What We Stand to Lose

[NOTE: Recently, Cliff wrote a dynamite piece about the recent stir Jim Prentice kicked up with his impromptu comments on looking in the mirror or tightening belts. Cliff’s stance on how to look at the comments is enlightening. With an election probably looming, I wanted to take an opportunity to inform you as to some things you may not have considered, and probably save your whole way of life. You’re welcome in advance — L]

Coming up to a provincial election, as we seem to be, it is important to keep in mind some very important facts about our provincial government, headed, as it has been these past 44 years, by the Progressive Conservative party.

There are some would have you believe that the Conservatives have mismanaged the financial windfall brought about by our geological money-tree. These people believe that services have been slashed and the so-called Alberta Advantage, if it ever existed in the first place beyond a marketing slogan, has been reduced to a discount on gas because of lower transportation costs.

It’s hard to rebut this argument. Despite the ever-flowing oil, the conservatives have catered to the whims of oil companies, so much so that the chairman of the Alberta Royalty Review, Bill Hunter, said, “Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development and they have not, in fact, been receiving their fair share for some time.” It’s hard to argue that a budget with an extra 2 billion dollars every year would be a lot easier to balance.

Also, some want to say that the PCs have grown complacent, smug, and arrogant in their assurance that they will be in power no matter what.

That’s a fair statement. Given that half of the official opposition caved in and was absorbed by the PCs, along with the fact that they have governed unopposed for 44 years, despite the previous argument, it would be hard to argue with a conservative who held the view that they were untouchable.

The last argument I’ll touch on, that some people use to say that the conservatives should be replaced, is that they’ve become, though a complete lack of accountability, disconnected, disengaged, and unable to relate to Albertans.

I won’t even try to argue this point, just days after Jim Prentice, who gets to be Premier without being elected to the post, told Albertans that we are to blame for the pitiful state of the economy, saying that we “have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs.” As if we did not have to pay for the right to make a living, or the right to live in a place we own, or the right to buy something else, or any number of other dings and dents the government chooses to throw at us. I mean, expecting taxes to go away is like hoping that the sun will keep it down until noon, or your kids will stay young forever — futile and destined for disappointment. They’re a fact of life. But a politician insinuating that we are spoiled children who need to think long and hard about their impetuous squandering of government resources is beyond ludicrous. Out of touch? Absolutely. Unable to relate? It certainly seems so.

You might think, “Liam, you’ve basically made Cliff’s point for him. I thought you were arguing another viewpoint.” Well, I’m not done. And anyway, I haven’t said anything that any Albertan with an internet connection and eyes to see couldn’t have figured out for themselves. But you see, I’ve thought of something you obviously haven’t. Because if you’d thought of it, I wouldn’t have to convince you of anything. You’d know for whom to vote.

The internet, my friends. That’s right. The internet. It’s incredibly useful. Some would say that it has become completely indispensable. I know I would. All the accumulated knowledge of mankind is there at your fingertips, and all you have to do is know how to look for it. And that’s just a facet of the internet. One part of the great mechanism that a lot of people overlook.

It’s made the world a small place. If you want to talk to someone in Mumbai, now you can. You’re a Skype call away. If you want to find the best deal on something, it’s right there. There are stores that go into business without ever having a physical storefront. Amazon makes all its money that way. And the dollars we are talking for that are astronomical.

The internet brings people together in a way that nobody could have foreseen. Hell, my dad, who’s sixty-five this year, posts jokes on Facebook — horribly inappropriate jokes, quite often — for the entertainment of his family and loved ones. He couldn’t do that without the internet. Without the internet, he’d be stuck photocopying his dirty joke and mailing it out to the coast.

Now, I want you to think of the origins of the internet with me. No, not the first two networked computers pinging and ponging back and forth in Al Gore’s twisted imaginings, but the internet that you experienced. For me, it was Alberta Supernet on a Windows 3.11 computer running winsock. I know, I’m an old geek. A lot of you would have suffered through similar trials. Most of you probably only know broadband. Always on, always really fast. Even when it’s slow, it looks like something from science fiction compared to Mosaic over a 2400 baud modem.

No matter what form that internet genesis takes for you, hold it in your head for a second. Now, imagine it gone.

No internet.

No IMs, no FaceTime, no chat, no emails, no net-banking, and no online shopping.

Let that sink in. I know, I know. It’ll be all right — I hope. But really accept the notion of no internet. Got it? Okay. Because think of this:

The last time Alberta was run by a different political party, there was no internet. No Google, serving up your knowledge. No Bing, even. We’re not just talking mobile web, but even the stuff you have to be plugged in for.

Are you ready for a world without internet? Because I sure am not.

The PCs are the only party in Alberta who have handled an internet-capable populace. You think those other bastards know what to do? You think they’re even going to let us keep the internet?

Is it worth the risk, just so that we can have engaged, accountable, responsible government?

Is it?

Think about it, as you sit there, reading something that I’ve written and published WITH THE PUSH OF A BUTTON!

I think you know what you need to do.

Summer Blog Challenge Day 21 Digest

Summer Blog Challenge posts for August 28, 2011

Until tomorrow,
The Management

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Who the hell am I writing this for? Everyone has already seen the movie, read the book, or both.

Maybe I’m writing it for the people who’ve only seen the movie. If that’s the case, I’m only going to say what I would say about any respectable book-to-movie conversion. The movie was pretty faithful to the book, so if you’re looking for new plot lines, you’re bound for disappointment. On the other hand, as is always the case, the book was better. There are depths unplumbed by the movie, again, as always, and the relationships are more fully-realized. Not to mention that the killing in the book is seen as horrible, even the killing of the antagonists — something that the movie doesn’t always get across.

