Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Security perspective . . .

EVERYWHERE YOU GO in the www, you leave a trail. You can minimize your visible trail, and in a BIG VICTOR world, anonymity is a great idea. WEBMONKEY is the webware part of the WIRED world, with an article you might want to check out: "Secure Your Browser: Add-Ons to Stop Web Tracking".

You may be current on today's security concerns, but if not, the article will bring you up to speed with 2012 security issues and solutions. Myself, picked up a neat security plug-in for Opera, which rocks.

Sometimes you might want to give BIG VICKIE a real whizz, by logging into an IP address "fogger", like TOR. TOR is created by the TOR Project, a non-profit dedicated to your freedom from BIG VICKIE and the other gauleiters.

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

On this day in 1982

Well, really, there wasn't one. 1982 was not a leap year. So, in 1982, looking back at the events of the last Saturday and Sunday of that February, it was actually Monday, March 1st.

On the preceding evening Margaret Thatcher stood outside number 10 Downing Street and waxed poetic about how, "We handled it superbly." That would be a "royal" we. She was referring to the outcome of a hijacked aircraft sitting in the middle of Stansted airport which saw passengers and crew released and the hijackers taken into custody after a relatively long set of negotiations. The aircraft was never stormed by the waiting SAS unit and Thatcher, while she gave credit to the police, couldn't resist giving her Home Secretary a nice firm stroking.
First it was handled right by the police in the field and then by Willie Whitelaw at the centre.
... were her words. She had been at the Royal College of Music that night and Willie Whitelaw to whom she referred had become notorious for his largely ineffectual "law and order" agenda which, along with a prison-building effort, included a regurgitation of the 1824 Sus Law which allowed police to stop, search and arrest anyone they thought suspicious for any reason.

The 28th of February 1982 had seen some activity in New York. The Puerto Rican nationalist group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional bombed Wall Street. Not that such bothered anyone in the UK much. Since Thatcher had gone all crunchy on Northern Ireland bombings by the IRA Provos had become epidemic in England. 

The other thing that had happened in New York over the weekend was a meeting between British and Argentinian representatives in an effort to sort out the differences that existed over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. Thatcher had something to say about them too. Productive and cordial was her description. We were all well aware that the Argentinians didn't see it that way. 

Heading into March we were aware of other things. HMS Invincible, one of three anti-submarine warfare aircraft carriers, was about to be sold to the Australians. And we had just heard that the Antarctic patrol ship, HMS Endurance, was to be permanently withdrawn from the south Atlantic at the end of her deployment. 

Thatcher, now profoundly unpopular in Britain, had embarked on a "thinning" of the armed services which were to add redundant service personnel to the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed. In fact, she was about to rip the guts out of the British forces in being despite her continuing rhetoric demanding that Britain be viewed as a world military power. 

What we now know, thanks to the expiry of the 30 year rule prohibiting publishing internal British government documents, is that Thatcher was intent on dismantling the Royal Navy and was locked in a heated fight with then-First Sea Lord, Sir Henry Leach. If you were there at the time you had a fairly good understanding that things were not well between the RN and Thatcher, but Leach, in keeping with solid RN tradition, uttered not a word outside his office. 

Not so a young colour sergeant who was having a heated exchange with an armourer back in garrision. The week before had seen him and his men spending more time clearing stoppages on weapons than putting ordnance on targets. He was complaining that if he had to use them to actually fight, a lot of people other than the enemy would be getting killed. 

The armourer was sympathetic but tried to quell the NCO's fears by suggesting that nobody was going to war anytime soon. He would take a look at the weapons. 

The NCO replied with, "You know, mate, with Mugsy (Thatcher) on her belly the way she is, the only way out for her is to get us into a shooting match. It wouldn't surprise me if I'm somewhere in the Middle East aiming at Arabs by the start of Summer."

He had the enemy and the location wrong. 

Oh ... that clears things up nicely

Harper waves and points and spits ...
“The Conservative Party can say absolutely and definitely it has no role in this,” the Prime Minister told the Commons Wednesday. 
 So what?

Given the history of Harper's party, there is no reason at all to believe him. He's behaving like someone whose wife just found a condom in his business suit.

From Greg in comments:  Note he didn't deny that the people with contracts with the Conservative Party may have been involved.

Last Train To Clarksville

Goodbye Davy Jones.

Heartland agent at Carleton University

This is bad.

An associate of the Heartland Institute, the thinktank devoted to discrediting climate change, taught a course at a top Canadian university that contained more than 140 false, biased and misleading claims about climate science, an expert audit has found.
The course at Ottawa's Carleton University, which is being accused of bias, was taught for four terms from 2009-2011 by Tom Harris, a featured expert at the Heartland Institute.
First, the university has a problem. I don't know about Carleton's procedures, but University course syllabi usually must be submitted for review before courses are approved to be taught. In some instances this can legal overtones as the syllabus might be interpreted as a contract. Reading through the CASS report, Harris' course was an enduring one that had previously been taught by others, so changes to the course content imposed by Harris might not have needed approval or indeed might not have been reviewed for years, or simply been rubber-stamped, or what was submitted for review unrepresentative of what was taught. The Guardian, quoting a Carleton official, implies that a review took place, but also leaves open a scapegoat in mentioning the collective agreement (to be fair, the CASS report says something similar regarding the CA):

"Academic excellence is a priority at Carleton and we have a process in place for reviewing courses that balances context with academic freedom and the rights of our instructors as outlined in their collective agreement," spokeswoman Caitlin Kealey said in a statement. "We are guided by rigorous science and the science supports the existence of climate change."
All courses are biased in some way. It is inherent in human nature. A class will reflect multiple biases from the choice of materials to the classroom layout, lecture style, the grading rubric, and teaching philosophy of the instructor. However, ethical conduct requires that the bias be acknowledged in such a way that students are fully informed of the content and motivations behind the selection of materials.

