Monday, December 29, 2008

Japanese Discover Secret of Virginity

Japanese researchers, commissioned by the Japanese Government have just released a study drawing a connection between the eating of breakfast and prolonging virginity.

Really, do tell...

There are many theories on the links between food and sex, but Japanese researchers have came up[sic] with a new finding - young people who skip breakfast tend to lose their virginity earlier.

In a study of 3000 people, those who did not regularly eat breakfast when in their early teens said they lost their virginity at an average age of 17.5, versus an overall average age of 19 for all Japanese.

For those who had a morning meal when they were younger, the average age of having the first sexual experience was 19.4.

The study, backed by Japan's health ministry, was aimed at finding ways to curb unwanted pregnancies. It concluded that a stable home life discouraged early sex.

Due to an unfortunate translation problem, the English version of the study was inappropriately titled Hey, those sluts look hungry, but was quickly recalled.

A Mr. Kitamura, the head of the Japan Family Planning Association goes on to say:

Those unhappy with their parents - such as for not preparing breakfast - may tend to find a way to release their frustration by having sex...

Yeah, that was my first thought this morning when I woke up to no breakfast. I think I'll just go out and have sex. Then I remembered how cold it was.

Like all of us Japan wants to reduce teenage pregnancies and disease. Also they have one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The low birth rate is a problem for a country that has a bit of a thing about racial purity and nationalism. I imagine they have more than a few Pat Buchanans/Mark Steyns over there shrieking about the future demographics.

While I wonder about how they arrived at this correlation between breakfast and chastity, and whether the study is even remotely scientific, I'm not going to argue about it. If it works it works.

It only seems common sense that you should cook breakfast for your kids. Please recommend this post

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Lump of Coal Ash For You

I was reading PZ Myers blog post on coal ash. Coal ash is the toxic sludge that is leftover after coal is burned. In Tennessee a retaining wall collapsed and 500 million gallons of coal ash were dumped into the state's water table. Since coal ash contains concentrations of heavy metals and other toxic substances you would think this would be recognized by the media as a huge environmental disaster. However the coverage has been very light to say the least.

This got me thinking about how we deal with coal ash in Alberta. Over 95% of our electricity is coal fire generated. Mostly this comes from the two large generators at Lake Wabamum. The first plant built in the 1950's pretty much ruined the ecology of the lake. A CN derailment a few summers ago didn't help by dumping millions of gallons of bunker oil in the lake.

So where does the ash from these plants go? Most of the coal in Alberta is strip mined, so it is likely the ash goes back in an excavation where the coal came from. I did find one document on Alberta Environment's website which did not exactly fill me with confidence.

Some excerpts:

Coal ash contains certain elements (B, Se, As) in concentrations that may create toxic conditions when entering the food chain via plant uptake or by leaching into the ground and surface waters. Therefore, it is critical to define and characterize coal ash to ensure proper use and disposal procedures.


Update: B,Se and As in the above quotation refer to Boron, Selenium and Arsenic.

The Alberta User Guide for Waste Managers states that “fly ash waste, bottom ash waste, slag waste or flue gas emission control waste generated from the combustion of domestic waste, coal, wood, or other fossil fuels” are not considered hazardous wastes..

Emphasis mine. And...

Current management options for coal ash include: disposal in mined out areas, surface impoundments, off-site landfills, co-disposal with sour wastes, soil conditioner for pH adjustment, and re-use.

The document goes on with the usual assurances that there shouldn't be any problems. I wrote some time ago about how a moth-balled gas plant in Turner Valley was leaking toxic hydrocarbons in the Sheep River water basin and no one was acknowledging the problem or trying to fix it. Then there's the ongoing allegation of cancer rates in the Athabasca River communities. The response was to deny and fire a health official.

Do you see a pattern here? A province that actually has poor environmental practices goes to great lengths to deny the problem and harass whistle blowers.

Unfortunately there's not much the rest of us can do about it because the Government has the unwavering support of Alberta's media outlets. Vote Tory, be happy. Please recommend this post

The Thais are Funny

Please recommend this post

Monday, December 22, 2008

David Hockney Gives Me Pleasure

I came across this great book of David Hockney's paintings and photographs, with great reproduction quality and just the right amount of commentary. Hockey is a UK born artist who is a painter first, but also is good at photography. He also designs sets for Opera and stage.

My favourite Hockney painting is called Garrowby Hill (image above left). The colors and the vantage point are just too much. The painting is based on the countryside around Yorkshire but it reminds me a lot of the scenery in Alberta. I've always wanted this painting.

I also want the book. I'm not much into coffee table books but this I would make an exception for. It would also make a good bathroom book. Not that putting a book in a bathroom is in any way an insult. Its a luxury that you can look at a book and take your time, possible while in the midst of a difficult passing.

Hey, what are you doing in there hurry up!
Nothing. I'll be out in a second.
Don't touch my art books!

Or even as a bedside book...

Honey, you never make love to me anymore.
You just flip through that Hackney book every night.

Title: David Hockney
Authors: Paul Melia and Ulrich Luckhardt
ISBN: 3-7913-2413-6
Dewey: 759.2 HOC Please recommend this post

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Whose Nativity Scene is it?

The nativity scene at a church near my house. Charming, though a little kitschy. You can't see it well in the picture, but there is a little Angel hoisted above the manger with a piece of rebar. Because I'm a neurotic stickler for details I thought something was not quite right. For some reason I didn't think there was an angel at the nativity scene, at least not as its told in the bible stories.

Quick refresher. Of the four Gospels only Matthew and Luke have stories about the birth of Jesus. Mark and John start their gospels with Jesus already an adult. Matthew tells the story of the three wise men, but Luke leaves them out completely. Luke tells the story of the shepherds in the fields woken up by angels in the sky. Matthew leaves the shepherds out.

And yes, I was right. Neither story says there were Angels at the manger.

Its a minor detail and a forgivable one in the name of artistic license. The reason it bothers me is that every year at this time we have horrible arguments about who owns Christmas and what it really means. I think that if you're going to be like Bill O'Reilly or the Catholic League and bully people into believing that your version of Christmas is the correct one, to be forced upon the rest of us, then you should at least get the details correct from your own source.

Make of the holidays and the various traditions what you will. Its yours to imagine. Or to ignore. If you want zebras and helicopters in your nativity scene go for it. If you want gay shepherds or a black Virgin Mary go for it. It is your spiritual path, your story, and your symbols. Please recommend this post

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Night Links

Some of my favourites from the last couple of days.

1. Sara Posner at the Nation and Christopher Hitchens at Slate Magazine both deconstruct Rick Warren. What they find under the rock is not pretty. They're both good articles but one is more nuclear. Can you guess which one?

2. Vanity Fair's special on Tina Fey. With pictures. Awkward throat clearing. Grabbing collar.

3. A woman repeatedly fainted from eating sandwiches and pop. Luckily science figures it out without going all Freudian.

4. Steven Fletcher, Minister of Promoting Ignorance threatens to abolish the Senate. Do you think its unusual that a man responsible for democratic reform doesn't even know a sitting Government can't just unilaterally abolish the senate? Do you think he should know that?

5. Preston Manning's shallow attempt to offer advice on fixing the current Parliament. Abstract: Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Vote Conservative have a nice day. Elder Statesman...not so much.

6. A CBC news story about the California Attorney General recommending that the California Supreme Court overturn proposition 8 on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

7. PZ Myers has a good post, If Programming Languages Were Religions Also known as flame baiting.

8. And oh yeah, apparently the Belgian government has collapsed and the country may separate. Now my personal assistant Nannette will be wanting time off. Please recommend this post

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another poll needing bias has another painfully obvious poll question on their front page:

With Alberta facing a deficit, should the Premier and MLAs roll back the huge wage increases they gave themselves this year?

