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October 31, 2007

Making a bold statement

The King of Saudi Arabia visited Britain yesterday, and the guard of honour played an interesting musical selection to announce his arrival to meet the queen...

This is gonna be a fun story to watch...

The story of ex-Liberal Blair Wilson gets more interesting:

Former campaign manager Wood said the Elections Canada probe needs to find out how much spending was covered by cash and not included in the financial report filed by the Wilson campaign.

Wood said the Wilson campaign appeared to spend more money than she had budgeted for when she was manager during the campaign's early days.

She said she kept a tight rein on spending, but that was jettisoned once Wilson replaced her with Guillio Vilas, an outsider who few people in the riding association knew.

Wilson and Vilas became "joined at the hip," Wood said,and cash payments were often used to pay for services or supplies.

She recalled that Vilas appeared at her Sechelt home to pay her for wood she had purchased for campaign signs.

"He had this wad of hundred-dollar bills," Wood said.

"And he rolled off four one-hundred-dollar bills and left them on my dining room table."

Possessed by the spirit of Martha Stewart

Halloween is a spooky time. And nothing could be spookier than having your body controlled by a woman that makes simple things complicated, then claims they're 'Simple'. I spent hours on Max's costume, and paid at least $20 in supplies. That eerie presence inside me -- I can't explain the feeling! I feel so used.

But it was worth it, I guess. No one could say he doesn't look exactly like what he asked for. A better furnace costume has never been made.

Mama had an easier time with Talia's costume. Fairy Princess hand-me-downs from a friend -- done! Next year I'm taking the easy route too. Over-sized Spiderman pajamas over a parka, plastic mask -- good! That's it, go get 'em, kid!

UPDATE: Aaugh! She's back! And she's making me get my power tools to work on the pumpkins. Pumpkins? More than one? No. Stop! Nooooo!

October 30, 2007

The News Business as usual

The tale of two Google News searches...

Headless AND bodies AND Iraq:

Headless AND bodies AND Iraq AND (denied OR untrue OR false OR incorrect):

The rest of the story...

Stuff & Things XXVI

  • I mentioned a month and a half ago that I was working on an Exciting New Priority. Well, I've spent a great deal of energy on it, but I'm putting it back on hold for now. It's a business idea -- and I do still think it would work -- but I haven't got the time, the connections, or the background knowledge required to get it off the ground. I've talked to many people, and some have been helpful, but I've also been quite discouraged by the numerous brick walls I've crashed into. Every advice book or coach would say, "Don't give up!" but it's just not the time right now. I'm still doing some research, but I'm toning down the intensity. I really don't understand how two-income families work, particularly with children my age. Maybe in the new year...
  • In other bad news, Darcey had his site hacked and his database deleted. I would have thought his host would have a backup, but it looks like he's starting from scratch. I can't imagine the frustration. I know there's some bad people out there, but anyone who could do something like this is just scum.
  • Let's hope Flaherty announces some real tax cuts beyond the GST cut and targeted credits. You've had almost two years now guys, start loosening the ropes!
  • Did I mention that Squeak came back? He did, after almost two weeks away from the house. No thanks to the Devil Dog. I'm sorry if anyone was still worried...
  • Jeffrey Simpson has written a column without using the term 'Harperites'. This is big news.
  • Deadwood season three from Amazon.com: US$68.99. From Amazon.ca (and everywhere else I've looked in Canada): CDN$ 99.98. You can try a little harder...
  • Is big oil responsible for the numerous spills that have polluted Ecuador? Nope, just socialism. Same as usual.
  • I've always thought that kiosks that could create the CD or DVD you wanted on the spot would be the ideal way to sell music and video. The elimination of complex inventory control and shipping would allow prices to be cut, and product selection would be vastly increased. Finally, someone is doing it, but... oh-oh, what's this:
    Rosenbaum added that the studios are not likely to discount the DVDs.
    Thanks guys. You really know how to earn our business.
  • Speaking of new business models, Amazon is now selling protection-free MP3 downloads of all their music at reasonable prices! I've been waiting my whole life for this! But, uh... oh. It's only available in the US. Nice.
  • I've installed yet another stoopid blogthing. I've joined MyBlogLog, which allows me to better track the comings and goings of visitors to this page. So long as they're registered with the service, that is. Like most of these social-networking things, its value is based on the number of members it has. So far, the only blog I know that's using it is the Blog Québecois. But now that I have doubled its presence in the Canadian blogosphere it can only become more popular.
  • You know that Liveleak hijacker I mentioned? I got an email from Liveleak asking more more info, even though I never notified them of what I saw in the first place. I told them what I know, but they never replied back. I'm guessing they have some awareness of the problem, but it's pretty rare. Google still has nothing on it (except my post). *Shrug*
  • Man, I've spent too much time on the net today. I better get out there and rake those leaves...

Massive carbon sequestering programs underway

It's no secret that our educational institutions are true believers in the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Starting in the first grade, students in much of the western world spend roughly equal amounts of time learning reading and writing, art, math, and watching An Inconvenient Truth. But apparently indoctrination of our youth isn't enough. The teachers are actually acting on their beliefs, and think they have a plan to save the world.

I have uncovered their plot, and must get the message out before they find out that I know. And here it is: by tirelessly keeping their students busy covering pieces of paper with paint, markers, crayons, and sparkle glue, they are using up massive amounts of carbon-based art materials. Since parents will never destroy the beautiful creations of their lovely, talented children, the carbon contained in those works -- which initially was pulled from the atmosphere by trees -- will be stored indefinitely and will never again reach the atmosphere. My evidence? I think this picture should put any doubts to rest:

This is the combined output of my two children after just one week of school!

The problem is that the teacher's plot is just one of many that are working towards the same goal. Governments around the world have implemented a similar sequestering program involving millions and millions of unread, handsomely bound reports from various commissions and committees. These store truly massive amounts of carbon on the bookshelves of government workers, university professors, and journalists. And National Geographic has had a long-running program that has tricked millions of people into storing great stacks of the magazine in their basements. That carbon alone has reduced the global temperature by 2.3 degrees C since the sixties. But there is no co-ordination between these schemes, and there is a good chance that they will go too far. These carbon sinks are growing geometrically and show no signs of slowing down. By the end of this century this world could be in an ice age. But it's no use trying to warn these groups. They just will not listen to reason.

You can do your part to save the world by burning your children's take-home artwork and any magazines that have been sitting around your house too long. That will liberate the trapped carbon dioxide and allow it to do it's job of keeping us warm. If you are a government worker, try to keep your unreadable government documents as PDF files on your hard drive. If you need to save some samples of your children's scribblings to remember their innocent days, technology is the answer. Our nifty new tablet computer, combined with the excellent free program Art Rage, allow Max and Talia to doodle to their heart's content, while being kind to our planet.

