Metroblog

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

31 December 2009

Happy New Year

Well the 00s were, to quote Garry Trudeau on the 70s, "a kidney stone of a decade." I'm glad they're gone, and I hope that the 10s will be better.

I was going to tot up some of the best-and-worst of the decade, but I'm sure it's been covered by better people, and who wants to hear me go off on Bush the Lesser again? Personally, I don't.

What I really want is to wish you and yours every good thing this next year and decade.

What I really want of the next year, and the decade to come, is that it be better.

Goodnight, and good luck to us in 2010.

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30 December 2009

Constitutional Monarchy: The Stephen Harper Edition

I'm not even dully surprised at the grotesque wankery of Canada's Conservative Government.

We don't have "democracy" the way the rest of the world has it. Our head of state is the Queen of England, our Senate is appointed, not elected. At one time Mr. S. Harper made much of this, promising an elected one, which I personally don't want for reasons I've mentioned here before. He also has expressed a dislike for the monarchy.

A year ago, threatened by a move to establish a coalition government that would have represented the 60-odd-percent of Canadians who are currently shut out of Bushland North, Stephen Harper, demonstrating a quick-change in principles ummatched except in every other thing he's done, ran for the umbrella of the monarchy he previously deplored.

He asked the Governor-General to protect his failed government by shutting down, or "proroguing" Parliament for three months. And for no known reason she acceeded.

At the time, his excuse was that Parliament wasn't functioning. Which it wasn't, because he'd ordered his winged monkeys not to co-operate when working on Parliamentary committees.

This year, he ordered his people to do this again, especially in regard to the Afghan detainee investigation. He's in contempt of Parliament, and should be under indictment for such.

Now the news says that he's asking the GG to prorogue again.

The only thing worse, if she once again bends Canadian democracy over the table for him, will be the conservative wankersphere orgasming all over itself at Harper's "statesmanship."

Is it any wonder that half the electorate stayed home last election?

I hope the GG tells him to go ₤µ©λ himself with a rasp.

Pre-publication update: The CBC reports that the PMO is announcing proroguement has been achieved.

If there were a god I'd ask him/her/it to damn these lousy bastards to hell. As it is, I'm stopping just short of expressing a public wish for a competent assassin. Let me be clear: I don't actually want Harper assassinated. But I do think about wishing for it.

What democracy remained in this country just died.

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24 December 2009

Merry Christmas, That Is All

Just wishing compliments of the season to all those who randomly stumble across this blog, whether you came here intentionally or are simply fascinated as you might be by a really interesting traffic accident, like say a clown car piling into a school bus, pushing it out into the runway into the path of a 747 which sheers away at the last minute but clips a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer and carrying an obese elf ...

Anyway. I wish you a merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate, and a happy New Year.







18 December 2009

This Is News? #94

Caribou Barbie has blackened her running mate's name.

Uh, didn't she do that pretty much as soon she joined the campaign? Not that he wasn't making a fine job of it on his own, but he needed someone to ensure that there was something in his platform for crazy, gun-loving, Bible-thumping, white people who weren't male, too.

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15 December 2009

Do You Think the National Post Could Use an Editor?

Canada's National Post, whose "Full Comment" section would make fine budgie-cage liner did it but exist in print, has been allowed by a bankruptcy court to shuffle under a different corporate umbrella and has thus survived the death of its parent.

Oddly, this has not improved the quality of its content, save that John Baglow has apparently decided he enjoys bear-baiting sufficiently to allow the NP to reuse his blog posts. I believe he feels this will promote discussion.

While I must admit the comments there are considably smarter than the NP average, I feel this is because the standard is improved by the presence of actual thinking commenters, not common elsewhere. Witness the savaging John Moore, the sole critical thinker writing in the NP until Baglow came along, receives on this post.

However, they've clearly cut back on actual editors and actual journalism. The wrong is tremendous and the irony could shoe a racetrack.

First, the Senate didn't "weaken" the bill. They affirmed the rights of individuals. I'm personally in favour of Bill C-6 because it'll trounce some of the woo-practitioners unless they can prove that their bark, roots, herbs, or magic can actually DO something. But I never wanted inspectors to be able to raid homes without a warrant.

Secondly, a paper that staunchly defends the Federal Government's right to evade torture accusations claims that reaffirming the need for a warrant "weakens" legislation. It is to laugh, hollowly.

Third: Here's the accompanying picture.



This, on the other hand, is Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, an Inuk and one of the few Conservative Ministers I've had any respect at all for.

Clearly, all brown people DO in fact look alike to them.

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07 December 2009

A Wee Prediction About Copenhagen

The world will agree to a "framework" at Copenhagen. Maybe even sign an actual deal.

