THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF THE LANCE, THE UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR STUDENT NEWSPAPER:
NEWS, REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY, COURTESY OF THE PAPER TRAIL

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Version of the Truth




















In 1999, trailers began appearing in movie theatres announcing the upcoming release of a new documentary. The movie was said to have captured the events leading up to the disappearance of three would-be filmmakers investigating the legends of the so-called 'Blair Witch.'

In 2002, strange unmarked videotapes started to be found on park benches and other public places. When watched, the tapes revealed grainy, seemingly disconnected images, concluding with a URL for a website called 'An Open Letter.'

In 2007, bolded letters on a tour t-shirt cracked open on one of the most ambitious and extensive viral marketing plans ever attempted, an ever-expanding campaign of websites, phone numbers, USB drives and sonographs(?!). All to hype a Nine Inch Nails album.

But will the hype cannibalize the art?

Continue reading this post.
Now, how to explain this succinctly?

Nine Inch Nails are on a European tour as I write this. Earlier this month, fans noticed certain letters on the back of one of the tour t-shirts were bolded, and that those bolded letters spelled the phrase 'i am trying to believe.' NIN fans are an industrious sort [get it?] and one of them decided to throw a '.com' on the end of that phrase. Imagine the surprise to see it was an actual website. The game was on from there, and it's been playing out basically like this.

At different shows on the European tours, fans have been discovering USB pendrives in the bathrooms. The drives have contained only a couple files, typically an image and sound file. These files lead to new websites or provide phone numbers for fans to call, which play automated messages that add depth to the world NIN frontman Trent Reznor is creating, and it's a large one.

2022 is Year Zero, or 0000. Every year before that is denoted with a negative and 'Born Again' or BA [making 2007 -13 BA]. As a result of bioterrorist actions in Los Angeles in 2009, the U.S. government has seized total control of all facets of life, using the threat of future attacks to keep holding power. The water supply has been laced with a drug called Parepin, designed to keep the masses good and complacent. Another drug, Opal, is the new cocaine, and is made in and distributed from the U.S. Complicating things is the troublesome matter of The Presence, a ghostly arm being spotted reaching down from the heavens towards earth, and sightings have been growing more frequent.

With a cast that's growing by the day and a fully fleshed out storyline, this is no mere album release Mr. Reznor is undertaking. This is immersive world building, the likes of which most sci-fi authors can only dream about. What's better, it's totally fan-based. Not one solitary grain of information has [officially] come from within the NIN camp. Every discovery has been facilitated by the online fan community. And that is an extremely suspect notion.


Look, I'm enjoying watching this unfold as much as anyone else, but at the end of the day a viral marketing stunt is still a marketing stunt. I would love to believe that team NIN is taking a hands off approach from this, but if everyone simultaneously hits a dead end, someone's gotta be waiting in the wings with a convenient revelation. One of the cooler facets of the game has involved bits of static contained at the end of the leaked tracks found on the USB drives. Sometimes the static is morse code leading to new webistes, other time it's just noise, that reveals crucial information when run through a sonograph, a device that creates wave forms from audio. In some cases those wave forms make numbers that fans can call, and in the creepiest example, the wave form creates an image of The Presence.

Damn cool, yes, but would anybody 'just happen' to have that knowledge? Call me a cynic, Windsor, but I doubt it. When the going gets rough, I guarantee someone will pop up armed with some critical skill or random fact that cracks the whole thing wide open again for the mere mortals to play with.

There is one other troublesome notion in all this, fun though it is: What about the music? The longer this game goes on, the actual 'Year Zero' album becomes an afterthought at best or at worst never considered in the first place. Even on forums filled with the sort of foaming NINheads you come to expect, the bulk of the conversation centers on the concept of the album, not the album itself. From what I've heard of the leaked tracks so far, 'dark' is an optimistic description, though 'noise' is probably most apt. All signs point to this album making 'With Teeth' seem like the Polyphonic Spree by comparison.

But I suppose that's irrelevant. When marketing and art meet, they don't so much collide as smash into each other, bleeding into each other's open sores. The album is just one more component in the larger narrative being created.

I don't doubt the album will sell like hotcakes, and the whole thing is a victory for Reznor and the folks at 42 Entertainment [best known for Microsoft's 'I Love Bees' campaign to hype Halo 2]. But when all those people are scanning the liner notes for clues and running the disc through sonograms, will anybody actually hear the songs?

FURTHER READING
Introductory: Rolling Stone. Spelling everything out for the masses. Updates as something major happens.

Advanced: Echoing the Sound. One of the leading NIN fan communities, their front page gathers it all in one place, with no stone left unturned, no matter how seemingly insignificant. If it goes down, it goes down here first.

The State of the World

Bankruptcy only answer for Capitol
The tragic saga of the Capitol Theatre has come to a sort of close, with the board of directors seeking bankruptcy protection for the financially troubled venue.

Said acting GM Tom Lynd, "If it appears that the only way we can satisfy [creditors] is by closing or selling our equipment, then we'll do that."

We almost lost that place once, Windsor. Find a way to keep it.

Controversy!
Let me go on record right now as saying that I am an ignorant anglophone, and I hate the fact that one province has kept this country in a stranglehold since Confederation. Quebec is one of ten, yet their every whim must be catered to for anything to get done in government, especially in minority parliaments. Honestly, Chantal Hebert writes a column for the Toronto Star about Quebec politics and it's called 'National Affairs.' What? No, that isn't national, it's provincial affairs, the affairs of a province that can get as petulant as a five-year-old who wants a cookie.

So of course you already knew there's a provincial election going on there. Today's poll show's Jean Charest's Liberals with a slight lead.

Can you imagine if like, Iowa held the rest of the U.S. in the palm of its hand?

Stop preening yourself and read this
Another shocker brought to you by the keen minds of the American media: you're all self-absorbed!

A study of over 16,000 college students questioned between 1982 and 2006 found a sharp rise in both narcissism and self-centeredness.

Reseachers blame the 'self-esteem movement' of the 80's, saying the quest to make our children confident may have gone too far.

So, for your own good, listen carefully: You're fat, you're stupid, and no one likes you.

Briefly
Bad: Melting ice shelves in Antarctica. Good?: Newly discovered sea life.

For those late to the party: the piano playing cat.

Last week we reminded you that marijuana was not a recognized form of currency. Well neither is a baby.

Engineering students: with all they provide us, they should get laid more. Behold, the beer-launching fridge.

In closing, enjoy reason 6,387 why Captain Picard is the man. Hell yeah I said it!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

FYI

Technical difficulties. Do like it says.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tonight is right for flotsam






















Pictured above is the cover art to the new Nine Inch Nails record, "Year Zero." It is posted because the marketing campiagn for this album is growing larger and more immersive by the day, and I imagine we'll be talking about it at length before the week is out. Just a heads up.

Quick and dirty, y'all. It's Monday and Daddy's brain hurts.

Pulp Fiction as typography.

Jackets with neck support for public sleeping. Now you don't have to sleep on the benches in the CAW basement.

Flickr set of people in fezzes.

Canadian-owned Puretracks becomes first mp3 store in North America to sell DRM-free files.

