Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hardware Dep't Bulletin . . .

DEFENSE TECH follows military happenings world wide. Of interest, India has decided to buy 129 French Rafale fighters after comparing "against everything from the Eurofighter Typhoon and Mig-29 to the American made F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-16." That's the Rafale, below. They will definitely give China and Pakistan something to ponder, because gaining air superiority over the Indians isn't going to get any easier in the next decade.

Next, we have the dispatch of HMS Dauntless to the Falklands, to the relief of the inhabitants. You see, over the last 18 months, the Argentine government has become ever more truculent, and it's starting to look like the Argies might just be stupid enough to give it another try. While Dauntless is a mere 7,000 tons, according to Denfense Tech, it's not your average destroyer, and the Argies really don't want to try this one on for size:

The Type 45 destroyer is the most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic ship in the world equipped with 48 Sea Viper missiles and the Sampson radar, which is more advanced than Heathrow air traffic control.

Last, it appears the USAF is up-grading its bunker-busters. It seems they spent close to $60 million on 16 of 'em, but they're not sure they will go deep enough to take out the deeply buried Iranian nuclear facilities, but another 80 or 90 million bucks should fix the problem. As it is now, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) is a 30,000-pound tool for penetrating 32 stories of reinforced concrete, carried in pairs by a B-2.

The decision to ask now for more money to develop the weapon was directly related to efforts by the U.S. military’s Central Command to prepare military options against Iran as quickly as possible, according to a person briefed on the request for additional funds.

Hmmm . . . 6 months, 12 months?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dream life . . .

EXCELLENT! Cartoon Brew is a fine site for classic animation aficionados. As Jerry wrote:

Here’s the perfect film for me to post in the middle of the night. Andres Tapeton’s graduation film from the Classical Animation program at the Vancouver Film School. It’s quite a trip.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ya gotta wonder . . .

WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE of Noah's house? Somehow, he remembered cockroaches and black flies, and a couple of Sasquatch to make up for it, I guess. Then there's bed bugs. Way to go, Noah.

Aislin . . .

Wente suggests you read the psuedo-science of a racist

The woman really needs to hire a research assistant who can click on and read the results of any one of these links.

Unlike Wente's fawning over Charles Murray's latest piece of fiction based on fantasy, others have already relegated it to the irrelevant bin. Good party game; no place in the library.




Oh yeah. The concept promoted by Murray in The Bell Curve, that race and inferior intelligence are linked, is racism, pure and simple.

Robbing seniors to pay the well-to-do

Greg nails it. The Harper agenda to carry out "pension reform" because the population of seniors in Canada threaten to undermine the economy is based solely on ideological propaganda and not an analysis of the facts.

For one thing, most of these PMO talking points are propaganda utilizing grade 4 arithmetic (at best):

OAS is funded primarily through taxes on working people and is unsustainable on its current course.

For example:
      • The number of Canadians over the age of 65 will increase from 4.7 million to 9.3 million over the next 20 years.
      • The OAS program was built when Canadians were not living the longer, healthier lives they are today.
      • Consequently, the cost of the OAS program will increase from $36B per year in 2010 to $108B per year in 2030.
      • Meanwhile, by 2030, the number of taxpayers for every senior will be 2 - down from 4 in 2010.

If we do nothing, OAS will eventually become too expensive and unsustainable.
Simplistic enough for some, (the group that would buy that line of tripe), but unsubstantiated with any statistical evidence. So, The Jurist engages in a statistical exercise which immediately puts the Harper PMO sputtering to the lie.
The Cons' estimated total cost is about $108 billion. But based on Statistics Canada's medium-case demographic estimates, seniors ages 65 and 66 will make up only 11.5% of the total population aged 65 and up as of 2031.

So if OAS is relatively evenly applied across the age spectrum, the savings from pushing back the retirement age for Canadians in general will amount to 11.5% of $108 billion - or just over $12 billion per year.
And then he takes aim at the real plan. The Harperites promised that, once they've balanced the budget, as long as you have a large enough income, you can increase the amount of money you put into a Tax-Free Savings account from the current $5,000 to $10,000 annually.
At the same time, the Cons plan to push through general income splitting and increases to tax-free savings accounts. And those plans - targeted squarely at large-single-income households and those wealthy enough to have $10,000 to sock away every single year - will cost...just under $12 billion per year. And unlike the Cons' numbers for OAS, that's without taking into account any growth in the size of the tax base in the meantime.  
Just so we're clear here, the cost of the Harper frat-boys' plan to allow income splitting in high-earning-single-income households and to double the amount that those with a spare ten-thousand bucks laying around can shelter from interest and investment income taxes is about the same as would be saved by forcing seniors to delay an old age benefit until they reach aged 67.

The question is, how many wage-earning Canadians have an extra $10,000 laying around to toss into a tax-shelter? Not many, I reckon, so it would be a benefit acquired by a smaller percentage of the population than would be surrendering that same amount of needed survival income.

The truth is, a solid majority of Canadians in their peak earning years do not or cannot afford to make annual contributions to the primary retirement savings instrument (RRSP) and only 12% of those in their 40s make the maximum allowable contribution. Of those in their 50s, only 14% make the maximum contribution.

