40 posts categorized "pop culture"

October 21, 2008

Post-Election Blog Reno

Img_7027 I decided to do some fall cleaning here at the blog. I've reorganized some existing categories and added a bunch of new content including,

What Makes a Great City? What Makes a City Great? This is a list of links that focus on urban development. I found a lot of really interesting material that focuses on waterfront renewal -- the biggest mistakes cities make when they change their waterfronts and articles about examples of waterfront renewal processes that have been managed brilliantly, with spectacular results. Other links focus on transportation, culture, creating public spaces, creating livable, healthy, green cities -- all issues that I'm thinking about as Peterborough evolves.

Alternative and Indie Media Voices: This is a roundup of alternative media (newspapers, radio stations, magazines, etc.) as well as links that discuss the importance of an independent media, the role of the newspaper ombudsman, why media concentration should be of concern to all Canadians, etc.

Writing Links and Creativity Links: Links to writing- and creativity- related resources for my fellow creative types.

Get the Big Picture: A handful of links to TV documentary and film documentary sources, etc. More to come.

Where We've Been: A handful of political and social justice history links with many more to come.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Democracy?: As much for my own use as anything, this is a cluster of links that I turn to on a regular basis when I need to touch base with someone else who is frustrated with the way democracy works in this country, but who isn't about to give up on Canada or working for change anytime soon.

Change the World: Links to some of my favorite get-pumped-up-and-change-the-world songs. If anyone knows of another song-linking application that would ideally allow me to provide a short sound clip, I'd love to have some recommendations. I tried to find a decent one that works with iTunes, but I didn't have any luck.

I've archived some of my very election-focused sidebars until the next election.

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.

October 13, 2008

Signs of the Times



Anyone But Dean
Vote for Art
Signs at

October 11, 2008


The campaign has turned from tense-but-civil to downright ugly as it heads into its final days in Peterborough Riding.

Yesterday, Diane Lloyd, the Liberal candidate for Peterborough Riding who lost to Dean Del Mastro in 2006 -- and who came in third in the Liberal Party nomination race in Peterborough Riding in to Betsy McGregor in 2007 -- was making the rounds of local radio stations in the riding yesterday endorsing Dean Del Mastro. (That's Conservative Party of Canada incumbent Dean Del Mastro, you understand.)

What a difference a year-and-a-half can make. I just pulled out my notes from nomination day to see what I jotted down during Diane's speech to the 2000 Liberals who attended the convention to choose between the three candidates who were running for the nomination that day.

"Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" was playing as Diane Lloyd marched up to the podium to deliver her nomination speech. She focused on five key issues in her speech: healthcare, the environment, poverty, seniors, and education, pointing out that people were discouraged with Harper and declaring that the Liberals could do better.

Perhaps Diane Lloyd's priorities have shifted in the past year. Harper's certainly haven't, despite the narrative of personal growth that is being applied to him (see The Globe and Mail's endorsement of Harper) as well as to other Conservatives who are badly in need of political rehabilitation before Election Day. *

And as for ugliness in the other direction, I'm no fan of Dean Del Mastro's politics, but I think the nasty fax sent to an area newspaper was way over the top. That's all I'm going to say because I don't want to draw more attention to the incident than it deserves.

* This from a party that doesn't believe in the potential for rehabilitation where Young Offenders are concerned.

October 09, 2008

POST-IT to Stephen Harper


I just spent a fun 15 minutes or so writing messages (e.g., "Can Culture, not Con Culture") on 15 of the 10,000 the Post-It notes wallpapering the walls at ARTSPACE.

You can do the same, whether you live in Peterborough or far away. It costs $1 per Post-It note (and there's enough space to get quite creative). How much fun does a buck generally buy you these days? Not this much fun. The activity is in support of Ordinary Canadians for the Arts, a group created to protest Harper's art funding cuts and advocate for the arts in Canada over the long-term.

About the Photo:
You, too, can send Stephen Harper a piece of this gigantic four-wall art installation made entirely of Post-It Notes -- and a piece of your mind at the same time.

