Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shorter Brad Trost

Money spent in my riding is not wasteful. Other spending is.

Which One Of These People Is Unreal?

Put it another way, perhaps: which one has been photoshopped in over the figure of a hapless (and now professionally defunct) Theo Caldwell?

Margaret Wente Does Statistics

 ...but rather poorly, I'm afraid:

 If the Justice Bureau’s figures are “the best,” and good enough for Pinker, why does Wente cast doubt on them when a women’s group cites them? She fails to recognize that the data on the AAUW’s website are taken from the Justice Bureau at all...

She also muffs the attribution of a couple of quotes, but that's par for the course for Ms. Wente.

And contrats to Carol for getting a piece in The Mark.  The dark glasses are a nice touch; they make her look bad-ass.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Best Line Of The Day


News Story.

Quebecor Layoffs

Latest updates seem to be available here, with some names and dets. From the comments:

Toronto Sun's imaging department gone in late January. It is being outsourced to India.

And Quebecor won't comment? Probably couldn't find a reporter left around to write a press release.

LPoC Presidential Potentials

So, I attended my first event as an official LPoC member last night--the Party President candidates' meet & greet.  A very content-ful evening, as well as a chance to say hello to blogging pals I haven't seen in awhile.

In brief, all the candidates are for opening up/democratizing the party, so everyone was singing from the same song-book, if not always from the same page.  Here's a quick run-down of first impressions.

Sheila Copps

By far the smoothest presenter (in English), her opening statement was somewhat content-free and tilted a little too heavily towards self-promotion (her new book is out soon on Kindle, dontcha know).  Later, though, her remarks re the LPoC's failure to work the "ethnic media", and how these 100s (in T.O. alone) of outlets might be engaged in the future, were spot on.  To give an example (mine, not hers): every time I visit the little Tamil variety store down my street I pick up a copy of their English language weekly (Lanka News, I think its called), and find it stuffed with CPoC-related news--Jason Kenney looms large in their pages.  And, for whatever reason, they're a bit of a soft touch; not particularly critical, in my view.  But I see nothing, not even press releases, from the LPoC.  The folks that read Lanka News probably do not read the Star and Globe; if you stick with the usual MSM outlooks, you're not getting your message across to them.

Mike Crawley

Mike Crawley spoke knowledgeably and, for the most part, well, although on stage it looked as though he might pull out an electric guitar at any moment and reel off a fiery solo.   His key point was that circumstances have given the party a chance to reinvent itself from the ground up.  He is also a "big idea" guy; the LPoC should find and promote bold new initiatives as a means of rebranding itself (not his precise words).

And that is something I'm not so enamoured of.  I personally am happy with what (I thought) the LPoC has always been.  That is, non-ideological and pragmatic: it will cut taxes, or spend money, or legislate, free from the ideological blinkers that constrain parties of the Canadian Left and Right.  In other words, it will do what is necessary to keep the nation strong and healthy, not what its philosophical underpinnings bind it to.  But I am told that that kind of pragmatism is boring, a hard sell, or signals a lack of principles.  But Pragmatism is a principle and, as for its non-sexxxiness, I remember Bill Clinton saying something to the effect that he didn't care where policy came from, or who would get credit for it, if it did the job (that's a rough paraphrase). 
And this worked for him.

And I would also point out that this "big idea" is supposed to "emerge from the process"; currently, people have no idea what it actually might be.  I personally am unsure that anything worthy of the name is likely to make an appearance--someone would have heard about it already, no?

Ron Hartling

Of all the potentials, Mr. Hartling's delivery was probably the shakiest, but he is offering himself as an organizer, not a spokesperson, so that is perhaps by the way.  His key words were "planning, planning, and planning", and as far as I could glean his notion of what the LPoC is and should be from his words, they seem pretty close to my own (ie  a party that is free of ideological blinkers and etc.).  He also had some interesting comments on how riding associations need to figure out what to do with new members.   The riding associations really don't know how to employ their pool of volunteers between elections.

Alexandra Mendes

Another Ex-MP, Ms. Mendes also gave a polished performance throughout.  Highlights were probably her response to Mr. Hartling--planning is not everything--and her outline of the various means the LPoC might employ to attract more women candidates. Of all the potentials, her French was clearly the best, although everyone was forced to toss off at least a few remarks in both official languages.

Other highlights included arguing with Jeff Jedras.  While he is one of these "Big Idea" guys, it turns out we are both not convinced of the utility of an open primary.  For technical reasons I didn't quite follow, it isn't very likely that outside parties could hijack the primary process, which was my greatest fear.  On the other hand, its a kind of gimmick, and might just flop.  Does anyone really expect that 1,000s of Canadians will show up to vote for the leader of a third party?  Because if they don't the press will brand the whole effort a failure--a sign of the LPoC's slow death, and etc.  There's also the fact that people have worked for years towards allowing party Members to directly cast a vote on the leadership--and now anyone will be allowed to do it?

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and etc.  Unfortunately, I'm not likely to be able to attend the Ottawa convention in January(?).  Such is life.

Sixth Estate On Fraser Insitute

They propose a study; your industry association ponies up the funds.  This seems a fairly common practice among think tank "researchers".  American Enterprise Institute fellow Roger Bate comes to mind.  Here's his pitch letter to Philip Morris for a book talking down the risk factors of cigarette smoking.  PM turned him down but eventually the Tobacco Institute funded it as "What Risk?"--total cost, 50,000 UK pounds.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gooble Gooble! One Of The LPoC!

So, a couple of weeks ago, after I got invited to LPoC President's meet&greet thingy that's taking place this evening, I finally decided to join up.  If I was going to bitch whine and complain for the next couple of years, I figured I should at least pitch out $20.  So, Gooble Gooble! I'm Bob Rae's problem now.  In the end of course my object is a Senate seat.  Two, actually.  One for me and one for the wife.  Near the aisle, for bathroom breaks.  The plan is we eat for free with our Membership cards in the Senate Cafeteria, and we sleep in our Senate Seats, where it won't attract attention.  I'm tired of working for a living.

