Tuesday, December 29, 2009

McNally Robinson Bankruptcy.

In March of 2008 I lamented the loss of McNally's Robinson's bookstore in downtown Calgary. It was hard for me to understand how such a great book store could fail in a city like Calgary. Their only competition was a small Coles store in Eaton Centre.  Today the independent chain has filed for bankruptcy and will be closing their two newest stores in Don Mills and Winnipeg. (G&M Story)

Aside from Pages in Kensigton, I spent a lot of time in McNally Robinson's store.  Independent book sellers are rare now and their survival always seems to be against the odds.  Maybe as consumers its just easier to buy what Chapters or Oprah want us to read.

The plight of independent bookstores probably has to do with the economies of scale and the basic tough business model of retail.  But I still wonder about this issue from a cultural point of view. Are we less interested in books? What about the role of the internet?  I know from listening to the radio in Calgary, or reading one of the two daily papers, there is really a strong effort to dumb us down and pander to short attention spans. Book stores should be an antidote to that, and are also a cultural force that promote literacy and local authors.

Hopefully McNally Robinson can emerge from the restructuring to hang on to the original store in Winnipeg and compete on the internet as well. 

Support your local independent book seller. Please recommend this post

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mr. Harper's Farewell Song

A little song I worked up in the heat of Winter Solstice insomnia. Sung to the tune of Henry Kissinger by Monty Python. Maybe it could be sung at one of those swank Galas when next time all the elites get together again.

Dear Prime Minister
We won't be missing yer
You're not the Leader of our dreams
Your too much to bear with your empty stare
And your Machiavellian schemes

I know they say that you are very vain
And rude and dumb and loud - and likely quite insane
Mr. Prime Minister
We won't be missing yer
Just wishing you were gone

Mr. Prime Minister
we're all dismissing yer
Looks like yer out on the street
With your Timmy's clothes and your think tank prose
You leave me feeling so downbeat.

All right so people say that you don't care
but the gays know where they stand
and the poor don't have a prayer.

Mr. Prime Minister
We'll be happy when you are done.

(boom boom bada tish)
Please recommend this post

Monday, December 07, 2009

Minnesota Quaker Group's Unique SSM Protest

A Quaker group in Minnesota is refusing to issue any marriage license at all until the State recognizes same sex marriage.

According to Minnesota Public Radio:

The congregation will continue to hold both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings at its meeting house, but will no longer sign the legal marriage certificate for opposite-sex couples. Instead, couples will need to have the certificate signed by a justice of the peace.

Quacker congregations have no formal clergy, and like many anabaptist type groups are peer to peer. Generally they are liberal both theologically and socially although this isn't always true. I think this is a courageous action and a good way for them to protest the injustice of unequal marriage laws.

Via Pam's House Blend Please recommend this post

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December 6 and Hong Kong

Our Prime Minister should have been in Ottawa on December 6 to honour the 20th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. This is a very solemn and significant day for Canadians and the absence of Mr. Harper is deplorable to me. My hopes were never high, but still.

One of my father's good friends when we were growing up was a Canadian soldier in Hong Kong when it fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941. He survived the battle but remained a prisoner of war until liberation in 1945. He and the other Commonwealth POW's were beaten, tortured and starved contrary to international war conventions. He had lifelong health problems from malnutrition and died too young. It chills me to think what went on in his head all those years. I suspect there are a lot of Canadians who have some connection to the battle of Hong Kong. In high school I learned about Dieppe, Vimy Ridge and the Normandy and Sicily campaigns. I had no idea until later in University about the Honk Kong veterans.

I welcome the Canadian Prime Minister visiting the Cenotaph in Hong Kong and paying formal respects to our war dead. However, I would prefer that he avoided the hyper-nationalistic manipulation of war imagery. I would prefer that he stop using slanderous rhetoric and smearing Canadians who want to know the truth about detainee issues in Afghanistan. Soldiers, dead or alive are not visuals to be used casually for self aggrandizement.

I don't think our Prime Minister gets the meaning of our history. Please recommend this post

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Three Alberta Stories

...in under 3 minutes..GO

1. Alberta Cabinet Minister Ted Morton had his brief case stolen from his car on Thursday night. The thief left the brief case outside an apartment building where a CBC employee lived, who found it and returned it. We Canadians are polite and very deferential to authority. If this had happened in the United States the documents would have been posted all over the internet and Mr. Stelmach would have to resort to a special Twitter transparency session. Its a weird story, and I take away two things, indirectly.

First Alberta seems to have no interest in whistle blowing and seem to be a-OK with their Government's absurdly high level of secrecy and non-openeness. Of course I don't suggest we steal politician's brief cases, but please tell me your at least somewhat curious as to what they're up to.

Secondly, Morton admitted that the reason he had his brief case stolen was because he left it in his car while having dinner, but not only that, that he left the car running during dinner. With the doors unlocked. It was a strange admission. What got me was the nonchalant nature, as if its normal to leave your car running for 1 or 2 hours when its not real cold out. Aside from the environmental issues I wonder who was paying for the Gasoline. This sense of disregard is more irritating to me than losing the brief case. I hope the meal was good. Mr. Morton is the minister of Sustainable Resources. I see their SUV's around Calgary from time to time.

2. Paul Stanway, Alberta's version of Ron Ziegler, will be leaving his post at the end of January. As a former publisher of the Edmonton Sun, Stanway was just what Mr. Stelmach needed - a propaganda specialist to crank out the fake realities of the Premier's world. The transition from an illiterate newspaper to the Premier's office must have been quite seamless. I wish they would stop using the word communication, or at least look up its meaning. I've never been much of a believer that this Government has any interest in dialoguing with Albertans. Mr. Stanway's job was very simple: to crudely hammer a one way message to Albertans and hope it sticks. In that respect it really doesn't matter who they replace him with. Too late to snag Duffy, but maybe Charles
Adler is available.

3. There have been two unverified sightings of Mariam Makhniashvili in Alberta. One in Okotoks, a small town about 45 minutes south of Calgary, and a more recent one in Grande Prairie, about 5 hours north of Edmonton. In both cases the RCMP have said they have no way of knowing about the reliability of the reports, but are following up the leads. People probably want to believe the story will end well. Hopefully it will. Canadians are good people and we feel each others pain. Please recommend this post

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Vasely Kandinsky - Composition VIII

I like all of Kandinsky's paintings but this one keeps sticking in my subconscious for some reason. He led a very interesting life as well, fleeing both the Soviets and the Nazis.

Please recommend this post

Monday, October 05, 2009

Stelmach vs. Greenpeace

When it comes to Alberta's controversial tar-sands, it's not really a fair fight when it comes to the public relations problems. Premier Stelmach is not really equipped to deal with this type of conflict. My prediction that he would make it worse it coming true. I've been watching with growing anxiety as Alberta's Government loses a propaganda war with groups like Greenpeace and others. They're losing because they chose to go down a path of misinformation, silo thinking, and spending vast amounts of public money to convince the rest of the world and our energy trading partners that everything is fine when it clearly isn't.

The latest escalation is a series of mischief events in Fort McMurray, and east of Edmonton where Greenpeace troops occupied tar sands production facilities and illegally interfered with their operations. In the latest incident 16 Greenpeace members were arrested and charged with a variety of offenses such as trespassing and mischief.

These sites are pretty hard to secure thoroughly because they are often sprawling operations. Additionally, Albertans are generally trusting people who don't feel they have to put up barbed-wire and moats around their businesses.

I don't support Greenpeace and I don't really care if their members are arrested for legitimate offenses. They have a huge legal defense fund and the arrests are the exact theatre they were looking for. One thing I do feel strongly about is that our legal system is 100% impartial and that people get due process and a fair trial.

However, for a number of reasons it seems unlikely to me that they will get fair trials for these minor offenses. For one thing the Premier may have already comprised the objectivity of the Crown Prosecutor by making silly comments on the charges after the arrest. If you want a soviet style show trial, I guess Ed is your go to guy.

This could go either way. They may get harsh sentences because the judge thinks he/she is being politically directed. Or, the charges could be thrown out.

