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

29 November 2007

Stupid-Ass Mascots

The mascots for Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics have been revealed, and what a load they are.

Now doubtless you are asking yourself, as were millions of Vancouverites and other BCers yesterday: "WTF are those supposed to be?" Whoever designed these is out of their teeny tiny mind.

First there's the look. Critics are already referring to the furry four (yes, four) as "Pokemon Lite". The first question people normally ask when confronted with them is "WTF are those supposed to be?"

Then there's the actual animal/creature/thingies they represent. Now you'd think that after the debacle of stealing an Inuit inukshuk (below) to represent the games in the first place, they'd be smart enough to stay away from native symbols.

The tundra-dwelling inukshuk is regionally inappropriate: gravely out of place in the coastal rainforests. When the symbol was unveiled, one could hear Innu elders quietly murmuring in inuktut: "WTF is that supposed to be?" Well, one actually couldn't, 'cos, you see, they live up in the north, not in British Columbia.

But nooooo. The thinking that powers the 2010 Winter Olympics can be summed up this way: If you repeat stupid often enough it'll turn into smart.

So here we have, according to the 2010 site,

Sumi: an animal with the wings of the Thunderbird and the legs of the black bear, wearing an orca hat. He's the paralympic mascot. If I were a paralympian, I might be suing someone about now.

Quatchi: "A shy sasquatch." Although I'd say relative to other sasquatches, he's a sodding publicity hound. I mean, how many goateed sasquatch have you seen prancing about at gala openings lately?

Miga: The spirit of the Sea Bear, part orca, part Kermode bear. See also: "football bat."

Oh, and their sidekick: Mukmuk, the only real animal in the group. He's a Vancouver Island marmot, which makes him one of about 200 surviving Vancouver Island marmots in the world. Presumably the reigning liberal government is quietly stating their intention to make sure he too becomes imaginary ere long.

Whatever godforsaken design firm came up with these things? Maybe the same idiots who brought London this abortion.

Mme Metro also points out that when you have to stop and explain WTF those things are to everybody every time they get trotted out, it's not an indication that you're doing something right. As an example of how to do it, consider the Olympic mascots of the Sydney 2000 games. Ollie, Syd, and Millie (referencing the Olympics in Sydney at the Millenium) There was a fourth, a frilled lizard named Lizzie, but she dropped out quietly shortly after the launch:

They're intuitive: We get that they're Aussie. The Vancouver mascots could be from Tokyo, for all anyone knows.

Look, if we're going to have Japanese-looking mascots for the Olympics, there's alread one which is much more appropriate: He's called Unko, or some such. I couldn't find an image, which is probably a good thing. Because he's a turd. Yep, that's right. He's a golden turd with sneakers, and wherever he goes he brings money.

Which in my opinion makes him a fine mascot for the Vancouver 2010 games.

28 November 2007

Just 'Cos Raincoaster Mentioned It

A workplace safety video from the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

I write about this stuff. In fact, I describe my job as "Sifting through the news to find stories of people whose last words were 'Oh $#17!'." This is my daily life. Wonder why RC thought I might be jealous?

Watch "The Chef" over at tentacle central, and check out "Family Man" (despite what the title on that page says) here.

Wednesday Hair Metal Videos

Featured artist: Karen Lynn Greening, formerly of Bellville, Ontario, and the original Metal Queen.
The thing I think I always liked most about her was how much fun she had doing this stuff. This is no-brakes, perilously-poppy, classic hair metal.

Second hit: Listen to that voice. Whiskey and velvet, high peaks and seductive lows. Mmmm.

I'd post "Hands On," and Nightriders but I need room for a couple of others here. This next one was probably her last real charted hit, and an important message. I find it a bit too much pop, but watch this one, and again: she's having a hell of a lot of fun with it.

I got to wondering where she'd gotten to, lately, and here's where: She moved to jazztown. Metal's loss is jazz's gain, I suppose. Yet I still find it vaguely disconcerting to hear the Metal Queen doing "Why Don't You Do Right? ... which is not the video below.