Is the fog coming off the mirror yet? The Harper plan for "prosperity" is to rob seniors of their past tax payments and give it to the wealthiest portion of the population.

And if you're a Harper Conservative, that's as it should be.

Oppression is eternal . . .

Bad Hair Day: Execution of the Czech 'heretic' Jan Hus
at the Council of Constance, anonymous woodcut, 1415 ©AKG-images

THE NEW HUMANIST is a delightful site, at the other end of the intellectual rainbow from the GOP and its chimps, and well worth a visit anytime. Currently, there's a fascinating article about the Holy Inquisition. Why should you care, in a Stevie world, about stuff that happened 500 years ago? Well, Cullen Murphy believes its echoes are to be heard today:

Interrogation. Surveillance. Ethnic profiling. Censorship. The words come from 21st-century headlines, but they have an ancient pedigree. Inside the heresy files: how the Inquisition ignited the modern police state.

• • •

Here’s the central question: why did the Inquisition come into being when it did? Intolerance, hatred and suspicion of one group by another had always existed. Throughout history, these realities had led to persecution and violence. But the ability to sustain a persecution – to give it staying power by giving it an institutional life – did not appear until the Middle Ages. Until then, the tools to stoke and manage those embers of hatred did not exist. Once the tools do exist, inquisitions become a fact of life. They are not confined to religion; they are political as well. The targets can be large or small. An inquisition impulse can quietly take root in the very systems of government and civil society that order our lives.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, people controls became more powerful. With the October Revolution in 1917, the Russian Marxists got their turn in 1930, with the supremacy of Stalin in the Party, and the advent of collectivization. From this effort to remake society, Stalin created the Gulag system. Richard Overy discusses this in an article on the NEW STATESMAN site, "The killing fields".

Once shrouded in secrecy, the history of the Soviet concentration camps is now well known. But why did these open-air prisons really exist? 
• • •
The camp system has usually been regarded as a way of extracting compulsory labour for a rapidly industrialising Soviet economy, but Khlevniuk insists this was not its primary motivation. The camps were the product of a bizarre shift in the Soviet penal system in the early 1930s, when trivial infractions became state crimes. As a result, the conventional prison system became swamped. In effect, the camps were open-air prisons, easily assembled and cheap to run, and capable of accommodating millions. The labour extracted was unproductive, and many of the projects on which prisoners worked had little economic value. Free labour would have been more productive. And the slaughter of 700,000 in the Great Terror makes no sense if the regime's objective was the extraction of forced labour. The camps existed, rather, because of the regime's vision of a classless, productive and cultured communist society - a vision that required the violent exclusion of all those deemed by behaviour, social origin or ethnicity to be a threat to its achievement.

In his way, Stevie wants to do the same thing: remake Canada, starting with his crime legislation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just wondering...

Does it always take a lethal mill fire before the minister will leap into action to help displaced mill-workers?

I only ask because between 2000 and 2010 the Canadian forest industry lost 144 900 direct jobs, hitting fully two-thirds of the forest-dependent communities in the country. I wonder where the leaping ministers were then?

Putting the boots to granny (updated)

If the priorities of the Harper government aren't fairly clear by now you, you've been living under rock. Everything is driven by the ideology espoused in this Harper speech.

Now, Harper is going to start executing the agenda everyone on the right said he didn't have. You know - the hidden one.

One would like to think that Harper's blustering at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland was simply his continuing attempt to pat himself on the back for no other reason than his very existence. It was these lines which have everyones' ears pricked up:
As I said earlier, one of the backdrops for my concerns is Canada's aging population.

If not addressed promptly this has the capacity to undermine Canada's economic position and, for that matter that of all western nations, well beyond the current economic crises.

We must do the same for our retirement income system.

Fortunately, the centrepiece of that system, the Canada Pension Plan, is fully funded, actuarially sound and does not need to be changed.

For those elements of the system that are not funded, we will make the changes necessary to ensure sustainability for the next generation while not affecting current recipients.
That generated immediate speculation. And so it should. Harper is nothing if not the dirtiest player in the room. He has already demonstrated that he will publicly smear anyone who stands in the way of his plans. He has used government to attack any and all who express the slightest opposition to his authoritarian advance on power.

He's also a coward for failing to stand on Canadian ground and make such a pronouncement. And if he goes ahead with what many suspect is a rise in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to age 67, it also makes him a Mulronyesque liar. During the 2011 election campaign, in a blatant vote buy, he promised something completely different. (Page 28).

As a real economist has pointed out, Canada is in good shape to deal with the wave of baby-boomers approaching retirement age. There is no need to adjust retirement ages upward in this country and Harper has no legitimate mandate to implement such a change.

The only pension plan that needs to be overhauled is the one in which he and his political cronies reside. The original purpose of that plan has long since vanished.

As far as attacking wasteful spending, (something all conservatives talk about but never actually do), his first target should be the things he created.

Harper, devoid of conscience, steeped in his personal fable and determined to enrich his corporate masters will likely forget the name Solange Denis, the 63-year old woman who stood up to Brian Mulroney. And if he proceeds to gut this country's retiring generation, intent on ignoring the single largest active voting block in the country, you might brace yourself for the next ugly maneouvre.

