Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year in Photos


Not Awesome

The best things in life are free...


The oldest profession

Love your job

Short porch in left

Defying explanation

Free Moustache Rides

Radical Act...

Glory Days


x 2

Road trip?


Not Irish

Get in the hole!

Small Sins


Summer of Love

Stag Casualty #1

Stag Casualty #2

Stag Casualty #3




They might be right


White wedding = pure class

Baby Mangino

Baby Dolls (RIP)

Swan Song

Missed more than you'll know


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fantasy Immortality

For the first time in history, the Natty Light World Heavyweight Championship Belt will be worn north of the border!

- Sean McDonough (paraphrased)

I know that absolutely nobody cares about someone else's fantasy football team. In fact, the only reason guys actually listen to other guys talking about their fantasy team is so they can take their turn to talk about their fantasy team that nobody cares about. I'm not sure if you've ever noticed it, but fantasy sports talk is basically just a bunch of one way conversations where guys take turns complaining about how the Jaguars' decimated offensive line has resulted in David Garrard's drop off in production or how LDT has lost his ability to cut this year, and his explosiveness and his stats have paid the price. It's safe to say that if you're at a party and you want to make sure you have absolutely no chance of going home with a girl, all you need to do is begin talking fantasy sports.

But still... It's not everyday that you win in a 28-team IDP league. And after losing in the finals the previous two years (including last year's heartbreaker), this win is about as sweet as they come. So even though no one will read this, I feel like I need to take this opportunity to thank the players that helped to bring Frank Reich's Electric Groove it's first NLFFL Championship.

David Garrard: It broke my heart to bench you on this, the final day of the season. You carried this team for so many weeks, being just adequate enough to squeak out the close wins when we needed them the most. I hope you understand that no one in their right mind would start you when you were going against a highly motivated Ravens defense. Nothing personal; strictly business. I'd be honoured to have you captain Frank Reich's Electric Groove again next year.

Seneca Wallace: You were brilliant in your F.R.E.G. debut today. An unbelievable find on the waiver wire scrap heap. You'll probably never be on a fantasy roster again, but like Drew Bledsoe did late in the 2nd quarter against the Steelers back in the AFC Championship game in 2002, you came in unexpectedly and got the job done when it mattered most. Who would have ever guessed that you'd be able to out-play Jay Cutler in Week 17?

Chris Johnson: I woke up every day this fall and thanked the football gods that you were available with the 95th pick in our draft. When Lawrence Maroney went down early in the season, it seemed as though my fantasy hopes were dashed. But alas, you were the most consistent RB I have ever owned, even though they gave the ball to Lendale White every down inside the 5. It's too bad you couldn't be a part of today's celebration because your moustachioed coach decided to sit you out in Week 17. What does he have against you, anyway? Don't worry. You'll still get a ring from me.

MoJo Drew: I still can't believe somebody put you on waivers in Week 1. You were like a gift from God himself. You had something to prove this year. We both did.

Cadillac Williams' Patellar Tendon: Thank you for holding out long enough to allow Cadillac to put up 22 FF points this week. I know that you'll probably never fully recover, and that Cadillac's career is probably over as a result, but this heroic fantasy performance will go down in history with the likes of Willis Reed and Bobby Baun. You're an inspiration to us all.

Chad Pennington: I have no idea why I loaded up on Dolphins WRs this year (Ted Ginn Jr, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano), but you distributed the ball brilliantly. Who would have ever thought that I would actually find myself rooting for the Miami Dolphins? You actually made me feel kind of dirty...

My Defense: They say that Defense wins championships. Never were truer words spoken. Gaines Adams. Eric Barton. Kawika Mitchell. Jonathan Vilma. Gibril Wilson... All of your names will live on forever.

The Commish: I know it isn't easy running a 28-team fantasy football league while anchoring the finest blueline in the NHL, but your efforts do not go unnoticed by the ranks of the Natty Light. Thanks for keeping the league going for all of these years. Thinking back to the good old days of the homemade spreadsheets sometimes brings a tear to my eye... I'll even let you wear the belt for a few hours one night at the bar. You know... It's the least I can do.

And speaking of The Belt - this is the reason we invest countless hours into crunching numbers and breaking down game film:
You can bet your ass that I'll be carrying this thing around with me all year like Rasheed Wallace did for the duration of the 2004-2005 season. Because I plan on defending this thing like a true champion. I'll be wearing it every Sunday while I watch football in my underwear. I'll have it slung over my shoulder for weddings and various other formal events. I'll bring it into meetings with prominent public officials. I'll even take it for a walk with me when I go to Starbucks every morning.

In short, it will never leave my side. Meaning that I will be the envy of every fantasy football playing dork this side of virginity, and thereby ensuring that I will go home with exactly zero women over the course of the next 365 days... And I couldn't be prouder.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry F'n Christmas

From the entire staff here at seanmccallum.com, here's wishing all the dotcomrades the very best this Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa season, with a special shoutout going to my good buddy Rosco, who will officially be celebrating his first Christmas with his new wife and her family, hereby ending Rosco's lifelong tradition of spending Christmas day on the couch getting high and playing video games all day long like the good Jewish boy he's always been.

Here's to the magic of family...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday Diversion

Does anybody work on the last Friday before Christmas? I suspect that anyone in an office right now is either nursing a wicked hangover or knee deep in Rum balls and eggnog, looking for one of those fleeting sideways opportunities to duck into the copy room with the new intern.

