Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallowe'en Songs

The Jezebel Spirit from Brian Eno and David Byrne, featuring an excerpt from an exorcism:



Everyday is Halloween from Ministry:



Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Cryptkickers:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Share the Wealth, Dudes!

I have to laugh every time I hear John McCain refer to the "tax and spend liberals" or when he insults Barack Obama for being a liberal. Liberal is such a dirty word in the United States, even though both Republicans and Democrats are liberals. Both parties support classical liberal values such as individual freedom, property rights, civil liberties, and the free market.

Now, I realize that the classic definition of a social liberal in one who supports higher taxation and societal regulation. Maybe so; maybe not so. I really think it boils down to who gets the tax cut and who doesn't. McCain, like our own lesser Bush (aka Stephen Harper), panders to big business, while those to the left argue for tax relief among the lower and middle classes. Which sounds more humane to you?

If McCain is not a liberal, what is he? The opposite of liberalism is fascism, and even I wouldn't call John McCain a Fascist. Conservatism, you might say, is the opposite of liberalism. Yet, there are few quality definitions of conservatism, so I adhere to Lincoln's: "adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried." That is what this election is all about.

If we can define conservatism as frugality with respect to spending, then George W. Bush's regime fails the test in spectacular fashion. He squandered billions of dollars in taxpayers' money in Iraq. He has spent the USA into a massive debt. It seems to me that Dubya is a liberal, according to McCain's definition.

Up in the Great White North, we have a political party called the Liberal Party of Canada (the Grits). We are not afraid of being called liberals or socialists, though most would draw the line at the term Marxist, mostly because few of us really understand the term after years of perversion by authoritarian regimes. Marx really only provided an excellent critique of capitalism. What happened after the revolution went largely unsaid, leaving ample room for the misapplication of his theories. But, I am getting side-tracked.

When Obama said "share the wealth around", he certainly was not calling for the proletariat to assume control of the means of production. There's no need for the Bourgeoisie to panic. This spin is another desperate Republican tactic to distort the sensible words of a reasonable man, the next President of the United States of America.

P.S. My political theory classes seem so long ago now...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Time Off

Well, I am taking tomorrow and Friday off work. We get a certain number of Professional Development days and I am using two this week. I have to prepare for three upcoming presentations, and I find that I can't really dedicate as much time as I would like here. For some reason, I find that my office is not conducive to work. I know it sounds bizarre, but I have a hard time focusing on things like that here.

And now, I have to do stuff. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Dad might be Getting his own Pair of Breasts

I realize that my dad might be the ultimate breast man, but I am fairly sure that he never wanted his very own pair of breasts. He is all about access, not ownership. A pair of breasts on a woman with visitation rights is what he always wanted. Now, he might actually be getting his own breasts.

No, he is not obese, not buying implants, and not changing gender. Instead, he will be undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy. Anti-androgens reduce the production of testosterone, which feeds prostate cancer. The alternative treatment is orchidectomy, which sounds unpleasant to me and I am sure to him as well.

HRT, however, does have side effects akin to menopausal symptoms. These include hot flushes, osteoporosis, impotence, breast growth and breast tenderness. Despite that, the treatment should lengthen his life, and that's all that really matters.

By the way, this is post #800. I like to celebrate meaningless milestones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Palin is Dumber than Dubya!

Sorry, but I couldn't resist another political post. I have to hand it to John McCain. The ancient dude found someone even stupider than George W. Don't believe me? Well, check this out.


1) Sarah Palin has no idea what the Vice President does (10 seconds):



2) Sarah Palin thinks that the VP is in charge of the United States Senate! (50 seconds):



And why do all of her answers sound like she is being scored in a beauty pageant?

3) Sarah Palin has no idea what the Bush Doctrine is (2:34):



4) But, wait! She can see Russia from Alaska! (1:28):



5) "Most pathetic piece of tape I have ever seen..." (2:26):



7) Women should be forced to bear rapists' children (2:07):



8) Sarah Palin can't name a single newspaper she has read (45 seconds):



9) Sarah Palin is stumped (2:05):



10) John Cleese says she's "a nice-looking parrot" (1:22):



Honestly, she makes Mr. Bush look like a genius.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

OCD or Installation?

