Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

30 January 2007

Have You Ever?


My workplace sometimes gets articles from contributors. One such person is a guy I'll call "Topper". Topper is a bugger to edit. He'll send you the copy, then spend ages making changes as you're trying to fit it to the publications it's going into.

My co-worker, "George" gets the brunt of this. And he's not the most positive of fellows in the first place. I might call him "resistant to change". In other words, the two are a pairing from hell.

This morning George found in his mailbox a note from Topper asking for changes to an article that had been formatted and sent to the layout department. George has recently had to cope with a ten percent jump in his workload due to an expansion in our product line. And since we've had some fairly radical staff and organizational changes lately, the enterprise has been sailing toward the falls in a cocked hat; none of which has done anything to impprove George's state of mind.

So George decided to send Topper's note to "Caroline" in the editorial department. Irritably he clicked "respond" and wrote:
Hi Caro: Topper's just sent me another e-mail. I don't know how to respond to him. Could you please get him off my back?
--Then he clicked "send".

Which, my Avid Fan will know, is where it all went pear-shaped. For as noted, he hadn't clicked "forward", but "respond". So suddenly this fairly mild plea between friends was going to exactly the one person who shouldn't be seeing it.

George freaked. If I had suggested that yanking the telecom cord from the wall would have resulted in the message dribbling onto the floor in a pool of blue internet fluid, I think he would have done it.

He literally scurried around the office for a few minutes before phoning Caroline asking whatinhell was he going to do?

At time of writing he is explaining to Topper's answering machine.

What would you do, O Avid Fan? The question is academic now, but I've had too many close shaves not to keep a fistful of panic control strategies on hand. Ideas and suggestions for next time will be welcomed.







29 January 2007

How Goes The Battle?


Well, it looks like there have been some decisive victories.

--Via, of course, Spocko's Brain

But there is still work to be done. I want to see ABC/Disney do the right thing: Applogize to Spocko and disavow the hate speech they seem to have thus far been quite happy to tolerate in their name.

It's a simple, civilized request, I think. And anyone hearing the content in context would surely agree that it's beyond the pale of reasonable discourse in a democratic nation for a "family-friendly" company to support people who express a desire to kill or mutilate people.

So why haven't they gotten around to it, I wonder? It's not as though they haven't noticed what's up.

This is part of a disturbing pattern from the friendly folks insisted on airing "The Path to 9/11", subtitled: "The Clintons Conspired Directly With Osama Bin Laden", but cancelled "The Reagans" when conservative loyalists protested at its' being less than hagiographic.

On a related note: Oliver Stone seems to be losing it. More than he had already. He's hired the (say it politely!) agenda-driven Cyrus Nowrasteh to write him a film about trying to find Osama Bin Laden. Presumably the film will be faithful to the book, which is in turn as faithful to history as was "The Path to 9/11".







27 January 2007

An Important and Meaningful Test





--From Flashbynight
--Via Thirty-Something

From the site:
The Smart or Stoopid test is purely meant to be a fun quiz to see how your IQ rates alongside the average, based on the scores of other people who have taken the test. Naturally, only stupid people would take it as a true indicator of intelligence, and only intelligent people would take it as a true indicator of stupidity. Or something like that.


I wish to make it clear that this wasn't a cheap ego boost or something for me. I just needed something to show Mme Metro in those infrequent moments when she expresses any degree of doubt as to my sheer genius.







25 January 2007

I'm Blogging More, and Enjoying It Less


Well not really. But I think if I'm going to keep addressing the topics I pick, I've got to slow down. Plus it's probably easier for both my Avid Fans if I'm not scrawling 500-word missives that sound like everyone else's rants.

So I'm going to try and haul back for a bit and reduce the verbiage. Please keep your cheering to a minimum.

All I'm promising is to try.







24 January 2007

State of the 'Still-Don't-Get-Its'


I don't have time or energy to waste on this bumptious piece of self-puffery. But I can take time out to slap him. All points lifted wholesale from CNN here.

1) "Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on, as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done."

The most divisive President in history, who has presided over the most divided legislatures in American history, now thinks working together is a good idea?

2) Bush also put forth a wish list to extend health insurance coverage, reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent over 10 years and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Having encouraged pollution and massive overconsumption (in time of "war", yet) until now he suddenly grew an environmental conscience? Only perhaps because instead of shilling for oil companies he's now shilling for their ethanol subsidiaries and the corn-growing agribusinesses looking for a place to dump their excess at a profit while maintaining ridiculous subsidies.

3) Bush said he will submit a budget that will eliminate the nation's deficit in five years.

C'mon Georgie-boy! Where are you gonna pull nine trillion from? That's the Federal debt limit, by the way. Wanna know what the current debt level actually IS? Wanna know how it got that way?

4) "This dependence [on foreign oil] leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists -- who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy."

Yeah, I can see that disrupting the flow of oil was a major objective on September 11th, 2001. And geez, it's not like the price of oil's been on the rise since you were first appointed, eh?

(Yeah, I know oil started climbing in the latter years of Clinton, but it looks dammned funny that a man who lost a fortune, but still has contacts, in the oil business presided over the fastest, steepest, highest climb in oil prices since the seventies--from $30 to $60 a barrel in about five years.)

5) He said U.S. troops can still win the nearly 4-year-old war, however, and he urged lawmakers to support "our troops in the field -- and those on their way. [...] Whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure," he said. "This country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work."

In other words: "Mission (Still) Accomplishable".
Old strategy: Refuse to talk to anyone or accept constructive criticism about how the war should be handled or indeed whether there should be one at all, send in too few troops to secure Iraq; claim "Mission Accomplished". New strategy: send in 16% more troops, piss off Iran and Syria, refuse to accept any criticism at all.

6) Bush also reiterated his plan to add 92,000 troops to the Army and Marine Corps over five years.

Hell, some high schools won't allow recruiting on their property because of the desperate lies recruiters tell to get bodies to sign up and help them make their quota. Recruiting numbers are slipping as it is ... where do you think you're gonna find 100K more bodies? Oh--right.

Presumably he'll be pushing recruiters to go tell rich white uni students that Iraq is just a racketball court waiting for players?

7) The president previewed his major health-care proposal in his weekend radio address: a proposed tax deduction for up to $15,000 in health insurance premiums, coupled with a tax penalty for premiums over that amount.

But the idea is already playing to mixed reviews, with many wondering how the plan -- which would turn health benefits into taxable income -- would extend coverage to tens of millions of people without health insurance.
(Emphasis mine)

8)"We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis," he said.

Finally something I generally agree with. Believe it or not, I favour the creation of guest worker programs and a path to citizenship. Of course he's doing it so that the Border Patrol can get on with capturing terrorists ... 'cos they've been doing such a heckuva job of that.

Of course, this is one idea that's unlikely to get much cheering. The Dems are dubious because of concerns about the American work market. The Republicans fear the influx of more brown people.

