October 28, 2007

Productivity

[Edit: My dad wanted a print resolution version of this, and since the original file was just too low-quality I had to remake it from scratch. I took the opportunity to add in a little extra pun that really should have been there to begin with.

Also, if the comments on this post are anything to go by, the ladies really are forming a line! Sweet!]


In my literature class last night we were discussing Sartre. I was having a little trouble staying focused (shocking, I know), and, I'll be honest, I think pretty much the only thing I got out of the whole class was a stupid doodle that provided the inspiration for this:



Form a line, ladies.

October 26, 2007

October 24, 2007

Ghalimaufry

From Metronews.ca: Why Democracy?

When I was in Toronto a few weeks ago, I was waiting to meet someone downtown and was browsing through a copy of Metro I'd picked up on the TTC. They had an interview with Boutros Boutros-Ghali, which seemed like a pretty big scoop for Metro. Too bad it was freakin' awful.

They only got five questions (I guess Boutros is still pretty busy these days), and these were they:
1. Can terrorism destroy democracy?
Okay, a little buzzwordy, but could provide some interesting insight.
2. Is God democratic?
Hmmm... Getting kind of weird... What's your follow up?
3. Are women more democratic than men?
WHOA! Who's conducting this interview, anyway? Ali G?
4. Can democracy solve climate change?
Phew, okay, seems like we're getting back on track a bit, now...
5. Who would you vote for as President of the World?
Andrew has encountered a fatal error and been forced to close.

I think it is a testament to the fact that Boutros is such a fantastic diplomat that he managed to answer all these asinine questions without once sodomising the interviewer with a dunce hat. I mean, "President of the World"? Why not ask him who should be King of the Galaxy?

In summary: Boutros Boutros-Ghali = good, Metro = bad, God = democratic. Apparently.

October 23, 2007

Indignance

From BBC NEWS | World | South Asia: Monkeys attack Delhi politician
The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi has died a day after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys…

The city has long struggled to counter its plague of monkeys, which invade government complexes and temples, snatch food and scare passers-by…

One approach has been to train bands of larger, more ferocious langur monkeys to go after the smaller groups of Rhesus macaques.
A species of gorilla are then given machine guns to control the langur monkeys. Meanwhile...

From Newsvine: 6 Elephants Electrocuted in India
Six Asiatic wild elephants were electrocuted as they went berserk after drinking rice beer in India's remote northeast, a wildlife official said Tuesday.

Nearly 40 elephants came to a village on Friday looking for food. Some found beer, which farmers ferment and keep in plastic and tin drums in their huts, said Sunil Kumar, a state wildlife official.

They got drunk, uprooted a utility pole carrying power lines and were electrocuted.
Tragically, a number of pink elephants standing nearby were also killed.

Gosh, India has some pretty hilarious problems, huh? Wild monkeys, drunken elephants… I'm really glad the Western media gives stuff like this an equal amount of coverage to all those boring problems that nobody wants to hear about. You know, like water shortages, human rights abuses, pollution, over-population, or rising inequality? I mean, who really wants to worry about that dull stuff, anyway, when we can read about monkey infestations?

No, no, you're right, I'm being a little unfair. The Western media does publish lots of non-hilarious animal-related stories about India. For instance, they often report on how India's wildly out-of-control globalising economy might lose or gain you money. Also, I believe the cricket is covered every now and then.

And, okay, there are lots of pressing problems in the Western world that are more relevant and of immediate importance to Western readers – but if you are going to publish stories about India every now and then, can't you at least pretend that you care about the people there beyond their ability to entertain you and/or make you richer? Drunken elephants are pretty funny, but if I'm going to read one story about India in a day, I'd still much prefer it to have some substance.

SOMEBODY LISTEN TO ME!

October 19, 2007

October 14, 2007

Blind Leading the Blind

From BBC NEWS | Politics: Cameron sees how US tackles gangs
David Cameron has been examining how Los Angeles deals with the problem of street gangs…

Mr Cameron said the city was trying to deal with similar issues as those faced in the UK.
Yes, I hear the drive-by croquet matches are getting pretty nasty in Windy Bottomsford these days.
Los Angeles has had a major problem with gangs for decades and is one of the crime capitals of the world…

Today, dozens of gangs operate with hundreds of members and police say more then half of all murders in the city are gang-related.

