Archive for May, 2009

09w22:1 Shakespeare's Blog XIX

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May 25th
And yet the strangeness is that they may feed both my hungers best by showing those hungers so clearly separate and apart. For soul and body can never be fed toegther for all our pretence of the unity of love. For love is one word but many things; love is a unity only in the word. With her I find the beast’s heaven which is the angel’s hell; with him, the body’s hunger now able to be set aside, there is that most desirable of sorts of love, that which Plato did hymn. And then the devil with me says: Yet thou dost admire his beauty of form, it is an impure love. I dream of our somehow gravely dancing a pavane or sarabande, all three, in whose movement the reconciling of the beast and the angel may, in myself, be accomplished. I would, in some manner, wish to share her with him, him with her, but perhaps only a poet may think in these high terms, not understandable of either the soul (giver) or body (taker). And so I wait to be told that I lose both a mistress and a friend.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p.156-157)

09w21:3 Shakespeare's Blog Part XVIII

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May 20th
Well, there is no way out, for I must obey my lord and ring-giver. She has been leaping and cavorting and high lavoltaing these last days with the knowledge of what she sees as her entrance into the great world now coming in a trumpet-and-banner and livery-glittering barge-feast, Harry and his friends and their ladies (ah, they have learnt; I taught them; LLL was Learn Learn Learn) swan-sailing Greenwichwards with the kits soaring over in the unblemished May heavens. And so it is. Poor Will very sober-suited but she in a sort of flame-satin stepping aboard. Oh, Lord P and Sir Ned T and the Earl of K are much taken, the rose-and-cream ladies envious and shifting their best malice at this russet innocent from the land of four-footed men and women and their things cut at a strange slant. They mock her dis and dat and de udder ting, but she is brownly cool while they sweat. The lords surround her, bringing her slices of goose-breast in sharp sauce, veal-shape, a flawn on a silver dish. To H she flashes black eyes and teeth like serried snow-gums; his eye burns, drawn to, transfixed in, her brown bosom. I see his long fingers, all crusted fire, scratch at their palm. I see the two of them, in my fever, lying together, lordly silver moving in kingly measure upon queenly gold. He has not forgotten Willobie and Avisa, the Islington trick; he knows he is at libert any time to buy something with his thousand pound. Day’s end in torchlight, the rowers’ slower strokes, cob and pen and cygnets a preen or a sleep of silver, the kites no longer disfiguring the empurpled May heavens. The madrigalists sing of a silver swan, each voice married in perfection to a correspondent viol in a consort of viols. It is she has put hand in his.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p.155-156)

09w21:1 A History of Earth, in 2171

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From Greg Bear’s Moving Mars (1993)

History of the Earth

From the perspective of 2171

Context: By the late 22nd Century (2170s) the 21st Century is of course a well understood historical epoch. Cassia Mujamadar, in an interview with the Thinker Alice, is required to narrate this history.

I cautiously threaded my way through a brief history, conscious of Alice’s immense memory, and my necessarily simple-appraisal of a complex subject.

By the end of the 20th Century, international corporations had as much influence in Earth’s affairs as governments. Earth was undergoing its first dataflow revolution; information had become as important as raw materials and manufacturing potential. By mid-21, nanotechnology factories were inexpensive; nano recyclers could provide raw materials from garbage; data and design reigned supreme.

The fiction of separate nations and government control was maintained, but increasingly, political decisions were made on the basis of economic benefit, not national pride. Wars declined, the labour market fluctuated widely as developing countries joined in – exacerbated by nano and other forms of automation – and through most of the dataflow world a class of therapied, superfit workers arose, highly skilled and self-confident professionals who demanded an equal say with corporate boards.

In the early teens of twenty-one, new techniques of effective psychological therapy began to transform Earth culture and politics. Therapied individuals, as a new mental rather than economic class, behaved differently. Beyond the expected reduction in extreme and destructive behaviors, the therapied proved more facile and adaptable, effectively more intelligent and therefore more skeptical. They evaluated political, philosophical, and religious claims according to their own standards of evidence. They were not “true believers.” Nevertheless, they worked with others – even the untherapied – easily and efficiently. The slogan of those who advocated therapy was, “A sane society is a polite society”.

With the economic unification of most nations by 2070, pressure on the untherapied to remove the kinks and dysfunctions of nature and nurture became almost unbearable. Those with inadequate psychological profiles found full employment more and more elusive.

By the end of twenty-one, the underclass of untherapied made up about half of he human race, yet created less than a tenth of the world economic product.

