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the pundit is in

i always do love to comment on recent canadian political developments. i don't think that there's any great mystery as to my general political stand, and those who know me have heard me get into specifics on many occasions.

but these latest developments sort of have me divided. of course, i'm pleased to see the ndp get a toehold (it's not big enough to be a foothold) in quebec. the victory has nothing to do, of course, with the party and everything to do with the fact that thmoas mulcair was a charismatic and effective municipal politician for years. however, you could certainly see a quiet endorsement of federal leader jack layton's emphasis on making gains in urban areas (recruiting successful municipal politicians being part of that strategy).

what divides me is that i'm sort of overcome with waves of sympathy for stephane dion. unlike any liberal party leader in my lifetime (since trudeau had become cynical by the time i was around to remember him), i like dion. well, i don't know him, but from what i've seen, he's a very intelligent and decent person (leaving aside which of his policies you agree or disagree with). i dislike the fact that his awkwardness in front of the press (which i understand to be a refreshing lack of concern with his public image) and his refusal to be the only public face of the party (which i would interpret as the ability to delegate) is constantly derided. it seems uncomfortably like he is not being accepted because he fails to fulfill the expectations of a national politician. not something that makes me hopeful for the future, i must say.

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Mulclair is mostly known in Quebec as a provincial minister, and a loved one too, for his fairly tough stand on the environment, which may very well have cost him his position in the party. I'd say good for the NDP for finally understanding that you can succeed by getting some "celebrities" in the party, instead of just well-meaning, but politically inexperienced folks. Thats a lesson that the Tories had to learn, and capitalized on with success.
As far as Dion... He did very credibly as an environment minister, but I dont know what I can say about his leadership abilities. Part of the problem might be a lack of political presence of the party itself as the problem. He may have to bide his time (which he may very well be doing) until the Tories do an inevitable mistake (as the old Tories did, and as they are certain to be doing, with the yahoos they've got in the party), but that may take some time, as Harper is more shrewed than I certainly gave him credit for. He seems able to ride that steep cliff between his party's wishes and what will fly in the country. Frighteningly, he has the same power base as the Nazis did (not that I'm calling them Nazis mind you) in that their supporters are the conservative middle class and the regions, who have more personal concerns than metropolitan areas, who have to deal with population density, poverty, tax limitations and so on. From the grievances I've heard, its the same as we hear on the provincial level: "why should we pay for them?" Its fine for them to enjoy the products of the cities, but don't ask them to pay for it...

as long as you're here, why not read more?

the world at war?

in my semi-smug but genuinely curious way, i posted a question on my facebook page earlier: how much of the world has to be at war before it counts as world war iii?



the first response i got raised the very legitimate point that this is the sort of question that gets answered by historians, once the haze of the present has faded. the other important factor is that people don't just declare war on each other the way that they used to. major powers entered both the of the world wars with the blessings of their own parliaments, whereas conflicts since world war ii have happened in coded language, sometimes circumventing the political process in the interests of expediency. president reagan never declared war on the nicaraguan government in the eighties, for example, but the united states was clearly in a state of armed conflict, even if most of the arms were being carried by their proxies, the contras.

whether or not we are living in a world at war is a tricky question. despite what…

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

diet diary, part 2

so the battle with the bulge continues. i'm actually becoming used to the pace, although for some reason my stomach still seems to think it needs far more food than it actually does.

week days, when eating is more of a functional than a festive activity, are fairly easy to cope with. weekends are a challenge, especially living in a city that has as many good restaurants as toronto. i'm not restricting myself to the home, but i am finding that i have to pay careul attention when i go out. last night, i overindulged on injera atthe ethiopian house. injera (the soft, moist, spongy bread that serves as food and cutlery in ethiopian cuisine) makes food fun by forcing you to eat with your fingers. it's hard to exercise restraint in such conditions.

when i first moved to toronto, i was expecting to find it much as i remembered it from years ago- with a dearth of good eating places. apparently, things have changed. there are great places to eat just about every kind of food you&…