You may have previously encountered Penny Arcade's 'Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory'. It goes like this:












Pretty self-explanatory, right? So why does it happen? The NYTimes article investigates the reasons.

All work and no play makes The Trail a dull boy.

All work and no play makes The Trail a dull boy.

All work and no play makes The Trail a dull boy.

All work and no play makes The Trail a dull boy.

The State of the World: Why am I Bothering Edition

Seriously. Y'all are in Cancun or somewhere right now.

Capitol in crisis
Despite a pledge from the city for $65,000, the Capitol Theatre has yet to see any of the money promised by councillors last week.

The delay is being attributed to the city's desire to be listed as the theatre's first secured creditor, when a member of the theatre's board already loaned the Capitol $60,000, and is currently listed as first secured creditor.

Representatives from the theatre say without they city funds, the Capitol could be closed within days.

How did this ever seem like a good idea?
In the face of mounting pressure from anti-violence groups, Bluenotes Canada has finally devloped the good sense to stop selling a t-shirt reading, 'No means have aNOther drink.'

The company president said he was "deeply aplogetic that the t-shirts caused insult and offence,' and that they should not have been sold in the first place. Well, duh, ya frigging genius.

The saddest thing you'll read today
An 81-year-old Enfield, Connetticut man worried his family could become a burden to others killed his wife, his grown adult children and himself Saturday.

"I think he had given a lot of thought to this," said Enfield police chief Carl Sferrazza, "Clearly there were other options he could have taken, but he tragically took this option."

Briefly
Man paralyzed after he crashes car felling from police at 110/mph sues police force all the way to Supreme Court.

Eleven dead, hundreds injured at Pakistani kite festival.

Chinese man looking to hire fake mistress to be smacked around by his angry wife, so his real mistress won't have to.

Depressing! What notable people did when they were your age. And you're wasting time on spring break!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The State of the World

A brief survey of numerous sources suggests that nothing of note happened on campus or in town today. I know this certainly can't be true, so let a brother know what went down, Windsor.

Given that it's Friday, and Spring Break appears to have started for all you spoiled little bastards, let's make this a quick hit roundup, shall we?

Briefly
Praise Jesus! Government to grill major banks on the purpose of ABM fees.

The Globe and Mail discovers Facebook. In other breaking news, chocolate milk is delicious.

Life as a Thai sex worker.

Just what I need: giant squid caught in Antarctic waters. If you made calamari rings from it, they would be the size of tractor tires. I hate the undersea world.

64 stone woman becomes largest person to undergo gastric bypass surgery. Now someone tell me how much that is in real numbers.

Good times: Rape appears to be on the decline, overall.

Took him long enough: Justin Trudeau announces he's running for a federal liberal seat. Has yet to confirm it with riding association. Meh.

We'll see what else I can cook up for you while your spring break unfolds. But for now, the tire smell overwhelms me, so I'm out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The State of the World

Major coke bust at the bridge
Customs officials snagged 171 kilograms of cocaine at the Ambassador Bridge Monday morning. With a street value estimated at $21.3 million, it's Windsor's largest cocaine seizure.

The men transporting the drugs, 29-year-old Sandeep Harris of Mississauga and 37-year-old Lachhman Chahal of Brampton have both been charged, though police have not disclosed where the drugs were being taken to.

The silver lining award
Bad: teenagers are still getting knocked up.
Good?: they're not getting knocked up as much.

StatsCan informs us that the number of teenage mothers who have a second child before the age of 20 has been reduced by half. I would look at the numbers in greater detail, but I never took statistics in undergrad, so this one's sort of reading like Swahili to me.

Still, I don't know that this is something necessarily worth celebrating.

The very dark side of war
The second of five U.S. soldiers facing a court martial for the gang rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murders of her and her family, pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Sgt. Paul Cortez joins Specialist James Barker, who admitted the crimes in November and was sentenced to 90 years in prison. Three other military personnell are awaiting trial, including one who will be tried as a civilian, having been discharged before thecrime was uncovered.

Briefly, because it's late and I'm tired.
Why geeks make good lovers.

Wimbeldon tennis tournament joins 21st century, pays female winners equal prize money.

The Guardian has deduced the one man who can bring peace and stability back to the Middle East: Eminem.

I went to Catholic school. The girls were repressed, a little kooky, and I'm sure some of them had skinny dipped in their lives. I don't think any of them would have pooped in a cooking pot to get their giggles, though.

The truth of the matter, and recommendations

As has been established a number of times on here, Windsor, the utopian vision of the internet is more than a little flawed, a subject we'll be looking at in greater detail next week. Simply put, for as much as I or anyone else might like to think that you've all got giant cables hardwired into the back of your skulls, scanning endless RSS syndication feeds and consuming terabytes of information at the speed of thought, most of you are watching videos of some guy shooting himself with a flare gun.

And The Trail is no different. Writing any given entry usually takes at least an hour longer than it should, since I get so easily distracted perusing one of my regular stops on the infopike. So I thought tonight I would take a moment to share my daily required reading.
  • Popwatch: Entertainment Weekly's long-running blog is a fantastic resource of pop culture tidbits and celebrity gossip, with the added legitimacy that comes with being under the Time-Warner umbrella. Yesterday's link to the old 'how crayons are made' video from late 70's/early 80's era episodes of Sesame Street made it for me yesterday; a video of Matt Damon flawlessly impersonating Matthew McConaughey did it today. I can't wait for tomorrow.

  • Midnight Eye: It hasn't come up in a while, but my love of Asian, specifically Japanese cinema is well documented in print and online, and Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp's clean, almost minimalist site is a mandatory destination for the discerning cinephile who wants to know the cool movies before they become cheapened North American knockoffs.

  • Pink is the New Blog: You know for all your posturing to the contrary, you like useless celebrity gossip, nay, you crave it like a fiend for crack. While there are a billion sites that fit this format, PITNB is our blog of choice because Trent seems to care more about his readers than making the site all about him [unlike some other bloggers of similar subject]. And while I'm not one to condone this sort of thing, Egotastic can provide you with most of the information found elsewhere, with the added bonus of celebrity nudity!

  • Rocketboom: The lack of love lost between myself and the former host of this program notwithstanding, I still always make a point swinging by RB when I can, to see how the pros do this whole videoblogging thing. In business since 2004 and benefiting greatly these days from having an anchor with an actual background in broadcasting [what a concept!]

  • BoingBoing: While I'm loathe to reveal any of the tools I use to keep you informed and entertained, this "directory of wonderful things" has more than enough of just that for everyone. From tech, to natural anomalies, to art, to historical pieces to just plain cool, BB delivers the good with a level of consistency that cannot be matched.

  • The Beat: It's no secret The Trail is a geek from way back, and loves his funnybooks. As such, there are a number of nerdly sites I peruse on a daily basis, but The Beat is probably the least threatening to a casual reader. Heidi McDonald, a journalist and editor with Publishers Weekly, offers up a daily dose of comics news with a minimum of superhero spandex. It's kind of hard to describe exactly what Heidi does, because she does so much. Suffice to say, if you're one of those arty girls who reads Scott Pilgrim, you will love her site, and add much to your reading pile at her suggestion.
So there's the proverbial iceberg tip. What about you? What are you must-read sites that come before school, work, or bill payments?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The University of Windsor and the liberal theory of race

























Controversy is the best way to start the year: the infamous 'dress code' cover.

