World Toilet Day 2014

This year I am going to remind all y'all that World Toilet Day is a (pdf warning) feminist cause, plus a link to last year's entry to in case anyone has forgotten the context.  This woman gets it.

And now, on to the POOP.

A YouTube embed taken straight out of Inside Amy Schumer:

And a chance to slag Montreal.  What a shithole.


Election Day

LEAFS SUCK as well as all other municipalities in Ontario go to the polls today. Well actually, advance polls have been more active than historically, so some folks have already exercised their franchise.

You might imagine that I might be happy with the end of the White Bronco days. Sadly, he will likely be re-elected as councillor for his ward. He stepped out of the mayoral race when he got back his cancer diagnosis.  Instead older brother Doug is running. And polling second.

The front runner has a comfortable lead, and if anything LEAFS SUCK loves the bandwagon, so we are looking at John Tory finally winning an election. John Tory is not only his actual name, but also the ridiculous conservative caraciature he plays.

The man has made what he calls "SmartTrack" the centre point of his campaign. It is dumb. As in actively and aggressively stupid. It appears to have been developed by drawing lines on an out of date map running surface rail through substantial buildings and subdivisions. It is an electrified rail system  that uses passenger cars from our existing diesel commuter rail fleet. Even with the oversized two floor cars, at the ridership levels Tory promises, trains will be over twenty cars long, 50% longer than the stations will be. And the plan to pay for it is even more ludicrous than that. But hey, subways!  Anything to prevent more traffic on the streets. Despite the fact that the plan involves massive densification along the route (which still won't be close to enough to finance it).  Like I said, actively and aggressively stupid.

We have a progressive candidate, but she is polling a distant third. After the fiasco that was Rob Ford, LEAFS SUCK is trying to decide between which of the two conservative douchebags to lead the next term. It is so bad, I'm beginning to feel bad that the Leafs have to represent such a terrible shithole of a town.


Well Past Time to Lock the #GamerGate

What the actual fuck

Kotaku article with context..

Okay, I guess instead of being really behind on something, I'm gonna try step out forward.  Prebuttal of some of the stupid rationalizing crap that's incoming.

1. "Dude has nothing to do with #GamerGate."

You keep believing what you want, but there's 8chan chat logs being investigated right now that prove you wrong. Regardless, not even really fucking relevant because of...

2. "You're generalizing.  #GamerGate has legit complaints, and you're painting it all with a broad brush."

No. Wrong. You want to talk about ethics in games journalism, there's other venues. If this isn't actually about harassing women, use #GameEthics and prove it. That's right, use Zoe Quinn's suggested hashtag, prove that you care more about your actual ethics complaints than you do about letting some woman you don't know "win".

#GamerGate is fake. You may have legit concerns, but that hashtag is fake. Chat logs have shown a coordinated plan to use it as cover to continue harassing women.  More importantly, the content itself - how long do you need to wait before a new "woe is me, the white male of liberal social justice fascism" tweet?  That is not a legit concern, criticism, or any fucking thing else. That is totally enabling bullshit that helps feed the paranoid martyr-delusions of the sociopath that went after @Spacekatgal.

Because there are crazy fucks out there. Crazy fucks who threaten to murder-rape people and their families.  And include their actual home addresses in the threats.

For serious here. @chatterwhiteman?  Look at that fucking handle.  This is a fucking nutjob we're looking at. Actually crazy. And motivated by all the "persecution" he's suffering. Stop fucking feeding him and all the other "persecuted" sociopaths.  Even if you do have legit complaints, all it is doing at this point is making crazy people think that they're justified in making credible death threats - and who the fuck knows what else.


Shakespeare Sucks

I missed this when it happened because I don't know squat about NPR, but apparently it wasn't just some Midsummer's Night Dream.

Anyways, I was kinda sad about missing the opportunity to pipe up, but then I realized that being late to commenting on something was actually this blog's mission statement, so here we go.

Shakespeare sucks.  Really he does.  It's terrible shit and it is foisted upon every single high school student in the english speaking world.  And nearly universally loathed.  First exposure to the amazing literature that teh Workes of William Shakefpeare are supposed to be elicits disgust and aversion.  Maybe that's a poor metric - sort of judging books by their covers.  THEY ARE FUCKING PLAYS FOR FUCKS SAKE.  First response is more relevant than any of the god damn justifications that Shakespeare apologists can come up with.  Fuck.