Don't forget the ponies, John

Down in the States, John Edwards has big plans:

Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina, says the federal government should underwrite universal pre-kindergarten, create matching savings accounts for low-income people, mandate a minimum wage of $9.50 and provide a million new Section 8 housing vouchers for the poor. He also pledged to start a government-funded public higher education program called "College for Everyone."
He is also claiming magical powers:
Like other Democrats, Edwards named his top three priorities as ending the war in Iraq, enacting universal health care and overhauling the American energy system. "Those are three things instantly I would do," he said.
So far he's said nothing about the ponies. But there's still many weeks of campaigning to go...

October 29, 2007

Hey Stéphane, I was just kidding!

When I mentioned a couple of days ago that opposing the GST might be a good policy for the Liberals, I didn't expect you to take me seriously:

For a political leader who has said he doesn't want an election, Stéphane Dion, the head of the Liberal Party, sounds like he's itching for a campaign battle when talking about Conservative plans to cut another point off the GST.

The Liberal Leader was in London, Ont., on Monday and delivered a rather harsh analysis about why cutting the GST by another point — as pledged in this month's Speech from the Throne — was a bad idea.

I mean, I agree with you Stéph: lowering corporate and income taxes are a better way to build the economy. But there's three reasons why opposing this cut is a bad strategy:
  • You have no credibility as a tax fighter. No one believes that you will follow through. I sure don't.
  • Opposing a very visible and annoying tax and offering corporate tax cuts instead isn't likely to win much support amongst people who aren't economists.
  • Praising corporate tax cuts! The biggest threat to your base right now is the NDP, and they are gonna use this to maximum effect.
But I don't want to discourage you Stéphane. If you want to try to re-invent yourself as the candidate for sensible economic policy, go for it! But you have a lot of work to do...

Will blog for clothing

A friend of ours in Montreal knit the Mistress of Chaos a sweater, but only would hand it over if a photo of the little girl wearing it appeared on this blog. I was not there, so I played no part in these negotiations; and unfortunately my wife readily agreed. Had I been there, I would have told her that the dedicated staff at Autonomous Source do not take requests, and we do not accept compensation for doing the bidding of others. The only exceptions have been for Tom Flanagan, the oil companies, Karl Rove, and the international Zionist lobby.

But my wife did agree, so here's the photo:

It is a nice sweater. But it's still much less than my usual rate. I'll have to talk to my wife...

The Go! Team - Grip Like a Vise

There's been too many whiny political posts on this blog for the past few days. Time for a filler post - and what could be better than a music video? The Go! Team are just another one of those cheer-leading/old-school hip-hop acts that crowd the music industry these days, but I like 'em. This song is from their second album, Proof of Youth, that came out last month. If you like it, check out this one from their first album.

Modern Diplomacy

In the Star today, former diplomat Harry Sterling has some advice for Stephen Harper on the delicate art of international relations:

Leaders of governments who confuse their own personal viewpoints with those of their countries' national interests can cause unwelcome and even dangerous consequences for their fellow countrymen.
In particular, Sterling feels Harper's stubborn insistence on meeting whomever he wants is very provocative and insensitive to our Chinese friends:
Harper will meet the Dalai Lama openly with the media in attendance. The forthcoming encounter has already been criticized by the Chinese authorities as interference in China's internal affairs.

Beijing's unhappiness with Harper's meeting the Dalai Lama is thus not unexpected. Nor is China's growing displeasure with the pro-Taiwan stance of many prominent members of Harper's Conservative party.

Although Members of Parliament have as much right as anyone else to be favourably disposed towards the Dalai Lama – or Taiwan for that matter – totally ignoring the possible negative trade fallout is another matter, especially since China is now Canada's fourth-largest export market.

As much as some would praise Harper for standing up for his principles in such cases, others see such actions as potentially undermining important national interests, a concern that even the Canadian business community has voiced in the past.

Certainly this is very good advice. Maintaining good relations with our trading partners should be the primary goal of our foreign policy. So what if the Chinese openly support the brutal regimes in Sudan, Myanmar, North Korea, and Zimbabwe? And so what if they're pretty brutal themselves? Requiring our Prime Minister to consult with an oppressive foreign government on what he can say or who he can meet with is a small price to pay to avoid any risk to the supply of merchandise for our dollar stores.

And Sterling has more advice:

The fact Harper has remained remarkably silent about the violation of international law and human rights covenants by the Bush administration – President George W. Bush countenancing practices considered torture – has only reinforced the view of those who regard his support for human rights and religious freedoms as highly selective. As well, Harper seems indifferent to the imprisonment at the notorious U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, of Canadian teenager Omar Khadr, incarcerated since July 2002 when he was captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan.
Wait... huh?

October 27, 2007

More insight from Jeffrey Simpson

Jeffrey Simpson has once again focused his keen mind on the Canadian political scene and revealed another completely obvious fact:

The GST cut is the triumph of base politics over sensible economics.

When the Harperites sat down to craft their last campaign document, they observed that the Liberals had in fact cut personal income taxes, but the public had not seen or appreciated those cuts. In fact, polls demonstrated that Canadians didn't even know their taxes had been reduced.

So the Harperites decided to give Canadians a tax cut they could see, feel and therefore appreciate at voting time; namely a reduction in the GST, whose creation by the Mulroney government had been attended with much political controversy.

Gosh. Politically motivated policy. Those Conservatives -- sorry, Harperites -- sure are devious.

In his zeal to roast those Harperites, Simpson makes a nice little logical error:

Lower consumption taxes stimulate more - wait for it - consumption, some of which leaks out of the economy in the form of purchasing imports and taking trips abroad.
A lower GST encourages leaving the country to shop?

Simpson argues that if there's a choice, it's better to focus on income and corporate taxes rather than the sales tax -- which may be true, but so what? Any tax cut is better than more taxes. Let's look at what he would have us do:

A sensible government - or sensible opposition parties - would not only scrap the forthcoming reduction but reinstitute the previously cut point, and then add another. The result would be about $15-billion additional dollars for the federal government.

Then, the government should follow the lead of Canada's best finance minister, Carole Taylor of British Columbia, who intends to levy a carbon tax to slow down the increase of greenhouse gas emissions and then reverse them.

I've heard there is a group known in some circles as the Dionistas who are woefully lacking in policy ideas. Perhaps they will be interested in Mr Simpson's wisdom.

October 26, 2007

Liveleak browser hijacker?

