Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Getting Ready For 2014

Just in case we have a Spring election here in Ontario, something which, given Andrea Horwath's fairly poor recent polling numbers, I am not convinced will happen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How Many Anti-Wind Activists In Ontario?

They can usually bring numbers in the low hundreds to their big protests, but the hard core appears to be much smaller.  From a recent Environmental Review Tribunal hearing:

 When asked, Palmer said he was a party to the appeal against the Enbridge Wind development in Kincardine in 2007.

"I was an appellant," said Palmer. "I was one of 37, three of which maintained full party status, while the rest were represented by one person."

"Many of those people became members of Wind Concerns Ontario?" asked Meuleman.

So the WCO core was about three dozen people.  This is interesting in light of the public response to the Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. project in East Luther Grand Valley, back in 2012:

A total of 89 comments were received in response to this Environmental Registry notice. Forty-eight responses were form letters which objected to allowing a private developer to harm species at risk and questioned how such authorizations can be justified under the ESA.

As I noted at the time, it looks like the WCO provided that form-letter.  Looks like pretty much their entire membership recopied that letter.

So: several dozen of the committed who can rally a couple of hundred to their big events.  That's the extent of it, it seems.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Toronto Ice-storm, 2013: An Harrowing Eye Witness Account!

This post is reconstituted from notes that were originally written using the ash of a burnt-out candle, smudged onto an old shower curtain that my wife and I tore down and used as a blanket during the height of the blackout.  Hopefully, they will aid historians in understanding the near-calamitous events of these last few days.

Sunday, December 22nd, 10 AM:  The darkened face of my clock-radio alerts me to morning's portending danger.  Soon after, my wife enters the bed-room and tells me the bad news.  Our power is gone, and she's used all of the leftover hot water!

 I brace grimly for the day ahead!

10:45 AM: Our fridge contents have gone bad overnight, so we must venture outside for sustenance. Down in the lobby, other building residents have gathered to swap information and tales of survival! One of them has been up and down to the underground several times during the course of the morning, listening to news on a car radio.  Thus far,  the lift's emergency power source has held out!  She has not been trapped!  Brave woman!  And the guy I thought a weirdo at the last condo Board meeting turns out to be  fairly decent.  He explains that 250,000 customers without power means 1,000,000 people awakening to darkness.   "Holy hell!" I think.  "A million Torontonians inconvenienced!  Talk about a disturbance in The Force!  Margaret Atwood will probably write a whole damn book about this!  Call it Survival or something along those lines."

We  brave the outdoors, but McDonald's is closed.  This day will clearly require desperate measures!

1:15 PM: A long, danger filled shuttle-bus journey takes us to The Pad Thai Palace downtown where we find a wireless connection, and check our emails and update our face-book statuses.  What is the state of my mother-in-law's turkey, which we are supposed to eat on Xmas day?  Has their freezer been secured?  I don't want to get stuck with burgers.  My Pad Thai, incidentally,  is quite delicious, made especially piquant by the thought that this meal might be my last.  Until tomorrow anyway.  And as I eat I think of those less fortunate, for whom a meal and a warm apartment are luxuries beyond reach.  Then my side of shrimp-puffs arrive and I find them a tad meager, and complain to my wife about it for the rest of the afternoon

6:20 PM: We sit in our car in the underground and desperately attempt to recharge my wife's cell-phone, but I have purchased the wrong model of car charger, and nearly set the phone ablaze when I plug it into the lighter.  I near despair, and my wife advises me to think of the nicer things in life.  I realize that the office munchies at work get better as Xmas nears, and that Monday's offerings will almost certainly include chicken wings and sausage rolls.  Later, I go to sleep under a mountain of blankets, and dream of sausage rolls.

Monday, December 23rd, 1:45 AM: The power comes back, goes out 20 minutes later, comes back on permanently a half hour after that.  It seems like our long ordeal is over.

8:45 AM: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  My office has been closed!  A day of no real work and little finger foods has been destroyed!  I am forced to purchase a cheese bun at Longos!

But there's an upside!  I can go home and put on Pacific Rim, and watch Gipsy Danger punch it out with "Knifehead" for the 70th time.  And I reminded again of the Spirit of Toronto, that combination of luck, pluck and the old Protestant Work Ethic that has always managed to get us though hard times,  even a whole day without power in the  middle of the first world.  I am proud of my adopted city.  We will rebuild, and probably do some replanting as well.  The Leafs will miss the playoffs, and the Blue Jays, and The Raptors, and probably The Argos, but otherwise we shall once again stand tall on the world stage.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Heatless In Scarberia

Not right now, though.  Wife and I came downtown looking for power sources, Internet access, and food. Pretty much everything between Markham Road and VP is dark, but for a few pockets around Scarborough General and the VP subway station.  Fallen trees everywhere. Passed a little pet-shop while riding the bus. All those poor fish have frozen by now, if they didn't asphyxiate when the aerators stopped. And  I hate to think of the budgies and parrots and etc. sitting in their cages in the cold and dark.

 A kid we met waiting for the bus said he witnessed a transformer station explode and go up in flames early this morning. He said it was as though a lightning bolt came down out of the sky, and then sparks filled the air,  Personally, I slept through all of that.

Next few days will be interesting if, as they are saying, power remains off.  Our food's out on the balcony, but has probably gone bad anyway. The beer should be OK, although it poses a bit of a conundrum: left  on the balcony it freezes, kept in and its on the warm side.  Oh well, at least there's lots of it.  If the local Metro has back-up generators they might hold out, but otherwise all their fresh food will have to be tossed and they probably won't restock until after Xmas. Eating over the next couple of days will be a challenge.

