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

25 February 2009

They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships ...

I have, so far as I know, little naval heritage. At least no more so than any other descendant of an island nation. However, I do love the water, and what Ratty referred to as "simply messing about in boats."

As a writer, I seek to connect to my passions, and to help others see the beauty in them. And in search of a lead line for what I hope may be a profitable little article, I went to Google the phrase forming the title of this post.

Which brought me to Evan Izer. I'll let his site speak for itself.

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24 February 2009

Somewhere Out There is a Tripe-Head With a Sense of Humour

Someone subscribed Metro to the American Family Association and Onenewsnow email newsletters.

The AFA is the pearl-clutching, pants-wetting bunch who are terrified that Pepsi is "promoting" teh gay. They're so afraid of the word "gay" that a while back a headline referring to track athlete Tyson Gay was autocorrected to read "Homosexual Eases into 100 Final ..."

Onenewsnow (portending some rather better news later, one assumes) is their mouthpiece, self-described as a "Conservative" news agency. However, in this context "Conservative" is spelt "Christian."

I also got a personal begging letter from Donald Wildmon, the crazy man who leads the AFA.

It's a shame they aren't paper publications instead of electro-spam. When it comes to toilet roll I prefer to cut out the middleperson.

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Those Hilarious Racist @$$#013s

From the CBC's "Citizen Bytes" page, an account of a conversation with an Austrian cab-driver in Toronto, entitled "On Being Mistaken ..." well I'll let you read the punchline at the site. Here's a snippet:
I proceeded to explore the notion of Toronto being over-run by visible minorities with my Austrian cab driver. "The problem," he maintains, "is that all these immigrants and refugees come from third world countries and they don't like whites. They don't do business with whites, they don't speak our language (remember, he's Austrian), and they bring their ways with them."

At this point I offered the man an out, suggesting, "Do you think the government needs to play a bigger role in helping integrate new immigrants into the social fabric of Canada (whatever that might be) or matching their immigration policy to niche requirements in Canada to avoid these clashes?"

He cut me off to say, "Absolutely not. There's no need for any of that nonsense when you have perfectly good white people in Eastern Europe waiting to come to Canada who already share the same culture."
My take: Send those bloody Austrians back where they came from!

Coming over here, stealing our governorships ... mutter, mutter, grumble ...

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18 February 2009

Stop, It Mr. Harper ... You're Killing Me!

So you're a Prime Minister in a resource-dependant, toruism-heavy country with massive natural beauty. Your people are vaguely concerned about the environment, in a well-intentioned but fuzzy way. Your main constituency, though, regards climate change as a "socialist plot."

You vilified your last opponents' green plans as "A tax on everything," and have generally shown the sort of enlightened outlook on the environment that the cat is showing to my furniture (Piss on it).

So what do you do when you realize that even your friends hated your budget, that your credibility is shot, your woefully inadequate leadership skills exposed, and that, actually, people dislike you intensely and just elected you to hold the spot until the Liberals could clean house?

What, in particular do you do as your numbers fade once again into the minority territory reserved for your ideological predecessors?

That's right: Go green. People like green.

Oh, and of course: Blame someone else.

Harper used to begin all bad news speeches and press announcements with "The previous Liberal government," and follow through with the blame game. He gave it up after about two years.

So now he has a new line:

"The previous Republican government ..."

That's right. Now that his ideological twin has gotten the boot, Harper's saying that he now feels free to enact environmental regulation that bad ol' George the Lesser was holding in check:
Barack Obama's presidency is ushering in a new era of North American co-operation against climate change after George W. Bush's inaction held back Canada's ability to tackle greenhouse-gas emissions, Stephen Harper says.
Is anyone supposed to believe this load of manure? George W. Bush was the guy who, you recall, pushed for voluntary emissions limits. He called it a "cap and trade" scheme, but it meant that companies essentially could pollute pretty much at will, and reams of reports from the US Deaprtment of the Interior, EPA, and other agencies concur.

Harper's plan to fight pollution? A "cap-and-trade" system designed to allow all industries to pollute more, net, if the amount of pollution per item produced dropped.

Does Harper really think we're this stupid? I'm seriously insulted here. If I had more than one vote to cast for someone else, I'd do it.

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12 February 2009

(Sings) Happy Monkey to You, Happy Monkey to You ...

