Tuesday, March 31, 2009

100s of Dead Ducks

Remember last April when those 500 ducks landed on one of Syncrude's tailing ponds near Fort Mac? Well, it wasn't 500.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife officials and Syncrude initially estimated 500 waterfowl were involved in the incident. In the weeks that followed, the birds later returned to the surface, where staff collected, counted and reported the numbers as part of the government's investigation. The Crown prosecutors have agreed Syncrude can release the final bird count, which is 1,606.

That little "oopsie" aside (not mentioned in the first stories out today), it is good to see that the company making an attempt to find out what happened and change its procdedures.

Whig Standard On On-Line Libel

A nice editorial, based on the FreeD appeal of the Warman ruling:

Online forums play a different role in hosting public comment, but they must share the responsibility to determine what is fair comment. It's one thing to facilitate a discussion online, but it is another when that online conversation is based on falsehoods.

Individuals and groups deserve protection from potentially hurtful and damaging comments. That is why there are libel and slander laws to provide a permanent layer of legal protection.

Online forums, just like mainstream media, have an obligation to ensure that individuals post comments that are in good taste and stay within the legal guidelines.

One of those things that really shouldn't have to be said.

By the way, has anyone else experienced the following: defamatory remarks appear anonymously in the comments section, and almost immediately their target (or the target's lawyer) arrives bearing a legal threat, raising the suspicion that the target might have posted the remark themselves.

A local politician once emailed me claiming that he suspected the Tory machine was doing this to him: posting defamatory remarks about a local Tory in on-line forums sympathetic to the politician, and then threatening the forum with libel.

I've had the same kind of material posted in my comments concerning a number of the folks I've written about (including an accusation of murder), but was able to removed them before any lawyers showed up.

Is there a name for this kind of trick?

In Case You Don't Get Enough Of The FreeD Saga Here

Connie's on twitter.

Interesting collection of followers. The Conservative Hoi Polloi, as it were.

Harper Talks On Magic Telephone

Note the phone behind Mr. Harper is still on the hook, and the cord to the one he is speaking on terminates...where?

In an aide lying on the floor behind him doing their best Obama impression?

Update: Sandi notes that this Harper is suspiciously thin looking. Did they photoshop his guy away or was the picture taken at an earlier date?

Monday, March 30, 2009

FreeD To Appeal Warman Ruling If They Can Find The Dough

Mark Fournier said the couple doesn't have enough money right now to finance the appeal. They are hoping members of their website, bloggers and forum owners will donate to their legal fund.

That's about $25,000 all told, when their most recent fundraising attempts have come up short and it doesn't sound like they've had much luck appealing to outside funding sources.

1,700 Plus Sign Impeach David Miller Petition

I don't think you can actually impeach a Toronto mayor, but if anything this petition shows what widespread enmity Mr. Miller has managed to stir up. You listening, Pinball? The city needs you.

Galactus is down with it.

Will Randy Hillier Call For The Abolition Of The Ontario Human Rights Commission

...when he announces his run for the Tory leadership this morning? The folks at SDA and FreeD seem to think so. Furthermore, Randy's been on the phone with FreeD's Connie Fournier.

It isn't enough that a man wants to run the province who has advocated rural Ontario separatism, been incarcerated, and who as a plan B advocates the creation of an elected Ontario Senate to wrest power from the cities, now this same man is set to cuddle up with every far right wing-nut in the province.

In several months time I predict a crater where the Ontario Conservative Party used to be, no matter who wins the leadership. And you might as well hand Dalton a crown.

Update: Yep. Randy Hillier's gone full-on wingnut:

Hillier said he wants to introduce what he calls a Freedom of Association and Conscience Act that would allow people to "not be compelled or coerced into actions or associations they find objectionable," replace the Ontario Human Rights Commission "and other quasi-tribunals with real judges in real courts," and have an elected Senate in Ontario, according to the release

Sunday, March 29, 2009

On The Rubber Chicken Circuit With Ezra

He packs 'em in in The Peg. And the Tories, at least Rod Bruinooge, are still behind him.

1st Salamanders Of Spring

These were caught in the park behind my building. Before returning them safely to their creekside home, the proud hunter let me take a picture.
I told him they were damn good eating, but he was not as easily gulled as I was in my youth.

But its true! Imagine chicken crossed with gummy bears.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

His Name Is Ben Okri, Stupid

...the author of the The Famished Road, one of the great novels in English of the past 30 years. Or it could be Wole Soyinka, 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who knows all the words in the English language and uses all of them in every book (Season of Anomie is one hell of a good novel).

For some weird reason, perhaps obscurely connected to their English colonial heritage (but don't quote me on that), Nigerians write wonderfully in English.

Robert Fulford is full of shit, and probably hasn't read an African novel since Things Fall Apart.

PS. Elechi Amadi is also quite wonderful.

Tories: "Canadian Heritage" Includes Western Separatism

As D. Atkins notes, the Harper Tories have given $27,000 to Report Magazine to support its contributions to "Canadian Heritage".

Report Magazine? Never heard of it. Let's zip on over and take a gander!

Whoa! Look at that cover story!

David Crutcher – accomplished engineer, proud family man, energetic political activist and happily ensconced Calgary resident speaks with a barely noticeable accent reflecting the land of his birth, Great Britain, as he calmly states that, after 131 years, Canada should no longer exist.

David Crutcher is Executive Director of the Western Business and Taxpayers Association (WBTA), one of the latest manifestations of Western Separatism. I've written about these guys a couple of times, if you remember. They were the gang that wanted to use the Calgary flag for their new Alberta-centered state, and that (briefly) had a B.C. representative that wanted to help American sniper teams target Liberals in the event of a U.S. invasion of our country.

Hey! Look who else gets positive coverage in this same story:

"Our ultimate goal is the union of all four Western provinces into one country," says a resolute Doug Christie, a Victoria, B.C., lawyer who heads the Western Block Party. "It's been shown time and time again that reform is impossible," Christie continues. Recent events in Ottawa have only underlined that fact, he says. "Many of us have come to the conclusion that we don't wish to extend any more futile time and effort trying to reform a system that can't be reformed. We're not interested in wasting any more effort on it."