Last year, gang violence rose by 14%.

Mr Cameron said the UK could learn from the authorities in Los Angeles.
I'm sorry, learn what, exactly? How to repeatedly kick itself in the crotch?
CAMERON: Say, we don't have a serious gang problem in the UK. Why don't we make things more like Los freakin' Angeles?

TORY BACKBENCHERS: [general murmurs of assent]

CAMERON: And another thing! I'm going to go to Burma to learn about representational democracy!

LABOUR BACKBENCHERS: [general cries of protest]
Mr Cameron also met with his populist conservative role model, the Terminator.
Mr Cameron said he hoped to emulate the governor.

"My wife said to me: 'How are you going to explain to an American audience what sort of Conservative you are?' I said 'I'll say look at me and think of Arnold Schwarzenegger'."
Cameron added: "And think of William Hague as my non-identical twin brother, Danny DeVito."

Too obscure?

October 12, 2007

Conversations With Greatness CL



Folks, I am just tickled pink to announce the biggest upgrade to CWG since Marx bought a fedora.

If you point your browser towards www.c-w-g.net, you can cop a feel of the new, swankified CWG microsite – it's got Flash, it's got a heap of new guest star bios and, most excitingly, it has a link to the new CWG online store where you can satisfy all your capitalist urges by purchasing a variety of Marxendise.

I don't know about you, but I just peed myself.

October 10, 2007

Can't... Stop... Making... Lolcats...

However, I think I have created the ultimate in self-referential internet meme humour:



Okay, I have a problem.

October 09, 2007

Blast From The Past

You know what I haven't done in a long time? Make ranty fun of a "lifestyle" article from the bowels of the intraweb. To that end, I proudly present a plehtoric pundigrions cherry-popping.

From MSN Lifestyle: 10 reasons it's great to be single
10. Your shoe inventory is nobody's business but your own
Seriously, do you realize how much a full-time partner would complain about your shoe collection?
Oh, come on. Shoes? Really? Why not just write, "10. Crippling consumer debt"? Besides, we live in such heady metrosexual times, most men are only going to complain about your shoe collection because they're jealous that it's bigger than theirs.
9. The only mess in your home is your own mess!
Picking up after a man is a sure way to kill the romance.
Um, how about you don't fucking do it, then? Are we really still at the stage where women are expected to clean up after their patriarchal overlord? I mean, we live in such heady metrosexual times, most men... Oh.
8. Trust us; you'll have peace of mind
...but a poor grasp of colon usage.
7. Any night is girls' night
If you want to get all dolled up and hit the town with your friends... You can do so any night, without having to check in with you-know-who.
Alternatively, just don't date Lord freakin' Voldemort to begin with.
6. You don't have to deal with in-laws
Although, Lord Voldemort was an orphan, so I guess you could really go either way on that one.
5. It's all about you, all the time
You can do what you want, go where you want, eat what you want, wear what you want, sleep in when you want, get up when you want, shop where you want ...
I'm sorry, who are you dating that won't let you do these things in the first place? Job?
4. That big, comfortable bed is ALL yours
Hey, fellas, how is this different from when women are in a relationship, eh?! Eh! Am I right? Gimme some skin! Aw.
3. Birthdays and special occasions will never be forgotten
Because NOBODY will LOVE YOU ENOUGH to even KNOW them IN THE FIRST PLACE.
2. Your entertainment options will always be entertaining to you
We're talking about masturbation, right?
And the number one reason it's great to be single?

1. Independence: That's hot!
Instead of falling into a relationship just because that's what you think you should do, embrace your singlehood and just do it all for yourself.
I would buy this more if the two links at the top of the page under "Related Content" weren't:

(a) "How to find a husband", and
(b) "Asexuality" (as if the only alternative to not being in a relationship is chastity for now and ever more.)

(Although, actually, I guess that has kind of been my experience.)

(Sigh.)

October 07, 2007

Streets Ahead

From CBC.ca: Expert proposes 'naked streets' for Toronto
A new, provocative suggestion for making the streets of Toronto safer for pedestrians: eliminate all street and speed limit signs...

Right now, speed limits, red lights and clearly marked and separated areas for cars and pedestrians are the norm in cities all over the world. But that thinking is "all wrong" according to Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who says it is much safer to build what he calls "naked streets."
Interestingly, this is the first time a Dutch person has ever appeared in a news story alongside the word "naked" without the item having anything to do with actual nudity.