You may recall that last month University of Windsor president Ross Paul informed the Senate that he was enlisting the aid of a consulting firm to "conduct an inquiry into issues of racism and discrimination on campus," all for the low, low price of about $10,000. While the reason for the hiring is not explicitly stated, it comes a little too close on the heels of last year's dress code fiasco to be merely coincidence.

So does racism exist at the University of Windsor? The short answer is, "yes, now give me my money." The long answer gets a little more complicated, and it's indicative of a larger problem with how race is viewed in North American society today.

Continue reading this post.


It's shocking to think that racism could exist in an environment filled with open-minded, progressive thinking, intelligent people, and if you were to ask any of them if they were racist they would likely get more than a little offended. They don't discriminate against people of colour, they don't tell racist jokes or use racial slurs. But racism is a slippery concept, and just when you think you have it cornered and pegged, it takes on new shapes and slithers out again, unrecognizable.

Any bleeding-heart liberal or socially just conservative likely believes that all people are the same and equal, and deserving of the same opportunities as any other Canadian.

Such a belief is noble, to be certain, but ultimately fails because it ignores, as author Michael Eric Dyson wrote in a 1989 essay: "...the irrefutable reality of race. Because it conceives of race as merely a part of one's broader ethnic identity, liberal race theory is unable to make sense of the particular forms of oppression generated primarily by racial identity." A liberal view deals with race by ignoring it, which ultimately doesn't lead to any understanding. It's like when Stephen Colbert has a black guest on his show and informs them, "I'm colour blind. People tell me you're black and I accept that."

Such a liberal viewpoint creates more subtle, less malicious but no less damaging examples of racism, some of which have been on full display on campus in recent months.
  1. At an all-candidates debate during the 2006 UWSA General Election, a graduate student asked the presidential candidates why there weren't more female or minority students running for executive positions. All three candidates immediately looked like they shat the bed. Upon regaining themselves, Brandon Linton reluctantly admitted he didn't really have an answer; Ziad Raslan deferred to his own Lebanese heritage to defer any criticism, and Justin Teeuwen preached a need to reach out and use cultural celebrations as a way to engage the other students on campus.

    The grad student, a young black woman, immediately jumped all over Teeuwen for his use of the phrase "other students," and argued that cultural celebrations were nothing more than tokenism.

    When I originally wrote about the incident, I agreed Justin's wording was unfortunate, but called the woman's queston flawed, saying you couldn't force minority students to run against their will, making the same mistake Justin made. No, you can't force someone to run if they don't want to, but why don't they want to? If minority students have never seen a black face on the UWSA executive during their undergrad, it's not exactly encouraging. And anyone who feels that way isn't being overly sensitive, and we deny their reality if we view them as such.

  2. Last spring I encountered a news story from another school that had a quote from their Black Student Advisor. I had never heard of such a position, so Lance Sports Editor Julie Sobowale and I began investigating what, if any, other schools had one. An informal survey of other newspapers discovered that most had only an International Student Advisor, including Windsor, and the general opinion seemed to be that was sufficient for black students.

    Julie and I were floored. Not saying that International students shouldn't have a support system in place. But to suggest that a Canadian-born student of Caribbean heritage has the same needs and faces the same challenges as a student born and raised in China until they moved to Windsor for their undergrad is ludicrous at best.

  3. The dress code. Let's not flog this one too much, but merely say that I do honestly believe there was no malicious intent to the dress code, despite what's been said or suggested by others to the contrary. But it is downright appalling that it seemed to never even occur to Pub management or the UWSA that it could be interpreted as discriminatory, and when it became clear the clouds were rolling in, they continued to stubbornly deny that such a dimension to the argument even existed, blaming The Lance for creating a tempest in a teacup, using the cover pictured above to do it.

    Now while I'm still working out how I feel about the cover [which I actually didn't see until recently, being in K-town and all. I wish I could say I would have vetoed it had I been consulted, but in the 'damn the man,' frenzy that typically accompanies such controversies, I doubt I would have], to say The Lance made it a racial issue severely overemphasizes our importance. We could never have made such a large and motivated group of students rally against the policy like they did.

  4. The University of Windsor hires a third party to determine if there's racism on the campus. An exercise in futility, because racism exists everywhere, including on the campus. If it didn't exist, you wouldn't pay out five digits to a consulting firm so you can hold up some notarized certificate to vindicate you if the allegations ever start flying.
In all of these cases, the problems emerge because the parties involved cannot distinguish the difference between judging a person's race and acknowledging a person's race, and that difference is crucial. The former makes assumptions and places expectations on the individual. The latter seeks to appreciate and comprehend the differences that make us who we are. Remembering that distinction could very well be our first step to truly understanding each other.

Comments, as always, are open.

The State of the World

Ross Paul president in title only?
There's a storm a brewing, Windsor, that serves to illustrate the difference between public relations and journalism.

A fairly innocuous item on the Daily News made mention of the administration of the UofW getting restructured a bit, with Uncle Ross relieving himself of some of the day-to-day's around campus, to work focus on fundraising and bettering the school's image overall.

This is apparently a bigger deal than Daily News would have lead me to believe.

While I think The Star's headline is a little misleading, the fact remains that most of the administrative duties are now going to the school's best dresser, Provost Neil Gold.

Your faculty are none to happy about this turn of events, Windsor. Whether this controversy will effect you is unclear, but doubtful. Just keep your head up.

Incandesent light bulbs might go the way of the dodo.
Taking a lead from recent developments in Australia, the Ontario Liberals are toying with the idea of banning old-style incandescent light bulbs, in favour of more energy efficient ones.

Provincial Environment Minister Laurel Broten said if every incandescent light bulb were replaced, Ontario could close one coal power plant.

They can't all be roses
Some days you advance two points in the polls, sometimes your ass gets shot down by the Liberals. It's always an adventure for Stephen Harper, though I question the wisdom of today's installment.

The PM was quickly shouted down in the House of Commons by the Liberals after mentioning that the father-in-law of Missisauga-Brampton South MP Navdeep Singh Bains was questioned by the RCMP about the Air India bombing.

Long story short: Liberals don't want to renew some details of the current anti-terror laws. The Tories don't like that. Harper brought up Bain's father-in-law becuase if those details are allowed to lapse, the current Air India investigation by the RCMP could fall apart.

Harper says he was trying to illustrate the importance of the current anti-terror laws [laws which were brought in by the Liberals in the first place], but that still takes 'being a slimy f*ck' to new levels.

Briefly
KFC would like the Vatican to bless its new food product.

Shocker to no one: Britney left rehab. Now let us never speak of this again. I'm amazed to see Entertainment Tonight mention thsi on their website. Isn't there some minor acquaintance of Anna Nicole Smith they should be interviewing? The dogwalker, perhaps?

Florida scores: hacker uses highway sign to tell motorists the truth about NASCAR.

