340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The buck keeps going.

My old job was fantastic. My new job, perhaps not so much. However, it does afford me a close-up view of RFID tech, something my employer (figuratively) dry-humps whenever possible.

This opening allows me to A) segue into Pacanukeha's link to more RFID-related ID-theft insanity and B) explain away my lack of real posting by reminding you that I've started a new job which is keeping me très occupé.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Will wonders never cease?

Well, spank my ass and call me Shirley: Stephen "the Right is in" Harper and I agree on something:

The newly elected Tory government has promised to significantly boost military spending and plans to build three troop-carrying military ice-breakers, and install a remote sensing network in the high Arctic in order to detect foreign ships and submarines travelling through the region.

The $5.3-billion Arctic sovereignty plan also includes stepped-up aerial surveillance, building a deep-water port in Iqaluit, and installing a permanent military training centre at the Northwest Passage.

The complete Toronto Star article may be found here, though it covers a lot of ground and isn't limited to a discussion of the Arctic-sovereignty issue.

While I doubt the Tories will engage in the necessary consultations with aboriginal communities or pay enough attention to the environmental impact of their ambitious plans for flag-planting in the North, I am happy to see that they're finally going to do something. Forget Hans Island; seriously, who gives a shit if the Danes want to piss on a hydrant up there? I understand the symbolic value of the Danish move, but there are American icebreakers routinely trespassing in our waters. Hello, priorities?

Given the growing scarcity of potable water and the ever-more-plausible scenario of viable shipping lanes opening in the Arctic circle, it's imperative that the Canadian government assert its claims in the region. Hopefully, the Conservatives will be pressured by the opposition parties to include local aboriginal communities in its plans. The project would benefit immensely from their involvement, not only in terms of native experience and expertise, but also from a moral and ethical perspective: sidelining the First Nations would destroy the project's credibility entirely.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... sky is blue, grass is green and Pacanukeha can be counted on to mix political commentary with kitten-smashing.

* * *

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Interesting times, part II.

The Star's been on a roll lately, with some of the best election analysis in the country. Today they're running an AP article which neatly summarizes the headaches faced by Dick Marty, the Swiss senator responsible for investigating claims the US has been playing a shell game with abducted prisoners in European countries (complete article here):

STRASBOURG, France—The United States has developed a system for "outsourcing" torture, the head of a European inquiry into alleged CIA secret prisons said yesterday, accusing European governments of turning a blind eye to breaches of human rights.

But Swiss Senator Dick Marty's report failed to uncover tangible evidence proving clandestine detention centres existed in Romania or Poland as alleged by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.


Neither the 46-nation council nor Marty has any power to punish governments.


Marty is expected to issue another interim report in the next few months. He complained there was enormous pressure on him to produce evidence of secret CIA prisons but governments and the Council of Europe did not provide much help.

"Not a single day passes without me being asked,`Do you have any hard evidence, is there any proof?'" he said. "I am not a judicial authority, I have no means of investigation, the logistical support available to me is very limited."

While I was quick to believe the rumours of CIA-sponsored gulags nestled in the back alleys and foothills of central Europe -- and, for the record, I don't doubt they're there -- I am glad that Marty's being forthright about his difficulties in establishing proof of their existence. While I was initially surprised at the enthusiasm shown by European governments for Marty's fact-finding foray, I'd chalked it up to typical realpolitik maneuverings. It seems I may have been more right than I knew at the time: by simultaneously cheering and hindering Marty's efforts, these countries are unintentionally pulling back the curtain on the moral/political highwire act they all perform for the US's benefit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

All is not so quiet.

Amidst the sturm und drang surrounding the US' imperial march through Iraq, Canada's (growing) military presence in Afghanistan has gone largely underreported. As we're set to increase our troop presence there over the next six months -- and we've just elected a pro-military party to office -- it helps to have stories like this one circulating, the better to remind us that our military is involved in some its largest maneuvers in recent history.

