Saturday, May 31, 2008

Macleans Magazine As Corporate Welfare Bum, Part III

Terrence Watson has a nice post on the Western Standard's Shotgun Blog here, which refers to several earlier posts of mine on the topic of Maclean's Magazine and its $3,000,000 per year subsidy from the Canadian Heritage Publications Assistance Program(PAP), which offset[s] the mailing costs of Canadian content magazines and non-daily newspapers mailed within Canada. This is just a rewrite of a comment I made on the WS blog:

Part of what I wanted to communicate in these earlier posts (esp. to people who might be pissed off with MaCleans etc. for publishing allegedly offensive material like Steyn's) is that there are other, less controversial and maybe more effective ways of expressing your displeasure than via HRC complaints. Comparisons to C-10 aside, we should all agree that, if we ever figure out what "offensive" means, we should be able to call a magazine like Macleans for being offensive if they're doing it on the government dime.

More generally, there ought to be at least a set of methods of protest which both Right And Left can agree are legitimate. So for example: boycotts. If pro-lifers can actually convince Disney to be less Gay-centric by refusing to visit Disneyland, and thus causing Disney to hemorage profits, more power to them. Same with picketing: If Mo Elasmry's bunch could dig up forty Muslims to wave placards in front of the Rogers building, they would get far more positive coverage for their cause, and far less media hassles, than channeling their aggression through HRCs.

When such methods are employed, the whole argument that "you are trying to silence debate" becomes irrelevant. OF COURSE I AM TRYING TO SILENCE DEBATE. I personally would have Macleans sack Steyn and hire someone that finished highschool (I, for example, am available). But the point is: there ought to be some common ground on which means are legitimate for accomplishing this end.

Cutting MacLeans PAP funding seems to me to be one of these legitimate means.

An interesting tidbit from the Shotgun Comments section:

In the final days of the Citizens Centre Report (the final incarnation of Alberta/BC/Western Report), the decision was made to reject this funding. The magazine went out of business just a few months later.The rejection didn't put the magazine under, but it didn't help. The argument for accepting the funds had long been that the magazine would put itself at a competitive disadvantage by ripping up the cheque. That is, if all other magazines were accepting the money (as they did), we would be tying a millstone around our necks by not accepting the money too.As well, it could also be argued that, in light of the fact the government took large amounts of money from us in the form of taxes, accepting the Heritage money was simply a matter of getting back some of the money that was ours to start with.

The Western Standard, by the way, accepted the grant money: $132,000 in 2006-07, for example. See:

Terry O'Neill

You mean Über Capitalist Ezra Levant accepted government funds? Oh My!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Climate Anomaly Caused By Buckets Of Water!

Just a quicky on what will probably become a fairly large story:

A difference in the way British and American ships measured the temperature of the ocean during the 1940s may explain why the world appeared to undergo a period of sudden cooling immediately after the Second World War.
The scientists point out that the British measurements were taken by throwing canvas buckets over the side and hauling water up to the deck for temperatures to be measured by immersing a thermometer for several minutes, which would result in a slightly cooler record because of evaporation from the bucket.

This finding actually makes the AGW story go more smoothly:

Professor Jones said that the study lends support to the idea that a period of global cooling occurred later during the mid-twentieth century as a result of sulphate aerosols being released during the 1950s with the rise of industrial output. These sulphates tended to cut sunlight, counteracting global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide.

"This finding supports the sulphates argument, because it was bit hard to explain how they could cause the period of cooling from 1945, when industrial production was still relatively low," Professor Jones said.

Although its perhaps a bit of an embarrassment.

And the weird thing is, Steve McIntyre seems to have got to this one first. Too bad Steve grinds out blog posts rather than writing up a real paper now and again.

Go through the links for details. The James Annan post ( through "a bit of...") is especially good.

What, No F*cking?

I was at the special Hill pre-screening of Young People Fucking - yes, the notorious Canadian film that has caused such consternation at the C-10 hearings before the Senate banking committee. The verdict? Absurdly wholesome, and really very sweet. The kind of movie that sucks you in when you’re flipping through the channels on a Sunday afternoon.

I knew it was going to be a loser.

So I guess that means the next movie my wife drags me off to see will be "Sex In The City". Apparently, there were no guys at the London Premiere, except a few that looked too hot to be straight. I'm thinking of going disguised in a wig and a dress so people who see me in the lineup won't think I'm gay. I'll probably shave first.

Do any cars blow up? Is there any machine gun fire? A villain with weird hair and a cool scar? Somebody help me.

What I'll Be Up Against!

Whatcott Triumphant!

Despite what you might have heard, the folks at FreeD booted me off their forum last year for writing about "Wild" Bill Whatcott, whose anti-abortion activism has earned him several arrests over the years and a brief stint in an Ontario prison. In 2002, Bill protested outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Saskatchewan. As a result The Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses found him guilty of professional misconduct, suspended him as a nurse, and ordered him to pay $15,000 in legal costs.

Bill fought back, and his case has been wending its way through the court system ever since. Well, yesterday Bill tasted of sweet vindication. The Supreme Court of Canada chose not to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that found that Bill not guilty of these charges:

Mr. Whatcott argued that he had been demonstrating in his free time and that his protest was simply a case of free speech. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association had also weighed in on the debate, saying that while it favored abortion rights it was concerned over attempts to squelch debate.

Congratulations, Bill!

And a very important point: do this kind of stuff outside of office hours, and you are usually in the clear ;)

You know, FreeD turfed Bill from the forum around the same time they turfed me, blaming him for bringing the HRCs down on their head. Wonder if they'll let them start posting again.

PS. My darling CF, I have received your secret missive. Paris sounds lovely, but what will we do about him?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jurassic Stork Dined On Deano!

If there was a Nobel Prize for Cool, then paleontologist Darren Naish and Paleo-Artist Mark Witton would be awarded it 7-fold. I know Darren best, as a long-time contributor to the dinosaur mailing list, then an intrepid paelo-blogger with a taste for crypto-zoology (who wrote, for example, on "The Monster of Base Naden"), and now as the co-author of an astounding new paper on Azhdarchid Paleobiology.

Azhdarchid's were pterosaurs. In fact they include the largest pterosaurs--standing 2.5 meters tall and with a wing-span of 10 meters. (See picture above left, of Azhdarchid eyeing soft, pathetic human.) To date, however, reconstructing their lifestyle has been difficult:

However, Darren and Mark think that this last, most recent theory is incorrect:

We argue that azhdarchids were stork- or ground hornbill-like generalists, foraging in diverse environments for small animals and carrion.

What kind of "small animals", you ask? Well, as Mr. Witton's image below suggests...

...among their prey were hatchling sauropods! Now, for some scale here, the "babies" in the picture would probably be the size of a Great Dane, and our pterosaurs look to be sucking 'em back like oysters! Slurp! One gulp and gone, no need to even chew! (I think these particular pterosaurs were toothless anyway!)

And the best part? Although Azhdarchids made a living as ground hunters, Darren writes:

Even weighing 250 kg, azhdarchids were capable flyers as demonstrated by estimated wing musculature and planform. There is no reason to assume flightlessness.

Damn! Starts to make this guy sound prophetic! (If you know what I'm talking about, then you are truly a connoisseur of Canadian SciFi.)

