LIVE 8

Greetings,

Some really cool news today out of London: Bob Geldof has announced a new Live 8 concert. This is a sequel to 1985’s Live Aid concert, which was a huge hit back then. However, African poverty and debt relief are still very much big time issues and having this multi-concert, multi-city effort couldn’t come at a better time.

Personally, anything that raises awareness about African poverty is a good thing in my mind. I’m interested to know more about the mandate of MakePovertyHistory.org, which is Geldof’s organization that’s promoting this event.

Still, this is going to be an amazing concert.

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STREET LEGAL

Greetings,

In the midst of writing more business-ish articles, getting other crap done and waiting for the kind and generous folks at Apple to deliver me back my freakin’ iPod, I’ve hammered out one simple thesis:

Street Legal is still amazing TV.

Bravo broadcasts reruns of Street Legal at 7 p.m. EST and it’s still so good. Sure, it’s incredibly dated in its look (Toronto in 1988 has a few 2005-ish qualities, like College Street, the ferry to the Toronto Islands and insane hair styles) and the dialogue is more wooden than, well, I don’t know what, but come on! Chuck, Leon, Olivia! Working for a law firm that’s implausibly well-stocked with hella good lawyers and snazzy, ultra-modern flooring! Extremely earnest social justice-themed stories that never offend Bay Street or the firm’s bottom line! PG-13 rated storylines! Canadian actors giving their all in the face of glossed-up American law shows like L.A. Law! Man, so awesome. Sure, the show went from social justice to soap opera by 1990, but that’s only because the show needed to hike the ratings.

EVERYTHING BAD IS GOOD FOR YOU: I’m starting to read this new book by Steven Johnson called, well, the title’s listed above. I’m not re-writing it. It’s about how popular culture is making people smarter and more engaged with forms of problem solving. Fascinating stuff… oh, and here’s a link to his blog.

THE GOOD FEELIN’ POST

Greetings,

Well it’s official: I’m a graduate of the University of King’s College. My degree (or parchment) will get mailed to me next week – another frame to hang on the wall.

WRITING AND CHANGING: The Queen’s Alumni Review published my article on Chris Turner and his book, Planet Simpson, this week. I’m really happy it’s out – the article looks terrific and the magazine as a whole looks tremendous this issue. One of the best parts of writing these kinds of articles is how they have such a huge impact on the people you write about. When you do a good job and the piece reaches a huge number of people like the Alumni Review does, it’s a great feeling.

FEDERAL BUDGET: Man, was that tense. I’ve never witnessed a more stressful vote in the House of Commons. But, thankfully, the budget has passed its last major hurdle. Say what you will about Martin and Layton, the denigration of Parliament and Stephen Harper, but the passing of this better, amended, socially progressive budget (and one that will save Toronto from financial destruction) is good news for Canada. Now can we get on with it and please stop the bickering?

IPOD: It’s now been two weeks since the iPod was sent to Apple for repairs. Normally it takes a week for repair, but I sent the unit to the wrong repair depot. Apple says “send it to California” and I do so. No response from Apple for several days. I call today – turns out it was supposed to be sent to the Canadian Apple repair depot. D’oh!

TORIES AND REVENGE OF THE SITH


He’s turning into the Sith as we speak…  Posted by Hello

Greetings,

One day after the Canadian political landscape completely changed (for the better or worse, depending on your perspective here), here are my thoughts (again, for better or worse).

1) One thing I’ve always found amazing about the gender divide is when ambition becomes the overwhelming characteristic of a broader career arc. As I’ve said before, ambition coupled with total self-interest is never good for anyone, regardless of gender. But for some reason, Ms. Stronach, because she’s blonde, trendy and far more savvy than most Parliamentarians in the divergent worlds of politics, business and even celebrity culture, is being degraded by some because she’s female and taking a political opportunity when it comes along. Sure, many guys have been dragged through the mud for jumping parties (hello Scott Brison!), but because she’s female, she’s even less ethical for taking a cabinet post in the Martin government, which then leads to the next point…

2) Why is the relationship angle of Stronach and Peter McKay more important to some than the political ramifications of this decision? That’s a very personal angle to this very large political drama. Worse, have Bob Runciman and Tony Abbott lost their minds? Real nice guys, you resort to insulting Stronach first for leaving and then indulge your inner misogynist by calling Stronach a “a dipstick – an attractive one, but still a dipstick” and Abbott saying she “whored herself out for power.” I guess some of the old boys on the political Right in Canada can’t stand a strong woman.

3) Let’s be totally clear here: I don’t think what Stronach has done is particularly demonstrative of an ideological position. Stronach has never really been a Conservative in the most rigid definition of the word – she’s much more in line with the thinking of most Ontario PC Party members. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal. So really, Stronach going to the Liberals is a better fit for her. Now, Stronach is going down in Canadian history as the person that will save the Liberal Party from destruction tomorrow. At least for now.

4) This hurts the Conservatives in more ways than they can imagine right now. They lose a key urban Tory, which automatically puts their electoral chances in Ontario in serious trouble. This is about optics, and the Tories needed Stronach to make the party seem more open and tolerant than they seem. That’s only because Stephen Harper can’t seem to convey the message of openess in the party, which means if the Tories lose tomorrow, the knifes are going to come out in the Conservatives over Harper.

All in all, I’m pretty conflicted about this. Part of me is happy because the Liberal-NDP alliance gains a powerful new ally with Stronach and the progressive budget I’ve always wanted will have a much better chance of passing tomorrow. That being said, one can only hope if the Liberals survive, this will spur some serious efforts at reforming how Parliament works. We need it – Canadian federal politics has become seriously dysfunctional.