Nations, cultures, political groups, had to accommodate the therapied to survive. The changes were drastic, even cruel for some, but far less cruel than previous tides in history. As Alice reminded me, the result was not the death of political or religious organization, as some had anticipated – it was a rebirth of sorts. New, higher standards, philosophies, and religions developed.

As individuals changed, so did group behaviour change. At the same time, in a feedback relationship, the character of world commerce changed. At first, nations and major corporations tried to keep their old, separate privileges and independence. But by the last decades of twenty-one, international corporations, owned and directed by therapied labour and closely allied managers, controlled the world economy beneath a veneer of national democratic governments. Out of tradition – the accumulated mass of cultural wishful thinking – certain masques were maintained; but clear-seeing individuals and groups had no difficulty recognizing the obvious.

The worker-owned corporations recognized common economic spheres. Trade and taxation were regulated across borders, currencies standardized, credit nets extended worldwide. Economics became politics. The new reality was formalized in the supra-national alliances.

GEWA – the Greater East-West Alliance – encompassed North America, most of Asia and Southeast Asia, India, and Pakistan. The Greater Southern Hemisphere Alliance, or GSHA – pronounced Jee-shah -absorbed Australia, South America, New Zealand, and most of Africa. Eurocon grew out of the European Economic Community, with the addition of the Baltic and Balkan States, Russia, and the Turkic Union.

Non-aligned countries were found mostly in the Middle East and North Africa, in nations that had slipped past both the industrial and dataflow revolutions.

By the beginning of the 22nd Century, many Earth governments forbade the untherapied to work in sensitive jobs, unless they qualified as high naturals – people who did not require therapy to meet the new standards. And the definition of a sensitive job became more and more inclusive.

There were only rudimentary Lunar and Martian settlements then, with stringent requirements for settlers; no places for misfits to hide. The romance of settling Mars proved so attractive that organizers could be extremely selective, rejecting even the therapied in favour of high naturals. They made up the bulk of settlers.

All settlements in the young Triple accepted therapy; most rejected mandatory therapy, the new tyranny of Earth. […]

I wondered what it had been like to live in a world of kinks and mental dust. I asked Alice how she visualized such a world.

“Very interesting, and far more dangerous,” she answered. “In a way there was a greater variety in human nature. Unfortunately, much of the variety was ineffective or destructive”.

“Have you been therapied?” I asked.

She laughed. “Many times. It is a routine function of a thinker to undergo analysis and therapy. Have you?” […] [p.121-124]

Alice described in words and graphic projection an Earth rapidly approaching 90% agreement in spot plebiscites – the integration of most individual goals. Dataflow would give individuals equal access to key information. Humans would be redefined as units within a greater thinking organism, the individuals being at once integrated -reaching agreement rapidly on solutions to common problems – but autonomous, accepting diversity of opinion and outlook.

I wanted to ask, What diversity? Everybody agrees! but Alice clearly had higher, mathematical definitions for which these words were mere approximations. The freedom to disagree would be strongly defended, on the grounds that even an integrated and informed society could make mistakes. However, rational people were more likely to choose direct and uncluttered pathways to solutions. My Martian outlook cried out in protest. “Sounds like beehive political oppression,” I said.

“Perhaps, but remember, we are modeling a dataflow culture. Diversity and autonomy within political unity”.

“Smaller governments respond to individuals more efficiently. If everybody is unified, and you disagree with the status quo, but can’t escape to another system of government – is that really freedom?”

“In the world-wide culture of Earth, dataflow allows even large governments to respond quickly to the wishes of individuals. Communication between tiers of the organization is nearly instantaneous, and constant”.

I said that seemed a bit optimistic.

“Still, plebiscites are rapid. Dataflow encourages humans to be informed and to discuss problems. Augmented by their own enhancements, which will soon be as powerful as thinkers, every tier of the human organization acts as a massive processor for evaluating and determining world policy. Dataflow links individuals in parallel, so to speak. Eventually, human groups and thinkers could be so integrated as to be indistinguishable.

“At that point, such a society exceeds my modeling ability,” Alice concluded.

“Group mind,” I said sardonically. “I don’t want to be there when that happens.”

“It would be intriguing,” Alice said. “There would always remain the choice to simulate isolation as an individual.” [p.125-126]

As we climbed through the cylinder, from the observation deck to the forward boom control walkway, Orianna told me about Earth fashions in clothes. “I’ve been out of it fro two years of course, ” she said, “But I like to think I’m still tuned. And I keep up with the vids”.