It sounds like an interesting approach. Tell me, Hans Moleman (ahem, sorry... Monderman), what is the insightful piece of cognitive psychology theory behind this suggestion?
Monderman says this scares drivers so much they slow down and move carefully to avoid hitting anyone.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones.

Monderman then excused himself from the interview to go see some actual nudity. Phew!

October 05, 2007

Conversations With Greatness CXLIX



If anyone needs me, I'll be in Canada for the weekend. W00t!

October 04, 2007

Pinker and The Brain

Speaking of missing important cultural events, I was so caught up in the Fiddy-Kanye battle around September 11 this year that something even more inane and trivial passed me by.

Steven Pinker released a new book.

Entitled The Stuff of Thought, it is (*yawn*) another "window into human nature".

Says Publisher's Weekly:
Bestselling Harvard psychology professor Pinker (The Blank Slate) investigates what the words we use tell us about the way we think. Language, he concludes, reflects our brain structure, which itself is innate. Similarly, the way we talk about things is rooted in, but not identical to, physical reality.
Or, put another way:
Bestselling Harvard psychology professor Pinker (The Blank Slate) investigates what the Words and Rules we use tell us about How The Mind Works. The Language Instinct, he concludes, reflects our brain structure, which is not a Blank Slate. Similarly, Overregularization in Language Acquisition (Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development), physical reality.
On a more meta note, I find the Pinker vendetta that this blog has developed fairly bemusing. Back in 2002, I read The Language Instinct for a project I was working on at Emerson. I even met and interviewed Steven Pinker for it (this was just as the Blank Slate was coming out so he wasn't quite as much of a celebrity yet). He seemed like a smart guy and I bought Blank Slate and mostly enjoyed it.

About the same time, Alison was starting at McGill and Pinker began to turn up all over the place on her reading lists. We both found it kind of funny that he was so ubiquitous and so this faux frustration developed whenever we saw his name anywhere (we were a pretty cool couple). As we both did more social science we found his sweeping rejection of a lot of it increasingly obnoxious, but it was still all part of the same playful animosity, which eventually became enshrined in the Pinker character in CWG.

Then, in true labelling theory style (see, social science isn't all bullshit), my anti-Pinkerism came to be seen as a key part of my blog persona, so I began to feel compelled to pound on him whenever the opportunity arose. Now, although I never had anything personal against Pinker (he was actually pretty nice to me when we met), the vendetta has taken on a life of its own and I can't really stop. But I feel like anyone stumbling on to this site will just assume I have an irrational hatred of him for no reason, which I really don't. I just think it's funny to pretend I do.

Psyche! He's a total douchebag.

Lolcrats

I don't know how on earth I managed to remain oblivious to the existence of Lolcats until last week, but now that I've discovered them, I have to say: they are a beautifully pure comic form. (i.e. They are freakin' hilarious.)

I will now jump on the bandwagon by using the medium to comment on current American politics.









Ah, the internet.

October 03, 2007

Benefits of a Canadian Education, #216

Although Emerson itself prohibits intoxication of any kind while on campus, that can't stop its grad students from going to the bar directly across the street from campus to get boozed up – and, indeed, it doesn't.

The Tam is a real dive, full of the smell of disinfectant and authentic American bar paraphernalia (neon Bud signs, neon Pats signs, bouncers with thick New England accents). There are plenty of other bars around Emerson that are plainly nicer, but the charm of the Tam lies, I think, in its cheapness ($2.50 a beer!) and the fact that you can be almost guaranteed to find someone you know there. Also, on Tuesday nights at 9pm, they have a Trivia night.

Every week the Writing program fields a team called "Grandma's Hot Friends", which starts off with a core of five or six people but subsumes any straggling students who walk in after class finishes at 9:45pm, so it often ends up being ten or fifteen. Normally I would be one of the stragglers, but last night my instructor let us out early so I persuaded a handful of my classmates to form a splinter group. Thus was born "The Evil Lincolns," much to the horror and affront of GHF.

The night started off well – we swept the first round with a perfect score, tying for the lead and beating out GHF. Suddenly they were looking over at us with contempt in their eyes. This was serious business. At first our defection was just a bit of fun, but now we solemnly realised that anything other than victory over GHF would irreparably brand us as overzealous upstarts.