Yeah, that's this Doug Christie (not this Doug Christie).

Also, a nice piece on the magazine by Paul Wells from a couple of years ago. Apparently, Harper is a subscriber, and Report has been helping "push" the Tory line over the past several years.

On Future Liberal Leadership Races

From the "Report of the Special Committee on Party Renewal":

In conclusion, the committee believes that the most democratic and effective manner of selecting a leader is through a weighted one-member, one-vote, preferential ballot system. It is an essential part of a 308-riding strategy, where we say to every Liberal member that their vote counts, regardless of where they live.

I remember having a good conversation with Jeff Jedras and others on this topic not too long ago. I asked: why not a straight, one member one-vote non-weighted ballot? And he responded that, if the Libs chose such an alternative, their leadership candidates would never go outside of T.O.

And then someone else said (maybe this guy) something like "yeah but how do I sell memberships in Ontario if I have to tell people they are essentially getting a watered-down vote?"

Recommendations like the above are an attempt to steer a path through these kinds of considerations.

In any case, one purpose of these reforms ought to be getting rid of these expensive anachronisms known as delegated conventions, or at least giving those who don't have the funds can't be bothered to attend a say in charting the direction of their party. I am assuming the above recommendation would help in this process.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Wife Says These Times Remind Her Of When Mulroney Was In Power

He didn't have the support to kill the CBC, but did have the power to hobble it mildly as a kind of pointless gesture to the knuckle-draggers in his political base.

A lot of good people, many of whom had turned down more lucrative offers in the U.S. to work for CBC, lost their jobs back then too.

And, wife, as for all that stuff between me and GritGirl, it all meant nothing.

Anyway I did it for Canada.

Possibly As Early As This Spring?

Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett says he wants to include sexual orientation in Alberta’s human-rights law, possibly as early as this spring.

Blackett said he also wants to, as part of the same legal reform package, strip the Alberta Human Rights Commission of the power to adjudicate cases involving hate crimes and free speech, adding that those matters are better handled by the hate laws in the Criminal Code.

I may be proven a fool in a week or two, but Lindsay Blackett's dance around his "reform package" re the Alberta Human Rights Code--including the repeal of Section 3--seems to be a gradual backing away from action. We've gone from preparing to prepare to discuss the package in caucus, to preparing to vote on the reforms in caucus, to deferring the pre-debate discussion, to hinting at a deferral in the package itself.

Quite a statement if Ezra can't even get a reform package passed in his home province (by a Majority Conservative Legislature!).

FreeD Likely To Appeal Warman Ruling

From the Wiselaw Blog:

Connie Fournier said...
Mr. Wise, it is very likely we WILL be appealing this decision.
Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:58:00 PM

Most of the discussions on this at FreeD have been taking place in a closed thread, but the cost would involve paying the $5,000 charge already levied against the forum and then another at around $20,000 or so. Fund-raising efforts, Connie notes, would have to "reach out beyond FD".

Meanwhile, I wrote yesterday that the court order pertained to The Cools Post. That is not correct.

Because Sometimes Weird Is Good

I don't really know why Mr. Conway would create a page devoted to an imagined dissection of a Rhamphorhynchus, a type of long-tailed pterosaur from the Jurassic period.

But the result is really quite nifty.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tory Bigwig Blames Tory Bloggers For 2007 Ontario Tory Election Defeat

All heck has broken loose in the Ontario Conservative Leadership race! Their grass-roots have staged a cyber rebellion at the notion of a June race because, it is argued, this early date tilts the playing field too much towards front runner Tim Hudak.

Well, PCPO exec M. Wensley has struck back against this on-line effrontery!!! A sample from a much longer rant:

Now, if you think that sitting on the couch by yourself and posting drivel on the internet is really helpful to the cause of electing a PC government in 2011, I can tell you right now that you are the reason that we did not win in '07.

Go Mr. Wensley, helping the Ontario Conservatives not win in 2011 by, you got it, posting drivel on the Internet.


Warman Vs. Fournier: The Lawyers Respond

Two of them, at least, and they don't like it. Here's Gary Wise, and here's Michael Geist. Since they both make similar points, I will let Mr. Wise speak for both:

While I understand the freedominion authors to be an extremely tempting target to many in the blogosphere, little solace should be taken from this ruling.

An order for disclosure may have been justifiable if the statements made by the anonymous posters were, on their face, apparently actionable.

The Court's disinclination, however, to engage in any factual analysis of the alleged defamation or the necessary balancing of competing interests has created a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand.

Based on Warman ruling, the mere commencement of a court proceeding may now give rise to an automatic entitlement to this form of disclosure.

Calling All London Skins!

Shaidle's coming to town, and her fans include this guy, among others. Who knows what other luminaries might show for the show?

In other Shaidle news, the wiki war over her entry seems to be back on; she's non-controversial again, and for some reason one of her admirers wants to add this

I was the first person in my family to finish high school.

...to her bio.

PS. Nice picture of FiveFoot. Looks like she shaved for it.

PPS. This guy says I was wrong about the London City Music Theatre, and that it really is the larger venue (as compared to the Jewish Community Center). Interestingly enough, though, it looks like the theatre has had to drop ticket prices for the event.

PPPS. Secret sources tell me there will be a raffle at the event. 1st prize is a copy of Shaidle's latest book. 2nd prize is a copy of Ezra's latest book. 3rd prize is a copy of both books.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Is Past

To Free Dominion Members

Congratulations on your Free Dominion Banquet

As the leader of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, I want to thank you for the volunteer work you are doing to promote principled conservatism. Thank you for providing a discussion forum for the Alliance's National Council Candidates. It is through hard working volunteers like yourself that we will defeat the Liberals.

The internet will continue to play an increasing role in the interactive citizen government e-relationship. Free Dominion is on of the many steps in that direction.



Stephen Harper
Canadian Alliance Leader

...is present:

Canada's Conservatives: still dangerously stupid after all these years.

Why Not Feed Them To The Rich?

Because, Senator Ruth, the flesh off a goose shot in an urban setting is potentially contaminated by, among other things, lead and golf course herbicides, and a fit meal for neither rich nor poor.

Silly woman.