My wife just got a nifty-kewl new tablet computer courtesy of the Quebec taxpayers. It's loaded with muscular software to protect anyone from doing anything naughty with it. It's mostly for her office, but I managed to connect it to our home network. I had to install her mail program in her documents directory.

I was trying it out, reading a few blogs and news sites, when something odd happened at The London Fog. It started loading fine -- and then after a moment it started loading this Bulgarian Youtube clone. Hijacked! The browser was MS Explorer (of course) 6.0.2900, and the OS was XP tablet edition. After poking around a bit, I managed to find another couple of sites where it happened as well. The only thing these sites had in common was embedded Liveleak videos.

So far, I've found nothing on the web about this. It must be a very new thing because the silly site the hijacker flies the browser to was working last night, but now seems to have been brought down by all the traffic. What to do? I dunno. But I find it amusing that this brand new computer from the government -- stuffed with the latest expensive security software -- has been compromised on its first day on the internet, while I've surfed bareback with my regular computer for over a year have and haven't had so much as a sniffle.

On the other hand...

I've praised Flaherty's laissez-faire attitude towards the dollar discrepancy issue because it's the right approach. Change happens when people demand better; it's not up to the government.

And things are starting to change. The Collected Works bookstore in Ottawa is allowing their customers to pay the US price on items with both prices marked (hat tip: Kateland). I've never been there, but I'll have to take a look the next time I'm in the area. Dell.ca is now showing prices in line with their American parent. Companies that have been slow to adapt (like Chapters) have been deluged with complaints. Meetings are being held, buyers are being harangued, and slowly, slowly, more progress will happen.

But the government shouldn't be smug about this. Government is the main reason people in Canada pay more than Americans, and why we will continue to pay more, even after the currency fluctuations have been accounted for.

The Conservatives still stand by the policy of 'supply management' for many agricultural products -- controlling supply by allowing only so many 'rights' to produce, while preventing any imports -- which has the effect of driving prices up considerably. The ironic thing is that the supposed 'reason' for this scheme is to maintain a vibrant agricultural sector. But what it does is decrease new investment and innovation, block new entrants to the business, and lower yields and consumer consumption.

Government standards on many products effectively prevent imports or allow them only through licensed middlemen. A couple of days ago I read the story of a man who found all the appliances for his new house in the US at half the price of what they were selling for here. He thought he had a great deal: his warranties would still be honoured and after paying the duty he would still be far ahead. But then he was informed that because these new appliances were not CSA approved, he would not qualify for house insurance -- even though they were exactly the same make as what he could buy in Canada! I was never a fan on the EU merging their currencies, but I did think it was smart that they merged their various standards on all products, painful as it no doubt was. These standards often operate as de facto trade barriers, while offering governments indignant deniability. "Lower our standards? Would you risk the lives of your children to save a few dollars?"

The government also prevents competition in alcoholic products. Living near the border with Ontario, I have the luxury of choosing from two expensive and unresponsive monopolies (neither of which will carry Laphroaig) but other Canadians aren't that lucky. And in many other markets, such as mobile phones and banking, the government restricts the foreign competitors that would force the incumbants to lower prices.

But probably the biggest reason Canadians pay more is just the border. It takes a long time to cross, a long time to cross back, and long waiting periods before you can bring back anything that would make the trip worthwhile. If Flaherty really wants to see Canadian retailers get competitive, work to make the border crossings more streamlined, and eliminate all those restrictions on foreign purchases. Canadian businesses could adapt or die.

There's about as much chance of that happening as Elizabeth May becoming Prime Minister. In fact, I'll bet that the next 'mini-budget' to come out will offer compensation to those poor Canadian businesses that are losing money to customers going to the States. And you can expect border hassles to actually increase. That's how this country works; the consumer is the least important part of the economy.

October 24, 2007

Who could possibly think something like this could work?

If Mr. Flaherty is serious about stopping consumer gouging, spurring capital investment and attaining more balance in global markets, then he'll need much more than jawboning. He'll have to regulate retail margins to stop the current exchange-rate rip-off
The answer? Jim Stanford, economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union, who helpfully (though needlessly) points out:
I am a socialist
No kidding. Imagine a government department trying to monitor each transaction between two parties to determine if it is 'fair'. Imagine them trying to determine the 'real cost' of the simplest item while accounting for all the special discounts, extra services, and incentives that accompany many sales. Trying to create a 'carbon budget' would be simpler...

It's a real shame that the Globe and Mail has fallen to such low standards in who they let write for them. It's almost like they have no standards at all, really...

Okay, let me seriously answer Stanford's argument. The rising Canadian dollar has invisibly raised the prices on all goods and services in the country. Stanford believes that it's pointless to ask the evil, bloodsucking corporations to lower their prices, as Jim Flaherty has done, because, well... they're evil, bloodsucking corporations that only care about draining your pockets. That price rise is theirs, and they're going to keep it, and there's nothing any of you can do about it. [insert evil laugh here]

While I don't think they're evil, I do agree that companies would like to extract as much margin as they can in each transaction. That's the nature of business, and I think it's a good thing. But... those companies have competition. Consumers have choice, and they can look at price, and they can send a message to businesses that continue to overcharge. They don't have to shop there, and businesses that don't react to the changing currency situation will start to earn a bad reputation that will be very difficult to erase.

Of course, consumers will only be able to send this message if they're aware of what's happened themselves. There's been some grumbling for a little while, but the story hadn't made it into the mainstream. But Flaherty has now done that. What Stanford doesn't understand (beyond everything about economics) is that Flaherty was speaking to the consumers, not the retailers. He reminded them of their power and their role in the economy. People are talking about this issue. They will now be reevaluating their brand loyalties, and smart businesses will act quickly, as Walmart is already doing:

In a press release, the company said it has been negotiating with suppliers for more than a year to have wholesale prices better reflect the strengthening Canadian dollar.

"Canadians are not satisfied, Wal-Mart Canada is not satisfied, and negotiations continue," Mario Pilozzi, Wal-Mart Canada's president and CEO, said in the release.

"We are the agent for our customers, and will continue to work proactively with suppliers to negotiate lower prices. We are committed to turning our negotiations into many pleasant surprises for our customers between now and the New Year."

Leftists constantly want to take individual responsibilities away from people. I don't think it's really because they want the power for themselves -- though it is a nice bonus-- but because they think individuals are incapable of properly making decisions and are helpless at spurring change. Usually the powers they seek are minor, though they are numerous -- as the term 'creeping socialism' implies. But giving government the power to monitor and control consumer transactions would impose a totalitarian system almost instantly.

Vipers?