In a related and most appropriate vein, Mme Metro last saw Lee Aaron on stage in 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade, lying on a table, nude, bellowing out a song whose main refrain was "£µ©λ me, £µ©λ me!"

YouTube, sadly, seems to be missing this little item.

27 November 2007

Quote of the Day #55

Crazy Bill O'Donahue has been working himself into a frenzy over The Golden Compass. Speaking for his organization, the Catholic League, Bill has been crapping on the Golden Compass film for "overtly atheistic and anti-Christian" tendencies.

Author Phillip Pullman's reply:
"I am a story teller. [ ... ] If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon."
In Canada, the Compass is not without controversy. A Catholic school board in Ontario ripped the book from school library shelves; presumably alerted to the soul-destroying screed by someone on Bill O'D's spam victim list.

However, there's a problem. Due to a quirk of our founding Confederation, Catholic schools in Ontario are publicly funded (So, I believe, are Protestant schools in Quebec, but I haven't done any research on that, so don't quote me, O Avid Fan).

So by what right do they commit this act of censorship with their public money?

Well actually, I loosely (o so very loosely) agree with the course the school board has taken, if they're sincere. They say that Pullman himself is welcome in their libraries, that the books in question (of the His Dark Materials trilogy) will be available to kiddies upon request (don't like this--children fear the school librarian, and may be unable to suffer her purse-mouthed disapproval as the price of free inquiry, but still ...), and are not banned, merely "under review" (which I hope means "kept under wraps until Bill O'Donahue either quits bloviating or gets his rabies shot).

Because publicly-funded or not, these are Catholic schools, with an overt mission of encouraging good little boys and girls not to shed the conditioning forced on them by well-intentioned parents. It is their right to censor and blinker their kids in any way they wish. The minds will only be a little stunted, and they will have been properly taught to fear inquiry and the unknown, and to subordinate rational inquiry to dogma, right? Which is the mandate of yeshivas, madrassas, Catholic schools and the like all over the world.

Well, actually, I don't think so.

I always admired the Jesuits' insistence on rational faith. Admittedly this may in many cases simply amount to the teaching of mental circus tricks to enable the mind to perform the contortions necessary to support belief under any conditions. But they do earnestly try to get kids to think; a task more difficult in this day and age, when our putative leaders have decided they prefer their voters passive and sleepy at the polling booths and occasionally motivated by outrage.

But the Jesuits reasoned, rightly, that faith unquestioned, unchallenged, is worthless. The school board in this case needs to keep that in mind. Is the faith of a child so weak that it cannot survive a book? If this is the case, where are the millions of children of Jews, Muslims, and atheists who saw C.S. Lewis' thinly-veiled Christian gospel tale? Are they rushing in to convert to Christianity?

And there may be a positive net effect: More children reading. Like most things, books become more interesting when banned. I suspect a number of kids will read The Golden Compass for this reason. And many of them will say: "What the hell was all that fuss about?" And more importantly: "Why was this forbidden us?"

I doubt I would ever have read "Catcher in the Rye" had I not known it had been banned. My school kept it on open shelves. And "To Kill a Mockingbird"--another banned book--was required reading.

What the Church and school board really fear is that they may come up with the right answers.

Myself, I feel religious schools of any type shouldn't be getting secular tax dollars anymore, especially in this day and age, but that's just me.

26 November 2007

The Central Issues of Guydom #15: Home Improvement

This isn't a fancy video. It's pretty straightforward. Four guys sitting around discussing home improvements and yardwork. No subliminal messages here, no siree Bob. Nope, none.

And I suppose this is the real difference between North American blue-collar humour and that from the Old Sod. Witness:

My favourite line here, I think, is Chapman's beautifully timed "... Luxury!"

22 November 2007

Word of the Day That You Never Wanted to Know: Bezoar

Well, word of the very early morning, anyway.