But on the odd chance that you don't work in one of those kinds of offices, and are instead looking for some form of distraction as you feign productivity, here are some of the best things I've come across over the past week:

The 20 Worst Album Covers of 2008

The best/worst thing about the year coming to it's merciful conclusion is the endless barrage of best/worst lists for the year. The guys at Pitchfork are one of the select few whose lists fall into the "best" category, as they proudly bring you the worst album covers of 2008. The NSFW Amon Tobin cover is one of the greatest works of art I've ever come across, and there exists the very real possibility that it will be the logo for my fanstasy football team next year.

Be sure to check the sidebar for related lists (ie, The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s). These guys do a bang-up job.

Thanks to M@ for the link.

Charles Ponzi
by Wikipedia

In light of the Madoff case, my buddy Flats forwarded me the link to the Charles Ponzi wikipedia entry. Ummm... I'd heard of a Ponzi scheme before, but I'd never actually taken the time to think about where that term came from. Needless to say, Charles Ponzi's life story is worth the read.

As if on cue, Urban Dictionary's word of the day on Tuesday, December 16 was Ponzi Crawl. Those guys are good.

The Return of the Curse of Flutie

This was one of the most gratifying/depressing reads I've come across in a long time. As a lifelong Bills fan and masochist, I've long suspected the correlation between Wade Phillips' indefensible benching of Doug Flutie in favour of (gasp!)...Rob Johnson prior to the 1999 playoffs, and the Bills subsequent tailspin into something below mediocrity. Every Bills fan knows that the Music City Miracle was little more than Doug Flutie and God teaming up to let Wade Phillips know that he had chosen poorly. But what I didn't know was just how great Flutie's powers were, or that he could ensure that curse stay with Coach Phillips until the day he dies.

Big tip of the cap to the guys at Cold, Hard Football Facts for putting this fine piece of investigative journalism together.

Most Likely to Succeed
by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers at The New Yorker. First, his brilliant piece about how long and arduous the road can be for writers hoping to eventually come into their own, and now this: a piece about what makes a great teacher, drawing comparisons between fledgling educators and NCAA Quarterbacks! I love it. It would be like someone asking me to write about the implementation of a controversial bi-weekly garbage pickup by-law, and my saying: "Yeah, I can do that. No problem. I'm just gonna need to run down to Costa Rica for a month to conduct some field research in this brothel a buddy of mine told me about... Don't worry, it'll all come together in print..."

I know there are many pedagogical dotcomrades out there, and I don't claim for a second to know even a fraction of what they do about educating; but I have to say, I learned more about the art of teaching from this article than I ever thought I would. Just a fantastic bit of writing. And if that weren't enough, it also includes a Joey Harrington sighting!

Licence to Deal
by Mark Medley

Just in case you were questioning the value of a literary agent. More than anything, this is a plug for my fantastic agent (last on the right), who makes the kinds of impossible decisions that I would simply never be able to make. She rules.

Thanks to Cat for the link.

Club Trillion
by Mark "The Shark" Titus

Mark Titus' project might very well wind up being the blog of the year. He appeared on Bill Simmons' podcast this week (fast forward to the 41:48 mark to hear the Titus interview), and the interview was absolutely priceless.

To bring you up to speed, Mark Titus is the twelfth man on the Ohio State basketball team, and the primary goal of his basketball life is to put up the "trillion stat line": 1 minute played, followed by a string of zeroes... Basically, he gets in the game in garbage time and tries to do precisely nothing. No points. No rebounds. No steals. No assists... He basically just tries to run up and down the court without doing anything. And then he blogs about it. And it is phenomenal.

Check out this slice from his entry after the Butler game:

We beat Butler yesterday in a squeaker that featured my former high school teammate Gordon Hayward putting points on our team's collective face. Brownsburg High School was easily the best represented high school in the game, as Gordon and I combined for 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Because I didn't even get in the game, Gordon shouldered most of the productivity, but I looked really good with the towel around my neck on the bench. Seriously. I looked REALLY good. Despite Gordon's best effort, in the end my good looks obviously weighed much more heavily in the outcome of the game than his 25 points, because my team came out victorious.

Unfortunately the Butler game prevented me from partaking in one of my favorite pastimes of gawking at the cheerleaders. I was informed by my mom that one of the Butler cheerleaders was my second or third cousin thrice removed or something like that. So essentially, we aren't related at all. Nonetheless, I was fearful that I would find one of the Butler cheerleaders attractive, only to discover that she was the one that is related to me. That would have undoubtedly led to a realization similar to this. It was a chance that simply wasn't worth taking and I was forced to turn to an alternative form of entertainment during the game--the game itself.

There are so many great things about the Club Trillion blog, and so many ideas I wish I'd thought of first, not the least of which is the "Evan Turner's Facebook Status" update. You have no idea how many people I'd like to implement this feature with.

Check it out before Titus starts getting some actual playing time, which could have the effect of destroying his promising literary career.

