Today, I think I found the single greatest VHS tape in all existence. It was not miraculously possessed of DVD-quality video and sound, in fact the picture and sound were as good/bad as anyone has any right to expect of the rightfully-deceased format. This VHS was all about content, and what glorious content it was. From its fully-rewound state, it launched into the excellent Farscape episode "Crackers Don't Matter". Well - thought I - I doubt there's anything else on this tape... And then, before my very eyes unfolds the title sequence to the first episode of the Dune miniseries! It was a particularly awesome double-feature, even if we do happen to own that entire miniseries on DVD. Finding it in an unexpected place made it just that much cooler. It was also a fortunate occurrence for my poor cousin, who spent the day home sick. It was good fun to be able to share some of my favourite Sci-Fi with him. Anyhow, before I get too far into the mundane details, I should get to my challenge: do YOU have a better VHS tape? Whether it be impossibly clear video or sound, or what you consider a better lineup of awesomeness, I want to hear about it! On a side-note, does anyone else indulge in that fine art of VHS nostalgia? Diggin' up all those old Star Trek: TNG episodes, movies you remember taping perhaps a decade ago? Yeah, great stuff!
I suppose people who scour the web for torrents of old shows might fit into this category as well. It's good to know my pseudo-hobby has a digital future.
Make like a Nanorobotic Collective and Reform!
I've been meaning to write about the Ontario election since the day it happened, and it saddens me that I'm only getting around to it now. I'll spare you the griping about McGuinty - that was for the 10th and 11th - and get onto the real tragedies of this election. The first and foremost being that John Tory lost his seat, and lost the election. As two separate columns (at least) in the Citizen pointed out, the Red (John) Tory was our last, best hope to keep the Mike Harris Neo-Con types (aka. Jackasses) out of power within the PC party, and within Ontario itself. By electing McGunty in this election, and opening the door for a Neo-Con coup of the PC party leadership, Ontario voters may have removed a legitimate alternative from candidacy, to be replaced with humanoid creatures in suits made entirely of Hate and Greed. In essence, Dalton's greased-weasel-slick win in this election may railroad us into electing him AGAIN in the following election to avoid a rehash of the Harris years. Worse, it may have railroaded us into voting in a Harris-style government just to be rid of said weasel. I think that's the worst future I can imagine for Ontario, bar one: "Premier Randy Hillier".
The second tragedy of the election is a funny one: Electoral reform. The failure of MMP in Ontario would have been worse, except for issue one. Without an element of proportionality, majority governments by the Liberals and the Conservatives will remain a distinct and unfortunate possibility in years to come. Had MMP been adopted, there would be a safeguard against these unfair majorities (no matter how you slice it, Dalton's popular vote went DOWN but he got MORE seats...). After the defeat of MMP, the probability of a Neo-Con PC party becomes tragedy number one. It's perhaps appropriate that when taken separately, I mourn MMP's demise more, but when taken together, it's the governments that FPTP will produce that are the greatest worry to me.
I can see no other way out of this bad situation, and that is Electoral Reform...AGAIN.
I would like to make it clear that I do not propose another referendum on MMP. While I believe that it is a superior system, it does have some aspects which are too-easily spun into negative points by the naysayers. While the Pro side was extolling the discrimination-free aspect of party lists, the opposition noted that it would no longer be possible to rid our parliament of powerful politicians we do not like. The Pro side stressed the fair results, the con side foretold elections every two years, and ineffective governments. The entire theme of the Pro side in this campaign was MMP as the kinder, gentler politics. For those already sold on the political viability of the system, this is good icing, but all the while the "No" side was busy convincing skeptics that the cake was a lie. I enjoyed the positive tone of the pro-MMP side, but then I am a Green supporter. I turned of age just in time for my vote not to count in an election, Whoop-de-fucking-do! For people like me, MMP was a way to a glorious future of democracy, in which Dalton McGuinty (or whatever inexplicably-popular incumbent) could no longer stand in the way of our votes (well, that's how I saw it...). To another voter, however, MMP could just as easily be the path to a nightmare democracy, where Dalton McGuinty could NEVER be removed from the legislature, so long as 3% or more of the population would vote Liberal. Combined with the potential for Family Coalition Party members to enter the legislature, and the threat of small parties wielding disproportionate power, this must have made MMP far less attractive. If the same question asked in this election were brought before Ontarians again, it would not only fail, I'll bet it would turn more people against electoral reform. This disastrous campaign will taint MMP for years, perhaps for this generation. If money is to be spent on another referendum, it should not be spent until there is a comprehensive plan to inform ALL voters about their choice.
With MMP a no-go, what is the next step for those of us who believe that FPTP is a sham? I think that it's a question of finding the most marketable alternative solution. While I do entertain Utopian visions, they're about as reliable as soap bubbles when the Old Guard fires their first salvo. What MUST happen is that Ontario must adopt an alternate electoral system; we have to get our foot in the door, so to speak. If this is not done, the evils of FPTP will never be avenged! Once Ontarians accept a new way of voting, there will be reason to create a legal framework for electoral reform, and then it will be just a matter of time. It could be years, perhaps decades, but eventually a truly superior system could be adopted. Taking an "anything but FPTP" stance will - ironically - be more constructive in the short-term, because it will briefly unify all parties who desire electoral reform under one banner. United, reformers will be able to dismantle the current system, abolish its evils, and THEN enter the heated debate over what the eventual goal should be. "Skulduggery", you say? "Pragmatism", says I.
I was originally going to make a recommendation for what the interim system should be in this post, but instead I'll take some time to research all of the options. What's important now is that the issue of electoral reform not fade away.