"I am disappointed but not surprised that the president has once again chosen to trot out this same old pig, albeit one with a slightly new shade of lipstick," said Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

The most important thing, and probably the best thing, is that for the first time since his initial appointment to the presidency, Duby is considering a future. The best thing about that is that it is a future without him as president.

It's also the best thing for him personally, as it means that some other chief exec--hopefully President Obama--will have to clean up his godawful "legacy" and try to make good on his false promises and failed policies.







'Security is Worth the Hassle'


Bull$#!7.

The terror attacks of September 11th 2001 were made possible by a lax domestic, not international, security regimen.

Since then, thousands of people have been hired to make your air travel and airport visit experiences as unpleasant as possible.

In the name of "security"--that all-important objective against which the Bill of Rights, Constitution, and any other civil liberties must crumble--the United States has forsaken its birthright and become not merely a sponsor of tyranny, but has become a nation of slaves who must present papers to the proper authority and comply with the demands of pettifogging badge-wearers not because it does any damn good, but because it makes someone, somewhere, feel "safer".

The enormous amount of money wasted on these federal gravy trains for people who have proven unemployable as prison guards would have been better spent on flannel blankies and demonstrations of thumb-sucking techniques.

The only likely accomplishment of the Department of Fatherland Insanity is to ensure that when another attack comes (an inevitability, given the policies of the current administration, and one which Dubya's unfortunate successor is far more likely to have to deal with), it will not be in a commercial jetliner.

But, and this is the good bit, there's not a damn bit of evidence that any of this has "made America safer". It has decreased the determinatinon of her enemies not a bit. The rabid conduct of the current president has alienated almost all of America's allies foreign and domestic (at least, the ones he's not bribing with nuclear technology--and how great an idea was that?).

Eventually, some sufficiently determined maniac will slip through. It's possible that he may only machine-gun a shopping mall. Oh yeah--George? Country under terror "threat", and you let the restrictions on automatic weapons lapse? Not prudent.

But let's assume the killer doesn't in fact take advantage of gun laws that permit a monkey to buy an M-1. There are other options: The maniac may bring dynamite onto a bus. The terrorist may park a five-tonne fertilizer bomb outside a federal building.

And for none of these activities will he be required to deal with the twin Orwellian miseries that are the TSA and the Department of Fatherland Insanity.

He will buy his diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate legitimately, at a feed and farm supply store. He will rent a truck with a US driver's license, or Canadian. He will park legally, and walk away.

And all the paranoia, all the anger and fear that has been channelled into grey-faced bureaucratic obstructionism and the denigration of citizens into suspects, the elevation of civil servants to civil masters, the blind, angry, abuse of foreigners or new Americans, the insults to America's neighbours and friends and above all the precious Wars--on terror and on Iraq--will have done not one damn thing to stop him.







23 January 2007

Another Nail in the Coffin


"Intelligent Design" theory has few arguments against evolution. And another has recently bitten the dust.

One of the common questions IDers ask people who disagree with them is: "Well ... where are the transitional forms, huh?"

Then they cross their arms and smirk in a satisfied way.

Sighing tiredly, the defender of reason says "Well for starters there are creodonts, then there's archaeopteryx, then lungfish, and ..."

"Ah, ah, ah!" says the ignoramus proudly "Those are seperate species, not transitions. After all, if birds evolved from dinosaurs, shouldn't we see some birds that share more with lizards than a few scales? Shouldn't there be an experimental design or two that, in accordance with (simpers and makes "quote mark" sign with fingers) evolution, died out because they weren't adapted to survive?"

In the past you had to drag out the archaeopteryx (which by now would be getting restless and grumpy) and explain the link, pointing at suitable bits of anatomy and probably getting snapped at. By both the birdosaur and the "intelligent" design-er.

Now you need only say:
"Funny you should mention that."

This tiny little beauty had four wings and a long bony tail (the bony tail, for the benefit of the ID types, not being a feature of modern birds). In other words it looked like a really odd lizard.

But don't let me stop you from believing Pat Robertson. After all, he can leg press two thousand pounds at the age of 80, so I'm not gonna ₤µ¢λ with him.

I actually can accept intelligent intelligent design theory--though I hope I'll never believe it. My Catholic father told me when I was 11 or so that God gave everything a push, and then pretty much let nature--and evolution--take its course.







Thanks, Steve


Last year the New Model Government of Canada killed a $2.8 million-per-year program designed to help ordinary Canadians challenge court decisions affecting their rights under the Canadian Constitution. Recently one of the victims of this cut got their final screwing-over.

About twenty years ago, some officious uniform on the border stopped a load of books from hitting the shelves of Little Sisters, a "gay bookshop" (how one determines the sexuality of a building is beyond me) in Vancouver, and at the time one of few places where you could openly buy gay literature.

This box-opening nosy parker decided--despite the protection of freedom of expression under said constitution--that the material was unfit for Canadian consumption.

Get it straight (a-hem): the material broke no laws. It offended some stuffed shirt with a badge. Other outfits were freely allowed to import the same materials. Canada Customs was unquestionably, officially, picking on Little Sisters.

Thus began a legal battle that cost Little Sisters millions, including constitutional challenges all the way up to the supreme court, where a decade later the case was settled in their favour.

Because of the death of the Challenges program, they are now apparently ineligable for compensation for the court costs arising from the officious harrassment they suffered.

So in short the New Model Government is saying--if you want to take on the government for persecuting your ass, it's always going to be out of your pocket.

Harper and Co.--working to make democracy available to those who can afford lawyers.

The sheer mean minginess of a government cutting this program is perfectly in keeping with the other cuts they've made. They trumpet that they're paying down the debt, but they're doing on the backs of women, aboriginals, and anyone else without political leverage.
"This government has a $13-billion surplus, and they cut funding for literacy. Two billion dollars for fighter jets in Afghanistan, and they cut funding for women’s programs. Over a billion dollars going to their friends in the big oil and gas companies, and what do they do? They cut funding for aboriginals and young people. Total arrogance. No consultation. No debate.”
--Jack Layton

Oh--and apparently permitting the spread of malaria while they're at it. Check back for more on that. And a little something on Greenwashing.

The current "Canadian New Government™" budget page is a pack of damn lies. For example, they tell us they "saved 15 million" by "settling" the Softwood Lumber issue. They don't mention that that settlement cost $1 billion in lost monies owed by the US under legal judgements. In the "unused funds" column, did they provide one, you'd find the money set aside to help produce an action plan for dealing with the Mountain Pine Beetle that's crunching its way through the forest. But hey, I guess you gotta spend money to get to spend more money.

"Canadian New Government™" Stooping to new lows, every day.







22 January 2007

Just Back From Shooting Off My Mouth


Over at Raincoaster's.

