Friday, March 30, 2007

The bell tolls for proper writing

Yes, you will all have to suffer through another schoolmarmish post by me.

I'm sure I have mentioned in the past that I believe the internet is the death knell of grammar and proper writing. Upon further reflection, I have concluded that this is not the case.

The rise of the net is great in that there is such a wealth of information readily accessible by anyone. Remember the days when research meant going to the library and looking through periodicals? Remember waiting for the next day's newspaper for sports scores and stats (or the day after that for a night game)? The internet is great for many things except for the fact is also has the unfortunate side-effect of giving every ordinary joe a voice.
(Clearly, this could be considered somewhat ironic because I myself am an ordinary joe spouting my opinions as facts online. At the very least, claiming people shouldn't have a voice is the height of hubris on my part, feeling my opinions are more valid than others'. Well, tough. Live with it.)

Spelling and grammatical mistakes really bother me. I'm not talking about simple typos, either. I myself am guilty of inadvertent errors. Nobody is perfect. Rather, I mean all those who write poorly but don't know that what they write is improper. This begets a terrible ouroboros of linguistic deficiency. How will people learn the language when all they are exposed to is an ersatz version?

The following really grind my gears:
-should of/would of (which doesn't even make sense, people! Come on, think for a second!)

As mentioned up top, I have reached a new conclusion. My cause and effect theory that the internet is causing poor language skills is somewhat backwards. Yes, if people have the net as their only source of reading, they will have a skewed idea of English. However, I believe that people were always bad at grammar and vocabulary. It's just that, in the past, the only reading we would do would be from books and magazines, sources that went through an editor to be cleaned up before reaching our eyes. The advent of self-publishing on the net bypasses the screening process, allowing people to post their ignorance unfettered.

Moral of the story: please, everyone, read proper books. And lots of them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The winds of change

The results on Monday's provincial were surprising. I figured there would be a Liberal minority with the ADQ second but not as strongly as they were. It's a big story followed by the other big story: the PQ is now a third place party, garnering their lowest popular vote percentage since 1970.

I can only see this as a rejection of the PQ and their antiquated ideas. This trend began in the last federal election when the Conservatives had surprising success in Quebec, to the Bloc's detriment. As the most right-wing party in the province, the ADQ is enjoying similar gains. They took many votes from the Liberals as well but I feel the PQ should be worried more.

The PQ is showing itself to be a generational party. The old guard is gone or leaving and they have trouble attracting the younger people now. The romantic vision of a separate Quebec is seeming more antiquated with people. The PQ somewhat know this and certain segments of it pushed André Boisclair into leadership, figuring he's young and could connect with the youth of the province. They were wrong.

Boisclair has shown himself to be incredibly arrogant and out of touch with people. Pollster Jean-Marc Leger said to the Gazette on March 2nd, "The PQ was so eager for generational change, for a changing of the guard, that they didn't look at the type of individual they were electing." Forget that he's gay, the fact that Boisclair admitted to doing cocaine while in office apparently did not go over too well with most people. This is the point they needed to hook the youth of Quebec and instead, they lost most of them to the ADQ.

Meanwhile Mario Dumont, who has been around for ever but is only 36 years old, led an incredible surge for the ADQ. Psychologically, this is huge for them. It shows the public that they can be a real contender now. He'll probably prop up the Liberal government for 3 years or so, until his team of newbies gets experience. After that point, I can see the ADQ forming the next government of the province, with Liberals second and the PQ falling further behind in the rearview and into irrelevance.

All this means we'll likely have another federal election very shortly, with the Conservatives probably winning a majority by building on their gains last time and cleaning up the new ADQ ridings in Quebec. As for locally, this means we can finally debate real issues and politics to improve our lives instead of wasting so much breath, ink and energy about a hypocritical and economically devastating pursuit such as sovereignty.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Too angry to study

I was sitting at my desk, working, when a heavy bass beat started arousing my curiosity. I'm on the 11th floor, so I figured something big was happened. I glance out the window and there was a demonstration going on outside.

A procession of angry students playing loud music was going westwards on de Maisonneuve, protesting tuition rates. That got my ire up.

Quebec has the lowest tuition on the continent. As a result, our universities are poorly funded and good professors don't want to teach here. Yet, this bunch of beatniks want to keep it that way. I don't understand how they can protest a raise in tuition (that our system is ever so thirsty for) and yet still spend $5 on a coffee at Second Cup. And let's not forget the benjamins they spend on beer. Let me get this straight...So they have enough money to blow on luxuries but when it comes to their education, they don't want to drop any coins? Utter madness and highly illogical.

As an aside, you'll often notice that student protesters never come from engineering or medicine or other faculties where students are required to do much work. Protesters are mostly composed of Environmental Studies students or some rubbish that will result in not having a job after graduation.

Feel free to disagree with me but I feel tuitions should indeed go up, just as long as we're assured the extra money makes it to the schools and not the government's pockets.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Monday is a red letter day!

This coming Monday is a day of import. There is an election.

However, that's not the truly important part.

The moment I heard there will be an election in March, one question popped into my mind: what about my tv shows?

Yes, Mondays are a packed day of tv watching for me and I feared Global would preempt mah fayv'rit stah-rees with election coverage. What of the penultimate episode of hyper-unrealistic yet pretty fun Prison Break? What of my usual routine of watching Battlestar Galactica on Mondays (it's the season finale this week, people!). And most importantly, what of Jack? He's more than halfway through his sixth miserable day. I can't abandon him in favour of the curly-haired bore, the coke-head and the kid who's just happy not to eat at the kid's table anymore.

