Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Its Summertime...

...and Tory MPs are talking crazy. But don't ask me: here's a Blogging Tory response to Rob Anders' latest:

If Rob has directly witnessed any Canadian politician (Liberal or Conservative) accepting favours from the Chinese presumably in exchange for votes in the Commons, then he should report that to the appropriate officials. That is not the kind of information that you discuss for the first time with Rosie. He said that he had not talked to the Prime Minister about his allegations, but it is okay to talk about them with Rosie on the CBC? He should be talking to the police, not an amateur like Rosemary Barton.

Typically, in Canada, the federal government's approval ratings go up in summer, when the HOC has been shuttered . But Prime Minister Harper treats the whole season as a kind of leash-free dog-park for his back benchers. Hence...

Yeah, But Can Your Leader Do This?

Stephen Harper...very unlikely? He'd snap something. Jack Layton could probably break-dance while rapping in Lithuanian, but his party's full of weirdos. The Quebecois have their own ways of making fun, so why would Gil Duceppe bother? And its soo beneath Lizzy May's dignity.

So there really is only one choice, isn't there?

Bono Dodges The Reaper

Mark Bonokowski, that is. His disappearance from the T.O. Sun masthead appears to stem from the fact that he is on vacation, as confirmed by this tweet from the 27th, and not from the fact that the Vampire Teneckcye sacked his ass out the door.

...Although he's been on vacation since the 25th, and his name was only pulled down on the 27th. And why would you pull a name for that anyway?

Anyway, have a good vacation Mark! But be careful when you get back to the office. Carry garlic!

Fox News North Update: Holy Crap! Iggy DID attend Public School In Canada!!!

Brian Lilley:

As for which public schools he did go to, it appears Ignatieff was a student at Manor Park public school in Ottawa’s east end. After graduating from Upper Canada College he went on to the publicly funded University of Toronto.

This is the same Brian Lilley who, yesterday morning, implied that Iggy had spoken falsely about receiving a public education in Canada, and who seems to have spent the hours since rewriting the piece so he could maintain its sneering tone in the face of contradictory evidence. Being QMI, we'll never get a retraction out of him. But if anyone has the dough to threaten legal action, looks the Channel Ezra will be ripe for plucking. Gross factual errors here there and everywhere.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Make That Ten

Ottawa — Defence Department computers in Ottawa have been used to alter information on a Wikipedia page critical of the Conservative government’s decision to spend billions on a new stealth fighter.

Nine attempts have been made to change the online encyclopedia’s entry on the Joint Strike Fighter, including the removal of any information critical of the Harper government’s plan to spend at least $16-billion on the new aircraft.

And from the wiki page:

It is worth noting that the vandalism has continued today since the article was unlocked, but this time the IP address is from Calgary. I think this story may grow over time as the Prentice story did.

The "Prentice Story" is this, if you've forgotten. I think the Calgary IP they're referencing is

A Dark Figure Stalks The Sun Chain

...sucking talent from the veins of its demoralized staffers:

Mark Bonokoski's name was missing from the Toronto Sun's Comment section masthead on Wednesday.

Has he struck again? I'm about a half-hour from getting a look at a physical copy of the Sun: if anyone can check the mast-head and let me know whether another Sun old-timer has been "right-sized", I would appreciate it.

Update: Not on the masthead today either. Hmmm!

CRU Hack: One Lingering Question

In the mucked stirred up by the CRU hack, one denialist talking point has risen to the surface:

...the Russell inquiry did not ask Jones whether he deleted any email. Russell's report cites two of the most damning deletion requests, then declares: "There seems clear incitement to delete emails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a[n FoIA] request already made."

Note the distinction between deleting emails in respect to a request already made, and deleting emails because someone might make an FoIA request to see them--something which, if I am remembering correctly, would not be illegal under U.K. law.

In any case--whatever the Russell inquiry did or did not ask--New Scientist recently put this very question to Phil Jones:

Phil, did you delete any emails out of concern that they might be the subject of FOI requests?

PJ I haven't deleted any emails that were the subject of FOI requests, but I have deleted emails because I just have too many to cope with. I'm deleting 50 every day at the moment. It would be very difficult to guess what might be asked for in the future so I don't go around deleting emails just because they might be asked for at some point.

So there you have it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your City Awaits

John Tory, I fear, is the only thing standing between T.O. and Rob Ford, whose competition for mayor right now is a bald guy nobody likes, and one nobody's heard of. Therefore we can only hope this story has some substance to it.

As for Mr. Ford, his weird non-charisma is attracting support from odd quarters. My wife's dad, for example, who normally hates anything right-wing.

And I can see the attraction. If you're the kind of guy that doesn't know how to tie a neck-tie, so ties them all once after purchase and then leaves them hanging from a door-knob so the knot gets skinnier and skinnier after each use...then your ties look exactly like the ones Rob Ford wears. Its a surprisingly powerful bond.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stockwell Unleashes A Corker: Mandatory Census Long-Form Will Force Your Neighbor To Reveal If They're Jewish

Srockwell Day wins the steak-knives with this defense of the government's changes to the census long-form:

If you are among the groups of people who are demanding this free info I have a question for you based on past 'quizzes'. Do you think it is right that you can threaten your neighbour with jail time if she doesn't tell you if she has mental issues or not? Or who does what chores in the house?

Or whether she is a Jew or not? Don't you find that one even a little bit chilling?

Words fail me at the sheer stupidity of this statement. I could refute it, by for instance noting that a user of census data can't find out anything about their neighbor. Its all aggregated. In fact, if the sub-tract level data for a particular area does let you make guesses as to the individuals in the sub-tract, Stats Canada won't let you see it. I could also note that this information is not free. But why bother? That would be like playing classical music in a disco.

Seeds Of Compromise?

From here. Kady is also following, although she seems to have missed this statement.
Update: Ex. Harper staffer Keith Beardsley also sees the makings of a climbdown.

All The Support Money Can Buy?

Imp seems to have caught a Senate staffer hyping the Tories census changes in the pages of the Ottawa Citzen. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but nothing in the missive tells you its from the paid help, and there is something wrong with that.