Harper To Rely On The FruitLoops

From Frances Russell in today's Winnipeg Free Press:

That's the upside to being a fiscal and social conservative in Canada. Your hardcore of true believers number a solid one-third of the population; enough to win elections especially if you keep them energized. So what if you horrify the other, hopelessly divided, two-thirds of the population?

Desperate rhetoric on behalf of an increasingly desperate government, methinks. Because the answer to this "so what?" is that the other 2/3s quickly becomes less "hopelessly divided", coalesce around the Federal Liberals, and Harper and co. get sent back to their previous careers as Alta. dung farmers... unless everyone in Mushaboo is granted nine votes apiece.

There is simply no way the Tories recent "boob bait for Bubba" strategy can be credibly seen as a plan for electoral victory. What it clearly amounts to is a "lets retreat to our prairie redoubt with as much silverware as we can cop from the HOC and man the turrets" strategy. There is no majority government there; there is almost certainly no minority government there.

So I sincerely hope Harper's gang listens to Ms. Russell. Because she is essentially arguing that they can abandon the East, abandon Quebec (already done, apparently), abandon Ontario, and still form a government. If that is the plan, then Iggy can probably look ahead to booking the hall for his victory banquet.

Marine Monsters: How Likely?

Actually, quite likely, esp. if they turn out to be some hithertoo undescribed variety of pinniped which, if you have ever read Heuvelman's classic "In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents", has indeed been suggested for such beasts as Nessie and Ogopogo.

Paleo superstar Darren Naish writes:

By complete coincidence - honestly! - we looked yesterday at discovery rates among terrestrial mammals. All indications are that many species remain to be discovered. It should also be well known, and I hope it is, that the same is true for large marine vertebrates: recent discoveries, and extrapolations based on discovery rates, indicate that there are still new, large marine animals to find. Today sees the publication of a new paper by myself and two colleagues, Michael Woodley and Hugh Shanahan, in which we attempt to estimate the number of pinnipeds that might remain undiscovered (pinnipeds are the seals, sea lions, and walruses).


Anyway, the cryptozoological literature is full of accounts of weird aquatic creatures, and at least some of these animals sound pinniped-like. In fact it has been speculated by some that certain aquatic cryptids might be undiscovered pinnipeds (Oudemans 1892, Heuvelmans 1968, Costello 1974, Mackal 1983, Cornes 2001, Coleman & Huyghe 2003). What's interesting is that the number of cryptids suggested to be of a pinniped identity is low: as in, around two or three. In other words, the cryptozoological record matches with the extrapolation made from the discovery data. It might seem odd to include a discussion of crypto-pinnipeds in a technical paper, and I know that some people are not going to see this as at all useful. Nevertheless, as we note in the paper, 'the exclusion of many cryptids from the formal literature has prevented technical appraisal. In turn, this has helped perpetuate a cycle in which these alleged creatures remain predominantly in the 'grey literature' and are never really objectively assessed' (Woodley et al. 2009, p. 5).

One fascinating element to this story is that the notion of a "long necked seal" has not always been confined to the cryptozoological "grey" literature. In "A dissertation upon the Class of the Phocae Marinae", from 1751, James Parson's wrote:

'[M]uch slenderer than either of the former [two other pinnipeds were described earlier in the manuscript]; but that, wherein he principally differs, is the length of his neck; for from his nose-end to his fore-feet, and from thence to his tail, are the same measure; as also in that, instead of his fore-feet, he hath rather fins; not having any claws thereon, as have the other kinds. The head and neck of this species are exactly like those of an otter. One of those, which is also now in our musaeum [sic], taken notice of by the same author, has an head shaped like that of a tortoise; less in proportion than that of every other species, with a narrowness of stricture round the neck: the fore-feet of these are five-finger'd, with nails, like the common seal. Their size, as to the utmost growth of an adult, is also very different. That before described, was 7 feet and an half in length; and, being very young, had scarce any teeth at all' (Parsons 1751, p. 111).

And here is the beast illustrated.

h/t Cryptomundo, which has even more information on the upcoming Naish et al paper.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shaidle Goes Viral

Who are the Tories standing up for?

Kinsella Speaks To Jewish Defense League

I attended the JDL open meeting last night and wanted to report that there was a surprise special guest who came to check it out and speak briefly to the audience: WARREN KINSELLA. Mr Kinsella spoke about the Galloway affair, the disturbing escalation of antisemitism in Canada and around the world, and the connection between radicalization of societies coinciding with economic recessions. There was also a Liberal party MPP there. I highly recommend to those of you who live in the GTA region to come out to one of these meetings - you never know who might turn up!

WK hinted at this yesterday, and I am sure he knows what he is doing. But the JDL looks imho to be a gang of nutters, and their leader Meir Weinstein, well, a nutter with something of a dark streak.

Recent events have shown that I don't have a particularly deep insight into the Jewish character, nor into the interplay between and among the various groups/individuals interested in these issues, like WK, the CJC, BB, JDL and so forth.

Someone explain this to me, please.

Update: I am told this was NOT a JDL gathering, but a "public meeting at the Zionist Centre".

Update 2: Yariv from the comments:

The problem for the most part with the Canadian version of the JDL is that it wears the cloak of its American counterparts.

In the USA the JDL is seen as a terrorist group. It has no such history here. It is to be sure well right of centre but it has as well a curious Canadian type of history. For example back in the days of Zundel, Keegstar and the Heritage Front the Canadian JDL marched arm in arm with ARA in ridding Toronto streets of neo-Nazis.

Its just not that black and white BCL. So while I am no fan of the JDL, given the upsurge in anti-Semitism there are many Jews wanting to take more direct action than their mainstream representatives like the CJC. So a small but vocal group gravitate to the JDL. I have seen nothing to date that would label the Canadian version as extremist or racist in their latest incarnation. To be sure they are strongly Zionist very much on that bright flank of Zionism. But then again so are many other Jews. The JDL is only a loud and very vocal expression of that and if they cross over the line, even the mainstrema has spoken out.

Look at the time that someone at a JDL rally tried to compare Sid Ryan with Hitler (Ryan is many things but a Hitler?), the CJC went on record to denounce such a comparision.So while I may not have counseled WK to attend this meeting, that he has does not put him outside the pale in my view.