Second, and I think more troubling is the question of how Mr. Harris was hired by Carleton, as Big City Lib asked way back in September.  Harris is an engineer by training but not as far as I can tell a practicing one. His employment record is with decidedly anti-climate change organisations. He is most definitely not an atmospheric or earth scientist with associated training to interpret and translate the nuts and bolts of current climate change science. This biographical info is all easily found through google. There are large numbers of science graduate students and new PhDs with bona fide expertise in climate science who would be able to teach such a course, and I might add, could seriously use the experience and income.

Why Harris was hired, and they were not, may reflect a different sort of bias.

In any case, Mr. Harris' placement as lecturer in at Carleton looks a like a covert action on the part of industry-financed politically biased climate denial groups to infiltrate university instructor ranks. Their goal is not to rigorously produce critical refereed climate science. That's already done by scientists as a matter of tradecraft and is where the consensus comes from!

No, the odious Harris and his backers, unable to get real jobs credibly challenge the scientists, target the young and impressionable. Second year students do not often yet have the experience and training to critically assess what they are being taught, and Harris and his cretins seem to move in like drug dealers and pimps around high schools. 

Other universities and colleges around the world with courses on climate change should check their instructors' backgrounds and course materials. If it's happened at one place, it's happened elsewhere.

Vancouver Island North and more

From CHEK TV in Victoria. Click on Dirty Tricks Feb 28, 2012.

The ever diligent The Sixth Estate continues to compile the essential and growing list of suspected acts of voter suppression.

There is more however. The Sixth Estate has this analysis which lays out the ways and means of executing a voter suppression campaign and some speculation on the heavy logistics required to carry it off. Given the elements of motive, resources and opportunity, any investigation is going to focus on a political party.

There's also this:
The Opposition, and the progressive blogging community, is beginning to muse about by-elections. I would urge them not to do so. The first and only priority of the country at this point must be identifying what happened and who did it. Demanding by-elections before we know what went wrong with the first poll only means that those responsible will be left free to work their mischief a second time. We don’t have time to talk about by-elections right now.

Rats chewing at their own tails to get out of the trap

The theatre provided by the Harperites yesterday was more than a little entertaining. It also smacks of desperation. Dr. Dawg provides a comprehensive walk through the sewage.

I found this rather interesting:
And later this week, these little latter-day Joe McCarthys want to drag Adam Carroll, the kid involved, in front of the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee—my God, the sheer irony of that choice!—to give him the third degree.

The problem is that he hasn’t done anything illegal, and what he has done, he’s already ‘fessed up to. Taxpayers’ dollars are going to be spent on this fatuous witch-hunt, no doubt intended to generate enough fog to help get them out of the robocon jam they’re in. Will the corporate media be sucked in? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
Agreed ... but that ain't all. This is a first-class act of "railroading" by Del Mastro. "Staffers" can't be held to account by the Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee. 

As Kady, Canada's self-admitted parliamentary committee-junkie, points out, this, if it ever warranted going further than it already has, belongs at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
As far as I can tell, the Del Mastro motion doesn't even try to squeeze itself within the broad but not unlimited mandate of the ethics committee, which includes, among other matters, the Access to Information and Privacy Acts, as well as the Conflict of Interest Act, which deals the conduct of designated public office holders. 

It was under those statutes -- ATI and CoIA, specfiically, that ministerial staffers Sebastien Tognieri and Kaz Nejatian were called to testify on their activities as ministerial staffers by the previous iteration of ETHI. Employees of party research bureaus, like MPs' staff,  are not covered by that particular law, which is why issues related to the conduct of non-ministerial Hill staff -- including the alleged use of House of Commons resources -- fall under the aegis of Procedure and House Affairs. 
Which suggests that the odious Del Mastro is doing this purely for the theatrics, which, as Dawg points out, will almost assuredly see the Harper tactic of cloaking committee activities in secrecy lifted.

They're acting like they have something to hide.

They are scared.

Keep them that way.

Your music industry loves you - (and wants to own your digital devices)

It just can't stand that the world has changed. So bend over. They want Bill C-11 overhauled.

A must read post over  Michael Geist describing how the music industry will only be happy after they've reduced your computer to a disconnected word processor.

Oh yeah. They want dibs on your MP3 player.

Also too, they would like you to hire minstrels to accompany you on your daily jog, your bus ride and to be there when you're line worked on that cute redhead.

And Buckdog asks ...

Are The Conservatives Being Devious or Incompetent With Their OAS Cost Overestimations?


As debate over the sustainability of the country's Old Age Security system continues, new figures show the Conservative government has overestimated the cost of the system by hundreds of millions of dollars in three of the past four years.

While the government says the differences are to be expected and remain well within normal ranges, the opposition is arguing they raise further questions about the government's long-term projections about the OAS system's unsustainability.

A government report tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday shows that while the government had anticipated paying out $29 billion in OAS during this fiscal year, the actual amount was $410 million less.
 You don't have to pick just one answer.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All he wanted was power ...

Something which puts him right out of his depth.

Harebell has the best paragraph of the month.
This was some pretty canny footwork by Rae, who is showing he can dance well. However it speaks volumes about the naivete of Harper when the chips are down and it is a cast iron illustration that this number crunching, effete, jumped up staffer has no business being our Prime Minister. Imagine the wedgies that Putin, the Chinese and just about anybody else are giving this country because of the ego of this callow individual.

And Alison has done some number crunching which needs to be held under Harper's nose.