Young, Huffed, And Muslim...?

... pissed off at the crap Macleans Magazine has been slinging your way, but maybe tired of the whole "take 'em to the HRC" routine?

Well, you might consider demanding that the magazine pay for its own stamps! As I wrote in an earlier post:

As it turns out, Macleans Magazine gets a cool $3,000,000-plus from the Canadian Heritage Publications Assistance Program (PAP), which offset[s] the mailing costs of Canadian content magazines and non-daily newspapers mailed within Canada.

In fact of all the magazines supported it is the single largest recipient of such assistance...

Except that there are rules, see? PAP is not supposed to fund magazine publishing "offensive" material. And, to find out how one might raise a complaint against Macleans on this basis, I emailed Heritage Canada. Yesterday, I received their response:

Good morning... [BigCityLib]:

This is in reply to your e-mail of May 12, 2008, regarding your concerns and comments about the article entitled "The future belongs to Islam" published in Maclean’s magazine October 2006.

The Publications Assistance Program – Applicant’s Guide, page 6, states the following:

magazines are not eligible for postal subsidy if they are: that in the view of Canadian Heritage, contain material considered to be hate propaganda, sexual exploitation, excessive or gratuitous violence, denigration of an identifiable group or an any other way offensive.

If you would like to register a complaint under these guidelines, you may write to the Minister of Canadian Heritage at the following address: House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6. You may also contact the Minister through our departmental Web site at We also suggest you consider writing to the Ontario Press Council, as this organization has media accountability mechanisms in place. Furthermore, you may wish to consider writing to Maclean’s magazine to communicate your concerns directly.

Should you have further questions, please contact Céline Boucher at 819-997-5249 or at 819-997-9221.

Sincerely, Céline Boucher
Chief, Policy and Program Development /
Chef, Administration et politique de programme
Publications Assistance Program /
Programme d'aide aux publications
Canadian Heritage /
Patrimoine canadien
114-4, 15 Eddy, Hull, Québec, K1A 0M5
Telephone /Téléphone 819-997-5249
Fax Télécopieur 819-997-4995

Now, I'm not saying "take this route". But its probably something not thought-of much previously. And I would argue that, while we may disagree over the limits of Free Speech, we can certainly, all of us, Conservative or Liberal, agree that publications spreading general offensiveness ought to be forking out for their own postage. Its just so Capitalist. Make Kenneth Whyte and Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne lick their own goddamn stamps!

PS. Other things you might try include approaching the Ontario Press Council (although I thought I read somewhere that Macleans, as well as the Natty Post, don't recognize such Councils as authoritative). Or you might just try and scare up enough like-minded Muslims to picket the Rogers building. Picketing can work just fine. Witness how Soharwardy extracted a grovelling apology from the Western Standard.

PPS. Retire Mo Elmasry. He's muddying your message.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

At Least He Won't Go Blind

OTTAWA–A provocative movie about the sex lives of young people is too hot for some Conservatives to handle – and a parliamentary staffer has been fired for ordering tickets to a special screening.

Word is, all staff exposure to issues re sexuality will be funneled exclusively through sanctioned Conservative Party sources, which is to say Maxine Bernier's new duties will now include teaching Tory MPs and aides about the dangerous world that lies beneath a woman's petticoats. No word on whether he will demonstrate "The Venus Butterfly".

Bernier Explains His

The Fruits Of Scandal

As I argued several months back, The Cadman Scandal in and of itself was likely to precipitate the death of several controversial Tory initiatives that might be used as election triggers, one of these being bill C-46, which would have ended the Canadian Wheat Board's barley monopoly . Well, with Cadmania history but several other scandals unfolding, this prediction seems to be coming true.
Basically, the Tories have placed their bill so low on the parliamentary agenda that it will never reach the debate stage. Furthermore, earlier threats to make C-46 a confidence measure appear to have evaporated:
Martin said he would not rule out the possibility of seeing C-46 turned into a confidence motion, meaning failure to pass the bill in Parliament would bring down the government and trigger a federal election.
[A] Conservative spokesperson declined to comment on the whether or not that is something the government is considering.
Compare that to this bit of bluster in March from agriculture minister Gerry Ritz and you can see how far the Tories have fallen.

My advice to the opposition parties? Follow the ways of the noble Komodo Dragon, which bites its prey once, and then may pursue it for days while it slowly weakens and bleeds to death. Patience, brothers and sisters, patience!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why Do The French Have All The Best Scandals?

...while in the ROC we get crap about falsely billed election expenses. A bug in her bed? Next on the agenda can only be a sex tape. Be especially embarrassing if in it former foreign minister Maxime Bernier is...alone!

Rally In Ottawa For Net Neutrality, And Will Bernier's Resignation Stall Copyright Reform?

Today, on Parliament Hill, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Speakers include Charlie Angus - NDP MP, and Mauril Bélanger - Liberal MP.

I know I haven't done much about this issue, but back in the early days of Napster I used to occasionally write for these guys.

And interestingly enough, they are reporting that:

Late tonight comes reports that Maxime Bernier, now former minister of international affairs and the minister who previously took charge in the copyright reform bill has now resigned. The political fallout may put copyright reform on hold while the governing party swings into further damage control.
If the Conservative party hoped for an opportunity to slip copyright reform into government in the future, it is unlikely that the moment is now.

Not an unlikely theory, and I certainly hope its true. Thanks Julie!

He Did It All For The Nooky...The Nooky

When Boobies and power collide.

Monday, May 26, 2008

And Yoshiaki Arata Shall Save Us All...

When the Fleischmann/Pons experiments did not pan out in the late 1980s, the subject of cold fusion more or less disappeared from respectable scientific discourse. Nevertheless, research has continued in a kind of underground fashion, and occasionally interesting if inconclusive results have been reported.

Now, Japanese researcher Yoshiaki Arata has apparently

...demonstrated a low-energy nuclear reaction at Osaka University on Thursday. In front of a live audience, including reporters from six major newspapers and two tv studios, Arata and a co-professor Yue-Chang Zhang, produced excess heat and helium atoms from deuterium gas.

So is an era of cheap, abundant, and clean energy just around the corner? Well, a few caveats have been expressed here:

Augustin McEvoy, a retired condensed-matter physicist...has studied Arata's previous cold-fusion experiments in detail. He said that he has found "no conclusive evidence of excess heat" before, though he would like to know how this demonstration turned out.

And here is a .pdf outlining the Arata's experimental setup. Looks pretty easy, in fact. I may crank up one of these on the weekend and stick in the Cavaliere.

Canadians and Carbon Taxes

Consider the source, obviously--the Pembina Insitute has an agenda. Nevertheless, this poll confirms what most polls have been showing over the past couple of years:

Canadians are warming up to the prospect of paying an environmental tax on activities that cause climate change, but they don't necessarily expect to get the money back in the form of income tax cuts...

Steve ("the poll guy") V. at Far and Wide has been writing extensively about how Dion's environmental proposals might play out in the political arena. Read this post especially, in which he makes a case that the fact that opinion seems to be swinging the Libs way at the moment is all part of some brilliant strategy. I myself think its just good luck (and esp. some bad moves by Jack Layton), but admittedly the result is the same.