Hell yes, and then some. It only seems right with the Prime Minister and the Alberta Health Minister bitching about people expecting "entitlements". And while they're at it maybe they could scale back on some of those make work keep-the-back-benchers-looking-busy committees, such as the ineptly named Alberta-Idaho border committee.

Its running just over 90% yes right now, but I think that should be much higher.

For further reading, some advice from the Alberta Liberal Party. Please recommend this post

Is that an Advisory Panel in your pants...or

Wow, that's some panel that Mr. Flaherty appointed to advise him on the economy.

The panel consists entirely of CEO's:

Jim Patterson, Paul Desmarais Jr, Geoff Beattie, James Irving, George Gosbee, Isabelle Hudon, Mike Lazaridis, Jack Mintz, Ajit Someshwar, Annette Verschuren, and Carole Taylor.

I would more than glad to have any one of these people as a business mentor, they represent a lot of business success. However as a panel advising on economic matters I think they are far from balanced and not entirely qualified to advise on Government budgets during difficult times. I have a feeling it will be all happy happy as Flaherty hears mostly what he wants to hear.

It looks to me like Jim is trying to isolate and innoculate himself from the average Canadian. He has no interest in the views of labor groups, academics, the unemployed or the non-profit sector, to name a few.

I had this idea. Sequester them away in a little potemkin village for 6 months. Give them each the equivalent of the average Canadian's salary and debt. Let them see if they can make it 6 months. Survival CEO.

If they come out ok then let them offer economic advice.

In the meantime lets all sing along with Shatner.

In that case I'll have a Rum and Coca Cola...

Please recommend this post

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Calgary's Latest Grievance

I've heard this twice on the radio, saw it once in a newspaper, and overheard it once at a coffee shop:

Michael Ignatieff cannot call himself Iggy because there is only one Iggy, Calgary Flames caption Jerome Iginla.

For those of you who think this is a worth while debate, rather than trivial anti-liberal snottiness I only have two words for you:

Iggy Pop. He was Iggy before Iggy or Iggy was Iggy.

If you're a fan of all three of these men, maybe we'll make a run of t-shirts with a picture of all three. Caption: May The Holy Trinity Of Iggy Bless You.

Its not every day you can get sued by the NHL Players association, a punk rock label and the Liberal Party of Canada. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm On Irony Overload

Consider the events of the last week:

1. The Prime Minister says he will rebalance the Parliament by giving Ontario 20 more seats.

2. The Prime Minister confirms he will make 18 patronage appointments to the Senate.

3. The Conservative government of Alberta says it will break its own law and run a deficit in 09.

Somewhere in a parallel universe Stephane Dion is Prime Minister and Kevin Taft is the Premier of Alberta. They are doing the exact same things listed above, except it causes an east-west civil war.

Is it just me, or is the silence in the western media regarding these issues conspicuously absent of any kind of criticism? Please recommend this post

Show Us Your Best Bush Throwing Shoes!

Definitely the Caterpillar winter boots. They weigh a ton.

But who would get the second boot? Harper? Stelmach? Craig MacTavish? Decisions.

Disclaimer: Boot throwing is just a metaphor.
Please recommend this post

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Goldring: GM Line Workers Get 100k to Retire

Peter Goldring is shocked, simply shocked.


Here's what he's learned having travelled through the Ontario communities being hard hit by layoffs. "When a person retires from the automotives industry, General Motors in particular... I've learned that on retirement, not only do they receive their pension which is $4000/month -- which they paid into. But they also receive $100,000 cash bonus and they also receive a $35,000 brand new car."

Goldring says he's concerned about the optics of this, given how taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet themselves in these tough economic times. He plans to take his findings to caucus.

This sounds pretty far-fetched to me. I'm glad that 630ched chose to run this on their website and as the top item on the radio news cast without any fact checking. Fact checking would have just got in the way of this important discovery.

Hey Pete, when you were at the donut shop did you talk to any of the GM Executives about their benefits or just the crazy guy who waves at all the buses.

Do you feel jealousy and resentment now? Good. Mission accomplished.

I'm starting to understand more and more why Prime Minister Harper chooses to run the Government entirely on his own. Please recommend this post

Chicago 9 Oilers 2

The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Chicago Black Hawks 9-2 tonight in a close, tightly fought battle that went back and forth right up until the final nerve racking minutes.

We're about to tune into Coach MacTavish' post game comments. Now would be a good time to put on your asbestos coveralls and a welding mask.

Video no longer available.

Wow, he was surprisingly mellow. I though he was going to cry. He reminded me a bit of Michael Keaton in that movie about the dead snowman. Help me out here...

Maybe MacTavish should be our finance minister.

Chicago got goals from dudes they didn't even know were on their roster. They had pucks go in the net off angles that would have baffled Werner von Braun.

Marc Pouliot's goal with 5 minutes left in the final period made it 9-2 and made it interesting going down to the final whistle.

Edmonton plays the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night in Vancouver.

Question: If, God forbid, the Oilers' bus to the airport got stuck in under a huge pile of snow, and they had to survive through cannabilism, who do you think they would eat first? Please recommend this post

Monday, December 15, 2008

Honey Cone: 70's R and B

Sing it sister. I know exactly what you mean. Exactly.

Please recommend this post

Robert Lutz, GM, and Crockery

Robert Lutz is currently the Vice Chairman of Global Product development for General Motors Corporation. He has widespread industry experience having worked for Ford, Chrysler and BMW. His interesting wiki bio is here. Not everyone flies their helicopter to work.

Lutz would have probably flown under the radar had he not, on more than one occasion referred to global warming as a total crock of shit. He spins on the head of pin by saying that he is merely a skeptic and not a denier. I'm not sure what the difference is.

The Governments on both sides of the border are contemplating giving financial support to these businesses and even appointing a Car Czar (Autocrat?). The idea of the car czar sounds a little soviet, but I suspect the position would be little more than a well leashed poodle who knows his boundaries.

It's interesting that the discussion of the bail out has almost entirely centered on the erroneous interpretation of the labor cost model. Unionization can be easily used to provoke outrage. As a taxpayer, (I rarely start sentences that way because I hate tax hysteria) I'm not convinced these companies should get funding when the issues of science, technology and electrification are not at or near the top of the list.

There has to be some better choices other than a) allowing millions of workers to lose their jobs b) funding companies who pollute, and who have an anti-science attitude.

In Canada, once you throw in the lightweights Flaherty and Clement, who have a hate on for Ontario because they elected a Liberal provincial government, the way forward really doesn't get any clearer.

As Rod Phillips would say, Holy Cow, now we have bedlam! Please recommend this post

Needing a Block Heater Sucks

I was out in the dark late last night looking for the end of my block heater cord. At minus 30+ I thought it would be a good idea to plug it in. I couldn't find the cord at all. So I left it until this morning. It doesn't matter how cold it gets my vehicle has never failed to start even unplugged.

The problem is that its very hard on the moving parts for the first few minutes a vehicle is running. At -30 all the oil is sitting at the bottom of the engine in a frozen gel like state. When I was going to University I had a cheap cheap car. One cold morning in December the motor just blew up after I started it. It was kind of neat actually. The mechanic who did the post mortem looked just like John Candy on that morning farm show. Lordy, she did blowed up real good.

While looking for my block heater cord this morning in the bright sunshine I still couldn't find it. Then I noticed this huge block of ice attached to the grill. I gave it a whack and there was the cord, entombed inside the ice. (See first photo.)

I don't have any prominent theme or point here. I don't really hate winter I actually like it. I just hate the effort we all have to go through to keep our vehicles running in this weather. This is crazy. Not really the way of the future.

