Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Longer David Emerson :

" I wanted it so I took it so let's just pretend you willingly gave it to me in some other election in some other riding where the Cons didn't place a distant third behind the Libs and the NDP."


Diploma mill scam spam

Ever since I wrote about diploma mills back here, my spam from them has increased sufficiently to prove that at the very least their own reading comprehension skills were obtained from a diploma mill.
But this latest is the best one yet :

A PhD in two weeks with no study required. Plus fully verifiable certified transcripts.

You know, I'm thinking of writing back to see if they could help me complete my BDSM...

Electoral system pop quiz

Here's two lists of selected countries. One group elects their government using a first-past-the-post winner-takes-all system and the other group uses some variation of proportional representation. Which group do you think Canada, the US, and the UK fall into?

Group 1
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Congo, Dominica, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Group 2
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela.

Yup, our first-past-the-post system puts Canada, along with the UK and US, in Group 1.
We really need to get on this before 2008.

Update. To the person who emailed me to complain that I had cherry-picked the two groups to highlight a black countries vs white countries bias : No, the two groups highlight a generally right vs left bias.
I just got tired of hearing it said that if we have a similar electoral system to the US and UK, we're probably doing alright.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Trailer Park Boys vs Anne of Green Gables

Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles to host East Coast Music Awards on CBC at 8pm tonight.

Hilarious complaints greeted this announcement, as one letter writer suggested that "foul-mouthed drug-using petty criminals" were poor representatives of the music industry - ?!?!? - and another wrote that "trailer trash" should not be representing Atlantic Canada on television.

Coz, you know, up till now, whenever we thought about Atlantic Canada, we envisioned a spunky orphan who brought joy into everyone's lives.

Will PM Stephen Harper be snapping open a brown buddy tonight and kicking back to watch his distant cousin?Personally I'm hoping for a shit-faced guest appearance by Mr Leahy and his rotund lover Randy.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Does this poll make my ass look big?

Enough already with the "Harper's approval ratings are really quite good so far...."

Two weeks after the election and in the Feb 9 2006 SES Poll he's running neck and neck with the party that's just been turfed from office and doesn't even have a leader? How is that not tanking? And then there's this :

Note that "West" presumably includes Alberta. Now that is tanking.

Click on graphs to enlarge. Click link below for polling data.


The Loop Road. Again.

One year ago the Bowen Island Taxpayers Association took out a full page ad in the Undercurrent in which they stated : "no other single issue has as much impact on the quality of life on this island as the quality of ferry service..."

Really? 'Quality of ferry service' is the No.1 'quality of life' issue here?

Bigger even than say, preserving our parkland? . Well apparently so.

Yesterday in the Undercurrent this same group wrote that they have unanimously concluded that we need to whack a 150' strip off the parkland north of Government Rd from the gas station to the library. Why? So we can sell it to raise enough money to put a two-lane ferry marshalling road through what would be left of it.

Note to Bowen Island Taxpayers Association : We didn't move here for the parking or the shopping or the ferry marshalling. We moved here for what anyone outside your organization would reasonably describe as 'quality of life'.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Uh oh, Toto, NaPo's gone to Kansas

"Canadian scientists want out of Darwin's rut" says the National Post headline.

What, all of them?
Well no, but one scientist did say that and, along with another eight, they signed a petition at the Discovery Institute, a right wing American think tank promoting Intelligent Design.
(For those of you who go outside from time to time instead of sitting here fretting about such things, here's an easy one to remember :
DI = ID, or Discovery Institute equals Intelligent Design.)

"A handful of Canadian scientists are speaking out against evolution as an explanation for all of life as we know it, saying the complexity of living things simply cannot be attributed to biological chance.
Nine university professors and others with science or engineering PhDs have added their names to an American petition that voices skepticism about the theory of evolution."

So who are these Canadian scientists?
The "Darwin rut" one who says "science must look beyond evolutionary theory" is a biochemistry and molecular biology prof at U of Calgary.
As he's in a relevant field here, we do have to take him seriously.
Oh look - he is also the one who states he "does not believe Intelligent Design is the answer".