And that's the thing.  Hate Shakespeare?  You're an ignorant doofus obsessed with instant gratification and unable to comprehend even slight nuance.  I mean, hating Shakespeare might be an understandable response from smartphone addicted teens with no life experience and brains that haven't finished forming.  Because apparently there is no possible way that there can be any remotely legitimate criticism of Shakespeare.

You know what?  It sucks.  For all the "poetry" it is supposed to be, it blows.  It lacks flow.  It's so broken that it needs its own special and incredibly stilted delivery.  And that delivery itself is next to goddamn useless for anything other than Shakespeare.  And even with that, it doesn't even make it good - just less bad.  Citation of outstanding performances - big fucking deal.  I could poop on a page, but it'd still be amazing if read by Ian McKellan or Patrick Stewart.  Judge the "poetry" by the delivery from mediocre actors - by average summer stock performances.

Shakespeare is all reputation.  You only like it because you are supposed to.  On its own merits, well it has none - so whatevers.

But what about the fact that he did it first.  That so much of modern storytelling owes everything to Shakespeare's plays and without Romeo and Juliet we would never have 95% of every movie ever filmed.  Bullshit.  The stories and tropes used by Shakespeare are as old as time.  They pre-date him by millenia.  It's not like he's the originator of "star-cross'd lovers".  And here's the thing - with Shakespeare, this makes the plays timeless.  With anyone else it makes them derivative.

And it's not even relevant.  It's good because it's old?  What the fuck?  I mean sure, if this were four hundred years ago and my choices for entertainment was Shakespeare, Morris Dancing or cockfighting - okay, maybe not so bad.  But in this day and age?  And do we also consider cockfighting the pinnacle of sport since it's contemporaneous with Shakespeare?

There is this thing about Shakespeare - bred deep into our culture - that liking Shakespeare is an inherent good, in and of itself.  And it's under that light, with the automatic assumption that William Shakespeare is the greatest playwright and poet to have ever graced the planet and no one could possibly hope to come even remotely close - that all discussions of Shakespeare are had.  Wheeee.

It's way worse than that though.  I mean we're talking about personal preferences in literature - sure the pro-Shakespeare folks take any criticism of The Bard way too seriously, but that's no excuse for me to get allupons about his easy ride.  Well I actually have a reason.  All you folks who love the Shakespeare are wedded to it because of the baggage that it carries.  The high brow, extremely white, ultra privileged bourgeois bullshit of it.  It is from and of a very closed social structure and steeped in classism, almost invariably a flavour of classism that punches down.  The dismissal of criticism of Shakespeare is just legitimizing the dismissal of people - for not being "cultured" (i.e. middle class white).

So I guess what I'm saying is that I actually hate Shakespeare mostly because of the way people defend his works.  That I hate what Shakespeare represents more than I hate the plays themselves.  That said, let me make this perfectly clear - I still think his plays suck.


Totally Serious About the Lesbians in The Longest Journey

Here's the original - http://www.alexandradal.com/comic/girls-and-games/
Here's the updated "comeback"- http://imgur.com/aGVaza7

Not even going to address the ridonkulous things from their list.  Ayumi from X-Blades?  Really?

Anyways, just so that we understand how far these dudebros have missed the point, their list includes Dreamfall, which is from 2006 (incidentally, it's a sequel for The Longest Journey which has the best depiction of a lesbian couple I have seen in gaming or any other media).  Jade from Beyond Good and Evil is also a great character - and from 2003.  That list covers about a decade of gaming. And no, there weren't sequels released in the last couple weeks that would make these games recent examples as opposed to pre-dating the previous console generation.

By contrast, here is a list of male characters:
"Reck" Recker
Edward Kenway
Lucas Kellen
The entire roster of COD:Ghosts including the dog.