From CNN comes the story of a woman who reported to gastric specialists reporting a five-month history of pain, nausea, vomiting, and a 40-pound (20 kg) weight loss.

Metro's first thought: Five months? If I get pain, vomiting and nausea for five hours then I'm probably off to the quack's.

After a scan of the woman's abdomen showed a large mass, doctors lowered a scope through her esophagus.

It revealed "a large bezoar occluding nearly the entire stomach," wrote Drs. Ronald M. Levy and Srinadh Komanduri, gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

This, O Avid Fans, is a bezoar:

And just what would the 10-lb (5 kg) mass above actually be?

Yup. It is indeed a hairball.

So how does ten pounds of human hair end up in a human stomach? The unfortunate woman suffered from our second Word of the Day That You Never Wanted to Know: tricophagia.

No, it's not a "thing" for eating wiper blades. But close. Sufferers eat great quantities of their own hair.

As you may have guessed from the picture, the physical issue was corrected with surgery. The mental issue seems to have sorted itself out.

Pictures above stolen from CNN and I can haz cheezburger.

21 November 2007

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a co-worker yesterday. We were grumbling about certain esoteric aspects of the workplace (such as my uber-republican boss' insistence on celebrating US Thanksgiving with a big bash, while ignoring the Canadian celebration).

And it came to pass that I brought up the silence we maintain about compensation.

"In my old job, my boss actively told us not to talk about our salaries. And the amazing thing was how many people refused to; out of fear that somehow the boss would find out and ... and what? Who knows?

"My natural contrarian reaction was to share mine with anyone at all. But usually the people I was talking to edged away at the very mention of the word "pay".

"But here, there's no rule about it, and people keep silent anyway. I mean, there's nothing to stop us exchanging salaries ... Sooooo ... ?"

Long silence

Co-worker: "Uh, yeah."

What is this strange avoidance of discussing our paycheques? How has this been inculated in the workforce? It doesn't work for the worker--consider the fact that women are, fifty years into the womens' rights movement, still paid about 80% of what their male colleagues make for the same work. But I bet the corporate CEOs like it a lot when their minions and serfs don't discuss the reasons why a serf makes 10% less than a minion.

This linked in my mind to an article I spotted last weekend.

The scientists trained brown capuchin monkeys to perform a task in return for a reward. Most of the time, the monkeys were awarded slices of cucumber, which they like. But once in a while, the researchers would award a random monkey with a grape, which capuchins love.
The response was dramatic, the researchers said.

"We were looking for a very objective reaction and we got one. They typically refused the task they were set," Sarah Brosnan said.
"The other half of the time they would complete the task but wouldn't take the reward. That is a highly unusual behaviour.

"Sometimes they ignored the reward, sometimes they took it and threw it down," she added.

They never blamed their partner, say researchers.
The researchers were not surprised that the monkeys showed a sense of fairness, but they were taken aback that they would turn down an otherwise acceptable reward.

"They never showed a reaction against their partner, they never blamed them," Sarah Brosnan said.
Researchers conclude that the monkeys displayed a highly-developed sense of justice.

I have concluded that corporate CEOs are smarter than monkeys. And not as nice, as grotesquely demonstrated by the sickening disparity in executive pay versus the pay received by workers.

Anyone know of any companies run by capuchin CEOs? I thought not.

20 November 2007

And if Secular Democracies Are Going to be Taken Seriously

We need to stop seeing headlines like this:

Airport baggage screener suspended over long skirt

TORONTO - An observant Muslim woman has been suspended without pay from her job screening passengers and baggage at Toronto's Pearson International Airport since August over an extra 12 inches of navy blue fabric added to the skirt of her uniform out of religious conviction.

There's a bit more to it. Theoretically it's a violation of the uniform. And the woman worked five years in trousers without an issue.

But, come on--she added 12 inches to her skirt.

Had she decided to add a turban, a kippah, or a hijab, there wouldn't have been one word said.

So what the hell is the big damn deal?

