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Dave Samojlenko Posts

Think about this the next time the collection basket comes around

The Catholic Church has invested nearly $2 million attempting to deny equal marriage rights to all.

Taking up where the Mormons left off in 2008, the Catholic Church – and its affiliate, the Knights of Columbus – have made considerable investments in the marriage fights in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State and Maine this election cycle – spending nearly $2 million. In addition, a close ally of the Church and past co-conspirator, the National Organization for Marriage, spent more than $5.2 million this cycle. Final campaign figures for Maryland and Maine will be available by the end of the month.

Marriage equality opponents across the four states raised $11.3 million. The Catholic Church’s contributions make up 17 percent of that total figure. When you add in the contributions of Church ally NOM, the reality of the coordinated effort becomes clear: the Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and NOM are responsible for funding nearly 65 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State and Maine.

Election Night Drinking Game

Who’s with me?

Whether you get your results from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, C-SPAN or one of the broadcast networks, take a drink* every time someone on screen says anything on the following list:

  • Ground Game
  • Firewall
  • Sandy
  • Photo ID
  • Recount
  • Youth Vote
  • Enthusiasm
  • The Name of a Third Party Candidate (Gary Johnson, Jill Stein,Virgil Goode, Rocky Anderson)
  • Ohio
  • Reagan

Sounds Wonderful

Farhad Manjoo on Microsoft’s Surface:

The first problem is speed. Everything you do on the Surface takes more time than you expect. When you load an app, switch between apps, launch a Web page, go back to a previous Web page, check your email, and do pretty much anything else, you’ll find yourself waiting a half-second too long. This sounds like nothing, but when you compound that time time across every action on the Surface, the wasted half-seconds add up to an annoying trudge.

It’s not just the extra time that kills, but also how the tablet clues you in to its slowness. The surface is littered with little visual bugs that make you think the thing’s broken. When you pinch-to-zoom in on a Web page, the text first shows up looking jagged and low-res; after a small wait, it gets sharp. Every single time you go back in the browser, you’ll see the previous page grayed out; it takes a split second for it to light up.

When you switch the Surface from portrait to landscape mode, its interface doesn’t switch immediately. There’s a half-second where nothing happens, enough time to make you wonder if the switch registered the orientation switch, so you begin to turn it back the other way just as the screen flips to the new orientation. And when the screen does eventually flip, it’s not as smooth as the iPad. Instead the Surface’s screen simply quick-cuts from landscape to portrait and back again, and while that gets the job done, the transition feels less than elegant. And then there were the times I found myself tapping the Surface like a madman, because I couldn’t tell whether it was just responding slowly or whether it hadn’t even noticed me. This happened often. It wasn’t pleasant.

We Are All from New Orleans Now

Mike Tidwell, writing for The Nation:

The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them. And what is a thousand-mile-wide storm pushing eleven feet of water toward our country’s biggest population center saying just days before the election? It is this: we are all from New Orleans now. Climate change—through the measurable rise of sea levels and a documented increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms—has made 100 million Americans virtually as vulnerable to catastrophe as the victims of Hurricane Katrina were seven years ago.

He describes our options: 1) abandon our coastal cities, 2) adapt and fortify those cities against the rising tides, or 3) we could, you know, STOP BURNING THE SHIT THAT IS MAKING OUR PLANET HOTTER! (paraphrasing)

It’s Global Warming, Stupid

It’s Global Warming, Stupid

All it took was a major catastrophe on the eastern seaboard, but we’re finally starting to talk about the effect of climate change on weather.  Love this cover on BloombergBusinessweek, and it’s been very reassuring to see more and more recent news stories making the connection between Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change  (better late than never).

The article begins:

Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Scientists have had a hard time making the argument for climate change because they’ve been worried about being precise – since you can’t draw a direct causal link between climate change and any one weather incident, they use caveats and language that belies the urgency of the situation.  But scientists are getting looser with language and more often are dropping the caveats, and getting at the issue in a more direct way.

An unscientific survey of the social networking liter moodature on Sandy reveals an illuminating tweet (you read that correctly) from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (and former deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek), offers a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”

In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.

See also this article at The Huffington Post where George Lakoff suggests we start popularizing the use of the term Systemic Causation to describe the connection between extreme weather and climate change:

Systemic causation is familiar. Smoking is a systemic cause of lung cancer. HIV is a systemic cause of AIDS. Working in coal mines is a systemic cause of black lung disease. Driving while drunk is a systemic cause of auto accidents. Sex without contraception is a systemic cause of unwanted pregnancies.

