Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quebec Leads The Way

Quebec's 0.8 cent per litre carbon tax will be going into effect within hours. It is the first of its kind in Canada, and here's hoping it goes off smoothly. One thing. The article suggests that:

It's also not clear if the carbon tax will be passed to consumers.

"It's a $150 million question," said Montreuil of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, vice-president of the organization in Eastern Canada.

"And the honest answer is no one knows," he said.

I think that, frankly, everyone knows. Of course it will be passed on. That doesn't mean the tax is not a good thing. It just means that, when trying to change human behavior, the tax code can be a bit of a blunt instrument.

A Tory Offers Some Advice

From his September 27th column, Tory whip Jay Hill offers the Libs some advice:

The underlying myth in this debate about whether there will be an election this fall is that the Conservative Government must attract the support of at least one of the opposition parties to survive. They’re wrong. There is another option.

Conservatives set an historical precedent when we abstained from voting on the Liberal’s 2005 budget, allowing Paul Martin’s minority government to survive. At that time, our leader Stephen Harper said there were many aspects of that budget we fundamentally couldn’t vote to support. Yet, we respected the will of Canadians which strongly indicated they didn’t want an election.

Mr. Dion, as leader of the Official Opposition, could take the same, responsible course of action now. Canada’s economy is performing very well. Unemployment is at its lowest in 32 years. Taxes are down. Consumer spending remains robust and Canada is regaining its good reputation on the international stage thanks to the strong and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Harper.

Instructing his Liberal caucus to abstain from the vote on the Throne Speech is a lifeline that Mr. Dion may wish to grasp … and, more importantly, one that will save Canadians from an unwanted, unnecessary and expensive trip to the polls.

Interesting in that he got there a day ahead of this guy.

I am still torn on the notion of Dion's bringing down the government over October's throne speech, and the fact that the "enemy" is suggesting an abstention does not make this idea any more palatable. But, on the other hand:

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the Liberal Party at the moment, I suspect the outcome of a Spring election will be another (probably Tory) minority. There is nothing in the polls that makes me think that the Libs have plunged in support among the general populace (outside of Quebec) to anywhere near the extent that the morale of their hard-core supporters has suffered. And there is nothing to suggest that the Tories have suddenly become more lovable. Furthermore, since last year's budget was as goody filled as a Spring budget will likely be, and it got them nowhere, there is no reason to think that a replay will give the Tories their "winning conditions".

There is also the fact that it will look as though the Liberals have dropped another election into a busy election season. It will not play well in Atlantic Canada if Dion forces Newfoundlanders to pay attention to two elections simultaneously and it won't play well in Ontario if we have to start thinking Federal election a week after the Ontario version has wrapped up. The accusation will be (as Hill points out) that the Liberal party is putting its own best interests ahead of the nations'. And in this case the claim will have more than a bit of truth to it.

Yes, an abstention will look bad and will attract negative media coverage...for a couple of days. But the situation right now is the political equivalent of trench warfare--it takes tons of effort to gain you an inch. My instinct at the moment is to duck and cover and wait for the latest bombardment to end, which it surely will.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

But Wouldn't Hondo WANT Them To Pee On It?


HILLSBORO, Ore. - The flag-painted fire hydrant that was removed because critics thought dogs would disrespectfully urinate on it is being reinstalled, but with a fence to keep the pooches away.

The hydrant was part of a dog park named for Hondo, a police dog killed chasing a suspect 10 years ago.

"While hydrants are playfully associated with dogs as a 'target,' this hydrant was specifically designed and painted to serve as a very personal tribute to a service animal killed in the line of duty," said Hillsboro parks spokeswoman Corinne Bloomfield.

Firstly, dogs are never disrespectful. They pee on stuff out of love, or because that's what dogs do. If you were ever to catch a dirty hippy peeing on an American flag fire hydrant, that would definitely be disrespectful. But with dogs, there is no such connotation.

Furthermore, I could not disagree more with Hillsboro resident Louanne Douris, who wrote:

"That gallant dog must be turning in his grave at the thought of the flag being desecrated every time a dog pees on that hydrant!"

Nonsense! I'm sure Hondo would have encouraged fellow canines to pee on her monument, thinking that in reality it was a monument to all of dog-hood, that it was her gift to the whole tribe, as it were.

Finally, there seems some confusion about who has been lobbying for the re-installation of the hydrant. The Sun piece claims that "dog owners and war veterans [spoke out] in support of the tribute". War veterans? Jesus, somebody's got time on their hands.

Conversely, this article suggests that it was an "uproar from the dog community" that led to the re installation of the hydrant. I am inclined to believe it. They seem to have a better read on the situation than their human masters.

Climate Auditors Discover Global Warming Worse Than Suspected!

According to the lads at CA, Hansen's methodology, when applied to the Russian weather stations, actually introduces an artificial cooling to records before 1987. Apparently, warming there is even worse than people thought!

Oh my! They'll be planting palm trees in Moscow. For Steve and co., this must feel like their paradigm is shifting without a clutch.


Just because S. Mosher and some of the climate accountancy boyz have tried to call me on this. The cool bias:

1) causes the warming trend during the first part of the century to be understated.
2) causes the cooling trend mid-century to be overstated.
3) causes the warming trend between 1975 and 1987 or so (when the bias comes to an end) to be understated.

It is only when you look from the beginning of the series to the warming from 1987 or so on that the bias seems to cause the warming to appear overstated.

So Nyah nyah freaking nyah.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Yo Noel Sheppard! Consult A Thesaurus!

Noel Sheppard is an economist, business owner, and the Associate Editor of NewsBusters, an Exxon-funded right wing Nuze source devoted to "exposing and combating Liberal Media Bias". He also has an extremely limited vocabulary. A few excerpts from his many postings on environmental and other issues:

How disgraceful.

One of the most disgraceful assertions from global warming alarmists such as soon-to-be-Nobel Laureate Al Gore is that a scientific consensus exists concerning man's role in climate change.

How disgraceful.

How disgraceful.

As NewsBusters reported Saturday, the Associated Press published an unbelievably disgraceful article about global warming induced sea level rises supposedly destined to wipe out large amounts of American coastal communities in the next 100 years.

However, coming exactly two weeks after the Times published MoveOn's disgraceful "General Betray Us" ad, conservatives around the country better be prepared for these kinds of attacks during this election cycle.

Fortunately, unlike American media which typically only quote alarmists in such reports -- much as the Associated Press disgracefully did Saturday -- the Times cited people who were actually concerned about biofuels:

If you thought the controversy over MoveOn's disgraceful "General Betray Us" ad was going away any time soon, think

Here's one where he uses it twice in the same posting!

Unbelievably Disgraceful Global Warming Hysteria by the AP
After ABC News published a disgraceful photo essay featuring computer generated pictures of drowned American cities at its website last Friday, followed by NBC News reporting Monday that Greenland's ice sheets are melting so quickly that it "could ignite worldwide disaster," the Associated Press on Saturday cautioned that "In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased."

