banner photo:

"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bob Rae for NDP leader

I have a modest proposal for the now-leaderless federal NDP: Why not consider Bob Rae for your new leader? This option has several attractive benefits:
  • It would finally cement Rae's reputation as a shameless political opportunist. He's a Dipper! No, wait - he's a Liberal! No, wait ...
  • It would confirm that Liberals have no coherent political ideology other than gaining and retaining power.
  • It would be a shining example of what would await the country if (shudder) the federal NDP ever forms a government. The campaign slogans practically write themselves: "Vote NDP & let Bob Rae do for the country what he did for Ontario!"
  • The sparring between Rae as Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister Harper would make Question Period worth watching again. Imagine Darth Harper rising in the House in awful majesty, all dark clouds and thunderbolts, fixing his evil eye on the helpless rebels gathered around Rae on the opposition benches - the thought makes me giggle like a little girl.
Come on, Dippers - put aside partisan politics and do this for the country. We look to you in our hour of need.

RELATED: File this under "I wish I'd written that" - John Ivison of the National Post, writing in an editorial about Rae's leadership of the Liberal Party: "Satire will die the day Canadians flock to support Bob Rae on a ticket of prosperity and economic growth."

[Image stolen from Stephen Taylor]

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Stupid is as stupid does

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal asks the question Is Obama Smart?. An excerpt:
Of course, it's tempting to be immodest when your admirers are so immodest about you. How many times have we heard it said that Mr. Obama is the smartest president ever? Even when he's criticized, his failures are usually chalked up to his supposed brilliance. Liberals say he's too cerebral for the Beltway rough-and-tumble; conservatives often seem to think his blunders, foreign and domestic, are all part of a cunning scheme to turn the U.S. into a combination of Finland, Cuba and Saudi Arabia.

I don't buy it. I just think the president isn't very bright.

Socrates taught that wisdom begins in the recognition of how little we know. Mr. Obama is perpetually intent on telling us how much he knows. Aristotle wrote that the type of intelligence most needed in politics is prudence, which in turn requires experience. Mr. Obama came to office with no experience. Plutarch warned that flattery "makes itself an obstacle and pestilence to great houses and great affairs." Today's White House, more so than any in memory, is stuffed with flatterers.

Much is made of the president's rhetorical gifts. This is the sort of thing that can be credited only by people who think that a command of English syntax is a mark of great intellectual distinction. Can anyone recall a memorable phrase from one of Mr. Obama's big speeches that didn't amount to cliché? As for the small speeches, such as the one we were kept waiting 50 minutes for yesterday, we get Triple-A bromides about America remaining a "Triple-A country." Which, when it comes to long-term sovereign debt, is precisely what we no longer are.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Fighting back against wi-fi squatters

I was in a Starbucks in Belleville, Ontario a couple of days ago, sipping my latte and reading a paper copy of the National Post (I know - how delightfully old-fashioned) when a young woman in her mid-twenties walked up to my table and made a request. "Excuse me, sir," she said, "I have to use my laptop and you're sitting at a table near an electrical outlet. I wonder if you would move to another table?" I looked at her in slack-jawed amazement. The shop was packed, largely with young people hogging tables with their laptops and taking advantage of the store's free wi-fi while nursing a single coffee for hours and hours. I looked at her with one eyebrow raised to hopefully convey my annoyance and said "Are you going to find me another table?" She said "Well, there aren't any other tables." I responded "Well, I guess I'm not moving then." She sighed and shuffled off.

These wi-fi parasites are getting out of hand. Try getting a seat in the Starbucks in Indigo Books on Princess Street in Kingston - day in and day out the tables are full of Queen's students doing their homework just a few blocks away from a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art library on a campus where every building (including the residences where they actually live) has free wi-fi. And yet they camp out all day in a public coffee shop crowding out the paying customers while they incessantly update their Facebook profiles and tweet each other. I once had to eat a sandwich there while perched on a window ledge.

So, imagine my delight when I read that some Starbucks stores in New York are fighting back:
They’re called Starbucks “squatters.” You know, those folks with their laptops who take all the seats and never seem to leave.

But, as CBS 2′s Scott Rapoport, reports the coffee house giant has a plan brewing to fix that.

You know how some Starbucks customers and their computers like to make a permanent home in the coffee emporium, hogging up all the seats for hours, mooching off the free Wi-Fi and preventing you from sitting down and enjoying the latte you paid $5 for?

Well, now some Starbucks in New York City are reportedly pulling the plug on that idea, actually covering up their electrical outlets to discourage squatters.

“Customers are asking (for it). They just purchased a latte and a pastry and there is nowhere to sit down in some of these high-volume stores,” Starbucks spokesperson Alan Hilowitz said.

“People actually live here. You know what I’m saying?” added Alan Glowko of Astoria.

It is a move that has some Starbucks regulars saying … it’s about time.

“If there’s no more space to sit, they should get up and leave,” said Katie Krug of Burlington, Vt.

“I mean, you can’t use their electricity for like eight hours. I mean honestly,” Glowko added.
Memo to Tim Horton's management: the day you install free wi-fi in your coffee shops is the day when civilization will finally collapse.