September 2008

Number-crunching the Pontiac vote

My high-risk election prognostication continues. In this entry, I’m going to take a look at the results for the 2006 election in my riding, Pontiac (see previous entry), and in particular in my particular corner of the riding, Pontiac County (i.e., the Regional County Municipality of Pontiac, or Pontiac MRC),

The Pontiac riding went Conservative in 2006 by a 2,371-vote margin, or 4.97 percentage points. But were it not for the Pontiac MRC, it would have gone to the Bloc Québécois by about 700 votes. The Bloc’s Christine Émond Lapointe led in L’Ange-Gardien, Buckingham, Cantley, Masson-Angers and Val-des-Monts by varying degrees; she even narrowly won Maniwaki, the home town of David Smith, the incumbent Liberal M.P. The Conservative candidate, Lawrence Cannon, won the Municipality of Pontiac (which, confusingly, is outside the Pontiac MRC), and Chelsea in addition to the Pontiac MRC, but it was the Pontiac MRC that put him over the top.

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Surrounded by frickin’ idiots

My brother complained that my last post about Stephen Harper was just a little too fellatial, so it seems to me that I should say a bit more about the federal election.

(This is not without risk, given that I’m working on a government contract at the moment, and in the future there is always the possibility that I will be writing letters and briefing notes for a politician I take cheap shots at, but I think I’ll be okay; it’s not like anyone reads this thing anyway.)

The bottom line is that, despite my sordid partisan past, I’m politically neutral and have been for a decade. I’ve voted for each the three major federal parties at least once in past elections. And while the likelihood of my voting for the Bloc is less than zero, any of the remaining four parties (including the Greens) could, theoretically, win my vote. Though the course of the campaign may narrow my options, I generally try to vote for the best local candidate, on the basis that I’d rather have a competent, hard-working representative I don’t agree with than a meathead who’s barely capable of regurgitating slogans I do happen to agree with.

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Harper and the arts

A curious Globe and Mail interview with Stephen Harper reveals his artistic side, presumably in an attempt to put paid to the notion that he’s a cultural Philistine bent on killing all government funding to the arts. It turns out that he has been a pretty serious piano player, on and off, even getting his Royal Conservatory Grade 9 (which is more or less where I’m at, informally).

For most of his adult life, he didn’t own a piano and rarely played, leaving him “a shadow of my former self.” But since moving to 24 Sussex Dr., which boasts an impressive instrument, he has taken it up once more. …
“I’ve always been torn on music and piano in a way because I actually get a great deal of satisfaction out of when I do it, but I get so wrapped up in it. I’ve always had that problem with the artistic things I’ve enjoyed doing — I’ve played piano, I’ve sung a bit, I used to write poetry — I’ve always found with these kinds of things that they draw me in and I can’t let them go. I find it difficult to do it just on the side, a little bit here and now,” he said.

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Back to the salt mines

I went back to work this week — a six-week contract editing and writing briefing notes, correspondence and memoranda for Public Works and Government Services Canada.

This wasn’t my original plan, which was to use the fall — or at least September — to get caught up on a number of things that had accumulated during my year-long stint at Health Canada but that couldn’t get finished over the summer. But money’s money, and the gig is a good fit. And since freelancers can’t predict when the next contract will come, back to work I go.

Still, a lot of things left unfinished, including a whole whack of photographs to process, buying new glasses, tons of blogging, a major redesign of (which I’ve been ignoring for months even while it’s been drawing thousands of page views a day) and a book version of the garter snake care guide. These will simply have to wait until after this contract is done; that’ll be mid-October unless they extend me, which does tend to happen.

Don LaFontaine: A voice silenced

Don LaFontaine, the king of movie trailer voiceovers, has died. Here’s a thing about him:

LaFontaine has been absolutely iconic in recent years. See, for example, his self-lampooning GEICO ad.

And he’s by no means alone: Five Guys in a Limo features four other movie trailer voiceover talents. Also, the guy appearing on the Comedian trailer is Hal Douglas, not LaFontaine — but both are know for using the “In a world …” line that has become a shorthand for this kind of thing.

Via Accordion Guy, MetaFilter and Scalzi.

Update: In this Washington Post tribute to LaFontaine, every fucking paragraph begins with “In a world …” Okay, we get it. (Via Kottke.)

A note to NexStar 5 owners

Third-party accessories may not fit on a Celestron NexStar 5 even if they’re designed to do so. Apparently, some NexStar 5 telescopes are a little thicker around the corrector plate than others are, so even accessories specifically designed for them may not fit if the tolerances are too tight. I found this out in my recent shipment from Kendrick Astro Instruments, which arrived today. Their solar filters and Kwik Focus are designed to cover a telescope’s objective lens or corrector plate, and be tightened with screws. They’re sized to fit based on the telescope tube’s outside diameter (OD). My NexStar 5 SE has an OD of exactly 150 mm, which is on the cusp between two sizes. The smaller one was advertised to fit my telescope, so I ordered it. It doesn’t fit, and according to the Kendricks — who are, incidentally, wonderful to deal with — it should have fit easily. So back it goes, to be replaced by the larger model.

Don’t step in the leadership

So, apparently, we’re about to have a federal election, and apparently, the Tories want to make leadership the central issue. Oh, great, leadership — the most content-free issue there is.

Here’s what leadership means in the context of Canadian politics: it’s how we determine which party leader has a bigger dick. It’s the George Carlin theory of politics: Stephen Harper wants to prove he has a bigger dick than Stéphane Dion, and wants to have an election to fuck Dion, and the Liberal Party, right up (i.e., knock Dion from his post and cripple his party’s finances). It’s not about the economy, or health care, or the environment; it’s about how tough and decisive you can be — never mind what decisions you actually make. It’s just, as Carlin would say, a big dick-waving cockfight. Male aggro sublimated into the political arena.

And there are plenty of examples of this in recent political history. I bet you can think of a few.

On McCain’s vice-presidential pick

Let me see if I get this straight:

John McCain says that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be president, and then picks as his running mate someone with substantially less experience.

He implies that Obama is insufficiently patriotic, and then picks as his running mate someone with ties to an Alaskan separatist organization.

He mocks Obama as a celebrity, and then picks as his running mate a governor who trades, in part, on her appearance (“America’s hottest governor” and all that).

I understand that the pool of choices for McCain — maverick reformers who were still acceptable to the social conservative base — was rather shallow, but still. This wasn’t an inspired pick; it wasn’t a desperate pick; it was a bipolar pick.