What follows are some of Garofalo's most disgraceful utterances Friday evening in chronological order (video available here courtesy of our friend Ms Underestimated):

Time's Joe Klein is unhappy with Matt Drudge, and thinks he's a disgrace.

Here's another twofer!

Disgraceful Global Warming Hysteria at NBC: ‘Meltdown in Greenland’
Alas, the really disgraceful hysteria was yet to come:

NewsBusters reported Sunday that infamous netrooter Jane Hamsher lambasted Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards, for having the nerve to come down on MoveOn's disgraceful "General Betray Us" ad.

Holy crap, Noel! Your English skills are disgraceful! Could you not try changing it up occasionally with equivalent terms like "shameful!" or "scandalous!"? If these are too hard for your readers, you could perhaps include a glossary on the newsbusters website.

In any case, nobody will take you seriously until you learn to sling a little classier brand of abuse.

Just trying to help.


The Perils Of Victory

From CanWest:

OTTAWA — The head of a national pro-family organization [Institute of Marriage and Family Canada] says it’s time to ditch the fight against gay marriage and push instead for tax breaks and other incentives to make marriage and child rearing more attractive options

A win for Progressives, obviously, because if main the players on one side abandon the issue, then SSM rights are in the bag for a generation. As Mr. David Quist notes:

“No political party is likely to put that (restoring traditional marriage) as part of their platform, their agenda right now. I’m not even asking for that as an institute,” he said in an interview. “We have to pick our battles and where we are going to spend our time and energy.”

But, on the other hand, the battlefield now shifts and the proper strategy and tactics have yet to be articulated. Because lets face it, SSM was very very good for progressives. The political Right pushed a weak case, and did it will ill grace. In the new landscape, things are not so clear. For one thing, we have moved from a matter of civil rights to a matter of playing around with the tax code. What are the points of common cause, what are the points of disagreement? As a progressive, what is one's position to be?

You have to give Mr. Harper a certain amount of credit for this; he has advanced the Conservative cause by retreating. And, his political base has responded not by abandoning him, but by swallowing a few of their principles and moving on. Grown up behavior all around.

And I think the same dynamic is currently at work with the Liberal Party in Quebec. Put aside the internal bun fight for a moment. The deeper problem is: since the old policy stuff (fighting Separatists) doesn't work anymore, what can the party offer Quebec that is new and different, and will this new stuff involve (for example) rethinking Liberal views on Federalism? The answer is not yet clear.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

There's A New Denier In Town, Or: Who The Heck is Oliver "Iron Sun" Manuel?

Oliver Manuel is a dissident nuclear chemist best known for his "Iron Sun" Theory. Lately, Mr Oliver has been dipping his toes into the Climate Change skeptic community, and a paper in Energy and Environment may be in the works. By way of "prefutation", here is a bit of background on the man and his work.

The inspiration for O. Manuel's novel ideas came during the 1960s, when he noticed that the abundances of certain elements in meteorites were distinctly different from those in the Earth and much of the solar system. From this humble beginning, Mr. Manuel developed his theory that our solar system was created during the explosion of a super-nova five billion years ago, and that our sun is the collapsed, mostly iron remnant of that super-nova (see figure above).

Although many scientists acknowledge the fruitfulness of Manuel's original observations, and although he is still a member in good standing (as it were) of the relevant scientific community, by his own admission "Ninety-nine percent of the field will tell you [The Iron Sun theory is] junk science."
Recently (this year, I believe), Mr. Manuel has began hanging out at Denialist websites like Climate Audit, and expressing skepticism in regards to AGW. For example:
I suspect that NASA has used some of the same tricks to peddle AGW (anthropologic global warming) that it used to promote the myth that planet Earth is heated by a steady, H-fusion reactor in the core of a Hydrogen-filled Sun.

He has also been promulgating the idea that, somehow, his ideas explain the current climate phenomenon. So what connection does The Iron Sun Theory have with a warming Earth?

Well, not very much, it would appear. While Mr. Manuel argues here and, in greater detail, here, that the Iron Sun theory explains the mechanisms behind the solar eruptions, magnetic fields, sun spots, and so forth, that can have an effect on Earth's climate, there is no attempt to explain the specific temperature trends observed over the past century or so. No attempt, for example, to explain why temperatures have continued to rise while solar activity has fallen.

If I were to guess, I would say that Mr. Manuel is looking to raise the profile of his pet theory by tying it to dissenting positions in other fields. Denialists tend to be far more supportive of one another's ideas than is the case in the scientific community as a whole. Its a bit like North Korea forming alliances with Iran; the outcasts tend to stick together.

All Hail The Invisible Frog!

Very cool. Japanese scientists have created an invisible, or at least transparent, frog for medical research so that they may observe its internal organs without dissecting the frog. Much less messy that way.

I wonder if you could train one of these things to attack on command. "Kill! Invisible Frog! Kill!" That would be even cooler.

In any case, Japanese scientists have achieved several notable advances in recent years. For example, a square watermelon designed to fit more easily into compact Japanese refrigerators.

And, my favorite, a low-cal, environmentally friendly, pre-plucked featherless chicken.

In comparison, what have the yanks been up to lately, invention-wise? Bombs, right? Nothing but bombs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is That Legal?


A man arrested at the Ottawa courthouse for impersonating a lawyer was released from custody without charge after police confirmed he was in fact a lawyer.

Apparently, that's not awful enough to merit slammer time.

Which reminds me of my favorite lawyer joke.

Q: Why are law students like sperm?
A: Because one in ten million becomes a human being.

John Tory: You're Saying He's A Jail Bird?

From Apply Liberally, John Tory on Conservative candidate Randy Hillier:

JOHN TORY: I'll be very truthful with you about that. No double-speak. They’re all vetted to see if there is anything in their background in terms of brushes with the law or any of those kinds of things that would disqualify them form being a candidate it's done before the nomination process so that you don't, it's not too late and we looked at his entire background and I can tell you this man has had no brushes with the law.

CALLER: Whoa, back up. Back up. He's been incarcerated before.

JOHN TORY: Look at that, if that is true, I'm not familiar with that but I mean I can tell you there was a check on his background. What was he incarcerated for?

Apparently, the background check didn't involve spending 0.38 seconds to run the terms "Randy Hillier arrested" through Google and having someone read the results.

However, it is nice to see Mr. Tory willing to take a hard line. Apparently, he "mentioned over the phone" to Mr. Hillier that the law should apply to everyone when Randy was out there blocking traffic on the 401.

h/t also to AYKM? and the Steel City Grit.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Canadian Copyright Scandal

When Bill-C59, which toughened up laws regarding the illegal use of cam-corders in movie theaters, breezed through parliament after only a few hours of debate, Entertainment Industry observers were puzzled, and Senator Lorne Milne wondered if, given the nature of the Bill's provisions, it wasn't written by lobbyists for the Canadian movie industry.