My Favorite Senator

A nice piece in Xtra on Elaine McCoy:

"[When] I was in Cabinet, you have a three-line whip all the time, and there were times when it was just so hard to face somebody — a voting constituent or your mother or your best friend — and say I'm sorry, but that's what 'we' decided, and defend something that you just in the pit of your stomach feel is not right. I thought, At my age, why would I put myself through that agonizing experience? So I thought, I'll just stay true to my principles, and it has been much easier as a result."

Looks like she's still against Bill C-232, though. I shall redouble my efforts.

She blogs here, by the way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Marc Morano's New Hero ex-University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt, last heard offering himself as an "assurity" to RBC bombing suspect Claude Haridge. Haridge and bombing suspect Matthew Morgan-Brownboth both attended Rancourt's now-discontinued social activism course. In 2008, U-of-0 dismissed Rancourt after numerous complaints about the course (including accusations of anti-Semitism)...a move which Rancourt, according to his wiki page, blamed on the "Israel Lobby"

Turns out Rancourt has been cranking out denialist Lit since at least 2007, and has been praised by such luminaries as Alexander Cockburn and Senator James Inhofe. This is only his most recent effort.

Good find Marc! The credibility of the AGW denialist community has been enhanced immeasurably by your touting this guy's work.

Fox News North Sacks Brian Lilley?

Nah. But he's probably on thin ice after this fiasco.

Your Daily Census

Neil Reynolds makes an argument common among those few that support the government's move to a volountary census long-form:

Yet, as The Economist noted, the census is essentially recognized as obsolete in a growing number of countries – a conclusion that arises from the intuitive fact that the world is so filled with statistical data that it would be a greater public service to lessen the quantity than to increase it. Britain will hold its last census next year, as will Germany. Denmark hasn’t had a census for decades. Sweden, Norway and Finland retain only a rudimentary census. With its constitutional requirement of a room-by-room head count, the U.S. government spends $11-billion to count its population – $36 a head. Finland spends 20 cents a head.

I'm lazy this morning, so I'll just cut an paste a response from the comments at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative:

The Scandinavian countries can do this because they have central population registries where nearly all personal data can be found. The equivalent would be to merge health insurance databases, electoral rolls, drivers' registrations, social insurance databases, real estate records, and I'm sure plenty of other databases that I've forgotten. Not only does it go completely against the government's own privacy rationale, the mishmash of jurisdictional conflicts between the feds, provinces, and municipalities would be an operational nightmare.

And, operational nightmare or not, remember we're not being offered anything like the Scandinavian option: we're just getting the same old census, but made worse.

Anyway, that's the high-point of the Reynolds column. The rest is down hill, invoking Austrian Economist/Philosopher Frederich Hayek to argue that, basically, society should not think too much, and go with its gut on issues of vital importance. The simple answer to that is bullshit; when the Bank of Canada starts wondering if the census changes will impact their work of managing the Canadian economy via monetary policy, offering up quotes from a dead philosophers isn't going to satisfy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

They Seem Less Perky...

Conrad Black invokes his wife's health in an attempt to wheedle his way back into the peaceable kingdom.

Actually, I am starting to soften towards His Blackness, if only because he seems positively classy when measured against folks like The Vampire Teneycke. No! Really! They say adversity builds character, and being imprisoned has obviously been a positive experience for the guy. Waterboard him a few times and he'll be almost human... and then let him back into the country.

He's like a tough piece of meat. He needs tendering, and that usually requires whacking with a stick.

PS. Don't look at Barb's picture when you're reading the paragraph above: "meat"..."whacking"...and etc..

Or take a shower now.

Will Helena Guergis Run?

Imp says she will--based on a CTV interview from yesterday night--either as a Tory or as an independent candidate. This would be a reiteration of her claim from back in May:

"If it is my only option, say if something happens in the very near future, yes, I will run as an independent," Guergis said.

Its hard to know how much support she would command, but it may be significant that at around the same time she was making the above threatening noises, rumors circulated that members of the Simcoe — Grey CPoC riding association executive were resigning in significant numbers over the party's discarding her for a new candidate.

New Fox News North Commercial

Rex Murphy and Coren to the network? Interesting bit of speculation.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fox News North News: The Vampire Teneycke Strikes Again

He's sacked Eric Margolis:

"I wrote for the Sun chain for 27 years because it allowed me total freedom of expression even when the editors disagreed with my opinions - something very rare in the media," Margolis told TSF [Toronto Sun Family Blog] in an e-mail today.

"This policy has changed. My views are displeasing to Ottawa," he says. "Accordingly, the Sun and I are parting company."

Prisoners Of War Don't Have To Pay Taxes Either

Just sayin.

More Fox News North News: They've Hired Wildrose Leader's Hubby!

David Moretta, Managing Editor of Global TV Calgary and husband of WAP leader Danielle Smith, appears to have been hired on in some capacity. And the Vampire Teneyke is pondering an Ontario only launch, if that makes sense. Sounds cheap. Wonder if they've given Akin his blackberry yet.

PS. The source is a media insider, so probably knows wherof she speaks

David Warren Don't Know Latin

In which Mr Warren bungles the distinction between a petri dish and a turkey baster, and is skewered accordingly.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Plotz Thickens: Too Much Truth In Them Columns For Kid Kory

Looks like those rumors I talked about a month ago have panned out. Greg Weston, whose stories re G20 summit overspending by the Harper Gov. are now legendary, is gone for the crime of truth telling inconsistant with the Fox News North mandate.
Also, I'm told that ex-PMO functionary Jason Plotz really has been hired by the Vampire Teneckey. He just doesn't warrant a news release of his own
PS. Bork has been saying this all day.


Munir A. Sheikh's resignation letter has been removed from the StatsCan website. Presumably, someone at the ministry thought doing this would cause the census long-form furor to die down more quickly.

They play chess; you and I play an off key kazoo.

Conspicuous By Its Absense...

OTTAWA - In the mounting uproar over the government's decision to axe the long-form census, there's a key voice conspicuous by its absence: big business.

