Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cops get house arrest for beating up disabled pensioner

“This behaviour we expect from gang members on the street, not the police. The idea that someone who committed a crime like this would be allowed to ever possess a handgun, let alone be sent into volatile situations requiring judgment and restraint while armed is simply out of the question.”
So said Justice Elliott Allen on Tuesday as he sentenced Toronto Police Const. Edward Ing and Const. John Cruz to 12 months of house arrest and prohibited them from carrying weapons for 10 years after they were found guilty of assault causing bodily harm in the beating of a 60 year old disabled pensioner.

Richard Moore was walking by the two constables questioning a drunk when, according to Const. Cruz, Moore said : "You’re the rich man’s army. Why don’t you take on some real gangsters."

So Ing and Cruz chased him home and gave him a dislocated shoulder, fractured ribs, a broken finger, a gash on his scalp requiring stitches, and abrasions to his abdomen, hip, and shoulder that Justice Allen described as "consistent with being struck constantly."
Then they arrested him for being drunk in public, charges that did not stick when Moore tested zero for alcohol because he has not had a drink in ten years.

The judge also rejected the officers’ testimony that they were trying to protect Moore from wandering out into traffic on Gerrard St. E.
At about this point I'm guessing you're remembering the Ottawa Police claimed they stripped Stacy Bonds for her own safety because she was at risk of suicide.

Back to Ing and Cruz and their Rare guilty verdict
The outcome is notable because such accusations rarely hold up in court, said Paul Bailey, former president of the York Regional Police Association.
He estimated that 95 per cent of accusations of assault against on-duty police officers do not end in guilty verdicts.
“The vast majority of officers are either found not guilty or the charges are stayed or withdrawn,” said Bailey, a past administrator with the Police Association of Ontario.
Moore's lawyer Barry Swadron said he doubts the charges would have been laid at all if he hadn’t written directly to the SIU director.

Ing and Cruz will not begin their house arrest sentences until they have exhausted the appeal process they have now started - which will probably take at least a year or so. In the meantime they have returned to their jobs on the force.
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Perspectives . . .

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON, make lemonade. It's an old aphorism, but wise advice. A case in point: Examiner.com has a fascinating article by Gregg Clemmer, "The unexpected legacy of Washington's first Civil War amputee".

That would be James Edward Hanger; born in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in 1843. Apparently, Jimmy lost his leg to a six pound cannon ball in the first land battle of the civil war at Phillipi, Virginia (now West Virginia) on June 3, 1861. That unfortunate encounter made him the war’s first amputee.

Hanger survived the operation, recovered in a nearby residence, and in August was released in an exchange of POWs, hobbling his way home to Churchville, Virginia, on crutches and a crude peg-leg. Asking his mother for privacy, he secluded himself in an upstairs bedroom, requesting only food, a knife, barrel staves, and a few limbs from the willow tree in the yard. He seemed to be literally whittling his time away. Or so his family thought.

But Jimmy had a surprise . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Priests and Police

There was a time when the occupations named in the title of this post held and commanded positions of respect and authority in society. No more.

I went to Catholic schools from kindergarten through grade 13. Growing up, Sunday mass was not usually an option. It is hard for me now, and likely many us, to look at a priest and wonder what horror they might have participated in or knew of but failed to report. I wonder if my class and church peers suffered unspeakable crimes. It is hard too now to look at the tragic death of the young York Region constable and not quietly wonder if he was the sort who'd tear the leg off a crippled man, or strip and beat young woman for asking why she'd been stopped.

I want to think he was decent sort, his baby face makes that easy enough.

But this now must be a conscious effort.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Priceless




 What do MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, Paypal and Western Union all have in common? They help you pay for what you want? Well, yes... that is unless you want to help WikiLeaks make the world a better place. To see the shocking details, please go to wikileaks.org/​support.html.
Original from WikiLeaks on Vimeo.


Couldn't get Vimeo to load so here it is on YouTube.
 h/t West End Bob

Signs of Stevie?

ZOMBIE INVASION!!! RUN!!! According to the CBC, which warns us in a report, "Zombie apocalypse warning in St. John's". Lord t'underin' — Newfie zombies!

The sign, which had been expected to advise motorists of construction that started Monday on Portugal Cove Road, had been programmed with other messages, including "Expect apocalyptic doom!"

A final message said, "Rule #2: Double tap!", a line from the 2009 Woody Harrelson comedy Zombieland.

Ah — the double tap! So important when removing unnatural pestilence, especially if you're not using hollow-points or ordnance like Desert Eagle .50's.

According to JALOPNIK, the pastime of roadsign hacking started up around 2 years ago, and like everything on the web that offers a middlefinger moment, it went viral, and now it's a world-wide phenomenon. And you can do it too! For instructions, go visit Jalopnik, great site, love those guys.

Monday, June 27, 2011

At the going down of the sun...

With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Master Corporal Francis Roy, Canadian Special Operations Regiment, Petawawa.

Servitum Nulli Secundus

Viam Inveniemus

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A song for Billy Blair. . .

AND THE REST OF THE G20 WEASELS. They arrested too many of the wrong people: middle class Canadians who are educated and have money — and lawyers. Billy and the weasels are just starting to realize that this problem isn't going away. I wonder how Officer Bubbles is doing these days? Anyway, the Pressure Is On. Great country blues: fine B-3, funky violin, guitar, great lyrics.


Friday, June 24, 2011

You're off your meds again, James

I sometimes read James Howard Kunstler's blog on contemporary life and the post-oil future. His rants are often quite similar from week to week but there are nuggets of insight in thinking. At times though, one thinks his been into the sauce a little much. Between the homophobia and rambling pop-psych this week's post is about today's American men, women and post-oil social norms.

