Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Conservative government may abandon what is left of a Clean Air Act largely redrafted by opposition parties as it shifts focus to setting industrial pollution limits and financial penalties.
And John Baird hinted the same thing on CBC radio this morning.
Note to those who thought Harper and the Tories had "neutralized" the environment as an issue. Look where the opposition is falling back: here, for example, the NDP is caving and teaming up with the Tories to pass gun crimes legislation. They don't want the next election to be about "law and order issues". Now look where the government is in retreat: specifically, they're trying to sneak away from their own environmental legislation. They don't...repeat DO NOT...want to fight an election over Kyoto.
Therefore, let me repeat, no election this Spring.
Oh Chantal you silly rabbit! For one thing, not all the provinces were dealt with equally. Quebec got almost half the pie this year, and my province, the province of Ontario, the province that's always giving handouts to the other provinces when they whine, the only province without a separatist movement other than Newfoundland, the province that has played the historic role of holding the country together (along with the newfies)... we just got screwed slightly less than usual this time around. That billion bucks of oil money dropped from helicopters over Toronto and Ottawa? Chickenfeed, considering what we've done for this nation of miserable ingrates! Of course we want more... mo money mo money mo money! And Harper's the guy to take it from. Go get 'em Dalton McGuinty!
Furthermore, d'you think a would-be Premier of any province could run on a platform of "its not Ottawa's fault"? Bullshit! Hosing the feds for cash is what being a Premier is all about! It's tradition, a part of our national character. D'you think Harper's pathetic gesture is going to change a hundred years of Canadian history? Chantal, you are like a little child. The 2007 budget wasn't a french kiss; it didn't even involve any tongue! You should see what the Premiers are going ask Harper to do next year.
Friday, March 30, 2007
A certain critical mass has been reached when your city [Calgary] supplants Toronto as the prime bull's-eye of organized, glossy loathing.
And about time, too. As a Torontonian, it's a weight off my shoulders. But what exactly is "glossy loathing"?
PS. Kaufman also mentions the Calgarysucks website, which is good for a cheap yuck but doesn't boast much content.
In 1997, [Tim Peterson] pleaded guilty to the minor offence of removing a sign belonging to Peter Cobbold, a Reform Party candidate running against his brother Jim in the federal riding of Willowdale.
Interestingly enough, this bit of information can only be found in the cached wiki story on Mr. Peterson. His official wiki bio has the paragraph excised.
(You know, its funny how the mind works. I didn't even follow politics too closely back in 1997, other than loathing the Reform Party, but somehow I recall this incident. Tim kicked over some signs on election night.)
This might be it for today, so I will just note the latest Ipsos-Reid which has everyone pretty much back to their election night totals, which is hilarious considering the piece appears in the Natty Post just under this bit of blovating by Ivison.
Note also, that it isn't like committing this kind of "minor" offence is a sign of great Evil. It's more that getting caught is a sign of great stupidity.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
[Conservapedia] looks like a hoot! I'm waiting for their article on masturbation to appear.
Well, it finally has...or at least it had. Search the term now and you get the following message:
This page has been deleted and protected to prevent re-creation
As you may know, the contributors to Conservapedia are a bunch of "home schooled" teenagers from families with far-right political views. Apparently, when this article first appeared, none of them got any work done for a week. They went all cross-eyed, started walking into things, and made those "ibibibibibibibibibibibibi' noises you make when you run your finger up and down over your lips and blow.
College is going to be a real eye-opener for this bunch.
(Note: a list of Conservapedia's other protected/deleted pages can be found here.)
These days Crichton is inveighing against Commie scientists attempting to undermine America's economic glory by perpetrating hoaxes such as global warming in books like State of Fear, and in countless lectures given on the international right-wing rubber chicken circuit.
And Mr. Crichton recently took the time to conduct an interview with this guy, on a blog entitled The Daily Ablution. I've already dealt with Mr. Crichton's strange views on the history and sociology of Science here, which lead him to challenge the very notion of a scientific consensus. However, what is interesting in this case is that, during his Ablution interview, Crichton makes the following rather astounding statement:
In the meantime, as you know, my own prediction for warming over the next 100 years is 0.8 degrees C. I arrived at this by a complex formula that I will reveal in future years.
So, Crichton's bagged it! He's got the number! And he apparently didn't employ any of those goddamned commie super-computers to arrive at it either. Perhaps, if real scientists are very nice, and very humble, if they send let's say an emissary bearing gifts, Mr. Crichton will reveal the back of the napkin (or whatever) upon which he calculated the very fate of our planet.
And then we can put aside our irrational fears of climate change and worry about those things that really matter. As Mr Crichton puts it: "beheadings, rape, and homophobia in distant lands."
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Personally, I think carbon neutral campaigns and "carbon offsets" and so forth are mostly gimmicks, although it certainly looks like they are becoming part of the political landscape. For an insight into what's wrong with them, take a look at this.
Professor Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, a medieval history specialist at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, agreed:
"The problem is not only that our sense of sin has declined, but also that the world wars and totalitarianisms of the 20th century created a hell on Earth as bad as anything we can imagine in the afterlife."