Good luck with any holiday shopping you have left to do, which; if you're the least bit like me; includes all of your holiday shopping. If you're brave enough to step foot in a mall this weekend, feel free to punch someone in the face for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Public Service Announcement: Don't Drink and Drive

I think it should pretty well go without saying by now, but if you're planning on having a few drinks this festive season, don't be a fuckhead and get behind the wheel. Came across this great ad from MTV which light-heartedly points out what most of us already know: as embarassing as it can be to puke, pass out, or piss yourself in the back of a cab, it's still infinitely better than receiving a DUI, wrapping yourself around a tree, or spending the rest of your life in jail for killing somebody else.

The holidays are all about getting drunk with family and friends (and celebrating the birth of Jesus, of course); just don't be a douchebag about it.

[A couple of other fine DUI-inspired pieces can be found here (I've done something similar), here (definitely done something similar), and here (wish I'd thought of it first).]

Make no mistake about it: there's nothing funny about drinking and driving. But there is no shortage of hilarity when it comes to people getting busted for drinking and driving.

The guy taking the header through the wall is one of the top-10 all-time YouTube clips.

And I'd have to say that my one regret as a trouble-making youth was that I never thought to get naked and use the old "How many times do I have to tell you that I am a CELEBRITY? That I am a FAMOUS PERSON!!!" defense.

Will you let me go if I sign you an autograph? How about an autograph for your teenaged daughter? She's in love with me right now.

That cop's a better man than I am. How do you turn down an offer like that?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The President's Finest Hour

Obviously everybody has already seen this footage, but few clips have shown Bush's reaction in the aftermath. And I have to say, this might be his finest moment as President. The guy is unflappable.

My good friend El Prez from Barstool put it best:

Seriously it's going to take more than that to rattle George Bush. Guy hasn't been phased by the economy, Katrina, terrorists or anything else during his tenure as President. No way a size 10 pair of shoes is going to make him crack.

And it's the truth. That laid-back indifference that allows him to laugh everything off is what makes George Bush such a likable guy. Unfortunately, it's also the same personality trait that has made him such an awful President.

I've often said that George Bush is the kind of guy I'd like to go around the corner and have a few beers with. He seems like a pleasant enough, fun loving dude, you know? But I don't think you want the leader of the free world to be the kind of guy you could conceivably go out and get drunk with, the two of you knocking over a few mailboxes and running away laughing on your way home after last call.

I never thought I'd say it, but now that the end is near, I think I'll miss him. Can we get him his own reality TV show at least?

Christmas Cuy

LIMA, Peru - Are hard times threatening your Christmas dinner? Well then, Peru has the answer: guinea pig.

Officials in the coastal Peruvian province of Callao on Monday hailed the Andean rodent as a low-cost, low-fat alternative to a traditional turkey or roast pork Christmas dinner.

Guinea pigs can feed seven or eight for about C$4, Callao official Mario Sanguinity told Associated Press Television.

"The idea is to give the people a tasty, economical option," he said.

The presentation included a live guinea pig dressed as Santa Claus and eight of its comrades laid out fried, broiled and roasted in traditional dishes from different regions of Peru.

Callao resident Silvia Carazas said she plans to make the switch to guinea pig at Christmas.

"The animal is rich in protein and has zero cholesterol as well, very important for those of us looking to watch our weight," she said.

The tiny cuts of white meat are often compared to rabbit and dark chicken. Called "cuy" in Peru, guinea pig is a stable source of income for farmers and holds an elevated place in Andean folklore.

A painting of the Last Supper hanging in the principal cathedral of the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco depicts Christ and the 12 disciples dining on guinea pig.

Let me begin by saying that I'm all in favour of cost-cutting this Christmas. Just about everyone I know is receiving a homemade (read: lame) present from me because I'm completely broke. But is sacrificing the turkey in favour of this Peruvian delicacy taking the economizing too far? I guess it depends on where you live. Because if you're spending Christmas up in the wilds of Dornoch, ON, where the turkeys roam wild and free, you should have no problem getting your hands on one in time for Christmas dinner.

But as we well know, not everyone is blessed with an unlimited supply of Meleagris, to say nothing of the father with the itchy trigger finger. So I'm on board with the cuy. I was kind of debating how humane this practice was, considering that the library I used to go to as a kid had a pet Guinea Pig that we used to feed and take care of, and I was having all of these vivid memories of the cute little squeaking noises it used to make whenever it would drink out of its water bottle... But the image of the Guinea Pig dressed like Santa Claus and frollicking amongst eight of his fried and char-broiled friends was enough to convince me that these rodents are actually into it. They love the idea of getting in on the Christmas action.

Being against Cuy at Christmas would be depriving Guinea Pigs the opportunity of fulfilling their Christmas destiny. And I'll be damned if I'm going to be the one to keep someone's dream from coming true this Christmas.

So I'm all in. This year, it's Cuy for Christmas, and Chicha at New Year's!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Has Joey Graham Become a Serviceable NBA Player?

Call me crazy, but over the course of the past four weeks, I'll be damned if Joey Graham hasn't resembled an actual NBA small/power forward. He's playing tough D. He's using his ridiculous physique to bully guys down low. And he's jamming the rock home like a man possessed:

And his numbers are backing it up. In the month of December so far, he's putting up 12.4 pts, 3.6 rebs, and is playing almost 25 minutes a night. If he keeps this up, I'll be able to quit ramming a dull pencil through my eyeball every time I see a Danny Granger highlight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday Diversion

A little something to distract you from the fact that you haven't even thought about beginning your Christmas shopping, and that from now until December 27th, your entire schedule has already been mapped out for you.

