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Archive for March, 2010

and that’s a wrap

March 25th, 2010 18 comments

More posts and comments will trickle in over the coming days, but with the results announced and no appeals that we know of, our coverage is wrapping up.

In punditry.ca tradition, our congratulations to the new executive – Saulnier, LeForte, Dahn, Kurin, and the as-yet unnamed VP FO, as well as to the three new senators.  I hope that you have a successful year, and that you hire a full-time staffer to do your spell checking. :)

I think we had an embarrassment of riches in candidates this year; yes, each has their flaws, and we may focus on those sometimes, but we all have flaws.  The DSU would have been in good hands with any of them, I feel.  I was particularly excited by the unprecedented availability of information online.  Perhaps those of you who were not elected will consider running for other positions, like the Board of Operations, which the DSU is advertising now.

A shout-out to the hard-working elections committee and the CRO, those unfortunate souls tasked with refereeing bickering candidates, trying to encourage students to vote, organizing the whole bloody thing, and being blamed for everything.  (Do the cool kids still do shout-outs?)

Thank you of course to the pundits and commenters and tipsters who are the reason this site still exists.

punditry.ca saw 50 posts from pundits (42,000 words) and around 800 comments (67,000 words).  We served over 55,000 pages to 1,500 absolute unique visitors in just over 2 weeks.  If they were all Dal students, which they definitely aren’t, that would be 10% of the student body and 62% of those who voted.

Because of my continuing fetish for word clouds, I generated one for both the posts and the comments.  I didn’t pay attention to plurals, but I did remove HTML tags and “dsu”.  These each have 150 words, so click them to see the full-size version.  Analysis is left as an exercise for the reader.

Pundit Posts Wordcloud (click for full-size)

Word Cloud of punditry.ca comments (click for full version)

punditry.ca will be back next year, because someone’s gotta do it.  Speak to any current pundit if you want to be involved next year; recruitment will start in 9 months or so.  This will be my last post of the year, so I thank you for reading and bid you a slightly awkward but nevertheless polite farewell.

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Liveblogging the election results

March 24th, 2010 27 comments

Hey gang!  It’s the moment of truth, the election results will be announced starting at 9:00pm AST, and punditry.ca will be there liveblogging it all for those at home (or in the Killam, as the case may be…)

We have been informed that this year the results will be interspersed with the finalists for Dalhousie’s Got Talent, with a position being announced between every few acts.   If all goes according to schedule, President should be announced sometime around 11:30…so expect a midnight or later announcement for the big job.

Jebus, the Grawood still sells energy drinks, right?  This pundit is in for a long one…

Stay tuned to this spot!

9:10:  Sorry friends, so many technical difficulties.  Fellow pundit Mark Coffn wins the award for my knight in shining Internet armour…he’s not just a pretty smile, folks.

9:15:  Senate results are announced.  They’re going to show us the candidate videos first and then announce the winners…it’s like the Oscars, but hopefully without all the suck.

9:20:  Technical difficulties are the name of the game tonight, no candidate videos, just photos of the candidates with the Election Committee’s own take on punditry’s “6 word game.”  Christian Browne is the boy band member of the crew, apparently.

9:22:  Oh my, that went by quickly.  Your new Senate Reps are Maggie Lovett, Ben Wedge and Carly Nicholson.

9:30:  Wow, that was a little stressful, but we’re up and running now.  The Grawood, incidentally,  is packed.  Methinks it’s more for the Dalhousie’s Got Talent than the election results…just a thought.

9:32:  The band on stage right now looks a bit like early Hives, but is singing a medley of Disney songs, and, like, not just the “Whole New World” standards one would expect, but pulling out the B string “Man Out of You” Mulan type stuff.  A bold move, let’s see if it works out for them.

9:38:  A reliable source [who says punditry doesn't have journalistic integrity?...] has told me that Sen. Wedge was triple fisting with some of Nova Scotia’s finest ale in celebration of his victory.  That source may or may not have been Wedge himself, so I feel comfortable writing about it.

9:41:  In case anyone was wondering, I am sitting front stage centre (leftish) with a laptop on my lap in the middle of the packed bar…I am officially the coolest person you (virtually) know.