Well, that's not entirely true: The Toronto Board Of Trade, with over 10,000 member companies, has spoken out against the changes. But still, resistance does seem to have been most noted among associations supporting small to mid-size businesses. Why is that?

Well, as I believe Maxime Bernier noted (but I can't find the link), if the government's decision essentially offloads data collection costs onto the private sector--basically, the costs of trying to offset now wonky census long-form data with information gathered from private surveys--who will be in a better position to absorb those costs?

Walmart, large developers, and so forth.

In other words, these changes tilt the playing field against small business. If the NDP were trying this nonsense, they would be accused of hating Capitalism.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From The Resignation Letter of Munir A. Sheikh

I cannot reveal and comment on this advice because this information is protected under the law. However, the government can make this information public if it so wishes.

I have always honoured my oath and responsibilities as a public servant as well as those specific to the Statistics Act.

I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical issue which has become the subject of media discussion. This relates to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute for a mandatory census.

It can not.

Under the circumstances, I have tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister.

And that is that. Honoring his obligation to the minister. A class act, unlike his employer.

Fox News North Rumor: They've Plotz-ed It!!!

PS. He's this guy.

Jay Hill To Step Down

Statement here.

I must say, Hill always came across as quietly competent. I've been reading his column for years looking for instances of dumbness, but never found too many. You read him and you got the government line. Straight up.

Yeah, The Census Again: U.K. Edition

Two articles about the U.K.'s possibly dropping its own census and replacing it with a regular scour through of the nation's post-office address lists, credit-card-checking registries, and so on. The Time Magazine Piece is more skeptical:

...the U.K. doesn't need "an unsatisfactory stitched-together patchwork of information," says David Coleman, professor of demographics at Oxford University, calling Maude's proposed method a "ludicrous fudge." Glen O'Hara, a historian at Oxford Brookes University, agrees: "These sources are not likely to be any substitute. They are mostly characterized by a near comical set of gaps, omissions, conflicts of interest and data-protection issues."

It also suggests that the decision has not been finalized: issues could well prove a sticking point. The U.K.'s center-right government might be reluctant to throw its support behind the Beyond 2011 project, especially as one of the first acts of the new coalition was to scrap the previous Labour government's ID-card scheme. The plan, reviled because of data-protection and personal-freedom concerns, was linked to an incomplete population database known as the National Identity Register — itself now scrapped, having hardly been used. A reliable register of addresses — costing $15 million — has been put together for the 2011 census. But licensing and data-sharing restrictions block the register from further use.

The Economist article is far more gung-ho, but suggests that a new people counting regime in the U.K. would still involve "periodic polling of a sample of the population". The article doesn't clarify, but I betcha this polling would be to gather more detailed, long-form-like information to supplement the bare-bones stuff in the other databases.

And, being The Economist, its a good read.

IOP Sees Errors Of Its Ways

If you remember, one of the sub-stories to come out the frenzy around the CRU email hack was a controversy over the Institute Of Physics' statement to the U.K. Science and Technology Committee in which they, among other things, suggested that the non-U.K. scientists who had been drawn into the CRU Hack controversy should be investigated by the Committee--that the committee should start an international witch hunt.

In other words, the IOP statement came across as a typical piece of denialist crap.

After the statement was issued, push-back ensued from enraged IOP members and the media, and the institute began to "clarify" its way out of the pickle it found itself in. What eventually became clear was that the Institute's statement had been hi-jacked by members of its energy sub-committee, who managed to steer their document through the IOP's larger administrative structure and land it (the statement) on the desk of U.K. Science and Technology. Now Peter Gill, one of the the members of the energy sub-committee, and a known denialist, has spoken out, and while I don't take his account at face-value, this part--a letter from the IOP to members of the Energy sub-committee--seems straight-forward enough:

Following the meeting of the Science Board on 17 June 2010, it is with regret that I announce that the Energy Sub-group is to be disbanded, immediately. This, as you can imagine, is a direct consequence of the Climategate affair.

So, some retroactive justice, at least.

For another account of an organization (the American Physical Society) infiltrated and made to look silly by deniers, try this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When Ministers Tweet Falsely

Update: This gentleman may be the Adam referred to in Clement's post from earlier today. If all of Tony's refs were pseuds, then I will look silly and have to issue an apology. We shall see. Although his origonal tweet is not indexed in politwitter, though one or two later ones are.

Origonal post starts here:

So Tony Clement has been sending tweets thanking various supporters of the government's position on the long form for indicating their support on twitter. I've written about it here. The Minister has also said that he will not identify these supportive twitterers because he is worried they might get verbally abused for their support.

I thought about this this afternoon, and I suspect that these people he is referencing are not real, and I think the proof is that none of them show up in the right hand column of his page on politwitter. To test my theory, I sent an email to one of the people at politwitter. It ran as follows:

So here's Tony Clement tweeting about all the folks on twitter who support his census long-form decision. But none of their names come up in the right hand column (tweets to Tony). Is that possible? In other words, if you send a tweet to someone using Ptwitter, should it not ALWAYS appear in the right hand column. (And may I reproduce your response) at bigcitylibstrikesback?

And I recieved the following response from Trevor May:

You don't have to use Politwitter to send the tweet for it to showup. Polit[w]itter indexes ALL tweets. And yes the right-hand column shows all tweets that are directed at the user with @username in the tweet text.

Yes you can use it as an example.

So let me repeat this. If you sign up for politwitter, anyone that sends you a tweet gets indexed. But nobody using the names Tony has mentioned have been indexed, at least back until last Thursday. Either Tony didn't receive these communications from these people by twitter, or the people sending them used pseudonyms, or he didn't receive them at all.

More Mystery People Support Census Change!

No sign of their emails, nor their twitter posts either. But they're out there....1,000s of them. A very silent majority. Invisible. Mysterious. But they talk with Tony Clement, and he hears 'em!
Update: Now Tony claims to be unwilling to reveal the twitterdentities of the brave folk you have spoken up in favor of the government's position re the long-form, for fear they might be verbally abused. But the thing is: he's on politwitter (see link) and if these people were real, wouldn't their IDs appear in the right side column?