“So what are they wearing?” I asked.

“Formal and frilly. Greens and lace. Masks are out this year, except for floaters – projected masks with personal icons. Everybody’s off pattern projection, though. I liked pattern projection. You could wear almost nothing and still be discreet.”

“I can redo my wardrobe. I’ve brought enough raw cloth”.

Orianna made a face. “This year, expect fixed outfits, not nano-shaped. Old fabric is best. Tattered is wonderful. We’ll dig through the recycle shops. The shredbare look is very pos. Nano fake is beyond deviance.”

“Do I have to be in fashion?”

“Abso not! It’s drive to ignore. I switch from loner to slave every few months when I’m at home”.

“Terries will expect a red rabbit to be trop retro, no?”

Orianna smiled in friendly pity. “With that speech, you’re fulfilled already. Just listen to me, and you’ll slim the current.”

[…] “You still say ‘trop shink’ on Mars. That’s asbo neg, mid twenty-one. Sounds like Chaucer to Terries. If you don’t drive multilingual, and you’d better not try unless you wear an enhancement, best to speak straight-up early twenty-two. Everyone understands early twenty-two, unless you’re glued to French or German, or Dutch. They ridge on anything about twenty years old fro drive standard. Chinese love about eight kinds of Europidgin, but hit them in patrie, and they revert to twenty Putonghua. Russian – ”

“I’ll stick with English.”

“Still safe,” she said. [p. 155-156]

My Earth studies and conversations with Alice had left me with the impression of a flawless society, cool and efficient. But what I head in conversation with Orianna seemed to contradict this. There were great disagreements between Terries; nations within GEWA and its southern equivalent, GSHA, arguing endlessly, clashing morality systems as populations from one country traded places with others – a popular activity in late [21]70s. Some populations – Islam Fatimites, Green Idaho Christians, Mormons, Wahabi Saudis, and others – maintained stances that would be conservative even on Mars, clinging stubbornly to their cultural identities in the face of Earth-wide criticism.

Paleo-Christians in Green Idaho, practically a nation unto itself within the United States, had declared the rights of women to be less than those of men. Women fought to have their legal powers and rights reduced, despite opposition from all other states. On the reverse, in Fatamite Morocco and Egypt, men sought to glorify the image of women, whom they regarded as Chalices of Mohammad. In Greater Albion, formerly the United Kingdom, adult transforms who had regressed in apparent age to children were forbidden to hold political office, creating a furor I could hardly begin to untangle. And in Florida, defying regulations, some humans transformed themselves into shapes similar to marin mammals … And to pay for it, organized Sex in the Sea exhibits for tourists.

In language, the greatest craze of the [21]60s and [21]70s was invented language. Mixing old tongues, inventing new, mixing music and words electronically so that one could not tell where tones left off and phonemes began, creating visual languages that wrapped speakers in projected, complex symbols, all seemed designed to separate and not bring together. Yet enhancements were available that were tuned to the New Lingua Nets or NLN. Installing the NLN enhancements through nano surgery, one could understand virtually any language, natural or invented, and even think in their vernacular.

The visual languages seemed especially drive in the [21]70s. In GEWA alone, seventy visual languages had been created. The most popular was used by more than four and a half billion people.

Despite what Alice had said, it didn’t sound at all integrated to me. To a Martian, even to a native like Orianna, Earth seemed diverse, bewildering, crazy.

But to Alice, Earth was entering the early stages of a new kind of history. [p157-159]

09w20:3 Shakespeare's Blog Part XVII

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May 14th
This afternoon I must to act. It is but the part of Antonio is The Two Gentlemen. Speaking to Proteus I say:

Muse not that I thus suddenly proceed;
For what I will, I will, and there an end.
I am resolv’d that thou shalt spend some time
With Valentinus in the Emperor’s court.