9:45: RELEVANT POST ALERT: VPSL is up.  I am in so much suspense…I’m predicting a come from behind win for “no.”

9:46:  Hannah “if she were any better, she’d be twins” Dahn takes the VPSL position for 2010-2011.

9:58:  I don’t know who this comedienne is, but she is ginger, from PEI and pretty hilarious…the pundits corner has decided that we should befriend her.

10:00: VP EDUCATION!

10:01:  Rob “his apples are delicious” LeForte takes the two-peat for VP Education-soon-to-be-VP Academic and External.

10:04:  Next talent group up.  I, again, have no idea what their names are.  (Protip, commercial radio lady who is hosting this whole shindig:  If the gal up front with the computer who is paying attention can’t catch the name of any of the acts, the ones in the back imbibing some of power hour’s finest brew don’t have a chance.  This becomes problematic when you later want them to vote for a winner.)

10:08:  Sublime’s “Badfish” to a “socialble” call to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”…I’m in a tailspin of genre-mashing.  I’m also struggling for things to write about in these half hour breaks, just in case it wasn’t obvious.

10:12:  Some people have asked in the comments for the percentage break down along with the winners.  The reason I can’t do this is because they aren’t announcing the ballot count or the percentage of votes for each candidate.  Yeah, no, I don’t know either…

Thankfully, we at punditry.ca have Mike Smit, who will be posting the percentage counts as they come in (or, at the very least, has been in the comments…)

10:14:  A note on the above, in my rush to post the winners, I don’t think I’ve quite been able to convey just how rushed and anti-climactic the annoucements have been.  It’s a bit of a shame, really.  With no percentages or day by day break downs of votes as in years past, it’s a pretty quick process and seems a little bit of an afterthought compared to the rest of the night.  A little disappointing.

10:22: THIS BAND IS SINGING BAD ROMANCE!! The law of Gaga says that they win by deafult, show’s over, amirite?!

10:25:  Just in case you were wondering, this band (Simply Dusted!) also sang Folsom Prison Blues and All for You by gone but not forgotten mid-90s band Sister Hazel.  A mixed bag indeed…

10:26:  VP INTERNAL:  This required a third ballot, says the CRO.  A close race, to be sure.  Apparently, the field mouse can come out on top, and the next VPI will be Kayla Kurin.  This pundit, for one, did not see that one coming.

10:32:  Next up is a magician.  She just made a glass bottle vanish when it was clearly in a paper bag.  BURN THE WITCH!!!  To quote Pundit Buchanan: “She’s going to make that bottle disappear and I’m not going to have a clue where it went.  That’s why I hate magicians!”  One for the books, ladies and gents.

10:35:  The pundit corner likes magic…they really, really like magic.

10:38:  This girl went to magic camp.  I’m going to declatre that cooler than my years at debate camp.

10:40:  PRESIDENT:  Again, not much pagentry.  Saulnier takes the big prize.

10:43:  What a sin, Bailey apparently didn’t have his I.D on him to get into the Grawood and so has two big “X”s on his hand to denote underage status.   Also, CandC Music Factory is now playing.  I feel like I’m at a grade 7 dance all over again…Dance Mix ’96 what?!

10:57:  Actually, I think they have just put on the Dance Mix ’96 tape…regardless, the dance floor is bumping.

10:58:  This pundit is going to finish her $3.50 beer (god bless campus pubs) and head to bed…pundit over and out.

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And Nothing But The Truth

March 24th, 2010 13 comments

Now that the polls have closed it is time to reveal the real truth behind this election. While Tipping and Edelstein think that they have succeeded with Debo version 1 through 4, there is a far more sinister truth behind this election which began on Sexton Campus over 10 years ago.

In 1997 when the TUNS Student Union was taken over by the DSU a secret calling of engineers known as the Crisis Handling Robotics and Informatics Section was formed. Every year under the guise of an secretive ‘iron ring’ ceremony graduating engineers are inducted into this dark calling under the unsuspecting eyes of the DSU and society at large. Since their  formation in 1997 you have been able to hear their work on a project commonly known as “La Chaise” taking place on the bottom floor of the Mechanical building (where there ACTUALLY is  a machine shop).