I had an interesting experience with my last two books (World Made By Hand and The Witch of Hebron), which were set in a post-oil, post economic collapse American future and depicted daily life in a way that was quite unlike the way we live right now. I received a heap of criticism from female readers - including peak oil activists - full of consternation that I did not present female characters in the kinds of dominant valorized roles that are favored today: the post-oil equivalent of CEO, news anchor, CIA-Ninja warrior, Presidential candidate. What struck me was their complete failure of imagination. They could not conceive of male / female relations that were different than today's, even in a world that had been turned economically upside down.
     However, this was not inconsistent with the failure of American men to know how to act like men in this anxious moment of history. The choices are pretty unappetizing: be a jobless loser in a "Pray for Death" T-shirt with neck and knuckle tattoos, or a loser in a corporate cubicle, or a loser in that Nevada drone-control bunker, or a loser in the eyes of the family court, or a loser on cable TV. Tom Ball, the man who set himself on fire in Keene, New Hampshire recommended something that sounded a lot like violent revolution, though his tone was eerily measured for someone about to commit the most desperate personally public act. I hope we don't have to go through a convulsion in this land to find out what it means to be a man.
I've read the first of Kunstler's two pieces of post-oil fiction. An interesting read, it nevertheless privileges men in its character development, showing them to be strong and resilient in the face of adversity. His female characters, as he suggests, are definitely not "valorized" and play subordinate roles, often requiring these manly men for security and other needs. Nothing could be further from reality.

In rural places, like the ones in Kunstler's novels, the tough male archetype falls to pieces in times crisis. More often than their identities men are acutely tied into their occupation. When this falls apart, so to do the men, as Alston (2010)empirically demonstrates:
Men are more likely to live and work in their rural commu- nities all their lives while women are more likely to marry in, reinforcing a masculine hegemony in these areas. Masculinity is also determinant because the dominant form of masculine hege- mony is based on a view that men have traditionally adopted a stoic attitude to adversity. While this position has served men well in the past, now, in times of crisis, it causes signi␣cant hardship and pain as men are unwilling or unable to seek assistance and blame themselves for the failure of agricultural production. Despite global economic and climatic conditions being the cause of this failure, men personalise their experience and feel their situation is of their own making. The dominant form of successful masculinity that held great value for them in good times is the very cause of their inability to seek help in bad times.This dominant form of rural masculinity lauds stoicism, rugged individualism and an ability to work through hard times. It prevents more positive adaptations and thus restricts men’s ability to seek help. Many men feel they have failed themselves, their families, their ancestors and their communities because the normative position does not assist them...

Kunstler's ideal men are these stoic individuals. But they fail, as many of us would, when they lose everything. It is the women in these situations who step invisibly into the limelight. They suffer the blows of frustration from their lost spouses, their social networks find external resources to help their men cope, they take on employment to provide some income. Women labour in a thousand different ways to keep their family and men together through the hardship of loss, often, as Alston notes, to great personal neglect. Indeed, Alston makes a tragically compelling argument that unequal gender norms privileging a John Wayne mentality actually harm the ability of people to adapt to the same sorts of crises Kunstler's fantastical men face.

It strikes me that Kunstler's future ideal of patriarchal village life is actually a lament for a fictive past where men were men, and women needed them. In his attempt to describe survival through mass economic and social decline, he fails to appreciate the evidence at hand now, instead choosing to privilege his own misogynistic and anti-feminist stance as a vehicle to rehabilitate his member-ship. The reality is much different as women, possibly to Kunstler's consternation, quite often are the unsung, sacrificing, household ninja-heroes. Yes, gender relations will be much different, they'll have to be, as Alston concludes, if families and communities are to survive.
To address the crisis of rural male suicide it is important that the dominant form of rural masculinity be exposed and interrogated and its shortcomings revealed. This cannot be done in isolation from an interrogation of inequitable gender relations as causative. These relations are now also affecting rural women’s health and their ability to hold things together. These gender relations are unhealthy for both women and men and unless there is more attention to these then both men’s and women’s health and well- being will continue to deteriorate. Thus there is a need to challenge stereotyped behaviour, to critique the way men view themselves and the inequitable gender relations and processes that exist in rural areas. Without this, men will continue to see their future as hopeless and women will lose their strength to keep the family unit together.
Whatever nuanced commentary Kunstler has made in the past regarding a future of decline, he is now paradoxically sounding like some of weaker characters: rambling and distressed old men unable to make sense of the world in which they find themselves.

A man of conviction . . .

Location, location, location . . .

IO9's Annalee Newitz has a disturbing report: "Epidemiologists reveal that black men in America have a better survival rate in prison than outside". Wow! Consider that for a moment.

Being in prison could save your life - depending on your racial background. A group of epidemiologists studying patterns of death among prisoners have discovered that black men in prison die at much lower rates than black men outside.

Go figure. What a great society.

Politically-correct delusions . . .

TIGHTY-WHITEY WEDGIE ALERT: Apparently the Saudis and the Pakistanis are on the Womens Rights Agency control committee at the UN. This chap thinks that's silly. He has a point, even if it's not politically-correct.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Great Hamster of Alsace . . .

THE GREAT HAMSTER OF ALSACE is threatened. Really, there really is one, even though I fail to see what's so great about it, but I'm partial to red squirrels, myself. Seems there's only 850 of 'em, but EU aparatchiki in Brussels have determined that there should be nearly twice as many. As it's name would suggest, this is a French problem. A $24 million dollar problem, because that's the size of the fine. Anyway, Gordon Clark's account in the Montreal Gazette, "It's such a relief to know that hamsters are safe in Europe" can tell you more.

Stolen Gibson Les Paul

I'm not a musician and know very little about guitars. But I do know that "Gibson" and "Les Paul" mean something to guitar people. Especially those Les Pauls that have been carried, caressed, and played for close to half a century by their dependants.

So I encourage you to help out Maurice and read and pass on the following Craigslist post about a stolen and heavily personalised 1953 Les Paul.

To the people who stole most of my stuff out of my studio on June 5, including my main guitar of 43 years, let me tell you about it.