Yeah, tell me about it, grampa. My definition of Hell on Earth is a Motel 6 outside of Tuscson Ariz. when the hooker next door is working her way through a whole platoon from the local marine base.
Pope Benedict: The Service Here is Very Poor
Top Liberal political advisers plotted damage control in the wake of a startling TV broadcast exposing an insider win scandal at the Ontario Lottery Corp., according to documents obtained by Sun Media.
Warren Kinsella, Jim Warren and others met four days after the Oct. 25, 2006, Fifth Estate program which revealed the story of Bob Edmonds, a 78-year-old lottery customer and cancer survivor who was ripped off of his $250,000 prize by a lottery ticket retailer, the documents show.
Kinsella, who once claimed that his granny cleaned toilets, has recently been employed in a similar line of work for Dalton McGuinty's bunch. Unfortunately, this particular political latrine looks like its overflowed over the whole province.
...But probably not enough to threaten McGuinty's election hopes. However, I am starting to wonder about this guy's future in cabinet, even though David Caplan is a pretty solid and has served both Dalton and his constituents well over the years. If the scandal drags on much longer (and it may: 198 stories on it are presently available through google news) there may be a sacrificial lamb required.
PS. Probably more Kinsellanalia coming up over the next couple of weeks. He is apparently getting to set to sue an old enemy.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
PS. I don't smoke and have no qualms with curtailing the rights of our smelly, yellow-toothed brothers and sisters (because they can't throw two punches without spitting up phlegm and can't run very fast). But this is just stupid.
Word in the oilpatch is that Ottawa's plan will be tougher than Alberta's, but not as stringent as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Translation: Canada's oil-and-gas sector will have to pay up to meet Alberta's new regulations, and pay up even more to meet Ottawa's.
(Under Alberta's greenhouse gas regulations, announced this month, the 100 facilities that account for about 70% of the province's total emissions are required to cut emissions intensity by 12%, starting July 1, or about six months earlier than expected. Large emitters have the option of making operating improvements, buying an Alberta-based offset or contributing to a new fund that will invest in technology to reduce emissions.)
While Ottawa's plan is not expected to kick in until 2010, the two sets of regulations are likely to stack up on top of each other.
Ignore the woe-is-the-oilpatch tone and contemplate the political implications. Though the Harper plan will fall short dreadfully, it will be the same in kind as Dion's initiative. That is, it will be very difficult to tar the Liberal plan as being radical. Everybody is offering up some kind of a carbon tax, or at least something that can be interpreted as a carbon tax! The difference will be merely in the stringency of the various regulatory regimes, and the Liberal message should therefore be: Harper's plan is SOFT on Polluters, whereas Dion gets TOUGH with those who would use out skies as a garbage dump.
That's an easy battle to fight.
Most importantly, last night's result was not a "win" for Stephen Harper. Harper threw billions at Quebec to bolster Jean Charest's hold on power, and "Bozo" lost his majority anyhow. Note that the phrase "lost his majority" contains the term "to lose". Part of this losing now reflects on Charest's prime booster, Stephen Harper, though the commentators who a few weeks ago were claiming that a Liberal cakewalk that would lead to a Spring election are now claiming that Dumont's good showing will serve as a Springboard to the same thing. Facts won't get in the way of their narrative, which is a CPoC march towards their inevitable majority.
But, if anything, this election will serve as a momento mori to the Harper government, as his vote buying binge seems to have bought Charest zero votes (or less), and it may well have been the foolish intervention on Harper's part last week that cost the PLQ their own majority. Our supposed alpha strategist screwed up; the puppet master became caught-up in his own strings. I suspect that with this election gone so far awry Harper will be a little more cautious in dropping the writ federally. The next election he fluffs could well be his own.
Also, claims that the ADQ's newly won ridings are ripe to tip Conservative during the next federal election should also be taken with a grain of salt. The ADQ's performance (as some have mentioned) most resembles Bob Rae's surprise win in the 1990 Ontario election. But most who voted NDP at that juncture did not vote for NDP ideology; it was a pure protest at the fact that the Peterson administration had called a summer election. I suspect that Mario Dumont got a lot of his votes from people who were simply fed up with the status quo and felt he couldn't be as crazy as he talked.
Although, on the other hand, in future federal contests, Dumont's ADQ may be willing to lend the CPoC some of its organizational capacity within la belle province, which can't hurt.
So, not a win, but maybe a draw for Harper.
(Yes, the title doesn't make much sense. Its adopted from an old book by Spike Milligan, and seemed funny at six this morning.)
Monday, March 26, 2007
These are the same boxes that yielded the Stockwell Day payoff scandal, and garbologist supremo Mark Holland claims that "the Liberal caucus is retaining possession of some of the documents to determine whether or not they contain other issues that are in the public interest."
Go Mark! Keep a special lookout for invoices from Mistress Valerie for services rendered.
Nice to see that the Libs aren't the only ones acting incompetent these days.
So, you seriously mean to say that we would not be living in a better or safer world if the coalition forces had turned around and sailed or flown home in the spring of 2003? That's exactly what I mean to say.