Just because: New Simpsons movie trailer.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

Stock photo rendition of The Trail upon returning from his warehouse job. Though ths guy looks better, overall.

Oh I had grand designs, Windsor.

Having decided to no longer do entries of substance on the fly, my latest idea was researched, plotted and point-formed. Knowing that traffic around here always spikes midweek when the new issue drops, I was fully prepared to settle in tonight and crank 'er out.

Then work kicked my ass today and asked me to go in a couple hours early tomorrow. And my job is kinda like this: you ever help your friend move? Know how fun that is? Well it's like I help my friends move every day.

So I'm dead tired and more than a little sick. Tough tatas. And seeing how you didn't get your weekly flotsam yesterday, what better time to see what's shaking?

From the people who brought you the top martial arts moments in film, comes the top human weapons in the history of cinema. Three words: Chow Yun-Fat.

The Barenaked Ladies continue embracing the new frontier with a video starring Youtube celebrities. Don't worry, I only knew who about five of them were.

Lady Trail enjoys an evening of video gaming and Asian film as much as anyone, but she still can't qualify for Inkling magazine's "She's Such a Geek" contest. But maybe you can?

Mmmm....circular. Teenage couple who films themselves doing it get tried and convicted under Florida child porn laws.

I've noticed lately that whereas Japan was the hot culture circa 2004, peaking with the release of Lost in Translation; the new hot country seems to be India. The snack food market has been flooded with curry and tandoori flavoured chips lately, with the appropriately cliche-ridden, vaguely racist commercials to accompany them. There's no denying we've gone from geishas to Bollywood. As such, this blog is also getting into the act by bringing you the Indian version of 'Thriller'.

The State of the World

Good news for two Windsor landmarks
The Star reports today that not only has the Capitol Theatre's financial woes been somewhat alleviated with a loan from the city, but St. Clair College has crossed the t's and dotted the i's and given the city all the necessary paperwork to take over the Cleary Centre.

The Capitol will be getting $65,000 from the city to pay its bills, which it continues to get behind. The theatre's board of directors made the last minute request for the loan in order to stave off immediate closure.

As far as the Cleary, renovations will begin shortly after the college formally takes control on March 9, though St. Clair president John Strasser said it's still undecided which programs will be making the move downtown.

Harper not planning election anytime soon
Despite a modest improvement in the Tories' approval rate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he's not interested in calling an election in the near future.

Said Harper, "I don't think Canadians want an election, I'm in no hurry to have an election. I simply want to see us move forward."

Oliver Stone is smelling a sequel
The Washington Post is reporting that new footage of the JFK motorcade has been donated to a Dallas museum.

While the actual assassination of Kennedy is not captured on the film, the museum is calling the footage "the clearest, best film of Jackie in the motorcade." Interested parties can peep the vid on the museum's website.

Briefly
XM and Sirius merge into satellite radio behemoth.

You know, I said I wouldn't, but: Britney's back in rehab. Shock and awe, I know.

Earlier this year Toronto opened its first maid cafe. What the hell's that? Wired will tell you.

Oh, Florida: Which is more offensive, the marketing stunt, or what it asks you to do? Man, I know my cat would not be "down" for wearing a hamburger bag.

Monday, February 19, 2007

You Are Not a Unique Snowflake

It was a productive weekend around here, Windsor. With the Lady needing to do her lesson plans for the week and me needing to organize my notes on a number of writing projects and teach myself the finer points of Blogger's features, we spent most of Saturday and Sunday parked at a corner table in Coffee & Company.

But success! If you look just below these paragraphs you will see that The Lance Blog finally has what it was in desperate need of: cuts!

So come away with me as we look at what happens when The Lance gets Googled, as well as why 2007 and 1992 feel eeerily similar...

ps: If you want to write for this blog, read to the end.

Continue reading this post.


Why it took me so long to Google The Lance is beyond me. I suppose I just thought the results would be nothing but stories from 2003 about the stripclub advertisement controversy. But such is not the case!

We have namedrops in numerous information directories, mentions from other publications
on our various trials and tribs over the years, hell we even have a wiki [even if it is only two sentences]. But there were two results that I found interesting for different reasons.

One was a posting on the blog of Rick Spence, editor of PROFIT magazine. The post is generally about a trip he made back to Windsor for an awards ceremony, and his trip back to the UofW, where he went to school. He's mostly pleasantly nostalgic for what he sees. Until:
The disappointment was The Lance – the student newspaper I edited back in 1978. As you might expect, it looks a darn sight better than it used to, but all the fancy colour, graphics and explicit sexual content can’t disguise the scarcity of news writing and reporting. Much like the mainstream media, I guess – both newspapers and TV.
Now, I think I'm about to take this personally, Windsor, but not for the reason you think. Yes, April 2005 was my first year as News Editor, but I don't care what he thought of the quality of the news reportage. It was April in my first year, there was nothing going on campus, and for all I know it was the Arts edition he was looking at.

No, I'm about to take this personally, because I think I was in the office when this guy stopped by. My recollection is a little fuzzy, but I recall being the only one in the office [surprise] late one afternoon in the lazy days of spring when an older gentleman stopped by the office and had a look around. Never gave his name, but he was pleasant to talk to and told me some funny stories about what they used to go through when they laid out the paper by hand.

I'm 90% sure it was this guy. But I can't be sure because I'm fairly certain I spoke with this guy on a Sunday [when it would be really odd for someone to just drop by, hence why it sticks out], and he says he was on campus on a Wednesday.

But if it was him, dude, you could have said something to my face. We could have had a lively debate.

The other fun result was a collection of spoof issues done in the early 1990's. They're all pretty funny, and impressive for the technology they had to work with back then, but the one that struck me the most was the one from 1992.

According to Karl Mamer, one of the gents who worked on the issue [along with former EiC Terry Brown], the issue was designed to poke fun at the always tenuous relationship between the student government and the student press. Chris Cheng, a presidential candidate in the 1992 SAC [pre-UWSA UWSA] elections decided to make lack of school spirit a campaign issue, and targeted The Lance for never singing the praises of what was good at Windsor, choosing instead to focus on the negative. Plus, it was run by: controlled by a clique of students who were not only out of touch with campus life but The Lance's editors actively denied the average student a voice."

Sound familiar? It should, it's the same complaint we've gotten from every student government I've worked for, I know that much. So this parody reimagines what the Lance would look like had Cheng gotten his hands on it and made it over to his liking.

Imagine that! A student newspaper owned by the student government! That would be horrible!

What? Oh, right. Shit.

ANYWAY: Mamer is nice enough to retroactively respond to Cheng's original criticisms on the cliquiness of the Lance, since it's something we've also been accused of, and have fought against for years:
If The Lance seemed out of synch with campus life or seemed to have a homogenous voice that spoke a little differently from your average frosh with six pack under arm, it was because turning out a newspaper every week required people who were willing to write and to accept story assignments and execute on them. Sometimes people might even be asked to generate their own ideas. Oh yeah, you wouldn't be paid for it either.

