frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
So I had an interesting discussion on the phone tonight... My friend L has been training/working as a career-type coach thing for over a year now. She was taking some other training this weekend so she enlisted me to be her guinea pig.

I've never done any coach thing with her and I didn't feel a particular need for coaching, so it started slowly, but over the course of 50 minutes I was able to re-surface and verbalize thoughts that I have had over the last few years:

1) I enjoy solving intellectually, technically challenging problems.
2) I enjoy helping other people solve their problems, more than solving my own.
3) I'm interested in working with other people more than I'm interested in working for myself, for my own sake.
4) Ruby on Rails is a toolset that I am learning in order to be able to tackle a specific set of problems. Eventally, either there won't be satisfying problems that I will want to solve with Rails, I'll find a better toolset, or Rails will just become deprecated. At that point I will let go of Rails. But right now it's a toolset to work on 1-3.

So that's kind of why I'm learning RoR now, and I have guidelines for when I'll outgrow it, or something. I feel better about that.
frandroid: A large sandworm in front of the fremen invoking him (Great Worm)
Can someone explain to me why sites like LJ, Dreamwidth, Blogspot, Wordpress, etc. don't have an updates counter like Facebook has on its top bar, with an easy way to click to load the updates without loading an inbox page? It's such a game-changer, they really should work on that. I mean they both have an inbox, but you have to mark messages as read, delete them or whatever. Bring on the AJAX and jQuery peeps, we've entered the 'teens 3 years ago. This ain't 2001 anymore.

I am so designing my own BBS software sooner than later. Seriously, Facebook is the first platform that really brought back the New Message Scan that BBSes had in a meaningful way, except improved. If I had sat down and learned some scripting language in the mid-aughts, I might be a billionnaire today! (Likely PHP, like Facebook).

Barring that, I've dived back into Rub on Rails yesterday, and restarted development on the Great Worm website. Yesterday was an extra day off from work, and starting this week I have scaled down my work to 3 days a week. This week I'll be using my extra time off to work on a lucrative translation contract, but after that I'll be back to Rails... Pretty excited about that.
frandroid: Data banging an Enterprise computer screen which just showed the BSOD. (technology)
So, I have about 3000 emails in my inbox. I do a clean-up every few days but there's tons of just I keep because "I'll get to it later". So after doing my regular partial clean-up, I just turned the tables on my inbox: I've started from the end.

I had some 2009 and 2010 emails, but I went through those quickly. (I'm still keeping a few, but now they're not buried in as much crap. I still want to read the Monthly Review article on the implosion of ex-yugoslavia, for example.) Now I'm in late 2011. I load an index page with 100 emails, select obvious mailing list crap, delete. Then I do a second pass on the personal emails I kept. It's pretty fast. 200 emails gone already. I now get less than 20 emails a day so I should be able to catch up fast by cleaning from both ends. I am pleased.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (great worm)
How many times have you heard "Together we stand, divided we fall"?
I suggest that this machine of modern life, which is like a parasite on the Earth, is AGAINST THE GRAIN OF LIFE, and that is precisely why the children hold the lowest position on the scale of dominance.

What I'm suggesting is that it's unnatural to be isolated and divided. That a single mother or family can barely help oppressing their child to a degree, and that children are naturally happier, more confident, quicker to learn and easier when in groups of all ages. That children actually have more freedom when a large circle of people feel responsible for them. That children need all the stimulation in interacting with groups of people. That the quality of a parent-child relationship can be better when it is not forced on them to be together when they don't want to be. I'm suggesting that the child's needs are too great for just one or two people to supply and so they are often suppressed instead; the child is making it too hard on the parents, so the child must be wrong.

A simple fact that deserves common acknowledgement--with more caretakers; friends; relatives; and responsible strangers in public, the child can be comforted and not be as heavy on its parents. The parent could blow off steam and not be as hostile to its child; and child abuse would go way down. Child abuse thrives in climates of stress and privacy. When other people can come to the aid of an abused child, they can play a part in helping the child. Sometimes parents need to see an example of how to handle a situation in a positive fashion.
frandroid: "Livré par" followed by the "Postes Canada" logo (poste)
So, the US Postal Service has increased cross-border postal rates even more than Canada Post has in recent years. The large flat rate envelope, a mainstay of Americans sending zines my way, has gone from $13 to 20$ in one year. Meanwhile fucking Amazon has a sweat deal with Canada Post, which means that they probably pay less than anyone else for premium service. The delivery times on Amazon items is frighteningly fast... The Canada dollar is dropping, making American zines more expensive.