As always, here are some of the best things I've come across this week:

The End
By Michael Lewis

Leave it to the man who exposed Wall Street in his brilliant literary debut (Liar's Poker) to succinctly explain the collapse of the financial world as we know it. The subprime mortgage debacle is explained in layman's terms (love the fantasy football analogy), with a detailed account of how one man saw it all coming a mile away, and had the testicular fortitude to back it all up by literally shorting the entire subprime market.

If you ever needed a brief example of why this day of reckoning was inevitable, you need look no further than the following case:

Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.

Thanks to Unkle Mike for the link

In Hard Times, Fear Can Impair Decision-Making
By Gregory Berns

For any traders out there dealing with the effects of the previous article. A neuroeconomist explains how and why fear is so powerful a motivator in troubled financial times.

Another tip of the cap to Unkle Mike.

Rampage at VW Dealership ends with Man Swilling Champagne on Truck Roof
By Timothy Appleby

I'm not sure why, but this guy is kind of my hero. Didn't you ever have one of those days where you just wanted to ram your truck into a bunch of Volkswagens, sip champagne, and then piss all over everything in sight? This guy is like the poor man's Shawn Nelson (click HERE for the classic footage).

By the way, if you were searching for an explanation as to how this all happened, there is a single sentance that may hold some of the answers:

His truck bore Quebec licence plates, but police were able to verify that he was a Hamilton resident.

Thanks to TVB for the link.

Outside Agitator
By Larissa MacFarquhar

If you're into Naomi Klein and "The Shock Doctrine", you'll enjoy this piece. It's a look into the makings of the most visible and influential figure on the American left... who just happens to be Canadian, living in Toronto.

By the way, I love reading about the Bloor Cinema in the New Yorker. I feel like I discovered that place.

10 of the World's Best Beaches
By Robin Esrock

Winter sucks. If you're looking to get away somewhere hot and hip, here is a slide show to help in the decision making process. I have no idea how Tortuga Beach (Galapagos Islands) was left off this list.

Bissinger Vs. Leitch

The instant-classic footage of the famous Buzz Bissinger-Will Leitch showdown on Costas Now is now available at Deadspin. You may have come across some of the soundbite snippets online, but believe me when I say that these don't even come close to doing the full piece justice. It is comedy at it's absolute apex. Buzz looks like his head is going to explode. Literally. Spittle flying everywhere, spewing profanity at will, oozing condescension and disdain, unfounded accusations, unlearned opinions, referencing Rich Garces' tits... Poor Braylon Edwards looks like the third man in in a bad porn scene: just kind of sitting there, dick in hand, with nothing really to offer... And when Costas utters the phrase "Good luck managing a Denny's, Douchebag!", there's no going back. We're in the comedic stratosphere.

You can read Will Leitch's diplomatic take on the fiasco here, and the Deadspin founder is bang on:

We suppose we could have punched him in the nose or something, called him an asshole, said he was a piece of shit. It might have made for more riveting television; we are certain Costas wouldn't have minded. But that would have been counterproductive. When you see someone flailing desperately at someone, something, anything, there's nothing more to do than sit there, bemused and bewildered, amazed at what was happening, just like everyone else was. We cannot imagine any reasonable human being watching that display and saying, "doggone it, that raving man has a point!" The only way to win a battle like that is to let the audience take in what is happening, and trust them to respond accordingly.

Sure: We would have loved to have made all the points about blogs that we've made countless times before, trot them all out again, in front of a national audience. Had we that opportunity, we surely would have taken advantage of it. But we felt, in a way, the point was made for us. Watching this talented man spin himself into a typhoon of imploding bluster showed the fear, showed the anger, showed the futility of it all. We sat back and watched, and hoped nobody got hurt, just like you. Honestly: We really hope he's OK.

And for the record, I definitely have Will's back on this one: it is hard God damned work doing a blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Epilogue to the Prorogue

To this point, I've been holding off on commenting on the current state of the Canadian Federal Government because I wanted to see how things shook out before putting my opinion on the record. There was a pretty epic thread of emails exchanged between me and a few of my politically-informed correspondants which I considered printing here in its entirety, but needless to say, things have changed a great deal in the past seven days: non-violent coup d'etats; Stephan Dion as a potential Prime Minister (shuddering); learning the name of the Governor General and that, contrary to what they teach you in 8th grade Canadian politics, that that Governor General actually does serve a pupose; the emergence of the term prorogue into the mainstream lexicon, making it a dark horse in the word-of-the-year sweepstakes... Oh, how far we've com in a week.

I should begin by stating the obvious: that almost without exception, I'm always in favour of a more progressive, left-leaning government.

But with that being said, what we as Canadians were faced with last week was probably the wrong way of going about getting that more progressive, left leaning government.

First and foremost, the idea of Stephan Dion back-dooring his way into the Prime Minister's seat less than six weeks after having had his ass handed to him in the federal election (under his leadership, the Liberal Party suffered the worst defeat in the party's 141 year history) was probably sickening for even the most staunch of Liberal supporters. There are simply no circumstances under which having Dion lead this country is justifiable. Fortunately for everyone involved, this absurd scenario has been taken care of in the interim.