Eventually someone commented to cheer for fashions made for those who have to be fully clothed from brow to Birkenstocks. My response?

"Coming next: the mink burqa, symbol of freedom."

It felt like a cheap shot, so I figured I'd try to expand on it here.

Background: I would feel a hell of a lot better if I really believed women would voluntarily dress like this in a free society. Even as it is, when I see a woman in chador or hijab in North America, I always find myself wondering if it's her choice.

I have no trouble in accepting that devout women or men of a faith will follow the strictures of that faith as their consciences guide them. My mother, a devout Catholic, adheres to the dietary strictures and observes all the feast and fast days. Conversely I know devout Jews who wear tattoos, gay Christians, and some fairly odd Buddhists. I know people who have rediscovered their faith comittments, and changed their dress or behaviour to suit. Fair enough.

But how many men or women--not only Muslim, but of any faith and culture, are forced to conform to some cultural "norm" or made to obey the strictures of a religion under the pain of ostracism or worse penalties.

When individual freedom clashes with religion, I believe the former must always win out. This does not mean that the church must adapt itself to the individual, but rather that if an individual chooses to do something that's clearly outside the pale of their church, then they are free to leave without fearing penalties, and free to continue to worship in their own way. In this vein, churches must also accept a reasonably wide range in behaviour--that which is not prohibited should be permitted.

In Iran there's no public debate on the topic. Not by anyone wishing to remain alive, anyway. The bias is culturally engendered, socially enforced, and legally binding.

Holding a "fashion show" in a place where a woman's free will is sublimated to her government, her family, and (only then) her religion is simply a demonstration of power:

"We make the rules. You wear what we tell you."







Where the Senate Goes, Astroturf Grows


You may have heard the term "Astroturfing". It refers to the "grass-roots" organizations set up by companies and cronies to try and skew public opinion. Lately a staple of such efforts is the astroturf blog, a fake online journal designed to massage public opinion like a $20 "host/ess" in a Thai bath-house, for similar reasons.

Via a new favourite of mine, the Pump Handle I have found The Questionable Authority, which has an excellent and thorough article about someone trying to organize "grass-roots" resistance to a US lobbying reform bill.Richard A. Viguerie describes the bill as intrusive and anti-first amendment. He claims that thousands of independant bloggers will be made criminals.

He does not, however, explain that the law is crafted to apply specifically to astroturfers. Nor that his business is of the sort that would be negatively impacted.

For a start, finding the article as PR Newswire should alert people to what's up. Not that PRNW is necessarily corrupt, but PR is a murky pool to swim in. Then there's the website: shiny-new "grassrootsfreedom.com". Which is loud on emotion, but ultra-thin on substance.

Does this sound as though someone's trying to build support for a nothing "cause" using a faux-grassroots organization? Hmmm ... wouldn't that be astroturfing?

For interests' sake, the bill specifically states:
The term `paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying' means any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public."
Italics mine.

I'd start saving for the lobbyist registration fees now, Mr. Viguerie.

Starting "think-tanks" (see American Enterprise Institute) used to be the preferred form for corrupting public opinion, then it became paid "research" (see Exxon and jury awards). Now, moving with the times, it's partisan bloggers and outright fake "not-for-profit" organizations.

For myself, I welcome such "regulatory interference".







21 January 2007

Speaking of Little Coastal Towns

I was last in Wollongong in '00, and it's a terrific place. Good place to start a new life--certainly my parents thought so. So I examined this offer very seriously.

I sometimes say to comment trolls and similar: "Get a life--"You can find one on eBay."

Who knew?

Speaking of new lives, check out Darren Barefoot's new project: getafirstlife.com. If you're not sure what Second Life is, check it out here.







20 January 2007

I Am Reminded


Archie and healingmagichands have conspired to awake one of the legends of my past.

When I was a wee, stroller-bound thing, my parents lived in a little coastal town. Mum was fond of swimming and beaches, having won medals as a kid. With local mean temperatures averaging 25 dgrees Celsius or so our daily routine often involved a stop at the beach.

The path to the sand led between a couple of high bluffs, and one day as Mum pushed the stroller between them she heard a voice call out to her:

"Hey! ..."

She stopped and looked around.

"Hey! Up here!"

Mum lifted her head to look, and was confronted by a man in a raincoat. And nothing else. Visibly nothing else. But the man had reckoned without a woman who'd taught Catholic school.

Mum stabbed a finger at him and roared:

"YOU! GET DOWN HERE ... RIGHT NOW!"

And the man closed up his coat and ran away.

Later on Mum was talking to some other young matrons and discovered that this person had been making the daily commute uncomfortable for a number of women in the area. But to the best of my knowledge he didn't try it again.







19 January 2007

Just to Round Off


Another long week of railing against, here's one of those dammned annoying quiz things.

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.







Finally, Nosy Questions Are Being Asked


Now, at last, Senators Leahy and Feingold can perhaps hold the administration's feet to the fire about the Maher Arar case, wherin the Canadian government colluded with the US one to outsource a little torture work.
"We knew damn well if he went to Canada he wouldn't be tortured. He'd be held and he'd be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he'd be tortured. And it's beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured."

--Senator Patrick Leahy

Video at Crooks and Liars, courtesy of
Firedoglake
, whom I am soon going to have to add to the blogroll, I think.







US News Report Calls Cancer Patients 'Stoners'


Boingboing links to this story.

Okay, so marketing pot as candy is dangerous to kids. Sorta like marketing beer to teen boys using sexy girls (but surely no-one would be so immoral).

But the phrase "the medical marijuana crowd and other stoners" seems to reveal a um, less than compassionate attitude to cancer and AIDS patients.

But hey, its the "War Against Drugs" (WAD). And in a war, innocent people get hurt. I guess.







Group Calls for Restrictions on Music Sales With Violent or Sexual Content


My response?
Go ₤µ¢λ yourself with a barbed-wire dildo.

We already have the little "Parental Advisory, Explicit Lyrics" stickers. They are, presumably, meant to um, advise parents, yah? Video games already have an appropriateness rating ('rated "T" for teen' etc.).

But this group wants music sold the way cigarettes and liquor are (and let's not get into that one either).

The problem is, as usual, defining "hazardous to kids". Let's just consider the tunes you grew up with: Queen made great music--but a lot of it was gay code. Should we ban it? How about "Purple Haze"? What about films that degrade women? How about books that include fratricide, parenticide, adultery and incest? Trick question--the Bible's a religious text and unfortunately can't be banned. Same goes for the Koran and the Baghadvita--even though some passages from each discuss practices that are forbidden is such moral economic engines as the porn industry.