Today it turns out that one of the strongest proponents of the C-59, Heritage Canada's Director General of Copyright Patricia Neri, was engaged at the time in a "personal relationship" with Canada's leading copyright lobbyist, Douglas Frith, who is President of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association. She has since been "removed from her position" at Heritage Canada, but we are still stuck with a bill that mandates night-vision-goggle wearing theatre Nazis in our cineplexes and yet does nothing to cut down on the illegal distribution of films.

The Rise Of The Canadian Evangeliban?

From The Harper Index, itself a product of the Golden Lake Institute (which I've never heard of), comes this interesting piece of the rise of the "religious conservative" voter in Canada:

Andrew Grenville, a senior vice president with IPSOS-Reid in Toronto, led a survey of 36,000 voters via the internet for CanWest/Global on Jan. 23, 2006, the day of the general election. Grenville wrote about those results in the March-April 2006 edition of Faith Today, a publication of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. He found that 64 per cent of weekly Protestant church attendees voted for Conservative candidates. By definition, the majority of those Protestant voters were evangelicals because they are much more likely to attend church weekly than mainline Protestants.

"In the predominantly English speaking parts of Canada, Protestants who attend church weekly embraced the Conservatives with a fervour never seen before," Grenville wrote. "Clearly, a line has been crossed and a population mobilized."

The article claims, among other things, that the traditionally Liberal "Catholic vote" has begun to leak away to the Harper Conservatives, and that "being a Protestant fundamentalist is the single most important predictor of a Conservative vote in our models. "

It is, however, a bit on the alarmist side, especially in the thesis that what we are seeing in Canada is a delayed echo of the United States in the 80s and 1990s. My own view is that the "Big Blue Wave", as it were, has moved in sync within both countries, and in fact crested at the same time. The "ferver" of Canadian evangelicals has left Harper's Tories stuck at about 30 per cent in the opinion polls, and there are simply not enough bible waving bodies out there to drive those numbers higher. Whereas in the States you can add another 10 points to that total.

I am also of the opinion that the article's conclusion is entirely unjustified:

The religious and cultural wars that have enveloped the United States since at least the time of Ronald Reagan have arrived in Canada and they may well intensify.

Oh really, over what? SSM and abortion rights are essentially in the bag in this country, ascendant Environmental issues tend to split the Right rather than the Left, and on such matters as the HPV vacine , our Fundys show a streak of Realism far beyond the mental capacity of their U.S. counterparts. So where is the trigger to this cultural war?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Wheels Are Coming Off...

...the John Tory Tories.

Queen's Park BureauJohn Tory ran into more trouble over his promise to extend taxpayer funding to religious schools today when one of his Progressive Conservative MPPs broke ranks and said he'd vote against the plan.

Bill Murdoch, the member for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, became the first Tory MPP to say he could not support the controversial promise.

If Leadership is what matters, what does it say when your own team refuses to get in line?

PS This is hilarious. I hate John Tory's religious schools policy because I think it will allow Evangelicals to teach Creationism. Long time Tory supporter Richard Gingerich hates it because he thinks Tory is chasing the "ethnic vote", and Social Conservatives hate it because they think it means participating schools will have to teach the gay agenda.

Ontario, diverse yet united! Thank you John Tory.

Free Dominion Update: Bits And Bites

Not much to report on Richard Warman's libel suit against Free Dominion. Connie is contemplating some new security measures (screening software) to keep the people too wingy even for Free-D from posting material that will get the Board into trouble in the future. Seems white nationalists have been popping up left right and center since this whole thing started.

One interesting note. Several years ago Warman took on the Neo-Nazi organization known as Storm Front. At the time he "infiltrated" the groups forum and posted on numerous occasions using the name "Pogue Mahone" (Irish for "Kiss My Ass"). So...not entirely without a sense of humour.

Should Dion Bring Down The Government?

1) There is still some residual fear and loathing over last week's by-elections, but I would argue that this Harris/Decima poll of issues provides some surprising and encouraging news. Not only is "the environment" the main concern of voters,

Most surveyed — 81 per cent — said Ottawa should try to meet the international targets spelled out under Kyoto, even if they are difficult to meet.

When I say surprising, I mean that this idea has been widely trashed among the media elites (and even to someone like me it is starting to seem impractical). But "out there" it is still a popular idea and Dion has been politically astute to keep pushing it. That given, backing away from Kyoto if the Tories don't attempt to live up to it in the Throne Speech means giving up a signature issue, and raising further questions about what the Liberals stand for.

2) Another Harris-Decima poll (a later poll than the one previously quoted) puts the Tories a mile from a majority, and the Libs essentially tied. Compared to the same time last year, things are looking up. An election at this point--all else being equal--means a much weaker Tory minority or a slim Liberal minority.

3) The only downside is: what is the state of Liberal finances, and what is the state of Liberal "machine", esp. in Quebec?

On the other hand, how much do declining fortunes in Quebec matter? Some have suggested a "Captain Canada" approach in which Dion writes off Quebec and burnishes his Federalist credentials in the ROC. This might be a viable strategy, but also remember that Harper's billion dollar overtures there have bought him exactly one seat. And, come an election, both parties will be constrained in how enthusiastically they can pander to La Belle Province: limiting Federal spending in provincial areas of jurisdiction may play in Que. and Alta. but, generally speaking, it crashes elsewhere.

So, the short answer is: I don't know if Dion should bring down the government. But objectively it seems to me that the party is in much better shape than it was last Spring.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Boots Of George W.

From The New York Daily News:

A boot maker who has outfitted President Bush and former Mexican President Vicente Fox in his fancy footwear is quite a heel.

Martin Villegas, who presented Bush with a pair of navy-blue ostrich-skin boots during a visit to Fox's ranch in 2001, allegedly smuggled the skins of endangered species into the U.S. so he could make high-end boots for his clients.

Later reports suggest that, while the President's boots are themselves legal, the laces have been woven out of fairy tongues. When asked by reporters, Mr. Bush claimed that he had no idea that using fairy parts in the manufacture of "ranch wear" was illegal.

He did, however, note that they were "awful good eatin'".

Timothy Ball Denies It All

Canadian Uber Denier Timothy "Cue" Ball isn't just down on AGW. On a number of occasions, he has trashed the Montreal Protocol and the idea that CFCs in the atmosphere have caused the famed "Ozone Hole". His latest denunciation comes in the form of a brief rant again Paul Crutzen, whose work on Ozone depletion won him a Nobel Prize back in 1995. From the Climate Skeptic's Cafe:

[Crutzen's] Nobel for ozone likely should be withdrawn because there was never any proof that CFCs were affecting the ozone. Variations were due primarily to variations in ultraviolet radiation combined with natural atmospheric circulation. I don't think Crutzen ever said that. CFCs were the equivalent of human produced CO2 because you always have to blame humans for every change and evil. Besides, Crutzen was also the one who suggested, in another ill-informed attempt at geo-engineering, that we must add sulfates to the atmosphere to offset global warming.