The second point of the contention is the idea of having two of Canada's prominent political parties getting into bed with the Bloc Quebecois. I don't for a second claim to be an expert on the sovereignty movement in Quebec, but what I do know is that granting an inordinate amount of power to a party whose stated objective is to separate from the rest of Canada is never a good idea. It seems like far too slippery slope to try to walk, and I just can't see the end results being worth the risk of having Quebec ultimately break away from this great country.

But even with those two obvious detractors in mind (one having since been rectified), I still think that, by and large, the majority of Canadians are somewhat confused as to exactly what is transpiring in their government. And you need look no further than the slew of "Canadians For Democracy" emails and Facebook goups currently circulating. To me, this is one of those things that people are simply signing up for because, hey, who isn't for democracy? I really wonder whether or not most people signing these petitions are even aware that the "Save our Democracy" angle is little more than a clever spin tactic by the Conservative Party.

The way the Conservatives have the argument framed is that Stephen Harper has been elected Prime Minister, and that replacing him with a coalition and that coalition's leader would be "undemocratic". But the plain truth of it is, Stephen Harper wasn't so much elected Prime Minister as his party simply won 38% of the eligible seats, and Harper just happened to be the leader of the party. Because if there's one thing we've come to learn as Canadians, it is that our Prime Minister is basically interchangeable. And I didn't see anyone passing around any "Save Our Democracy!" petitions when Brian Mulrooney handed the P.M.'s seat over to Kim Campbell.

And when you get right down to it, the elected opposition voting down a policy or budget proposed by the elected minority leadership is the very essence of democracy. This mish-mash of left-leaning leaders - the very leaders that 62% of this country voted for (the multiple left-minded parties who split that 62% of the vote and allowed the Conservatives to come to power in the first place) - are doing precisely what they were voted in to do. They are representing the best interests of their country. The majority of these democratically elected officials don't agree with what the minority leadeship is doing, so they are voting against it. They are keeping that minority in check. They are keeping them honest. Isn't that precisely what the parliamentary system was designed to do?

As for coming together as a formal coalition and usurping power, I really feel like this should be the worst-case scenario for the left-leaning parties. With Stephan Dion, you got the feeling that he might be forming this coalition as a way of obtaining power. But now that Michael Ignatieff has been appointed leader of the Liberal Party, you really get the feeling that he has the best interests of the country in mind. He seems to have a much firmer grasp on reality and the daunting task at hand.

It was Ignatieff who famously said: "coalition if necessary, but not necessarily coaltion." He sees the very real threat of a coalition government as a means of forcing the Conservatives into cooperating with the rest of the democratically elected officials - the so-called "62% majority" - and what they envision for this country. As Ignatieff said:

"The prime minister of Canada must understand that I'm very serious, that I plan to vote against his government if the budget is not in the interests of Canada and in the interests of Canadians and does not deal with the crisis. He's got to walk back down the hill for the sake of Canada."

To me, this type of co-operation; these checks and balances; this means of keeping-someone-honest and looking out for the best interests of everyone; are exactly what living in a democracy is all about. Things might not get accomplished as quickly or as efficiently as they would if there were a majority party in power, but the things that do get done will be truly representative of what the population wants and needs. There's solace and reassurance in that fact.

But as has been mentioned in this space before, I truly believe that this entire fiasco - this borderline national embarassment (this Daily Show clip is one of the all-time pieces of comedy at Canada's expense) - could have been avoided were we to implement some basic electoral reform.

To me, it seems absurd than in a country with five prominent political parties, that we continue to base our elections on the first-past-the-post model: the "winner-takes-all" system in which a single winner is chosen in a given constituency by having more votes than any other individual representative, regardless of whether or not that winner gains an absolute majority of votes. That's how, in the Oakville riding, Terence Young (Conservative) gets elected despite the fact that the majority of the votes (53%) went to people who would probably choose a Conservative Representative last were they to rank the four eligble candidates according to their political convictions.

In a two round voting system, however, you don't get any of these split-vote or strategic voting scenarios.

Taken from Wikipedia:

The two-round system (also known as the second ballot or runoff voting) is a voting system used to elect a single winner. Under runoff voting, the voter simply casts a single vote for their favorite candidate. However, if no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes, then all candidates, except the two with the most votes, are eliminated, and a second round of voting occurs.

It is in this second round of voting that people will choose the candidate that goes to parliament to represent them. It is only with this two round system that you get a true representation of what the majority truly desires, with a winner being voted in based on broad ideals as opposed to political semantics (if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the first round, there is no need for a second round).

(For a good example of how the two-round system works, check out this brief summary of the Peruvian General Election of 2006. It is a perfect example of what the two-round system is designed to accomplish.)

Were this two-round system to have been in place for October's Federal Election, there would be no debating the legitimacy of "the 62% majority". The fact is, if that 62% majority actually did see things similarly and consequently voted in the eligible left-leaning party in their riding, we would almost certainly have a majority government in power, and the term "prorogue" would remain a footnote in the Oxford English Dictionary's online database, which is probably where it should have been relegated all along.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Bills in Toronto

My buddy Dinner text messaged me shortly after leaving the Rogers Centre Sunday night. His message read: "What a fucking joke that was."

My sentiment exactly.