For twelve years we have poured Sexton Engineering Endowment Fund money into this project. The majority of the components have been designed by students as their senior design  projects. Several prominent professors’ careers revolve around the research done for “La Chaise”. The most active disciplines have been Mechanical, and Electrical and Computer,  however all fields of Engineering were utilized. Special thanks must be given to the Chemical engineering department for coming up with the “Food and Beer to Energy” conversion system and polymers used to look like real skin and flesh.

The project name “La Chaise” came from the testing phase designed by industrial engineering students in which the robot would chair several committees such as Executive Review,  Nominating Committee and of course our own Dalhousie Sexton Engineering Undergraduate Society meetings.  The technical name for this project is the “Sexton Animatronic  Undergraduate Lifelike Nerdy Informative Engineer Robot” or SAULNIER. Instead of such a foolhardy plan of having our robot run untested in DSU elections we instead opted for  secretly infiltrating the highest echelons of the DSU.

Our spies discovered the truth behind Debo two years ago. After much debate, we opted not to expose Tipping and Edelstein’s evil plot for fear of exposure of our own. Instead we  decided to come up with a third option providing voters with a middle ground between Debo version 4 and our own SAULNIER.

We came up with a “plan” or a “planner” as the case may be. In working with planning students the Computer engineers designed a community interface with advanced collaborative circuitry. This project became known as “Beta Anamatronic Informative Lifelike for Election Year” or BAILEY. We did not have time to completely design a new chassis, but with a pair  of glasses, some plaid, and a goatee we felt that the similarities between BAILEY and SAULNIER would not be noticed. While we had to run BAILEY untested and unknown in this election due to excellent engineering all of our design specifications were met.

That’s right. We have not left this election up to fallible human flesh. In the battle between the future of Sexton Campus and the DSU, no matter who you voted for, this is the beginning of the end. The results of this election, along with the new DSU Website going live (internally known as Students are Kindred Youth Needing Education and Teaching – SKYNET), will  usher in a new era of machine.

Reference: Last year’s mech Design Group 7′s project was used for link.

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results party

March 24th, 2010 19 comments

Voting closes in about 10 minutes; results will be announced in the Grawood tonight, and I am hoping some of our intrepid pundits keep you posted here.

Also at the Grawood tonight: Dalhousie’s Got Talent Finals.  If voting in the DSU Elections isn’t enough for you, vote online for your favorite after the show.

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The Whole Truth

March 24th, 2010 9 comments

My friend and fellow pundit, Jen Bond, and I met in 2002 when we both arrived at Dalhousie as undergraduate students. That year, we had three of our five classes together, as well as a seminar. Though we travelled in different social circles, we both found our way to Council Chambers at the Dalhousie Student Union. Jen would go on to become Vice President (Education) of the DSU while I became a permanent fixture on Council. After completing Pre-Schulich Law School together, Jen and I have, for the most part, retired from student politics, but maintain a keen observer status.

Until now, this has been the truth.

In fact, Ms. Bond and I met much earlier on that world wide network known as “the Internet”. We got to chatting about the usual things that interested high school students at the dawn of the millenium. One night, after a spirited discussion of race relations as portrayed in Bring It On and fuelled by far too many cans of Jolt Cola (this was in the days before Red Bull; we got by on what we had), we devised our plan, and in the summer of 2002, we met covertly in the great state of Maine.

That is when we built Mike Tipping.

Mike Tipping

How the Tipping-bot was never outed, I will never know. Look at those eyes! If those aren't robot eyes, I don't know what are.

It was a summer that tested both our friendship and our commitment to the project, but by the end of August, our dream became a reality.

To ensure no connection among the three of us was suspected upon our arrival at Dalhousie, we applied to live in different residences. I moved into Shirreff Hall, while Jen lived in Eliza Richie, and the Tipping-bot in Howe Hall where he learned the social graces of the average undergrad and developed a tolerance for alcohol. To further our ruse, Tipping was presented as an American while Jen and I made sure to have audible “getting to know each other” conversations at parties and around the Council table (i.e. “Oh, you went to Sydney Academy? Do you know fellow SA graduate X?”)