If the charges are thrown out because of perceived political interference then I hope the frothing-at-the-mouths will correctly blame the Premier instead of so called liberal-biased-activist-judges.

Shutting down tar-sands operations is not really an option considering that it will take decades to transition to other fuels while our consumption exponentially increases every year. Given the nature of Alberta's government there may never be a plan to transition. The bus we're all traveling on may well drive over a cliff.

The answer lies in honesty, respecting science, listening to dissenters, and the most difficult issue of all, separating our Government from the undue influence of industry. I suspect none of this will happen, but our ecology is worth the try.

Join the discussion on twitter. Please recommend this post

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hurtful By Intent

Here is a pdf copy of Rob Anders anti-Muslim pamphlet that I received in my mail box not long ago. Free speech is free speech, but this particular free speech, borderline hate speech, is wholly funded by the Government of Canada.

The key piece that caught my eye:

It is now illegal to hold opinions that offend radical Muslim activists.

A lie, pure and simple.

That, and frequent references to liberal activists, who by the semantics of infantile McCarthyism are equally to blame for whatever ails you.

It was released on or around Ramadan, and designed to fall on the fertile ground of Calgary West, a constituency built by hand by Preston Manning and Stephen Harper.

As a political strategy keeping people dumb, full of hatred, and confused about basic facts seems to have worked quite well.

h/t to Jennifer Pollock, whom I stole the post title from.

Join the conversation on Twitter.

Please recommend this post

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dr. Yosh Senda 1922-2009

I was sad to hear of the passing today of Dr. Yosh Senda of Lethbridge Alberta. Dr. Senda's accomplishments as a foundational figure in the world of Judo would be too numerous to mention, but here is a short list, in no particular order:

  • Highest ranking Judo Sensei in Alberta and Canada at 9th Degree
  • Taught Judo from children to elite athletes for over 50 years
  • Order of Canada
  • Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
  • Olympic and National Level Coach
  • Developed a long list of elite level Judo competitors
  • Held every conceivable executive committee position in Judo Alberta and Judo Canada, as well as international bodies
  • Developed exchange programs with Schools and Judo Clubs in Japan
  • Taught Judo and practiced well into his 80's

My first Judo Sensei in Edmonton drilled into the significance of Dr. Senda and the history of Judo in Alberta, particularly southern Alberta. My Sensei was a sharp guy and wanted us to learn about the mix between Alberta and Judo history. From the little I know of Dr. Senda's early life, his family came to Alberta as internees during the early 40's. The young men sometimes had nothing to do so they played a lot of sports. Dr. Senda developed a love for Judo and the rest is history.

There was always rivalry between the Judo clubs of Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge. Whenever I went to tournaments in Lethbridge I would obsess way too much about whether I could beat Dr. Senda's students. I rarely did. They were very good, well taught and well coached.

The last time I appeared before a Judo Alberta grading committee I was beyond nervous. I felt privileged that Dr. Senda was present that day. It made us all try harder.

Dr. Senda was very soft spoken, and his message to Judo people was always the same: keep trying and never give up.

I know that he will be missed by a lot of people.

Please recommend this post

Why Harper’s Speech Doesn’t Matter

If you were shocked and saddened by Stephen Harper's leaked private speech delivered last night, you're probably not alone. I felt very demoralized last night and still do. However if you learned anything new about Harper from that mean spirited hate-filled speech then I would suggest you probably haven't been paying attention. That was vintage Stephen Harper, consistent with every partisan speech he's made going back to the early nineties and the birth of the Reform Party. As an Albertan this type of McCarthyist BS is nothing new.

It won't have much of an impact on people who already support Harper, in fact it will probably energize them. Those moderate conservatives, leftovers from the PC days maybe, have no influence and are tied and gagged in the basement.

I doubt very much whether the opposition parties will pick up any new energy or supporters from this speech because we've seen time and time again where these type of things don't really register with the average voter who are worried about feeding their dogs. Or kids. If we look at it honestly, voters can be irrational about a lot of things. The entire Bush era and the current American Health care debate are cases in point.

Unless polling suggests otherwise, I'm willing to bet that this speech will be quickly forgotten in a swirl of garbage noise from the CPC.

Here's Milewski's take on the speech.

Update: September 10, 2009 09:40 MST

I'm starting to believe that the leak was deliberate. At the very least I doubt that Harper would be angry at the leak since it sends all the right messages to the people they're trying to keep on board. Sad.

Join the conversation on Twitter.

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Harper's Election Law was a gimmick

As we speak lawyers for Elections Canada and Democracy Watch are arguing in Federal Court whether the last election was illegal. I support Democracy watch, in general, and can't wait for Harper to be retired to a think tank somewhere. Yet, I have doubts and I think the lawsuit is misdirected effort.

Its true that Stephen Harper broke his own law, and its true that this shows his lack of character and professionalism. However the law was a gimmick. It was a brain fart from the original Reform platform. None of the Reformers had much regard for the Constitution Act of 1982 and it continues to show.

A sitting Prime Minister making a law about election dates in a minority government is bizarre beyond belief, and I doubt the Supreme Court would be able to uphold such a law if it was ever challenged. It was a gimmick and nothing more, best remedied by the voters not the courts.

Harper knew ahead of time that ignoring such a bullshit law would be perfectly legal.

Democracy watch should focus on more important issues for now, given our growing democracy deficit. And yes, for the record, I believe we should have fixed election dates as part of overall electoral reform. I can only get behind that if its based on broad consultation. Stephen Harper isn't the one to do that, he can barely collaborate within his own tribe. Also, he doesn't understand what rule of law means.

Update September 8, 2009 14:15. Fix minor typos.

Update September 8, 2009 21:00 Links to other bloggers on same topic:

Kirby Cairo
Impolitical (strikes again)

Join the conversation on Twitter.

Please recommend this post

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Where is Ed Stelmach? (Yawn)

Too good a graphic to waste, and so full of unintentional accuracy.

Since the beginning of the Bill 44 debate in Alberta, starting with Lindsay Blackett floating the idea to Tory fan boy Rick Bell, until the current argument about when the bill will be implemented, the Premier has been completely absent. During the historic Bill 44 debates in the Alberta Legislature the Premier didn't participate. I don't think he was even there for most of the debates. His absence was unprofessional and unparliamentary. In the meantime Blackett and Hancock spar through the media, like children, over the time frame to implement Bill 44. Hancock, after being in the party since he was 12 years old, apparently has no influence left, and bill 44 will go into effect this fall.

In the meantime, the economy has gone south. The Finance Minister managed to get though an economic update, high on rhetoric, low on facts, without insulting single mothers or double earners. (We must see the positive.) There is some reason to believe that the low price of natural gas will pin the Alberta economy in deficit for some time to come.

All of it reminds me of that scene in Rosemary's Baby where Mia Farrow finally gets what's actually happening. This is no dream! This is really happening!

So where is Ed? I don't know and I don't think it really matters much.

Update: September 7,2009

An op-ed at the Sheldon Chumir foundation by Janet Keeping, worth reading in and of itself, claims that Bill 44 will not be implemented until September 2010. Closed door top door Government - keep them guessing.

(On my fifth try now, hopefully I got the right link this time. )

Please recommend this post

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jacques Demers: Just Visiting

Can you imagine if Jacques Demers had been appointed to the Senate as a Liberal by a Liberal Prime Minister. I was just thinking of the creepy voice over of a creepy Conservative attack ad:

Jacques Demers hates Canada. Jacques Demers coached in the United States for almost two decades. He only came back for the Senate appointment... etc.

All the way from Montenegro...

I was a Habs fan growing up. I only became an Oilers fan when they came to Edmonton in 1977. (<-fact check) I became a Habs fan briefly again when they won the Stanley Cup under Demers in 1992-93. When Shayne Corson and Vincent Damphouse did their reluctant tour of duty as Edmonton Oilers I hoped they would bring some Demers magic with them. Hope is a funny emotion.

I admire Demers very much. I think he is a great communicator and motivator and obviously overcame the huge handicap of illiteracy in the Hockey world, where any kind of weakness is not easily accepted and maleness is distorted.