The backup generator in our building is supposed to last for 50 hours, and then the elevators stop working and you can't get your car out of the underground. As for phone and Internet access, somebody ignored all the warnings about power outages and forgot to charge her cell yesterday.  And is now desperately hunting around for a car charger.

Anyway, keep safe fellow T.O. residents.  And remember, there's worse things: you could be in Lethbridge.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Andrew Coyne: The Case For Heartlessness

After coming to the aid of James Moore when the Industry Minister displayed his rabid child eating hating tendencies, Andrew is working up a new column in defense of Canada Post's Deepak Chopra, another Harper appointee, who stated recently that that seniors would welcome the exercise brought about by the discontinuation of door-to-door mail service and the introduction of community mailboxes.

I have recieved a copy of the first draft of Andrew's column, which I reproduce below without comment:

We can argue about the causes and about whether it is a worthy metric, but it is at least worth noting that 76% of seniors in Canada today own at least one gold encrusted walker with an attached jet pack. It is beyond question that we are  dealing with a segment of the Canadian civitas that is swathed in decades of nanny-state entitlement, and which desperately needs to be disrobed before the cold winds of Economic Reality.  

This is not to advocate any sort of truly radical solution.  For example, melting the old down into Soylent Green, which could then be redistributed through the back window of our limosines as a form of edible, if sticky, coinage to those indigent laborors who will later be shipped off to work in the Alberta Tar Mines or wherever required by the iron necessities of Neo-Liberteranian Theory, would strain the social consensus of the day.  Nevertheless, any initiative that can liberate the "stranded labour" of  our elderly, now wasted in the form of trips to Florida and summer evenings spent on the porch "whittling", should not be dismissed out of hand.

In fact, as we near Xmas I would suggest that we owe both Mr. Moore and Mr. Chopra a hearty thanks, for they have brought us the gift of Economic Clarity.  I am reminded of that touching scene in "A Christmas Story" where the venerable Scrooge whips that cripple with his belt: "More?  You want MORE?  While more you shall get, ingrate!"  And then: Smack!  Smack!  SMACK SMACK SMACK!!!  Smack...Smack!!...SMACK SMACK!!!!

I funny thing is, I kind of agree with Coyne on this issue.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tories On Dope

Justice Minister Peter MacKay is hinting that the government might take steps to "modernize" Canada's marijuana laws:

Fining pot smokers for possession of small amounts is one policy the government will likely consider.

"That doesn't mean decriminalizing or legalizing, but it does mean giving police options, for example, to issue fines in addition to any other sanctions, or as a substitute for other sanctions," MacKay told QMI Agency. "These are things that we are willing to look at in the new year, but there's been no decision taken."

Looks OK.  In fact, looks like Justin may be dragging the CPC left on this issue.  Not so fast, says Ottawa Citizen columnist Dan Gardner:

I asked after  this, and the following exchange ensued:

Looks better when you click on image.

So, maybe a bad idea.  Although on the other hand, as noted above, it looks as through the CPC thinks it has to play on Justin's field.  I'd suggest this means that JT's proposals on the issue are resonating a bit among the general populace.

Sun Media Getting Out Of Media Business?

Not quite, but they're selling a few weeklies out in Haliburton:

Haliburton-based company Maple Key Media has announced its acquisition of the Haliburton Echo, Minden Times, Bancroft This Week, and Barry’s Bay This Week from Sun Media. It has also purchased The Highlander Newspaper.

Must be nice to be out from under the thumb of PKP.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Kinder Morgan Pipeline: Might Be A Little Problem With That

Seventy-three per cent of the proposed new routing will follow existing rights-of-way. About 980 kilometres of new pipe would need to be constructed.

According to my calculations, Kinder Morgan will have to buy or otherwise gain access to a strip of land 311 klicks long (about 186 miles) and probably about 25/50 meters wide, if Keystone XL is any guide.  I've written earlier that  the chances of this project happening vary inversely with the amount of new right-of-way Kinder Morgan needs to get hold of.  I would suggest that those chances have fallen somewhat.

A Couple Of Polls On CDN Pipelines

From Forum, so FWIW:

A bit surprising, or at least other polls in B.C. have shown support for NG drifting upward.  And, nterestingly enough, opposition to the Keystone XL line is and remains much higher in Canada than in The United States.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CPC Minister James Moore Talks Poverty...And Pizza

James Moore, Xmastime 2013:

“Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.”

PS.  If James Moore ever missed a meal in his entire life, please let me know.

Lauten On Dale Vs. Ford

A good piece, especially where he discusses what sounds like it will be Ford's line of defense:

A further distinction without a difference is the suggestion that in speaking with Black Ford was merely "reliving the moment" when he confronted Dale and expressing what he was thinking at the time. The facts as found by the police don't support Ford in his belief that Dale had taken any photos of Ford's children, so it was not a reasonable belief to being with.

It is hard to see how it is any better for a slander action for Ford to say that it was at the time of the confrontation he thought Dale was a pedophile, and in his interview with Black he was just recalling it without saying he no longer believed it to be true. Ford has never apologised for such a mistaken belief and has now repeated it and says that he stands by it. To say that he was merely repeating what he was thinking at some time in the past doesn't excuse a present slander if he leaves the door open for his audience to think he hasn't changed his mind.

IANAL but I think Dale has damaged his own case by rattling on about it again and again in The Star. WK says it here.  Put another way, you either try to win in court, or in the court of public opinion, but not both. Judges don't like you using their courtroom as a means of pursuing your extracurricular activities.  Which is to say they just might agree with the Fords that this whole spat is "all about selling newspapers".

A Brief Note: Winter Storm, December 2013

Passed what must have been one of the city yards where they keep their snow-plow fleet early Friday morning before it all started.  With the plows testing their engines and lights, the flashing red, blue and white looked like Toronto's biggest Xmas tree.