Or maybe I’m writing this review for the next generations, those who are either too young as of this writing, or not born yet and thus unable to read the book or watch the movie. In that case, hello from the past! If you aren’t currently living out your own dystopian present, fighting off Morlocks for a slice of cheese, or trading flash drives for milk, then this book might be of interest to you. There’s action — horrific action — that will make you excited, then guilty at being excited, and maybe a little ill, until you realize that that was the point.

However, if you are living in that future where lives are cheap and food is not, maybe this story will be a fantastical escape that feels like vacation, in between bouts against the Mighty Vorgoff in the Thunderdome. Good luck with that — and take the axe, not the chainsaw. There’s no way you’ll get it running in time.

Summer Blog Challenge Day 19 Digest

All the posts for August 26, 2011

Until tomorrow,
The Management

Summer Blog Challenge Day 18 Digest

Summer Blog Challenge posts for August 25, 2011

Until tomorrow,
The Management

Summer Blog Challenge Day 17 Digest

Summer Blog Challenge posts for August 24, 2011

Until tomorrow,
The Management

Summer Blog Challenge Day 16 Digest

Summer Blog Challenge posts for August 23, 2011

Until tomorrow,
The Management

Houston Texans, 2014

The sun has set on the 2014 NFL regular season. 12 teams get ready for the playoffs, but 20 other teams are blinking back the tears of disappointment and focusing their energy on the 2015 entry draft, free agency, and, eventually, the 2015 regular season.
Among those teams cast adrift from the schedule are the Houston Texans, who came as close as any of the other bridesmaids. It turns out that a better-than-.500 record isn’t good enough. Especially not when so many other teams boast the same percentage.
I’m not disappointed at the performance of the Texans. Sure, I would have liked to see more from the quarterback position, maybe through an earlier offer for Ryan Mallett, or maybe an earlier look at Tom Savage. I would also have liked a stronger presence in the defensive backfield than we got through most of the season. But in the end, with worse-than-suspect quarterbacking, the Texans managed a 9-7 record, seven full games better than last season.

No Kubiak

Without Gary Kubiak, I didn’t know how this team would fare on offense. Without Matt Schaub, I hoped it would improve. The results? I’m not sure about on paper, but I’m happy to say that I have more confidence in this team than I did in the one that took the field for the 2013 season. There’s no question that the quarterbacking was more reliable, even with Keenum coming back to steer the ship at the end of the season. I had no fear of the dreaded mis-timed head-scratcher from Schaub, and it certainly was a joy to have quarterbacks leave the pocket with the expectation of better than an insta-sack or, as was Keenum’s penchant, running backwards until getting tackled for a 20-yard loss. It felt like Kubiak’s system was really good for getting chunks of yardage throughout the game, but really poor in crucial situations, such as goal-to-go or when the game was on the line.
Conversely, it feels like Bill O’Brien has a handle on all of that, like he knows what play to call on third and long, that it will work, and why. He just feels like a much more competent game-time coach.

No Wade Phillips

I will admit that I was concerned when the Texans let Phillips go and took on Romeo Crennel. I like Crennel, and I thought and still think that he is a fine defensive coordinator, but I didn’t think that the defense was the problem last year, and I worried that a change in perspective and philosophy might lead to a regression. Which it did, to a certain extent. The defense wasn’t as high in the yardage rankings as it had been the year before, but Wade’s defenses weren’t winning games, and it feels like the 2014 defense won more than one, almost on their own. Granted, a healthy Cushing probably helped with that, but, again, Crennel just seems like a coach that can be counted on more.
So, saying goodbye to this Texans team is a little more bitter-sweet than last year, where it was about time.

Audios Amigos

Prior to the 2014 season, and for two years, I invested a not inconsiderable amount of money into getting a GamePass account to watch the Texans through the magic of the Internet. After last year’s god-awful showing, I decided that I would pare it back to an AudioPass account and listen to the games. I’d done that before, and it had been fine.
It is no longer fine.
Listen, NFL, I understand that you’re in the business of making money, and that video on demand is the new crown jewel. I really do get that. But seriously, up yours for letting AudioPass become such a piece of crap that I am, without hyperbole, embarrassed for you.
If it were a free product, I would expect this level of disregard. But at this point, it’s no longer a priority. It’s not even a second-thought. It’s an inconvenience to you. I like to listen to the game after the kids have gone to bed. It gives me the day to spend with my family and something to do before going to sleep on Sunday nights. Two weeks ago, the Houston/Baltimore game was unavailable for listening after even the Sunday night game was over. So I skipped listening to the game. I did the same thing this past Sunday, because I didn’t feel like fighting with your broken, piece-of-crap software. If you honestly feel this much apathy toward your AudioPass offering, farm it out to someone else. I’m sure there are companies out there who would pay you good money for the rights to the Audio of the games, and the experience would not suck so bad.
Next season? One thing I know for sure is I won’t be going back to AudioPass. It’s a shame that the only other alternatives are getting cable TV or paying $250 to watch the games on the Internet.

Summer Blog Challenge Day 14 Digest

Summer Blog Challenge posts for August 21, 2011

Until tomorrow,
The Management

Summer Blog Challenge Day 31 Digest

Well, we find ourselves here. Right at the end of the summer blog challenge. Right at the end of summer. The leaves are changing, the weather’s getting a little more brisk. Probably, this place will go into a little bit of hibernation. That seems to be the case, usually.

Anyway, here’s the last day’s posts:

  • Liam talks about one of his passions.
  • Cliff doing well is rest take him care.
  • Peter
  • Christine
  • Vicki
  • Zita
  • Natasha presents a spoken-word poet.
  • Erie
  • Kim lets her kids pick their own way.
  • Shaun agrees with Mike.
  • Pris
  • Mike isn’t down with MS’s latest Office offering.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the challenge, and I hope to see at least some of you back here next summer.

Until next time,