I thought I was destined to meet my end through killer bees. Nope. It's the viper pit for me.

But maybe Viper's are not always fatal...

October 22, 2007

Quote of the day

Hollywood’s goal is the same as the terrorists: to dishearten the American people so we pull out of Iraq. Al-Qaeda uses bombs. Thus far Hollywood’s used A Mighty Heart, In The Valley Of Elah, and Rendition. Which, as it turns out, are also bombs.
Dirty Harry at Libertas

Canada's retailers are helpless

I'm sure everybody has noticed that the prices Canadians pay for most goods are still significantly higher than what Americans pay. People are getting annoyed, and are starting to complain to the retailers. The federal Finance Minister is encouraging them, apparently because he holds some laughable belief in the power of markets and something called the supply/demand curve. But the retailers aren't buying this nonsense. They've come out to set the record straight.

They can't do anything. It's not their fault:

Diane Brisebois, president of the Retail Council of Canada, which represents 40,000 stores, said Monday her group called for the meeting to explain how prices are set.

"Although we appreciate that the minister wants to get involved, his so-called crusade is misdirected," Brisebois said, noting Flaherty should put pressure on the manufacturers to lower prices in Canada.

Brisebois said manufacturers are continuing to mark up prices in Canada by 20 to 50 per cent, and therefore retailers have little savings to pass on to the customer.

"The minister needs to put pressure on that community as he has done to retail," she said.

"He's not talked about the publishing industry; he's talked about booksellers. Well booksellers don't set the price. The publishing industry, the magazine industry, the car manufacturing industry — those are not retailers. Retailers are given a certain price, they have a markup and they sell the merchandise.

Isn't it crazy that a government minister could think that a group of only 40,000 retailers would have the leverage with their suppliers to get the same prices as the suppliers' other customers? Obviously, only the government could do that. This is Canada, after all.

October 20, 2007

A man of action

I should probably lay off of Stéphane Dion, but for some reason I can't stop watching. I can't help it; it's similar to the schadenfreude that urges people to keep up with what Britney is doing. Today, the Toronto Star printed what Dion claims would be in the throne speech, were Canadians not under the thumb of a bunch of theocratic, neocon, Bush-worshiping goons. I was falling asleep reading his sweet nothings -- just try to find one concrete proposal in the whole piece -- when my eyes ran across something that made me fall out of my chair:

Mentioning these obligations, however, is no substitute for delivering a plan that will actually help us meet them. It never is. That is what was so wrong about the Conservative throne speech: all talk, no action. That just isn't my style. I want to mobilize Canadians to tackle the challenges I just outlined.
Before you start leading us all off to the promised land, Stéphane, maybe you should see if you can get your party to follow you first.

October 19, 2007

Why do I do this?

Right now, a pear-shaped woman in stiletto heels and tight, low-cut jeans is battling a four-year old. He's screaming at the top of his lungs and trying to bite the woman, while she is screaming back at him at a slightly lower volume. Luckily, they are all of ten feet away from me, so most of their noise is lost in the deafening ambient sounds of the fluorescent chamber I'm imprisoned in.

Yes, I'm at the McDonald's playroom again, and my keyboard is getting greasy. The Mistress of Chaos is pulling apart her burger looking for her pickle, and Captain Destructo has just removed his socks -- in clear violation of the Playroom rules -- so he can more effectively climb the slides and cause a collision.

But it's pouring outside and they're having a great time. They've spontaneously merged with the other children into a giggling, marauding pack that is rushing through the playstructure, back and forth, up and down, sometimes attracting a new member, sometimes losing one to the grasping hand of a parent. All I can hear is squeaks and shrieks, thumping and laughter. With so much fun going on, I can count on them not eating much of their food. And that's a good thing.

Your Canadian Health Care System at work

Usually acute cases are dealt with well in the Canadian system. It's only the chronic cases that can be pushed onto waiting lists that are the problem. But acute care is starting to suffer too:

- Thursday Oct. 11, 11 p.m. -- Dany Bureau starts to feel pains in his stomach. He goes to sleep thinking he just has a stomach ache.

- Friday Oct. 12, 3 p.m. -- Since the pain has not gone away, Mr. Bureau and his mother go to the Wakefield hospital to have him checked out.

- At Wakefield's Gatineau Memorial hospital, a doctor determines that there is a problem with Mr. Bureau's appendix. Calls are made to hospitals in Hull, Gatineau, Maniwaki, Buckingham and Ottawa to find a surgeon. A surgeon cannot be found.

- 8:25 p.m. -- Robert Bureau, Dany's father, receives a call informing him that a surgeon is available at the Montreal General Hospital.

- 8:30 p.m. -- Mr. Bureau leaves his home in Aylmer for Montreal.

- 8:37 p.m. -- The ambulance leaves Wakefield hospital with Mr. Bureau.

- 10:45 p.m. -- Robert Bureau arrives at the Montreal General Hospital.

- Saturday, Oct. 13, 12:15 a.m. -- The ambulance with Dany Bureau arrives at the Montreal General Hospital after missing the Décarie exit and then mistakenly unloading him at the Montreal Children's Hospital. The surgeon who had been awaiting Dany Bureau's arrival has since become occupied with another trauma case.

- 9:50 p.m. -- Dany Bureau is taken in for surgery

- Oct. 14, 12:10 a.m. -- The surgeon who operated on Dany Bureau tells his father that his appendix had burst and that he had developed peritonitis. As a result, he is hospitalized for several days so his recovery can be monitored.

But I heard that the government has a 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, and they're already three tenths of the way there! So I have no worries.

UPDATE: ER times are way up too. But we only have to wait another seven years...

Canada's laziest columnist

Earlier in my blog career, friends of mine would occasionally drop by this page to have a look. Some of them were shocked. Where was the balance? How could I just take one side of an issue without clearly explaining the other? Why did I appear so certain of things that were still in dispute? I would respond that no one wants to read mushy prose that says nothing that isn't already known, doesn't have a point to make, and doesn't make a stand.

But what do I know? Evidently there must be some kind of market for that kind of journalistic tofu, because the Globe and Mail pays Jeffrey Simpson a hefty salary to produce it, day after day, and week after week. Do people read it? Why? Does he ever say anything that isn't totally obvious even to the most casual observer?

Take a look at his column today. Come on, just look at it. No really! Just this once try and read it! I'm trying to make a point.

It's about the maneuverings and strategies of the different parties in Parliament this week. It's a topic that interests me, and no one could say it's not full of drama. It's the stuff political junkies live for, and Simpson is supposed to be the Globe's top political columnist. Let's take a look at some of his keen insights:

Liberal weakness, real and imagined, has emboldened the other three parties in Parliament.

