Thursday, September 29, 2005

Schlog.

For those of you who missed it, here's Robert Fulford's recent piece on blogs in Toronto Life.

And here -- in a TL online extra -- are Toronto bloggers Matthew Blackett, Sarah Lazarovic, Sally McKay, Mark Truscott, and Carl Wilson's favourite Toronto blogs. (Thanks for the shout-out, poopsicle!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wo, Nemo! Toss a lasso to me now!

The news: A Japanese crew has taken the first pictures of a live giant squid.

The news to me: There's never been a picture of a giant squid alive before? I guess not. The only picture I have in my head is of one attacking the Nautilus in the 1954 film of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

UPDATE: The New Yorker has posted its 2004 article about squid hunter Dr. Steve O’Shea here.

On the Octopus News Magazine online forum, O'Shea is quite magnanimous: "They didn't even need to do the DNA to know (I found it quite surprising that they did this), because Ku (Dr Tsunemi Kubodera) is one of the best there is. He is also one of the nicest of people you will ever meet, and the most deserving to have achieved what nobody else has managed to do. I think that this is the best news ever for natural history, and hopefully it will result in the end of BS programming standards, this so-called reality TV, and a return to proper expedition-style documentaries. It can only get better!"

O'Shea, the forum's moderator, and other Architeuthis enthusiasts have been breathlessly discussing the news. Writes Clem:
How exciting is this?

After reading the first Reuters news item, I reached for a cigarette. Then I decided I should eat something, instead. Then I thought I should drink some more coffee, but not before reaching for a cigarette, which I attempted to place above my ear, dislodging the first cigarette I'd already stuck there. Then I ran around the room, drank some coffee, and reached for another cigarette, having forgotten about the two I'd already pulled from the pack. Now, I've eaten my cinammon buns, and have a goofy smile plastered across my face.

Architeuthis on camera, at depth and alive. It happened in our lifetimes, folks. Holy ****.

I need a cigarette.
Later on, there's some interesting discussion of how the squid's tentacle may have become detached: Was it ripped from its body, or did the squid bite off its own tentacle with its beak in order to escape? Writes Tintenfisch:
Kubodera & Mori report that the squid made repeated attempts to swim away from the line, and during one of the attempts, the taut line suddenly slackened, which they interpret as the tentacle breaking. Out-of-frame of course. Autophagy/severing the tentacle by biting is a possibility, though not previously recorded specifically for Archi as far as I know. Some octopus (e.g. Ameloctopus) have an autotomy plane or ready-made 'snap' point where the arms always break off (when they do). Seems likely, although I don't have a ref for this, that the squid that regularly lose their tentacles with maturity (e.g. Octopoteuthidae, and many onychoteuthids) would have something similar.
The pictures of the squid struggling to get away have led scientists to the conclusion that the giant squid is a more aggressive hunter than previously thought. But one commenter named Andreas argues that the pictures tell us very little about normal squid behavious:
In the BBC clip the person beeing interviews indicated that the pictures where evidence of an agressive pursuit style of hunting.
He fails to mention that the 1st thing that happenend was that the squid got its longest tentacle caught on the fishing line, and spent the rest of the pictures fighting for its life trying to free itself... Given these facts it seems that the pictures show normal behavior but a squid in fighting for its life.
I think this is the same problem people had for years with sharks, they would chum the water throw in tons of dead fish and the sharks would go crazy because they never encountered this density of blood and dead fish in the "wild". This is how people though sharks regularly engaged in feeding frenzies and such.
I also saw a documentary on the Humbold squid, where one camera man used to go out with fishermen who where fishing the squid. He described the squid as vicious, they would eat each other and humans if they could catch them. Again these where squid in a life and death struggle, not engaged in "normal" day to day behavior.
In the same documentary some other divers went for a swin with the humbold squid while they where NOT getting massacred and they turned out to be much mellower, "friendlier" and more inquisitive.

I am amazed that scientist continue to fail to understabd how their observation methods affect the behavior of the things thei are studying.