Not that things might not change. Paying a tax in the abstract is always easier than paying it in the real world.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Watch The Phoenix Mars Lander Explode!

...or, hopefully, not, here tonight starting at six. Fireworks...I mean 8PM EST.

Update: Made it! Successful landing!

Liberal Green Alliance Pays Off For Liberals

NDP Leader Jack Layton's opposition to a carbon tax shows he's more interested in hurting the Liberals than helping the environment, says Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

At last, someone to speak the obvious truths!

Economist Weighs In On Dion's Environmental "Plan", Slams Harper, Slowly Debones Layton

Probably best not to call it a "tax", though not really a plan yet, either, just the shadow of one. But whatever. Stephen Gordon is a professor of economics at l'Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada. Its all a good read, but he is especially cutting with respect to Jack Layton's reaction.

On Jack's support of "cap-and-trade" over a carbon tax:

As far as the consumer is concerned, cap-and-trade will have exactly the same effect as a carbon tax, namely, to increase prices. The only potential difference is who is on the receiving end of that extra spending: with a carbon tax, the government gets the money, and with cap-and-trade, that money is rent for those who own the permits. If the permits are auctioned off by the government, the two programs are essentially equivalent.

How true, how true.

On Jack's claim that "big corporations" should bear the lion's share of Canada's climate-change tab, and that there should be a federal ombudsman should ensure those costs aren't passed on to consumers.

Could someone please explain to Jack Layton that corporations don't pay taxes? Only people pay taxes, and corporations are not people. And the people who pay corporate taxes are not the owners of the corporation, either: the people who really pay those taxes are workers (in the form of reduced employment opportunities) and consumers (in the form of higher prices).

The Liberals and Conservatives understand this point. The CPC is targeting the people who don't want to pay those costs, and Stéphane Dion is going after those who do. The NDP's niche appears to be voters who want someone else to pay the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Also true, but I think Jack Layton does understand this. He also understands that a federal ombudsman can only ensure that costs are not passed on to consumers is if he has secret magical powers. Jack is simply pandering to the common sentiment: Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax the man behind the tree.

By the way, Mr. Gordon's blog title, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative", is considered by some to be the "most boring headline that could possibly be imagined". Quite clever, in this context.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This Deserves To Go Viral!

Flight Of The Concords doing "Business Time". Hilarious Barry White parody and the music is quite decent.

Don't show your wife/girlfriend: she'll start asking you "Is it Business Time yet, baby?"

Fun With The Ontario Press Council: Guy Giorno Wields Wicked Complaint!

The Ontario Press Council doesn't get a lot of ink year to year, but the work goes on 32 years after it was launched to monitor the conduct of newspapers across the province.

The highlights from this year's batch of complaints:

1) Harper's new chief of staff Guy Giorno kicked ass against a ragged looking Toronto Star. Here he successfully objects to the claim that his "underlings" named him "Rasputin" when he was with the Mike Harris Tories. Here he successfully argues that the Star's apology for the whole "Rasputin" naming affair should have been labelled a "correction" rather than a "clarification".

Don't screw around with this guy. He's obviously a political killer.

(As an aside, why would anyone object to being nicknamed "Rasputin"? I'm 45 and people still call me "Mikey". His nickname is way better, IMHO!)

9) Steyn adversary Mohamed Elmasry batted .500 in '07, his complaint that

...the Toronto Star used unnecessarily hurtful language in describing the Arab world as a society where “wickedness is bred in the bone”

...being upheld, his complaint that

...a column published in the Toronto Star “lacked accuracy, balance and fairness, to the point of openly conveying anti-Islam bias”

getting tossed. Not bad! Rage against 'em, Mo! (But, Mo, lay off them Israelis--that stuff makes you look crazy and gives the CIC a bad name! In fact, I would strongly suggest stepping down and handing the CIC over to someone less inflammatory! )

And a low-light:

6) Life Canada President Joanne Byfield failed in her only attempt, her complaint:

...that a column published in The Globe and Mail misrepresented LifeCanada and resulted in serious loss of income...

...getting dismissed entirely by the OPC and, presumably, God.

Warning, this one's a bit of a gagger, and I'm frankly glad the BoM cancelled LifeCanada's Mastercard .

PS. Why no complaints against the Natty Post? Well, they are apparently the only major paper in Canada not accountable to any press council. Or so I am told.

PPS. J. Douglas Creighton founded the Toronto Sun. Hate his paper. Like his blog.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quit Yer Whinin

The Libs are doing fine. Ahead, in fact, though within the margin, according to Nik Nanos.

(Anyway, if Dion were to quit, as some have suggested, who would replace him? Or would there have to be another long-drawn-out, draining leadership campaign leaving the party rudderless and broke for another two years? Yeah, that would be fun)

FreeD Hires Zundel's Lawyer defend them in their lawsuit against Richard Warman.Barbara Kulaszka is a Canadian lawyer best known for her role in defending far-right figures, like Ernst Zundel, and Paul Fromm, and Marc Lemire, and Imre Finta.

She is also the author (or editor, depending on the attribution) of "Did Six Million Really Die? Report of the Evidence in the Canadian 'False News' Trial of Ernst Zündel".

Mark Steyn sings her praises here.

Oddly enough, it didn't have to be like this. Back in December, Connie and Mark announced that they had hired a well-respected Ottawa lawyer named Kenneth Bickley but it appears that he is no longer involved in the case.

Not Waiting For The Asteroid: T.O. Sun Goin' T.U.?

Maybe not, but The Toronto Sun Building at 333 King looks to be "available"--up for sale in other words.

Its business apparently cannibalized by the success of its own free paper, it isn't surprising that the Sun might be looking to downsize. But this Toronto Star article says no decision has been made as to whether their staff will stay in the building as tenants or relocate. Mind you, the Sun management is also claiming that the sale of the building is only being "considered"; well, if its already in this database I'd say the decision has been made already.

By the way, the Urbandb website looks like a definite bookmark. It aims to be online open-content collaborative effort to accurately document development and real-estate activity.

Kind of like a "wiki" for development activity. Probably useful to activists/researchers of all sorts. Currently, the kind of information it wants to offer for free is rather, rather expensive.

h/t J. D Creighton.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Get Yer Quebec Accomodation Report!

MONTREAL — Quebec is no more a racist society than other jurisdictions in the Western world, but it faces problems integrating immigrants which it will need to tackle immediately, says a report on the reasonable accommodation of the province's minorities.

The report by sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor says there is no chaos in Quebec but rather a serious problem of perception. The academics insist that both the francophone and immigrant communities must come together in a moral contract where both have a responsibility in ensuring social harmony.

The full report is here in English, here in French. I haven't read it but the papers make it sound pretty common sense. No hijab ban, thank goodness, although Judges etc. may not be allowed to wear (any kind of(?)) religious symbols.

I'm going to try and read the thing tonight and have an opinion on it by tomorrow.

Whoops! They Did It Again!

For the second year in a row, the Campaign Life Coalition has been busted for using the iconic Canada wordmark - the official symbol of the Government of Canada- on its anti-abortion banners.