And that's just PS4 Launch Titles.  As in the list of male protagonists available on day one of the PS4 is about half the length of female characters from the past ten or so years.  In their defense, Dawn and Didi from Contrast are both female characters.  OTOH, the Launch Titles also included the Blacklight Retribution beta, FIFA 14, some Madden game and two NBA titles.  The XBone list is at least as skewed.  Even the "kiddie friendly" Wii-U launched with an Ass Creed, Ninja Gaiden and Darksiders 2.

So yeah - "Gee I wish there were more strong female characters in video games" seems like a totally reasonable thing to say.  As in, 

To further drive the point home, the "punchline" is about how the girl gamer then goes on to whine about getting threatened with rape, which incidentally is exactly what happened.  Because male gamer privilege is so thick these ignorant fuckwits actually believe it's not misogynist since the jackwad threatens both men and women with rape all the time.  Seriously, that's the "joke" - women are stupid because they can't laugh off rape threats as well as gamer dudebros.  Hahaha.  


The Aching of a Melody

SOCAN has decreed Canuckistan's best independent song in english.  I cannot imagine them being wrong.

Limiting it to english means most of the songs off La Boca can't be considered but this one seeps in sweet and then comes down heavy.


Proportional to How Well Your Party Did

The Ontario Liberals got 38.64% of the popular vote, and yet have a majority government with 55% of the seats.  Definitely an argument for Proportional Representation or some other type of electoral reform, at least according to the National Post.

Not saying that they are wrong - First Past The Post is a stupid electoral system and it definitely should be turfed.  Especially when you have more than two viable political parties.  I'd just like to point out the difference in tone between the offensive-affront-to-democracy-of-sub-40%-majority piece we got with Liberals in government and what the National Post thought of Stephen Harper's win three years ago - where it represented a huge mandate.

  • The Conservative Party received 39.6% of the vote and 54% of the seats across the country as a whole. However, factor out Quebec — that is, examine the rest of Canada without it — and the Tory numbers rise to 47.7% of the vote and 68% of the seats.
  • The Conservatives’ 5.8-million vote tally Monday was the third-highest raw total for any party in any general election in Canadian history. It falls short of the 6.3-million-vote haul that led the Mulroney Conservatives to their 1984 landslide, but ahead of the 5.6-million the Chr├ętien Liberals garnered in the pivotal contest of 1993.

Pleasantly Surprised

Liberals 59
PC 27
NDP 21

Massive overperformance by the "scandal rdden Liberals".  Horwath held 21 seats, popular vote position improved from last election as well.  Still, she's probably the biggest loser here since her third party position means a lot less in a majority government.

And Hudak.  Wow, nice to know that such a sizable portion of Ontario agrees that Hudak is terrible.  I guess basing your entire campaign on a basic math error is not a winning proposition.


Don't Forget to Vote

Provincial election today. Going in, it's 48 Liberals, 37 Conservatives and 21 New Democrats with one seat vacant. Polling is pointing to essentially zero seat change, with my guess being 48-38-21.  That said, three viable parties and a Green Party that racks up 5% to 10% of the popular vote, surprises can happen.

It's possibly the stupidest election ever. The incumbent Liberals were three years into their third four year term. Having the same ruling party since 2003 has lead to quite a good deal of upset and frustration. And a hefty catalog of scandals.  To say they were vulnerable is massively understating it. Their leader, who headed two majority governments and one "minority" with 53 of 107 seats stepped down a little over a year ago. The precipitating event is referred to as the "Liberal Gas Plant Scandal" and was about as badly managed a 1 billion dollar boondoggle can be. The opposition parties, the press, everyone and their neighbours talked about it nearly constantly.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Spring 2014 election. The new leader, Premier Kathleen Wynne, basically capitulated to the third party and we had a year or so of leftish "socialist" NDP policies being put into force by the Liberal government.  Proves to be a pretty shrewd choice, The Liberals hold all of 1 of 5 ridings through by-elections in the summer of 2013.  The NDP pick up 3.

Spring 2014, the Liberals table their budget.  It is again, an NDP budget.  But the NDP leader, possibly high on by-election success, turns it down and we're off to the ballot boxes.