The other day, I walked into the nearest bathroom to my office, pushed open the stall door (I'll avoid discussing the problems associated with having to do one's business in the workplace) and was confronted by a toilet seat that was wrapped in so much paper, it looked like a Christmas present or possibly a paper throne. I couldn't see any hint of porcelain, no clue that the seat was black. To me, it looked like the most sublime feat of origami in history. Someone had crafted a toilet from toilet paper!

But, no, it seems that someone spent an hour or so making sure all surface areas were covered in toilet paper. What student, I ask you, has the time to devote that much energy to something he will only require for a few moments? Well, unless he had other less obvious plans, that is.

You know, it's impossible to catch an STD - wait, I think we call them STIs now - from a toilet seat. It can't happen, unless there is some sort of new super STI that I don't know about. And, even if you could catch something hideous from a toilet seat, would a few thin strips of toilet paper protect you? I think not.

I honestly believe that it one is that paranoid about catching an infectious disease from a toilet seat, a far better strategy would be to carry around cleaning supplies, like some of those disinfectant wipes. It would be obsessive-compulsive and a little nuts, but creating a paper throne is probably weirder.

Later, I thought that perhaps I had it all wrong. Maybe this was an installation? Now, I regret not photographing it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Inside the Actors [sic] Studio

I like this show very much, almost enough to excuse the poor grammar in the title. It seems that the entire world has no idea how to use an apostrophe, so it is largely left out, like in the name of the Actors [sic] Studio Drama School, where the show began.

But that is not the point. If you've seen the show, you are not doubt aware that James Lipton uses the Pivot Questionnaire (from the French TV show Bouillon de Culture hosted by Bernard Pivot). So, here are my spontaneous answers:

1. What is your favorite word?

Can't decide...Parabola, hinge, rebellion, or yes.


2. What is your least favorite word?

Clearly, it has to be the "N word" but tax a close second.


3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Good music.


4. What turns you off?

Bigotry.


5. What is your favorite curse word?

Fuck.


6. What sound or noise do you love?

Bacon frying in a pan or the pop of a cork.


7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Electric hand mixers. They make a truly awful din.


8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

That's a tough one, but I'd have to say either an astronomer or a porn star.


9. What profession would you not like to do?

Dysentery Stool-Sample Analyzer or Barnyard Masturbator.


10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may be admitted into the community of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 23:2), so come on in!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wow, the work day is almost over, and I have nothing to say. Talk about a huge disappointment. Where does the time go?

So, I guess instead of something entertaining, irreverent, and possibly comical, I will simply tell you that I really liked what Colin Powel said on Meet the Press. He cut through the crap (I originally typed carp) and gave a non-partisan assessment of the two US presidential candidates that makes sense and is completely logical. Personally, I have never understood the way his given name is pronounced: it sounds like a body part or a punctuation mark to me.

In case you missed it:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rest in Peace, Frankie Venom

Yesterday, I learned of the passing of Frankie Venom (aka Frank Kerr), the front man of Canadian punk band Teenage Head. Teenage Head was one of the first bands I saw live, and I saw them at my high school. Sure, there was controversy over the name. There was that riot at Ontario Place, but that was all in fine punk rock form. I do have some vinyl. I might dig it out and see how it has aged.



P.S. I am not at work today :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good News and Bad News

I am happy that Canadians were intelligent enough to stop short of granting Harper a majority government. But, I can't even figure out why the CRAP party won. At the very least, they ought to have received some comeuppance for ignoring the fixed election date law and wasting $300 million of taxpayers' money on an election we did not need just to come to a decision that is much the same as we had before. Brilliant, Stephen.

