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December 2008 Archives

December 1, 2008

Thinking the unthinkable

...because you know nobody at Conservative HQ is thinking it: a Full Comment entry on the most outrageous possibility of all for settling Canada's progressive-coalition crisis.

So farewell then, The New Music

Granted, you lived about 20 years beyond your sell-by date, but in the early 1980s basic-cable universe there was no other vehicle to smash through the façade of practice-boyfriend corporate rock for us small-town kids. How subversive is this sample intro from a 1984 episode?

Motley Crue, Lee Aaron, Genesis, April Wine... Laurie Anderson? Hey, who invited the weird lesbo to this bush party? For a generation of mainstream-minded listeners, TNM lineups like this performed the transformative task of revealing that the mainstream existed and that we were all swimming in it. For the instinctive outsiders, I can only imagine that the show must have been like an eagerly-awaited weekly message from one's true home planet.

December 2, 2008

Notice from the management

Gold Maple LeafThe "Canada" section of my blogroll has been updated to include only fully active weblogs, making it of more use to me and thee. You can now visit at the start of every day and click the links, being fairly confident of new content. I'm aware of the need to make some additions, too, but my housekeeping is as neglectful here as it is in World 1.0. Also, I've created a Twitter account, because we all know that nothing of relevance ever requires more than 140 characters to state.

In other news

Dave Weigel, the legendary political number-cruncher of Reason magazine, has moved on to the Economist. Best of British luck to Dave on the transition.

The continuing crisis

Me latest: why I won't be Rallying For Canada or anything else this weekend.

They made WHO prime minister while I was out??

I agree with about 7½ of Andrew Potter's Ten Points on the Madness.

For the Liberals, they should be careful what they ask for. Under Dion, they have spent the last two years tacking leftward, and are now poised to enter into a coalition with a party whose economic views are not just obsolete, but dangerous. This is very reckless for both the country and for the party’s brand. My views on this have not changed since I wrote a column in the mag a few issues ago about the notion of uniting the left: This coalition could well destroy the Liberal brand.

My views on this have changed: I used to believe that "pro-market Liberals" actually existed. I'm not an unusually gullible sort: I never believed in Santa Claus, for instance. But right this second I have way more reason to believe in Santa than I do in some imaginary corps of tough, business-minded Liberal Party members who believe in wealth creation first and redistribution second. Seriously, is there some screened-off Atlas Shrugged valley they all escaped to in private jets last week? Show me one senior Liberal who has told a reporter "This shit's fucked up" even on deep background in the last seven days. Michael Ignatieff's face was so mask-like when he went on the Sunday talk shows to repeat "Stéphane Dion is the leader of my party", I was viscerally traumatized at the thought that it was going to physically fall off his head.

What does this mean for the over-under?

Food for thought from the concluding paragraphs of a study of provincial coalition governments by G.P. Marchildon, a University of Regina political scientist best known for his long association with Roy Romanow:

Once a coalition is created, its longevity is determined by a number of factors... The less partisan and the more willing party leaders are to share power with the members of another party, the longer the coalition will survive. Based on the provincial case studies, it is obvious that changes in party leadership can have a dramatic impact on the coalition and those party leaders who create the original coalitions are in the best position to maintain them, in large part because they have invested their political reputations in the coalition and its survival. In addition, the more charismatic and persuasive a coalition premier—John Bracken for example—the less likely it is that a powerful anti-coalition faction within a party will emerge under another charismatic leader capable of challenging the coalition premier.

...Coalitions are difficult to maintain with populist parties because they often place significant constraints on the decision-making of their elected representatives, particularly those in cabinet. Since the Westminster model tends to push the process of coalition accommodation into the cabinet room, ministers who cannot make compromise decisions without full consultation and approval of their party executives face a difficult term of office. In the provincial studies above, they often become estranged from their non-elected party members. The Ontario UFO-ILP coalition in 1919-23 is a striking illustration of the phenomenon.