FreeD Vs. Warman: The Obvious Occurs

Free Dominion is ordered to turn over IP addresses for the "anonymous eight", an octet of true Conservatives so committed to the principles of Free Speech that they are willing to hide behind pseudonyms in order to slander Richard Warman.

The most important bit of the ruling is here. Warman gets access to

Now, Connie claims that:
For well over a year, the IP address information on every post has recorded the same number:

...and I'm not sure if year old IPs will help much in establishing the anonys' identity (though a few cases this can be figured out from strictly on-line sources). It occurs to me, however, that a number of these people claim to have contributed to the FreeD defense fund, and if the Fourniers are required to turn over billing details of these transactions, then that should seal the deal.

Another nice bit:

In the case before the court, we are dealing with an anti-hate speech advocate and Defendants whose website is so controversial that it is blocked to employees of the Ontario Public Service.

Apparently, FreeD can make you go blind.

Finally, none of this should have come as a surprise to anyone that's been paying attenion. As Judge Kershman wrote:

The fact that they're all sitting there stunned at FreeD speaks to a wilful ignorance of Canadian law and, since Connie and Mark are receiving paid/professional legal advice, speaks I think to the fact that they are playing forum members for saps.

PS. The Fourniers got dinged $5,000 by the judge for forcing this whole silly motion and hearing in the first place.

She's Back!!

When word of the bogus embezzlement charges against Bill Casey first came to light, it was discovered that the woman behind them was Tory operative Diana Read-Miedema. As the resultant outrage spread, Ms. Miedema quickly removed herself and her many, many websites from cyberspace.

Well, perhaps things have blown over, because the site devoted to Ms. Miedema's accounting business, Simply Financials, is back on-line.
Unfortunately, most of her more religious based sites are still down, but this one remains and it begs the question: what the hell is a soaking prayer?
She shouldn't be.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Publishing Crap

From Crooked Timber:

The absolute refusal of the Post to take a position on the truth or falsity of what it publishes (along with the continued scandal of anonymous sourcing) leads me to a steadily more negative view of the question of whether we actually need newspapers and whether we should regret their seemingly inexorable decline. The standard claim is that without reporters, we in the blogosphere would have no material to work on. But Will’s recycling of long-refuted Internet factoids (something very common among rightwing pundits in particular) shows that, in important respects, the opposite is true.

More importantly as far as political and business news goes, there is almost always someone with an interest in having any given story published. If newspapers are unwilling to take a stand on which stories are true or false, their only function is that of gatekeeper – determining which stories see the light of day and which do not. The potential for corruption in this role is clear, and the reality was obvious particularly in relation to the Iraq war.

In other words, what difference does it make if newspapers have the power to actually go find news, to determine truth or falsity, if all they plan to do with these powers is pump out the same old horseshit?

As an aside, I believe that a Ontario Press Council complaint was once filed against an Ottawa Citizen reporter for recycling some old denialist chest-nuts, though I haven't been able to find the relevant material at their site. In any case, if newspapers are not willing to correct factual errors in science pieces, then perhaps there is indeed no hope for them.

How Much Did The Math Guy Pay?

Answer here. Don't worry, I didn't get it either.

When Statscan Starts Spinning

...you know that its gonna be bad:

...[retail] sales are up in nine provinces. Woo hoo, the recession is over!

But if we take a reality check, and look not at December 2008 to January 2009 numbers, but January 2009 over January 2008, the result is brutal. I looked through the tables and we find that retail sales are down almost 6% over a year ago. Some of the sub-categories are much worse, such as auto sales, which are down 18%. That is deep recession territory.


All that the Daily tells us, in this context, is that December was really awful, and January was somewhat of an improvement relative to December. But ignoring the year-over-year trend is scandalous and irresponsible, and I for one would like to know who made that call over at Statscan. It just seems way too convenient that this analysis is in step with the federal government’s upbeat message track.

I've heard a few rumours that CMHC has considered soft-soaping their housing starts numbers, the argument being that you (as a data collection agency) don't want to do anything contribute to the overall negativity. Nevertheless, these analyses are supposed to be the solid ground against which all else econometric is measured. Start mucking around with them for (broadly) political reasons and you undermine trust in everything else you read.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Coffee Crime, T.O.

I am sitting in a Coffee Time in the West end of the city as my wife teaches skating at a location just down the road. Its got wifi, and the staff generally keep the place clean for a CT location. The regular guy even knows enough to offer me a tooth-pick any time I come by.

Except that he's not on duty this morning and the place has reverted to form. The dolt behind the counter has run out of anything but plain coffee, the floor is seriously sticky, and the toilets...

Well, my advice re Coffee Time toilets: stay out or learn to hover.

A Year Later, And Their Numbers Have Doubled

From March 2008:

Approximately 25 Aryan Guard members gathered at the Franklin LRT station, rode the C-Train to downtown and started making their way down to the Mewata Armoury...

This year the number is estimated at 60.

Meanwhile, the Alberta government's attempts to gut its own human rights code while allowing parents to pull their children from science class proceeds apace.

Update: Rick Bell, who has been cheerleading these "fixes" in the pages of the Calgary Herald, took a placard to the head at yesterday's demonstration.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jason Kenny On A Roll

Now he's hosting "National Black Engagement Days":

These are screen shots from Blogging Tory Canadian Blue Lemons, who claims the information came from "inside" and describes the event as "the most patronizing thing I have seen in my many, many years of observing politics". Well, it certainly sounds a rather transparent attempt to curry favour, that's for sure. And poor Mr. Ofori-Attah seems to have quite a load to shoulder.

Move The Party Right

...pick up NDP support.

Stop reading this blog right now, because I obviously don't understand Canadian politics.

But, until Steve comes along and explains everything, here's my best attempt.