[...]

If an election really loomed, chances are the Bloc would be tacking and trimming, unless, of course, the party really does want an early vote on the theory that it will certainly do worse later than now.

[...]

In recent polls, the NDP remains in its accustomed position: around 15 per cent, give or take a few points. The NDP believes it has momentum; polls suggest otherwise.

[...]

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's white flag - the Liberals will not vote against the Throne Speech - removes whatever threat the Harperites might have felt of parliamentary defeat.

[...]

Mr. Harper, however, has decreed that many legislative initiatives flowing from the Throne Speech must be matters of confidence. This new doctrine expands, or rather distends, conventional practice to suit his purposes - namely, to put relentless pressure on the Liberals.

Gosh! He gets right to the heart of the matter, doesn't he? If you actually steeled yourself to follow the link to the full column, you will have noted that the quotes above are not opening sentences pulled from a more penetrating paragraph; they are the paragraphs! The whole column is like that. One banal and very obvious point after another, until his word count is met. How can I get a job at the Globe and Mail?

October 17, 2007

Okay, Stéphane. What do you suggest we do in Darfur?

So. Dion has backed down. But he wanted to sound tough in his submission, so he complained about the throne speech and said the only reason he's not going to vote it down is because Canadians don't want an election. Sure. Whatever. I agree that they don't -- I know I don't -- and I'm glad that everybody has put down the guns for the time being. Fine.

But I've got to comment on one line from Dion's speech:

The mission in Afghanistan is an important one, but we cannot remain silent on our other responsibilities. We cannot turn our back on Africa ... and what does the government intend to do in Darfur?
Almost two years as Canada's 'New Government' and Stephen Harper's Conservatives have yet to solve the Darfur crisis. Can you imagine?

Many people know Darfur as a place where the government of Sudan is indirectly sponsoring a mass slaughter of the black population by Arab militias. China is deeply invested in the country however, so no international pressure has been exerted on Sudan to stop the killing. No sanctions, no flight restrictions -- hell, they haven't even been kicked out of the UN Commission on Human Rights. It's the primary example of the cowardice and ineffectiveness of the international community.

But to Stéphane Dion, Darfur is a distraction to pull out in front of the uninformed voters who want Canada out of Afghanistan but can't articulate their reason. It's like he's saying, 'We like to help people in trouble, but Afghanistan is not the only problem in the world. What about Darfur?', while knowing perfectly well that Canada is in no position to do anything. 'Cynical' just doesn't cover this kind of attitude.

Time for the Liberals to get real

I managed to squeeze in a total of five minutes to watch some of the CBC's coverage of the Throne speech last night. Dion was unable to show up to give his impressions, but Iggy came out and said the Liberals had a 'tough decision' to make, especially on Kyoto, where the Conservatives 'have done nothing for almost two years'.

Hey, Michael: remember when you said, 'We didn't get it done!'? The Liberals had thirteen years and did nothing! Do you want the Tories to remind the voters of this in an election?

Don Martin says Harper has forced the Liberals into voting against the speech.

That means the inconvenient truth behind his throne speech predicament is that Dion must either vote to save the planet or save his political ass. Half-measures, desperate hair-splitting and voting shenanigans by the Liberals only justify public cynicism about his party as a band of quivering opportunists interested in keeping their MP paycheques.

Lest we forget, Kyoto still enjoys sacred-cow status in public opinion, and it was the Liberals whose MP successfully sponsored a bill last spring forcing the government to draft a plan to meet the Kyoto targets.

To accept the speech from the throne as an approved government agenda is to agree that one of the Liberal party's few policy successes is an unattainable farce. It would deliver a hard, if not fatal, hit on the credibility of a leader whose claim to political integrity and personal honesty are his greatest, if not only, strengths.

I disagree. I think Harper has generously provided Dion enough cover to back the government. On Afghanistan, Harper has moved the issue to the back-burner and let a prominent Liberal in to advise the government. Sure, Harper says he wants to stay longer, but he's deferring the decision for now and calling for Parliamentary debate. That gets Dion off that hook, and --if Manley advises to extend the mission -- gives him an excuse to change his mind in the future.

On Kyoto, the government is just stating the obvious: Kyoto is dead and Canada will never be able to meet our promises. Too bad. Let's move on. If Dion wants to throw the country into an election on that issue, he's going to get burned. First, it will be easy to show Canadians that it can't be met. And second, it will be easy to remind Canadians of which party is most responsible for that fact. Unless Dion wants to advocate that Canada should spend billions and billions of dollars to buy 'carbon credits' from corrupt states like China and Russia, we, like nearly every other Western nation that signed on to the thing, will not meet our Kyoto obligations. We won't be contributing to very slightly delaying any global warming that may be going to occur. Dang.

An election on these issues is suicide, especially considering the organizational mess the Liberals are in. Nothing else in the speech should get anyone too worker up either, so they've got nothing 'scary' to wave around for the voters. They should be mature and vote for the speech.

But will they? A recent interstellar survey of Planet Liberal has revealed no evidence of intelligent life. We'll see soon...

October 15, 2007

Stuff Happens

When you have children, your home becomes full of stuff. Suddenly, there is stuff everywhere. Stuff adorns each level of your bookshelves, sits on your stairs, clutters your counters and tables, hides under your furniture, and gets lodged in your feet in the middle of the night. Behold the contents of a shoebox that was used as a temporary stuff receptacle in just one sample household:

A cheap metal airplane with the propeller blades snapped off, a page of glitter easter egg stickers, many brightly coloured hair clips, a really cheap plastic stegosaurus dug out of a sandbox at a birthday party scavenger hunt, a Wizard of Oz Tinman Happy-Meal doll, a Wizard of Oz Scarecrow Happy-Meal doll, a battered mini-pack of tissues with pictures of bears on them, an oversized pencil with a multicoloured lead, a snail shell, a small unrecognizable clump of Lego from some mini kit, a cheap green button very poorly sewn to a square of fabric, a very small Tonka truck with eyes on the windshield as in that Pixar movie, a rubbery and translucent piece of plastic bacon, a harmonica, a Hot Wheels forklift, a very cheap plastic horse, a beat-up golf ball, a little red glass heart, the remains of some Kinder Egg toys that didn't really fit together right, a cheap plastic toy scalpel, a pencil from the Ontario Pork marketing board, a fragile figurine of Statesman from City of Heroes, a rubber red lizard, a toy drill bit, numerous tiny beads, another little red glass heart, a plastic toy key, two pieces of plastic that pretended to be 'flash cards' as part of the world's cheapest and most easily broken personal stereo system, a couple of little bells, and a tiny figurine of Piglet wrapped in a rubber Winnie the Pooh costume.
I know the internet is only to be used to share useful and interesting information, but I feel like being a rebel today...

