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Let’s Google like it’s 1999… plus two!

This is very cool. As part of their 10th anniversay, Google has brought back a clone of their 2001 search index. See what the hot web-content of the day way seven years ago! Apparently I was really interested in signing some kind of Star Control petition? Why? No idea! Ah well at least I had my priorities in order.

U.S. Politics: Nyuck. Nyuck. Nyuck.

I promise not to make too much of a “thing” of US politics – others do it better and we’ve got enough issues of our own at the moment but, seriously, what exactly is going on south of the 49th parallel this week? Tim F’s excellent round-up of yesterday’s shennanigans alone doesn’t even get into the fracas of David Letterman’s ripping of John McCain (who it’s worth noting has not only been on “Late Night” dozens of times, claimed a friendship with Letterman, but also announced his presidential candidacy on the show). Incidentally the video of Letterman’s McCain comments is really worth a watch.

But the real winner has to come from that first BalloonJuice summary:

About why Secretary Paulson asked for seven hundred billion dollars:

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

Across the country, satire writers sadly capped their pens and bookmarked

Oh, a wise guy, eh?


Rob turned me on to, a clever little java application that lets you enter a chunk of plaintext (or an RSS feed) and turns it into a tag cloud image (the more a word is used the bigger it is).

It’s got a tonne of formatting options to play with and is eerily hypnotic. The picture above is the full text of the novel “Eastern Standard Tribe” with the character names removed… I just happened to have it kicking around my hard drive. Good read to boot.

An “Ordinary” Cultural Industry

Considering I never had a particularly strong response (positive or negative) to Stephen Harper, he sure has done a lot this month to antagonize me, (given that I’ve voted for both Preston Manning and Jack Layton in my lifetime – it takes a fair bit to raise my political hackles given how (relatively) centrist most of Canadian politics can be).

But Harper’s done it – from axing nearly $45 Million in cultural industry funding, to claiming that those complaining about the cuts are some kind of tuxedo-wearing red-carpet elite:

You know, I think when ordinary, working people come home, turn on the TV and see … a bunch of people at a rich gala all subsidized by the taxpayers, claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough when they know the subsidies have actually gone up, I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.

While I’m sure this kind of rhetoric plays somehwhat to Harper’s support base it doesn’t really address the real issue at play here. These cultural industry cuts are wrong not because of the cultural part, but because of the industry part. Read more

Olde Tyme Shilling

John Dickerson has a neat video with his favourite five American political ads from the past sixty years:

via Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish – where there’s usually something cool to be found.

Save the Internet Fundraising Drive

Yes I’m surviving TIFF ’08, thanks for asking. It’s been a great year, but I’m very much looking forward to getting to the weekend and sleeping for several days. More recap later.

I just got a brief e-mail from Timothy Karr, the campaing director of the (excellent) that they are looking to raise $25,000 today to help them fight Comcast’s appeal of the FCC’s precedent-setting August ruling against Comcast’s network throttling practises.

I’ve written before why network neutrality is so important, especially why I believe that conceptualizing the internet like a utility, not a content channel is fundamentally key for consumers and producers of digital content. has been one of the most vocal supporters in fighting some very deep pockets in the US to promote the concept of network neutrality – and given the influence that US policy tends to have globally, I strongly encourage everyone to help support them and spread awareness of their fight.

[ Edit – Some generous soul has also set up a $300,000 fund to match any donations made today – so if you were on the fence about putting your money where your mouth is… now’s your chance to double your impact! ]

Full e-mail after the jump.
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How to do the Toronto International Film Festival in Two Easy Steps

Posts are getting scarce – friends and family are sticking “have you seen this blogger?” posters around the neighborhood – it must be time for the Toronto International Film Festival!

The question I most commonly get asked this time of year comes in many different flavours but essentially boils down to “how can an average person who just wants to see a cool film check out the film festival?” TIFF is a daunting animal, and the people who “do” it (professionals and cineastes alike) can spend a lot of time getting passes, entering lotteries, scheduling viewings, juggling venues, dropping a small fortune on gala tickets, schmoozing the people with party invites… it’s (no joke) a full-time job for some folks who make it yearly business trip/vacation (just starting chatting with people in line for movies, a practice I fully endorse, to get some great stories of hard-core movie-watching dedication).

Relax average public, I have a hassle free two step process that will give you as good (or better) a film festival experience than 90% of attendees. I won’t even make you send away any self-addressed stamped envelopes to get it.

Step 1: Any day of the festival go to the film festival’s “Best Bets” page. Pick any film on the page.

Step 2: Go to the appropriate theater at the appropriate time, buy a ticket at the theatre box-office, and enjoy the film.

When most people see that the festival has 300+ films, they worry that they’re not going to see the “best” film, or the “right” film. But the real secret of film festivals (Toronto especially) are that there are no bad films. The festival programmers work the entire year to try and find the best possible films in the world. There is not a single film in the entire festival line-up that is a “bad” film. Some may not be to your individual taste – but you could throw a dart at the calendar and guarantee that you’d get a finely crafted, thought provoking piece of cinema from a talented artist.

Once you get that out of the way, the festival “Bets Bets” list is the obvious place to start (these are the films where, on the day of screening, for whatever reason, you can likely get a walk-up ticket at the theater). Most likely these films are not going to be playing in your local multiplex any time soon, and may, in fact, never come out on television or video (not because they’re bad, or not interesting, there’s only so many foreign films, documentaries, and other niche product that the market can support each year and sadly, some real gems, fall through the cracks).

I can’t tell you the number of brilliant documentaries, reflationary foreign films, or up and coming superstars I’ve discovered through the “Best Bets” list. In fact my brother and I were just eating dinner talking about one of our all time favourite Thai films “Citizen Dog” which was, I beleive, a “Best Bet” flick.

So quit spending your time with an excel spreadsheet of possible red-carpet sightings, and instead spend that time to get out to the theaters.

I’ll be back here to blather on more in a couple of days (although I am working on a brief post about the latest conference board of Canada culture report that I’d like to get up before the festival consumes my soul for a few days..)

See you at the movies!

Only Five Days Left in Canadian Comedy Awards Voting!

No I’m not above shameless self-promotion, so I’ll point out there’s only five days left in public voting for the Canadian Comedy Awards. If you’d care to vote for “the Waldo Ultimatum” in the Web Video category, I certainly wouldn’t stop you.