Monday, February 28, 2011

The Province Responds The video version is here:

Again, I'm afraid Rob Ford made this call an easy one:

The mayor’s press secretary said that Toronto routinely asks for more money in its pre-budget submission to the province and this year is no different.

However, Adrienne Batra stressed that Mr. Ford didn’t need provincial aid to balance the city’s 2011 budget without a property-tax increase.

“There’s one fundamental difference,” Ms. Batra said. “The funding here was not needed to balance the (2011) budget.”

Please Sir, I want More (Gravy)

Rob Ford extends his bowl. Read through to the end and you'll see that the provincial government isn't taking these requests too seriously. And I don't expect, no matter who winds up in the Premier's chair this November, that any one's going to willing to fork out to T.O. That's what you get when you start your mayoral term with all of your bridges already in flames behind you.

What's Wrong With The Ontario Landowners?

That's PCPO MPP Randy Hillier and PCPO MPP wannabe Jack MacLaren's old gang:

Like any other industry, farming involves the production of negative externalities — costs not borne by the producer, but by others in society. According to the OLA, farmers should not be made to bear such implicit costs of doing business simply because they own the land. That sounds a lot more like a group of vested private interests than a group crusading for liberal rights and freedoms.

What’s more, rural landowners are by and large enormous beneficiaries of government aid — something the OLA never bothers to mention. Subsidies and quotas ensure that the price received by most farmers for their product is artificially high and that the market in which they operate is free from competitive pressure. Apparently the libertarian principles extolled by the Rural Revolutionaries don’t even extend to being pro-free market.

Furthermore, agricultural land in Ontario is taxed at a rate 75% less than that of the regular municipal tax rate. No joke. One would think that individuals who are clearly net beneficiaries of state intervention would have a slightly less hostile attitude towards the government.

In essence, the OLA and its members expect is to be treated exceptionally in every area of government policy that affects them regardless of the costs imposed on others. This goes well beyond merely being unprincipled: it is utter hypocrisy. I strongly urge Ontarians and Canadians to oppose the current bills proposed by Hillier and Reid and to recognize that merely purporting to be defenders of rights and freedoms means nothing when those rights and freedoms benefit the few and harm the many.

The bolding in the last paragraph is mine. The attitude expressed there is illustrated in this quote from an anonymous landowner circa about 2006:

We don't mind government interference sometimes. We just think they should interfere when we want them to and get out when we want them to.

Although credit where credit is due. New OLA Chief Deb Madill suggests here that the OLA has moved away from the kind of "direct action" tactics they used to employ, such as truck blockades of the 401 and threatening pols with pictures of dead animals. Progress of a sort, I suppose.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen On The E&E Vs. RealClimate Lawsuit

1) Benny is presumably Benny Peiser.
2) The Lomborg ref is to the fact that he quit the E&E editorial Board last year.
3) To those who think Bill Hughes was not threatening legal action in his original email, well I think this shows that he was, doesn't it?
4) Image should look better if you click on it.

PS. Source is ClimateSceptic Mailing List.

The Oldest Kid In America

The release is here, but the paper itself can be found here. Above are some of the tools found at the site:

A reasonable sequence of events at USRS can be inferred from these data. A small social group, including adult females and young children, foraged from their residential base camp in mid-summer, acquiring locally available fish, birds, and small mammals. The pit was dug within the house and functioned as a cooking hearth, cooking debris disposal area, and/or cache pit. The child died and was placed within the pit, with little evidence of disturbance after cremation. The pit was backfilled soon after burning, and the relative lack of artifacts atop the pit fill suggests immediate abandonment of the house (Fig. 3).

And, if you remember that "oldest skull cup" story from a week or so ago...well, the full paper, which appears here, contains a discussion of the "defleshing" techniques employed. So, yeah... instructions for making one of your own.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Carrie Kormos Gone From Hudak's Staff?

WK's rumerin' that Tim Hudak has lost his Director of Communications. No confirmation on who this might be..if anyone...but its worth pointing out that, according to Kid Tory, Hudak's Principal Secretary is responsible for strategic communications, and his Principal Secretary is Carrie Kormos.

So we shall see.

Still Hard Times At FreeD

Another fundraiser to cover legal costs comes up (about $1,500) short. Connie pulls the plug with the following excuse:

Closing this thread because it has been vandalized. I'll start a new one in a few days.

Sure, Connie. Sure.

Dalton McGuinty: You Magnificent Bastard, Part II

Perhaps the most significant of the proposed policy shifts would see an easing of the typical beer tent-type stipulation that required beer-drinking patrons or guests to obtain and consume their drinks in a fixed space – typically away from other aspects of the event. With these changes, such attendees at events should have much more freedom to wander with their drinks within the footprint of the event.

One of my few good memories of vacationing in Yuma, Ariz. was the weekend flea-market they held at their greyhound track. I'd wander around with an open beer and a Mexican flat-bread with icing sugar on it, and watch the people selling tasers and switch-blades, or the guy offering tax advice out of the back of his camper. I remember the taser-guy giving me a weird look when I told him they were probably illegal back in my country. And I remember one dude selling old coins trying to convince me that the stars visible on a Greek piece suggested that the ancients had been privy to astronomical knowledge given to them by space aliens. I kid you not. I told him that I'd just got off the plane, not the boat, but I think my brother bought a couple of his ring-shaped coins (like twonies with the center missing) and for years after wore them on a silver chain.

And of course, this was the early 90s, when LA Gear was desperately dumping its lower end runners at flea-markets and swap meets and you could buy a pair for $15.

Ah! The old days!

In any case, Dalton's latest policy initiative will serve to bring rural and urban Ontarion's closer together. Or at least, when the wife wants to go visiting some of those farmers' markets North of Steeles, I won't get quite as bored.

PS. Part I was Family Day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rob Ford Bumps Back Another Promise

Mr. Ford said he’s still committed to ending the land-transfer tax, although he wouldn’t say whether it has to happen next year.

Immediately became 2012; now 2012 is becoming 2013. In 2012, what will the date be then?