Most important, I have to admit, is the leadership issue. Much as I dislike some of the directions Ignatieff has taken the party, and much as I dislike the guy's personality (as I wade through "Blood and Belonging" I am convinced Iggy must carry a pocket mirror around with him so he can check to see if he's as wonderful today as he was yesterday--I mean how many pictures of the author looking fabulous does one book need?), I have to admit that he is holding down his end of the deal as leader. That is, when he appears on TV he doesn't look like he's about to suddenly break down and cry, you can understand what he's saying, and what he is saying is relatively coherent. (He also has very kingly eye-brows). This is quite different from even a year ago, when I remember JimBobby writing somewhere that he needed to light all of his incense sticks to get Dion to make sense.

And I didn't think it would make much difference, but it clearly has. There are no anonymous Libs peeing in the soup. Any infighting that does exist seems to be staying behind closed doors. Lib partisans (me at least) are not looking forward to the notion of a summer/fall election with a gnawing sense of doom in the pit of their stomachs.

The other thing, too, is: Harper's Torys are out of gas idea-wise and they know it. This seems to be what is behind the recent decision to unmuzzle their MPs. As the economy tanks, Harper doesn't really know what the party line is anymore, so why not let the party define it collectively? Of course, we see where that's got them. Unmuzzled, the Tory idea of governing the nation is to trash Liberal operatives, flirt with Creationism, and hang out with gun nuts.

So, in a couple of ways, the LPoC is in a much better position to let the government defeat itself. Now all that's needed are some decent fund-raising numbers.

Dear Mr. Lindsay Blackett,,,

Before you weaken Alberta's hate speech laws, please make note of how many times the province is mentioned in this story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coming Soon From A Bunch Of Climate Change Deniers Near You

Today, Dr. Patrick Michaels of The CATO Institute (see http://www.cato. org/people/ patrick-michaels) called me to ask if I could distribute the attached proposed newspaper ad to you in the hopes of obtaining your endorsement for inclusion in a list after the letter. Dr. Michael tells me the text of the open letter is essentially fixed and only cosmetic changes will follow at this point.

Please let me know if you will allow CATO to include your name and affiliation on this crucially important public appeal to President Obama. Dr. Michaels informs me that, due to space-limitations it may not be feasible to include everyone’s endorsement but he hopes to get as many supporters as possible for this effort, regardless.

If they get a sufficient number of highly qualified endorsers, CATO plan to arrange that the attached open letter is published in newspapers this coming week, so we hope to hear whether or not you will allow your name to be included in the endorser list as soon as possible. Feel free to either contact Dr. Michaels directly at pmichaels@cato. org or simply respond to this e-mail and I will forward endorsers’ names, with complete affiliations, to him.

Hope to hear from you very soon!

Tom HarrisExecutive DirectorInternational Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)
P.O. Box 23013
Ottawa, Ontario
K2A 4E2
I plan to have Galactus sign, and also my buddy Dr. Franz Von Dickenstein.

A Noisy Climate

This story has been in the blogosphere/low rent end of the MSM for a week or two now, going under titles like "Global Warming: On Hold?" (and worse). Finally, science writer Carl Zimmer was able to reach the two authors for clarification. Its all an interesting read (skip the George Will Stuff), but this is the general summa:

Swanson and Tsonis observe that over the past century, the average global temperature has risen, but there have been periods when it has dropped temporarily. Swanson and Tsonis have been investigating how the natural climate variability may explain the shifts between these phases. This variability includes oscillations in the circulation of the ocean and the air. El Nino is the most famous of these oscillations, but there are others as well in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic. Only three times in the twentieth century did all these oscillations synchronize, after which the climate moved to a new state. This figure, from the paper, shows the periods of synchronization as cross-hatched bars.

Based on the study of chaotic systems, Swanson and Tsonis propose that the synchronization and climate shift are connected through cause and effect. Once a lot of oscillations are working in sync, even a small change to one of them can radiate out through the whole system and trigger a change. And along with the three shifts in the real climate, climate models also show a similar response when oscillations line up.

In their paper, Swanson and Tsonis then look at the past few years. They see a peak in synchronization in 2001 and 2002, and they also observe that in the years since, the temperature change has been on average flat (although much warmer than at the beginning of the century). They estimate that all the warming due to carbon dioxide should have driven the temperature up .25 degrees C since then. The fact that it hasn’t leads them to propose the the oceans and atmosphere have changed the way they handle heat. The oceans may have absorbed more heat due to a change in circulation, or the atmosphere may radiate more heat away by clouds. If this hypothesis is true, then it’s possible that the climate will remain in this new stage for some years to come before it shifts again.

My favorite bit is where the two scientists speak of their work's reception in the popular press:

I was worried that this will happen, that is why we caution in the paper that while climate shifts may be part of the natural variability of the climate system they may be superimposed on a anthropogenic warming trend. We mentioned that also in the MSNBC story, and this will be my answer to anybody who asks me.

I like to report on the science only. If political organizations want to pick up what they like in order to pass their point and ignore the real science, there is nothing we can do.

Also, some interesting comments from (now infamous) climate scientist and blogger Michael Tobis on why the Swanson/Tsonis paper did not cause a big scientific (separate from blogospheric) splash:

Despite all the attention, the fact is that this is under the category of "yet another Tsonis paper". Now, it's not just that I want to be polite to Tsonis. He actually comes up with some interesting stuff. But frankly it doesn't take the climatology world by storm. The reasons for this are hard to explain in brief. The fact is that for practical purposes what he is doing is at best a crude qualitative model of the climate system, and that's being generous. It hasn't got any physics behind it. He is essentially a mathematician and not a climatologist, and comes up with interesting excursions into nonlinear dynamics, inspired by climate time series, but he could use just about any time series in the same way. It is, for the purposes of anything the press might have a legitimate interest in, completely and totally irrelevant.

Here is a copy (maybe a pre-print) of the origonal paper.

PS. I bet Swanson and Tsonis would prefer not to be in the company of these folks.

Jason Kenney Meets With ZZ Top

When one man calls you a donkey, ignore him. When two call you a donkey, laugh in thier faces. When three men call you a donkey, buy a saddle

I think we hit the dozen mark yesterday evening sometime.

My apologies.

What City Is This?

We have egg on our face over yesterday's front page about new 'street eats' in the city. Our graphic contained numerous errors, including misspelling Eglinton Ave. We apologize to our readers and cartographers everywhere.
Rumor has it The Sun has farmed out its front page.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shaidle Loses Sponser, Moves To New Location

The place is the London City Music Theatre, and it is now being sponsored by some combination of the Forest City Institute, a low-rent version of the Fraser Institute, and the Friends of Canadian Coalition for Democracy, which is Salim Mansur's gang (he too will be speaking at the event).