Apparently, he's talking with an invisible friend perched atop his whiskey bottle.
Nice hair though. I've always liked his hair.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
He became the first member of Congress to say publicly that he doesn't believe in "a supreme being." The next most powerful politician to identify himself as a "non-theist" in response to a question by the Secular Coalition for America was a school board president in Berkeley.
Some described Stark's admission as "coming out of the closet." Others rued the fact that God was not on his side. A spokesman for the Concerned Women for America unabashedly bashed him, saying that "a Christian worldview is proper for a politician to have."
Even though the non-religious make up about 16% of the Canadian population, I am unaware of any Canadian politician that has had the guts to make a similar announcement. I am sure they're out there; I once had a poli-sci teacher explain to me that we Godless tend to skew fairly heavily NDP, so everyone knows where to look.
Since we have a gay as the head of the PQ, and have already had a female PM, I guess I am a member of one of the last truly victimized groups in the country. I'll never realize my dream of falling asleep in the Senate when Harper makes it an elected body.
If anyone feels guilty and wants to buy me lunch, I'm up for it.
By all accounts, this week should have been clear sailing for him. He managed to craft a budget that — notwithstanding the howls from opposition members and a few premiers — got broad public acceptance. By rights, he and his finance minister should be basking in budget glory.
Instead, he is fending off repeated opposition criticism about disrespecting Parliament by comparing Liberals to Taliban-lovers. Most observers were flabbergasted when the prime minister deflected valid criticism of his defence minister with a ludicrous broadside at Liberal leader Stephane Dion and all members of the Opposition. No one actually believes the Grits love the Taliban more than our own soldiers and by claiming it, Harper hurt only himself.
And this could have come straight from Machiavelli:
It is very rare for a prime minister to play the role of enforcer in a Parliamentary dispute. Successful prime ministers certainly have their attack dogs. But they usually leave that job to a lieutenant — somebody who can afford to be wounded in the blood sport of politics. Ministers are expendable. Prime ministers are not.
That said, I think Dion and the Libs have to respond to Harper's verbal assaults with a little more aplomb. While it is absolutely necessary to draw public attention when the angry Stephen Harper appears (because he goes over well with the goobers in his political base, but turns off the two-thirds of the country that doesn't normally vote Tory), calling him a "bully" is not particularly effective. That's what you label someone who has just kicked the crap out of you. Instead, I would play up the childishness of his insults; remind him that if he had said this kind of thing outside the HOC, an adult would have likely washed his mouth out with soap.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
"'They have made such a strong case about their desire not to have an election that to go back now and try to instigate one makes them look a bit hypocritical. Plus, they also have a bill in the Senate right now [calling] for fixed election dates.'"
In fact, some have suggested that the Libs save their own skins by getting this bill out of the Senate before Harper can call his Spring election. Unfortunately, that probably won't work. The proposed Election Act changes are very much less than they appear. I wrote back in June, riffing on a piece done by Cerberus, that:
1) The revised Act will not let a government that is down in the polls extend its term into a fifth year, a la Mulroney's gang and Bob Rae's hapless Ontario Dippers.
2) The revised act will continue to allow a government up in the polls to pull the plug on a parliamentary session and call a snap election, a la Chretien in 2000.
Now, a few people argued back then that even if this was true, Harper would be "morally obliged" to hold off on an election call until the fixed date came up. I answered this at greater length back then, but the short response is: morally smorally! The changes still allow the government drop the writ anytime before the fixed date that they think is advantageous.
The three main parties remain in a dead heat, with the Parti Québécois getting 31 per cent support, the Liberals 30 per cent and the ADQ 28 per cent.
All that cash from Stephen Harper hasn't helped Charest at all. Perhaps just the opposite. As I suspected, you can be too obvious in the way you go about trying to buy people's vote.
Update: That's from Strategic Counsel. The Montreal Gazette has a bit better news for
A Liberal minority government. Full analysis of new Gazette poll, Page A4
LIBERAL 35% could win 43 to 68 seats
PQ 29% could win 30 to 47 seats
ADQ 26% could win 19 to 39 seats
Friday, March 23, 2007
In the statement e-mailed to Penticton radio station CKOR, Hart said when he first offered to resign his seat to make way for Day, there was no talk about whether he would lose out financially and no discussion about compensation.
But later in the e-mail, Hart said Day told his first caucus meeting in Ottawa that anyone who resigned early "would bear no financial losses."
"Seven years ago, when my resignation was accepted by the party, I was asked to provide an estimate of my financial losses," Hart continued.
"Seven years ago, my desire was to protect my staff from job losses.
"Seven years ago, my desire was to protect my family until I found work. I was just a grassroots guy, not independently wealthy and trying to do the right thing."
So, first he denies taking cash to step aside, then seems to 1) justify a payout and 2) insinuate that it was the Party's (Stockwell Day's) idea.