Peer Review At E&E: A Case Study

Bill Hughes, editor of the climate change denialists journal of choice, Energy & Environment, is threatening to sue the lads at RealClimate over the claim that E&E has "effectively dispensed with substantive peer review ". Its a bullshit suit, and won't ever happen, but I thought it might serve as inspiration for this mini-case study of how E&E editors (or at least Sonja A Boehmer-Christiansen) deal with the material submitted to them. The author is Oliver "Iron Sun" Manuel, and he published this book review in their Sept 2008 issue, and Earth's Heat Source - The Sun in January 2009. From the abstract of the latter:

The Sun encompasses planet Earth, supplies the heat that warms it, and even shakes it. The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assumed that solar influence on Earth's climate is limited to changes in solar irradiance and adopted the consensus opinion of a hydrogen-filled Sun — the Standard Solar Model (SSM). They did not consider the alternative solar model and instead adopted another consensus opinion: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases play a dominant role in climate change. The SSM fails to explain the solar wind, solar cycles, and the empirical link of solar surface activity with Earth's changing climate. The alternative solar model-molded from an embarrassingly large number of unexpected observations that space-age measurements revealed since 1959-explains not only these puzzles but also how closely linked interactions between the Sun and its planets and other celestial bodies induce turbulent cycles of secondary solar characteristics that significantly affect Earth's climate.

So, yeah, Manuel is that guy that thinks the Sun is like a giant, really hot ball-bearing.

In any case, Manuel first starts circling denialists blogs and forums in 2007, including the Climatesceptics mailing list, of which I am a proud member. In late 2007, Sonja reached out to Manuel, who had been promoting his ideas on the list, as follows:

Dear Oliver
Would you have time to write a rather readable paper for me, addressing not the science community or even climate scpetics, but the energy policy community, with your challenging ideas?

References would be 'scientific ' of course. It could be a Viewpoint, relatively short and not peer reviewed, or a proper review paper, whioch would be.If interested, ask Louise for more detail, please.
Best wishes


A year passed. In late 2008, just before the publication of the 2nd piece, Sonja posted a brief note to Climate Skeptics:

Just for info, the people i asked did not think much of Oliver's ideas and complained that he has no evidence and mainly cites himself. Hence his paper could not be published as peer reviewed, but as a viewpoint. As you know, I like to publish what is considered outside currently accepted ideas. But being published in E&E is for debate, not evidence of 'truth'.

However, Manuel gave some push-back, noting several peer-reviewed manuscripts, mostly co-authored by him (such as this), to which Sonja eventually responded (in February 2009):

Oliver, I should really shut up about this.

I only got involved because I had to read some peer reviews of your latest paper, and they were not positive , but made me aware that there are deep rifts between solar scientists, including about the sun consists of…..

I do not want E&E to take up the solar debate as well, in part because I do not see the link to energy policy, though there may well be links to climate…though I am not even clear about that.

While I think I can understand the politics behind the AGW (climate) debate, I do not understand why solar scientists fight each other, and hope that this is not related to policy (other than getting research funding).

If not, then a genuine scientific debate may be going on, but I cannot judge this. [I wished my father in law was still alive….he started as a solar physicist but became a famous radio astronomer.

If fact and fiction are so readily distinguished as you suggest, I do not understand why the debate continues.

The only theoretical physicist I know here, did not take your argument seriously) Whom to trust??

All I would like to say is that E&E is not a journal for solar physics, the editor can’t handle it!

And then a few days after that, after one of Manuel's supporters had flashed around some video demonstrating that the Sun is a solid dammit!--

You do know you are right in that the pictures taken over a fairly time show ejections coming from a surface that does not change at all. With the exception of the fissures everything remains constant shape. If it were a gas you know what it would look like. Just look at the clouds in the sky. It is a solid. Could it be somewhere near molten, sure. but it has features that do not change over time.

--Sonja changed her tune a little:

Most interesting, I now understand the controversy and that Oliver whilst not among the mainstream, is no crank.

Hydrogen only on top, says Oliver… iron below, but this has much wider implications for the origin of our universe!

I have had to conclude that my French referee was too dismissive….l..there are arguments on both sides, and science should,( but does not it seems at the personal level) thrive on honest argument rather than ridicule.

In any case, I am pleased we published this paper, if not as peer reviewed, but as an opinion piece. This seems fair enough as E&E is not a pure science journal, but is only interested in science as far as it influences the politics of energy policy and technology.

Sonja B-C

So that is the story of Oliver Manuel's publication history with E&E. I will leave it up to the reader to decide whether such treatment constitutes "substantive peer review".

PS. You have to be one of the 500 plus members of the CS list to get a peak behind at their archives; that's why there are no links in the above. You can look at the front page here.

PPS. Here's a link to a preprint of Earth's Heat Source.

Warman On Fitna

Fitna is a 16-minute long video by Dutch far-right, xenophobic politician Geert Wilders that seeks to demonize the Muslim community using classic hate propaganda techniques. Wilders is currently on trial in the Netherlands for criminal incitement of hatred against Muslims and Fitna forms part of the evidence in the case against him.

What follows asks the questions:
i) what does Canadian criminal law say about anti-Muslim hate propaganda? and,
ii) would dissemination of Fitna in Canada be criminal?

The .pdf of RW's presentation is here, but if you want to skip to the end:

Based on all of the above, as with the material in the Harding case, I believe that dissemination of the Fitna video in Canada would also constitute the willful promotion of hatred in violation of s. 319(2) of the Criminal Code.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NewsFlash! Yankees Don't Hate Unions!

MADISON, Wis. — Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.

This whole anti-union campaign in Wis. has felt to me like a GOP screw up. This confirms it. Want another example that will probably fuck them up in 2012? Here, the state of Missouri repeals its child labor laws. Booyah! Back to the days of Oliver Twist!

And, because its Missouri, just for kicks,here's my rendition of the theme from Deliverance:

Dingalingningningning...ning...ning...ning. Dingalingningningning...ning...ning...ning.


...and etc.

Your Daily Nazi: A Month After Meeting JDL Canada

... via Internet hookup, the EDL is threatening to "sever its links" with its own Jewish Division because the division has been seen hanging with a gang (the JTF) that makes Meir Weinstein look like Bernie Farber.

That is all.

