Saturday, June 30, 2007

National Post Numbers Tank, Will Conrad Black's Trip To The Pokey Finish Them?

From The Globe's Report on Business:

The National Post's weekday circulation in that category tumbled 22 per cent in the six-month period. On the weekends, its circulation for people paying at least half the cover price fell 22 per cent to 125,165 copies.

For total circulation, The Globe was flat Monday to Friday while the Post fell 12 per cent. The Post has withdrawn from delivering its paper in many rural markets, particularly in Eastern Canada.

The end is near, brothers and sisters. Every day when I run past the Southem building I see Andrew Coyne out front selling pencils by the bus stop, and Kinsella keeps asking me for cigarettes.

And just for the record, Mr. Kay, my offer still stands: after the inevitable restructuring I would be willing to step in and take over from both these guys for the price of a single columnist. If you have read this blog enough you will know that I've acquired the ability to rant like a lunatic from years of reading The Sun.

But the Natty's Posts problems go far beyond the fact that nobody reads it. When Lord Black is sentenced, I expect the reporters and columnists there to spontaneously combust, the way a lair of vampires will burn away spectacularly to nothingness when their Alpha Vampire meets the stake.

A Blast From The Past

Procol Harum is one of the great, forgotten bands of the 1960s/1970s. They mixed classical music sounds with the bluesy (Clapton inspired, and then Hendrix inspired) guitar-heroics of axe-master Robin Trower. Everybody has heard "A Whiter Shade of Pale", and they still play their great live version of Conquistador (with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra) on the radio occasionally. The two songs I've showcased here are less well known, however. "Pilgrim's Progress" from A Salty Dog is real pretty. "A Christmas Camel" is somewhat more up-tempo, and contains a nice solo from Mr. Trower, although the sound is a bit rough and I don't know who dressed pianist/vocalist Gary Brooker that day.

This may be it for today. I'll be out until late afternoon and it seems pretty slow for legitimate news.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Where'd They Get The Money?

The London non-bombings are of course the biggest story of today. My 2 X 2 bits:

1) Were these two car bombs supposed to go off? Or was it all a bit of theatre?

And most importantly:

2) Why were "they", whoever "they" might be, booby-trapping a couple of Mercedes?

Bombings are messages sent in blood and bone. What does it mean when you send your message of carnage via a luxury car?

Breaking The Developer's Grip on Local Politics

I heard Robert MacDermiad of York University the other night on CBC, talking about a paper he has published recently entitled "Funding Municipal Elections in the Toronto Region". It's major finding: corporations (mostly developers) accounted for between about 30% in Toronto to about 80% in Vaughan of $s raised by the local candidates during the 2003 GTA municipal elections. Although I can't find this point made in the paper itself, according to Mr. Macdermiad these results are actually good news, with corporations accounting for about 10% less of $s raised over the previous municipal ballots.

One of the reasons behind this good news, according to Mr. MacDermiad, is the recent introduction of contribution rebate programs in Toronto and several other of the municipalities under study. The Toronto version is representative of these programs:

The Toronto rebate program, upon application by the contributor, gave back 75% of a
contribution between $25 and $300 plus 50%.of a contribution between $300 and $1000.

The logic: make it easier through a rebate program for individuals (rather than unions or corporations) to contribute to municipal campaigns and you will attract more individuals (rather than developers and etc.) into the political process; attract more individuals, and a larger cash pool available from individuals, and local politicians will have to build broader coalitions, and represent a broader set of interests if they want to win office municipally.

Very interesting read.

Exxon Strikes Back! Yes Men Websites Shut Down After Calgary Prank

On June 14th, The Yes Men showed up at Calgary's Go-Expo, Canada's largest oil conference, and pranked 300 oil company representatives. Well, these petro-cowboys apparently don't have much of a sense of humour. From an email I received last night:

One day after the Yes Men made a joke announcement that ExxonMobil plans to turn billions of climate-change victims into a brand-new fuel called Vivoleum, the Yes Men's upstream internet service provider shut down, the Yes Men's spoof website, and cut off the Yes Men's email service, in reaction to a complaint whose source they will not identify. The provider, Broadview Networks, also made the Yes Men remove all mention of Exxon from before they'd restore the Yes Men's email service.

The Yes Men assume the complainant was Exxon. "Since parody is protected under US law, Exxon must think that people seeing the site will think Vivoleum's a real Exxon product, not just a parody," said Yes Man Mike Bonanno. "Exxon's policies do already contribute to 150,000 climate-change related deaths each year," added Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum. "So maybe it really is credible. What a resource!"

The current bottom line is that the Yes Men servers need a new home and a new sysadmin (who knows Linux). Any offers of help should be directed to

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Did Christian Terror Bomber Also Target Satanists?

Paul Ross Evans, would-be bomber of the Austin Women's Health Center (which offers abortion counselling services), has apparently confessed to the FBI that he also targeted four "practitioners, students or teachers of the occult" with mail bombs. Bob McDonald, president and a co-founder of the League of Independent Satanists', said:

"I can only guess what his motives were. I was part of a Satanic organization and I was a Satanist. He was bombing anyone who didn't fit a Christian world view."

More info via the links, but...Satanists in Wabash, Texas? Obviously, there's more cool shit going on down there than I imagined.

Governer General Off To Brazil For Bikini Throwdown

From News 1130:

OTTAWA (CP) - Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean is making a state visit to Brazil next month.

She will be wearing this little orange number to the annual Rio de Janeiro swimsuit stuffing competition, where a much improved result is expected over the bad-old Adrienne Clarkson days, when contest officials locked the GG in her dressing room.

Michaelle will also be promoting democracy and yada yada yada.

(Note: the title for this post was inspired by watching Bobby Flay last night on the food network. You notice that when he's not challenging rival chefs, he's cooking for himself on his rooftop studio in New York. It's as though the guy has no friends.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stockwell Day: Harper Vs. Pearson:

According to Stockwell Day in his latest, Lester B. Pearson had a "pretty good" minority run in the 1960s. Nevertheless, Stock's super proud of his own party's minority government accomplishments.

So lets do a quick comparison:

On Health Care:

Pearson introduced Universal Health Care.

The Harper Tories got some of the provinces to sign a piece of paper that said they would deal with unacceptable delays in treatment, in the fullness of time.

On Foreign Policy:

Pearson kept us out of Vietnam.

The Harper Tories sank us deeper into the quagmire that is Afghanistan.

On immigration:

Pearson established the first immigration system that was not race-based.

The Harper Tories bashed full-fledged Canadian citizens of Lebanese descent for not being Canadian enough, being too slow to dodge Israeli bombs and, in general, looking kind of swarthy.

On older Canadians:

Pearson gave us the CPP.

Harper fiddled with Seniors' tax rates.

On National Symbols:

Pearson gave us the Canadian Flag.

The Harper Tories gave us Pierre Bourque's race car decorated with the CPoC colors.

On Pearson's side of the ledger, the list goes on and on. On the side of Harper's Tories, it kind of stops short after their solemn commitment to NASCAR.

