Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, April 30, 2007

Arose By Any Other Name?

Ugh. CTV had a poll just recently asking, "Do you think Justin Trudeau will ever be prime minister?"

Maybe it's just me, but I find it unsettling, and a bit offensive, to think that someone can be automatically so successful in politics, not through anything they have ever done themselves, but simply by virtue of the circumstances of their birth, whether it be a well known name, wealth, insider connections or, given the highly correlated nature of these things, all three. I'd really prefer it if we could leave the aristocracy and all-in-the family political dynasties to the Americans.

FYI, Redux

For anyone out there who hadn't been operating under the assumption that Harper and Co. were a bunch of shameless liars just like the Republicans they take strategic advice from, the Globe and Mail has an article you should read. The rest of you, carry on.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


For anyone out there who hadn't been operating under the assumption that Harper and Co. were a bunch of shameless liars just like the Republicans they take strategic advice from, Paul Wells has a post you should read. The rest of you, carry on.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Blog: The Gathering

A note for any Vancouver based bloggers on the CAtO Blogroll (e.g. Kevin, Ainge, Sacha, anyone else I am overlooking), some blogging folks are getting together at Olympia restaurant in the west end (Denman/Nelson) this Sunday (the 22nd of April, 2007) at Noon.

Alison has more details, Creekside.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Left wing media bias

I've been detoxing on politics for the last few weeks, but I couldn't pass up this feeble effort in the Globe and Mail:

"Average family spends more on taxes than life's necessities: survey

The Fraser Institute says the Canadian Consumer Tax Index is up significantly in the past 45 years.

The average Canadian family earned $63,000 in 2006, with nearly 45 per cent of that going to taxes. Just over 35 per cent was spent on food, clothing and housing. In 1961, the institute says just 33.5 per cent of income went to taxes."

A few points:

1) Let the record show that the Frasier Institute, noted right-wing think tank and general representative of right-wing opinion in Canada, believes that only food, clothing and shelter are essential services. Be sure to remind them of this stance next time there is a debate on union laws where (obviously misguided) people are arguing that whichever industry is in question is an essential service and therefore can't be allowed to strike.

(Also from today's Globe: "Companies press Ottawa to end CN labour dispute")

2) Uh, 1961? Why 1961 and not, say 1872? Wasn't 1961 before we had universal health care? So doesn't that one fact alone make the entire comparison total nonsense? And what about the debt, which didn't exist in 1961. Are they advocating we don't pay the interest on the debt?

3) The Frasier Institute also includes CPP as a tax, which seems pretty dodgy, as people will, generally speaking, get back the money they put into CPP.

OK, I think we all appreciate that the Frasier Institute is a partisan organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the rich through deceptive, biased 'analyses' and 'studies,' but why does the Globe feel that passing this garbage along to their readers unfiltered and without comment is a worthwhile thing to do in any way. I appreciate that timelines are short and there is lots of (virtual) space to fill, but even another Suduko puzzle or a flashing ad asking you to hit the monkey and win a prize would be an improvement over this. Sigh.

Robert adds some more deserved mockery.

Sun Run 2007

I went to the doctor, and guess what she told me (guess what she told me)
She said, boy u better try the sun run
No matter what you'll do
Or you're a fool

Actually, that's not what happened at all. I went to see the doctor a couple of months ago and she told me that, given the state of my right ankle, I'd be better off just giving up contact/high impact sports like soccer and running altogether - forever.

So with ironclad reasoning, I figured that meant I should do the Sun Run this year. After all, if the doctor was wrong, I had nothing to worry about. And if she was right, this might be the last chance I get - especially since I don't intend to give up playing soccer until I really have no option.

Which all amounts to a circuitous way of saying that I ran the Sun Run yesterday morning.


Background information (those who know the Sun Run can skip this):

The Sun Run is an annual 10k run which takes place every April in Vancouver. This year ~55,000 people* took part in the run which starts off downtown, heads West and downhill to Stanley Park, then back East along English bay, over the Burrard Bridge, East along 2nd/4th/6th avenues and back over the Cambie bridge. It is a staggered start with the blues (expected time less than 40 minutes) going first, followed by the Yellows (under 50 minutes), Greens (under 60 minutes), Whites (under 70 minutes) and then Purples and Reds (walkers). You sign up for a colour based on your expected time and then the zones/pens for each group fill up on race morning as people arrive. I started near the back of the white group, and got to the start line at 9:42 (the first group started at 9:00 and were finished before I started - each runner has a chip they wear on their show which automatically times your run so it doesn't really matter when you start.


Never having run 10k before, and not being sure how well my ankle would hold up, I went out fairly slowly (with all the congestion on the route, I was forced into a half run/half walk a few times in the first few km and it would have been tough to go much faster anyway) and I reached the halfway point in around 32 minutes or so. I was feeling pretty good and the ankle was feeling OK so I stepped up the pace in the second half, started weaving (even more than before) and managed to do the second half in about 26 minutes, finishing in 58:22 (don't recall my placing but I think it was around the 80th percentile), which seemed OK, given that I'm not much of a runner (I did about half a dozen 'training runs', running from 3km up to 8km) once every week or two over the last couple of months). It would definitely be worthwhile to do the full distance ahead of time at least once, as I could tell over the last couple of km that my body wasn't used to going more than 8k. I'd say that the lungs, legs and ankle were all ready to give out at the finish line, so I'd characterize it as an efficient use of my physical resources, if nothing else (and yes, I did do a degree in Optimization, why do you ask?)