"It's important to stress the importance of the uniform and uniformity. The reason it was rolled out was to have a credible and professional corporate identity," spokeswoman Anna-Karina Tabunar said. "We're treating it not just as an issue of a new skirt, we're treating it as a broader issue, a policy issue, and as such CATSA has to gather all the facts to evaluate the different aspects of the request and the impact it's going to have on CATSA's uniform and uniform policy."

Sounds like an awful lot of words to explain why it's necessary to suspend this woman without pay while that evaluation is going on.

19 November 2007

Quote of the Day (And Yet Somehow I Feel as Though There Ought to Be Two More)

"Threesomes are undoubtedly the new 'Holy Grail' of sex," says Vicki Vantoch, author of The Threesome Handbook: A Practical Guide To Sleeping With Three (Thunder's Mouth Press). "Most people have either had a three-way or thought about it. Yes, even women. A recent ABC poll ranked threesomes as the most popular fantasy in America." (Outside of America, of course, the most popular fantasy begins with at least one engine falling off of Air Force One.)

From Savage Love

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16 November 2007

CBC is Loaded Today

A few things you could check out while you're over at the CBC looking at the article linked below.

If you had a trillion dollars (US), what could you buy besides the deaths of some 600,000 people?

Scientists create robot cockroaches that join cockroach society and influence group decision-making processes. However the experiment had to be terminated when the robots began taking over the discussion threads at Little Green Footballs.

Hoover-mouthed dinosaur profiled. Reports say the animal could barely lift its head above the trough. Sounds like a shoo-in for a slot in the Republican party.

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If Islamic Nations Want to Be Taken Seriously

Then we have to stop seeing headlines like this:

Saudi Court Punishes Rape Victim With 200 Lashes
In a ruling decried by Saudi lawyers as too severe, a court in the desert kingdom this week sentenced a female victim of gang rape to six months in prison and 200 lashes for being alone with a man who was not her relative.
Of course, the woman's crime was very great:
The woman's former boyfriend, who was not one of the rapists, was sitting alone with the woman when a group of seven men abducted them and raped them both. The woman was raped 14 times, according to reports.
The male victim got 90 lashes.

One can only hope that one day countries like this will pull their collective heads from the lower end of their GI tracts with a massive "pop" and join the 21st century.

Or at least the 17th.

There is nothing I can say here that could more sharply point out the stupidity.
Religion has outlived its usefulness. Running a political entity by religious diktat has been unuseful for centuries.

Primitive? It's not so much "Sic semper tyrannis" as "Sic semper tyrannosaurus".

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15 November 2007

Number 351 On the Vast and Expanding List of $#17 I Just Don't Get

So with my pay packet yesterday arrives a note. I paraphrase below, including all assumptions in italics:

Dear Flunky:
As you no doubt know, because you are privy to the finest details of the workings of Company Holdings Holding Company (Holdings) LLC your supplemental insurance package came up for renewal.

We successfully employed a monkey to negotiate on our behalf and as a result Your premiums have gone up by 33.3% percent.

Retroactive to last month. Therefore $100 will be reamed out of you and deducted from your cheque and flung to the floor of Great Big Life Insurance Corp, the executives of which will roll about in it with their secretaries.

Thank you for your committment to holding still and continuing to accept this sort of screwing-over and increasing the profits of both Company Holdings Holding Company (Holdings) LLC and Great Big Insurance, as well as ignoring this particular gouging and giving your work your fullest attention.

If you have any questions please feel free to £µ©λ off and die. Under no circumstances are you to contact Cheeky Brassneck, Human Resources and general exploitation.

Have a nice day.

Like many Canadian workplaces, my company "offers" a supplemental insurance package for all workers. What I totally fail to understand is:

1) As an idividual, I can get supplemental insurance for about $60 per month. Why was my company charging me twice that much?

2) Okay, so they're theoretically insuring a grab-bag of miscellaneous risk. Why then could my previous employer, who ran a heavy, sweaty, labour-intensive, slippery, dangerous shop that averaged a time-lost back injury about every three weeks minimum, provide me with better coverage for $60 per month?