(Run on sentence. Check.)

Demers said in an interview today that running for election wasn't really him, or words to that effect. As a result I hope he doesn't say anything at all about Senate Reform. If he did it would be an obvious broken argument.

He probably will get an orientation and realize very quickly that he is just there to vote the party line. Not to think. Not to talk. It would be nice if he could talk to people about literacy, but big daddy doesn't like that kind of thing. Too bad, because he is an animated and lively speaker.

Jacques Demers is too good a person to be wasted on Stephen Harper. He's in the wrong party. Its a shame. Please recommend this post

Sunday, August 23, 2009

BikeCam - Part 1

Experimenting with a new blogging genre called BikeCam (R). Need to work on a better narrative and some audio. First one is on one of my favorites spots, the bike path in Eau Claire.

This one is of crossing the 10th street pedestrian bridge which runs under the C-Train bridge and crosses over into Kensington. Always fun getting across here on a bike. Watch for the dudes with $10,000 worth of pop bottles.

Finally made it back to Edworthy Park Parking lot in the Park where I had parked. Trying to find where I parked and not get run over be people trying to park. For some reason people were grumpy, probably because there was no parking. Some asshat yelled at me because I wasn't clearing out fast enough for his purposes. Its a sunday, not a board meeting, GFY.

Please recommend this post

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Quick thoughts on Tiny Perfect Blog

I should say right from the outset that I disagree with anonymous blogging, just as I am opposed to anonymous commenting on blogs. However, people have reasons to conceal their identity that we ought to at least consider. Sometimes anonymous muckracking from someone being subversive to their employer or organization is a very health antidote to mainstream print journalism and the culture of secrecy in Alberta. In case you haven't noticed Alberta's newspapers have not hosted a Bob Woodward, a Carl Bernstein or Daniel Elsberg. Not a single one. They don't bring governments down, they prop them up. Hence, anonymous bloggers are inevitable. All voices are welcome if they shine a light where there is no light.

The Alberta Government might think they can control the message by having David Sands travel the internet telling people to shut up, but that won`t work. Not anymore.

As an aside, watching one anonymous AB Conservative after another post comments at TLP criticizing him for his anonymity gave me a much needed daily dose of humor and irony. Oh the outrage, she screamed, barely audible due to the sack over her head.

It was not that long ago that I wrote about an anonymous Calgary Herald editorial that ripped a Mount Royal student for expressing an opinion anonymously. The anonymous Herald editorialist was genuinely anonymously outraged that someone would dare to opine anonymously. That kind of unnecessary malice from a daily paper made me sick back then as it does now. Presumably they wanted the student`s identity so they could subject them to a thorough beating from their readers.

TPB's daily criticism of the Albert Liberal Party was served fairly thick, was gratuitous, and often made me think I had accidentally dialed into Rick Bell or a Journal Blog. Not along ago a Journal columnist wrote a pointless blog post because she was upset that Dr. David Swann had merely called a press conference. Same attitude as TPL I say.

TPL was at his best when he/she was ripping into the Alberta Government for the severely under-reported scandal(s) at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

TPL's claim that Union was after him, is of course, completely unverifiable. As a reason to quit blogging it seemed rather unlikely to me. If it were me and an organization came after me I would step up my defense, not close the doors.

Anyway, look me up. I'm in the phone book. We'll do coffee. Tata. Please recommend this post

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mysterious Mercedes Benz Killing Me

I've been seeing this mysterious Mercedes Benz around my neighborhood for a few weeks now. I can't figure out who owns it. Possibly an invisible man. It reminds me of Richard Dreyfuss in American Graffiti, (two effes one tee) trying to figure out who the woman was in the 56 White T-Bird. Turns out it was Suzanne Somers, before Three's Company and Thigh-Master. American Grafitti would have been a lot more enjoyable if a) they hadn't made the sequel, and b) Richard Dreyfuss had to deal with an unusually large shark instead of a bunch of dick head gang members.

See I'm off topic as usual. I want to know who owns this Mercedes and its keeping me up at night. I could die. I think its from the early to mid 60's, and it has a manual transmission shifter on the steering column. I really picture it being owned by a wealthy political mover with his own driver named Chauncey. This cries out for a dramatization.

In Act 1 of our three part drama, Sir jumps in the back of the Benz and heads off to the Tory party bunker.

Chauncey: To the Bunker sir?
Sir: Yes Chauncey.
Chauncey: Another problem with the boss sir?
Sir: Yes yes.
Chauncey: Big boss is a cool one ain't he sir. A real iceberg. A Cyborg.
Sir: Chauncey, what did I tell you this morning.
Chauncey: This morning sir...em...you said Sir, don't run over any children or else the Calgary Sun will photograph their bloody little booties and it will be bad for us..
Sir: No Chauncey, before that.
Chauncey: Oh sir, about not talking about the boss before you've had drinks sir?
Sir: Yes. And do look out, you nearly hit that child.
Chauncey: Well if you ask me he's a pretty dimly lit bulb.
Sir: Chauncey!
Chauncey: Yes sir.

(I can see the need for developing a strong female character in this story.) Please recommend this post

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Mayhem at Big Valley

Big Valley Jamboree is an annual Country Music Festival in Camrose Alberta. Just before the last set of the day a huge storm blew through the area and flipped the stage over. There are unconfirmed reports of a few deaths, people trapped under the rubble, and people missing or injured. The details are still emerging. (8:30 MST).

The news rolled out fairly quickly on Twitter with Musicians and fans Twittering live accounts. The main stream media, radio and newspaper web sites took a while to get into the story.

Simon Ostler, an Edmonton radio journalist, posted this picture on Twitpic:

Please recommend this post

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More on the Carrington Fire

(Please see additional update at bottom of post)

I haven't heard anything about how the Edmonton Police are progressing with their investigation into the fire at the Carrington Seniors Residence, apparently considered an arson.

However, I did receive an email from a man who claimed to be a first responder at the fire and he made some interesting observations backed up with pictures. It seems that the sidewalk immediately outside one of the fire exits was being replaced and there was an excavated trench about 8 inches deep. For seniors with various levels of capabilities, to exit down 3 or 4 flights of stairs, then to try to cross this trench at 3am seems a bit scary. Many of them just couldn't get across the trench without help. It raises an obvious question about the fire code which I'm not qualified to answer. The rule of thumb is you do not block an escape route in any way. The details were forwarded to the Fire Inspector for consideration.

Immediately after the fire, the entire complex was sealed off and fenced. The author of this email claims that he went back the next day and the trench had been filled in. Its a strange allegation. If true, what would be the reason for filling in a hole on a condemned building?

Please keep in mind that the photos are somewhat inconclusive and there are no photos at 3am, at the time of the evacuation. I have no way of knowing if this story is true, but it does concern me.

I would definitely like to see these buildings made easier to get out of. I'm very grateful to these people who responded at the time and prevented loss of life. But some things about the evacuation plan still don't seem right to me.

Update (July 30,2009)

I misconstrued some of the details Jim had sent in previous emails, so here is his latest email point out a couple of my errors:

I read your latest blog and have to point out some errors...

"the sidewalk immediately outside one of the fire exits was being replaced and there was an excavated trench"

not true, there was no work being done, the sidewalk/trough was built to funnel water to the sewer, now the system wont work because the sidewalk is above the sewer feeder trough. It was built that way and had been there for approx 10 years.

"The author of this email claims that he went back the next day"

not true, I went back 3 days later (Wed June 3rd/8:30pm) to find the sidewalk/trough had been back filled and the courtyard had been soden,by 11am Friday there was a sidewalk installed and the staircase had been changed from a wooden one to a concrete staircase.

I just have to keep the facts straight.

Please recommend this post

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Brief Moon Landing Thought

Once my Mom gave me a present. It was a copy of the Edmonton Journal of July 21 or 22, 1969 with the breathtaking picture of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon. It seemed an odd juxtaposition with the Journal's banner in old style Gothic font.

I took it out to show it to someone one day only to find out that my nephew had found it and had used it to color and scribble on. I wasn't really mad. My nephew was quite young and didn't understand the importance of the paper.

