Category: canada

news from the north

You may have read today that Canada passed a law allowing same-sex marriage. The ‘final bill’ passed by a margin of 158 to 133. The stories I read about the process seemed to consider the bill’s final approval a done deal, but an aside at the end of the CBC news clip mentioned needing both approval from the Canadian Senate and “Royal Assent”.

Thus follows an interesting foray into the Wikipedia. It turns out that the Canadian Senate, the upper house of the Canadian parliament, is an appointed body of 105 members. I guess it rarely fails to approve lower-house legislation, deferring to the more democratic body. It’s been since 1991 that they failed to approve a lower-house bill. Apparently, the thing is regarded as something of a boondoggle, and indeed, two of the major political parties up there are calling for its abolition.

I’m generally a fan of upper houses, and their strange customs. The “sober second thought” function of an upper house is great, when properly exercised in a manner I agree with at the time.

When I heard the words “Royal Assent” I got all excited, because I thought that part of the job of the United Kingdom’s Queen was signing bills from Canada. It’s disappointing to learn, instead, that Canada’s got a Governor General who does the bill-signings. Right now, it’s a woman, and guess what her spouse is called? The Canadian Vice Regal Consort, which is possibly the most awesome title you could get by marrying someone appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister.

So not only do Canadian gays get to have a governmental system that’s way more interesting than ours, they also will get to marry each other, assuming the rubber-stamp Senate and the rubber-stamp Governor General rubber-stamp the bill. Way to go, Canada!

satellite radio, and why it is not good

Tyler Cowen, over at Marginal Revolution, divides radio listeners into two camps: A – those who only want to hear music from their large stock of familiar/favorite songs and B – those who only want to hear music from their small stock of familiar/favorite songs.

If this is a true generalization, it explains to me fully why I have absolutely no interest in satellite radio. In Ohio, growing up, we had a Top-40 station, and then a Top-40 station for people who didn’t like music by black people. Their slogan was “All of today’s best music, with none of the rap”. Satellite radio is this impulse taken to the extreme — how else could you explain a station on XM that is “all about the most important and well known songs in the history of Alternative Music.” Clearly, that’s a sack of horseshit, right?

For me, there are only two reasons to listen to music on the radio, of any type. First, to be exposed to something new, different, or interesting. Second, and an orthogonal point, is to be exposed to something unpleasant, jarring, ugly, or disheartening. What is the point of listening to a classic rock station if they’re never going to play any Eagles? You need to be punished every now and again, when you listen to the radio. For every Whole Lotta Love, there has to be a D’yer Mak’er.

Listening to the radio in the car — if everything that came on was something you wanted to hear, you’d never get to yell “CHRIST!” and almost crash the car trying to avoid the latest band from a British isle that someone, somewhere, thinks is the new Radiohead. And, you’d never get to change channels and catch the last 30 seconds of whatever mischief Pharrell Williams has cooked up for you this month, leaving you with an unreachable itch you’ll spend the next several hours channel-hopping trying to scratch.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go slip some Mariah Carey onto my girlfriend’s iPod.

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