Of course, the causes and effects of CFCs in the atmosphere has been well established, and not by any stupid scientists either. Here is Oderus Urungus, describing how he and the other interstellar chaos warriors known collectively as GWAR were released from their icy Antarctic Prison:
Because of the brief dominance of hair-metal bands in the late 80’s, and their overuse of hair spray, a huge hole was burned into the ozone above the GWAR temple, and the member’s of GWAR began to de-thaw.

Read it and weep, Cueball, bands like Whitesnake not only played shitty music, they nearly destroyed the planet. It took the work of Crutzen to save us...him and Page Hamilton.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nielson-Gammon Has Some Advice For Watts And McIntyre

Roger Pielke Sr. is no longer blogging, and has been travelling in Europe lately, so when I reached him by e-mail he was unaware of the latest twists and turns in Watts/McIntyre saga, in which they attempt to refute the AGW thesis by re-cutting GISSTEMP data in light of Watts survey of U.S. Surface Stations. Mr. Pielke declined to respond directly, explaining that this was "not his specialty", but was kind of enough to refer me to frequent co-authors Xiaomao Lin, Ken Hubbard, and John Nielsen-Gammon. Of these, Mr. Lin has promised to look at the CA work and attempt a response over the course of the next couple of weeks, and Mr. Nielson-Gammon has responded below with some concrete advice as to how Steve's squad of auditors ought to be proceeding.

Here is Mr. Nielson-Gammon's original e-mail:

I appreciate the attempt by Watts to classify stations on the basis of siting quality.

The impact of poorly-sited stations on the trends is not known ahead of time, despite people's expectations, and should be much more sensitive to changes in siting than to poor siting itself.

Given a sufficient number of stations, I would trust the trends from well-sited stations much more than from poorly-sited stations.

I am eager to see the results of screening the stations by siting quality. I do not know whether the well-sited stations will show more of a trend, or less of a trend.

Until the results are properly adjusted for variations in the geographical distribution of stations, it is not possible to draw any conclusions. I haven't seen anything posted online yet that does this.

- John

In response to this, I asked:


the first and second passes at the data after classifying about a third of the network (340 or so stations) into "good" and "bad" stations are here [links to CA].

In most cases the good and bad stations are pretty much in sync. Do you think 300 plus is still not enough?

To which Mr. Nielson Gammon responded:

The number is sufficient. At least, the error bars probably won't overwhelm any important difference in trends.

So there is no need, as McIntyre et al have done, to stop the analysis. In fact, a brief run through of CA comments here and here suggests that this work has been stopped in panic because it has not yielded the correct conclusion: the "good" and "bad" stations refuse to go out of sync. As Anthony Watts writes:

I do have the feeling though that comparing USHCN/GHCN data to GISS will yield similar curves no matter what, since the data has already been adjusted at the USHCN level, and that adjustment persists in the data through to GISS data.

Anyway, I wrote further to Mr. Nielson-Gammon:

They've been working on [adjusting for variations in the geographical distribution of stations]. Surfacestations has been slowly working its way into the U.S. Midwest. There's a map here.

And in response Mr. Nielson-Gammon suggested some concrete procedures for the CA crowd:

You don't need uniform coverage of quality estimates, you can do this with the data that's already available. You just need to bin the data by location, for example by computing the difference between good and bad stations within every 5 degree by 5 degree square over the US and average the results. Even better, if you're interested in the century-long trend impacts, compute the difference between the station trends and the smooth map of linear trends. Either approach would eliminate the confounding effect of spatial variations in the trends. Maybe someone will have this done within two weeks or so, it's not that hard, and it's fairly standard scientifically.

So get at it, lads (and you too KB the Denying Munchkin). There's no need to wait for more stations to be classified. You should be able to give a solid answer one way or another within the month.

Hopefully Mr. Lin will respond in the next little while. If so I will post his remarks. I have also e-mailed Mr. Hubbard and perhaps he shall reply as well.

Sorry for the long post, especially to my more politically inclined readers who probably don't give a shit..

Bourque Fails Abjectly

Conservative news aggregater and part-time race-car driver Pierre Bourque has had one top ten finish this season, but he has spent most of his races watching faster cars lap him or, on one occasion, cuddled up with the crash fence.

However, Bourque's performance at the Sunoco 150 in Dover, Delaware, reached new heights of futility this week when his No #3 Impremedia/Full Metal Minerals Chevrolet was stamped with the big "DNQ"--did not qualify--and he passed the afternoon in the stands, eating corn dogs.

Go Pierre!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Who Won The Ontario Leaders Debate?

How the hell should I know? I didn't watch the Ontario leaders debate. Instead I was at my favorite pub, chowing down on Toronto's best chicken wings and drinking beer. I thought of live blogging my chicken wings dinner (7:15: pint number, golden) but didn't want to steal traffic from those dedicated bloggers who had chosen, for the good of the province, to spend a whole evening watching three middle-aged white guys in suits recite talking points.

Since The Star says so, I'll just assume Dalton won.

Refuting The Tiny Denier

Back in May 15 year old Kristen Byrnes, the Tiny Denier, predicted an end to the Great Australian Drought. The Warmocaust Collusionists ate it up; in fact the folks at Climate Audit treated her as a prophet. Well its September and:

Australia's once-in-a-century drought has tightened its grip on the country's major food growing zone and could kill off the region's orchards and vineyards, Prime Minister John Howard said Friday.

Looks like you fluffed that one, kid. And what are you doing chillin' with all those baldy-headed, dirty old Deniers anyhow? Shouldn't you be out rebelling, listening to that shitty youth music kids today like? Bad Child, Bad!!

The Real Jurassic Park? Just Add Feathers

Long suspected, but only now proven.

We present direct evidence of feathers in Velociraptor mongoliensis based on the presence of quill knobs on the posterior forearm. In many living birds, raised knobs along the caudal margin of theulnarevealwhere the quills of the secondary feathers are anchored to the bone by follicular ligaments. Quill knobs are variably present in extant bird species and are present in only a few basal taxa such as Ichthyornis (2), so their absence does not necessarily indicate a lack of feathers. Their presence, however, is a direct indicator of feathers of modern aspect (e.g., feathers composed of a rachis and vanes formed by barbs).

The picture is of a mongoliensis and shows feathers roughly where the new study says they are. For information on how the "feathered dinosaur" controversy bears on the debate over AGW, check this out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Remember This

From CTV:

The Canadian dollar reached parity Thursday morning with the U.S. currency for the first time in nearly 31 years.

I was 13 at the time. I remember that the word went around during grade 8 gym class, and for some reason it was taken to be an occasion for high 5s all around, like we'd kicked American ass in hockey.

Nationalism takes strange forms.

Free D In Dutch Again!!!

Connie at Free Dominion writes:

Tonight we answered a knock on our door and we were served with papers from Richard Warman (famous human rights complaint filer).

She's right. Insofar as one can become "famous" in Canada for launching civil rights complaints, Richard Warman is:

Warman is best known for initiating complaints against members of the white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements for violations of the Canadian Human Rights Act, regarding Internet postings and website content of those individuals or organizations. As a result of his work, in June of 2007 Warman received the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award from the Canadian Jewish Congress for "distinguished service to the cause of human rights".[1]

He is/was also active in the Federal/Ontario Green Party, where he has run as a candidate several times in various ridings around the province.