Anywé, this means that I will be selling a lot more Canadian zines to Canadians in the near future. I have nothing against Canadian zines (!), but there's just such a smaller scene here, it's easier to find American zinesters with a certain following that have been going at it for a long time and that Know What They're Doing. This is going to force me to dig out and promote a lot more Canadian content. The Toronto Public Library bugs me once a year to sell them Canadian content, and I never return their calls because I don't have anything they don't have already. Maybe I'll soon return their calls!

Thank you USPS and Canada Post for sucking big time, you're making me do what I should have been doing a lot more of in the first place. :P
frandroid: Drawing of sabotabby in revolutionary attire: beret, tight green top, keffiyeh, flowing red hair (revolution)
Dear DreamJournal,

Who are your favourite women in ska (and reggae, I guess?)

I adore Amy Winehouse's ska tracks* and The Slits (not technically ska, but seriously, listen to them??) as my recent discoveries. On the general ska front, I love the Specials as much as I love Against All Authority, so I go for all waves. An old female-fronted mainstay of mine is The Cartel from Montréal, but no one knows about them and there's almost no online documentation about them...

*: I'm convinced that if she had kept singing ska, she wouldn't have killed herself. She sounds so happy!!
frandroid: Québec City Nordiques NHL team logo (nordiques)
I have one particular regret in life right now: Not having seen Sonic Youth live. They're not my favourite band, but that Confusion is Sex/Kill Yr. Idols disc in one of my favourite albums of all time, and I love many others.

I was even close to see them once. We went down to New York City a few years ago for the Portraits of Past reunion show. We landed in Newark, we found our hostel, left our luggage there, had dinner, went to the Cake Shop for the show. Next day, we're having breakfast (a single bagel) at the hostel, I open up the Village Voice, and Sonic Youth had played a concert at the BOTTOM OF AN EMPTY SWIMMING POOL in Brooklyn the night before. I was devastated. We also missed Public Enemy playing a free concert in a park that day, which kinda killed F, because I hadn't read the Voice far enough that morning (in part for being upset at missing Sonic Youth, although given a choice, I still would have gone to see PoP because this was one of only two reunion shows...)

Now that Moore and Gordon have split, there might still be some SY show in the future, but It Won't Be The Same. I just listened to Chelsea Light Moving, Moore's new project, but it's not as good, even though it's undeniably Moore's band. I'll have to listen to his solo music, and hope he plays somewhere here soon.

Don't ever wait to see your favourite acts live. I have learned that lesson too many times already, and I keep learning it over and over.

Next up on my Can't Miss list: Neko Case, The New Pornographers. Already that TNP mostly don't tour with Neko anymore... :/
frandroid: "Level 5 vegan" button, after the Simpsons quote (vegan)
Moi: So I just wanted to mention that while you used butternut squash here, I discovered a squash I didn't know, butterCUP squash, which looks a lot like an acorn squash. It kind of has the consistency of a potato, and tastes something between the butternut squash and a potato. I used it instead of potato in a Nepalese dish (Aloo, tama and bodi, which I adore). I think I like the original with potato better, but this combination is also very good and gives it a lighter flavour.

Michael: Where did you get the buttercup squash?

Moi: I got it at Kensington Fruit Market, across from Essence of Life, but I think it's widely available. When I say "discovered", I just mean in my own repertoire, Columbus-style.


If you have good buttercup squash recipes, especially curries, please ssend them my way; there doesn't seem to be that many online. I discovered this vegetable by having it in a Thaï curry at the new Sukko Thai on Wellington (as tasty as on Parliament, but a few dollars more expensive, and with WAAAYYYY more tables) and I fell in love immediately.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
So, Bad Religion emailed me to let me know that their new album (True North) was coming out, so I pre-ordered the CD. Then when the album was released, they actually emailed me the MP3s first, and then a few days later I received the CD. Having already imported the MP3s in iTunes, I looked at the CD, kinda befuddled. I mean this is my favourite band, I have all their albums on CD, but now what? I looked at the songbook, full lyrics, but nothing special. So I put it on my CD shelf. Wheee. I may finally give up on CDs.

Not that I've been buying many of them... I've been buying lots of music online again recently. I've bought from iTunes when bands are big enough to be on there if I consider them small enough, but generally I've been buying from little known bands on bandcamp, and I torrent the bigger-name stuff if I want to listen to it. Artists pay Bandcamp 15% and PayPal extorts its regular fees. So basically this is the best goddamn site if you want to reward artists directly. I'll sometimes buy stuff someone recommends me before even listening to it, because I've pirated enough music, I'd like to throw money towards the music scenes I love.

