Letter to the editor

I wrote a [letter to the editor of the Waterloo Region Record](http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/483932) this week. It was in response to [an editorial on Wednesday](http://news.therecord.com/article/481864). It was printed today.

I have a hard time being proud of this. I mean, I kind of am, in the sort of way where I’m mentally imagining my mom cutting it out and putting it on the fridge, and then giving me a cookie. I don’t think you ever really shake that. The fact that I was driven to write it makes me kind of sad. The fact that I *had* to write it makes me even sadder.

I’m not going to bore you with the particulars of the issue. I’m just really disheartened lately that people, particularly people in the media, seem less and less inclined to value democracy. I’ve seen plenty of instances lately where it seems to me that journalists are blindly reporting spin from one particular party. Maybe they do it for all parties, but I’m just more *offended* by one party’s spin than the others, so I recognize it more.

I didn’t think they were supposed to do that. I naively thought that they took spin, looked at it and said “Yup, uh huh. I know that’s what you *want* me to say, but let’s dig a little deeper here and find out what’s really going on.” That’s what I want them to do, anyway.

Coincidentally, I happened to be listening to [Paul Kennedy’s talk on the Canadian Voices podcast](http://www.canadianvoices.org/speakers.php?id=56), talking about how politicians don’t seem to need to have ideas anymore:

> …Journalism is responsible, or the media is responsible for a lot of the problems there. Politicians in their superficiality, in their concern for spin, in their focus group methodology, they’re responding to the media, because they want to be in the media. The way one gets elected is to get one’s face on television and one’s voice on the radio and one’s words on the front page of newspapers. And the way one does that is to appeal to journalists. Well, journalists plainly then are looking for exactly what politicians are giving them.
> I have been increasingly discouraged in the last two or three federal elections and all of the provincial elections that I have experienced in the last few years and in the way that elections are covered in the media. It’s all about polls. I thought it was about policies. But every day, you pick up the Globe and Mail or you turn on the CBC, television *or* radio, and they’re reporting “Oh, the latest Angus Reid polls say that the Tories have gone up two points and the Liberals have gone down one.” Yeah? What did Stephen Harper say? What did Mr Dion say? I want to know what Stephen Harper thinks about Kyoto and I want him to tell me and he has to justify his opinion, and I have a lot of questions for him if he says what I think he’s going to say.

I want journalism to be better. I don’t care if they report on the horse race so long as they’re actually asking questions that matter too. If people choose to vote for a certain party fully informed of what that party believes in and what their policies are, I will be happy. I may be disappointed that those beliefs and policies are at odds with mine and the ones I favour, but I’ll still be happy that democracy works the way it’s supposed to.

Democracy can’t work when the people are deliberately lied to, and the people who are charged in our society with uncovering truth can’t be bothered anymore.

[The vast majority of Canadians don’t even know how their own democracy works](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi1yhp-_x7A). And if the media isn’t going to tell them, I guess it’s down to people like me. Me. I resent being put in this position. This isn’t what I want to be. I don’t consider myself a genius expert here. I don’t want to be, and I’m not. I just paid attention in goddamned grade 10 history class.

Me on CBC’s Search Engine

I’ve been quoted on [CBC’s Search Engine](http://www.cbc.ca/searchengine/)! You can [listen to the episode online](http://www.cbc.ca/searchengine/blog/2008/04/this_weeks_show_april_1708_lin.html). I just got around to listening to the episode (via podcast, of course) today.

A couple weeks ago they asked question about whether [net neutrality should be a right](http://www.cbc.ca/searchengine/blog/2008/04/the_internet_bill_of_rights_pt.html#comments). I caught that in my RSS feed and manage to get first post with one of many, many little arguments that I think pile up and demonstrate why some sort of guaranteed net neutrality is essential to what makes the Internet a positive, democratizing force. Here’s what I said:

> The Internet is a platform. It’s nothing without the people and the technologies that are built on it.
> Net Neutrality guarantees that new technologies (and new people) won’t be excluded by incumbents seeking to defend their position.
> Tim Berners-Lee said “When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission.”

They left out the bit about incumbents in the show… Not brilliant or earth-shattering, I think, but I think it’s a point that needs making.

Ice-Free Eaves

Apparently having not learned my lessons from [last winter’s leaky roof adventure](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2007/02/13/leaky/), I didn’t quite get around to cleaning the leaves out of the eaves troughs before the snow came. Over the last couple weeks, ice was starting to build up again.

In my defense, there was only about a week between the leaves falling off the trees and the snow starting, and the snow hasn’t let up since. I was hoping the [Looj](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2007/11/05/leaves/) would help me out, but it didn’t fit. I called some maintenance company about an estimate, but haven’t heard back.

So I was pretty much on my own. As I was saying, the it’s been looking pretty grim as the snow hasn’t let up. Until today. A Saturday.

Today, miraculously, the temperature drifted briefly above 0°C. That was my cue, and I sprung into action.

I hooked up the rubber hose to the hot water tap in the garage, got a chisel-like device, climbed up on the ladder and chunk by damp, icy chunk, removed the leaves from the eaves troughs.

They work much better now.

I only did the L-shaped section bordering the back patio. That’s the only part that’s been giving me trouble (the ice really likes to build up in the L-corners of roofs, it seems), and it was most easily accessible by ladder. I ended up very wet by the end, and my hands ended up dyed bluish-black from the gloves I was wearing. The ladder ended up a little bit icy. I’ve put the damn thing away till the spring. I hope I don’t need it again.

I’m really going to have to work on getting someone to help me out with this maintenance stuff, since I can’t seem to keep up with it all. I’m just glad I was able to get this horrible weight off me, especially since I’ll be home in Belleville the next few weekends.