Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter from the NAD.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Physics of Canadian Politics

First, a disclaimer: I Joseph Lane, know jack about physics. I avoided science's most mind-blowing discipline throughout the whole of my formal education. Physics has grown on me over the years, but to be honest, I don't understand any of it. There, just so we are clear, just so as to ward off any meandering bands of science purists. I know I am doing it wrong. I am little more than a fiddler of words. Take it easy on a fella, please.

So I was thinking, how am I going to describe what the hell is happening politically, in Canada, to a non-Canadian? How, for example, does a fella explain Contempt of Parliament, or 4 elections in 7 years? I a not convinced that the process is broken. Canada's system of government has worked fairly well for over 140 years. So what is it? Is it our fault? Have we become lazy, so underwhelmed  by it all ,that we have become almost unwilling to perform our democratic duty? Surely not! I know that I am still very much engaged in the political process. Almost obsessively so. It's not the game, or the spectators, it's the players. Canada has been let down by its political leaders, no matter their ilk.

The meandering science types are confused. The author has made a sports analogy, but where are the physics? Hold on to your electron microscopes. I am getting to it. I told you that I was a noob. I need to build up to it.

Here goes: The problem with Canadian politics is that we find ourselves in a leadership void. Our politicians are so bereft of personality and so lacking in inspired ideas, that Canada has found itself in an infinite loop (a computer term, I know, settle down) of minority governments. Despite repeated attempts to spin out of this loop, a majority government seems just as unlikely now, as it did when Stephen Harper first lost to Paul Martin  in 2004. Try as we might, it seems that Ctrl/Alt/Del-ing, or even repeated rebooting, is not gonna do a blessed thing. Nope, it's time to toss out the hole bloody machine. After this election and the debacle that will be another minority government, it will be high time, for the Canadian electorate to demand a political upgrade. The system has tried to reboot 4 times, it's broken. There needs to be a brand new option. A Canada 2.0. 

The meandering hoard of science types, now in complete facepalm, must be screaming, 'the physics, the physics, where the hell are the physics?' I am trying, be patient, Jesus! You try equating the mendacity that is Canadian politics to physics. You can't, can you? Go shine your beakers. I am doing the best I can.

The science is quite simple, really. There is a correlation between the void of leadership/sexy political ideas and the Canadian electorate's involvement in the electoral process. Nothing can exist in a black hole. The Canadian political system reached its supernova stage when Paul Martin decided that it was in his own best interest to push out Chretien and take his 'rightful' place as Canada's next Prime Minister. That was the tipping point. That's when democracy was usurped for egotistical gain and the snowball started to roll, encompassing everything in its path, until SPLAT! Here we are.   

But surely it's not all Paul Martin's fault. Of course not, he is but a tiny blip in a large, complicated chain reaction. One that might have started way back with Trudeau and Levesque (have there been any compelling leaders since those two?) The Bush years played their part. Neo-Conservativism is not an idea that is Canadian at its roots (Preston Manning, Stephen Harper, Sun News). Scandals caused by a complacent Chretien government, that had been in office far too long, also played its part. The formula is complicated, the ingredients many, but there is no denying that the finished product is barely palatable. YUCK!

The science-types scoff, 'who is he now, a chemist, or Canada's Julia Childs?' Screw you science-types! Go on over there to Ottawa and fix it, armed only with your fancy formulas and your inalienable logic. I double dog dare you. Logic, HA! It's all madness; politics is chaos theory. Similar to its cousin economics. There is a special place in hell for economists, they are little more than gamblers and storytellers, with fancy degrees. Anyone can fudge numbers.

So where are we science-types? What is the formula that explains the mess that is Canadian politics? Is it as simple as F=G([m1*m2])/D^2) (gravity). What goes up, must come down. Is Canadian politics just about to hit rock bottom? If so, then what? Would Newton's 3rd law then apply? It states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If Canadian politics is about to hit absolute bottom, would that not mean then, that its also about to reach its absolute apex? Is there hope? Could change be coming? Where have I heard that before? Hmmm...I dunno. I am as confused as the rest of you. Vote anyway. Try your best to be part of the process. Get involved. Let's talk this out. Let's be part of whatever comes next.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Death and Social Media

I learned of Elizabeth Taylor's death on Twitter, Michael Jackson's and Patrick Swayze's deaths too. Pixelized news spreads quickly. With the push of a button the world is informed, or misinformed. How many times has Twitter tried to kill off Gordon Lightfoot, Jackie Chan and Neil Diamond already?