Seriously, if I was releasing music on CD, I'd make the packaging special and sell it $20-30 a piece. Who cares about commodity jewel cases and songbooks? I mean, if I was already selling thousands of albums. If I was a penniless band I'd just do Bandcamp, unless I made one of those crazy spraypaint stencil things, or something unique for every order. I don't know. Do bands manage to sell a fair amount of CDs at concerts? The jewel case CDs could be useful there. I'd rather have people scan a QR code to download the music to their phone once they've paid me money. Or just send them an email with a link, just like Bandcamp does. Maybe sell the album with some physical trinket, like a postcard or a fancy pin? I still value the physical part of the transaction, to get something in hand...
frandroid: Stephen Colbert giving a thumbs up in from of the American Flag (Colbert)
When my little cousin confided in me, because I am no threat to her, that she cheated on pin the tail on the donkey to win the game--did I tell her that's bad? No--I just listened. Personally, I wonder about the kind of things that go on to make her such a sneaky and manipulative child, it seems that she has a whole secret life hidden from adults. But really, don't most children?
Once she told me: "I don't know why they call America a free country, children aren't free. I am not allowed to drive; I hate school and my teacher put my name on the board for talking when I wasn't, and I can't eat what I want or go to sleep when I want. What's worse is my mother always orders me around. I'll make up a time of when to clean my room because it makes more sense to me and she tells me that I must do it right away or my friend will not be allowed to come over at all." And this is a seven year old talking! Growing up in a patriotic and semi-rural environment. I go "yeah," and talk back and forth with her. I don't think she can see that adulthood isn't really what it's cracked up to be.

So good. :)
frandroid: A large sandworm in front of the fremen invoking him (Great Worm)
(aka post-expozine post, or expozine post-mortem, etc.)

So it's 4am and I have to get up at 7:30 to return the rental car, or else risk incurring a parking ticket at 8am. But I'm wired up and I can't sleep. Late coffee, driving for 6 hours straight and an awesome weekend all weigh on my mind. Then I realized that I was hungry. So now I'm eating Firoza's crazy spicy chora nu batata kale gaajar.

I had a wicked time at Expozine, first hanging out with my table neighbour Élizabeth Robert ([ profile] nochesdepoesia), an awesome publisher and translator. She's a wild poetry lover and promoter. From her I bought my first Sheri-D Wilson book, Goddess: Gone Fishing for a Map of the Universe. Seriously, do not stop; run and buy this book. I almost never buy poetry, and I bought this after reading one page. This is more spoken-word put to print than classical verse, but man. Really excited.

I also bought Sherwin Tjia's pick-your-own-plot book (damn you SJG! unleash thy copyrites!), where you are a cat. I will read it eventually and report back on it. Then I bought David Turgeon (Eerie)'s first novel, Les Bases Secrètes, as well as a bloody $40 Muse Récursive megabook. Ugh my wallet.

Élizabeth told me a fair bit about Barbancourt, a Haitian rum that's just recently been unbanned in Canada. She even went to pick up a bottle for me at the SAQ.

I got to check out the Drawn & Quarterly bookstore for the first time, but since it took us 20 minutes to find parking around there, we got in before it 5 minutes before closing. Still managed to snag a Seth and a Joe Sacco, though. (Almost bought Guy Delisle's Jérusalem, but it seems rather naïve. Has anyone with a clue about Palestine read it?)

I also met tons of zinesters and friends, old friends from my days at Food Not Bombs in Québec City in particular. Bought some interesting-looking zines, although I didn't really fall in love with anything.

Then as usual, my carpool finished the fair having dinner at Patati Patata, and then we had some good fun on the drive home.

Like someone said, Expozine is like Christmas for us. It was so good for me. Wee! So happy.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (great worm)
Screw you split zines, you bloody corner case forcing me to complexify my data model for Great Worm. Goddamn you.

Also! The Micrososm! Blog! has so many! Exclamation marks! I dislike their childish exuberance.

I mention Microcosm because when their awesome site came out, I was kicking myself for not learning a scripting language earlier and building that kind of site myself. It included lots of ideas that had been simmering in my head for a while. My target for the new Great Worm website (codename: sandworm) is first to equal, and then to surpass the Microcosm site. Eventually, it will be a full-blown catalogue, shopping cart, inventory-management platform for the whole business. The idea is that I want the website to handle as many of the repetitive tasks as it can so I can focus on the fun part of running a zine distro, and then either keep it as a much more efficient hobby, or grow it into a larger business. However I don't intend on running Great Worm full time; I want to build systems, not run them. I might eventually hand over Great Worm to someone else if it becomes successful enough. I also have other ideas like providing hosting on the Sandworm platform for other distros... (Not to make money, but to give my tools to other zine distributors to help them sell zines online (and manage their inventories!) more easily.