Team Denier: The Geezer Squad

Thomas Kuhn argued famously in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" that Science was a young person's game, and that most scientific breakthroughs were made by by young men or researchers new to the field in question. And Lakatos has made one of his criteria of an advancing research programme the ability of that programme to attract a steady stream of new, young recruits.

Of course these claims has been challenged. Wray, for example, has argued that:

...middle-aged scientists are responsible for initiating more scientific revolutions than young scientists given the proportion of each group in the total population of scientists.

But nobody working in the sociology/history of science has ever suggested that the goals of science are best advanced by the Old Timers League, which is essentially what we have above.

And to the mob at Steve's place, where comments of mine have been suppressed again. This is not a variant of the "argument of authority"; its a statement of the sociological facts of Science.

(PS. Kudos to anyone that can slap names on all the deniers pictured above, and anyone who can pick out the one not associated with Climate Change Denial get a special heads-up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rating The Blogging Tories

Yesterday, I wrote about this site, where you can rate blogs and other webpages as though they were movies. So, for example, BCLSB gets an "R" based on my use of "ass" and "pussy", among other naughty-naughties.

So I'm patrolling the Blogging Tories site and I start wondering how these guys would stack up, and I began running their blogs through the Mingle2 rating system. And I must say that I was appalled!!!!! but what I discovered.

Perhaps least surprising was the number of total G-rated lamers on the right side of the political spectrum . It is, frankly, like wandering around in Disney-Land, except in Disney-Land the gays have all come out of the closet.

For example, Janke gets his dweeb friendly label by failing entirely to mention boobies or sexual parts of any kind. Porn it up, Stevie boy, porn it up! And how angry can you be if you don't drop the occasional f-bomb? Drop me a line and I'll even email you the correct spelling!

Less unusual is the fact that Greg Staples earned a G-rating. He's the one we call the "nice Conservative". In fact the only surprise is that he appears to have employed the term "shit" on one occasion. Probably spilled something on his tie.

Now here's a bit of a shocker. Kate only swings a PG- 13 rating. But I suppose you could say that this is a deliberate attempt on her part to spread Evil without attracting alot of negative attention.

On the other hand, the beer soaked dude from Dust My Broom is speaking a language I understand. One of the very few Canadians of native extraction crazy enough to lean Conservative (kind of like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders), his "R" seems to have been earned more for Violence than Sex, although apparently he's used both "assholes" and "knife" together on several occasions, so maybe he's just a little more imaginative than I am.

And now the good part. Whom among the Blogging Tories is willing to truly wallow in the filth and go for the coveted NC-17? Who, in short, are the dirtiest Tories:

Flanders at SoCon or Bust gets tagged with an NC-17 based on the occurrence of the following:

breast (16x)
sex (7x)
death (3x)
hurt (2x)
gun (1x)

Yo Flanders, see a shrink. I can recommend a good one if you like.

I always suspected that, beneath Suzanne's pious exterior, their lurked a kitten with a whip. From this:

sex (3x)
drugs (1x) can only assume that somewhere on Big Blue Wave is a story about a (Catholic?) girl who does drugs and has sex with 3 men. I haven't found it yet, but you know how I'll be spending my weekend.

So there you have it. The BTs are just like us, except maybe even a little more potty-mouthed.

The Rumours Were True: Cools Turfed From Tory Caucus

From the Vancouver Sun:

OTTAWA -- Senator Anne Cools, a former Liberal who crossed the floor to join the Conservatives during the 2004 election campaign, has been turfed from Tory caucus after denouncing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Senate government leader Marjory LeBreton in the upper chamber.

Proud to say I was one of the 1st to pick up on this.

Nice to see that Harper's decision to muzzle his brethren has worked out so splendidly. Pretty soon the only supporter's he'll have left will be himself, his wife, and his mamma.

And, just for good measure, a federal Tory Candidate in trouble.

Kate Says Trust Him, He's A Water Witch

A rant by Swedish Nils-Axel Mörner appears in Executive intelligence Review, where Mr. Mörner accuses the IPCC of falsifying and destroying data to cover up the "truth" behind AGW and rising (or non-rising, as the case may be) sea levels. Kate reports on this, breathlessly, here.

Who is Nils Axel Mörner ? Well, according to professional magician and paranormal debunker James "the amazing" Randi, he is, in addition to being a geophysicist, "a pompous-assed "dowsing expert"" or a "water witch". And what is "dowsing" or "water witching"? These terms refer to:

...practices said to enable one to detect hidden water, metals, gemstones or other objects, usually obstructed by land or sometimes located on a map. Most commonly, detection is made through the movement or vibrations of an apparatus, such as a Y-shaped twig, an L-shaped rod, or a pendulum. Some practitioners claim to need no apparatus at all.

And what is Executive Intelligence Review, in which Mr. Mörner's accusations appear? Why, that turns out to be a magazine published and edited by Lyndon H. Larouche.

And who is he, you might ask? Well, Lyndon H. Larouche has done time for tax fraud, thinks the Queen of England sells drugs, advocates a dictatorship in which a 'humanist' elite would rule on behalf of industrial capitalists, and has developed an idiosyncratic, coded variation on the Illuminati Freemason and Jewish banker conspiracy theories. He also thinks aliens are among us (the little green, not the Mexican kind) .

So: a water witch and a wing-nut. Kate's kind of fellas, obviously.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Avert Your Eyes When You Visit This Blog

Love this.

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

abortion (6x)
ass (4x)
hell (2x)
pussy (1x)

What do you have to motherfucking do to get a motherfucking X-Rating in this motherfucking place?

h/t to April Reign.

They Say The French Are A Logical People I wonder what Quebeckers made of the speeches given before the Van Doos this weekend?

The chief of the NATO alliance in Afghanistan, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: It's not a combat mission; it is a reconstruction mission, but to make [reconstruction] possible, we have to fight. It is as simple as that. NATO has to fight."

So though not a combat mission, there will be plenty of combat on the mission. And while it is a reconstruction mission, there won't be any reconstruction until after the combat's done. Which is like saying it's called "dessert", not "dinner", but the first part of dessert involves liver, and you can't have your ice-cream until you have your liver.

And Charest got into the act too when he told the troops : "You are the acting arm of Quebec pacifism."

That is, the non-pacifistic arm of Quebec pacifism.

h/t to Eugene.

Kate Blames Suzuki For Her Lousy Search Skills

...or that is what I assume to be the lesson of this post, which links to an interesting article in Solid Waste Magazine re. a project in Saskatchewan where they are pumping liquefied carbon back into a barren oil field for storage, and then links to the results you get when you run "CO2 Sequestration" through the search engine at David Suzuki's website, which are Zero.

Apparently, we are supposed to be appalled at Suzuki's lack of interest in the topic. But of course if you run a less technical phrase like "carbon sequestration" through the same engine, you get plenty of hits.

Although you don't get material on this particular type of project at Suzuki's site, and in fact I suspect that Suzuki would look upon schemes which hide the results of emissions as expensive gimmicks that merely serve to delay action on actually cutting emissions. Indeed, there exist severe mid to long-term problems associated with carbon burial.