It's a very altered, but very real 1953 Gibson Les Paul Model - Serial # 3 0621 (stamped on the back of the headstock)

This is not a gold-top. In the 1950's, it was refitted with an ABR-1 bridge and stop tailpiece, and then refinished, all by Gibson. The green colour in the picture, (especially on the rear half of the body where the light reflection is less), is accurate. It's one of the lightest Gibson Les Pauls, and the only one of its' colour, that I've ever seen.

I've made many other changes to this guitar in favour of playability:
--changed the P-90's to humbuckers
--had the neck thinned and it, the back and the sides were refinished
--when it was refinished, the serial # was stamped in
--replaced worn out machine heads with gold Gibson ones
--added brass switch ring, jack plate, and rear cavity covers that were made for me by my now-deceased brother-in-law
--added a truss rod cover with "Les Paul" on it
--installed strap-locks (for obvious reasons)
--there will be traces of violin bow resin in and under various parts. It is the best guitar ever for bowing.

This is a one-of-a-kind instrument in so many ways. It is completely recognizable, down to every screw on it.

I've been in the music business all my life, and have a large list of friends and contacts. With the help of countless amazing people, many who I don't even know, http://web.me.com/outgolfing/Equipment (which details what you took) has been sent across Canada and around the world to more people - musicians, music stores, pawn shops, studios, rehearsal rooms, and other musically related businesses - than I ever imagined possible. It's been passed around since you broke in, and is continually going out to more people. In fact, I'd bet people reading this will pass the link on to others if they already haven't. This will continue unendingly until I find my guitars and other equipment. My green Les Paul is already one of the most recognizable instruments in Canada, I can guarantee you that.

Here's your scenario:
--No collector will want this instrument because it's not even close to original.
--No legitimate business will buy it from you.
--Any creep who would knowingly buy a stolen guitar will give you a pittance for it.
--If you keep it for yourself, you'll never be able to play anywhere with it, and it will tie you to the crime and to all of the other stolen equipment for as long as you have it.
--You didn't even take the case.

It's my most personal possession, and I have always planned for my son to have it one day. By the way, the other Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier head you took was his.

It's not of much value to you, but to me, I can't buy another Les Paul like it because another one doesn't exist.. Here's a thought:

Have some decency and redeem some karma. Bring my guitar back. You've fucked my studio up and stolen a life-time collection of my shit. You stole my guitar rig, which was MY sound that I've spent years achieving.

You haven't ripped off a money making business. You've ripped off my life and my spirit immeasurably by taking away the tools of the pursuit of my passion. I've worked extremely hard for my whole life to earn my right to do so, and you took it all away in an hour or two. You've also ripped off my son, now, and in the future. I don't have the money to replace the gear, so it's just gone.

Just give it back - NO QUESTIONS ASKED. PLEASE

Maurice

Social stress . . .

THE ROOT is a site devoted to the interests of African-Americans. Jenee Desmond-Harris has an interesting article, "Review: 'Is Marriage for White People?'". You may or may not be aware that black American society has been under tremendous social pressures in recent times, from a myriad of sources, like drugs, discrimination, changing technology and single-parent families.

It's a hell of a problem, and people like Bill Cosby have been calling for attempts to stop this disintegration. There are signs that maybe, just maybe, this has leveled off. But the problem affects different areas of black America in different ways. Consider that small minority of "successful" middle-class black females: finding a mate without the rap and bling and gangsta that has mesmerized black American males.

When titles for this book were being considered, perhaps Why Middle Class Black Women Can't Find a Man and How the Whole Problem Could Be Solved if They Would Just Marry White Guys didn't have quite the ring the publisher was after.

But that's pretty much what Stanford Law professor Ralph Richard Banks' Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone (in stores this September) is all about.



Is Marriage for White People? will have to answer to some of the same critiques, starting with the initial choice to dramatize the dilemma facing African-American women for whom "unmarried has become the new normal, single the new black," and blaming the "problem" on simple individual choices, instead of a complex set of issues with many causes, effects and stakeholders.

But we can tire of the way the issue is framed without boycotting attempts to get it right. And there are chapters nestled in the middle of the book that should be applauded for accomplishing Banks' stated goal: to tell the stories of single black women and "capture their lives as they experience it."

McKibben, Naomi Klein, Suzuki call for civil disobedience

on the tar sands :
"The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.
The full version goes like this ...
Signed ,
Maude Barlow
Wendell Berry
Tom Goldtooth
Danny Glover
James Hansen
Wes Jackson
Naomi Klein
Bill McKibben
George Poitras
David Suzuki
Gus Speth

h/t  Antonia Zerbisias

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goosebumps . . .

UK'S DAILY MAIL has a fascinating report, about an exceptional 36 year-old Russian, Natalia Avseenko, who is amazingly aquatic, as you see below. That's -1° C water, by the way. Why is she starkers? That's the way the belugas want it.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pushing the envelope . . .


This image, from Pixars Cars 2, showcases the reflectivity effects that the studio created for the new film. Here, we see Lightning McQueen reflecting the lights of Tokyo. (Credit: Disney/Pixar)

PIXAR'S CARS 2 is an incredible technical achievement. According to CNET's Daniel Terdiman, it's a whole new animation universe. 80 to 90 hours rendering time for a frame that lasts 1/30 of a second when projected — wow!

One of the keys to Pixar's ability to do what it does is the giant, powerful render farm located in its main headquarters building here. This is serious computing power, and on "Cars 2," it required an average of 11.5 hours to render each frame.

But some sequences were especially complex, particularly those involving ray tracing--which involves simulating light hitting surfaces, essentially "trying to simulate photons." And as a result, a huge amount of computing power was needed to process frames that took as much as 80 or 90 hours to render, Shah said. And that meant that the studio "bulked up our render farm."

He said that Pixar had to triple its size, and today, the render farm features 12,500 cores on Dell render blades*. As well, the file servers, network backbone, and every other piece of the computing puzzle was boosted in order to handle the making of "Cars 2."