And Proteus, my son, that is Dick Burbage, stands grinning there. I would shout at him: Tell me, tell me whether it be true. Here is the platform of truth and nakedness, I will have none of thy lying. Wert thou with her or no? And so I forgot the line following and must be prompted by the bookholder. Then my shame near makes me shiver with an ague. I look out on grinning faces among the groundlings – few, very few, they like not this play well – and up at the wooden heavens and back at the curtained study and think perhaps I am dead and already a ghost. Then I think I hear whispering and laughter from a sidebox: it is she, it is she with another. This will not do, it cannot be supported, I must purge her out. But I know I may not.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p.155)

09w20:2 Shakespeare's Blog Part XV

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May 11th
To her to rail, to beat, near-kill. She screams, her wrists cracking in my gripe, that she has done naught wrong but she will do wrong an she wishes. I rip at her bodice, tear, wrench, gnash, chew. Her maid, fearful for her mistress’s safety, batters the locked door but I shriek terrible curses and she departs going oh oh, fearful for the safety of herself. The transports I now enter are a burning hell of pleasure. If before we have soared and flown, now we burrow, eyes and noseholes and snoring mouths filled with earth and worms and scurrying atomies, all of which are transformed to a heavy though melting jelly of pounded red flesh mixed with wine. We dig with pioneering wings down towards the fire that is the whole earth’s centre, nub, coyant, meaning. At the seventh approach to dying, my loins scraped raw, she sinking to a howling sweat-gleaming brown-gold phantom, I fancy that the ceiling opens as by some quaint shutter-device to reveal a pearl intaglio heaven, watching, bright-eyed like a pack of foxes, God the Father beard-stroking (party-beard), saints with uncouth names like devils all about – St Anguish, St Cithegrande, St Ishak, St Rosario, St Knipple, St Pogue, plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne. Leaping around the bed is a cherub-demon that is Mr WH, crying do this and that and more, I would learn, I would be shown. I show him. And after, in a cold and rainy May evening, I sit in mine own lodgings feeling truly in a wretched dim hell of mine own making, spent, used, shameless, shameful.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p.154-155)

09w20:1 Shakespeare's Blog Part XV

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May 10th
In fair spring weather he comes to say how faithless lovely boys can be. This one (Pip he calls him) that had all his heart has treacherously gone over to my lord T, drawn by some pretty bauble. But, I tell him, loving is all fear: from loving to losing is but he change of a letter.

-Aye, with women too, he says. Merrylegs all. Your own doxy is only a unicorn for her colour.

-Meaning? (A great fear blew in upon me).

-We in Europe cannot govern what a woman shall do, any more than a boy. The Grand Turk locks her up in is seraglio, eunuchs armfolding portily before the portal. We cannot.

-Your particular meaning?

-I thought I saw your Dick Burbage in a carriage with her. She cannot wash off that colour. Veiled, but a brown arm taking a posy from a flowerseller.

-This is a trick to make me jealous and angry. (I have de flowers on me; I cannot see dee today den.)

-Is she your wife? Have you claims on her?

-I give the false bitch money.

-My money that would be, in a manner. Well. But there is no signing of any indenture.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p.153-154)

09w18:3 Full Disclosure

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Michael Ignatieff listening to Isaiah Berlin tell a story about Ludwig Wittgenstein, from his 1995 interview broadcast on BBC in 1998. (YouTube)

Taking the Go Train home on Saturday 26 February 2005 (I had been at that afternoon’s panel discussion put on by the Canadian Art Foundation which I reviewed for BlogTo) I picked up that day’s National Post lying on the seat in front of me. I came across Peter C. Newman’s article on Michael Ignatieff regarding his keynote speech at the upcoming Liberal convention. The article suggested that Ignatieff’s long-term goal was to become the party’s leader and by extension a potential Prime Minister.

The following Thursday (3 March 2005) I saw Darren O’Donnell’s A Suicide-Site Guide to the City , and afterward went to a C Magazine launch on College St. That afternoon, four RCMP had been killed in Mayerthorpe Alberta. The day was already full of Canadian content, and so perhaps I was already primed to appreciate Ignatieff’s speech & vision for the country. I had a midnight snack with CPAC on and the speech mid-way through, I later shifted to the couch to finish watching it. Before retiring I put a tape in the VCR to let it run overnight, to catch the repeat.

With that in hand, I ripped the audio and made the transcription that I posted on Goodreads. Ignatieff had first come prominently to my attention in 2000 when he delivered that year’s Massey Lectures (I remember listening to one as I drove in the November rain) but even at that time I was already vaguely aware of him, having read the Globe & Mail review of his 1998 biography on Isaiah Berlin. Through the speech and the background I thought Prime Minister Ignatieff would be a good thing.

As I’ve written previously, part of this was the idea that ‘Canada deserves to have a Massey Lecturer as Prime Minister’. But that’s just my bias for intellectual public figures asserting itself. Privately, I share the reservations of many: that he’s an expat who left only to return when it suited his ambition. That he advocated for the Iraq war (writing in The New York Times using the ‘we’ implying he was an American citizen) and that he’s been an Imperial apologist through his ‘lesser evil‘ arguments. However, it would still be nice to have a Prime Minister who thinks out loud, rather than those who do not seem to think at all, yes?

