Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some Music and Stuff

I spent a frustrating amount of time trying to figure out which audio formats can be played on my Motorola Razr V3T. Reading some of the cel phone forums on the Internet it is clear there is a lot of dissatisfaction out there. One more reason why this whole mobile industry is a little cheesy. More on that some other time.

But I was able to get a bunch of new music loaded onto my phone. Some of the tracks won't play at all some play half way through then crash the player.

I got enough working to proudly make my list of favourite tracks of this week:

the mcdades - valley of a thousand tears/hotel de ville

I like the McDades. I saw them a long time ago playing in a bar before they were known.

terry jones - i'm so worried

I'm so worried about the fashions today. I don't think they're good for your feet, And I'm so worried about the shows on TV that sometimes they want to repeat.

the be good tanyas - nobody cares for me

leonard cohen - i can't forget

jenny allen - evangeline

mark heard - awake in the night time

This song is from the album Dry Bones Dance. He only made a few albums before dying too young. While it is considered Christian/Country its a bit different from any Christian or Country album you might hear. The lyrics are a bit too thought provoking to leave it in the Country bin.

the seekers - a world of our own

The Australian super-folk band of the 60's and 70's.

loreena mckennitt - santiago

kathleen edwards - old time sake

She's an acquired taste. Most of her songs have a unique perspective.

stephen fearing - like every other morning

blue rodeo - holding on

tanita tikaram - stop listening

What else am I listening to...

I've got The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins on audio. I'm halfway through and finding it quite interesting. Does atheism irritate God?

I have Verdi's Rigoletto featuring the late Pavarotti. On the CD cover he looks about 12 years old. I bet in his prime he shagged every single one of the leading Sopranos. (Oh, Robert that's a horrible horrible thing to say.) It's the only opera whose plot I even remotely understand: Guy has daughter. Skeezy other guy wants daughter. Dad gets even. There are some tragic turns of events although some people find them comical. Probably hockey fans. People yell and scream and die unexpectedly. As in most Operas the characters see how badly they're going to get screwed at least 3 hours ahead of time and even sing about it, but still act shocked.

My worst fear is that I'll turn into an atheist who's addicted to Opera. Please, help me help myself. Only you can stop this outcome.

I have the latest Lily Allen CD because my friend told me it was delightful, lighthearted British pop. And it is. Every song made me smile especially the one about her little brother Alfie...

From Opera to Lily Allen. I think my jorb here is done. Please recommend this post

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stelmach's Ad Hominems

Last Thursday's leadership debate was the only time you will get to see the Alberta party leaders debate. Provincial elections are usually very short, especially in Alberta where they're really sort of a formality. No insult intended to the hard working opposition parties, but the system is kind of skewed.

The remainder of the time you'll just get to hear them re-iterate their talking points in highly controlled settings. In other words, it will be one way conversations. Mr. Stelmach, for example, was quoted extensively and unfettered in the Sunday Sun today. He was probably speaking to Rick Bell from his special Premier's-Office-To-The-Calgary-Sun-Editorial-Ass-Kissers hot line.

I often wonder if the evolution of the Web and other social technologies will eventually turn politics around so that there is more of a true dialogue and more accountability.

Some random thoughts on the debate from Thursday night:

  1. We were only about 30 minutes into the debate before Mr. Stelmach responded to a criticism by blaming a former Liberal Prime Minister. That must be some kind of record for restraint. I'm sure he wanted to get that lick in much sooner.

  2. No one really one or lost the debate, but Mr. Stelmach barely survived. He didn't particularly impress me as being smart, articulate or as having any grasp on basic realities.

  3. I thought Paul Hinman was a very good communicator even though I didn't buy into anything he had to say. He was far more polished than I expected. His ideas about making Hospitals compete with each other was confusing and sounded like Fraser Institute boiler plate. I read some other bloggers that were a little insulted by his subtle suggestions about family structure and the economy. They read it as women should stay home. I definitely felt his social agenda was bubbling beneath the surface. I think all the leaders were totally afraid to go into social issues.

  4. I was hoping we could get through at least on Alberta election without someone saying that you can't fix the health care system by throwing more money at it. It is a dull and weak minded cliché and does not clarify any particular issue. If I had a nickel for every time an Alberta conservative said that you can't fix the health care system by throwing more money at the problem I would have a huge pile of nickels. But the amount would be probably less than the amount of money they've been throwing at the problem. They usually don't do their talking points and it was nice to see the Alberta Liberals and the NDP call them on it.

  5. Mr. Stelmach called the Liberals and the NDP socialists. Instead of answering a question it's better to channel Joseph McCarthy. Aside from being an illiterate and childish comment it was pretty ironic. Mr. Stelmach has been a part of one of the most interventionist governments in Alberta's history. For example, they rejected public auto insurance, but then intervened with a massive bureaucracy to set rates, and now the have to spend millions of dollars appealling the strike down of their stupid restriction on civil awards for accident victims. Seriously, how dumb would a goverment have to be to reach into the future and handcuff the civil courts. And don't get us started on electrical deregulation, bill 40, and the general drift towards bigger, less efficient and more controlling government, and a thick layer of very expensive cronyism. Sure, waste a bunch more of my money while calling everyone else socialists and bragging about what it means to be a "conservative".

  6. Aside from that, I thought the debate was too long. I would have preferred that if they take questions they take them unprepared from audience members, rather than pre-discussed quesions from media people. For example, Nirmal Naidoo ask Brian Mason how much money it would cost to fix the health care system. This wasn't really a question but just a short editorial from CICT-TV.