Honourary degrees...(updated)

I don't have much of a problem with honorary degrees, provided they are conferred on people who have done something in the public good. I do have a problem when they are all too often politicised, given to donors and friends of university brass. In my undergraduate at Winnipeg, former foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy supervised the degree conferral on close friend of his, US counterpart Madeleine Albright.

Now listen (streaming broadcast)* to the well-compensated president of my second alma mater in action against one of the university sociologists, Dr. Amy Kaler, over the decision to award the Nestle corporation CEO an honourary Doctor of Laws for leadership in water stewardship. Where to begin? The condescending, patronising tone with which university CEO President Samarasekera engaged "the professor" Dr. Amy Kaler? Or Dr. Samarasekera's deflective responses to the substantive criticisms voiced by Dr. Kaler? This award is nothing but political in nature and tantamount to giving the degree to a corporation invested in the privatisation of the substance of survival for all life.

As a recent alumnus, I am embarrassed and appalled by the behaviour and attitude of Dr. Samarasekera toward Dr. Kaler. To publicly attack a professor in the manor of a politician demeans the office of president and the university as a whole.

A formal apology is required.

Update...The Council of Canadians shreds Samarasekera:

Within 24 hours of University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera publicly claiming that “as far as I'm concerned there is one group that is upset and that's the Council of Canadians” over the University granting Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe an honorary degree and his name being considered as part of the External Advisory Board of the new Water Initiative, a massive international backlash is taking shape.
In an open letter to the university president, more than 70 prominent organizations from more than 20 countries are calling on the University to reverse its decision and instead “that other voices be added [to the External Advisory Board] which better reflect the importance of water as a commons, human right and public trust.” The letter and full list of signatories is included below.
The organizations include Public Services International (which represents more than 20 million workers, represented by 650 unions in 148 countries and territories), Greenpeace Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Sierra Club of Canada, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Council of Canadians, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta, and Public Interest Alberta.
Other organizations in Canada which have signed the letter include the Water Commission of the Union of Ontario Indians, Coalition Eau Secours! (Quebec), Earthroots, Edmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society, Indigenous Environmental Network, INFACT Canada, Manitoba Wildlands, Mother Earth Water Walk, Ontario Native Women's Association, Polaris Institute, People’s Health Movement of Canada. International organizations have also signed the letter from the UK, USA, Germany, France, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Belgium, South Africa, Cataluña, Malaysia, Uruguay, Egypt, Luxembourg, Togo, Nigeria, Italy, Ecuador, and Haiti.
“This should put to rest the notion that there’s not much opposition to this ill-conceived decision,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow. “The University of Alberta should reverse its decision to grant Nestlé’s Brabeck-Letmathe a degree and a position of influence in water policy, before bringing the institution into disrepute.”

*I removed the embedded player because it automatically plays every time this page is loaded. I'm sure others found it annoying too.

I wield my scimitar through the fields of dragon dung

And Preston Manning, because Latin doesn't seem to be his strong suit, makes up words to go with his gut-gripping fiction.
We Canadians have many virtues, but we also have our faults. One of the most worrisome is our growing tendency to substitute discussion for action on key public issues such as health-care reform, productivity improvement and energy policy. 

We increasingly seem to think that a major issue is being “dealt with” when someone writes a paper, article, report or book about it. Further “progress” is then measured by the extent to which the paper, article, report or book has been peer-reviewed, conferenced, editorialized, blogged and tweeted, with the original discussants linked in and befriended by an ever-growing number of fellow discussants via the Internet.
Which Manning finds objectionable. Better to employ the Conservative modus operandi by not bothering to gather facts, study anything or read statistics before rushing headlong into the ideological abyss.
But who’s going to do something about what’s being discussed or proposed? Where’s the acceptance of responsibility to act on what has been proposed and discussed? Where’s the implementation plan and to-do list that translates interest, concern and discussion into actions that achieve results?
Good point. Clearly we're not getting it out of Harper. He and his herd of hillbillies ignore all of that in search of their conservative utopia.
Take health-care reform.
(If you didn't know this was coming you haven't been keeping much of an eye on the Manning conservative puppy-mill).
The federal government’s willingness to provide “no strings attached” health-care transfers to the provinces ought to open the door to systemic innovation. But, as yet, no province has produced an action plan equivalent to what Saskatchewan developed in the 1960s to lay the foundations of the current system, nor has any coalition of health-care reformers emerged in any province to move public opinion onto health-care reform ground such that the politicians will follow. On health-care reform, it’s still talk, talk, talk and no action.  
Now there's a different way of viewing events. Flaherty, a refugee from the Mike Harris disaster, shows up in Victoria on the pretext of entering negotiations (that would be action by the way) and blindsides provincial premiers with a no-discussion dictum and you wonder why they're still reeling.
I’m amazed when even some of my private-enterprise friends and acquaintances take the Leave It to Beaver approach. We give ringing speeches on the virtues of private enterprise and letting the markets solve problems, free of heavy-handed government intervention. Yet, when a challenge such as improving productivity or devising a Canadian energy strategy arises, far too often the reports we present to governments consist primarily of pleas for the government to do this or that. 
That's because your free-enterprise friends, or more correctly your corporate donors, are little more than welfare queens. But maybe you're right. Clearly cutting their corporate income tax didn't get them off their collective asses.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for discussing the great issues of the day.
You just said there wasn't. But I'm getting an idea.
Canada itself was born out of a conference of colonial politicians held in Charlottetown in 1864. But when it ended, the Fathers of Confederation went out and did something. They drafted a constitution, united the colonial economies, bought Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Co. and built the longest railway in the world. They translated discussion into action on a magnificent scale. 
Wow! Just like that! One day a bunch of politicians just got out of bed, realized there was no snow on the ground and created a country. That would be amazing if it was even the slightest bit true.