Warman charges that, during the whole episode involving Marie Gentes and her CHRC complaint: have spoken words and/or written words and/or published words that are defamatory and libelous to me appearing on the website

You can read his whole list of charges at Free-D (through the first link). I should say that I think most of the stuff that Free-D posters have accused him of is pretty mild, but I am not an expert in libel law. It is also unclear to me that Mr. Warman understands that the "you" he is referring to above includes not just Connie and Mark, but their hundreds(?) of regular posters (although I suppose one could argue that they indeed "published" the comments by hosting the forum).

In any case, as his wiki entry indicates, Mr. Warman seems far more bloody-minded about this sort of thing than Ms. Gentes, so his case is much more likely to be seen through to its conclusion.

Also, I don't think Connie has done herself much good in enlisting Neo-Nazi Marc Lemire to help "research" the comments that sparked the complaint. Although her response to this particular point is interesting:

I couldn't disagree more with the white nationalist point of view, but I am also disgusted by people who would use the government and the courts to try to shut down everyone they disagree with.

Marc Lemire has been fighting Richard Warman's complaint with the CHRC and he has been winning because Warman has been caught doing things like posting on white nationalist sites under fake ids. (Thus the links to the white nationalist sites in my post).

The information that Marc Lemire has provided us is verified court evidence that shows what Warman has done in the past. I am not going to refuse to take it because it was given to me by Marc Lemire.

Oh well, time to get out the pop-corn again. I will update as things change.

And, oh yeah, h/t to Buckets.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ontario In The Bag?

Quick Link.

The five-day survey that wrapped up Monday found the Liberals at 41 per cent support, the Conservatives at 32 per cent, the New Democrats 14 per cent and the Greens 12 per cent.

That's a Majority, folks, though a small one.

The only thing I worry about is Tory demagoguing the Caledonia issue because, given the behavior of the First Nations there, they're not deserving of a whole lot of Liberal guilt at the moment. But its hard to campaign as a moderate worthy of Toronto's vote and then turn into Mike Harris on a dime, so I don't think John Tory could pull it off even if he wanted to try.

Also, 12 per cent for the Greens. That might hold on election day without them winning a single seat. Good argument for MMP (which I will probably write about tomorrow).

If This Guy Is Right, Then He's Probably Wrong

From the WSJ:

We all make mistakes and, if you believe medical scholar John Ioannidis, scientists make more than their fair share. By his calculations, most published research findings are wrong.

Of course this is based on his own published research findings....

Clean Coal Craps Out In Sask.

Too damn expensive to build, and the Sask. Party crying boondoggle. Oh yeah, and there was a minor safety issue. If the captured CO2, which was to be stored underground, ever leaked from a pipeline:

... the heavy, odourless gas [might] collect in a deep valley pocket, for example.

"People could walk into this cloud of CO2, not realise it, and be asphyxiated by it," said Julia Race, an expert in pipeline engineering at Britain's Newcastle University.

Might be cheaper just to practice the three Rs, no?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Federal Poll: What Did I Just Say?

From Canadian Press:

A new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found the Tories deadlocked with the Liberals in public support, with no signs of momentum. But the poll confirmed the Liberals' troubles in Quebec as voters were casting ballots in three ridings there.

Conservatives had 32 per cent support, compared with 29 per cent for the Liberals. That spread is covered by the poll's margin of error, which is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Huh? Huh? Sorry to interrupt everyone's PANIC ATTACK. But if you like, keep spanking yourselves.

PS. The Star puts Green Party support in this poll at 13% (enough to win seats?), and their running average of the past three weeks puts both Tories and Libs at 31%. Not too shabby.

Gunter On Thin Ice

Because the long version is here, this will the short version. Lorne Gunter writes in this morning's Post re the melting Arctic and the "opening" of the Northwest Passage:

As Mr. [Noel] Sheppard points out, the great Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage in 1905 in a wooden sailboat with a crew of just seven. The passage was sufficiently ice-free that year for the little craft to make it through with little ice-breaking capacity.

And in 1944, the tiny RCMP patrol vessel the St. Roch (which can still be seen at the Vancouver Maritime Museum) sailed from Halifax to Vancouver through the passage in a single season --a first --because it met little ice.

This is almost a word for word re-hack of a Noel Sheppard Blog Post from NuzeBuzzsters, so in honor of the sloppy journalism it represents, let me just note that:

1) Amundsen's ship, The Gjøa, was a shallow draft sail-boat. During the voyage, it travelled through water less than a foot deep. No other vessel could have followed its course and made that passage.

And, oh yes, it spent months stuck in the ice.

2) The St. Roch's success on its second trip through the Arctic (during the first it spent a winter...wait for it... stuck in the ice) was due as much to a specially designed, "ice fortified" hull that had itself been upgraded and reinforced for the journey, than it was to "ice free" conditions in the Arctic Sea.

The situation today is very different, and when people say that the Northwest Passage is "open" they mean "Open for Business", not that your boat just might squeak through if it has a reinforced hull and you are willing to spend weeks camping on an iceberg.

Because Iggy Still Sucks

Since everyone else is talking about this, I suppose I must as well.

1) Anyone one seriously considering replacing Dion at this point is nutz. Who has the stomach for another leadership race? And in any case that would mean the Liberals abandoning their role of Opposition for another 6 months/ year while they wash their dirty laundry yet again, and Harper and Co., I don't know, fumble us into another war or decide to drill for oil underneath the Parliament buildings. Being on the opposition benches, opposing the government agenda, is still a job, and I don't think the Liberal Party will do itself any good by taking more time off work to navel gaze.

Besides, Iggy can get five days of negative media coverage meditating on Canadian wildlife. He is still NOT THE MAN. So Dion is there for at least one general election, and people in the party who do not want to spend another five years or so in the political wilderness should make peace with that fact.

2) In a week or two a new federal poll will come out, and (I wager) the parties will be pretty much where they have been: Libs and Tories within the margin of error, with (maybe) the Tories down a few points. People will forget the by-elections (if anyone outside the political nerdigentsia was paying attention in the first place), and life will go on.

3) Now, that said, there are problems in Quebec that may be difficult to fix. As KC at Scott's place wrote,

I do NOT want to be part of a party that advocates decentralism and special status if thats what it will take to become a serious contender in Quebec.

I don't either, but I am not sure what else the Liberal Party has to offer that they will be willing to buy in La Belle Province.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Canada's New Policy: No Nukes If Necessary, But Not Necessarily No Nukes

This Week's Embassy Magazine picks up on a surreptitious edit to the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Website (changes in bold):

Canada has long held a policy objective of non-proliferation, reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We pursue this aim steadily, persistently and energetically, consistent with our membership in NATO and NORAD and in a manner sensitive to the broader international security context.

As the editorial notes, this change "strips Canada's policy of any real meaning. ", and I would add that it makes our nuclear policy hostage to that of our NATO allies, esp. the United States, who may be preparing to let the bunker-busters fall like rain over Iran.