Mercy for the Mangler?

During the past few weeks, the Canadian public have had the spectacle of watching the leaders of the two major parties engaged in a fierce wrestling match using press conferences, speeches, and a number of strategic leaks. And at the end of it, Steve "The Blue Iceman" Harper had Steve "Doctor Mangler" Dion pinned supine, with his cold blue knee resting on the good Doctor's neck.

He made it look so easy too. Mangler came out early and postured for the audience. He flexed his muscles and tried valiantly to get the crowd on his side. But he was still bearing the wounds from some brutal defeats he'd suffered recently, and everyone knew there was no fight left in him. The Blue Iceman -- as is his style -- just marched calmly and slowly towards the Doc until he had him backed into the ropes. When Mangler saw he had no escape, his response to this was to throw himself on his back, praise the wisdom of corporate tax cuts, and beg for mercy:

He [Dion] gave the Prime Minister praise for displaying a more conciliatory political tone last Friday, when Mr. Harper announced former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley would chair a panel on the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan. If that tone is on display again Tuesday night in the Throne Speech, Mr. Dion suggested, Liberals will let it pass.
How humiliating! But the worst may yet to come. The audience may feel they haven't got their money's worth yet, so the Iceman may decide to toss Doctor Mangler around the ring for a little while before accepting his surrender.

So. Thumbs up or thumbs down? Will Harper accept Dion's groveling? Or will he lay on some more humiliation? Tune in tomorrow to find out...

October 10, 2007

The United States of Fear

It's a pretty lazy blogger that just cuts and pastes something he read somewhere else. But then again, all the kids are doing it, so here goes. I got quite a chuckle out of this, from Best of the Web Today:

Tales of terror from the New York Times (penultimate letter):
To the Editor:

The United States, once a close ally, is now a country to be feared. The interrogation methods President Bush acknowledges to exist are undoubtedly torture, no matter how often he repeats that they are not.

As a European, I am now afraid to visit the United States and will not do so unless I have to for my work for fear of doing something wrong at the airport and being detained for a prolonged if not indefinite period of time. I also do not to dare express critical views in e-mail messages to American colleagues and friends, for fear they will get in trouble with authorities. This is how my contacts with the United States, a once friendly nation, have evolved.

Kees Schepers
Antwerp, Belgium, Oct. 6, 2007

Kees Schepers is afraid. He is very afraid. Then again, he's not afraid to denounce America on the pages of America's third most widely read newspaper. That may make him the bravest man in Belgium.

The Lesson Not Learned

One simple lesson. But they never do learn, do they?

When Andrew Coyne is not writing about MMP, he's Canada's best columnist. In today's piece he smacks around those politicians that think their targeted industrial strategies, supply management programs, and regional development initiatives do any good at all. Actually, 'those politicians' are pretty much 'all politicians'. It's pretty hard to find one that doesn't believe that taking money from some and giving it to others (accompanied by a photo-op, of course) is not a good idea. Read the whole thing, but I especially enjoyed this paragraph:

All of economics is devoted to the proposition that there is no such thing as a free lunch. All of politics is devoted to the opposite conviction. All economics teaches that you can’t get something for nothing. All politics supposes that you can -- or that you can at least persuade other people that you can. Economics is about scarcity, universal and inescapable. Politics is about limitless plenty.

Too much John Tory

I paid scant attention to this Ontario election. I read some headlines, I heard a few sound-bites on the radio, and saw a couple of ads. In fact, I probably paid as much attention to it as the average Ontario voter. So I think I'm qualified to make a brief comment on why John Tory's Tories have crashed and burned. There's probably been a bit of analysis on the subject already, but tomorrow is when everyone will pull out their theories and wave them around. I'll be busy tomorrow, so I'll do mine today.

Too much John Tory. The more I saw of him, the more I heard from him, the more tired I was of him. He exhausted me.

I met him this year at the big Conservative boot camp in Toronto, and heard him give a pretty good speech. He seemed like he couldn't lose the next Ontario election.

But during the election he became too visible and accessible. He talked too much. And when he talked, he worked too hard to say whatever it was he thought people wanted him to say. All that talking started to irritate people. When he was on the radio, the answer to the simplest question would be turned into an endless run-on sentence, stuffed to overflowing with pompous political phrases and jargon that were used to connect the multitude of tiresome talking points he wanted to hammer you with. I can imagine that if the interviewers weren't able to interrupt him, he would eventually get back to where he started from -- sort of like a comet's orbit. And then he would continue.

Most of what he was saying was blather. After listening to him speaking one time on the school-funding issue, he managed to convince me that his position was right. But surrounding his reasonable argument were clouds of fuzzy nothingisms that camouflaged his little nugget of sense. I actually had a more negative opinion of him after listening to him make a point I agreed with.

McGuinty, on the other hand, kept a low profile. He knows -- or at least his campaign knows -- that he is just the same kind of mush-spilling, say-anything politician that Tory turned out to be. So they put him in a box and only let him out for special occasions.

This is the future of politics, I believe. The leader will be an empty slate that the voters can colour in with their own individual hopes. Candidates are always the most popular before anything is known about them. People really want to believe in someone, and before a politician opens his mouth it's easier to have that faith in him. Campaigns are now trying to prolong this period. Of course, this makes me wonder why the US presidential candidates are subjecting themselves to these endless televised debates. Maybe it's because they know that no one will be stupid enough to watch them. And that when the real debates come around, they will seem much less important and not deserving of the voters' careful scrutiny.

October 08, 2007

Nothing like an open mind

I didn't agree with obstructing Liberal defense critic Denis Coderre from visiting Afghanistan (if he even was obstructed, which is not clear), but he certainly can't claim to be doing any fact-finding. He's got his fingers stuck deep in his ears:

Liberal Defence critic Denis Coderre arrived in Afghanistan on Monday to hear from Canadian troops on Canada's role in the conflict.

But Mr. Coderre said that no matter what he hears in the coming days, it won't change his party's position calling for an end to Canada's combat mission when the current mandate expires in February 2009.

“No, in the sense that, about the combat mission we are pretty clear about the notion of rotation,” Mr. Coderre told reporters after his arrival at Kandahar Airfield.

“We feel that rotation is in order and that we should put an end to the combat mission.”

I doubt Maxime Bernier learned much he didn't know already on his trip, but at least he brought some Joe Louis artery cloggers for the troops. That's class.