REVENGE OF THE SITH: Reviews are coming in for the final episode of Star Wars and they’re positive (generally speaking). Even Roger Ebert gave Episode III a good review. This is very good news. Still, I think Lucas could have stood to partner up with a really strong screenwriter – apparently, he can’t write romantic dialogue well and all the timber in the Star Wars universe is being applied to his script (i.e. wooden as hell).

LAST THING: My Convocation is tomorrow at King’s. I get my degree mailed in the next few days or so. Boy, that will feel good when I get it.

THOUGHTS ON TIGER AND CBC RATINGS

Greetings,

Today on the TTC, I noticed an ad inside Dose about blogs with this quote: You pretend to be interesting, everyone else pretends to care. So true. Aside from a few regular viewers, blogs really are only about communicating vital information to a select few folks who care about you and your life, or they stumbled there by accident. At King’s, quite a few people in the program had never even heard of blogs.

TIGER: I recently installed Mac OS X 10.4, a.k.a. Tiger. It’s given my Mac a major boost in power and utility; a lot of functions on the OS now get regular use above and beyond programs like Firefox, iPodder or Microsoft Office for Mac. Automator, Dashboard (which is awesome) and another 198 (yup, that many) new functions in Tiger. It’s fantastic.

Apple’s kind of in this weird state where the world is moving towards an open source concept of computing but Apple is bucking the trend with closed, boutique-style computing. Macs will never be the world’s dominant OS, but Tiger employs technology that Google has developed with Spotlight (Apple’s answer to Google Desktop Search) and Dashboard (Apple’s answer to Konfabulator). What comes out of all this is obvious: Apple is showing Microsoft how it is done and beating them to the punch before Longhorn gets released in 2007 (a release that I’m pretty indifferent to).

It annoys me sometimes how people are so used to inferior technology they will continue to support products in spite of obviously superior technology like Apple.

On that same thread…

CBC Ratings: this is great news. CBC Radio is vital, important and well-listened to throughout Canada and beyond, so if anyone ever asks why we need a public broadcaster, this is as good a reason as any. Just scroll down a bit on Tod’s page and it’s there.

PEOPLE FROM THE PAST…

Greetings,

It’s amazing sometimes what happens when you start doing some casual searching for someone from your past and it inevitably ends up relaying you to a whole whackload of folks you dealt with in various points in your time at Queen’s. Some people I look back on with fond memories, trying to recall whether my dorkiness was endearing (or annoying, depended on the day or which year it was).

I admire some people from my “past life” at Queen’s and the stuff they’ve done. But there are some people from my “past life” that really disliked me, and sometimes I can admit it wasn’t entirely undeserved. Besides, you can’t win them all over.

Now that I can look back on things in hindsight, I can freely admit I was way too deep into the gamesmanship of student politics sometimes (keyword: sometimes). I missed the point of it; if there’s one thing Queen’s students dislike more than anything, it was (and still is) the blind pursuit of a goal. I saw that a lot at Queen’s and a lot of people got burned for it. Rumours, gossip and backstabbing happened a lot more than it should have. The point is this: when you get involved in politics (student politics, real politics, et al), you can never be doing it exclusively for yourself. People can smell that motive a mile away. Ambition is fine, but when you combine that with self-interest, you’re toast.

I really do respect and appreciate my alma mater. It was a great transformative experience for me and I learned a lot out of it. But perhaps the best thing Queen’s gave me was building a greater sense of self-awareness. The Queen’s student culture can be exceptionally unforgiving when you make a mistake. In this way, Queen’s does have correlation to real life. When you accomplish a lot and try to do things for the right reasons, people sometimes tend to *find* reasons to tear you down. They can’t help it – they have genuine animosity towards you, they’re jealous, they don’t “get” you, whatever. They just do it because they can, not because they’re bad people. So in this case, I don’t harbour anger towards anyone, because who among us is perfect?

I guess one of my regrets (and come on, everyone has them) from my time at Queen’s was the fact how naive I was sometimes. I was so unaware of the broader picture at times. Queen’s is a small place and hopefully, as time wears on, more of the proverbial “water-under-the-bridge” thing will happen.

All this being said, I’m also the first to say that for every smart, engaging, funny person I met at Queen’s, I also met an equal number of narrow-minded, cruel people that based their opinions on “what-so-and-so-said.” Some people never grow up or learn. Others got way, way too comfortable in their own “group.” It’s human nature to dwell on the negative about someone before the positive, I’m afraid to say, because it’s just easier than being nice sometimes. I don’t care how many times I was told Queen’s was and is full of the best and brightest – as Stephen Hawking once said, even the smartest can also be the most childish. So in this way, I don’t feel bad about how certain people may have perceived me anymore, because it isn’t worth my time. All I have is my actions, not words.

The proof lies in my time at King’s. I didn’t set out with the explicit goal of being a student leader. I initially went into the program thinking it was just going to be me working away on a graduate degree program, no extracurriculars required. But I got into it again, mostly because I don’t see extracurriculars as a burden. I became class representative because I wanted the job, as I did for other stuff at King’s. I like being involved.

I organized events and did stuff because I learned how to do these things well at Queen’s. That’s fine, though. I’m cool with that. My actions speak for themselves.

I guess one thing I’m more certain of than ever is that life isn’t about shading people into very clear distinctions of “black versus white, good versus evil.” That might sound trite, but it’s true: judging someone and holding onto a grudge is incredibly childish. No one is perfect or without fault, and for this reason, I hope I can move forward knowing that no matter how you do things, no matter what your intentions are, there will always be a diversity of opinion on you so broad you just take the good stuff in and learning from those who’s opinions matter to you.