The only other complaint I have is the short days and cold weather are causing me a lot of fatigue and I'm irritable. More irritable I meant. So if I gave you the finger on the corner of 37st and 40th avenue last night I'm sorry.

Please recommend this post

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Michael Platt: Gangsters Don't Deserve our Blood

The article by Michael Plett in today's Calgary Sun is simply outstanding. You ought to read it.

Plett is angry because good caring people donate their blood only to have it used in the ER to save the lives of alleged gang members who were shooting at each other. It sounds like one of those stealth arguments for capital punishment. Here's a gang member who needs 50 units of blood to stay alive. Might as well let him die because his life is worthless, right? No need for lawyers and judges when Doctors and Nurses can solve a social problem by tweaking their triage a bit. Thankfully Doctors and Nurses are trained to simply save lives without making political value judgments.

In some ways we are a crazy species. Police, EMT's and Doctors rush feverishly to save the life of someone who just committed a horrible crime. We do this because we value life and we cannot put medical professionals in the position of deciding who is worthy to live and who isn't. As if they don't have enough problems during a crisis.

And yes, there is a blood shortage in Calgary and elsewhere. There are always signs advertising clinics. You have it in you to give. But remember, the deal is this: you give the blood, the Doctor decides who gets it.

In as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren you did it to me... Please recommend this post

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Phone in Gay Day

A gay and lesbian rights group, based in California, is urging people to stay home from work today and phone in gay. The protest is aimed to coincide with today's 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal of Human Rights.

They're not asking people to just not show up for work. They're asking them to volunteer for a gay rights group, write letters, or do other kinds of volunteer work.

Many employers now offer paid time off to volunteer. It will be interesting to see how they react to this one. I suspect a lot of employers will recoil in fear and loathing. Perhaps a few people will lose their jobs. One hopes goodwill prevails but I'm kind of cynical.

Maybe the folks who organized the Yes campaign for Proposition 8 can organize a Phone In Ignorant and Bigoted day. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Creating a No-Think Zone

The shutting down of Parliament was the ultimate act of dumbing things down. The mistake of Dion and the Coalition supporters was not realizing the whole debate was emotional rather than intellectual. Dumber not smarter. Closed not curious. Mean not good-willed. The message from the minority is loud and clear: Don't you dare think about this. Harper not only retreated from Parliament he has retreated from the world of ideas and debate, which is exactly where we needed to be during these times.

Dion who is a good thinker and a decent man simply was swamped by the negative, emotional and illogical response to the coalition. Dion, unlike Harper, simply found it unnatural to wield the axe of hyperbole and untruth. Do you admire that quality? I do. The real question now is whether the Liberal Party and the broader coalition understands the playing field.

As the argument about the coalition moves forward you can guess that brilliant debaters will offer that Ignatieff, a) Went to Harvard, and b) Harvard is in the United States. As good a reason as I've ever heard to refuse to cede power to a legal coalition and the legal alternative government. Since elected socialists and separatists are now not allowed to participate in Government via Harper's divine ban, maybe we should add Harvard Grads as well. It has already started with a Calgary radio demagogue referring to Michael Ignatieff as the Harvard brainiac. This is your new cheap shot. Write it down.

In an outright attack on literacy and history, the Calgary Sun had this to say on 30 Nov 2008:

No one wants to hear another egghead tell us about the powers of the governor general and the ins and outs of the King-Byng affair, a lesson many of us slept through in high school social studies class.

That is a horrible message to send to people, especially young people who are still in school. I can't believe that a journalist would seriously argue for people to be ignorant. A newspaper that relies on promoting ignorance, hysteria and simple-mindedness to make people feel good is not acting in its readers best interests.

This version of anti-intellectualism has always been with us, but not in this saturation. It pals around with straight jacket patriotism which is not patriotism at all. It is just another form of hatred and discrimination. Please recommend this post

Monday, December 08, 2008

John Lennon is still an influence

(Looks like my living room)

Favourite Album: Milk and Honey. Even with all the Yoko yodeling.

Favourite Book about Lennon: Instamatic Karma: Photographs of John Lennon, by Mai Pang

Favorite Song: Working Class Hero, tied with Ballad of John and Yoko

Favourite Wife: Yoko.

Favourite defining moment: Recording Give Peace a Chance in Montreal.

Favourite movie: Back Beat

Favourite quotation: The one about being bigger than Jesus which took the Catholic church a full 35 years to get their head around.

Favourite Lyric:

But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Please recommend this post

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Calgary A Mess (Weather)

I had to drive up to the North West and the roads were sheer ice. I came downhill on Nose Hill Drive and slid through a red light. ABS = Anything but stopping. People are still tail gaiting and cutting in front. The police said there were 800 accidents by 2pm today. And the guy driving in front of me in the pic above was gunning for 801. What a moron.

Meanwhile on the radio, two dudes were arguing about whether or not Calgary would need a sea port to be independent. I kid you not.

Correction: 800 should have been 200. Everything seems 4 times worse. Please recommend this post

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Oilers 3 Sharks 2 (OT)

Globe & Mail:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dwayne Roloson is still the San Jose Sharks' most improbable nemesis.

Edmonton's 39-year-old goalie made 41 saves in his latest jaw-dropping effort against San Jose, and the NHL-leading Sharks' nine-game winning streak ended on Kyle Brodziak's goal 2:40 into overtime in the Oilers' 3-2 victory Saturday night.

During the last five minutes of the game and through the overtime the Sharks threw everything they had at Dwayne Roloson. Roloson responded to the NHL's greatest coalition of offensive might by proroguing the red light. No sloppy seconds on any of those shots.

Roloson is fighting for a job, either with the Oilers, or with another team they might trade him to. The Oilers have 3 goaltenders which is unusual, and one will certainly be traded in the next couple of months.

As a result of the win the Oilers have vaulted themselves into either 7th or 8th place. Vaulted. Hard to say where the end point of that lob will be.

The game was not without controversy as the Catholic League threatened to boycott the San Jose sharks. The threat was averted after goal-tender Evgeni Nabokov clarified he was not the author of the controversial novel Lolita. The controversy erupted again when Nabokov speculated that he could write something like that if he wanted. Please recommend this post

Naomi Klein on December 6, 1989

I have never really been able to find the words to describe how the Montreal Massacre affected me. It is a tangled jumble of emotions: disgust, disbelief, shock, anger, sadness, hope, determination among others.

I wasn't prepared for this type of crime, none of us were. I thought it was a minimum expectation of society that an angry mentally ill man would not be running around with an assault rifle, a weapon designed solely for a war zone.

Nineteen years later we have a Government that is philosophically opposed to gun control and pay equity. And for that I don't have any words either.

Genevieve Bergeron
Helene Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Barbara Marie Klueznick
Maryse Laganiere
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michele Richard
Annie St. Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Please recommend this post

Thai Opposition Needs to Be Put in Their Place

From the CBC:

Thailand's opposition Democrat Party says it has enough support in parliament to form a new government and put an end to several months of political chaos.

Party secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban announced Saturday that his group has the backing of more than half of the 400 legislators in the lower house, which would allow it to form a government.

The announcement came three days after anti-government protesters ended an eight-day occupation of two airports in the Thai capital.

What? A majority you say? Ready to take power? Yikes. Sounds like a "coup" to me. I suggest we send Roy Green over their immediately to help them get back to a more appropriate mob rule by the minority and their corrupt government. Roy could whip them into a frenzy by calling people names and singing nationalistic songs over and over.

Majority. Pfft. Please recommend this post

Friday, December 05, 2008

She Wore A Maple Colored Beret

Sing along...

