2010-09-30: Tweet Beat

  • The "Learn The Language Before Your Kids Do" government drugs ad is HILARIOUS. I actually snorted. #
  • I just raised our HSS regrinding prices by like 40%. It needed to be done. #
  • Running what we call a malware scan. How does this happen? I don't know. #
  • Dowloading Google Chrome Frame. This should make using IE a little less annoying. Hopefully. #
  • So I watched the second episode of #TheEvent last night. It was actually… quite good. Much better start that FlashForward. #
  • I think we need less jail time for non-violent offences. Prison isn't really a great way to deal with such things. #
  • I hate being the guy stuck at the back doing the thing. #
  • I'm feeling a bit depressed today. #
  • Free pizza is good though. #
  • Six Sigma sounds a satanic ritual or something Scientology might teach. #
  • Dear Rogers, Your site is slower than… #
  • I've never been on hold without hearing about higher than normal call volume. Maybe hire more people? #
  • An automated apology is actually aggravating. #
  • I don't care if it's no charge, I don't want to do it. Even if you ask three times, I still don't want to do it. #
  • Dear Steve Reich's "Drumming", Could you BE more annoying? Love, ddeboer #
  • I have a co-worker insisting I "tell" her things instead of emailing them to her. Which is… completely irrational. Verging on insane. #
  • An easier solution is to just read your email like a human being. #

2010-09-29: Tweet Beat

  • I involuntarily shudder every time I see Ann Coulter. How is that even a person? #
  • Politicians really rub me the wrong way. #fb #
  • I love the sound design and music of the The Mentalist. It's very distinctive. #
  • Two small-time customers drop in before 8:00 to order less that $50 of tools. #ihatemycustomers #
  • I'm so sick of dealing with idiots who can't figure out the simplest thing. You have to spell the search right for it to work. #idiot #
  • Off to com dev. #
  • Filling up a matrix machine. Inventive name there guys. #
  • If activism is any harder than wearing a cute tshirt I don't want anything to do with it. #
  • Coffee is the great-aunt of invention. #
  • You are not smarter than me Autocomplete! I will defeat you yet! #
  • I'm suddenly soooooo tired! What's going on here? It's the middle of the day! #
  • Holy crap this phone gets almost hot sometimes. #

2010-09-28: Tweet Beat

  • Monday is the new pink. #
  • I support having a longer school year too. #
  • Be careful what you say about people to other people. That stuff can come back to haunt you. #
  • Just got Notion 3 in the mail. Only had to pay for shipping good stuff. #
  • 30 Rock is kind of running out of steam. Season 3 was its best so far. So much comedy gold per minute! #
  • I think I deserve some credit for an un-ironic use of the word "ho-bag". #
  • I'll admit it. I love sweater weather. It's the coziest time of the year. #
  • Having the seat frame replaced in my Focus. I don't know who designed and manufactured that piece of shit, but they deserve to be shot. #
  • Dealing with 100 semi-spam emails per day does not make you "busy". #
  • I'm drinking tea because it's free and I'm Dutch. Or Puerto Rican. I can't remember, me amigos! #
  • Speaking of Firefox Panorama, the current "you can only resize on one corner" thing really bothers me. #
  • Sometimes you're a really cool guy, but then you say things. #
  • A mere 1200 people read my blog this month so far. #
  • I'm Canadian. Which is cool. I think. I mean, I don't really care, but beer commercials tell me I should. And I like beer… so… #
  • So a legal solution to texting + driving isn't working. What about a technical solution? Running car + localized beacon = no text. #
  • The stupid! It burns! #
  • Police officers in Canada should really be disarmed. We need fewer firearms on the street. #
  • How can someone who can walk and talk at the same time be so stupid? I just don't get it. #

A Post About Politics (In Toronto)

Yeah, I know, this comes out of nowhere. I’m not exactly active in politics. I don’t care for the ceaseless posturing and partisan bickering that goes on even here in sedate, boring old Canada. Not to mention that I live in Mississauga, and this post is about Toronto. This isn’t even a post about hot-button issues. It’s about local, municipal politics.

I want to talk about the Toronto mayoral race.

With Rob Ford with a large lead in the polls, I think it’s clear that there’s a leadership vacuum in Toronto. Have you ever dug into the man’s history? He’s a bully and more than a bit of a dimwit. That such a politician, whose policies are based on what he calls the “anger” of Torontonians, can be in the running for anything at all… it astounds me. He looks and sounds like he just rolled out of a bar in the morning. He says things that would put even the venerable Mel Lastman–the man who tried to re-unite the Spice Girls, mind you–to shame.