But, I have to say that I am really irritated by the election turnout, which was an underwhelming 58%, the lowest in Canadian history. What the hell is wrong with us? Almost half of us don't care who wins and refuse to exercise a right that many in the world would die for? Come on, people. Apathy about elections really infuriates me. I am angry with you 42%, really angry.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election Day

The most important thing is to vote, of course. The next most important thing is to vote for anybody but the Reform ... I mean ... Conservative Party. Get out there and vote.

Monday, October 13, 2008

HCT

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving. I wish our Thanksgiving was the same as the American one, because right after Halloween, we Canadians are inundated with Christmas advertising. I could be wrong, but I seem to recall that Christmas advertising in the USA doesn't really get going until after Thanksgiving. Maybe that's not true anymore?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Zydeco Fish and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

I've been disassembling my old mountain bike. I had left it in the shed, after I acquired a new one. And then I thought, why not make the repairs myself? Damn, that was a great idea. I researched, looked at websites, YouTube, books, and I was ready. I removed the wheels and cleaned the rims, spokes, hubs, and rear cassette. I disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the idler pulley and derailleur. I scrubbed the chain stay, seat stay, down tube, top tube, front forks, and removed the rusted chain.

I purchased a crank remover, and removed the cranks quickly and efficiently. I knew I would require a new chain ring. And then, I focused on the bottom bracket. I started with the drive side (left threads, I know). I noticed that the spline teeth were all worn after 9 summers and winters. The spline bottom bracket tool could achieve no purchase. Thankfully, I avoided ripping up my knuckles on the chain rings. The damn thing would not budge no matter how hard I tried. I failed on the other side too.

After soaking the bottom bracket in oil, which I let penetrate over night, I failed once more. I tried everything, including the tips found in various bike forums on the web. Yes, I bolted the bottom bracket tool to the spindle and held it in place with washers. The result? The remaining teeth splintered, disintegrated into small bits of metal, and fell out like Giles's teeth in his dreams in Dead Babies.

This was disheartening as I had read post after post in bike forums where people had achieved success with such a tactic. So, I resorted to plan B, also recommended on various web forums: I brought out a torch. We all know that heat expands metal, so I should be able to get some movement if the whole bracket were heated. No such luck, I'm afraid.

But, I have not yet given up.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Last 10 CDs I added to my MP3 Player

I had something to say about the Pope today, but I don't have enough time to say it. Later, maybe. Instead, I made a list, which took about 30 seconds.

1) Spiritualized - Songs in A & E
2) White Stripes - Icky Thump
3) Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview
4) Beck - Modern Guilt
5) Bob Dylan - Modern Times
6) R.E.M. - Accelerate
7) Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell
8) Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space
9) Can - Tago Mago
10) Hrsta - L'├ęclat du ciel ├ętait insoutenable

Yeah, I load entire CDs, 'cause I have one of those 15GB units that holds, like, 400 CDs.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bondage

As promised yesterday, here are two shots from Nuit Blanche. I selected these as examples, just to give you an idea. There are others I like much better, and those will probably end up on my Flickr account. I hope these aren't too scandalous for a librarian's blog :-)


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nuit Blanche 2008

The bad news is that I started to feel very ill around midnight, and had to cut my night very short. Presently, I am dealing with a cold that has a horrible cough. But, I did enjoy some of this year's Nuit Blanche, mostly because the theme was nudity or, rather, partial nudity.

Early in the evening, I cycled down Bay Street and watched about 8 women (probably late 20s or early 30s) hurry out of a restaurant and attempt to flag down cabs. One slightly overweight woman tried to propel herself along on her little trotters but, in doing so, caused some sort of cascading ripple effect, a fleshquake might describe it. Her body rolled in several directions at once, hindering her forward momentum. It was not a pleasing sight, but then her strapless halter dress gave into the chaos and fell down, exposing both of her bare breasts. Drunkenly, she hoisted it back up, and raised her hand in the air for a cab.

Trying to expunge that from my mind, I soldiered on. Soon, I caught a performance of Japanese Butoh, an extreme form of dance featuring three topless women and a topless man, each wearing a sumo wrestling-like diaper and covered in white body make-up and black writing. I observed and took photos, some of which are very cool.