The irony of the moon missions is that it forced humans to look inward and ask those big questions about our purpose and place in the universe. To think about those kind of questions while also looking at the scribblings of a child is not a bad thing.

PS Could have been my niece. Still doing the chronology with my slide rule. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Boutilier Should Resign

I wasn't planning on blogging about Guy Boutilier getting punted by Big Daddy. To be honest I find the internecine feuds of Alberta conservatives to be as about interesting as potatoes with no gravy.

There is a tangential issue relating to populism and the basics of what elected official are supposed to be doing for us. However, we've known for over two decades or more that the Alberta Progressive Conservatives are not a populist party. There are far more glaring examples of Alberta's need for democratic reform than a feud between these two C students.

If I were Guy Boutilier, I would resign my seat immediately and force the Premier to call a by-election in Ft. McMurray. Also, I would tender my resignation over the phone. Maybe even by text or Twitter.

Think about it. The Party would have to go into Ft. McMurray and would have to confront an angry riding association. They would no doubt have to disband Boutilier's riding association and create another one loyal to Big Daddy. Good luck with that. That town is pissed off. The entertainment value is unlimited.

In the lead up to the by-election the Health Minister could go to Ft. McMurray, hold a Town Hall and explain why they don't need a long term health care facility, and he could make amusing segues in the Q&A about how he didn't go to Harvard and didn't graduate with Barack Obama. *Sneer*. Assuming there was no riot or heckling by seniors.

I always hate to be the one that shrugs my shoulders and say, Hate to say it but I told you so. We need some change here.... Please recommend this post

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I just heard a man on the radio use the word irregardless, an evil word used more and more these days. Worse, the man was an instructor from Mount Royal College. He may be a full Professor by now given the recent regulatory changes and the College's elevation. Nonetheless I regard the use of this word as careless and perhaps even illiterate.

Since the early 1900's the word was flagged by dictionaries as incorrect. Over time this has eased a bit to now where many dictionaries describe it as merely non-standard.

Language, like Lutefisk, is dynamic and organic, not static. So I won't be surprised if eventually irregardless becomes a first class word. Even if that does happen, I would hope that teachers will mark down use of the word on the grounds of poor style.

Wikipedia claims that irregardless is a portmanteau of irrespective and regardless. This might be true, but I hope not because generally I find portmanteaus very clever and they've often been very good to me.

Irregardless is a double negative and the prefix adds no value to the word at all. Its main appeal is that when spoken it sounds more sophisticated than regardless.

I demand that this word be put under house arrest. Please recommend this post

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cronkite: Dignified and Professional

Everyone is reflecting on their memories of Walter Cronkite. I'm not surprised by the massive outpouring of respectful grief. My main impression is that he was an incredibly poised man who dealt with massive social upheaval in the 1960's, assassination, Watergate, a violent and unacceptable war in Vietnam - in a calm and dignified way.

My own vivid memory is being home from school sick when JFK was killed. I remember sitting in the dark living room on a typical Edmonton November day. I remember Cronkite reading the death announcement and he was barely able to hold it together.

I don't have much of an appetite for nostalgia - the 1960's and 1970's were horrible in so many ways - however, I do think journalism has really gotten smaller, more reactionary, and in some cases more hysterical. Please recommend this post

American Health Care Debate

I'm not an American yet I'm getting fatigued by the ongoing debate over the American health care system. So much stupidity and prejudice on parade. I hope Americans get a better system under President Obama so the average person doesn't have to choose between a simple procedure or owning a home. Or suffering silently then dying.

Here's a video of NY State Senator Tom Duane giving an impassioned and angry speech about people dying needlessly. Via Blabbeando.

Please recommend this post

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shocked But Not Surprised

When you have a radio station that caters to middle age guys who are predominately conservative, what could go wrong when you start a drive home show conversation about aboriginal issues?

On the way home I tuned in briefly to hear the tail end of a conversation about aboriginal property rights and the Indian Act. The two hosts made a segue to the story about the makeshift border crossing re-opening on Cornwall Island. One of the hosts made the comment, and I'm paraphrasing, that the Mohawks obviously don't want armed guards because they're afraid they'll be shot trying to smuggle cigarettes.

Even for talk radio, I found this unusually inflammatory. I guess this is why these people want to end the Human Rights Commissions, so they can make this kind of talk normal and mainstream.

The background to this, I think, is the fact that the Tsuu Tina nation recently rejected a half billion dollar offer from the City of Calgary and the Province to build the south-west ring road through the Nation's land. This rejection has certainly led to a lot of negative commentary about Tsuu Tina, and aboriginals in general. Please recommend this post

Monday, June 29, 2009

This Just in...Woman's Tennis Sexist

This article about woman's tennis was making the rounds on Twitter today, and to be honest it didn't surprise me much. It seems the centre court matches at Wimbledon are not decided on seeding or talent so much as the looks of the players. I was looking at this picture of Serena Williams and I couldn't help but think what a wicked athlete she is. Those biceps...

If you remember, Anna Kournikova was never ranked higher than 8th in the WTA, and never won a Grand Slam, a Major, or an Olympic Medal. Yet she was always on centre stage courts, got huge endorsements and transitioned into a successful modeling career.

I want to see the best players in the marquee matches. I want to be challenged and to think about what athletic excellence means.

PS. ESPN still holds a hottest female athlete online constest every year. Seems a little outdated to me. Frat boys, what can you do. Please recommend this post

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Download This

Download the MP3 and share it. Pass the link around to all your friends. Maybe even your ex-friends. Not to mention future friends, casual acquaintances, parole officers, one night stands, and so on.

Update: Forgot to mention the MP3 has no DRM. It is intened to be shared freely. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carrington Fire Apparently Arson

My 80 something mother had been living at the Carrington Assisted living apartments in Edmonton. She lived in the building on 106st and 40th avenue. On May 31, in the middle of the night, the building went on fire and over 200 seniors were out on the street. Miraculously, none of them were hurt. The EFD, EPD and passers by did a great job in making sure everyone got out in time.

The western wing of the building went up in flames and was destroyed completely. The east wing where my mother's suite was, was thoroughly damaged by water. None of these seniors will return to the building as it is condemned and it is unlikely any personal effects can be recovered.

The Carrington facility at Riverbend was under capacity so they took in most of the displaced seniors on short notice. However, imagine the circumstances of having no personal possessions, no furniture. This was a highly traumatic event for people who shouldn't have to deal with something like this at their age.

TV's and couches can be replaced by insurance. But family bibles and love letters from the 1940's are gone forever.

The City of Edmonton announced this morning that the fire is believed to have been deliberately set and the EPD is investigating. The fire was briefly discussed in the AB Leg QP a few weeks ago, relative to fire code adherence and evacuation protocols. As expected, the Government said everything was fine.

Check with the Salvation Army or Red Cross in Edmonton to see if they still need donations of money or personal effects. Or phone Riverbend facility at (780) 433-2223 to see if they still need anything.

Update: Edit for Clarity. The Whitemud facility burned down. Most Seniors were relocated to the Riverbend facility which was under capacity. Please recommend this post

Unintended Widget Side Effect

I've been using the newest version of blogger templates for a few months now. Generally I like them better. These templates support some custom xml tags that allow easy integration of generic widgets. If you look to the right you will see a widget that displays a list of blogs and their latest post, with the leading text. I like this widget and don't mind promoting other blogs. I you want your blog over there drop me a line and tell me I'm the sexiest person you've ever seen.

The side effect is the text from other blogs gets built into my html on the server side when the page is built. Then google ends up indexing it as if it were my content. So if you google some phrase you may end up on a blogger site and be mystified why you were sent there. The widget updates content quite frequently.

I'm not sure if this is considered a bug or not, or just a weird side effect of dynamic content. Depends on your viewpoint. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lying For Jesus. Part...Sorry Lost Count

I was surprised when I mistyped my blog URL and found out that a wacky Christian cult had registered www.rwmcbean.blogpot.com to host their dubious bible studies. The web site titled LIFE IS A TEST.ORG looks a bit suspicious to me. It could be a spam/spyware repository, or maybe there's even a back door to child porn. You never know these days. You never know with these type of people.