But what of the actual official opposition?  I've only been talking about the slightly left of centre and the slightly more left of centre parties.  The PC party is clearly the actual opposition and the most likely benefactor of a worn out administration that the public is fed up with.  You would think so, but our provinicial conservatives suck.  No seriously, not that they suck because they have selfish ignorant bigoted hate-fueled world views (although they do suck because of that) but because they are breathtakingly incompetent.

This election is Opposition leader Tim Hudak's big chance, a gift wrapped election that no one could lose, and he's headed for defeat again.  A lot of self-inflicted damage for sure - his entire campaign is built upon what he calls the Million Jobs Plan, something he was so vested and proud of that he released all the supporting information behind designing it and it turns out that it is based on a math error.  No seriously, #HudakMath was actually trending for a while.  I have more to say on #HudakMath too, about how it demonstrates how completely intellectually and morally bankrupt conservatives are, but that's a post for another day.

Everyone basically believed that all Hudak had to do was keep his mouth shut and he'd be Premier easily, but he didn't.  He has consistently polled as the least likable and least believable of the three leaders.  When the election was called, no one cared what the leader of the Official Opposition thought, and everyone was focused on Horwath and Wynne.  He's a huge liability for his party, a smug jerk with no charisma.

But here's the thing - he's possibly the best politician the Ontario provincial conservatives have got.  Because the federal conservatives have been sitting in government at Parliament Hill since 2006.  There is a long tortured history of the federal conservatives and their schisms, name changes and rebranding but essentially it was a regional rump from our Texas-like oil-and-gas fueled west.  And to truly make it as a national party, the federal conservatives went very aggressively at Ontario, which unfortunately worked quite well for them. The silver lining though, it totally hollowed out the talent pool of conservative politicians in province.

Anyways, polls are already open so let me get to the point.  I'm using this post to make my bold predictions.

Libs - 48, PCs - 38, NDP -21.

That's not the bold part, that's roughly where the polling puts it.  My big statement is that Tim Hudak, after losing the election he could not possibly lose, will stay on as leader of the Ontario conservatives.


Can Enable

Electoral activities are all up and active in my lovely town of LEAFS SUCK.  While the provincial election is more pressing with the election only a few weeks away, I'm going to dedicate my first post in almost a hundred days to everybody's favourite White Bronco.

Forum’s mayoral approval numbers from May 11, 2013 was 44%
The Gawker video is from May 16, 2013.
On May 25, 2013 it was 42%.
A third of his staff is fired or resigns in this period.
On June 26, 2013 it was 47%.
Rumours, innuendo and speculation churn until fall.
Halloween 2013, it was 44%.
November 5, 2013 – Rob Ford admits to smoking crack cocaine while in a drunken stupor.
November 20, 2013 – steady at 42%.

This low to mid 40's approval remains constant untill May 2, 2014.
In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 888 Toronto voters the day Mayor Rob Ford announced he is taking a leave of absence to deal with his substance abuse problem, fewer than 4-in‐10 approve of the job he is doing as mayor (38%), and this is down sharply from two weeks ago (46%).
And the latest Forum polling?  32%.

Moral of the story?  Torontonians disapprove of rehab.


I Can't Believe I'm Still Michael Jackson

The reason I started posting videos of irish covers of Michael Jackson was because I had (and still have) dangerously unhealthy obsessions with KT Tunstall and Emm Gryner.  Year Two, I would give mixed reviews.  The less said about Boyband Edition, the better.  So progressively worse which I guess limited stock of irish people covering Michael Jackson?

Nope.  Turns out I'm just lazy.  Plenty of stuff if you bother to look.

Busking in Dublin looks like a frigging hard gig.

But apparently, going inside will break your fucking heart.


SOTU 2014 Review

In the Polar Vortex cold light of a bourbon hangover morning, I give SOTU 2014 a "son of a barkeep" thumbs up. I'm not going to unpack the specific promises and individually described programs and initiatives (cripes there were a lotta em) but take it as a whole.

The Good
A new target audience - the no-longer/not-quite middle class. Of course the official audience is Congress and there's a lot of Villager talk in it, but it looked (to me) like Barry was talking directly to a different group of people than these usually do. Not the kitchen table crowd with their suburban picket fences, but folks who have kitchens too small to fit a table.  The working poor, the collateral damage of recession right sizing, the recent grad.  The folks who haven't got their tickets yet.