My parents, who grew up at the same time the Beatles were getting big, probably did not approve of the Van Halen tunes I loved. Yet today you can catch VH, which I had to look for in the heavy metal section as often as not, on your "easy listening" or "lite rock" station. Still, somehow, many of my peer group grew up to be responsible and productive members of society.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that music, particularly rap, which demonstrates a clear culture of misogyny, paranoia, violence and sexual and drug abuse, contributes to a desensitising effect. I believe that video games that follow a character who must pursue a career of violent crime to "win" don't help.

But--and this is important--there seem to be no impartial studies confirming my personal prejudice. Moreover, if you'll look up at that second paragraph for a second you'll notice: The ratings systems are already in place!

If parents allow their kids to play these games and check these tunes out, then presumably they're assuming their kid can handle the content? Putting this stuff on the high shelf simply adds the thrill of the forbidden.

Oh, and there's another little problem. Let me give you a clue: you're reading on it. Yup, the internet. From these idiots' attitude it would seem they've never heard of it. As soon as a tune gets banned, off to Limewire or Bittorrent the kids'll go.

Every so often a gang of well-intentioned fools like this makes noise about kids and violence (thanks, Tipper Gore).
"We've been exposed to more and more (violence) so that we've gotten desensitized. We no longer get outraged because we've seen it all."
says one Professor Peter Jaffe.

Good point. Of course you do beg a couple of questions, perfesser.

1) Who's "we"? I don't hear any young people in your "coalition of parents and teachers".

2) Does this mean you're gonna stop the war in Iraq? The six o'clock news? High school bullying? How about torture at Gitmo?

3) What action do you intend to take against parents who are right now letting their kids play 50 Cent or Grand Theft Auto?

4) How are you going to restrict violence on television? The V-chip is a failure for a number of reasons.

Bullshit. You just need a lever to pull because you no longer feel like you're in control of your children. And you know what?

You're right.

Art imitates life. Before whining about what our culture is doing to our kids, let's examine the roots of that culture, and the disconnect between what western society says and what it does. Because kids are especially about "monkey see, monkey do".







18 January 2007

If You've Been Elsewhere


Too busy or preoccupied to read my lengthy ruminations on Spocko's war with Der Rathaus, ABC and KSFO radio? Here's a timely summation.



Via blogintegrity and El Gato Negro. This and other vids here.


--Picture stolen from Firedoglake, where you should read this post--or at least view the video.


The war isn't over.







Read It And Weep


for what the United States, born into freedom and "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal", has become:

A letter from Gitmo, recently declassified.

I don't know if this man is what we'd think of as a terrorist or not. I don't know if he was fighting the US invasion of his country or not. I don't know if he was Taliban, Madhi Army, or any other damn thing. I just know that he's been held for five years with no justice.

And that he's been tortured.


In Related News


Dubya, on growing legislative opposition (but non-binding) to his urge to surge:
""That would mean that they're not willing to support a plan that I believe will work and solve the situation," Bush said. "Listen, we've got people criticizing this plan before it's had a chance to work. And I, therefore, think they have an extra responsibility to show us a plan that will work."


You were offered a plan that more people believe would work. It's called the Baker-Hamilton report, George.

As I recall, there was a fair bit of opposition to another little plan you thought would work, back in 2002.

At that time, you demonized your opponents, bullied them into submission with ad hominem attacks. You said things like "Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists."

You ignored the voices of conscience and caution and plowed into your little adolescent adventure in Iraq.

Now you're telling everyone--after having been clearly instructed to start thinking about a strategy for bringing the troops home--that throwing 16 percent more bodies into the grinder "will work."

I tell you what. You dig up twenty thousand Young Republicans who are willing to serve. Send your daughters* to join the war effort. Send to Iraq any of the hawks who didn't serve in combat in Viet Nam. And recruit any of the talk-show hosts who have blindly supported your war of lies all these years who are of military age.

Then we'll talk.



* If you live in Canada, the UK, or Australia and can't figure out whose picture that is, pull out a coin and look at the "heads" side.

Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor was a driver/mechanic in the Women's Territorials. For a picture of the Bush Daughters' contribution to the war effort, click here.







17 January 2007

From Under the Nose,


or possibly the fearsome squirming proboscis, of Raincoaster (pictured here enjoying a tender moment with a friend). I don't normally blog on Lovecraft-related things, but I admire creativity in the use of dead animal hides.



Via BoingBoing

A fearsome mask of Cthulhu, possibly less as envisioned by Lovecraft as by Leatherface?



The mask is the product of either the fertile mind or diseased imagination (your pick, O Avid Fan) of one Bob Bassett. Update: I'm not sure where the Cabbage Patch Cthulhu pictured at the top is from.



Should your tastes run that way (wiser tastes might probably run in the opposite direction, O Avid Fan) it's for sale.







16 January 2007

Handy Crib Sheet For That Awkward Moment


We've all had them--that split-second when we navigated to "my-suspiciously-banal-website-name dot com" and were confronted with enormous quantities of flesh that was in truth not designed for electronic display so much as it was designed (or augmented) for jiggling (no, no, not Rush Limbaugh).

And it is always, unerringly, at that moment when your boss of the opposite sex (and/or wife/husband) puts its head through the door (often quite forcefully) and says "Anderson! I need that file ..."; and then flees.

For such moments, Timothy McSweeney has a solution.







15 January 2007

If This Was From ABC/Disney, I'd Be Scared


After all, we all know that ABC/Disney feels that "flagrant use of KSFO material" is a "clear violation of copyright". So posting a video clip from the wee news item concerning their whiny litigious scrap against a Vulcan in a fedora would be bad.

CBS, I think, will have little concern about it.



Hang on-I just had a thought. This video contains the names "KSFO", Melanie Morgan, and Brian Sussman. It's possible I could get sued for misusing their names.

Geez--I hope the ABC/Disney lawyers are dumb enough to sue me. My hits'd rocket.

In related news, blogicalthought seems to have disappeared. Too busy, possibly, to continue spamming comment sections since the blogosphere got a-hold of this. Or perhaps ABC/Disney/KSFO fired him/her? Or perhaps her/him got tired of trying to defend the indefensible?







Thou Shalt Digest The Venom Of Thy Spleen


Indeed, this is what's happening over at KFSO. For those of you who tuned in late, there's a good summary here.

I was honoured this weekend by a visit from Spocko, of Spocko's Brain, and by Ripley from Blogintegrity and Daily Kos, and other places and publications. Spocko's just made the New York Times.

These guys are way bigger guns than this blog is used to. So what better time for an update? Since many people better-favoured than myself are taking notes these days, I'll just link to them. From A Call to Action's Joe Conason. From his Salon story:
"Like many right-wingers, the KSFO crew can dish it out, but they can't take it. Their feelings get hurt when anyone slaps back. On July 10, New York Times columnist Frank Rich published a Sunday column identifying Morgan as part of a "get the press lynch mob." Although Rich didn't urge any summary punishment for her, Morgan reacted the next day by calling him "one of the meanest liberals that's on staff there in the columns department" and wrongly accused him and other Times staffers of having "lied about what I've actually said." (In the same breath she made a similar bogus complaint about a column I wrote for Salon.)
Then she and her crew came up with a new position regarding what should happen to those journalists whom she deems traitors."