Also, I've yet to receive my official LPoC memberships package in the mail, but I hear you get an original $1 from the Adscam cache, and a plastic knife for infighting.  But really...Plastic?  It ain't fratricide if you can't even draw blood!  Hopefully, I can help instill a little of its old spine in the party!

As to the party prez potentials, I promise to write up something serious and coherent about their platforms tomorrow morning.  I haven't decided for myself yet, but in practice my options may be limited.  My wife is a huge Sheila Copps fan, and if I come out in support of anyone else I might wind up sleeping in the car for a month.

And, speaking of my dear wife, I've tried to keep her away from my blogging activities.  For her own protection, mostly  But after 15 years out of politics she's thinking of getting back in.  She's actually better at it than me, because she likes people.  She door-knocked for Hagood Hardy, back in the day, and there's a rumor he even dedicated a composition to her (the one with the nose flute solo).  So you may see the both of us in the future, especially under a Copps regime.

Although I don't know how many of these public be-nicey-nicey type events I can handle.  My advice to anyone who sees me is at one: don't get between me and the finger-foods.  Plus: you want to see me in a suit?  Then die, and I'll come to your funeral in one.  Otherwise its maybe a turtle-neck and a pair of jeans one step up from Walmart.

How Loud Are Wind Turbines?

Not very.  The recommended set-back in Ontario, incidentally, is 550 meters.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Damn Good Question

I'm wondering why Arianna Huffington aimed the Canadian version of her blog towards a right-wing perspective. Not just any conservative viewpoint but a decidedly Sun Media version.

Now, Huffpo Canada is not entirely one-sided.  They've given Kevin Grandia a column.  And teen Libertarian Jaworski deserves an outlet even if his politics are cracked.  But the whole gang from Ethical Oil, for example, has set up shop over there as well, including PMO staffer Alykhan Velshi

HuffPo Canada is thus in danger of making itself redundant.  Too much of the same product is on offer in too many places.

PS. I should note that I typically refer to all Libertarians as "teen" Libertarians.  Its indicative in this case of a state of mind.  As Jaworski notes off-line, he is in fact somewhat older.  And good luck with your dissertation, Jaworski.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ezra Won't Come Clean

I'm thinking Ezra's salary might be embarrassingly small.  Rumour has it he's still renting.


Meir Weinstein, Ron And The Other Skinny Hindi From The CHA, Arnie And Kathy

...feel free to blow me.  The kids at Valley Park Middle School still get to have their Friday prayers on the property.  Canadian compromise wins out again!  Booyah!  And, for my American readers, if I have any, I hope you enjoyed your Sharia Turkey this Thanksgiving.

"Climategate" 2.0: Anatomy Of A Fake Scandal

It's dead, Jim.  A combination of journalists not wanting to get fooled again--especially with the suspicious timing of the email release (to coincide with Durban)--and a quick response from within the Climate Science community itself, killed it.  The oddest part is that the email hackers thought Durban important enough to sabotage.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Megan Leslie = The New Sheila Copps?

 A few moments later, Megan Leslie rose and wondered if the Natural Resources Minister might devise a sustainable plan for the country’s natural resources. Mr. Oliver was obviously quite eager for the opportunity to grouse.

“Mr. Speaker, in a torturous scrum yesterday, the NDP environment critic twisted herself into a pretzel of contradiction and bizarre ideas,” he growled. He ventured that, so far as her position on Keystone is concerned, Ms. Leslie was afflicted with either “total confusion” or “rank cynicism.”

The NDP critic, 33 years her counterpart’s junior, came back quick. “Mr. Speaker,” she ventured with a smile, “if being a grumpy old man makes one an expert on world...”

And, more generally, has the NDP got the new rat pack?  They're busy getting under the gov's skin.  Meanwhile the LPoC orates elaborately, our leader winning politeness awards from the Lamestream Media

I haven't decided yet about the Party Presidency.  But surely part of the appeal behind Ms. Copps is the idea that she might teach the party how to hunt & eat meat again.  And while the Party Prez shouldn't be a Celeb, I don't know why their having easy access to MSM outlets should be a disqualification.  People bitch about Brian Topp, but on the whole his guaranteed spot in the G&M has been a plus for the party.

Sun TV Interviews Criminals particular convicted hate-monger Gary Harding.  And it turns out to be really boring.  Next Kory Teneycke will be scouring  the prisons for guests to appear on his increasingly unwatched network.  At least they'll work for free.

Richard Warman takes note.

Hendrix Plus

I can't argue with their top-line result.  But I can certainly take issue with the rest of their list.  Specifically...where's Django?  Not in the top 10 even?
One of the coolest music vids ever, in my view.  And worth noting how much rock&roll Django invented.  He was the first guy to use the lead/rhythm guitar combination.  In fact, he once said to his Hot Club violinist partner Stéphane Grappelli that the band should hire a third guitarist so that when he (Django) soloed he had two rhythm guitarists backing him up. 

Which is to say that Lynrd Skynrd couldn't have existed if  this little Belgian Gypsy hadn't blazed the trail.  And, just to clarify, Lynryd Skynrd not existing would have been a bad thing.

And, I'm sorry,  where's Robin Trower?    Esp.


..from his Procul Harum days, when he sounded like Clapton.  Later he sounded a bit like  like Hendrix.  For example here (still with PH):

Also: Van Halen is way overrated.  Just gobs of notes played real fast.  You young guitar players of today, don't be like that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Less Thing To Blame On Teh Gays...

Polygamy Remains illegal! Apparently, same sex marriage didn't send us down a slippery slope towards becoming the Sodom & Gomorrah of the frozen tundra.

"ClimateGate" II: The Media Snores

 Outside of the usual suspects, this seems to be the typical media response to the latest batch of emails stolen from CRU: its just scientists arguing things out, occasionally being mean to one another, but (as was the case with the first batch), nothing science-altering.  A couple of things to note.

1) I haven't read them all; just a selection provided at some of the denialist sites.  You can find the entire file here if you want to slog through all 180 meg or so, though given the (muted) media response so far there may be no point.  In any case, consensus among those who have seen the whole stash is that these new files were from the original CRU Hack in late 2009; there are no emails dated later than November of that year.  So they are, in short, the 2nd string stuff--the stuff that wasn't inflammatory enough to release in round one.