I'm sure your Beret is very nice but I can't actually see it because your web designer is being a bit of a bitch.

The article, from the Guardian, was about what type of hats women can and should wear at a Royal function. Did you notice how they got that little punch in about the French. I'm glad we Canadians are not like that. I say no litmus tests for hats. Wear the damn beret.

My friend Lou Ann wears a beret and smokes crappy french cigarettes. I've told her over and over again the beret screams lefty but she doesn't care.

I dream of a day when our women will be judged by the quality of their characters and not the style of their hats. Please recommend this post

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Harry Hays Rally Warmed My Heart

But froze everything else.

I just got back from a pro-coalition rally at the Harry Hays building in downtown Calgary. For those of you unfamiliar with Calgary the HH Building is a federal government building that houses Revenue Canada and some retail space.

The irony was not lost that the building was sold recently to some Calgary developers for 1.5 billion dollars along with a sweet 25 year lease.

The rally was sparsely attended by about 40-50 people and there seemed to be a lot of media people there most of whom left before the speakers showed up.

I didn't catch who all the speakers were, but they included speakers from the Liberal, NDP and Green Parties, as well as the Council of Canadians and Fair Vote Canada.

The guy standing next to me almost got poked in the eye not once but twice with the business end of a large union flag. Really, that one just dies for a punch line.

Mr. Harper will pleased to know there was a large Canadian flag present. Please recommend this post

Quebec: This is What Calgary Thinks of You

From the Calgary Sun, during the last election:

The Calgary Media had no real legitimate arguments against Stephane Dion's platform in the last election so they ran a never ending series of ad hominem attacks. Most of them were harmless and a few were actually funny.

This cartoon went a few steps further and mocked a man merely because English is his second language and he sounded funny. To me this is an expression of racism and xenophobia and not funny. One wonders why this type of thing plays so well in Calgary, a diverse place with the usual amount of higher education.

Its sort of like kick a red-head day, with large numbers of people who don't have red hair saying, hey its just harmeless fun...

Imagine if you are a recent immigrant to Calgary, probably struggling with English and its weird verbs and illogical idioms and you see something like this. What's the message?

I know that there are many Francophones who dislike Stephane Dion and might find this funny, but remember the Sun is taking aim at you too. If this is how they view someone like Dion imagine what kind of hatred they would throw at a Quebec nationalist.

Oh sorry, I forgot, Mr. Harper has had a hate on for you for some time.

Update: Edit "funny" to "not funny". Please recommend this post

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Prorogue: Something Just Died Here

The prorogue of Parliament is something I never expected to see in my lifetime. Until now I didn't even know you could do this in the face of non-confidence. The fact that this decision was made by an unelected anachronistic feudal figure head is a whole serious issue in and of itself. The Monarchy League of Canada must be very proud now that they've finally seen a Conservative Prime Minister propped up - against the democratic will of the people - by what is the equivalent of a farcical aquatic ceremony. (Obligatory Monty Python reference)

The Governor General has helped Stephen Harper with his long term goal of being mentioned in the same sentence as Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin.

Even though the Parliament is padlocked the Government will continue to operate outside of any scrutiny. Keep in mind this Government has no basic legitimacy because it does not have the legal support required from the majority of members.

Mr. Harper claims that the prorogue time will be used to research and prepare a budget, and to consult with the opposition. I doubt that very much. Researching and preparing a budget will not take eight weeks and does not require all the Conservative MP's. I would bet that most of the budget work is done already anyway. Aside from that Harper does not consult.

Actually, what they are planning is a national brainwashing program that will run virtually unopposed for at least six weeks witht partial funding from the tax payer. The Conservative Party plans on running a virtual election campaign against the 62% coalition. No doubt this will consist of an unprecedented attack on the voters of Quebec and their freedom of choice. It will also slander 62% of us with fake notions of patriotism. That's correct, your Conservative MP's who are paid Federal Government salaries will be running a partisan propaganda campaign.

Harper probably thinks he can lure the opposition into spending money they don't have to counteract the propaganda, making them unable to fight a general election for at least two years.

In January, if the opposition parties do anything other than vote down the Government at the first opportunity it will be to their eternal discredit and will confirm the precedent that an undemocratic bully can just shut down parliament whenever he wants.

When the Reform/Alliance adopted the slogan Ottawa Needs More Calgary I warned you people in Ontario and Quebec. But do you listen. No.

This post was written entirely with a Canadian Flag in the back ground. God Bless Canada. Please help yourself to a complimentary pez dispenser on the way out.
Please recommend this post

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sean Avery: Classless Buffoon

The Dallas Stars are playing the Calgary Flames tonight in Calgary. After an afternoon skate Dallas player Sean Avery sought out a camera and a microphone (Thanks TSN) and said some nasty things about Flames Dion Phaneuf who is now dating Avery's ex girlfriend Elish Cuthbert. In related news the United Nations continued debating its contentious run on sentence treaty. It would not be unreasonable to assume that Cuthbert dumped Avery. Who could blame her?

(If you think that plot line is complicated try following our Federal Parliament.)

I won't repeat what Avery said because it is gratuitous and for anything this sleazy and attention seeking our go to guy is Eric Duhatschek. That's his oeuvre after all.

The NHL immediately suspended Avery indefinitely for conduct unbecoming to the league. The League is right to continue to uphold their incredibly high moral standards.

You probably just think I'm mad because when the Oilers played Dallas on Sunday Mike Modano scored his 1300th career goal sinking the Oilers late in the 3rd period. How many times has that happened? Yes, I'm angry about that. And what were the Edmonton coaches doing scrapping with a fan at the end of the game? Its like a bizarro universe for those poor Oilers.

But back to my original point, I don't care who you are, you don't say bad things about your ex-girlfriends. Why does the world of hockey seem to have such a hard time respecting women?

Update: I should have mentioned I don't have any Elisha Cuthbert pictures on this site. Sorry. Please recommend this post

Sunday, November 30, 2008

At Least She Wasn't A Lesbian

In January 2007 an Edmonton foster mother took her three year old boy to the hospital with serious head injuries. As the situation was investigated she was eventually charged with second degree murder. The trial ended last week and the mother was found guilty of manslaughter.

Around 1997 Alberta explicity banned gay and lesbians from being foster parents after a well known and highly successful foster mother was outed as a lesbian. Children were abruptly removed from homes where they were doing well, and the gay foster parents were told their services were no longer required. Dr. Lyle Oberg, the social services minister at the time told the gay parents that they would have to prove scientifically that they would not harm children because of their orientation. Of course the outcome was predetermined and Oberg lined up the usual collection of pseudo-Scientific evangelical quacks to prove that gays were harmful. All pro gay arguments were ignored.

The fact that the government considers it safer to put a child in a home with a woman capable of this outcome rather than a lesbian parent who had a long term record of success and safety would suggest that their fake family values bigotry actually puts children at risk.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008. Edmonton Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley is gathering more and more evidence that the whole child care system is being seriously mismanaged. Status reports have not been filed for 3 years, and when they are finally filed they are done so on October 14, 2008, the day of the Federal Election. The government's response, not unexpected, is to announce that nothing is wrong, the Minister is doing a great job, and to start drafting legislation to clamp down on information being released.

Janis Tarchuk had an opportunity to turn this department upside down and fix it. But that would have taken courage. Instead the status quo is defended and a veil of secrecy is pulled over the whole mess.

This is not the Alberta I grew up in. Please recommend this post

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dutch People

If you don't speak Dutch, or find Dutch people chatting to be interesting, fast forward to about 1:50 to get the gist of the video.

My own personal best is 1 in a year and a half and I needed both hands and a book.