I can't believe the House of Mouse is still standing up for these people. Confronted by their violent, jingoistic, sadistic jerk-fantasies on tape they say "Oh, we were just kidding--and you're meanies".

Not, however, meanies who gush orgiastically at the prospect of adding genital torture to the already-delightful and just death penalty. Not meanies who suggest hog-tying people and burning them alive. Not meanies who suggest that journalists or editors should be electrocuted. Not meanies who like the idea of killing millions of Muslims, or who try to force a man to violate his faith live on the air, nor meanies who say that reporting the truth should carry the death penalty.

Doubtless they'd reccomend such treatment to Spocko. Who is a meanie for calling "bullshit" on them and asking their advertisers if they really meant to pay for this.

Go read the NYT business-section column. A little gem from KFSO's anti-meanie whingefest:
But Ms. Morgan added that her words were obviously a political metaphor that had to be distorted by critics to appear violent.


Yeah, lotta distortion needed, given the other comments you've made, Mel. If you can't recall offhand any offensive or violent remark you might have made, you can listen to them here. But I'd take some Pepto-Bismol first.

Okay--one more:
When reached at his office, KSFO-AM’s program director, Ken Berry, said he felt “the three-hour broadcast best spoke for us” and referred other questions to ABC. An ABC spokeswoman had no comment.


Cohen, however, gets it wrong when he describes Spocko as "the lead blogger". It could have been any of us. We weren't waiting for our equivalent of Muad'dibh, The One, or Luke Starkiller to lead us on some campaign. KFOS whined to its lawyers when they found advertisers were pulling out after hearing exactly what they'd paid for when they sponsored these shows. ABC/Disnazi then just did its business the way it usually does, and wound up sticking its big stompy foot into a hornet's nest. The rest is unfolding history.

KFOS has apparently launched its own blogs to counter their own vile press. But do I really want to read someone who's as enthusiastic about torture and murder as these people are trying to defend hate speech under the First Amendment?







Another Success!


Once again, the sword of justice has cut swiftly, surely, cleanly with dignity.
_
|
/ \ ....... O

Oops

And at least this time no-one was filming it. Oops.

The film was silent. And the mood was apparently solemn and respectful, as befitting a ceremonial killing; there were no taunts--at least according to the film.

Iraqi officials say they're not planning to release it, so that's something.

...

Oops?







13 January 2007

What Does One Do


When one's significant other is posting scurrilous lies about one? Mme Metro is protesting that I burned her biscuits or some such invention. I strongly suggest that you not visit her blog.







What's-His-Face


Via Salvo News comes this Flash Face Creator.

I tried feeding it my description and here's what I got:



Just kidding. Here's the real thing:



Kinda look like Jodie Foster, don't I?







12 January 2007

Spocko--Are You Feelin' the Love?


Note: I'd suggest not listening to the mp.3 files linked to in this post unless you are actually in need of a purgative.

If you've seen anything of the scrap between blogger Spocko of Spocko's Brain and Hatefest Radio KSFO, then you know what's going on. For others, let's look at the situation:

1) Spocko got tired of hearing Nazi bigots on KFSO calling for the castration and murder of reporters, the killing of millions of brown people, and similar desirables.

2) Spocko sampled some of this hate speech and sent the samples to people advertising on the network. Given that said network is an ABC/Disney affiliate, these advertisers had possibly, in good faith, been misled into thinking they were getting time on a family-friendly radio network. But one could hardly call trying to force someone to deny their faith live on the air "family-friendly", could one?

3) From then on in it gets weird. No attention was paid, essentially, until one of the advertisers pulled out.

Suddenly ABC/Disnazi sicced their corporate lawyer on Spocko's ISP, on the grounds that he had used the sound bytes without permission. Let me point out that these were publicly broadcast, and are available for legitimate use under creative commons.

Spocko's ISP folded, leaving his blog temporarily homeless. He is now a cause célébre in the blogosphere and the case is getting increased attention.

Now:
4) KFSO's squirming hate-hosts go on the attack. And of course:

5) The blogosphere gleefully shreds their pathetic whingeing.

Now it's just possible you may not see why this is important. It's important because you and I, O Avid Fan, have been shown the way. If we object to it, we must politely ask their sponsors if they meant to associate their brands with people who advocate murder. I'm not talking about complaining about someone whose viewpoint diverges from yours. Debate is healthy--done in an atmosphere of respect. I'm talking about radio hosts saying people should be killed for disagreeing with them.

But it's clear which way these people want the respect to flow. That's why they're on radio--because it's all one way, their way. For those different from them they have only contempt. And never is that contempt more vicious than when they are confronted with the loss of their money, and by people with the moral fortitude to stand by their actions and their words, a fortitude most of these people bitterly lack. A fortitude shown by people who are brave enough to stand up to threats.

People like Spocko.

As a Canadian, I am doubly offended by this clip. A Canadian soldier on peacekeeping duties with the UN, forced to watch the conflagration as Israel went to its aborted war in Lebanon, was deliberately targeted by the Israeli Defence Force and killed when the observation post was hit not once, but over a dozen times, "by accident". And these monkeys are joking about it. I hope they are as well served as that observation post was.







'A Presidency of Cliff Notes'


God he's magnificent when he's angry ...



I think the statement about Saddam's execution was hyperbole, but I liked his idea of sending Laura and Barney. If you listen to nothing else, slide the counter to 5:39 for the all-in-one summation of Bush's credibility.

--Via Jesus' General


Update: what the hell's wrong with GooTube anyway? This hasn't worked all damn day! Try over at Crooks and Liars.

Oh--and check out Jon Stewart's take while you're there. Here's a link.







It's an Odd Thing


I was sitting around polishing the knobs on Great-Great-Great-Great-Grand-dad Metro's coronet , when an article caught my eye.

It appears that someone in Britain is seeking the True Heir to the throne.

And quite right too. Those upstart Windsors--sorry, I meant to say "Saxe-Cobourg von Gothas"--have been in charge for far too long.

I looked at the ancient signet ring on my finger and thought: If great-umpeenths-great-Grand-dad Edgar were here now, what would he want?

Should I raise an army? Has the time come to march on London and claim for the sake of the people of England what is rightfully mine?

I could do so much good ...
Once I booted that pretender Elizabeth off the throne, I could send the army to reclaim the United States and place her sorrowing people under the loving protection of the Crown. Bush the Lesser would be politely exiled to Bagdhad or somewhere.


But then it seemed to me I heard the voices of my forefathers speak:
Remember: With great power comes great responsibility.