2) J. Bowers, frequent commenter at Real Climate, thinks that the introductory material supplied by the hackers means they are definitely not whistle-blowers from within CRU:

Things to note about the latest email set: Instead of using commas in 5,000 and 220,000, they use periods (5.000 and 2.000). That’s not an English speaking way of doing things. They also refer to themselves as “we”. What are the chances that the whistleblower at UEA/CRU would be more than one whistleblower, and they would also not have English as their first language?

Not that anyone really believed the "inside job" theory in the first place.

3) The Norfolk Police, assigned to solve the original CRU hack, haven't, let us just say, given it their all:

 I have been passed information stemming from an FoI request to Norfolk Police showing that over the past 12 months, they have spent precisely £5,649.09 on the investigation.

All of that was disbursed back in February; and all but £80.05 went on "invoices for work in the last six months".

In any case, I think the MSM response can be explained by the fact that they overreacted so wildly in the first go round. They've learned a valuable lesson:

PS.  There's now a searchable database of the new messages.  I'm actually in it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keystone XL Update

As I predicted (note last paragraph through the link), the Nebraska Legislature/TransCanada deal won't move Keystone XL anywhere near far enough to get it off the shallow water tables common in that part of the state. And it will still run across privately owned ranch-land; just not the same privately owned ranch-land as it would have crossed with the route as currently proposed.  From the POV of John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmer's Union, who has been fighting TransCanada on behalf of Nebraska ranchers,  "...we've sort of traded one set of landowners for another."  

So in 2013, when it comes time for the Obama administration to give the project a final yeah or nay, it will still be opposed by the Farmer's Union and the other local groups who fought it this time.  And we know Mr. McKibbon's people will still be there.  By no means is this the slam dunk some have portrayed it as.

Meanwhile, I think this piece gives  a good summary of what the Northern Gateway pipeline in B.C. is up against.  Its not just the First Nations and kids with nose rings/green hair that are against it; Rafe Mair is prepared to die.  In fact, a couple of  municipal pols have already lost their jobs in last week's municipal elections for not declaring their opposition.

CRTC Has Fox News North License Pulled For Cheating

 The CRTC has officially approved TVA Group’s request to revoke the broadcasting licence for CKXT-TV and its related transmitters. The issue first surfaced in May, when some cable providers complained the channel’s parent company, Quebecor, was using the station to air Sun News programming over the “free” airwaves -- in addition to its specialty cable service, which requires a fee. In the words of its competitors, Sun News was trying to have it both ways.

Essentially, this means no more free access to Sun News. From now on, Sun News can only be viewed on cable and satellite services that have made a deal with Quebecor to carry the station.

Revenues: down 86%.

Average viewership: not enough to fill a hockey rink.

No wonder Ezra is so obsessed with the tent city in St. James Park; he knows he may need cheap accommodations in the very near future.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Macleans Hands Bob Rae The...

...Redshirt, whilst pretending to honor him.  Just shows how the MSM will attempt to hobble any leadership bid by the former Ontario Premier.  This award is the equivalent of being voted most polite barbarian; the signal sent is that you're not long for politics.  I pray that Mr. Rae can recover. 

And, hopefully, if Sheila gets in as party prez, she can teach him to orate a bit less and lash out a bit more.

MikeHudak/Tim Harris

Ontario News Watch has been gradually expanding beyond simple news aggregation into investigative jurnalism, with occasionally impressive results.  For example, this story:

Directly contrary to what PC leader Tim Hudak's advisors have been saying publicly for two years, a number of former Premier Mike Harris' so-called "Whiz Kids" were involved at the highest levels of the Tim Hudak election campaign, crafting strategy both before and during the fall election, has confirmed with multiple sources.

Not surprising, of course, but also not confirmed until today.  And if the Hudak campaign seemed to resemble earlier Mike Harris go-rounds in its attempts to exploit wedge issues, there's a reason for that:

Sources also say it was Mr. [Paul] Rhodes, along with campaign aides Chad Rogers and Jason Lietaer, that pushed hard for Mr. Hudak to use the controversial phrase "foreign workers" to describe those who would benefit from the Liberal promise to subsidize the salaries of professional immigrants for a year.


Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Rogers bragged to colleagues they'd found the "silver bullet" to take down the Liberals, the source said.

But my favoroite bit is this exchange with Whiz kid Leslie Noble, who co-chaired Mr. Harris' 1995 and 1999 campaigns, and who regularly attended Hudak campaign strategy meetings:

 "I don't need to take calls like this on a Sunday fucking night...What kind of a horse-shit story is this?" she asked.

Nice job.

What's On Randy Hillier's Mind?

A rocky economy?  Declining manufacturing numbers?  Wind farms, even?  No!
For anyone interested, Mr. Schmidt has ended his hunger strike.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Thought: The Problem With Fair Trade Roses that by the time they get to you, they're close to death.  Giving your love a bouquet that starts dropping petals even while you're eating that special dinner (usually a plate of sushi, in our house--sometimes pizza) sends a really bad symbol, romance-wise.  Honestly, the gal at Metro showed me a crate's worth of them that they were pitching out two days after arrival.  They're pretty flowers--little mini roses--but frail, or at least exhausted after the long journey from Kenya. 

Something ought to be done.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our Economic Future

Quite middling.  Because it was pretty middling when the leading indicators were running alot higher.  Manufacturing was particularly crap, which is bad news for Ontario.

New Government Hate Crime Initiatives Will Outlaw Linking To Hate Speech

 Joe Brean is usually careful about these stories, so though I don't see where anyone in the gov. has said this explicitly, I will assume he's got it right re the criminal code enhancements that will offset the repeal of Section 13 of the CHRA:

One of the Criminal Code enhancements Mr. Nicholson referred to is a minor tweak to the criminal laws against wilful promotion of hatred and public incitement of hatred, clarifying that “communicating” means communicating by any means, and includes “making available.”