Also, why does Markham do so much better at clearing its streets?  Steeles is like a  border between plowed and un-plowed territory.  Even quiet side-streets like Denison are in better shape than the corner of Markham and Ellesmere.

Friday, December 13, 2013

History Of Paranormal Research In Russia And The Soviet Union: 1917 To Present

Unconventional research in USSR and Russia: short overview is a fascinating document.  I've just excerpted bits below and added a few comments.  Of course the Americans did this kind "research", so you would expect the Russians did as well.  I didn't know they were up to it this early, however:

No further work was done until the beginning of the Cold War:

Most of the recent research is considered pseudo-scientific in The West.  And indeed it seems as though a good deal of  modern day pseudo-scientific beliefs originated behind the Iron Curtain.  Some of us are old enough to remember "pyramid power" from the 1970s.  Interestingly enough:

And indeed we see that research on like topics continued even into the new millenium:
In any case, one of the things that first made me love the Internet was Jessica Utts analysis of the Stargate Program .  It was made available as a downloadable document, charts and tables and all, and it made me think that the on-line would become a repository of secret knowledge.   A library of magic, perhaps.   In the end it it turned out to be a repository of hardcore porn, but for a brief moment...

Bruce Hyer Is A Bad...BAD...BOY!!!

Getta load of this NDP presser re Bruce Hyer crossing the floor to the Federal Green Party.  The anger is palpable!  You can feel the heat emanating from your computer monitor.  It is as though Thomas Mulcair's signature emotion

...has infected the entire party, a party run in better days by the man they called "Happy Jack".

PS.  Congrats Green Party of Canada. You are clearly on the march.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ostrander Point Update

Gilead Power Corporation's Ostrander Point Wind Project was the first one to be rejected on appeal by the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT).  This was not due to human health issues, or worries about the effects of nine proposed turbines on migratory birds, though the project is located near an Important Bird Area (IBA).  No.  It was due to the presence on site of a population of humble Blanding's Turtles:

...the problem lay with a road network that would have been built in order to construct and maintain [the project].  This network would have been smack dab in the middle of the turtle's habitat; the beasts would have been forced to cross these roads on multiple occasions and at multiple points during their life cycle.  Since the network would have been publicly accessible, more ATV and other traffic would have been drawn to the area.  Furthermore, available mitigation measures were judged ineffective.  Nobody obeys road signs, for example.  And culverts where the turtles might safely cross under the road depend on the species having crossing "hot spots"--preferred road crossing points--where these devices might be installed.  Unfortunately, Blanding's Turtles do not use their habitat in the appropriate manner.

Gilead Power has appealed the rejection, making what I thought were some rather weak arguments. However, now they are proposing some extra measures to protect the turtles:

On January 20 the developer will seek to present new evidence to the appeal hearing. Specifically it will ask the court to consider a plan to erect a series of gates securing access to the road network it wants to build on Crown land at Ostrander Point.

“Restricting public access to the access roads would also provide enhanced protection for wildlife, including species at risk, from traffic mortality,” wrote Mike Lord to the Ontario Ministry of Resources (MNR) in August.

In September a MNR official agreed it would issue a lease of the Crown land to the developer to enable it to build the fence, pending the approval of the project. The MNR also sought a “Project Access and Control Plan” for the access roads. That plan calls for six double swing gates to be erected at key points, one at the entrance and at five other locations where preexisting trails intersect with the proposed access road. The gates would be locked from May 1 to October 15. Gilead staff will monitor and enforce access restrictions.

I'm not sure this will do the trick.  It sounds from a cursory read that off-road vehicles coming from local trails will be able to avoid the gates and abuse the project's access roads, although Gilead Power staff will be monitoring the area.  Important to note, however, that the danger is not from the turbines themselves but from local Oiks and their ATVs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

OHRT Reform: Randy Hillier Comes Back Small

From his website:

Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, introduced a Bill to reform Human Rights Tribunals in Ontario. This Bill would allow the awarding of costs to the defendants in a Human Rights Tribunal if their defense is successful. Currently only plaintiffs are awarded costs. This is inconsistent with all other courts.

Not necessarily a bad idea, though I think the last two statements are incorrect.  Or at least I'm pretty sure that the B.C. tribunal has ordered costs to the defendant, though I can't find the link, and I'm not entirely sure the OHRT is prevented from doing so.  More important, however, is how far Hillier has come in the past four years.  When he ran for PCPO leader he was going to abolish the Tribunal, which inspired a whole orgy of stupidity from the other potentials, including current leader Tim Hudak prior to the 2011 vote.  Years of touting an unpopular cause seem to have evolved Randy towards something approaching civilized thinking, at least on this issue.  Good news, I suppose.

Gimme Shelter: Bernie Farber On Church Sanctuary

From yesterday's G&M:

How is it possible that in Canada in 2013 “Sanctuary,” a medieval concept of Church protection, is still necessary? As we reflect on today, International Human Rights Day, we must also contemplate the fact that desperate, stateless people have come here with a hope that Canada would treat them fairly, would strive to understand the brutal circumstances which forced them to leave their homes and dream of being welcomed in a country with a once proud reputation for kindness and sensitivity. Instead they have had to go into hiding under the protection of a Church with the hope that compassion will in the end win out.

In other news, fans will be sad to note that Bernie will not be running in any Thornhill by-election.  Also, as you can see from the Globe pic it looks like he's got a new 'stache.  Very dapper.

PS.  The site of JRAN, noted in the article, can be found here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shades Of Astroturf Campaigns Past

Before there was Working Canadians--its website, devoid of all personal touches that might make you think it was created by a real concerned citizen rather than a PR firm, can be found  here--there was People for a Better Ontario, who appeared not long before the 2011 election call.  Tristan Emmanuel, the guy who stole Neil Young's sideburns, did their PR work which, if I remember correctly, amounted to one single sad youtube clip that I can't find anymore.   This effort looks far more polished.  But all connected up the yin-yan with Tim Hudak's PCPO.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Tom Adams In Sun: Mostly Sane

There are bits of it I don't agree with.  For instance, any fair reading of Ontario history would show that the province's dalliance with gas power predates the Green Energy Act, and wasn't  a conspiracy to cover-up (or "backstop") the poor performance of its wind farms.

But most of it (meaning over half) is OK, even relatively informative.  There are several bits that are particularly interesting, because they undermine the arguments anti-wind types, Adams among them, have made on previous occasions.  For instance this:

Adams said the real effect of the wind and solar investments on bills has yet to sting ratepayers but will drive up prices over the next few years.

...which is to say that, Vic Fedeli aside, you can't really lay any serious portion of the recent increases to your power bill  at the feet of wind energy (well, a little bit--wind & solar account for about three per cent of your total bill though that, as everyone admits, will rise in time).

And then there's this bit:

Ontario hydro ratepayers pay Bruce nuclear and solar and wind generators even if the power isn’t needed or used, he said.

Gas plants are a guaranteed a rate of return through a monthly stipend — even at times when the power they generate is not needed, he said.

Which is to say that the kind of deal arrangement that critics of wind power complain about (ie wind farms are paid to produce unneeded power) also exist between the government and all the province's other electricity producers.  So why single out wind for special approbation?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Future Of The Green Party Of Canada: Glory Or Oblivion?

The CDN Green Party is in tough these days.  Some are suggesting they throw in the towel and throw their voters to the federal Liberals.  But I can't say who exactly because I can't find the link.  But believe me.

But I think that kind of thinking gets it backwards.  The Green Party should continue to exist as an entity that attracts between five and ten per cent of the vote nationally so the big progressive parties have to fight for those votes, to offer them something.  So if  rogue NDPer Bruce Hyer goes GPC and doubles their numbers in HOC, and presumably provides a funding boost as well, then this is for the greater good.

That is all.

PS.  If he goes LPC, then that's OK too.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Northern Gateway Set To Heat Up

The National Energy Board (NEB) report on the project is set to be released by month's end.  All the media hoopla around the release will occur...wait for it...in Alberta, with B.C., the province through which most of the pipe-line will run, made a mere spectator.  Assuming the NEB gives its approval, and Harper's cabinet signs off on the project, this issue will dominate B.C. politics up until the next federal election.  Former government chief of staff Norman Spector gives a hint of the gathering mood:

“There are a lot of people in Alberta who think the federal government is going to bowl this pipeline through British Columbia. It isn’t going to happen, whatever the legal authority. It isn’t going to happen. They better wake up and smell the coffee.”

Recent polls appear to have shown a rise in support for the pipeline, but I suspect that's because it has fallen out of the headlines for awhile.  Watch sentiment to turn negative as things heat up.  And if the feds try to push this thing through, expect national unity problems out on the West Coast.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Reform Act: The Pro-Life View

Some quotes from a vvvvery interesting Lifesite piece:

Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition, said that while he saw positive aspects of the bill, it could hamstring a good leader from working towards pro-life-and-family legislation.

And, my favorite:

Though Chong is deemed “not supportable” by Campaign Life Coalition because of his support for abortion up to 20 weeks gestation, the bill could come as a boon to pro-life-and-family advocates seeking to run as candidates.

Outspoken pro-life advocates have a history of being rejected from the top as candidates for a riding.

In 2007 Conservative party brass in Ottawa cut off Heather Stilwell’s run for the Conservative nomination in a B.C. riding. Stilwell had launched her campaign prior despite warnings that the Conservative Party would not allow her to run due to her history as a prominent advocate for the right-to-life and the traditional family. The party’s decision was reversed days after LifeSiteNews.com broke the story.

Harper rejected the candidacy of outspoken social conservative John Pacheco, organizer of the 15,000-strong March for Marriage on Parliament Hill in 2005, during the Ottawa West nomination that same year in a move to protect the party’s preferred candidate John Baird, a staunch proponent of homosexual ‘marriage’.

Pacheco, an unflinching pro-life advocate who runs the blog Socon or Bust, welcomed the news of Chong’s bill.

“Since the political culture in Ottawa is firmly rooted in the culture of death, any structural change that lessens its grip and gives more influence and leverage to the pro-life movement and pro-life MPs is a good thing,” he told LifeSiteNews.com.

“Time and time again, whether it's abortion, gay ‘marriage’, or euthanasia, we see that the people are against these totalitarian and destructive ideologies, yet the political class and the power-brokers behind the scenes ram it through anyway.”

Pacheco sees the bill as benefiting the political effort to protect unborn life.

“It stands to reason that anything we can do to saturate government's power is a good thing for the pro-life movement. This measure and any others like it should be strongly backed by people who value family and life,” he said.

So, Andrew Coyne, whose totally hot for Chong's bill, doesn't have any truck with the worry that extremists might use The Reform Act to infiltrate and undermine mainstream political organizations and, well, bring in Reform Party-style legislative changes.
But this may be because he doesn't think extremists will bother to even attempt a take-over.  But now I think its obvious that they will bother.  Perhaps this fact will cause Andrew to reconsider...

PS.  Welcome back Flanders!  Love you, crazy dude!

Sun Media Begins Its Annual Round Of Xmas Layoffs

From TSF:

More to come, at least in Ontario. Bleak start to the holiday season. Thought Scrooge resigned...guess not.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Chong's Reform Act And The Physics Of Hot Potatoes

The legislation wouldn't kick in until after the next election.  Whatever perniciousness it might bring, and several good, contrasting assessments can be found here and here, fall upon the leader of the next government.

The official CPC talking points can be found below (they read better if you open them in a new tab):

...which seems like pretty tepid stuff from the party of CPC Iron Man Stephen Harper.  I suspect, as this bill wends its way through the parliamentary process, that the CPC will find a means to make it disappear.  If they don't, especially if Harper allows them to facilitate the process, then you have to wonder how invested he is in the post-2015 political world.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Elizabeth May Disinvited To Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) Fundraiser

This story has been churning for a week now.  The CJPME disinvite tells it succinctly enough.  For me the most important bit is:

May had accepted CJPME’s invitation to speak at its fundraiser earlier in the fall, and had not indicated any discomfort with CJPME’s policy focus on upholding international law in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Nevertheless, the Jewish Tribune article published November 19 – following an interview with May – quoted her as stating that CJPME maintained an “anti-Israel stance” that she wanted to distance herself from. CJPME immediately contacted May and asked her to correct the article if it misrepresented her stances. In response, May issued a statement on the Green Party website November 27th denying, among other things, that she had called CJPME “anti-Israel.” Nevertheless, two days later the Jewish Tribune published the full transcript and audio recording of the interview, which reveals that May’s “correction” was actually false.

The transcipt and audio in The Jewish Tribune can be found here.  My first and second impressions are that the Trib and CJPME desscribe the situation correctly.  May trashed CPJME in her original interview, then claimed she didn't.  As for CPJME's stance re Israel, or at least the ones at issue,  I have no particular problem with an individual/group boycotting a nation's products as a means of forcing them to alter their behavior, or even an individual/group's pressing their government to enact such a boycott.  And as for the CJPME's  "Disappearing Palestine" ad, well its tough talk, but the Trib is B'nai Brith's paper, and BB has in the past put out stuff that is far more inflammatory.

Dan On Polling

Probably the best piece I've read on the Forum Polling cock-up in Manitoba:

Instead, what we’re dealing with appears to be flawed methodology. Bozinoff has admitted that some respondents may have been called for 3 consecutive polls, and that likely wouldn’t have happened unless the response rate was in the neighbourhood of 1% (typical for robo-polls, when you don’t do callbacks). Heck, Sunday being the Grey Cup, it may have been even lower. Sampling methodology only works if you assume survey respondents are similar to the public at large – otherwise, these polls are no more accurate than the “self selecting” click polls you see on websites, asking what you think of Miley Cyrus’ antics.

Read the whole thing, and next time you see a poll from Forum Research, just say to your self "Oh, that's just a poll from Forum Research!"

Sunday, December 01, 2013

If A Gaffe Falls In The Forest, And No One Hears It Poll...

Nothing much to say about this Canadian Press Harris-Decima  survey, other than that its obvious that Justin Trudeau's missteps have cost the LPC and he's in over his head and yada yada yada.

In other news I officially finished my Xmas shopping today.  Fuck you frenzied world.  I intend to sit around for the next month and get drunk.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Prefer The Term Heathen

But if Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister wants to wish "infidel atheists" a happy Xmas than I'm OK with it.  Remember, his bunch used to burn our bunch in pyres and throw us in rivers to see if we'd float.  So...definite progress.

Great New Game For Holiday Shopping Season!

Waiting in Line 3D!  Jump up and down!   Look from left to right!  Punch yourself in the face to stay awake (or when you think to yourself "I could be watching football right now!").  A stunning recreation of the holiday shopping experience.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Help Me, I'm Trapped At Tim Horton's

...while the wife fights for scraps at a Black Friday sale.

I don't frequent Tim's, ever since our repressive Conservative government made them a symbol in the Canadian culture wars. Basically, every cup you drink is like voting for Hitler.

And I remember its being on the bitter side; this stuff is not 100% awful.  Although I hear the '36 Olympics were pretty fab too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Socialism: Your' Spelling It Wrong

From the envelope of an NDP fundraising letter:
You know, when the NDP became official opposition they raided their provincial and municipal machines to staff their federal office.  So this is the work of their best and brightest.  Probably got approved personally by Mulcair.

And they call Justin Trudeau dumb.

Buddies In Bad Times Denied Federal Funding

The Department of Canadian Heritage has decided to stiff  'em

This is not the first time that Canadian Heritage has withheld support from us. It happened once before. However, when this occurred, we received specific indications from the department on where our application fell short. What is troubling this time is that we have not been given any clear indication as to why we no longer meet their criteria. This has left us surprised and confused. Why do we no longer meet the program’s objective? We did not propose any significant shifts to the festival in our application. There has been no announced change in policy or priorities. The only source of new priorities that we can see at Canadian Heritage is the appointment of the new Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable Shelly Glover.

This will become news, but hasn't yet.  Just for fun, here's another thing I wrote about the relationship between Harper's Tories and the LGBT community.  It's"tortured", to say the least, though in using that metaphor I certainly wouldn't wish to offend any S&M fetishist who might want to vote LPC.  My apologies in advance.


There's Another Forum Poll Out

But I'm not going to link to it or even tell you what its about.  Because why bother?  I will just say that the one media outlet that's picked it up seems ashamed of the fact.  At least, they're not promoting it anywhere.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

JRAN On Canada's Refugee Policy

In the resurrected Canadian Jewish News:

On Dec. 1, the Jewish National Fund will be holding an event to raise funds for the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre in Israel. The facility itself sounds like a wonderful place to visit and an important and safe refuge for migrating birds. Yet it is ironic that a prime minister who is responsible for making it more difficult for families to find protection in Canada would have this facility named for him. 

Read the whole letter through the link.  Coincidentally, Canada the day this letter was published, The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC) released  Bordering on Failure: Canada-U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion.  From the executive summary:

...this report finds that

1.Canada'is'systematically'closing'its'borders'to'asylum'seekers'and'avoiding' its'refugee'protection'obligations'under'domestic'and'international'law;''

2. Through' the' Safe' Third' Country' Agreement,' Canada' jeopardizes' asylum' seekers’'ability'to'obtain'fundamental'legal'protections'by'returning'them' to'the'United'States'despite'clear'deficiencies'in'the'U.S.'asylum'system;''

3. The'Safe'Third'Country'Agreement'has'prompted'a'rise'in'human'smuggling' across' the' CanadaFU.S.' border,' making' the' border' more' dangerous' and'disorderly,'and'raising'security'concerns'for'Canada'and'the'United'States.!!'

So there you have it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giant Sloth: Its What's For Dinner

From The Archaeology News:

Most scientists agree that humans began arriving in the Americas between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago, and the Clovis people of North and Central America are generally considered the "first Americans." But new fossil evidence from a streambed in southern Uruguay could challenge such theories.

Results published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggest the presence at the site of human hunters who may have killed giant sloths and other megafauna. That itself isn't odd, but the site, called Arroyo del Vizcaino, has been radiocarbon dated to between 29,000 and 30,000 years old—thousands of years before people were thought to be there.

My favorite bit of the article is this:

The date of Arroyo del Vizcaino may make some archaeologists cringe: South America's earliest human settlement at Monte Verde in Chile dates to only 14,000 years ago. 

Because this ignores the fact that a deeper layor at the MV site was dated to 33,000 BP.  But Tom Dillehay, who has done most of the work at Monte Verde, had so much trouble getting the earlier dates accepted that he never really pushed the apparently older material.

In any case, here's what the folks at Arroyo del Vizcaino actually found:

(c) Surface modification of bones

No carnivore tooth marks were identified. Nearly 59% of the bones collected show modifications with features identifiable as trampling marks [26], with over one-third of the bones exhibiting trampling abrasion on more than 25% of their surface area (see electronic supplementary material, figure S7). Furthermore, 40 elements (nearly 5% of the identified specimens, a percentage similar to the proportion in human sites [23]) show marks that have macroscopical features consistent with human agency (figure 4; electronic supplementary material, figures S8–S13). Ten of the bones that showed little or no trampling abrasion in the studied area of the anthropogenic-style marks were examined under greater magnifications. A total of 15 marks were analysed from the selected bones. Congruent with previous preliminary findings [27], most of these marks show microscopical features described in cuts made by human stone tools, such as shoulder effects, Herzian cones and even microstriations [12] (figure 4a–e; electronic supplementary material, table S6), the latter being very rarely preserved in prehistoric material [11,26]. 

Turns out I've written about Giant Sloths on previous occasions.  Here, for example.

BREAKING NEWS: By-Election Results Offer No Compelling Narrative!!!

Status Quo.  Close in Brandon.  Whumped 'em in T.O. Center and Bourassa  LPC increased its vote share, so that's nice but no big thng.  Didn't I tell you so?  I did!

PS.  Dear Forum Research, your crappy polls were only off by like 30 percent in Brandon.  You officially suck.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affair, On Recent Forum Polls

The occasion is this story in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Forum released its latest round of polling late Sunday night following calls into the riding during the day. The survey has a relatively small sample size but suggests Liberal Rolf Dinsdale enjoys 59 per cent support, a commanding lead over Conservative Larry Maguire’s 30 per cent.

But, several Brandon-Souris residents report being polled multiple times throughout the campaign as Forum conducted several waves of polling using random, automated robocalls, where voters indicate their candidate preference using their touch-tone phone.

Brandon resident Anne Ross has received six calls from Forum since the campaign began, raising questions about the poll’s reach and its randomness. Ross was called for each of the five polls released so far, including the latest one. She also received a call on Saturday as part of a poll that has not been released.

"I don’t know why I would keep getting called," said Ross, a Liberal.

Ross is the mother of Free Press opinion columnist Deveryn Ross, who said he has been called by Forum Research six times during the campaign, including three times since Friday night.

Two other voters who spoke to the Free Press Sunday, including one Conservative, said they also received multiple calls from Forum Research.

There are 62,000 registered voters in the riding.

Forum president Lorne Bozinoff calls interactive voice-response polls "amazingly accurate." He said while it’s unusual someone might get called six times in a random poll, he doesn’t believe that undermines the poll’s results.

This inspired a series of skeptical tweets from Bricker:
And especially:

I think what he's getting at is easy enough to follow, but here's a definition of "empaneling". I assume he's wondering if they are not recalling the same list and tracking how voting intentions change during the run-up to the by-election.  Not that doing it this way would make the polls wrong, but presumably you would evaluate them differently from a random truly sample.

If that's what Forum is doing.  Nobody knows what they're doing.  Just that this kind of thing shouldn't happen.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Plot To Overthrow Stephen Harper

"I'm saying status quo is always in jeopardy. Ambitions rise as problems mount. And right now Mount Duffy has become insurmountable, The PM is throwing everyone under the bus. It is time for self-preservation. Time to pick sides. Time to look to the future."

Sometimes I think Bourque imagines these encounters, but this one seems downright hallucinatory, so maybe there's something to it.

Group of 7 In The News

Apparently, Canada is getting back the so-called "Arthur Lismer Collection", comprising hundreds of personal items accumulated during the life of this obscure Group of 7 artist.  So obscure in fact that I haven't even heard of  him, and as you might know, I study these guys.

So lets analyze one of his pics, shall we?

Yeah...*SIGH*...with the Group of 7 its always rocks and trees time.  Tree (center left)?  Check!  Rocks (beneath tree)?  Check!  There's water, which in this case is green, and I imagine counts as a minor formal innovation in the 7's oeuvre,  because mostly they painted water  its traditional blue colour.  And the wind appears to be blowing from right to left.  Or Lismer painted the thing at an angle.  A lot of these guys drank, you know.

In any case, that's really all there is to it.  Of the Group of 7, this guy finishes a distant 7th.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tory Candidate In Provencher Talks Anti-Gay Bullying: Maybe They're Faking It

Steinbach Regional Secondary School student Evan Wiens attracted national attention as he stepped forward, identifying himself as a gay student, and advocating for gay-straight alliances. In a television interview, as the debate over the bill grew, Wiens was interviewed in front of the high school as other students walked past lobbing verbal abuse at him. While [Tom] Falk acknowledged homosexuals do face bullying, he also suggested that particular incident may have been manufactured.

"Whether that was staged we don’t know," Falk said.

Asked if he meant the teens had staged the scene, Falk agreed.

"By the organizers, yeah," he said.

Hate Speech in C-13

Indeed, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act does contain several "tweeks" to Canada's hate speech laws.

(4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability.

To me the only noticable change I can see is the addition of "national origin" to the list of identifiable groups. This is a holdover from when the bill was called the  Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act, and had no pretence to being cyber bullying legislation.  I once wrote about that particular change being somewhat sinister, but was told to chill

There is also this:

320.1 (1) If a judge is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is material that is hate propaganda within the meaning of subsection 320(8) or computer data within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2) that makes hate propaganda available, that is stored on and made available to the public through a computer system within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2) that is within the jurisdiction of the court, the judge may order the custodian of the computer system to [delete the material]

...which looks like a rehash of Clause 5 in Investigate Powers, which would mean that linking to hate speech becomes a crime.  Although how that would be workable post Crookes would be an interesting question.

Well, IANAL so that's the best I can do with it.  A real lawyer discusses the various issues raised by the new bill here.

Update: Laura in the comments notes that

The addition of age, sex, and mental or physical disability is also new. The inclusion of "sex" is particularly significant; women face gendered hate speech all the time, particularly online, and since the hate speech provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act were removed earlier this year, there's been nothing in law to address this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kory Teneycke Talks Ford Nation Cancellation: The Secret Draft Statement

The verdict is in!  Ford Nation sucked monkeys!  Kory Teneycke has made an official public statement, but I have been given a secret recording, which I believe to be genuine, of what is purported to be  a dictation of the first draft of this statement.  As you can see, it is quite different from the amended version.

The Fords are "great TV but not necessarily great TV hosts," [Sun News vice-president Kory] Teneycke said.  "Also, Canadian "Crappy" Tire just told me if their ads were associated with this pile of chicken shit they would send in their lawyers pronto.  I am so fucked.  Just...so...totally.  Mom and dad, out there in Theodore Sask where I grew up and tried so hard to get out of...where cow-tipping is not an urban myth.  It looks like I'm coming home and if you need me to sleep out in the barn, than I'm OK with that.

You read it here first.

Wind And Health: A New Study?

From Garth Manning,  Chairman of the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE), Prince Edward County, Ontario, writing in the T.O. Sun:

Toronto human rights lawyer Julian Falconer argues that the GEA and the government’s approval of wind projects “implicates their right to security of the person” as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights, in view of potential health impacts.

These health impacts were noted on Oct. 17, 2013 when the Ontario government’s Research Chair for Renewable Energy Technologies and Health at the University of Waterloo reported a statistically significant correlation between proximity to industrial wind turbines and sleep deprivation, tinnitus and vertigo.

What he's talking about is this.  Some of the short-comings are discussed here in The Chatham Daily News.  I'll just summarize from that piece with a few notes of my own.

1) As you can see from the link title, Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep Quality, and Symptoms of 
Inner Ear Problems is a poster, not a paper, and it was presented at a symposium by grad students (Each event will include brief presentations, Q&A, speed mentoring sessions, poster presentations by graduate students, and a cocktail to mingle with the experts and decision-makers.  It may or may not ever make it into the literature.

2)  But of course grad students are capable of fine work.  Unfortunately, in this case they had very few responses to the survey which served as their study's basis:

...the overall response rate of under 10% is "very problematic and we recognize the opportunity for bias that would invalidate the findings."

In fact they mailed out 4,876 surveys, and were able to use 396 of the 412  questionnaires returned.

Surveys on the health effects of wind turbines are at best difficult to conduct.  It's almost impossible to keep the purpose of the questionnaire secret, which is needed to ensure that answers are not preconditioned by what the subjects may have heard in the news or read on-line re such topics as Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTN).  Perhaps a healthy response rate might have eliminated this problem, but with under 400 replies the scientists at Waterloo are likely hearing from those particularly motivated to answer in a negative fashion.  And it is indeed the case that readers of the anti-wind NIMBY site Ontario Wind Resistance knew about the survey  well in advance of its distribution. They were even offering advice on how to field the questions contained in it.  So the project might have been doomed to start with.

It's worth noting how stringent the Health Canada study of the same issue (not yet released) is trying to be.  Their questionnaire work will be supplemented with extensive on-site testing. Participants have been asked to wear an  actimeter and give hair samples to be tested for signs of chronic stress.  No such precautions were in place with the research from Waterloo.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Uh Oh

Will our long municipal darkness never end?

Oh, and by the way, dickhead crashed the Argos game today.  They lost.  Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On The Idea Of John Tory As Mayor Of Toronto

Apparently, his nascent bid for mayor is "building steam".  Some might note that steam is all you ever get out of the guy, but that would be mean.  And of course there is this from Chris Stockwell, former Ontario minister and House Leader under Mike Harris
As for me, there's no way I'll vote for John Tory if RoFo is also running.  We need an anti-Ford candidate that can score enough votes out in the suburbs to put a stake through that fat bastard.  And Olivia Chow looks to be the one.

But if Rob Ford were to go away tomorrow, or any time before next October, what then?  The possibility is not unlikely.   Some Liberals I know will for Chow reluctantly because the specter of a second Ford term gives them the shakes.  But in his absence,  a red Tory, a businessman with a conscience, might seem a compelling option.

And, as an aside, I think Ford Nation is ready to surrender. I'm a Scarborough resident, and I frequent many bars where working men go when they need to chill out after a crack binge.  The mood has changed over the past week or so, from "I don't care, he's my mayor!" to  jokes about cunnilingus.  The guy's a stiff.  But if a 1,000 people run he can still win with 20% of the vote.   So that's how things stand today.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Brandon-Souris...It's Only A Forum Poll

Well fuck me!  Look at this:

The biggest upset may be in the Tory stronghold of Brandon-Souris, where a new Forum poll has Liberal Rolf Dinsdale leading Conservative Larry Maguire 44 per cent to 36 per cent. That lead has grown slightly over the last month, in a riding once held by Mr. Dinsdale’s father, a Progressive Conservative, for 31 years. The NDP’s Cory Szczepanski was the pick of 9 per cent of respondents. The results, gathered by interactive voice response (IVR) telephone polling, are considered accurate within four points, 19 times out of 20.

But its only Forum, who are known more for the quantity of their polling rather than the quality.  So what this will most likely translate into is a healthy 2nd place finish.  It will be awkward for me if Rolf wins.  I've watched him play guitar in Kinsella's band on several occasions, but always figured my path to a Senate appointment lay through WK himself.  Turns out I might have been sucking up to the wrong gauche punk rocker.  D'you know these people spit in public???  In any case, and just in case:  Rolf, baby, your playing was gawdamn INCENDIARY!!!  Slip me your email and I can send you a CV.

PS.  I'm sorry about all the times I've referred to Manitoba as boring.  And when I've claimed that "Winnipeg" is an old First Nation's term meaning "Nothing but skeeters", that may not have been entirely accurate either.

T.O. Bus Drivers Talk Ford Scandal

Got a friendly bus driver last evening.  He apologized profusely, on behalf of the City of Toronto and the TTC itself, for the fact that no less than three (3) buses on route #___ had suffered breakdowns. And could we all please move back.  He kept it up with the friendly banter, greeting passengers individually as they got on.  Later, as we travelled West, he said: "We're coming up on McCowan Road now.  Not the McCowan Road.  That McCowan Road ends near Lawrence. But another McCowan road that starts just South of the first one.  You have to wonder how the folks down at City Hall let the street names get all mixed up like that.  It's as though somebody down there is smoking crack."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

As The Fords Rise, Does The Ez Decline?

Skip the stuff about how its all appalling and etc.  The interesting thing is they're horning-in on Ezra Levant's Monday night time-slot (8 pm ET).  Is somebody's star on the descendant?

Rob Ford Can't Win

And Olivia Chow beats John "Hamlet On The Don" Tory.  And this is before the campaign starts.  Before RoFo tries to run without any funds but those brought in by bobble-head sales, no Kouvalis to talk sense into him, and reporters following him around to see if they can get a shot of him drinking vodka while peeing on a tree.  Very hard climb.

And as for John Tory, well--story of the guy's life--he hasn't decided yet.   The guy reminds me of Schrödinger's cat.  It's time to be or not to be, John.  Quit fooling around.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The New OLP Ad

If the theme isn't obvious, Greg Sorbara offers a little exegesis:

In this bold new ad, we see a woman who's truly fit to lead.

No matter how rough the road, no matter how great the challenge, Kathleen won't stop until she's reached her goal –  a brighter future for people in every corner of this province.

It's probably significant that Wynne, a T.O. pol if there's ever been one, is seen jogging along a road somewhere in rural Ontario.  Along with taking on the role of Argiculture Minister and showing up at every cattle show South of Oil Springs, this is meant to symbolize the fact that, for her, Ontario extends past the boundaries of the GTA.  

Its interesting too that the ad focuses on Kathleen rather than OLP policies.  That means that the party, as well as the pollsters, have realized that her personals stack up well against those of her rivals. Think of the same ad with Tim Hudak in it.  He'd stop after 1 K to kick a hippy.

So, in the end, do I like it?   Meh.  But Ontario does have some pretty scenery.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Denier Down: Lindzen Retires

Climate change skeptic Richard Lindzen, most famous perhaps for arguing that global warming would be naturally offset by the Earth's adaptive infrared iris ( a theory which has been pretty thoroughly discredited over the years) , has officially retired.  Perhaps, and hopefully, he will step away from various odd theories, but who knows he might take this as an opportunity to pursue the right-wing talking-head circuit with renewed vigor. His work passed long ago from the realm of science to propaganda.

When Tom Met Rob And Lisa

From here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Trudeau On China: Finally Someone States The Obvious

"He's kind of really talking about efficiency, how do you get things done and get them done quickly. Sometimes an overly participatory democratic process becomes messy and delays you from taking action that is necessary," said the University of Ottawa history professor, adding that Trudeau's reference to Harper could have been a dig at the prime minister's "strong man" style of politics.

Re this thing.

Is Justin Trudeau Smarter Than Twitter? (Redux)

The guy raised $25,000 at a Friday night ladies night event, invoked a little Tom Friedman in the process, and this afternoon dropped a wee bit o' policy:

Progressive, evidence-based, eminently defensible, and will cause splits within conservative ranks.  It will be spoken of tomorrow in the morning papers, and getting word out cost nothing.  Yet the pundits will smirk at a politician who spends part of his Sunday doing retail politics on-line.

I'm surprised Mulcair doesn't do more of this.  Of course he might be inclined to fly off the handle and just start yelling at people in ALL CAPS.

Update:  It's a rethink, not so much a commitment.  Same applies as above.