Archive for April, 2011

Yes, you heard it correctly.  After what seemed like an eternity of student elections we have been plunged back into the world of expensive campaigns, designer websites, non-informative campaign videos, and a bunch of candidates who just want to be popular enough to get the vote.

No, Andrew Forgione has not been forced to step down as USC President-elect due to connections with the Italian mafia.

I know it's hard, but it's every Canadian's right to do it...

I am actually talking about the Canadian Federal Election that is set to happen on May 2nd, 2011.  For most people my age, this will be the first time that you are able to cast a vote for the government of this great country, and I hope that you use it to the fullest.

However, that means that you will actually have to pay attention to what’s going on in the world of politics.  Hint: following topics like #cdnpoli or #elxn41 on Twitter would be a good start for the social media inclined (that includes myself).  That also means reading platforms that might seem like a bunch of throwaway promises designed to lock in the vote of a certain demographic.

Because it is important to vote.  I know that is said every time an election rolls around and it is always met by the same snorts of ‘yeah, right’ or ‘one vote won’t make any difference.’  And those claims might be true in a two-party, two-candidate system like what is used in the United States.

Your vote is your voice.  It might seem like your voice isn’t loud enough to make a difference, but the point is that you use it.  Because when you actually speak up, someone somewhere will hear you and pay attention.  Hopefully that someone will be your local MP who represents you at Parliament.

It’s not about whether your vote will be the deciding vote in the election.  It’s not about picking the winner in a landslide election or jumping on a bandwagon (*cough*, Obama, *cough*).  It’s about the mandate.

Any elected official is given the mandate to represent the voters and that mandate is only as strong as the number of voters who turn out to the polls.  A smaller number of voters means that the government’s mandate is not as strong as if every single eligible voter actually voted.  It’s the difference between a couple people saying something and the whole country saying something and, in all honesty, which one would you be more likely to listen to?

These government types are all master-debaters!

So vote, if only to put pressure on the government to do its job.  And then, if it doesn’t do its job, you can complain about it and protest.  If you don’t vote, you don’t have that right.  You can only complain about the government if you give them a mandate.  If you don’t and refuse to vote, then you forfeit the right to complain about their actions.  You didn’t vote for them or against them and in doing so lost your right to comment on anything that the government did while in power.

So, use your voice and vote!

This talk of mandates leads me to think of another problem I have with voting practices: the practice of voting for a party rather than a person.

In the Canadian system, we elect MPs from our local riding to represent the voice of that riding at Parliament.  Then, the party that has the most elected MPs is asked to form the government and the Prime Minister is chosen by dint of being the leader of the popular party.  It is expected that we vote for our MP, and not for the Prime Minister.  So why then do we vote for parties and not people?

Voting for parties may get us the party that matches most with our ideals in power, but the ideals of the Conservative party and a Conservative candidate may not be identical.  That same candidate could meet the same base ideals, but radically differ on things such as gun control or daycare.  They also could just be not the best candidate.  There may be someone out there who is more responsive to the voters and more capable of being heard in Parliament.

Simply put, a party does not make a candidate who they are.  A party simply gives them a platform to be a candidate.  It doesn’t change who a candidate is or how they are going to do the job.

All of this is why, when exercising your right to vote, you should vote for the candidate in your riding that best represents your riding regardless of what party they are running under.  They may be running as a member of the Galactic Empire Party for all that allegiance is worth.

While we’re on the topic of candidates in ridings, how much campaigning do you think Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe, and Elizabeth May are doing in their home ridings?  How much campaigning are they doing to ensure that people see them as the best person to represent the wishes of the people?  Or are they always on the road promoting their parties?

Jack Layton's tan made me confused as at first I thought he was a Typical Western Girl.

