking) but bad execution.

add1: HEAL project previously discussed on xsamplex

Silly Season

So: Political Silly Season is finally over and word has it that Obama and Bush are going to have an arm wrestle match next week. Besides McCain officials throwing each other in ‘front of the bus’, I also read that (with the Democratic win), historians are finally willing to rate the current sitting president. I mean, how history will see him. One word: ‘Incompetent’.

I had this link for the longest time in my ‘bookmarks': a couple of amazing close-ups of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. With the change of politics in the US, maybe there’s hope for science in America.

And then, there was a (female) jogger who was attacked by a rabid fox and ran a mile with it on her arm. She managed to throw the thing in her trunk and was able to reach the closest hospital. I think the best part of the story is that the fox apparently bit a control officer afterwards. This could be a perfect script for Monty Python.

The economy. Stupid.

This week, the global economy crisis dominated the headlines. The most shocking headline was the ‘Iceland meltdown': you’ve probably seen the images of the downward spiral of the currency of Iceland, the Krona. There was, of course, also the spat between the UK and Iceland, and it had all to do with British savers and a collapsing Iceland bank. The situation in Iceland is grim, as illustrated in the following quote:

Inflation is around 14%; on Friday the central bank announced that one of Oddsson’s two fellow governors, Ingimundur Fridriksson, was taking a “short medical leave of absence” on the advice of his doctors. Earlier last week Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, was treated in hospital for heart problems

There’s an interesting anecdote in that article about how (right-wing) Icelandic politicians determined the fate of the Krona by implementing free-market policies and steering away from the Eurozone integration. The answer to solving all your country’s economical problems? Re-nationalize!

I also read that the uh, the president is going to take care of the economical issues, after addressing the G-7, G-8, G-10 or G-20 (Pick your lucky Bingo number!). Anyway: from the sidelines, it looks like the US officials were not really well-received or lets say it this way, un-enthusiastically received. I’m not sure why that is, but I wouldn’t be surprised that many European countries still bear a grudge against the US administration’s lack-lustre monetary policies (read: “the policy to intentionally keep the dollar low”), which (of course) worked against the European economies. On the Dutch news site nu.nl, I read that the Dutch economic minister wasn’t all too impressed with the US officials Bernanke and Paulson: Apparently they were both already gone when the most important discussions took place (rough translation from Dutch):

The Americans see the financial markets problems as a ‘company accident’ and don’t treat it as an important economical problem which needs to solved right now.

I could end up with a diatribe about the Bush administration, but the only words I can come up with right now is ‘failure of global proportions’. For the last eight-years the Americans had no long-term economical plans nor did they actually lead on a global level. Well, OK, I’m slightly wrong here. There was a plan: So once in a while Bernanke just had to push that ‘Lower the Rates’ button. To his credit, this is not what he did all the time, but, I think many people agree that he was ‘too sunny’ about the US economy since he took over Greenspan’s job in 2006.

Anyway: this is a long weekend in Canada. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Update 1: The Economics published a survey asking US economists their views of the presidential candidates economical plans. The full report (in PDF format) is here.

Update 2: Related: Paul Krugman wins the Nobel prize for economics.

Update 3 @ (10/20/08): “Iceland could quickly become an EU member”.

Washing Machine

I was watching that story unfold about that 700 billion dollars bail-out, and I was just thinking, hey, maybe all they need is a washing machine.

I saw the political theatre of American presidential elections where a presidential candidate suddenly presented himself as a champion of “Main Street”, and I thought, hey, maybe all he used was a washing machine.

I read that the US president had been talking to the French president about the financial problems, and for a second I thought that maybe, they both really needed a washing machine. Or rather a freedom machine.

And, then I ended up looking at this excellent YouTube video of a live performance of Sonic Youth’s ‘Washing Machine’. For a second, it reminded me of that concert I attended in the early 90s and I thought by myself, what one can do with cloth pins.

Point

Yesterday, leftovers from Hanna flew past the Maritimes, dumping a whole bunch of rain for almost a whole day: This lead to some troublesome driving Sunday and Monday morning (CBC). Generally, this year the weather hasn’t cooperated a lot: according to Saint Johners we had more rain (and fog) days than the previous years. Here’s hoping that the same is going to be true for upcoming Winter.

I read that the prime-minister has dissolved the parliament and called for an election, which is set on October 14th this year. Polls and surveys indicate that the Conservatives may get a majority, which wouldn’t surprise me: not everybody seems to be familiar with the name of the current Liberal leader, Stephane Dion. I’m a bit disappointed to see that leaders’ debates will not include the Green’s Elizabeth May. So much for democracy1.

Oh: talking about democracy. There’s a rumour circulating in the neighbourhood that raccoons are tumbling over garbage bins in their hunt for anything editable. If you see this gang of four-legged un-cutesy animals in action, please notify the authorities. Thank you, very much.

1 09/12/08: Looks like May will be allowed into the debates.

Going Underground

I made it a tradition to bring up VJ day on August 15th, but decided to let it go by and return to it today by including it to a Past The Bridge posting here. The song I had in mind, ‘Going Underground’ from The Jam, (after all) has themes that slightly intersect with nuclear destruction and war.

The usual 30 second sample lifts out the chorus of the song. If you’re interested in videos that describe the mood of those nuclear 80s, the video clip of ‘Going Underground’ can be found on YouTube. You can’t miss the references to nuclear war. Personally (besides awkward TV shows about ‘Russians invading Georgia’ [haha] and others), this song perfectly illustrates that peculiar ‘nuclear war is right around the corner’-feeling of the Eighties.