I think if I try it again next year (if the ankle holds up), I'll enter the Green group which should minimize the variance between my pace and the pace of those around me (in turn minimizing the amount of weaving required, one hopes.)

The whole race was surprisingly fun, actually. The weather was perfect which helped. It's too bad you can't really enjoy the view because the route is just so crowded, but I've seen that view before lots of times. It's definitely a very different experience running in such a crowd, with an eclectic collection of musical performers and cheering people along the route vs. running on your own as is my normal wont.

* All the race propoganda says the Sun Run is the largest 10k run in Canada and the 2nd largest 10k run in North America - anyone know the largest one? - google is no help as a search for 'largest 10k run america' only turns up references to the Sun Run. Why would the Americans be running km anyway?

Opening stanza adapted from this song for those who don't listen to pop music, have bad memories or just plain missed 1990 somehow.

Update: Here's a recap from Sacha (from the blog Double Blind) who ran last year as well and who managed to finish slightly fast than me despite what I consider an inefficient (although I'm sure he'd disagree!) strategy of alternating walking and running and here's another recap from someone I don't know from eve but who recaps the event much more eloquently and graphically (i.e. pictures) than I did.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Team!! Collusion

It's not exactly the words of the prophet, but I still found this message's unusual combination of incoherence and accuracy oddly endearing (click the picture to enlarge).

Incidentally, this is across the street from the aforementioned 'Estates', for those not familiar with the area.

Who thinks that David Emerson will run in the next federal election? Please note that comments speculating on the timing of said election will be deleted.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Long March (no penguins)

I always find the stretch from New Years to Easter to be a bit of a struggle. In fact, I think this is the first year in my life I've ever made it (assuming nothing untoward happens between now and end of day Thursday) through the whole stretch without missing time (school or work) for some reason or another. On the plus side, March is a lot more tolerable with cherry blossoms instead of sand-stained snowbanks, but on the down side, despite the purported / vaunted laid-back West Coast lifestyle, I've effectively been working 6 days a week which hasn't made things much easier and will likely keep blogging pretty light around here for the next few months or so.

Anyway, with the slow posting, the blogging part of my brain feels like it's suffering through the equivalent of a garbage-strike, so here is a link dump to clear the air/neurons.

First of all, Greg at Democratic Space is right, proposing a closed list Mixed Member Proportional system in Ontario needlessly gives opponents of electoral reform an open line of attack against change. Reform would have a better chance of success with open lists.

This, from Robert is old now, but interesting enough to link to all the same, a chart showing the record of average annual spending increases by various governments. Maybe I was being unfair to Chretien and Flaherty was more like Martin than anyone else when it comes to spending.

B.C. putting up some money to protect low-cost housing in Vancouver is a step in the right direction. It would have been smarter to buy at the bottom of the market, but it's a lot better than no action at all.

I've been enjoying the work of the Red Tory lately, but the best line of recent times came from one of his commenters:

Edger’s Law of Conservative Political Discourse
It states: The Conservatives that accuse non-Conservatives of fearmongering when they mention the possibility of a Conservative hidden agenda, will console themselves every time Harper sells out his base by reminding each other that Harper has a hidden agenda.

Meanwhile, via Andrew Sullivan, it takes a creative mind to plot historical home prices as a virtual roller coaster ride. Time to get your hands in the air, I guess.

Another comment from Andrew Sullivan,
"Any person who has been involved in a cause, and pity the person who has not, knows the pressures that political ardor puts on intellectual honesty. When one’s universe is separated into sides, and one has chosen among the sides, the surest signs of intellectual honesty are expressions of sympathy for one’s other and antipathy for one's own," - Leon Wieseltier, New York Times

Which leads us to this post by Andrew Coyne, titled, "Welcome Tory Partisans," in which he basically dared his right-wing commenters to defend Harper's attack ad which basically called Dion a traitor to his people. Sure enough, they didn't let him down, filling over a 100 comments with variously weaselly and laughably weak arguments, many of which amounted to saying that the evil Liberal media conspiracy made them do it. Coyne is obviously a principled Conservative, but you have to wonder if the followers he attracts ever makes him questions the wisdom of his opinions.

And just so we don't forget that Andrew Sullivan is loony in many ways, here he is approvingly linking to an argument, relayed by Greg Mankiw, for cutting taxes on the rich that has so many glaring holes it would better serve as an exam question for a course in examining flawed rhetoric and inaccurate analogies than as an actual argument. Both Sullivan and Mankiw should know better. One does wonder just how extreme inequality would have to get in the U.S. before the wealthy there acknowledge that it is hurting the country rather than helping as they seem to think.

Anyway, that was pretty scattered. Maybe the next post will be a little less lifeless. It is April now, after all.