Don't forget to come back and express your outrage in Dutch. Please recommend this post

Thursday, November 27, 2008

BBC Remaking Triffids, Banning Swearing

Under public pressure the BBC is about to go on robotic purge of bad language while at the same time gearing up for a remake of George Wyndham's science fiction novel The Day of the Triffids.

The novel is listed in Peter Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It was made into a movie in 1962 and was one of the best worst movies ever. It starred Howard Keel. Howard Keel. As a hat tip to irony, or perhaps the viewers wishful thinking, the Triffids main line of offense was blinding people.

It ably represented a genre where busty women in tight sweaters screamed and screamed while running and falling down.

I plead with you do not remake this movie. Not everything needs to be remade all the time. It stands on its own as a complete work. Ok, here's an idea. The remake is set in the English country side in the 1800's. It's a period piece involving young women and courting rituals. Jane Eyre on LSD starring Helena Bonham Carter. And large evil plants. It could work.

As far as the swearing goes, the networks never get it right. While dialog in a movie often has to be raw to properly portray the characters, gratuitous swearing in variety shows doesn't always work.

So you end up watching a movie with Al Pacino and all he ever says is BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEP but then you get a talentless hack interviewer who tells Gwyneth Paltrow during a live interview, that he wants to fuck her. Classy. Please recommend this post

Feckless Flaherty Fakes Frugality

(Alternate title: Man Fellates Own Party During Crisis)

I rarely listen to political speeches anymore, but I caught Jim Flaherty's financial update speech today and I was quite amused. Also annoyed. It was pure propaganda.

I told my friend M. that Flaherty annoyed me and she said I Annoy you, why? I said no, Jim Flaherty. She said Oh. A few minutes later she said why do I annoy you?

1. Conservatives have been in power federally for a fraction of time but Flaherty talks like they're the architects of all Canada's strengths. No sense of history or humility at all. Flaherty invented sunshine and ponies and rainbows.

2. Taking away the right to strike for federal workers wont help anyone during a recession. Its just a cheap shot that can be pushed through at a difficult time.

3. No elimination of positions in the incredibly swelled up cabinet. This is a glaring omission.

4. Eliminating the tax funded subsidy for political parties is another cheap shot designed to give the Conservative Party an financial advantage in the next election. It doesn't really help any of us and weakens democratic fairness in an antiquated and unfair system.

5. Who would have thought that a marriage between the Reform Party and the Common Sense Revolution® would have produced Canada's first deficit in over a decade.

You betcha. Winks into camera. Please recommend this post

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Skeptic Calls It For Stampeders

The night before the 96th Grey Cup you can practically hear a pin drop in Calgary. Actually its always like this, I just wanted to be melodramatic. I swear this town closes at 9pm on a Saturday.

Most of the predictions I've read are calling for a pretty close game and I agree. The Calgary media is trying to frame the Stampeders as undergods. Sorry, underdogs. They are not. They beat Montreal in all their meetings this year and on paper they are just as good if not better.

While I'm not a Stampeder's fan I do think they will win this one. Probably by a few points and probably on the last play of the game. A rouge if necessary, but not necessarily a rouge. Henry Burris is a great Quarterback and the fact that he has not won a Grey Cup yet is the huge monkey in the room that's flinging poop at everyone. Also I think John Hufnagel is one of the best motivating coaches ever.

I also hope the Stampeders win because if they don't the local media will go into hyper-woe-is-us mode for a good six months, and I for one don't want to be crushed under the weight of all that self-absorbed hubris. You have to live here to understand it. There really is an insufferable weight of insecurity and self-importance when it comes to sports.

Since I'm really an Edmonton Eskimos fan I'll leave you with a picture from the 1978 Grey Cup, when the Eskimos beat the Montreal Alouettes. In this picture Coach Hugh Campbell discusses the exact location of the end zone with Quarterback Tom Wilkinson. Coach Campbell is the one wearing the Cat Diesel Power® ball cap. Wilkinson looks angry because in 1978 there was no place in Edmonton to get decent carpet for under $3.00 per yard.

Please recommend this post

More on the 1001 Books You Should Read

In a previous post I mentioned the Book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

The website Arukiyomi has an Excel spreadsheet with a complete list of the 1001 books. It is a fairly impressive spreadsheet with some Macros to record which books you've read. This spreadsheet has been downloaded almost 19,000 times. (The spreadsheet is in Office 2007 Format.)

The copy of 1001 books I first read was the first Edition and since then the second edition has come out. The editor has dropped over 100 titles from the first edition and replaced them. The spreadsheet has the listings of titles that were dropped and added.

I was doing some math in my head to see how long it would take to read through this list. Factoring in how many books on the list I've read already I figured if I read 2-3 of these books a month I would still be at it well into my 70's.

And likely broke and single, with coke bottle glasses. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Priest Who Did The Right Thing (Finally)

From the Los Angeles Time, October 13, 2008:

A week ago, Father Geoffrey Farrow stood before his Roman Catholic parishioners in Fresno and delivered a sermon that placed him squarely at odds with his church over gay marriage.

With Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and his own bishop urging Central Valley priests to support its definition of traditional marriage, Farrow told congregants he felt obligated to break "a numbing silence" about church prejudice against homosexuals.

"How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?" he asked parishioners of the St. Paul Newman Center. "I am morally compelled to vote no on Proposition 8."

Then Farrow -- who had revealed that he was gay during a television interview immediately before Mass -- added a coda to his sermon.

"I know these words of truth will cost me dearly," he said. "But to withhold them . . . I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well."

Of course what happened next was predictable. Father Farrow was promptly fired by the Diocese and stripped of all wages, pension, and health care.

The hideous bigotry of California's proposition 8 continues to hurt all kinds of people. I'm glad that Father Farrow took this position because it gives some hope that there are still people of character and courage in the Catholic church willing to risk everything on an issue that will define our morality for years do come.

Father Farrow's dismissal probably also had something to do blogging against the Church's latest attempt to prevent pedophiles from getting into the Priesthood. While everyone agrees there should be stringent screening of candidates, for all kinds of reasons, it seems the latest guidelines deliberately and with malice conflate homosexuality and pedophilia. How would someone in a position of authority sleep at night knowing they pushed this lie?

Anyway, I'm glad this Priest took this stand and I hope many more do. Please recommend this post

Goldring: Soldiers Not Heroes

If you are familiar with Edmonton you will know how 97st North works its way out of downtown and northward out of the city eventually arriving at CFB Edmonton. (Map) From here many men and women come and go to Afghanistan and other places our Military is active.

CFB Edmonton has had its share of sadness with a few of their soldiers killed in Afghanistan. A group has been active in Edmonton for some time discussing the possibility of renaming 97th Street to Heroes Boulevard. Even though I am against the war in Afghanistan I think its a great idea to rename 97th Street in honor of all the Soldiers who have been based at CFB Edmonton.  

Peter Goldring, Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton East believes that Hero is not the right word because...

"I'm concerned that the word hero would be an overgeneralization," he told Sun Media.

All soldiers show valour, he said, while the word hero should be reserved for those who are decorated or lose their life in battle.
And the word asshole should also not be overused.  I'm guessing the Edmonton Sun was having a slow day and just looked around for some easy foot in mouth baiting. 

The military has a number of medals and citations to award to soldiers for their courage. The awarding of these medals follows certain traditions and protocols. But here we're just talking about renaming a street to show a little thanks and rememberance. Are the semantics really necessary?

If you're looking to find more information about Goldring's view on the military, his website has a prominent link titled Our Security.  Dead Link.  404.   Seems fitting.
Please recommend this post

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obligatory CFL Predictions

Apparently, even in Edmonton, many people are still confused about why the Eskimos are playing a playoff game in Montreal tomorrow.