Attach a squid to a steel hook it can't escape from and you will see a pissed off squid beeing active and fighting for its life. I don't think this provides much evidence in regards to "normal" behavior.
But that's a problem with any deep-sea study, notes Tintenfisch:
Observing 'normal' behavior is a problem with almost any footage taken of deep-sea creatures; in order to photograph anything down there, cumbersome supporting gear is required that tends to cause a lot of light disturbance, and often sound/vibrations as well. It is possible that, at least for deep-sea cephs and fish, the only behaviors we have ever observed on film have been threat-responses to the sudden appearance of a blinding, noisy camera apparatus, but this is what we have to settle for at the moment, until less obtrusive filming methods become more available (like the red light some scientists have recently used for filming).
But you're very right, Andreas, this is something that needs to be remembered when analyzing the behaviors caught on film, especially in an extremely stressful situation like this one.
Commenter Tonmo asks the question that may be on the minds of many more sensitive squid lovers:
As many know I've never been hyper-sensitive to these things (I almost ate some tako sushi last week -- but didn't ), but what is being heralded as a magnificient discovery is seeming more to me like animal torture.

If an extremely rare never-seen-alive gorilla or panda bear was caught in a trap, and videotaped for four hours in a struggle to get away, and finally got away by tearing off one of its limbs which was observed with great delight (the hand was still clutching!), the discovery would be met with mixed reviews at best, I would think. Just because Archi is submerged in water, should it be regarded any as less as one of earth's fellow creatures?
But Dr. O'Shea offers the counter-argument:
I do see your point Tony, very much so. I too was on the receiving end of messages like this when trawling for the juvenile giant squid ... killing everything in the process ... and I can understand where people were coming from. In fact this was a major turning point in my life - getting the squid on telly for the sake of getting it on film, or getting it on film and using this as a hook to lure people in to far more important matters, namely conservation.

Raising awareness of these magnificent animals through this sort of imagery does serve a purpose, even if the animal was stressed. People care when they see a magnificent animal in this condition, but not so about a trawl 'sheoparding up' the seabed and many fish. If this one animal lost a tentacle (that will regrow) and 1000 more are protected by some conservation lobby, then that is a necessary sacrifice. Ultimately conservation benefits.

Just the flip side, that's all. I sit somewhere in the middle.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Burn out or fade away?

Interesting to see 82-year-old Kurt Vonnegut emerge from retirement and hit the talk shows to promote his non-fiction collection A Man Without a Country... Liked this bit from an AP interview over the weekend:
[Vonnegut] jokes, sort of, that he has "lived too long" and wishes he had been finished off by a fire at his home a few years ago, from which he escaped unharmed. "When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life; old age is more like a semicolon," Vonnegut said.
NDP: No Deficits, Please

The NDP’s recent assertion that it has the best fiscal track record of all Canadian political parties is some good politicking… but the argument is somewhat undercut by the fact that certain sections of its website have been "suspended due to non-payment" to its web host.

Update in the morn': Must have been a temporary glitch...

Friday, September 23, 2005

The next election.

No, not Canada's. What? No, I'm not talking about Poland either. It's all about New Zealand, where -- like Germany -- no single party has an outright majority.

See, Labour, the ruling party, took 50 seats and the opposition National Party has 49 seats in the 122-member parliament. Now, if Prime Minister Helen Clark can hook up with the nationalist New Zealand First party, she might just become the first Labour leader to win three consecutive elections. That'll be interesting because...

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not Paul Wells... I don't immerse myself in a different foreign election every week.

No, I only care about what's going on in New Zealand because a) a Jack Russell terrier named Toby was registered to vote; and b) a Green Party candidate who promised to streak through a rich Wellington suburb if he lost has if fact lost and will honour his promise.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shocking Display of Ethics!

At Queen's no less!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Richardson's Locked-out Round-up.

- Went to the launch of Warren Kinsella's Fury's Hour last night at Sneaky Dee's, where a couple of cops were posted at the door. Very strange mix of older men in suits, the usual literary suspects, locked-out CBCers, punk rock fans, and a surprising number of hot young women. The whole thing was a bit of a scene. There were also some fine free chicken wings.
Kinsella's band Shit from Hell lived up to its name, though the song "Barney Rubble is my Double" was pretty hot. I also enjoyed the fact that SFH's lead singer is a guy who looks and sounds almost exactly like Keith from The Office.

- C.R.A.Z.Y. update: It's representing Canada in the Best Foreign-Language Film.

- That dude from Toronto is INXS's new singer. What I find funny about this Rock Star show is that every CP article about it contains the clause "the popular television show that was conceived to replace Michael Hutchence, who hanged himself in a hotel room in 1997." Well, okay, not funny... It's just, I bet the host isn't mentioning that on air, every episode: "All right! We're down to three finalists! And tonight we find out who will be the new lead singer of INXS... replacing Michael Hutchence, who hanged himself in a hotel room in 1997."