It's less of a big deal then it sounds, and was originally proposed as clause 5 of the Bill C-51(Investigative Powers For The 21st Century).  It was explained here, which will have to do because I'm too lazy to write it up again.  My question, though, is how if at all the SC majority decision in the Crookes Case--which seemed to make it OK to link to defamatory speech if the defamation was not repeated in the linking post--will effect this.  After all, one can think of hate speech as group defamation.

More information will presumably follow, and I will be interested in seeing how closely if at all the legislation follows The Moon Report: a mandatory, nation-wide press council, anyone?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hudak Threatens 2012 Election Story (Broke At BCLSB!!!) Goes MSM

 Here.  As soon as they get back in, somebody in Liberal-land owes me a Senate appointment.  Or an ambassadorship.  Maybe to Australia, where it's warm and they drink Fosters.  But anywhere warm will do.  Though not too dry or too buggy.  I get rashes.

Hudak Talks 2012 Election With Far Right Extremist

From his letter to FreeD denizen Edward Kennedy:

I thank you for all of your previous support, but I also encourage you to continue working hard so we will be ready to go into an election next year if necessary to restore Ontario as the economic leader in Canada.

Yours truly,

Tim Hudak

Pretty unseemly, I think, to be talking about bringing down the McGuinty gov. less than two months after they've been elected. 

And, though its only a form letter, the "thank you for all of your previous support" suggests that Mr. Hudak knows who Edward George Kennedy is and is still willing to accept his support. 

Here is who Ed Kennedy is.

The Church And The Occupy Movement: Has The Religuous Left Lost Its Voice?

I'll let Dennis Gruending ponder that one.  But one small point that seems to have been missed in the case of Occupy Toronto:

In Toronto, the occupiers were camped in a park owned jointly by the city and the (Anglican) Cathedral Church of St. James. Toronto mayor Rob Ford wanted to evict the occupiers but the church said on its website that it was not in favour of that.

So, how do you go about throwing people out of a park that they have been OKed to use by the park owners?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

William Shatner On Deep Fried Turkey

You notice how his name sounds like Shakespeare?  A reincarnation, perhaps?

PS.  Note the subtle LOTR references. This  guy is so deep.

Government Prepares For The Future Of The North

The purpose of this study is to address the issue of the accuracy of visual observations of seabird mortality from a vessel observation platform. The objective is to design and conduct an experiment to determine the number of simulated dead pelagic seabirds that are visually detectable in an open ocean search area in relation to a known number of simulated dead seabirds that have been released in the same area. This experiment will evaluate the ability to detect dead seabirds in a search area, the results of which will aid in the calibration of existing and/or future models or quantitative estimates of seabird mortality resulting from marine oil spills.

There will be dead sea-birds.

Government To Strengthen Hate Speech Provisions In Criminal Code

The clip is Brian Storseth's introduction of Bill C-304 to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  The most interesting part is the last half, in which Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson asks the HOC to get behind the government's "forthcoming amendments to strengthen the hate crimes provision of the criminal code".  Shades of The Moon Report, which suggested transferring some powers from the CHRC to the police when it come to fighting hate crimes?

A few years back I wrote about what might happen if that report was implemented in full:

What would happen is that complaints dealing with the kind of material now handled by the CHRC under section 13 would go to the various police hate crimes units (whose workload, Moon suggests, would almost certainly increase). So, while nowadays Connie and Mark, or Mr. Boisson, might get a letter from a government bureaucrat, under the new regime they would most likely get a call from a nice policeman, and this would occur just as their websites (via section 320.1 of the CC) disappeared until said policeman could decide whether its contents met the standard. Since Freedominion occasionally hosts calls for Muslim genocide in its forums, it is almost certain that they would be getting such phone-calls, and might wind up looking at jail-time rather than a fine and rebuke.

And now maybe we'll see it happen.

Also of note, Tarek Fatah and his gang (the MCC) have apparently come out in support of C-304.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dalton McGuinty Is Jesus

..or, at least, not Bob Rae.  But I believe him when he says he won't run.  Which so far gives us for the Liberal Leadership race an allegedly reluctant Bob Rae (banned from competing by the LPoC youth elite) vs. Borys Who?, who is intriguing but way low profile.  Steve, Jeff...where is this Teenage Jesus you seek?

Keystone XL: That Way Won't Work

From a Calgary Herald editorial noting a possible new route for the Keystone XL:

TransCanada might possibly move Keystone further east, along its existing Keystone 1 route through Nebraska.

This is kind of vague, but it sounds most like what is called the I-90 Corridor Alternative, which was originally proposed to get the pipe around Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer (the environmental sensitivity of which is one major cause of Keystone XL's political problems in the first place).  Since it has been given a name, we can assume that this alternate pathway already been thought of.  And it has.  From the draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), some of the reasons it was rejected in the first place include:

The I-90 Corridor Alternatives would require two more crossings of the Missouri River than the proposed Project route, and these crossings would be within environmentally sensitive areas. One of these crossings would be at Lake Francis Case, a reservoir along the Missouri River formed by Fort Randall Dam. This dam is approximately 90 miles downstream of the potential crossing sites. Given the sensitivity of the crossing area, two variations of the I-90 Corridor Alternatives (A and B) were considered. I-90 Corridor Alternative A is parallel to I-90 through the Oacoma area and crosses Lake Francis Case adjacent to I-90. I-90 Corridor Alternative B parallels the South Dakota Highway 16/South Dakota Highway 50 alignment through the Oacoma area and across Lake Francis Case (see Figure 4.3.3-5). I-90 Corridor Alternative A avoids the downtown area of Chamberlain but requires crossing a steep bluff on the east side of the lake. I-90 Corridor Alternative B extends through the downtown area of Chamberlain but avoids the steeper portions of the bluff.

There's far more.  As in: the I-90 Alternative would effect more sensitive wetlands, more farmland, cross more streams, and etc.  than the current route.  Here's a handy chart from the Draft EIS linked above:

From the EIS conclusion:

In summary, the I-90 Corridor Alternatives would not eliminate the risk of an accidental release from the pipeline, but would simply transfer that same risk from one portion of the NHPAQ to other groundwater aquifers, including other shallow aquifers within Nebraska. Additionally, as depicted in Figure 4.3.3-6, the risk would be transferred from an area of relatively low ongoing groundwater usage within the Sand Hills topographic region to areas of high ongoing groundwater usage elsewhere.