The Eskimos finished fourth in the West and normally would be out of the playoffs. But no, the league has a cross-over rule.  Since Edmonton finished with more points than the third place team in the Eastern division they get their playoff spot.  Still with me?  The cross-over can work the other way too. An eastern team could have taken the third place spot in the Western division. Fortunately this will never happen because they're all crappy teams in the east.

If Edmonton beats Montreal tomorrow they'll be the Eastern Division Champions and will play in the Grey Cup.  I know how many of you Edmontonions have been hoping and praying that your team could win that coveted Eastern Division title.  If Edmonton wins tomorrow it will also virtually kill the TV viewing audience since no one east of Vegreville will watch it.  Beer and Condom sales will PLUMMET.

On paper, Montreal has a far better team, but anything can happen. I predict nothing except that it will be come down to whichever Quarterback is better.  

The Western Division final is between Calgary and the BC Lions in Calgary.  If you're a Calgary fan you've probably been listening to the media talk for 2 straight weeks about how Henry Burris has not won a playoff game in 3 years.   I'm leaning toward BC, but the only prediction I'll make is there will be an unsportsmanlike penalty called for ball grabbing.   For whatever reason these two teams have been in a ball grabbing war for as long as I can remember.  

Please recommend this post

Friday, November 14, 2008

Read Books or Die

This is my kind of book. It is a beautiful time waster with short descriptions of the 1001 books and lots of excellent images. The title exacerbated my ongoing mid-life crisis. Then it doubled back and exacerbated my exacerbation. I'm going to die? When? I have to read how many books? I almost died just thinking about the idea of reading 1001 books. At 949 pages you could stroke out just carrying it around.

The list starts off with Aesop's Fables, a long time favourite. According to popular legend Aesop was stuffed in a sack and thrown off a cliff for the crime of mocking a local Oracle. He was probably reading that famous book called 1001 Oracles you must mock before you die.

The last book in the list is Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I guess when you're old and blind and half crazy you'll need a book like that to finish up on a positive note.

I can't let go of the idea that this is doable. How long do you think it would take to plow through these 1001 books? Keep in mind that War and Peace and Ulysses are on the list. Those two could bog you down for years in mercilessly dry sweeping prose. Is there anyone out there who has made it through the list?

Unfortunately there is no web site for the book and thus no download list of all the books. There is a blog I saw that had a spreadsheet but I have not checked it out yet.

Oh no, I know what you're thinking. No I won't make my own list you can't make me. That would be by far the geekiest idea ever.

Someday I'll be lying on a hospital gurney, trying to hang on...

Nurse: What are you doing?
Doctor: I'm trying to revive this man!
Nurse: But he has a do not resuscitate order...
Doctor: Damn you he's only half way through Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
Nurse: But that puts him only about half way through the list.
Doctor: Yes. But we don't really know. Damn them to hell for not numbering the books.
Patient: .... library.
Doctor: You just relax now. We'll have you reading in no time. Nurse, hand me that hack-saw.

1001 dumb ideas to indulge in before you die, which by the way, could be soon. Please recommend this post

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Obvious Failures

Half of us are control freaks and the other half can't follow simple instructions.

And I can see Russian from my dorm.

Who designs these things? Please recommend this post

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dulce et Decorum Est - Part 2

Read the whole poem:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen 1917

Please recommend this post

Dulce et Decorum Est - Part 1

In Memoriam:

Private Norman Jennings McBean
54th/7th Battalion CEF

Date of Birth: February 1, 1896
Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

Died April 8, 1917, France
Buried Arras Road Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France

(You have no idea how difficult it was to write these few words.) Please recommend this post

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Love Tchaikovsky

Somehow this whole week just became summed up perfectly in this musical performance.

Please recommend this post

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Edmonton Eskimos Plummet Into Playoffs

I hate to say I told you so - and it pains me to say this, but I predicted at the beginning of the season that the Edmonton Eskimos would probably not make the playoffs this year. While they have a good team on paper I said the same thing about them that I say about most of my family members...there's just something not right over there...

They had moments of excellence this season but tanked in the last few weeks. Last weekend they were beaten by the Roughriders 55 to 9 in a bizarre game that set some kind of humiliation record. The Eskimos have not been beaten that badly since before the Mulroney era.

However, through the bizarre playoff format of the CFL the Eskimos will make the playoffs and all they had to do was plummet into last place in the Western division.

Through the cross-over rule the Edmonton Eskimos can claim third place in the Eastern Division because there are two teams over there that are actually worse than them. So Edmonton will play Winnipeg in the Eastern semi-final this weekend in Winnipeg.

If you're a hard-core Esks fan, here's your fantasy scenario. The Eskimos beat Winnipeg on the weekend, then beat Montreal in the Eastern final. (Stop laughing I'm not done yet). Then they will play the Grey Cup game against the Calgary Stampeders and will win by 1 point. The collective all at once eye rolling of several million Canadians will cause the Earth to shift on its axis and put an end to Global Warming.

Only in the CFL could the Edmonton Eskimos become the Eastern Division champions.

Later it will be revealed that the magic feel good story of the year was caused by an impassioned speech by the Edmonton Coach about a little boy who was dying of cancer and who's last wish was to see the Eskimos win the cup.

Later it will be revealed that the story was completely fabricated and the Eskimos will be stripped of their Grey Cup win. Through an unforeseen loophole in the CFL constitution the Cup will be awarded to Hamilton. Commonwealth Stadium will be accidentally demolished by a contractor with the wrong address and the league will declare bankruptcy. Pinball Clemons will become Prime Minister.

The remaining six teams will be saved at the last minute by being folded into the B Division of the Luxembourg Intermediate Potato Grower's League.

You see, if you believe that the Eskimos will get anywhere near the Grey Cup in 2008 you probably can be convinced of anything. Please recommend this post

Arthur Kent: You Picked the Wrong Party

Arthur Kent is an angry man. The former news anchor and Calgary based journalist wants to sue Don Martin for defamation because of Martin's articles during Alberta's last provincial election. Martin's articles appear in the Calgary Herald and the National Post, and usually amount to little more than empty headed cheer leading for conservative politicians.

Kent ran in the Calgary Currie riding against Liberal Dave Taylor, a former radio talk show host and the incumbent. I remember thinking that the race between those two would be quite close and interesting. They're both smart guys with a lot of media experience. However, Kent ran a really poor campaign and lost the election.

I remember the article Martin wrote. He referred to Kent as a dud, playing on his nickname as the Scud Stud. So now Kent blames Martin for hurting his chances in the election by picking on him in a vapid smear piece.

I still think Kent is a smart guy and he nailed it at his press conference announcing his law suit, as paraphrased by Fast Forward:

At the news conference where he announced his latest lawsuit, Kent also had harsh words for his former boss, Premier Ed Stelmach. The Conservative leadership, Kent says, is “militantly adverse” to change and is surrounded by a “patronage web” of lobbyists and corporate sponsors that make it difficult for new voices in the party to be heard.

That's probably the best summation of Ed & Company you will ever see. Memorize it.

I think its fairly obvious what happened. I mean aside from a principled person running for an unprincipled party. He was a high profile candidate but not part of the Tory inner circle. So they hung him out to dry. Insecurity and fear of outsiders I presume.

Ed to Don: Well done. Thanks a bunch. Please recommend this post

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who's Your Mommy

"Mommy has a juice box for you in the car. Just try to be quiet until mommy finishes talking to the real americans."
Please recommend this post

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wives of Alberta: Heads Up

With the Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers all playing tonight the beautiful women of Alberta will probably be on their own.

Not only that, apparently there's a big Promise Keepers rally on that weird channel. This could turn out to be a most joyless and possible primitive evening.