- Laurier is the Greatest Canadian Prime Minister. I can get behind that.

- Yes, that Paul Coffin sentence is a annoyingly mild. Message: I can cheat on my taxes as long as, if I'm caught, I pay the money back and embark on a speaking tour. Will do!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blowing it.

Celebrity cocaine stories, like celebrity deaths, usually come in threes. We’ve got Kate Moss, André Boisclair… Who’s next?

I'm tempted to say, "So Boisclair did a few lines. So what?" But the PQ leadership candidate's indiscretions apparently took place while he was in power as an elected official. Surely that was tempting fate. Do the Péquistes really want to be led by someone who would gamble everything for a cheap thrill?

If the media just focuses on his personal morality, I think Boisclair will emerge from this relatively unscathed. Not so if his opponents frame the question like this: What do Quebecers think about the fact that part of a publicly-funded minister’s salary went into the pockets of outlaw motorcycle gangs at the height of the war that killed over 100 people, including an 11-year-old boy? Perhaps the average cocaine user doesn’t think of these things… But shouldn’t a cabinet minister be aware of the wider ramifications of his drug use?

Yeah, so sometimes I think that. And sometimes I think like the commenter on Boisclair’s blog who wrote, “avec cette chasse aux sorcières, ON SE CROITAIT AUX ÉTAT-UNIS BORDEL!”

Monday, September 19, 2005

Oh, Nestcock!

Irony I: D.J. Walletski points out that I twice misspelt the word "misspelling" in a recent post about the misspelling of my name!

Irony II: Irony I isn't really an example of irony at all!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Paging Dr. TIFF.

Congratulations to Jean-Marc Vallée, director of C.R.A.Z.Y., which won the Toronto-City Award for best Canadian feature at the TIFF yesterday... (Hey -- that's the one film I recommended you go see!) Boo to CP for describing the film as "a cinematic homage to the pop culture-saturated middle class of the 1970s." Whaaaat? Where did that line come from?

Oh, it comes from the TIFF's press release: "Vallée's wildly entertaining film is an ambitious and magical cinematic homage to the pop-culture-saturated middle class of the seventies." What a slightly condescending and totally inaccurate representation of what the film C.R.A.Z.Y. is...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I don't care what you say...

Just get my name right. The latest mispelling is Newstruck, in Kevin Chong's piece in the Vancouver Sun about the Kinsella/Wilson blog bust-up.

My favourite mispelling, however, happened in my last year of university. The NDP leadership campaign was going on and I went to a Jack Layton fundraiser because a friend was playing her guitar at it. It was a pretty small dinner and I ended up sitting next to Jack for a while. I told him that he should shave his moutache. Over and over.

Anyway, there was a fair amount of wine purchased by Layton and I drank a fair amount of that fair amount. By the end of the evening, I agreed to purchase a cheap student NDP membership so I could vote for him in the leadership campaign. I also agreed to try to grow a moustache myself. And then I toasted to Quebec independence.

When my membership card arrived in the mail a few weeks later, it was made out to J. Kelly Nestcock.

And that was the end of my involvement in partisan politics. (I didn't even vote in the leadership race.)
Youppi!

Everyone's favourite sports mascot is back... and this time he's rooting for The Habs.

I can't tell you how happy I am about this news. When I was a young boy, I was a big Expos fan. I was also a pretty sickly kid and had to go to the Montreal Children's Hospital a lot because of my asthma. Everytime we came back from getting a mask at emergency, my mother would reward me for my good behaviour by giving me a little Youppi! figurine. In one he was playing shortstop, in another he was at bat, in another he was pitching... I still have them all in a box back in Montreal.

I stopped being a real Expos fan in 1994 when the business of baseball intruded on my love of the game and Larry Walker. But I've always had a special place in my heart for the Henson-created orange giant who was the first mascot to ever be thrown out of a game and is one of only three to be inducted in Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Conservatives Harp on Harper..

By the way, those four Quebec conservatives who want to heave ho Harper? Well, one is Philippe Giguere, who I know through Verstehen and who has been blogging for a while Ptit Gars de Shawinigan. While Giguere has never been particularly fond of Harper, it seems like his patience reached the tipping point when Harper donned those ridiculous Village People cowboy duds at a BBQ this summer. Though he and his buddies only sent out a formal letter asking Harper to resign this week, it was back then that P.G. first wrote, "Bye bye, mon cowboy."

Phillipe and the Three Candidates -- good name for a band? -- have posted the letter on another blog: Dehors - Harper - out!
Too soon? Or not soon enough?