* Non-IT people may be unaware that a "blade" is an IT term for a simple motherboard with RAM, that has no peripheral cards or hard drives, etc., that is part of a computational system.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A word, if you please . . .

THE REGISTER is a great geek site, with an irreverent attitude, as one can surmise from their slogan, "Biting the hand that feeds IT"— ya gotta love these guys. Anyway, Cade Metz has a fine article, "Wikipedia awash in 'frothy by-product' of US sexual politics".

The world's Wikifiddlers are obsessed with santorum. Though they can't agree on what that is.

For some, it's a word. For others, it's not: it's the result of a campaign to create a word. The distinction – however subtle – has sparked weeks of controversy among the core contributors to Wikipedia, the "free encyclopedia anyone can edit". If you find this hard to believe, you've never been to Wikiland – and you've never Googled "Rick Santorum".

Famously, Rick Santorum – the former Pennsylvania Senator and a Republican candidate for president of the United States – has a Google problem. But he also has a Wikipedia problem. And the two go hand-in-hand.

Ricky S.

santorum

1. That frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

2. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Statuary statement . . .

IO9 has a delightful report by Cyriaque Lamar, "Bulgarian street artists turn Soviet war memorial into Superman, Wolverine, and other superheroes". Go check out the pictures. Now, there's all those Queen Vickie statues around our landscape, and maybe somebody can do a Lady Gaga, or Groucho Marx, or somebody . . .


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The silence is deafening . . .

WHAT ABOUT SYRIA? Bashar and his psychopathic Baathists are chewing up a lot of their citizens, and all you hear from the left or the right in this country is . . . silence. WAKE UP! Right now, we have a reprise of the 1953 East German Workers' Revolt — on steroids.

Once upon a time, abuses like this created things like the Mackenzie–Papineau Battalion. Now, it's a different era and Mac-Pap Redux is not doable, but could somebody please ask Stevie to see about getting those F-18's some Syrian sorties?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

E Pluribus . . .

WHAT IF THEY CLONED THE SUMBITCH? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Maximum Bob's perspective . . .

IT SEEMS THAT MOST who wander into this blog aren't "car guys", which is just fine. However, the automotive business is an important part of our economy: jobs. As we all know, GM and Chrysler went bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the US government.

These business failures were a long time coming, and had many sources contributing to the problem.

Bob Lutz (aka "Maximum Bob") retired from GM last year, after ramming the electric Chevy Volt into production, and then wrote a book about the car biz, "Car Guys versus Bean Counters" (Portfolio Penguin, $26.95). Neil Winton is a long-time automotive journalist, with the Detroit News, and has an interesting review, "Lutz says business theorists hurt auto industry more than UAW". Yup, it takes an MBA to create that kind of destruction.

Lutz reckons that his experience is not just applicable to the automotive industry, but to business generally. Originally with Ford of Europe (actually not one of his successes), Bob moved on to Chrysler, and GM in North America. A real "car guy", not to be confused with "Minimum Bob" Nardelli, the incompetent former CEO of Home Depot, who, after trashing that outfit, was appointed CEO of Chrysler by its new owner, the clueless finance outfit, Cerberus Capital Management, who bought Chrysler from Mercedes and proceeded to self-immolate.

"Shoemakers should be run by shoe guys and software firms by software guys and supermarkets by supermarket guys. With the advice and support of their bean counters, absolutely, but with the final word going to those who live and breathe the customer experience. Passion and drive for excellence will win over the computer-like dispassionate, analysis-driven philosophy every time," Lutz said.

"(Successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs of Apple and Britain's Sir Richard Branson) have a blissful lack of awareness of the analytical science of business. Uninfected by the MBA virus, they simply strive to offer a better product, one that delights the customer. They control costs, of course. And they tolerate a necessary level of bureaucracy. It's essential. But the focus is on the product or service ... thus the customer. American business needs to throw the intellectuals out and get back to business!"

He can't resist repeating an apocryphal story which pointed to a lack of quality in GM cars compared with the Japanese.

The Japanese had a reputation for producing incredibly tight fits in their bodywork, with no unsightly gaps around hood, trunk and doors. To test the car's air tightness, Toyota engineers would leave a cat in the car overnight.

"If the cat was active and chipper next day, there was obviously too much air entering the car somewhere. But if the cat was limp, listless or near dead, this indicated a tightly built car. Hearing of this test, a GM assembly plant also placed a feline in a just assembled car, shut all the vents and doors and awaited the morning. But when the engineers came back to check the next day the cat was gone!"

Strength through Joy Dep't.

DER SPIEGEL has a fascinating look at the best-sellers of German publishing during the Nazi era. Of course, Mein Kampf was a biggie, but according to Christian Adam, who surveyed a total of 350 bestsellers from the 12 years of the Third Reich's existence,

Perhaps the oddest of them all was Hans Surén's "Mensch und Sonne," or "Humans and Sun," a collection of nude photographs that includes lyrical praise of the male member, instructions for yoga-like exercises and even naked skiing.

It could be seen as a precursor to the sexual revolution and "Freikörperkultur (FKK)," or "free body culture" of the late 1960s, if it weren't so blatantly racist.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the stick-puck game last night...

Just a brief couple thoughts:

Given how some of the fans reacted when the Canucks lost, me thinks some of those fans didn't exactly warrant the win.

I'm also a little glad Boston won because I can see the riot being worse if Vancouver had something to celebrate.

Either way, a disgrace.

Oh, and Don Cherry can please go find a nursing home already.

General Strike

The Mound of Sound nails it.

We've been warned.   The Harper government's rash interventionism in Air Canada and Canada Post strikes has to be seen as a declaration of a war on organized labour in Canada...

The middle class operates as a buffer against extremism on the Right and the Left.  When it functions properly it provides people with hope and security, a vested interest in their society.