Much later, I took in my favourite unofficial Nuit Blanche event, which is an annual light bondage show. I got some great photos last year and some even better ones this year. Should I post a photo here? Would that be outrageous or offensive? Let me know if you'd like to see one or two. I also ran into a photography friend I hadn't see for a while at this event. That was cool.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hogan's Heroes and Jell-O?

I loved Hogan's Heroes. I watched it religiously (in reruns) during my childhood and I periodically look longingly at the DVD box sets on the shelves. I was stunned to find this advertisement that the crew back in the day. I had no idea.



I think that they ought to bring back the vintage TV commercials and rerun them from time to time. That would be a kick. And then there's this odd piece:



Oh, Bob Crane. What a tragic end he met.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Who is the Elitist?

I have no idea where this comes from or even if it is true, but holy shit if it is. And, the Obama vehicle is a hybrid.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Nuit Blanche

I will be staying up all night tonight, thanks to Nuit Blanche. Hopefully, I will get some good photos.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I was just thinking...

... as we neared the end of yesterdays interviews (more to come today) that perhaps I have seen too much reality-based television. After this morning's candidate, I really wanted to say: "Yo dawg, it was like dope; Once you got started, you got your slayin' on. It was like goin' on, dude!"

Yesterday, it would have been. "I'm a definite no" or "that was absolutely dreadful" or "you are almost creepy."

Yeah, that's it, dudes, we should put them through challenges and then I could say, "That's enough. Bring me your torch. The tribe has spoken." Or, even: "you are the last interviewee to arrive. I'm sorry to tell you that you have been eliminated from the competition."

This would shake up the exercise significantly, dawgs.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I am watching the debate (the Canadian one) and find it both amusing and depressing. I don't understand why anyone would vote Conservative. Harper is doing his best to appear nice and moderate and friendly. He should have worn the sweater.
Interviews, Interviews, and More Interviews

I am swamped with job interviews for the next two days. I am interviewing candidates, not being interviewed. It sounds like fun, but it is not, for many reasons, mostly because I am not a fan of the job interview.

We all convene in a meeting room with an oval table, the five interviewers having chosen a good seat, and the interviewee left to take whatever seat is offered to them. In the office we formerly used, the candidate was forced to stare into the sun, while we all sat comfortably, with the sun to our backs. It reminded me of the interrogation parts of Darkness at Noon.

Resumes are full of lies, or maybe I should say exaggerations. Mine is and I am sure yours is too. If we don't exaggerate and manipulate the truth, we would all appear to be normal, uninteresting, and completely lacking in talent. I don't really have a problem with that, but I do have issues with the interview process and references.

Personally, I think the job interview is a waste of time. Surely, it would make much better sense to work with the person for a few weeks, and then have a conversation about whether they ought to be permitted to stay in the job. An hour long meeting can't be a good way to determine if an individual is a proper fit for the job and the organization. I realize that there can be probationary periods (we have a lengthy one here) but everyone has passed the reviews at six months, twelve months, eighteen months, or twenty-four months. Once you are in, you are in like Flynn.

Instead, we ask them questions. Some employers request presentations, but even that is not good, if you ask me. Interviews are excellent for putting people on the spot, but these days, most people can anticipate the questions. Interviews are polite, formal, and useless. We, as interviewers, never speak our minds and say things like: "wow, that was a dumb answer."

Which brings me to references. Why do we bother to check references? What candidate would list a person who would give them a bad reference? Of course we all list people who will say good things about us. When you add the risk of legal action that some people have taken against those who have given a bad reference, I wonder why we bother with the whole process. The possibility of legal action caused so much concern that one of my former references said she couldn't even speak frankly to potential employers for fear of some sort of legal reprisal. I think we should stop the whole reference thing.

But, I am on the committee, so I will ask my questions over and over. I just have time for lunch, and then I am back in the room...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No time to post today. Maybe I will try tomorrow. Off to another meeting.