PC Convention

On and off today I’ve been watching the leadership convention of the Progressive Conversatives. At this very moment, they’re on the third ballot and will most certainly need to go to a fourth. Nova Scotia’s Peter MacKay is widely expected to win. The other Nova Scotian in this four-way race, Scott Brison, had to drop out after the second ballot, on which he came fourth by a heart-breaking three votes.

The PCs are a study in contrasts and contradictions. The guy who’s been consistently coming second behind McKay (for the second leadership convention, no less) is one David Orchard — the same David Orchard who so lobbied so hard in 1988 against the Mulroney PCs’ Free Trade Agreement with the United States. And Scott Brison is an openly gay conservative — this in the same party as the intolerant pain-in-the-ass MP Elsie Wayne. As the PCs position themselves as centre-right, I’m left wondering if the federal Liberals, despite their name, aren’t already occupying that spot or are perhaps further right of centre than the PCs.

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Update: Orchard was dropped after the third ballot, yet he whom some see as more of an NDPer than PC backed MacKay on the fourth ballot. Result: A right-of-centre Nova Scotian who’s my age but against just about everything I believe in is the leader of the PCs. No big surprise there.

The only surprise is this: During the 2000 federal election, there was an interesting little website with a questionnaire that helped determine where I likely stood. The surprise wasn’t that the questionnaire identified me as a definite New Democrat; it was that the PCs came second on my list. I never quite understood that result, but I suspect, if another such questionnaire is designed for the 2004 vote, that my second-place result will NOT be the same.

Knowing When It’s Time to Say…

…”Time for a nap.”

I worked until 7:15 this morning on a tight deadline, and set the alarm for 11:30 when I went to bed because I had my 1 p.m. appointment to learn how to drive standard. Just as sat at my computer with my “morning” coffee, hell broke loose at HM’s former/soon-to-be former NOC (more details from me on this one later …maybe). Annette et al. must be seeing red, but no need for them to apologize for the Redoubtable Murphy striking.

So fine, moving right along… I had to go for my driving lesson anyway. Well! At this very moment, I’m wondering if it IS possible to teach this old dog a new trick. But after talking to one of my clients (see above paragraph), I’m being convinced that I’m actually handicapped not knowing how to do this and should simply swallow my pride and keep trying.

Well… given that with just a bit more than 4 hours’ sleep in this old dog isn’t enough for it to be of any use to anyone, and where said old dog can’t get any work done (except gain access to aMMusing), this is as good a time as any to say, “Time for a nap.”

Impressive but Deceptive Statistics

I just washed the dishes, which I had let accumulate over three or four days. That sounds a lot worse than it is; when you live alone, that doesn’t represent many dishes.

The first day I started aMMusing, I declared dishwashing an evil activity because it is SO boring that it lets my mind wander off into the most trivial musings. Today’s session was no exception.

For whatever reason, I was thinking about the statistics gathered by FOX News (what a joke!) that got a lot of airplay just before the war on Iraq, namely that “71 percent of Americans support using U.S. forces to disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and 20 percent oppose.” That was certainly an impressive figure, but like all percentages, it hid absolute numbers. And the figures themselves lost their credibility when we found out the poll was conducted with only “900 registered voters nationwide.” Even the not-particularly-math-inclined guy that I am remembers from his 1988 “Introduction to Probability and Statistics” class that it takes at least 1,024 participants for a survey to be reasonably significant statistically.

Notwithstanding that we can’t tell who those 900 survey participants were, let’s allow these percentages to be correct. Let’s just take the 20% figure (i.e., those who were in opposition to the war at the time) and not even consider the remaining 9%. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “the resident population of the United States, projected to 5/27/2003 at 4:58:04 PM EDT is 291,079,637.” Twenty percent of that number would be 58,215,927.

Now THAT is an impressive number! That’s a lot of people no matter how you look at it! And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that more than (or at least within spitting distance of) the number of Americans who actually voted for GWB in 2000? If so, what would it take to get that group of 58+ million to shed its political apathy and cast its ballots against GWB in 2004?

Oddly, I find twisting the numbers used to downplay the opposition in the U.S. highly amusing. And somewhat comforting, too. Yet it speaks volume to the U.S.’s importance in the world that I, a non-U.S. resident or citizen, should even care about this.

And yes, all of this because I just washed the dishes.

Pop Culture & Blogging in My Dreams

Funny how the mind keeps working when you’re sleeping. A few nights ago, I woke myself up, laughing hysterically. I can’t remember what it was in my dream that was so bloody funny, but what a delightful way to wake up. It’s certainly better than waking up in terror, like when I had mice in the apartment and I’d wake up thinking some giant mouse was coming at me on my bed.

Last night, though, it was more of a topical dream. Unlike some people nearby and further away, I didn’t develop an interest in American Idol. But last night I dreamt of Reuben and Frenchie (I think her name was). They were trying to do a duet. When Reuben would sing, he sounded fine; when Frenchie would sing, she sounded fine. But the two, juxtaposed, sounded like hell. It seemed like the problem wasn’t that they would be signing in a different key as much as on a different tone (?). (I’m no musician.)

Somehow (in my dream but not in fact), this discrepency served as an illustration of what the brilliant and inimitable John Kusch described in his post-mortem to a heated debate in which and he engaged this weekend. In response to the ill-guided tactics of some gay activists, John wrote that many “are essentially tone-deaf when it comes to framing the debate” [emphasis mine]. I thought that his metaphor was apt when I read it.

From there, though, to have my mind’s “dream machine” put together that notion and an unsuccessful American Idol duet that never occurred, …I don’t know. But if I didn’t chronicle this dream right now, I wouldn’t remember it in a few hours.