On Ignoring Expert Opinion

In June, GOP Governor (GOP ) Bobby Jindal ordered the construction of a series of berms to keep oil from the Deepwater spill off the Louisiana coast. They were built by popular demand, as it were, but against the wishes of local scientists, who argued that the benefits did not outweigh the risks, and that the berms would not last out the 2010 hurricane season.

The same berm pictured above, in early July:
A metaphor for so many things.

Dead Mambo Legend Supports Gov. On Long Form

Unfortunately, Tony can't show you Leo's email. His staff deleted it.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Maxime Bernier's staff deleted those 1000s of emails he allegedly got complaining about the census. Here's what he says:

[W]hen I was Industry minister in 2006 during the previous census, several thousand email messages of complaint were sent to my MP office. (Some people have asked me to show proof of this. It was evidently part of an organized campaign, as my Parliament colleagues and I often sometimes receive vast numbers of messages on controversial issues. They are one way among others to gauge the level of public support or opposition to a decision. These messages were obviously not filed for future use by my staff and were deleted.)

And the funny thing is: Bernier's suggesting that the alleged e-mails were deleted because he discounted them as being "part of an organized campaign"--in other words, judged them as not representative of an underlying sentiment in Der Volk. So why did he even raise them in the first place? Who cares how many emails you got if you admit they were all astroturf?

The guy's been caught in a piece of straight-up bullshit.

Also: Tory MP Rajotte has cracked.

The Physics Of Foul Language

But it can't be the true periodic table of cursing, because if you tried the same thing in North America (Stoat is an Englishman--not that there's anything wrong with that) it would look quite different. For example, the U.K. table relies heavily on the "c" word for the female genetalia, while lacking almost entirely in that rich set of terms for oral sex that would run through any new world counter-part ("c***k-sucker", for example). In any case: worth a look. There's a few there that are worth adding to the repertoire.

Richard Warman--Enumerator

Long-form census – one year when I was at Queen’s I acted as a friendly-neighbourhood census taker. I used to hate having to deal with recalcitrants who refused to fill out the long form when their lucky number came up. Things usually quietened down after I showed them my census ID badge though.

Recalcitrants. Yeah, Kinsella, that means you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Special Interests, All Of Them

Despite all the changes to collection and processing methodology, the fundamental value of the Census remains the same. The Census continues to provide critical information needed by community groups, businesses, and governments to develop plans for education and training, seniors' housing, day care, fire protection, public transport and many other programs that are important to Canadians.

Actually, this makes more sense if you contrast Maxime circa 2006 vs. his 2011 incarnation.

Riot In T.O.: How It All Went Down At The G-20

Zig-Zag was there, and got away to write about it. A few notes:

1) Probably the most interesting bit is his schematic of the Black Bloc rampage:

2) On the numbers taking part:

Finally I stumbled upon the 'break-away' march as it neared the downtown financial district, going south on Bay Street. There were perhaps 600-700 persons, and I could see a loose and chaotic Black Bloc was there as well. Black-clad affinity groups were spread throughout
one section of the march, but there were many other militants with masks as well. Many people had no masks, or just a bandana over their lower face (not an adequate disguise, by the way).

Elsewhere, Zig-Zag sets the actual number of Black Bloc members at 100-150.

3) One iconic moment occurred during the protests when riot police attack a crowd that had just finished singing O' Canada. The youtube clip is here. Ziggy's remarks:

After an hour of this, the OPP retreated and left the area, marching out as they had come in, in columns of two. The crowd surged back across Spadina and into the block where the damaged cars were. Then the second police car was set on fire to cheers from the crowd (most of whom weren't protesters). After fifteen minutes of the cop car burning, the OPP returned. Then more cops, including horse-mounted pigs and buses of RCMP and Newfoundland Constabulary arrived, all dressed in full riot gear (a truly national effort).


At one point, a person suggested the crowd sing 'Oh Canada' (the national anthem), as if the spirit of patriotism would endear them to the line of riot cops facing them. Another fool walked to the front and sat on the street, with his back to the cops, and persuaded others to join him. As soon as they finished singing the anthem, the riot cops charge, trampling several.

4) There was no police conspiracy, as in the case of the Montebello summit, where police infiltrators were identified on the basis of their footwear In Toronto, incompetence and immobility were the order of the day:

The ability of the bloc to move quickly enabled it to outmaneuver the riot cops, who were hampered by a slow response time. Wearing up to 80-90 pounds of gear, they could not move fast enough over any distance. Just to get to an area required moving chartered buses or
convoys of mini-vans through city streets (not an easy task even under normal traffic conditions).

I observed one convoy of vans, for example, moving to stop the protest that was eventually mass
arrested on Saturday night (at the Novotel Hotel). After the protest had passed south down Yonge St., the convoy rolled up and stopped at an intersection. A pig got out of the lead vehicle and began walking back, telling others he had extra batteries for their radios. Pigs got out of the vehicles and made last-minute adjustments of their gear, then got back in. The whole process took some 5-10 minutes.

5) The Bloc treats other protesters as, essentially, human shields. Zig-Zag even makes reference to the Afghan/Iraq insurgency.

6) Zig-Zag discusses a number of "solidarity attacks" in the wake of the summit. It's maybe significant that the bombing of the armed forces base in Trois-Rivières by the Résistance Internationaliste is not mentioned. Maybe they're not part of "the movement"?

So there you have it.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Iggy Starting to Fatten Up Nice

Policy differences aside, riding a bus for over a month would probably kill me. If I can't keep in motion my stomach starts to act up, my muscles cramp, and I become subject to random outbursts of extreme grumpiness. So if Iggy can survive until Nunavit without, for example, strangling an accompanying journalist for being an asshole, then he will have earned an enormous amount of cred in my book.

But he's going to wind up looking like Mike Duffy. Part of that is unavoidable, and if he wants to connect with Joe 6-Pack, he's gonna need a respectable beer gut. But hopefully someone has smuggled a stationary bike onto the bus, or he's staying at hotels with an indoor pool. Believe me, a half hour in the pool with help prevent heart problems and make him feel a little less bloated. Improve his mood too.