I would not advise the riding members of that area as to who their best choice would be, but I think they could do far worse that Christina. While her employer (Newstalk CFRB 1010) is definitely right-slanted, and while Christina gave the Paul Martin government a hard ride over the sponsorship scandal, for the most part she comes across as pretty amiable, not at all like fellow CFRB host and hard-core ranter Michael Coren. If I were to compare her to anyone, it might be Sun columnist Christie Blatchford or the T.O. Star's Rosie DiManno--kind of a "tough chick" persona.
Furthermore, my experience with radio/tv types is that they adapt their personalities to fit whatever gig they're doing. I was once interviewed by none other than Charles Adler when he was working with (and I think maybe for) Garth Turner. At the same he was a puffy marshmallow who could barely tie a neck-tie properly.
Then he lands up in Calgary and becomes the Adlersaurus.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Yeah. Playing the nice guy is the oldest pick-up strategy in the book. Give old wandering Peter (and his wandering peter) a few more days and he'll try buying them all drinks.
There are rumblings that when the Conservatives bring out their new regulations on industrial emissions next month, the language will be decidedly softer on Kyoto.
"I'm certainly detecting a sense that, instead of differentiating themselves from the Liberals on Kyoto, they will present their plan simply as a better version of the same thing," said one source close to the government.
Good news? Maybe, but it now looks like the new and improved, opposition-party-crafted Clean Air Act, will
....be allowed to die quietly on the order paper and be buried in an unmarked grave.
As a government bill, the Tories will simply not call it to a vote, and render the whole committee process a monumental waste of time and taxpayers' money.
If true, this will prove what many suspected: that Harper is not brave enough, or dumb enough, to fight an election on environmental issues. Instead, he will
...refrain from introducing fresh legislation, but will simply bring forward regulations on emissions that can be incorporated into existing environmental legislation.
The Conservatives will probably call for big emitters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 2004 levels by 2020.
...which might be fine. The important thing is here is always when these emitters have to start cutting GWGs (and whether these cuts are absolute or merely cuts in "intensity"), not some date over a decade down the road when they are supposed to achieve a goal most of today's politicians won't be in office to witness. So once again we will have the Torys repackaging Liberal initiatives after a delay, and with less philosophical coherence.
The most interesting question is, how do rank and file Torys handle this flip-flop of "Dionesque" (as Ivison calls it) proportions? Well, thus far the Blogging Tories have been willing, if Harper claims the world is square on Tuesday, to walk around arguing that the world is square. And if on Friday Harper changes his mind and argues that the world is a rhomboid, they've been willing to go into the weekend saying that the world is a rhomboid. So, their budget beefs aside, I suspect for the most part they'll be fine with it. As a Liberal supporter, I watched for over a decade as the party raped my principles, and eventually got tired of it. These guys are still virgins to power. To them it still feels like Love.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is accusing Liberal MPs of being more supportive of Taliban prisoners than of Canadian soldiers, a claim that has Stephane Dion demanding an apology.
Another bad day for the PM and I'll bet he whips out his old "soft on child-porn" lines.
Fascinating research into our "moral intuitions" out of the U.K. Here are two cases:
1) A trolley car is out of control and heading towards a group of five people. If you do nothing, all five will die. But if you flip a switch, the car will be diverted onto a side track and kill only one person. Would you flip the switch?
2) A trolley car is out of control and heading towards a group of five people. If you do nothing, all five will die. But in this case you are standing on a bridge over the trolley track. Now, if you throw yourself under the wheels of the trolley, it will not have an effect on the car's forward momentum. But if you push the fat man next to you onto the track, the car will grind to a halt and all five people would be saved, although the fat man will surely die.
Most people would decide to flip the switch in 1), but not push the fat man in 2), even though the amount of good and bad done in each case is the same (five saved, one dead). The reason, according to philosophical bad-boy Peter Singer (of Practical Ethics fame, or infamy), is:
For most of our evolutionary history, human beings have lived in small groups, in which violence could be inflicted only in an up-close and personal way, by hitting, pushing, strangling, or using a stick or stone. To deal with such situations, we developed immediate, emotionally based intuitive responses to the infliction of violence on others. The thought of pushing the stranger off the bridge elicits these responses. On the other hand, it is only in the past couple of centuries - not long enough to have any evolutionary significance - that we have been able to harm anyone by throwing a switch that diverts a train. Hence the thought of doing it does not elicit the same emotional response as pushing someone off a bridge.
The moral, according to Singer: you can't always trust your moral intuitions.
If you wish to submit yourself to moral dilemmas like the one outlined here, visit the Harvard University Cognitive Evolution Laboratory and take their Moral Sense Test. Taste the ethical confusion!
The veteran MP said if the budget proves fruitful for Thunder Bay’s new Molecular Medicine Research Centre, he may have no choice but to go against the wishes of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and support it.“
That (MMRC) money is maybe the most important part of the budget for Thunder Bay,” Comuzzi said.
“That money’s not gonna come through if they’re toppled.”
Since the budget is already going to pass, Dion should probably let these two vote their preference (although I don't know what Martin's issue is). The place to stand and fight will be the Clean Air Act. Since John Baird has now promised that Canada will "honour" our Kyoto commitments, it will be quite difficult, I think, for the Tories to make this a confidence matter so as to kill opposition amendments that in fact bind us to those commitments.
h/t to One Dominion.