Update: As might be expected from somewhere among the tax-payer funded, very expensive battalion that constitutes the PMO, the talking points have been issued. Interesting isn't it? The body of the Conservative caucus is so unreliable that they need "talking points" on every single issue.

In any case, as Kady points out, the author fails to acknowledge that all this speculation (and the pulling down of the Harper mask) was caused by Harper himself.

And I will point out that not one, not a single one of those talking points puts the speculation to rest nor does it address facts.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Advice for the Liberals . . .

GOOD ADVICE from CalgaryGrit: "Advice from South of the Border". How the Liberals can learn from Obama — if only the back-room wizards would pay attention. I sure hope that the party chimps that clustered around Ken Dryden and the rest of the Liberal insiders have been sacked. In talking to them, I was impressed with their arrogant obliviousness, but that's another story.

Check out CalgaryGrit's post, which outlines what the Liberal party has to do to off Stevie. More important, it outlines what YOU have to do to off Stevie. Capice? It all starts with you. Indifference and laziness are Stevie's best allies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The art of death . . .

THE BONES OF WAR, indeed. That's the article title at WEB URBANIST: "The Bones of War: Haunting Skeleton Photography"

When Francois Robert unexpectedly acquired a human skeleton in the 1990s, he knew he had to do something wonderful with it. Several years later when the economy collapsed and he found himself with time on his hands, Robert finally settled on a project: powerful anti-war images spelled out in human bones.

Powerful stuff. Check out the rest.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A bit rich, dontcha think?

Steph Harper.
"To be sure, our government has no grand scheme to repeal or to unilaterally rewrite the Indian Act," Harper said in his opening speech.
"After 136 years, that tree has deep roots. Blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole."

This, from a man who seems quite comfortable with subverting 500 years of parliamentary evolution and convention?

Follow the money . . .

WHILE WE WAIT FOR STEVIE and the chiefs to get really going, check out WIRED's accounting of who spends how much to advertise on Google. According to John C. Abell's article, "Who Buys All Those Google Ads? An Infographic Breakdown"

Google cleared $37.9 billion in 2011 revenue, which equates to more than $3 billion a month, mostly from those little text ads next to your search results that neither you or anybody you know will admit to ever clicking on.

Insurance and finance buys for Google Adsense words accounted for $4.2 billion of that total — more than 10 percent — according to Larry Kim, the founder of Wordstream, a company that sells software to analyze text ad campaigns and commissioned the infographic above. The most expensive search term in that niche was “Self employed health insurance” — not surprising in the aftermath of the recession and the Affordable Care Act, which will eventually require nearly everyone to have health care insurance (unless the Supreme Court nullifies the law later this year).

That phrase cost $43.39 per click, nearly $10 more than the next most expensive term, “cheap car insurance”.

Retail has its share:

Retailers were a somewhat distant second, but still accounted for a hefty $2.8 billion in ad buys, and were led by e-commerce behemoth Amazon. Inexplicably, the top-priced search term in this niche was for “zumba dance DVD.”

The web is so wonderful. Any universe that creates a place for Uncle Booger's Bumper Dumper is doing alright.

Monday, January 23, 2012



Dear Keith Baldry and associates ...

We don't believe you anymore.

All of you need an assignment where the food ain't so good, the alcohol can kill you and the perks mean you don't get eaten alive by bedbugs.

You guys are far too comfortable being thrown a comforter by the slimy creatures that inhabit the halls of power.

You peddle bovine scatology.

You are all in conflict of interest.

Language . . .

PARAPROSDOKIAN SENTENCES: A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to re-frame or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.

  • If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine
  • I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  • Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
  • Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
  • Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
  • We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  • A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.
  • How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
  • I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.
  • Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
  • Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  • Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
  • There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.
  • You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Stormy week on the west coast

Sunday, 22 January 2012, was not a good day for BC Ferries. Or more accurately, it was not a good day for travellers intent on using BC Ferries to get anywhere. Shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday the sustained winds across Vancouver Island started to lay a beating on the place, from Juan de Fuca Strait in the south to Queen Charlotte Strait in the north.

BC Ferries, very wisely, stopped operating a majority of routes exposed to extreme winds. Route 1, the heavily travelled Swartz Bay (Victoria) Tsawwassen (Vancouver) saw the cancellation of at least 4 large ship departures from each terminal from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. That undoubtedly threw a spanner into the works of travel plans for many people. Even the Brentwood Bay - Mill Bay route suffered cancellations because the usually sheltered Saanich Inlet was ripped up by high winds.

And you could hear the bleating all the way to Port Aux Basque, NL; People berating BC Ferries for something over which nobody had any control and howls that ferry crews didn't have the stuff to handle a little bit of rough weather.

They have more than the stuff. And the masters of those ships made the right decision. To those who loudly complained about the scuttling of plans and decided it was the fault of BC Ferries, it might be time to blame somebody else.

Try yourself for a start. If you cannot or are too lazy to read a weather forecast and include it in your winter-season travel planning, that's a condition no one else can rectify.

I am among the first to bore into BC Ferries when it does things which are obviously unsafe or when safety is not a primary element of their planning and decisions. I will not, however, find fault when a decision is taken not to put their passengers at risk.