From the e-mail inbox:
Q. What is George W. Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?
A. He doesn't really care how people get out of New Orleans.
Hi-yo!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ordering a Burger is not like Taking an AIDS Test.

I stopped eating beef about three years ago now. I would like to tell you why, but I have a bad memory and I’ve forgotten the exact reason. It had something to do with a documentary and a cow with a huge, swollen udder, I think. Or perhaps a girl I was dating who was a vegetarian who I tried to meet halfway.

Really, I suppose, it's just because I never really enjoyed eating beef. Or at least never enjoyed eating beef that my mother deemed safe for consumption (and that my aversion to blood allowed me to put in my mouth). Well-done, tough, the colour of raw sienna.

Giving up beef was not a huge sacrifice. But there was one thing I missed, however, and that was hamburgers. Burgers are a staple of our culture – part of the very fabric of our society - and I felt left out at barbecues with my little, weinie hotdogs. I tried bringing special sausages –lamb or pork, of course - but the fact is you cannot fit as many toppings on a hotdog bun and diced onion is no match for the full cross-section of a bulb.

I discovered and fell in love with ostrich and bison burgers. But while they were excellent, they were not readily available. (Or cheap.) Chicken burgers felt like a cop-out: not a burger, but a chicken sandwich. If I want to eat a chicken sandwich, I’ll eat a chicken sandwich.

Veggie burgers were a whole other business. Some had deadly nuts hidden in them (I’m allergic) and others tasted like they were made of ground ass. Others, I liked just fine.

Only one vegetarian option fully encompassed the burger experience I was looking for. The Nature Burger at Lick’s Homeburgers and Ice Cream. (Slogan: You Can LICK Our Ice Cream But You Can’t BEAT Our Burgers!) It’s remarkably similar to a genuine hamburger. In some ways, it is a superior meal.

The Nature Burger is not a vegetarian substitute. It’s a vegetarian principal.

Which brings us to September 8, 2005. After spending my morning picking up my film festival accreditation and asking passers-by whether they would rather go to a Halloween party with Atom Egoyan or David Cronenberg, I decided that a Nature Burger was in order. I stopped at the Lick’s at the corner of York Mills and Lesmill near the National Post office on my way in.

Now, while I like Lick’s Nature Burger, I dislike much of rest of the experience of going to Lick’s. For one, they use their own rhyming slang to communicate to each other, so French fries becomes “blue skies” or something and onion rings are “ring-a-ding-ding.” For two, the décor makes me feel like I am drowning.

I also do not like that the Lick’s employees ask for your name when you order. I've heard they used to sing a little personalized song when you picked up your food, but they don’t anymore – at least not at my local franchise -- so I don’t see why they need your name. I feel it’s an invasion of my privacy. (Said the blogger, blogging.)

Usually when I order at Lick’s, I give a fake name. Sometimes it is just “Joe” or “Fred” -- something normal and male. Other times I conduct what I like to think are social experiments. I’ll give a female name like “Lucinda” or “Missy.” Or maybe I’ll give a name like “Mohammad” or “Shaquille.” Often I’ll just give a word like “Gong” or “Petroleum.” Judge not, I say with my eyebrows when they look at me quizzically. (Usually, they just ignore me.)

Truth is, this name game has nothing to do with privacy. I’m just an asshole sometimes.

Anyway, today I was not feeling thus. I gave my real name: Kelly. And, because this was different for me, I told the woman behind the counter. “I don’t usually give my real name,” I said like I was passing on top secret information, like this was a very special day and the stars had aligned.

“Well,” she said. “A lot of people don’t. That’s all right.

"Sometimes I give really silly names," I continued to confess. "It's a bit jerky."

"Do you ever forget what name you gave?”

“Yeah.”

“That can make it awkward when you they call you.”

“Yeah. It looks like I don’t know my own name.”

“Yep.”

She had interesting teeth. I opened up further.

“I don’t know why I do it,” I said. “I just feel, I don’t know, like… Like I’m on my lunch break. I’m away from my desk and getting some fresh air. Why does my name have to come into it, you know?”

“People worry about privacy these days.”

“Yeah.”

“They want to be anonymous.”

“Yeah.”

“But it’s just so we know which order is whose.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s not like it’s an AIDS test.”

Food for thought, indeed. Teethy was right. Ordering a burger is not like getting an AIDS test.