We enrolled the Tipping-bot in our Political Science class where Dr. Robert Boardman unknowingly aided us in developing the bot’s knowledge of Canadian government. Jen oversaw the development of Tipping’s skills as an orator by involving him in debating. During our time in Maine, I performed a comprehensive survey of what the typical American teenager was wearing those days. Hence, I looked after the bot’s wardrobe, which was to consist of inoffensive, occasionaly namebrand t-shirts, just slightly oversized denim jeans (in order to appear comfortable and approachable, but not unkempt nor like a hipster), and your standard running shoe.

As for Tipping’s political aspirations, as well as our own, we started small with each of us taking a position on our respective residence councils. In order to get the bot some “hippie street cred”, he founded a grassroots organization called Halifax Action. These activist roots were necessary to counterbalance his conservative haircut, especially when faced with a shaggier opponent like Pelley.

After my colleague was made the benefactor of alphabetical election ballots, Jen and I became aware of a fundamental flaw in our plan. Our would-be candidate’s surname was far too close to the bottom of the alphabet. That year, under the name “Elections Review Task Force”, we spearheaded a major re-write of the election rules of the DSU Constitution. With the assistance of our confidant, Ezra Edelstein, and our unwitting fellow committee member and future campaign opponent, the alphabetically-advantaged Ms. Beringer, we ensured that candidate names would from that point forward appear in random order when presented to voters. This proved effective, as our bot successfully won two elections against opponents whose surnames would have otherwise given them an advantage.

Finding himself unchallenged by his human competition, Tipping, with the assistance of Ezra, took it upon himself to build a political adversary. What we neglected to do as guardians of the bot was show him that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Data’s Moriarty figures out how to leave the Holodeck. Had we done that, perhaps he might have reeled it in a bit when programing Deb-bot’s antiestablishment protocols.

Throughout his time in Halifax, the Tipping-bot spoke often of Maine and his fondness for the place where he was born. So, when the time felt right, we let our creation return home. We miss him dearly.

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The Truth

March 24th, 2010 35 comments

When Ezra and I got to drinking, our talk often turned to Dadaism.

We both felt the need to ridicule and reject the “reason” and “logic” of bourgeois capitalist society and believed that only through the introduction of chaos, anger and irrationality into the DSU election process could the union truly reach its full potential. One night, we decided to make it happen.

It was then that we built the first Debogorski.

Thanks to a line of NSERC research funding secured through a secret CASA lobbying effort and the high-tech tools in the machine and fabrication shop hidden deep in the basement of the SUB, we were able to create a marvel of robotics, the Debo1. No mere human could match him in unpredictability, ability to formulate recursive and nonsensical policy or sheer volume.

Most people thought that the Imagine DSU events that year were a way of engaging hundreds of students in charting the future of the union. In reality, they were an elaborate proving ground for our new creation. And he did excellently. Fueled by gallons of “We Proudly Brew,” the Deb-bot distracted, interrupted and scared more students (and university administrators) than we thought possible, giving them all a deeper, more complex understanding of themselves and the union.


We honestly didn’t think the Debotron would last long in his first election before being exposed as a machine, which is why he only ran for Board of Governors.

We were initially concerned that the bot’s antics would lead the other candidates and the electorate in general to shun him. We shouldn’t have worried. Plenty of people treated him like a real candidate. Even when Debo1 threatened members of the executive with physical harm, people just laughed nervously and carried on.

In that first election, the robot was constantly down for repairs, causing it to miss several debates and other campaign opportunities. Overall, however, we were happy with the performance of the prototype.

We also knew that next year we had to up the ante.

Debo2 was the first presidential model. He performed much more reliably and we gradually began to find the right balance in his programming between the crazy outbursts and whacked-out ideas and just enough buzzwords and populist indignation to have him taken seriously by a significant part of the student body.