*** ETA: To hell with split zines for now, I'll deal with that later...

*** ETAA: Ohhhh polymorphic associations. That solves one problem... I swear when I'm done with sandworm I'll be as knowledgeable about Rails as one can be. I'm creating all kinds of problems that need different solutions...
frandroid: Data banging an Enterprise computer screen which just showed the BSOD. (technology)
I think half the reason I got a RailsCasts Pro account is to hear more of Ryan Bates' soothing voice.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
As you may have read elsewhere, I'm finally seriously diving in Ruby on Rails. I've meant to do this for over three years but now I'm really going in. I've started to re-develop the Great Worm Express Distro site as an experimental project. (I'll post the link to the beta as soon as it's somewhat useable.) I already post too many articles on Facebook so I've decided that I'll be posting my rants and raves about Rails here. Woop!
frandroid: Head of Jack Layton photoshopped onto a very muscular man wearing a sleeveless NDP t-shirt (ndp)
People criticize Dewar for his French (I haven't watched that debate yet), but they seem to forget that aside from his accent, Jack's French was pretty bad when he won the leadership in 2003.

When I dropped by Jack's leadership campaign headquarters in August or September 2002 (i.e. his house), I was immediately invited for dinner with Jack and Olivia. Jack was super curious to know more about the current state of Québec's progressive scene, and boasted of his past credentials (such as attending the McGill Français demo back in the day) but he was the typical Montréal exile who had all but left the province behind when he moved to Toronto. He was really disconnected from present-day Québec. I mentioned a few names to him, and he hadn't heard of them. (Léo-Paul Lauzon ended up running for the NDP a couple elections later...) He tried out his French on me but it wasn't impressive at all, except for his accent, which was surprisingly as working class than mine. So he had good Québec roots, but he had to dig through some earth to find them again. In spite of that, it was clear right away that he took Québec's potential very seriously, and it lead to where we are today. His French improved, but Harper's improved even faster.

The Sherbrooke declaration was the most intelligent thing Layton pushed early on, essentially telling leftist PQ members that they had a second federal home. It was a master stroke of political ambiguity, the place where you want to live in order to pick up the broad middle (in this case, the middle being soft-separatists giving a federalist party a chance). Already after May 2nd we saw the ambiguity get clarified with some light blowback that has fallen by the wayside with Jack's disease and subsequent death.

So while the expectations of French fluency are higher today, what matters more to me is how much do the candidates understand Québec. Mulcair can school them all, obviously, and he's the master of ambiguity, when he's calm. I suspect that Topp is good too, having been part of the team maintaining this ambiguity, but I haven't really seen him in action. (I really have to go and watch the debates I missed!) Dewar, as a monolingual Ottawan, puzzles me. His job today is to demonstrates that he 'gets' Québec as much as the two Québec candidates, and even put forward some original policy position on one thing or another. Peggy Nash just tried that, even though she has a lot less to prove on Québec...
frandroid: Head of Jack Layton photoshopped onto a very muscular man wearing a sleeveless NDP t-shirt (ndp)
We have some seriously good polling data on the NDP leadership campaign, at last!

NDP leadership: Thomas Mulcair ahead on first ballot, internal poll suggests

What the article doesn't say is that since no one has a clear lead, votes from behind will make or break this campaign.

Looking at these numbers, Niki Ashton polls 20% over the first two ballots. Look forward to some gratuitous ass-kissing from the other leading candidates during the next debate. Were she to endorse someone after dropping out, she could have a serious impact. Of course, she can't deliver all of her votes, but even 5% out of that 20% could put one candidate enough on top of the other. There's another 13% of voters on the first two ballots between Martin Singh and Romeo... That's 33% of the voters. If this poll is representative, Brian Topp's secondary support will make a winner, but it won't be him. So it's Grassroots vs. Party establishment. Fight!

I remember that the Layton campaign aggressively pursued a strategy of getting people to vote pre-convention, since it probably saw that it was comfortably leading the polls and thought it would make sense of locking in its vote in case something case to wreck its advance. I wonder if any campaign will have the resources and/or take the risk to do that, at the expense of not being able to influence the subsequent ballot between voting rounds? Mulcair's maybe...