So I said the hell with it and sparked up a joint. I've never been very responsible. Besides, consider the misery wrought by wars of succession: that squabble between Lancaster and York, for example, or the 2000 US Elections. Better to await a clear signal, perhaps a beacon in the sky or something. I got up and went in to my wife.

"Get out!" she cried "How many times have I told you to leave that bloody great sword outside?"

Rolling my eyes I stepped out onto the porch.
"Off with her head!" I declared, flourishing it as I thrust it back into the stone.

But only under my breath.







11 January 2007

It Ain't Over


Till some lard-butted radio host gets $#!7canned, one hopes.

I wrongfully thought Spocko had won. I was wrongful. So I'm sending you all to Spocko's Brain until I have anything to post about. I'm adding him to the blogroll too.
Well some time tonight I think a story about this issue will hit the wires. I don’t know what it will say, probably something like, “KSFO issues challenge to blogger, calls him a coward for not identifying himself, demands he submit for bullying on the radio for his sins of letting [sic] "Our Advertisers Hear What We Were Broadcasting”.
--Spocko

To anyone out there who does any advertising: the second I hear your name on a radio station that features Rush, Savage Nation, or the rest of the maddened crowd, you won't be able to pry another dime out of my pocket with a crowbar.

But you might want to advertise on Jesus' General, Spocko's Brain, or one of the other fine-quality free-speech blogs out there.







10 January 2007

And They Put Their Foot in It


I've been waiting for the Democrats to make their first mistake, and this week my wait seems to be over.

As George W. Bush pushes his urge to "surge"--White House-speak for "escalation" (but a president who dodged the 'Nam might not get the reference)--the Dems have made no move to say "No". There are murmurs, but no comittment.

They needed to put the current president firmly in his own little deluded corner, sticking up for his pet war. They needed to make it clear whose private vendetta this was from the get-go, and point out that the "War president" chose to be one.

Moving to shut this "surge" thing down would be a start. That would force Republicans to stand up and be publicly counted supporting a war only 30% of Americans still think is a good idea.

If the GOP-ites vote with the POTUS, they alienate themselves from all but the rightest of the right. If they vote against him, he is shown up as the classic fantasist he is.

The surge won't work. It's 20,000 people or so. There are 135,000 already in-country. If there are (only) two "insurgents" for every US soldier (not "combat soldier"), then this "surge" will alter that ratio from 2 to 1 to 1.7 to 1. The hearts and minds of the Iraqi people are lost, too.

The US originally needed between 350,000 and 500,000 troops--essentially one for every street corner--to keep some sort of peace. I didn't pull that figure out of thin air--various generals stated the same long before April 2002. Now, due essentially to the total failure of the president to pay the slightest bit of attention to men who know the true costs of war, another 20,000 will be shoved into the meat grinder.

Either too many or not nearly enough.

But the Democrats seem either content to let him do it, or prepared to lie doggo while he does. Judging by the lack of noise.



And They Put Their Foot in It II


To complicate matters, the Dems have reintroduced stem cell research to the legislature--embryonic stem cell research. It's an issue which found surprise support among the Republican guard, most of whom are past it and feeling their mortality creeping up on them.

They can trumpet "pro-life" all they like, but when the spare livers and kidneys start rolling off the assembly line they'll be at the front of the queue--largely because in the US basic health is a commodity rather than a right.

But the Democrats choose this issue? Now? It's not really that controversial--everybody understands that stem cells are collected from what is in essence medical waste--four-cell embryos. Nobody honestly believes these things are alive even in the way that a six-month foetus is.

But they've launched this debate at the very moment when amniotic stem-cell research is showing powerful promise. Sure we shouldn't rush for the exits, embryonic stem cell research should be continued ...

But couldn't this wait? Couldn't the House and Senate concentrate on more important things? Like restoring the Geneva Conventions? Like reinstituting the Bill of Rights? Like cancelling the Paytriator Act?

Basically: Like bodychecking Dubya flat every time he tries to get up off the ice?







09 January 2007

Wow--Flashback


Would you, O Avid Fan, believe I've been at this for three whole years?

Balance-wise I confess to failure. It is impossible to be neutral in the face of what is happening in the world. However, I hope this blog is occasionally amusing.

[I'm typing a little here. Just looking innocuous, typing away at a text document. You may wonder why.]

It's because they've rearranged the office and my boss is now sitting slightly behind me. I wouldn't have given a damn last week. However, just prior to the move a co-worker came to me and said:
"Y'know, I don't really want to say anything about this, but you shouldn't play poker online in the office."
"Oh," I said in all innocence "I'm not playing for money!"

There are some things I never quite understood about working in offices (a thing still strange and new to me). I figured it probably wasn't a good idea to get caught blogging a lot, but it never occurred to me that opening one's Yahoo! mail was disapproved of, and that online games on one's coffee break or between projects could be a firing offence.

Learn something new every day. However, I'm glad I didn't show off the royal flush I got last week. I can't even imagine what my boss would say about blogging up to several times a day.

However, I also expect my posting frequency to drop a bit soon. I am now rehearsing for a small part in a play, and I'm involved in a freeroll poker tournament. What with that, plus the work thing, I may not be able to keep the blog in the style to which the legions of Avid Fan or Fans I have gathered lo these last three years have become accustomed.

I also had something of an epiphany: No-one's going to offer me a book deal based on this blog. I'm not narrow enough. I'm not as in touch with celebutard culture as Perez Hilton, not as intimate as the various sex-themed blogs (and believe me when I say you're grateful for that), and not as narrowly focussed as so many others out there.

So why am I writing for free? I spend hours weekly putting up stuff. I enjoy it, and I get a certain satisfaction from knowing that my odd Avid Fan (very odd indeed) enjoys reading my little thoughts on big issues. But my boss pays me $35K or so per year to write. And I'm not a bad writer. And I think I need to focus on that a bit more.

Still, stick around--I'm not going away completely. I just plan to try and post a little less, and a little more succinctly.

Besides, we both know I can't make a resolution stick.







Homouring the Dead


You may have skipped over my last post, below. After all, you may think hate radio is confined to less-developed nations like Rwanda, or the USA.

But to reverse the situation: if a Canadian radio host expressed pleasure about Lebanese troops killing Americans, what do you think might happen?

Read it and think.







Tell Me Again


As I asked before: Who exactly IS ABC/Disney working for?
[Blogger] Spocko is repulsed by the kind of venom spewed out across the radio airwaves regularly by right wing bigots and hatemongers -- in his case, specifically KFSO in the Bay Area. Unlike a lot of Americans, Spocko did something about it: he documented their comments.
--From Whiskey Fire And thanks to Jesus' General.

