Saturday, March 07, 2009

You should wish for the days of Bob Rae

The Ontario NDP selected a new leader today. Andrea Horwath has been selected on the third ballot and after a speech in which she spoke out against "theives" and "scabs". I am not quite sure who these people are, but she is undoubtedly striking out a position on the left.

I don't know too many New Democrat activists, but I suspect most of them think that striking out a position on the left is the way forward. Indeed, I think Murray Campbell quite probably captures their thinking well when he notes that Howard Hampton "helped re-establish the party after its devastating defeat in the 1995 election." Of course, he did nothing of the sort.

I've posted a helpful graph. It shows the three-party seat share won by each provincial NDP leader in each election since WW2. It's instructive for two reasons. First, it shows how exceptional Rae's victory in 1995 was. The NDP should not be expecting that kind of performance any time soon. But, second, it also shows how exceptional Rae's average performance was, especially stacked against Hampton's. Contra Campbell and many others, Hampton would have done well to equal Rae's worst performance. And he never did. Horwath should hope for the same.

March 6

March 6th is among the most important days of any calendar year. This is a fact. Among the events of this day: 

  • In 1912, Roald Amusden returned from the South Pole to announce his successful expedition the prior December. 
  • Joseph Nicephore Niepce, the inventor of photography, was born in 1765. 
  • Townes Van Zandt, the great Texan songwriter -- listen to Colorado Girl if you wish to break your heart -- was born in 1944.
  • Thomas Aquinas died on this day in 1274. 
  • And, Paul-Emile Victor, the French explorer who traversed Greenland in 1934, died on this day in 1995.
But, most importantly, it was the day Luke Smilek, my third nephew, was brought, kicking, screaming, and solving second-year calculus problems, into the world. Congratulations to my sister and beau frere, and hello Luke. 

Last night I dreamt I was a music critic

By some measure, at least.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Various and Sundry, vN

Five random thoughts on a terribly nice day in San Diego:

1.) This is terrible news for Zimbabwe. Morgan Tsvangirai has endured imprisonment, beatings, deportation, and a constant threat to his life. He's done so bravely in the face of a thug. And now he has lost his wife. It's a terrible tragedy. Stack another one upon the pile and ask how much more has to happen in Zimbabwe before someone intervenes. 

2.) The voters actually are wrong sometimes. Just not this time. None of this is an indictment on John Tory's character. It's only to say that you only get so many chances in politics and his are up. So, what does Flaherty do? 

3.) There is some talk of an election in Ottawa. This much is clear to me: the official opposition is within its rights and indeed its responsibilities to ask the federal government to account for all the stimulus money it spends, particularly the constituencies in which it is disbursed. For the government to force an election over this is to show contempt for parliamentary oversight. For the opposition to blink in the face of this is to show disregard for their duties. We all know how this should end. Let's hope it does, for once. Update: The jury is out.

4.) This is a wonderful blog post remembering a great man. 

5.) I have been listening to a lot of Leo Kottke lately and trying to play half as well. I particularly recommend Everybody Lies, Buckaroo, and Julie's House. You'll be wiser and wryer. 

Monday, March 02, 2009

David Myles...

...has won an ECMA for best folk recording for his album 'On the Line.' If you don't own it, you should. I've known David for a lot of years and among a really talented roster of friends he stands above the others. 

Personally, I am quite glad this album's been recognized as it will long be associated with a great time in my life. David played at a party Sam and I held just before we left for Africa. And everytime I listened to music on the bike, I started with his track "I Don't Wanna Know." Even today, I can remember listening to the album as we dipped down into a pasture in Ethiopia and then into a line of trees where the fog was so thick we had to pull over and make sure we were still on the way to Addis.

So, buy his album and listen to it during something special and it will stay with you for a long time.