Climate Skeptics On Christian Environmentalism, Redux

Overheard in the Climate Skeptic's Cafe.

Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters, August 28th, 2007:


If religious leaders are going to get in on the con, we're in

trouble: (link)

Sonja A Boehmer-Christiansen, Editor of Energy and Environment, on Sept. 16, 2007:

Right, and likely. Think of the much desired power (control over behaviour) this promises to religious groups.

Interesting in that Sonja appears as one of the non-Evangelicals with "special expertise in climatology or related sciences" to sign “A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming.”. This open letter was itself a rebuttal to “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action”, which urged that Evangelicals take ownership of and take action on the climate change issue.

According to Sonja, the signatories to this latter document desire power, and should presumably be discouraged.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Good News! You Can Still Bop That Cheerleader!

15 Male and Horny? Wondering what Amy Lou on the college Cheerleading squad looks like naked? Wanna nail her in the women's showers after class on Tuesdays, so hard that you shake loose a few wall tiles? Well, for the time being at least, she can't use that lame "But I'll be sent to prison!" excuse. Because the Tories age of consent legislation has died on the order paper.

A solution in search of a problem, Bill C-22 was a small chunk of red meat thrown to the Tories SoCon base, who apparently don't see any contradiction between lamenting low birth rates among whites and trying to stop teenagers from screwing.
She's Still Legal!

Deniers Rediscover The Hockey Stick!

Ultra deniers Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre have been hard at work. Anthony Watts has ranked about one third of U.S. surface stations according to the new CRN siting guidelines. Meanwhile, Steve McIntyre and several of his commenters have graphed the resulting temperature trends from the "good" (CRN class 1 and 2) stations as well as the "bad" (CRN5) stations. It would be fair to say that both expected the warming trend apparent in the GISSTEMP (Goddard Institute For Space Studies) data set to disappear once this had been done. As Anthony has written, "you have to wonder if the whole house of cards isn't about to start falling down". It would be fair to say, however, that they have both been disappointed. Their preliminary results are given in the above graph, provided by one John V (a frequent poster on Climate Audit), who writes:

The first plot shows the 5yr average temperature for the lower 48:- red line is for stations with CRN=1 and CRN=2 (CRN12, the good stations).- green line is for stations with CRN=5 (CRN5, the bad stations).- blue line was downloaded from GISS on Sept 14, 2007 (GISS).
The agreement between the results is very good for all sets.

And concludes (emphasis mine):

I think these plots speak for themselves, but here are my conclusions:- There is good agreement between GISS and CRN12 (the good stations)- There is good agreement between GISS and CRN5 (the bad stations)- On the 20yr trend, CRN12 shows a larger warming trend CRN5 in recent years.

To be honest, this is starting to look like a great validation of GISTEMP.

If the Deniers can't deny it, then I think we're on pretty solid ground. But McIntyre's not giving up yet. He's standing on his head and looking at the data all squinty eyed, to see if he can't make the numbers go in another direction. So far, however, the resemblance is astonishing.

Ouch! That's gotta hurt! No more appearances on Rush Limbaugh for these two.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Just a Few More Ontario Polls

This one has the Libs up by a mere three points, 40% to 37% with NDP and Green party at 16% and 6% respectively. Though it has McGuinty at the cusp of a majority, and shows how putting John Tory's Education policies front and center seems to have worked for the Libs, it also confirms the tight race predicted by yesterday's Angus Reid survey, which had the Libs up 39% to 37%.

Angus Reid also had some bad news for us MMP supporters:

The poll also asked Ontarians to voice their views on the referendum on electoral reform, which will take place on the same day as the legislative ballot. A third of respondents (33%) would keep the existing first-past-the-post electoral system, while 26 per cent would switch to the alternative mixed-member-proportional system. Three per cent of respondents would not participate on this plebiscite, and 38 per cent remain undecided.

Getting from 26% to 60% is going to be a heck of a long slog.

More Django!

A clip from the film 'La Route Du Bonheur' featuring the great "Gypsy Jazz" guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1952. The boy on his left is said to be his son. Not as nice as this, but done on an electric guitar this time.

And a montage of Django snap-shots to his famous "Minor Swing". Listen, aspiring young guitar players, and despair.

Friday, September 14, 2007

George W. Signals His Boss

Here's Bush and wife flashing the "Satan sign" at a 9/11 ceremony yesterday. Sure he's claiming its the "Hook 'em Longhorns!" gesture they give at the University of Texas , but Judi Mcleod of Canada Free Press knows better:

The Horned Hand or Mano Cornuto is a satanic salute, a sign of recognition between and allegiance of members of Satanism or other unholy groups.

Oddly enough, on this occasion I'm inclined to believe her.

They Huffed And They Puffed

...but Canada's chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, stood firm. Our electoral laws will not get rewritten on the fly by the Elections Canada bureaucracy so that purely hypothetical burqa-wearing Muslim women can be hassled during next week's Quebec by-elections.

Any bets on where this ends? I say it peters out after some additional mumbling and grumbling, because any rewrite of the Elections Act that is not obviously racist will have to figure out how to let (for example) Canadian Snowbirds vote by mail while meeting some kind of photo ID requirement.

In any case, RT is still on this, and LK has also picked up the gauntlet. I will probably have nothing more to say today, as I am in meetings all morning and all afternoon.

PS. The comments on the CTV story linked above are really quite encouraging. The vast majority of posters seem to have figured out that its the government and opposition parties who screwed-up in this case. And this realization seems to extend across the political spectrum.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

John Tory: I Promise To Yank on My Own NeckTie until It Hurts!

John Tory promised this morning to spend up to $1.3 billion to install scrubbers on the smoke-stacks at Nanticoke and then shut down the coal fired generator afterwards...way, way afterwards.

He also claimed to have worked "hard" as a senior partner at his daddy's firm, Tory, Tory DesLauriers & Binnington, and that he is "proud" of his role as CEO of Rogers Cable, where he helped fuck up high-speed Internet connections all over Canada.

Stop! Stop! This is too easy! It's like beating up a small child!

John Tory: I Am So Totally Freaking Doomed!

John Tory is already preparing for his own defeat:

LONDON -- John Tory says the buck stops at the top, and he will take full responsibility if his party goes down to defeat Oct. 10 over his policy on funding for religious schools.

"I have had lots of leadership positions and you know that that's where the buck stops and you have to accept accountability," Tory said at a campaign stop at London's Covent Garden Market, when asked if he'd personally be accountable for the policy.

Tory has all the makings of a "one election and gone" party leader, which is too bad. In another four years I might be able to forgive the Ontario Conservatives for Mike Harris, and give a moderate Bill Davis type (which is what I think Mr. Tory has the potential to become) another chance. But when you embrace a hugely controversial social policy (public funding for religious schools), do it in opposition to many in your own party, and then make the election all about your leadership, I guess you're looking to either score big or flame out.