Hey. Go home if you can't handle the acronyms.

Don't Sweat This

confidential memo, because

...Anyone who is a member of the Conservative party knows we get these same funding letters every few months in fact on occasion every few weeks.

...and a number of other responses down-thread along the same lines.

Jack will deal. No election. Go back to sleep.

Although, I will note I got a call from a clearly CPoC friendly pollster last week asking me if I would consider voting Tory if a Federal election were called. I told them maybe. Why not? Let them think there's a 416 breakthrough in the offing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Creating An On-Line Army of Automated Sock Puppets

One of the most brilliantly evil schemes I have ever read about. The roots are in this patent:


A system to apply persona styles to written communications. The system includes a communication analyzer and a modification engine coupled to the communication analyzer. The communication analyzer identifies an element of original content of a written communication and determines that the element of the original content of the written communication is incompatible with a selected persona style. The selected persona style defines a communication style. The modification engine modifies the original content of the written communication to replace the element of the original content with a substitute element that is compatible with the selected persona style.

And you wind up with this: army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated "persona management" software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire Brooks Brothers riot online.

...and even better, this:

To build this capability we will create a set of personas on twitter,‭ ‬blogs,‭ ‬forums,‭ ‬buzz,‭ ‬and myspace under created names that fit the profile‭ (‬satellitejockey,‭ ‬hack3rman,‭ ‬etc‭)‬.‭ ‬These accounts are maintained and updated automatically through RSS feeds,‭ ‬retweets,‭ ‬and linking together social media commenting between platforms.‭ ‬With a pool of these accounts to choose from,‭ ‬once you have a real name persona you create a Facebook and LinkedIn account using the given name,‭ ‬lock those accounts down and link these accounts to a selected‭ ‬#‭ ‬of previously created social media accounts,‭ ‬automatically pre-aging the real accounts.

...and here's the topper:

Using the assigned social media accounts we can automate the posting of content that is relevant to the persona. In this case there are specific social media strategy website RSS feeds we can subscribe to and then repost content on twitter with the appropriate hashtags. In fact using hashtags and gaming some location based check-in services we can make it appear as if a persona was actually at a conference and introduce himself/herself to key individuals as part of the exercise, as one example. There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas

And I am reminded of back in the day ('07, maybe) when to push their POVs, Conservatives relied on the faith of bloggers like ole Flanders, who would both fast and pray so as to better Freep those abortion polls. In today's brave new world Flanders role would be automated, and his place taken by software bots roaming cyberspace like a gang of trolls.

And, assuming that the software required for all of this became cheap enough, we could each create our own on-line army, that would act on behalf of our self-defined on-line interests--for example, initiate legal action--when we slept or even, God forbid, after we were dead.

PS The bit about "pre-aging" accounts sounds esp. interesting. Does this mean that if you have an account created last year, you can hook up (somehow) new accounts to this and they will be automatically back-dated to the date of the original?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kory Won't Like It

OTTAWA—Facing mounting public pressure, the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, a committee of the House and Senate, agreed Thursday to withdraw advice to the CRTC to water down a regulation prohibiting the broadcast of false and misleading news.

Some observers now expect the CRTC, which is against the proposal, to withdraw or abandon the regulatory change it put forward in a consultation on Jan. 10.


By the way, the author of the above claims Finkelstein said today the reg change is dead.


A Quick Note On The Death Of Journalism, Or: Would You Like Fries With That, Sir?

These lines from the Toronto Sun Family Blog caught my eyes the other day:

The 21st century hasn't been easy on Canadian freelancers, with mass layoffs flooding the market and citizen "journalists" willing to work for free

I am not one of those people who feel that blogging, or "tweeting", or all such similar nonsense has altered the practice of journalism that terribly much. The great changes--basically: newspapers turning into a combination of website and video-clip repository and firing everyone connected with the creation of the old paper product--would have happened with or without Blogger or Wordpress. However, one definite effect is the one noted above: blogging has rapidly decreased the monetary value associated with word-smithing.

Take The National Post, for example, which makes extensive use of unpaid bloggers to maintain fresh content on its website. Baglow (Dr. Dawg) always writes eloquently; Beardsley is a solid Tory who nevertheless refuses to partake of the koolaid; and, seriously, is MacNair any crappier than Gunter or Kay? Certainly, NP readers consume their words as they consume the words of the paid pros, and can't seem to tell the difference.

An economist friend said it best as we were perusing some statistics related to the business. "Wow!" he said, "You can actually watch their market value declining!" That will be blogging's legacy: the death of the paid opinionizer. Which may be a good thing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CPoC Coffee Mug

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to drink blood from it.

Here's what it really is. Just what it looks like. Very collectible these days.

Executive Spear Phishing: Who Clicked On The Dirty Pictures?

Here's what happened:

Sources have confirmed, however, that the attackers successfully penetrated the computer systems at the federal government's two main economic nerve centres, the Finance Department and Treasury Board.

The hackers apparently managed to take control of computers in the offices of senior government executives as part of a scheme to steal the key passwords that unlock entire government data systems.

And this is what it is:

Organized crime is zeroing in on medium to large sized enterprises using a well honed attack that can penetrate most enterprises defenses. Called "spear phishing" it involves targeting one or two individuals within the enterprise and then sending them well crafted email with links or document attachments which then download malware into the enterprise. The number of attacks is rising dramatically.


The method of attack usually uses MS Office documents but can also involve links to fake websites that look real. One attack focussed on the new executive of a large enterprise for whom a press release had been written.

If so, you would think somebody ought to get fired.

A Note To Professor Tom Flanagan

The good professor has taken time off from issuing death threats to lament Calgary City Council's decision to discontinue the fluoridation of city water:

Our politicians’ performance was topped by the usually judicious Calgary Herald editorial board, which attacked our medical school and scientific research in general: “Calgary city council wisely decided not to refer the issue to University of Calgary medical experts who offered to educate them on the benefits of fluoridation. Judging from the public comments by some of those experts, the U of C review likely would have been a predictable reaffirmation of the benefits of fluoridation from the scientific establishment. Calgary aldermen showed they are quite capable, thank you very much, of reviewing the literature already widely available.”