Round two saw our first misstep. The question was, "On which river does Baghdad lie?" I immediately said the Tigris, but the rest of the group were unanimous that the answer was the Euphrates and I bowed to the majority (since I was only 90% certain). What folly!

One interesting aspect of this trivia night (something I've never seen in a trivia night before) is that you may bid how many points you want to win for a correct answer. Each round has four questions (plus a bonus question) and four potential bids (one, three, five or seven points); you get to use each bid once, so the strategy lies in bidding high on the questions you're sure of and saving the low bids for guesses.

Well, so seductive was the sway of the majority, we wasted our seven-pointer on the Euphrates, which was, of course, wrong. Even worse, GHF let out a cheer as the correct answer was read out. We were sick with defeat. These were indeed Tigris Tam Ills.

This started us in a downward spiral and by the final round were languishing in fifth place, nearly forty points behind GHF. Then came the final question. Much like Final Jeopardy, the final round can make or break your fortunes: you may bid any even number of points between two and twenty, but a wrong answer will lose you half your bid, so there's a potential thirty point swing to be had. We could never catch up to GHF, but we waited for the question with baited breath: at the very least we could catapult ourselves into a winning position (prizes are awarded to first, second, third and fourth places).

Our bid – twenty, naturally – was already marked on the answer sheet as the question was read out:

"Which Canadian province was the last to join the confederation, in 1949?"

Suddenly all eyes were on me. These were Americans, bear in mind; they knew nothing about Canada. As someone who had spent several years there, I was their only hope. I had a strange inkling that it was one of the eastern provinces, and I started to list them in my head. Nova Scotia... Prince Edward Island... New Brunswick...

Newfoundland.

If you had asked me straight up when Newfoundland had joined the confederation I would have looked at you with a blank stare, but for some reason 1949 felt linked to Newfoundland in my head (I will refrain from making a joke about it being the cumulative IQ of the island's population, as my ex-editor has often told me off for Newfie-bashing). We wrote it down and took the answer sheet to the compere.

Minutes passed as he tallied the final scores.

Finally he began to announce the final, winning positions. Our fingers ached from several minutes of being crossed.

We weren't in fourth.

We weren't in third.

But then: "In second place, the only team to get the final question right" – see, I wasn't just being judgemental when I said Americans know nothing about Canada – "The Evil Lincolns!"

Much cheering and happiness ensued. We hadn't managed to beat GHF, but in our triumphant finale we had narrowed their lead to just a few points and shown ourselves to be truly Trivial adversaries. They graciously applauded our efforts as we accepted our prize of twenty dollars. (They won thirty, but whereas our team had only five members theirs, by this point, had almost fifteen – so who were the real winners?)

Now, to work!

October 02, 2007

Burmadness

From Newsvine: Stallone and Crew Saw Myanmar Aftermath
LOS ANGELES — Sylvester Stallone says he and his "Rambo" sequel movie crew recently witnessed the human toll of unspeakable atrocities while filming along the Myanmar border.
Coincidentally, the people living along the Myanmar border said the same thing about the film crew.
"This is a hellhole beyond your wildest dreams," Stallone said. "All the trails are mined. The only way into Burma is up the river."
Ah, yes, good ol' Shit Creek, gateway to Burma for over fifty years.

Of course, Burma has more problems than just Sylvester Stallone, these days. Between its seditious monks, bat-shit insane junta leaders, military-enforced curfews, locked up democratic leaders and, worst of all (*shudder*), UN peacekeeping efforts, the country ain't exactly the safest place to visit. At the moment, the situation is so bad that the junta is scrambling to do some PR damage control. Notes the Beeb:
The military junta has tried to block news of the unrest filtering out. Troops are stopping young men on the streets and in cars, searching for cameras that may be used to smuggle out images.
Still, if you happen to be standing around next to a dead protester in Rangoon...
Are you in the area? Are you affected by the events in Burma? […]

You can send your pictures and moving footage to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to + 44 (0) 7725 100 100

When taking photos or filming please do not endanger yourself or others, take unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.
Right, okay, check. Let me just get out my Cloak of Blissful Unawareness... Gee, it's a good thing I'm not in Burma, eh!?

I always preferred Myanmar, anyway.