  • It will not be binding, with real penalties for failure to reduce emissions

  • It won't adress consumer-level pollution

  • It will be based on cap-and-trade, but will be watered down, with incentive-destroying loopholes for many nations


  • Here's Canada's loophole: The Conservative unnatural governing party claims it wants to penalize "polluters." To that end they have advanced cap-and-trade, to be imposed on industry rather than their fickle taxpaying electorate.

    There are two problems with that:
    First, if those financial penalties are imposed on companies, the cost of goods and services will simply rise by that much, plus a bit extra to reflect the cost of administering the new penalties, if any (whether the Conservatives are willing to slap on penalties with teeth remains to be seen, and I wouldn't hold your breath). In other words, the cash still comes out of the consumer's pocket.

    Secondly: As I mentioned below, we're not an industrial nation anymore. Companies in Canada account for about half the pollution we emit. The other half is mostly from our cars.

    There's a simple, market-based solution for this. However, it's not a Conservative-friendly solution. It's taxes.

    Yes, taxes. Those things Harper's now considering re-raising as we slither along the economic trench in the wake of his economic stewardship (which has heretofore been comparable to the stewardship of Joseph Hazelwood on the Exxon Valdez).

    It's simple: You tax crap that pollutes, and use the revenue to reduce the price of things that don't. Tax gasoline, pass the savings on to hydro or wind power. Tax heating oil, reduce the taxes on home heating gas. Increase incentives to buy energy-efficient appliances, drive cleaner cars, and build green buildings, decrease the incentives to buy SUVs, hang onto antique toasters, and live in poorly-insulated boxes.

    But our Conservative government can't go that route. Look at how they demonized Stephane Dion's "tax-on-everything."

    There's another solution of course: Elect someone else. Which I'm afraid is what we have to do ... if we can find someone else to vote for. Because the Opposition Liberals aren't making any noise about it, and the Bloc Quebecois doesn't care.

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    We Shouldn't Use the Term "Skeptic" For Climate Change Denialists

    When "moran" will do.

    I've been at a loss to explain the lemming-like rush to claim that the famed CRU e-mails show that climate change is all some sort of sham. Often the claims dribble out of the mouths of the same people who claim that Obama doesn't have a birth certificate.

    We have some thirty years' worth of stolen e-mails. From that thirty-year sample, a handful of idiots have repeatedly hammered away at two or three messages, none of which mean what the denialists claim they do.



    We have some fifty years' worth of research on climate change. It's real, it's happening, and there are extremely good reasons to be concerned. The impacts go from health to terrorism, and none of them are good.

    The morans are throwing sand into the cogs of machinery that wasn't spinning along smoothly to begin with and providing a distraction, with the willing silence of the Canadian Government, that will help water down any agreement that the more civilized bits of the world might make at Copenhagen.

    Hell, Canada's not even an industrial nation. Almost all our heavy industry, along with its pollutants and labour costs, has been offshored long ago. Yet we have some of the highest per-capita emission levels on the planet. Part of that, admittedly, is that we live in big houses in a cold climate and drive farther than anyone else on this continent.

    We only produce two percent of global emissions. But that's a lot for a country containing about half-a-percent of the global population. And we can do better with a few simple changes.

    Deniers scream that change costs money. Yet we're all too willing to pay for the privelege of polluting, so it seems. Ten years ago, gas was between fifty and seventy-five cents per litre. Now it's over a buck with the possible exception of Alberta (where low transportation costs almost make up for the incredible environmental scarring and other effects of the Tar Sands, if you squint your eyes just shut).

    I've come to the conclusion that deniers stand for one thing: The right to fight change. They don't want to sacrifice their two cars and opt for public transport. They don't want to trade incandescent bulbs for fluorescent or LED. They don't want to switch from coal-burning electricity to hydro or wind. They simply don't want to.

    They don't stand for science: The science, CRU emails included, clearly demonstrates the validity of the data and the conclusions therefrom. But morans refuse to accept this and instead stamp about, fingers in their ears, screaming "It's all a CONSPIRACY!" and "NO! NO! NO! NO!"

    Do you remember the last time "I don' WANNA!" worked as an argument for anything?

    Meanwhile, Arctic Sea ice is melting at a record rate (which Canada's New Greeneriffic Harper Conservative Government of Canada(tm) love because now we have an excuse to scrap with the Russians again), our snow-capped mountains are no damned good for skiing, and the lakes by my house haven't frozen to significant levels in decades.

    It's real, it's happening, we're watching it happen. And thanks to denialism and political fear, we're not even attempting to do anything useful about it yet.