Indeed, medical experts would offer a “predictable reaffirmation” of fluoridation’s benefits, because that’s the almost universal conclusion of more than half a century of scientific research. Yes, too much fluoride can be a bad thing, causing occasional mottling of the teeth, but that undesirable side effect can be controlled by proper dosage. Other than that, the evidence is overwhelming that fluoridation reduces the incidence of cavities.

And I doubt very much that Calgary aldermen, or any other group of politicians, are capable of “reviewing the literature.” It takes years of specialized study to master the scientific basis of modern medicine, to say nothing of research methodologies. How many politicians understand the difference between epidemiology and random clinical trials, or between analysis of variance and multiple regression as statistical ways of controlling for the influence of multiple causal factors?

Well, good on Tom. The discounting of expert opinion by "science-rejecting Simpletons" is something I've complained about endlessly over the years. My only problem? Here's Dr. Flanagan on the Tar Sands:

Economically, this was a huge success story for Canada, Alberta, and the oil industry, but environmental issues loomed ever larger as development proceeded. Traditional concerns over water quality and boreal habitat were joined by worry over anthropogenic global warming, allegedly caused by carbon-rich greenhouse gas emissions. The oil sands produce large amounts of these because so much energy is required to extract bitumen from the earth and convert it into usable fuel. Ever-rising levels of concern over global warming led to many
political attacks on the oil industry in general,2 the Albert oil industry in particular,3 and above all on so-called “dirty oil” produced in the Alberta “tar sands.”4

Allegedly caused? I doubt this statement was made after "reviewing the literature", and I suspect Dr. Flanagan, a student of the political sciences, is himself capable of such a review. Nevertheless, there you have it. Hey Presto! The science is rejected!

And so a word to the professor:

It is entirely unsurprising that the move towards defluoridation should start in Calgary, which is also the epicenter of Canada's climate change denial industry. Because you can't open the floodgates just a little ways. You can't set teh crazy just a little bit free. When you start smearing a particular scientific field, you get mud over the whole edifice. And if Tom Flanagan wants to lay blame for what's happening in Calgary, he shouldn't bother pointing the finger at "influential celebrities" like Jenny McCarthy. He should look in the mirror.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Media Lies, Therefore The Minister Can Lie

In French, or in English, that's all I can make of Jason Kenney's response to question's re Bev Oda's lying to parliament.

PS. I think she looks hot, more than a little like this guy. And this guy, even more.

H/t Imp

Global Warming Comes To Canada

A warming climate can bring about physical, chemical, and biological changes in Lake Champlain. While some of the physical and chemical changes are fairly straight-forward, others are speculative. Potential biological changes are even more difficult to predict.

Physical changes mostly involve the temperature of the lake. Higher winter temperatures lead to a reduction in winter ice cover. You may have noticed that such reductions have already begun. Prior to the 1950s it was highly unusual for Lake Champlain not to freeze in a given year, but recently an absence of ice cover has become a fairly regular event. Higher temperatures mean the lake will stratify earlier in the spring — setting up a warm layer of water over a colder deeper layer — and will stay stratified longer. A 1979 study stated stratification in the Main Lake typically began in early June; more recently, however, stratification has begun in early- to mid-May.

Simon Donner tells a similar story about the ice around Baffin Island. He also talks about the suggestive (but not yet proven) connections between a warmer than usual arctic and a snowier than usual main-land NA:

The low ice thickness across the Arctic is part of a long-term trend. The current low in the SE Arctic has also been driven by the prevailing weather conditions over the past couple months. As was reported in the CBC News yesterday, a lingering high pressure system has held temperatures well above normal and limited ice formation. That is the same weather pattern that directed the cold Arctic air masses to east coast of North America and to western Europe and caused the huge early winter snowfalls. So when you hear scientists say that record snowfalls could be related in part to climate warming and the melting Arctic, this is what they mean.

A bout of cold and snowy weather, by the way, that appears to be over.


As Night Follows Day

The polls show Harper and Co. pulling ahead so, obligingly, they screw up. Then they double-down on the screw-up by insisting it isn't a screw up, thus insuring that it remains in the news for the foreseeable future, crowding out whatever other message they might be attempting to push.

Thanks, guys and gals of the CPoC.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pray For Him

Even though LifeSiteNews reports have overwhelmingly reported on what Fr. [Raymond] Gravel himself has publicly said, he is suing us for libel.


Stockwell Day Supports Blaney Bill To Hassle Muslim Women

At this point I also intend to support a new Private Member's Bill from MP Stephen Blaney. It would require anyone voting in a federal election to not have their face covered for identification purposes.

Note the touch of equivocation in this, however. I suspect the Tories will let the bill die quietly, as they have all earlier legislative attempts in this direction. Its flaws are quite fatal, and if the government really did what was necessary to make it even marginally sane (by requiring photo ID to vote for everyone)...well that would be a hassle to non-Muslims, wouldn't it? And to solve a problem--vote fraud--that doesn't really exist in this country.

On Tracking A Soul Through Cyberspace

By creating a distinctive username—and reusing it on multiple websites—you may be giving online marketers and scammers a simple way to track you. Four researchers from the French National Institute of Computer Science (INRIA) studied over 10 million usernames—collected from public Google profiles, eBay accounts, and several other sources. They found that about half of the usernames used on one site could be linked to another online profile, potentially allowing marketers and scammers to build a more complex picture of the users.


Experts say users should avoid websites that openly publish their data. "It's not surprising that people use the same username in different places," says Avi Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University who is currently on sabbatical as a Fullbright Scholar at Tel Aviv University. "What's important is that people pick different passwords for different Internet sites, and that knowledge of their password for one site does not provide any useful clues toward deducing their passwords on other sites."

Folks use exactly the same techniques to "out" anonymous bloggers/commentators. One of these usernames terminates in a real name or information on where the anony lives or works, and Hey Presto! someone is banging on their door with legal papers. Unusual signature lines are just as bad as usernames, incidentally.

And, in what I am sure is a coincidence...