And the pity is, it usually takes an election and some time afterwards for a party leader to grow into their role. Look how lousy Dalton McGuinty's first Provincial campaign was.

But John Tory is on a whole different level of disastrous. I can't think of anything along these lines beyond B.C. NDP Leader Bob Skelly, who basically started crying on the first day of his only provincial campaign.

My Advice? Don't Let 'em FREEP Your Poll

Well known climatologist Hans von Storch and co-worker Dennis Bray are soliciting suggestions for their upcoming poll of Climate Scientists re the consensus around Global Warming here. Their last survey along these lines, done over the Internet in 2003, didn't go so well, as user-names and passwords were leaked to the boyz at the Climate Skeptics Cafe, who allegedly FREEPED the crap out of it.

So, my advice is, above all, don't let THAT happen again. Here are a few signs that your climate change poll has been pranked.

1) Heywood J. Blome casts a vote, says he's a doubter.
2) Galactus votes twice.
3) Any of the Spice Girls vote.
4) Fictional animals like Lassie, Kermit, or Snoopy vote.

Needless to say, I will be attempting to pass myself off as a Climate Scientist (Dr. Von Liberal) and collecting user names/passwords. If I am successful, I will be happy to share...but ya gotta believe!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You Think Climate Scientists Are In It For The Money?

This guy clearly isn't; he's been reduced to eating bugs.

Then Make It Vanish

From CBC:

If his government's efforts to reform the Senate are stymied, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday, the upper chamber should be abolished.

As an Ontarian and a city-dweller, there's nothing in a Triple-E Senate for me. Given the various deviations from rep. by pop. that already dilute my vote in favor of rural ridings, why would I want to see MORE power shifted West and into the hills? So bring it on, Stevie, bring it on.

Except that, of course, abolishing the Senate as much as reforming it would require a constitutional amendment and the consent of all ten provinces, so that's not a go either. If the country is still here, the Senate will still be here, and in its current form, the day our sun goes supernova.

(And of course Harper's plan for an elected Senate is a crock)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Machine Gun May Not Qualify a legitimate tool for a subsistence fishery, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) declared after five members of Washington State's Makah band repeatedly strafed a Gray Whale in the Strait of Juan De Fuca, off Vancouver Island.

No word in the story as to whether the five lads always use their .50 calibre on whales, or whether they ever go out just to shoot off a few rounds, or maybe whack some pesky herring gulls:


And I hope the boyz didn't go back to their long-house and cover themselves in chalk afterwards as part of some kind of hunting ceremony, because I think employing a machine gun under such circumstances might be considered demeaning to the ritual.

On the upside, as a White Liberal, I suddenly feel a lot less guilty about my dad, his army buddies, and their "C4 Lures".

PS. For a good local commentary on the incident, go here.

Gone Fishin

Here Comes The Sun (Again)

Rumblings from the Deniers' Cafe suggest that theskeptic community will attempt to use this recent discovery to resurrect the whole Sun-as-driver-behind-Global-Warming meme:

Scientists from the Ulysses mission have proven that sounds generated deep inside the Sun cause the Earth to shake and vibrate in sympathy. They have found that Earth's magnetic field, atmosphere and terrestrial systems, all take part in this cosmic sing-along.

They haven't figured out how, yet, but I imagine some charts and graphs, and maybe a paper in E&E, are to come.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kudos To McGuinty; Sucks To Jack Layton

A gutsy call by the Premier of Ontario in the middle of an election campaign:

Muslim women shouldn’t be forced to remove their veils to vote in Ontario’s election, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

Meanwhile Jack Layton has reversed course and joined with Quebec pure-lines and English rednecks to demand that Elections Canada start reading stuff that the four Federal political parties didn't bother to put into their voting legislation, into their voting legislation.

Sell your soul for Outremont, would you Jack?

PS. John Tory showed a touch of class on this one, too. See the first link.

Harper's Veil Flip-Flop

In a terrific series of posts, RT has teased out the mixture of racism, demagoguery, and just plain stupidity behind the whole broo-ha-ha re Election's Canada Veiled Voter Ruling. The take-away lessons are several:
1) Everyone, including Stephen Harper, knew that these rules would allow veiled voting:

The fact remains that the regulations were clearly established and approved by parliament, that all the federal parties were thoroughly briefed on the guidelines back in July and there can be no excuse for their faux shock and surprise now. Elections Canada is NOT circumventing the will of parliament, it is NOT making up its own laws and it is NOT acting out of some imagined sense of “political correctness

So the question becomes: if Harper is so incensed by the new rules, why did he allow them to go forward in July? Was he overwhelmed by a flash of hatred for Canada? Did he suddenly go soft on Terror? Who knows, but he was for these rule changes before he was against them.

2) Demanding that velied muslim women expose their faces while at the same time NOT requiring that they present photo ID is the height of futility, unless the point is merely to hassle some Muslim women. Think about it: to what is one comparing the unveiled face?

3) This has nothing to do with National Security and voter fraud, everything to do with pandering to Quebec Yokeldom in particular, Canadian Yokeldom in general. If the radio shock jocks that originally stirred this pot were English and Western, the correct term for them would have been "hicks from the foothills outside of Gooberville". Unfortunately, I don't know an equivalent French phrase. And, frankly, it is terribly disappointing that some elements of the French race--who after all gave the world Bardot, Democracy, Destouche, snails, the corkscrew position AND the doggy style--should descend to this level of race baiting.

4) Sucks to Dion for being weak, to Duceppe were being himself, to Harper for being a demagogue. Kudos to Jack Layton and the NDP for not playing along.
Update: It's official. Stephen Harper doesn't know the contents of his own legislation (nor does anyone else, apparently, given the immensely confused coverage of this issue in the MSM):
Elections Canada says the parliamentary legislation governing how people can cast a vote does not require people to show their faces.

Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand said Monday that the law does allow for veiled voters to decide whether or not to reveal their face.

Speaking at a press conference in Ottawa, he said that if people are not happy with that situation, “I invite parliament to re-examine the law, and [amend the law] if they feel it necessary.”

Ontario Libs in Majority Territory

That's one way to look at the Ipsos Reid poll reported in the Ottawa Citizen:

Premier Dalton McGuinty's governing party has 41 per cent voter support against 36 per cent for the Conservatives, compared with a seven-point lead in an Aug. 24 Ipsos Reid poll. The New Democratic and Green parties trail at 17 and six per cent, respectively.

The early numbers translate to a slim Liberal majority government of 55 seats out of 107, according to an analysis done for Ipsos Reid based on the last five publicly released polls. The Tories are currently projected to take 40 seats, with 12 for the NDP.

The other way is to note, as the paper does, that "McGuinty's lead [has slipped] to 5 points" (that's down two points). And I suppose a third way is to note that its all within the margin of error.

The only thing a bit scary in the poll is this:

Conservative support in the competitive 905 belt surrounding Toronto rose two points from late August, opening up a lead over the Liberals. Suburban ethnic communities, normally a bastion of Liberal support, could be propelling the jump in light of Mr. Tory's faith-based school promise, Mr. Wright said.