Even if you disregard the fact that today's effort was one of the most abominable displays of football this oft-abysmal franchise has ever put forth; even if you manage to erase the memory of thousands of Miami Dolphins fans chanting "Let's-Go Dol-Fins!" at a Buffalo Bills home game; even if you were able to somehow convince yourself that you wouldn't rather see Rob Johnson's corpse trot out there than J.P. Losman, or that you didn't just witness Ricky Williams play better for the Miami Dolphins than he ever did in his time here with the Argos; forgetting all of those unforgettable, nightmarish facts, that entire production was still a fucking joke.

Just read some of these quotes:

"We went out and saw the people in aqua and orange and it made a pretty big difference. You don't feel like you're playing an away game and you're excited for the support."

- Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins

"It wasn't clear who the home team was and that's nice for us."

- Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins

"It felt like we were on the road"

- Jason Peters, Buffalo Bills

"It was cool, it was fun (playing in Toronto) but Buffalo fans are a lot more rowdy. We could have used that rowdiness today."

- Marcus Stroud, Buffalo Bills

I'm not sure how anyone could have possibly expected anything other than the worst crowd in the history of professional football, in light of the fact that ticket prices were so disgustingly exorbitant (ranging from $115.00 to $575.00... $575.00 for the chance to watch J.P. Losman!) that every semblance of a true football fan had been priced out about $300 ago. That crowd sounded more like the platinum section of a Tuesday night Leafs game against the Florida Panthers than it did the boisterously rowdy throng that turned the Monday nighter three weeks ago into one of the most enjoyable sporting events in recent memory, the inevitable heartbreaking finish notwithstanding.

So it looks good on the organizers that the game didn't sell out. Those thousands of empty seats were a gigantic "go fuck yourself" to the corporate whores who were willing to sacrilegiously defiled a Bills-Fins December home game by jacking up the ticket prices to the point that all of the true fans decided they'd rather stay home than be willingly plundered by a company whose 2008 Q3 profits eclipsed $495 million.

Ever since the Bills in Toronto Series was announced back in January, there has been endless speculation about an iminent move of the franchise to Toronto. I listen to Buffalo sports radio every now and then (maybe the most depressing thing in the world), and the paranoia amongst the good people of Buffalo is palpable. And for good reason. Because I don't doubt for a second that this city is capable of supporting an NFL franchise (at $75 per ticket; not $245). But as a Bills fan who lives ten minutes from the stadium they'd be playing at were they ever to move to Toronto, that's the last thing in the world I'd ever want to see.

The best thing about being a Bills fan (there are few positives, so bear with me) is getting on a bus first thing on a Sunday morning with a bunch of buddies and heading down to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The party on the way down is better than the game itself. The party in the parking lot before the game is better than the game itself. The party in the parking lot after the game is better than the game itself. If the team were to ever relocate to Toronto, all of those glorious elements of the Buffalo Bills fan experience would be lost forever. Because we have laws which forbid this type of partying. And because the kinds of people who are willing to pay $200 for a ticket are not the same kinds of people who begin shotgunning Keystone Lights at 8:00 on a Sunday morning.

And make no mistake: Toronto will never be able to duplicate an Orchard Park tailgate party. I mean, did you see any of that "tailgate action" in Toronto today? It was an absolute joke. Paying $6 for a can of Budweiser inside a corporate tent with heaters and flatscreen TVs is about as close to the real thing as wanking to the bra section in a Sears catalogue is.

So please. People of Toronto. Do us all a favour. Do as you did today. Continue to make us proud. Refuse to be gouged by the most offensively priced tickets I've ever come across (at an average price of $183.00 per ticket, fans were paying roughly $14.00 per completed pass by J.P.). Ensure the seats are left empty. Keep getting drowned out by the visiting team's fans. Stay sober enough so as to have absolutely no influence on the outcome of the game, upholding that morgue-like atmosphere we were treated to this afternoon. And most importantly, continue to give the Bills in Toronto Series people exactly what they deserve.

That way, we'll be sure to keep the Buffalo Bills exactly where they belong: in Buffalo, NY.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friday Diversion - Musical Edition

Here's the thing: I don't have satellite radio installed in my new car yet, so I've been forced to listen to terrestrial radio for the past two months. And just let me say that the quality of music coming across the free airwaves seems to be at an all-time low point. Maybe I'm just getting older and more out of touch with what the kids today are listening to, but for with the exception of a few choice tunes (M.I.A.'s Paper Planes is a killer track, and anything by the Kings of Leon that manages to find it's way to top-40 radio will make the world a better place), popular music today strikes me as abysmal. Honestly, the two radio stations I've been listening to the most in my car have been CBC Radio (Jian Ghomeshi is the man, his days with Moxy Fruvous notwithstanding), and CBC Radio 2 (the Radio 2 Drive might be the best 3 hours of radio in Toronto). There isn't even a punch line. That's just a fact.

There was a time when I lived and died by what 102.1 The Edge told me was cool, but these days I find it almost impossible to listen to that station for more than ten consecutive minutes without wanting to smash my face through my windshield. Such a sad fall from grace.

I sincerely hope you aren't as uninspired by today's "popular" music to the disheartening extent that I am, but in the event that you are, rest assured that there is ample great music out there to be heard. The only problem is, you probably won't be hearing it on your local "new rock" conglomerate.

Here are a few of my favourite newish tunes getting reps in on satellite radio (Sirius XMU 26) that you probably aren't likely to hear on the free airwaves.