Blow away the Manning vacuum and you see that it took the better part of several decades of turmoil and discussion before the Charlottetown conference ever happened. It may be different where you went to school, but I seem to recall from high-school that most of this idea of establishing a Dominion started with the 1837 - 1838 Rebellions. And let's not forget the fact that William Lyon Mackenzie proclaimed a republic in Upper Canada a short time before Robert Nelson did the same thing in Lower Canada. Britain didn't even grant the combined colonies of Canada responsible government until 1848 because a corrupt minority of conservative leaders refused to acquiesce to the will of the people.

In short, Preston, it took a series of evolutionary reforms for Canada to be born. Unlike your chia pet version of national creation the actual road to nationhood took well over 40 years of debate, discussion and insurrection to reach what happened in Charlottetown.

I mentioned that I was getting an idea that could easily be put into action. Let's re-categorize one-sided political boot camps like yours and remove the not-for-profit tax status. Let's see what happens when you've got to pay full freight and your donors don't get a tax receipt.

Excrementum.Verveces tui similes pro ientaculo mihi appositi sunt.

PR blocks

Via BCL, we learn Prince Rupert has officially given the finger to the China-Conservative Party-Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, formally signally that city's allegiance to the eco-terrorist revolutionaries.

Unofficial government sources claim that the Conservative government is considering moving CSIS and RCMP HQs to Prince Rupert together with the bulk of new prison construction.

Figuring things out . . .

D-Wave's 512-qubit chip, code-named Vesuvius.
The white square on the right contains the quantum goodness.

THANKS TO ALISON, DAVE AND BORIS, the sad and disgraceful tale of Stevie's criminality unfolds in exquisite schadenfreude, maybe we'll get an IMAX version. Eventually, the Steviezit will get popped, and reasonably honest government will return to Canada.

So, while this happens, I draw your attention to some relatively quiet developments that may have some surprises: quantum computing. According to Eric Smalley's report in WIRED, "D-Wave Defies World of Critics With ‘First Quantum Cloud’", Canada is at the forefront of quantum computing.

So, what's quantum computing, and why should you care?

The quantum computer is the holy grail of tech research. The idea is to build a machine that uses the mind-bending properties of very small particles to perform calculations that are well beyond the capabilities of machines here in the world of classical physics. But it’s still not completely clear that a true quantum computer can actually be built.

There's a Canadian company, D-Wave, that says it has developed just such a critter — and Lockheed-Martin agrees, because they bought one. Why? Because quantum computers have the power to tackle "brute force" algorithms that cannot be crunched successfully by any of the "standard" super-computers.

D-Wave’s next-generation computer is designed to handle problems with as many as 512 variables. In theory, that lets you solve problems involving two to the 512 possible combinations, and a problem of that size is beyond the reach of any classical computer that could ever be built. “It’s bigger than the number of atoms in the universe,” Rose says. “It doesn’t matter how big a supercomputer you make.”

Combinatorial optimization problems are everywhere, and solving them is big business. In addition to route planning, they include image recognition, genome sequence analysis, protein folding, scheduling, and risk analysis. Airlines, pharmaceutical companies, and financial firms deal with combinatorial optimization problems every day.

With Lockheed, it's sorting out the F-35 mega-bloat:

The 3D structure ofthe protein myoglobin. 
Lockheed Martin makes some of the most complex systems in the world — things like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. On average, half the cost of developing a new complex system at Lockheed Martin is system verification and validation, and the major component of this is software verification and validation. The concern is that as it builds ever more complex systems, this cost will rise. “I have quipped in various board meetings that maybe we ought to give the airplanes away and sell the software maintenance contracts,” says Ned Allen, Lockheed’s chief scientist.

Just so's ya know what's coming down the pike at ya. Now, a lot of progressives have an anti-tech attitude, it gives them a sanctimonious frisson, but you really should know about this. Quantum computing and proteonomics — and your health. Something to really look forward to, in a Stevieless future.

So, let me get this straight ...

You want to be able to listen in on the phone conversations and snoop on the internet activities of any Canadian without the constitutional protection of a warrant.

You then try to paint Canadians as "child-pornographers" if they offer any resistance to US-style state-sponsored techno-snooping.

You get noticed. You offer a non-apology and then suggest that you don't even know the contents of your own bill. At the same time you try to offer assurances that your government would never abuse the constitutional rights of Canadians through the use of the technology you intend to deploy.

Yet, when you get your hands on election technology, you appear to have immediately abused it by violating the constitutional rights of Canadians.

You are not to be trusted.


Monday, February 27, 2012

One of the greatest elements of leadership is courage

And courage rises from honesty. There are times when honesty is the least desirable of all possible expedients, but it leaves nothing open to question.

I teach this stuff.

I train young officers to face their fears, to overcome adversity, to believe in themselves. From that I hope they rely on their honesty to assess others, to assess their situation and, above all, to assess themselves.

So, when Bob Rae, for whom I held no particular respect, stands before parliament and makes an honest apology, I believe the man has personal courage.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae told a stunned House of Commons that one of his staffers was responsible for creating the Vikileaks30 Twitter account that circulated alleged details of Toews' divorce.

Rae said the offending staffer — later identified as Adam Carroll — had resigned, and the leader extended a full apology to Toews.

"I discussed the matter with that individual this morning. He offered his resignation and I've accepted his resignation," Rae told the Commons. "And I want to offer to the minister my personal apology to him for the conduct of the member of my staff.
I despise all politicians. To me, they are all the scum of the earth. They have let me down, lied, cheated and dodged in the name of keeping their jobs. Every one of them is little more than a bad example of human behaviour. 

In this case however, I'm willing to feed a bit of extra line. It has been so long since I saw an act which casts this country's parliament in honourable light that I thought it had passed from existence in my lifetime.