While simultaneously paying my medical services payment (about $75 per month), yet! Which Holdings Corp doesn't.

3) Why is this gouging mandatory for all employees? Even those who are covered by other plans (as I am) must fork over a minimum to cover long-term disability. I don't actually begrudge the company that, but why is it mandatory?

And if $27 covers the LTD, what the hell is the other $40 covering? My life insurance payout on this plan is roughly 2/3 of my annual salary. I got that from the army for $10 a month!
Something stinks here.

Finally, 4) A 33% raise in rates? WTF? WHY? Is there one really sick bastard out there screwing up the curve? (And if so, will they drop the rates when he retires? Don't make me laugh--there's a longish wait time for a busted gut repair).

However, Mme Metro is having some fairly expensive expenses at the moment. Until they either fork over or deny the claim based on whatever reasonable grounds they can dream up (sunspots, the fall of Rome, the fact that they still don't yet have all our money ...), I'll smile while the fox gnaws.

I tell you, as soon as corporate interests get involved in health care in any capacity, someone's getting £µ©λed blind.

The way it seems to me, this adverserial relationship sets up a system under which, to get one's money's worth, one has to claim every possible penny from a system designed to stymie you at every step.

I would far rather put that $160 a month into my pension fund, or into the provicial health service ... or lottery tickets.

13 November 2007

In Not-Unrelated Dry-Weather News

Georgians (the USian kind, not the Russian kind), are being urged to pray for rain.

The area has been ravaged by drought, so rather than say, enact drastic conservation measures last summer, the governor figures the thing to do is hold a prayer meeting.

But it tells one something about the local political climate when the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution online includes the serious question: "Will it work?"

The best answer to which was a comment, thus:
They can pray all they want. If it doesn’t rain, then it’s god’s will. If it rains, then it’s God’s will. Can’t lose either way.

Unless you consider it desireable that people actually get water.

Compelling Reason to Legalize Drugs #224

So that anything this idiot says makes sense.

"[The Democratic Party's] majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card."

"This year alone, leaders in Congress are proposing to spend $22 billion more than my budget provides," the president said. "Some of them claim this is not really much of a difference and the scary part is that they seem to mean it."
--Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Were I a teenager with a new credit card, I'd be insulted. But wait, as Ron Popeil used to say, there's more ...

But what Mr. Bush didn't mention, and what he almost never mentions, is the National Debt. With good reason.

On the day he took office, the National Debt stood at this unfathomable number:


In fiscal shorthand, that's $5.7 trillion dollars. Trillion with a "T." Six and a half years later, the Bureau of Public Debt tells us the National Debt clocks in at a staggering:


That's $8.8 trillion – an increase of $3.1 trillion dollars since January 20, 2001. And that amounts to a jump of 54% during Mr. Bush's watch.

If you wanted to pay it off, dividing it equally among the U.S. population (estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be 302,103,675), it would come to $29,245.82 for every man, woman and child.

So it's not really hard to understand why Mr. Bush almost never mentions it. The National Debt has gone up more on his watch than under any other president.

That means it took the Federal Government 225 years to accrue $5.5 trillion in debt under 42 U.S. presidents. But under President Bush alone, it has soared another 35.2%.

And the National Debt is not just a big number, it's an expensive one. This year alone, it costs taxpayers $247.3 billion in interest payments.

It hardly gives the president bragging rights about fiscal discipline.
--Via CBS

Truly "a waste of skin and rations", as I used to say in my old federal job. There is not one noble thing about him. Let him pass quickly through the bowels of history and into some appropriate oubliette.

08 November 2007

Now to Reclaim My Throne

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

--Arrived at by grace of the FSM and the mad but well-beloved Charles VI of France.

And if Mr. Bush refuses to hand over, I'll give him a whack with the flat of that sword I keep stuck in a boulder out back ...