This week he suggested that we do marathons in parks, not on city streets. So we don’t have to close down roads. Um… what? If Mr Ford can’t put himself in a runner’s shoes (pardon the pun), which he clearly hasn’t done in some time, if ever, and begin to fathom what a very bad idea running a marathon in a park is, how can he be expected to lead an entire city? It’s ridiculous sound bytes like this that make him look like a class A moron.

As for the “anger” that Mr Ford claims is out there? I don’t see it. It’s another manufactured narrative that doesn’t exist. If there is any anger, it’s only in suburban Toronto, where they don’t like their mini-highways closed for any reason. It makes it hard to get the Doritos from the convenience store!

That’s not to lessen the burden of blame on the rest of that sorry bunch. How has Mr Smitherman not leveraged his position in provincial politics to take the Toronto leadership bull by the horns? Why isn’t he out there making noise? All I hear about is Ford, Ford, Ford, and you’ll forgive me if I’d rather hear from the catcher and not the pitcher. And why has Rocco Rossi not changed his name so he doesn’t sound like A) a mobster, or B) a pizzeria? It doesn’t seem like a lot of effort comes from the other camps. And until the other candidates manufacture their own narrative, they’re not going to get anywhere.

But I have an idea. It’s American-style, so we might not all like it, but remember that Toronto is a “world class city” nee constantly-surprised-that-a-celebrity-would-visit-our-quaint-little-town!

Let’s go negative. It’s not that hard. Mr Ford doesn’t stand for anything in particular (it’s a miracle he can stand at all, frankly), and he’s basically taking the election by pointing at his chins and telling us how cute they are, so let’s take it one step further. If Mr Ford has made the election about Mr Ford, let’s help make the election even more about Mr Ford. Let’s make the election about how Mr Ford can’t reliable walk and chew gum at the same time. How he’s kind of like that embarrassing kid who always says something stupid when there’s a gap in the conversation. Let’s make the election about Mr Ford’s past leadership style and how many enemies he’s made over the years. Let’s make the election about how Mr Smitherman, by contrast, can walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s not a lot, but it’s not nothing, and it’s sure better than Mr Ford.

With five weeks to go, I think that’s how you’re going to have to win it, boys.

So have at it.

2010-09-27: Tweet Beat

  • Customers showing up before 9? I hate that. #
  • Okay so I'm pretty grumpy right now. #
  • Not falling down is half the bottle. #
  • I hate the customers who send an email to the wrong address and then get upset that their email isn't answered. #
  • Why do people give a shit about Conrad Black? #
  • I never know if I'm being sarcastic or not. #fb #
  • Word of the day: Apropos. #
  • No, you can't short pay because you misheard the price of a tool. #ihatemycustomers #
  • Would it be possible to create a driver to sit between an audio driver and Skype in order to safely encrypt the conversation? #
  • I have been advised not to use the hashtag #ihavebeenadvised #dividebyzero #
  • Maybe they need to put parachutes on Segways. #
  • Speaking of Segways, I'm going home. In a car. #

15

Mark tagged me on one of these modern-day analogues to the chain letter, so here we go. I’m going to break the chain, though, and not “tag” anyone with this.

  1. Radiohead, Amnesiac. First non-Christian album purchase. Bought this at Wal-Mart of all places. I had to listen to it at least twenty times before I really got it. But when I did, it just clicked. This is the one that sent me off into the woods, folks. Never looked back.
  2. Snow Patrol – Eyes Open. Odd second choice, I know. The only truly great Snow Patrol album from beginning to end. Other albums had some great songs, but the combination of melody and music (with some topical subject matter for that time in my life) really worked its way into my musical language.
  3. Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians. One of the most harmonic pieces in Reich’s arsenal, it happens to be the only one I truly enjoy. This album has the capacity to almost hypnotise me. In a good way.
  4. Caedmon’s Call – Caedmon’s Call. A truly great record. Sure, the execs dicked around with their sound to make it more classic-Jars-of-Clay, but the end result is a thrillingly eclectic album. And, by the way, I’m still a fan of CC.
  5. The Books – Lost & Safe. You’re going to hear people say that Lemon of Pink is a better album. They’re all wrong. Everything good about The Books is on this album in spades. I could listen, and have listened, to it hundreds of times.
  6. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. This is the album I was listening to when I fell in love with Laura. It’s all the best things about Bright Eyes compressed and squeezed onto a disc.
  7. Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. If I were forced to do something as ludicrous as pick the best album of all time, this would be on the short list. It’s the one album that really shows that you don’t need complicated song structures and fancy melodic tricks to be a songwriting genius. It also breathed some life into baroque pop.
  8. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois. Speaking of baroque pop, this album is one of the few Sufjan Stevens albums (up there with Michigan) to feel like more than a collection of songs. It’s also wonderfully opaque: Where other songwriters might speak from the gut, Sufjan speaks from the brain, something I really admire.
  9. Sean Hayes – Flowering Spade. Just so ridiculously solid, I’m surprised this guy hasn’t gotten more attention. A favourite in my family.
  10. Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay. It’s been mostly downhill from this record, but this is the record that opened my eyes to music. It’s still fresh, all this time later.
  11. Mute Math – Armistice. I wasn’t completely sure Mute Math could ever top their eponymous début. But they did, and in fine style. Less flash this time, but more substance. Another record that took a while to sink in but was well worth the trouble.
  12. Sigur Ros – ( ). Probably the most pretentious and ridiculous idea for an album ever. Fake language, songscapes, post-rock stylings, untitled songs, the whole lot. Still my favourite album by the band, though. They pulled their pretension off with style.
  13. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. Not sure what this album is, still, this many years later. I still remember buying the disc at Future Shop. Listening to it on the way home from the store while smoking a stogey is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’ve had sex. I KNOW.
  14. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm. So that makes two bands with amazing percussion sections now. I may have a thing for the drums. But whatever. Compared to this disc, all their other stuff is kind of lame and embarrassing.
  15. twothirtyeight – You Should Be Living. The stripped-down guitar, the raw, honest vocals, it’s great. I love this album’s feel of barely-competent amateurs rising to the occasion. I still have the phrase “sticks in the spokes” and “the sad and holy glow” in my head, and in my own works.