Monday, February 14, 2011

StatsCan Defense In The Mark

My post on the MLI's critique of StatsCan Crime Stats is up in The Mark. Those who were not previously convinced by the arguments contained therein, shall now be convinced. Those of you in the publishing business will immediately think "Damn that's good! I need to see one of this guys' many, many, many unpublished novels." And you may, as they are all unpublished, as I say.

Elsewhere, the MLI study takes a few more nasty hits.

Repeat After Me

Minister Kenny on Blaney's "veiled voter" legislation, which he finds "reasonable":

“I believe in personal liberty, even if I find some expressions of personal liberty a bit peculiar. I don’t think we should be regulating what people wear but when a citizen comes to deal with the government, particularly to exercise their right to vote, I think it’s entirely reasonable that we say we need to confirm who you are and a facial identification is a reasonable way of doing that.”

1) Showing your face does not "confirm who you are" if you aren't required to produce a photo ID. The Blaney Bill does not require you to produce a photo ID. Hence it fails in its (apparently) intended purpose.

2) If you really wanted to exercise a ballot not your own, you would do it by using the mail-in option, which, once again, the Blaney Bill does nothing to deal with.

Very simple really.

George Laraque...On Romance

For Valentine's Day, the Assistant Green Party Leader spoke to Reader's Digest on all things love-related. No, I am not joking. Excerpts below, with my own annotations following George's remarks:

1. Let her talk.
When you let a woman talk, she goes home after and calls her friend and says, “Oh, my god, he’s the greatest guy in the world,” even though you didn’t say a word. So keep your eyes open and look as if you’re interested, even if you’re not.

OK. Me here. So this is the longest clip that I could find on youtube of Elizabeth May talking. Naturally, I have no idea what she's on about. But guys out there can use it to practice. Keep any responses down to "Mmm." and "Mmmm." Be careful of anything that sounds like a question; you might wind up promising a diamond or to quit drinking or something stupid like that.

2. Compliment her.
A lot of guys think they are too cool to give a compliment, but a woman loves hearing you flatter her. And if she asks you questions like, “You really think so?” tell her, “Yes, you look really good.” If you don’t say anything, she’ll feel that you take her for granted.

For example: Elizabeth, my truest darling, it was good that you chose to run against a sitting minister in 2008. It was very good. Because running against Peter MacKay demonstrated how stupid some of Canada's election laws really are. Because I was out on the West Coast at the time, and you were knocked off so quickly that they were announcing it in NS before the news blackout had even been lifted in BC. I was forced to get my information through illegal internet back-channels. So thank you, Lizzy, you taught us all something about democracy that day. And, sweetness, deciding to run in the Saanich-Gulf Islands next time out against another sitting minister...marvelous, Angel, simply marvelous!

3. Be a gentleman.
A lot of guys think it’s old school, but girls love feeling like a princess. Open the door for her—women love that. Guys don’t do that anymore, but that’s something really big.

Yeah. Don't act like those Green Party dickheads that have been trying to oust our sweet Lizzy May in the name of local democracy. They're a bunch of dick-heads.

4. Show affection in public.
Like holding hands and giving kisses sometimes, even just a little one on the neck. She’ll feel so appreciated that she’ll melt.

Oh Yuk! Just...yuk!

5. Remember the romance.
Don’t go to the movies. Have a candlelit dinner. To keep your relationship in the honeymoon phase, keep taking her out for special dates so she has a chance to dress up. She’ll feel as special as she did in the beginning.

You know, I searched through Google Images for a picture of Elizabeth May "dressed up", and threw in the towel after 6 hours.

Anyway, have a romantic Valentine's Day. Try and keep it sugar free.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weird Journalism

From here.

This guy first noticed how weird the shot is. The cow-girl looks like a blow-up doll. The PM and whoever's next to him look like they were glued down over a previously existing photo. Only the guy in the background ogling our cow-girl looks real.

Mike Duffy Adds To The Tory Turmoil In Simcoe-Grey

I missed this when it came out 10 days ago, but the good Senator takes a couple of hearty whacks at "parachute candidate" Kellie Leitch:

When the matter of how hotly contested this race is, between Sick Kids surgeon Kellie Leitch, and former Collingwood mayor Chris Carrier, Duffy dances around the subject for a bit.

However, he acknowledges, the issue of local politicians -- and letters of endorsement -- are not playing well. "People are quite appalled because the area is getting a bad rap," he said.

The line-up of current municipal politicians who have publicly backed other candidates -- mostly Leitch -- is "shortsighted.

"In politics, there is a hierarchical arrangement of municipal, provincial and federal government... and it would not be a wise person who takes sides in this thing."

Duffy notes the reason the campaign has reached the fervour it has is the "Toronto approach.

"You've got the people who got the money and think they've got the expertise... and my fear is the people will not be well-served.

"This (being a public servant) is a tough job, and if you're not in it for the right reasons, then you could end up in a situation where other things take importance," he said. "You have to respect the sensibilities and sensitivities of this region."

So there you have it. Kellie Leitch: too Torontonian for Simcoe-Grey

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who Is Behind The Amir Attaran/Errol Mendes FOI Requests?

Probably not the government. I have to disagree with the Dawg and Imp and the professors themselves on this one. More likely one of the eager volunteer witch-hunters Dawg makes note of. FOI laws have evolved and been liberalised in recent years, in Canada and a number of other countries. One result has been that activists on the Right--primarily--have found in these laws a useful means of harassing political opponents. The prime example is the use of UK FOI laws by climate change denialist Steve McIntyre and his acolytes at Climate Audit to, basically, launch a DOS attack on the scientists at CRU in East Anglia.

But it doesn't take a government actor to launch one of these crusades. Any fool can do it. I suspect that in this case it is some fool that has.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Move In Night At Fox News North

As the folks from SunTV move into their Ottawa facility, we can glean a few clues as to the nature of their operation from the pics posted by star reporter Brian Lilley of his own new digs (yeah, Lilley's the chair-gate guy):

1) They're not even giving their top gun a cubical. But on the bright side, he's getting the end work-station (WS#28). It's like having the end unit in a row-house: it's worth a little more because there's only people on one side. Hopefully, for Brian, the men's isn't just offstage right. And I'm all for reporters not getting too shirty about their personal space. This kind of arrangement prepares them for the McDonald's cash-out line that's in their future.