So, at some point in early 2006, I went on the Ignatieff website and sent them a note, offering to volunteer toward his campaign. I got no response whatsoever, not even a email list auto-responder message. However, on 5 September 2006, while I was browsing in Ten Editions bookstore on Spadina, my cell phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. My hesitant hello was matched with a female voice asking me to be a delegate for Ignatieff in Montreal’s November convention. I was like, uh, ok. What does that mean?

I was told that it wouldn’t cost me a dime, and at that point they merely wanted to put my name on the ballot in my riding. The Liberals would be voting for delegates, and elected delegates would then go on to Montreal. There was some paperwork. I was like, ok, cool, whatever.

My walk to the train station that evening was filled with thoughts of destiny by way of the weirdness of out of the blue phone calls that can change your life. I had literally be called to join to Liberal party and have politics become part of my experience. I kind of wanted that happen. I had thought about joining the party the previous June in order to vote for Iggy. I’d decided against it, but now it was back as a request.

Because I had a September 13th deadline, I joined the party via the Liberal website on Monday 11 September. (What I has always seemed odd to me was that I never received any form of official documentation stating that I was a member of the Liberal party. I think my membership expired the following year, but I’m not sure). There were forms I was asked to fax. I told my contact that I could easily drop them off at the headquarters.

I did the paperwork and dropped off the forms on Wednesday the 13th at the Ignatieff campaign headquarters on Bloor St. While walking down the street I saw the poster for The Fountain against a building, put there for the film festival, and sparking my interest in seeing it when it was released later that November.

At the headquarters, the girl who I’d dealt with over the phone was pretty and polished and this further gave me thoughts that maybe my life was changing for the better – I’d start to meet really interesting people who are involved with politics rather than the cultural scene. The prospect of going to the convention seemed exciting; I’d have a chance to participate in a small moment of the country’s history, like being at the convention which elected Trudeau.

The delegate election was set for September 30th. I’d emailed my contact at the campaign headquarters asking if I needed to attend, because I had a scheduling conflict – this being that weekend’s Copy Camp at the Ryerson University Campus. I was told it wasn’t necessary.

Personal monetary issues where also on my mind. At the end of September I began what would turn out to be a year-long temp-assignment with TD Bank. With my email-list background, and with a list of Liberals in my riding provided by the campaign, I drafted a letter to them on a notepad during my first day at the bank, while waiting to get settled. I set up the email list on my server but never sent the message, realizing that it really wasn’t worth my time.

Also, I had gotten a phone call from another Ignatieff candidate in my riding who seemed a social-austic. We had a nice chat, and I told him why I was supporting Ignatieff, and when I asked him for his last name, he asked me why I wanted to know. Uh, I don’t know, because it’s polite? (This is what Ignatieff’s is attracting?!) In the end, Gerrard Kennedy’s delegates won, but I didn’t find this out for two weeks. (Professional communication, FTW).

On October 18th, I wrote a friend:

And did I mention before that I was running in the Ignatieff Liberal Leadership campaign as a delegate? The process was the Liberal party members elect delegates to go to Montreal for the convention – the election was Sept 30 and I only found out on Monday [October 16th] that I lost. I was hoping to get 0 votes but I don’t know the tally. I’m just glad I can sort of ignore the Liberal email stuff from now on. My taste of it was not impressive. I thought going to Montreal would be awesome, and was led to believe the whole thing could have been subsidized, but it turns out that wasn’t entirely true. Attending the convention alone cost $1000, and to ’subsidize it’ they suggested hosting a fundraising dinner, where you could get ‘family & friends’ to donate $500 to $25 and have Mr. Ignatieff talk to them afterward. Like any of my family & friends care! And I’d hate to hit them up that way. I got a good impression of how disorganized and unprofessional they were, which was at the same time, not a good impression.

Here it becomes easy to acknowledge the inherent corruption within the democratic process that party politics represents. It is very much a pay-to-play system than in the end cannot truly represent the citizens who do not want or cannot pay to be a part of it.

At some point between mid-October and late-November, I got another phone call from the campaign, asking if I’d still like to go to the convention. I returned the call in the lobby of my building at the TD Centre. Biopic: the scene consists of I pacing while framed by Mies Van Der Rohe’s windows with my Nokia at my right ear; my dialogue: ‘I cannot make the time nor can I afford it, so no, I am not interested in being a delegate in Montreal’. Sound of regret, (and I must say, the evident desperation that I was even being asked) on their end.