Why do coalitions end? Based on the studies above, the unravelling of coalitions often begins with a change in premiership and party leadership. New leaders are almost by definition less committed to the coalition. In other words, death, illness, or retirement of the party leaders originally responsible for the creation of the coalition can be lethal to its continuation. The most unstable coalitions can be those where a party leader does not consult with, or obtain the majority consent of, the party members for the establishment of the coalition in the first place since this often precipitates a break between the party leader and the party executive.

Shorter Philip Authier

Stéphane Dion has saved the sovereigntist movement in Quebec, and it's only going to cost Alberta and the other "have" provinces a billion dollars to do it.

'This puts us back another 20 years'

I guess I should have known where to start looking for "blue" Liberals who feel abandoned by their retreating leadership: close to home.

The pride of Winnipeg

Rowdy Roddy Piper performs the pro wrestler's favourite party trick in this rare footage from one of Jimmy Kimmel's expensively catered, awesomely equipped Sunday NFL parties. The weekly get-togethers, which somehow manage to take place spontaneously even when Kimmel is absent from the premises, are a favourite topic of conversation on Bill Simmons' podcast and Adam Carolla's radio show. They seem to be rapidly filling the aspirational culture niche that would have been occupied by one of Madame de Staël's salons in 1795 or a Rat Pack allnighter in 1962, so any documentation is inherently exciting.

December 3, 2008

News quiz

What everyday consumer item was just manufactured for the billionth time by its top manufacturer? [þ: BoingBoing]

Kubrick didn't die; he only fell asleep and began to dream

In 1955, Canadian uranium magnate Joseph Hirshhorn commissioned Philip Johnson to design a plan for an entire town in Ontario, Canada. The project was never realized. Public Spirit, an animated tour of this Utopian town, debuted at the prestigious “Directions” exhibit in the Hirshhorn Museum on November 7th, 2008. ...[The town] was designed by Philip Johnson according to a progressive modernist program. Special attention was paid to aesthetics; Hirshhorn requested "the most beautiful small town in the world."

...and watching the short video portrait of it will give you weeks of nightmares about opening your veins in the middle of a remorseless glass room and, as soft, pulsating electronic music plays, watching your own viscous gore drench the world in a warm, rich red your eyes have been starved for.

Shorter Stéphane Dion

With an economic crisis looming, now is not the time for childish political vendettas. Unless, of course, you've got an ongoing beef with CTV! In that case, feel free to act like a total dink.

In other news, would somebody tell Future Deputy Prime Minister Jack Layton that you can't logically surrender your autonomy and assert it at the same time? There are millions of Canadians literally praying for the New Democratic Party to behave as though it has an independent existence, Jack; it's not polite to torture them needlessly.

December 4, 2008

Defending the indefensible

Sean AveryThat's right: I'm standing up for Sean Avery in the Friday column. Behind-the-scenes peek: when I wrote the line "...your average hockey writer bites his tongue so much that the damn thing drops right off about a week into his career", it took all my strength not to add "followed in short order by other organs." Incidentally, it's obvious the guy has a terrible attitude toward women, but do you get the sense it's likely to hurt his cause with them at all?

December 6, 2008

Avery bad boy, cont'd

A quite typical rebuttal to my column about Sean* Avery, taken from the comment thread below:

I would agree with your arguement if Avery had attacked Phaneuf alone, but to drag someone in his personal life into the game is crossing the line.

Are you referring to the line beyond which a business is allowed to punish someone for personal remarks that have no bearing on his job? Because I can't find this line on the rink diagram in the NHL rules, or anywhere else.

