Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Here We Go

Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you: The Hunt (A Novel), my entry in this year's National Novel Writing Month competition. The idea is to get 50,000 words on paper during the month of November. Coherent or not, usable or not, the whole point is to engage in the act of writing. Now you can follow along as I try to hammer out the first draft of my novel's manuscript. The countdown to November 1st begins...now.

Update To The Previous Post

I've added some comments to my previous forum diatribe over at Campaign Desk, taking into account new revelations about this "Missing Weapons" story that NYT tried to make into something it wasn't.

For more information, take a look at Captain Ed's rundown, Debbye's examination, and the ever-insightful Wretchard's comments.

Monday, October 25, 2004
Problems At Campaign Desk

I was reading Campaign Desk today, as I usually do, when I came across a "Blog Report" by one Liz Cox Barrett. I noted with irritation her condescending conclusion, and made a forum post addressing the issue. What follows is the text and links I left, including one pointer to an earlier post of mine on the work of the same Ms. Barrett. So sad to see the media "watchdog" succumbing to the same laziness that the larger media outlets are falling into...though perhaps not surprising. After all, Columbia's School of Journalism is one of the assembly lines that produces today's journalists. It's only logical that the problems of the mothership would be reflected in its spawn.

Here is Liz Cox Barrett in today's "Blog Report":

Apart from Jonah Goldberg on The National Review's The Corner...we were hard pressed to find right-leaning bloggers mentioning it at all -- proving once more that the blogosphere contains Venus (lefty bloggers) and Mars (right-wing bloggers).
Gee, Ms. Barrett, you sure must be 'hard pressed' fairly often. Immediately after this note in your post, you cite Captain Ed's perspective on the Washington Times' John Kerry story. Did you not see this post at the top of the page? Or is reading the full text of a web site being 'hard pressed?'

What about Roger L. Simon? He's not exactly right-wing, but he is in favor of Bush and supports the War (which I suppose is enough to make him 'right-wing' by the media's simplistic standards). He's not exactly low-profile in the blogosphere, and he's got this post on the subject.

And how about JustOneMinute's Tom Maguire? He's been regularly linked by large blogs like Instapundit for a few months now, and provides incisive commentary from the right. Again, not exactly a low-profile blogger. He's written at length on the subject on which you are "hard pressed" to find any right-wing opinion.

Perhaps the blog mentioned in the Washington Post's Best Blog poll (runner-up to The Corner for Best Inside The Beltway) is high-profile enough? Bill at INDC Journal is rather right-wing, and he posted on the subject this morning at 7:37am.

You know, the more I read Campaign Desk, the more often I see how inept this group's 'fact-checking' truly is. Should I add this to the pile of mounting evidence that Liz Cox Barrett and CD as a whole are exemplary of the problem plaguing modern media? Should we be surprised that the media is performing as poorly as it is when its 'watchdog' is this lazy?

Or perhaps we can forgive Ms. Barrett. After all, it's not like she knows any right-wing thinkers. And wading through their blogs gets you all 'icky' - can't stand to be down there with the masses, them being lower beings and all. It's only reasonable that she'd spend as little time as possible in their midst. Right?
Further Classification

Interesting find. But I suspect that I cover too many categories to be completely pigeonholed:

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.

What kind of blogger are you?

[HatTip to Frank J.'s Girl.]
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Waiting On An Update...

Sorry for the lack of posting - I haven't been holding to my schedule so well, but I have been busy. Filing resumés, helping friends move building materials, doing yardwork for senior citizens, performing in weekly dramas (this is the third week in a row that I've acted, and the fifth or sixth straight in which I was involved in the drama in one way or another), writing new poetry, writing new prose, rewriting old prose...etc.

