Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Gallery Software Installation Complete

I have completed installation of 'Gallery' -- the software that we will be using to track our library of images for use in the magazine. There's not much to see right now, but what's there lives at:


I am going to start categorizing my images and adding them later this week. Here is the initial list of categories that I am trying to fill:

1. Federal politicians
2. Provincial politicians
3. Famous people
4. Generic urban
5. Generic rural
6. Generic agriculture
7. Generic business
8. Generic industry
9. Generic medical
10. Generic police/fire
11. Generic Internet/computer
12. Generic communications
13. Generic technology
14. Generic weather/climate
15. Generic pollution shots

Anyone with a camera who is willing to help out is asked to get in touch with me. Don't feel intimidated because you're not a professional photographer or you don't own a fancy camera. You'd be surprised just how good a snapshot from the cheapest camera can be made to look with a bit of tweaking and cropping.

Progress and "The Back of the Book"

Sean has been a busy man. We have the URL and the Content Management software is just being set up. I merely report this, Sean is the man who actually got it done.

When he thinks it's ready we'll put up discussion forums to proceed with the organization.

Now would be a good time to think about a) what articles you are burning to write, b) who else we should have onboard, c) the "back of the book" - movie reviews, CD's, games, books, websites, software.

The back of the book is a place which is about opinion but not politics in any direct sense. And it is potentially a huge draw for Billy. For example, Bob over at Let it Bleed, along with having come up with Billy, writes first class book reviews.

With the book reviewing budgets at the Canwest papers cut back to nearly zero and very few book editors being willing to assign anything but the next big literary novel for fear of missing a GG nominee, non-fiction reviewing (and fiction of course) is open to new entrants..That be us.

And so on. Thoughts and comments and dibs welcome in comments. more?

Monday, October 25, 2004

CMS Installation Complete

The Content Management System (CMS) is up and running. Please don't ask me how all the bits and pieces work just yet, I'm still learning my way around as well. I would encourage everyone to sign up for an account and play around with the new site a bit:


You won't have full posting permissions until I change your role from 'authenticated user' to 'contributor'. I'm heading to bed shortly so this may not happen until tomorrow. Don't worry about breaking anything -- any boo boos are easily fixed so indulge yourselves. There's also a chatbox feature. Please avail yourselves of it and let me know how you like it.

I realize the site is butt ugly at the moment as I'm using one of the default themes. We'll start work on prettying things up shortly.

In the meantime, here's some reading for you folks on posting content to Drupal:

- User's Guide
- Administrator's Guide
- Theme Developer's Guide

...not everyone is expected to go beyond the User's Guide, but I've provided the other links for those who are feeling ambitious.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Looking at the comments on the proposed "Billy" as a title for the magazine I note that Don has run into some negative reaction. So have I.

In my case it has been more a reaction of "What?" rather than fully negative. In a sense, simply because it signifies nothing in particular people are non-plused when they hear it.

I don't actually think that matters. what does matter is that it is short, memorable and unlikely to actually drive anyone away.

Rather than spend the next two months coming up with a marginally better name - if one is possible - I would like to go ahead with Billy.

Assuming that no one violently objects over the course of today (Saturday) I will let loose the dogs of Sean who will get the name reserved (with a .com) and set up web space.

We can then get on with the more interesting and useful task of putting some editorial flesh and bones on Billy. He's a scrawny, squally infant at the moment. Breathing through his mouth, knuckles dragging....

Here's to Billy!


Thursday, October 21, 2004

A woman from Mars

Hello -

I've been reading the posts here since Jay sent me the invitation, and although I feel somewhat tongue-tied in forums, comments sections and chat rooms, I do want to express my thanks to Jay and my growing interest in this project.

Perhaps the best contribution you are all making to the conservative movement in Canada is demonstrating that conservatism (and libertarianism) are not monolithic group think modes but a springboard from which any number of ideas and political views can be expressed.

Two sentences! I'm on a real roll here ...


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Central area for info

I find this space a bit difficult to use for organizing us. I have set out some space where we can set things up so we can see who is doing what to who (whom?)

Find it here.

There are only two things up so far: the original features list and a blank list of contributors.

Please email me with how you are going to contribute and I will add your info. I am also looking to fill in more columns to the contribution chart and would be willing to add other areas to the space as we see fit. Send me your comments and ideas.

Camping joke here

Interesting paragraph in Inkless Wells, part of his comments on "being exposed" by Don Martin in the National Post for staying over at Scott Brison's compound:

In the meantime, there's an assumption underlying Don's column that I find remarkable indeed: that the biggest danger in political reporting is excessive sympathy for our subjects. I'd argue that a comparable danger is the cheap assumption that they're all liars and scoundrels, an assumption that's easier to strike because it insulates us from the crippling accusation of being "in the tank."

