Metroblog

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

29 May 2008

Quotes of the Day #309 and 226

There's really not much difference between a leg man and a lack-of-leg man--well, except this: The more common a fetish is, the less likely we are to regard it as one.
From last week's Savage Love

And from this week's:
Masturbation allows you to have orgasms free of any performance anxiety--After all, only schizophrenics experience performance anxiety when they jerk it.
Truly words to live by.

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Random, Wonderful, Thoughtful, Sexy Writing.

From the blog Smart Girls Who Do it. There's a lot of good writing at that site, if you're into that sort of thing. But what caught Metro's eye was the post entitled "The girl in the mirror," with its assertion that:
The girl in the mirror is not me.
I feel it's a worthwhile read. About presumption, surface, undercurrents, and so much more of that which makes us who we are.

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Another Two for the No-Fly List, and an Argument Against Private Health Care

In Canada, we sometimes take the position that cultural criticism is off-limits, that because something is "traditional" it should be venerated.

Mean-spirited idiocy, though, is ripe for some serious slamming. So I don't feel bad about calling these two a couple of bass-akward idiots:
A couple who travelled to India for IVF treatment dumped their newborn twins at a British hospital when they found out they were girls.
But wait ... there's more.
Reports said the mother, 59, and father, 72, travelled to India for fertility treatment that would not have been allowed in Britain because of their age.
So grandpa dad and grandma mum purchased treatment from a private hospital (because sense never stood in the way of profit nohow), but then ditched the kids?

Why? Didn't they at least keep the receipt?

But wait. There's even more.
The newspaper says the husband then asked medics how long it would be before his wife was fit enough to fly back to India for more IVF treatment in the hope of getting a boy.
Well there's a simple cure: Suspend their passports. Assuming only, of course, that criminal charges cannot be brought.

Actually, I'd rather see these two made responsible. Not for the care of kids they obviously have no compunctions about abandoning, but for the costs of having the governent have to pick up the tab.

Of course they're probably pensioners, so the government could just withold the Giro. Still, for people concerned about their futures it would have some impact.

On another note--these people may simply be taking the "humane" way out. One wonders how many girls born to parents of similar tastes simply disappear each year.

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28 May 2008

Lead Exposure Limits--A Magic Bullet for Criminal Behaviour?

This story seems to have been rushed to the wires rather prematurely.

I sourced it from Bloomberg, but you can find it on a myriad of other sites, with the same breathless headlines: "Lead Link Found to Criminal Behaviour," or similar.

The story says a recent study found a link between early lead exposure and criminal behaviour. This isn't necessarily what the scientists involved appear to be saying, from the actual quotes.

Metro ain't no kinda scientist, but he can read print:
Dietrich and his colleagues began the research by recruiting pregnant women in inner-city Cincinnati from 1979- 1984. The researchers measured the lead in the blood of the women during pregnancy and of their children throughout their youth.

[snip]

Most of the families lived in rental housing or public housing projects where lead paint often flaked off the walls, joining the dust on the floor.
So wouldn't the headline more properly read "Inner-City Youth Who Grow Up In Social Housing More Likely to Commit Crime: Study"?

Perhaps then it wouldn't be a story.

To be fair, the study suggests that some of the brain structures whose development is retarded are those that control impulse.

But impulse control is a problem for all social strata. It's just that middle-class folks can usually buy that thing they suddenly have an impulse to acquire. Kids who grow up in the projects may not have that option.

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23 May 2008

Metroroomies

Okay, so Metro has some friends--don't look like that, of course he does. Now said friends through a combintation of bad judgement and bad luck became abruptly homeless a couple of months ago.

Now he-friend, let's call him Nom, is heavily in debt. Like, going-into-bankruptcy-looks-like-the-only-option debt. She-friend, call her Jet, is earning a ridiculously low wage flogging footwear at a local schoppingplatz.

So you'd think they would have long since adopted habits of frugality.

In their short stay in the Metrobasement, they have manged to come to personify every FSM-would-rather-you-didn'ted negative aspect of North American energy use.

The Metrohome has never had a problem supplying Mme and I with hot water. Jet takes a bath every morning, and I've learned not to do dishes while that's happening.