And their story hasn't changed much either:

In an interview with Inside the Queensway, CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas called the whole thing“ridiculous,” and insisted that she never even saw the sign — she was too busy with the “eight thousand people” on the Hill for the march. She repeatedly excoriated the media, in general, and ITQ, specifically, for ignoring the “real story”, and instead focusing on a “tiny little sign” (that, we should point out, was on a banner that required nearly a dozen ralliers to carry); she blamed the oversight on the “sign printers”, who, she said, were “asked to remove it,” but “accidentally left it on.” It won’t be there next year," she said.

The feds are weighing their legal options.

By the way, the official estimate of the crowd size at this year's event is a little less than that of Ms. Douglas: "approximately 7,000" according to the Ottawa Sun. While the numbers of participants in the Global Marijuana March, held the same week, sky-rocketed to 20,000.

Obviously, a few of the souls noted by Ms. Douglas wandered off to smoke a fatty.

h/t to Kadey O'Malley, who sees all, knows all, on Parliament Hill.

Catholics to Ted Kennedy: Repent Or Burn

"We hope his ailment will bring conversion. We can't wish anyone eternal punishment."

And here's the definition of "veiled threat".

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's A New Record

...for flying flying fish.

He Could Always Work For The RCMP

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — A firearms instructor in southern Massachusetts has been assigned to other duties after his gun accidentally went off while he was teaching a class on weapons safety.
The bullet ripped a hole in Lamar’s pants but missed his leg and foot.
Sheriff Thomas Hodgson says the officer made a “gross error in judgment” by not emptying the weapon before the class last week.

Maybe the guy was demonstrating a "don't do".

Pearson's Defense Minister: UFOs Have Shot Down American Fighter Planes

Paul Hellyer kicks off the fourth annual Exo-Politics Institutes X-Fest with a blistering speech re exposing the UFO conspiracy.

I wish I were in a mood for good humour, but I am not. We are hell-bent in the direction of destroying our planet, and we appear to be doing precious little about it. Decades ago visitors from other planets warned us about where we were headed, and offered to help. But instead, we, or at least some of us, interpreted their visits as a threat, and decided to shoot first and ask questions afterward. The inevitable result was that some of our planes were lost; but how many were due to retaliation, and how many were a result of our own stupidity is a moot point.

It would be even more hilarious if he was an ex-Tory minister but, unfortunately, Hellyer's a Pearson era Defense Minister, and this is his second appearance at X-Fest.

For more on the Exo-Politics Institute, which funds X-Fest, try this, or check out their website.

For more on the "exo-politics" promoted by Paul and the gang, especially in its Canadian context, see this post in which Exo Politics Toronto PR guy Victor Viggiani asks Excellency Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean to come clean re the cover-up.

She tells him to take his concerns to CSIS.

Update: Ti-guy notes that Hellyer was Defense Minister for Pearson, not Trudeau, as the post originally stated.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dennis Gruending Breaks Down The National Prayer Breakfast

And finds that it conjures an image of social and moral conservatism. Mostly male, mostly white, mostly Christian, in other words.

Dennis Gruending was raised by monks and later served as MP for the New Democrats. He writes the Pulpit and Politics blog, which offers a kind-of sociological take on the intersection of politics and religion in Canada.

BigCityLib: Art Lovin' Guy

My wife and I visited the National Gallery of Canada on Saturday, and I have to admit that I came away from the place a little bit disappointed. There was too much stuff I wasn't interested in, too little stuff that I liked. A bit boring, in other words

For example, I couldn't find a single piece by Emily Carr, and I've never been impressed by the other members of "The Gang of Seven". It's like they spent their entire artistic careers painting the same tree.

And Barnett Newman's painting "Voice of Fire" really does look like it was done with a roller. I spent months arguing with philistines about this work when the controversy first raged, and now I have to admit that the philistines were right. "Oooh! The Intensity of the colours!" sophisticated people said but, frankly, the colours are similar enough to the scheme used by the New York Giants to seem suspicious.
Somewhere, Barnett Newman is passed out face down with an empty bottle of absinthe and a fistful of Canadian Taxpayers' dollars in his hand.

And I've always loved John Waterhouse.
He painted great nekkid nymphs and his models looked exactly like my old secretary, Dorothy. Exceedingly hot in a typically English way: small breasts, horsey hips. I mentioned the resemblance to Dorothy once and wound up doing eight weeks of sensitivity training.

In any case, there wasn't a single Waterhouse or, as far as I could make out, a single Pre-Raphaelite of any variety (they all painted hot nymphs).

There were no Kandinsky's, no Rousseau's, and the only Klee (see below) was a rather subdued number painted on Burlap.
And what's with the ghastly 1,000 year old picture frames? Braque, Picasso, Leger...these painters were interested in deconstructing the very act of perception, yet their paintings are rimmed around with fat little cherubs blowing trumpets. I DON'T think they would have approved.

Not that there weren't a few cool items. The Pollack heading the post, for example: its a small one, done on glass. And I have always liked Mondrian (below, who always insisted that his work be displayed sans frame) even though I suppose one could ask what's the real difference between him and someone like Newman, the answer being that Mondrian doesn't suck.
They also had one of Joseph Cornell's boxes, although I accidentally deleted my picture of it, and it was a crap picture anyway. (Note: Cornell bulks large in William Gibson's Count Zero)

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Quick Note From The Speechy Wars

Re. the state of "hacked wifi" affair, in which CHRC employees used space-age technology in order to gain access to the wireless network of Nelly Hechme and visit neo-Nazi websites anonymously when they could have just crossed the street and done it from Starbucks.

After a month looking at the file, the Ottawa police have decided that its all really a matter for the RCMP (warning: link to Lemire). Guess we're looking at another whole month until the whole thing gets tossed.

In that He Was Born 2,000 Years Ago?

Columbus — Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party's presumed presidential nominee [John McCain] has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And I Are On That List

I've already told the tale of how I weaseled my way onto the latest incarnation of the Oregon Petition in this post. It was easy. I read a couple of papers on glaciology, made up a bunch of sciency sounding nonsense in a letter I wrote Dr. Arthur Robinson, and bingo! in a couple of weeks was sent a copy of the petition, which I then signed and mailed back.

Well, the new version of the petition will be published on Monday and, unless my copy went astray in the mail, I expect to have joined 31,000 other scientists in "rejecting claims of human-caused global warming".

Obviously, I did not use my real name on the petition. I won't give the name I actually did use, but here's a hint: I stayed away from my usual favorites. So, no Dr. Eric Von Dickenstein. And no Haywood J. Blome. I also did not sign the petition as Professor P.P. Weiner, because Professor P.P. is actually real, and in fact edited several volumes on Canada's nuclear weapons policy (along with J.M. Careless!) back in the 1980s.

For I would not wish to sully Mr. Weiner's reputation by associating him with such a low endeavour as the Oregon Petition.

Update: It appears I made the list. I signed the card "Michael F. Murphy" (real name Michael J.) and there indeed is one such on the petition. On the other hand, I don't recall adding "MD" after my name, or anything for that matter, but my handwriting is notoriously horrible and they may have misinterpreted a flourish. (note: the "X" I write on the petition in the original post was done on a photocopy created for the purpose.)

Further Update: I am attempting to confirm with the Oregon Institute that the signature is indeed my own.