So, take a look at the graphic at the top. Click on it and look hard. That's not what happened. That's what's going to happen. Another of a continuing string of mid-latitude depressions piling in from the central Pacific is going to do it all over again. Figure on Tuesday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why, how Kandahar?

CBC's Dispatches hosts an interview with Matthew Willis, who has a chapter on Canada in a new Royal United Services Institute book on the NATO/UK experience in Afghanistan.

It's interesting because Willis suggests that Canada lobbied hard to get Kandahar without really knowing what it was getting itself into. The US presence before Canada took over was small and as a result there remained a dearth of intelligence regarding the province and the problems it might contain. There are other details regarding the small size of the forces Canada has compared the larger resources available to the British and Americans, implying maybe that we bit into the mission without a sense of what it was going to entail.

But as with all these things, it is what's hidden between the lines that tells more of the story. Willis, in my reading anyway, seems to suggest bits of what I've heard from other places along the way. Namely, Canada went to Kandahar for domestic ego. Various types between the military brass and government wanted the hard parts because it would buy us a better seat at the table with the other big NATO powers and forever dismiss the notion that the Canadian Forces are 'soft' peacekeepers in the eyes of the public.   

Missing from the interview at least is any explicit reference to the role of actual mission success in the reasoning behind deploying Canada to Kandahar. You know, the whole 'winning' thing and whether it was possible. Did Canada/NATO idiotically assume winning was a forgone conclusion because we aren't the loser Soviets or something? It would be interesting to read the chapter in full as well as other book mentioned in the interview to see if any of that is addressed.

I mean, it sounds like even before Harper and some politicians or generals projected their own insecurity onto this thing called Canada and blew-up a bunch of people so they could feel better and get let into the posh clubs. You know, The World Stage(tm) and all.

Harper's leading hillbilly

Andrew Potter pulled no punches on this one.

Tony Clement is the dumber than a sack of hammers and has a bag full of the stupidest ideas to hit government since the invention of the failed curved machine gun barrel.

In his six years in power, Stephen Harper has successfully positioned the Conservatives as the party of neither the left, nor of the right, but of the deeply stupid. And as Canadians have come to realize, when Tony Clement is sent out to sell a policy, things are about to get seriously neuronally challenged.

There is nothing wrong with trying to reduce red tape. Only the most naïve statist could believe that every single one of the alleged 2,600 regulations on business for which the federal government is responsible are necessary. Those rules that aren’t should be eliminated.
But equally naïve is the dopey libertarianism that motivates the commission’s report, and Clement’s gleeful endorsement of the one-for-one recommendation. Conservatives love these sorts of things. They pull off the neat double-shot of catering to the desired special interest while allowing the government to wrap itself in a thin gauze of ideological principle.

To see how confused this is, try applying the one-for-one rule to everything else the government does. How about, for every new law the government wants to enact, it has to eliminate one. For every criminal it wants to imprison, it has to release one. For every tax it wants to cut, it has to increase another. For every cabinet member it wants to add, it has to fire another.

... in his drunkard’s walk through Stephen Harper’s cabinet, from Health to Industry to the Treasury Board, Tony Clement has earned a more precise title: Minister of Everything Stupid.

Potter left out the part where Clement went to Denver to attend, (of all things), the US Democratic convention in the middle of a listeriosis crisis in Canadian meat packing plants.

H/T Holly Stick

Saturday, January 21, 2012

English hospitality . . .

AN AMERICAN TOURIST in London decides to skip his tour group and explore the city on his own. He wanders around, seeing the sights, and occasionally stopping at a quaint pub to soak up the local culture, chat with the lads, and have a pint of Guinness. After a while, he finds himself in a very high-class neighbourhood.....big, stately residences... no pubs, no stores, no restaurants, and worst of all... 

NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS. He really, really has to go, after all those Guinness's. He finds a narrow side street, with high walls surrounding the adjacent buildings and decides to use the wall to solve his problem. As he is unzipping, he is tapped on the shoulder by a London bobby, who says, “I say, sir, you simply cannot do that here, you know.”

“I'm very sorry, officer,” replies the American, “but I really, really HAVE TO GO, and I just can't find a public restroom.”

“Ah, yes,” said the bobby... “Just follow me.” He leads him to a back “delivery alley”, then along a wall to a gate, which he opens.

“In there,” points the bobby. “Whiz away sir, anywhere you want.” The fellow enters and finds himself in the most beautiful garden he has ever seen. Manicured grass lawns, statuary, fountains, sculpted hedges, and huge beds of gorgeous flowers, all in perfect bloom.

Since he has the cop's blessing, he unburdens himself and is greatly relieved. As he goes back through the gate, he says to the bobby, “That was really decent of you... is that what you call ‘English Hospitality’?”

“No, sir,” replies the bobby,
“that is what we call the French Embassy.” 

Stevie's Oil Ugliness . . .

SLATE ASKS: Saudi Arabia. Nigeria. Venezuela. Canada? Is our neighbor to the north becoming a jingoistic petro-state?

