Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Canada Votes 2015: The Big Shift

Canada Votes 2015

The Big Shift's √Čric Grenier has been running the CBC's Poll Tracker over the course of the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign. (The Poll Tracker is, essentially, 308's poll aggregator system, ported to CBC).

One of the interesting developments over the first month of the campaign is that the federal Liberal and Conservative parties (henceforth LPC and CPC) have traded places: where in early August (when the election was called), the CPC was polling neck-and-neck with the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the LPC was trailing by a significant margin, now the CPC is trailing and the LPC and NDP are neck-and-neck. (Indeed, the most recent Nanos poll gives the LPC a slight, if statistically indistinguishable, lead.)

Friday, 7 August 2015

Housekeeping: Here, Have A Cookie!

Housekeeping: Here, Have A Cookie!

See that top bar? If you're a European visitor, pay attention.

Whenever I log in to my Blogger overview page for this blog, I get a notice telling me that I should double check and confirm that visitors using URL versions of my site from the European Union (such as, totally coincidentally,, should see a message informing them that they are, as it were, getting "cookies" when they visit the site.

The screen capture above shows that when I check the site using an EU URL, the notice automatically comes up. That said, just in case, here is what you should know about this site and its use of cookies on behalf of Google:

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalise ads, and to analyse traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.

(If I ever get around to it, I'll create an "Announcements" page, linked on the sidebar below the Comments Policy page, which will permanently link to this post.)

Look at it this way, at least you're not getting a cookie in this context:

(Video from The Matrix, video credit Village Roadshow Pictures/Groucho II Film Partnership/Silverlight/Warner Bros.)

The Maclean's Election Debate

Canada Votes 2015

The Maclean's Election Debate

A Reaction

So apart from the earliest moments, when I was working on my son's bedtime, I watched almost the entire leader's debate put on by Rogers Media, hosted and moderated by Maclean's (with the magazine's political editor Paul Wells serving as moderator).

I shan't go into much detail tonight, and I'm not sure I'll attempt a full analysis over the weekend, but I wanted to touch on a few key things.

I'll discuss them more fully below the fold, but the four key things I wanted to note are:
(1) Elizabeth May
(2) Playing to "Not Lose" vs. Playing to Win
(3) Stephen Harper
(4) The Big Gaffe

Thursday, 6 August 2015

What Do You Do Instead Of Masturbating?

What Do You Do Instead Of Masturbating?

Before proceeding with the content of this post, please be advised that the title is a rhetorical question. Feel free not to answer.

Anyway, just today I was made aware of two videos on YouTube produced by a Christian (I'm presuming a white Evangelical) in which the featured actors try to convince women and men (*), respectively, that they ought not masturbate.

The atheist blogger Libby Anne of Love Joy Feminism at the religious-themed blog aggregate Patheos, provides more critical analysis, but I'd like to focus on just a few lines from the video aimed at men.

Conservative Misgovernment: It's the Economy, Stupid

Canada Votes 2015

Conservative Misgovernment

Episode 1 - It's the Economy, Stupid

"The economy, stupid" was one of the three key messages that Clinton strategist Bill Carville placed on a sign in Clinton's campaign HQ during the 1992 US Presidential election.

The variant of the phrase, with the added "It's", became the unofficial motto of the campaign, and has been much quoted ever since. And, in the US context, although Republican and Libertarian candidates have often adopted the slogan as one of their own, the message is often used as a rebuke by liberals and progressives against Republican (or, generally, right-wing) economic policies, of the sort implemented by George W. Bush.

Here in Canada, our latest federal election, with voting to take place October 19, has just been called. (It will be among the longest federal election campaigns in recent memory, a cynical gambit by the Conservative Party, hoping to win the election by throwing money at it.)

This same Conservative Party has assiduously maintained that its government is the optimal choice when it comes to the Canadian economy. However, aggregate economic data show that this is not the case.