In addition, the comparisons of key environmental issues and the greater area of impact of the I-90 Corridor Alternatives suggest that the alternatives would not offer an overall environmental advantage over the proposed Project route. Finally, crossing Lake Francis Case using the HDD method may not be technically feasible due to the length of the crossing, the height of the bluff on the eastern shore of the lake, and the depth of required boring. Detailed engineering studies would be required to determine whether or not the HDD crossing is technically feasible, including geotechnical studies to determine whether or not the soil conditions in the bluff and under the river would be receptive to using HDD. If HDD is not suitable, a wet-cut crossing using barges and bottom dredging would likely be required. With this method there would be substantial construction impacts to water quality, fisheries habitats, benthic communities, and recreational uses as compared to the impacts of the proposed Project.

As a result of these considerations, the I-90 Corridor Alternatives were eliminated at the screening level from further consideration.

Now, as I say, the two line paragraph in the Herald is quite vague.  It might also be referring to the Keystone Corridor Alternative (you can see a map of the alternative routes here).  Since it also has been given a name, you know its been thought of too, and is even worse that the I-90 solution.

So the bottom line is that the proposed route is almost certainly the best among the available alternatives.  Thus any rejig simply transfers the environmental risk to some place other than Sandhills, and increases it overall.  If the Obama administration can't get behind the current route, it would be even more difficult to get behind any of its major competitors.  And note too that Nebraska lawmakers themselves are only talking about moves that would increase the pipe length by 30 or 40 miles, which doesn't sound like any of the possibilities considered in the EIS and which, therefore, will almost certainly not solve the problem of the pipe's crossing Nebraska's environmentally sensitive areas in the first place. 

The Keystone XL may be closer to death than I first thought, especially since any agreement between TransCanada and the State of Nebraska will not alter the timing of the Obama administration decision.

Twitterverse Tilts Left

 From a Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism study on how selected U.S. MSM print and media outlets use twitter:
Other interesting bits from the study; the kind of thing our own beloved Kady O'Malley does pretty frequently--crowd sourcing her news gathering--seems to be quite rare in U.S. journalism:

Of the 13 most heavily followed individuals at the news organizations in the study, the average number of tweets in a week was 32, or five times per day.

When these journalists did tweet, very little of that material was information-gathering in nature. Eight of the 13 reporters examined never asked followers to help provide information. On average, only 3% of individual reporters' tweets did so.

Other findings, for instance that a outlet's main twitter feed acts mostly to drive traffic to the outlet website, are less surprising.

Here's another neat study the Center just over a year ago on blogging and the MSM.

PS. Nowhere in the study does it say the twitterverse skews left; that's just my interpretation of a couple of their graphs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver Accuses NDP of Betraying Alberta

 Except he's calling it Canada these days.  The Tory re-branding continues.

Keystone XL: Which Way Around?

With Transcanada suddenly willing to redirect parts of Keystone XL, the question arises: where exactly in Nebraska would the rerouted pipeline go?  In fact Cardno Entrix, the controversial environmental contractor that assessed the line, had already considered alternatives to the "as filed" route, including in the Sand Hills area.  From their "Keystone Pipeline Project – Mainline Pipeline Route Alternatives", here's a map of the affected area of Nebraska showing the originally proposed and possible alternative line:
(Note: it should look better when clicked upon)
Now, what's interesting here is that, according to the Cardno Entrix Doc:

Keystone has examined the environmental and project operational effects of each of these route and pump station alternatives, and recommends that the Department of State (DOS) adopt these alternatives as a component of an Agency Preferred Alternative for the Environmental Impact Statement.

So, several years back, the folks behind Keystone  recommended moving the line away from Sand Hills.  However, the DOS would not bite.  From their Executive Summary to their Environmental Impact Statement (emphasis mine):

Although the other four route alternatives could have been eliminated based on consideration of economical and technical practicability and feasibility without further evaluation, they were nonetheless examined further with an emphasis on groundwater resources. The I-90 Corridor and Keystone Corridor alternatives would all avoid the Sand Hills; however, they would not avoid the Northern High Plains Aquifer system, and they would not avoid areas of shallow groundwater. Instead, these routes would shift risks to other areas of the Northern High Plains Aquifer system and to other aquifers.

In addition, these alternatives would be longer than the proposed route and would disturb more land and cross more water bodies than the proposed route.

DOS finally concluded:

DOS did not find any of the major alternatives to be preferable to the proposed Project for the reasons presented in the final EIS and summarized above. As a result, the agency-preferred alternative is the proposed Project route with the variations and minor route realignments described in the EIS...

From an environmental stand-point, then, the re-routed line may be less safe than the original, and people will still have to deal with any fallout.  Just not the same people.

The Bob And Sheila Show

Steve and Jeff  are upset with Shelia Copps remarks yesterday re democracy in the LPoC and the possible permanent leadership aspirations of currently interim leader Bob Rae.  They get hives at the very thought of Rae as permanent head, I suppose; I get hives, on the other hand, at how the rules were specifically designed to exclude him from running for the post, which basically amounts to the party exploiting their best Pol and then casting him aside when convenient.  The notion that it isn't a rule which prevents Bob Rae from competing, but a promise he made, strikes me as mere semantics.  He was told to promise, or he wouldn't get the job.  Whether Sheila is suggesting that she will unwrite a rule, or release Bob from his promise, is not a matter of substance.

Not that I would easily support Bob.  He's just too damned old; the LPoC has to find someone that can commit past 2015 should they not form government next election.  And I suspect some of the animus against Rae, and perhaps Ms. Copps, stems from an inchoate longing for generational change rather than anything in particular that was said yesterday.  But Teenage Jesus hasn't shown up as yet, and in a year or so the party will have to choose from among what has been offered.  If its Bob vs. crap, why should the LPoC force itself to default to crap?