They have brought into our home another computer and a giant-screen plasma TV. I have been down in the basement and seen one of them using the computer as the TV lectures the empty sofa not ten feet away. It is a rare day that only the computer is left running. I have never seen both devices shut off at the same time.

Lights ... all the friggin' time. I went downstairs to get something one night and found every light in the main area on, despite the fact that Jet was at her job and Nom was at his, and they would be gone for at least eight hours.

One Monday after Nom's kids had visited, I went downstairs to the room they share when they're here. The laundry room lights were on, as were the bedroom lights. And to cap it all, a string of Christmas lights was gleaming brightly on the wall.

Yesterday Nom went to the place where Jet works in the evenings. He was intending to stay there until she left, six hours later.

He took his car.

She had taken her car.

Her workplace is roughly 1.8 km from the house.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the thinking that's going to have to change. And we have a choice.

We can:
a) Change it now, while there's still a fair bit of oil and energy kicking around.

The net effect will hopefully be to slow the rise in fuel prices. Knock-on benefits will include lower pollution and carbon emissions. As we continually improve our energy performance, we'll also reduce our oil dependency.

b) Change it because we're forced to as we hit Peak Oil and begin to see the first few wars (and I'm talking blood and bullets, not prices) that will be the result of us insisting on maintaining our current consumption patterns in the face of the facts.

The net effects will be horrid. We're talking famines. We're talking infrastructure failures. We're talking water supply failures and all that jazz.

In fact, we're probably talking about guys with guns and spiked shoulder pads hijacking fuel tankers. Hell, we've had that since long before gas cracked $3.80 a gallon US.

And so much of it could be avoided if I could persuade them to just turn off a couple of dammned light bulbs!

Well, maybe a few million other folks too. But you have to start small.

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20 May 2008

May They Live Long and Prosper

Sorry, couldn't resist after reading this.

It also reminds me of another popular phrase: "What God hath joined, let no man put asunder."

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Feeling Pretty Damn Good Today, Overall

It's raining here in Hometown. I still haven't gotten the garden fenced, however I bought a 1/2 litre of wolf/coyote/cougar urine to keep the deer off.

I do have one minor gripe lately. It's about the price of gasoline. Simply put, I'm sick of hearing people whining about it.

{rant}
Most particularly, I'm sick of hearing the following people whine about it:

1) The dude with the enormous Dodge pickup that never carries more than his skinny ass to and from work. Substitute your favourite vehicle and other person. If it's travelling empty, or nearly so, you're wasting fuel in anything with a motor bigger than 1.8 litres.

2) Anyone in real estate development. You people made possible the growth of enormous subdivisions without a single grocery within walking distance.

3) The girl at work who shamefacedly admitted last week after complaining about $1.35-a-litre gas that she drives to work from a house that's roughly 800 walking metres away, but twice that distance by road.

And lastly:
4,5, and 6) The @$$#013 who was at the Canadian Tire gas bar last week bitching about the price to the harried worker at the till (who presumably didn't actually set the price personally) while holding three bottles of water he was purchasing from the cooler.

If you're willing to drink bottled municipal tapwater, which you can get for pennies, and pay more than the price of gasoline for it, then you should simply STFU.

{/rant}

Otherwise, things are pretty peachy. My roomates are finally making money, so hopefully we can start charging them rent soon (more on them perhaps later).

I'm on schedule to finish my plywood duck racer in time for the race. The hull was built by a friend, and last year I trained her in sailing it. She went off to the Big Smoke and so left it with me. As she was an enthusiastic but not excessively skilled carpenter, I am essentially patching all the holes. This meant tearing the bottom off. I've stiffened the hull and will be painting it inside this week. Then I'll glue the new bottom onto it, seal all seams with glue and paint the exterior. I'm also adding a larger sail and trying for a jib sail on the front of her.

I've been looking into fuel injection for my dirty little Yamaha U7 scooter. It looks like a relatively simple business if I can find an electronic injector of the right sort. The bike's a two-stroke, so I can save about 25 percent of my fuel if the project is successful.

The garden is shooting up green stuff, which I think is generally good. Now if we can weed out what's a weed, she'll be right. Though I do observe that last year's potatoes have gone feral--there seems to be one rogue potato plant in every row.