Something Exciting From Manitoba!

And its dead!. Here's more information on Xiphactinus from Dan Varner's wonderful Oceans of Kansas website. I also recommend highly the book.
Coolest bit: the fossil described in the news report is chewing on one of these.
And have I mentioned that "Manitoba" is a First Nations word meaning "Kingdom of the black-flies"?

Latest Census Long Form Defender Is Hot

...way hotter than anyone on the other side. And funny too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fraser Institute Research And The Long Form: How Many Degrees Of Separation?

So the Fraser Institute has come out in favour of Tony Clement's changes to the census long-form.

Let's play a little game. How long will it take us to find a Fraser Institute study that would be negatively impacted if the long-form data turned to crap?

Oh my! 37 seconds! This one, for example: Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2009 Edition. It leans on:

Statistics Canada (2009e). Labour Force Survey, program A040903. Special Request from Statistics Canada.

...which, because it uses a relatively small sample, must re-based according to the larger sample in the census long-form every ten years.

And here's a nice summary of Fraser Institute research topics. Pick a few of their studies, and play the game!

Update: Calgary Grit is playing the game!

Who Could Have Predicted?

Rupert Murdoch takes the U.K. Times behind a pay-wall:

My sources say that not only is nobody subscribing to the website, but subscribers to the paper itself—who have free access to the site—are not going beyond the registration page. It’s an empty world.

The wider implications of this emptiness are only just starting to become clear. A Murdoch and Fleet Street veteran with whom I’ve been corresponding about the paywall reported to me on his recent conversation with an A-list entertainment publicist: “What was really interesting to me was that this person volunteered a blinding realization. ‘Why would I get any of my clients to talk to the Times or the Sunday Times if they are behind a paywall? Who can see it? I can't even share a link and they aren't on search. It’s as though their writers don't exist anymore.’”

And a glimpse behind that pay-wall:

The other side...allows us a peek on the dystopian nightmare that would have been the Internet if developed by corporations, and it is on a par with the current state of academic journals online. In order to undo what the Internet is meant to do, that is to hyperlink, Murdoch has spent a fortune developing a shiny interface that let us navigate through an exact reproduction of the paper thing. It is DRM by design: there is no way to copy and paste, to store, therefore to link, to annotate or to use in any meaningful sense of the word beyond a reading experience that is, as a result, as uncomfortable as it gets. The technical constraints that all this restraining impose make navigating and reading impractical and painful.

Ezra Levant And The Gross Factual Error

Stephen Chase notes what has become obvious:

In other Sun-related news, conservative activist Ezra Levant – expected to land a spot as a program host or pundit on Sun TV – has returned to opinionizing for the Sun newspaper chain.

"Just writing columns – like old times," Mr. Levant told The Globe and Mail. "I love the Sun style – it's fun and spicy."

Has "returned" to writing for the Sun? Hmm? What happened first time out? Well, put briefly, it ended in tears:

The Calgary Sun has dumped Ezra Levant’s column from its paper and website mere weeks after Levant’s Western Standard magazine folded in October.

On October 22, Levant speculated in the tabloid’s pages that a school bus driver’s “Muslim-style” head covering might be to blame for a crash that killed a nine-year-old girl on Crowchild Trail earlier in October. The controversial column was pulled from the Sun’s website shortly afterwards. “They said that there were some complaints (about the column),” says Levant, who’s freelanced for the Sun for more than 10 years. “Well, duh. There’s complaints every time I write…. I’m a little bit confused about it, because I’ve published much spicier things.”

You can't find the column anymore, but I wrote about it here. At the time, it seemed the reason it was pulled had something to do with the stench of madness it gave off. But no:

However, Sun editor-in-chief Jose Rodriguez says the column was pulled because of a factual error, not reader complaints. (Levant’s column said the driver had been charged; she hadn’t.) “We don’t generally shy away from controversy or spice,” says Rodriguez. “There was a gross factual error in the column…. We don’t want to expose ourselves to any legal risk.”

"Legal risk". Yeah. A word that will echo through the Sun Newspaper chain in the coming months. Gentlemen, start your lawyers!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Who Kidnapped Jonathon Kay

...and replaced him with a journalist?

In simpler words, too many of us treat science as subjective — something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.

In the case of global warming, this dissonance is especially traumatic for many conservatives, because they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism — and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture is has spawned — is synonymous with both personal fulfillment and human advancement. The global-warming hypothesis challenges that fundamental dogma, perhaps fatally.

The appropriate intellectual response to that challenge — finding a way to balance human consumption with responsible environmental stewardship — is complicated and difficult. It will require developing new technologies, balancing carbon-abatement programs against other (more cost-effective) life-saving projects such as disease-prevention, and — yes — possibly increasing the economic cost of carbon-fuel usage through some form of direct or indirect taxation. It is one of the most important debates of our time. Yet many conservatives have made themselves irrelevant in it by simply cupping their hands over their ears and scream out imprecations against Al Gore.

Rants and slogans may help conservatives deal with the emotional problem of cognitive dissonance. But they aren’t the building blocks of a serious ideological movement. And the impulse toward denialism must be fought if conservatism is to prosper in a century when environmental issues will assume an ever greater profile on this increasingly hot, parched, crowded planet. Otherwise, the movement will come to be defined — and discredited — by its noisiest cranks and conspiracists.

Seriously. This makes too much sense. The NP will come out and announce that they've been pranked, and Kay will reappear with a 500 word thingy bashing QuAIA.

Or maybe its real. Maybe Kay has been diagnosed with something serious and wants to make amends for all the bad he's done. Its just weird when people change all of a sudden like that.

Ezra Levant: The Gun Nuts Rolled Their Eyes

From his website:
The first photo is Khadr sitting next to an AK-47 submachine gun...

From his Fox News North editorial:

And there’s him posing next to an AK-47 machine-gun...