2) I'm not sure, but that monitor looks like an Acer to me. Not that I mind. I have an Acer. I bought it at Walmart, and I got a free bowl of soup out of the deal. The guy at the store said "It'll work great for three months, then cover your eyes whenever you try to boot up." Which I do, and so far everything is OK.

Remember, it took Fox News North months to get their other star, David Akin, a blackberry. And apparently he doesn't even rate an end-workstation.

PS. McClelland asks in the comments when FNN is due to go on the air. The date right now appears to be mid-March. Some dude on the BT forums said Ezra told him this, but I can't find the thread right now so you will have to trust me or go look yourself.

Tory MPP Jim Wilson Reads My Blog!

Or at least he's taken my advice, which is that you can attract more votes looking like this:
...than you can looking like this: for that weird sign of his, who knows what he's on about. Maybe something about the mystery of money. Maybe he's like that crazy old lady that used to stand on the bridge and bless all the cars.


How Tell If Steven Blaney's Veiled Voting Bill Is Thinly Disguised Bigotry

If it isn't, it will require voters to show photo ID. Without that requirement, unveiling only demonstrates you have a face, not that you are the person whose name is on the ID card. And, logically, it will require that all voters provide photo ID, for the same reason.

And of course David Akin notes that mail-in voters aren't required to show their faces to anyone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Increasing The Quota Of Tory Turmoil in Simcoe-Grey

Is Helena running or negotiating an exit package?

Under normal circumstances, a Conservative winning the seat in Simcoe-Grey would be a walk in the park – but Simcoe-Grey ain’t normal. The Independent Conservative Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey, Helena Guergis, has been quite vocal in recent days in the national media about running for re-election; I’m sure having her out there, reminding the Conservative leadership of her presence, only hastens they’re efforts to find suitable employment for her outside of politics (yes, that’s going on…)

The blogger here is managing editor of the Enterprise-Bulletin newspaper, so I would assume he knows what's what up in that neck of the woods.

The Macdonald Laurier Institute On Canadian Crime

So, it is pretty clear that the Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLS), which put out this study criticizing Stats Canada's reporting of crime statistics, has close connections with the current federal government, whose ideological views the study seems to reinforce. I don't want to make too much of that, because its hard to argue against some of their more generic methodological recommendations: Stats Canada should report more fully and completely and in a more open fashion. So should every body that produces statistical information. But life is tough, and times are hard, and money is short.

So I am only going to touch on a couple of issues mentioned in the study (which, I am proud to say, I have actually read from end to end). Here's the first one:

The annual report on crime statistics, know as Juristat, routinely revises crime statistics from previous years upward in any given year’s report, making annual crime decreases appear more significant than they are.

OK. Below is the relevant time-series from the Juristat report in question. It displays the ebbs and flows in Canada's Crime Severity Index (note: a chart showing the more traditional measure of crime by volume can be found here. There is no accompanying graph, but it would look generally similar to the one below):
What the analysts from MLI are saying is that, when Stats Can reports the data point for 2009, it will be measured against a point on the graph representing 2008 that has been upwardly revised. Thus any decline year-over-year will be accented, and any increase muted. That's not surprising: an initial StatsCan crime report is issued, more data comes in that was not available at the publication date, and the report and accompanying graph is updated. It isn't as though there is anything that could be done to get around this this, other than making publication date so late that revisions are unnecessary.

But, more importantly, the issue MLI identifies only really applies to the last couple of data points on the X-axis of the graph above. Stats Canada figures might be revised once or twice, but eventually they become pretty much set in stone, so the revisions MLI notes will not alter the overall shape of the graph. Which is to say, the revisions will not show a long-term downward trend if there is an upward trend in the underlying crime data. The downward trend in crime that Stats Canada notes really is there.

There's one other point in the MLI study that I would like to touch on, because it seems representative of a number of the criticisms that they make:

This is, as the MLI admits, a methodological complaint. Stats Canada chops up and recombines its numbers based on a series of methodological decisions. But these are not the only decisions that could have been made, and indeed when you make re-cut the numbers as per MLI, you get table 7 above. The question then becomes whether this, as MLI asserts, is a "much better" way of chopping up and recombining the numbers or not, and whether the result is worthy of highlighting in the Stats Canada report, or not.

I will not defend the agencies various methodological decisions in this space, for they have already done on their own behalf, here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Why Jim Wilson Looks So Unhappy

Apparently too broke to afford more than just the one coat.

Cure For Insomnia!

Or, in more technical terms, "news" from Saskatchewan:

SASKATOON, February 7, 2011 – Randy Hoback, Member of Parliament for the federal constituency of Prince Albert and Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee member reacted with dismay following the federal NDP’s decision to shun Saskatchewan’s agriculture producers by not sending its allocated Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee Member to the Committee’s hearings in Saskatoon.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food is currently conducting a study in the role of biotechnology in agriculture. Committee Member NDP MP Alex Atamanenko is not taking part in today’s committee hearing in Saskatoon. The federal NDP also chose not to send a replacement in Mr. Atamanenko’s absence....

This is the kind of thing you get when you make a province totally flat and shape it like a rhomboid. And yes I can say this because my mom's family is from Saskatchewan. I mean, they got the hell out as soon as they could, but still...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Your Daily Nazi: Why The CRTC Shouldn't Let Nazis Set The Standard For Truth In Broadcasting

From Kev in the comments:

There is a world of difference between [Neo-Nazi Ernst] Zundel and regulated broadcasters. Zundel was a private citizen( well not actually a citizen) where as a regulated broadcaster is licensed by the state to disseminate information, as such it is reasonable to expect that as a condition of that license that you would be subject to a certain level of standards higher than that applied to a private citizen that does not carry the De facto seal of approval from said state.

I don't know if this passes muster as legal reasoning--remember the CRTC is apparently worried that their truth in broadcasting reg might be unconstitutional--but it makes sense to me.

CRTC Truth In Broadcasting Reg Changes: Enviro News Will Suffer

1. The current test is one of truth: Is the news false or misleading? This test will be replaced by a far more subjective test: Does the broadcaster know that the news is false or misleading? In essence, the amendment means that it is no longer a problem to broadcast false or misleading news in Canada; it is only a problem to broadcast false or misleading news if you can prove that the licensee knows it to be false or misleading.