The sunflowers amuse me--they look like tiny little Atlases rising into space holding the remnants of their shells above them on their slowly-separating leaves.

And finally, the rain held off long enough for me to get some yard work done and work on the boat. Now it's pouring down and I'm indoors at work.

I should really go and do some.

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18 May 2008

Portrait of People Just Not Getting It

My country seems to be full of ... idiots. I hate to say it, but how else can one interpret the situation?

I mean, we read that Liberal leader Stephane Dion has actually shown leadership by calling for a carbon tax, and people treat it as though he's proposed monthly public sacrifices of randomly-chosen maidens to Baal.

Part of the problem has been the media spin on this, starting with mis-calling this a "tax." Using that word makes it sound as though he's going to add to the mountain of taxes people pay on fuel already, which he ain't.

So as a public surface let's go through this again for the slow of thinking (none of them will read this, because while they can work a computer well enough to post semi-literate comments at CTV, I strongly doubt any of them is interested in reading past their outrage).

1) Stephane Dion is not proposing anything that will make gas prices rise at any greater rate than they are currently.

2) In fact he's simply proposing to reallocate tax monies that are already included in the price of gas.

3) Furthermore, he's going to drop income taxes. That's right--you'll be paying for cleaner air and still getting more money into your pocket.

This message brought to you by Metro, who's sick and tired of reading the "I got mine, buddy. Hands off!" comments on this article.

For the record: If he follows through on this promise and doesn't manage to screw up too terribly, I'll vote for him. But good god he's gotta improve his PR.







16 May 2008

Could He Be Any More Vile?

George W. Bush was busy sucking up to the Knesset yesterday when he happened to accuse future president Barack Obama of appeasing terrorism, unfavourably comparing him with Chamberlain at Munich.

How is Mr. Obama going to do this? By talking to Iran and Syria. Talking to them.

The House Formerly Known as White later denied Bush was taking potshots at anyone at all.

In the course of his neo-con fantasy speech, Bush said that those who would kill civillians for political gain were @$$#013s, or words to that effect.

I quite agree, Mr Bush.

In my current regime-change fantasy, Dick Cheney takes the Shrub out hunting and then keels over from a liquid-helium-pump attack.

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14 May 2008

German Archeologists Looking for the Lost Ark of the Covenant

This cannot be good news. Especially with Indy busy with crystal meth or whatever it is.

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George Bush, Feminist Icon

Say WHUT?

Well Dahlia Lithwick thinks so, by Hilary Clinton's criteria.

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Romeo, Romeo, Where the Heck Have You Been, Romeo?

Retired General Romeo Dallaire takes a stand on Omar Khadr.
"You're either with the law or not with the law. My position is that the minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against the fundamentals of those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all."
Now this isn't just some retired sinecure politician talkin' atcha here. This is the author of Shake Hands With the Devil, Canada's hero in Rwanda and a witness to genocide, torture, and the corruption and conscription of child soldiers. If anyone knows these topics, it's Romeo Dallaire.

Khadr, surviving scion of Canada's most famous (but not only, nor first) terrorist family, was fifteen when he became the sole survivor of a compound raid in which Seargant Christopher Speer was killed. Khadr is accused of throwing the grenade that killed him. However, there are many, many problems with the prosecution. For starters, Khadr had been shot at least twice before throwing the grenade. Not that it's impossible, but members of the raiding party testified that they could see his internal organs through his wounds, which suggests he might have had a hard time pulling a pin and tossing the weapon. Also, Khadr was initially charged with the murder when it appeared as though he was the only living being in the compound, which has since been called into question.

That, of course, is to argue the case on the facts. On the legalities, the US case looks like an even worse sham. Khadr was fifteen. That makes him a child in all civilized jurisdictions, and under the UN conventions on the rights of the child and child soldiers (to which Canada is signatory), he is a child soldier. Had he been killing Somalis or Rwandans, he'd be in rehabilitation right now. Instead, he was held and possibly tortured at Gitmo. He's 21 now, and I suspect he's so degraded and institutionalized that he'll never be normal. Thanks to Gitmo "justice".