If you guys would sit quietly and a have a few minutes' think instead of reacting to this matter emotionally, you'd realize your argument obviously has a much better chance of succeeding if you leave Elisha Cuthbert out of it completely. The league is arguably within its rights to regulate relations between two of its contractually bound players; there's no earthly way you can argue that it has some responsibility to protect Elisha Cuthbert's feelings. But of course, once you take the pretty girl out of it, it becomes apparent that Avery's entitled to say pretty much what he likes, defamation notwithstanding, about a fully grown millionaire colleague.

The irony is that Elisha Cuthbert is a Hollywood veteran aged 26 who has been dealing with libels, imprecations, wacko fans, and paparazzi for years, is trained in doing so, and presumably has the logistical and emotional help of a paid personal staff. That big clod Farnsworth, by contrast, is a 23-year-old who lives in a much smaller, politer media universe and who is still mere months removed from being a Red Deer Rebel. But by all means let's indulge our protective hormonal instincts and wave our iridescent tailfeathers at each other.

*[UPDATE, Dec. 21: This read "Steve" in the original. My apologies to the one-time Atlanta Braves southpaw.]

‘Memory was shock’s antidote’

New @ Full Comment: New Yorker/Naomi Klein reax.

December 8, 2008

Hey Megapundit fans!

The master summarizer of Maclean's, laid off by Rogers as the ripples spread from the boss man's death spasm, has been picked up by Canada's finest and fastest-growing news commentary site. Change your bookmarks!

@FullComment: The Pulitzer board gets one right

But it doesn't mean you're in the clear on that Duranty thing!

December 9, 2008

Pre-existentialist Peanuts

How the most famous gag in comics originally worked, back in November 1952.

UPDATE, 11:28 pm: The more I look at this, the more surprises I see. Would you have guessed that all along, the football Charlie Brown was trying to kick actually belonged to Lucy? How much does her unheeded "I don't know if this is such a good idea" alter the subtext of the next forty years? It turns out that all along, Lucy was being co-opted into a display of male physical authority that she was never really consulted on or asked to endorse. Is it any wonder that she gradually developed from the rather adorable "fussbudget" of proto-Peanuts into the castrating screamer we're more familiar with?

Is that... Conservative Jesus... with boobs?

Clearly the most suitable medium for the depiction of the late constitutional showdown in the House of Commons was always going to be hairless 3-D homunculi floating freely in an abstract psychedelic universe. And, fortunately, today we have the technology to produce such images almost instantly. Americans who can still afford decent chronic are studying this diagram (recommended soundtrack: Aoxomoxoa) and going "Oh shit, it all makes perfect sense to me now."

December 11, 2008

Histoire d'O

Sol Sender, chieftain of the team that designed the Obama campaign logo, talks about its extraordinary adaptability and shows off some alternative finalists. [þ: Design Observer]

December 12, 2008

Flight into the past

MiltonAt least there's one space in your Friday morning paper that devotes itself to the finer things and rises above the political muck. At least one columnist should have noted, I thought, that John Milton, almost unobserved, has turned 400.

Weekend YouTubeology

Procol Harum performing "Repent Walpurgis" on French (?) TV, 1971. I know less than nothing about this group, but contrary to what you'd think the drummer seems like the key to this whole bagel fry. Incredible Floyd-at-Pompeii vibe to this clip: any group of the time would respect the way they come out of the noodly bit in the middle like a heavy bomber rising from the tarmac.

December 15, 2008

Both barrels

OK, so I finally watched the shoe video:

Nothing in the prior headlines emphasized sufficiently, for my money, that this dude gets off a second shot. He actually has time to take off his other shoe and throw it, missing Bush's right ear by, oh I don't know, maybe an inch and a half? Is it just me or do some Secret Service asses need to be gnawed light-to-moderately here? Fellas, I know you only expect to really earn those pensions about once every 20 years or so, but as far as I can tell you weren't even the ones who took out Mr. Crocs of Death. Your predecessors moved faster when Bush Sr. ralphed on Emperor Hirohito that one time.