Update to Further Update: Alas, the Michael F. Murphy on the petition is not my signature, according to A.B. Robinson. So I suppose for total accuracy's sake I should say that I was invited to sign the petition, though my name did not appear on the final list. I wondered if something had gone wrong with the letter containing my petition card when the further cards I asked for did not arrive. I would assume the postie who got assigned my mail was unable to read my handwriting.

But not to worry. You can be your own fake scientist. The Oregon Institute has put their petition online here, though you still have to send it back to them snail-mail Be sure to tell them what your "specialized scientific experience" is.

As for me, I'll be trying again to make it on the next go round.

(And of course my main point still holds: You sign your name to the petition, tell what your degree is supposed to be in, and mail the petition in. That's the entire extent of the screening.)

Free Speech Is Wasted Upon Him

In which a Blogging Tory mistakes the CRTC for the CHRC:

... I urge everyone to let their voices be heard in the CRTC's latest at controlling internet content. If you care about free speech, the CRTC must not be allowed to control anything. No doubt Richard Warman and his Human Rights Commission cohorts will be submitting their reasons for controlling us upstart hate mongering bloggers.

Oh well. They both start with a "C" and have four letters in 'em. What more resemblance do you need?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Notes From Ottawa

Went into The Astrolab yesterday, an rare book/print store, and picked up a nifty map of Ottawa-area used book stores. I then asked where I could find booze for sale, and the directions I was given wound me up in front of the Parliament Buildings. Did I mis-hear or is this Ottawa humor? There was definitely no LCBO there.

Also, so far we've found two lists of secret charges the Marriot levies if you don't explicitly decline the service. Can anyone with experience of these places tell me whether there is a third list that I should be looking out for, maybe stuffed under the mattress somewhere? (They even charge $1.50 for the Saturday Globe.)

Kinsella Vs. The Scientist

Kinsella's recent post on Dion's carbon tax proposal has made more than a few waves. You can find it here. I thought I would juxtapose it with an analysis by Canadian climate scientist Simon Donner (click on link for the entire piece):

Is there a better time to redirect federal tax code to stress fuels, rather than income? The signals are all pointing in that direction. Cars are outselling trucks and SUVs for the first time in years. Goldman Sachs reported this week that oil could reach $150 to $200 a barrel. Public transit usage is on the rise. A carbon tax on transportation and heating fuels would only further nudge our economy towards higher energy efficiency and lower per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, even if 100% revenue neutral the tax will allow the government the political room to direct revenues to programs to further invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and new technologies.

As for the politics: evidence from the US primaries, where Hillary Clinton's obvious pandering over a gas tax holiday appears to have sunk what was left of her presidential campaign, [suggests] that people do appreciate honest on the complex issues of today. Dion is in the strange position of being seen by Canadians as "weak, uninspiring and unintelligible" but still more likable than PM Stephen Harper. Voters across the spectrum might just respect Dion more for making seemingly risky and groundbreaking political move of pushing for a carbon tax.

I can't say that reading Warren's piece didn't stoke some doubts in me. His profession, after all, is political strategy, so if he says an idea is crap you have to give the opinion some weight. But I wonder if he isn't working from a political play book that's a few years out of date. For example, I don't believe for one minute that talking environmental issues tags you as an lefty urbanite. We can all see what's happening to our arctic, and I think Canadians are beginning to understand this as a security issue (maybe our most important security issue), not just a matter of saving a few cute polar bears.

Furthermore, I rather think the cry of "too complex for the Canadian people" lets people like Warren off the hook as strategists. If a political party is developing an agricultural policy, for example, everyone involved in the production of that policy (from wonks to communicators) is expected to know enough about it to push the policy and counter the attacks. AGW as a political issue, though, is genuinely new, and I have a feeling alot of the resistance to the Carbon Tax proposal is about teaching old dogs new tricks. Its, like, another thing to learn... Well, tough nuts. From this day forward political types are going to have to start boning up on Carbon Markets and cloud feedbacks, and will be expected to know as much about that as they do about the history of The Wheat Board (or whatever). Simply accepting the Tory political spin that this will drive up fuel prices, as Warren does in spite of the fact that all Dion's pronouncements on the matter have made clear that the tax will not apply to gasoline, doesn't cut it. Its lazy. Its giving up before the fight has begun.

And just to rephrase Mr. Donner's last bit: we've got all sorts of people within the Liberal Party (Warren among them) saying "The party can't run away forever! Let's got to an election campaign!", but without really say much about what the Libs positive platform is supposed to be. Now that some (fairly bold) policy is starting to emerge, they're running away from the policy! Well, what then is the policy to be? We'll bring gas prices down? Nobody will believe that, and it can't be done! Or how about promising daycare for all? But, how many times have they done that already?

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's Sauce For The Goose...

Christians win a Human Rights Complaint and, praise Jesus, prominent Christian bloggers warm to the HRC process.

Does This Logo Make You Hot?

A group of U.S. activists think it should:

Members of The Resistance--whose name sounds more heavy metal than Christian, but never-mind--believe in the Illuminati, and believe George W. Bush is part of it. They also argue that Jessica Simpson is a slut because she "dances like a stripper" and "kisses Willie Nelson" in her video for "The Dukes Of Hazard".

Okay, so maybe they've got a point on that one. I could never condone kissing Willie Nelson.

As for the Starbucks logo, it definitely does NOT make me hot. You'd think a mermaid, having to swim around all day, would be a bit more toned in the upper body. This particular fish chick looks downright flabby.
PS. I'm off to the nation's capital for the next couple of days. However, I will be taking the laptop and our hotel has free wifi. We'll see if I can get anything written. As always, any tips re Ottawa bookstores is welcome. We're right downtown this time, so I plan to do a top to bottom bookstore walkabout over the weekend.

Does Bill C-484 Target Abortion Providers?

Ken Epp, sponsor of the BillC-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, has been busy. Huge portions of his website are devoted to defending this private members bill, and he has composed a report defending it against the accusations made by people like Joyce Arthur. A recent Ottawa Citizen column by Mr. Epp is here, and here is the report.

I can't speak particularly effectively to most of the arguments he makes (short version: C-484 is not like any of those nasty U.S. Fetal Homicide Laws). If anyone else wants to, or to just blow off some estrogen, go ahead in the comments. But what I would be especially interested in is if anyone has considered the risk the bill would might pose for abortion providers (rather than pregnant women)?

C-484 refers to harm caused to the woman by a "third party" committing an offense against the unborn child by virtue of committing an offense against the woman. And whether or not an offense against the woman has been committed depends on whether the act was "against her will".

Could a woman decide retroactively that her abortion was carried out "against her will" and attempt to bring charges against her doctor?

You do read about this sort of thing on Lifesite: My Doctor Drugged Me And Took My Baby etc.

Update: Liberal MP Brent St. Denis has now introduced Bill C-543, intended to "counter" C-484 and fill in some of its loop-holes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Andrew Coyne Knows Too Much Economic Theory

And its got him lamenting invisible job losses. That's what happens when you study math too much, Andy. You start conjuring up Platonic Realms, and thinking they're real. Might as well cry over Pegasus the winged-horse.

As for the substance of the first post on his brand spanking new blog--that auto-subsidies are ineffective--well, what do you want Ontario to do, Andy? Cut them when various U.S. jurisdictions maintain them? Act like Peter Pureheart, pining for the free market of yore?