Oh Ezra, Ezra, Ezra: it is neither a machine nor submachine gun: the AK-47 is an assault rifle. That's the kind of basic error in gunmanship that can get you run out of Northern Alberta.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maxime Bernier On The Census Long Form

Maxime Bernier regurgitates Con speaking points about long-form census. My favorite bit:

Bernier churlishly added that critics - municipalities, academics, and other "special interest" groups can damn well pay for the research, studies and data they need.

You don't get this stuff for free. If you are in Toronto, and want the tract level data from the census, it costs you $180. That's about half of what it used to cost me to buy the big three volume set, but it looks like they don't give it to you in paper anymore (I may be wrong; its been awhile since I had to worry about this stuff). For Vancouver its $115. And etc.

Of course, if you're a marketer and you want sub-tract-level data, you're talking quite a bit more $$$, but it allows you to determine, for example, income down to postal code and perhaps below. So if you have a postal code divided into a couple of streets filled with rich folk, and a couple of streets filled with poor folk, and you have a product you want to market to rich folk, data from the long form tells you which streets you have to send your junk mail to, and which streets you can ignore. This results in less costs for the marketer plus less junk mail overall.

Hence: screw with the long form = more junk mail, because the marketer can no longer distinguish the rich from the poor folk, and winds up sending his crap to both.

Therefore Maxime should go back to serenading biker chicks.

Fox News North: Come Feel The Excitement

Fox News North's reportin' superstar Brian Lilley waxes loquacious over the fact that...wait for it...wait for it...a guy named Harper fixed the Ignatieff tour bus!

Proof that long bus trips can turn your brain to mush.

How To Gain Momentum In Canadian Politics

Go to Alberta, tell them their cowboy boots suck, their leader smells like the devil, and their dirty oil shall not sully the West Coast ; have your campaign bus stall on the road, thus unleashing all sorts of unfortunate metaphors.

Hey Presto! You're within three points of the ruling Torys! Gloriousness will out!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Having Served Its Purpose

...the Republicans for Ignatieff website goes down. (Click on the link here).

What's that? you ask. Explanation here. Or, better, here.

Score One For Tories

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are contemplating key policy changes for seniors, including eliminating the mandatory retirement age, at a time when the demographic is of growing importance to the party's future.

You shouldn't have to retire if you can still do the work. Its that simple. It also makes pragmatic good sense, as young workers seem to be getting harder to come by. Demographic winter, and all that.

Fox News North Reporter Fails To Meet My Low Expectations

After reading this tweet from young Kory, I rushed to find Brian Lilley's "Climategate" story. But its the same old crap! And I do mean old. The debunked Amazongate scandal; Donna Lafamboise's citizen audit from April! I mean, if you'd be sleeping for the past three months, some of this might seem mildly novel, but otherwise...

What next? A story announcing the death of General Tojo?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rona Fucks Up

...maintains wonderful hair.

And I'm trying to find another picture of her that will show whether she's "built" or not, so I can assign a definitive 1 to 10 score. This one suggests that, for her, the goal of voluptuousness is more aspirational than real. This one is ambiguous. This one appears to be from the HOC; still nothing for sure, but I bet the guy MPs chewed up their presentation binders wondering.

Anyway, she did something bad today. Be nice to her. Send her flowers.

What's That Smell?

In which Iggy chides the PM for his choice of deodorant.

Or he compares him to Satan. Whatever.

Gruending On Demographic Winter

...and why the concept is so handy to the far right:

The campaign around demographic winter allows the right to roll all of its straw persons into one vast conspiracy. Muslims, Arabs, immigrants, not to mention Western liberals, feminists and supporters of same sex marriage are all plotting to undermine Western civilization.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Like Ann Coulter, Writ Small

Connie Fournier from Free Dominon was slated to speak at today's Christian Governance fundraising dinner in Bowmanville re the dangers of encroaching homosexualism. Turns out she attracted a (1) protester:

Well, I think I'm going to have to get a big, burly security guard. A guy screaming in my face shut down my speech for five or ten minutes.

It was apparently someone FD had a run-in with four years ago:

Someone who is carrying a grudge because one of our members posted his name and address as the registrant of an url that was pointing to a government website four years ago.

I hadn't heard a peep from him for four years, then he was in my face.

Welcome to the small-time, Connie.

PS. for anyone wishing to hear Connie Fournier speak, she'll be playing Mushaboo and Oyster Creek later this summer.

Sunday Morning Census Pot Pourri

Not quite sure of the provenance of this survey (I found it at a Green Party blogger's site), but it looks as though Stats Canada intends to provide Tony Clement with some of the consultations he should have already done before contemplating changes to the census long-form:

According to Erik Waddell, a spokesman for Industry Minister Tony Clement: "This change was made to reasonably limit what many Canadians felt was an intrusion of their personal privacy."

[NOTE: This concern was never explicitly reported in the 2011 Census Content Consultation Report (April through November 2007) although it was mentioned briefly that "content will not be added if deemed too sensitive or intrusive"].

Tony Clement later acknowledged in an interview that no consultations were undertaken before making the decision.


In this context, the present survey will serve as an informal citizens' consultation process in response to the recent changes to the Census 2011.

Please take 3-5 minutes to answer the following questions (anonymously) and invite your colleagues, friends and fellow citizens to do the same before July 16th, 2010.

And Rick Heimstra, Director of the Centre for Research on Canadian Evangelicalism, worries about the effect of moving questions re religious affiliation to the now voluntary long-form.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Green Party Prepares To Commit Self-Hippycide?

Looks like I've come down with the feared summer cold, so I can't really do this one justice. But the political event of this season will be the Green Party leadership convention in August. Party Leader Elizabeth May, who could have run and won as a Liberal in any number of ridings around Canada, but instead attempted out of the goodness of her heart to wield this pathetic band of drug dealing hippies and crystal waving amateur psychics into a legitimate political force--and apparently succeeded, as the latest polls have them with enough support to win a couple of seats out in B.C.--may well be ousted in the name of "grass-roots democracy". WTF? In brief: the Party may demand Ms. May fight a leadership campaign and, if so, she may tell them to go blow it out their ass.