2. Government, the general public, or competitors are highly unlikely to be able to prove what a licensee knew or did not know at the time of broadcast. As a result, there is no deterrent against the broadcast of false or misleading news.

3. Since the test is no longer “what is true?” but is instead, “what does the licensee know?”, licensees are encouraged not to investigate controversial or complicated stories very deeply. This is especially problematic for coverage of environmental issues, which often require in-depth understanding of scientific and legal issues.

4. It is virtually impossible to prove that any news – false, misleading, or otherwise – will endanger or be likely to endanger lives, health or safety. To meet the new test, you must now prove that the news endangers or is likely to endanger lives, health or safety. It is virtually impossible to prove this element of the test, especially with regard to news stories about science, law, and the environment. Establishing causal relationships in environmental matters is complex, sometimes impossible to do with great certainty. It takes specialized scientific study, and may require decades of monitoring and observation before effects are known.

5. The new rules assume that there is always a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the false or misleading news and the consequence. As every environmentalist or scientist knows, the consequences of cumulative effects are as important as the consequences of individual effects – and they are not always predictable.

Also, I note that Conservative Pundit Stephen Taylor supports the changes:

But free speech advocate Stephen Taylor, a director with the National Citizen¹s Coalition, said it's wrong to look to regulatory bodies to decide what's "true" and called Angus' warning another call to over- regulate.

"The last thing we need is a bureau of truth to determine what is state-sanctioned fact," Taylor said. "We should be wary of those that would seek to require an official government seal of approval on news reporting; societies which embrace such practices are seldom free."

Well, of course Angus warning is merely a call to maintain current regulations, but we'll let that slide. Given that the CRTC's proposed changes are a direct response to the Zundel case, and that these changes signal that the agency will no longer even attempt to sanction the kind of hate-mongering that Mr. Zundel's forays into holocaust denial represent, would Stephen be willing to argue that the "facts" of the holocaust are merely creations of the state?

BCLSB EXCLUSIVE! Hudak Flip-Flops AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

As I and others have noted on numerous occasions, the PCPO's Tim Hudak is running an election campaign rather short on specific commitments. Furthermore, in one high-profile instance where he has made a concrete proposal--to maintain the McGuinty health-care premium and (if I am remembering this bit correctly) redirect funds raised by it to front-line services--Hudak reversed himself in less than a week. Not good politics, I'm afraid.

And, I have discovered, this is not the only flip-flop Mr. Hudak has executed in the past several weeks.

Specifically: one of the other bits of policy that PCPO have floated recently is for the initiation of a "mandatory Sunset Review Process". As Hudak said back in November:

Folks, I think you’ll agree with me that the private sector simply cannot afford to support a
bloated public sector any longer. To help reign in spending and get government focused on the basics families need most, I am calling for a mandatory Sunset Review process that forces
every government body to justify their existence and continued value to the public. And if they can’t – they go...

Hardly pulse-pounding stuff, nevertheless it iss something concrete that Mr. Hudak said he would do differently if elected to power here in Ontario.

However, there appears to be even less to this promise than was at first evident, for it appears that that Ontario's Separate School system will not be required to participate in the review process. This example of back-peddling seems to have been first noted in a letter to the Orangeville Banner:

Dear editor,

Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, met with the Arthur and District Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 13.

Wellington County Catholic School Board trustee Jim Coffey asked about any possible changes to Catholic education. Mr. Hudak replied he “won’t muck around with Catholic education.”

Apparently his proposed “mandatory Sunset Review process that forces all ministries, agencies, boards and commissions to justify their existence and continued value to the public” won’t be mandatory after all.

Just to be clear, this is not a question of whether we support or are critical of the Ontario Catholic School system. In November, Hudak specifically stated that every government body would be asked to justify the money it gets from the province, and that the province would not take "no" for an answer. That's what "mandatory" means, after all. Now, it appears that some groups will be exempt from the process. So either Mr. Hudak spoke falsely in November, or he's changed his mind since then. If the latter...well, "flip flop" is the term you use in such circumstances.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tory Turmoil In GTA!

I've read this twice, and I still don't really understand the details. But its the same old story: CPoC central appoints a candidate, the locals get ugly.

I like it, and encourage more of it

Your Daily Nazi: Blame Zundel For CRTC Review Of "False And Misleading News" Provision

Just a quicky: I've been following Kady as she ponders the CRTC move to allow, possibly, false news on the news. And she seems to be right. Its the Zundel case the CRTC is worried about:

Here, the prohibition is to distribute a programming service “that contains false or misleading news.” Under the project, it would not distribute a program “that contains the news that the holder knows to be false or misleading and constitutes a danger to the life, health or safety of the public.” The wording of this proposal is similar to that of the Criminal Code provision that the Supreme Court of Canada has invalidated for constitutional reasons in Zundel. It is difficult to see why the ban could be considered valid.

Well, maybe, I would prefer that the CRTC wait for someone to challenge the provision in court rather than, proactively, cave and so (it seems to me) pave the way for Holocaust Denial on TV.

Tarek Fatah: I Have No Proof

An update on the Tarek Fatah/NAMF dust-up that was supposed to have occured last Saturday, before Fatah withdrew, citing "personal safety" among other reasons:

The moderator was changed shortly before the event was to begin, angering Mr. Fatah, who described the audience as “hostile.” His associates with the Muslim Canadian Congress — a grassroots organization Mr. Fatah helped found — then requested one of their replacement moderators be called in, angering Farooq Khan, executive director of NAMF, who described MCC members as full of “hyperbole and imaginary fear.”

At around 6 p.m., Mr. Fatah said he was warned by police of threats to his safety, though he added he has no proof.

“I did not feel comfortable there,” he said.

For their part, neither Mr. Khan nor Staff Sergeant Jim Qualtrough at Toronto’s 42 Division said they were aware of any safety concerns or threats. Staff Sergeant Qualtrough said that “as far as the police are concerned, nothing happened at that location Saturday night.”