Skip now to the first days of December 2006: I watched the convention on CBC that weekend. I remember seeing Bob Rae look amazed when one of the drop-outs came over to his side. I remember seeing the two-channel shot of Ignatieff vs Dion while they awaited the final count, this shot also projected in the convention centre, and thus keeping both men pinned to their chairs while the count was being officiated; the voice-over commentary saying it was cruel. The cruelty being that Stephane Dion had won but they were awaiting the count to be formalized and the announcement prepared. It was known because it word-of-mouthed on the convention floor during the interim. I believe it was Susan Bonar who reported that Jean Chriten was seen checking his Blackberry and showing his wife, who mouthed ‘Stephane!?’

From my Journal, 2 December 2006:

5.17pm, awaiting the announcement of the fourth ballot results. The feeling seems to be that Stephane Dion has won the leadership, but we have to wait and see. I’ve had an underlying anxiety all day, I want Ignatieff to win, but at the same time recognize that he’s too much of a rookie. Dion as Liberal Leader? As a Prime Minister? I’m looking forward to this being over so that I can relax. In September I had such a sense of certainty that Ignatieff would become leader.

Back in September, after I dropped off my papers on Bloor St, I met with a friend and we had lunch. During our talk, I said to him, ‘Ignatieff is going to be the leader. I’ve seen it in my crystal ball’. My crystal ball was off by two years, but it’s evident to me that a hundred years of movies have embedded scripts into our thinking to such an extant that once you get the narrative going, it takes on a life of its own. Michael Ignatieff will be Prime Minister of Canada one day. That was decided in 2004, and the media was seeded with this idea by Peter C. Newman’s National Post piece, and an interview in April 2006 in MacLeans (also by Newman), and a profile in the Globe & Mail (which was reprinted last December).

Gerrard Kennedy and his supporters threw sand into the gears of the story when they backed Stephane Dion. Theirs was an attempt to say that democracy should work on merit and occasionally on surprise, not through elites and backroom deals. I, as a newly minted Liberal under dubious circumstances shrugged. Whatever. We have to live with it, not so bad.

6:32pm – Stephane Dion did win. They dragged out the process so that it was announced at about 6pm; Dion is giving his speech but I have the TV on mute and the left-ear bud in since I’m back to working on the transcription. I’m disappointed that the Liberals didn’t see the potential of Ignatieff but there’s nothing one can do.

Maybe it did turn out so bad. So be it, bygones being what they are. However, my crystal ball did not anticipate a Parliamentary insurrection due to the bastard-politicking of Mr. Harper. Stephane Dion, having “lost” (he did not lose, his party simply didn’t get as many members elected to Parliament as the Conservatives) the election, and bungled a coalition attempt, was forced out, and Ignatieff appointed in his place. Thus, my 2006 vision became a reality. Through a back room deal.

A lifetime of Star Trek (and this is written also in light of the release of the latest movie, which was supposed to be released last December) makes me want to speak of alternative time lines here. The Kennedy-Dion alliance in November 2006 seems to have altered history, postponing Ignatieff’s Prime Ministership by a number of years. And so, as part of this fucked-up time line, we have another election won by Conservatives (which wasn’t supposed to happen in 2008), the attempt at coalition (which is never supposed to happen because politics is so cut-throat to forgo cooperation), and the shut-down of Parliament ahead of schedule last December. That whole ‘crisis’ was a series of avoiding should-have-beens.

Which is to say: had Ignatieff become leader in 2006, I doubt Harper would have ‘won’ another election. But Harper did so in October 2008, and then played the scene wrong and brought down the wrath of Parliamentary procedure. Dion is disgraced, and Ignatieff (who should have been just another candidate this weekend, a replay of the Montreal game) is appointed by the party hierarchy. Dion was supposed to remain leader during this time. Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc were supposed to be candidates for the leadership. All this is swept aside. The scripts of a year ago are now trivia in light of the extensive rewrites.

And so, one evening last January while I walked down Yonge St, on my way to catch the streetcar after work, my phone rang with an unrecognized number. It was the Ignateiff campaign calling asking if I’d like to stand as a delegate in Vancouver. By this time I’d already ignored three messages left by them, calling to see if I would be interested (messages which had begun in late December). So, on this call, I told them no. When asked why, I said, because I can’t afford it, I can’t make the time, and it’s just going to be a coronation anyway, so I didn’t see the point.

(From My Blog)