The middle class is not homogeneous.  There are layers or sub-classes within the class although the distinctions are usually vague.   These layers actually strengthen the middle class and make it more resilient to external forces.  Organized labour is an essential component of that, overlapping several of these layers.   Neutralize organized labour and you greatly weaken the middle class, sapping it of both strength and resilience.

As I wrote yesterday, the right to organize trade unions is specifically acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   In signatories to that declaration, Canada included, it is a fundamental human right.   You cannot allow people to organize trade unions and deny them the right to strike for that deprives them of their fundamental human right.  And that, sadly, is just what Harper seems intent on doing...

In circumstances such as these there is really only one effective response and that is the general strike.   Labour walks out, shuts the place down, says "oh no you don't."  A general strike in defence of a fundamental human right is not excessive nor unjustified in a truly democratic society.
A tangential theme in my research shows a unionised firm changing owners several times in three or four decades. Every new owner resulted fewer workers employed in less secure jobs, until eventually all the workers lost their jobs, and the firm become a management company running its business through subcontractors. I once returned to the blue-collar industrial town I grew up in after multi-year absence. The only way one could find wage employment there was through one of the assortment of temp agencies that had sprung up in the intervening years. There was no job security.

Years and years of neoliberal policies from government, and the slow erosion and sometimes frog-boil coopting of labour and its leadership against themselves, have severely weakened the working class.

Stephen Harper has now demonstrated that he will use legislation to immediately bludgeon any remaining resolve from us. This in turn gives the power to owners and managers in labour negotiations: if we don't like their proposed agreement, Stephen Harper will make us eat it for them.

Every union in the country and the NDP should think real hard on why and how it is they exist. Every person in the country should think real hard on what kind of living standard they'd like for themselves and their children.

"An important Message from Elections BC".

Laila

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canada Post...

...wouldn't collude with the Harper government and lockout postal workers so the latter could plausibly force rapid union-neutering back-to-work legislation, would they?

Naaaaaahhhhh...

Tar sands...

TGB Press, 15 June 2015:
A rural worker has been shot dead near Canada's Wood Buffalo region - the sixth murder in a month in the region, amid conflicts over land and oil development.
The body of John Smith was found in dense forest close to his home in northern Alberta.
The 31-year-old had argued with oil workers in the area, his friends and neighbours said.
Violence in the Fort Mcmurray - Wood Buffalo area prompted the Canadian government last month to offer more police for the area. Police believe Mr Smith was killed last week, but news of his death was only confirmed on Tuesday. He was found close to his home in a near the town of Mackay.

Police and neighbours said Mr Smith had received death threats after a run-in with oil workers, who were reportedly working near his property.
"There is in this region a really dangerous group of oil workers," a neighbour told the TGB Press. "He had a fight with one of them over SAGD activity and he was a marked man from then on."

Local residents told the TGB Press they had seen four people in a pick-up truck drive to the camp where Mr Smith lived. Forensic tests showed he was killed by a blow to the head with a heavy object. Since May, there have been six murders in Wood Buffalo. Police say not all were linked to land disputes.

However, some of those targeted had been threatened.

The federal natural resources minister said it would boost co-operation with the provincial government to tackle the violence. However, the federal government also said this support would be limited as the Athabasca oil sands policing were a local and provincial responsibility.  Local activists decried the announcement, claiming police have been following them for months and ignoring their complaints of intimidation by oil workers. 

-----------------------

The above is an fictitious adaptation of this BBC report from Brazil. Could you see it happening here?

Heads up . . .

AUTOBLOG has a report on a clever new helmet for bikers that uses corrugated cardboard as the shock-absorbing medium. If you need a brain-bucket, check it out before you wish you had.

The technology is called Kranium, and it uses interlocking ribs made from cardboard housed under a stiff plastic shell. Since the cardboard is easily manufactured and cut to shape, custom fitment is possible by means of a simple and personalized head-shaped template. This way, the guts can be cut out of a single cardboard sheet and replaced without buying a completely new helmet.

Tests show that these cardboard helmets can withstand four times more impact energy than regular helmets.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The eyes have it . . .

ACCORDING TO IO9, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have genetically engineered the world's first "living laser." That's right - a living cell can shoot laser light.

John Wyndham would have been so pleased, as well as Warren Ellis and the FREAKANGELS .


Monday, June 13, 2011

Fire them.

This time it's Niagara cops cheating on promotion exams.

Several police officers in southern Ontario's Niagara region have been caught cheating on exams that are part of the force's promotion process.
This spring, 75 officers wrote tests and went through rounds of interviews, vying for 17 supervisor jobs as sergeants and staff sergeants.
But it turns out someone leaked the tests and questions in advance.
"It's very disappointing yes, and it's very difficult," said Niagara Regional Police Service Chief Wendy Southall...
The police chief wouldn't say precisely how many officers were involved, but she confirmed between six and eight officers are now facing informal discipline.
"The most important thing I believe in their day-to-day duties, aside from the operational techniques that they know, is honesty and integrity," Southall said. "And do some breach it? Unfortunately they do… it's a very small number."


The officers have not been named, in accordance with the provisions of the Police Services Act, a news release issued by the police force said.
"To date, they have all been complete employment and personnel issues and they will remain anonymous at this point," the police chief said.
The news release said the officers involved have "all accepted disciplinary penalties that include ineligibility to compete in the promotional process." Beyond that, Southall will not say what punishment the officers will receive. CBC News has learned the leak came from the human resources department. Southall would not comment on any possible consequences for the people behind the leak.

Resign, Dr. Baker

Actually, you can go a little beyond your heartfelt apology and offer your resignation, oh esteemed Dean of Medicine.