What Bob Rae did took personal courage. As the leader he explained as much as was necessary and then told the offended party that he was taking the blame and personally providing the apology.

In contrast, we get this from the prime minister.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is deflecting calls for an independent probe into alleged dirty tricks in the last federal election, telling opposition MPs to take their concerns to Elections Canada.
 No. Harper can take them to the mirror. And we can safely hold him up to a person with real leadership qualities. 

Bob Rae has nothing to back down from. Harper has nowhere to go.

And Vic Toews...

...once again bluntly demonstrates exactly why we don't want his fucking bill.

An angry Vic Toews wants an investigation into whether Justin Trudeau encouraged personal Twitter attacks against him after it was revealed a Liberal staffer was the mastermind of the Vikileaks Twitter controversy that aired details of Public Safety Minister’s divorce in retaliation for an online surveillance bill.

More from the ever-awesome Simon.

You can't make this stuff up

But Mitt Romney can!
Romney recalled he was “probably 4 or something like that” the day of the Golden Jubilee, when three-quarters of a million people gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American automobile.

“My dad had a job being the grandmaster. They painted Woodward Ave. with gold paint,” Romney told a rapt Tea Party audience in the village of Milford Thursday night, reliving a moment of American industrial glory.

The Golden Jubilee described so vividly by Romney was indeed an epic moment in automotive lore. The parade included one of the last public appearances by an elderly Henry Ford.

And it took place June 1, 1946 — fully nine months before Romney was born.
And our Basset-loving somewhat popular blogger from America's Finest City (just a trolley ride from Tijuana) explains how Romney pulled that one off.

New talking point! It was run amok leprechans playing with phones

The big man speaks.

Conservative Senator Mike Duffy says “third parties” – and not necessarily any of the political parties – could be behind election “robo-call” scandal that’s become a full-blown headache for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. 

Mr. Duffy offered up his theory in the blame game over a spate of May 2 phone-calls misdirecting voters in an interview with morning host Jordi Morgan on Halifax radio station News 95.7 Monday morning.
I first encountered Duffy some decades ago in Ottawa at the Mayflower. He rather rudely interrupted our group of  about a half-dozen senior sailors, in uniform, by asking what we were doing there and stating that he'd never seen us there before.

None of us had enjoyed a particularly good day and to a man we were in an ugly mood. One of our number told Duffy to fuck off. It wasn't me.

Go back to the free food, Duffy. You are absolutely full of shit. 

Dear media: Don't flinch on election fraud!

Michael Den Tandt in the Vancouver Sun writes,

The Conservatives won their majority with 166 seats. That's a margin of 11. That means the legitimacy of the Tory majority is in question. It's simple math.

Yet then immediately flinches, next claiming that,

No, this will not lead to a redo of the May 2 vote, or to by elections in ridings found by Elections Canada to have been targeted. That's because, though outcomes may have been affected, it will be nigh impossible to establish by how much. All we can say is that the legitimacy of Tory victories, in ridings found to have been hit by fraudulent tactics favouring Conservatives, and in which the Conservatives won, will be permanently tainted.
I counter by saying if you can't determine the result in an election then a means must be found of rectifying that situation. In the case of a post facto revelation that the winner of a particular contest used fraudulent means to secure his win, then that result must be nullified and the contest re-fought or redressed by some means. 
Why? Because, as Mr. Den Tandt even says, the legitimacy of the result is in question. Not taking substantive and rigorous action to rectify the problem is letting the illegitimate result stand. The fact a result was obtained partly through the use of fraud makes the result fraudulent, whether or not you can show the degree to which the result was affected by the deception. 

If a student is caught cheating on paper or exam, they get a zero. If in a university, the professor is required to report the fraud the appropriate body for thorough investigation, which may well result in expulsion. The authorities do not try to determine how much of the assignment was tainted by cheating and then assign a grade based on the clean portion. There's no difference with a fraudulent election.

As I said here, dear media, don't sit there smattering yourself away from the obvious conclusions.

Yes, I agree with Alison and Mr. Den Tandt that we need a judicial enquiry, but we also need an Elections Canada and RCMP investigation that will lay charges where charges need to be laid. 
Furthermore, the Governor General had best be reading up on his reserve powers because candidates and a Party obtaining wins through fraud must not form the government. 

Things to energize your outrage (with update)

When Peter MacKay, misuser of RCAF aircraft and abuser of authority, comes out with something like this it bears doing the opposite of what he suggests.
The Conservative Party does not need to look into "robocalls" made during the last federal election any further, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says.

"It's certainly not something our party condones," MacKay said Sunday of the fraudulent calls to voters. "It's inappropriate behaviour to say the least."
Not the keenest dog in the kennel, is he? From the one who lied and sold his party to a bunch of knuckle-draggers this only heightens my desire to look deeper. He overplays little stuff and downplays the big.

Alison, ever persistent, drags out a little more including the highlight of the day: a link to US Republican dirty politics. Things are getting ... oh so, Segretti.

Lawrence Martin catalogues a litany of  Harper party Nixonian performances. This is good lunch-time fare. Don't slurp soup while reading. You'll just end up blowing it out your nose.

Great line of the day comes from Owen at Northern Reflections.
MacKay's claim that there is no need to  further investigate the Robocall affair is akin to saying the coming of Spring is an isolated incident. 
 And, of course, the whole mess is being tabulated by the ever diligent The Sixth Estate. It's an unbelievably comprehensive piece of work. I'm bookmarking that page. I think it's going to continue growing.

A small little update before you sit down with the pudding.  Kady has a list of 95 Conservative riding campaigns who employed RMG. What? You may think that, but I could never comment.

A little viewing to go with dessert.

Another Harper line shot full of holes.