The Messenger is the Message

I’ve thought a lot about “the medium is the message”. It’s probably one of the most insightful phrases about media to come out of our media-saturated 20th & 21st centuries. I’ve mused about how live worship music (for instance) takes on the aspects of a concert no matter how hard you try to stop it, simple because using the form of a concert to worship with speaks as loudly as the music itself. Why do worship leaders drift away from using the word congregation and start using the word audience? Why does the audience spontaneously start clapping after a particularly invigorating song? Well, it’s because both the leader and the participant see a concert, not a service, and the language of a concert bleeds over into the worship experience.

Now, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing (or both) is yet to be seen. For better minds than mine to figure out. But at least we can agree that tossing the conventions and traditions and history of the church casually aside without any thought whatsoever is a bad idea. And that we need to talk about these things.

Another area this happens in is preaching. The way you preach is a powerful message, perhaps even more powerful that the message you wrote because it’s not something your listeners are going to think of.

Preaching is a craft and a calling. It’s not for everyone. It requires someone who can think not only about what he’s saying, but also about the way he’s saying it.

If you take the huxter revivalist preaching tradition as an example, what does the rhythmic, almost hypnotic style of preaching say about what you’re saying? Is it, perhaps, that you’re trying to bypass the brain? Is it that you don’t trust people to be convinced (as, I might add, Paul was convinced) as much as brainwashed?

Or take the sedate, methodical, three-point sermons of the Reformed church. Is there a distrust of emotion there? Is there a desire to satisfy an intellectual hermeneutic framework without addressing the whole person?

Or imagine a topical sermon that simply references scripture to support its points, when it feels like it. What does this say about scripture? Does it say that scripture is to be used as a crutch for your arguments only when you can find a verse? Or, deeper, does this say something about our basic trust in the Bible? Maybe it’s saying that we don’t need scripture as the source, the thing that we go to first to find where to start instead of where we go to confirm our biases.

To put it another way, translate the message of a sermon into the message of a life. If a person says he’s a Christian but only appeals to the Bible selectively when he feels like it, to confirm what he’s already doing, what does that say about his foundation? Isn’t he supposed to go to scripture first and let it and the Holy Spirit guide him to the truth? Isn’t he supposed to hide the word in his heart so he doesn’t sin, as opposed to hiding it in his pocket so he can win arguments?

Recently my wife wrote an article about how she loves going to church because church is a place to hear God’s word. And this is as it should be. The difference between the church and a bunch of losers is the Bible. This is an important difference. It’s a difference that bears repeating, and examination.

So what does your preaching say? Where do your sermons come from? What’s the hidden message behind the message?

2010-09-14: Tweet Beat

Something I’m working on.

This is how they would take the Library: Floating on the air, arms outstretched, limned in red fire. They move inexorably towards us, mumbling the words that make it so. We do nothing. We do not reply. We have been here before, many times. The Library has been burned, dismantled, destroyed by them, but each time the texts are not there. The texts have been taken, secreted away, and so they come, the same as always.

A sentry posted to the wall sees them and sounds the alarm. We crowd up against the tops of the walls, watching their dreadful approach. We are, to a man, afraid. They are powerful.

We hurl few mundane weapons their way. They bat them away. I imagine them laughing as they do so. I loose an arrow at one of them, and the arrow flies straight until it encounters a spike of red fire and plunges to the ground, burning.

Prederios, my closest friend, speaks to his arrow. Its dullness begins to shine. It takes on that familiar preternatural blur. Others are doing the same, sending their words into the mundane wood and iron, hoping to make it… more.