National Post reporter Chris Wattie was travelling with a Canadian Forces patrol yesterday when a bomb planted in the road went off directly in front of the lead vehicle. Here is his account of the attack.


Then, out of nowhere, there was a flash in front of the lead G-wagon and a bang that we could feel in the back of our teeth even in the rear vehicle of the convoy.

A column of dirt shot 15 metres into the air, seemingly erupting from the hood of the lead vehicle, and within seconds the first two Canadian patrol cars disappeared in a cloud of mud-coloured dust.

"They're hit, they're hit!" shouted Master Corporal Jason Keen, second-in- command of the patrol and in charge of the rear G-wagon in the formation. "Can you see them? Can anyone see them?"

Sunday, January 22, 2006


One of the most egregious penalties imposed by the nine-to-five work week is the erosion of free time on the weekend, as chores which should rightfully be done during the week are pushed back (in the absence of time to actually do them). As such, while I chip away at the mammoth pile of laundry sitting in the bedroom, I leave you with Pacanukeha's further discussions on / explorations of the Google / COPA / "child porn" issue: linky-dink.

Friday, January 20, 2006

That's a mighty big net.

I started reading about this "White House v. Google" story in the paper, followed it up online and was drafting a post about it when I thought, "hey, you know what? Pac's probably already talked about this."

Wouldn't you know it, I was right: the insanity begins with his intro, "in which the government goes on a fishing expedition."

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Now here's a piece of good news: Mohamed Harkat -- held in jail since 2002 under that odious "Notwithstanding Clause-lite," the security certificate -- has been allowed to plead his case before the Supreme Court.

Top court to hear security certificate appeal:

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed on Thursday to hear another case on whether security certificates are constitutionally valid.


The Supreme Court said it will hear Harkat's case in June in conjunction the cases of Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei, who are also being held on security certificates.

The detainees argue the security-certificate process is unfair because their lawyers are denied access to the allegations against them.

The entire story may be read here (will open a new browser window).

I don't understand how the Canadian public can react to the Notwithstanding Clause with such visceral malaise while continuing to blithely ignore the much graver threat posed by these innocuous-sounding security certificates. Okay, that's not entirely true: I understand that institutionalized racism, energized and legitimized by post-9/11 paranoia, makes this kind of hypocrisy possible. Plus, security certificates are used mainly against brown "foreigners," while the shadow of the damocletian Notwithstanding Clause chills everyone.

Unfortunately, both serve to cheapen and demean the rights and responsibilities of all Canadians by making them contingent on the indulgence of courts and Parliament.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

If I were born in 1895...

Alfredo Lucious

Oh yeah, baby -- that's me. Want your own 1920's name? Get it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Kelly Clarkson!

Although I appreciated Steve Carell's run on The Daily Show and the mediocre Yank version of The Office, I really didn't have any interest in seeing The 40 Year Old Virgin. The preview made it seem boring and sophmoric (in the bad way), and I've never really dug slapstick that much. I know that sounds totally elitist, but I'm not trying to be -- I love a good fart joke as much as anyone else. I just don't necessarily want to settle in for 105 minutes of fart jokes (or, in this case, juvenile sex jokes).

My bad. The 40 Year Old Virgin is pretty damned funny and -- shocker of shockers! -- mostly inoffensive. Like most good lowbrow comedies, it's an ensemble piece with all the necessary archetypes: "the buddies," "the boss," "the lover," "the neighbour," etc. The casting is excellent (Catherine Keener is a particularly inspired choice) and the jokes rarely stray too far below medicore.

(Plus, it's educational: remember that episode of Family Guy, when Peter loses his job and tries out a bunch of alternate occupations? Remember the scene when he's moonlighting as a streetwalker and propositions Lois? Remember how he leans through the car window and offers her a "Cleveland steamer"? Yeah... I didn't get the reference either. But now, thanks to Gerry Bednob's hilarious monologue, I do. I also know what a rusty trombone, dirty sanchez and Cincinatti bowtie are, Bob help me.)