There is a difference between systemic and direct causation. Punching someone in the nose is direct causation. Throwing a rock through a window is direct causation. Picking up a glass of water and taking a drink is direct causation. Slicing bread is direct causation. Stealing your wallet is direct causation. Any application of force to something or someone that always produces an immediate change to that thing or person is direct causation. When causation is direct, the word cause is unproblematic.

Systemic causation, because it is less obvious, is more important to understand. A systemic cause may be one of a number of multiple causes. It may require some special conditions. It may be indirect, working through a network of more direct causes. It may be probabilistic, occurring with a significantly high probability. It may require a feedback mechanism. In general, causation in ecosystems, biological systems, economic systems, and social systems tends not to be direct, but is no less causal. And because it is not direct causation, it requires all the greater attention if it is to be understood and its negative effects controlled.

Above all, it requires a name: systemic causation.

TIFF 2011 – The Films We’re Seeing

So after a year off, we’re heading back to the Toronto International Film Festival this year. Unfortunately we’ve used up all our vacation, so it’ll be a quick weekender, but it’ll be good to be back all the same.

Since we have such a short amount of time there, and we had to wait until tickets went on sale to the public before picking our films, we formulated a pretty simple strategy. We decided we’d get a hotel as close to the Ryerson as we could, and then just get as many films at that theatre as possible.

We figured this would save us running around town from theatre to theatre, plus it simplified our selection process – instead of putting together a big wishlist and then trying to fit as many into our schedule as we could, and then having to make substitutions on the fly on ticket day, this way our selections were pretty much made for us.

The only exception to this strategy was on the Sunday when we were hoping to get some films at the new Bell Lightbox since we haven’t been there yet (it opened last year). But on ticket day, everything that was showing there for for the timeframe was sold out, so I just grabbed a couple random movies that fit our timeline. I made sure we have a couple hours before we have to head home so we can go visit the Bell Lightbox – wish we could have seen a film or two there, but thems the breaks.

So we ended up getting 8 films total – I was hoping for 9. The only gap we ended up with is on Saturday night between 8pm and midnight – the film that was showing at The Ryerson is Drive, a big release that we don’t mind missing at the fest since it’ll be in theatres next week. We didn’t bother trying to cram something else in that gap – the few we were interested in were sold out anyway – we just figure we’ll take a little break and maybe have a sit-down dinner like human beings that night.

Here’s the list of films we’re seeing, and any trailers I could find. Counting down the hours now!

The Hunter
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIQfxCQ0PKA

God Bless America

Trishna
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ywxcP5XJpA

Goon

Melancholia
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpVHnXCQlDk

You’re Next

Think of Me
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7CmooxsD30

Dark Horse
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp9ueZ6rUA8

Bluesfest 2011: Lineup Announcement

So the official announcement is out and as usual the lineup has been met with a real mix of sentiment.  I have more mixed feelings than usual – I’ve been a strong defender of Bluesfest in the past when people have complained about some of the programming being repetitive and not living up to the hype.

I’ve always been of the opinion that this is a huge festival and even if you’re not blown away by the headliners, there’s plenty of depth to the lineup and there is usually enough to at least keep me going every day.

I still stand by that opinion – I bought festival passes again this year – I figure there is at least one band I want to see every day and on the lighter days there are opportunities to discover bands that aren’t on my radar yet.  At about $20 per day with a Festival Passport, I’ll take that deal any day of the week.

But in some cases this year it just seems like the programming team isn’t even trying to branch out and are just delivering a greatest-hits compiliation of past Bluesfest acts.

I understand that Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip are big draws, but man, isn’t that just taking the easiest of easy programming routes in this city?  Also, I love The Flaming Lips, and don’t get me wrong I’m really looking forward to seeing them again, but they just headlined last year!

Lots of repeats from two years ago too: Ben Harper of course, and Girl Talk gets a deserved bump up to a bigger stage (though I’m not sure the atmosphere will carry over well – that Hard Rock Stage performance will live on as a highlight of all time for me).  Cage the Elephant and The Black Keys were both here before their respective surges in popularity this past year so they’ve each been bumped up to headliner status as well.