I could go on and on about how stupid the Greens are being here, because basically they amount to nothing without E. May. But I won't. I'll just point out that, once she is gone, at least half of the eight to twelve per cent of the electorate GP Canada commands will redistribute to a party that doesn't raise funds via salmon bakes or selling you magic mushrooms out of the back of a Volkswagen van. In our fragmented political land-scape, that's as big a political "re-alignment" as we are likely to see in awhile.

Bill C-232: Bilingual Supreme Court Bill

...stalled in Senate? Sorry, missed this short piece from a week ago.

Friday, July 09, 2010

New Poll: Libs Have Big Mo!

The Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have 35 per cent of the support among decided voters if an election were held tomorrow, according to the poll conducted for Canwest News Service and Global News.

Support for the Conservatives hasn't changed since April, the poll indicates.

Michael Ignatieff's Liberals would receive 29 per cent of support from decided voters, a two-point increase from last month, the poll says.

Actually, another bullshit summer poll, but sleep tight nervous nellies.

Fox News North Gets Their Blonde Chick?

NNW Insider: Source confirms Krista Erickson is headed to Sun TV in Toronto.

Umm. Might watch her with the sound off, and ZZ-Top in the background.

PS. Looks like the courtship involved two dates. At the second, Kory actually picked up the tab.

PPS. Maybe not. Kory seems to be admitting failure here. Was it mutual, or was he dumped for this guy?

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Because there isn't.

Et Tu, Puffy?

While a handful, like staunch Ontario Conservatives Bob Runciman and Doug Finley pledged full support for an elected Senate, senators Mike Duffy, Irving Gerstein and Glen Patterson refused to say whether they still support the government’s legislation.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

To The Moon! Update this. An email from The Canadian Space Agency's Julie Semard:


This RFP focuses on autonomous rovers (i.e. for missions that do not include an astronaut) and is in line with the precursor mission proposed by NASA to prepare future human exploration missions (for example, NASA is considering an in-situ resource demonstration mission on the Moon in the coming years).

If you need more information the [researcher] responsible for the project could be available for interview next week.

Let me know.

In short, what the earlier tender and this message indicate is that, should NASA actually send people back to the moon, Canada wants to build their moon-buggy. A noble aim (far more ambitious than sticking robo-arms on someone else's moon-buggy). But perhaps too exclusively built on the shifting sands of U.S. science policy, which has been in retreat for a decade now at least.

Canada Going To The Moon?

With nothing much in the news but some lousy polls, I visited the Merx site, where the feds and the provinces host their RFPS. There I found (dated today) this truly odd tender for Lunar Exploration Rovers:

On behalf of Canadian Space Agency (CSA) located in St-Hubert,Quebec, bids are requested from bidders to develop two (2) Lunar Exploration Light Rover (LELR) prototypes (including one copy per prototype) focusing on tasks such as robotic operations on the Moon for human precursor mission, sample collection and scientific investigations with potential to be upgradeable for short distance unpressurized crew transportation for nominally one (1) and potentially two (2) astronauts.

That's strange in several ways. For one thing, the feds seem only willing to pay

.... $11,000,00.00 for each LELR prototype,including one copy of the prototype,, Goods and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax extra, as appropriate.

...but presumably that's a typo. And if they really are willing to pay $1,100,000, on the other hand, then that's very weird because President Obama has basically killed George W.'s Project Constellation (the return to the moon program, in advance of a manned Mars mission). So I wonder how our lunar rovers would get there in the first place.

There's nothing on the topic in the CSA's latest presser.

Updated briefly here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Actually, He's The Fourth

[Richard] Neufeld is the second Conservative senator in as many months to oppose Harper's third attempt at creating an elected Senate...

The other two are Harper Senate Appointees Nancy Greene Rain (I think that's how she's concatenated her name) and Don Plett, as the folks at the Winnipeg Free Press would know if they read BCLSB. And, as I wrote back years ago (but can't find the link, so you'll have to trust me): Senate reform will die in the Senate. Now and forever.

David Akin Should Out His Source

Given that Jean-Daniel Lafond has responded thusly to David Akin's GG's hubby Queen-hater?, I think Mr. Akin should should follow what seems to be recognized journalistic practice and out his "source close to the government".

Interesting, too, in that a key quote from this "source close to the government" disappears in the final version of the story.

Isn't this guy close to the government? I got my own anonymous sources saying he's in deep on this one.

2nd Place Is A Set Of Steak Knives...

Sun media rolls out its new "points for performance" system at the Winnipeg Sun:

A story is 2 points; A photo is 2 points; A brief is .5 points; Special features are 4 points; Columns are 3 points; Videos are 2 points; Web posts are .5 points; "Writethroughs" are .5 points; Tweets are .5 points (minimum 5 tweets).

No word on the sanction for not making your quota. Rumor has it under-achievers will be forced to co-host a talk-show on SunTV with Ezra.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Did They Have Deep-Fried Polar Bear Cubs With That?

Partying like it's 1999: Harper, the GG, a few world leaders, and various IOC mucky-mucks feasted like potentates on 'wild salmon, bannock, tourtiere, Alberta beef' and, yes, Nanaimo bars. Total cost: $32,161.

More details here. And Iggy was in attendance, sadly enough. Iggy, darling--can't you do anything that makes you look down to earth? Like my mamma used to tell me, over and over, the least you could do is try to act normal

Because The Answers Are Always The Same

A report from the Conservative majority Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, chaired by Mulroney appointee and CPoC supporter David Angus .

The committee found near unanimity among witnesses – from the petroleum industry to environmental organizations – that supported pricing carbon as the most efficient way to reduce emissions. Given the choice, most witnesses favoured carbon taxes over cap-and-trade but both are market-based approaches for pricing carbon and both can be levied at different stages along the fossil fuel supply chain.

Generally, witnesses stated that a carbon tax would be more economically efficient and less complex to administer than a cap-and-trade system. For either method, it was stressed that carbon pricing should be applied broadly and uniformly throughout the economy and across Canada.