    I'd like to believe Copenhagen will bring forth a real agreement with targets (not "intensity targets") and penalties for failing to acheive measurable successes. I'd like to believe that the Stephen Harper New Conservative Greenistic Government of Conservative Canada (tm) might actually try and live up to such an agreement, instead of letting it rot and then saying, "Well the Lib'ruls did it with Kyoto!"

    But I'm skeptical.

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    04 December 2009

    Out of the Memory Hole

    I just reread The Jungle Book. It's one of my favourites from Kipling, who is indisputably one of the finest tubercular authors to dribble ink on the page.

    And I was wondering, particulary what became of the video I once saw in about 1978 of the story of Kotik the White Seal.

    When out of the blue I hit YouTube looking for a video of the Beatles' Rocky Raccoon for reasons that would take too long to explain, and discovered the video below. I also discovered that it was by Chuck Jones, one of Mme's indubitable favourites. And so how could I not present it here?



    You'll find the rest at YouTube, natch.

    It has been my observation that people of my advanced years simply don't think in terms of YouTube. We say "I once saw ..." something. Whereas a younger person of my acquiantance often says "Hey, I saw this great thing last night ... Hang on while I look it up!"

    Nonetheless, here's the Chuch Jones version of Kotick, the White Seal:



    Other bits also on YT.
    The narrations are awesome: Orson Welles for the former and Roddy McDowell for the latter.

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    03 December 2009

    Gift For That Hard-to-Buy-For Raincoaster On Your List

    I personally won't be buying this. I mean, the Raincoaster I know isn't exactly hard to buy for. A bottle of gin, or cheap wine left over from last night's party with the ciggie butts seived out, or indeed the mouthwash you thought was such a bargain in the five-litre bottle, that's the sort of thing the type of Raincoaster we get around here usually appreciates.

    But if you know a fussier one, you could get them their very own copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters it's from those respectable people who brought you the disturbing and apparently soon-to-be-miniseries Pride and Prejudice and Zombies :
    Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities.
    "Biological monstrosities? Perhaps Raincoaster has even been written in?

    As with all the best book marketing efforts these days, this one comes with a video:


    I suspect that I will like the book better. I almost always do.

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    01 December 2009

    A Few Tweaks

    I've been away a lot lately. Scrabbling for work, mostly.

    Let's see, what's been happening. Well I've been spending a lot of time reading about the so-called "Climate-gate" scandal, and I've concluded that a handful of emails, even if they contained a plot that would make Dan Brown wet his shorts, don't in fact change thirty or fifty years of science, backed by the actual data.

    There's a lot more. But for some good reading on the subjects, I'd try Deltoid and DeSmogBlog. This is a debate where style has heretofore trumped science, and those two are trying hard to counter that.

    What else ... Oh yes, I've been sort of outed. I left a rude comment over at Canadian Cynic and one of the subjects took the two minutes it took to Google me. He says my name is Ted, and I'm willing to take his word on that. But I knew, and was warned by no less an intertubes big gun than Raincoaster, that no-one's really anonymous on the 'net. So it isn't as though I hadn't expected this to happen at some point.

    It'll be interesting to see whether the idea of having a name linked to this blog is likely to change the way I express myself. I hope not. Metro's the little bit of me that I keep locked away when someone's saying something that makes me want to grab their lapels, haul them up to my nose and scream "Are you ₤µ©λing NUTS!?"

    Such as when a pleasant, white-haired old lady tells me that Barack Obama is the devil, and means it ... So instead I smile and nod, and when I get home I write it down and try to dissect it.

    Anyway ... As you can see, I've updated the blogroll a bit to more accurately reflect where I've been spending my time. If the links look a little left-ish, well I'm hoping to find some reasonable writing from the other side of the spectrum. But it's often a matter of luck. For example, there's today's smart, sensible piece:

    At Dr. Dawg's Blawg, I stumbled across a link to this. I linked to Little Green Footballs once, and only once, way back in the prehistory of the ol' Metroblog. I didn't hang about because teh crazy seemed infectious. I forget how I got there, but the Nazi site Stormfront was involved. And no I'm not linking there.

    But now I find this post "Why I Parted Ways With the Right, and it so well traces my own retreat from Conservatism that I had to clip a few choice bits off and post them here:
    ...
    4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

    5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

    6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

    7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)
    ...
    There's more. I reccomend reading that piece.

    Partly as a result of hanging around at places that define the extremes of the argument, I'd been very dispirited and bitter lately about the quality of ideas out there. So it's nice to see that sometimes reason does, in fact, prevail.

    Meantime, I'm pleased to meet you.
    Now you know my name.

    Play me off, Mick and Keith!

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