Update: Comuzzi is gonzo from the Liberal caucus. That took guts on Dion's part.
Update: Keith Martin is NOT supporting the Harper budget. Thanks Red Tory. And I am beginning to change my mind a little as to the Lib response to Comuzzi. It seems to me that a few metaphoric heads up on metaphoric poles might go aways to dispelling the notion of Dion as wimp.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Wait a minute. Isn't this the same gang that promised to trim federal spending if we gave them the chance to govern? That won over a bunch of voters by saying that Canadians were far better judges of how to invest their own money than a government could ever be?
Indeed, the Ottawa Sun adds insult to injury by accusing the Jim Flaherty of stiffing Canada's "poorest" citizens in addition to spending like a drunken sailer.
The hits keep coming with negative columns from Joe Warmingon, Tom Brodbeck, and Lorrie Goldstein, who writes:
At long last, Stephen Harper has revealed his "hidden agenda."
It's to be a Liberal.
Ouch! That must sting!
Nor is the situation different in that faithful echo chamber of CPoC talking points, The Blogging Tories, where fiscally responsible types like Greg Staples have expressed a fair deal of dismay.
And even those righties, like Paul Wells, who have a few good words for the budget, approve of it not because they like what it contains, but because its "good politics" and others might like what it contains. Well, maybe the pundits and blogosphere are indeed totally detached from your "average Canadian voter". Maybe somewhere out there people are dancing in the street over this document. However, I am more inclined to believe that, if the opinion in the Canadian Commentairat is as negative as this, opinion among the general population will be similarly downbeat.
Note that Harper's attempts to buy Ontario votes have been fairly subtle and low key. At least, there will have been a respectful distance between the handing over of Federal dough and our Provincial election. In Quebec, by contrast, the Tories have acted like a John waving cash before a street-walker: here's the dough, now render me some services. Who would wonder at a backlash? The real question is: does Harper's budget doom Jean Charest rather than secure his victory?
Monday, March 19, 2007
...I'm not overly surprised Quebecers aren't buying into what Harper has been selling to them. Which has to be a sock in the gut, given the effort he has expended trying to build his, and Charest's, support in the province that could well make or break his majority dreams. Interesting the poll says the sales pitch is hurting him there [emphasis mine] though, I wonder what's behind that.
If I walked up to you waving a wad of bills and said, loudly so that everyone could hear it: "I AM BUYING YOUR VOTE, NOW VOTE FOR ME!!!" would this make you think of me more or less favorably? Would it make you vote for me?
On the other hand, would you refuse the cash?
ctv newsnet just reporting that some "geenpeacers" have chained themselves to 24 Sussex Drive.. PMSH and family, being"held hostage", as Marcia McMillan LAUGHINGLY reports! Bob Fife says RCMP having trouble getting chains removed, and PMSH may not make it to the House, for reading of the budget.
And Bourque has found the picture above , which confirms the situation!
Sources claim that Stephen Harper has gone ape-shit, with glowing red eyes and the whole bit! He's having a major "glycemic event" (a sweat session), and he's losing fluids faster than the Antarctic glaciers. Apparently, he's already burned through three outfits. Pretty soon he'll be down to that tight little gay cowboy outfit he wore to the stampede last year, and which he may have to wear to the HOC!
Observers can hear him inside 24 Sussex, complaining to the RCMP re their slow progress. Something like: "I'll saw their F#$&ing arms off my own goddamn self!"
So I'll talk about something else. For the past six months, in an attempt to save money, my reading material has been composed exclusively of books purchased from the local Value Village stores.
Here are some of the high and low lights.
Salammbo, by Gustave Flaubert. I spent my college years dodging Madame Bovary, so this little penguin edition was a pure upside surprise. It's Flaubert's least known novel (outside of France), and tells of the revolt against Carthage by an army of barbarian mercenaries. Hugely entertaining, very cinematic, and ironic in that the Carthaginians are at least as barbaric as their mercenary foes. Also interesting in light of 300, where the whole idea of homosexual unions in ancient armies is (apparently: I haven't seen the film) swept under the carpet. Here it is dealt with fairly openly. Great read, even in translation. Heavy on the barbaric splendour!
Song of The Dodo, by David Quammon. If Global Warming doesn't kill us, the decrease in global biodiversity will. That's the take away message from this 1996 pop-science classic. Despite the depressing subject matter, a very funny book. You can see the novelist's touch in Quammon's writing. My favorite part is his description of a group of Komodo dragons dismembering a dead goat.
Habitant Poems, by W.H. Drummond. My nod towards Canadiana. Poetry as Jean Chretien might have written it in garbled English! Also, I found a 4-leaf clover pressed between the pages.
The Artificial White Man, by Stanley Crouch. I guess you would call Crouch a black cultural theorist. Writes on Tarantino's movies, Borges, Hemingway, and popular culture. Sometimes highly provocative. For example, Crouch claims that the black athlete/white woman fad is driven by the fact that white women are far more open to sexual experimentation than their black counterparts. Hmm! On the downside, his prose can be a weird amalgam of Lit Crit abstraction and hipster talk.