What should strike you is the bleeding obviousness of it all. Full report is here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Another Media Retraction Global Warming. The original piece is by Christopher Booker, who seems to have got it from Richard North, both men being known for their screw-ups on this file (North's flame-out on Amazongate, for example). It seems to have disappeared from the U.K. Telegraph website, but you can find a copy through the link below. Some excerpts:

What is the connection between Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian railway engineer who has been much in evidence at the Copenhagen climate conference, as chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and an Indian-owned steel company's decision to mothball its giant Teesside steel works next month, ripping the heart out of the town of Redcar by putting 1,700 people out of work?

Nothing of this complex story is likely to be heard in the dreary concrete shed outside Copenhagen where, as temperatures drop towards freezing, 17,000 prime ministers, officials and climate activists are earnestly discussing how the planet is warming up towards extinction. But it certainly sheds a little light on a colossal worldwide racket these delegates are helping to promote, because the end of the story is that we shall all be paying to export thousands of British jobs to new steel plants in India, for no gain in the reduction of worldwide CO2 emissions.

There's lots more, but here's part of the windup:

But this is only half the story. In India, Corus's owner, Tata, plans to increase steel production from 53 million tonnes to 124 million over the same period. By replacing inefficient old plants with new ones which emit only "European levels" of CO2, Tata could claim a further £600 million under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism, which is operated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – the organisers of the Copenhagen conference. Under this scheme, organisations in developed countries such as Britain – ranging from electricity supply companies to the NHS – can buy the right to exceed their CO2 allocations from those in developing countries, such as India. The huge but hidden cost of these "carbon permits" will be passed on to all of us, notably through our electricity bills.

Thus, at the end of the day, Redcar will lose its biggest employer and one of the largest manufacturing plants left in Britain. Tata, having gained up to £1.2 billion from "carbon credits", will get its new steel plants – while the net amount of CO2 emitted worldwide will not have been reduced a jot.And the connection with Dr Pachauri?

Directly there is no connection at all. But it just happens that Dr Pachauri's other main job, apart from being chairman of the IPCC, is as director-general of the Tata Energy Research Institute, funded by Tata, which he has run since 1981.

And here's the grovelling apology:

In reports in December 2009 we said that Tata had used the carbon trading scheme to transfer steel production from Redcar to India, pocketing £1.2 billion in carbon credits at the cost of 1700 jobs. We accept this was wrong. Redcar was mothballed because a 10-year steel contract was not honoured and the credits could never have amounted to £1.2 billion.

In addition, we accept Tata’s assurance that it did not displace “hundreds of thousands” of villagers from its sites in Orissa and Jharkhand and that at its new site in Orissa, Tata is providing new homes, jobs and facilities for the 1200 families which remained at the site.

We also accept Tata’s assurance that it has no relationship with the Chairman of the IPCC, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

We apologise for these errors.

And, just for fun, here's a column by James Delingpole, no stranger to inaccuracy himself, praising Booker and Co.s work uncovering this "scandal".

And I guess one advantage to being a gigantic Indian Steel company is you have a bigger legal department than the Telegraph. Because I can't see anyone screwing a retraction out of a tabloid like the U.K. Telegraph without anything less than an army of solicitors (to use the cute English word).

PS. And when I say the Telegraph is a tabloid, I don't necessarily mean its physically laid out in the tabloid style. In its heart its a tabloid: if you're employing Delingpole and Booker, you're running a scandal sheet no matter what the damn thing looks like.

In Which I Save The MSM

...and they steal my lines.

In any case, I shall rant on briefly re the topic of redubbing Canadian locales with their aboriginal names. This is not something I'm against, in principle, but...

On the one hand, we have The Salish Sea--poetic, mysterious: invokes salty mists at dawn and sleeping whales rocked gently in the waves and sea-monsters frolicking under an autumn moon. I'm proud to call such a place my home (or at least where I grew up (not in, but next to)).

On the other hand, we have Xwayxway: sounds like pig-Latin for "please disconnect the HVAC unit". C'mon first nations people! You can do better! Can you imagine trying to convince some girl to drive down to Xwayxway and make out? Can't be done!

John Tory Come Home, All Is Forgiven

You may be all that stands between Metro and Rob Ford now.

As for everyone else, please sign this.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Ixnay On The Xwayxway

Salish Sea is cool. This name sucks. Find a better First Nation's moniker or leave it "Stanley Park".

The Census Long Form: To State The Obvious

It's not just governments that employ data from the census long form; the private sector uses it, and extensively too. If you want to open an Italian restaurant in Canadian City X, its the tract level data from the census long-form that will tell you where all the Italians are.

Thankfully, as you can see through the link above, private sector economists are getting huffed about the government's decision to kill the mandatory long-form for a lame voluntary substitute.

The gang from The Galloping Beaver have been on this story, and if you want to watch an economist get really PO-ed on the topic of selection bias and the Canadian Census, Stephen Gordon is your guy. It like a rant, only with statistics!

Michael Mann: First Targeted, Now Vindicated

Nobody who has been following the attacks on Michael E. Mann before and since the CRU Hack last November will be surprised that he has been cleared of all scientific misconduct charges levelled against him by climate skeptics.

What may be of broader interest, however, is the fact that that the hack itself seems to have been very largely a deliberate and specific attempt to gather material pertaining to Dr. Mann.

Back in February tech reporter Charles Arthur of the U.K. Guardian examined the stolen emails and realized that

...this is not the entirety of the CRU's emails: there are none of the routine administrative messages about fire alarms, holiday reminders and so on. Therefore the emails have been filtered.

Arthur promised a concordance analysis "examining what the common words or the...documents". This was to be a tool for making hypotheses about the hackers ultimate motive by studying how they had searched through the emails and filtered those they were not interested in. This analysis has been, unfortunately, removed from the Guardian website, and its graphic representation, though promised, never seems to have appeared there at all.

This is where blogger Frank Bi comes in. In June, he wrote a quick-and-dirty program to analyze the frequencies of pairs of words in the e-mails. You can view the entire set of results through the link, but suffice to say the second most common word pair in his results are the various permutations of "Michael E. Mann" ( that is 507 occurrences of "Michael E. + 509 occurrences of "E. Mann"). Which is to say that the hacker was quite interested in emails about or by Dr. Mann, though he was not one of the scientists employed by CRU.