There are two lines of attack against the Conservatives' economic record that I would like to bring up: first, the release of a recent report by economists working for Unifor, which claims to show the "Harper Government"'s [1] numbers in context of Canada's economic performance since the Second World War; and second, the government's inaction in the face of predictable market volatility. Perhaps other lines of attack (and defence) exist, but this is a blog, not a comprehensive analysis.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Diet of Gastornis - Popular TV vs. Peer-Reviewed Literature

The Diet of Gastornis

Popular TV vs. Peer-Reviewed Literature

My introduction to the large flightless bird known as Gastornis occurs in the 2001 BBC documentary Walking with Beasts, a 6-part miniseries that looks at "snapshots" of life, and especially mammal life, during the Cenozoic era (the geological era that begins following the extinction of the dinosaurs). The first episode takes place in the warmer years of the early Eocene epoch, some 49 million years ago.

Walking with Beasts characterised Gastornis as a predator, not unlike the "terror birds" that would later dominate South America. Walking with Beasts represented this belief by featuring a Gastornis chasing several mammals belonging to a progenitor species of modern horses. Video of one of the chase sequences (this one ending in success for Gastornis) below the fold:

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Strange Case of Ashley Madison in Ottawa

The Strange Case of Ashley Madison in Ottawa

Recently, the big news in Ottawa surrounds information pertaining to the website Ashley Madison, a website that facilitates sexual encounters and romantic relationships.

The key distinction between Ashley Madison and other dating/"hook-up" websites is that it is explicitly aimed at people within marriages (or, presumably, other committed relationships) who are seeking to have affairs. If you are looking for some action on the side, Ashley Madison is here to help you.

While the information in question may have been available publicly in the past, it has been thrust into the public eye again following revelations that Ashley Madison was subject to a massive hack, and the hacker (apparently someone with inside access to the site) purloined credit card information for many millions of the site's subscribers.

But the hacking alone is not what's making headlines in Ottawa. Rather, it's the information about Ottawa that has come to the fore.

Ottawa, it seems, is a city full of aspiring adulterers.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Quick Peek Under the Covers: These Fragile Bodies

A Quick Peek Under the Covers

Episode 2

These Fragile Bodies

Welcome to another episode of "A Quick Peek Under the Covers", in which we look at cover versions of songs which are as good as or better than their originals. This time out, we are going to look at the song "Lovers in a Dangerous Time", by Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "CO-burn"), and the cover of the song by Barenaked Ladies.

(Image credit True North, MetalGuruMessiah)

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

"Lovers in a Dangerous Time" is a song by Bruce Cockburn, who was born in Ottawa, Canada. The song was recorded in 1984 for Cockburn's album Stealing Fire.

Cockburn reports being inspired to write the song while thinking of the stirrings of romantic feelings in young teenagers, in the face of the potential threats of the day (in 1984, this would include the early stages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the Cold War).

The song has not been covered often. Indeed, it appears that Barenaked Ladies' version is only the second cover version of the song. Barenaked Ladies recorded their cover of the song for a 1991 Bruce Cockburn tribute album, Kick at the Darkness. The cover, apparently playing a key role in their own rise to prominence, would appear on their first greatest hits album.

New Material!

New Material!

After an overlong hiatus, I'm pleased to say that I've got new material up here at Idiomatic Composition.

With any luck, I'm here to stay.

I feel like perhaps this is appropriate:

Jurassic World Sucked - Here's Why

Jurassic World Sucked.

(Here's Why)

I recently had occasion to Jurassic World, the first new movie in over a decade in the Jurassic Park film franchise, and one that in many ways serves as an homage to the original.

While it was overall an entertaining experience, in many ways the movie, well, sucked. In thist post, I'll explain why.

Because the movie is still relatively new, I should note that this post therefore has a

Spoiler Alert!!

The rest of my explanation, in which I cover why the film sucked, and those things it did well all the same, is below the fold.

(A Note on the "She-ness" of Dinosaurs: So far as I recall, the dinosaurs in Jurassic World, like those of Jurassic Park, were deliberately all engineered to be female. (One hopes that Dr Wu and his team were able to correct the erroneous DNA patching that allowed breeding among the dinosaurs in the first film.) As such, whenever I refer to a dinosaur (or flying/swimming reptile) individually, I shall use female pronouns.)