All in all, C. and I both dug it way more than we expected and it may have introduced a new conceit to language: the use of celebrity names as epithet.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gone swishin'.

A crisp, sunny, vividly beautiful Sunday in the middle of January just begs to be walked through. See ya.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Murky memories.

Call me slow, but it wasn't until we watched Dark Water that I recognized the trend of Japanese-inspired horror movies featuring young female protagonists.

The Ring (and its sequel), The Grudge (and its forthcoming sequel) and Dark Water all feature young, white women as the protagonists. In and of itself, this isn't necessarily odd -- women are often preferred as protagonists in horror movies because, according to the logic of patriarchy, audiences would never find a panicked man plausible or sympathetic. For a recent -- and chilling -- rebuttal to this chauvinistic notion, see Bill Paxton's performance in Frailty.

Still, the theme of isolated young woman is interesting: in all three movies, the protagonists are either alone after a divorce (The Ring, Dark Water) or culturally isolated in the heart of a foreign country and struggling to maintain a relationship with a partner (The Grudge). I wonder if the filmmakers are just mining a archetype of vulnerability or if there's something else going on here. Hm.

Anyway, Dark Water didn't impress me so much, though I suppose it's worth the price of a rental if you're a genre fan. More tragic than terrifying, this haunted-apartment story revolves around a mysterious injustice and a tortured little girl (also elements of The Ring and The Grudge, come to think of it). The aesthetic is appropriately damp, dank and claustrophobic, and the performances are solid. I appreciated the director's decision to add a little texture and nuance to the relationship between the two divorcés, refusing to allow a simplistic assessment of their motives and past.

My main problem was with the "bad mother" theme that totally permeates every frame of this movie. Maybe I should take it in stride, given the genre, but it really bugged me. Mothers are weak, selfish, hysterical, delusional and ultimately a danger to their children -- unless they're dead martyrs in which case they're sanctified, untouchable and harmless.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Culture Shock, Part 2.

It's like being on safari, or in a zoo... except I'm in a cage too, learning how to grimace for peanuts.

The guy who sells me cigarettes congratulated me on the new job and said, "it's better than driving a truck, eh? Office job is office job... office job is good job! No cold, no sweat, no hurt yourself." Can't argue with that logic. He's right: I've had way, way worse jobs than this and I don't mean to complain... it's just so fuckin' weird. Not bad, just bizarre.

The ambient surreality isn't helping either: St. Laurent is eerily quiet at 9:30, giving the lie to it's nickname. Maybe it's The Main for bagels, overpriced "vintage" clothing (AKA bought for peanuts at Sally Ann and flipped for %200 to trend-obsessed hipsters), eight-dollar lattés and funky streetlights, but when it comes to productivity this place is a joke. Every day I walk up from the métro station and I see a borough still dozing -- and it's after nine! On a Tuesday! Surreal and yet comforting, in a weird way. I love this city even (especially) when its anachronisms and inconsistencies are front-and-centre.

To date, my days at the new job have been precisely augured by the sky's non-colour, a vaguely yellowed grey unique to January and wholly appropriate as the backdrop for my training up on the tenth floor. A co-worker has already warned me that the company's mandatory training will be "the most soul-sucking two weeks of your life."

Fucking awesome.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Really Incredible Machine.

Got a few minutes? Then follow this (work-safe) link and try to follow one blue ball through its meandering path: Blue Ball.

The entire fantastical construction is kind of like a doodle you'd see on a notepad next to an engineer whos been on hold with Sympatico for three hours: the product of an extremely fertile, technically-inclined imagination.

Monday, January 09, 2006


I browse a few message boards now and again, mainly games- and politics-related. A few months back, I was skimming DumpShock, a Shadowrun board, when I came across a unique post: a gamer who worked as a relief agent for an American organization operating in Louisiana was willing to answer questions concerning the post-Katrina cleanup efforts. He wanted to dispel some of the myths surrounding the operation and give people an opportunity to hear from someone on the ground. We had a brief exchange.