There's a difference between lost jobs and closed plants. So far we're just dealing with the former. Your brand of Capitalist Romanticism would lead to the latter.

PS. Welcome back. Mocking Paul Wells is no fun at all.

Concrete Consequences

"There are some concrete consequences of the [U.S. decision to classify Polar Bears as threatened], not related to climate or the sea-ice change. Animal rights campaigners cheered the ruling because it will eliminate a loophole that has allowed wealthy American trophy hunters to fly to Canada, shoot a polar bear, and come home with the head and hide."

Not surprising, I suppose, that those who will shoulder the real burden of the U.S. decision will be Canadian Inuit. While actually shooting the bears will remain legal, the fact that American hunters can no longer return home with a souvenir will likely squelch the allure of the hunt. Since acting as guides to U.S. trophy hunters provides much needed cash to Northern communities, it will be these communities that suffer as a result.

(Not that I oppose this part of the U.S. decision. I'm just saying...)

On the other hand:

...the long-delayed decision to list the bear as a threatened species may prove less of an impediment to oil and gas industries along the Alaskan coast than many environmentalists had hoped. [Interior Secretary Dirk] Kempthorne also made it clear that it would be “wholly inappropriate” to use the listing as a tool to reduce greenhouse gases, as environmentalists had intended to do.

I don't know how effective Mr. Kempthorne's strategy will be. Author Charles Wohlforth thinks it is doomed:

That leaves Kempthorne saying no single carbon emission threatens any specific bear, so there is no need for the listing to affect any carbon emissions. By this reasoning, no one should vote, or try to solve any problem unless it can be solved all at once. The next phase of the story will be the legal strategy to overturn this second line of defense established by the administration. On the face of it, it looks like the main wall has been breached and they’re hiding behind some tipped-up card tables.

There's lots of interesting further discussion through the first link above, which leads to N.Y. Times reporter Andy Revkin's Dot Earth Blog.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Polar Bears Now Considered Threatened By U.S. Government

On the eve of a court deadline, the U.S. Interior Department is adding the polar bear to the list threatened species.

Sometimes, if you're a Canadian worried about environmental issues, its best to lie down next to the U.S. elephant and hope it rolls over.

Next up, the Americans green the tar sands for us.

Although Canada hasn't been entirely delinquent with respect to the polar bears...

Bold New Tory Energy Policy!

With gas prices rising to record levels, the Conservatives say they will get tougher on gas stations that have inaccurate pumps.

Be Still My Beating Heart.

Prentice told Mike Duffy Live that a 10-year analysis showed that as many as three per cent of pumps were not accurate. Prentice is proposing changes to the way gas stations are monitored that could take effect as soon as this fall.

However, he did not specify how much money consumers might save due to the proposed bureaucratic changes.

Probably because mathematicians cannot conceive of a number that tiny.

So there you have it, folks. The Tories governing as though they had a Majority.

FreeD Begs For Pocket Change

Connie Fournier of FreeDominion is going back to the well one more time.

We need another $3000 to keep the legal boat afloat. Our opponents have deeper pockets than we do, but we'll keep going as long as we can. Maximum disruption times three

So far they have raised $2,200 in pledges--hypothetical and probably largely imaginary money, in other words..

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Bottom Falls Out

...of the Speechy Dream:

In Taylor,2 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that s. 13 of the CHRA is constitutionally sound. The constitutionality of this provision is not altered by its application to the Internet. Even before the statutory amendment, the Tribunal and the Courts recognized that this provision has always applied to the Internet. 3 The enactment of s. 13(2) of the CHRA in 2001 served only to codify existing common law.

Ezra is having a good cry. All he's got out of the Tories on this issue was a free lunch of meeting sandwiches and rubber chicken! Apparently, his lawyer has been doing some research re Ezra's libel case and, I imagine, he too will be crying soon.

Offsite again today. Won't be around much to baby-sit. Be nice.

Carbon Tax Smokes Out NDP

"“We don't see putting a charge on the backs of individual Canadians through taxes as the way to go” sounds more like a quote from John Williamson than from Jack Layton. But that was the message from the NDP leader last week - one he's followed up with this almost McTeagueian campaign against high gas prices at the pumps.

The NDP is not about to jump in bed with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, at least not on a regular basis. But having apparently decided there's not enough to be gained from a fight with both the Liberals and the Greens for environmental votes, Layton is shifting toward a populism aimed at a different corner of the electorate."

As Radwinski suggests, the NDP seems willing to abandon its "urban activists" to reconnect with its lower income "roots".

Jerking around 1/2 of its base, in other words. Good luck with that.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Global Warming Good News

The pythons are coming North! Some studies indicate that due to projected climate change, pythons will be a common feature of the “alien wildlife” in San Francisco by the year 2020.

And they make half-decent pets. You set 'em loose and they catch their own food. However, they're not good around small children--they catch their own food--and they won't fetch the morning newspaper. They will crawl into your bed sometimes on cold nights, attracted by the smell of weak pathetic mammal, and your body heat.

PS. I am obviously pro-reptile. They're what people would have evolved into if we'd had any class.

PPS. I'm offsite today. Play especially nice in comments. I won't be around to tell you when you're stuupid.

Macleans Magazine On The Government Dole

As it turns out, Macleans Magazine gets a cool $3,000,000-plus from the Canadian Heritage Publications Assistance Program(PAP), which offset[s] the mailing costs of Canadian content magazines and non-daily newspapers mailed within Canada.

In fact of all the magazines supported it is the single largest recipient of such assistance:

However :

Magazines or non-daily newspapers are not eligible for postal subsidies if they;
[...] the view of the Department of Canadian Heritage, contain material considered to be hate propaganda, sexual exploitation, excessive or gratuitous violence, denigrating to an identifiable group or in any other way offensive."

I've e-mailed Heritage Canada re what it takes to have a magazine de-listed. For while we might argue all day about whether the Human Rights complaints against Macleans are frivolous or substantial, it seems pretty clear that the magazine is both publishing offensive material and sucking off the tax-payer's titty. While we are all for Free Speech Heroes, we are also all against Corporate Welfare. No?

And the time might be especially ripe. The PAP has been undergoing a bit of soul-searching over the past couple of years, and one of the considerations behind this drive for change is

Whether the relatively large share of program spending received by a relatively small number of large circulation publishing companies is an appropriate and effective use of public funds.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the time for commenting on the formal review process has passed.

h/t Ti-guy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How Significant Is Cleavage-Gate?

Significant enough, says Tory Senator and Minister of Public Works Michael Fortier.

h/t to the awesomest gal on The Hill.

What Is At Stake?

Behind all the recent battling over free speech vs. human rights lies Kieth Martin's private member's motion M-446:

M-446 — January 30, 2008 — Mr. Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca) — That, in the opinion of the House, subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act should be deleted from the Act.

Should this ever come to a vote then section 13(1) is deleted from the act, and the Nazis run free, right?

