Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Piece On Criticism

We saw this piece on the role of criticism in the form of gaming journalism and were surprised by the nature of both the article and the discussion that followed it. Note how one of the respondents even brings in the work of anthropologist Clifford Geertz in terms of the work and function of the critic.

In general, we feel there is a difference between the focus of a critic and a reviewer, and agree with the author Costik in terms of the difference between these two activities (even though some of the respondents disagree on terminology). Too often our media, and because of it, our more media dependent citizens, operate ahistorically. Costik's article, we feel, is a good introduction for all would be critics.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Espressin' It?

We once heard a particular cup of Kimbo referred to as "robust and sexy, like something down near dockyards," a questionable description at best, however we did wonder what sort of comment the drinker would have had for the following:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Education Leaves It's Mark

Some recent postings by our friends over at Exploding Beakers has left us wondering. The current posts centre around notions of play and "unsupervised spaces" in schools. One of the sources of inspiration for the posts was an earlier one of our own, referencing a childhood game called "Murderball", as part of our own interest in what children do when adults are not around, and just how omnipresent parents are starting to become.

However, what is interesting is the choice of "unsupervised spaces" and the knowledge that Exploding Beakers main contributor, Sean Marchetto (a frequent contributor here too), has like us, read Hakim Bey's lengthy poem The Temporary Autonomous Zone, an influential underground piece based around pirate utopias (to read an online version, or something else by Bey click here). In The T.A.Z. Bey searches for areas of the world where the run of the mill rules governing day-to-day living are suspended in favour of more spontaneous, exuberant forms - one would be forgiven for thinking of the Burning Man festival in a way, a place where traditional leaders and rule-enforcers are noticably absent or weakened.

While Marchetto was still a CJSW DJ hosting The Twelth Ave Paylot in the mid-1990s, he would often reference Bey, but we are very surprised to see some of theses ideas creeping back around in Marchetto's work with educational structures. To us, it illustrates just how deep and easily assimilated certain ideas are, that they can sink to the bottom of our consciousness and lie dormant for over a decade, only to resurface in completely different contexts and attached to different companion structures.

Fascinating.

Fly to London for a Party?

In response to our earlier gushing about the series of DJ podcasts being released by London nightclub Fabric, there was a suggestion that perhaps the strong Canadian dollar, coupled with upcoming cheap spring charter flights, might make a weekend trip to the UK feasible.

While we were intrigued by the idea, in the same way that we were interested in the logistics of summer shopping trips to nearby American cities like Seattle or Las Vegas that purported to take advantage of the exchange differentials between US and Canadian currencies and prices. We were reminded of a recent interview with Thom Yorke of Radiohead, where he discusses the ecological impact of air travel. It's a theme that we heard last fall from George Monbiot as well.

However, the good folks at Dopplr have shown that there doesn't seem to be any real fear at present. The social network is geared towards travellers and their blog has several different interesting (and colourful) charts showing membership travel patterns.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If Charity Begins At Home, Can Sanctions Too?

Federal Liberal hopeful and former astronaut Marc Garneau, floated the idea today that Canada should impose trade sanctions on countries that refuse to reduce their greenhouse emissions. This made us wonder, can the sanctions begin with Alberta?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Alberta Election

As the Alberta provincial election unfolds, it will be very interesting to see what happens in Calgary. Traditionally, Calgary is a very conservative city - the two members of the Liberal Party elected in the last provincial election were the first Liberals elected here in decades. The booming job market, coupled with sky-high real estate prices have wreaked havoc with the city's demographics. While areas of Liberal support used to congregate in predictable pockets, it remains to be seen just how diffuse that support has become owning to housing prices. There were quite a few ridings in the last election that went Conservative by their narrowest margins in years. Has the housing market shifted more Liberal support into these areas?

Added to this has been the failure of the Stelmach government to deal with the needs of Edmonton and Calgary. As we mentioned last week, Calgary mayor David Bronconnier portrayed Stelmach as the villain in the city's inability to manage the infrastructure problems associated with a booming population. Now, Liberal leader Kevin Taft is offering more power to the major cities to do just that. Clearly, the Liberals feel that there are seats to be won in this once Conservative stronghold.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fabric

The famous London night club, Fabric, first crossed our radar a few years back when the Herbaliser recorded a set under the club's FabricLive imprint. Lately, we've been enamoured of their podcasts, with the two part Jonny Trunk set exploring forgotten and offbeat music being the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Off to the Polls

As predicted by many, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach made his election call yesterday, announcing the beginning of perhaps the most anticipated provincial campaign since former Premier Ralph Klein made his inaugural run against Liberal leader Laurence Ducore. Unlike Klein, Stelmach has been unable to form a balanced relationship between the rural communities and the four major urban centres, who have found themselves (relatively) shut out of high profile positions. However, Stelmach has managed to safeguard the precious oil industry from any serious attempts at environmental reform, so the question for this election is essentially just how dissatisfied are Albertans

There have already been several negative ad campaigns, echoed in the newspapers, about Stelmach's failure to provide a clear vision for what to do with a post-debt Alberta. His recent 2020 Vision plan did not to much to generate excite, especially with communities like Calgary already starting to reel from lack of infrastructure and unfilled jobs (perhaps one of the worst Calgary statistics is that 1 in 4 Calgarians to do not have a family doctor). The re-election of Calgary Mayor, Dave Bronconnier offers conflicting interpretations though: either the vast majority of Calgarians do not blame Bronconnier (whose campaign blamed Stelmach) or else they are content to put up with the current problems so long as the oil money keeps rolling in. If the provincial Liberals hope to win their first election in recent memory, they need to somehow mobilize the discontent of Calgary and other similarly stressed communities.