In all honesty, if any of those candidates were in my riding, I would not vote for them.  Not because I have anything against the parties that they lead, but rather because they put going on publicity tour as a higher priority than actually engaging the voters of their riding.  I’m sure the other candidates in Jack Layton’s riding aren’t just sitting around with their feet up because they know Layton is in the same riding.  They are likely out there trying to get to know the thousands of people in their riding and understand exactly what they want from their MP.  Leaders like Layton though are off being celebrities (and Layton certainly looks like one with the traffic cone coloured tan that he’s been rocking so far this campaign period).

Things like televised debates and Vote Compass don’t help this situation either.  They are all about breaking down politics into broad, generalized Party ideals.  They have no time for picking the best candidates, only for painting anyone who runs under the Bloc Quebecois banner with the same brush.  They chase voters to the ideals that match up best with their answers to questions, completely missing the point that the ideals of parties and candidates don’t always match up.

So, when your casting your ballot like a dutiful Canadian, vote for the candidate that best represents your ideals, not just the one who is best friends with the leader of their party.  Voting for the best candidate will only result in a better, more responsive government instead of one that is content to avoid transparency and public opinion like the plague.

At the end of the day, no matter who you vote for, do the right thing and vote.  Earn your right to complain when the winning party fails to live up to its promises!

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Due to popular demand…  my parody of Eminem’s Lose Yourself about Ash Ketchum trying to catch a Mewtwo…

(the instrumental track can be found below to listen to as you read)

Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
To catch the Pokemon you always wanted
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
 
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, Pokeball ready
He’s used sleep moves already, Sleep Powder confetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To throw balls, but Mewtwo keeps on resisting
With the Take Down, Tauros tears up the ground
Mewtwo opens his mouth, but snores just come out
He’s sleeping now, time’s gonna be leaping now
The clock’s run out, sleep’s up Mewtwo pow!
 
Psychic blast to reality, oh, there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Tauros he’s toast, Ash is so mad but he won’t
Give up that easy, no, here goes Blastoise he knows
His whole back’s to these ropes, it don’t matter he don’t
He knows that but no hope, Hydro Pump’s useless he knows
When he goes back to his Pallet town home, that it’s
Back to Oak’s lab again, yo
It’s all rhapsody, he better go capture this Mewtwo
And hope it don’t pass him
 
You gotta prove yourself with the Mewtwo
In the moment, you own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, to let that Master Ball go
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo
You gotta prove yourself with the Mewtwo
In the moment, you own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, to let that Master Ball go
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo


Mewtwo’s close to escaping, through this hole that is gaping
Ash’s party’s there for the taking, it’s fucking weak
As he moves towards a new world order, his Blastoise moves are boring
But Mewtwo’s close to post mortem
But it only gets harder, only grows hotter
Charizard blows it’s all over, the show is all on him
Johto to Kanto, he’s known as the Globetrotter
On these lonely roads God only knows he’s grown Lapras alone, it’s no bother
He goes home and barely knows his own Corphish
But hold your nose cause here goes the cold water
Blastoise Pumpin’ some more, it’s cold product
So he moves on to the next schmoe who’s stowed
Down below and moves onwards, and so it unfolds
I suppose it’s old partner, but the battle goes on
Da da dum, da dum
 
Chorus x2


No more games, Mewtwo’s gonna change what you call rage
He’ll tear your motherfucking roof off, cause he won’t be caged
He was playin’ in the beginning, but the mood all changed
Recover boot up, Thunder shoot up, Blastoise get off stage
He keeps fighting, steppin, choking Ash ever tighter
Charizard’s fucking going home in a diaper
All Mewtwo’s pain inside amplified by the fact
That he can’t get by from 9 to 5
 
Without fighting some loser shit trainer, kind of a pansy
Cause man, these god damn food stamps they aren’t badges
And it’s no movie, there’s no fucking survivors, this is no life
And these times are so hard, and they’re getting even harder
When Ash sends out Pikachu, he’s cannon-fodder
Caught up between being a loner and a prima donna
Pikachu’s screamin’ on and it’s too much for him to wanna
 