Incorrect! M-446 is not a private member's bill; it's a private member's motion. The HOC explains how these work as follows:

Private Members’ motions are used to introduce a wide range of issues and are framed either as orders or resolutions, depending on their intent. [58] Motions attempting to make a declaration of opinion or purpose, without ordering or requiring a particular course of action, are considered resolutions. [59] Hence, such motions which simply suggest that the government initiate a certain measure are generally phrased as follows: “That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider …”. The government is not bound to adopt a specific policy or course of action as a result of the adoption of such a resolution since the House is only stating an opinion or making a declaration of purpose. [60]

Or, as Ezra himself puts it: a motion (as opposed to a bill), it is what lawyers might call obiter dicta -- a non-binding statement of opinion, not a change in the law. Martin's motion is a call for a Parliamentary rebuke of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

What M-446 will amount to should it pass, and this is all it will amount to should it pass, is a verbal spanking for the CHRC at the hands of Parliament.

Which puts the motion's abysmal level of support in a whole new light: a mere four MPs have indicated they will vote in favor of M-446 and, arguably, one of these is on the list because he was conned by a Nazi. Not only will Parliament not repeal Section 13(1), they are afraid to even say anything nasty about it.

Who's winning the debate, again?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lets Count The Scandals!

Forgive all the self-references, but, in no particular order:

1) Photo-Gate.
2) Cleavage-Gate: when Boobies and power collide.
3) In and Out Scandal, Part I.
4) Part II
5) Masturbagate: James Moore viewing Porn in the HOC; was a bit of a fizzle, scandalwise.
6) The Wiji Affair: KHAAN!
7) He's Baack! Return of the Chin that walked like a man
8) Riot Inciting Police.

And now, because its my favorite and it too is baack! number 9) Cadmania!

VANCOUVER–RCMP officers have interviewed Chuck Cadman's widow twice in the last two months after launching an investigation into an alleged offer by Conservative Party officials to the dying MP.

Let me know if there's any I missed.

Very Nice. Can I Have Another?

Scientists are working to produce a new "burpless" grass which will help cut Methane emissions from cattle. Work on this has been ongoing for several years now, and scientists also say they are close to developing a human equivalent in the form of a perfumed salad. Eat this stuff, and the other people on the bus will thank you when you fart.

New Tory Scandal Involves No Cleavage

Therefore it is not nearly as fun to write about as this scandal, which involves maximum cleavage. Nevertheless:

MONTREAL–RCMP officers recently visited Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier to discuss photos of him shaking hands with a globe-trotting Montreal businessman who was later arrested in a police sweep targeting Mohawk organized crime groups

According to the website of Global Village,Mr. Michael Chamas' company, he has also met recently with Quebec Tory candidate for Papineau Mustaque Sarker. His legal problems include weapons and tax charges.

(Note:picture from Cleavage-Gate, which is clearly the better of the two scandals)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Libs Close Gap In Latest Ipsos Poll

The latest poll said the Conservatives had the support of 35 per cent of those surveyed, compared to 32 per cent for the Liberals, 14 per cent for the NDP and nine per cent for the Green party.

Libs up 3, Tories 1 from a week ago.

Don't know really what to make of the Quebec numbers:

Within Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois was at 37 per cent, well ahead of the Conservatives at 24 per cent and the Liberals at 23. The Green party had eight per cent, and the NDP seven.

Why do all the Que. polls show the Tories up about 5% from Ipsos, while all the national polls show Libs/Tories pretty much tied? Yes I know the Quebec polls have a larger sample size, but don't all these national polls, done with different methodologies though smaller samples, have more or less the same weight statistically speaking via meta-analysis?

PS. Scratch that NDP Que. Renaissance.

The Debate Wars Heat Up

Kinsella wants to debate Steyn. Ezra wants to debate Kinsella. Steyn won't debate anyone old enough to shave.

I'll tell you what, blo-hardzz. I'll debate you all, one or severally.

But I'd especially like to get a crack at Steyn. And it doesn't matter to me what we debate. It could be the state of Freedom in Canada. Or we could do something on Chinks, Japs, Wogs, and Gorks. I'd take the "pro" side, and Mark could do his normal routine and argue that unless white women surrender a few rights and start breeding again, all of these groups all basically a drag on Western civilization.

Now, Ezra is right in that I don't get the traffic of either of these three. But the black guy who says he's Jesus comes here and he backs me 100%. Its not how many read your blog, Ezra, its who you're readers are.

I await your response.

Weed Beats God!

Global Marijuana March sees 20,000 hardcore puffers at the 2008 Toronto event, up 66% over last year's figure of 12,000 attendees.

Meanwhile the March For Life in Ottawa remains stalled at "approximately 7,000 protesters", the same figure as last year.

I see one way to fix this: the Catholic Church should make Bob Marley a Saint.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Yes, But He's An Elegant Chickenshit

Kinsella has invited Mark Steyn to a debate on the topic of Canadian HRCs. Steyn's response thus far? Damn I love that picture.

Dion: I Will Not Repeal The Metric System

And other interesting bits from a speech/question & answer session given in Espanola, Ontario. Don't know if the writer cleaned-up his English, but Dion comes off as quite articulate. And if he can explain his carbon tax proposals this clearly, I don't think the Tories attempt to "pre-frame" the issue as being about hiking gas prices will play that well.

For one thing,

...sources say that the plan would not add more taxes to gasoline.

The trick (for me) will be that the Lib environmental plan does not wind up being entirely urban-centric; that there is stuff in it that allows Dion and Co. to pitch it to Tory leaning rural/suburban ridings. For instance, their LEM proposal (Location Efficient Mortgage) is great for people living near a half-decent public transit system. If you don't, you're not likely to be impressed.

Update: Conservative Gerry Nichols makes a good point: everyone is proposing a carbon tax these days, including (most likely) the federal conservatives.

Even Alberta has one, but they're don't call it that.

The Minister Prefers...

Tongues first wagged over Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier's striking companion at last summer's cabinet swearing-in, and Parliament Hill is buzzing anew with revelations she was once married to an outlaw biker and lived with another gangster murdered during a bloody turf war in the 1990s.

The divorced Bernier, 45, first began dating former model and aspiring actress Julie Couillard, 38, during the summer of 2007, and the pair caused a minor furor with her revealing attire at last August's cabinet ceremony.

And why not?

(PS. This would have been a far better story if Maxime Bernier had been, as I have always thought, a woman)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Holocaust Still On Agenda In UK Schools

The Myth: "This week the UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Moslem [sic] population which claims it never occurred. "

The Truth: Here.

And Macleans Reneges...

To nobody's surprise, Macleans magazine has chosen to weasel out of its earlier (alleged) promise offering complainants in the CHRC case against the magazine an opportunity to "have their say". You can link to their full response through the term "weasel" above, but I would like to make note of one statement in it:

The article in question [Mark Steyn's "The Future Belongs To Islam"] was a legitimate piece of journalism written and published in good faith.

Yeah, a legitimate piece of journalism...which Macleans hosts in the entertainment section of their website, at the moment featuring an interview with Kim Cattrall:

'I didn't want to take the Samantha role — at 40, I didn't think I was sexy enough'

Lets be clear on this. While I'm not a lawyer, the legal consensus seems to be that the case against Macleans is rather weak, and the complaint against them should probably never have been launched.

