Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 Election, Families, and Twitter

So we've got another election happening up here in the Great White North.

I'll say this once: Canadians have to stop complaining about elections.  If you're sick of their frequency as of late (a complaint the Iranian people certainly don't have), then give the Tories a majority government for once so you can get in your four years of shut-eye.

The government spends $300,000,000 on elections, the pundits tell us, and Canadians don't want that.  Pah.  The government (no matter which party is in power) spends that much when it farts.  Get over it.  Show me a government that executes simple fiscal responsibility, such as, oh I don't know, NOT SPENDING MORE MONEY THAN IT HAS, and once that's in place then go ahead and complain about expensive things.

For all their faults, the Conservative Party is the closest we're going to get to that model of efficiency, so they've got my vote.  This is no secret to anybody who knows me or reads my blog.

One of the not-faults of the Tories is their Universal Child Care Benefit, which pays families $100 per month per child under the age of five.  That benefit was an election promise the last time we hit the polls, in contrast to the Liberal promise to establish free day care for everybody.  As a father to five young children (soon to be six) who delights in his wife's desire to stay at home with the kids, I gotta tell ya, the Tory deal is a better one for us.  Under the Liberal plan we would get nothing.  Now, ideally, no government should be giving me money just because I've had some kids.  But if I gotta choose between cash in my pocket that supports our lifestyle choice, or institutionalized child farming that condescendingly suggests the government would be better at forming our progeny, the choice is clear.  I can't for the life of me figure out why the Liberals think that a one-size-fits-all childcare solution is appropriate for Canada.

The pundits are also saying that this election will be 'the social media election.'  Not surprisingly, they're already oohing and ahhing over how wonderfully the also-ran parties are embracing it.  They do have a point there.  Part of Barack Obama's disastrous election win was due to his ability to engage young voters in an unprecedented fashion, and social media was a big part of that success.  Fortunately for the Tories, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May don't have near the charisma that fooled so many Americans into thinking Obama knew what he was doing.  But they're on the same low-charisma playing field with Prime Minister Harper and Michael Igantieff.

A 2010 analysis showed that about 2% of Canadians are active on Twitter.  I'm one of them.  From what I've seen in the #cdnpoli thread, most of that 2% are left leaning folks, which isn't surprising, since the main demographic that uses Twitter is, for the most part, too young to realize how left-leaning policies have a terrible historical track record.

Ultimately, I'm of the opinion that social media won't matter very much at all in this election.  I predict that the mainstream media and the left leaning parties will vastly overestimate the importance of social media over the next few months.  They'll burn up their ROI by spending too much time, effort, and money preaching their liberal agendas to the liberal choir, and the Tories will quietly win the race, slow and steady.

It will be fun to watch.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 9/10

Something about David Mullen's music has always resonated with me.  He's a gritty, no-frills soul rocker, and his lyrics continually twist and turn in, out, through, and between complexity and simplicity.  The man is a true artist.

One of my favourite songs is Functional Faith And Clothing, from his 1991 Faded Blues album.  It's short - 88 seconds long - and so the only clip I could find online is actually a good chunk of the song.  If you find it on iTunes it's easily worth the $0.99.  Yes, the penny-to-second ratio is less than 1, so it might not seem like a good deal, but it's such an amazing & simple little song I can't see how you'd regret the decision.

Here are the lyrics:

Me and my jeans, we fit together most naturally
Me and purity, should fit together as easily.
You do what you, I don't care
When it comes to faith and clothing I need something I can wear.
I need functional faith and clothing (repeat this line a bunch of times)

The fun thing about this song is the beatbox/scat with which he opens and closes the song, in tune with his guitar picking.  Percussion is a simple djembe flitting around the guitar's rhythm.  The melody is charming yet covers a broad range, and he puts his whole heart into blasting it out.

Simply brilliant.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Transformations #39: The Tweetup

If you've noticed, on the side of my blog is my Twitter feed.  I trust you're all monitoring it ceaselessly and are enjoying the hilarity ensuing therein.


One of the things I've come to love about Twitter is how I can connect with people that I never would have connected with before.  Some may argue that a connection of 140 characters is of dubious worth, and indeed many Twitter experiences lack value.  But some do, and the ones that do, really do.  And I'm not just talking about opportunities for business growth here.  At the other end of each tweet is a real person, and many of them are very interesting.

Over the past year, I've built digital friendships with a number of other Winnipegers who are using Twitter for work, like I do.  These people are usually representing the face of their company or employer on the various social media channels, also like I do.  One of them, Matthew Shepherd, organized a tweetup for March 9.  A tweetup is basically a chance for Twitter users to meet up with each other in real life.  I wanted to go and have a chance to meet some of these interesting people face to face.

The only problem is, I'm an introvert, and being in a crowd really drains me - especially when it's all strangers.  My wife, in God's idea of irony, is a roaring extrovert.  This disparity really caused a lot of difficulty early in our relationship ("I want to go out." "I want to stay in!" and back and forth like that), although we've reached a healthier balance now.  Now when we go out together, I consider myself lucky just to be able to be out with her (having five kids will do that).  Not only do I enjoy her company more than I ever have, but she grounds me when an environment is outside of my comfort zone.  She is my rock.

So here's the transforming moment: I went out to a venue I've never been to before (Tavern United), I didn't know a soul there, and my sole source of social strength - my wife - wasn't with me.  Talk about taking the forceps to one's comfort zone.

Only twice before in my life have I voluntarily and without a driving reason put myself in a completely foreign situation like that.  The first was when I toured with The Challenge Team in the late 1990's, and the second was when I joined Toastmasters.  Both of those choices have resulted in amazing life experiences for me, and so I'm confident that good things will come out of this tweetup and the ones to come in the future.