It's Darwin Day! Old Charlie would have been two hundred years old today. One wonders what he'd be saying were he still alive today.

Possibly "Why is it so dark in here?" Or "Why am I in this box?"

I was directed to this item via Pharyngula. However, it looks better in its native environment, which is Seed. Make sure to watch it all. The beginning is wondrous, but all the really exciting stuff is packed into the last few parti-seconds.

However, Darwin's birthday is a time to reflect upon how far we've come; and how far we have yet to go. From the Wall Street Journal (which I hardly ever read since the Murdoch acquisition):
It would make sense to try to predict the actions of the multitudes by assuming that each individual would act in the interest of his (or her) own selfish genes.
In reality, we often don't. [. . .] At the micro-level, we'll drive across town to save $25 on a $100 microwave, but not to save the same $25 on a $1,000 flat-screen TV, showing both that we are blind to the cost of our own labor, and confused about the fact that money is an absolute rather than relative commodity.

The average American watches three to four hours of television a day, which does nothing for our "reproductive fitness" or even for our happiness [. . .] We procrastinate on important projects until we have too little time to complete them properly ...
Um, just realized I have to finish a project that was due yesterday ... Seriously, go read that editorial.

Ah, just had to add. There's one glaring error in that editorial:
We allow consumers access to credit cards, for example, because we assume (despite ample evidence to the contrary) that they will be smart enough to balance their short-term needs as consumers with their long-term capacity to maintain a fiscally sensible reality.
No. Credit-card companies push credit cards on consumers precisely because of the mountain of evidence to the contrary. It's one reason barter and lay-away are making comebacks.

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10 February 2009

The Truth Will Out. Oh Wait, No It Won't

'No aspect of responsible government is more fundamental than having the trust of citizens. Canadians' faith in the institutions and practices of government has been eroded. This new government trusts in the Canadian people, and its goal is that Canadians will once again trust in their government. It is time for accountability.'
~Speech from the Throne, 2006

The Conservative Party of Canada, in Stephen Harper's name, has dropped its lawsuit against the Liberal Party.

The main issue of the suit was that the Liberals accused Harper of knowing of an attempt to bribe dying Member of Parliament Chuck Cadman prior to a vote of confidence that could have seen Harper's first minority tumble. They have a tape, given to writer Tom Zytaruk, that indicates Harper knew and approved of the bribe attempt.

One can see this a few different ways:
1) The parties decided the issues weren't sufficiently important to warrant a long, drawn-out legal slugfest.
Cheah, right. This is Harper we're talking about, the boy-man who, when it looked like he might lose his minority on the floor of Parliament, decided to #^$% over the whole country by shutting Parliament down. No way he'd take his teeth out of a Liberal Party leg without ripping it off and beating someone with it.
2) The Liberal party made some kind of back-room deal with Harper to prevent a tampered tape from seeing the light of day.
This is the favoured theory of most Tory supporters and Albertans (sorry, I repeated myself there).

However, it usefully neglects the fact that Harper's own expert testified that the important bits of the tape--the ones in which Harper admits to bribing a dying cancer patient--were genuine (though a later part of the tape which is not under discussion may have been added later).

So we come to theory 3)
Harper ditched the suit to hide his involvement.
And this is the theory that fits the pattern best. Canada's most secretive PM has a history of shutting down Parliaments: the first time he called an election to prevent the Parliamentary Comittees from dragging the veil of secrecy off of his doings, the second time was just a few weeks ago--when it looked as though he might lose his minority government for being the extraordinarily mean and petty person he is. The rule seems to be that if it'll make the Refor--sorry, the Allia--sorry, the Conservative Party look bad, shut it down! He fired Canada's nuclear watchdog for those reasons. He got rid of the Science Advisor for that reason (and replaced him with a panel of industry wonks) ... the list goes on.

Harper is a noteably mean and petty man. And I'd worry about him suing me for writing that, except that there's one thing he dislikes more than Canada. That's the truth.

It is no coinkydink that Mr H. dumped the suit when a hearing was coming up which probably would have forced His Harpiness to disclose his notes for and from the meeting, and probably included Chuck Cadman's own journals as well.

Apparently Harper feels that this would not have been in his best interests. And now we'll never know.