However, I would point out this recent statement from the National Academies, which represents scientists from 13 countries, including Canada, on tackling AGW:

... it will be necessary to develop and deploy new sources and systems for energy supply, including clean use of coal, carbon capture and storage,unconventional fossil fuel resources, advanced nuclear
systems, advanced renewable energy systems (including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy), smart grids and energy storage technologies.

In other words, the NAs are suggesting we will have to throw pretty much everything, including clean coal, carbon storage, and nuclear power, at the wall to get a handle on the issue, and hope that something sticks.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

C-FAX 1070 Victoria: Racist and Scientifically Illiterate

Over 80% of voters in this totally pointless online poll reject the notion that "freak weather events, like the F-4 Tornadoes that hit Manitoba over the past couple of days are being caused by man made climate change. Quite rightly so too, as the connection between climate change and increased tornado intensity/frequency has yet to be established ( I believe. But sorry, no link).

However, it would have been nice if, in a poll allegedly about the facts of Science, the folks at CFAX 1070 who authored the poll question hadn't written something as painfully idiotic as:

No [they are not being caused by man-made climate change]. While these weather patterns seem strange to us, we've only been here for the past few hundred years. Don't forget, the climate is always changing. In fact, 65 million years ago most of Manitoba was at the bottom of the ocean.

Well, firstly, tell all this to the natives, who have been in Manitoba a minimum of 12,000 years, and possibly quite a few thousand more before that. But, beyond 1070's casual racism, the picture top left shows the extent of the "Western Interior Seaway", the "ocean" in the quote above, at the time of the K/T Boundary event (the big asteroid that killed the dinosaurs), 65.5 million years ago.

Note that it stops well shy of Manitoba. Well shy. Not even freaking close.

They Tell Me What They Think/But They Stink And I Really Don't Care

...from Australia's finest intellectuals, AC/DC.

Eugene has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger award. I am honoured and astounded, as I would have never considered what goes on in this blog "thinking".

The "Thinking Blogger Award" is apparently one of those "meme" things (ie a fancy word for "idea"), so now I must apparently:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,

Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (There is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

What the hell? I've been meaning to do something this for awhile now. So:

Alison is a nature girl. She lives on Bowen Island (B.C.) in a tree-house, and swims with the whales every morning so as to better appreciate their concerns. The result is Creekside, a terrific blog that deals with environmental/globalization/N.A. Deep Integration issues.

Steve V of Far and Wide writes about lots of things, but he is especially good (level-headed, not too excitable) when it comes to poll smoking. He's one of the reasons I don't write about polls so much anymore. I just visit F&W and write "ditto".

Darren Naish is an underemployed paleontologist who has turned his spare time into Tetrapod Zoology, maybe the best science blog on the net. He's got to be good if he can haul in 5,000 visitors a day writing about armadillos, right? I don't get a 10th of that traffic when I write about boobies. Darren also dabbles in cryptozoology, which is how I discovered TZ.

However, Cryptomundo is ground zero for crypto fans. Bigfoot, Ogo Pogo, Nessie. If its weird and probably non-existent, then the lads at Cryptomundo have probably written about it. Incidentally, this blog was instrumental in helping me "blow the lid" off the Mike Lake Bigfoot Scandal.

McClelland has a tendency to run off at the mouth dangerously, but MyBlagh is still a good mixture of the entertaining and the annoying. Read the Canadian Left's bad-boy blogger, and see who he will offend next. (hint: its usually Cherniak)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

McKitrick's "No Average Temperature Argument", Rehashed Christopher Essex of the Financial Post, who writes:

My dark secret needs little explanation for thermodynamically minded people. For them, it is really quite simple: The Earth is not in "thermodynamic equilibrium," so there is no single temperature for the whole thing. No statistical hocus pocus can change that. However, global warming proponents and skeptics alike have been very busy averaging temperature data, unsupervised, on an industrial scale for years.

Read close and all you see is a For Dummies version of this paper by Mr. Essex and Ross McKitrick, who after Tim Ball is probably Canada's premier Climate Change Denialist.

And in the spirit of this FP article, I will rehash my earlier post on this paper entitled "Global Warming Deniers Deny Concept Of An Average Value" . Shorter version:

...the real problem with [Essex and McKitrick's] claim is that it proves too much, can in fact be employed to prove that the concept of an average anything is meaningless.

But you have to hit the link immediately above to get all the whys and wherefores. I'm feeling lazy today.

Conservative Senators Off One Of Their Own?

Rumour has it that Liberal turned Tory Anne Cools has been

...removed from caucus for several reasons including not supporting the budget and failing to attend a caucus meeting since October 2006.

I've seen nothing on this in the MSM yet, so I suppose it must remain a rumor. Given her history, I wonder if the Libs will want her back?

Update: One of my buds at Free Dominion says Harper mentioned that Cools was no longer in his caucus at his press conference yesterday. Still no word in the papers etc., however.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BabyKillers Up By Six Votes!

According to Judi McLeod of CanadaFreePress:

As of right now in real time, abortion supporters have the number one spot in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/Facebook Wish Contest. The wish for Canada to remain pro-choice has 7,054 supporters. The wish to abolish abortion in Canada has 7,048.

Contest ends on July 1st, and you will know participants by the repetitive stress injuries on their index fingers from multiple voting.

Of course I would never demean myself by actually casting a ballot in one of these childish pseudo-contests, but my good buddy Galactus loves 'em, and I may send him over to Facebook to offer a few dozen votes. But here's the thing: when babies die, Galactus cries.

SoCon's Complaint: You Freep Better Then We

From the "who the hell gives a crap?" department, it looks like the CBC's Canadian Wish List Facebook competition has turned into a knock 'em down, drag 'em out, Apocalymundo-style clash between Pro and Anti Abortion forces, with the SoCons attempting to establish "abolishing abortion" as the #1 wish of Canadians.

Ned Flanders over here claims that all "heck" has broken loose since Pro-choice types proved move adept at Freeping the poll than Pro-life types. But in his comments section it is now being reported that the Pro-Lifers have redoubled their efforts and taken the lead once again... at what cost, however? Their SOULS, perhaps?

It seems our people have started cheating, so now we have lost the moral high ground, and a chance to expose them for the fraud they are.

Now both sides look bad.

And my message to both sides of this faintly hilarious "struggle" for Facebook supremacy is the same message I delivered to those guys who dressed as Klingons to meet a planeload of Trekkies at Pearson Airport: "Get a life, you pathetic Nerds! You're making me embarrassed to be a human!"

Conservative M.P. Jay Hill: Stephen Taylor Doesn't Exist, and I Am Not A Boob Man

It turns out that Peace River's Conservative M.P Jay Hill does a weekly blogpost on the website of 250 North. Not as transplendantly dorky as Stockwell, he still comes up with the occasional dubious claim. In last week's column, for example, he insisted that:

In Ottawa, it is a well-known fact that if there is NO juicy rumour by noon, someone is sure to start one. The next time you hear or read about some story attributed to a “Tory insider” or “Conservative strategist”, please remember there are no such positions!

Yeah sure, tell that to this guy.

Hill also insisted that Prince Harry had the right to nail as many Calgary barmaids as he pleased, and yet feigned disinterest in their bra sizes.