As this fellow indicates, and contra FiveFoot, the venue is a good deal smaller than the original (Jewish Community Centre).

Fun Facts On Garry's Gun!

By way of celebrating the upcoming repeal of the long-gun registry, they'll be raffling firearms at Garry Breitkreuz's appearance before the annual meeting of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association in Mississauga, on April 18th. But not just any firearm, no! The King of The Semis! The Beretta Px4 Storm!

And, man, does this handgun have a storied history. While I didn't find any evidence that it has been used to kill someone famous
...it was piece o' choice for Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard! Pried from the dead hands of an evil-doer, Bruce used it to kill even more evil-doers in the films finale!

Look at that! Don't you feel ready to take back the night!

Eat The Rubber Chicken, Win A Handgun

Here's what you might win when you go see Garry Breitkreuz's talk re. repealing the long-gun registry at the annual meeting of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association on April 18th:

From the map there don't seem to be any nearby farms, so you can't engage in that old Tory sport of getting drunk and shooting barn-yard animals, but you're barely 20 minutes from downtown T.O., where Liberal men wander about in fish-net stockings, and not far from Brampton, either, where I hear they have a lot of dark skinned types.

A target rich environment, in other words.

Update: Invite WITHDRAWN.

Gary Goodyear Does Not Represent All Chiropractors

I rather like my chiropractor. He helped out quite a bit when I screwed up my rotator cuff several years back. Mind you, he is also a trained physiotherapist. In any case, Mr. Goodyear has been hiding behind his background in chiropractory and drawn much unfavorable comment upon these hard working men and women. But there will be none of that on this blog.

Fundys, sure. They're fair game. No filthy anti-chiropractory stuff.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodyear An Avowed Creationist?

Goodyear, an avowed creationist whose election campaign was endorsed by various ultra-conservative religious groups opposed to gay marriage and most everything else, is missing the point. Canada's science minister must be up-front about whether or not his religious beliefs (which he is, of course, entitled to) are influencing his political actions. He must not cloak himself in ambiguity as his government cuts funds to scientific research.

I somehow think Ms. Cockburn has overreached with this claim--at least I was unable to find any place where Mr. Goodyear actually avows Creationism. If he has done so, however, than he was lying yesterday and it would be a rather big deal.

PS. L. Moran thinks he's definitely a fundy. And then there's this:

The Students On Studentgate: Did Tories Use Taxpayers Funds To Undermine Student Democracy?

From The Canadian Federation of Students news release:

"Students deserve to know how much the Conservative Party has spent and who has received funding and training,' said Melanson. 'I certainly hope that the federal and provincial Conservative parties aren't using taxpayer dollars for these purposes.'"

Here's the CFS website. Hope this isn't a case of battling party front groups.

Shaidle On Wiki

Controversial again, the way it should be! A special thank you goes out to Mark Steyn. None of this could have happened if you hadn't fanned the flames (o' controversy)...suckah!!!

Tories Embrace Science...16th Century Science!!!

Apparently, Wells noted this first.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

GritGirl, Are You Married?

Because, baby, you are so IT.

Gary Goodyear: The Conservative Response

This controversy, by the way, is a direct result of this. Have fun shooting the fish in the barrel, fellow progressives.

Shaidle: The Controversy Grows

According to wiki rules, to introduce "controversial" statements into a figure's main wiki page you can only report on--not attempt to manufacture--a controversy re that person. That is, you must reference a "reliable source" as evidence for the existence of a controversy--like the London Free Press, which has taken up the matter for a 2nd time again in their editor's blog.

Given the effort someone has put in on Ms. Shaidle's behalf in an attempt to white-wash her entry, it is pretty clear she realizes that, in her case, having this material displayed prominently would signal the end of her career as a 2nd string talking head (which is also why I have been pounding so hard on the issue).

Apparently, Mark Steyn's interest in the story has generated much traffic to the newspaper's website and in fact precipitated this 2nd piece of evidence for FiveFoot's controversial nature. So thanks a lot...suckah!!!

Dead Baby Dinosaurs!

A wonderful new paper on a unique dinosaur assemblage out of China. Over 20 dead ornithomimids (Sinornithomimus dongi), all more or less the same size and age. Apparently, they are a bunch of juveniles that wandered into a swamp together, got stuck in the mud, and died there. The site, it is argued, demonstrates that young ornithomimids formed their own herds (juvenile sociality) away from the reproductively active adults as, for example, young ravens do today, and stayed apart for a certain portion of the maturation process.

One noted caveat is that the homogeneity of these remains may be less real than a result of the fact that smaller animals don't get stuck in mud so easily, and larger animals are often powerful enough to work themselves free of it.

Torys Gone SoCon?

...in an attempt to change the channel on a souring economy? In Alberta:

Harry [Chase, Calgary Liberal MP] throws out a couple questions and, when Dave Hancock, the supremo of schools and one of the more liberal members in Torydom, tip-toes the party line, the Liberal dusts off an 80-year-old trial in Tennessee on the banning of the teaching of evolution in schools.

"The last time I checked my calendar this was 2009 Alberta not 1929 Tennessee," stings Harry.
Hancock decides if it's 1929 Tennessee Harry wants, it's 1929 Tennessee Harry gets.

"What's not optional in this province is parents have the right to raise their children," bellows Hancock, to the rocking applause of the Tories.

Hancock goes on about "moral values" and you know something is cooking behind closed doors.

And Federally:

Canada's science minister, the man at the centre of the controversy over federal funding cuts to researchers, won't say if he believes in evolution

Politics is all about sending messages, and these messages are directed at the Tory political base. Means someone think it needs shoring up. Also means that, both federally and provincially, the governing Tories have decided to play defense, because the same signals that turn on the base turn off everyone else (ask John Tory about that).