They work so hard trying to peddle lies that they don't recognize the truth.
Callers on behalf of the federal Conservative Party were instructed in the days before last year’s election to read scripts telling voters that Elections Canada had changed their voting locations, say telephone operators who worked for a Thunder Bay-based call centre.

These weren’t “robo-calls,” as automated pre-recorded voice messages as commonly known. They were live real-time calls made into ridings across Canada, the callers say.
 So, that puts the lie to the 23-year old New Jersey-born lone gunman theory. Grassy knolls everywhere.

You must read Impolitical.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What made you do it?

Was it fear of an endless purgatory of minority governments? Did you see your black crusade halted just outside the gates, able to lay siege to the grail-city but lacking the logistics for a sack?

Did your 25 23 year old jihadis go too far? Or was this thievery and deception masterminded? By who? The pale man behind the curtain and a goatee'd git with a phonebank? Some hidden adviser too clever by half? 

There's no recovery now. Your brand is marked. You might escape the gaol because our institutions are inhabited by invertebrates, but in the majority public mind your party is forever stained.

You stole from us. Despite the filth and the lying spin, the power, the greed, and the corruption of our political office holders, our vote still counted. At the end of the day, we were the arbiters. We decided whether you kept your job. That's the grail. You can lie, spin, sell our land and water, tax and spend, whatever, but the great unwritten rule is that you never ever dick with the ballot box.

You did. Burn for it.

Thaumaturgical considerations . . .

ACCORDING TO Charles Strosser's "Atrocity Archives", magic is really funky mathematics. Picture by MJ Ranum.

If thinking that knowing things is good makes me a snob, then fine, I'm a snob

Evan McMorris-Santoro clearly has a strong stomach and the ability to keep a straight face no matter what. Watch as he wades through the river of willful ignorance that is a Rick Santorum - Americans For Prosperity - Tea Party rally. (warning - link contains weapons-grade stupid)
Apparently knowing stuff other than how to chew tobacco, scratch and vote for Rick Santorum is snobbish elitism of the worst sort. The amazing shit-ton of wrong chronicled in this short piece is so astounding its hard to know where to begin. According to the people quoted people who do manual labour are inferior, money is the only measure of success, colleges are totalitarian liberal fascist brainwashing factories, diversity is communism, and schooling is only for job training so no one should be encouraged to learn anything that doesn't directly apply to their job.
I'm honestly shocked that none of the people quoted in the story used the phrase "fancy-pants book learnin'"

“President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said. “What a snob!” Santorum started by saying some people don’t need to go to college: “Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands.” 
Yes and god forbid that someone who  has "incredible gifts with their hands" should get a chance to learn to appreciate literature, learn to think clearly and logically, find out the earth revolves around the sun, learn a language other than 'American' or gain an appreciation for anything other than beer, wrasslin' and "reality" TV (thought to be fair, I did learn a lot about beer in university). Extrapolating from what they are quoted as saying, I'm guessing most of them regret having learned to read and write, assuming they can read anything more complex than TV guide or a stop sign. These folks are not just wallowing in willful ignorance, they are insisting others be forced to as well. 
I know some of this is simply right-wing contrarianism and that the Tea Party people are against higher education simply because Obama advocates it, but still it is amazing to me that a political candidate, let alone an entire movement, would come out in favour of curtailing opportunities for people. I await the day when Obama goes on national television and tells the American people that it is a bad idea to hit themselves in the head with a ball peen hammer and that under no circumstances should any American stick their tongue in an electrical outlet. Because just know that a bunch of the same yahoos who attend CPAC and think Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are wise and wonderful are going to end up in the emergency ward.
I am not saying that higher education is necessary to be a happy and successful person, or that smart is the same as educated, but learning for its own sake is to be encouraged. It is always better to know more than to know less. For most of us, knowledge is power, but I guess for the Teabaggers, ignorance is bliss.

Crossposted from The Woodshed

Future considerations . . .

Space Launch System (SLS) configurations
PROGRESS COMES from many sources; it's also an uneven process, a sudden jump from one plateau of capability to another. Countless invisible improvements and discoveries make the jump happen. It seems that by 2020 or shortly thereafter, the Moon is going to be mined for water, helium, rare elements and anything else that's profitable.

Pie-in-the-sky? Not any more, not with the robo-tech that's starting to emerge. That tech makes getting at the water doable, and water means environmental replenishment and fuel creation — and that makes everything else doable.

CTV NEWS has a report by Peter Rakobowchuk, at The Canadian Press, "Mining the moon: Canada's possible new role in space" that is worth considering. Apparently there is a meeting of the ISS consortium in Quebec City next week, to discuss this next step.

Industry insiders will be watching closely this week as the heads of the world's five biggest space agencies get together in Quebec City, where the partners on the International Space Station will discuss more than just the future of the orbiting lab.

They will also address an idea gaining currency in business and scientific circles: that within human reach lies an unfathomable wealth of resources, some of them common on Earth and others so exotic that they could change the way we live.

• • • •

The United States is now focusing its attention on developing a heavy-lifting rocket known as the SLS, which will replace the shuttle program, but Colaprete says it isn't due to launch until 2017. The SLS, or Space Launch System, is a heavy-launch vehicle being designed by NASA and is expected to be the means of transportation for the RESOLVE payload.

That means the soonest there could be a rover driving around on the moon with RESOLVE is likely around the end of the decade, if all goes well with SLS.

"I think you can say certainly something could occur within a decade -- where we're driving on the moon, finding exactly where the water is, and sampling and tasting it, so to speak,"

Why should you care? Thanks to Canadian technology, your grandchildren could have interesting job prospects by 2050 — if we can keep Stevie from gutting Canadian science, we can share in this. No fooling — the water is the key, because not only for the water and oxygen for environmental systems, but fuel for the cargo return rockets, which have only the weak gravitational pull of the Moon to overcome. As that capability grows, it will be cheaper to send materials from the Moon to LEO (Low-Earth-Orbit) to supply orbital industries with essentials.

