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Showing posts from March, 2009

What am I missing?

At some point, you get to wondering if the effort's wasted.
At some point, you start saying ah, fuck 'em, they're not worth our time. Or the 116 lives (and counting), for that matter.
I think some point is right...about...now.

I know, this is not the sort of thing I should be feeling, as a Canadian who claims to care about the wider world. I used to deride those who called for our troops to come home by saying what, so only Canadian women can have rights? But when a supposedly democratically elected government comes up with laws completely contrary to the spirit of democracy, what are we to do?  I had this question vis-a-vis Hamas last year. We vote to expunge the Zionist filth. All in favour, face Washington and raise your middle fingers. I have to admit, I didn't come to much of an answer beyond "well, some places don't deserve democracy." That sounded lame to me then and still does: everybody deserves democracy, just like everybody deserves food, potable wa…

Everybody Knows...

If 'everybody knows' such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one. --Robert A. Heinlein
Everybody knows that GM cars suck. That's why according to J.D. Power, Buick ties Lexus in vehicle dependability. Also why the Chevrolet Malibu was named car of the year for 2008, beating out a field of six shortlisted cars and trucks of which three others were GM products. (The car of the year for 2009 is a Ford. The Flex, to be exact.) If I'm Obama, I'm making damn sure I don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The stuff "everybody knows." Everybody knows the name of Adam's wife in the Bible, right? Adam and Lilith, of course.  
24-karat gold is not pure. A small amount of copper is mixed in: otherwise you'd be able to mold the gold with your bare hands.'
Nuclear waste is really, really bad, right? But what about coal ash, which is up to a hundred times worse?
Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we may not have all the fa…

Surprise!

At first blush, I'm actually okay with this Ontario budget.Unbelieveable, I know. I've never liked Dalton McGuinty. All politicians break promises, but McGuinty almost seemed as if he was making promises explicitly so he could break them later. He promised three times to close coal-fired generating plants that are still open; he promised to keep a cap on electricity rates, then removed it; he promised funding for autistic kids that never materialized. Most infamously, he promised, mid-campaign, "I won't raise your taxes, but I won't cut them either"...that almost had me voting for him. Of course, the instant he won the election, he whacked Ontario with a gigantic health care tax "premium".  Put quite bluntly, I don't trust a single word he says.
But this budget, now....this isn't near as bad as I thought it might be. Oh, the deficit's a bitch, but you know what? Everybody's deficit's a bitch right now...we might as well join the p…

Parental Advisory, Explicit Blogging

A tip of the hat to Rocketstar for his question, "Who's your daddy?"Like him, that's probably the last question I want to ask--or God forbid hear--in bed.  It's an old question, dating back to at least 1681. 'Daddy' in this context is a synonym for 'pimp'...although it has come to refer to any male lover. Yecch. 
There's a lot of things about sex I don't understand. No, smartass, I don't mean the talk...although come to think of it I never really did get the talk. My mom gave me Where Did I Come From and it gave me the talk. 
(Wow, it never occurred to me until now just how sexist that book is. According to its version of events, the man does all the work and derives all the enjoyment out of sex, and the woman is just an incubator. Nice. Ah, the 70s.)
No, the stuff I don't get about sex is a little more esoteric. Some of it (as always) has to do with language. Besides "who's your daddy?" there are a host of questions and …

Snapshot of Cultural Decay

I've been following Christie Blatchford for nigh on thirty years, across four newspapers. She's one of the better columnists out there when it comes to humanizing tragedy and questioning the unquestionable...and while her writing can be sentimental to the point of maudlin, she never fails to elicit emotion from her reader...well, this reader, at any rate.

This is one of her better efforts.

Background--such background as is permitted by Canadian law-- here
(Publication bans are commonplace in Canadian courts of law. I'd argue they're overused, and that our soi-disant "justice system" cares more about the rights of criminals than it does about the victims of their crimes, but that's a post, or series of them, for another time.)
After some obligatory griping at how the Web can defeat a Canadian court's best efforts and report things that Christie herself can't, Blatchford launches into a chilling account of the MSN and Facebook messages exchanged by &q…

Just like riding a bike...

...well, not quite.
Eva and I hauled out our bikes today...me for the first time this season, her for the first time in twenty some-odd years.  Mine's an old clunker restored to pristine condition by a colleague of Eva's who eats, sleeps and breathes bicycles. Hers is a work of art:
a 2009 Fuji Saratoga touted as "the ideal bike for re-starting biking".
We bought this at Braun's a few weeks back, and let me say for anyone in the area, this is the place you want to go to buy a bike. The service and selection are exceptional. So is the price: we got her fully outfitted (panniers, water bottle, lock, car carrier, helmet, etc.) for less than we'd thought we have to pay for the bike itself.
My darling wife was getting herself stressed out about the whole re-starting biking experience. As I've perhaps mentioned, Eva's a big girl. There's a lot of muscle there--167 pounds worth at last check, more than a woman her height is supposed to weigh, period--but also…

Some Good News Today

...or at least, some flickers of (audacity?) hope.