My advice would be to get a nice bottle of wine, dress up all Sarah Palin and head out with some friends. Ok maybe leave out the Sarah Palin thing. I don't even know why I would say such a thing.

Have a good night, and remember, this is one of those nights when you can do absolutely anything you want and it won't even remotely be noticed. Please recommend this post

Prominent Blogger Attacked By Liberals

Prominent conservative and iconic blogger Robert McBean was attacked early saturday morning by a group of violent liberals. Mr. McBean was waiting for the 402 bus on the corner of Northmount and Northland when he was set on by the gang.

According to the Royal Varsity Constabulary Mr. McBean was held down and a copy of a novel was attached to his face using a large and powerful c-clamp.

By 10:00 am a literary expert was on the scene and assisted the police in identifying the novel as Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut.

A spokesman for the Royal Constabulary indicated that they so far have no leads in this hateful crime. The spokesman urged Mr. Vonnegut to come forward as he likely has information related to the crime. The spokesman also warned the public about the violent nature of urban liberal gangs. Said the spokesman:

They sip their lattes and have little secretive reading clubs and before you know it stuff like this starts happening.

By noon Mr. McBean was being examined by one of the finest Neurosurgeons at the famed Varsity Spa and Neurological Institute. Dr. Nigel Kittybitty von Von said the removal of the c-clamp could be days away because it is compressing on one of the most delicate parts of the brain known as the Obladioblada.

Mr. McBean remains sedated but in good spirits.

A spokesman for Mr. McBean indicated that he would be unlikely to reprise his role as Troy Bolton in Thursdays benefit performance of High School Musical. Please recommend this post

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Night With Iris

Iris Dement sings one of her best songs Let the Mystery Be:

Please recommend this post

Weekend Sports Predictin(g)

With Calgary and Edmonton's sports teams in action this weekend I thought I would offer some predictions so you can bet appropriately.

Friday: Calgary Stampeders at Hamilton Tiger Cats

Tough call. Hamilton has only won 3 games this year. If Calgary wins they will secure first place in the West. On the one hand I'd like to see Calgary finish first so they can have their lunch eaten in the Western Final in Calgary. I like that sort of thing. On the other hand I think Hamilton can beat Calgary. That would be cool to. I think Hamilton will win.

Saturday: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks

Oilers will win barely. It will be a dirty violent game.

Saturday: Edmonton Eskimos at Saskatchewan Roughrider

I don't really see the Eskimos winning. They will get the crossover spot in the East and make a quiet exit. Will seek new coach in off season.

Saturday: Calgary Flames at Phoenix Coyotes

Phoenix will win. Don't bet against Gretzky. Calgary media bragging about flames indicates an imminent loss.

Sunday: Sloth vs Gluttony.

Have to give this one to gluttony, but it will be close. Sloth won't go down easy. The win will set up a nice re-match between Gluttony and Lust. Please recommend this post

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alberta Children and Youth Services a Mess

The Calgary Herald is calling for the resignation of Janis Tarchuk, Alberta's Minister of Children and Youth Services. Yes, you read that correctly, the Calgary Herald calling for the resignation of an Alberta Tory cabinet minister. I would have to say this is probably the first time this has ever happened. Usually they defend them.

Alberta Children and Youth services has been in a mess for many years. Rachel Notley obtained the departments quarterly reports (for internal use only) through an Access to information request. The fact that she actually got the reports was really astonishing. Someone wasn't paying attention. Usually the way it works in Alberta is the Government asks for a 50 million dollar photocopying fee or some other deterrent. Neither the Liberals or the NDP have a lot of research money to pay for these searches.

The Annual reports for the last 3 years were all tabled on the morning of the recent federal election, October 14, 2008. Apparently there are some major differences between the interal quarterly reports and the sunshiny cheerful external annual reports.

The interim reports paint a picture of a department that is not meeting the needs of children and youth who are in danger from their parents or other unacceptable circumstances.

According to today's Calgary Herald editorial:

Two separate issues are at the fore. One is the shortage of care facilities for children, as revealed by the quarterly internal reports which the NDP obtained. Non-aggressive children were housed with others labelled as sexually acting-out or aggressive. Sexually abused children were returned to parents who questioned whether the abuse was real. Children were placed with caregivers on whom inadequate background checks were done. Children were forced to remain among others who allegedly sexually abused them. Some children were left in situations where all the adults involved knew and agreed that their needs weren't being met.

The Minister replied to the allegations with the usual stuff about how the issues were not presented properly or something like that. The Premier insists the Minister is not going anywhere and that she is a paragon of child loving virtue.

One thing I'm confused about is that if the reports were filed 3 years late, then why does the Minister say that many of the accusations are not substantiated. Do I understand that to mean that it takes three years to figure out if a child is being sexually assaulted or not?

There will be no resignation. Ms. Tarchuk stares into the camera with her dull Sarah Palin expression knowing she is protected from any kind of accountability. Now that I think about it, I really can't ever remember a Alberta Tory cabinet minister being fired for anything. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not Really Funny, More Sad

Yesterday in the Calgary Sun:

Calgarians can take some comfort in the fact a known gangster ordered deported from Canada -- four years ago! -- isn't wandering free on the streets.

But that's only because Tran Trong Nghi Nguyen, also known as Jackie Tran and Nghia Trong Nguyen-Tran, hasn't been able to post two $10,000 bonds.

Maybe that's because he can't get hold of a cellphone in the Calgary Remand Centre, where he's been held since Jan. 10.

More likely, it is because money put up for bond must be accompanied by proof it was obtained by legitimate means.

Today according CBC Calgary:

A convicted drug trafficker and known gang member ordered deported four years ago is free in Calgary on $20,000 bond as his appeal process drags on.

Tran Trong Nghi Nguyen, 26, who goes by the name Jackie Tran, has been appealing an order to deport him from Canada since 2004. He was freed from custody on Tuesday.


The money must be proven to have come from legitimate means, and paid by a bonds person who meets guidelines set out by the Canada Border Services Agency.

In a way it is kind of funny, but not really given the potential for violence from this individual. A little tip to the Calgary Sun that every hockey coach already knows...if you taunt the other team they'll probably come back at you harder just to make you eat your words...The best thing journalists can do for me is to just tell me the facts of a case. Spare me the self-serving true detective rhetoric. It gives me a headache and probably makes things worse.

Yes, four years is probably an unreasonable amount of time to execute a deportation order. I'm in favor of deportation of bad people if they've been given appropriate opportunity to defend themselves and an appropriate opportunity for appeal.

The broader ironies are worth noting. The law and order Premier of Alberta refused the Mayor of Calgary's request for $25M to strengthen the Calgary Police Gang Unit. The requested amount was less than 1/1000th of the last budget overage.

Read the Sun, vote Tory, live in constant fear. Please recommend this post

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Robert Saviano: The New Salman Rushdie

From the Telegraph...

Italy's notorious Camorra mafia plans to assassinate an investigative journalist who wrote a best-selling book about the criminal organisation's murderous activities, police have been told.

The Naples-based mafia has allegedly ordered a hit on Roberto Saviano and his 24-hour police protection squad "by Christmas", according to the testimony of a former mafia member turned police collaborator.

I get so tired of reading about yet another writer or artist who has a death threat over his or her head because some violence based group can't handle what they wrote.

Robert Saviano, an Italian author wrote a book called Gomorrah in 2006 that became a best seller in Italy, and was translated into many languages. It has now been made into a film which may well win an Oscar.

One wonders why they want him dead before Christmas. Probably the boys want some time off so they can bond with their families and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

PEN is an organization that advocates on behalf of authors all over the world who are persecuted or threatened because of their peaceful freedom of expression. Thankfully, PEN is taking an interest in the Saviano case. The more eyes that are on this the better. The Canadian division of Pen is here.