(One quick read for the Diversion: Elizabeth Kolbert's Car Talk is an exemplary piece which highlights the Big-Three automakers absurd shortsightedness and blind stupidity with regards to the way the market was inevitably headed. Personally, I love the idea of offering each of the CEOs federal assistance only if they agree to reduce their salaries to one dollar a year. That would be poetic justice at its absolute finest.)

Nada Surf - "Whose Authority"

Everything off of this Brooklyn based trio's "Lucky" album is gold.

Jenny Lewis - "Acid Tongue"

The odds-on favourite for "greatest song in the world this week". Still no official video, but this track is magic.

To be lonely is a habit
Like smoking or taking drugs
And I've quit them both
But man, was it rough

Okkervil River - "Lost Coastlines"

Pop music needs more banjo. No doubt.

Deerhunter - "Agoraphobia"

This video scares me a little.

My buddy Tim Perlich at NOW describes the new Deerhunter disc (Microcastle/Weird Era Continued) as follows:

The Microcastle half of the double-disc set focuses on fuzz-enhanced indie rock with off-kilter changes and nomenclature that may suggest a Pavement inspiration to some, but it’s more likely Cox has been listening to the mid-80s Kiwi pop of the Clean, Tall Dwarfs and the Chills. If you’re not up on that stuff, Microcastle may seem like a more impressive creative breakthrough than it actually is, which could explain the gushy reviews.

The entrancing dronescapes of Weird Era Continued should be appealing to Atlas Sound fans but as with Microcastle, Weird Era Continued will sound much more awesome If you’ve never heard anything by My Bloody Valentine.

Ummm... That's why he reviews music for a living and I'm doing this for free... Let's move on.

Broken Social Scene - "Cause = Time"

And this video scares me a lot.

I know that this song is 6 years old, but it never really got the airplay it deserved. It is one of the best songs from one of the most influential Canadian indie bands, who just happen to appear on Canada's finest record label.

Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"

Great video.

Is your bed made?
Is your sweater on?
Do you want to
Like you know I do

But this feels so unnatural
Peter Gabriel too

Chairlift - "Bruises"

I was wondering why this catchy pop tune sounded so familiar... and then I turned on the T.V. So yeah, you've probably heard this one before.

Lori McKenna - "Make Every Word Hurt"

I have no idea how Lori McKenna isn't a household name by now.

Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"

Arguably the greatest Canadian indie band, playing arguably the best song they will ever write, at arguably the most important music festival in the world. In the comments section of this YouTube clip, someone simply wrote: "Best. Thing. Ever." It's tough to argue with this performance.

The line that goes: "I guess we'll just have to adjust..." It gets me every time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sam Mitchell Out; Jay Triano In as Raps Head Coach

From Marc Stein at ESPN.com

The Toronto Raptors have fired coach Sam Mitchell after Wednesday's 39-point loss in Denver.

"This is a difficult but necessary step the franchise must take," Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo. "We appreciate all that Sam has done for the organization, applaud him for his successes and wish him nothing but the best with his future in basketball."

Mitchell will be replaced by Raptors assistant coach Jay Triano on an interim basis. He is in his seventh season as a Raptors assistant. A native of Niagara Falls, Triano coached the Canadian men's national team from 1998-2004, posting a 52-42 record.

Triano's first game as head coach will come Friday when the Raptors visit Utah to play the Jazz.

Expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division this season, Toronto is 8-9 and already eight games behind Boston.

Mitchell is in his fifth season with the Raptors, posting a 156-189 record. He was named the coach of the year in 2006-07 after guiding Toronto to a 47-35 record and a playoff berth. The Raptors regressed to 41-41 last season but still made the playoffs, losing in the first round.

Gut reaction to the Sam Mitchell firing is that it's sad to see Sam go. He was one of the more likable coaches in recent memory here in Toronto, and the plain truth is there has never been a better performance on the airwaves than whenever he'd join Landry and Stellick in the morning, particularly when the Raps were mid-West-Coast swing. He has helped to turn Chris Bosh into a legitimate superstar, and had a huge hand in helping to make Toronto Raptors Basketball relevant in this city again.

But the fact is, Sam was overmatched as a head coach. The Raps were losing too many close games (last night's debacle notwithstanding), and have been treading water for the past year and a half.

I genuinely like Sam as a guy, and found his honesty completely refreshing, but it was probably time for him to go. Here's hoping he lands on his feet somewhere.

As for Jay Triano, you have to love the fact that the Niagara Falls native is getting a shot in the NBA. It will be interesting to see how the Raps respond to taking direction from a good Canadian lad. Only time will tell, but expect a huge ovation for Triano come Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Moustache Diaries

As far as 30-day stretches go, November was a pretty life-altering month for me. I spent two-and-a-half weeks in Peru drinking hallucinagenic herbal concoctions that made me believe that I was dead. I received a frantic phone call one afternoon informing me that there had been a terrorist attack targetting Canadians in the country where a loved one was currently travelling (she's fine). And I had to sit back and helplessly watch as the Buffalo Bills blew a seemingly insurmountable lead in the AFC East, the Edmund-Fitzgerald-like culmination coming in the form of an eviscerating Norwood-esque flashback in front of a national audience.

But perhaps none of these considerable occurrences were as singularly transforming as the experience of growing a moustache.