Less bipartisanship BS. A recognition that the House is not going to get its house in order. That the GOP had at least four Responses to the speech highlights how dysfunctional the GOP has become.  Despite the obligatory "willing to work with you", this SOTU was downright hostile towards Congress. Which is of course well warranted.

Moments of passion. The equal pay portion was probably the most prominent, but that intensity of delivery that Obama is capable of made itself known again. Never doubt that Barry can deliver speeches.

The Bad
Fucking centrists. STFU about teh fucking deficit all-fucking-ready.  Fuck. Treasuries are still trading at inflation or lower. Fuck.

So the NSA has been wholesale violating anything and everything they can, all at massive expense and with absolute bupkes to show for it. Here, Obama is going to slap your wrist as lightly as he possibly can while reminding everyone that you are the Front Line in The War On Terror. 

The War On Terror. It is fucking 2014.  What the fuck is wrong with you?

I appreciate that he is trying to sell his ideas and initiatives here, but does he have to sound like a salesman?  So many individual programs called out and a bunch of them weren't very big. At times it really felt like he was lauding the number of cup holders.

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  The good outweighs the bad because it really feels like there is something new here and the bad is just a result of Obama being Obama. He can't be outside the system, he is the system.


Winter Weatherland

The ice storm rode in on the solstice, and on that first winter's night it blanketed the city, piling up high on tree branches everywhere.  High that is, until they came down.  We woke Sunday morning in the dark - although lucky enough to have power restored a little more than one day later.

Lucky too, I had the car out Saturday night in the freezing rain.  The sheet of ice encasing it Sunday morning was easy enough to chip away and we escaped to the in-laws place, for they still had power.  The drive through Scarborough that morning - eerie.  Downed trees everywhere.  Power was a patchwork with one street lit up with Christmas lights and the next in darkness.  It would continue like that for several days, with some people offline for a week.

Sunday night, just after dinner, our temporary sanctuary lost power, so we awoke in darkness for the second morning in a row.  They too were lucky with service restored in by Tuesday morning.  By this time, our home was back online and we could reciprocate sheltering.  Ultra Ninja weathered the most severe weather event of her life with no more than 12 hours in a row without electricity.  My phone didn't even drop below 50%.

We were hosting Christmas Dinner this time round and losing the weekend cut pretty deep into our preparation time.  It still came off without any more trouble than usual.  Stocking up on provisions early and stuffing the fridge to the gills with thermal inertia paid off.  And Christmas itself was a picture perfect postcard, a light dusting of snow on Christmas Eve, just like in the storybooks.  Picture perfect provided you didn't look down at the mountains of fallen wood on the ground.

It wasn't until Christmas Eve that temperatures dropped so severely that people were in actual danger.  Two nights in a row where it dropped below -10 C.  Merry Christmas.  Other than the freezing rain, the weather was actually nicer than Christmas here has been the past few years.  But there was an awful lot of freezing rain.  But it is the absolute insanity since then that's worn me down.

On the 28th, it all started to melt.  Sunday saw the highest temperatures all month at around 5 degrees.

And then it froze again.  New Years Eve was ten below again, as was the night before.

And then it got cold.  -18 on the 2nd.  -24 on the third.

And then it thawed on the fifth.

And then it froze on the sixth.  Hitting minus 10 before sunset.  Thaw freeze thaw freeze - meant that stretches of my inner suburb had plenty of spots with treacherous ice.  Not a coating of ice, but solid slabs several centimetres deep.  I'm a casualty, having slipped and landed on my knee on the commute home.  It's not too bad - I can put weight on it and walk without a limp, but stairs take a lot longer than usual and every now and then I bend it in a way that sends shooting pains through my leg.  I'm taking the classic advice of "so don't bend it that way" - but apparently I fidget in my sleep.  Which I'm not doing right now - fidgeting nor sleeping.

Right now, at half past three in the AM, the storm is raging.  It's twenty below, minus forty with the sustained 45 km/h winds.  I just heard three more tree branches land in our already cluttered back yard.

It's supposed to thaw this weekend and freeze again before the next weekend.