Spocko's ISP shut him down under legal threats from the Rat Shack.
Why me? I’m not the one saying journalists should be hanged, thieves should be tortured and killed, people should be burned alive, stomped to death or have their testicles cut off. I’m not the one saying that millions of Muslims should be killed on the presumption that they are extremists or just because they live in Indonesia . I’m not the one who says that lying is as natural as breathing to Egyptians and Arabs or demanding that a [Muslim] caller “Say Allah is a Whore” to prove he is not an Islamist. I’m simply documenting this speech and providing it to the people who are paying KSFO hosts on commercially supported broadcast radio.


It may be impossible to find out how many fingers ABC/Rathaus has in various pies, but I intend as full a commercial boycott as possible.

However, what intrigues me is the very sound ideas Spocko offers for combating hate radio whackjobs (they're at the bottom of the page at that last link). In brief:

1) Listen to them.
2) Record significant hate speeches.
3) Send letters and selected samples to the sponsors asking why they support this kind of behaviour.
4) Duck.

Why duck? 'Cos Disney has big lawyers; and 'cos the people who are let out to host these talk shows are both criminally insane and gun nuts.

But the people who actually enjoy hearing this stuff are a minority. When radical Christianists tried to stop Ford from running gay-friendly ads, the support of normal people got them back in the game.

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster I live in a country where hate speech is actually a criminal matter. Hopefully that'll keep even the satellite channels from broadcasting these putrescent, paranoid, prejudiced, pusillanimous picanthropi.

PS: If your ears can stand it, here are some of the things said on that Bastion of Facism, KSFO--Radio for Rabid Rightwing Rodents.

I'm less interested in the content than the hypocrisy. Who, listening to these people could believe, for example, that Christianity is a religion of peace? Or that most Americans don't in fact want to kill massive quantities of brown people for being brown?

Yet if I ran an anti-christian, or pro-gay radio talk show, Donald and the Wildmon bunch would be on my ass like vultures on a week-old pig carcass.

Were I an Al-Qaeda type, I'd play these sound bites at my terrorist training facilities to show the boys what they're fighting against. I'd also have them translated and taught to young radical Imams so they could learn how to preach the hatred that breeds terrorism.

Update: The story has a happy ending; it turns out Spocko won. Score one for free speech in America. Presumably ABC/Disney will now stop sponsoring Nazism?







'Tis Here, 'Tis Here!


The Shakespeare meme has been making its infectious rounds of the neighbourhood. And now it's mine. Wanting to create something better than Ærchie's, and Raincoaster's efforts, and unable to afford an infinite number of monkeys, I resorted, eventually, to writing it myself. This little gem is from MacBlog Act II, Scene i.


Is this a blogger that I see before me,
The keyboard t'wards mine hands? Ah, now I click thee.
I posted thee, and yet I see thee still,
Art thou froze, lousy server? Not sensible
To mine heart's broken cries? Or is this but
A pausing at the node, a short delay?
Originating from the crowded cable?
I see thee yet, in form the same
As t'other window that I now do open.
Thou mock'st my labours of an hour ago,
And the environment I blog in.
Mine fingers drum upon the veneer'd desktop
But answer comes there none, I see thee still,
Thy circling logo saith "'Tis being published"
Yet 'tis not so, I trow. There's no such thing!
It is the fruit of hours that hath gone
From my account. Now o'er the ten long seconds,
My cable seems dead, and sitting here I start
To grind my teeth. Blog prevaricates,
Pale fists a-clenching, my angry murmurs,
Alaruming my good housemate, my good wife
Who watches my howls, who moves with stealthy pace,
With subtle, silent, snicker from out the room,
Off to the kitchen. Thou sure and firm-set modem,
Hear now my cries the way I whine for fear
Of losing what I've written yet not saved
And take the present horror of the lag
Between the click of "Publish" and the deed
Words to give life to blog and Atom feed.

A Computer beeps

The gods be thanked! 'Tis done, the screen informs me.
My keyboard screed is published, rat-a-tat,
And to the blogosphere I say: Take that!







08 January 2007

Variations on Video


I dislike nostalgia. That hideous and soul-warping desire for the things, people, and places of time gone by. Because it's not exactly that; is it, really?

It's about the potential we had, the things we think we would have done, the chances we would have taken, the mistakes we wouldn't have made.

While stumbling around looking for some entirely different stuff I ran into some old friends.

First we have the 80's combo Frozen Ghost. It's a little ditty about censorship.



I think that, were I sent back to live my life anew, I would make the same damn stupid mistakes I made in the first place.

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. And you can have it. This, though, may possibly be my favourite tune ever, so you can't have it, but I'll share.



As for me, when nostalgia looms I like to rock with it, as far as possible:



One of the best things about aging is that at some point you no longer give a $#!7 who notices you shaking your ass, for example at the kitchen sink.

One last look in The Box, and you can Carry On.



Except that that may not be nostalgia, quite, anymore. After a fifteen-year absence, The Box put out an album in 2005. It's only one original member, but Jean Marc Pisapia was probably the heart and soul of the original outfit anyway.

The new album is a concept piece that sounds a little like Yes, a little like Floyd, and entirely like something genuinely new. "So Beautiful", rumour has it, is a good track to listen to.







07 January 2007

An Army of the Dead?


This might more appropriately belong over at the Zombie Blog (Zombie BlogS--who knew?).

The US Army, desperate for more cannon fodd--sorry--recruits (possibly in advance of some anticipated surge in requirements?), has been sending out cheery little letters to ex-servicepeople saying, in essence "Iraq--See it again, for the first time!"

Unfortunately, some of the recipients of those letters enjoyed it so much that they're currently unavailable.

To paraphrase John Kerry: How do you ask a man to be the first man to rise from his grave for a mistake?

Sorry--for mistake, substitute goddam lie.







05 January 2007

How Come I'm Not Getting Any

work done today?



We have several of these at work. I know because the paper always seems to be running out.







Yes, But Are They Better Than One?


Via BoingBoing

A menagerie of mysterious mangled mammals--and some really rare reptiles. My personal favourite is probably the conjoined crocodiles--could be the fight of the century!

Creepy quote:
"Genetically, this is one of my better calves."

I wouldn't like to see his kneecaps.







Ancient Chinese Saying


When things get snaky, look for quake-y!







But the Sleaze Goes On


Not the money kind, but the signing statement kind.

George W. Bush, who claims the constitution is all the authority he needs, repeatedly undermines that document with his famous signing statements.

Signing statements, historically, exist to allow the president to clarify a law or express an opinion. Bush uses them to invent his own laws.

A lot. Like this one--and it's a doozy:

First he claimed he could record what you read at the library. Then he said he could tap your phone without cause or judicial interference.

Now he says he's allowed to read Americans' mail.

I'm glad I live in a constitutional monarchy. At least the Queen doesn't pretend she's allowed to read my love letters without reason or authorization.

How long before he applies this (lack of) principle to e-mail? Oops--too late.







Draining the Swamp, or Trough


For context, read the post below.