The Amber Spy Glass, by Philip Pullman. The last entry in "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Good up until the end, where it devolves into metaphysical gibberish.
The Cultures of Cities, by Sharon Zukin. A bit hit or miss, but answers the question (in a brief aside): why do you see so many bland abstract paintings in your typical office building? Answer: because if you represent something, it might offend people, and most people don't know enough about abstract art to know if what they're seeing is good or bad.
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. I really wanted to like White Teeth, and indeed some of it is LOL funny. Still, the writing is so arch it made me gag in places. Same, in spades, with The Autograph Man.
All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac MaCarthy. I liked Blood Meridian, even though I thought some of the writing did not make sense (though its biblical as all get out). This one, however, is pure ideological porn for Red-State goobers.
Anything by Michael Ignatieff. Its amazing how much stuff of Iggy's winds up in Value Village. And what awful shape its in. I found copies with human teeth marks in them, as though the reader had tried to chew the book to pieces out of pure rage.
In any case, it is clear that you can feed your mid to high-brow taste in reading material through Value Village, and nothing is really over $5.00. In fact, Habitant Poems cost me 99 cents for a book and some free good luck. You can't beat that deal.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
It looks like a color-coded terror alert scale—and meteorologically speaking, that's exactly what it is. With climate change making conditions more unpredictable, national weather services from across the European Union have joined forces to create new Web site providing up-to-the-minute information on "extreme weather" across the continent.
The initiative, managed by Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, is designed to give Europeans a single source for details on flash floods, severe thunderstorms, gale-force winds, heat waves, blizzards and other violent weather that poses a threat to life or property.
It also issues 24- and 48-hour warnings for heavy fog, extreme cold, forest fires and "coastal events" such as high waves or severe tides.
Lots of pretty colours and symbols! And a quick glance tells you that there's 145 kmph winds in Germany, heavy wave action in The Netherlands, and freezing rain in old Ireland.
... basically the same deal Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach will impose on what he calls the province's "specified gas emitters" starting July 1. They will have to reduce their "emissions intensity" by 12% or start paying a $15-a-tonne carbon tax into a technology fund.
So if the Dion plan is a carbon tax, which Waugh insists it is, then the Alberta plan is a carbon tax, and Ka Ching Ka Ching, Dion has political cover. Because, just as you can't be holier than the Pope, you can't be more Conservative than Alberta. So if a carbon tax is okay with Alberta, then Conservatives elsewhere in Canada should be prepared to eat a carbon tax. It will be very difficult to tar Dion's proposals as radical (although no doubt many will try).
And guess what? Environment Minister John Baird has been making Kyoto-like noises recently! We're apparently not pulling out of the treaty! We will "honour" our responsibilities! And now Canadian companies may be able to meet their targets through foreign investment, a la something like Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Furthermore, while there is no word yet on how Baird will enforce his "mandatory" emissions targets for industry, unless he intends to rely on harsh language, you can bet it will be through some scheme very much like Alberta's. So the Federal government will, over the next couple of weeks, propose a carbon tax.
Whoo hoo, baby, the Socialist in my heart is dancing naked through the streets!
But here's the thing. If everybody is going to be proposing a carbon tax, what's the difference between the various plans? Well, Dion is proposing hard, absolute emissions caps. After burnishing his law and order credentials, he is now getting TOUGH on polluters. Meanwhile, Harper's intensity caps, which will kick in a few decades down the road sometime, has gone SOFT on the people who are murdering our planet!
Not bad positioning, should an election be called in the next couple of weeks.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Scientists studying pictures from Nasa's Odyssey spacecraft have spotted what they think may be seven caves on the surface of Mars.
The caves may be the only natural structures capable of protecting primitive life forms from micrometeoroids, UV radiation, solar flares and high energy particles that bombard the planet's surface.
From their news release at Science Daily:
It is generally assumed that the atmosphere and the oceans have grown warmer during the recent 50 years. The reason for this point of view is an upward trend in the curve of measurements of the so-called 'global temperature'. This is the temperature obtained by collecting measurements of air temperatures at a large number of measuring stations around the Globe, weighing them according to the area they represent, and then calculating the yearly average according to the usual method of adding all values and dividing by the number of points.
The authors claim that:
"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".
He explains that while it is possible to treat temperature statistically locally, it is meaningless to talk about a a global temperature for Earth. The Globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless. Or talking about economics, it does make sense to compare the currency exchange rate of two countries, whereas there is no point in talking about an average 'global exchange rate'
Well, maybe, but the real problem with this claim is that it proves too much, can in fact be employed to prove that the concept of an average anything is meaningless.
Consider housing values (which I will use because statistics are easy to get hold of). For example, in January 2007 the average price of a resale home in Canada came in at $282,844. But wait! You can argue that it is meaningless to talk of an average house price for Canada, because Canada "consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average". After all, people don't purchase a house in Canada, they purchase a house in some specific locale, a Metropolitan area like Calgary or Edmonton.