The dean of medicine at the University of Alberta is apologizing to his colleagues and students after being accused of plagiarizing his convocation speech.
"The talk was intended for a private audience," Dr. Philip Baker wrote in a letter to the graduating class. "Nevertheless, my failure to attribute the source of my inspiration is a matter of the utmost regret.
"And, while there is no excuse for the lapse in judgment which occurred on Friday evening, I can only offer my sincere and heartfelt apology."
You'd hang your students for the same sin. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The perspective of stuff . . .

PEOPLE WHO MAKE HISTORY do so by living, and to do that, they need stuff. What that stuff is, who has it and how much of it they have, can tell historians a lot about the process of change over time.

Fernand Braudel was one of the first to appreciate the importance of the apparently inconsequential components = stuff = of everyday life, in his seminal tome, "Capitalism and Material Life, 1400–1800", a broad-scale history of the preindustrial modern world.

The Boston Globe has a fascinating account of progress in the examination of all these lists of stuff, by Gal Beckerman, "Empty trash. Buy milk. Forge history."

What has emerged so far is not just a glimpse of German life over three centuries, but also confirmation of a theory of Europe’s economic development. The team has already gone through 28,000 handwritten folios, representing 460,000 separate items of property and their monetary values, and by providing this sort of granular detail into what people owned from 1600 to 1900, Ogilvie has been able to track the beginning of consumerism. When did women start buying butter and beer at the market, instead of churning or brewing at home? When does the first nutmeg grater or coffee cup appear, indicating the arrival of exotic goods? Or for that matter, when do villagers start wearing an imported cotton fabric like calico? These small indicators lend support to a new understanding of the period before the Industrial Revolution, when historians like Ogilvie posit that there was an “Industrious Revolution,” increased consumption of luxury items that led to a desire for more income, changing people’s working habits and spurring the creation of faster, more efficient production models.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cesar goes home . . .

ACCORDING TO COTTAGECOUNTRYNOW.CA, Cesar is back, after a year's rehab.

PORT CARMEN – Cesar, a snapping turtle who has lived in captivity for more than a year, has returned home to his natural habitat.
The turtle, weighing more than 37 pounds, was struck by a car in April of 2010 and was taken to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre in Peterborough where he has spent the last year in their care.

The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre has a great site, worth visiting.

The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre is a non-profit, registered charity that operates a hospital for injured wild turtles. Once healed these turtles are released back into their natural habitat. KTTC also provides an outreach program to promote healthy turtle populations and stewardship. The Centre opened in 2002 and is located in Peterborough, Ontario.

With seven of the eight species of Ontario turtles now listed as species at risk, there is much work to be done to prevent turtles from disappearing from our ecosystems. But each turtle saved can make a difference. Less than 1% of eggs make it to adulthood, so every turtle’s ability to reproduce over many decades is crucial. Thankfully there is plenty we can all do to help make Ontario a safer place for turtles!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The McKibben Op-ed

Pay attention, Alberta.



Text of McKibben's op-ed here.

Civil rights . . .

ACCORDING TO THE CBC, Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles are in need of some oversight: "Man has licence revoked without driving conviction".

Wilbur was never convicted. His case was dismissed, but he still can't get his licence back.

Time to sue the NS Registry and the people he contacted, who work there, for personal damages in a civil suit for violation of civil rights under our Constitution?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Dear Senator Tkachuk

I quote you,

“There are those who have characterized what she did as heroic,” Ontario Conservative Senator David Tkachuk told his colleagues in the red-carpeted chamber on Tuesday, according to a news release from his office.
“No. Heroic are the men and women, many of them her age or younger, who serve in Afghanistan, defending the principles and practices of democracy that resulted, most recently, in the election we just had,” Tkachuk said. “What she did was not heroic. She was surrounded not by enemies but by people she could trust not to harm her. People, unlike her, who believe in and adhere to a code of civil behaviour.


“Many of us thought she was there to assist someone, not to protest,” said Tkachuk, who added that DePape showed contempt for the Parliament she had taken an oath to serve.
“This was clear contempt for the Parliament she had sworn to serve, taking place as it did in the middle of one of the most democratic acts in the world,”
Tell me Senator, whilst you're speaking of courage and contempt, what did you say when your standard-bearers in the Lower House were found in contempt by the Parliament you claim to hold in such esteem?

Did you have the courage to speak out against that government and its ministers for their treachery? Or is it that you can only take such a noble position when it involves young female servants of the House standing against your party?

Your bullying hypocrisy disgusts me.

June 7, 1975

ON THIS DAY, SONY released the first Betamax video recorder, and the video world changed forever, to the glee of the porn industry. According to WIRED,

Revolutionary for its day, the Betamax format was on its way to becoming the industry standard until the appearance of JVC’s VHS a year later. Betamax was probably a bit sharper and crisper, but VHS offered longer-playing ability, which made it possible to record an entire movie on one three-hour tape. The two formats were locked in a struggle that was eventually won by VHS.

It was a titanic struggle, too, keiretsu vs. keiretsu. According to Media College, the teams lined up thusly: On the Betamax side were Sony, Toshiba, Sanyo, NEC, Aiwa, and Pioneer. On the VHS side were JVC, Matsushita (Panasonic), Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Sharp, and Akai. As we know, VHS won, and the last Betamax was made in 2002.

Revelations?

WIRED has a very interesting report by David Axe, "China, Russia Could Make U.S. Stealth Tech Obsolete". It appears that advances in electronics may make US stealth aircraft unable to operate in airspace where next-generation surveillance electronics exist.

It’s been a pillar of the U.S. military’s approach to high-tech warfare for decades. And now, it could become obsolete in just a few years.

Stealth technology — which today gives U.S. jets the nearly unparalleled ability to slip past hostile radar — may soon be unable to keep American aircraft cloaked. That’s the potentially startling conclusion of a new report from Barry Watts, a former member of the Pentagon’s crystal-ball-gazing Office of Net Assessment and current analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.

“The advantages of stealth … may be eroded by advances in sensors and surface-to-air missile systems, especially for manned strike platforms operating inside defended airspace,” Watts cautions in his 43-page report The Maturing Revolution in Military Affairs (.pdf), published last week.