"Hi, would you like to write stories for a whole year about campus club charity raffles, work until 4 am, and not be paid for it? Oh you're a business major and giving away your labor is against your principles unless its for the Conservative Party of Canada and it involves tearing down NDP lawn signs? No problem. The guy behind you with the well-thumbed copy of Catcher in the Rye is delighted to write the articles in return for some vague promise we'll print his feature about Noam Chomsky being the baddest mother fucker around."

We could run that today and it would be just as accurate, heh. This shit never changes, Windsor. Cheng's complaints sound eerily like conversations I've had with a formerly fuzzily coiffed UWSA exec member. The complaints made 15 years ago are the same complaints today will be the same complaints long after all of us have finally hit the road. This is not new, these thoughts are not original, you are not a unique snowflake.

But The Lance is nothing if not open to change, and since my title here is technically Online Editor and not Sole Content provider, I'm offering you a chance to write for this blog. It will not be an everyday thing [consistent voice is the key to effective blogging, and I'd prefer not to dilute it too much], but if you have something you've written, on anything from local politics to why you think Britney shaved her head, feel free to email me, and we'll see if we can't make you an internet celeb for .0015 seconds.

The upside is you don't have to work until 4.00 a.m. But you're still not getting paid.

I hope to hear from you, but I'm not optimistic. Prove me wrong, Windsor.

The State of the World: Reformat Edition

Who knew Blogger had a title field?

Credit where it's due
Got a favourite prof?: Nominations are open for the UWSA's Excellence in Teaching Award. Daily News says nomination forms are available on council's website, but a quick click over there reveals this is not the case. You should probably just go to the office [2nd floor, CAW centre].

The environment. You kids like that, right?
The city of Windsor is looking at creating a position for an environmental co-ordinator to the tune of approximately $220,000 for the first year and $100,000 every subsequent year.

Despite some strong support, Coun. Dave Brister is urging for an examination of whether the responsibilities and costs associated can be absorbed by existing staff and expenditures. Coun. Alan Halberstadt would like to see the plan deferred to budget talks.

It's on the agenda for tonght's council meeting, so head down or watch it on Cogeco tonight if you want all the details.

The upside is, when you have nothing, you don't notice you got nothing
According to an internal report acquired by the Globe and Mail, over $70 million dedicated to helping the homeless was never spent.

The money was not spent by the National Homelessness Initiative, a Human Resources initiative started in 1999. While the report praises the program overall, it's critical of the discrepancy between budget allocations and actual expenditures.

"Crowd control was never part of an art history degree"
Good read at the Times Online on the striking workers at the Louvre and the growing problem in the art appreciation world of, well, people.

It has been a long time since I ever attended an exhibit, and the ones I've been to were never the hot topics of the day, but it turns out that for serious art afficianados, the stress of dealing with the casual viewers who attend an exhibit looking for some moment of transcendence are ruining it for people who do it at times other than the family vacation.

The piece points out that 8.3 million people see the Mona Lisa every year. That's the population of New York City, one at a time. Yeah, I'd ask for more money, too.

Briefly
Wayward cow scores full scale search and rescue operation.

Regardless of how you might feel, unfortunately:

If you're gonna watch porno, keep the sound low. You never know who's listening.

So when the giant asteroid smites Earth, who's in charge? Funny you should ask, the United Nations are at work solving that very problem, right now!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Word on the Street is love



So you read this update and you think, "Damn Trail, you dropped the ball on this one," and I would not blame you, Windsor. What sense does it make to post a Valentine's themed video two days after the actual holiday? Very little, actually.

But sometimes our beloved EiC does not communicate with The Trail all that well, and it's up to me to discover video updates on my own while watching clips from 'Eddie Murphy: Delirious' [finally out on DVD!]

Though the EiC may attribute this communicative miscue to my cell phone being dead for three days. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one [Trail <3 D'Arcy].

At any rate, maybe you haven't officially celebrated yet and still have lovin on your mind, so enjoy what your fellow students have to say on the subject.

Hugs and Kisses!

Labels:

The State of the World

Public Affairs PSA
Any student interested in being part of a video for a website to be unveiled in April should contact Jennifer Barone in the Public Affairs office at extention 3242 or by emailing her at jbarone@uwindsor.ca.

Do it before Monday, though, or you're S.O.L.

London Calling
I've always kind of liked London. When the Trails discuss where to head to next when our Kingston adventure ends, it seems like that town comes up again and again.

According to this article, we may be smart to trust those instincts. While the hard breakdown of numbers at the end of the piece takes out some of the hysteria, the fact remains that everywhere in the country has had a better fiscal year than Windsor, which is now rocking the highest unemployment rate in the country [we're #1!]. Plus, Babygirl's trying to be a teacher, and those 3,100 education jobs that vanished from the Rose City are not exactly a welcome mat.

More fun with StatsCan
Today's batch of statistics from the federal ministry informs us that 20 per cent of all sexual assaults, physical beatdowns and robberies take place on the job.

It gets even worse for workers in social assistance or health care. According to the agency, "One-third of all workplace violent incidents involved a victim who was working in social assistance or health care services such as hospitals, nursing or residential care facilities."

Even money The Star runs this story with a Lori Dupont mention. Frigging vultures.

Nature v. Feng Shui. Nature loses.
Saw this one earlier in the week, forgot to post. Residents of a tiny village in southwest China are trying to figure out why the county government bothered to paint the side of a mountain green.

Some have guessed it's an attempt to improve the region's feng shui, others that it's a bizarre attempt to [literally] 'green' the area. Although, at a cost of over $50,000, spending that money on actual plants would have covered a lot more ground.

Briefly

Old busted: Cock fights. New hotness: Toddler fights!

"Comfort women," sex slaves used to service Japanese soliders during WWII, urge U.S. Congress to urge Japan to formally apologize.

A much easier to read summary of the Nine Inch Nails viral web marketing campaign.

Oh dear God: The youngest mother ever was a disturbing five years old. Before you dismiss it, you should know that Snopes' bread-and-butter is debunking urban legends, and they've been at it a loooong time. If they say it's legit, it's a safe bet it is.

A little skeptical why those bombs found in Iraq that allegedly came from Iran are marked in English? Slate's here for you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Things that make me die inside

By comparison, tonight's broadcast of the 2007 Brit Awards was heads and tails above Sunday's Grammy telecast. I thought the production overall was better [any stage set that can make me enjoy a Killers performance has surely done its job] and the nominees tended to have a little more...taste, shall we say? Even if half of the nominees won't have careers this time next year, and I have no idea who the hell the other half were. Which leads us to the title, Windsor, because nothing makes me feel more gleefully unaware and out of step with the cultural zeitgeist than being exposed to new music from far away lands. In this case, uh, Britain.