Incidentally, 2050 will be the centennial of the publication of Robert Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon", a tale of D.D. Harriman's obsession with lunar exploitation. The oeuvre is a great read, but the novel is of interest because it is the first time anybody gave serious thought as to who owns the Moon. Bob would follow this up with "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" some fifteen years later, where permanent settlers on the Moon decide they should be independent. As well, "Stranger in a Strange Land" also pondered ownership, this time of the planet Mars.

I know, when you're up to your ass in Stevieweasels, it's hard to look 50 years ahead, but decisions made in Canada in the next 4-5 years will be of consequence in this future.

How can you tell when the Harperites are behaving like Tea Partiers?

When the crew at Balloon Juice notices.

Welcome to the world stage.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Uh, Dean?

Are you sure you want to open this door? Because there's one or two interesting stories floating around your riding about the sorts of things you've been up to.

Wow, their spin control on this thing is pathetic.


I think that the social operating system we're running on doesn't really have a lot of space for deeper or longer-term contextual awareness. So much is here and now, with a bit of reference to the future, and less to the past. And I'm not talking about the immediate text-book past, Harper's 1812 or some superficial interpretation of national or cultural identity, who our grandparents were (although that's part of it) but the sense of past, but of prehistory and origins that gives us a sense who and what we are as a species. In a time-line, in a star system, in a universe, in a multiverse.

We are long origins. The atoms and elements that comprise our beings pre- and post-date us on timescales that defy imagination and measurement. Indigenous cultures, long-lived peoples in ancient places, are better than [con]temporary vernacular consumer society at recognizing some of these things. Countless generations, dating back to an ice-age, inhabiting the same, often perilous or austere landscape embody in some a sense of origins that is alien to modern thinking and environs. Imagine living pre-science, pre-flight, pre-paper, in stretch of forest, or desert, or tundra, knowing only this and knowing that those who came before you only knew this all the way back to your particular origin myth. Imagine the outlook, the sense of your world and your place in it that you would embody in these environs. Imagine Carl Sagan or others, spending a lifetime staring at the sky, and the sense of social and temporal locus that must instill in them.

If I consider these points, I then wonder how we might take our leaders, government,  and the like seriously. I think it was Noam Chomsky (although I can't find the reference) who once commented that he could not begin to debate a certain person without first needing considerable time to deconstruct that person's worldview.

Intractable describes the problem of two or more sides coming together to resolve, when one is beginning the conversation from an entirely different plane of existence.

Situate yourself beyond categories and ideologies. Stand in the forest, gaze at the complexity, close your eyes and smell and listen until you can differentiate the scents and sounds. Put your hands on smooth rocks, and in cool water, feel the textures and currents.  Begin your politics from there.

Heads up . . .

IF YOU USE GOOGLE — its security rules and regs are changing. Why should you care? Well, according to WIRED, now's the time to get rid of your search history. Go visit and find out more, before you wish you had. Or not.

If you've been to Google's homepage lately — and the chances you have are astronomical — you may have noticed a little announcement mentioning something about changes in Google's privacy policy. You then probably ignored it — but you shouldn't.

On March 1st, 2012, Google will implement a new, unified privacy policy. The new policy is retroactive, meaning it will affect any data Google has collected on you prior to that date, as well as any data it gathers afterward.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Smattering" of F-35

The Oxford English dictionary on my mac defines smattering as "a slight superficial knowledge of a language or subject" or "a small amount of something". Smattering is the description of the applause CBC describs Airshow Mackay receiving when he announced to a room full of military and connected people the mindless and enduring Conservative commitment to the F-35.

"We have been clear that we will operate within that budget," he said in a speech to the Conference of Defence Associations annual meeting. "And we will give our air men and women the best available aircraft, which I believe is the fifth-generation, F-35 Lightning II."
The comment elicited a smattering of applause.

No matter. The RCAF will be saddled for decades with whatever contraption constitutes the F-35 when this is done because none in its ranks stood up over the purchase. The Canadian Forces will continue to be politically partisanized because no one of import in its ranks will take action now against the process. Elections Canada will layout the case for election fraud, but it will stop there because their officials and the RCMP, like the brow-beat GG facing a proroguing prime minister, or Vancouver police looking at evidence of a monster, will be too timid, biased, or dismissive to take radical and entirely legitimate action.

In the great middle-class Canadian tradition of recent years, they will settle for a cowardly suburban mediocrity when action was called for. They won't rock the boat, they won't risk careers or promotions, lattes and iPhones. They won't do a goddamned thing. 

They will stand, smattering, and utterly fail to deliver in this leaderless society.

I hope I'm wrong and that there's enough integrity left within the system and its players to do the hard stuff.

Stevie fail . . .

WWW.GREENPEACE.ORG has a disturbing post by Rex Weyler, "Canada: Climate Criminal".  Rex offers a nice over-view of how the Stevie Slime came to poison us.

At the dawn of the 21st century a new political regime has transformed Canada from global hero – once standing up for peace, people, and nature – to global criminal, plunging into war, eroding civil rights, and destroying environments.

What happened to Canada? Oil. And not just any oil, but the world’s dirtiest, most destructive oil. Canada’s betrayal at the Durban climate talks – abandoning its Kyoto Accord commitments – is the direct effect of becoming a petro-state.

By the late 20th century, oil companies knew that the world’s conventional oil fields were in decline and oil production would soon peak, which it did in 2005. These companies, including sovereign oil powers such as PetroChina, turned their attention to low-grade hydrocarbon deposits in shale gas, deep offshore fields, and Canada’s Alberta tar sands. Simultaneously, inside Canada, oil companies began promoting the political career of the son of an Alberta oil executive, the conservative ideologue Stephen Harper.

