Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Person of the Year - Declined

I'm honoured, really, and I thank everyone who nominated me for this award. I'd like to thank my mother, who was always there for me, my agent and, of course, the Lord, for making me the man I am.

But, with some regret, I'm afraid I must decline Time's nomination of Me as Person of the Year.

I never thought I'd ever feel the need to decline an award. There aren't very many awards, in general, about which I feel so negatively that I'd find it incumbent upon myself to decline them on principle. Since I'm not in line for any knighthoods, I rather assumed the subject would never come up.

First of all, the award is really lame. As cool as all of those youtube.com videos are, I don't think anyone deserves an award for putting content on the Internet. This would be akin to offering every lunatic on the street an award for drooling and hurling invective at passers by. Entertaining? Possibly. Award-winning? Doubtful. I think the threshold for distinction ought to be somewhere a bit beyond "making noise in public".

On to point number two. The mainstream media being as it is, I prefer any number of alternative sources for my news. I also appreciate the power of all of those miniature video cameras out there, showing when the LAPD taser down their latest minority. But really, have all those in the alternative media, all of those bloggers and indies, really managed to affect mainstream opinion in any significant way? What percentage of Americans still think WMD were found in Iraq? What percentage still think Saddam had anything to do with Al Qaida and 9/11? What percentage of Canadians even know that we knocked over a democratic government in Haiti or that the lion's share of our money spent in Afghanistan is spent on destruction rather than construction?

I don't think "we" deserve such an award when we're so clearly failing to reach the public with such simple facts.

The third point is the simplest. Though the people at Time are the ultimate arbiters of who receives their award, it's supposed to go to the single person who has the largest affect on the news. To pretend that all those bloggers out there had more impact on Time Magazine's coverage than Bush, Rumsfeld, Bin Laden or any number of other people is pure pandering.

So, on two counts of "lame" and one count of "not good enough", I'm afraid I must decline Time Magazine's nomination as Person of the Year.

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Answers For God

I was about five years old when the subject of reproduction came up. I didn't really care about the technical details, but I had just learnt that people grow older, that children become adults and that they have children of their own.

That meant that my parents had parents of their own. Turned out that these were the people I'd been calling my grandparents. In fact, it turns out that everybody has a mommy and a daddy. It started to come together. Did my grandparents have mommies and daddies, too? Yes, they did. Indeed!

So it keeps going back like that? Yes. A moment of consideration ... then, "How did it start?"

Turned out that God Did It. He made the first two people, Adam and Even, and they were the mommy and daddy that started it all out.

God? Having established that everybody has a mommy and a daddy, I foolishly decided to ask the blasphemous question "Who were God's mommy and daddy?". When I was told that God didn't have a mommy and daddy, my reply that this was unbelievable (had we not just established the necessity of mommies and daddies?) marked me as hellbound.

Threats of hell didn't help answer the question. I was still stuck with this unreasonable and absurd thing we call "the universe", which somehow exists. Throwing an old man with a white robe and a long beard in to the mix didn't really help. That just gave me one more thing to explain and explaining a thing that could create universes wasn't any better than having to explain the universe.

It used to bug me at night. Why was there any stuff at all? The universe really had no business existing in the first place. I would go to church, obligatorily, every Sunday, and watch all the fine-looking people in their best clothing going through the staid aerobics of a Catholic mass. I would look at those adults and say to myself, "There must be something I'm missing that all these grown ups understand. When I'm older, I'm sure I'll have it all figured out, just like all these people."

And furthermore, the classic fallacy that works so well on children, "Everyone else believe it ..."

It was twelve more years before I realized that none of those adults had a clue, no more than I have a clue today. The absurdity is the existence of the universe. If you want to believe in a God of some kind, go ahead, but you've not reduced the absurdity one iota.

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Liberal Leaders

I watched bits and pieces of the Liberal leadership convention on the weekend. (My television can be configured so that I can play Super Mario Golf on one half while I get broadcast signals on the other half. Handy, that.)

The front runner was a quiet professor named Michael Ignatieff. Well versed in international politics, well travelled, quite intelligent, he seemed to have a lot of the qualities that one would admire in a statesman. Then I read this particular piece: Ignatieff on Iraq

This is Ignatieff going on about the importance of fighting "preventative" wars - wars against enemies which aren't actually a threat but might someday be a threat. He gives the garbage example of Bosnia and Kosovo, where NATO invented a genocide out of non-existent mass graves to justify an invasion of a democratic nation that wouldn't play ball with Wall Street.. He also gives the rationale that "we" have to stay in Iraq until it's better than the way "we" found it.

So: Ignatieff out. I'm glad he lost. He might as well sleep in Harper's bed with attitude.

Next up: Bob Rae. This has to be some kind of joke. This is the man who, intentionally or not, destroyed the NDP in Ontario. He intentionally antagonized his base - the teachers, nurses and public servants. He formed himself in to a caricature of socialism - the ridiculous idea that "everyone is equal" and the only thing preventing a mentally retarded child from becoming a neurosurgeon is the stigma placed on him by those around him. He gave money away like it was going out of style. He "de-streamed" high schools so that the slowest and smartest kids were crammed together in one classroom. He could not possibly have done a better job of setting back socialism if that had been his goal (and maybe it was, I'm not a mind reader).

Now, when the chance comes, he jumps for leadership of the Liberal party? Glad he lost.

Stephane Dion and Gerard Kennedy were rounding out third and fourth place. Kennedy, realizing he could not win, threw his support to Dion, putting Dion over top of the two leaders. Dion was one of Chretien's guys and found himself on the outs when Paul Martin took over as leader of the party. Things shifted and, being as popular as he was in Quebec, he became Minister of the Environment in 2004, a post he held for approximately 18 months before the government fell.

Dion is proclaiming himself as something of an environmentalist. There is some conservative material attempting to blast him for his record as Minister of the Environment, but this material is clearly inaccurate.

I find it hard to believe that Canada's greenhouse emissions actually rose 34.6% in the 18 months Dion was Minister of Environment. More likely, this is the number for the entire increase while the Liberals were in government.

Is he sincere? I have no idea. But he isn't a horse-jumping joke like Bob Rae, and he isn't a pro-Iraq-war bandwagon jumper like Ignatieff. If he actually implements the laws in his 70-page environmental book... if he actually fails to behave like every other politician once in office ... then, yes, he sounds great.

But does anybody believe politicians anymore?

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