November 18, 2012

One of His Best Friends is Black!

You've probably heard the head of Maine GOP was thinking voter fraud had happened because he "saw a bunch of black people voting" and no one he knew had any idea where they lived.

No, seriously.

So as part of his plan to get to the bottom of what was clearly a conspiracy by the Democrats to bus in African-Americans to vote in a state they were guaranteed to win, Charlie Webster is going to mail "Thank You for Voting" cards to the supposedly-black households to see in anyone mails them back.  If no one does, then BOOM!  Proof of voter fraud!  Or something.

I figure the second half of the plan is to then go to the houses with a few guys (but not the black one he plays basketball with) in their pickup trucks and knock on each door, yelling out "You got any Negroes in there?"

Can't see how that plan could possibly go wrong.


posted by Thursday at 3:18 pm 0 comments

November 15, 2012

Today's Problem Revisited

The world has problems.

We all know this, right?  The only place that's ever been perfect is that strange nameless location that Fox News keeps insisting that America can "return" to, but only if you do everything they say right now.  Bummer for those who believe it, but given the nature of the time-space continuum, it just ain't gonna happen.

So we have to keep moving ahead (or "going forward", as far too many self-important jackasses put it) because that's the way time works.  Fine.  What are we going to do about it, then?

Well, the world has, as they say, gotten smaller: we can reach most corners of it, have mapped all of it, are flying high above it, and if not personally at the lowest depths then our proxies are.  I personally am a member of the microlending site Kiva, shipping $25 off to help someone build their bookstore in Sri Lanka, or fix their motorcycle so they can run a taxi service in Bolivia.  It's fun, and I can tell people I'm an international investor without lying this time.

But in the ability to do this, wouldn't it be just as true to say that the world has gotten much, much bigger?  Personal opportunities abound, and despite the best efforts of some folks, information about nearly anything can be accessed by almost anyone, almost anywhere.  This expands the worlds you can reach beyond all compare, and people think the world has gotten smaller?

Which leads to a more common issue, one variant of which was brought to the popular mind over 40 years ago: Future Shock.  The shock Toffler is warning about (for those of you who haven't read it or its follow-up works) is the technological change overwhelming people, and the social structures that had been put in place generations previously were not built to anticipate or adapt to these changes.  Just look at the difficulties governments have had with copyright in the days of the internet.  Or the fun that has been wrought by Wikileaks.

On a more intimate, social level, the most difficult issue may well be the overload of information available to us.  The filters restricting our access to information that were applied in "the old days" could have been anything: your parent's disapproval meant specific ideas weren't discussed; lack of a market for certain ideas meaning the media in your local area deciding not to cover a story or issue; the classic "history books being written by the winners" problem.

But now?

The problem isn't so much history books being written by the winners as it is history books being written by anybody, no matter how qualified (or not), biased (or not), or intelligent (or... you know).  Sourcing aside, there is still the problem with there being far more sources than any single person could be expected to absorb.  In a digital age, how can information be made palatable for human consumption?  Fortunately, there are people working on that.

Allow me to present, if I may, this years Information is Beautiful Awards.


posted by Thursday at 11:00 pm 0 comments

November 14, 2012

Another Rival

I've written about the surprising truth about nerds and sex, but there is another contender out there looking to unseat the classic Manly Man that I hadn't considered:


Seriously: they've got a strong case.


posted by Thursday at 11:25 am 0 comments

November 11, 2012

Not a Bad Week

My business paid its bills for the month in less than two days;
Eliminated one supplier for bad service and picked up another who has promised to be better;
A long established locksmith handed me a lock he wasn't able to fix, and I fixed it despite never having worked on its like before;
The Significant Other had me drive her in to work yesterday and today, letting me feel all butch and manly;
Ended an argument with a friend;
Have my brother coming out from Toronto, so I'll see him for the first time in a couple years;
...And had a perfectly lovely woman a decade my junior call me "really cool".