(names have been changed: I am "Mike" and he is "Carl.")

From: "Mike"
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 3:02 PM
To: "Carl"
Subject: Dumpshocker wondering about FEMA


I'm a regular Dumpshocker ("Velocity") and I just read your post offering information on the status of rescue and relief efforts in New Orleans. First, thanks for the offer and I understand if you're too busy to respond to me.

I'm curious about reports I've been hearing which paint FEMA as uncooperative, understaffed and uninformed. Is this the case, from your experience? As a Canadian, my understanding of FEMA's size and the scope of its resources is limited. However, I always understood them to be a large, well-funded and well-connected organization.

Thanks in advance and good luck to you,


From: "Carl"
Sent: September 1, 2005 4:19 PM
To: Mike
Subject: RE: Dumpshocker wondering about FEMA

No problem Mike. I think I have a second to squeeze in an e-mail.

I personally don't have a ton of experience with FEMA, but what little I do have has been good. These guy bust ass in emergencies like this, and some of our teams in New Orleans are saying that some of the FEMA peeps have been working off zero sleep for the last 48-72 hours. Understaffed? Well, most government agencies are understaffed, and FEMA could always use more people, but I don't think they are in any different boat than anyone else. And the only cooperation issues I've had with them have been security-based ones. They are all steel-balls when it comes to security, and they would tell the president to go f**k himself if tried to break their protocol. I'll ask around, and if I get more info, I'll be sure at let you know.

From: "Mike"
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 8:51 AM
To: "Carl"
Subject: RE: Dumpshocker wondering about FEMA

Hi Carl,

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my e-mail, I can only imagine how busy you must be. I appreciate the clarification of FEMA's effectiveness and the role they're playing in New Orleans. Your description confirmed my own suspicions--the news reports of their missteps struck me as ill-informed.

I visited New Orleans several years ago and I was struck by the level of poverty in the city. From what locals told me at the time, it sounded like one of the poorest metropolises in the US. Is the infrastructure even in place for you to do your job? On the same topic, I'm curious as to what your job is, exactly. Is it co-ordination and resource management, that kind of thing? Please take your time responding, I can see in my newspaper that you have much bigger things to worry about than a nosy Canuck. :)

With fingers crossed,


From: "Carl"
Sent: September 2, 2005 10:09 AM
To: "Mike"
Subject: RE: Dumpshocker wondering about FEMA

Hey, I'm glad I can help. Right now the amount of misinformation spreading around is just mind-numbing.

And about my job, I'm actually not directly involved with what my company does. I do network administration/technical support, so I don't have a hand in the planning or consulting. However, I do have a handle on everything that happens here because of the immense need for support that our people require. For instance, I handled all the equipment setup and deployment for our emergency management teams, and I'm responsible for keeping communication flowing between our people in the field and our people in the office. Otherwise, I'm just like any other corporate IT guy. But I have really good connections within the company, and I've found that if you keep your users informed of what's going on with IT, they will keep you informed of what's going on with everything else. And our whole department is on 24-hour call right now, and we aren't allowed to be more than 30 minutes away from the office. So naturally I'm gobbling up all the information I can get about what is going on.

And as for us (IEM) doing our job, infrastructure doesn't really matter all that much. All we do is Emergency and Risk management planning, consulting, and coordinating. Yes, it is easier to plan for emergencies when a city/state/whatever has a good emergency support infrastructure in place, but we are used to planning around stuff like that.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Culture Shock, part 1.

One interesting thing about this new job: I'm starting at a salary that's higher than the official pay scale for the position. During the second interview, my supervisor-to-be asked, in an offhand sort of way, what I'd been earning at my last position. I naively told the truth without a second thought and the interview continued.