Um, ok, so what about the others?
Two of them teach at Christian universities. Check, check.
One "runs an organization dedicated to the links between Islam and science". Mmm.
One is an ex-creationist and "a geophysics PhD and software developer who compares genetic systems to languages created by humans" and states (laughably) "There is no way I could create a code like this [DNA]". Meaning what...???
One is an electrical engineering PhD at IBM.
And the other three are a chair in chemistry at Lethbridge, a UBC anthropology emeritus, and a Waterloo U biology emeritus.

So, not exactly a revolution in the Canadian scientific community then.
Care to revise your bullshit headline, NaPo?


"Rubbish, noxious, offensive, and unwholesome"

is a pretty good description of the Unsightly Premises Bylaw that passed first reading at Bowen council.
From the Undercurrent:
"The proposed bylaw stipulates that residents could be fined for allowing their property to become untidy, unsightly, or for causing or permitting "rubbish or noxious, offensive or unwholesome matter to collect or accumulate.
[Officer Leahy] defended the need for the bylaw, stating that it could and should apply to buildings in a perpetual state of construction. Additionally he said, "Some people just don't understand that their junk upsets their neighbours." "

Certainly this is the kind of junk that upsets me. Welcome to West Van Lite.
We all remember that long thread on the Forum castigating a young couple undergoing a personal tragedy for having other things on their minds than picking up 2x4's at the site of their home reno. And how some posters suggested leaving them alone or else offering to help.
So how about a bylaw proposing a fine for every day you complain about but don't offer to help out a neighbour whose reno has gotten bogged down due to financial or personal difficulties?
I'm sorry, what was that? Your neighbour's difficulties are not your problem?
Good call. Shut the fuck up then.

And way to go, Councillors Lisa B, Lisa S and Dave for raising objections.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Nope, this one isn't about Stockwell Day

Good guess though.

Last Sunday we had a look at SpongeDob and his spawn 'Focus on the Family Canada'.
FotFC had just announced the launch of what they refer to on their website as their new initiative - a think tank in Ottawa called the 'Institute of Marriage and Family Canada' to "research and suggest new legislation". (shudder)

I dropped by their website again today to see how the Feb 16 launch had gone, fully expecting glowing reports of how tens of people had shown up, and right there on the front page is an article promoting none other than Kent "Dr Dino" Hovind. On a Canadian website.

It's easy to make fun of Dr Dino and what he calls his "Creation Science Evangelism" : the dinosaur theme park to promote the idea that humans and dinos coexisted on an earth that's only 6000 years old, his belief that they still do, his assertion that the Grand Canyon is the result of the Great Flood and that UFOs are apparitions of Satan. When he isn't pushing 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion', Dr Hovind's folksy speaking style could even be described as charming, but alas the 'doctor' part is also a joke, having been obtained from a diploma mill.

Even other young-earth creationists generally consider him an embarrassment so what is he doing on the front page of the Focus on the Family Canada website?
Well just listen to what he says (bold - mine):

"Hovind, who believes the Bible is literally true and scientifically accurate, says the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania was “barking up the wrong tree” when it attempted to require that intelligent design (ID) be taught in its classrooms.
“To me,” Hovind suggests, “the much better approach is don’t mention creation, don’t mention evolution, don’t mention intelligent design” – but instead push for textbooks that simply tell the truth. There are 50-some lies in the average textbook that are used as evidence for evolution. Get them out. End of story.” "

Not mentioning any of the controversial buzzwords - neither ID nor evolution - and going quietly about their business would be the much better approach for them at this point.
We should be watching for it.

A more thorough take on this at The Galloping Beaver

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Intelligently Designed pillows

Yes, this lovely ID Mount Rushmore Throw Pillow can now be yours for only $22.99. "Stylish fun" and "easily laundered" pretty well covers the whole ID experiment, wouldn't you say?

A link from Canadian Cynic leads to The Intelligent Design weblog of Bill Dembski who provides this blurb to go with your new pillow :

“Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? ...What if humans went extinct and aliens, visiting the earth, discovered Mount Rushmore in substantially the same condition as it is now? "

What would the aliens think of us carving our human likenesses onto Mt Rushmore? I'm guessing it would be something along the lines of : " Now here's a species who projects and imposes its own image onto nature and then worships it."

But that's just my inner alien. Dembski's inner alien is probably quite different.

Further down the Intelligently Designed Apparel and Merchandise Page we come to this unexplained figure:

Is he:

  1. an atheist mole signalling us from inside the ID site?
  2. on step#1 of the 12 Step ID Anonymous Program?
  3. enacting some sort of intelligently designed religious auto-eroticism?