Stay in one spot, this battle’s monotony’s
Gotten him to the point it’s like a jail
He’s got to formulate a plot or Ash will get him caught
Success is his only motherfucking option, capture’s not
Heracross is coming so Mewtwo’s gotta go
Megahorn will kill him in one fucking shot, so here he goes with his shot
“Teleport fail me not,” this may be the only opportunity that he’s got
 
Chorus x2

There comes a point in the career of most aspiring hockey players where you realize that you just aren’t good enough anymore.  You realize that the level of play has exceeded your meager skill-set and that this is the highest level of hockey that you’ll ever play.

You sit in the dressing room after the game, sweat dripping from your matted hair.  Your jersey, shoulder pads, and helmet are strewn over the bench beside you.  You feel distraught, your dreams slowly fading.  All around you your teammates are talking about the game, about the sick deke, the goal scored, or the hit delivered.  But you just sit there, knowing that you, unlike those for whom the dream remains alive, have reached the pinnacle of your hockey career, that your skills just aren’t good enough.

However, it’s not the end of your hockey career.  At least, not if you so choose.

There is still another path open to you: that of the fighter, the pest, the enforcer.  At one point, the players that fill these roles were top-liners, but eventually they hit the peak of their skills and were forced to reinvent themselves to remain in the sport they love.  It was either that or get a real job…

No one starts out wanting to be a fighter.  No one starts out wanting to spend their career annoying opposing teams.  People want to score; they want the spotlight.

Derek Boogaard: he's had more penalty minutes than the population of Vatican City.

But, for the players that are to salvage their careers by becoming fighters, this kind of transition happens fairly early in their career.  When players get to the major junior level and/or the American Hockey League they have already transitioned from being a good hockey player with a tough side to being a tough guy with a hockey side.  Take Derek Boogaard as an example.  He played 147 games in the Western Hockey League before being drafted by the Minnesota Wild.  During that time he scored a measly 21 points, only three of which were goals.  He did have a whopping 670 penalty minutes in the same time span.

These stats clearly point to a player who has decided that their career path lies in a different direction than that of Sidney Crosby or Henrik Sedin.  Heck, Boogaard even promotes this kind of reinvention to young kids through the fighting camp he runs with his brother Aaron.  He teaches young kids to fight, giving them the skills they’ll need to reinvent their careers at a young age and encourages them to use those skills.

The hockey player has become two different species.  There is the player who actually plays the game, regardless of being a first- or fourth-liner.  These players’ sole focus is to play the game, to score or prevent the other team from scoring.  Then there is the fighter, whose job is to, well, fight.  They aren’t there to play, except when the puck accidentally touches their stick.  Through reinvention, the defining traits of each species have been separated and distilled to forge the two specialist styles we see today.

But whatever happened to the player that could do both things effectively?  What happened to the Bob Proberts of hockey that could use their hands to score both goals and TKOs?

The reinvention of the hockey player has become less about adding additional skills to fulfill different roles within the game and more about becoming an entirely different kind of hockey player altogether.  And the Boogaard school will only continue that trend.  Kids will learn at a much younger age that it is better to specialize in one area of the game (i.e. fighting) and make it to the big time than develop an array of all-round skills and be stuck playing second-tier hockey for their entire lives.

This isn’t a good thing.  We are teaching people to sell out.  We are teaching them to compromise and become something different in order to salvage a tiny shred of their dreams.  Instead of nurturing them to become better people or learn positive skills that will help them achieve their full dreams we are giving them the directive that if at first you don’t succeed, go become someone else and then try again.

From this pattern of reinvention we get hockey players who sit on the bench for 50 minutes of a game, skate around looking for a fight for five minutes, and then spend the remaining five minutes in the penalty box.

What we don’t get are players who can skate around for twenty minutes scoring goals and then beat the snot out of the guy who just slashed them.