Anyway, I dropped them a note in their contact form and like clockwork their Jesus-bot responded:

Dear rwmcbean,

We want to thank you for your guestbook message.
The administrator has to revise your message first, therefor it is not visible yet.

Your entry ( Today at 03:08 ):
your choice of URL makes you a liar and a thief.

our guestbook:

best regards,
i-dreams.net Gästebuch Team

It raises some ethical questions, but I'm not really angry. I just think its kind of ironic unethical people are cranking out bible studies.

Do you think I'm being too hard on them? Please recommend this post

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Eds new BFF

The one and only sentence in the press release: Premier Ed Stelmach met with His Excellency Lan Lijun, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada.

In keeping with the opaque operations of the GOA, God only knows what Ed is discussing with the Ambassador of China. After Bill44, I may be better off not knowing. But they do look happy together.

Could be they're discussing China's stake in the Alberta Oil Sands.

Maybe Ed is reassuring the Ambassador that he will never ever be in a photo op with the Dalai Lama.

Maybe they're discussing ways to subvert human rights, environmentalism, or how to kill citizen engagement. China does a pretty good job of terrorizing people into silence. Maybe they're not discussing the Tiananmen Square massacre that didn't occur.

Or maybe, with the Chinese Government taking over the GM Hummer division, they're discussing plans to build a Hummer that runs on Bitumen.

All lame sarcasm aside, the fact is we'll never know what goes on in that office. Ed Stelmach campaigned on a new era of transparency, but it turns out he has a different dictionary than everyone else.

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I stayed up late to listen to the final reading of Bill 44 in the Alberta Legislature and to follow the Twitter feeds from #ableg and #bill44.   About 1:30 MST the bill was passed 35 to 7.  Half the PC Caucus didn't bother showing up. The Premier came in late just in time to vote and didn't listen or participate in the final debate.  As an additional insult to the Opposition members they invoked closure, which may have saved them a whole ten minutes.  Petty and undemocratic.

The 7 opposition members raised one compelling argument after another against this horrible law. The government provided nothing useful, and tossed out brainless cliches like the silent majority and severely normal Albertans.  That's the problem when you govern on the advice of special interest groups, you pretty much have to turn your brain off.  

When they started talking about natural families it was a dead give away they were pandering to homophobes, but homophobes who chose to stay in the shadows.

Bill 44 is indefensible and I'm ashamed.

Please recommend this post

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Time to test Torture Theory

The alleged murderer of Dr. George Tiller, who is now in custody, may be part of a larger terror cell planning more killings. Presumably the supporters of torture in the war on terror would agree that torturing this suspect would be prudent, and would help settle the debate over whether torture is an effective tool.

I say waterboard the man. See if there are any other ticking time bomb snipers out there.

Yes, I'm in a *great* mood today, thanks for asking. Please recommend this post

Children of a Stupid God

...he's our child and is a very very bad boy...

Please recommend this post

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear Brain

I really hate it when you walk by some thing 20 times a day and your brain chirps at you we really ought to do something with that thing,  and you talk back to your brain ok ok,  maybe tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and you remember and you say to your brain,  where's that thing we were supposed to do something with and your brain says,  what thing?  and you say that thing we saw 20 times yesterday.  And your brain say, no idea what you're talking about hummina hummina hummina....

I also hate it when I wake up at 4am with a brilliant idea that's going to revolutionize some software project I'm working on. Before noon the next day I will have mentioned it to someone only to have them tell me what a completely shitty idea it is.  I know they're right.  They know I know they're right.  They know I was up at 4am "thinking".  I vow never to be a visionary again, and to only do dull and repetitive work.

Thank you for your forbearance.  Please proceed to the next item in your reader. Oh,wait. The McGarrigles and Emmylou Harris:

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Karma and the Prop 8 Ruling

On the same day that the California Supreme court released its ruling on the request to overturn Propisition 8, the Alberta Legislature continues to debate Bill 44.  There is some irony there and both Twitter feeds are fascinating and highly emotional.

The key issue in the California ruling is the sad reality that referendums can be used to alter the State's constitution, even in areas that affect minority rights.  This is basically what the Reform/Alliance party wanted for Canada. 

If there's any sunshine in this ruling, its that payback is a bitch.  The precedent has now been set and can actively be used by liberals just as well as conservatives.  If a referendum is passed demanding all Christians die their hair read, so be it.  No recourse.  

And I'm sure they wouldn't try to overturn such a thing in the courts, because as we all know they're against judicial activism.

The other good news is that gay marriage will be legal in California eventually, definitely within 5 years. Its too fundamental to be held back

Please recommend this post

Monday, May 25, 2009

Peter Lougheed: Just Visiting

As mentioned from time to time on this site, Alberta's most pivotal Premier of the modern era was shockingly absent from Alberta and shockingly returned to get elected to the Alberta Legislature. Shocking. It could be that Stephen Harper has overlooked his bio, or he just hasn't got around to slandering him yet. Harper's probably kind of busy that way.

Before his political career, in the 1950's Lougheed went to Harvard (make sour ewwy face) to obtain an MBA. Although he was a stellar student in all respects he did flunk out of How to Talk With a Parisian Accent. He just wasn't good at it. And it was an elective. In the summers he worked for an oil company in Oklahoma. He saw first hand what happens when the oil and gas runs out.

After returning to Alberta, Lougheed ran for office in the mid 60's, again shockingly, and then won the landslide election of 1971, in spite of his presumptuousness in getting an education.

Going, coming, going, coming. "Education." These elitists are all the same. I can hardly believe a true Albertan would act that way.

(I suppose I'll have to mention I'm being sarcastic. But I'm only using a very small font.)

Please recommend this post

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some Calgary Photos

Some cheap photos from around Calgary. If you have a slow connection come back in 10 minutes.

Some Squirrels on a rare piece of grass downtown.

Some Tamil protesters on the steps of City Hall.

Olympic plaza. Just finishing off an all day kids festival.

Teatro's Restaurant lunch specials. They're offering a dinner for 2 for the price of a barrel of oil. Nice Calgary gimmick, but might put a few execs off their appetite.

"The Bow" continutes rapid construction, even after uncertainty about financing. The smaller building planned for the east side of the plaza won't get built for now. This was the building that was supposed to house the arts communities, public spaces, and a daycare.

Not sure what they're building here, on the 32 avenue edge of the University of Calgary. There seems to be construction all over the campus. Conservative University in a Conservative riding? Nah, just a coincidence.

A traffic jam on Country Hills Boulevard at 9pm. Grrrrr. And I had to P. Please recommend this post

Thursday, May 21, 2009

630Ched Manipulates Anger Over Tori Stafford

There's a death penalty poll up at 630ched.com. It deliberately coincides with the horrible news regarding Tori Stafford.

The usual inflammatory bullshit forms the question:

With little evidence Canada's "soft" treatment of hardened criminals is working, is it time to bring back the death penalty for cold blooded killers?

There are too many fallacies there to properly deal with in brief, but please go over and vote.

When four RCMP officers were killed in Mayerthorpe Alberta, then Premier Ralph Klein said it was no time to talk about gun control. I guess reform types like Bob Layton are into situational ethics when it comes to exploiting victims for cheap politics.

It makes me angry that 62% of Edmontonians would consider bringing back a medieval
barbarism like the death penalty. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vote Yes for BC STV

I wish I lived in BC so I could vote in tomorrow's election. I would definitely vote yes for the STV democratic reform. I hope it passes and incites citizen rebellion all over the country.

We are becoming increasingly linked with the world through globalization and immigration yet our political systems both provincially and federally, are rapidly falling behind the emerging standards elsewhere. We can no longer claim that we are leaders in this field.

If STV passes it may spread eastward, but it would likely fly right over Alberta looking for more fertile ground. We know without a question the the Alberta Progressive Conservatives oppose any kind of citizen engagement or electoral reform. In a place where a little over 50% of the vote gets you all but 7 of the seats, why change?