We've already established that Lily Allen scored an 'A' for effort from me, but has in no way passed, since it takes more than one good song to impress me. Ms. Allen was leading the pack in nominations this year with four, but was shut out, which I'm taking as a sign that the commonwealth hasn't completely lost its mind. Because there were a number of suggestions to the contrary on display tonight.
  1. Who the hell is Amy Winehouse, aside from a bit of an incoherent lush? Honest to God, her acceptance speech for Best British Female was like listening to a congress of Irish gypsies. Nothing but clicks and whistles, man.
  2. Who the hell is Russell Brand, why does he get to host the show, and what breed of bird did they hire to walk about his head in the name of hairstyling?
  3. When the hell did Take That reunite [sans Robbie Williams, obviously]? And the won song of the year! Not bad for a group of seniors.
  4. Speaking of seniors, one highlight of the Brits is always the end of the show, when some old timer gets the 'Outstanding Contribution to Music' award. Previous winners include Paul Weller, Bob Geldof [remember when he sang?] and Van Morrison. This year the big award went to...Oasis.
What?! Oasis?! I knew I was old, Windsor, but I didn't think I was that old. I was an undergrad on your storied campus when I bought Definitely Maybe because I kinda liked 'Supersonic'.

Apparently that was longer ago than I thought. Probably in the nieghbourhood of 13 years. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching Liam's typical outburst, and the medley to close the show [They played 'Morning Glory'. The Trail was pleased], but the whole thing just served as another harsh reminder that he might hide it well, but goddamn The Trail is getting older.

Laughing now? Wait til you start hearing your favourite songs on 89X on Sunday mornings. Know what they call that? The Flashback.

Cherish your youth, Windsor. You die a little more everyday.

The State of the World: Stinky Edition

I come home from work and the water's been shut off for some reason. Super awesome.

Bid to save Grad House fails
An attempt by three Windsor students to save the Grad House from demolition by having it designated a Heritage Property has failed.

The committee who denied the appeal said they didn't want to interfere with the university's medical school plans.

However, the committee said the Grad House deserves saving for its historical and architectural value, and is drafting a letter to the university urging it to consider moving the house to a new location.

Bush maintains Iran supplying Iraq
Despite questionable intelligence and a wary public, U.S. President George W. Bush continues to insist that Iran is supplying Iraqi militants with weapons, and that he's "going to do something about it."

Gotta love that sort of obstinate determination.

Because damn it, Christmas was like...over a month ago!
Peggy Nash, a Toronto area NDP MP believes National Flag Day should be a statutory holiday from coast to coast.
Nash is planning to table a private member's bill asking to make Flag Day [Feb. 15] a national holiday. Said Nash, "Flag Day is a great day to have that break, especially in the middle of winter. It's a good way to get over the winter blahs."

This is why Asia will one day kick our asses economically.

Briefly
How to stop those silly law students from watching porno in class.

Meet Fulla: The Muslim answer to the Barbie doll.

Friend slaps mosquito off of other friend's face. Gunfight ensues.

If you're dumb enough to not notice you've given birth, it's probably a good thing you had pants on. Quote of the year on paragraph three.

Whatever, Pennywise: Circus clowns convinced the ever-growing level of terror they instill in the public is just a fad.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The State of the World

Joining the Litany
So. The Star tells us that 2,000 Daimler Chrysler employees will lose their jobs in the next two years. Less scientifically, this Livejournal thread tells us of all the other businesses that have shut down in Windsor lately.

So, does anyone still think a couple radio commercials or glossy print ads are going to fix this?

Today's lesson in spin and media literacy
Buried in the news of the day today is this brief item concerning Stephen Harper's admittance that he's choosing judges to advance his government's agendas.

Actually, what he said was: "We're bringing forward laws to make sure that we crack down on crime -- that we make our streets and communities safer. We want to make sure our selection of judges is in correspondence with those objectives."

So the media says the Tories are picking judges to tilt the scales in their favour. Harper says that's exactly right, because what they want is to keep Canadians safer.

That such a black hole of bullshit from both sides can exist in such a brief article is a testament to contemporary news coverage.

Further lessons in reporting
Any reporter or editor will tell you that if you can find a hook to go with your story, that's where the money is.

Case in point: If you're in Winnipeg and sent to cover the trial of some goof who threatened to kill some prostitutes, that's ho-hum. But if the defendant's own lawyer refers to his client as "apallingly stupid," well you got yourself a hook.

Briefly
Investigative!: How to score crack [and a hooker] in Anchorage, Alaska.

Lessons in Crime: You want to rob a store, fine. Just don't drive around with the ATM in your backseat.

Scientists discover weakness in AIDS virus that could make it more susceptible to vaccines.

New Zealand lawyer dresses like Alice in Wonderland to protest "old boys club," in Kiwi legal system.

How F*cking Romantic
























Happy V-Day, Windsor.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The State of the World

Forests and trees
Mayor Eddie appears to have a bee in his bonnet again over Windsor's image in light of a weekend of national news stories highlighting the city's current economic woes.

Hmm. Maybe national news outlets were covering the city's current economic woes because like, that's actually happening? The city is in an economic freefall, and the mayor wants to start having a civic pride love-in. And that whole "it starts with us, if we don't talk about what's great, no one else will" tactic sounds a little familiar to your beloved Trail, Windsor.

Maybe because it's the same song Ross has played for the past three years, and it's a nice diversionary tactic. It basically says, "If no one knows how great it is here, it's because you haven't been publicizing it." I'm sorry, I thought that was the job of our city administrators?
What the city needs is a change in outlook, a shift in focus, a realization that manufacturing can't be relied upon as the Golden Goose anymore. It doesn't need a PR plan.

North Korean disarmament a reality, for now
That North Korean disarmament plan from last week has gone from "tentative" to "accepted, but fragile."

In exchange for shutting down its main nuclear reactor and halting further weapons research, the North can look forward to millions of dollars in aid and energy assistance.

Though it's not all peaches and butterflies, as a statement from the Korean state news agency called the deal a "temporary suspension," and not a full disarmament. The wording of the statement is troublesome, coming from a regime with a long history of sidestepping previous international agreements.

Geezers need excitement
According to a new study by the United Nations, the UK is officially the worst place in the world to be a child. The reports says British children suffer worse relationships with parents, are exposed to risky behaviour more frequently and suffer "greater deprivation" than in any other economically developed nation.

It's unclear from the article where Canada ranked, although it did not place in the top or bottom five. The United States placed second-to-last.

Briefly
Samuel Adams gives you a state of the art beer glass.

Just in time for Valentine's Day: Take your lady to the local zoo for an animal sex tour. Oh, those dirty manatees.

I'm pretty sure if you search you can find an old link to a story about killer military dolphins escaping their facility after Hurricane Katrina, and you probably thought the Trail was talking some bullshit. I think not!

Man, them kids today just love to expose themselves on the MySpace, don't they?

Bill Cosby's terrier wins early round of the Westminster Dog Show. Judges said they were taken by the animal's bippin and a boppin, as well as its coat as shiny as Jell-O pudding.

Belated Flotsam

Sorry about that kids, my Grammy rant got a little ahead of me last night, so you didn't get your weekly recommended serving of flotsam. So let's get on with it, shall we?

Ever wonder how Godzilla's insides work?

Staying with Japan for a minute: Retirement condos with sloped floors and light switches and weird spots, just to keep the old geezers on their toes.

An argument I can totally get behind: Dane Cook as overrated hack.

Proof that parents hate everything fun: The Nintendo Wii gives children a "false sense of what it's like to compete in the world."

Trent Reznor appears to be going above and beyond in preparation of Nine Inch Nails' next album.

See how many earths humanity would need if everyone lived like you. I only needed three.