Averts Eyes in Presence of Boobies!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Loch Ness Videographer Has Also Filmed Fairies!

Gordon T. Holmes, the man whose footage of the Loch Ness Monster received so much attention back in late May (see still photo left), has also produced a pamphlet entitled Fairies On Ilkley Moor: the evidence in which he claims to have recorded "images of fairy-like figures". Furthermore, he once thought that he had found a "Plesiosaur Flipper" until a local geologist told him it was a big hunk of rock, and has suggested a "miniature black hole" as a possible explanation for what is seen in his now famous film.

Ah well, there's always the Bosnian Pyramid. Oh wait, that too turns out to have been just a big hunk of rock.

h/t to Cryptomundo.

Why A War In Heaven Is A Bad Thing

Because when you blow up anything orbiting, for example, 200 Kilometres above the Earth it turns into a million little pieces of shrapnel speeding around at 28,000 kilometres per hour, thus ruining things for all the other astronauts, more or less permanently. So:

Since debris cannot be effectively removed from orbit, controlling the production of debris is essential for preserving the long-term use of space Banning anti-satellite weapons would also improve international security by preventing the erroneous interpretations of satellite failures as deliberate attacks by enemy states.

And therefore:

Given its knowledge on space security, Canada is well-placed to take on an international leadership role by enthusiastically supporting initiatives for the drafting and ratification of a an international treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

Canada can also do more. There has never been any comprehensive, coherent and overarching Canadian national policy. Instead of a piece-meal approach, Canada should have a national space policy that is adopted after thorough and public debate in order to govern and guide the conduct of Canadian space activities in an organized and sustained manner.

Certainly, whispered hints on the part of the Harper government that they might support the latest incarnation of Star Wars don't help.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stockwell Day And His Ass

Pretty slim Pickins in Stock's latest Penticton Western column, which mostly concerns the decision of the "Westside" area in his riding to incorporate. Although Mr. Day's constant need to stress his ordinary-guyness with such remarks as

The CMT network did a super special on Merritt and the Nicola Valley that would even make an academic say “Yahoo!”

are enough to induce spontaneous eye-rolling.

And while I was researching "Westside" I found this curious remark re a player on the local soccer team:

As per Westside tradition, [he] likes to play himself out of situations tighter than Stockwell Day's ass.

...which makes me ponder how this writer can possibly know just how tight Stockwell's Ass is, and how such things are measured in the first place.

New Tory Youth Video

Maybe I shouldn't be offering these guys the free publicity, but I doubt it will help, cuz their video sucks pretty badly. I guess it is supposed to suggest the idea of Liberals seeking to rule over a France/Canada in decline, and actually some of the drawn backgrounds are not too badly done. However:

1) The sound sucks, and with all the characters talking back and forth, I don't have much idea of what is going on. An effeminate looking Stephane is talking policy with his "courtiers", and Accountability, The Military, and the GST come up, but I don't intend to watch a third time to actually work through the details of the conversation.

2) If you keep a politics related blog, I suppose that makes you officially a politics Nerd, but I can still only identify about half the characters. Iggy bulks large, and I think Martha Hall Findley is there. The others I am unsure of and, again, I doubt I will watch it again so as to positively ID them.

3) The "kingdom" is supposed to be France (I am guessing), and yet none of the characters speaks with a French accent, not even Stephane, where our young Tories might have milked a vein of cruel humour. (Yes Stephane has been sounding a lot better lately, but have you listened to his face-book greeting? He sounds like someone from Monty Python parodying a Frenchie.)

So: 2 out of five stars. The production values are certainly there (more Tory millions being slung around?), but the content is lacking. And Canada's Tory youth definitely need a humor transplant.

And an h/t to.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And The Name Of The Beast Shall Be Celine...

Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us, and the prophet who wishes to write a new apocalypse will have to invent entirely new beasts, and beasts so terrible that the ancient animal symbols of Saint John will seem like cooing doves and cupids in comp

Hilary Clinton has chosen "You and I" by Celine Dion as her campaign theme song. It's all over.

Oh! Ted Nugent, Why Do You Hate Capitalism?

Dear Ted,

I saw you one time in the early 1980s, in your Wango Tango glory days when you still had hits on the radio and your ear-drums hadn't exploded.
And I remember the night like it was yesterday. I remember how you went by outside the hockey rink in the back seat of your limo, golden mane flying free out the window and a ten foot line of drool hanging off your bottom lip. I remember how you told the crowd in Victoria, B.C .that you had come all this way to "grab yourself some good Canadian PUSSY". And I remember how when you told that joke about smoking just a two-paper joint before the show you added a bit of local color to the punch-line: : "But do you know how much dope you can stick in two copies of the Victoria Times Colonist?" We all appreciated that.

And I especially remember how you swung onto stage on a vine, wearing nothing but a loin-cloth, and how, for those kids brave enough to fight their way to the front of the stage through the Electric Mayhem, it was possible to see you Nads clear as day, blowing in the amplifier wind and well tanned from all those hours of nude tanning under the Detroit sun.

And I remember the music, the transplendent solo in the middle of Stranglehold, and how you finished the evening with a rousing rendition of your biggest hit, Freebird.

Quite a night, all told, and more than worth the buzzing in the ears because, in my case at least, it went away after a month or so.

All of which makes me so disappointed by your latest column in the Waco Tribune-Herald, where you wrote:

I have musical touring associates who have been fired from their jobs with ex-Beatle Paul McCartney for sneaking a hamburger.

You heard that right. Fired for eating meat by an animal-rights maniac, hard-core vegan bass player.

The entire agenda of the gazillion-dollar-financed joke known as PETA literally is dedicated to outlawing meat.

Neither I, nor any hunter or meat eater on the planet, has any desire whatsoever to influence any vegetarian's choice of diet or to force them to eat meat. We are the friendly, tolerant Americans.

And what I want to know, Ted, is when did you suddenly go all Commie, when did you start hating the very Capitalism that made America great? Don't get me wrong, I like a burger as much as anyone, and McCartney turned into a Dork when he bought his Knighthood, if he wasn't one already.
But Goddamnnit, the man is a business-man! His tour is his business. Now, when I go to work in the morning and my boss tells me to wear a suit and a silly tie, I do what he tells me to do. When he tells me to look the door to his office and take my pants off, I do that too, because that's his prerogative as a Capitalist. Yes, Ted, a Capitalist, those people to whom we owe our prosperity and our very Freedom.
So, in my opinion, Paul McCartney has the right to run his own business in whatever way he sees fit. And I'm surprised you would believe anything different, Mr. Nugent.

"Give me a half tanker of iron...

...and I will give you an ice-age."

So said American oceanographer John Martin. And these guys believe him:

Planktos Inc., which has offices in Vancouver and San Francisco, wants to set sail this month from Florida to dump more than 45 tonnes of iron dust into the sea near the Galapagos Islands.

The iron nutrients would stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, which would then absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide - an experimental process Planktos compares to reforestation.