Canada has thus far sat on its hands with regard to Khadr. But our legal obligations under the United Nations, and under our own Criminal Code, not to mention military law, are clear.

From a justice standpoint, Gitmo is a kangaroo court. The few trials that will be held are as rigged as Nelson's fleet. Even people who are part of the apparatus are beginning to revolt in prostest:
The Supreme Court, then, is hardly the only thing standing between the president and kangaroo convictions at Guantanamo. The truth is that the best thing the commissions have going for them right now are the lawyers and judges in uniform who have, albeit reluctantly, refused to play along. If they'd been out on the battlefield, they'd have killed any detainee they met as an enemy. But they're not willing to see them killed in the wake of a sham trial. That's not because they value the lives of terrorists over the lives of Americans or because they value legal formalism over the exigencies of war. It's because they come out of a long military tradition of legal integrity and independence. And much as it must pain them, this precludes them from being yes men for the Bush administration at the expense of the rule of law.
From Slate.

Ironically, the same illegal torture the Bushies have so fervently embraced is making it impossible to put actual terrorists (note "terrorists", not "enemy combatants"--merely fighting the US doesn't make you a terrorist, even if you come from a long line of them) on trial.

Why don't they just shut Gitmo and the black prison network down, already? They could house the eighty people that they intend to charge (out of 775 initially confined in Gitmo and an unknown number in the black prison system) in any of the Supermax prisons (considered cruel and unusual punishment just about everywhere else) that they've built to house their own people.

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08 May 2008

Via Jesus' General ... and Just in Time for Mother's Day

Only on the internet could we have ever seen the phrases seen here:

  • I started thinking about how so many people make the mistake of buying inappropriate lingerie for their mothers.

  • Because it turns out there's appropriate lingerie to buy Mum, apparently.

  • Do not buy crotch-less or peek-a-boo numbers.

  • I feel the above remark wins the "Image-I-Beg-You-to-Stab-Me-in-the-Frontal-Lobe-With-an-Icepick-to-Remove" award.

  • So please, the next time you think of purchasing lingerie for your mother, think tactfully ...


  • O, I promise, I will.

    And no. There is no such thing as "appropriate lingerie" to buy one's own mother. Cotton pajamas are sleepwear. A dressing gown is loungewear. Anyone buying mum actual lingerie is automatically entered in the grand Norman Bates/Oedipus Rex sweepstakes.

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    Being for the Benefit of Mr. G.Eagle: Aussie Beaver!



    No-one cannot say I don't listen (not to say "pander") to the demands of my loyal army of Avid Fans (both of them). Besides, it's appropriate. Science has apparently unravelled several platypi (I have a mental vision of a pile of yarn and a rubbery bill) to examine their DNA. Given the gentle discussions M. EagLe and I have had on evolution, I know he's interested.

    However, platypi are also great fun: Witness this one, risking his life to bring water to Chasmton.







    Mr. Dion Has an Idea!

    Wow--Dion has a plan. Who knew?

    He'd lost my vote entirely until now, mostly for his uncompromising stand on the New! Conservative Government of Canada (TM)' s feel-good legislation and Reform immigration policies (or is that immigration Reform policies?). Said stand consisting mostly of bending over and yelling "Thank you Mr. Harper! May I have another?!"

    Finally he's showing some guts.

    Briefly, he'd cut income taxes (yay!) while jiggering an already-existing federal tax across fuels (including home heating fuels--a critical and possibly election-blowing issue in a country whose average winter temperature is "brrr"). From the article:
    The Mintz model would shift the federal fuel excise tax to a broad-based carbon tax, which would raise about $17-billion.

    “It's a lot of money and you can cut corporate and personal taxes about 8 to 10 per cent,” Prof. Mintz said.
    So fuel taxes won't go up, but income taxes will drop? Hell yeah! This is exactly what I've been crying for for ages, as my Avid Fans (both) know only all too well. Heck, it's almost like Dion's been reading my blog

    ...

    Saaaay ... Have I ever mentioned my proposal for free beer and massages from the Maxim girls for all taxpayers?

    If he clarifies what the tax dollars will actually be used for, and follows through, I'll back him on this.