The news is later.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Like Chuck D said...
























It's so rare when I have a chance to actually catch an awards show in its entirety, so I'd like to take a moment to talk about the Grammy's, if I may.

You see, Windsor, The Trail only had one goal this entire week: see The Police perform during the show's opener. It was all I could think or talk about, and I irritated The Lady with talk of it all week long.

Sunday we had people coming and going all evening, plus needed to grab some lunch supplies for the week, so by the time I hurriedly burst back into the apartment, it was 8:04. One chorus of "Roxanne" later, and they were off the stage.

I mention this not to complain about missing from the performance [from what I hear, it was the same version of "Roxanne" Sting's been doing solo for years, just with Andy and Stuart as backing band], I mention it to complain about the time allotted to what was advertised as the marquee performance of the evening.

Let's math this out, if we can: the first televised reunion of the world's greatest band gets about three and a half minutes, yet Mary J. Blige and the Almighty Timberlake get two onstage appearances and like, 7 minutes each? Shit ain't right, Windsor.

What else was incorrect about that show?

--So the Dixie Chicks score a hat trick, and Natalie Maines feels the need to make some snooty comment about the Bush comment controversy. Despite my personal ambivalence for the Chicks as artists, I'll allow that the whole experience must have been personally stressful for them, but I think they might have an inflated sense of their own cultural importance. Even at the height of the backlash, they were still sleeping on giant piles of money, so I don't think they were doing too badly.

And one other thing: In my old age my relationship with music has changed to a degree, in the sense that I make certain demands of it now that I didn't in my youth, not the least of which is I like my music to be, you know, something that it makes sense to listen to. There seems to be a growing number of songs lately that I don't think anyone would listen to of their own accord, and I include the steaming pile known as "Not Ready to Make Nice" in that category.

Can you think of any moment you would have in your life where that song would be the perfect aural accompaniment? If so, let me know, Windsor. Maybe I'm more limited in my view of the human condition than I thought. I just don't get why artists insist lately on releasing singles that are clearly super personal to the artists, but don't say anything to the greater populace [not to mention they're typically f*cking downers!].

--Speaking of downers: Who did you have to blow to get an uptempo number performed on that stage? I don't think there was one performance with a BPM higher than 112.

--Don't get it twisted, Windsor: I like Luda as much as the next guy. But he should have got his Grammy a few albums ago. Not for the load that is "Money Maker." And he certainly shouldn't have won it in a year when Lupe Fiasco was nominated.

--Note to Chris Brown: Janet Jackson could have done that whole dance number, backflips and all, and sang every line of your dumb little song. Step your game up, boyo.

Not that it was all bad. Corrine Bailey Rae gave a beautifully understated performance [with skilled accompaniment by Johns Legend and Mayer], and I've gotta give Xtina her due: she paid a fine tribute to the Godfather of Soul, and tore the hell out of "This is a Man's World." To think a girl who used to wear assless chaps gave me goosebumps.

Still, we couldn't have seen Wolfmother win their award live?

The State of the World

Hey look, a post before 5.00 p.m.!

Afro Fest starts today
In celebration of Black History Month, Afro Fest 2007 kicks off a week of films, lectures, exhibits and concerts starting with the International African Inventors Museum, on display right now in the CAW Student Centre.

Altogether there's way too much going on for me to list here, but you can get a full and detailed description by heading over to the festival's website at www.uwindsor.ca/afrofest.

10-year-old gang leader arrested
Police in Boston [what is it with that place lately?] have arrested a 10-year-old girl in connection with a gang attack that took place at an area Target store over the weekend.

A 22-year-old woman bumped into the girl and refused to apologize. So the girl and three friends attacked the woman, tackling her to the ground, pulling out her hair, tearing off her clothes and kicking her in the stomach and head.

Sugar n' spice, and all that.

Gold star day for Canadian law enforcement
A pair of Winnipeg courthouse sherrifs caught in a porn video scandal say they were too drunk to know what they were doing when they signed a waiver stating the video could end up on the internet.

However, Oshean de St. Clair de Guise, the porn performer who also starred in the video, says Jaqueline Burgoyne and Rick Gordon knew exactly what they were doing, and knew where the video could end up.

According to court papers, the sherriffs were under the impression the video would be for personal use only. The pair have recently gone back to work for Manitoba Justice.

Briefly
Brazillian Health Ministry hands out millions of condoms in preparation of Carnival.

It probably goes without saying that if you're a high school teacher, you should not run a kinky erotic-vampire website.

Submitted because it's interesting, not because I'm openly endorsing it, the merry pranksters at The Pirate Bay have started a new site: Oscartorrents.com. Now you can check out all the Oscar-nominated performances for yourself, cheap as free. They've even gone so far as to organize the movies according to nomination. How thoughtful.

Remember that story about China cleaning up its 'Engrish' signs, to look their best when all the visitors come for the 2008 Olympics? This is likely what they're trying to change.

Keep hearing about Barack Obama but know nothing of the man? Your primer course is here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

To know her is to love her

Behold, Windsor, in all her glory: The Rockshow.

You think you know, but you have no idea.



May you have half as much fun this weekend as we had the night that was shot.

See you Monday.

The State of the World

It's kinda super late tonight, y'all, so why don't we play this a little looser, shall we?

The obvious end to dumb debacle
So that whole damn stupid Aqua Teen publicity stunt gone awry has cost the head of the Cartoon Network his job.

Earlier in the week Turner Broadcasting [CN's parent group] agreed to pay the city of Boston $2 million after the infamous publicity stunt shut down the city last week.

Sadness or guilt?
Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch blog asks the question we're all sort of left wondering now that it's a day later: why does anyone, other than the people who knew her personally, care that Anna Nicole Smith died? What did she contribute to the culture, even the lowest rungs of it? Or do these feelings just stem from the fact that we all feel kind of bad for using her as a punchline or shorthand for 'train wreck'?

Sign o' the [new] times
So Scott Brown, a Massachusetts state senator against gay marriage is slated to give a talk at a high school. Some of the students are none too pleased about this, and take their rage to Facebook, starting a group in support of a pro gay-rights history teacher.

The young'uns equate Brown to the devil and say lots of nasty stuff about him and his family. So what does Brown do? Go to the school assembly as planned, call out those students by name and read what they said word for word.

Needless to say, parents were unimpressed. Brown's response? "If the kids can write it, the kids can hear it."

Stranger than fiction
Sometimes, Windsor, you see things online, and you think the person who wrote the headline must be taking the piss, but you click on it anyway, only to recoil in horror upon the discovery that they were telling the truth. With that said, here's the fun story of a woman who apparently helped her boyfriend rape her 15-year-old, then showed up to court in a "#1 Mom" t-shirt.

Clearly, she now denies any involvement in the assault, even though she confessed to it.

Briefly
Score one for The Trail: ladies love Mr. Average.

After originally billing it "The Hoohaa Monologues" to avoid offense, 'vagina' makes welcome comeback to Florida theatre's marquee.

Japanese robot eats snow, poops ice.

Law professor from Georgia lets you in on his grading process.

The First Time
























Do you remember your first time, Windsor?