A very, very, very good idea

Glenn Reynolds just tosses this out:

I think that everyone should pay at least some tax, and it should vary each year with how much the government spends, and should be enough to give people an incentive to care.
Possibly this might break the strange mind-block that many people have about government spending. It's not the government's money they're throwing around. It's your money! If something like this was in place, people might not be quite so enthusiastic about all the spending announcements the politicians make -- especially around election time. The would know that they will really be paying for these targeted boondoggles come tax time.

A law that would reduce the incentives for politicians to overspend would be miraculous. But what party would be foolish enough to propose such a thing?

When you work in a corporation too long...

You know how it is. Most of your time is spent on things that are not important. Well, they are important, of course. Your company would fall apart if it wasn't for the many minor tasks you and your fellow workers accomplish each day. But you don't expect any appreciation for them, and they're not anything to write home about.

Once in a while though, you do work on something that stands out. Something you will remember all your days, and that you will probably tell your grandchildren about. It makes you glow with pride and feel energized and excited about your job. No, this is not just a job! It's your Calling in Life! This is not a time for false modesty. Accomplishments like this are good for the moral of your fellow employees, will force customers to reappraise their previous experiences with your company, and -- let's face it -- will allow the top management to see your unique blend of skill and drive, as well as the long-term, out-of-the-box, paradigm-breaking thinking you're capable of. It will finally earn you the promotion you deserve.

You must tell everyone. Send a company-wide email. Make a presentation to your department. And invite the top management! This is big! Send a press release to the media! Take matters into your own hands and send the news to your entire customer database! Everyone must know that you have taken your company to a whole new level of service!

We're writing to let you know that Park Plaza has updated its Privacy Policy effective October 28th, 2007. We value your business and are excited to make these changes, enhancing our services to serve you better.

Please take a few moments to review the updated Privacy Policy.

Thank you for staying at Park Plaza!

And then everything is quiet. Why have there been no responses to your email? Why did no one show up for your presentation? There hasn't been one follow-up phone call, or anyone dropping by your desk. Is your work not respected? What's the matter with the people around here? Are they stupid? Or do they just not care?

Face it, you hate your stupid job...

October 06, 2007

Barking. Mad.

Research is still underway, but so far the following things have been found to cause the Devil Dog to bark insanely:

Squirrels, anyone getting too close to his food dish, cars on the road, his reflection, thunder, the train, our cats daring to poke their heads from their hiding places, visitors, other dogs, falling leaves, the annoying way his toys stubbornly refuse to move, chipmunks, cyclists, pizza delivery men, having a toy roll under the furniture, strangers walking on the road, birds, being ignored, anyone in the house being deeply asleep in the middle of the night, going four hours without getting a walk, oxygen...
But I've got a feeling that this is just scratching the surface...

October 05, 2007

Gnotalex goes electric

Give the man a hand!

Why we're in Afghanistan

It's good to have a reminder every now and then. Afghanistan's Education Minister Mohammed Atmar was in Toronto yesterday:

"You protect our people and advance the basic rights of our people," he said. "Our government is so proud to convey to you that you are our greatest ally -- an ally that we depend upon, an ally to be appreciated, an ally that we will long be grateful to."

Atmar's words of praise came on the same day Canada pledged $60 million over four years to education in Afghanistan.

Atmar paid particular tribute to "the brave Canadian men and women in uniform who are literally protecting my kids as they go to school."

What Canada has done in Afghanistan is "something that will be written in golden script in our history books," he said.

The head of UNICEF Canada was also there and clearly agreed:
"Canadians need to know this and not give up on Afghanistan," said Nigel Fisher, president of UNICEF Canada.

"If you look at a map of Afghanistan, it is important to see that the area of Taliban activity is only one third of the country. Most Canadians don't know that in two thirds of the country, there is considerable progress and the Taliban is not a problem."

"Our presence in Afghanistan has to be long-term," Fisher added, "because development is a long-term issue. And when you look at the chaos that Afghanistan came out of in 2002 - 25 years of predatory leadership, of foreign invasion and civil war - you don't turn that around in a couple of years."

But what do these neocons know? Maybe we should listen to Jack Layton, because he has a plan that sounds absolutely foolproof:
I do know that it’s the wrong mission for Canada. It’s not, in our view – and I believe in many Canadians’ view – the way to ultimately achieve peace. Human rights and democracy in Afghanistan? What you see there right now is about as far from peace, human rights, and democracy as you can find. We should be withdrawing [from southern Afghanistan], and trying to use our diplomatic abilities and influences to try to engineer a process of comprehensive peace in that whole region.
I've searched and searched the NDP's website looking for the magic words that our diplomats could yell from the sidelines to bring the country peace, human rights, and democracy after our forces have left, but haven't been able to find them.

October 04, 2007

Okay, what's with the Candyland obsession?

Over the past couple of months, I've had hundreds and hundreds of hits to this blog coming from Google looking for... Candyland pictures. You know, I wrote piles and piles of great stuff a few years ago when I was optimistic and enthusiastic about this whole blogging thing. I can look back at that old stuff and I still think it's pretty good. Yet this is my final legacy on the internet?

The election is coming

I don't want it, but there'll be one soon. A couple of days ago I was pretty sure the danger had passed. But what Harper said in his press conference last night seemed to be designed to force Dion to commit his disorganized cavalry to assault Harper's well-trained infantry square. Below is the unassailable logic of this reasoning, which I wrote as a comment over at Dust My Broom, before remembering I had my own blog to feed. Forgive the mixed metaphors:

Harper has pushed Dion to the edge almost without trying, and Dion can’t take another step back or he tumbles over the cliff. Harper’s new decision to keep the troops in combat roles past February 2009 is a direct challenge to Dion’s laughable ultimatum — so what’s a Sociology professor to do?

If he fights, he’s gonna get demolished. The Tories are ready, and the Liberal support the current polls show is very soft. Really soft, I think. They have no money, no volunteers, and the hard-core Libs that are hanging around waiting for the tide to turn (so they can reap the rewards that the Liberal party traditionally bestows) are divided and gripped by paranoia.

But if he decides to keep enough of his guys home on the day of the vote, and let the throne speech pass with a ’symbolic’ opposition, he’s going to be there with less than half his caucus. He’s gonna look pretty stupid. And since Harper has made it clear that future votes will also be confidence votes, Dion will have to do it again, and again, and again…

I think he’ll fight. Better to go down with one sword thrust than die of a thousand cuts.

