December 16, 2005

Of talking heads

I've really enjoyed the first few weeks of Not for Mickey Kaus, who I'd already decided I was getting enough of in my life, but for Robert Wright, who turns out to be as interesting a thinker when ad libbing as he is in deliberate prose. The first videoblog that's ever held my attention.

Posted by BruceR at 04:02 PM

December 13, 2005

With the possible exceptions of fort pictures and candy bar reviews

Just a note that for work reasons I'll again be significantly slowing down the output in this space, effective today. For the record, I do believe this is a great medium for personal diarizing, and also for developing one's own skills as an information analyst by writing one's assessments in a place where you can refer back to them and check your work. Over the past four years, this site's reputation has gotten me enough work on the civilian side to easily pay off all incurred costs, and it's also allowed me to test out a number of IT designs and techniques that I have successfully applied to solve clients' problems as an information management professional. My "expertise" with the medium has become a key part of the toolset I've brought to my civilian employment, and I'm glad for that. But for business and personal reasons, I'm going to have to reserve any future deep thoughts I might have on current affairs issues for some less public medium for a while. Happy holidays to my last two or three remaining readers, and I'll see you again on the flipside. :)

Posted by BruceR at 12:24 PM

In defence of keepable promises

Reader Mark C. writes:

"I saw your post on the Liberal gun proposal. I am not 100% sure you are right about the GST. Yes, we all agree that cutting income tax is better than cutting consumption tax. However, it is possible that the Liberals' claims of tax cuts ($100B, $30B, etc.) have destroyed the government's credibility on this issue. By cutting GST 1% (which is all that will happen in a minority government), the Conservatives establish credibility at low cost in terms of lost revenue. Since a lot of the benefits of an income tax cut only happen if people believe in the cut, it might well be worth doing this. And, cutting GST will really save taxpayers money, which is good in itself. So, I think banning handguns is of a different order of cynicism from cutting GST.

"Establishing a series of simple, easily verifiable promises, and then keeping them, could really be beneficial for the country, not just the Conservative party."

Posted by BruceR at 11:35 AM

December 09, 2005

Not a really PC name, but it really is a delight

A writer in Slate is savaging Turkish Delight (the candy of temptation in Lion, the Witch, etc., which opens today). I don't know of what the author speaks, but I thought I should mention that Canadians (which really do seem to have better candy bars than in the States for some reason) have long had access to the Nestle "Big Turk" candy bar, which if not worth selling your siblings into slavery for, is certainly not disgusting. I have no idea how it maps onto the Fry's Turkish Delight bar you find in Britain/Australia.

Posted by BruceR at 01:57 PM

December 08, 2005

My new hobby

Halifax CitadelThe photo to the right is the Halifax Citadel, lefted off Google Earth. I think military-themed Google photography may become the new theme of this blog. First up is a series of major Canadian forts. The large versions are all shot from around 2000 feet, to preserve scale. Click for the blowup.

Quebec CitadelHere's another, the Quebec Citadel. Canada's premier example of a Vauban-style fort, it's still in use today as home station for the Royal 22nd Regiment (the Van Doos).

Fort ErieHere's Ft. Erie, site of the bloodiest siege of the War of 1812. It's a historical site today.

Posted by BruceR at 11:15 PM

Gotta admire the cunning

The Liberal promise to ban handguns today is actually pretty brilliant. They're betting their election chances on the ignorance of the urban Canadian voter, and no one ever went broke doing that.

The reliable second-order effect will be some Conservative candidate or commentator saying something reliably inflammatory (if accurate) which will poison the well against any kind of Conservative vote gain in the cities this time around. Probably a comparison to Naziism, or if they're really lucky, actually waving a gun around, if I had to bet. It will follow as sure as day follows night.

Because there are almost no legal handguns in Canada now, the number of people who are actually losing a previously-held right here is likely in the low four figures. That's the beauty of ineffectual public policy... it alienates no one, exactly because it's so ineffective.

The simple fact is that nearly every handgun homicide this year was executed with an illegal gun, either smuggled or stolen. Publicly banning them, again, will have no effect on the problem. The irony is the Liberals are assuming average urban Canadians are confused about the differences between the American gun culture they see on TV each night, and the Canadian one in their own cities, and so won't figure this out.

It'd be easier to feel sorry for the Conservatives if their own GST-trimming policy wasn't in its own way a cynical vote-grab aimed at the ignorant. Every economist in the country says income taxes need to go down further before the levy on consumption does, but in that case the Tories are banking on Canadians being unable to figure out their tax forms by themselves, and giving them something more obvious aimed at their wallets instead. Again, good politics, bad public policy. Either both kinds of cynicism should make you angry, or neither one should.

That said, the rest of the gun package announced today is actually pretty positive: more money for policing, and a waiving of re-registration fees on long guns. The cynicism is still upsetting, of course, but the new policy itself, not so much.

Posted by BruceR at 10:04 AM

December 07, 2005

You know what's really scary?

I own the same sweater.

Posted by BruceR at 04:37 PM

December 06, 2005

Childcare: well, they got my vote

This blog will likely be going into an even deeper state of semi-hiatus shortly, but before it does, I just wanted to say that the election question for this voter pretty much ended this morning on the subway.

I support my tax dollars going towards families with young children. I have absolutely no interest in them being used to apply economic force on Canadians to institutionalize their children from the age of two, which has long been the Liberal childcare solution. (The Globe editorial this morning, saying that the Conservative childcare plan could be better focussed on poorer Canadians, certainly has a point, but these are the kind of details that can be worked out over time.)

I still don't find Conservative defence policy to be particularly sound. But I do think they'll be better defenders of personal choice and individual freedom (and the proper role of the federal government in a federation, for that matter) than the ruling party on domestic issues.

Posted by BruceR at 11:08 AM

December 01, 2005

Walk the Line review

A definite must-see. Phoenix doesn't quite have the chops to actually do Johnny Cash right vocally (I heard the soundtrack before I saw the movie), but he evokes him well enough visually... but hey, Cash wouldn't be Cash if he could be impersonated quite that easily... Witherspoon's is a similarly voice-limited standin for June. They both act their hearts out though, and peg the stage personas fair enough. It's a bit like watching a good tribute band... if you know the music well enough, you can always superimpose the original music you know on the screen images, and tune out the actual soundtrack. The best movie I've seen from a musical nostalgia perspective since Boogie Nights.

Posted by BruceR at 03:03 PM