I'll never forget mine. I was hanging at my buddy Mike's house, this was...1997, maybe? Has it been that long? Anyway, I was at Mike's house, we had gone down to his room, which was in the basement. It was early afternoon, and I had sat down at Mike's desk, as he switched on the loudly whirring machine before me.

He opened the necessary program and within about 15 minutes I was doing what I had gone there to do: reading episode synopses of Sailor Moon.

What? Come on, leave me alone, we didn't know what the hell we were doing back then. Online business was a terrifying, laughable prospect [you want me to give out my credit card number?!]. Email seemed an exercise in pointlessness [Dude, we're friends, if I need to tell you something, I'll call you]. Instant messaging didn't really exist [remember ICQ?] The internet was basically for porn or nerdly niche hobbies.

But even then I think I had a hunch that there was a power developing online, and that it could be harnessed for self-promotion. This was during my undergrad years, you realize, so I was at the height of my English-major pretention. I had at least four hardbound journals packed with page after page of my amateur hour poetry and a crippling inferiority complex.

Dissatisfied with the praise of both friends and aquaintances who didn't know any better and the self-absorption of the peers in my one and only creative writing class, I made my first trip to the university computer centre, sat at a PC running Windows 3.1, fired up Netscape and started scrutinizing Yahoo's listings of poetry publications.

Most of those primitive sites were nothing more than glorified advertisements for the print versions of the magazines, but there was one site that seemed to have created an online community using something called a "message board."

Trendsetting stuff, I know.

The site was run by a Indiana born California resident who had cut his teeth on open mic nights back home. He started a poetry zine back there and created a website to advertise his project and recruit new contributors. People would post their poetry and get feedback from the other members. I thought it was cool as hell, and dove in headfirst.

I made a lot of friends on that site, and finally got a decent understanding of whether or not I had any talent for this writing business [verdict: yes, though it was raw and unfocused. Some things never change]. Also made a couple adversaries, notably the founder of the site, who struck me as a bit of an arrogant prat, though he probably has no idea who the hell I am.

The whole point of this bout of nostalgia is that last night I started looking up people I remembered from those early days online. It was remarkably easy. Between Google, MySpace, flickr, etc., unless a person is completely disconnected, it's a cakewalk to check up on old friends.

A lot seemed to have found religion. More than a few cranked out a herd of kids. My former adversary moved to Arizona and poorly maintains his blog where he reposts poems frm ten years ago to no response. No comments from me on that one.

I guess I'm bothering to post all this because I'm amazed out how pervasive this culture has become in our lives [and by 'our' I mean this generation]. We don't even know how to live without it anymore, when ten years ago it was nothing more than a novelty, an unnecessary bonus to our daily lives.

The reason I keep harping on you all to watch that video, is to really start to think about where it's taking us, and whether you'll choose to go along for the ride.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The State of the World

Green Leader comes to Armpit of Canada
Provincial Green Party Leader Frank DeJong will be in town tomorrow night delivering a speech on all things environmental, so all you hippies should be sure to leave your Friday night open.

DeJong will be speaking at 7.30 p.m. in room 355 of Dillon Hall.

Seriously? You couldn't have gotten the Rose Room or something?

North Korea willing to disarm
The AP reports North Korea has agreed in principle to disarm its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for security guarantees.

Reps from six nations are in China right now trying to implement a deal from 2005 that included a pledge from the North to disarm, though the document contains no concrete steps to do so.

The States are remaining "cautiously optimistic," according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Briefly
Reps at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission trying to discern how hacker managed to sprinkle pictures of nuclear explosions all over their official website.

Scholars writing in the Washington Post suggest inclusion in the world economy, not exclusion, is the key to fostering deomocracy in Iran, rather than shoving it on the people militarily.

Submitted without snark: Anna Nicole Smith dies.

Woman boards wrong bus, gets lost, disappears for 25 years, recently found.

Another slice of life from the Sunshine State.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The State of the World

Marching like it's 1996
Is it tuition protest time again already? I swear it was just yesterday I was signing petitions out of courtesy, or because the person requesting was cute.

Anyhoo, same song and dance it always is. God love them for trying, but an old timer like me is too much of a fatalist to believe it will make a difference. Prove me wrong, young idealists!

A terrible beauty is born
Nominations for the UWSA general election opened today. It's the best comedy show you'll see all year, Windsor, be sure you're paying attention.

If you're a glutton for punishment, nomination forms are available at the Student Centre Infodesk, or at the office of the superfine Chief Returning Officer, Ms. Vanessa Voakes [ext. 3502]. Nominations will be taken until February 21 at 4.00 p.m.

Senator says iPods endangering lives
New York has had enough. If you are caught walking, jogging or biking across a city street with an iPod in your ears, you could get a fine of $100, is a Senator from Brooklyn has his way.

The law was proposed after two individuals were killed while listening to their iPods. Said Senator Carl Kruger: "If you're so involved with your electronic device that you can't see or hear a car coming, this...requires some sort of enforcement beyond the application of common sense."

Briefly
"But Marge, that little guy hasn't done anything yet. Look at him! You know he's going to do something and you know it's going to be good!": Yakuza war breaks out in Tokyo.

Impossible!: Piracy and celebrity sex tapes starting to impact the porn industry, which made $13 billion last year, but only grew at the rate of inflation.

Another reason why Florida has its own tag on Fark: Designated driver kicked out of bar because he wasn't drinking.

Sad: Anti-Defamation League reports Ku Klux Klan experiencing recruitment upswing by exploiting hot issues like immigration and gay marriage.

Homework deferred















So last night you were asked to watch a short video, because we would be discussing it tonight. I have decided we will do no such thing.
That will come as some relief to you since you're university students and well, not all of you are exactly proficient at meeting deadlines, but that is not in fact the reason why I am postponing the discussion.

I'm postponing the discussion because I want it to be good. I spent some time going through the archives last night, and was pretty impressed with some of what I read. And I knew instantly that they were all posts I had written out in longhand before posting. Meaning I took my time, reread and rewrote, all that jazz. So, in the name of quality, that's what I'm going to do for this one. Hopefully I don't run into any crazy effers when I'm writing at the C&C. Maybe that's the sign it's time to officially graduate to Starbucks, huh?

In the meantime, watch tha damn video, will you?

What else is shaking out there?

Big news for all my fellow closet wanks out there: Ozzfest is forgoing ticket prices this year. That's right, kids. Admission to Ozzfest this year will not cost you a dime. Don't get too excited, you'll be bludgeoned with advertising for the privilege the second you cross the gate, but it's still a ballsy move.

PS: It recently came to my attention that Lady Trail's father [Papa Trail-in-law?] has discovered and is now a semiregular reader of this blog. I would like to assure him that 'closet wanks' does not mean what he might think it does.

Blogger illustrates how New Orleans has changed by taking picture of the new phone books. Quite the difference.

Two things the Trails love brought together at last: Stephen Colbert and Ben & Jerry's.

Finally, proof of the one song that crosses all boundaries, nationalities and instrumentation: the Super Mario theme.

I for one, would like to see a return of classy names for all haircuts. I want to be 'The Executive'.