Scary, except that I don't really believe it; I don't see anyone, outside of a few small Jewish groups, really solidly behind Tory's proposal and, as the poll notes, about 66 per cent oppose it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nuze U Can Abuze

Typically, Newsbusters pumps out great loads of delirious nonsense in its efforts to counter-balance the MSM's alleged Liberal bias. Noel Sheppard's article on melting Arctic sea-ice is about par for the course:

In the past couple of days, the media have reported "grim" melting of ice in the Arctic while disgracefully ignoring the history of the region prior to 1979 and explorations of the area as far back as 1903.


How can anyone make a claim with a straight face that ice conditions in the Arctic are either historically low or grim when we've only been monitoring these levels for the last 35 years? Is everything that happened in this region - in thousands of millennia since the Big Bang occurred - totally irrelevant?

Such is especially the case given the history of successful sea-based explorations of the Arctic dating back as far as 1903.

For instance, a name media would love for global warming alarmists not to know is Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer who successfully navigated the Northwest Passage on August 26, 1905 (h/t Walt Bennett, Jr.)

Well, maybe I'm dating myself, but back in the day, Roald Amundsen was a name you were supposed to pick up in high-school (at least in Canada, where we have an affinity for ice). But I digress:

...this Passage was clear enough of ice for a wooden sailboat, with a crew of seven, to successfully navigate it more than 100 years ago. How many times in the history of the planet do you think a similar - or even more ice-free - condition existed in this area?

A quick trip to wiki debunks the notion that the passage was "clear" (emphasis mine):

In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (something explorers had been attempting since the days of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Henry Hudson), with six others in the ship Gjøa. They travelled via Baffin Bay, Lancaster and Peel Sounds, and James Ross and Rae Straits to spend two winters exploring over land and ice from the place today called Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, Canada.

During this time Amundsen learned from the local Netsilik people about key Arctic survival skills that he would need. From them, for example, he learned to use sled dogs. Amundsen even went so far as to adopt their dress. Continuing to the south of Victoria Island, the ship cleared the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on August 17, 1905, but had to stop for the winter before going on to Nome on the Alaska Territory's Pacific coast. Five hundred miles (800 km) away, Eagle City, Alaska, had a telegraph station; Amundsen travelled there (and back) overland to wire a success message (collect) on December 5, 1905. Nome was reached in 1906. Due to water as shallow as 3 feet (1 m), a larger ship could never have used the route.

Of course, part of this two year voyage was spent exploring. Part of it, however, involved being stuck in ice. Furthermore, I don't think the fact that a shallow draft sail-boat could creep through the passage where no other boats could go stands as evidence that the passage was "open".

The same point applies to Noel Sheppard's second example:

Not that the media cares, but this Passage was also conquered several times in the 1940s (emphasis added):


Between 1940 and 1942 St. Roch navigated the Northwest Passage, arriving in Halifax harbor on October 11, 1942. St. Roch was the second ship to make the passage, and the first to travel the passage from west to east.

But of course the St. Roch was "ice fortified", and that trip too was hardly a walk in the park:

In 1940, Canadian RCMP officer Henry Larsen was the second to sail the passage, crossing west to east, from Vancouver, Canada to Halifax, Canada. More than once on this trip, it was touch and go as to whether the St. Roch a Royal Canadian Mounted Police "ice-fortified" schooner would survive the ravages of the sea ice. At one point, Larsen wondered "if we had come this far only to be crushed like a nut on a shoal and then buried by the ice." The ship and all but one of her crew survived the winter on Boothia Peninsula. Each of the men on the trip was awarded a medal by Canada's sovereign, King George VI, in recognition of this notable feat of Arctic navigation.

So they nearly get squashed by ice-shoals, and spend the winter trapped among the floes, and anyway have a special hull designed for the extreme conditions. And Mr. Sheppard thinks this proves the Northwest Passage's was "open" during those years? I don't think so. I think the term, properly used, means something more like what this fellow had in mind, where you can just hop into your outboard and circumnavigate the arctic circle.

Rough Ride For Bourque

Conservative news aggregater and part-time race-car driver Pierre Bourque has had a rough couple of weeks en-route to the Chicagoland Arca 200 in Joliette, Ill. It began with having a car stolen, continued with a spin-out in practice which totalled another(?)/the same(?) car:

The qualifying session was delayed for several minutes after Pierre Bourque spun in the No. 62 La Raza-ImpreMedia Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He was examined and released from the infield care center. The team has reverted to a back-up car and Bourque will start Saturday’s Chicagoland ARCA 200 in the 40th position, utilizing a provisional starting position.

...and ended with a dismal 25th place showing at the race itself.

As noted above, I don't know whether Bourque ever got his original stolen vehicle back. Witnesses to the act, however, reported that they had never seen the car driven so fast.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Significant Event... the Warming Wars: NASA's James Hansen has released the source code behind the software he and other researchers use to "arrive at adjustments to data for the surface temperature record", which data is used to track the long-term global temperature trends that are so important to the whole Global Warming Debate. Warmocaust Collusionists(TM) are claiming victory. However, this puts pretty much all of Hansen's cards on the table. The Denialist camp has what it wants, and will either have to put up or shut up. This is probably their last chance to demonstrate any sort of important shortcomings in Hansen's methodology (their last chance, that is, to totally refute global warming yet again).

A few, having glimpsed the code, are already threatening to set their congressman loose on Hansen, but the most likely result is a whole lot more pointless kibitzing from the usual suspects.

Want Worms With That?

From Deltoid:

A 2003 paper in the British Food Journal by Powell et al described an experiment that found that, given a choice between genetically modified sweet corn and the regular kind, consumers preferred to buy the GM corn by a factor of 3 to 2. However, Stuart Laidlaw reported that the experiment was flawed -- there was a sign above the regular sweet corn saying "Would you eat wormy sweet corn?", while the corresponding sign over the GM corn said "Here's What Went into Producing Quality Sweet Corn".

Interesting in that the trials for this experiment took place in Ontario, and interesting in that the Canadian Food Safety network had already noted the sign back in August of 2003.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rogers And Traffic Shaping Redux

I wrote about this in December. Basically I was having some difficulty using the various P2P networks after installing a new cable modem and spent a day on the phone with the Rogers High-Speed Internet people trying to figure it out. During the course of these painful hours, I was given any number of different answers from Rogers as to whether they were limiting the use of or download/upload speeds from these various networks--from an admission that Rogers was shaping traffic to stop the spread of child porn, to a declaration that Rogers wasn't shaping traffic at all.

Today Michael Geist is reporting the same kind of scatter-shot responses from the company over this issue, and not just from the schmoes on the help-line. Even their VPs can't get the story straight. Michael writes:

What is a consumer to think when the company's website says nothing about the issue but promotes its services as offering "blistering speed for sharing large files and much more", while personnel alternately say that Rogers bandwidth shapes, doesn't traffic shape, prioritizes traffic, and/or reserves space for some traffic?

What indeed? Perhaps that Rogers sucks.