First Lady Michelle Obama -- with the help of some local fifth graders -- is digging up some of the South Lawn of the White House to plant a vegetable garden...the first since Eleanor Roosevelt's 'victory garden' in the Second World War.
It's being framed by the New York Times as an educational exercise for the younger generation. And it is. It is, in fact, a wonderful example on so many levels: for individual health, community health, civilizational health, a garden makes good sense.
Those who know me, know how much I abhor so-called "reality" television. I find television itself vaguely (and sometimes not so vaguely) distasteful; what's called "reality" TV is, as far as I'm concerned, fundamentally offensive. Whether it's moral degradation, ritual humiliation, a total disconnect with, ahem, reality, or all three, you couldn't pay me to watch.
I still won't watch this one. Neither, …

Take it Away, Gary!

*facepalm*

Gary Goodyear, Minister of Science (!) in Canada's federal government, won't say whether or not he believes in evolution. When asked, he replied "I'm not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don't think anyone asking a question about my religion is appropriate."
In other words, no, he doesn't.

Memo to Mr. Goodyear: evolution has nothing whatever to do with religion. Yes, those icky atheists believe in evolution, but I've got news for you:SO DO A MAJORITY OF CHRISTIANS.
It's only the fundycostal literalist types that insist Earth was created at 9:00 A.M. on October 3, 4004 B.C. The rest of us understand that Genesis is essentially poetic. A great teacher I once had viewed it as a myth: defined Reverend McCombe's way--and Joseph Campbell's--a myth is "the song of the universe: music so deeply embedded in our collective unconcious that we dance to it, even when we can't name the tune."
Let me make this cl…

Wow. Just...wow.

Ben Bernanke, 2009: "We'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year."
Ben Bernanke, 2007: "The subprime mess is grave but largely contained." Ben Benanke, 2005: "There is no housing bubble." --------------------------------------------------------------
Well, doesn't that sterling predictive track record fill you with confidence.
Meanwhile, out here in reality:
--The U.S. is gunning up. According to the Wall Street Journal,

The FBI's criminal background check system showed a 23% increase in February over the previous year, a 29% increase in January, a 24% increase in December and a 42% increase in November, when a record 1.5 million background checks were performed. Yes, people fear President Obama will take away the guns he thinks they cling to, but a likely equal contributor to what The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch called a "gun-buying binge" is captured in the slogan on one firearms maker's Web site: "Smith…

On my way to bed

Quick thoughts for a Saturday night.
"I am deeply sorry and ashamed"--Bernie Madoff (has anybody in the entire history of humanity ever been more aptly named?)
No, you aren't. Don't even say it. You can't even say you're sorry you were caught--which is what most criminals mean when they say they're sorry. You can't say you're sorry because, in hindsight, your getting caught was inevitable. You didn't actually expect to get away with swindling $648000000000.00 or so, did you? You couldn't have. Nobody's that stupid.  In my universe, "sorry" is reserved for people confronted with the harm they sincerely weren't aware their actions caused. It's accompanied by concrete action showing understanding and remorse. I truly believe that if most of the people who say they're sorry actually are, they wouldn't commit their criminal acts in the first place.
Now, what sort of punishment best fits Madoff's crime? It's unr…

Tanks but no tanks

Warning, hockey-themed post upcoming.
Since I last discussed those dastardly Maple Leafs, they've had a season full of ups and downs. In some ways, they've vastly exceeded expectations. Nobody but nobody expected they'd be scoring goals at near the clip they are, for instance. They currently rank 13th in a 30 team league in goals for--modest, but none too shabby for an outfit we were told would have trouble finding a net with both hands and a hockey stick.  Goaltending was supposed to be the one thing that would keep the team in most games. Sadly, it hasn't. Vesa Toskala, who was originally and inevitably nicknamed VeTo by the Leaf faithful, has a new nickname, and well earned: Loss-kala. For most of the season, he's been exhibiting nearly every flaw a goaltender can have in his game: not square to the shot, too deep in his net (or too far out), down too early, down too late...game to game and even within a game Toskala was completely unpredictable. He could make ten…

A Government Out Of Time

I think I've finally figured out the problem with Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.One of them, anyway. There are lots to pick from, among them Harper's almost total lack of empathy, his control-freakiness, and his unrelenting ideological drive.  But I've discerned something about this government and its policies that covers a lot of ground: namely, that "Canada's New Government" is in fact an old government...a government rooted in the past and unable to frame the present, let alone the future, in any meaningful way.
Harper and his coterie are trapped in a time-warp oscillating between the 1950s and some point about a year and a half ago. His speech yesterday was a case in point. This recession is an "opportunity".  Yeah, sure, Steve-O. Big opportunity. People losing their jobs (as Ignatieff correctly pointed out, at twice the rate of the United States right now), quite likely a bunch losing their homes in the not-too-distant future, and you'r…

Zzzzzz

I'm feeling particularly antagonistic lately, even less tolerant of intolerance and sympathetic to stupidity than I usually am. Which is really saying something.Part of it's simple exhaustion. Eva's at her parents, back tomorrow morning, and I do not sleep well at all when she's not around. It's funny, because what with a king size bed and two dogs, it's not as if we're cuddling all night every night or anything. But obviously I'm aware when she's there...and when she's not.  I got to sleep about 12:30 last night, despite being in bed by 9. And it was a thin sleep, populated by shapeless demons and voiceless screams. I woke up several times, finally rolling out of bed (it turned out) two minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Eva and I refer to that sort of sleep as a "blink". Shit, I'm not sure I winked. There's a hockey game on right now and I really doubt I'm going to make the third period...