And as for Sheila's celebrity status "sucking all the air from the room" and so forth, if not for her speech the story of the day yesterday would have Mike Crawley and Ron Hartling fighting over who lost Ontario. How would that have been better?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Threats And Counter-Threats Re Northern Gateway Pipeline

 From Tory flavoured columnist Barbara Yaffe (but really it could just as well be Flaherty talking, or the PM):

Environmentalists had better be preparing to move their White House demos and crusading movie stars north, to B.C. - to try to thwart Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline across B.C. to Kitimat, the point from which oil would then go via tanker to China and other points east.

They should be warned, that project will be much harder to thwart; a strongly supportive Harper government has a majority and won't face the electorate until 2015.

From various of the 52 First Nations whose lands the pipeline would cross:

* On October 1, 2010, the Chiefs of the First Nations Summit of BC, representing a majority of First Nations and Tribal Councils in the province, passed a resolution calling on the federal government to halt Northern Gateway until its received free, prior and informed consent by affected First Nations.

* In March 2010, nine Coastal First Nations declared an oil tanker ban under their traditional laws.

It will be very hard to get this pipe built, period.  And lost in the rhetoric, but mentioned towards the bottom of this G&M piece, is the fact that the federal environmental review of the pipeline won't even be finished for "a couple of years".  So it certainly won't get built anytime soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

C'est La Vie

David Warren on the sexual predators at Penn State:

Here, to my mind, is the interesting thing. The background condition of human life is such, that the sexual abuse of minors, and sexual immorality more generally, keeps happening. Children have been, are, and will be molested in schools, at athletic events, in summer camps, by babysitters, and even by priests and choir directors. That we must always be vigilant against it ought to go without saying. But it remains a fact of life.

Oh I betcha the Ottawa Citizen comes to regret publishing this column.  Apparently, things down in those shower rooms weren't that bad, Warren argues.  Joe Paterno only allowed one kid to get raped.  And those football hooligans rioting afterwards--that was Amurika standing up against political correctness, if in a slightly confused manner that might suggest that Amurika condones raping kids if the rapist is one of those demigod types associated with college sports.

Everyone knows that David Warren is a shitty journalist, but this is frankly deranged.

Who Should Train The Rat Pack Of Tommorow?

Sheila, obviously.  I have always been a huge fan.  And I think the party could use an injection of the kind of spine she and her fellow rat-packers provided back in the day.  Bob Rae is a fine orator and a good leader (interim or otherwise), but running an effective opposition means finding ways of getting under the government's skin.  And I'm not seeing that yet (although the walk-out was a good stunt). 

And yes I realize the party Prez doesn't have much to do with the day to day performances in the HOC. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

From The "You Learn Something New Every Day" File

I have always assumed that if you were against fluoride in your local water supply you were basically like this guy: an anti-science nut.  But Brian Schmidt is not a nut; in fact he's an environmental lawyer.  More importantly,  he's on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board.  So when  points to material that says that the decision to fluoridate is not cut and dried, it's worth paying some attention to.

Michael Levi On The Keystone Pipeline: Lamenting A Train That's Already Left The Station

 Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Michael Levi thinks the decision to delay, and possibly kill, the Keystone XL Pipeline is short-sighted, and will redound to ill effect upon the environmentalists that are celebrating today.

I should say at the outset that I am more inclined towards supporting Keystone than against, because the choice may be between selling Tarsands oil to the Americans through Keystone vs. selling it to the Chinese through Northern Gateway.  I wrote once:

To me, the best/only way to "green" the tar-sands is to sell any oil from them to our American cousins exclusively, and wait for their federal and state governments to force change upon the oil patch.  Harper and Co. are controlled by Western Petro interests, but to the Yankees Alberta doesn't amount to a patch of dickweed.

But I must say that Mr. Levi's main pro-Keystone argument today strikes me as terribly naive.  The core of it is:

For green groups, the shortest route to blocking fossil fuel development appears to be leveraging local opposition. Many will seek to turn this not only against the Canadian oil sands but against United States oil production and coal exports, too. At the same time, they will find themselves increasingly appealing to the federal government for help in overriding local opposition to wind farms, solar plants, long distance transmission lines and other critical pieces of zero-carbon infrastructure. These two endeavors will conflict.


 Energy experts often note that it would be impossible to recreate today’s energy infrastructure, given the intensity of opposition to pretty much any new development. The environmentalists’ victory against Keystone XL will only reinforce that judgment. But realizing their broader vision — a low-carbon economy that enhances the nation’s security and helps avoid dangerous climate change — will require defeating the same sort of local opposition that they have just embraced.

But the scenario Levi outlines had already arrived pre-Keystone.  For example, the anti-wind/anti-solar campaigns here in Ontario during the last provincial election were  perfect examples of local groups trying to block green energy projects: the NIMBY's behind them complained about about the "annoyance" caused by turbines that occasionally exceeded 45 decibels, and solar arrays that looked ugly when viewed a mile off from the decks of their cottages. 

But these folk did not get much sympathy from the broader community and, to their credit, the major environmental groups stayed well away from their cause.  In any case, the take-away point is that with every project the balance between local vs. general concerns will be different, and enviros will have to find their way forward on a case-by-case basis.  I suspect most of them know this already, but Mr. Levi has apparently just realized the, and is  startled by it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tim Hudak Still Won't Admit To Gay Bashing During Election Campaign...

 We're still talking about that flyer that got them into so much trouble in October:
On Friday the PC Party held firm and refused to apologize.  “We addressed this during the campaign,” Alan Sakach, the party’s director of communications, told the Toronto Star.  “Our issue is this curriculum specifically told teachers not to consult with parents and that is the crux of the matter.”
The crux of the matter is that this claim has not ceased to be bullshit since the election:  the TDSB felt that best practice was to inform parents of any equity issues that arise might during a term at the beginning of that term, just  not on a daily basis. 

You know, if Mr. Hudak wants to be Premier of this province he's going to have to own up to a few mistakes.  This was a big one.  Why play silly games about it at this late date?