Take, for instance, the country that provides by far the largest share of our petroleum imports. Its regime, in thrall to big oil interests, has grown increasingly bellicose, labeling environmental activists “radicals” and “terrorists” and is considering a crackdown on nonprofits that oppose its policies. It blames political dissent on the influence of “foreigners,” while steamrolling domestic opposition to oil projects bankrolled entirely by overseas investors. Meanwhile, its skyrocketing oil exports have sent the value of its currency soaring, enriching energy industry barons but crippling other sectors of its economy.

Yes, Canada is becoming a jingoistic petro-state.

Oh, to see ourselves as others see us. And with the Head Jingo, Stevie, at the helm, well, the next 3 years are going to pass very slowly, but eventually, de-nazification will commence. Save the papers, videos, e-mails, all the evidence for Stevie's day in court.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Harper MP displays ignorance

Yes, I know. You're shocked.
Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon has raised a little ridicule by sending a survey out in his ethnically diverse riding asking constituents if they speak “Indian.”
The problem, of course, is that there is no such language. In India, there are 29 languages each spoken by more than a million people, like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Punjabi. English, though the first language of few Indians, often serves as a common tongue. 
 A novel idea comes from one of the commenters to that story.
If only there was some sort of national survey that asked people questions about what languages they speak at home and other things MPs might need to know to better serve their constituents. I don't know what you would call it, a census maybe, that collected information about ordinary Canadians and how they live.
Harper's Canada: The politics of stupidity.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ya know,

I'm all for not passing judgment until the facts are all in and examined, but it is becoming much harder to do that in light of what's coming out in the media now about the [in]actions of Costa Concordia's master and crew (and possibly further up the chain, the ship's owners). This could be one of those disasters that rewrites the book. You know, the 'what-not-to-do' section.

And on the maple flag side...

There's this from Cathie.

Oh dear! Did the Harper government lie to us again?
A federal agency created by the Harper government with great political fanfare in 2008 is costing millions of dollars to achieve pretty much nothing.

The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board has just about everything a budding government agency could want.

So far, it has spent over $3.3 million for new offices, computers and furniture, well-paid executives and staff, travel budgets, expense accounts, board meetings, and lots of pricey consultants.

All that's missing is a reason for it to exist at all.
Personally, I hate it when that happens. 

If you haven't read Skippy...

The Bush Kangaroo lately, well, now is a good time.

Because, as Jon Stewart says:

When I want news, I go to CNN. And they turn to Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo.
Said brother Newt:
"I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," he said.
Appalling brother. Simply appalling.

So, let's impeach somebody for getting a blowjob!!

I dunno, Skippy, whaddya think? Should Clinton get a chance to toss in a question here?

Northern Gateway, Northern Wall

At the end of the day it won't matter what the JRP recommends or what the Cons and Enbridge do to negate or subvert the process.  Something is different about this pipeline proposal compared to others.

The context is in so many ways changed from past proposals. The hearing process commences at a time when the world has seen the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Locally, people do not not need to be reminded of the destruction from the Exxon Valdez. And the black bleakness of the Tar Sands, for which this pipeline is proposed as servant, are infamous for their contribution to catastrophic climate change and our race to the bottom energy addiction.

Like the gas line in the Northwest Territories, numerous First Nations and communities are being bribed with jobs to harbour the siphon. Except Northern BC is not the early double-aughts NWT. Communities and people largely do not appear to want to all be heavy equipment operators in the pipeline. This is much bigger than 'good union jobs.' Ordinary people do not want to be responsible for enabling something which could kill the living breathing Northwest coast or the endless lakes, rivers, and forests across the route.

The ignorant felling of 14 trees by Enbridge's reconnaissance platoon, the appalling comments at the beginning of the hearing process by the Ethical Oil stained Harper Regime have served to set intractable terms between us and them. The consequent comments by First Nations leaders confirm this.

People will risk their lives to stop this pipeline because it threatens their homes and it imperils the living future of the planet. If approved, it will not be constructed without bloodshed.  One thousand one hundred and seventy seven kilometres of exposed pipe is a lot to build and defend.

The Northern Gateway is a threshold. Energy politics in Canada will not be the same.

Delights . . .

WHILE DAVE, BORIS & REV regale us with an outrageous string of things to get outraged over, I ran across this small delight, worth 1:27 of your time. It's a video, as you see, with the title: "Aston Martin Loves Women. Women love Aston Martin." Chris Shunk, at AUTOBLOG, points out that it's not what you think:

The spot illustrates that women don't need a mini skirt to be featured in an exotic luxury car commercial, and that you don't have to be a guy to appreciate automotive beauty.

Plus a charming piano, too. Astons are so delightful, so Savile Row bespoke, with a certain something that even Mercedes' greatest AMG sports sleds just cannot possess. Check out the video, then get back to the eternal war in Fubar Province.

Northern Gateway links

First, via thwap, a link to another Rabble piece by Tyler McCreary. In it he describes the appalling start by which Enbridge and even JRP chair Sheila Leggett stepped in it. 

Second, The Regina Mom has a solid series of recent links to all things Enbridge and Northern Gateway.

Go and read.

Checking Enbridge's homework: I-O models edition

Marc Lee at the Progressive Economics Forum (and Rabble)has his Sherlock hat on sleuthing out the the math behind the employment numbers Enbridge is claiming for the Northern Gateway project. He explains how economic input-output models are manipulated to produce person-year employment numbers.