October 05, 2008

"The Average Canadian" and Public vs. Private Funding: Canadian Heritage Committee Meeting in June

I found this interesting reference to "the average Canadian" (a similar term to Stephen Harper's "ordinary Canadians" ) in relation to the use of arts funding in Canada -- specifically public vs. private dollars being allotted under the Canadian Television Fund in this rather fascinating discussion from the

39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage - Tuesday, June 17, 2008.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.  Mr. Gratton, I want to try to represent the average Canadian. If I'm the average Canadian and I look at this Canadian Television Fund, I understand that this is a fund that supports the production of regional Canadian broadcasting and so forth. Why would I care that this is being changed? Why would this impact me? Why would it matter to me whether the money is going to CBC or Global or CTVglobemedia or any of the other private broadcasters? Why would it matter to me, as long as I'm seeing good Canadian productions that I might be interested in watching?

Mr. Paul Gratton: Well, I'm not sure who or what an average Canadian is. If you're saying that for significant chunks of the Canadian population there is not interest in Canadian drama, for example, and perhaps sports is where you get your Canadian culture, then I would say perhaps there's not much interest for that person, but by the same token, does this person have children? Are they watching children's programming anywhere on the dial? At least half of them are funded by the CTF. Perhaps this person, even if they're not interested in watching a dramatic TV series on a public broadcaster, is concerned about what is being fed into the minds of his little girl and little boy and doesn't just want American models of superhero violent cartoons. Canadian children's programming sells around the world because it actually propagates a different value system of tolerance and diversity; sometimes it's quite subtle and sometimes less so, but it's different from American children's programming.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Are you suggesting those things would be lost if it were changed?

Mr. Paul Gratton:  I'm saying that if the Canadian Television Fund didn't exist, the size and the quality.... Why should an average Canadian care about this? Would an average Canadian care about the rules on how the money is disseminated? Probably not. But I would suggest to you that the average Canadian probably does care about the results on the television set.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: I'm not questioning that. I'm only saying that the changes they've suggested have been to allow for alternative revenue streams, for the stream to be divided somewhat differently. And that's what I'm asking you. There has been some suggestion that this would be a ghettoization of public television. If I'm the average person at home.... For instance, Mr. Cardin brought up that the funding could be used for reality TV or game shows. So if I'm the average Canadian at home.... We recognize things like Survivor, for example; probably half the population watching TV on the night that it's on is watching it. Why wouldn't I want to see something in the Canadian Arctic that would be similar? Wouldn't that offer value and wouldn't it drive people to want to watch? And in so doing, wouldn't you learn something about the Canadian Arctic? I'm simply thinking about these things.

Mr. Paul Gratton: Oh, yes, absolutely. It's probably not a bad idea. Maybe you have a future as a television programmer. The key issue is whether or not that kind of show requires public money in order to complete its financing. And as Mr. Cardin pointed out, most of this stuff can be funded by the industry itself through pre-sales, etc. The crisis, where there was always a gap in financing and where it was very hard to complete, was almost everything produced in Quebec, because the world market for Quebec programming is fairly limited outside of children and animation, and almost across the board in English Canada unless you were doing commercial co-productions that were not recognizably Canadian.

I was running Space for a number of years and there was a lot of science fiction that was technically Canadian -- six, seven, eight points out often--and I would argue it never got CTF funding and didn't require it. And there are many average Canadians who really enjoyed those shows and there were a lot of Canadian actors and technicians who benefited from the production in Canada. My view is that lots of Canadian, right across the board, is good.

But when you talk about this fund and this particular very special recognition from both government, which is funding it, and the cable and distributors who have agreed to put money into it in order to keep their capital expenditure, the 50%, it was actually one of the more ingenious creations of the CRTC and of government to put together this fund to encourage the production of the most difficult-to-fund Canadian content in all these genres, which is ten out ten points Canadian content. The average Canadian kind of benefits from having it out there as an option, even if he or she may not choose to personally spend their time watching the stuff due to personal preference.