The Jam (despite their great hits that established them as ‘Angry Young Men’) had an ambiguous political background though (as this fine article at Wikipedia explains) which has dogged the band’s lead vocalist, Paul Weller, for years to come. In 1979, he had announced that the band was going to vote conservative in that year’s General Election, which (as you know) was the year that Thatcher took the oath of office. What followed were years of unrests, strikes, IRA attacks and a couple more millions of unemployed British people. Four years after their announcement, the band expressed their frustration with Britain’s political state in their song ‘Town called Malice’.

Songs of the Unknown

With the Olympics in high-gear, the New York Times has a collection of national anthems of countries that won the gold medal in the last couple of days. I was briefly listening to the Dutch anthem and I noticed that the youtube recording included the first two verses of the song. Probably 95% of the Dutch don’t make it that far: if you know one of the 15 stanzas, that’s more than enough. People who served in the Dutch army, probably (still) remember the endless ceremonial requirements when this song was played. (The ‘Wilhelmus’ at Wikipedia).

Yesterday, I watched ‘Animal Farm’ on Google Video: this movie features live animals (I was going to say ‘live action’) and was filmed and distributed in 1999. The movie stays fairly close to Orwell’s famous novel, except for the happy-end, which was probably added because, you know, if you live in the US and are under the impression that your country was solely responsible for the end of the Cold War, well, there you go.

And to talk about US politics, I briefly read about the very first McCain vs. Obama debate in front of a religious (“Social Conservative”) audience. I was wondering what could help Obama’s slumping campaign, and then I was thinking, maybe he should just choose Clinton for the VP slot1. For some kind of reason, I think that’s the only way the Democrats can safely get into the White House.

1Update (08/21/08): It looks like David Gergen thinks the same

Whirl

So, Obama has become the Democrats’ presidential candidate, which reminds me of his best moment of his campaign, a rebuttal to laughter from Hillary Clinton on the question why there are so many Clinton advisers on his team:

Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well.

It also appears that Obama is highly favoured in countries outside of North America. It’s the economy, stupid!

During my brother’s visit here, we didn’t have much time to watch the Euro 2008 (Soccer/Football). Later this afternoon, I found out that the Dutch team is doing very well. It’s their second win in the “Pool of Death”, which means that they’re literally going to the quarter-finals. I was able to watch the tail-end of Supersport’s coverage of the win and watch the commentators discuss the Dutch coach’s (Van Basten) options for their last (pool) game against Romania: sent in his best players or have a ‘B’ team play.

Not that I’ll be able to watch the next games, or lets say, summaries of the older games: the EUFA (the European soccer association) has complete control over who is allowed to broadcast their games, how it’s being sent to soccer fans and the amount of money they charge to them. Watch for a crackdown on YouTube the next couple of weeks.

Off-ice.

A couple of observations:

I follow the US Democratic race but tend to keep it off xsamplex: However, I keep thinking if the Clintons are just bad losers. Seriously, when is enough is enough? Keith Olberman’s summary perfectly illustrates the race.

I noticed something when using a (more) recent version of Microsoft Word (2003+): it loads documents in a background thread, updating the scrollbar and thumbnail size accordingly, until it is completely loaded into memory. I’m not sure who thought this was a brilliant idea, because, simply stated: it sucks because it suggests that the document is ready to work on when it clearly isn’t.

With the sun coming out longer, it appears that now it’s a good time to get rid of the Winter clothes. This is obviously good weather for a stroll and the camera.

I read that thousands of illegals keep eluding the Canadian Border and Imigration Services (the official count is at 41,000). Is that a high number, I wonder (I wish I had numbers of other countries).

In the past, I’ve read a couple of books by Martin Amis (son of Kingsley Amis, who’s books were, and maybe still are, part of English literature classes in The Netherlands). I especially liked ‘Time’s Arrow’ but since then, I’ve not read any of his books. The CBC has a brief interview with the (nowadays controversial) British author.

Update 1: Not at all related, OpenOffice 3.0 Beta review, courtesy of ArsTechnica.

Rice’s fxxx-xx boots

I was Ms. Rice and those bootsreading about the principals of the US torture memo. In one of the blogs I saw a reference to this meeting which included a quite less flattering description of ms Rice (the US Foreign Affairs secretary):

Think about it — a president who used to shove firecrackers up the asses of frogs and light them to watch the frogs explode. A vice-president who shot a friend in the face. A female Secretary of State in f**k-me boots who gets off on torture. An attorney general who’s afraid of calico cats, offended by a statue’s breasts, and anoints himself with vegetable oil. And he’s the SANE one, the one who was troubled by the whole proceeding. ed. apropriatinized

I guess, the boots thing, refers to that event in Germany, where Rice’s entrance and fashionable sight caused the press to focus on her instead of the Bush policies.

The language

I watch Are you experiencedsome (video)clips online at the regular websites (Crooks and Liars and Onegoodmove, as you may have already known), most of time just to view the best parts of ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘Jon Stewart’s Daily Show’.

Obviously, both shows have gained a lot of popularity in the last couple of years, which is proof of the talents of both show’s hosts. What I find interesting is that both shows target all sides of politics, not just left or just right: the last 8 years their focus was reporting on the current Republican administration’s failures and I have no doubt that they’ll continue the same thing when the Democratic party takes over power. I think the best part of both shows is that they’ve raised the standards of good comedy writing. Take for example this quote from a ‘The word’ segment from The Colbert Report, where Stephen Colbert takes Republican presidential candidate McCain to the task about his comments about decisions in the past and living in the future (OneGoodMove video):

We are where we are. This is where McCain says where we can question him. We can only question him in the pastless and futureless present. This infinitesimal slice of existence, the zero-dimensional theoretical plot point of the now, where eternity intersects time. And if that’s what he’s saying, the question is not, senator, how did you vote or, senator, when will we withdraw, but senator McCain, are you high?

Who wrote this brilliant monologue?