October 03, 2007

Stuff & Things XXV

The situation: My wife has left me for the more needy residents of Iqaluit. On cue, the Mistress of Chaos came down with a nasty cold, keeping her out of school and awake at night. Captain Destructo is still healthy, biding his time until Talia recovers. I had a blood test this morning that required me to fast for twelve hours, forcing me to delay my mandatory morning cup of coffee. As a result, I have a splitting headache that numerous pain relievers have not been able to vanquish. It is cold and blustery outside. The Devil Dog is barking repeatedly whenever a couple of leaves drop past a window. This is not helping my headache. The kids are downstairs watching more TV than is good for them. I am slumped in front of the computer, not working on an exciting new priority, but wandering about the interweb. Here's a partial itinerary:

  • A New Brunswick blogger named 'Spinks' has completed his list of the 101 people who are screwing up Canada. It's based on the Bernard Goldberg book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, and probably a similar ideological position. 2006 Most Annoying Canadian winner Jack Layton only comes in 27th so obviously this Spinks guy doesn't know what he's talking about. But there is a certain overlap between his choices and the 2006 MAC nominees.
  • Squeak has still not returned home. Normally I would only be moderately concerned, but there have been a number of cat-nappings in the Ottawa area recently, and the note that the loony or loonies responsible sent to one of the owners suggests (to me, at least) they might be from my area:
    The note accused the couple of neglecting the pet, saying Slim was "unbelievably matted" and thin and suggesting the cat was now better off.

    "He is now fed all natural organic cat food.... He lives in the country on a lake with a sweet female cat. He is so incredibly happy and healthy now.... Obviously I have no intention of returning him to the city streets to be neglected again."

    Nice. The CBC has a photo of poor Slim.
  • TCS Daily has a nice piece on the US Justice Department's dismantling of the idea of 'Net Neutrality'. Obviously, they read the irrefutable demolition of the idea on my blog last year.
  • Is it time to start to feel sorry for the Liberals? Oh, no no no. This is much too entertaining. Prominent Liberal on the net, Jason Cherniak:
    What did all the complainers do? They made the memo public! They got just about everything that they asked for, yet still it was not enough. You know what? I'm sick of them. I'm sick of their tactics. I'm sick of their stupidity. I'm sick of their inability to do their jobs. The goddamn National Executive is responsible for PRIVATELY organizing the party. Whoever leaked Jamie Carroll's memo should have the words "STUPID FUCKING IDIOT" engraved on his or her tombstone.
    Engaging in public infighting with other party members because they took their infighting public. This is just too much fun.
  • A trio of good articles on the Opinion Journal site today:
    • First, another reminder of where Putin has taken Russia, and where it's headed.
    • Secondly, a detailed summary of the principles, the history, and the results of the 'neocon' movement. The clever people have decided that their ideas have obviously been discredited, but the show isn't over yet.
    • As if to support that contention, the third piece argues that things are much better in Iraq than most people know.
  • You may have heard that there are problems with the Canadian health care system. If you haven't, David Gratzer will refresh your memory.
  • Of course, The US system is a mess too. But Max Borders explains that the causes are not what Michael Moore would have you believe.
  • Okay, the pizza is here. And I managed to prevent the dog from killing or frightening away the delivery person! Excellent. Time to serve my children what we call 'surfing pizza'...

October 02, 2007

Ontario's Health Care System

My exciting new priority didn't get much attention yesterday as my children were home from school sick, and I experienced an unnatural and almost forgotten urge to feed my blog. And now, here I am again: blogging. But at least this does have a little something to do with my new priority. More information later.

This video is almost cruelly manipulative, but it makes an important point about the strange priorities of our political class. It's called 'Two Women'. I won't say any more about it; but watch it -- especially if you will be voting in the upcoming Ontario election. And tell your friends.

I want to make it clear that I have nothing against Susan, the second of the two women. From her point of view, she needed something, lobbied to get it, and was successful. But the politicians -- if they are going to manage all our health care needs -- have to be effective in making in choices in how to use the limited resources available to meet those needs. And this short film makes it clear that they are not effective.

The resources will always be limited for health care. There will always be some form of rationing. But can it ever be done in a fair way?

October 01, 2007

Back inside North Korea

If you have fifty minutes free and don't mind feeling absolute anguish over the suffering of other human beings, you could do worse than watch this hidden camera exposé from National Geographic. Warning: depressing.


via videosift.com

Oooh! How sinister!

Crack investigative journalist Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen has blown the lid off a story that will rock Canada's political world. Apparently -- and make sure you're sitting down before reading this -- back in May a partisan Conservative blogger won a contract to do communications work for a federal Conservative MP. And to this day she has managed to help herself to an astonishing $350 from the hard-working taxpayers of this country! Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg. It's clear that all Conservative bloggers must be getting these types of sleazy contracts for writing their evil propaganda, because -- well, why else would they do it?

Personally, I'm outraged. To this day, no one has offered me any money!

Other facts from this eye-opening story:

  • Tintor's blog is "strongly opinionated"!
  • She "is also the past president of the federal Conservative association in Davenport"!
  • Her blog "is listed on the web page of the "Blogging Tories," a collection of conservative Internet commentators"!
  • "Some Liberal strategists grumble that the Tories use sympathetic bloggers to provide political spin"!
  • Tom Flanagan (Canada's Karl Rove) "cites in particular two members of the Blogging Tories, Steve Jank [sic] and Stephen Taylor, who write highly partisan blogs on federal politics"!
Do I have to draw you a map?

Seriously now, does anyone doubt there's an overlap between grassroots activists (like bloggers and riding association members) and the staff of various MPs? Is McGregor saying that if you are interested in politics and write about politics, you are ineligible to work in it? There's always the possibility that the government may reward a hard-working 'volunteer' with a high-paying, perk-laden, seat-warming job -- like, say, a spot in the Senate -- and I hope our press watches for these kinds of abuses of power. But you need to provide a little more evidence of a connection than the vague insinuations McGregor provides.

Ironically, most political blogs would be embarrassed by the lameness and pathetic research of this 'news story'. I certainly hope MP Peter Van Loan does nothing to Ms Tintor's contract on the basis of this nonsense.

A beautiful and busy Fall

Last year I was lamenting what a miserable autumn we were having (among other things). But this year has been wonderful, with many, many warm sunny days. Things will be getting brisk soon, I know, but if we can just keep the sun for a while longer...

Here the kids pose with Kafka, AKA The Devil Dog, AKA Buttercup. (I was hoping that last name would make him more pleasant to be around. No such luck.) He's a Chesapeake Bay retriever who we have now inherited permanently from my mother-in-law. He's stubborn, noisy, disobedient, and requires a great deal of care and stimulation. So now I have three children to attend to. This is not helping me work on my new priority.

Plus he seems to have scared our lovely cat Squeak from our house. Four days and counting...