That could come as a big shock to the U.S. Air Force, which has bet its future on radar-dodging technology, to the tune of half-a-trillion dollars over the next 30 years.

So, should Canada proceed with purchasing the F-35, or save money and pick up the F-18 Super Hornet? This could get very entertaining over the next 12 months as costing concerns keep being raised in Washington.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Shrooms . . .

Dear Carolyn Bennett, Elizabeth May, and Justin Trudeau

Two Liberals and a Green, you've all come out slamming Brigette DePape for disrespecting protocol, the Sovereign, and the institution of our democracy. You clearly don't get it.

You see, two of you at least had five years to figure out how to stop Harper but you couldn't do it. You even got as far as a contempt motion, but botched every prior opportunity to defeat Harper including the last election, allowing a minority of Canadians to reelect that contemptuous government to a majority. It was up to you and your parties to stop the Harper machine and you utterly failed at that task. 

Yet somehow you and Harper got to keep your jobs, and Ms. DePape does not. Instead, you admonish her for what?  Did she embarrass you? Point out your failure a little too bluntly?

Contempt of parliament is a crime of high disrespect toward parliament yet there sits Harper today at the right hand of the Crown, rewarded it seems for his contempt.

What right then do you have to demand she protest elsewhere? You are representatives of institutional failure. You could not put your partisan interests aside enough to defeat a party intent on destroying the Canada built largely by one of your parties and the green Canada the other seeks to protect. The government you allowed to gain a majority has spent the past five years attempting to thwart and subvert the conventions, norms, and rules of our system of government, and you condescend from a great height at a mere page with small sign?

Pretty rich commentary I say considering that you three now amount to elected eunuchs in the face of a Harper majority.  Pretty rich that this Harper majority will do what it can in the next four years to prevent your parties from effectively challenging it come the next poll.

Here's the thing: Many of us poor plebes, eligible voters that we are, think you're worse than useless. Aside from a few die hard fanatics, we are a deeply cynical bunch. Many of us do not like class and hierarchy. We do not like your linkages to big business, your promotion of the tar sands, your inability to provide basic health and education to the most vulnerable members of Canadian society. We are terrified for our children by your lack of action on climate change. We are disenfranchised by your inability to enact the electoral reform that would have prevented the present state of affairs. We despise your constant lies and spin. We loathe the sense of entitlement that allows you to sneeringly condemn a young woman for pointing out your inadequacy.

You see, when the make-up and function of parliament fails to accurately represent and serve its constituents, it loses legitimacy in the eyes of those constituents. We are no longer dazzled by the pomp and ceremony. We see the ranks of generals and admirals, high court justices, politicians, senators, the gentlemen usher of the black rod, and the sergeant-at-arms in his funny hat, and they begin to look ridiculous. It looks like an alien rite for the rich and powerful, full of symbolism, but utterly devoid of relevant meaning. So many uniformed servants to liars, thieves, and yes-men; ubiquitous sycophants seduced by the illusions and trappings of power and prestige.

You all look terribly important surrounded by all that pomp and ceremony, but you still have to wipe the shit from your own asses like the rest of us.

When we come to understand that, you're naked, and all the ranks, titles, honorifics, post-nominals you dangle off yourselves become so many baubles and trinkets to be mocked by a public angry and fearful at the consequences of your many failures... 

With your job comes responsibility.

Friday, June 03, 2011

An observation...

Surely being found in contempt of parliament constitutes a far more serious breach of protocol than a simple page holding a sign.

Me thinks there's some selective outrage among some of the masses.

Brigette DePape

You go you good thing!



CRACK SHACK or MANSION?

Crack shack or mansion? In Vancouver, it can be hard to tell. Test your perception of reality at Crack Shack or Mansion?

From the Muffin Utility Kitchen . . .

ACCORDING TO GIZMODO, MI6 hacked into an Al Qaeda website, and replaced bomb-making recipes for cupcake recipes. What about the nut allergies? Have we engaged in biological warfare? According to Kat Hannaford,

Famed British intelligence agency MI6 hacked the first English-language Jihadist online magazine, Inspire, last year but their cheeky content-swapping mission has only just been made public now. And thank goodness.

As the story goes, they swapped potentially-destructive bomb-making tutorials with jumbled-up code for the Ellen DeGeneres talkshow website, which contained cupcake recipes from Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio. Recipes for delicious-sounding mojito and rocky road cupcakes, which contained the caveat "warning: sugar rush ahead!"

Maybe Hortons can introduce new camel-flavor dognutz in Kandahar, too.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Alright Pete...

...you international penis.

"As we look out into the future what we obviously try to do is anticipate where and when we will be needed, but it's difficult with any certainty to make those plans, without talking to other countries, without doing internal examinations," Mackay said.
Let's clarify what you mean, shall we? Our military are not needed anywhere. It is the Harper goverment's military dominated foreign policy that has the CF taking on an expeditionary combat role. We could have easily kept our half dozen or so CF-18s in Canada, and NATO wouldn't have missed them.  NATO would barely flinch if we left Italy tomorrow.
"The focus of the planning, let's be clear, is our capability for expeditionary participation in international missions.... We are big players in NATO. We're a country that has become a go-to nation in response to situations like what we're seeing in Libya, what we saw in Haiti...
Likewise, we're only a "go to" nation because your government volunteers Canada for every little fight that comes along without so much as critical fart about whether it's actually a good idea. We're a bunch of fucking international 'yes-men'.
"We are constantly working within that paradigm of countries, to see where we can bring that niche capability to bear. It's part of planning and preparation, in conjunction with our equipment needs."
Ah now we're getting closer the mark. Canada needs to cultivate a "niche capability" so that all the cool countries will see us as a "go to" when they next talk themselves into invading, bombing, advising, protecting, preserving or otherwise violently intervening - for good or ill - somewhere on the great globe.