Input-output models are fairly standard economic models used by government and industry predict the impact of an economic event on a region, such as the addition or loss of a major industry. I'm not an economist so I'm not the one to ask about the details of these things, but I can tell that as with all economic models, a certain set of assumptions are made about the nature of the economy and variables are added.

Socio-economic impact statements as part of the overall environmental impact statement (EIS) put forward by project proponents use I-O models to come up with their job and economic benefit numbers before later processes like the Northern Gateway JRP hearings convene. I-O models were used in the Mackenzie Gas Project and the assorted diamond mine impact assessment projects. Lee explains the first part of the problem with Enbridge's numbers with reference to how I-O models work:

So how do we get from an average of 1,850 workers for three-years to 63,000 person-years of employment (construction only)? To answer this question we have to understand input-output models, which use GDP data to proxy the flow of income through the economy. Modellers “shock” the I-O model to estimate an increase in economic activity. The important pieces are (a) that direct expenditures on the pipeline also lead to employment in upstream industries that provide the goods and services that are inputs to construction and operations (called “indirect employment”); and (b) income to workers, whether direct or indirect, support jobs in the local economy on food, housing, cars, entertainment and so forth (called “induced employment”).

The second part is where the Sherlock Holmesing comes into play and pertains to the question of indirect jobs and how that relates to the 63 000 person years figure. Lee contacted Statistics Canada and writes the following:
So I am scratching my head a bit, in particular as it relates to direct jobs and how all of those reported indirect jobs could include such large numbers of in far-flung industry categories. There is some kind of flaw in how this is being modelled but without deeper information I cannot get at it. It could be that Oil and Gas Construction Industry [code 2300D0] in the I-O Model is broader than pipeline building (in the NAICS, 23712, Oil and Gas Pipeline and Related Structures Construction).
To translate, every job, yours, mine, and your neighbour's falls under a job classification code. NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System, a coding system for classifying jobs that is standardised across Canada, the US, and Mexico. It isn't as simple as it looks as a person's job title doesn't necessarily correlate with the most obvious industry they're involved in. For example, a plumber working at an airport might be coded as working in air transportation, not in something more intuitive like home or commercial construction.

So when Lee speculates that coding for "the Oil and Gas Industry in the I-O model is broader than pipeline building" he is suggesting that the I-O model Enbridge used to come up with their person-year numbers may have used a much more generous code than it should have. It may have included estimates of indirect employment that really would have nothing do to with the pipeline! I mean, does Oil and Gas Construction Industry include someone welding oil derricks in rural Alberta who would have been employed regardless of what Enbridge wanted to do?

I think there's also something to be said about the difficulty in obtaining from a government department work it did for a private firm regarding something in the clear public interest undergoing a massive public consultation. It appears to put Statscan in the unenviable position of protecting Enbridge from potential scrutiny of the support for its claims. It will be telling if Enbridge obfuscates the release of their I-O models and what went into them. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It isn't your imagination, they really are talking to themselves

The SUN-TV news network was never intended to cover the news, it was intended to make the news. Some might even say make up the news, but what I mean is that the gang of clown-shoed commentators put together by right-wing Quebecor chieftain Pierre Karl Peladeau and former PMO flack Kory Teneycke are paid to act out and grab headlines, not to report the news.
Nobody watches SUN-TV outside of a few elderly shut-ins, the staff at QMI newspapers who are a captive audience, Blogging Tories and professional media watchers. 

Bill Brioux, a freelance TV writer for CP, owner of TVFeedsMyFamily.com and a former Sun Media TV columnist, has access to BBM numbers. He says the audiences for Sun News Network are indeed minuscule.

“Very few Canadians watch Sun News Network. A look at the BBM Canada overnight, estimated ratings for a typical mid-week night, Wed. Dec. 28, showed that their highest rated show was The Source with Ezra Levant at 10 p.m. with 38,000 viewers across Canada. ByLine with Brian Lilley at 9 pulled 35,000. Only 5,000 and 6,000 of those viewers were between 25 and 54, across Canada. There are more people, on any given night, in a mall in Toronto,” says Brioux.

So who does watch Sun News Network? “The vast majority of the few viewers SNN does get are way over 50, outside the demo advertisers want. So SNN draws enough on a nightly basis to fill a senior’s mall,” says Brioux.

He went on to say that after the top two shows, Sun News Network gets even fewer viewers. “Beyond Lilley and Levant’s shows—the two highest rated SNN offerings by far—everything else stiffs,” says Brioux. “Charles Adler has bombed from the beginning, drawing 8,000 at 8 p.m. and 2,000 at 11 p.m. on the 28th—and zero in the 25–54 demographic both hours, across Canada.”

As for David Akin’s Daily Brief, Brioux says 6,000 viewers tuned in over the supper hour. But the late-night slot tanked. “Daily Brief at midnight got zip and zip—so few viewers, BBM Canada could not measure them. The same night, CBC News Network peaked at 198,000/60,000 viewers.”