WTF of the Year

...and yes, I know it's only the beginning of March. But if anything comes along this year that pisses me off more  than this, I promise not to comment on it until next  year. Deal?
So here's what happened. Brazil. A nine-year old girl is raped by her stepfather. She conceives. Twins. Doctors abort the fetuses because, um, hello? The mother's nine years old and would almost certainly die if she managed to carry them to term.
With me so far?
The Catholic Church in its infinite wisdom, immediately excommunicates the stepfather for the hideous crime of rape. Wait a second. That's not what happened at all! No, his wife, who authorized the abortion, was excommunicated. Abortion, you understand, is more serious than rape. 
Let's let Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho explain this for us, because quite frankly, I'm having trouble with it.
"God's Law is above any human law. So...when a human law is contrary to God's Law, this law has no value."
...ummm, okay. …

Sheeple

Sheeple.It's a favourite epithet in the online community, a portmanteau of sheep and people, hurled at those who are deemed to be blind followers, unable to think for themselves. How ironic, in an Alanis Morrisette sort of way, that so many in various online communities are sheeple themselves.  They'd hotly deny this, of course. By definition, only people who think differently from you can possibly be sheeple. But it's true nonetheless.
The online received wisdom states quite clearly that anything is evil if it comes from a conservative, a Christian, a corporation or a cop. Claim to support any of those things, let alone be one, and you'd better have some flame-retardant handy. There are several other villains the online community: people who support Israel; people who deviate from orthodoxy as regards climate change; country folks; anyone who expresses the slightest doubt that all information should be free...the list could extend for several screens. It amuses me that th…

You'll go blind...

"We are all time travellers, moving into the future at the rate of one second per second."--Spider Robinson
That quote comes to mind every now and again when I think about technology and the way it's changing our lives.
I was born in 1972 into a house the interior of which defies rational description. The living room was carpeted in thick brown and black shag with a faux rock wall and, later on, lots of wicker and plaster of Paris heads. A 20" floor model television dominated the room--and if you yowwens wonder how such a tiny TV could possibly dominate a room, bear in mind that TVs used to be considerably bulkier in all dimensions than they are today. Especially in depth.
Anyway, I vividly recall my mother warning me not to sit too close to that 20" TV or I'd go blind.  Ever notice how many things caused blindness, back when we were kids? Running with scissors. Sitting too close to the TV. Reading under anything less than a ten-thousand-watt lightbulb. Playing…

Rocketstar has a question

And his question is seriously, holy shit, how bad can it get?

Well, now. "It" can get preeeeeeeeety bad. Like, oh, I don't know, this bad.

It probably won't get quite to that level, mind you. Karl Denninger is the former head of a computer company and now a trader by, um, trade. To make your living off the markets, as this man claims to, is quite a trick, especially when it's these markets you're trying to live off of. Methinks there are a few things he's not telling us.
Actually, I know there's a few things he's not telling us. For instance, he doesn't substantiate any of his doomaggeddon. Not in that post. He does have a couple ofother posts that demonstrate to my satisfaction he's not an outright crank--don't look at those latter posts if you have a weak stomach.
It probably won't get to the level he's prophesying, at least an Orlov Stage 3 collapse. (I find it interesting, and more than a little alarming, that Orlov characteriz…

Thought of the Day

Greed is what's behind the erroneous notion that there is only enough for "us", so screw "them". The boundary between "us" and "them" fluctuates. Sometimes "us" is a family, sometimes it's a nation. It has yet to encompass the whole world. When it does, and not a day before, our civilization can truly be called civilized.--Ken Breadner

Wellbutrin/Zyban

For those of you lucky enough never to have smoked or have lived with someone who smokes, Buproprion (otherwise known as Wellbutrin or Zyban) is something of a wonder drug that helps many addicts kick the nicotene habit.It wasn't always thus. It was first marketed as a simple antidepressant under the name Wellbutrin. Clinicians found it worked best when paired with another antidepressant, but surveys and studies showed it worked. 
Then somebody noticed it also helped them quit smoking. 
The exact same drug was rebranded Zyban and marketed to smokers desperate for a cessation aid. Here's where things get interesting. The cost of a Wellbutrin prescription in Canada is $25, and it's covered if you have drug coverage.  Call the Wellbutrin Zyban, though, and the cost quintuples to $125...which is not covered. 
There are two things wrong with that last sentence. One is the obvious jump in price for the same drug as a smoking cessation aid rather than as a simple antidepressant. It&#…

Going Moldy....

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