Sometimes I get almost as stressed out as when I'm waiting for results at the doctor's office, though. How ridiculous is that? Has lunch always been so complicated? Was there a time, decades or centuries ago, when scanning a lunch menu was pleasant? Was there ever a time when choosing from a list of options felt like an act of selection instead of an act of rejection?

“Kelly?”

It was the woman down at the toppings end of the Lick’s counter. She knew my name because it was written on the bill.

I instructed: Guk! (Lick’s special mayonnaise-based sauce), lots of relish, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, a few hot peppers, pickles on the side.

“Here you go, Kelly,” she said putting the brown paper bag with my lunch in it on the counter. (Why does the sound of my own name from the toppings woman make me feel gross? Why do I feel it cheapens my name, my identity?)

I turned to leave, but then remembered… “Oh, can I get some mayonnaise for my fries?”

“That’s an extra 85 cents.”

WHAAAT!?!? “Excuse me?”

“Guk! on the side is 85 cents.”

WHAAAT!?!? “All I want is some mayonnaise, not Guk!, I just…”

“We don’t have any mayonnaise, just Guk. It’s not just mayonnaise, it...”

“Who doesn’t have mayonnaise? Mayonnaise is a normal condiment where I come from.” (Where I come from? What does that mean?)

“I’m sorry, but…”

“You should get normal mayonnaise for fries. That’s a normal thing. Are you the person who would be in charge or such a thing?”

Silence.

“Oh, never mind.”

This is how I left Lick’s. Unsatisfied. Why wouldn’t they have plain mayonnaise? Why wouldn’t they give me Guk for free? Eight-five cents! What ever happened to customer satisfaction?

Maybe I am an asshole.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Vive le Bouchard!

Breaking news from Antonia Zerbisias: Lucien is alive.
TIFF minus 10 hours.

The Toronto International Film Festival begins today. Much of the National Post's film fest coverage -- from Chris Knight, Vanessa Farquharson, Shinan Govani, Bob Thompson and myself -- will be posted on this website alongside articles from the CanWest crew. (It should be free, I believe.)

Many of the Toronto-based reporters have been previewing movies non-stop for the past three weeks at the National Film Board. The pre-fest wasn't so bad for me -- I only had to see nine movies. There are people who actually saw four or five a day leading up to the fest.

In addition to filing daily dispatches, reporters covering the festival usually bank interviews for when the bigger films open in wide release. It's a crazy, chaotic time, but also a lot of fun.

If I had to recommend one film to see at the festival, I'd say go see Jean-Marc Vallée's C.R.A.Z.Y., a gay coming-of-age film set against the backdrop of the Quiet Revolution and with a wicked soundtrack featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Patsy Cline and Charles Aznavour... I know: I was skeptical too. But it's not preachy at all. It's really entertaining and full of magic. Michel Côté's performance as the father of five boys is just brilliant. (Matt Hays had a fine piece on CBC.ca/arts earlier this year about the film.)

Then again, C.R.A.Z.Y. -- which has grossed over $5 million at the Quebec box office this summer -- is getting a wider release in English later this fall, so you can hold out until then.

Post Script

Hey, C.R.A.Z.Y. already has its own goofs page up at imdb.com:
Anachronisms: In a scene set in the 1970s, a VIA Rail Canada train with "Renaissance" cars is visible in the background. These cars were not put in service by VIA Rail until about 30 years later. Furthermore, the Canadian National Railways passenger division wasn't known as VIA Rail back then.
Anachronisms: Just after hearing Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were You Here" and the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", we see several music albums, and among them is Pink Floyd's "Animals". The scene is supposed to be occurring in 1975, and "Animals" was released in 1977.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sketchy country.

North Korea through the eyes of French Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle:
Delisle's wry, skeptical perspective permeates Pyongyang. He casts a light on numerous absurdities of the "paradise of the proletariat," where listening to the transistor radio he snuck in or drinking a can of Coke becomes an act of defiance. During his stay, he lived in a small room at the Yangakkdo hotel, which is on its own small island not far from downtown. One of three hotels reserved for ex-pat workers, only the 15th floor was ever lit.

Delisle, who brought along George Orwell's 1984 to read on his trip, compares the Yangakkdo to the seaside village Number 6 was confined to on the cult TV show The Prisoner. "The only things missing on the set are the howling balls that shoot out of the water when you try to escape," he writes in the graphic novel, accompanied by an illustration of a Rover coming at him out of the Taedong River.
Entitled... to your wrong-ass opinion.

