Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Whether 'tis nobler to vote "for" or "against"

The time has come, for some of us, to vote in a by-election. And this feeling of being between the rock and the hard place is getting too familiar. Did I not just do this with a federal election? And did I not end up in the minority yet again?

I have been thinking lately, about this whole voting thing. Am I one of those people who chooses the candidate I least want elected and just vote for the person who is most likely to beat her or him? Or do I vote for the person I would actually like to see win?

For years, I was of the "vote with your heart" school. If we all just voted "against" the worst candidate, where would we be? Maybe that's our whole problem? I mean, if I never vote for the person I actually think should win, how is he or she possibly going to win?

But then I thought better of my sentimental voting habits. Everyone tells me they are foolish. The newspapers and pundits tell me that clever people vote strategically, by voting "against" the candidate they dislike the most. So I tried to be clever. And it felt terrible. Not only did I vote for someone who I didn't believe in, but that person still didn't win and I'm still being governed by an individual who I do not respect and who I'm not sure is worthy of the respect or power that he weilds.

All this is to say, I still don't know what to do. I'm basically faced with the same voting choices one month later, and I fear the same outcome. Do I risk being duped again? Or do I just do what I think is actually the proper thing to do?

Is this really democracy? I can't keep straight in my head all of the subtleties of the Canadian electoral system or of any other country's system, for that matter. But perhaps it is time to seriously consider a change. Although I suppose if things change we'll have to learn to vote all over again and that may be even more confusing than the conundrum I'm faced with presently. Drat.

Well, friends, you all know the answer to this problem. Bring on the martini!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Neat Spreadsheet!

Yup. The title of this week's blog, is a phrase that I actually heard someone utter on the commuter train on my way home this evening. She was explaining to a friend how neat this spreadsheet is that she deals with at work. I say, "ick."

Don't get me wrong. I, too, have been swept up by the marvels of Excel. Granted, I'm way low tech (because numbers and I have agreed to disagree with one another). But there is a temptation to pile a whole lot of info into a bazillion cells in a spreadsheet, add colourful headings, freeze rows and columns for easy viewing, and feel like the organizational equivalent of a sexpot.

Beware! Excel deceives. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how handy it is to alphabetize lists by the items in column D instead of column A, no matter what calculations it purports to calculate or graphs it happily graphs, underneath, it is still a dull, dull spreadsheet meant for math and figures and numbers, numbers, numbers.

I hate that in organizing even text-only stuff I'm forced to embrace Excel and spreadsheets. It happens to me at work all the time, and I smile and nod and input data. But I just don't feel the true love. Indeed, I'm not sure that the spreadsheet isn't plotting against me. One day, it might just up and mix up all of my cells, or change all of my text dates into discombobulated numbers.

O Excel! What are you doing to us! To our brains! To our knowledge of the alphabet! To our souls!

What is the solution, you ask? How can we keep ourselves from being blinded by the false promises of spreadsheets?

More martinis are the answer.

Think about this, friends.

Food for thought (Thanks Grad School Avenger! You saved my blog!):PowerPoint is Evil