Gangs use their hang-arounds as their "go to" because they are so desperate for acceptance into the club that they'll do all sorts of unspeakable things to prove themselves.

What hang-arounds actually have is a desperate inferiority complex. They sell drugs to kids and turn vulnerable women into prostitutes. You take other people's loved ones and send them off to war because you think it makes Canada's dick look bigger.

I honestly don't know which is more pathetic.

Mmmm . . . toasted . . .

24 TONS OF MELTED CHEESE. Really. According to the Washington Post, a truck carrying 24 tons of cheese got all toasted on a rural road in Somerset, southwest England. The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has a complete account.

Pocket power

Reading Buckdog this morning (as everyone should) I contracted yet another case of the WTFs. There's an item in Le Devoir that suggests the Harper government is seeking to create a global network of military logistics bases in sunny places like Jamaica, Senegal, Kenya, Singapore and Kuwait.

There are a number of odd odours coming of this steaming pile of Harper.

1. The government is claiming the need for a global strategic logistics base network while it has not yet provided the Navy with roll-on roll-off vessels to move the army, which constitutes the bulk of forces deployed, with all its heavy kit across the seas. It still has to contract out to the private sector.

2.  Since when did Canada, with our pocket armed forces, think it was worthwhile to get the business of building a global network of military bases? Keeping 2000 or 3000 troops in Afghanistan on rotation uses up most of the army's capacity for deployment and training, and it is the major logistics focus for the air force. How many "unknown unknown" deployments does the Harper Regime think the armed forces can sustain at a time without a serious boost in budgets and numbers?

3. I wonder too if the Harper government decided to place Canada as a contender in the latest round of the Great Game. This often sees small intelligence and special forces units scattered around the world chasing radical Islamists and countering China, especially in Africa and Asia. If we are deeply involved we won't likely hear about it.

4. Is this proposal not meant so much for Canada, but for some of our more adventurous allies (e.g. Britain, France, and the US) who could use a little friendly logistics infrastructure as they cut back their armed forces? Given Harper's fanatical devotion to hard-right Israeli causes, he might seek to augment that country's strategic reach. 

5. The recent history of military expeditioneering is fraught with missteps. A decade in Afstan and we're declaring victory and sort-of-but-not-really going home. Libya might very well end in tears as the mix of rebels, air power and NATO advisers and probably a proper dose of special forces have not so far managed to neuter Gaddafi's armed forces. The end result may well be an East and West Libya with an hostile border.

It doesn't need to be mentioned that the history of privileging militarism in foreign policy is not good. It breeds local resentment, which can be lethal by empowering less Canada-friendly locals who can point to the foreign military personnel and accuse them and the host government as colonial patsies.

I mean, the Harper government was lucky it was the relatively peaceful Emirates that evicted the Canadian Forces. Put the CF in a place where popular sentiment turns anti-western or simply anti-Canada, and it could get ugly. All it takes is a couple of troops having the wrong sort of night on the town or petty Harper being petty Harper.

So why? At the end of the day, this idea is without a critical grounding in sober appraisal of the need for a global base infrastructure. It is formed by small-minded ideologues who see the world as a series of phenomena requiring a scale of military response from zero to total war, depending on their own moral and political socialisation. Most of these suited mostly men will have never seen a shot fired in anger, or spent any sort of time living with the people in the countries they will send troops to. Their lives will have been padded and gilded in soft chairs and soft beds, feeding their soft bodies soft food with their soft hands. All of which somehow calcifies their soft minds into hard attitudes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Alberta ATV culture and kids

I have my own gripe with Alberta and quadding culture, but that mostly has to do with not being able to paddle down a crystalline mountain river without meeting an ATV zipping in and out of the water every ten minutes. Or using said river to wash off the mud and oil from all that zipping. I cringed when I spoke to someone who had just bought their 9 year old a quad, thinking it was an anomaly. Apparently not.

Doctors at Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital are calling on parents to keep their children off all-terrain vehicles until they are at least 16.
"It breaks my heart when I have a teenager ... go on one of these machines — a 12, 13-year-old — and then dies in my ICU," said Dr. Daniel Garros.
This month alone, Stollery doctors treated four children with severe injuries sustained while riding ATVs. Two have died.
Last year, the Stollery treated 105 young patients for ATV-related injuries which Garros said include severe head trauma, broken spleens and damaged livers. Garros said the powerful machines typically flip over, crushing the youths underneath.
"What we are doing here is we're trying to prevent these injuries because we cannot continue like that," Garros said.
Thirteen-year-old CJ Gordon suffered major internal injuries and nearly died last year after she lost control of the ATV she was driving.
"Lacerated spleen, a lacerated liver," her mother Brenda Gordon said. "Her pancreas was severed and her kidney was popped open."...
Garros hopes the injury statistics will convince parents to keep their children off the machines.
CJ's mum provides yet another argument for licensing parents, let alone quads!  
But Brenda Gordon says her family has another trip planned this summer and CJ is already back on a quad.
"I can never stop an accident and it was an accident," she said.
I hate to think what she'd say if her daughter were killed. And Alberta Transportation seems to want to encourage the practice of filling emergency departments and ICUs with broken children and their idiot parents.

Officials with Alberta Transportation said the province is not planning any regulations to limit the age of children who ride ATVs or to mandate helmet use.
Odd, because if you're riding a two-wheeled, pedal powered vehicle weighing a dozen kilograms, plus or minus a few, and under the age 18, Alberta requires you to wear a helmet. Yet, if you're a child riding a gasoline-powered machine weighing several hundred kilos and capable of great speeds over uneven terrain, it's all "whatever".

Take a pill . . .

PROZAC IS KILLING BACTERIA in the Great Lakes. According to Annalee Newitz at IO9,

So many humans are taking Prozac that traces of the antidepressant drug are showing up in the Great Lakes of the United States, where bacteria are dying as a result.

At least they're not depressed, I hope.