A for-profit "ecorestoration" company, Planktos plans to sell carbon credits from this and other projects to firms such as Vancouver's Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, which has agreed to buy 5,000 tonnes of carbon credits.

However, they're running into a couple of problems. For one thing, the American Environmental Agency has complained that the company has not provided any information on the potential environmental impacts of the plan, and are worried that the project would lead to toxic algae blooms, that the decomposing plankton masses would release other greenhouse gases or choke off the oxygen supply in the deep ocean.

For another thing, recent research has shown that this kind of ocean seeding is

...10 to 100 times less efficient than the naturally occurring processes, in increasing CO2 capture through the biological pump.

And in fact using the ocean as a carbon sink increases its acidification, which brings problems of its own.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Major Dino Action

I thought I might write about the no less than three major dinosaur-related discoveries that have hit the news over the past week, but then I thought to heck with it! I'll just link to Darren Naish's wonderful Tetrapod Zoology site, because he does this kind of thing much better than I do. Left is a picture of my favorite of the three finds, a nearly complete baby sauropod skeleton. This sucker would have grown up to be as big as a bus.

The CPOC Race Car: At The Back Of The Pack

So everybody knows by now that The Conservative Party of Canada is sponsoring a car driven by news aggregater extraordinaire Pierre Bourque in the Nascar Busch East Series. But not everyone knows that, as of June 11th, out of a field of 46 drivers, Bourque stood 31st with a grand total of $1,650 in winnings. Now, it also looks like he placed lucky 13th in this weekend's race at Mosport, so he might have earned a bit more in the way of pocket change. But clearly he's desperate for a slice of those Conservative millions.

This result goes with his rousing 14th place finish at the Featherlite Coaches 200, a 26th place finish at the Minnesota 150 where it doesn't look like he finished a lap, and a 33rd place finish at the Greased Lightning 150, where ditto.

Looks like my Grandma could outrun this car without her crutch, in other words.

And there was an interesting quote in the Globe article on this this morning:

...all well and good, but David Docherty, a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., offers a few caveats.

"What happens if it runs out of gas down the stretch? ... Or it crashes?" Dr. Docherty asked. "This might be one of those things that's too cute by half. It's a great idea and then, 'Oh, what were we thinking?' "

What happens if the driver can't even get his engine to turn over?

The Yes Men Cometh (To The Tar Sands)

I think it was around the time of the G8 summit that I read a prediction that U.S. environmentalists would be targeting the Alberta Tar Sands as the epicentre of the fight against AGW. Well, they have arrived in the form of these two guys. The Yes Men:

...pretend to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations, accepting invitations received on their websites to appear at symposiums and TV shows. They use their newfound authority to express the idea that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public. Elaborate props are sometimes part of the ruse.

Last week they showed up at Calgary's Go-Expo, Canada's largest oil conference, and gave a speech in which they announced

...that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

They described the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum:

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production.... With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."


The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

And here's that tribute to Reggie:

Unfortunately, when "mere" Canadians speak out against the ongoing disaster that is the Tar Sands as it is currently being developed, the folks out in Calgary just don't listen. Given the culture of Alberta, and our current federal government, it seems that a more effective tactic is for American Greens to pressure their own elected representatives to, for example, consider how much carbon is produced in the creation of their gasoline, as California is now doing. It kind of sucks that Canada should have to rely on foreigners to force us to clean up our act environmentally, but when you're faced with a bunch of recalcitrant cowboys, what else can you do?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Conservatives Cut Programs, Invest In A Big Ole Racin' Car

From the Surely You Fucking Jest department:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 17, 2007 OTTAWA - The Conservative Party today announced a partnership with Whitlock Motor Sports unveiled at the Mosport Race Track in Bowmanville, Ontario.

The partnership will include the Conservative Party of Canada logo being placed on the hood and front side panels of car number 29 in the Canadian Tire NASCAR Series.

Not satire. Some of the folks at Free Dominion have received the e-mail, and The Wife says something was on CTV. And since space on a race-car don't come for free, I imagine this is another example of "your tax dollars at work".

While the planet burns... while the health care system deteriorates... isn't it nice to know that middle-aged white men are pushing hot-wheel cars over a tile floor making VRROOOOMING!!! noises. Isn't it nice to know that one of them is your Prime Minister.

h/t to The Wife.

Stockwell Day: Greatest Hits, 2007

Because its a slow news day, I thought I would issue a quick compilation of the most startling, shocking, unintentionally hilarious, and downright scary things that our current Minister of Public Safety has written in his Penticton Western column thus far in 2007.

- In December 2006 (okay I'm cheating a bit with the dates), Stockwell refers to Eastern Canadians as "spearchuckers". The question arises: is Stockwell a racist, or does he know what the words mean?

- In February, Stockwell proposes a "ratline" for unstable gun owners.

The system could be used if "either their friends or family or a doctor notices, or is concerned, that a person is becoming unbalanced," Day said...

- Also in February, Stockwell suggests to his male readers that buying their wife/girlfriend a Valentine's gift might get them laid.

- In March, Mr Day's paleontological views are vindicated by the newly launched Conservapedia. Shame on you, Kinsella: you slandered a prophet!

- Also in March, Stockwell discourses on the glories of the wild turkey. Short version: they's damn fine eatin'!. (Note: yes I'm cheating in that this does not come from his weekly column. Sue me.)

- Also in March, Stockwell blames the Republic of Haiti for Canada's Cystal Meth problem.

- In April, Mr. Day spills secret information on Canadian fortifications to the Taliban.

- Not from his column, but here's a picture of our Public Safety Minister cavorting with terrorists.

- Also from April, evidence that Stockwell has gone Commie?

- From May, some bad poetry from Mr. Day.

- From later in May, Stockwell asks his constituents how the Tories should go about killing their own environmental legislation.

- From late May, our guy waxes homoerotic over his German "buddy".

- From June: lying to SoCons? You'll burn for that, Stock!

- And finally, last week Mr. Day accused Russia of threatening to Nuke Europe of the Kyoto Accord.

And there's a whole nother six months ahead of us before 2007 is out! So thank you Stockwell Day, Canadian Minister of Public Safety. Without you, this blog could not exist.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

An "NDP Of The Right" Won't Draw Flies, Andrew

From Andrew Coyne's Saturday Column:

"Whether out of sincere conviction or electoral calculation, the nominally Conservative parties, federal and provincial, have lost interest in the sorts of substantive policy changes to which their predecessors were committed. They are conservative only in the sense of wishing to preserve the status quo. But conservatives of the radical, reforming variety are now in more or less the same position as socialists: sincere, well-meaning, but without a hope of forming a government.

With the difference that the socialists still have a party to advocate for them, and as such to influence the policies of the other parties. The Liberals may be a classic interest-brokerage party at heart, but they have the NDP constantly at their elbow, pulling them leftward. No comparable party exists to the right of the Conservatives. The effect is to marginalize the most anodyne ideas as outside the mainstream. As in: “even” the Conservatives would not go so far as to propose x -- though x is as often as not no more than the consensus of modern economists, such as that high marginal tax rates discourage investment, or that minimum wage laws discourage employment.