We further refined the Debogorski throughout its last two elections, slowly tweaking his lounge lizard identification protocols and improving his manifesto-writing capabilities until he became the masterpiece of robotics, psychology, anthropology and art he is today.

At the same time, his constant presence desensitized the electorate to his underlying computer-generated instability.

Now, thanks to John Hillman’s endorsement, Debo4 stands ready to finally win a DSU election and assume the position he was built to inhabit.

150 years of  “rational,” human presidents end tomorrow night and the era of anarchy, madness and, most importantly, growth and understanding begins.

For The Union!

When Ezra and I got to drinking, our talk often turned to Dadaism.

We both felt the need to ridicule and reject the “reason” and “logic” of bourgeois capitalist society and that only through the introduction of chaos, anger and irrationality into the DSU election process could the union truly reach its full potential. One night we decided we had to do something to make this happen.

It was then that we built the first Debogorski.

Thanks to a line of NSERC research funding secured through a secret CASA lobbying effort and the high tech tools in the machine and fabrication shop hidden deep in the basement of the SUB, we were able to create a marvel of robotics, the Debo1. No mere human could match him in unpredictability, ability to formulate recursive and nonsensical policy and sheer volume.

However, we soon found that the first brain we fashioned for Debo, while capable of following simple commands and creating random outbursts, wasn’t fully-formed enough to pass for a normal Dal student. That’s why we enrolled him in Management.

Most people thought that the Imagine DSU events that year were a way of engaging hundreds of students in charting the future of the union. In reality, they were an elaborate proving ground for our new creation. And he did excellently. Fueled by gallons of “We Proudly Brew,” the Deb-bot distracted, interrupted and scared more students (and university administrators) than we thought possible, giving them all a deeper, more complex understanding of themselves and the union.

We honestly didn’t think the Debotron would last long in his first election before being exposed as a psychotic machine, which is why he only ran for Board of Governors.

One of our biggest hurdles early on was the lack of a documented history for Debo, mainly the the lack of a facebook profile. We managed to explain this away by spreading the rumour that he had been kicked off the social networking site for virtually stalking and harassing a number of female students at Dalhousie. The perfect cover.

We were initially concerned that knowledge of the bot’s supposed creepy behaviour, and the witnessing of its ongoing antics would lead the other candidates and the electorate in general to shun him. We shouldn’t have worried. Plenty of people treated him like a real candidate. Even when Debo1 threatened members of the executive with physical harm, people just laughed nervously and carried on.

Unfortunately, the robot was constantly down for repairs, causing it to miss several debates and other campaign opportinuties. Overall, however, we were happy with the performance of the prototype.

We also knew that next year we had to up the ante.

Debo2 was the first presidential model. He performed much more reliably and we gradually began to find the right balance in his programming between the crazy outbursts and whacked-out ideas and just enough buzzwords and populist indignation to have him taken seriously by a significant part of the student body.

We further refined the Debogorski throughout its last two elections, slowly tweaking his lounge lizard identification protocols and improving his manifesto-writing capabilities until he became the masterpiece of robotics, psychology, anthropology and art he is today. At the same time, his constant presence desensetized the electorate to his underlying insanity.

Now, thanks to John Hillman’s endorsement, Debo4 stands ready to finally win a DSU election and assume the position he was built to inhabit.

150 years of rational, human presidents ends tomorrow night and the era of anarchy, madness and growth begins.

For The Union!

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“Live from the AGM, it’s Tuesday Night!”

March 23rd, 2010 63 comments

6:30pm: The AGM is set to begin but we haven’t hit quorum.

6:40pm: We still haven’t hit quorum. There is free pizza though. They even had vegan pizza available.

6:45pm: President Shannon Zimmerman announces we’re waiting on quorum and if you have friends near by, give them a ringle (also known as a telephone call).So far at the AGM, I see Chris Saulnier and Neil Bailey, both mingling with a slice in hand. Kurin and Blake are both seated in the audience. Lovett is seated amidst fellow DSUSOers and Wedge is working the room. Leforte is seated at the front of the room at the Executive table.

I missed Karl Dempsey in my initial scan. Dempsey is chatting up the current president, Zimmerman.

Read more…

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