I really am a new man for having grown one. Therefore, as a service to those who have never had the transmogrifying experience of nurturing a duster, I present to you:

The Top-10 Best Things about Growing a Moustache

10 - Growing a Moustache is a Vacation from Yourself.

It really is. Throughout the entire month of Movember, I felt like I was walking around in a Halloween costume. I was saying and doing things I would never otherwise say or do, without any fear of social repercussions. I was incognito. I was taking the bus to Hamilton on a Saturday night and asking random strangers for a ride to a party (with success). I was instigating living room moshpits that would spill out into the snow at house parties in Barrie, ON. I was averaging two goals a game in the OTHL while sporting the 'stache. Basically, I was an entirely new man. And to be honest, now that he's gone, I kind of miss him.

9 - A Moustachioed Man Commands a Certain Level of Respect.

It's true. I noticed this fact upon returning to Toronto. I was walking out of the supermarket one sunny afternoon, and where I'm usually the first one to step aside and give someone else the right-of-way, it was blatantly obvious that people were getting out of my way. It was as if they thought I was a member of the Hell's Angels or something... Although, I suppose it could have just as easily been that they assumed I was a convicted sex offender and wanted nothing to do with me.

(As a side note, the whole "commanding respect" thing works in every instance except for those instances where you happen to bump into people who knew you in your pre-Burt-Reynolds incarnation. I'm thinking specifically of the girls who work at my local coffee shop, who would literally laugh their asses off every time I walked through the door. Thanks ladies.)

8 - Exchanging the Moustache Nod.

This may or may not only happen in the month of Movember, but there is nothing better than walking down the street, being all self-conscious about the fact that you look like a sexual predator and the Starbucks girls have just spent the past five minutes making you feel like you did in the seventh grade, and then all of a sudden, spotting one of your fellow comrades on the horizon. He knows what you've been going through. He understands your pain. And the two of you exchange the nod. It is a small victory. One of those beautiful moments that demands neither words nor explanation.

7 - Explaining your 'Stache

It's more fun than you'd think to come up with excuses for why you're growing a moustache. The obvious favourite this month was the whole Wendel Clark tribute angle, but looking a girl you've just met deadpan in the eye and telling her that you're growing a moustache because you're of the opinion that women secretly find it sexually arousing is the highest of high comedy. I mean, just look at this guy: he's practically dripping with sex appeal.

6 - Rolling Out the All-Pedophile Rotation on the Hardwood

The City All-Stars had 3 players rocking the 'stache, and let me just say that when we hit the floor as a unit, there was simply no stopping us. The opposition was intimidated. They were terrified... They were laughing their asses off. It was like Rambis, Frazier, and Jackson out there... Except, you know... without the game.

5 - The Unexpected Mo-Bro

I was back at work with my 'stache for a total of two weeks, and on a number of occassions, had relatively important meetings scheduled with quasi-prominent public officials whom I hadn't previously met face to face. For each of these meetings, I'd be going in completely self-conscious, knowing full well that I looked like a complete idiot. As a result, the first thing I always planned on saying was something to the effect of: "I have to apologize for the moustache. You know, it's this charity thing and we're all doing it for a good cause..."

So you can imagine my delight upon walking into some of these meetings only to have my counterpart be sporting one of those graying moustaches that he'd clearly been rocking for the past 20 years.

My long lost Mo-Bro! I'll be damned if a few of them didn't give me the nod.

4 - Taking the Self-Portrait Photograph in a Socially Unacceptable Locale

I'm thinking specifically of this shot. It probably would have been a better photograph if I'd been able to convince someone to snap it for me, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I guess there are some things a man just needs to do on his own.

I'm still trying to decide whether or not it's funny...

3 - Offering Free Moustache Rides to Everyone You Meet

When your Movember team name is "The Free Moustache Rides", it's practically expected of you to offer everyone a free moustache ride. Anything less would be a disservice to yourself, the team, and to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada. So as team captain, I took it upon myself to extend the offer to everyone.

Free Moustache Rides Offered: 457

Free Moustache Rides Accepted: 0

It should be noted that the closest I came was on Saturday night, with my buddy Skeeter. As you can tell by the photo, he was 50/50.

2 - Being Mistaken for a Celebrity

So, I'd just that morning trimmed my handlebars for the more conventional looking moustache. I had an important meeting that day, and wanted to look as professional as possible. So I was a little down on myself, feeling like I'd somehow sold myself out by losing the bars. I felt like I'd lost some of my moustache mojo.

After my meeting was over, I got into my car and pulled up to the parking attendant to pay my tab. The man working the gate was clearly not from Canada, and English probably wasn't even his third language.

He took one look at me and said: "Hey! Chuck Norris!"

It was obviously the finest compliment I'd ever received.

1 - Raising Money For Prostate Cancer Research

At the end of the day, after all of the laughs and camraderie of looking like a bunch of idiots together, Movember really is a great fundraiser. The Free Moustache Rides were able to raise over $1,300 for prostate cancer research, and you wouldn't know it by looking at his lackluster-duster in this photo, but Mike Foley (second from the right) helped Captain the MO CIBC World Markets Team, which raised more than $125,000 - more money than any other team in Canada.

So a huge thanks goes out to everyone who supported the cause, particularly those dotcomrades whom I've never met but donated based on the blog entries alone. You guys are awesome.

Looking forward to rocking it again next Movember.