Some things this DEMOCRATS INCREASED SPENDING LAW will help to do:

Require lawmakers to disclose their personal interest in the piggish "earmarks" that have given the Bush administration some of its finest moments: like Alaska's Bridge to Nowhere. That lost its funding after Jon Stewart noticed it, but there are many, many others.

Though it's possibly coincidental, the law also provides a way to end Bush's "top-two-percent" tax cuts.

On the downside, the new rules may end up requiring that spending in one area be cut from another. Just what the Republicans have continually done to help fund The War Against Terrorism--except that they've traditionally done it on the backs of their grandchildren, who will actually have to pay for this stuff(ing).

However, new Democrat-proposed rules governing schmoozing with lobbyists were adopted by a 430-1 vote. So clearly the Republicans must feel they were utterly necessary (although you can guess who cast the single vote in favour of continued criminality).

Which begs the question: why did the "Values" party have to wait for such rules until they became the minority party?

They could have brought in these rules at any time in the past six years and avoided six years of sleaze, graft, and corruption that still cause Washington to smell like a fish-gutter's armpit. They could have avoided being liberally splattered with Jack Abramoff, "Frozen Assets" Jefferson, and all the rest.

So why now? My guess is it's the first time any of them have lifted their heads from the trough to check a clock.







Who Are ABC Working For?


ABC and Disney, we may recall, produced the unreality-based docufiction The Path to 9/11--Although what Clinton had to do with November 9th is beyond me.

It is also beyond me how this ABC article can start with this headline:
House Dems Move to Increase Spending

In fact, the article says that they're providing several ways to reduce it. You can tell this because the sub-headline reads:

House Democrats Push Proposal to Increase Spending Only With Cuts in Other Funding

In other words, headline: HOT!
Sub-headline: Cold.

ABC: "Fair and Balanced"?







04 January 2007

How Bad is It, Doc?


The Bush administration has tended to imitate, to a large extent, that which it claims to be fighting.

As the new legislative season opens, can America be brought back from the brink? Do the Democrats, bluntly, have the balls? Can they find the fortitude to make the changes that will surely anger 27 percent of Americans, who still admire George W. Bush & his unsavoury friends in spite of all the harm they've done?

Now some of you who grew up under the heavy hand of this administration may not know what I'm talking about, given the determined effort from the White House to convince you that the nation has always acted this way.

But you see, the Bush administration has made, particularly in the past five years, a huge number of changes to the national, political, and social landscape that have been seen before; In places like Italy (1922) and Germany (1933). Separately only a few of these changes might seem sinister, but taken all together they paint a picture more frightening than a 300-pound cellmate who wishes Anita Bryant would just butt out. And for similar reasons.

Read this and think deeply.

The question is: Can America be saved?

Give it to me straight, Doc. I can take it.







Where Canadians Dare


Why do I love the CBC?

1) It's actually independant and reflects the culture of the nation it serves rather better than any of its mostly US-content competitiors.

2) Despite Stephen Harper's complaints, the CBC reports the news factually, truthfully, and for the most part accurately. Not as well as the BBC, but almost. And a lot more accurately than, for eg. Fox.

3) Our comedies are funnier. Seinfeld? Friends? C'mon: an entire half-hour of wondering whether Ross/George is going to fess up that he has a major thing for Rachel/This Week's Guest Nobody.

Go buy and watch the first season of Made in Canada on DVD--in the US it goes by the name The Industry. I mean it. Go now, I'll wait.

...

Some exercises will help keep your sides from actually splitting in future. Just try to limit yourself to half an hour of Corner Gas per day, eh?

4) When we get them right, our dramas are dramatic, and inspire debate. For contrast, try The Road to 9/11, which inspired rage, or The Reagans, which inspired nausea.

5) Documentary? Second-to-none. Hell, we have a weekly show dedicated to them, both made in Canada and foreign.

And finally:


6) We create the shows no-one else on earth will touch with a ten-foot Pole (or Jew, or Saudi, or Quebecker ...)

Such a show is Little Mosque on the Prarie, which one assumes must star the Islamic equivalent of Michael Landon.

As the Carlo Rota points out, our main outside source of television entertainment is far too timid for this.







03 January 2007

They're All Heart


Or possibly some other organ.

Ontario Members of the Provincial Parliament, who voted themselves a 25% pay raise this year, have maggotnanimously decided that a rising tide floats all boats. Even those of the bottom ten percent of wage earners.

They do not, I notice, account for the fact that a rising tide often drowns those who are barely keeping their heads above water.

Prices have rocketed up with that "rising tide" over the past few years. According to the government's "LICO" or Low-Income Cut-Off figure, a single person in Canada lives at the poverty line if their income is $20,000 per year.

Which is screwy, because their figure for a family of three is about $23,000. So either a three-person family takes only $3,000 extra to look after all the needs of that extra adult PLUS any child of any age (and we might be more likely talking about daddy or mummy and two kids rather than the classic mummy-daddy-baby arrangement), or there are a lot of single welfare bums lounging around in the luxury of living on almost 90 percent of the amount it would take to support three people.

Given that it was politicians who invented the LICO idea, the conclusion is left to the Avid Fan.

At $8.00 an hour, eight hours a day, six days a week (hey we're talking about making a living here, not having a life), fifty weeks a year (that is, every day except statutory holidays) your pre-tax income would be $19,200. On the plus side, you probably wouldn't pay much in income tax--sales tax is another matter.

Of course, since your manager is paid in part based on his ability to keep you from working that fortieth hour and suddenly earning benefits, you probably actually work 4.9 days a week and earn closer to $15,800. No insurance, no dental plan, no nothin'.

Oh--you might work more hours per week, but the actual benefits you get are at the discretion of the company owner, and many don't actually pay overtime.

Fortunately medical care is free (for a given value of free--my home province charges for it). But don't get sick during work time. You can't afford to take the hours off.

The majority of people earning this figure in Ontario probably work in Toronto. I don't know what an apartment costs there, but in Vancouver it's $7200 a year for a rathole. Assuming you don't eat, that leaves you with $8,000 per year to spend on fripperies such as heat, hydro, hot water, telephone, and running a car (because I guarantee you no-one living on 16K a year lives right next door to their workplace). If you have to eat, you'd better hope there's a good bus service. Food adds at least $1440 per year (hope you like KD).

Of course, that family of three will doubtless be playing polo in the backyard, slurping mint juleps and wondering how to shelter that extra $3,000 in offshore investments.

Meanwhile, the top Canadian CEO's earned more than the average Canadian by January 3rd. $38,000 in three days. Hell, I'd probably take the rest of the day off and go scuba diving. In Hawaii.

Meanwhile politicians, "to bring them in line with federal members of parliament". That is--to correct a perceived economic disparity--got raises of around $22,000 a year.

As part of my Nude Yaw's Institutions I am trying to avoid using the word "bastards" on this blog.
It's so hard to stick to resolutions.