Plus, on top of all of that, I'm toying with new ideas for my next submission to the Spectator, waiting for the section editor assigned to me to call (probably on Monday/Tuesday, I'd imagine) about the current article, thinking about Jason's latest idea for a Hamilton blogger community - a sort of Carnival, but instead of the Captialists, Red Ensigns, Vanities, or others, it'd be for Hamiltonians. This could start in our own little mini-blogosphere, and spread throughout the Hamilton area. Who knows? If we can get this thing going, perhaps it'll turn into a large-scale get-together...or a smaller one, whatever.

Still got lots of ideas, and I'm still committed to writing here. I've just been running around these last few days. And with that, I've got to get prepared to do some more running around this evening. Talk to you when it's all over!

Thursday, October 21, 2004
Got A Phone Call Today...

...from the executive editor of the Hamilton Spectator. He said he liked my 'blog primer' article. And he wants to run it some time this coming week! More information as it becomes available, but I'm getting published! w00t!

My Long, Tiring, Painful, No-Blog Day

So I left Hamilton on Tuesday afternoon with a friend of mine, hauling lumber and bricks up to Muskoka (about two hours north of Toronto). He was finishing his cottage's newly added basement, and needed help moving his materials around. Once we arrived, we were joined by another friend, and hit the sack. In the morning, we moved the bricks (which were apparently 150 years old and fired by his ancestors) and lumber into his basement, along with the wood that he had had delivered by Home Depot. This took us the entire morning, and into the afternoon.

Once we were done, we dropped off the U-Haul he had rented, jumped into our friend's car, and sped back to Hamilton just in time to shower and head out again for a small group gathering. After drowsily making my way through the meeting, I got home around midnight, and crashed until this morning.

So that's why I didn't have a blog post (or the requisite three) yesterday. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. Either that, or be distracted enough that I can placate you with three more posts today.

It's good to be back, but man, am I sore.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Canada Slips

With all the recent hubbub about the gradual trampling of free speech rights in Canada, one might be forgiven for making a comparison between the Great White North and a "Third World Crackpot Dictatorship." Well, Bob Tarantino has done precisely that. And the story that prompts him to do so (run in the Toronto Star, of all places) certainly sends chills down my spine.

For The Record

There's an interesting brouhaha going on at Jeff Jarvis' place. Apparently Instapundit, Tony Pierce, and Stupid Kryptonite (whoops! I mean Oliver Willis), have gotten into a bit of a brawl over who is biased and who is pretending not to be. Needless to say, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, I'm siding with Glenn on this one. But I also recognize the importance of Jeff's point:

I think that blogs should admit their bias; they should set the example for transparency. Even though it was quite evident that Glenn was voting for Bush, it's good he said so today...
So a call to bloggers: If you haven't yet said where your vote is going, please do. Don't assume we know; maybe we just discovered you. Out with it.
So, though it's rather obvious from context, I'll say it clearly and for the record:

I am voting for Bush. Indeed, I already have. Two weeks ago, I filed my absentee ballot, and on that ballot, I marked down a vote for Bush/Cheney.

So there it is: my bias, open for all to see. Try not to stare. Thanks.
Monday, October 18, 2004
A Pointer

It was recently brought to my attention that some individuals have been pointed to my site in their search for information and posts on a certain propagandist. If they would follow me this way, please...


So it would appear that Stelco is in serious trouble. Their largest client is just about to cancel their largest contract, and why? Because the company can't guarantee that they'll be able to deliver on it. Because they can't guarantee that their workers won't strike. This is the perfect example of the awful mess into which modern Canadian businesses have fallen. Unions are too strong, corporate entities are too weak, and as a result, Canadian business loses.

In the beginning, there was a real need for workers unions. Unscrupulous corporate leaders would enforce long hours, unbearable work conditions, and low pay - and what could the working class do but comply? Enter the unions to balance the board. Wages increased, workplace safety standards were raised, and workers weren't forced to accept whatever the management tried to shove down their throats.

But we've come a long way since 1900.

Now, workplace safety is government regulated. Minimum wage is government mandated. A market system that values workers as a commodity has been set up so that businesses must compete to hire them. All that unions were formed to achieve has come to pass. So why do they persist?

