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
see more pwn and owned pictures

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

Keeping the South in Calgary West

I've driven by this house in Calgary West many times and always wondered why they fly this flag. I'm not sure if it is a Confederacy flag, or just a state flag of Alabama or one of the Carolina's. I'm not up on my flags.

This is the third such flag I've seen around my area. Another is frequently seen on the aerial of a car that I see often and another in the large window of a basement suite over by North Hill Mall.

I find it puzzling and I can make no assertions about why these people fly these flags. My mind wanders and stresses under the weight of the possibilities.

One has to bite one's tongue with the Lee Richardson jokes swirling around in my tiny brain. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mr Pinsent, with all due respect...

From the Canadian Press:

MONTREAL – Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's promise to reverse plans to scrap tax credits for productions deemed offensive to Canadian viewers came as a pleasant surprise Tuesday to those in the film and television business and a major blow to the religious right.

"The arts community I think can almost relax and unpack their bags," actor Gordon Pinsent said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.

Pinsent said he never would have expected such a change of heart from the Conservatives and wonders whether it means Harper may be open to other new ideas.

And magic fairies will fly out of my butt. And Charles McVety will be put in a straight jacket and fed-exed on a slow boat to outer Mongolia.


Grow up Mr. Pinsent. Don't you know that Stephen Harper is a compulsive liar. In spite of all the respect you've earned as one of Canada's greatest actors you sound like a child who is overjoyed when his father tells him he won't beat him anymore.

Unpack your bags my ass. Please recommend this post

Monday, October 06, 2008

Calgary West: Stare into the Abyss

According to the National Post/Canwest:

CALGARY - Controversial Conservative incumbent Rob Anders' political views are again coming under fire, as a local lawyer and humanitarian says Mr. Anders told her he believes Canadian diplomacy and humanitarian work should focus on changing outsiders' language to English and faith to Christianity.

Where have I heard that line before...Oh yeah, it was Ann Coulter expressing a noble thought about killing Muslim leaders and forcing their citizens to convert to Christianity.'

The comments that Anders made were corroborated by two people who were present and one assumes that the National Post verified the basic facts, even though it is quite odd for them to eat one of their own children like this. Anything for a buck.

Sadly, when I read stuff like this I'm just not shocked anymore. This is no longer about Rob Anders it is about the voters of Calgary West. You all seriously need some therapy or something. Electing this person 4 times in a row is inexcusable. You can no longer claim ignorance. Now it is down to willing complicity with pure moral degradation.

And no I don't want to hear about the National Energy Program. Thanks anyway. Please recommend this post

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Edmonton PD Issues Amber Alert

The Edmonton police issued an Amber alert this morning for a seven year old girl who was abducted in north east Edmonton.

Edmonton Journal has full details and descriptions here.

Lets hope for a speedy and positive outcome.

Update 4:30pm MST. According to Canadian Press:

EDMONTON — A seven-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert after police said she was abducted from a northside Edmonton park was abandoned by a man in a gas station after an alert attendant noticed her crying...
Please recommend this post

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Stephen Harper is Mike Harris. (Old News)

The Liberals just released a video claiming Stephen Harper plagiarized Mike Harris in recent speeches. The video shows two short snippets of Harris speaking followed by Harper saying pretty much the same thing. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

I think the claim of plagiarism kind of weak, and I wish the Liberals would not waste their time on stuff like this. It is not uncommon for boiler plate phrasing to be recycled in political content. I don't think the problem here is plagiarism even though this kind of mimicry is certainly a sign of a weak and lazy thinker.

The real problem is that Stephen Harper is a lousy thinker with lousy ideas, ideas that appear to be lifted from other poor thinkers. If our Prime Minister elect opens his mouth and Mike Harris or John Howard starts talking its not a problem with plagiarism, it means we've lost or national soul and identity.

Its really about the Liberal Party at this late stage of the election. In the 1993 election the Progressive Conservatives dropped over 160 seats. The Liberals don't have that many seats to lose but they could easily lose half of what they hold now while retaining roughly the same popular vote. That's the wonderful thing about our archaic vote counting system. Am I cheering you up?

So as an undecided voter the Liberals need to convince me why i should vote for them and not for another non-conservative party. Or why I shouldn't just stay home on election day. They can do this by talking about ideas and visions and take a pass on the next plagiarism incident. (There will be more).

Now lets all hold hands and sing Waltzing Matilda. Not everything that comes from Australia is silly like John Howard.

Take Eric Bogle for example...

Please recommend this post