    And so should conservative economists. After all, if you want to curb bad habits with market forces, then a consumption tax is the way to go, right? And if you want to improve people's lives, you drop their income taxes, thus giving them more money to spend in the first place.

    Of course Mr. Harper's a conservative economist, in theory. So he would know that ... Of course that'd raise the question of why he cut the GST, thus encouraging Canadians to spend, rather than income taxes where it would have benefited all.

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    05 May 2008

    Multiple Pussy Picture

    humorous pictures
    more cat pictures







    02 May 2008

    Liars, Damn Liars, Statistics, and Delusions

    The National Post has its points occasionally. Canada's right-est wing-est rag actually does journalism, much of the time. I read it to try and get a sense of how Canada's Reform Party supporters (oh, sorry--they're called the Conservatives nowadays) will try and frame things.

    The problem is the spin. And the column from Terence Corcoran in today's NP spins so hard it could eliminate two or three coal-fired power plants, could we but hook it up.
    Canada doesn't need any political parties to generate economic conflict. We've got Statistics Canada. You want class warfare? Here's what StatsCan said yesterday about income distribution: Between 1980 and 2005, "Earnings ... rose for those at the top of the earnings distribution, stagnated for those in the middle and declined for those at the bottom."
    Let's wade in teh crazy up to our armpits, shall we? I'd like to confine myself to a couple of quotes:
    Nobody would argue that Canada is perfect, that all boats are lifted by a rising tide, and that nobody is left behind in poverty or less-than-ideal conditions. But this StatsCan report is actually a strong reflection of an economy that has lifted all boats that could be lifted.
    That is: "Rising tides don't lift all boats, only they do." Corcoran is not specific about whose boats could not be lifted.
    In the run-and-grab business of news, it's easy to scoop up the hot nuggets of class-war gold. Earnings of top 20% jump 16.4% in 25 years. Bottom 20% see earnings drop 20%. Over the past quarter century, the number of people earning $100,000 doubled. Restage Les Miserables!
    Ah, I see. Presumably he means the bottom 20% of wage earners (they're lousy boat-builders).
    The problem is that StatsCan buried the news. In one case, it actually omitted a core table that shows that Canadians in all income classes have gained over the past 25 years.

    [...]

    But the StatsCan report doesn't break the family income data into high-and low-income segments. So I asked a StatsCan official for the numbers, and what they show is that -- to use the ideological vernacular -- the poor are getting richer. In 1980, the lowest 20% of families had income of $21,134. By 2005, the lowest group earned $24,379, for a gain of $3,245 or 15%. The top income-earning group had median income of $116,000 in 1980, rising to $143,000 in 2005, for a gain of 23%
    .
    Wow--sounds pretty damn good doesn't it. We still don't know whose boats could not be lifted, but is that important when the rising tide is lifting all the others?

    Corcoran is claiming that Statistics Canada is lying outright. That as the bottom 20% dropped 20% off their wages, they were, to use the ideological vernacular, getting richer!

    But like many people writing in the NP, Corcoran is forgetting a few things. First: The gap between rich and poor rose. Rich folks make $30,000 more per year than in 1980, poor folks $3,000. But since he feels this is a non-issue, let's press on.

    Canadian workers got $53 in raises on average over the entire 25-year period. Via Bloomberg:
    Canadian workers earned an average C$53 ($52) more in 2005 than in 1980, barely enough for an extra coffee a week, even as the economy grew by about 50 percent during the same period, according to census data.
    I haven't the skill to figure in the effects of inflation. But Bloomberg did:
    Median earnings for full-time employees -- before taxes and accounting for inflation -- edged up to C$41,401 a year in 2005 from C$41,348 in 1980, the agency said.


    So let me confine myself to restating Corcoran's thesis more succinctly:

    "A rising tide lifts all yachts."

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    01 May 2008

    Sportspersonship

    From Oregon Live:
    Mallory Holtman is the greatest softball player in Central Washington history. Normally when the conference's all-time home run leader steps up to the plate, Pam Knox and other conference coaches grimace.

    But on senior day, the first baseman volunteered a simple, selfless solution to her opponents' dilemma.
    What that dilemma was, and what her solution was, you should read for yourself, here.

    And a tip of the helmet to Jesus' General, through whom I found the story.

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