Friday, April 22, 2011

Talk is cheap, and can make you look crazy

From an early age we are destined to speak - with the exception of a very small percentage of the population with medical conditions, disabilities, or are (or aspire to be) mimes or magician's assistants. Regardless, it's in our blood and we are all born with this overwhelming desire, this need, to communicate verbally (whether it's warranted or not and whether wants or has asked us to).

I happen to suffer from a common speech impediment that occasionally leaves those nearby with the impression that I might be suffering from some form of stroke. Other times it takes on Tourette-like symptoms, where stuttering and spitting and random swearing occur. Often, this condition affects some of my basic motor skills and you will find me waving my arms wildly and shaking my head, as if I have just been attacked by an invisible swarm of bees. My wife can do nothing but sit there and shake her head in disbelief. She doesn't understand, but it's not her fault. Contrary to the Fresh Prince it's not parents that don't understand. It's women. Not all of them, of course. I have seen many a woman afflicted with this disorder, but they are certainly in the minority.

The condition doesn't have a scientific name that I am aware of but if you look up on Google what it's called when people yell for no reason, wave their arms when talking, and then combine that with Tourette's and then put that person in front of the television that's what this is. Yellawaveatourettatvitis.

That's right. I talk like a crazy person to the television. I kept an informal record of this for a while and it appears that I do this for just about every type of show, but there are those that make it worse, and some that make it impossible to be in the same room as me unless you are so similarly afflicted.

In order with the things that make it worse at the top:

  1. Sports
    1. Anything during the Olympics
    2. Hockey
    3. Golf
    4. Baseball
    5. Auto Racing
    6. Lacrosse
    7. Basketball
    8. North American Football
    9. Soccer
    10. All other sports, including bowling and stuff they show on sports channels like poker
  2. News
    1. FOX
    2. CNN
    3. Everyone else
  3. Politics
    1. Debates
    2. Election day coverage
    3. Parliamentary channel
  4. Reality Shows
  5. Anything on Discovery Channel
  6. Anything on TLC
So, with an election on the horizon, the NHL playoffs on, golf in full swing, the NBA playoffs, baseball season starting, a new season of Survivor, and the ongoing existence of news channels from the U.S. it's safe to say that much of my time is being spent alone in the basement launching expletives and giving the finger to my HDTV (and loving every damn minute of it).

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Canada Votes 2011 #3

    On the heels of the English language debates there has been much chatter about who won or who made the greatest impact. I might be cynical, and I am definitely biased (at least when it comes to being against the Bloc), but what I saw was a debacle. Stephen Harper stood tall and remained calm, while the other three “leaders” ran around bickering and throwing barbs this way and that. They needled each other, they mostly needled Harper, and they got on my nerves. All of them. Especially the God damned separatist ass hat Gilles Duceppe, though I will give him credit for a) having the most knowledge about Canadian politics; and b) providing the greatest humour to low blow ratio (Harper had no low blows but was about as funny as a root canal. Leighton was 3rd and Iggy was dead last, taking pot shots at anyone who'd make eye contact). I can't help but think that had Elizabeth May been able to participate we would have seen something much more civilized and much more productive.

    What we witnessed was akin to three grade school kids launching a barrage of “nah-nah-na-boo-boo's” and “you're a stinker-face” at the school bully.  They all want to play road hockey and it just so happens that the bully is the only kid with an orange hockey ball, and guess what? He's taking his ball and he's going home. He's been doing it for 5 years and he'll do it now. He has more than enough support from the folks living on his cul-de-sac, and those sitting on the white picket fence are just tired of the bickering. So they're going to let him have the ball for the next 4 years and not allow anyone to do a damn thing about it. 

    It's exactly the type of thing that happens when you have an outdated electoral system like the one Canada uses. Someone on Twitter wrote something about Canada not having a single election but 308 simultaneous ones. It's true, and it's depressing as hell because as much as I want to make an informed decision and vote with my brain, I know it won't matter. I'm not in a riding where there's even a hope anyone but the incumbent will win.

    Every election, millions (yes millions) of votes are cast for candidates that will not win. In fact in 2008 an overwhelming number of people voted AGAINST the party that won. I'm sure it seems fair in some weird cartoon laws of physics sort of way, but if you think about it what is really happening is that your candidate will only win if you and a boat load of people who live near you are all drinking the same Kool Aid. Seems less fair when you consider that a party can receive 10% of the vote nationally and not have a single candidate elected. Seems fair until you consider that a party whose goal it is to separate themselves from the country can hold the balance of power in a minority government.

    This isn't about or encouraging people to vote one way or the other - do not mistake this for a sales pitch or any kind of sneaky trickery to sway your opinion. This is only a reminder to think before you vote. Vote for the right candidate such that you have a better chance of seeing the overall outcome you desire. Conservative? Good for you. Vote for them. Conservative in a predominately Liberal riding? You still have options available, both in the short term as well as the long term. Short term, consider the following:
    It's not illegal (it's not - look it up) or immoral (debate that on your own time) and I'm actually surprised I haven't heard more about it until recently. Especially since the concept of strategic voting is in the news today, and has been for a while.
      I'll be using vote pair and hopefully voting for someone in my riding that I would not normally consider, so long as somebody somewhere else in a closely contested riding agrees to vote for for the party of my choice. Hopefully this will tip the balance in favour of my desired outcome in that riding and not affect the riding I'm in in a direction that is unfavourable. We'll see how it goes.

      For a longer term solution, on May 3 (the day after the election) start writing to your elected official (regardless of party status) and ask the federal government to consider a new voting system.

      More than 80 countries around the world use a system much different than the one Canada uses today. It's called proportional representation, and it's the only way every vote is going to count. No strategic trickery involved.
      At the end of the day, I don't care which name you put the 'X' beside. In fact, most of the general public, your friends, and your family don't either. Really. They don't. So just think about it, and then do it.

      Tuesday, April 12, 2011

      Live Debate Tweets

      Check out my sidebar or click below for a running tweet diary of the Canadian election debate!

      #db8 @andrewbutters

      Saturday, April 2, 2011

      Punk for Kevin

      So Mr. Kevin Smith is doing something quite cool as part of his latest tour and in promoting his upcoming horror film Red State. He's having an art swap! Music for tickets (or whatever, I'm not sure as the details are a bit thin). Create something less than a minute long that Kevin can own and use for whatever he wants (e.g. intros to SModcasts) and if he likes it, he'll "buy" it from you for tickets to a show (at least that's what it's been so far. I would be happy to exchange it for whatever - or a walk on part in "Hit Somebody" :)  if he's not going to make it up to my neck of the woods (but I really want to see that flick and Q&A).

      So, going under the assumption that Kevin will someday make an appearance back in Kitchener I have whipped up this (suggestion: play it LOUD). Click the red circle:

      Spunk by andrewbutters

      I wanted to title it "SMunk" or "SMpunk" but neither of those really worked. Spunk seemed more appropriate.

      Lyrics are done, but need some tweaking before I lay them over the track. You can find them on the SoundCloud website as a comment on the track (start on the 11th measure - right when the rhythm guitar and bass kick in - and are sung one line per measure until the solo drum beats before the final chord).

      UPDATE!

      He likes it! He really likes it! Okay, he likes it well enough to TWEET ABOUT IT!