06 November 2007

My Old Childhood Nightmare Made Porcelain

It's like that dream from my ancient Catholic-school days ... Even now I carry some strong feelings about plaid skirts and knee socks.

(Dunno why I mentioned that really ... that's not from Catholic school. My Catholic school didn't have uniforms)

Not the one about the singing fish chasing me through a field of lobster tails ...

Not the one about my sister's school friend in the laundry cupboard ... Although if you find a picture of that one, pass it on, eh?

This one:

I'd love to tell you where I spotted that originally, but I've forgotten. I apologise to whoever I owe the link to.

Oh, and there's a lot more where that came from.

05 November 2007

Workaday Humour

So I'm at work today, and I'm doing a wee bit of internet research. For reasons connected with stuttering fingers I mis-typed a set of search terms into Google Images. I won't reproduce the entry 'cos the pervs already know it, I'm sure. But it involved several terms, two of which were "rope" and "hitch". Only for the "h" mis-type a "b".

I search with the brakes off, no filters, content blockers, and Google SafeSearch "off". I'm a grownup. Most times the "adult" content I'm looking for is perhaps gory, but news-related.

So suddenly my workspace monitor fills up with images of mostly women, mostly blonde, in varying degrees of bondage. I'm cool with that. And I actually suspect my boss would be too, but let's try and keep things safe for work, right? I mean, my office is shared space.

But I click on one site ... just a peek. Why? Well because I found the image interesting and wanted to look okay? This isn't a Republican convention, I don't feel the need to say "Oh, I accidentally went and looked at that there porny pitcher." I deliberately clicked onto a porn site. At work. Sue me.

But the page gave me a great laugh. On the right-hand sidebar was a small button labelled "Quick, the boss is coming!".

Clearly I am not the first productively employed visitor to the site.

I click it, out of interest. And here is the page it sends me to.

This is why people really fear artists. Because they have a sense of humour. Even pornographers. Possibly, in view of what they sell, especially pornographers.

03 November 2007

Let 'Em Swing!

Commander of Canada Stephen Harper has decided that the Canadian government will not fight for the rights of Canadians convicted of crimes in the US.

Most particularly he has decided that Canada's (NEW! Improved! Green!) Government will not fight capital-penalty cases. That is, if a Canadian is sentenced to death in that beknighted land, Harper says "let 'em hang".

Once again, the thin veneer of civilization splits across Harper's face, and we see the neo-conservative skull beneath the skin.

Notwithstanding wrongful convictions, errors in evidence, the proven determination of lawpersons to get a conviction in spite of the truth, and questions about whether the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, Harper is all for it.

No civilized nation in the world clings to the death penalty. Even most US citizens don't support it. But Harper'd like nothing better than to reintroduce it here.

A commenter at the CBC article on this sneered that "lefties" or "Liberals" (does he mean the Liberal Party, I wonder, or is the commenter so Americanized that he can no longer recognize subtleties of political position?) will "use" this to "demonize" Harper and accuse him of harbouring some "secret agenda".

I say again: Harper's agenda is everything but secret. He wants us to be uptighter, unhappier, more servile to corporate interests, more indebted, and more like the United States of America in every possible way.

Showing support for a barbaric, ineffective, and outmoded form of criminal punishment is just one way of leading us there. Harper claims that government appeals for sentences like life imprisonment send "the wrong message". To whom, Steve? To the Canadian citizens you have an obligation to? Or is it that you feel your obligations lie further south?

First victim is Ronald Smith, sentenced to death in Montana for a double homicide. Without commenting on his guilt or innocence, I'd like to point out that suddenly ending all consular support for a different sentence has, if you'll forgive an apt metaphor, kicked the stool clean out from under Smith, leaving him to twist in the wind.

But more importantly--what happens to the next Mahar Arar? The next Zhara Kazemi?

Will the Harper government try to weasel out of its consular responsibilities to citizens arrested in China for supporting democratic reform?

Or are only our special friends allowed to kill Canadian citizens with impunity?