Speaking at a constituency association meeting, Ed Stelmach(R) had this to say:

But I will be perfectly clear that if some want to make changing our system of elections to a “proportional representation” system, put me on the record opposing it. As the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, I will not make it my legacy to get more NDP or Liberal members elected. If they can win on the ground, or in the hearts of Albertans, then fine.

(Original PDF transcript of speech available on request)

Electoral reform requires ruling parties to take a chance and act like statesman for once. Its a very rare opportunity. Take it while its offered. Please recommend this post

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sean Avery's Therapy didn't Take

A few months ago Sean Avery was suspended for saying adolescent things about Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert. After his suspension and league mandated counseling the Dallas Stars put him on waivers and the New York Rangers picked him up. It seems he got ripped off with the counseling thing. I remember him doing interviews and being all emo about how serious he was about fixing himself. I thought this kind of dysfunction would probably take more than a few visits to some vocational guidance counselor to unravel the long term issues. Will the Rangers or any team sign him again next year?

The way the hockey world socializes young men, from a very young age, no doubt leads a few of them to become dysfunctional.

Please recommend this post

Poll Crashing du Jour

Dr.Dobson's national prayer day poll is being crashed by PZ Myers. A lot of us support prayer in its various forms, however you can easily see the indirect question here which is about supporting an inhumane organization that sees no separation between church and state, and views gay people as less than human. Please recommend this post

Ted Morton Hates Women's Rights

Apparently Dr.Morton attended a pro-life rally on the Alberta Legislature property after a press scrum. May be covered later on the CBC Edmonton news. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Calgary West Keeps Anders With Reverse Onus

The Conservative Party in Calgary West sent out just under 100,000 ballots to determine if a nomination challenge should be held. Although Conservative opponents of Rob Anders won almost all positions on the riding board at the last AGM, they faced an uphill battle. For one thing the challengers allege the incumbents withheld membership lists so they could not contact people. Another problem was the requirement of a 2/3 majority if the vote occurred.

But here's the nice part. If you did not return your ballot you were counted as a no vote. Reverse onus, just like the Cable Companies or a terrorism suspect. Harper is obviously protecting Anders because they share an almost identical world view.

Obviously I don't want these people anywhere near Canadian Democratic reform.

I really don't care if the Conservatives run Rob Anders or Donna Kennedy-Glans in the riding. Same problem different face.

The real challenge in Calgary West has not changed: take the riding away from the Conservative Party. And to do that you will need a coalition candidate and an electoral agreement among 3 parties. Please recommend this post

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ed's Fake Outrage. Or Inherit the Tory Wind

Ed Stelmach stormed out of the Legislature today because of a poorly thought out taunt by Liberal MLA Dave Taylor. Taylor's reference to the Scope's Monkey trial went over the head of Stelmach. Although the taunt was ill-advised it did have its own wit. When Taylor was a talk show host on the local Corus station he routinely talked over the heads of the mostly conservative audience.

Later in today's session, Taylor apologized. Hopefully the Health Minister was watching and learning.

I'm surprised that Stelmach has not yet flown into a rage over Ezra Levant's comment about Lindsey Blackett being an uppity token. Waiting... Waiting...

The hackneyed shenanigans of Question Period aside, I have really deep concerns about creating a new category of human rights that have to do with parental objections to school curriculum. Parents have had this right since the 1960's. Any one my age clearly remembers the first sex ed class where the kids with chin beards and bonnets got up and left.

If I understand the legislation correctly students who are exempted from, for example, evolution theory in biology class, cannot be punished academically. This will create a huge dilemma for the teacher and the curriculum writers. If you follow the strategy of creationists in the United States, their goal is to get public school boards and public post-secondary institutions to put Creationism on a peer to peer level with Biology, Chemistry and Geology. "Parental rights" will no doubt lead to curriculum dilution or injection of pseudo-science. At which point the Government will conveniently shrug its shoulders and say human rights, what can you do.

The whole thing is deeply suspicious, and occurs at a time when Alberta schools need to be better managed, better funded, and when our scientific literacy needs to be raised.

I do not trust the Alberta Government on issues like this. They are poor strategists and never see the coming train wreck. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maude was Better than Golden Girls

When celebrities like Bea Arthur die it gives us pause to think about our own journey. The TV was on a lot when I was growing up, and it was the backdrop to every stupid decision I made. Sort of creepy that way.

I came of age in the 70's. People in my age group generally think TV was better in the 70's than the 80's. To me the 80's on TV was a horrible pit of narcissistic despair.

All in the Family was the first show I really remember that made me think about the world. Maude, who was originally Edith's cousin on AITF, was the first feminist I ever saw. They gave Bea Arthur the Maude show because she was too large a personality to co-exist with Archie. Apparently Carroll O'Connor had a fairly big ego.

Golden Girls had excellent writing, biting sarcasm, and chemistry that reminds me of Seinfeld. However, if I have to watch re-runs I'd watch Maude any day. The episode I remember the most was when Maude discovered she was pregnant and there were several episodes about abortion. Strangely enough, in some ways TV was more liberated back then.

Please recommend this post

Blogging Should be Fun

I was thinking today about a time when blogging was fun for me. Before everything became a right-left hate fest. Before Stephen Harper came along and completely ruined my sense of Canada. Before Jason Kenney made me feel like a foreigner in my birth country. Before there was a daily fire hose stream of things to be angry about. Before people started waving flags like fascists and threatening to beat up people who didn't sing the national anthem the way they wanted. Before the Conservative Party and the Media killed the idea of Peace Keeping and overtly militarized our culture. Before Liberal bloggers decided that "Alberta" and "Calgary" needed to be the subject of bigoted diatribes.

It will probably get better. Things usually do. Hey, did you know that they have an International Rutabaga Curling Championship. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Alberta Sterilization

Whenever I see the words Alberta and Sterilization in the same sentence I think of Alberta's eugenics program the Alberta Social Credit Party thought up in the 1930's. This program was ended by Peter Lougheed in 1972.

But no, this time it had to do with another controversy about patient care and proper sterilization. A clinic in Calgary began charging $5 or $10 fees to patient to cover the expense of sterilizing instruments used during the patient's visit.

Naturally there was a negative reaction. By the end of the day the College of Physicians & Surgeons ordered the clinic to stop collecting this fee.

What surprised me about the social media reactions, and the MSM reactions is that few really understood the background of this problem. In early 2007 a small town Hospital in Vegreville Alberta was found to be following insufficient sterilization techniques. Further investigation revealed that a significant number of patients were probably infected with HIV/Aids and or Hepatitis. The Government has yet to reveal any figures on how many innocent patients were infected. As far as I know, no one was fired.

As a result of this and other similar problem, the Government began a lets get really really serious about sterilization now program. This resulted in Clinics being forced into buying more modern equipment. Hence the Calgary Clinic trying to find a way to cover its costs.

My question is fairly simple. How can a modern Health Care System, populated by well educated medical professionals fall down on something as basic as germ control. The two basic problems are transparency and management. In 2007 no one really knew the extent of the sterilization problem and could not find out. The Health Board that ran the Vegreville Hospital was made up of Political Appointees. The Government protected its appointees, who were ultimately accountable.

I don't really see where anything has changed since 2007.

Some links:
CBC Clinic Charges Sterilization Fee
Vegreville Hospital
Some other possible related links Please recommend this post

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alberta Libraries get $9 Million Dollars

I woke up this morning at 5am for no particular reason. Apparently this is a sign of old age or something. I blearily and misguidedly checked my email and news feed quickly - something I have repeatedly told myself is inadvisable before noon.

I read the CBC headline that the Alberta Government was announcing another $9 million dollars in funding for Alberta's public libraries. My brain translated the headline to "Alberta Liberals". I thought it was strange, and in the stupor I was in I spent the next couple of hours thinking weird thoughts like where did the Alberta Liberals get $9 million dollars. Will this level the playing field? Is that a lot of money? Where are my pants? etc etc.

I woke up later and realized how very confused I was. Libraries. Not Liberals. Not that I wouldn't want the Alberta Liberals to get $9 million dollars. If the Alberta Liberals had $9 million dollars they could buy the next election and deport Stelmach.