You be the judge.

Gun registry - no People registry - yes

"Sooner or later, Canadians will have to carry some form of identification other than a passport to travel outside the country," says the new federal minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Stockwell Day.

Why isn't a passport good enough, Doris? It's worked just fine so far, both for travel to the US and abroad.

"Day said the need for identification of some sort came up again this week when he spoke on the phone with his U.S. counterpart, Homeland Security' Secretary Michael Chertoff", who we all remember for being praised by Bush as "a practical organiser, a skilled manager and a brilliant thinker" and for being in charge of the US gov't response to Hurricane Katrina and for helping to craft the war on terror.

See, it doesn't matter if Doris is a nutter as long as he surrounds himself with good advisors.

So, Doris, you're against gun registry but for people registry?

Doris later confided he wished his ministry had a really cool name like Homeland Security - blam! blam! blam! - instead of a lameass one like Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which kind of reminds him of helping little kids cross the street and stocking up on extra candles and tinned goods.

Friday, February 17, 2006

And in cartoon news...

I know, I know ....everyone is sick to death of hearing about this dreadful cartoon depicting Buddha's plot for global domination, and of course it will be very inconvenient to have Buddhists the world over take to the streets firebombing KFC's and movie theaters in protest.
However I feel an obligation to publish it because freedom of speech is much too important to take a backseat to common sense and frankly I'm just not getting enough attention over here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Darwin Day

Looking for something a bit more festive?
Evolution carols and a great cartoon over at onegoodmove.

SpongeDob comes to Ottawa

Well that was fast. The Cons have only been in government for two minutes and already Focus on the Family Canada, Canadian offspring of the right wing American Christian group of the same name, is launching a new so-con think tank called "Institute for Marriage and Family" in Ottawa next Thursday.

Heading the group is Dave Quist who, having spent the last 7 years in the Conservative government himself, explained his mandate : “I know how busy an MP’s office is, and quite honestly, there just simply isn’t time in the day sometimes to do all the necessary research that it takes to debate an issue.”

Good point, Dave.

So in the spirit of reminding those MPs what a fuckwit organization you work for now, here is some research that some of them may have forgotten about the founder of Focus on the Family, Dr James Dobson :

As a child psychologist, Dr Dobson is very big on spanking discipline and the prevention and curing of homosexuality. In a weekly newsletter on the Focus on the Family website, he quotes advice to a father to "take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger."

He contends that he was misquoted in the New York Times as regards his remarks on cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants' gay agenda , but warns that "While words like "diversity" and "unity" sound harmless - even noble - enough, the reality is they are often used by gay activists as cover for teaching children that homosexuality is the moral and biological equivalent to heterosexuality."

In his book "Marriage Under Fire" he warns that allowing same-sex marriage would lead to "group marriage," "marriage between daddies and little girls," or "marriage between a man and his donkey".

It is also his contention that traditional marriage has declined in Scandinavian due to tolerance for same-sex marriage, although he does not explain in what way heterosexuals could be affected by same-sex marriage.

So there you go, MPs - a reminder of what Focus on the Family or any of its offspring have to offer in the way of debating points, just in case same-sex marriage should somehow come up as an issue again.

More at Canadian Cynic and The Galloping Beaver

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Superficial criticism"

It's a bleak couple of days in Canadian politics when Vice President Stephen Harper's other cabinet appointments are so awful that no one has any energy left over to poke fun at the new Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Stockwell Day.
Sure, we're all relieved that an anti-gay anti-abortion anti-sex education young earth creationist who believes that dinosaurs once walked among men and who, along with Stephen Harper, co-authored that 2003 open letter in support of the invasion of Iraq is not representing Canada internationally as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
But what exactly will his responsibilities in Emergency Preparedness entail and what has he said about them in the past?
According to Wikipedia, Doris will be responsible for:

  • the RCMP

"Gun control responsibilities are taking police officers off the street and adding to crime."
- Stockwell Day, at an anti-gun control talk in Ontario's cottage country, 2000.

  • the Canadian prison system

"People like myself say, 'Fix the problem. Put him in the general [prison] population. The moral prisoners will deal with him in a way we don't have the nerve to do.'"
- Stockwell Day on why serial child-murderer Clifford Olson should serve his life sentence in the general prison population.