An arrow speeds toward one of the floating figures, something enchanted. He senses it and seems to shrink back for a moment. Then a searing blast of fire. He is using great words, perhaps overestimating our prowess. Red fire battles with the darker flame exploding outward, but briefly. Both snuff out, leaving a visible tear. Air rushes in. The world stitches itself together, a chaotic door slamming shut.

Someone shoots another arrow, but this one is different. I can read it from where I stand. I have a great deal of respect for this weapon. It is itself a great word, wrapped up in mundane materials. Our attackers can sense it as well. Several of them turn their attention toward it before it can reach any one of them; they unleash a furious cataclysm, the sort of thing you hear tell of in texts but never expect to see in person.

The world quivers as the great words do battle, as its words are rewritten, reshaped, bent to the speaker’s will. This is the sort of fight that can start a world-fire. A world-fire, even a small one, is the only time the Schools come together. Whatever our differences, none of the Schools wishes to be remembered as the group who changed everything. Or anything. We don’t know what happens if something changes, if a world-fire isn’t extinguished.

The arrow explodes. I gasp. Someone very, very skilled has been marvelously clever. The shards pierce at least four or five of the men. One grasps at his belly, trying to gather up the intestines that are spilling out. Another feels absentmindedly at his head, half of which seems to be missing. Fully three of them tumble from the sky. The others are too distracted to try to save their fellows.

Suddenly, it’s over. The remaining figures retreat, flying low over the landscape, back to their School’s building.

“Make sure we don’t have any civilian casualties!” shouts someone from a courtyard. Schools battling over arcana and minutiae is practically expected, but civilians dying means big fines. It’s one way the civilian government tries to control our seemingly random bursts of violence. We don’t kill the unschooled, we don’t disrupt their mundane lives too much, and we get to keep our charters and all the privileges and riches that go along with that.

Spam, Spam, Spam, & Compliments

Although most of the comment spam posted on this blog is links to hetai tentacle porn and stuff like that, a few of the spammers really seem to love me. Either way, their compliments make me feel loved and wanted, so I thought I’d post a selection of comment spam here:

From Escort in Lugano: “Don’t stop posting such stories. I like to read stories like this. BTW add more pics :)” Thanks, Escort! I don’t know which stories you refer to, but I won’t stop!

From Live Cams: “Why is it a surprise to anyone that this lowsy president of ours would support the building of a structure of death. Obama has done absolutely nothing for this country except make it worse.He is just another BS’er politician” Aw, I’m sad you’re angry, Mr Cams, and I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

From Speed Dome: “The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.” This was posted to 25 Facts About Me. I guess I should rename the post “25 Facts About Me And 1 Fact About The Zune”. Also, the Zune is still around?

From Live Cams again: “I don’t believe it’s a First Amendment issue either. However, I do believe it’s a Fifth Amendment issue and a Tenth Amendment issue and at most, this should be a state matter” Not sure how this relates to my post about routers, but I’m sure that’s really more a question for the Supreme Court of the US.

From Violetta Vandawalker: “Good to get visiting your site once again, it has been months for me. Properly this posting that i’ve been waited for so extensive. I need this article to full my assignment within the college, and it has same topic together with your post. Thanks, wonderful share” Ms Vandawalker is a great person, as she cares about poetry; that’s not something you find all that often today. I hope she finds a way to incorporate my artistic endeavor into hers, and also that she discovers grammar along the way.

From Cornelius Neuschwander: “Just leaving a comment on how good the layout of your website is, been serching into making a blogg similar to yours and might make mine similar, did you hire a programmer or did you code it yourself?” Well, Mr Neuschwander, I got it for free on the interwebs. I don’t know where.

From Dentist Boca Raton: “I was going to leave a comment on your blog, then changed my mind. Do you mind me asking what theme theme you are using? Is it relatively easy to make it your own? I Thank You in advance, Felix. I love the design of your theme. You mind telling the themeyou are using? Thanks a bunch, Joanne.” Well, Ms Raton, it seems you’re a little mixed up. You decided to leave a comment, then changed your mind, then posted a comment. Perhaps you’re high on novocaine?

From Automatic Sidereel Submitter: “How come you are moderating my comments?” Probably because you’re an automatic sidereel submitter, Mr Submitter.

From Finance Terms: “None of that is going to happen, therefore the two sides are never going to stop fighting unless and until one of them is forced to do so. Period, end of sentence, end of paragraph, end of story. They have, as we say in the law, “irreconcilable differences.” Unfortunately, they cannot divorce nor divest, which is usually the remedy for same. So this will go on. Forever. It’s not going to stop. Ever.” I’m… not sure what to say here. It seems as if my spam is going through an existential crisis of some kind.