Mr. Stéphane Cardin: A rubber hits the road type of answer to your question, which Paul brought up before, is that essentially, given that we don't know what the criteria of a public stream would be, there is always the possibility that certain programs -- which would have to apply to both funds -- might, given different eligibility criteria, not get made. So you'd have a potential for less programming than we presently have with the current systems.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Thank you. My local cable company, for example, a COGECO affiliate, receives funding from this fund and they do an awful lot of local programming with it. They cover a lot of community events. They do a better job, actually, than my local CBC affiliate [CHEX Television] does in covering community events. They cover parades and all sorts of things. How would this change affect them? What would it mean to them? Would it result in potentially more funding for them, less funding for them, or would it affect them at all?

Mr. Paul Gratton: They don't get directing funding from the CTF for their cable channels. That's a redistribution of their own benefits. And part of their requirement to the CRTC is to maintain that cable fund. So this wouldn't affect your community cable channel at all.

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Thank you.

Related: Department of Culture | Ordinary Canadians for the Arts: The POST-It Petition Campaign: "To showcase the importance of arts in our community, and the value of arts organizations such as Artspace, we will send to our Prime Minister an ORIGINAL PIECE OF ART ONE POST-IT AT A TIME." (Read about the art exhibition that led to this unique fundraiser/protest.)

October 04, 2008

Don't Vote - Why should I bother voting? What's the point in voting? Why vote? How can I vote when there's no one to vote for?

This YouTube video -- "Hollywood Declares Themselves" -- features Hollywood celebrities who all have something to say to voters who think there's no point in voting because all politicians are the same, all politicians lie, all politicians are corrupt, because nothing ever changes, because they don't know who to vote for, because the system is rigged, or whatever. 

You've heard people say all of these things about voting, right? You've probably said some of these things yourself.

And you've probably heard other people say that the only reason they vote is so that they get the right to complain after the election: that if you don't vote, you lose the right to complain about who did or didn't get elected.

The video may offend some people -- but that's the point -- to wake people up and get them to put down their TV remotes long enough to tune into something that matters and to convince them that apathy sucks.

If you're Canadian and you're looking for more information on voting, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or go to www.elections.ca to find out where and when to vote. Advance polls are open right now (Saturday October 4 and Monday, October 6), so if you want to get voting over with, you can vote now and then relax and enjoy the rest of October while everyone else is spinning out in election mode.

DeclareYourself at YouTube: The launch page for 58 (and counting) fun videos about voting.
Voter Madness! Another YouTube video from DeclareYourself -- made in the tradition of -- gasp! -- Reefer Madness!
: A fabulous US blog that focuses on motherhood and social change. This is where I found out about this series of YouTube videos from DeclareYourself.com (a US non-profit organization that encourages citizens to get out and vote).

October 02, 2008

Political Propaganda: Making the Case vs. Selling the Product

Republican/Conservative salesmanship that relies on political spin and voter manipulation and that is all about closing the sale is deeply offensive to people who care deeply about integrity and ideas -- who want progressive leaders who are moving forward in positive ways to be heard above the meaningless buzz of those who have nothing to offer.

Along that vein:

"Republican campaign strategists come from an entirely different place -- the marketplace. Their methodology is that of the salesman: the candidate as "product," and the voter as "customer." Their commanding objective is to "make the sale," by whatever means are found to be effective toward that end....

"In advance of their political campaigns, GOP "salesmen" examine comprehensively the public mind, through polling and focus groups. There they discover the "hot button" words, concepts, images and (less significantly) issues. With this information, they then target the emotions (in “the post-9/11 context,” primarily fear). motives (security and economic gain), and self-image (hard-working, free, God- fearing) of the public, all this toward the objective of
what Noam Chomsky describes as "the manufacturing of consent."

- Political Propaganda: Making the Case vs. Selling the Product

September 30, 2008

Some Much Overdue Political Levity

A roundup of fun political links.

Here's an early-afternoon addition to the justice story, by way of Far and Wide: pay attention to what's on your website -- particularly when the gavels start flying.

September 26, 2008

A Citizen's Plea, Spotted in Downtown Peterborough