Thankfully, Global felt the fear of the people and is running ads assuring us, the unwashed, tv-huddled plebeians, that election coverage will not replace the regular programming; rather, it will be inserted into the commercial breaks. Another victory for the case of Escapism v. Reality.

My roundabout point? I watch entirely too much television (however, not nearly as much as I used to as a kid...what was I doing watching Night Court when I was like 10 years old?).

Speaking of Night Court, who doesn't love the theme?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Yeux fermés

In case you weren't paying attention (or you exclusively read the French media), PQ leader André Boisclair mentioned how surprised he was to see so many students with "les yeux bridés" (slanting eyes) during his time at Harvard. In the English media, everyone was crying fowl but besides a minor peep on the French side, there was hardly a mention of it. Only in Quebec can someone admit to using cocaine while in office, then make a racist remark, refuse to apologize and still be running as the leader of a major party.

Worse still is that this opened Boisclair up to easy political dismemberment. As a gay man, Boisclair should be more sensitive to using potentially offensive words. Yet, his opponents didn't attack him. In fact, they almost excused him. It seems to me Quebec is truly an intolerant place. The majority of my friends are not "Quebecois", in the way the locals would characterize themselves; in fact, most of my friends are those very people Boisclair described as slanted eyed.

The worse part, however, is not the use of that term. Sticks and stones and all that jazz. No, the worst part is what he's implying by the comment. He says he was surprised to see so many Asians at Harvard. Essentially, he's saying, "wow, can you believe these Asians are out getting educated and not making me food/drying my clothes/doing my nails?". His narrow view of what Asians are capable of doing is the truly offensive part of his comment.

Now, I would never have voted PQ ever anyway but this just solidifies it. Along with Parizeau's post-referendum comments, it's becoming clear the PQ is an us-and-them gang where non-French Quebecers are not welcome. Frankly, do I even want to be accepted by these people?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

To add or not to add: Facebook etiquette

I was discussing the Facebook phenomenon with some friends recently and we can't quite decide what the etiquette is when adding new friends.

I'm sure all you facebookers out there know the situation. You're looking through a group you belong to or perhaps the friends of friends and you see someone you haven't spoken to since high school. You really weren't good friends with that person but they're there. What to do? To add or not to add. That's the question.

Or maybe the opposite has happened to you. Someone out of the clear blue adds you. That person isn't really your friend. In fact, you've hardly had any conversations with him/her. Do you add this person? Or what if it's a complete stranger who claims to know you? Someone did try adding me lately, claiming I went to school with her. I have no memory of this girl so I did not accept. No offense, strange girl, but I simply don't remember you.

So I throw this out to my faithful (few?) regular readers: what is your policy regarding facebook invites? Do you just add anyone, thinking you can possibly gain new friends out of it or are you tight-fisted with the acceptance of invitations?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Weather or not?

I am not a fan of this time of year. Today, it will hit 11 degrees but next week, it will be -11? A swing of 22 degrees in the span of a week? Where do we live? It's like someone is rolling a D30 and randomly setting the temp for the day.

Aside: Hmmmm...the D30, however, would not account for the +/- of the temperature. A coin must also be flipped, heads +, tails -. Yeah, that would work. Done. I congratulate myself.

It wasn't that long ago that is was -38 with the wind chill. In fact, it was last week. This is madness! (This is Sparta?)

My oft-mentioned theory is that when they settled this place, it was definitely in the middle of summer. They showed up, felt the heat and built houses. Then, winter fell like a narcoleptic sumo wrestler after cleaning out an Asian buffet. Many people died, there were not enough men to man the ships and in the corner, the Natives just laughed, while walking around in their pimped out caribou-fur coats (of course, the settlers got their revenge in the form of infected blankets and firewater). Fast-forward many years and people are still here, out of habit, more than anything.

I think I lost my focus for a minute there. My point is, I don't like the slush outside. It's absolutely filthy. Plus, this odd period of transition wreaks havoc with the wardrobe. Do I put away my winter coat? After work is too warm for it but the mornings remain cool.

Oh and another thing in this increasingly disjointed post. This time of year really stinks due to the lack of holidays. New Year's Day was the last day off until Easter, more than 3 months later. How dare they? I propose at least one holiday per month.

In short, January-April blows.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Just to remind you of diversity

Since expanded to include all internet users (instead of only students) last September, the site really exploded. Within a day or two of registering, dozens of people found and added me. It's a really fun and organized way to link up with people you know or knew. And their photo uploading system is apparently the most popular photo hosting service currently on the net. You can join different groups and organize your friends through how you met them. It's great.

Now, it is missing one function. Much like Stephen Colbert, I don't see race. People tell me Kenny is Chinese or Chris is black or I'm...miscellaneous; I have to believe them. But this way, I have to rely on other people to tell me. Sometimes a situation comes up where I need the insight of members of other races for information or advice. But since I cannot tell their race, I don't know what to do. So I propose the following:

All your friends are divided by race. That way you can tell you're racist just by seeing you only have 1 member in "Black Friends". Personally, I'm told my "Asian Friends" section would be overwhelmed. But this way, at a quick glance you can tell who you know is Asian, Black, Brown, White, etc. People of mixed race: no free pass. You can't belong to two groups. Pick a side.

Well, what do you people think? Good idea? Bad idea? Does this post make me horribly racist? You decide. But only after figuring out what category I would be in. West Asian?