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Find It Hard To Imagine How This Would Work

Independent Candidates Canada

To promote, encourage and draw attention to the importance of Independent Candidates in the political process. Independent candidates are the only hope to bring democratic accountability to the grass roots level of Canada.Party Candidates bring no democratic accountability. They are required to do what the Party tells them and are NOT responsive to or concerned with the local issues. Their allegiance is to their party and NOT to the people who elected them.

A party consisting of candidates who refuse to tow the party line? Some guy named "JOE BONNEVIE" is behind it. Weirdest line from the Facebook page:

Visit us at:
to learn how you can become one of them!

No Section 13 Of The CHRA Has Not Been Suspended

Ezra is bullshitting.

He quotes paragraph [10] in the Warman v. Ouwendyk case:

The hearing on the question of the constitutional validity of the impugned sections of the Act will be deferred pending the outcome in Lemire. If the complaint is substantiated, the Tribunal will not issue any order until the final determination by the Courts of the constitutional question.

But the important section is [57]

...If the Respondents do not engage in the impugned conduct again in the future, they will have nothing to fear from such an Order. In view of the ruling by the Chairperson of the Tribunal, Mr. J. Grant Sinclair, referred to earlier in this Decision, this Order will not be issued until a final determination by the Courts of the constitutional question in the Lemire case.

In both places Lustig is referring to a previous ruling by Mr. J. Grant, and this applies specifically (and exclusively) to Ouwendyk, the reason being that Mr. Ouwendyk is flogging a constitutional challenge similar to M. Lemire's , and the final conclusion of the former's case has been made dependent on the resolution of the latter's (to kill two challenges with one ruling, as it were).

So unless you think Lemire's challenge has a prayer, don't start hating yet, little Levantians, esp. if you've already been tagged once in a complaint. And, Ezra, you're going to get a few of your acolytes hurt if you keep on like this.

Although I would like to see Shaidle crank out drivel under the impression that she was entirely off the hook. I bet she's running her mouth pretty close to full bore now, and you wouldn't see much difference.

Campaign To Save Lit Mags

As I've written here, changes to the Canada Magazine Fund and Publishing Assistance Program threaten almost all of Canada's literary magazines. Specifically

...eligibility for funding could potentially be restricted to those magazines with an annual circulation above 5000. With notable exceptions, the circulation of virtually every Canadian literary and arts magazine, large and small, is below 5000.

...which means that large circulation magazines like Macleans and Flare would keep their funding, while publications like The Malahat Review might simply disappear. The Coalition to Keep Canadian Heritage Support for Literary and Arts Magazines has published a handy and very complete looking list of MP emails if you feel like dropping yours a line on the topic (or just want a complete looking list of MP emails).

As it turns out, one of the magazine's threatened, On Spec, was the place my first published short-story appeared.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Going Galt Is Way To Upscale For Me

Years ago, however, I went Wally:
Some background, and a teaser:

The college kid says "Going John Galt isn't really essentially a political or economic sort of strike, it's a moral strike, rejecting the moral code of altruism, and accepting and spreading the morality that Ayn Rand puts forth which is rational selfishness." His plan is "following Ayn Rand's morality as much as I can and spreading her philosophy as far as can." So he's not going John Galt so much as going Dorkus Malorkus. Dr. Smith is thrilled, because all the other kids seem to be into Obama; what is so different about him? "I take ideas seriously," he asserts. "I take morality seriously, I think that philosophy moves the world and I can grasp things with my mind and that if I want to change things I can pursuade people." Dr. Mrs. says maybe his classmates "don't have as developed critical thinking skills"; the kid snickers. Someday he will show them all.

Alberta Panders To Creationists?

Rumours circulating around their new Human Rights Legislation:

Parents would be given the opportunity to opt their kids out of instruction surrounding human sexuality, sexual orientation and other lessons counter to a family's religious convictions.

Difficult to say how seriously this should be taken. Discussions of several proposed changes to their human rights legislation were deferred, so it is hard to imagine anything being tabled this week (as per the source article).

Interesting that MLA and failed Alberta Tory leadership contender Ted Morton's name comes up in connection with these rumoured changes, his base of support being rural Alta. for example the area around Big Valley, home of Canada's first Creationist Museum.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shorter Ezra: Curses, SODOMIZED AGAIN!

Or at least that's what he WILL say when he discovers that Alberta Tory caucus discussion of possible changes to Section 3 of the Alberta human rights code (the provincial analogue of the CHRA's Section 13) has been deferred.

His conservative magazine flopped in the nation's most conservative province; his anti-human-rights crusade appears similarly destined.

If I Had Money, And Lived 4,000 Miles Across The Land

I might snap up a unit at the Reflections condo development in Langford, B.C. (my home-town), where they are being auctioned off by desperate developers for as much as $100,000 under market.

This bit's interesting:

A couple of years ago, as the Reflections development was being built, sales were brisk. But as the economy tanked, so too did the interest of buyers. Dozens of them walked away, rather than completing their purchases.

If this kind of thing starts happening in T.O. (and I've been told it already has), then all the legislation passed years ago to prevent buyers from getting stuck with a hole in the ground will have been for nothing.

Warman's Latest

...vs the Northern Alliance and Jason Ouwendyk. The decision is here, a couple of good stories here and here, and mindless shrieking in all the usual places.

Most notable--other than the fact that Warman won another case--are the reservations expressed by CHRT board member Edward Peter Lustig re some of Warman's investigative techniques, which occasionally involved posting messages to sites like Stormfront. Specifically, two messages totaling about 50 words, if you don't count the quoted material. And curiously, not to any of the websites directly related to the Ouwendyk investigation. In any case:

[62] Mr. Warman stated that the communications quoted in the previous two paragraphs did not “cross the line” into hate messaging nor did they provoke hate messages by others. He stated that the inclusion in his postings of possible hate messages from others were inadvertent slips by him in sending messages over the Internet. He further stated that his postings were intended to assist him in his quest for information about persons using the Internet to communicate discriminatory hate messages.

[63] I do not see any acceptable reason for Mr. Warman to have participated on the Stormfront or Vanguard sites, since there appears to be ample easily obtained messages on these sites available without his involvement. Moreover, it is possible that his activity in this regard, could have precipitated further hate messages in response. His explanation for including other hate messages in his postings by mistake seems very weak to me.