That's our Refor--sorry I mean Allia--sorry, Conservative Party of Canada, Open, honest, and accountable*.

*Subject to availability of openness, honesty, accountability. Offer not valid when any of those three principles might make the Conservative Party of Canada look like a bunch of unprincipled right-wing $#17s.

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08 February 2009

From the Department of Misleading Headlines #23

The Associated Press is usually a pretty reliable outfit. When you read a headline like "Record Gas Prices," you'll find a story about record gas prices.

But today we find the following:
On Darwin's 200th, a theory still in controversy

And yet, nowhere in the subsequent story is there a mention of any current controversy.

There is, of course, an excellent reason for this: Darwin's Theory of Evolution is not, in fact, in controversy. It is as disputable as the Theory of Gravity.

The story does mention the rather sad outfit, "Answers in Genesis," which outright ignores science to promote an exclusively creationist worldview. But that's not controversy. Controversy is when someone with a good reputation and solid academic credentials appropriate to the field under discussion say "A-hem ... there seems to be some problem here: The facts don't fit your theory."

Controversy is not when people jam their fingers in their ears and scream "Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah ... I can't hear you!" Which is what AIG and the horrid and dishonest Discovery Institute (whose mandate rather runs away from discovery) are doing.

Let's be clear: Darwin's Theory of Evolution has nothing to say about a) How life began or b) Whether there's actually a god (although it's definitely another nail in the coffin).

It IS supported by the observable facts. Most interestingly by the continuing research into genetics--a wondrous field that Darwin couldn't even have conceived of when he first took ship on his five-year mission to boldly go where no-one (with quite so many clothes) had gone before.

So: To the AP--you need another headline writer. And for all of us celebrating Darwin's birthday, here's a program from the CBC's terrific Quirks and Quarks, celebrating his work.

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05 February 2009

What a Difference a President Makes

From the Doonesbury website's "Say What?" segment:
"I screwed up."
-- Barack Obama, February 3, 2009

"I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it... I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet... You know I... I hope I... I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't... You just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."
-- George W. Bush, August 13, 2004, when asked if he'd made any mistakes since September 11, 2001
I wish we had an Obama here. Instead, we have the Conservative Party of Canada who cling to the worst failures of their philosophy even as their incompetence makes headlines.

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03 February 2009

Who Loves Baby Dolls?

No, not that sort. Don't you lot ever think of anything else? A comment to this post at Celebrating the Absurd got me thinking.

In the dim, distant Metropast I lived in a small town, more a teeny tiny suburb, only not quite, where we actually had a village toy shop. The local paper was interviewing the owner at the height of both the popularity of Cabbage Patch Kids and that of teen pregnancy in our area.

The owner of the toy shop was explaining that his primary clientelle was grandparents. Silver-haired ladies and gentlemen thronged the shop on their way to visit various grandkids. A popular gift for girls was a dolly.

But he was quite specific: They wanted cute little-girl dollies, the ones that look like they're about five. Pink dresses were popular, as were blonde curls, smiles, and bright white teeth.

The article mentioned that at the end of the line was something called, if memory serves "Your Real Baby".

The "Your Real Baby," like the Cabbage Patch Kids, came with a birth certificate, and like the CPKs, you had a choice of ethnicity rarely seen in the adorable-little-girly doll market. But there the similarities ended. While the CPKs all looked like the hydrocephalic, button-eyed little morons they still resemble today, YRB looked 100% real. It was wrinkled. It was either bald or covered in that fluff real babies sometimes arrive wearing. It had a freshly-cut umbilicus with band-aid, and a diaper with the (then-new) half-moon cut from it to accomodate said umbilicus.

It had on its face the expression babies usually have: The purse-lipped, scrunch-eyed malevolent glare of someone who's figured out that YOU are responsible for tipping it out of its comfortable liquid home and introducing it to the cold, cruel, world and is going to make you PAY once it gets the lungs and vocal chords in synch.

The article quoted the toy shop owner as lamenting that while pink-dressed little-girl dolls flew from the shelves, no grandparents seemed eager to offer their offsprings' offspringers the experience of holding a genuine, real-looking baby.

Although I'm sure they chuckled and cooed enough when the respective grandkids were also pinkish/yellowish/brownish and squidgy.

I've always remembered that article, and what it suggested about the reaction of humans to the real world.

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