But it gets better:

The Canadian government has become the policy arm and public relations voice of the international oil industry, discarding its reputation as an ethical country. Millions of Canadians have expressed outrage at the government that abandoned them and shamed Canada on the world stage. These voices are rarely heard in Canada’s corporate media. Meanwhile, Canadians witness an erosion of free press and civil rights within their own nation. They should not be surprised.
H/T — Dan

"Airshow" MacKay is now well over the line

As Morton says, Peter MacKay needs to go. And given the Harper Conservatives' penchant for feces flinging politics, I wouldn't be framing the requirement in the form of a request.

MacKay, as shown in these emails obtained by the Toronto Star under an AIA request, clearly abused his ministerial position for purely political reasons and put uniformed members of the Canadian Forces to work in a sphere which violates the apolitical requirement of every member of the armed services.
Military personnel were asked to dig up dirt on an opposition MP in the wake of revelations Defence Minister Peter MacKay was picked up in a search-and-rescue helicopter from a 2010 fishing trip, defence department records show.
The morning of Sept. 22, Royal Canadian Air Force staff — including an officer posted in MacKay’s office — were digging through flight logs to find instances where opposition party MPs took rides aboard military aircraft, according to emails obtained by the Toronto Star.

The search fixated on Liberal MP Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor), whose riding includes the 9 Wing Gander air force base and who was critical of MacKay in the initial CTV report.

By noon that day, the air force officials had found what appeared to be information that might take the edge of Simms’ criticisms.
One clear point. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces swear an oath or affirmation to the Crown; not to a politician.

It brings up another issue. MacKay was well aware that he could not justify his employment of RCAF operational assets for his own personal use. His subsequent actions in tasking RCAF personnel to a political activity further exacerbate the abuse of the original act.

And yet another issue. Some members of the RCAF are forgetting or have forgotten the responsibility which accompanies their wearing of a uniform and their membership in a disciplined Canadian institution. They are required to live within the bounds of Queen's Regulations and Orders, Defence Administrative Orders and Directives, subordinate command orders and instructions, and published SOPs. Living within that framework means steering well clear of any activity which may be perceived as "political". It also means refusing to accept unlawful commands and commands from those not authorized to issue them.

The Minister of National Defence has no authority to issue orders to individual members of the armed services. That office, responsible for a great many things in relation to defence policy, makes its requirements known and issues orders only at the very top of the uniformed chain of command - to the Chief of Defence Staff.

From the emails recovered in this instance, it is clear one particular RCAF major should have done one thing. He should have advised MacKay that he could not serve MacKay's request without higher uniformed authority being involved and offered to kick it up to the CDS.

MacKay should be fired and at least one RCAF major should be sent down for a junior leadership course so as to rediscover his actual reason for existence.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Did the bastards steal the last election?

This is the question on everyone's lips as this thing detonates.

Harper might weasel himself and his government out of a great many scandals, but at some point, something will stick.

Transport Canada Fail

Right here.

Transport Canada has "no regulatory concerns" with Enbridge's proposed marine operations for the Northern Gateway pipeline, clearing the way for supertankers to carry Canadian crude across the Pacific. 

And here's why.

A little lightness . . .

THREE 30 SECOND COMMERCIALS. Wonderful antidotes for BIG VICKIE. Enjoy. They show what teamwork can do to deal with problems. Stevie is a problem.

The punishment budget

Kevin Falcon is pissed. So is Christy Clark.

What has them pissed? Somebody whizzed all over their parade. That's what.

In the hours since the delivering of the BC provincial budget I have tried to rationally analyze what part of the Falcon budget makes sense. I have even taken the dive into fiscal prudence and still, there is no answer which can reconcile the fact that Falcon's budget penalizes British Columbians for their simple existence.

It's all about the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Falcon is a Campbellite. The HST, introduced to the citizens of BC from the blind side, was supposed to be a given. With an unworkable recall legislation, (the only one in the country), the Campbellites were confident that they could dump a change in the provincial tax system on the people of BC without a problem and with enough time until the next election to have it pushed back in the memories of the electorate.

The backlash was swift, ugly and huge.

I don't know many people who would come to the call of  Bill Vanderzalm, but the HST issue got a once reviled provincial premier an unbelievable amount of popular support in the fight to get rid of it. It wasn't so much the tax itself that energized a movement. It was the underhanded methods used to implement it. There are few who could be made to believe that then-premier Gordon Campbell did not lie to the voters when he told reporters that HST was not on the radar just a few months before introducing it.

The forcing of a referendum on the HST cost Campbell his job. Unfortunately what emerged as a premier and ministry turned out to be nothing but the same Campbell water-carriers heaped with the baggage of a corruption investigation tied to another Campbell lie - the sale of BC Rail.

Then there was the attempt to cloud the HST referendum question. Instead of learning from their past dishonesty, the question put to the electorate on the HST was twisted into the negative. Again, people were angry, not so much about the tax, but because the political power elite presumed that voters were stupid enough to fall for a cheap trick.

The political power elite got handed their asses.

The afterglow of the Vancouver Olympics, for the few who actually believed there was one, lasted for all of two minutes. The rejection of the HST and a demand to return to the previous two tax regime had almost nothing to do with the tax itself; it was a response to the behaviour of current provincial government. The lying, the arrogance, the corruption and the gimmicks were put to a direct test. The right-wingers were given a beating their egos still cannot handle.

And that is what the Clark/Falcon budget is all about. It is punishment being meted out to the voters for getting inside the Campbellites private game.


For what it's worth, Falcon's budget, peppered with Thatcherist moves, has raised another issue. These people are still trying to run a private game.