So lets consider Edmonton, where the January average was $321,307. But wait! That figure, one can argue, is also meaningless, because people don't really buy in Edmonton. Rather, they buy in one of the "huge number" of sub-markets that make up Edmonton. But wait! They don't really buy in a sub-market either, they buy on a particular street or in a particular building. And so and so forth!
So we have managed in a few words to rubbish the concept of an average house price.
Now, in their paper the authors attempt to short-circuit this line of criticism by suggesting that we only employ the concept of averaging where "it makes sense". But where averaging "makes sense" is highly context sensitive. An example mentioned in the paper is the "average height" of a population. Well, if you are dealing with the global tree population, which includes both maples and pines, and both adults and saplings, you run into the same problem. You also run into the same problem if there is a wide enough distribution of individual heights across adult trees of the same species. (Note that this is not an entirely hypothetical example. There are occasional arguments in paleontological circles about the utility of average size statistics: is the average size of a Tyrannosaur a useful conceptual tool?).
So once again, accept the paper's logic and the whole concept of an average value turns out to be mythical.
Way to go, fellas!
A pre-print of this paper can be found here. A much more intensive critique can be found here, including some nice comments on an earlier version of the argument I am making in this post.
Friday, March 16, 2007
If the Liberals were in power, they would introduce absolute caps on emissions, not intensity-based targets as the Conservatives propose, Dion said.
“An absolute emissions cap or ‘carbon budget’ of our 1990 emissions level minus six per cent -- our Kyoto target -- will come into effect on January 1, 2008 for the three largest industrial emitting sectors --electricity generation, upstream oil and gas and energy intensive industries,” the policy paper reads.
The sector-based caps will be used to allocate an annual carbon budget to each big industrial emitter in those three sectors and they will have to live within that budget. If they don’t, they will have to pay to pollute, says the Liberal plan.
The companies that exceed their carbon budget would be forced to pay $20 (increasing to $30 by 2011) for every extra tonne of carbon dioxide they emit. The money would go into a fund called a Green Investment Account that will be created for each company and the cash would be held in trust.
You don't "lay claim" to an issue by abandoning it the first time someone raises their voice against you, TDH, and it isn't how you shake the label of "flip-flopper" either, if that's the label they're trying to stick on you. Rather, you do what Mr. Dion has been doing the last several weeks, which is to lay out his priorities in other areas to show that he is not the "one trick pony" that some have claimed, and then WHAMMO! return to the issue he has made central to his leadership. To employ a boxing metaphor, you use your jab to set up your knock-out punch.
What I think people like TDH haven't figured out yet is that this issue will not go away. He seems to feel, like blogging Tory Stephen Taylor (in a post I am unable to locate), that pretty soon we will get back to the "normal" plate of political issues that the major parties have been humping to death for so many years. But that ain't gonna happen. There's a new player at the table. The environment as a global issue has only increased in prominence over the past couple of months, and with bold and (relatively) concrete actions happening on both the provincial and international stage, this is a perfect time to take a stand that will reveal Harper's mealy mouthed proposals in the Clean Air Act to be the sham that they are.
In that book I was introduced to such Cambrian-era wonders as the five-eyed Opabina, with an appendage sticking out of its head like the hose on a vacuum cleaner, and the deadly predator Anomalocaris, whose crushing jaws operated like the shutter of a camera. Both are pictured here , and an immensely cool website devoted to Anomalocaris can be found here (with animations of the swimming animal).
Well, meet Orthrozanclus reburrus, the latest weird beastie to be rescued from the stones of the Burgess. At about a centimeter in length, it was distantly related to present-day snails, earthworms and mollusks. Orthrozanclus reburrus would have spent its days grazing on seafloor bacterial growths (the mountains around Burgess Pass were once the bottom of an ocean), moving along on a snail-like foot, and any predator stupid enough to take a bite out of it would have ended up with a mouthful of spines.
Fittingly, one of Orthrozanclus discovers is Simon Conway Morris, who "starred" in Wonderful Life, and the specimens are housed in Canada's own Royal Ontario Museum (The ROM).
Here's a link to another article on the discovery, with a picture of the actual fossil.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
"We are called to join the fast that our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ have had to observe all their lives," said the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, rector of Grace Episcopal Church.
Stupid begets stupid, I guess. For I don't see how reverse discrimination against traditional couples who want to marry (which is what this is, though we don't know Rev. Hirschfeld's orientation) will help end discrimination against gays.
What'll they do next, ban straights like Elvis Stojko from figure-skating to teach us all a lesson?
Most of the piece is gushy slop about how Canadian dollars are helping the Republic of Haiti. But it ends with the following odd pronouncement:
Dollars from Canada are carefully directed. Shutting down a drug cartel in Haiti means less cocaine or crystal meth imported onto our own streets....
Now, I am willing to be corrected on this, but a google search of "Haiti and Crystal Meth" in "News" brings up exactly one item--Stockwell's Wednesday column! And indeed most accounts of Crystal Meth addiction in the Canadian context suggest that the stuff is mostly home-made.