The idea behind the "news" network is to make a lot of noise through calculated and contrived outrageousness and get the other media in the country to pay attention. This results in the media that most people do watch and read - the CBC, CTV, Global TV, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Province et al - reporting "both sides of the story" and thus giving the radical right wing side of an issue equal balance with the truth, thus advancing the radical conservative neofascist agenda.
Every time Ezra Levant prances around in a fright wig or tells a foreign executive to go fuck his mother for opposing the destruction of the environment, every time some ignorant spokesbimbo insults a guest and spouts nonsense, every time Michael Coren tells the audience that real Canadians hate brown people and non-Christians --it makes the news, the blogs (including this one) go nuts and people talk about it.
With very few exceptions - and they should be ashamed of themselves - the people on SUN TV don't care about the news or journalism or truth - that isn't the business they are in. They will say or do anything to get covered by other media. They have to, because no one is watching them.
Essentially, SUN TV is engaged in cultural trolling and the way you get rid of trolls is to quit feeding them. So I call on other bloggers, other journalists, the real news media in Canada to stop giving these trolls the oxygen of public attention.
As long as the CRTC refuses to force cable companies to make them a standard station and force subscribers to give them money, SUN-TV will not turn a profit. Eventually PKP will get sick of shovelling money down a hole and Levant, Adler, Coren, Erickson and the rest will all be forced to go out and try to get real jobs.
And being a professional clown only looks good on a resume if you are applying for a job at Ringling Brothers or a rodeo.

Crossposted from the Woodshed


Harper: Gas bag in the wilderness

The Rev. took the juiciest parts of Harper's latest "sit down" with Peter Mansbridge and spread them out here. It's so good that it's difficult to pick out which part of "Iran really scares me" is the brownest part of Harper's utter bullshit. But by way of example:
“I’ve raised the alarm as much as I can, but obviously I don’t advocate particular actions publicly. I work with our allies to see if we get consensus on actions,” he said.
Mr. Harper said he has no doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “There is absolutely no doubt they are lying,” Mr. Harper said, referring to statements by Iran that the nuclear program is for peaceful uses.
“The evidence is just growing overwhelming. This is not, as was the case of Iraq, merely the opinion of allies,” he said.
The development of nuclear weapons as one of the purposes of Iran’s nuclear program “is just beyond dispute at this point,” he said. “The only dispute is how far advanced it is and how far off it will be until they actually develop those weapons and develop the capability of delivering the weapons.”
This is measuring in centimeters and calling it inches. "Mr. World-Stage", if he actually expresses these same things the same way at international gatherings, must be an amazingly embarrassing spectacle. You see ... the Israelis have a different take on Iran.
Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb, according to the intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.


The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon - or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.

Israel also believes the Iranian regime now faces an unprecedented threat to its stability, which for the first time combines both external and internal pressure: from abroad, increasingly harsh sanctions and threats of military action, and at home, economic distress and worries about the results of the parliamentary election scheduled for March.
  Read the whole article. Then ask yourself why Harper is in such a bum's rush to go to war.

And, if Harper disagrees with the Israeli intelligence estimate, does that make him anti-semitic?

Keep those "radicals" out of Canada

Rick Mercer gives a great rant here.

And a video to remind you that in the eyes of Harper, you are under attack.

Trash talking us into war

I think most reasonable people, at least in hindsight, would agree that one of the things the Liberals' got right under Chretien and Martin was keeping Canada out of the gigantic deadly goat rodeo known as the Iraq War.
Remember how in the months that lead up to the invasion we were told again and again that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction, that there was no question he was working on 'nookyalur' weapons, that Saddam Hussein was seen french kissing Osama Bin Laden under the bleachers during the homecoming game. This was all given as gospel truth by the White House, Pentagon, CIA and about 90% of the Western Media.
And yet, hundreds of billions of dollars and a million or so deaths later, we know it was all bullshit. They were wrong or lying or both.
Iraq was about as close to having nukes or a means to deliver them as say, Guatemala is and was about as much a military threat to its neighbours at that point as Belgium is to France, Germany and Britain.
Outside of a very few conservative true believers and George W. Bush's inner circle, no one, least of all the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, think the invasion of Iraq worked out well.
Remember too, that Stephen Harper very much wanted Canada to take part in the Iraq War.
Now that Harper has his majority, he cannot and will not be denied his opportunity to show the world that Canada is a major player on the world stage just as capable of killing lots of non-Western Nogoodniks and Nogoodnik women and terrorist children as any other NATO member and not just some namby-pambly peacekeeper. Truly, lives could be saved if someone would just give the man a ruler, tell him the centimetres are really inches and send him off to measure his little Cheney.
Even though the current U.S. president is likely to be reelected without having start a war with Iran, Harper, ever hopeful of a victory for his Republican fellow travellers, is already laying the groundwork to take Canada into the next war of choice.