It's not easy to determine from this whether or not Lustig is objecting to the notion of an investigator interacting with the possible targets of his investigation per se, or whether he is objecting to Warman's particular use of this method (or merely the fact that Warman quoted previously uttered hate speech in his messages). The news stories all assume the former, so lets make the same assumption.

If, going forward, HRC investigators can no longer avail themselves of this method, how big a handicap would that be?

Well, it is interesting that the decision refers to events about 5 years old, before the advent of sites like Facebook. And if you look at the work being done by Anti-Racist Canada , for example, which seems to rely on the more passive technique of simply "hanging out" at various online social networking venues related to white supremacist acitivity, and harvesting the (occasionally criminal) stupidity, including geographical details related to the poster, perhaps not such a great handicap.

Or, at least, there appear to be many more opportunities these days to collect information in a non-invasive fashion. So, since this is the one aspect of HRC procedures that seems to bother otherwise supportive people, perhaps disallowing the technique going forward might be a good thing.

(Although, come to think of it, one does sometimes need to establish a sock-puppet to get onto these various forums. How much interaction does that typically require?)

PS. A good overview of the issues surrounding S.13 and Canadian human rights laws can be found in Canadian Lawyer Magazine, though I think the article cuts Doug Christie too much slack.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I Slept With GritGirl

And here she is giving Harper heck for the latest Stats Canada Job numbers :

Contra what a few cynical types might think, GritGirl is not a product of the Liberal war-room. I know, and if she shows up at the convention in May, she likes rum and coke and becomes pliable after drink #4.
If the wife ever finds out, I did it all for Canada.

The Incredible Lightness Of Being The Ontario NDP

They reject their green candidate and embrace the smelly shop floor. They give 7/9 votes to Unionists for every non-union vote. The Ontario NDP: a party, or a cult nostalgic for Woody Guthrie and the distant past?

Your Daily Nazi: Dear Mr. Perlmutter, Note The Nazi In The Back Row

Alan Perlmutter is a London-area Jewish activist, and one of the organizers of the Levant/Mansur/Kathy Shaidle event to take place on Monday, April 13th.

He has also noted, of Shaidle's "controversial statements", that

"If they are true, I will have nothing to do with her."

Well, I think their truth has been well established, but Mr. Perlmutter might wish to ask himself: if they weren't true, would Tomasz Winnicki be offering her an unsolicited endorsement

And therefore you may, Mr. Perlmutter, look out over your audience on Monday April 13th, and you may see a bunch of baldy-assed bastards in the back of the auditorium. And, if so, you will forever be asking yourself "Holy shit! Did I just serve as enabler to a bunch of goddamn white supremacists???"

Think about it.

h/t Mr. Smith at ARC.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Will Alberta Tories Move To Strip Hate Speech Provisions From Provincial Code?

Today, the Alberta government caucus is expected to vote on reforms to the province's human rights code.

Story is dated March 12, 2009.

Canada At A Glance

From Canada Newswire:

Atlantic Canada is used to poverty and joblessness and, god love 'em, they'll be fine: BCL Economic Update

BCL Economic update says British Columbia is too stoned to care about something as Metaphysically Unheavy as an economic contraction

BCL Economic update says Alberta's economy is in a slump and the place is full of total assholes

BCL Economic Update says Saskatchewan's economy will lead the country but its flat and shaped like a rectangle

BCL Economic Update says Manitoba is largely a myth, and the name is a First Nation's Word for "frozen tundra", but it's economy is weathering the storm

Ontario's economic struggle continues as it shoulders burden for whole, ungrateful nation, says BCL Economic Update

BCL Economic Update says Quebec as bitchy as Alberta, but has great cheese and Mitsou, and a mild recession will barely put a damper on the orgy

Galactus On Gingrich: A Guest Post

Dear Pathetic Mortal,

Galactus cares not for private ballots, for nothing is private before his all-seeing, all comprehending gaze. Galactus cares more about the junk email that crowds his in-box every morning, of which your piece is one of the most egregious examples. Furthermore, Galactus sees the name "Newt Gingrinch" and is forced to wonder...has his temporal displacement mechanism mal-functioned and returned Galactus to the 1990s? For Galactus can gaze upon the future, and nowhere does Galactus see "Newt Gingrich" in it.
Eater Of Worlds

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Edmonton Sun Snuffs Neil Waugh

Neil Waugh, a high-profile Edmonton Sun political columnist, and 19 other colleagues were pink slipped today, TSF sources report.

But as long as the Wunderbabe's still working, who cares?

Shaidle Panics?

Looks like she's trying to send some of the links to her "outrageous" comments down the memory hole. From the list, so far

On Indians: they are “parasites” who “extorted tax dollars [for] booze, smokes and junk food. Not to mention free everything else, including university educations they don't bother getting.”

· On Sikhs: "Backward foreigners [who] shit on hand that feeds them...Unable to invent their own iconic product due to too much time spent worshipping monkeys and cows, setting women on fire and obsessing over imperceptible differences in each other's skin colour..."

are gone.

Ah well, screen-caps and google cache.

h/t meaghan.

Update: Yup she's disappearing them. I've screen-capped one or two but not nearly all. Didn't have time today.

Shaidle In London: Are We Controversial Yet?

London Free Press has the latest on the Kathy Shaidle saga here:

Her scheduled appearance in London has started a similar battle in the blogosphere. Many of the blogs state the event is organized by the London Jewish Federation.

The federation's executive director, Esther Marcus, said yesterday she was asked by organizers of the event to book the Jewish Community Centre.

That was the extent of her involvement and, in any case, the organizers are now looking at another location, Marcus said. The federation is not a sponsor of the event, she said.

The piece also notes that, Alan Perlmutter, one of the event's organizers, is having second thoughts.

The most important thing to come from this relates to how a figure gets labelled "controversial" in wikipedia. Details as to how it would work in Shaidle's case can be found here, but the upshot appears to be, if I understand correctly, that a MSM piece (like the one above) quoting her more "outrageous" statements should make it easier for a catalog of such statements to appear as part of her main wiki entry. Thus anyone considering booking Shaidle for a speaking event/tv appearance will find them in the course of doing their due diligence research.