I like this, and not just because it's a bit contrarian. There is a tendency for the opposition and the media (can I use "us" here?) to focus on corruption. Often this lets mere incompetence go un-discussed, and plain old bad decision-making is rarely if ever addressed.

There is a connection here to Gomery, and the ways to spin its purpose, as well as to a rule of thumb I spelled out a couple of months ago. I'm going to work on this, but in short, I hope my new colleagues here resist not only the temptation to reflexively oppose everything the Liberals do, but also the temptation to focus on the crisis-du-jour. As Wells concludes:
..money is being hosed around this country for health care and equalization and regional development and research infrastructure in amounts dozens or hundreds of times greater than the party favours politicians hand out to their cronies. Ottawa remains more obsessed with politics than policy, which means the biggest crimes against good government go unreported. But everyone feels vaguely virtuous, which after all is the Canadian way.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

That NAME thang...


It looks like we're tilting in favour of Billy as a name. Can we put it to a vote?

Also, please state your preference for a domain name:

- billymag.ca
- billymag.com

The sooner we have this nailed down, the sooner I can register a domain, get some Web hosting, and start installing Content Management Software.

Monday, October 18, 2004

A case for privatizing the CPP

I’m pretty sure this is not Tom Sandborn’s intent, but he builds a powerful case for privatizing the management of pensions in this article at the Tyee titled Pensions Deep into Weapons, Toxins, Sweatshops. It begins:
The investment experts at the arms-length body that administers Canada Pension Plan funds are facing fierce criticism these days. Critics say the CPP Investment Board managers are pouring public money into war production, tobacco companies and firms like Wal Mart with unsavory reputations for labour and environmental abuses. They also challenge the prudence of shifting CPP money into the volatile and uncertain arena of the stock market, away from the public bond holdings that have traditionally both backed up Canada Pensions and financed public infrastructure across Canada.
No one should be forced to have their money invested in companies that they find ethically objectionable, in my opinion. It’s even worse if they don’t have confidence that the management team is making sound investments, worrying that their retirement depends on “the volatile and uncertain arena of the stock market”.

The obvious answer is to let him direct his contributions to the CPP to the investment management team of his choice. Personally, I’m cool with the volatile and and uncertain stock market, and am content to profiteer on weapons, toxins and sweatshops if it allows me to retire in comfort. In my case I actually have more confidence that money invested privately will be available for my retirement, rather than having it sit in government bonds and depend on the generosity of voters in the future to honour the debts. But far be it for me to tell Tom Sandborn or anyone else how their retirement funds should be invested.

So the solution is clear – we can both have the same CPP contributions deducted at source, but then allow each to select a fund management team that meets our ethical requirements and has a risk profile with which we are comfortable. Tom and similar-minded folks can select ethical funds that avoid companies to which they object – they could even build up a pool of capital that could be lent to developing countries at favourable rates and terms, displacing the IMF and World Bank. And I can sleep soundly knowing those Asian sweatshops will ensure both my comfortable retirement and their economic progress, as outlined in this article by Nicholas Kristof.

(Apologies if posting content is premature, but my view of starting an E-zine is similar to my view on Foreign Policy - conduct it, don't study it. This is an example of what I think one type of content should be - interact with the other E-zines with arguments that potentially persuade on their terms.) more?

Mars Needs Women!

...and maybe we could use some, too? The rooster to hen ratio is looking kind of sucky at the moment. Can I lead off with a couple of nominations?

Theresa Zolner (Heart of Canada)

Shannon Davis (Shenanigans)


Peanut gallery

Hello, fellow nerds who have reservations about da Canadian value as they are presently and commonly understood. I asked for this invitation, and thus I am happy to accept it.

This was Jay Currie's idea and he is volunteering to edit - so as far as I'm concerned, it's his, and that works for me (The notion of a Conservative magazine being some sort of co-op I find a little strange. That said, I'll help out however I can.)

I'm going to try to be the best darn contributor here. If I suck, I expect Currie to cut me off. If this thing destructs, or peters out, or sucks, I'll step away without shame and hold Currie responsible for the mess. Hah!

As for a name, I'm somewhat indifferent, but offer a few reactions:
  • TANSTAAFL - not too big on making an explicit political statement with the title of the thing
  • The Vorpal Blade - notwithstanding how well-known (or not) the allusion is, it sounds scary
  • Billy - not bad!
My barely-thought-through suggestion is "A Smoke and a Drink". For background, see Colby Cosh's pre-election mini-polemic here. In short, it's a rebuke to "the Liberal civil religion of aggressive egalitarianism", which I think is probably one of the major aims of this whole effort, and if it's not, it ought to be.