So perhaps it is time for conservatives and market liberals to have a little rethink. The strategy of throwing their lot in with the Conservatives has been tried, and failed -- failed, not in the sense that Conservative parties have been unable to win power, but that they win power, if they do, at the expense of conservatism.

The broader question is whether exercising power directly, rather than indirectly via principled advocacy, is the best means of seeing conservative ideas put into effect. The NDP’s success over the years suggest the contrary. Might the time have come for an NDP of the right?"

As a Liberal/occasional NDP voter federally, I say go for it. Because we've already seen this picture before. In effect, Andrew is suggesting that the CPoC should disintegrate into a splinter party resembling the old Progressive Conservative Party (circa the late 1990s), and another splinter party like the Classic Reformers.

But a party of the Right based exclusively on right-wing Economic shibboleths almost by definition will not attract Social Conservatives, who are more concerned with gay bashing, repealing the metric system, curtailing abortion, and ripping the hijabs off Muslim women. They couldn't give two shits about "high marginal tax rates" and I doubt they even know what the words mean.

And a party of Right based on social issues, a party of SoCons...well, nobody outside of SoCons likes SoCons, do they?

And the difference between the NDP/Liberal symbiotic relationship vs. a potential Neo-Con/Neo-SoCon alignment is that the Libs usually command a base of about 30% of the populace, the NDP about roughly 15%, some of which the Libs can poach by leaning left occasionally. On the other hand, the CPoC breaks down into two population segments of about the same size (say 15% to 18%), one of which is based in the West, and the other sprinkled lightly over Ontario and the East Coast.

So the end you don't get the CPoC plus an "NDP of the Right", you get two roughly NDP-size parties that will spend the next decade hating one another and winning very few seats outside of Reform's old Western ghetto.

Back to the future, in other words. Maybe Chretien will come out of retirement. Once again: go for it.

Research From Prominent Climate Change Denier: A Liberal Vote = Less Air Pollution

As I have written several times now, Canadian economist and AGW skeptic Ross McKitrick got his start challenging certain aspects of Michael Mann's hockey stick graph. Recently, he has been promoting a fascinating but flawed version of the carbon tax.

However, in May of 2006 he published a paper entitled "The Politics of Pollution: Party Regimes and Air Quality in Canada" in the Canadian Journal of Economics. While he concluded that "the data examined herein suggest that the political stripe of the government is not likely to be a reliable predictor the near-term evolution of air quality", some of the commentary on individual pollutants and their increase/decrease under different "party regimes" told a different and surprising story.

On Carbon Monixide (CO):

Relative to a Liberal government, a shift to either the left (NDP) or the right (PC) is associated with higher urban CO levels, which derive mainly from motor vehicle use.

On Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), also primarily associated with motor vehicle use:

Neither the federal nor provincial PC parties exert an identifiable effect, but a shift to the left (NDP) is associated with a significant rise in NO2 levels of about half a standard deviation.

On Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), created mostly by "industrial processes:

The provincial PCs are associated with higher SO2 levels, while for the provincial NDP and federal PCs the effects are very small and insignificant.

And overall:

Overall, there is evidence that associates the federal and provincial conservative parties with conflicting influences on CO air pollution levels (compared to the Liberal reference group), while the provincial party is also associated with relatively higher SO2 levels and the federal party with higher ozone levels. On the other side of the spectrum the provincial NDP (or Parti Quebecois) parties are associated with higher CO and NO2 levels. This tentatively suggests that the reference party (Liberals or equivalent) at the provincial level is most consistently associated with lower air pollution levels.

As I say, surprising stuff, and from a guy that you would at least superficially think (given his other allegiances) would not be particularly friendly to progressive parties.

I wonder how much of the NDP problems with NO2/CO2 comes from pandering to the big auto unions that provide such a large portion of their political base?

Friday, June 15, 2007

More On McKitrick's T3 Tax

From David Reevely's (of the Ottawa Citizen) Ecolibertarian blog, further critical comments of McKitrick's version of a Carbon Tax. He too is concerned with the lag-time between emissions cuts and an end to the warming phenomenon:

Superficially, McKitrick’s proposal to tie the carbon-tax rate to observed warming is his idea’s best characteristic. Immediate feedback, adjusting to on-the-ground (or in-the-air) realities, and so on. The trouble is the extremely long lag that the overwhelming bulk of the world’s scientists believe exists between the emission of greenhouse gases and their effect (which is cumulative) on the amount of heat they cause the earth’s atmosphere to retain.

If we stopped all human greenhouse-gas emissions right now, the IPCC figures the earth would warm by another 1.1 degrees over the next century or so. That’s a timescale McKitrick’s proposed monitor-and-adjust carbon-tax system can’t cope with. Worst of all, because the T3 tax only responds to damage that’s already happened, it has little preventive effect.

In fairness, he does have a partial response to that in his FP piece:

Under the T3 tax, investors planning major industrial projects will need to forecast the tax rate many years ahead, thereby taking into account the most likely path of global warming a decade or more in advance.

And best of all, the T3 tax will encourage private-sector climate forecasting. Firms will need good estimates of future tax rates, which will force them to look deeply, and objectively, into the question of whether existing climate forecasts have an alarmist bias. The financial incentives will lead to independent reassessments of global climate modelling, without regard to what politicians, the IPCC or climatology professors want to hear.

Yyyyyyee-esssss, but that also encourages gaming the system, encourages blowing out extra carbon now while it’s cheaper to do so (creating a whole new tragedy-of-the-commons problem), and puts individual consumers, on whom any reasonable response to climate-change concerns primarily depends, at a distinct disadvantage in planning ahead.

In addition, there are other reasons to be cutting C02 emissions beyond mitigating the effects of AGW. For example, C02 increases Ocean Acidification. Insofar as the T3 tax might go down at some point because warming has slowed or reversed, and therefore encourage emissions increases, it will do nothing to solve this particular problem.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is Peak Oil Upon Us?

From the U.K. Independent:

Scientists have criticised a major review of the world's remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.

BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough "proven" reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry.

However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.

What makes this analysis more than usually compelling is that, while oil companies may not be prepared to admit the imminent arrival of peak oil to the public, they seem quite willing to admit it to one another. From a recent KPMG survey of oil/gas company execs:

"These executives are deeply concerned about declining oil reserves, a situation they see as irreversible and worsening," said Bill Kimble,National Line of Business Leader, Industrial Markets for KPMG LLP.

Time to whip out your old land sailor.

AGW Denier Suggests A Warming Tax

Ross Mckitrick is a Canadian economist who has made his name as a AGW Denier by raising a few trivial methodological issues against Michael Mann's Hockey Stick Graph. Recently, however, he has come up with an intriguing proposal: institute a carbon tax linked to actual levels of warming. From a Fin. Post article earlier this week:

The approach is based on two points of expert consensus. First, most economists who have written on carbon-dioxide emissions have concluded that an emissions tax is preferable to a cap-and-trade system. The reason is that, while emission-abatement costs vary a lot, based on the target, the social damages from a tonne of carbon-dioxide emissions are roughly constant. The first ton of carbon dioxide imposes the same social cost as the last ton.