Now I really wonder what, if anything, the campaigns might do to improve their ranks among that lower tier of candidates. We've seen the Topp campaign's "Saganash doesn't really speak French debacle" already...

Does anyone else think like me, that if Dewar hasn't released even partial results of the structure of second-round balloting (i.e. from the bottom tier), that means they're not leading that pack and therefore decided to publish just enough data to make their candidate look good?

(I posted these comments on a protected entry on Facebook, so I've copied them here... Thanks to Chanchal Bhattacharya for bringing my attention to the article)
frandroid: We are the Canadian Borg. Resistance would be impolite. Please wait to be assimilated. Pour l'assimilation en français.. (canada)
If you think you will ever want to lead a federal political party, start learning the other official language now. The opportunity to run will present itself when you expect it the least, and when that happens, it'll be too late to learn a new language.

(Especially if you're from Ottawa... You get no pity whatsoever.)
(Even Pauline Marois of the PQ has had to face criticism on her trying English!)

*** ETA: A comment on Facebook also reminded me that the next leader of the Liberal Party will be either Bob Rae or Dalton McGuinty, both Ottawa-born politicians who are perfectly bilingual. It's not just Harper we'll be facing off...
frandroid: We are the Canadian Borg. Resistance would be impolite. Please wait to be assimilated. Pour l'assimilation en français.. (canada)
My friend Jude Macdonald, who was and still is instrumental in the Saganash campaign, asked for my thoughts on Nathan Cullen's refusal to consider the Bloc in an eventual electoral partnership. Apparently his refusal is based on the Bloc being out to "destroy the country".

I'm not too inclined to ally with the Bloc myself. I do respect the party for its progressive policies, but they have been a roadblock for the NDP achieving national prominence. I don't really care that it's a separatist party: it's never really been that, but rather a "Québec party" more than anything else. Now that we have finally managed to overcome this roadblock, I don't see why we should give them a lifeline. With Duceppe gone, the Bloc has lost a lot of its heft. So has the NDP with Jack's departure, but there is more life in the social-democratic electorate than in the separatist electorate.

Now, allying ourselves with the Liberals (even led by ex-NDPer Bob Rae) rather than the Bloc sounds a little counter-intuitive, when the goal is to promote social-democratic values. So let's back up a bit.

The main reason the Bloc has been such a formidable force in Canadian politics is not because a majority of Québécois want to separate, but because we have a flawed electoral system. As it happens, this flawed electoral system is also the reason Cullen has proposed joint nomination meetings. So let's strike this coöperation agreement with all parties that want to join in the fun, even the Bloc, but let's put a condition to this partnership: Let's have a national referendum on proportion representation (PR) as the first order of business for any party (be it Liberal or NDP, or a coalition) that wins the election. If we were to make this condition essential to participating in the coalition, the Bloc could join the coalition, but once we'd switch over to PR, the Bloccould never regain the strength it had in the last two decades. So it's a poison pill which they might be tempted to accept anyway since they've been curtailed anyway.

Québec has a history of voting in waves for charismatic politicians: Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien (!), Duceppe, Layton. We've lost Layton so getting the Bloc on side in a coalition could be essential to keeping many of our seats in Québec, at the cost of giving some away. We're going to lose a lot of seats in Québec anyway during the next election if our next leader doesn't gel with voters in Québec, so why not bargain with the other parties to control our own destiny rather than just let it happen to us?

For the record, I haven't endorsed any of the current leadership candidates but Cullen's proposal is the most interesting thing to have happened in this race, and the most important. There's no point in electing a leader if they're not telling us how they're going to win the next election and actually implement the policies they run on. We're not just the conscience of Parliament anymore. Rick Salutin has written about why many new democrats wouldn't want the Party to enter in such a coalition with the Liberals, but these people need to show us what's the winning alternative.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
frandroid: Hammer and sickle logo, with the hammer replaced with a LiveJournal pencil (lj)
Introducing LiveJournal for Symbian and MeeGo!

This can mean one of three things:
1) These projects started a long time ago, and LJ is so dysfunctional that they got completed when they became nearly useless
2) These projects were started recently, because LJ is so disfunctional that it didn't realize that MeeGo and Symbian are going the way of the dinosaurs
3) I'm clueless about how many current LJ users have Nokia's Symbian and MeeGo (?) devices and would potentially want this client.


Jan. 16th, 2012 09:34 am
frandroid: A key enters the map of Palestine (palestine)
Palestine as the Pale of Settlement.


frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)

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