Blogging In English Canada

 The results of the Blogging Common survey, which many of us participated in earlier in the year, can be found here.  Interesting stuff, if not particularly surprising.  One of their more notable results, perhaps, is this:

Typical bloggers spend a third of their blogs writing about their personal lives; highly linked to bloggers tend to share commentary and opinion.

On average, “diary and personal experience” makes up 36% of the content on blogs written by English-language bloggers. Popular bloggers spend only 18% of their blogs writing about their personal lives and 48% on commentary and opinion.

I was interviewed as part of their pool of "popular" bloggers and I will note that I hardly ever write about myself per se, under the assumption that this would bore readers. 

A 2nd notable survey result is that, among "highly linked-to" bloggers, the single most popular posting topic is Politics.  I suppose that's not surprising either; writing/reading about politics doesn't require a great degree of specialized knowledge-- its actually fairly difficult to have your views proven definitively wrong--and so while everyone has an opinion, nobody is afraid to weigh in with it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How The Star Makes Its $$$

Torstar has moved aggressively in recent years to create, buy and foster niche websites that target narrow groups of people: parents, homeowners, fashionistas, car-buyers, job-hunters. In many cases, these websites are not connected to any of the old media brands. Few carry any of the public service watchdog journalism that was at the heart of old-fashioned newspaper companies. In many cases – just look at Wagjag and Workopolis -- they don’t carry any editorial content at all.

Consider Torstar’s recent buying spree. The company sold off its share of CTV and spent a bunch of the cash on, a classified site for autodealers; the Kit, a digital beauty site; Foodscrooge, a site for cheap food; and increased its stake in the couponing sites and It also increased its stake in Metro.

This is a smart boardroom move. Torstar is capitalizing on the Internet’s ability to deliver ever-more-refined segments of the consuming public to discriminating advertisers. But it does nothing for journalism. It can’t be determined from the quarterly report, but it seems very unlikely that the growth in digital ad revenues is connected to the kind of stories that build a strong, open and honest society, the kind of stories that most journalists love to do.

The good news is that Torstar is muddling through. It is trying new stuff and finding new ways to make money, and some of that money will surely flow to what used to be its core business. The bad news is that none of the good news is directly related to journalism – or journalists.
I am not sure how surprising this should be.  It has always been thus: the ads support the news, and not vice versa.

Screw You, Rest Of Canada

 Stand in downtown Toronto, walk 20 klicks in any direction, and you'll find people making money, doing business, and contributing to the Canadian economy in a multitude of different ways.  Stand downtown in your town and walk 20 klicks, and you'll likely trip over a gopher hole. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

CBC Should Have Had Ezra Levant Tased

 Objectively, he is 1,000, 000 times more unfunny and pointlessly obnoxious than Mary Walsh, and that's saying alot.  In fact, I am willing to let the gov. pass as many oppressive laws as they need to put him in jail for something.  And I think most mainstream Canadians share this view.

But until that day, the Free Market must grind slowly on.  But it grinds fine indeed; within 12 months, I predict, Ezra'll be back grievance mongering from his rich daddy's basement.

Must Be A Slow News Day

No less than three progressive blogger types are arguing over whether the Sunshine Girl should be phased out and yet none of them have provided a picture of the girl that triggered the debate (Marie-Claude Bourbonnais).  So, apparently that's become my job.  Here's a shot that's relatively chaste:

...but which raises the obvious question: is it really possible? And, in answer, as a science-based kind of guy, I would note that in Science there are inviolable laws of Nature.  One of these is that gravity always wins.  If you see a situation where this law appears to be violated, you start looking around for unnatural sources of support.

As a couple of side notes, it is entirely unsurprising that Marie-Claude is popular at comic book conventions.  And, secondly, if the nation ever does split apart, I'm going with Quebec.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Pulpit And Politics: The Book

With the ascension of the federal Conservative Party, there have been two important attempts made to measure the influence that religious voters--especially those associated with The Religious Right--wield over the Harper government.  One of these is Marci McDonald's The Armageddon Factor; the other is Dennis Gruending's recently released Pulpit and Politics.

Of the two, I think I prefer Gruending's effort better.  For one thing,  The Armageddon Factor seems a book researched where Pulpit and Politics seems a booked lived.  Gruending, an ex-MP and one-time Director of Information for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, moves easily over his subject, and  seems intimately familiar with the large cast of characters that make up the nation's community of religious activists. 

It is this familiarity, perhaps, that gives the book its second advantage; Pulpit and Politics seems less prone to the kind of overstatement that McDonald has been accused of.  Yes, socially convervative groups have sway with the current government, far more than during previous Liberal regimes.  Nevertheless, their ability to do real harm to the nation is limited; Pulpit and Politics readers will note that almost all the bones thrown to Religuous Right voters over the past several years have involved relatively minor foreign policy issues.  Efforts to promote family planning in the 3rd world, for example,  have been eliminated or scaled back or order to appease Pro-Lifers.  No attempt, on the other hand, has been made to defund or eliminate abortions services here in Canada.

Gruending also tells the story of religious progressivism in 21st century Canada; indeed the book is  sub-titled "competing religious ideologies in Canadian public life".  This part suffers from the fact that the subject matter is, frankly, depressing.  The federal Conservatives have treated their religious critics in the same fashion as their secular ones: as people to be derided, organizations to be defunded.  For example, Gruending spends several chapters over the fate of KAIROS (Canadian Ecumenical Justice).  This organization was deprived of federal monies for either--depending on the Minister speaking at the time--opposing the unrestricted development of Alberta's tar sands or insufficient zealotry in the cause of Israel.  Gruending narrates well the story's various twists and turns, culminating in the now legendary "not" that was inserted, by goodness knows who, into CIDA's memo to the minister approving KAIROS funding.  But its a head-shaker, and leaves the reader marvelling at just how low the current government is willing to stoop when they feel the public is paying attention to other things--off watching hockey or at the cabin or doing whatever the public does these days to avoid thinking too much.

(Although, as an aside, I'm happy to note that KAIROS is still out there, fighting the good fight--albeit on a shoe-string budget.)