Because unions did what most organizations do: they expanded. At first, it was a necessary security feature. If only one section of a company went on strike, management could just fire them all and hire new people; but if a company's whole workforce went on strike...or if all the workers in an entire industry decided they'd had enough...well that was a different story.

Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. So these unions continued to grow, and eventually they began spreading into different trades - steelworkers were now seen striking alongside teachers, who were striking alongside bus drivers, and so on. Occupations that had very little to do with one another were now joined at the proverbial hip, and the massive organism that is the Trade Union began to wield incredible power, both economic and political.

As growth increased, outside leaders were brought in to run the unions - people who had no actual stake in the company or the workforce themselves. These third parties worked for the union itself, and pocketed their paychecks out of the duties paid by the members. Suddenly, there were more reasons to go on strike than ever before. Reasons that didn't necessarily involve the best interests of the workers. Nowadays, it seems like certain unions will strike at the drop of a hat (yes, Teachers, I'm looking at you). And of course, these organizations are so interconnected that if a strike goes on long enough, it will drag other unions into the fray, in an attempt to bring more pressure to bear.

It has reached the point that companies like Stelco, the largest steel manufacturer in Canada, are threatened with bankruptcy. Their clients, GM in this case, need assurances that they will receive their orders in full and on time. And since Stelco can't control the union, they can't guarantee their products' delivery.

And what happens then? Stelco loses its contracts, and is forced to - wait for it - fire all of its workers.

So unions go on strike to demand better wages (nevermind that union-wages are already inflated) and better work conditions (which are now regulated by government standards) under the assumption that the businesses must cave to them in order to stay alive economically (for who can run a steel mill without steel workers?). But now it has gotten so bad that corporate leaders are faced with economic death either way. If they refuse the demands of their unions, they can guarantee the contracts; but they'll lose their workers, and lose the contracts after their workers leave. If they crumple under the unions' pressure, they keep their workers - but there's no job for them to do, because they've lost the contract.

Either way, Stelco is dead in the water.

Unions are too big, too powerful, and too self-centered (instead of worker-centered). They were once necessary organizations that worked for the betterment of the market. They were once run by people who understood that if the union can negotiate with the company, and help the company perform above and beyond expectations, then everyone - including the workers - would greatly benefit. But now? Now the unions are staffed by people whose jobs are primarily to make sure they still have jobs. To make sure that the workers continue to need the union.

Can you say 'conflict of interest'? The ultimate goal for the union (like that of the police department) is the eradication of the need for a union. Now that it has been achieved, the union is naught but an oversized self-serving deadweight, and it is dragging all those involved into the economic grave.

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any easy way out. Corporate leaders are just as human as union leaders, and both groups will always look to make a profit whatever way possible - even at the expense of human decency. The union is needed to balance the power of the company. But the key word is balance. If the union grows overlarge, the scale tips; and no matter what union propagandists would have you believe, a tipped scale is bad news either way.

I see a future of destruction for Stelco. Maybe they'll survive it, maybe they won't. The government will eventually step in with corporate welfare, I'm sure, but the damage is already done. I can only hope that those with power recognize and learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.

But I'm not gonna hold my breath.

It Begins...

Alright, so here it is, Monday, October 18th. First day of my rigorous writing schedule - three blog posts a day, minimum, and a 1000 more words written on whatever strikes me as noteworthy (fiction or non, prose or poetry). Add to this the fact that I'm now considering it my job to find a job, and you get a revamped approach to life in general.

The newspaper article is written and submitted, and now it's time to devote the majority of my energies to finding 'a real job.' I've got a plan, a resumé, and a system. Here goes nothing!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

(Of a sort).