Lots of old rockers peppered through the lineup for the Ottawa ‘boomers of course, with Peter Frampton, Steve Miller Band, Huey Lewis and The News, and John Fogerty.  At the same time, Bluesfest is definitely trying to reach out to the younger set with four DJ acts on the bill: The aforementioned Girl Talk, as well as Skrillex, Shpongle and Infected Mushroom.

No doubt there are some new-to-Bluesfest acts I’m looking forward to – I’ve been itching to see Death Cab for Cutie for a while (they were on my prediction list!), Erykah Badu, The Roots, Death from Above 1979, and Skrillex should all be a great time as well.

And we’ve mainly been talking about the headliners, but as I mentioned this is a festival with some depth – some of the side stage acts I’m looking forward to so far include Hannah Georgas, Danny Michel, Buck 65, Hey Rosetta!, Gomez, Tegan and Sara, and Girls With Guitars.

Soundgarden is the big name that I suppose is meant to appeal to my demographic, but I’m just not that attached to 1994.  And A Perfect Circle is a strange but welcome diversion into the alternative realm.

Hell, contrary to popular opinion, there’s even blues to be found on the lineup!  I’ve never been particularly into the genre (I know all those “Bluesfest should be for blues!” people are hating me right now), but I appreciate the opportunity to be exposed to stuff that I’m not really familiar with as well.

Is this lineup lacking some of the star power of years past?  Sure, but they can’t all be like 2009.  With all of its programming weaknesses, it’s still a world class festival, and it’s happening right here in usually sleepy old O-Town.  See you out there!

Bluesfest 2011: Rumours, wishes and hopes.

Well it’s about that time again – several summer festivals have already announced their lineups, and for the ones who haven’t the rumour mill is in full force. Ottawa Bluesfest is set to announce its lineup at a gala event in a couple of weeks, so here’s my rundown of the rumours I’ve seen and heard around town.

Consequences of Sound’s Festival Outlook site is usually a pretty good source for rumours and have had a lot of hits in the past. So I’ve started with some selections from their list, and then I’ve dug into comments on various sites, Facebook and Twitter for some of the more persistent rumours and I’ve thrown in a couple of my own wishes and hopes.

Girl Talk (link) This was on the Festival Outlook site and seems pretty likely, although the evidence is a little iffy: @blaremag tweeted a “confirmed” list of acts based on the Festival Outlook list (including Girl Talk), which is then retweeted by @therealgirltalk which is then used as evidence by Festival Outlook as confirmation of the rumour. Solid evidence? Not sure. But it seems likely – he’s on tour, has room in his schedule around Bluesfest, is rumoured for Lollapalooza and is playing Bonnaroo. Also played Bluesfest two years ago and absolutely packed the small side stage on the afternoon he played. Look for him on a bigger stage- perhaps the River stage – and a move up to an evening slot.

Cage the Elephant (link) Posted on Festival Outlook, touring heavily to support their new album and playing Toronto July 7, QC on July 10 and Montreal on July 11th. Seems pretty likely – I’m guessing between TO and QC.

Mumford & Sons (link) Also posted on Festival Outlook, this one seems like a reasonable possiblity. Touring heavily, playing some summer festivals, definitely a good fit for Bluesfest. My only concern is that they’re in Spain July 14th, but there’s lots of open space in their schedule before and after that gig.

My Morning Jacket (link) Posted on Festival Outlook, seems pretty likely – touring to support a new album dropping on May 31, playing Bonarroo, and playing Montreal on July 12th.

Steve Miller Band (link) Posted on Festival Outlook, I’d peg this one as pretty much certain. They’re touring really heavily, playing Sarnia Bayfest July 8, and Niagara Falls July 9th with no dates until Vancouver July 15th. This would definitely be a big draw for Ottawa’s Boomer crowd.

The Black Keys (link) Posted on Festival Outlook, I think this one is almost certain as well. Touring heavily to support their album, playing Toronto July 7 and Montreal July 11th. Saw them play an afternoon stage two years ago – will be good to see them in a headlining spot this year.

Lady Antebellum (link) I throw this one in just because they’re playing Sarnia Bayfest on July 16th and have room on their schedule and would probably be a draw. I don’t give a good goddam if they play here.

Bran Van 3000 (link) This is one from my wishlist. Would be a good fit. They’re on tour and playing some festivals and are rumoured for Osheaga. Fingers crossed!