Seriously, it's been an excellent week.

And something else... something... something...  Oh, yeah!  Schadenfreude.

The amazing thing is how many Republicans and their most strident supporters were utterly convinced of their chances for victory, some going so far as to predict a landslide for Romney.  No, really.

Still others are performing a post-party analysis (as they will) and deciding that the answer isn't that perhaps the policies themselves are out of step with what the population was telling them with their ballots, but that the way they delivered the message of what those policies were was wrong.  Or at most, misunderstood.

Which leaves them, in short, clueless.  Having Charles Krauthammer constantly raise the image of an idealized Ronald Reagan will do them no favours, because he wouldn't have even made it out of the leadership campaign where red meat and dog whistles are the rule of the day.  Good god, every crackpot and lunatic the GOP could muster actually led in polling at one point or another!


Multiple divorcee and philanderer Newt Gingrich;
Rick "We'll Never Have The Smart People" Santorum;
Herman Cain, who has difficulty with more than three pages or one number;
Avowed Ayn Randian Ron Paul running to lead a government to stop government;
Michelle Bachman, who provides living proof gays can marry;
And The Adorable Idiot Rick Perry.

Those were the options, and all of them had a turn on top of the Republican leadership campaign.  (Okay, sure, Jon Huntsman was in there somewhere, but no one cared.)  These were the people who could have been the standard bearer for one of the two major parties in the US.  And there are people who think the biggest problem the Republicans have is the way their message gets across.

To misquote a stolen quote: It's the policies, stupid!

Eric Garland has written out a fine reply for them.  He's not exactly me (I don't have kids) but he's close enough for an American.  Which brings us back to this side of the border.

Two states just voted in favour of legalization of marijuana.  Repeat: legalization, not decriminalization.  More than a funny side note for newscasters trying to be "cool", it could have a very real impact on the economy of BC, what with pot being one of the provinces biggest crops.  Will the fact that prohibition is ending in Washington state mean growers here will see that market dry (eye)* up as growers south of the border suddenly become part of the mainstream?

And a second question will be to ask if the government here will learn from that election: with Harper's government (as they insist on calling it) passing new "tough on crime" legislation last year and the continued growth of the Canadian prison population leading to BC building another prison in the Okanagan, will the Conservatives continue a policy of prohibition despite its clear failure?  The consequences were so obvious to people in at least two states that they decided to give up on it completely; whereas here in "liberal" Canada we are beholden to the terrified majority in the ruling party, who themselves only managed 40% of the popular vote.

Meaning anywhere from 20 to 35% of the population is dictating what direction the country will be going in, so long as the political right only has one party to choose and the political left has four.  For now, at least.

The crux of it is whether the Conservative Party is going to look at the mood in the US, which returned the Democrats to power with a huge margin (332 votes to 206), and decide to inch towards the centre to fend off any resurgent Liberals; or will they continue to rely on that split on the left, yielding the middle and hoping that the surge in NDP votes will be a one time thing?

Pushing through massive and utterly undemocratic omnibus bills is a tough habit to break, and given the attack ads that are already running three years before an election, I'm inclined to go with the latter.

Stay tuned!



posted by Thursday at 11:37 pm 0 comments

November 07, 2012

Place Your Bets!

Anyone up for betting how long it takes before the Republican supporters turn on Mitt Romney, describing how they never liked him and how their candidate would have beaten Obama easily?

I'm betting... right now.

One thing we won't have to wait for: Republican pundits who called for Romney frequently did so with the word "landslide", meaning (to them) 325 or more electoral votes.  Yet now that Obama has 332, he somehow narrowly squeaked in, and doesn't have a mandate.

When you see this, remember Bush II was elected in with a "massive" 271 in the year 2000, and a "huge" 286 in 2004, and promptly chased down a maximalist policy for eight years.  In short, suck it conservatives.


posted by Thursday at 10:58 am 0 comments