Yes, the people who are driving me batty are those like Kate of Small Dead Animals, who, instead of feeling sorry for the people who stayed or were left behind to die in New Orleans, sneer at the victims, blame them, tarnish them all as anti-social looters. Those who write, as Kate has, that "They stayed in their homes and ignored warnings, and placed their children and elderly in danger, because they have been trained that government can always be counted on to provide."

I cannot understand this way of thinking. To paraphrase: The poor folks who stayed or were stuck behind in New Orleans did not follow government directives to evacuate, because they are too reliant on the government. They didn't let the government save them because they were convinced the government would save them. What? What!?!

Thank you Tart Cider for this.
Blink. Blink.

Sometimes you come across something on Antonia Zerbisias's blog that seems as if it were written by aliens. Yesterday, she wondered if the stories about rapes in the Superdome and babies with their throats cut would turn out to be true or not. Then she wrote:
These stories, true or not, are very much on the minds of the public, especially those people who support the administration despite its tragic neglect and incompetence in this disaster...
If the tales are not true, it would be an even greater tragedy for the Katrina victims. Haven't they suffered enough? Must they also be tarred with such ugly notions of class and race?
Okay, if I understand the English language correctly, Zerbisias is saying that it would be less of a tragedy for the Katrina victims if stories of rape and baby-killing turn out to be true, than if no rapes were committed and babies did not have their throats slit...
Unbelievable! Doesn't make any sense any way you slice it! It's like rock beating scissors... No rape beats rape. Live babies beat dead babies.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Orleans is burning.

I'm sorry I haven't put anything up on my blog about the devestation of New Orleans. I've tried to sum up my thoughts a few times and failed miserably each time. Be thankful you were spared. Sometimes silence is better. There's been a lot of junk, hateful or misguided or overly politicized, out there in the blogosphere over the past week. (Though, on the brighter side, there has been a lot of courageous journalism in the MSM...)

Not that New Orleans hasn't had its online heroes: if you're at all a blog junkie, you've no doubt visited Interdictor over the past week. I'm amazed he's still going.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

This post has been removed because, ya know.
Get McCracken!

One of my favourite recent blog discoveries is This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics by Grant McCracken, a Canadian academic who writes in a very straightforward and engaging way about commerce and culture and their effects upon each other. McCracken introduced me to the concept of media fragmentation when I heard him speak while he was a guest lecturer at McGill and I was very pleased to stumble across his blog.

Recently, McCraken made me rethink the way movies are marketed... Why do studios use trailers when they so rarely do a good job of communicating what a film is about?

But what I want to link to today is his very interesting post on Dallas versus Austin, comparing the images we have of those two cities versus the reality. He calls Dallas, a "sunken ship" city, explaining it's "not the dead space that environment[alist?]s warned us against but a place diverse species congregate and multiply."
Some sunken ships work best when there is one very large, public, and well defined idea in place. As long as this remains in place, as an apparent consensus, the thing everyone KNOWS about Dallas, then everyone can go off and do whatever the hell they want.  And this might be the strategy by which Dallas makes itself more various and more interesting than a place like Austin with its self conscious feeling for the alternative.

This could be one of those cunning identity plays in which the background and foreground are switched.  (A Canadian example: Quebec claims to be a society with one language and culture, but in fact everyone there is bilingual. In the rest of Canada: a great show is made of being bilingual but in fact most everyone is monolingual.)  In this case: Austin is putatively experimental and ends up being a relatively small universe of well policed options while Dallas claims to be narrow and monolithic when it is in fact free wheeling and multiple.
Having recently returned from Scotland, I suspect the same observations could be made about Glasgow versus Edinburgh... But what I was particularly interested in this post was his comment about the ol' background/foreground switcheroo.
Further to what he was saying: everyone KNOWS that Quebec is the a den of socialists and leftists, yet that is where there is the most private health care. Meanwhile, everyone KNOWS that Alberta is a redneck, cultureless, business-oriented province, but actually it has the most vibrant arts scene in the country, particularly when it comes to theatre.
PM vs. PM

For those of you who haven't stumbled upon it, Calgary Grit has been holding a Battle Royale of Canadian Prime Ministers over the past couple of weeks. We're on to the second round of voting now and the closest battle is between Pearson and Trudeau. Incredibly, Pearson -- who has never had a miniseries -- is ahead 136 votes to 128.

Anyway, I just wanted to encourage y'all to go and vote, particularly for good ol' Lester B. He's my favourite and should at least make it to the final four.