Aside: I noticed many of the sillier news outlets places this story in their novelty or odd news section. You would think that editors would know better than to regard the life of a fellow journalist in such low esteem. Please recommend this post

Calgary West 2008 Vote Count

As you can see from the above graphic the contest in Calgary West was not even close. The results are very similar to the 2006 results. Although the non-Conservative vote was split between four parties this time their totals did not exceed the Conservative vote. In the last two elections the Conservative vote exceeded the sum of all other parties by a wide margin.

The real story in these numbers is that about 4500 less people voted in 2008 than in 2006. It surprised me that the bulk of this drop off was in the incumbent (Conservative) vote. The second biggest loss of vote was for the NDP, losing 1500 votes from 2006. This was also a surprise since the NDP appear to be emerging as the second place party in Alberta.

There's no way around thinking that many conservative voters just stayed home. Also the Liberal pre-election claim that Greens and NDP voters were moving over to the Liberals does not seem to be seen in these numbers. In fact the Liberals bled 1100 votes and dropped their share.

There's really no good news here if you are an anyone but Anders voter. The four non-Conservative parties in Calgary West show no signs of coalescing into a viable challenger. Please recommend this post

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post Election Babble FromThree Premiers

Three Canadian premiers have made comments on the results of the October 14 federal election.

1. Ed Stelmach® wants two things from Harper. First, harmonize the Alberta and Ottawa policies on Greenhouse gas emissions. Basically this means reducing what little interest the federal government has to the lowest common denominator of Alberta. Stelmach is alarmed that Harper is not doing as little as he is. Second, Stelmach does not want the Federal Government to interfere in the shipment of raw bitumen out of Alberta. The Federal Government has expressed the idea of not allowing the export of raw bitumen to places where there is a poor policy on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Presumably Alberta would be prohibited from exporting bitumen to itself. Aside from the numerous environmental issues, shipping raw bitumen out of Alberta ships Albertans jobs with it. Both Ed Stelmach® and Stephen Harper avoid this issue.

2. Gordon Campell weighs in with to tell us that Stephen Harper's missing majority is the fault of Separatists in Quebec. And that's important because...? On the surface it seems like kind of a silly thing to say, but it is just a variation on the old Reform Party theme of how those Ontario folks are stupid and ruining our lives by voting for the Liberal Party. I don't care how other people vote. The Bloc Quebecois is a recognized federal party. I could care less if some fellow Canadian is a separatist. Stop blaming people for their freedom of conscience. Stop blaming people for how they vote. (Insert your own impaired driving joke here.)

3. Danny Williams wants to kiss and make up with Stephen Harper. The Conservatives lost all three seats in NL and more importantly their popular vote dropped by 20 points from the 2006 election. If I were a NL voter I definitely would not have let my premier tell me who not to vote for. I might be a little confused now that the hate on is officially over. What exactly was that all about? I look forward to a picture of those two hugging on the cover of the National Post. Seeing conservative politicians doing man on man affection is always an uplifting event for me. Please recommend this post

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alberta's Founding Fathers & Other Craziness

I'm currently reading a great book, Alberta Premier's of the Twentieth Century (published by the University of Regina press), edited by Bradford Rennie. For a history lover like myself this is one of those books that's hard to put down. (Reviewer's pun). The book proceeds in chronological order from the early Liberal Premiers Rutherford, Sifton and Stewart, through to the final essay on Ralph Klein. The essay on Klein was kind of mediocre because Klein was still in office at the time of writing. I suppose they were afraid if they said anything bad Rod Love would come over and kill their puppy or something.

The authors have a diverse background, but most of them are academics. Mark Lisac who once wrote for the Edmonton Journal wrote the chapter on Donald Ross Getty.

It's hard for me to say which chapter I liked the most. There isn't a single premier who isn't interesting to read about. This is one of the few books that I keep reading over and over again.

If I have to pick, my favourite chapters are on William Aberhart, Harry Strom, and Peter Lougheed. I also enjoyed the chapter on Getty.

Aberthart's theological views were atypical and seem odd now. He was basically a fundamentalist who believed in dispensationalism, the secret existence of the Antichrist in the current age, and the imminent rapturing up of God's elect. (i.e. Social Credit supporters) Aberhart also believed that the only acceptable version of the Bible was the King James Version. These types of beliefs were not uncommon in the 1930's and they are not even uncommon today. Aberhard and Manning were unable to distinguish between religious views and public policy. Both Aberhard and Manning gave weekly sermons from the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute.

This chapter also has a lengthy discussion about the Social Credit movement. It seem that for a long period of time no one really knew what Social Credit meant. Aberhart was not that bright and was repeatedly taken advantage of by charlatans.

The chapter on Harry Strom was interesting and he comes across as a decent and honest man who didn't like party politics very much and didn't realize until too late that Social Credit was over. The transition from Strom to Lougheed reads like it was the birth of modern Alberta. More recent comparisons of Ed Stelmach® to Harry Strom are more of an insult to Strom than to Stelmach.

If you find Alberta politics confusing, as I always have, you should read this book.

SBN 0889771510 Please recommend this post

Starbucks on the Decline

There I am - well at least my right arm - displaying the receipt I received from my last trip to Starbucks. The receipt, documenting the purchase of ONE Caffè Latte Grande, was measured and found to be 52 centimeters in length.

Starbucks spends a lot of time talking about how they are environmentally responsible but I really wonder when I get a 52 cm receipt. I keep finding new and better definitions or irony without even trying. I laughed when I realized that the lengthy receipt had an overly verbose invitation to fill out a web based customer satisfaction survey. If a tree falls in the forest...hey, how do you feel about us?

A week later I went to the Starbucks by my house (Northland and Northmount) and had a negative experience. I've had a few negative experiences there but I always thought the staff was good at trying hard to make things right when there was a problem. Not this time. The story was kind of messy and I stood there waiting for someone to take my order for a good 5-10 minutes. No one acknowledged me being there. One cashier was counting money and the store manager was sitting behind me coaching a new employee on the corporate virtues of creating a positive experience for the customer. There goes that irony alarm again. It was kind of like I was in a bad episode of the Office.

This was kind of irritating, but not the end of the world. Worse things happen in life I suppose. But i did decide to go to their website and fill out the survey. The survey was encoded with the number off the reciept so they would know the time and date and location to match to my responses.

I gave them a fairly low review on all the questions because they were specifically asking about this particular visit. I checked all the boxed about contacting me and gave them my email and phone numbers. That was 6 months ago. No response from them and I haven't been back to any Starbucks since.

I figure if I take time to give a business my feedback and encourage them to follow up with me on a negative experience, the very least they could do is thank me for the feedback. In most cases customers don't ever tell you whats wrong, they just never return and bad mouth you to their peers.

If this store's management is any indication, this could explain why Starbuck's stock prices have been trending downward for over a year now.

In the first few pages of the Starbuck's employee guide they emphasize their main goal of creating a positive experience for the customer. But they can't create a positive experience unless the employees buy into it and its a positive experience for them as well. This doesn't happen when a business is understaffed or the managers are obtuse.

Sometimes when you have an overly complicated business model and some ethereal ideas that are not clicking with the employees it might be better to go back to basic and simple ideas about customer service. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Help Wanted: Layout editor

fail owned pwned pictures
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Who does the layouts over there at the Sun? I've always wondered that. This type of cover is fairly typical of their tabloidish low intellect style I think.

I was a little shocked when I saw this fubar by the Toronto Star a while back. Editors don't always have control over how ad rotators work and what ads end up next to what story. But they should...

Sun front page image is courtesy of one of my favorite blogs Please recommend this post