In this case, it is better for policy-makers to guess the right price for emissions rather than the right cap. Most studies that have looked at that the global cost per tonne of carbon dioxide have found it is likely to be rather low, less than US$10 per tonne. We don't know what the right emissions cap is, but, if we put a low charge on each unit of emissions, the market will find the (roughly) correct emissions cap.

Second, climate models predict that, if greenhouse gases are driving climate change, there will be a unique fingerprint in the form of a strong warming trend in the tropical troposphere, the region of the atmosphere up to 15 kilometres in altitude, over the tropics, from 20? North to 20? South. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that this will be an early and strong signal of anthropogenic warming. Climate changes due to solar variability or other natural factors will not yield this pattern: only sustained greenhouse warming will do it.

Temperatures in the tropical troposphere are measured every day using weather satellites. The data are analyzed by several teams, including one at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and one at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in California. According to the UAH team, the mean tropical tropospheric temperature anomaly (its departure from the 1979-98 average) over the past three years is 0.18C. The corresponding ing RSS estimate is 0.29C.

Now put those two ideas together. Suppose each country implements something called the T3 tax, whose U.S. dollar rate is set equal to 20 times the three-year moving average of the RSS and UAH estimates of the mean tropical tropospheric temperature anomaly, assessed per tonne of carbon dioxide, updated annually. Based on current data, the tax would be US$4.70 per ton, which is about the median mainstream carbon-dioxide-damage estimate from a major survey published in 2005 by economist Richard Tol. The tax would be implemented on all domestic carbon-dioxide emissions, all the revenues would be recycled into domestic income tax cuts to maintain fiscal neutrality, and there would be no cap on total emissions.

There is more to the article (and I would suggest it be read in its entirety), but this is enough to give a flavor of the idea. Such blogosphere reaction that there has been, has been mostly from Conservatives/Deniers (see here for a sample), and their opinion seems to be that mainstream scientists and politicians ("warmers" in the parlance) would never go for such a thing, as it would "call their tax", essentially ask them to tie a carbon tax to the alleged reality of the warming phenomenon.

Well, there are some fairly formidable practical obstacles to getting such an idea off the ground; just try to convince 190 plus nations to implement it, for example. And there might be all sorts of debate as to what constitutes the favored global warming "footprint".

But one more serious issue, that I have not seen discussed elsewhere, concerns the lag time between emissions and the warming that results from these emissions. Specifically:

Recent studies in the world’s leading scientific journals indicate that due to the lag time between emissions and the earth’s climatic adjustment to them, we have already committed the planet to a certain warming trajectory we cannot halt. In other words, even if all anthropogenic emissions ceased tomorrow, we would still be committed to about a doubling of the warming we have already experienced.

So, under McKitrick's proposal, it seems that we might begin to cut emissions immediately, and still have our T3 tax bill increasing for decades because the price of the GWGs we are emitting (even if this number goes down) is driven upwards by warming already in the pipeline. And this makes me think that taxing emissions strictly by volume, rather than by volume X some temperature-based figure, is a more efficient means of meeting our problem.

(In fact, on further thought it seems to me that the T3 tax might provide a perverse disincentive to carbon emissions cuts even where the "fingerprint" clearly indicates warming. A direct tax on emissions offers the polluter an either/choice: cut emissions or pay more. McKitrick's tax, given the time-lag noted above, hits polluters with both increasing taxes in addition to whatever costs might be incurred in "going green", perhaps to the point where the best solution might be to pay the tax and emit like crazy)

(PS. McKitrick pointed out an obvious error in the original post, as did one of the commentators. Since the point still holds, I have adjusted the text above in response to this. Although read Ianf in comments)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stockwell Day: Russia Threatened Europe With Nukes Over Kyoto

Sometimes Stockwell outdoes himself. From his weekly column:

What do you do when you're sitting around a table with the world's American super-power which has been outside the deal, and the world's German hosts who says "Everybody better deal" and the world's former communist giant who says "I'll aim my nuclear rockets at your cities if you go ahead with your deal”?

The deal, it becomes apparent, is the Kyoto accord. And thank Goodness, says Stockwell, that Canada "stepped up" with a compromise. Otherwise, who knows? We were this far from Armageddon. Paris might have gone up in a ball o' fire.

Who Buys The Underwear? A Political Analysis Of The Dion Household

The take-away message I get from Chatelaine's piece on Janine Krieber is that Stephane Dion has definite leadership qualities. He knows how to delegate responsibility. For example, he gets his wife to do all his crap for him:

Dion may be the leader of the opposition, but Krieber is the CEO of Krieber-Dion Inc. She does the banking, writes the cheques, keeps the books, files the taxes and buys all of his clothes – even his underwear.

Way to go, Stephane! My wife buys my underwear too, and my socks and everything, and I suspect the same applies in many "ordinary" Canadian households. Because my wife tells me there is actually a perceivable difference between a pair of brown socks, and a pair of brown socks with little black diamonds on the ankle, and if I wear the wrong set my career might be in jeopardy. So if she wants to hunt down the correct shade of footwear while I'm drinking beer and watching tv, then I say more power to her (of course Stephane would be more likely to sip champagne and read the constitution, but whatever; reading Chatelaine I still feel like I've just bonded with the guy).

And it doesn't end there:

"His wife, Janine Krieber, says Dion is so clumsy he's absolutely useless around the house. 'He can't be trusted to change a light bulb, especially halogen.'"

She does light-bulbs too? Obviously, Dion is steeped in "guy" wisdom, like when I volunteered to wash clothes one time and everything came out purple. Because the stupider they think you are, the more they'll leave you alone. And anyway, women are actually quite good when it comes to manual labor. The French have a saying which, when translated, goes something like: "Women...they are as strong as a dog!" If Dion's got her changing tires for him, then I think I'd be prepared to follow him anywhere.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Looks Like Al Gore Will Have To Shuffle A Few Slides

Because it appears that the snows of Kilimanjaro are retreating for reasons other than Global Warming:

[Philip] Mote and Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, write in American Scientist that the decline in Kilimanjaro's ice has been going on for more than a century and that most of it occurred before 1953, while evidence of atmospheric warming there before 1970 is inconclusive.

They attribute the ice decline primarily to complex interacting factors, including the vertical shape of the ice's edge, which allows it to shrink but not expand. They also cite decreased snowfall, which reduces ice buildup and determines how much energy the ice absorbs -- because the whiteness of new snow reflects more sunlight, the lack of new snow allows the ice to absorb more of the sun's energy.

The researchers in this case are legit--Mote has chronicled the retreating ice on the Olympic Mountains here--but that is okay. Science is essentially self-correcting, and here is an example of the fact.

And what we are seeing with the theory of global warming is something that has occurred again and again in the history of science (Newtonian physics might be another example), which is that a theory that has provided an exemplary explanation in one area is extended to more and more adjacent phenomenon, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. So for example the idea that global warming is creating more/more intense hurricanes is certainly plausible, and physical mechanisms by which it might occur have been suggested. Nevertheless the IPCC puts the odds of this theoretic extension's being correct at a little over 50%, and it may yet turn out to be false. Should this prove to be the case, it will not really shake the core of the AGW theory, but only show that it does not explain one particular aspect of climatological reality.