  7. I couldn't help think of that Stealers Wheel song:

    Clowns to the left of me,
    Jokers to the right, here I am,
    Stuck in the middle with you.

    Maybe Kevin Taft should use that as a campaign song.

Please recommend this post

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Oilers vs Canucks

Saturday Night - Edmonton Oilers vs. Vancouver Canucks.

Who are you picking?

I don't want to make any predictions because it usually jinxes the Oilers. But, Oilers are playing good now and Canucks are not.

I'm willing to make small wagers with anyone. We could bet little children. But they would have to be young enough so that they would never know they were won in a bet.

And now the Oilers are required to win 78% of their remaining points to make the playoffs. This is a slight improvement but still no realistic.

Update: Canucks 4 Oilers 2. This puts the Oilers magic win ratio at .818 to make the playoffs. Those Sedin twins are such (insert word that Jane Fonda used). Please recommend this post

Canadian F-Word Blog Awards

I just cast my votes in the Canadian F-Word Blogger Awards. "F" in this case refers to feminism and not the other F word. There are a lot of blogs there that I have never heard of and hope to take a look at soon. I'm glad to see this part of the blog world alive and well, if only because it really pisses off a lot of people. These bloggers need some kudos thrown their way because they put up with quite a bit of verbal abuse merely because of believing in some simple ideas about life and gender. Please recommend this post

Thursday, February 14, 2008

They Don't Get Marketing

I was amused to receive this email spam from the Princeton Premier Registry:

It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into the 2008-2009 Princeton Premier Business Leaders and Professionals "Honors Edition" section of the Registry.

The 2008-2009 edition of the Registry will include biographies of the world's most accomplished individuals. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executives and professionals throughout the world each year. Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement.

Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among other accomplished individuals in the Princeton Premier Registry.

For accuracy and publication deadlines, please complete your application form and return it to us within five business day

I recognized right away that was something skeezy. Like others who received this email and blogged about it, I laughed because I've never done anything in my life even remotely that would merit such an apparently prestigious invitation. Like all crappy marketing, it appeals to raw vanity and assumes basic stupidity.

Of course it is not really an invitation and you are not being considered for anything. The link leads to a web page where you give up all your personal information, and then God only knows what happens to it. According to other accounts I've read a pushy obnoxious person phones you and tries to sign you up on the directory for $500 or so.

The sign up form is routed through an email company called Results Mail ( They have an unsubscribe button but I always wonder whether clicking on such a button is really safe or not.

The spam technique is fairly simplistic and most people will see through it. What really interests me is why companies think behavior like this will work. The instant these emails start rolling out people start blogging about it or posting their suspicions in forums. If you're in marketing you ignore this phenomena at your own peril. It's a new world now. If you're a douche-bag millions of people will know about it almost immediately.

Check out two examples of bloggers who wrote about this email before I did:

Rose Desrochers

Note the large number of comments in each of these posts. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obligatory Celebrity Obit

Roy Scheider died this week and the predictable pre-written obits were run. Apparently he was very sick and repeated calls to the Olson twins didn't help. TorStar ran this studio still from Jaws. Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw are hunting a ginormous huge shark...which is why they're looking up at the sky. SKY SHARK! Maybe there was a witch writing something bad about Richard Dreyfuss in the sky. Or the camera was just at a bad angle.

Most of the Obituaries I read claimed that Jaws was his best movie and cited the famous line, you're going to need a bigger boat. There were a lot of good lines in that movie not to mention Richard Dreyfuss over-acting and Robert Shaw's horrible Scots accent. In my opinion, the Shark wasn't nearly mean enough. I didn't really like Jaws. And generally I enjoyed all the cheesy disaster movies of the 70's. They should have had Shelly Winters in Jaws, swimming across the bay, crying and kvetching.

I thought Scheider was a much better actor in 2010. This was Arthur C. Clarke's sequel to 2001 A Space Odyssey. 2010 was not directed by Stanley Kubrick, so even though the novel is very good the movie sequel was not. In spite of that Scheider was good in this movie. They tried to imitate the feel of the original by having a lot of very esoteric dialog. The dialog in that movie was jaw droppingly retarded. Scheider pulled it off though, but always had kind of a smirk on his face, kind of like Shatner in Star Trek. You know the look: O for God's sake this is so ridiculous, but the kids do need college. Humor me. I did Shakespeare, remember that.

Good actors in bad movies is the Hollywood success story. Lets not mess with it. Please recommend this post

Oilers Playoff Hopes or Neurotic Math

Its the middle of February. Its the time of year Edmonton Oilers fans start working themselves into a frenzy about whether the team will make the playoffs or not.

With Horkoff, Torres and Souray all out for the rest of the year, the odds are not good for a playoff spot.

And then there's the math. They did the math on the Radio the other morning and assumed that the cutoff for making the playoffs would be a minimum of 95 points. I think it will be higher this year because of overall improvement of the teams in the conference. Maybe this year you will need 100 points.

But for sake of argument, if the cutoff is 95 points, and the oilers have 24 games remaining, they will need to get 80% of the remaining potential points. Of course this ratio changes on a day to day basis. If they go on a winning streak, they might get within reach.

The Oilers do have one incentive to finish as high as possible. The lower they finish the higher their draft pick, but its a pick which goes to Anaheim. This is because of the terms of the Penner trade and the free agency of Teemu Selanne's moustache.

Daryl Katz will have some difficult decisions to make this summer about management and general top level strategy. Most Oilers fans live in kind of a bubble, they don't really think anything is wrong with the coaching or the management. Katz has a different business philosophy than the EIG, and will be able to make decisions much easier and quicker. I think next year results will be much more important. Please recommend this post