Death From Above 1979 (link) Newly reunited, on the festival circuit, rumoured for Osheaga and playing Sasquatch. Uncertain.

The Tragically Hip (link) I think this is pretty likely to happen. Last year we had three members of the band playing in various side projects. They’ve got two festival dates in Watertown and Toronto in June and July. They’re an Ottawa and Bluesfest favourite.

Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger (link) How cool would one or all of these be? They’re touring together playing a bunch of outdoor gigs and have some gaps in their July schedule. I would give one or all of these bands about a 60% chance of landing at Bluesfest.

Elvis Costello (link) Given the source, I’m going to say unlikely – Denis Armstrong infamously predicted Neil Young and Pearl Jam for last year. However, Costello is touring and in North America at the time with some room in his schedule. We’ll see – can Denis redeem himself? UPDATE: Elvis Costello & The Imposters have been confirmed for Ottawa Jazz Festival!

Eminem (link) I’m going to call this one a real longshot. Playing Bonarroo, rumoured for Lolla, supporting a new album. No tour dates on his website yet though so hard to get a sense of what his schedule is like. Would be a pretty big get.

Foo Fighters (link) This one I’m throwing in as another long shot, but they’ve dropped a new album this month – their first in four years – are headlining Sasquatch and rumoured for Lolla. They have a month off between dates in Scotland July 10 and Austria August 20. Anything’s possible, right?

Death Cab For Cutie (link) This is another one from my wishlist. They’re on tour and have a month between dates in the UK July 7 and Los Angeles August 18th.

The Flaming Lips (link) I’m calling this really unlikely, but man would I ever love to see them again – easily my favourite show in 2010. They’re on the Festival circuit and are playing Sasquatch. They’ve got lots of open dates around Bluesfest. But they were here just last year, and while I think they were a big hit, I’m doubtful they’d be back so soon.

Neil Young (link) Touring to support a new album, hasn’t been to Ottawa in a couple years, playing Bonarroo, lots of time on his schedule in July. This is from my own list of wishes, but I’m going to call this a strong possibility. I really hope I’m right!!

Scissor Sisters (link) Touring to support a new album, on the festival circuit – Playing Bonarroo, played Coachella. But they were just here in March with Lady Gaga. Doubtful.

Return of the Comedy Tent? I wonder if they’ll be bringing the comedy tent back. It’s still a fixture at many other music festivals, and while I think it wasn’t a runaway hit last year, I don’t think it was a flop. And having that big air conditioned tent to take a break from the hottest part of the day was nice. In terms of potential acts, Henry Rollins is on tour and playing Bonarroo, and Jon Lajoie is on tour.

Have you heard any rumours that I haven’t? What do you think of my rundown?

** UPDATED **

Just adding a couple other rumours I saw repeated over the weekend:

Peter Gabriel (link) Saw this on Last.fm previously but didn’t really think it was really in the realm of possibility, but I’ve seen the rumour repeated since, so I thought I’d throw in my impressions. Gabriel is doing a summer tour of outdoor venues but currently looks to be ending his tour on June 29th at Milwaukee Summerfest. A blog post on petergabriel.com in March announced the series as a “12 date tour“, and given the current listing on his site already includes 12 stops, I doubt this rumour has much weight. Don’t get me wrong – I would LOVE to see Peter Gabriel again, and especially here in Ottawa. Just don’t think it’s very likely.

Kanye West (link) Somehow missed this rumour on my first draft of this post. Lots of buzz on Facebook about this rumour, and I’ve seen it posted on a few sites. Don’t know what the likelyhood is, but he does have a great new album to support, he played Coachella, just put in a surprise appearance at SXSW, and he’s hitting a few European festivals this summer. He played Bluesfest once before in 2007, and as far as I know was well received (I missed it, dammit!). Would be great if this rumour comes through!

Miscellaneous: There are lots of other rumours floating around, many of which I really hope will come true – I just can’t write them all up. Here are a bunch of other names I’ve been seeing: 3OH!3, Primus, John Butler Trio, Trooper, Ben Harper, Sade, Def Leppard, Hall & Oates (oooooh, that would be great!), Meat Loaf, Mary J Blige, U2 (yeah, right!), Peter Frampton, Pearl Jam (this one comes from Denis Armstrong again – maybe he was just off by a year?).