As for the book's structure, Gruending starts off with several "big picture" essays setting out the demographics of religious Canada: who are the players, who votes for who, and so forth.  This done, he plunges right into the various skirmishes that make up Canada's version of The Culture Wars.  Its inside baseball stuff, and perhaps this will limit the book's broader appeal.  Nevertheless, if that's the level of coverage you are looking for in your political reading, and if how those of faith interact with the Canadian political system interests/concerns you (and I would argue it ought to), Politics and Pulpit  should be on your reading list.

Trost Trashes Oda

 Some additional detail around the Tory Gov's recent decision to re-fund Planned Parenthood International that I don't think  has appeared elsewhere:

Trost said he understands that six staffers in the office of International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda were working on getting IPPF grant money “and one of them decided to leak the story to the CBC.” Trost added, “rather than deny the story, a decision was made to rush funding,” to the abortion organization. A source in the Prime Minister’s Office also told The Interim that the move to fund Planned Parenthood came from Oda’s office and not the PMO.

So Minister Oda takes all the blame among SoCons, but she's in a GTA riding so who cares

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Did Fracking Cause Sparks Quake?

 A record  5.6 magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma.  And fracking has been shown to cause at least small ones.  In fact, a number earlier Okla. quakes may have been caused by the process.  Here's a graph showing the recent up-tick in seismic for Texas and Oklahoma.
Be interesting to find out if they can be correlated to any uptick in the use of the extraction technique in these two states.

More here.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

In Trashing "Occupy" Movement, Margaret Wente Quotes Some John

...not even related to the "Occupy" movement.  Media culpa has the dets.  This being an opinion columnist thing seems pretty easy.  You don't need to use facts at all.

Maybe We Owe Paul Hellyer An Apology

Paul Hellyer is a Pearson era cabinet minister who has received some notoriety and much ridicule in recent years for his embrace of Exo-politics (he believes, among other things, that UFOs have shot down U.S. jet fighter jetss).  The telegram is what it appears to be: in 1924 Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, Edward W. Eberle, instructed all Naval stations to monitor the airwaves for any unusual transmissions due to anticipated contact from Martians. He also appealed to astronomers to monitor the skies for Martian radio transmissions.  Things were different back then.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bourrie's "Banned By Fox News North" Story Goes Virile

I mean viral.  But why would anyone possibly want to keep this face off of television?

 A couple of MSM stories out there now about how Mark Bourrie, whose latest book is about WWII government censorship of the press in Canada, got banned from putatively free-speech loving Sun TV.  They just serve as a reminder that 99.9% percent of the argument pro-Speechy is pure hypocrisy.  Though, to be fair, Mark still believes. But, believe me, Sun TV doesn't; the only reason they want unrestricted free speech is to bash Muzzis and Gays. 

Banned By Fox News North!

Mark Bourrie was, after being approached as a potential hire by Kory Teneycke last year. Interesting in that it sounds like Mark's the 2nd person Sun TV approached to fill the position of dedicated Suzuki basher.

First Ontario Poll Post Election Shows Prospects, Problems

 The McGuinty Liberals would probably win a majority today, but that damned Mississaugua gas plant could become an albatross around their necks. 

Cancelling the thing at the very last moment seemed the Libs one campaign misstep (that and McGuinty's arm waving at the debate), although it didn't really harm them much at the time.  When you build your campaign around pandering to NIMBYs, as Hudak did, you can't really complain when your opponent turns around and does it better.

And its sad to see NIMBYism come to the 416; I guess its easy to be green when all the turbines/plants are located in someone else's riding.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Corneliu Chisu's Office Responds

According to the following, The Tory MP's staffers did not know who Marc Lemire was when they replied to his request for Mr. Chisu's support re Bill C-304:

We respond to individuals who write in to our office, regardless of political affiliation or whether they are a constituent or not; that being said we have no way of knowing the political affiliations of whoever writes in or the previous history of anyone who writes in. Mr. Lemire asked for Mr. Chisu’s stance on Bill C-304 so I gave it to him. Corresponding with someone does not mean they share values with that person, and I can guarantee you that if in fact Mr. Lemire is as you’ve described, this would apply.

I have left the personal contact information off this email, as per the senders request.  But: someone should have applied teh Googles.

Your Daily Nazi: Tory MP's Office Sends Letter In Support of Bill C-304 To White Nationalist Marc Lemire (The Inspiration Behind The Bill)

Here's the letter:

And here's the source.  And here's some background on Mr. Lemire, including his wiki entry, from which I quote: "Lemire was the last president of the often violent Heritage Front organization from January 1, 2001 until the organization folded around 2005".  If Mr. Chisu was living in T.O. back in the mid 1990s to early 2000s, he should have heard of this guy.  I will send his office a quick email, and see if he remembers.

PS. A reader notes that Lemire

...the last known president of the Heritage Front, was working for Mr. [Ernst] Zündel part-time, and then full-time for many years until Mr. Zündel left for the United States.

...and that CPoC Minister Vic Toews has reitereated that Mr. Zundel is not welcome back in Canada.

Tim Hortons Gets All Phisticated

This may change everything:

Starting next week the iconic national chain will begin offering customers espresso, lattes and brewed-on-the-spot cappuccinos, all made from sophisticated machines that have been quietly been making their way into Tim’s outlets across Canada.

Seriously.  Their regular stuff is the coffee version of that wine you buy in big plastic bags.  Why not aspire to something a little more upmarket?  The question is, how will the new and old clienteles get on?  Will truckers and conceptual artists lie down together, or will there be fighting in the aisles? 

And I wonder if the espresso will be any cheaper then the competition's?  Every mall I go to, its exactly $2.63.  C'mon Timmys, lets have a bean war.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Rocco's Next Campaign?

I hear he plans to make World Book for losing at least one election on every continent.


Fox News North Viewership Numbers Still Crap

 With an average minute audience of 11,400 during the Hard News day and 31,200 for Straight Talk in prime time, Sun News is off to a strong start.

Its from a news release, so they can't bullshit too hard.  The scary part (for Sun TV) is that, if you look at these numbers from June and do a bit of cheap math, you get viewership in June averaging about 23,000 per minute, and viewership today averaging about 21,300.  So its like the station was born dead and has been flat-lining ever since.