The incident also generated this piece in the Jewish Tribune, which I found somewhat disappointing in that it basically regurgitates Tarek's side of the story, and doesn't deal with some of the wilder accusations he made afterwards.

PS. The phrase "shortly before" in the above means two days, as it has become clear that Karen Mock, the original moderator, announced she was pulling out on Thursday evening, and everyone involved, Mr. Fatah included, knew as much by Friday morning.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Lacks Substance

...the two most important words in this piece re the McGuinty Libs weekend policy confab. They refer to PCPO leader Tim Hudak, and suggest how the Libs will try and frame the election debate come fall. My two cents: this line of attack will be more effective than the Mike Harris crossed with a Neanderthal argument that some might prefer, just because Hudak will try so hard to evade the latter charge it will (indeed has already) hamstring any trademark Conservative policy initiatives that he might run on.

Three quick examples:

1) The HST; Tim opposes it but will not repeal (or even lower) it.
2) Green energy; its a boondoggle, but Tim won't tear up any contracts (though, on a more positive note, he may decide to put up a nuclear reactor in your back yard).
3) The Health Care Premium; Tim hates the "McGuinty Tax Hikes", but this is another one he won't rescind.

So it sounds as though Mr. Hudak is reduced to complaining about policies he will, if elected, do nothing to change.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tim Ball Leaves The Stage

While their abject apology to climate scientist Andrew Weaver appears to have gotten the Canada Free Press of the hook, Tim Ball, author of the original article--"Corruption of Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years "--was not so lucky: renowned Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver has begun legal action (legal docs available through link). What I find most interesting is that if you go to the CFP website and to Ball's archive of articles--you find nothing. It appears that, being a small outfit with (presumably) limited legal resources, the CFP has decided that discretion is the better part of valour, and erased every one of Ball's 200 plus articles even, it appears, from Google's cache.

Which is good: you shouldn't give a soap-box to somebody who will use it to defame others.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Jim Wilson Is Starting To Look Cold

Tory MPP Jim Wilson has been hauling that cryptic sign of his through the snow since last month, and if you examine the pictures of him in various media accounts, you can see his mood gradually souring, until you get to this one, which fairly screams "I've had it with this bullshit!" He's in Oakville today, so there probably isn't a Starbucks around where he can warm his hands on a decent cup of coffee. It also doesn't help that he's been wearing the same coat for a week, which now really looks like it could use a trip to the dry-cleaners.

NDP Sends Budget Signals

They'll support the Tory budget, festooned as it is with imprudent corporate tax cuts, for a 4 month (120 day) agreement to "work" on improving CPP. So a committee will be struck, witnesses heard, and a report written. At the end of the day, all the NDP members of the committee will be given a free bowl of soup.

Steve V has a similar take.

Wiselaw On Audmax

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal seems to have really blown the call on this case:

A Mississauga businesswoman whose home was ordered seized to pay an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal award to a former employee can keep her house — for now.

The Superior Court struck down the “fatally flawed” decision as so unfair to defendant Maxcine Telfer — who represented herself in the hearing — that it was “simply not possible to logically follow the pathway taken by the adjudicator.”

Luckily, we have legal eagle Christopher Bird around to discuss the larger implications for the OHRT and other rights tribunals around the country:

Human rights tribunals in Ontario (and across the rest of Canada, for that matter) have been the subject of intense criticism in the past, with many complaining that HRT decisions such as Ms. Telfer's were not treated with the appropriate seriousness such matters merited.

Certainly, Audmax will serve as fodder for that line of argument. Others have suggested that HRTs are themselves a waste of state resources which would be better allocated to the traditional court system; while Audmax demonstrates that HRTs can be flawed in execution, it does not necessarily follow from the decision that the system must therefore be scrapped.

What Audmax ultimately demonstrates to the reader is that Divisional Court is willing to consider with the utmost seriousness whether HRT outcomes are merited, that they are willing to review them where they feel they are incorrect or unfair, and that although HRTs decisions have been statutorily protected, they are not ironclad.

This is probably for the best. The Courts' willingness to review flawed administrative rulings is ultimately necessary to preserve trust in the system.

So there you have it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tim Hudak: Alone In The Snow

...with his sign, or his wordle thingy. Apparently sliding down a gradual incline.
Hudak's a weird sort o' politician. I question his PR instincts. He even manages to turn the introduction of his new star candidate Rocco Rossi into a scene of snowy desolation:

You Suck Mother Nature

Seriously, is that the best you can do? That was the most pathetic excuse for a blizzard I've ever seen. I thought I was going to get a day off and now it looks like the sidewalks are clear enough that I'll be able to run into work, test out the new Roots boots my wife gave me for Xmas.

And don't get me started on these young punk meteorologists they have nowadays. They don't remember that, back in the olde tymes, we didn't call it "snowmageddon"; we called it t-shirt weather.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Stockwell Day Collides With Dog is uninjured. I think Stock's OK too, more or less, but didn't bother to read that far.

MPP Jim Wilson Delivers The Tory Message

"I am standing in the snow with all my friends holding a sign my grand-kid made for me in kindergarten."

Apparently, Tory MPPs are fanning out across the province with this message, waiting to catch the populist wave.

Pic from here.

Working Dogs

This sad story reminds me of this one:
My mom and dad had just started going to Yuma about this time. When I would go down to visit, the Sunday flea-market at the dog-racing track was always on our list of things to do. You could wander around with an open can of beer ($1.25), eat Mexican flat-bread covered in sugar, and buy L.A. Gear runners (factory seconds) for $20. Believe me, its about the most exciting thing that happens in Yuma.

This was the racing off-season, so I imagine the dogs were suffering and dying just out of sight. And its funny, when the story finally broke, the townsfolk were shocked...shocked!... that such a thing could have happened. Nobody had ever wondered, apparently, where all these animals went after their four-year or thereabouts racing career came to an end.

The problem with Greyhounds is the same as with Huskies, I suppose: they're huge animals that eat a lot and need lots of room to run around in; taking them for a morning walk (through a desert, no less) would be quite a chore. In any event, as a result the town put in place an "adopt a Greyhound" program, and these days you don't hear the same kind of story.

It always seems worse when bad things happen to dogs. They are innocent, whereas people are assholes.