Furthermore, a broader on-line search suggests that, while Burma and other points in Asia are making "Ice" and shipping it around the Pacific rim, Haiti is not among the producers.
So what is going on here? Maybe Stockwell can't tell Haitians from the Burmese, or maybe he thought he needed to mention a second drug to make his sentence balance out. But it looks to me as though Canada's Minister of Public Safety, in the process of pumping up his government's achievements overseas, has sloppily retailed falsehoods about a small, poor country that, lets face it, has enough problems already without being dubbed an exporter of crystal meth.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
One of the less visible consequences of Government policy on climate change is that it would lead to a massive transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world.
He is of course talking about the purchase of "carbon credits" abroad:
The transfer results from the mechanism laid down in the draft Climate Change Bill for achieving a 60 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
It allows the purchase from abroad of “carbon credits” to hit the five-yearly targets for CO2 cuts along the way. What this means is that if the UK invests in projects in China, or India or Africa - for example - which would reduce their emissions, than those reductions in CO2 can be counted in an assessment of whether the UK has met its targets.
As an example, if carbon sequestration became a viable technology, then a British power generator could capture and bury the CO2 produced by a Chinese coal-fired plant and then count that CO2 against is own CO2 “budget” for carbon cuts.
And his other conclusion?
...this would not be dead money, handed over with no prospect of any financial return. If UK businesses were for example financing low-carbon power generation in China, those businesses would expect a share of the profits and dividends generated by the power generation.
And if you're wondering why the Europe is moving so aggressively on Kyoto and climate change policy in general, it is not due to some latent urge towards Socialism. Countries like Spain and Switzerland are already beginning to feel the negative effects of Global warming, the former nation quite severely.
And in related news, the U.S. military discharged 612 homosexuals in fiscal 2006.
But while General Pace and the other Joint Chiefs seem happy to engage in a witch-hunt against gays, the U.S. army seems to have no problem with actual witches. For example, in the mid-1990s Fort Hood, Texas, approved the existence of a wiccan coven on base property, even allowing them a"grassy mound" where they could wave their knives over a giant ball of salt and worship the blessed Earth.
And of course the infamous Army Pamphlet 165-13, entitled "Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook For Chaplains", instructed army priests on fulfilling the spiritual needs of any Satanists that they might run across in the service (in case of death: call the Central Grotto).
Not that I have anything against wiccans and devil-worshippers, especially the kind of devil worshipper under consideration in 165-13. The memo originally dates from 1970 something, and the Church of Satan adherents an army chaplain was likely to encounter at that time were a strain of Secular Humanist rather than the "kill them and eat their flesh" variety of Satanist preferred by your typical modern teenager.
But if the U.S. army is willing to accommodate these guys, you would think that the whole "immorality" horse has long since fled the stable. On the other hand you would think that, if General Pace and the Joint Chiefs were really serious about cleaning up "immorality" in the forces, they might start with worshippers of the Dark One and work their way slowly towards gays and lesbians.
But apparently they have other priorities.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
GILLETTE, Wyoming, March 12, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An activist lesbian couple “married” in Canada may no longer receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, after having been told by their pastor that their homosexual behavior and advocacy of same-sex unions prevent them from being Catholics in good standing.
A scandal I suppose, but frankly, who gives a shit if some priest won't give you any stupid magic crackers? Buy a box of goddamn ritz and scarf away!
And, if you've ever BNEed a Catholic church and got into their booze, you know that communion wine is the cheapest crap you can buy! I swear: they purchase it in six-packs, or sometimes as handy stir-in crystals! It's not fit for the worst sort of Rummy!
So why not just get a nice bottle of red, some cheese nips, curl up with your gay Catholic honey, and go nutz in the privacy of your own home. I mean, you can pretend that your eating the Deity anywhere, right?
His topic for the evening: "Angling Safety: Don't Get No Hooks Caught on Your Skull! (a memoir)".
Menu includes hand-strangled baby rabbit.
People have a lot more expendable income. There is more drug- and alcohol-abuse going on. And there is more exchange of sex for a variety of things such as drugs and alcohol.
Ohhh, you naughty prairie monkeys! Given that late-stage syph can lead to dementia, some Western phenomenon become much easier to explain (although the whole idea of Ezra having sex seems pretty implausible, not to mention kind of gross).
Monday, March 12, 2007
No word as to what was one the menu.
Hopefully this is the kind of story where the punchlines write themselves, because I can't think of any.
Conservatives who are opposed to the political proposals that flow from acceptance of the theory [of Global Warming], are properly skeptical of the motivations of the theorists.... Many believe global warming is simply a liberal talking point, aimed at shackling profitable oil and power companies, forcing them to pursue a "green" agenda that environmentalists agree with.
I think this is mostly wrong, and have written here that the Kyoto protocol, for example, has been explicitly designed to operate within the parameters of Global Capitalism.
So it doesn't really help when the likely next Prime Minister of England starts calling for a "new world order" to help fight climate change. Sheesh!
And, oh yes, carbon offsets amount to paying money NOW for the right to pollute NOW while hoping that the money paid goes towards emissions cuts somewhere down the road and around the bend. They're a crock.