That said, the best outcome now would be if the CHRC follows the lead of the OHRC and decides essentially that, yeah, Steyn's writings are Islamophobic, and detrimental to the social order, and yeah Macleans has gone into the crapper ever since Kenneth Whyte and the other clowns from the National Post took over, but their horseshit does not meet the standard required to trigger a sanction under Canadian Human Rights legislation. And while the likes of Steyn or Ezra Levant only nominally qualify as journalists--they use, as Syed Soharwardy has argued, press freedoms to create hatred against Muslims--it is necessary to put up with their bullshit just in case a real journalist at a respectable publication should decide to tell some hard truths at some point in the distant future.

Give Macleans a stern lecture, but let 'em go, in other words.

PS. I note that Whyte does the Cattrall interview himself. Nice of the boss to take all the difficult assignments.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Has There Ever Been An Opposition Leader As Powerful As Stephane Dion?

Just kidding, but I like this little rhetorical stratagem, which the Libs have been deploying a lot over the past few weeks:

The "hour draws nigh" for the federal Conservative government to face an election, says the deputy-leader of the Liberal party [Michael Ignatieff].
However, that can also only come at the call of one person - Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

Not really true, given the makeup of Parliament--both the Bloc and NDP would have to be on board to bring down the Tories. But, if you want to buff up Dion's leadership credentials, why not imply that he's actually the guy calling the shots in the HOC? Kind of like making lemonaid out of lemons, especially since the media is actually starting to buy it.

PS. But did he really have to say "draws nigh"? Who does Iggy think he is? E.A. Poe?

PPS. Meanwhile, Jason is doing some serious work on the Tories In-And-Out Polling Scandal.

Yeah, But the CRA Never Kicked In My Door

Tory whip Jay Hill emits the government line in his column last Thursday:

I believe it rather timely today, the deadline for Canadians to file their income taxes, to demonstrate how the elections financing dispute between Elections Canada and the Conservative Party is just like a disagreement you may have with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

All the elements of the great conspiracy theory are in place: everything was legal, no documents were withheld, Elections Canada broke its own rules, and so forth.

What I wonder most about is this statement:

Elections Canada didn’t bother to notify any Conservative officials or their legal team that they wanted additional documents.

Surely EC must have detailed records of exactly what they requested when. If this is a lie, you would think that it is one easily uncovered.

Beware Them Methane Hydrates

I written here and here about the promise/dangers involved in mining methane hydrates, or "flammable ice", from under-sea deposits. On the one hand, you wind up with natural gas, a relatively clean burning fossil fuel. On the other hand, you risk triggering "massive landslides" on the ocean floor, thus setting methane, a potent if short-lived greenhouse gas, loose in the atmosphere.

Reading New Scientist on the weekend, I came across an intriguing reference:

There are fears that disturbing the hydrates could trigger blowouts that might release huge volumes of gas. Around 8000 years ago, a sudden natural release from the North Sea bed near Norway triggered a tsunami that flooded much of Scotland.

They are talking about The Storegga Slide, which seems to have been caused by gas from undersea hydrate deposits "destabilizing the sediment pile". Here's a brief popular account of the episode, and here two slightly more scholarly versions.

Interesting in that a lot of new research done on the slide was in preparation for the opening of the Ormen Lange natural gas field off Norway. The upshot was that, in this location,

...the development of the...gas field would not significantly increase the risk of triggering a new slide.

So, there okay in Scotland, but in general: a risk of massive and sudden C02 emissions, and now Tsunamis. Can't we just try to, like, use less fuel?

PS. Tried desperately to find a picture of a Scotsman surfing in a kilt to illustrate this post. Unfortunately, Google images came up sorely lacking in this regard. Use your imagination, but don't peak!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Over To You, Macleans Magazine

A letter from Faisal Joseph, lawyer to the four Muslim students pursuing a Human Rights complaint against Macleans Magazine (over Mark Steyn's article "The Future Belong's To Islam") :

You were correct that this settlement offer was substantially the same offer that was put to Maclean's in an initial meeting nearly one year ago. What has changed is that we have new information about Maclean's position, as a result of their recent editorial in response to the statement made by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which condemned the writing in question as 'contrary to the spirit of the human rights code', 'xenophobic,' 'destructive,' 'racist' and 'Islamophobic.' Through this editorial, we have learned that Maclean's editors claim to have been 'always prepared' to publish a reasonable response. We want to take them up on this offer.

Here's the relevant passage from the Maclean's editorial:

Since that meeting, the students have been communicating an inaccurate version of what transpired. For example, it's not true, as they claim, that we said we would rather go out of business than allow them right of response; we said we'd rather go out of business than allow them to respond entirely on their terms. They claim now that they would have settled for a reasonable right of response; we asked if they were firm in their position, and they said "yes." We were prepared to give them an opportunity to have their say, but they gave us no opening for reasonable conciliation. Several weeks later, we learned they had complained to federal human rights authorities, and to similar commissions in British Columbia and Ontario.

Not so easy to wriggle out of that. As an interesting side-note, if the Macleans website is any indication, Steyn's piece originally appeared in the entertainment section, where the more recent articles concern Snoop Dog and where to place the string section in a modern orchestra.

Tory Attended Tamil Tiger Tête-à-Tête!

More Terrorist Trouble For Tories?

MONTREAL - Inside the school auditorium, the Tamil Tiger flag had been raised in a solemn ceremony and the audience of 600 people had heard a taped address from the terrorist group's leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. Then an undercover RCMP officer watched as 'a Caucasian male' approached the podium.

'The male praised [Foreign Affairs Minister] Maxime Bernier and spoke about the position of the government, which is to favour the nonviolence, diplomatic solutions to the conflict, etc.,' says an RCMP affidavit made public on Friday by the Federal Court.

When the speaker drove his Mercedes away from the Martyrs Day celebrations organized by Montreal's World Tamil Movement last Dec. 1, a surveillance officer noted the licence plate. It belonged to Maurice Brossard, the Conservative candidate in the riding of Brossard-La Prairie on Montreal's South Shore.

Why do they hate America Canada?

(PS. Really, just the kind of thing that sometimes happens when you reach out to certain ethnic communities. But since the Navdeep Bains smear I haven't been able to work up much pity when the CPoC gets caught up in this kind of thing.)

The Pulpit And Politics

Raised by Monks, later an MP for the New Democratic Party, Dennis Gruending writes Pulpit and Politics, a blog about the state of (what I would call) SoCon politics in Canada. A small-town Catholic himself, Mr. Gruending is far more sympathetic to their cause than I am. But that's fine. His latest is here, and an excellent piece on the spread of U.S. style Conservative think tanks can be found here.

And a nifty piece on Charles McVety:

McVety is a religious entrepreneur of the American variety. The creation of overlapping coalitions and organizations (such as the Canadian Family Action Coalition) is another tactic long used by the religious right in the U.S. It aims at garnering publicity and creating the impression of numbers and momentum. Such groups are now becoming increasingly common in Canada. All of this must be frustrating for mainstream organizations such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), which was created in the mid-1960s to represent evangelicals in the halls of power. The CFAC does not belong to the Evangelical Fellowship and nor does McVety’s Christian College. Don Hutchinson, an EFC director, has been quoted as saying: “There’s a broad spectrum on the evangelical meter. Charles may be the representative of one end, probably the extreme end, of that spectrum.”

Interesting how the same tactics are employed by AGW denialist groups (which, when you scratch them, are often part of the same networks that Mr. Gruending is concerned with).