On the other hand, judging by the fact that NBC broke in on regular programming for this, maybe the bar has just really been lowered. I'm old school: when I see the SPECIAL REPORT graphic I think "Oh, God, what happened to the space shuttle this time?" Nope, Lester Holt is just feeling frisky today and wants to make sure you see "Can Prezdent Has Shoes?" before you catch it on YouTube.

December 16, 2008

Live from Edmonton, it's Tuesday morning

And from now on, you lucky people, that means a second column from me in the Post to go with my usual Friday appearance. We debut today with a rejoinder to a Canadian legend on the subject of Canada's British connection.

Police prepare to wrap Adam Walsh case

Boy, look at that poor family. 27 years later, and you'd swear they were looking at a door they expected Adam to walk through any second.

When I took the bus to Calgary last week I was struggling to find a word for the people I always meet at the Greyhound station—undernourished working people with stringy hair and poor dentition who have lived in many places and find themselves doing different jobs that require steel-toed boots every couple of years (which invariably emerges quite early on in conversation). Reading the Adam Walsh wire story was like having a finger jabbed into my chest. That's right, isn't it?—they're the "drifters" you always read about in crime stories!

Reporters use the word like it was some obscure occupational classification—as if "drifter" were a specific, indisputable role in life that you could decide to occupy when you were 18. And, of course, it's never used except in stories about murderers, but there must be lots of drifters who have never killed anyone. Here's a headline you will never see: "HEROIC DRIFTER SAVES FIVE FROM FLAMING BUS".

December 19, 2008

Late 'best headline of 2008' entrant

In today's Post column we look at what economists really think about the quickest, most efficient way to stimulate a troubled economy.

December 20, 2008

Joining the Iggy Book Club

Michael IgnatieffThe National Post, conscious of the need for scrutiny of our new Liberal leader, is having its top writers work their way through the career of Michael Ignatieff one book at a time. I'm in today's installment #2 of the reading circle, where Ignatieff's book of Massey Lectures, The Rights Revolution, is covered.

An education with gaps

I took more of a beating that I thought on the Film Addict test: I've seen only 61.2% of the IMDB's 250 highest-rated movies. It's surprising how often I am sorry I skipped so many of the labs in my film-studies class.

December 21, 2008


Bill Brownstein gets all topical about the lousy weather (it's -26°C here as I write this, with nary a letup in sight) in the Sunday Montreal Gazette:

In 83 years, technology has grown in leaps and bounds almost everywhere else. We've gone from the radio to the TV to the Internet age. We have landed humans and rodents on the moon. We have put trained chimpanzees in the White House. We can eliminate much of the planet with the pressing of a single button (which is why it will come as a relief to many that the current chimp in Washington leaves next month). And yet we get more stymied than ever by snow on our streets and sidewalks, compounded by an ever-expanding population of people and cars in our downtown cores.

I'm no physicist or chemist or engineer - as all my high-school teachers will attest - but there's got to be some brainiac working in a basement somewhere with a plan to remove snow and ice more quickly and more efficiently than we do it today.

Yo Bill! You should have checked with your sister paper in Edmonton. Meet the SNOW DRAGON! It's not only an instrument of terrifying, Godlike power, it's all, like, environmental and stuff too. Turns out it doesn't cost any more to melt the snow on the spot than it does to haul it away every time the truck's full and come back.

December 23, 2008

Österreich in Kanada?

In today's green-eyeshade-y column for the Post (second in a row!), I read between the lines of a recent speech by the governor of the Bank of Canada and find hints of Austrian-influenced policy aggression that other domestic finance reporters might have missed. Or, that I'm totally imagining. There's no Post on Boxing Day so this is it for columns from me this week: back on the 30th.

December 24, 2008

New@FC: yes, Virginia, there really is neo-con revisionism

Just a few seconds into a Meet the Press appearance, Condoleezza Rice asks us to swallow a whale.

About December 2008

This page contains all entries posted to ColbyCosh.com in December 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

January 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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