A couple of weeks later, when I was signing the contract in her office, she mentioned that the starting pay range for this position was actually lower than what I was being offered. Since the company didn't expect me to take a pay cut to work with them (clever bunch, huh?), they decided to match my previous salary as an enticement. The catch? I'm not permitted to discuss my pay with anyone, ever. Why? In case it breeds envy, resentment and dissatisfaction among my colleagues.

This is my new ecology.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Jesus! Bad waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing, intolerable vibrations in this place. Get out! The weasels were closing in. I could smell the ugly brutes.
- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

While I'm grateful to be working again and I appreciate some of the perks of this job, I gotta say: office culture blows chunks.

I've come to realize just how sheltered I've been from the reality that undergirds "Dilbert" cartoons and the overwrought stereotypes populating perennial favourites like Office Space. Amazingly enough, small-minded, militantly envious, territorial, paranoid, pedantic tunnel-vision masquerading as policy is actually some kind of norm.

I've also come to realize that to many people, pointing this out is akin to pointing at the sky in amazement and whispering, "my god... it's blue!" I always feel like an idiot -- or at best, some kind of loinclothed artifact fresh from the murky depths of some primeval jungle -- when I try to communicate the rawness and profundity of my culture shock. I mean, I'm not exactly at the helm of the Enterprise, chronicling the births of stars -- it's an office job, I know. I get that. It's just so fucking weird.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Of mice and men.

Given that I'm starting my new job this week, I've decided to not blog until the weekend. Re-adjusting to a nine-to-five schedule is hard enough without the added pressure of having to chronicle the entire thing too. Come Saturday, I'll try to sum up the entire experience with a pithy phrase or two, but for now I leave you with a heartbreaking post from Grad School Avenger: "Prey."

For the record -- and I believe I said as much in the "comments" section of that particular post -- I think this kid needs a good, clean shot in the head. Maybe it's the little caveman inside of me speaking (the one nurtured via osmosis by the sea of patricrachal bacteria I swim through every day), but my first reaction to these kind of whinging, malicious little pissants --my gut reaction -- is a violent urge. Not a strong urge, mind you, nor even a particularly compelling one. John Hay wrote that "dealing with people to whom mendacity is a science is no easy thing," but I can't help but think that the perfect antidote to that kind of carefully-plotted character assassination is a sudden, direct burst of honest violence.

I can be such a dude.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The other half.

Today was the first day of training at my new job and so far, my impressions are best summed up -- of course -- by a choice scene from "Family Guy":

[the family is planning a vacation]
Peter Griffin: We could always go to purgatory like we did last year.
Lois Griffin: This isn't bad. It's not good, but it's not bad.
Brian Griffin: So-so.
Peter Griffin (shrugging): Enh... more or less.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Now we can duel!

Now this is an invention whose time has come. Am I weird for thinking that this thing is phenomenal?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I resolve to be more organized... virtually.

In the interests of sidebar-tidiness, I'm shunting all of my 2005 movie reviews over to this one post. I'll then clear my list in the sidebar and begin again with 2006 flicks.

  • The Island

  • Serenity

  • War of the Worlds

  • Innerspace

  • Leaving Las Vegas

  • Mindhunters

  • Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

  • Danny the Dog

  • Land of the Dead

  • Night of the Living Dead (1990)

  • Bride & Prejudice

  • Hide And Seek

  • The Longest Yard

  • Code 46

  • Immortel (ad vitam)

  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith

  • Batman Begins

  • Assault On Precinct 13

  • The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

  • Logan's Run

  • C.R.A.Z.Y.

  • The Final Cut

  • Cursed

  • Be Cool

  • Boogeyman

  • The Edukators

  • Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events

  • Constantine

  • Ocean's Twelve

  • Man-Thing

  • The Assassination Of Richard Nixon

  • National Treasure

  • Alone In The Dark

  • Blade: Trinity

  • The Grudge

  • UHF

  • Suspect Zero

  • Darkness

  • Saw