In spite of our affluent societies our libraries need more than $9 million dollars. For example, all the libraries in Calgary have had a public wireless network for a few years, but few of them have places to plug notebook computers in. Retrofitting to online collections is now also a big trend with libraries and expensive. And then there are all those literacy and reading programs, and ESL tutoring - all done by volunteers.

I'm glad they got the money, especially during a time when the Alberta Government has absolutely no idea how to manage money and resources.

This additional funding takes some of the burden off me to continually pay those hundreds of dollars in late fees. I hope they spend the money wisely and not on silly christian novels about the rapture or Miss Marple DVD's. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rare Methadone Clinic Killed By Aldermen

The Second Chance methadone clinic, which has been operating for some time in an industrial area of north east Calgary will be forced to close its doors. The Alderman of the area used zoning BS to force the closure of the clinic.

Not only that, when the clinic was close to finding a new location in south east Calgary, the Alderman for that area apparently strong armed the prospective landlord into backing out of the lease.

Whereas the City of Calgary apparently has an unlimited supply of cash and time to play these games, the clinic has no resources to defend.

What are these Alderman thinking? How many votes will they gain in exchange for creating extreme hardship for about 500 hard drug addicts.

There is only one other methadone clinic in Calgary, downtown at the Sheldon Chumir Clinic. But since it is run by Alberta Health, those 500 addicts cut adrift would likely not get any help going there. I guess they'll end up in either the remand centre or an emergency ward.

I really think this will have some negative outcomes for Calgary.

h/t to CBC Calgary Story. Please recommend this post

Didn't see the punch line coming at all

And as a result, I spit juice all over my precious little notebook.

I thing I've crossed over into lazy blogger bing bong town. Please recommend this post

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hail The New Nationalism

Last week Calgary's Mount Royal College inadvertently drew the attention of hyper-nationalist goons by thinking out loud about whether to fly a Canadian Flag in a building operated by the Student's Association.

The building used to have a huge flag hung from the roof, but it was taken down for renovations. When the renovations were complete the issue of hanging another flag was discussed. One student expressed the view that the flag was exclusionary. The student for what I now see are understandable reasons, made the comment anonymously.

As a post-secondary institution they should have an open and honest discussion about hanging the flag. Many of those students are probably history majors who are familiar with the various fascist movements of the 20th century and know the basic components of fascism, including flag waving and the coercive worship of external symbols.

Although Canada isn't a fascist state yet, more and more I grow uneasy seeing the immense amount of ugly mob pressure to fly a flag or sing anthems. Erik Millett, a school principle in New Brunswick, and who dared to change the anthem singing schedule of his school, was harassed, bullied, and threatened with violence and death. Now he can no longer continue in his job because he is too traumatized. (link)

If the non flying of a flag, or the non singing of an anthem makes you threaten someone's life, you're not a real Canadian, barely a human being, and you should get help. Or just fuck off to some third world country where you'll socialize better.

Of course the shrill moralistic bullies at the Calgary Herald had to wade into the Mount Royal debate, even though it was an issue the students can easily work out on their own. The title of the op-ed Fly Our Flag says it all. Its an imperative. An or else demand. In a low point, even for the Herald, the op-ed author rips the anonymous student who made the original comment:

Finally, it is the flag of a people who believe men and women have the right to speak their opinions without fear, and therefore unlike the Mount Royal complainant, need not hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

The funny but sad part of that unnecessary attack is that the editorial is unsigned. However, given its dumbness, meanness, and the non-nonsensical meandering style, I would bet it was written by Corbella.

The usual pile of thugs, commenting in the online edition, demand that the student go back where he/she came from. That, without knowing anything about the origins or national identity of that person.

The Canadian Flag means a lot to me. I feel a lot of positive emotions whenever I see it flying somewhere. And that's in spite of Stephen Harper ripping the fabric of this country apart. What I won't do is wave the flag in someone Else's face and force them to worship it. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Law Abiding Gun Owners

Case 1:

Last weekend Brian Knight, a farmer near Bashaw, Alberta saw three men on his property at 2am. Two of the men fled in their vehicle, the third fled stealing one of Knight's Quads. I fully understand how frightening this might be, and the criminal code does allow reasonable force to be used in self defense.

However, Mr.Knight jumped in his vehicle and chased the Quad thief down the secondary roads, shooting at him and ramming him with his truck. The thief was shot and sent to hospital. The RCMP arrested Knight and charged him with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault and dangerous driving. The other 2 thieves were caught and charged.

Knight's illegal and dangerous over-reaction could have killed a neighbor, a police officer, or even the thief. If you think a Quad is worth more than a human life then you are a sick human being. Worse than the thief actually.

Not surprisingly Knight is being turned into a folk hero. Apparently we're supposed to admire people with loose screws who take off down the highway shooting at petty criminals. One more reason to believe that Corus talk radio is sick and pathologically irredeemable as a social media.

I guess this is why the Firewall letter writers advocate for kicking the RCMP out of Alberta and replacing them with an Alberta Police Force. If you had a local police force that reported to the Alberta Tory party then you could just ignore inconvenient parts of the criminal code. One of my favourite movies was Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night. Good story, bad model for policing.

Case 2:

Dr. Ted Morton probably thought he was being funny with this photo op:


He obviously didn't listen in gun safety training. You never ever ever point a gun at anything unless you are intending to shoot it. Never.

It sends the wrong message and most of the people who adore Morton are laboring under some serious deficits as it is. Its not funny. Its irresponsible. And I also get the subtle political message. Thanks.

Consider also that the Alberta Government, under Morton's initiative uses tax dollars to promote hunting as a life style. Because you can never have a big enough intrusive government that spends public money to tell us what's fun.

Case 3:

A man in Edmonton very nearly shot his balls off playing with his gun. Better his balls than his wife or two young kids. He then wasted the time of the Police claiming a burglar had shot him.

Say no to dismantling our gun laws and registries. Please recommend this post

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dear Minister Kenney

Dear Minister Kenney,

A month or so you flippantly assured an audience that everything would be fine with the economy because Stephen Harper was a trained economist. That kind of thing must play well to your uninformed fan boys in Ontario, but many of us scratched our heads. Aside from being completely wrong about the direction of the economy you probably well know that Stephen Harper never actually worked as an economist. I understand his MA work was mostly in the area of political communication. By the way, I have a lot of respect for people who undertake graduate education, that is not really the issue. I think it is another example of ridiculous political language being used to mislead people.

On another topic, Dr. Tom Flanagan, Myron Thompson and Dr. Ted Morton are all Americans who emigrated to Canada. It occurs to me that these three have really not integrated well into Canadian culture.

Dr. Flanagan apparently doesn't know that our forefathers signed legally binding treaties with aboriginal people, or that those same aboriginal people actually value their indigenous languages and cultures. Most school children know this.

Mr. Thompson apparently believes homosexuals should not be allowed to be teachers, that sodomy should be re-criminalized and that capital punishment should be re-instated.

Dr. Morton seems to be an antigay activist who was also one of the principal authors of the Firewall Letter, which I'm sure you're familiar with.

It doesn't seem to me these men have integrated really well into our way of life. I'm sure you'll want to review their files.

I'm sorry to hear your car was broken into. Perhaps the thief was looking for that elusive Canadian identity you think everyone else should conform to. Please recommend this post

Insomnia and Art

I was up late looking at various art on the interweb tubes and came across M.C. Escher's Hand with Reflecting Sphere For some reason this drawing always reminds me of Christmas. Weird how things get wired in your brain. Its one of my favourites among Escher's many works that pushed the viewers perceptions of the spatial.

I find it amazing how he can so accurately reproduce the reflection. Please recommend this post

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Bishop of Death and Ignorance

Via CBC Calgary,

An annual fundraiser held by local Catholic teachers in support of an international AIDS charity is on hold after Calgary's Catholic bishop objected to its promotion of birth control.

For the last five years, the Calgary Catholic Teachers' Association has held a fundraiser during Lent for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, and also runs campaigns to prevent the deadly disease.