  “I’ve raised the alarm as much as I can, but obviously I don’t advocate particular actions publicly. I work with our allies to see if we get consensus on actions,” he said.
Mr. Harper said he has no doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “There is absolutely no doubt they are lying,” Mr. Harper said, referring to statements by Iran that the nuclear program is for peaceful uses.
“The evidence is just growing overwhelming. This is not, as was the case of Iraq, merely the opinion of allies,” he said.
The development of nuclear weapons as one of the purposes of Iran’s nuclear program “is just beyond dispute at this point,” he said. “The only dispute is how far advanced it is and how far off it will be until they actually develop those weapons and develop the capability of delivering the weapons.” 
Given that Israeli and U.S. conservative hawks have been warnings Iran is just x-number of years/months/weeks/days/hours away from "getting the bomb" roughly every two weeks since the Shah was chased out of Tehran, I tend to take such certainty with a bushel or two of salt.
Given the number of sabres being rattled at it, Iran would be wise to follow North Korea's example and actually get hold of some nukes. Saddam Hussein didn't and look what happened to him.
Mind you, it isn't just that Harper want to get his war on for its own sake, he also thinks he sees a way to turn a dollar or three for his oil-patch pals:

Also during the interview, Mr. Harper linked the debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas with concern over Iran’s threat to blockade the main shipping route for oil in the Middle East. “It’s pretty obvious what the right decision is … not just from an economic and environmental standpoint, but from an energy security standpoint,” Mr. Harper said. “When you look at the Iranians threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, I think that just illustrates how critical it is that supply for the United States be North American,” Mr. Harper said.
The winning quote from the interview though, by far was this bit of classic right wing projection. The same comment could have come from any leader in the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America or Africa in discussing the United States and conservative Canada.
“In my judgment, these are people who have a particular, you know, fanatically religious worldview, and their statements imply to me no hesitation of using nuclear weapons if they see them achieving their religious or political purposes,” 

Crossposted from The Woodshed


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This is silly (2) . . .

MERCEDES MARKETING: clever, sensitive. At least, that's what Dieter thinks. The Doktor made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show, to proclaim a revolution in new Mercedes sleds. Some in the audience were less than pleased, according to AUTOBLOG. Che with M-B Tri-Star?

This is silly . . .

EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS are some of the funniest people around. Check out the delightful lunacy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just wondering...

...if all allegedly corrupt Toronto cops wear button-fastened brown or black leather jackets with step collars? Or is it just a drug squad thing?

Do the homicide folks wear trench coats? Do they go shopping together and giggle over the racks in fine leather shops? Inquiring minds want to know.

Consumerism . . .

FROM THE NEW YORKER, the triumph of the wall-wart.

A quick note on comment decorum

Back here I deleted comments and left a note explaining that I did so because of the vicious ad hominem nature of some of these comments. I won't speak for my co-bloggers but I ask that commenters on my posts refrain from personal attacks.

I don't particularly care if the thread veers off topic and you want to talk about  flower gardening instead of oil pipelines. But if you start screaming FUCK YOU in caps or calling another commenter nasty names, I'll delete your posts without a second thought, whether or not I agree with you. I won't ban you unless you persist and you're welcome to continue posting if you change your tone.

Yes, I'm quite aware that some of my posts are vitriolic, but I try direct that vitriol at politicians and certain cohorts, not individuals adding their tuppence in the threads. Unless you're trolling and/or have the initials PR.

That is all.

Fifty years ago . . .

1962: FIFTY YEARS AGO, and a time of great changes, the effects of which are still being adjusted to, today. MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE, a fine site run by the Economist gang, has an article by Matthew Engel, "FIFTY YEARS ON: 1962", that is worthy of your attention.

For most real people who remember 1962, the 50-year mark will not necessarily be a moment of celebration. It was not that kind of year.

We can expect 2012 to be punctuated by the customary anniversary articles. Politically, 1962 is remembered above all for the Cuban missile crisis (October), in which President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev led the world as near as it has ever come to instant destruction. The Berlin Wall had just gone up, and all year Khrushchev veered between confrontation and calming. John Glenn’s orbit of the Earth (February) established that America would not allow the early Soviet lead in space to go unchallenged. On their Himalayan border, China and India really did go to war, briefly (October-November). In a referendum (April) the French overwhelmingly and finally ratified their tormented retreat from imperialism in Algeria. Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel (May), the last reckoning with a major Nazi figure.

The new Coventry cathedral was consecrated (May) to replace its bombed-out predecessor and become perhaps the only well-loved post-war building in Britain. Marilyn Monroe died (August), aged 36, in circumstances that have never lost their morbid fascination. David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton did their first Vogue shoot (January, for the April issue), bringing youth and attitude to some starchy pages. Rudolf Nureyev, newly defected, danced with Margot Fonteyn in “Giselle” to loud acclaim at Covent Garden (February). In South Africa, Nelson Mandela was jailed (November) for five years, which turned into 27. In Albany, Georgia (July), Martin Luther King was jailed for two weeks. The Telstar satellite began relaying flickering TV pictures across the Atlantic amid great excitement (July). And Richard Nixon failed in his attempt to become governor of California and angrily announced, 12 years prematurely, that he was quitting politics: “You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more.” All these events made global headlines.

Not an easy year to sum up, then. Time’s choice for Man of the Year, Pope John XXIII, was an unusually subtle and discerning one, reflecting the modernisation and humanisation of the Catholic church that was happening beneath the headlines. Fifty years on, however, modernity and humanity are not the most obvious characteristics of Catholicism. The lasting importance of 1962 stems from what was happening well below Time’s radar screen. The volcano that spewed forth all the debris that we think of as the 1960s was bubbling under, waiting to explode. And the vulcanologists were sound asleep.