So I have been hearing a lot recently about "evil" neoconservatives (a group of which I am apparently a member) and their support for Israel. Most of this comes from those whose perspective on the Middle East tends to sympathize with the Palestinians, and while that's a viewpoint that I can understand, I don't hold it myself. What puzzles me is the extent to which these Arafat-advocates are willing to stretch to find an explanation for their opponent's position. Take, for example, this selection from Gwynne Dyer's latest column (not yet available online), titled "Israel Wags The Dog Again" and run in Saturday's Hamilton Spectator. It really took me by surprise. Being a newly-outed "neo"con and an Evangelical Christian all rolled into one, it seems that I am the embodiment of evil in the world. Whoda thunk?

Bush apparently [supported Sharon's plan] in order to retain the votes of the extreme evangelical Protestants, who believe that God's plan requires the expansion of Israel and a great war in the Middle East.
Now - and I don't mean to interject rationality into any of this - if the reason I and the vast majority of Evangelical Christian/NeoCons are supporting Israel's right to existence is because we think that it will bring about the end of the world more quickly, then it's certainly news to me. Heck, Gwynne, other than a few Canadians with whom I've spoken, you are the first person to bring this "fact" to my attention. And here I thought I (and Bush, and a lot of Americans) was supporting Israel because they are a Western Democracy with liberal values in a land surrounded by corrupt authoritarian regimes. Imagine my surprise to discover that the role Israel was playing in the Middle East was not that of a foothold for freedom, but a foothold for eventual world-wide destruction. Huh! Well, I'm glad we cleared that up. I wouldn't want to support Israel for the wrong reasons, now would I? Bring on Armageddon!

I honestly don't know whence this fantastic idea comes. Either Dyer (and a number of his Canadian readers) have completely misunderstood the Evangelical Christian movement (not to mention greatly overestimated their influence), or they have gone off the deep end. Let's see if I can be clear: I know of no person - not a single one - who supports the nation of Israel because it is supposed to be the site of Armageddon, which can (apparently) only occur if certain events take place in a specific order. Not even the people who read the Left Behind Series. Not even the people who WRITE the Left Behind Series.

I have never heard this argument forwarded outside of my Canadian experience. I have never held this position myself, and I never will. My reasons for supporting Israel are completely secular (unless you count my feelings on morality and justice as spiritual), and - here's the kicker - so are those of every American-Evangelical-Christian-NeoCon Israel-booster I have ever met. Believe me, having grown up in the Heart of Texas™, I know a lot of 'em.
Yeats: Foresight

Ah, William Butler Yeats. Ireland's greatest son, indeed. How we miss you, and your incredible foresight:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity...
Of course, Yeats saw these events as signs of the world's impending end. And who knows? But I prefer to cling to hope.

[For those of you who are still utterly perplexed by this post - and I realize it's rather obtuse - you might want to read Belmont Club on Steven Den Beste's temporary return, and futher, this comment on the subject. If you're still confused, leave a comment and I'll try to clarify.]
Saturday, October 16, 2004
This Is Becoming Repetitive

...but I wanted to assure you that my posting schedule will be re-established in short form. I'm sprouting a lot of ideas, and am ready to explore them. First up, the modern relationship between corporations and unions, and how it must change in order to survive (with a special focus on current events in Hamilton).

Further, as I continue to look for employment, I'll need a regular schedule to make sure I'm writing constantly. In keeping with this, look for at least three posts a day, beginning on Monday, in addition to whatever I write about in my 1000 words per day.

I may be burned-out on politics, but I'm starting to get excited about writing again. So stay tuned, gentle reader...it's about to get a lot wordier.

(And special note to Jason: I'm not looking to retake my established place as primary 'researcher,' but at least you'll be able to get inside my head again...)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

And the article is done.

Now I just have to write a cover letter, make three copies and craft them each to a specific recipient, submit each copy, converse with the editorial staff, discuss the intricacies of...yeah, lotsa work left. But the hard part is over - writing and self-editing. Now the waiting begins.

Coming Soon: a more frequent posting schedule, and a new website.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Critics Take Note

If you're going to criticize President Bush, and want those of us who support the President to continue to listen to you, do it like this.

A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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