Did It Come With A Free Bowl Of Soup?

In what is surely a political two-fer, the equivalent of a trick shot in pool, the Harper government has managed to "support" both Culture and Canadian Veterans for the princely sum of "up to $2,000 " donated to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra:

The funds, provided through Veterans Affairs Canada's Community Engagement Partnership Fund, will be used to support Remembrance Day concerts.

"Music is a universal language with an amazing ability to speak directly to our emotions and imagination," said Minister Thompson. "Through music, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's concerts will allow listeners to more deeply understand the feelings of the men and women who served our country during the Second World War."

$2,000? You couldn't bury 1/3 of a soldier for that price! It's not half of Bev Oda's Limo Bill and, although the Tories won't say, given the standard rate for psychic hair-dressers, I expect Michelle Muntean hauls in way over $2,000 per pay.

And what's going on with the "up to" stipulation? Does this mean that if the Clarinet player breaks a reed, for example, the replacement comes out of his own pocket? Are the musicians even getting paid in Canadian $s, or stale donuts? And how much did it cost send out this news release (to get anything on Canada news wire usually costs at least a couple $100).

h/t to the Shotgun Blog.

Polls Tell The Tale: Canada NOT a Conservative Nation

First up, an Ipsos Reid poll conducted in early June:

Seven in 10 Canadians believe doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients should be legal, says a new poll.


And 76 per cent agree with the "right to die" concept for individuals who want to die before enduring the full course of a deadly illness.

Probably the best argument for doctor-assisted suicide is the fact that if it is present as a legal option it can actually extend the life of the sufferer; they can choose the time of their exit based on their own self-perceptions of their quality of life, and not have to either suffer meaninglessly or jury rig a suicide attempt that may fail and leave them worse off than before. And the 2nd best argument is that with doctor assisted suicide as a legal option, when a sick patient approaches their family about arranging their own demise, they are not involving them in an illegal conspiracy.

Not that Canadians are Cavalier about wasting human life. A new Decima poll shows that the vast majority of Canadians want the country's military mission in Afghanistan to end as scheduled in 2009. Even a fair number of Conservatives are down with the program on this one:

Among Conservative voters, respondents were evenly split, with 48 per cent saying they could support an extension and 47 per cent wanting to stick to the withdrawal date.

Perhaps there is hope for them after all.

Monday, June 11, 2007

That Was An Act?

Reality TV star Paris Hilton has told Barbara Walters that she will no longer "act dumb". Instead, she will don a pair of geek glasses and take on the role of a brainy lab assistant in the upcoming Spider Man IV. "But, professor, the vacuum's degaussing (tee hee!)!"

Of course, this career move comes with its own set of risks. What if she quits acting dumb, but doesn't appear to become any more intelligent?

(PS. I thought of including a picture of a scantily clad Paris, but some things are just too easy)

Preserving The Canadian Lighthouse

From CTV:

HALIFAX -- Easily identifiable by their bright lights and sporadic deafening noises, they've towered over Canadian coasts guiding sailors on their maritime journeys for years.

But those behind a new bill that would protect lighthouses as an essential ingredient of Canadian heritage and tradition fear the buildings may soon be lost if Parliament doesn't act soon.

Politicians from the West and East coasts are trying to get the bill through the House of Commons before the end of this session.

"It's now or never," said Senator Pat Carney, a Conservative from British Columbia who has been working on Bill S-220 since 2000.

I guess I would admit that whether Canada's light-houses get preserved as heritage buildings or get paved over to make way for new Walmarts is not the most important issue facing the nation. Nevertheless, I hope Ms. Carney manages to get her Bill S-220 implemented.

For one thing, Ms. Carney and I have something in common which makes me sympathetic to her cause:

Carney, when not in Ottawa or Vancouver, lives on Saturna Island [B.C.], home of a lighthouse built in 1888, the East Point Lighthouse.

When my dad left the armed forces in the mid-1970s, he spent a couple of years going from job to job before he could gather enough post secondary education to start a new career in the civilian work-force. One of those jobs was to serve in the capacity of temporary lighthouse keeper at East Point Lighthouse, during about a six month period between the time when the previous keeper retired and his permanent replacement arrived to take over. My brother and I lived most of one summer in that house in the top right hand quarter of the picture above.

I'd like to say it was one of the highlights of my childhood, but for the most part that was a pretty boring summer. The town of Saturna is about ten miles across the island, and since I arrived after the school year and was too young to drive, I never really got a chance to meet the other island kids.

But there were some interesting moments. For example, isolation had driven dad's predecessors to study the island around them in obsessive detail, and they had made large and thorough collections of the local butterfly species, of beetles, snail-shells, bristle-cones, and so on, and arranged them all in glass display cases. They also had a very extensive collections of books on these topics, and I spent a lot of my time poring through these.

Not only that, time and solitude had turned one of the early keepers towards folk-art. Down by the shoreline (at the very top end of the photo) you could find relief carvings of killer whales in the soft-sandstone that is unique to the area. These were crafted in iconic fashion (ie. not realistically), as though they were meant to represent the spirit of the place. By today (the lighthouse has been in service since the 1880s), I am sure these carvings are over a century old.

And if you stayed at East Point long enough, you came to understand why the old lighthouse keepers would have chosen this particular theme. As I say, that end of Saturna Island is all sandstone, and easily eroded by the salt-water currents. So the "shore" is a really just a shelf of sandstone, maybe a few inches thick, that juts straight out over water that is over 600 feet deep. And every week or so a pod of Orcas would swim past, sometimes not 10 away from the ledge you were standing on, so close that you could see their eyes under the water looking at you, so close that you could have jumped right onto their backs. It made me feel dizzy the first time I saw them.

And I remember on one occasion when several oceanographers motored past just behind the whales in a pair of inflatables, looking incredibly fragile among animals twice the length of their boats. They yelled over to me and made me write down a phone-number; later I dialled it and told the voice at the other end that "J Pod" was heading North at East Point.

The other thing is, if you look at the picture above, the lighthouse proper has been replaced with a steel skeleton structure. But when my dad kept East Point, the old structure still stood (as left). In fact, given the dates I've found here, I imagine I am one of the last people to have been inside the old tower. Once again, it would be nice to say that this was a fascinating experience, but in fact the tower was a plain, off-white structure that contained very little beyond a generator room, a winding staircase, and the light room up top. The only thing that really made an impression on me was the light-house keepers log, which contained page after page of coded short-hand that seemed quite magical even after you realized all it symbolized was the state of the equipment and names of the occasional tanker that would steam past.

Anyway, it must have been an incredibly lonely existence for the permanent keepers. I remember the 2nd time we arrived on the island, near midnight one evening after taking the day's last car ferry, and heard my dad having a lengthy conversation with two of the dogs that came with the place. Needless to say, he was happy to see us.

So good luck to Ms. Carney and her private member's bill. East Point and other sites like it are remnants of an earlier time and a tough profession, which is swiftly disappearing as the old light-houses are replaced by automated structures that need no human minders.