More and more you read these stories with an astonishing sense that this can't possibly be happening. This was the same Bishop who obstructed the Gardasil vaccinations of young women because he imagined it would turn them into sluts. (I fully supported parental consent. That was never the issue.)

I'm not sure how much money the teachers could raise for Stephen Lewis, maybe its not all that significant in the bigger view. However there is an issue here of ignorance and religion based cruelty. Death is not an acceptable outcome for some poor person merely because of their choice of birth control or life style. It would be petty and ignorant, and in some cases illegal, for me to let someone die merely because I disapprove of their life.

Religious institutions sometimes act like cults. They need to be turned upside down so authorities can be held accountable for promoting death over life.

If those educators cannot raise money for a more than worthy cause, then I sure hope they are allowed to teach their students about AIDS/HIV both from a social and scientific point of view. We can't afford another ignorant generation.

Link: The Stephen Lewis Foundation

Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. Please recommend this post

Wild Rose Anthology.

Another great Anthology of short stories written by Alberta writers. The collection is edited by George Melnyk and Tamara Palmer Seiler both academics and authors based at the University of Calgary. Nice to see the U of C get noticed for something other than pro-war think thanks.

The contributing authors include: Ninoxkyaio, Mary Schaffer, Fred Stenson, Monica Hopkins,Georges Bugnet, Illia Kiriak, Christine van der Mark, Kerry Wood, Henry Kriesal, George Ryga, W.P. Kinsella, Andy Russell, Howard O'Hagan, Sheila Watson, Sid Marty, Thomas Wharton, Rudy Wiebe, Katherine Govier, Cherly Foggo, Sam Selvon, Joy Kogawa, Robert Kroetsch, Aritha van Herk, Myrna Kostash, Hiromi Goto, Hugh Dempsey, W.O. Mitchell, Emma Lee Warrior, and Thomas King.

There's a few authors here that are new to me. Thomas Wharton and Christin van der Mark are authors whose novels I now want to read. van der Mark wrote her first novel Due Season in the late 1940's and was probably overshadowed by W.O. Mitchell who wrote Who Has Seen the Wind around the same time.

I like Alberta and Canadian fiction. They usually hit a sweet spot when they are well written and are set in your own back yard.

ISBN 1-55238-079-3 Published by University of Calgary Press.

Possible maybe related posts. Please recommend this post

Friday, March 27, 2009

Edmonton Oilers Fans March Discontent

Its like this every spring for Oilers fans. After the last 2 disastrous losses the Oilers must get at least 6 points in their remaining 8 games to make the NHL playoffs. Unlikely I think.

There are 5 teams competing for the last two play-off positions. It may come down to the last game of the year. It doesn't help that the Oilers play back to back games with the Calgary Flames. The Flames have a lock on their playoff spot but they derive motivation from beating Edmonton, especially if they can knock them out.

A more likely scenario is the Oilers will be edged out by the result of games they don't even play in.

It might be better if they don't make the playoffs. They are due for a major restructoring and its probably time to try some new approaches. When you think about it, all the 80's feel good nostalgia and banner raising, as inspirational as it is, has not done a single thing to improve the on ice product. Please recommend this post

Mob Mentality Trumps Free Speech

An Edmonton comedy club has cancelled upcoming appearances by an American comic who mocked the Canadian military on the Fox Television show Red Eye.

Doug Benson was scheduled to do five shows at The Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall next month, but owner Rick Bronson cancelled the gigs after the club received some unsettling calls and emails.

"Too many of them were too threatening in nature," Bronson said.

Before Benson and his partner started trashing the Canadian Military on their overnight Fox shock show, Benson should have checked his itinerary for his stand-up act. He was scheduled to appear at a comedy club in West Edmonton. He might have also observed that Edmonton hosts one of the largest military bases in Canada, which is within artillery distance from West Edmonton Mall. Also, lets not forget there are more than a few grieving military families in Edmonton.

I thought that the Canadian response to Benson's clownish show was a bit much. This is what Fox does. They bait people to get a response. In this respect they are not unlike the Toronto based National Post or the Toronto based Sun Media. They are half wits that can't really contribute anything so they push buttons.

The manager of the club had no choice to cancel the act, however it would have made good theatre to see Benson try and manage an Edmonton crowd. This is the ultimate test of every comedian, to win a crowd of obnoxious drunks.

But we'll probably never know since scores of goons in Edmonton made threats of violence resulting in the cancellation. They're probably keyboard cowards, but small businesses can't afford the risk.

So who has a worse pathology? The brain dead TV host or the guy who threatens violence? Please recommend this post

Thursday, March 26, 2009

David Hockney's Lost Seasons

David Hockney is one of my favourite artists and photographers. He had planned to paint a series of four paintings of a stand of Beech trees near his home in Yorkshire England. Each painting was to be done in a season of the year.

The Winter and Summer paintings (above) were completed. When Hockney went to paint the next in the series he found that the stand of trees had been cut down. When I read the story I wanted to weep because I love art, photography and the dwindling number of pastoral settings.

It doesn't seem likely to me that the stand of trees were economically significant. Hopefully the owner got their 30 pieces of silver. Please recommend this post

Red River Rising

In the summer of 1997 I took a summer holiday, my first vacation in a long time. I left Calgary and camped my way down through to Sioux Falls, South Dakota because I wanted to see the Black Hills and visit a friend there. I would say I was probably fairly self-absorbed and disconnected from what was going on in the world. I had no idea of the extent of the Red River flooding that summer, and of the devastation in the Dakotas and Manitoba.

I spent the night in Sioux Falls and left early in the morning intending to drive straight to Winnipeg. I stopped for gas somewhere and found out that an elderly couple had been killed by a tornado the previous night not at all far from where I camped. The dude looked at me like I was a moron when I told him where I had camped. Note to self: Get a good camping radio, or at least check the weather warnings.

I had to pick up a few things so I stopped in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Map. I couldn't believe what I saw. They were dealing with the after math of the Red River flood when a fire broke out in the downtown area. The water problems made it almost impossible to fight the fire and a lot of the downtown businesses burned down.

It looked like a war zone and I didn't stay long. The people there were so distressed and worn out. I learned one thing about Americans. Whether they are red or blue they are one tough people. Ditto for Manitobans.

When I got back to Winnipeg and got an aerial view of the devastation and got caught up on the news I found it really astonishing. Mostly I felt pretty angry with myself for being so aloof and not being able to help in such a situation.

Right now they are sandbagging around the clock in Fargo, in a desperate attempt to get that few extra feet or inches that will save their properties and businesses. I wish I were there. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Libertarian Lobbyist Can't Reason Well

Where, exactly, does the QR77 newsroom find these people:

The city's Plan It Calgary document, which promotes high density residential development in the downtown core as well as some other areas such as the Brentwood and Anderson LRT stations, has come under scathing attack. Randall O'Toole, senior fellow with the libertarian CATO Institute, says there isn't anything in the 50 year plan he likes. The $6 million strategy calls for more residential development in the downtown core partly because it will cut down on automobile use. But O'Toole says driving to work isn't such a bad thing. He says in a couple decades vehicles may be far more energy efficient and produce fewer emissions per mile than transit. O'Toole says people should be able to choose where they want to live - not be told by politicians. O'Toole was the keynote speaker at a Canadian Homebuilders Association meeting in Calgary on Wednesday.

Scathing? Oh, I'm so afraid of the Libertarian Lobbyist.

I live in the Brentwood neighborhood and there is a growing opposition movement to the city's plans to add 10,000 new units in an already congested area. I havent't decided how I feel about this yet. But I definitely don't think of it as a libertarian issue. And it is rather silly to think we can continue to add cars to the road commuting into downtown. Downtown Calgary has no space for more parking and is developing out existing parking locations in favor of office space. Its a weak point anyway, because fewer and fewer people can afford to pay the exorbitant fees to park.

Is it a libertarian priority that we double the lanes of the freeways into downtown every 10 years?

No politician is telling you where to live Randall, that's a fairly obvious lie designed to create right wing hysteria. It will probably work. Godless communists building condo's etc etc.

Its fairly easy to see this is not about political philosophy or freedom, its about lobbying for land developers. Please recommend this post