But celebrity deaths, like their lives are not a good measure of reality. How are we, the regular folks, supposed to deal with the death of a friend or loved one and social media?

I will give you three examples to think about. The first is a joke I made at Elizabeth Taylor's expense. Upon learning of her death, a few weeks ago, I Tweeted and Facebooked this joke; Elizabeth Taylor dies, announces her engagement to Ernest Hemingway. Funny, I thought, but it created a bit of a buzz on Facebook. One of my good friends, a huge Liz Taylor fan took a bit of an offense to my joke. Seems it was too soon. I was being disrespectful to the dead. Fair enough, I conceded. My joke, I felt, had little to do with Elizabeth Taylor the person and more to do with Elizabeth Taylor the tabloid celebrity. If I offended anyone, well that was not my intention. I was looking for giggles. You can't win them all. The lesson, I guess, is that there is a joke free buffer around a celebrity's death... the amount of time this buffer lasts, remains a mystery. Maybe Gilbert Gottfried knows...???

My second example was my first encounter with death and social media. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine, whose name I won't mention, committed suicide. I found out of his death via Facebook. The details of his death, which like his name, I will not mention, were not shared on Facebook, thankfully. The news of his death, however, spread quickly. His Facebook Wall became a cyber-memorial. Friends from all over left messages of love and sympathy. His account still exists, every now and then someone writes on his Wall still. Is this healthy? This unfortunate fella was not a dear friend of mine, but he was a friend, I was saddened, but not devastated by the news of his death. But what of his closer friends and relatives?  Is it healthy to have a constant reminder of their dead loved one only a few clicks away?

My third example was the inspiration for this post. I lost my dear friend Andre on Saturday night. He finally lost the battle with his wonky heart. Andre was the bravest guy I have ever met. His love for life was something we should all aspire to. I'll miss him. That said, this is not an obituary piece. I'd hate to be burdened with that job... I haven't the words. Anyway, back on topic. I found out about Andre's death on Sunday morning. I had slept in, it was probably 10am before I was up and about and checking emails. It being so late in the morning, news of Andre's death had already gone viral. There was nothing I could do to stop the news, I couldn't tell the universe to quiet down in order that Andre's loved one's had the time to process this horrible news. So instead, I added my own laments. As someone whom sorts themselves out via the written word, it helped. As to whether I did a disservice to Andre's legacy, by joining the ever-growing viral bemoan, I don't know? I believe in my heart that Andre would want his friends and family to sort their grief out however they can. He was a avid social media user, he'd have joined the mob (some of us held out hope that he would. It was that close to April 1st). 

So, should there be rules for social media and death? Would the rules be  different according to celebrity, cause of death, or how close a person was to the person who had passed away? Is it always bad form to crack jokes about the newly deceased? And what of the profiles of these dead people? Are they interactive memorials, pixelated grave sites, a place web surfers can go to remember times past? Or should the profiles of dead people be deleted? Is the chance of bumping into the profile of a dead friend, loved one, or family member potentially too distressing? Does it depend on the feelings of the living? Surly the dead have no worries about whether their Twitter or Facebook profiles live on past their death. Heck, think of it as a digital legacy, a pixelated image of a life that was. 

Maybe this post is nothing more than a blogger dealing with their own misgivings about death. I dunno? What I do know is that social media has a way of making you confront death instantaneously and rehash death whenever one might stumble upon the thumbnail, or profile of a dead person. Is this healthy? Was it better the old way, where if you weren't in close contact with a deceased person, or their loved ones, it could take a long time before learning of their death? Again, I dunno? I will probably never know. We each grieve and deal with the metaphysical reality of death differently. 

God speed Andre and I am sorry for the gratuitous joke Mrs Taylor. How about the two of you raise the spirits of my unnamed buddy in the afterlife?  I hope the three of you enjoy the view. Be excellent to each other. We miss you.