Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday recipe notes

As a departure from my political, philosophical and fitness oriented ruminations, here is my:
Stuffing Recipe 2008.

Saute 1 finely chopped onion in olive oil. When the onion is tranlucent,
Add 1 teaspoon of savoury, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and four large cloves of garlic, mashed and chopped. Add a big dash(a quarter cup?) of Vermouth(I used Martini) and two cups of dried cranberries(Craisons?). Add the zest of half a lemon and a cup of water. Bring just to boil and take off the heat. Add 120 grams(about 4 cups?) of off-the-shelf bread crumbs and mix. Allow to cool thoroughly(overnight?) before stuffing Turkey.

I tossed the flavouring that came with the breadcrumbs. Obviously, I improvised this recipe some what. Next year I may add cooked chorizo sausage.


My turkey was a success and so was the stuffing. Anton asked for a second helping so it must have been good.

Feel free to riff on this recipe- just remember, placing warm stuffing inside the turkey is a recipe for FOOD Poisoning. Stuffing should always be room temperature or cooler(but not frozen, either)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

an exploration of the video game as architecture using phenomenological methodology

Phenomenology is an attempt to make rigorous accounts of subjective experience. One way of briefly illustrating the problem is by considering the following quote attributed to musician Fats Waller regarding what Jazz is;

"…if you hafta ask, you ain't never gonna know!"

Phenomenology attempts to offer a rigorous approach to getting answers to such questions without resorting to mysticism or metaphysics on one hand or reducing experience to the denigrated status of qualia. Qualia is term used to refer to experience as a minor phenomena produced by the physical universe.

When we play a video game, if it is successfully executed, we become immersed in a two dimensional representation of a two or three dimensional space. We may become a medieval Persian prince as in the game Prince of Persia, even though we are female. We may become immersed as an acrobatic Asian female leaping across the roof tops of a futuristic Tokyo, as in the game Mirror's Edge although we are clumsy, Caucasian males.

Our identity then becomes briefly mirrored on either side of the screen. Within that screen we have both landscapes and and architecture, whether it is the expansive worlds of games such as Myst or the multiplayer online worlds of games such as Second Life or World of Warcraft.

And at what point does the game itself become an architecture? We experience moving through an environment that we interpret as "Bricks and Mortar"

Christmas and new year

Well, Christmastime is upon us and I hope you are well and prosperous.

The preceding year has been trying in many ways. A profound personal depression ushered in with the previous new year has given way to a profound economic depression ushering out this one. The steady improvement of my relationship with my son has paralleled the deterioration of my marriage. He talks more and more and rather precociously in English and his French is improving rapidly. My wife speaks little to me other than to say she no longer loves me.

As I write this my little boy is here and elsewhere. She rented a flat in the Villeray district of Montréal. St.Henri has become too déclassé for her. I love this part of town- you can see both Mont Royal and the Lachine Canal park, and the mixture of new condos, refurbished early Twentieth Century factories and older triplexes gives the area variety. To the East, you can see the skyscrapers of Centre Ville rising in the distance above the church spires.

As to architecture, my first semester back in the MA program in Art History was reasonably successful. I enjoyed working with Prof. Bélisle both as his student and research assistant. I'm pursuing my thesis under the supervision of Prof. Hammond. We've refined my research question into an exploration of the video game as architecture using phenomenological methodology.

The apartment is rather quieter, because the "babble box" left with Sheila. People keep offering me TVs but I politely decline their offers. Anton draws instead of watching cartoons. We read, sing and exercise.

In the coming year I hope to reconcile with my wife. I plan to attend the annual conference of The Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture (EPTC) in Ottawa in May, 2009. I'm still training for that Marathon. I am going to try and be more playful.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How did this economic mess occur?

I saw this article on the origins of the current mess. combined with an article that I blogged about earlier, it neatly sums up how political and economic power manipulated the markets to where they are today.

It's not high salaries for people doing the work. Heck, if we'd paid the CEO's involved the ridiculous bonuses but forced them to retire 10 years ago, this mess wouldn't have happened. Ultimately, people got rich promising the impossible- an upper middle class home for people, primarily U.S. residents, that couldn't afford them. 

It was like pretending a credit card was a salary. 

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mangan's Marathon; Bronchial infection blues

Well, I've had what is either a horrible cold or possibly pneumonia for four weeks. Training has been essentially non-existent. Even climbing the stairs in the Metro leaves me exhausted.

Feeling better though, and hope to resume sometime this week.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Why should we care about Ecuador?"

On Rick Sanchez' CNN program, some one emailed in the question "Why should we care about Ecuador?" Here is the answer from Mr. Bush's and Mr. Obama's Secretary of Defense;

Repeatedly over the last century, Americans averted their eyes in the belief that events in remote places around the world need not engage the United States. How could the assassination of an Austrian archduke in the unknown Bosnia and Herzegovina affect Americans, or the annexation of a little patch of ground called Sudetenland, or a French defeat in a place called Dien Bien Phu, or the return of an obscure cleric to Tehran, or the radicalization of a Saudi construction tycoon's son?
-Robert M. Gates from "A Balanced Strategy; Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age" in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2009

This is why U.S. and other citizens should be studying History, Geography and Languages. And I don't mean just those of Ecuador for those of you whose studies didn't include literature, hence irony.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Facebook divorce

I wrote this over a year ago...but I found it and thought it read better than I thought, so I am publishing it now.

When I first signed up on Facebook, about two years ago, I joked with my wife that marriage was easy. She signed up, I indicated I was married and ticked her name as my partner. Voila! a Facebook marriage.

Tonight, she indicated in her status bar she was packing. She changed her relationship status to single over a month ago. Facebook, after all, has no counselor, and no narrative of depth. It aids contact but not communication, and creates networks. But a network's value is its size, more than any single node. Remove any given node- in this case, a person- and the network still exists. It maps over relationships, nodding superficially to marriage and friendships but essentially subsuming them into a network that can include people one has never met face to face, or aquantances met once in a bar or workshop.

Perhaps this is the future, where relationships are rendered superficial because of the ease with which they can be added, re-categorised or even removed. Un-tick 'married'... Voila!
Facebook divorce. The paperwork, the failure(and yes, divorce is a failure because marriage contracts are not on the same time frame as say a lease, but we hope, for a life time) can be handled later.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coalition Politics: End of the Presidential PM?

The opposition parties in the federal house of commons, which represent 163 seats and 2 out of every three voters in Canada, have formed a coalition to oust the Tories. The threat to their funding got them together, but they were correct that the Conservative's lack of a stimulus package was essentially incompetent. Their approach to the current economic crisis was the same as that of US Pres. Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression- an approach that is now credited with deepening and extending the great depression. The particular brand of conservatism that advocates that approach, one of meddling only in sexual but not economic behavior is an anathema to the opposition hence they have decided to use their parliamentary majority to bring down the government with a non-confidence vote.

The upshot of this is a return to the Westminster model, where the Prime Minister serves at the pleasure of parliament, and where each member of parliament has a say in government. Instead of voting in a dictator, this returns representation to government in Canada. The individual member serves at the pleasure of the electorate he or she represents. It also suggests that the time may be ripe for the introduction of a system of representation by population.

As an aside, it says something about Stephane Dion that he could get Gilles Duceppe to agree to support a Liberal-led government.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster