September 30, 2008

Funny Story...

A short while ago, a local columnist wrote an article about how cowardly the Conservatives are when talking about abortion, especially when compared to the folks Down South. He specifically talks about one proposal from a back bencher that got shot down by his own party just before this election was called. My response is below.

Pursuant to my own local babble, though purely by coincidence, Gaz happened to return to an idea he brought up some months back: the Magical Disappearing Conservative or Stealth-Cons.

I'm sure you can see why these two things are not coincidence:

To the Editor:

Al Siebring claims in his September 5th column that the "fundamental difference between American and Canadian politics" is courage. Now, while he may be making doe-eyes at his dream ticket down south, he's been missing what's been happening with the current government of the nation he lives in. Otherwise, he may have noticed that NO-ONE in the Conservative party speaks about any subject without it first having been vetted by 24 Sussex Drive. The government officials here are not allowed to say anything that may go off-message from the dictates of their leader, meaning no press conferences, no speaking in the halls, and certainly no interviews without permission. There is an excellent reason for this: the current Conservative Party of Canada is composed of two regional parties forced together in a marriage of convenience, not desire; and if Stephen Harper didn't keep his shotgun handy, the families would be at each other's throats before the cake was cut.

The ideology of the new party is awkward at best: one half (which plays better in the East) runs more secular, with fiscal responsibility at the top of their list, and personal freedoms being left to the individual; the other (mostly from the Reform Party in the West) runs more religious, with a greater involvement in social behaviour, and fiscal responsibility being in the mix, too. One of the issues that divided the right was exactly the one Mr. Seibring, and apparently Mr. Epp, wants re-opened: abortion. And yes, Mr. Epp's intent with his proposed bill was to do exactly that. Thinking otherwise is astoundingly naive, as a simple reading of the bill can attest:

Section 238.1 (5) _ It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being. _And
_(6) An offence referred to in this section committed against a child is not included in any offence committed against the mother of the child.

If you still think this won't be used against those who support abortion, may I suggest reading Mr. Epp's own web site, and see why he opposed bill C-543:

_“Why have increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women if the baby doesn’t matter?” Mr. Epp asked. “Either the unborn child matters so that attacks on pregnant women are more heinous, in which case Bill C-484 is a direct recognition of that reality; or the child doesn’t matter, in which case we don’t need any new law – the current provisions in the Criminal Code cover the violence to the woman."

That Siebring quotes
/this very statement/ and still doesn't understand what it says is showing that he has low english comprehension skills or is being willfuly ignorant.

Compressed for print, but valid enough to repeat: the Conservatives are keeping their people very, very quiet unless they are absolutely certain the person will say nothing that hasn't been screened and vetted for a simple reason.

They are afraid of what they might otherwise say.


posted by Thursday at 7:26 pm 0 comments

How Dare They Insult (insert name here)!

You have to love any ombudsman's review that includes this:

"For instance, there is no factual basis for a broad scale conclusion about the sexual adequacy of Republican men."

No, really. And those great, big guns don't mean anything.

For the original article, you'll have to find it elsewhere: CBC has pulled Heather Malick's September 5th column from the website. Not that it's tough to find, of course. There has been a wee bit of a kerfuffle over it on both sides of the border, despite the fact that it's a trivial opinion piece.

***Update: here's the column in question. Enjoy!***

The most amusing (and oft-repeated) critique is that she's on a station funded by taxpayers, so she should never say anything political.

Simply put, that is seven kinds of shit blended without a straw. That she went through with personal attacks against specific individuals ("[...]Palin has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favoured by this decade’s woman[...]") was over the line that I would draw in such a forum, sure; but that's tempered by the fact that she, along with the Republican Party Machine, placed them front and centre in public view.

They are public figures, and as such are going to be exposed to public attacks. It's really that simple.

By comparison, despite the best efforts of Plastic Man to make his wife's appearances political events, the only party leader's spouse that's getting exposure is the '80s Porn Star's wife, A.K.A. The Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina. Why she'd be in the news during an election should be obvious to most folks who can still remember how to breathe. Otherwise, no one really cares who you're married to.

Unless, of course, you're a long-time social conservative hard liner who has a history of supporting abtinence-only sex "education" programs and stricter limitations on women's reproductive rights with an unmarried and pregnant teenage daughter.

Then it is, in hunter's parlance, Open Season.


posted by Thursday at 5:51 pm 0 comments

September 29, 2008

This Opinion Has Seven Days

So Plastic Man has been chuckling up his sleeve at the snobby, "cultural elite" whining about $45 million being cut from arts subsidies for the past week. Fair enough, too: as we all know, there's no one richer in Canada than artists, right?

Kind of like those Canadian Football League players are all a bunch of rich, pampered athletes.

Especially funny was his response to a gala held protesting the cuts:

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up - I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people."

Oddly, he refused to repeat the comment in French when a Quebec journalist invited him too. Can't imagine why, because he did say:

"Ordinary Quebecers, like ordinary Canadians, understand that."

Never mind Quebecers not being 'ordinary Canadians'; focus instead on why he didn't repeat his comment in French. Could it be that "ordinary Quebecers" feel that the arts are actually an important part of their lives? And that it is often viewed as essential for their cultual survival?

Or why Laureen Harper, the day after her husband's announcement, cancelled her plan to attend just such a gala on October 4th...

Of course, if you wait a week, you never know what will crop up:

"VAL D'OR, Que. - Stephen Harper tried to atone Monday to the tune of $150 million for describing the arts and culture crowd as government-subsidized elitists."

Of course, he did it in his own special way:

"The credit will apply on up to $500 of eligible fees for children under 16 who participate in eligible arts activities."

Much the same way $100 per month is supposed to get working parents child care, $500 is supposed to pay for children doing approved arty-type things. The details can be worked out later, apparently.

I'm guessing it has something to do with this:

You just know he's itching to stroke that bass and jam with these bad boys! In a Ministry-of-Culture-approved way, of course.


posted by Thursday at 5:40 pm 0 comments

September 25, 2008

When in Doubt...


So McCain has decided to "suspend" his campaign for President so he can sit in Senate and... do what, exactly? Wrestle debt to the ground bare handed?

Note to John: You're in the middle of running for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. There is no better position to effect laws and regulations in the banking industry in America.

Or am I missing something here? Let me think...

Did someone tell you to stop spending money so you can bring this up later in the campaign, pointing out how much Obama spent while "normal people were starving to death"? Could it be that simple?

Nah, couldn't be such a cynical, crassly political ploy from the Straight Talk Express. Must be something else.

It could be to stay out of the spotlight so the Shooting Star gets all the screen time, keeping your mug off the television, I suppose. But then, I can't imagine that would be too good an idea, given what happens when she speaks...

Surely it couldn't be that you don't want anyone to remember the last time you were involved in banking bail-outs...

Well, I can't figure it out. Good luck, senator; and may the might you wield in the senate turn the country's fortunes around!


posted by Thursday at 3:41 pm 0 comments

September 24, 2008

Two Weeks

Already? Must be: the Skeptics' Circle is at it again! Looks like the host this time out his a busy point, and threw the input at the wall to see what stuck - and it's a delightful mess.

Check it out.


posted by Thursday at 9:26 pm 0 comments

September 17, 2008

What I Want

Is a shirt that reads "You must be THIS smart to shop at RONA."

Fellow comes into the electrical section and asks for a 20 amp outlet, 14/3 wire, and a 30 amp 2-pole fuse. Apparently, he's hooking up new toy in his workshop. He's got coveralls and a painter's cap on, so he's certainly dressed the part.

Shame it's a costume.

I've seen electricity described as water running through a hose (the thicker wire/hose, the more current passes through), and that's a fair description if you want to understand current; but you also need to think of load (how much work you want the electricity to do). When you're talking about load, then electricity is much more like a rope: put too much load on a rope, and it snaps. In much the same way, if the draw of electricity through your wires is too high (the work load is too great) then your wires melt and burn down your house.

The right fuse stops that from happening by breaking the connection (it's also called a breaker) so electricity doesn't go through the wire any more - it "snaps" before the figurative rope does.

In some cases, 14 gauge wire can handle 20 amps of work load - something using a constant and predictable amount of energy, for instance. But most tools will have spikes in their energy needs, ones that are not predictable and obviously not constant. If you've ever used a circular saw, you know it works harder while you're cutting than when you're not, yes? That takes more energy, thus a spike. In these cases, 14 gauge wire may not be able to handle the spikes in power, burning your house down.


So if the tool you're setting up takes 20 amps to operate, do NOT put a 30 amp fuse on it and leave it at that! The breaker will let through as much electricity as the tool needs to operate, fine: but how's it getting there? If you guessed "Through wire too small for the work load", congratulations! Your house just burned down!

I wouldn't have minded so much if he hadn't mocked me for being concerned about his home, insisting that what he was taking was right. But it did do me a world of good to serve him again when he came back twenty minutes later to buy the right equipment.

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posted by Thursday at 7:17 pm 0 comments

September 11, 2008

Nostradamus Was A Piker

The 95th Skeptics' Circle is up and running around, and for this Very Special 9/11 Edition, we explore just how accurately a certain writer predicted the events of that day...

I, of course, am utterly unimpressed with long-dead seers and their vague claims. Far more astounding is the predictions for the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship, accurately foreseen by the great seer Bob Marley.

Here are the (truncated) lyrics for Small Axe:

Why boasteth thyself, O evil men;
Playing smart and not being clever, oh no!
I say you're working iniquity
To achieve vanity, yeah, if a-so a-so.
But the goodness of Jah - Jah
Idureth for Iver.

Clearly, this is a warning from head coach John Tortorella for his Tampa Bay Lightning not to get too high ("Why boasteth thyself") on the strength of winning the Eastern Conference regular season with 106 points; they couldn't get away with playing on the periphery any more. If they wanted to win in the playoffs, they had to pay the physical price ("Playing smart but not being clever"). The General Manager Jay ("Jah -Jah") Feaster also gets a nod for assembling such a solid team.

If you are the big tree,
We are the small axe
Sharpened to cut you down, (well sharp)
Ready to cut you down, oh yeah!

As many fans know, the Calgary Flame's big star is Jerome Iginla, a man who's name literally means "Big Tree" in Yoruba, his father's native language. Likewise, one of Tampa Bay's big stars is Martin St. Louis - one of the smaller forwards in the league (he's listed at 5'9", but perhaps they meant with his skates on) but a dangerous scorer. Clearly, the Prophet of Nine Mile meant for him to be the "Small Axe" of song; and with 24 points in 23 games, he did indeed cut down the team with the big tree!

These are the words of my master
Keep on tellin' me - o-oh! - no weak heart shall prosper:
Oh no, they can't! Eh.

While most of this stanza is a simple reiteration of Coach Tortorella's dictum that physical play is expected of the team, it also has a clear recognition of hockey's roots in that final word.

And whosoever diggeth a pit, Lord,
Shall fall in it - shall fall in it.
Whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall bury in it - shall bury in it.

Giving up the first goal in games is often referred to as "digging a hole for yourself"; Calgary was regularly outshot by the Lightning, and in fact gave up the first two goals in the final game of the series - confirmation of the accuracy of Marley's vision.

If you are the big tree,
We are the small axe
Sharpened to cut you down,
Ready to cut you down.

Irrefutable proof that when it comes to National League Hockey, no one cares more about it than Jamaican Rastafarian musicians!

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posted by Thursday at 6:32 pm 0 comments

September 10, 2008

Commemorate This!

I have a plate.

It's a small plate. It's green and white and it has a friendly little painting on it and it says

"Alive Again!"

It celebrates the 1980 activity of Mount St. Helens. You know, the one where more than 50 people died, 200 homes were destroyed, and over one cubic mile of matter was thrown into the air, killing off hundreds of acres of crops and miles of forest.

It is an astoundingly gaudy expression of cashing in on disaster. We own it because it is so... crass. Blatantly, boldly, crass. Whoever made that plate had no compunction against using that bloody fame to make their fortune. It's one of the clearest examples of taking cash for your humanity I've ever seen.

Then, a couple years back, I saw this:

The commemorative features a breath-taking standing sculpture of the Twin Towers, entirely clad in 15 mg. of .999 pure silver actually recovered from vaults beneath the ashes of Ground Zero[...]Don’t be left out…and don’t abandon our Forgotten Heroes. They need your help. Order today!

To paraphrase: if you don't buy a coin that lets you knock over the Twin Towers over and over again, you hate Our Heroes!!! Even the name of the printing ("Forgotten Heroes". No, really.) shames you into handing over your actual cash in exchange for their home-made rot.

It always made me vaguely embarrassed to see images of mourners in the Middle East: tossing ashes on their heads,, rending their clothes, wailing mightily, bellowing grief into the air for all to see and demanding that all look. I thought it was a shameful way to behave - and I still do, but at least now I understand it is simply a cultural difference, and so be it. As an Israeli friend of mine mentioned to his wife when they were going home from a party in Toronto: "Lovely people, but how do they reproduce?" We seemed so passionless to him, and I can see how that is a valid perspective.

Wrong, of course (Hi, Uri!), but still valid. In its own way. I guess.

And I wonder if this is simply the American version of that very public grief. Am I simply embarrassed for a people who have their own way of mourning? Perhaps this is something other than a crass, money-grabbing scheme that plays upon the weakest of emotions and the insecurity of implied peer-pressure (Where's your ribbon?) to make money for themselves, and I judge too harshly.

Then, just a few months ago, came the bill:

Most important, it is the first time ever that two separate denominations have been used to add up to its full $20 face value: it displays 9 and 11 on its front along with the Twin Towers to commemorate the World Trade Center tragedy.

Yup. It's an over sized silver-plated certificate with numbers that add up to $20! Can you guess what those numbers might possibly be? Brilliantly enough, this certificate has been authentically authorized - by the government of Liberia. And don't that make you feel proud to be an American?

The only thing that could possibly be worse would be some utter schmuck going for some kind of self-aggrandizing "art" pose against a New York skyline (with Towers, of course) and "Remember" or some bloody thing printed on it. Talk about using tragedy for your own glory! What kind of asshole would do that, I don't know.

Even better: what if he signed it?


posted by Thursday at 9:08 pm 0 comments

Why Science Is Important to EVERYONE!

It's been around for a year, apparently, and yet it took FAIL blog to bring this evil conspiracy to my attention. Rest assured, I will be contacting my local member of parliament immediately.

Until then, please turn on your sound, stop consuming any liquids, and watch (and listen to) this video very closely. I mention this for your own protection.


Update: here's the link on YouTube, for those who find the first broken.


Update Number Two: Here's what you can do to help.


Update the Third: A real professional seer at work.


posted by Thursday at 7:07 pm 0 comments

September 08, 2008

Q-Ships Hit The Road

The idea of Q-Ships has been around since the first world war. When the merchant marine ran supplies to Europe, they were regular targets of roaming Wolf Packs of German submarines. Heavily guarded convoys were simply ignored by the sub commanders, but drained fighting ships from other theatres. In response, decoy were used: sub-hunting destroyers disguised as merchant ships who would throw off their camouflage when a submarine surfaced to attack.


Which leads us to the Smart Car fortwo... with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine. They meet a Ferrari at the quarter mile.


posted by Thursday at 8:48 pm 2 comments

Love Is Where You Find It



Update: Found the Canadian version of the Discovery Channel's commercial. They've added the Guinea Pig, Daily Planet, the Cash Cab, and the host of Canada's Worst Driver and Canada's Worst Handyman - he's the one throwing what I think is a hubcap through a car window...


posted by Thursday at 12:21 am 0 comments

September 07, 2008

And About Time, Too!

Ah, lovely!

PMPlastic Man has finally called the election that he's been campaigning for for twenty months. One day one (that would be today) and probably for the next several weeks he's going to predict that those horrible Other People will say just, golly, awful things about him and won't that be a shame. They must be desperate, or why would they be so nasty and personal...

And he will say this without blushing. Likely because he hasn't been programmed to, but he'll still be shameless about it.

I keep saying "he" instead of Team Blue because it's not exactly the Conservative Party of Canada that's in charge just now so much as it is the Stephen Harper Party of Shut Up Until I Say So. There are very strict controls about who can meet whom for what enforced by the PM's office. No public speeches, no press scrums, and no conferences without first being vetted by the communications office well before hand. This keeps the sound bites identical no matter what region or department the representative is from.

It's bland, dull, and treats people like they're idiots: the perfect Stephen Harper style.

But don't think for a second that he's not a very smart man himself: the Chessmaster 7000 has nothing on this guy. And one of the things he knows is that the marriage of the old Conservative Party and the upstart Reform/Alliance/Westerners-Need-Love-Too Party was one that involved a 12-gauge and a hurry; and if he doesn't stand on top of those two factions and lock down any and all regional fetishes, then it's Hello, Perpetual Party taking over once again.

One false move, and it's Holy Rollers from the West up against the Bay Street Bookkeepers in the East; with The Shrug coming up the middle.

And really: no one needs that.


posted by Thursday at 6:48 pm 0 comments

September 04, 2008

The Commercials Are Coming! The Commercials Are Coming!

So for the third time since Team Blue assumed power (sort of) in Ottawa two and a half years ago, it looks like we've got an election coming up.

You can tell, because every seven months Stephen Harper is allowed to appear on television where someone else is seen speaking. And my God, it shows.

Hey, Steve. Steve! Yeah, lemme help you a little something, mate: You're nicknamed Plastic Man because you look like a freaking Ken Doll. And if you are going to appear in a commercial, DON'T TRY TO SMILE! Seriously, the people in this commercial are paid to smile: they do this professionally. You?

Not so much.


posted by Thursday at 11:20 pm 0 comments

September 02, 2008


That was brutal!

I don't think I'll try another 'history' for the 3-day novel contest. Can't really free-associate that well when you're stuck to re-interpreting events that actually happened.

Final score: 14,000 words, 67 pages, far too much coffee, and an alienated Significant Other I'm now off to make amends to.

Let's see if I can fall asleep now, shall we? Work tomorrow, after all.


posted by Thursday at 12:10 am 0 comments