  • CSIS

"There was no meeting in which I was involved at all... No money was ever given. No contract was ever signed.... I mistakenly assumed that the individual in question may have been one of the many people that our members of Parliament introduce me to on a daily basis... However, after talking with [Alliance MPs Darrell Stinson and Myron Thompson], and my staff, and consulting my schedule, I can confirm that I was not introduced to him and have never met this person.... Contrary to the Globe story, there was never any suggestion that this individual would investigate the prime minister or his Shawinigan business dealings..."
- Stockwell Day, denying a report in the Globe and Mail that he had met with a private investigator who would have been hired to dig up dirt on the Liberals, April 8th, 2001. The Globe and Mail stood by the story.

  • the Canada Border Services Agency (what the rest of us call Canada Customs)

"Just as Lake Erie drains from north to south, there is an ongoing drain in terms of our young people but hardworking people -- entrepreneurs, job creators, research people -- who continue to move foward..."
- Stockwell Day trying to create an analogy between the flow of Lake Erie from "north to south" and the brain drain from Canada to the US, October 24, 2000. In fact, the river drains from south to north.

OK I made that last one up.

Stockwell Day quotes from In Their Own Words

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

David Emerson Campaign quote ...

"Governing is too important to be left to chance
In a system of carefully arranged checks and balances, the U.S. president can hand-pick articulate individuals with management and policy depth to form his cabinet. Canada’s all powerful prime minister, on the other hand, is expected to wait, cap in hand, while our candidate selection processes miraculously produce cabinet material.

Canadians increasingly look to ethics commissioners, overhauling the electoral system and institutional reform to raise governance standards.

Margret Kopala’s column on western perspectives appears weekly.
Approved by the Official Agent David Emerson Campaign"

The above quote is from an Ottawa Citizen editorial published on David Emerson's Campaign Site at www.davidemerson.ca May2004

Of course he was running for the Liberals then, but libertarians just fit right in anywhere.
"overhauling the electoral system and institutional reform to raise governance standards" Ha!
They really hate all that electoral "cap in hand" stuff though, don't they?


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Golf course redux

Jan 24 was my birthday, a sunny island of a day surrounded by stormy days of continuous rain, and I went to have a look at recent developments in Seymour Bay. I hadn't been there since long-time islander Greg Cope had taken me there 25 years ago, but I vaguely remembered a path following a stream through the forest, which opened out onto an overgrown and abandoned apple orchard rolling all the way down to the sea. Carol Robb remembers pressing apples there.
I had been back once a few years previously to see what the new developers were doing with it, but the huge pall of smoke from the piles of burning brush seen as far away as Nanaimo put me off any closer inspection.
So this was my first real return to it.
It's a golf course now, its main purpose being to add a few thousand to the value of each of the proposed surrounding building lots, its main sin being illegally ploughing under three streams and a place of wildness.
Sight unseen, I have always hated the fucking thing.
The golf course combines the blue pill of Viagra, symbol of synthetic answers to unfulfilled desires, with the blue pill of the Matrix, which offers a comforting yet completely controlled and artificial view of the world.

Approaching it from over a rise, you suddenly see a bowl of unnatural unvarying green undulating down to the sea in the middle of a forest. It is quiet and minimalist and artificial, like a zen garden of raked sand. It is also peculiarly and surprisingly lovely, like the environmental art of Christo, who once wrapped the coastlines of several Florida islands with a floating flotilla of pink polyester.

There is a particular fascination about anything that manages to be both beautiful and repellent at the same time. Natural disasters and big weather come to mind, and romantic love has been described as the state in which the repellent is held just below the visible surface of beauty, providing a tension that beauty alone cannot sustain.

As I was leaving I looked back and saw this huge 4' x 8' billboard at the side of the road:
The world's local bank.
Dispensing the blue pills since 1865.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

More big weather

A huge storm early this morning and a 16' high tide brought the sea level to the top of these arches by 9am. The arches formed blow holes for the water to shoot through into the lagoon, as the wind lifted sea water and carried it in sheets clear across the top of the causeway. The wildest I've ever seen it but an oddly localized weather event- people a mile or so to either side of me described it as being only a little windy.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Good Samaritans all

Damn but this is such a sweet story.
A woman who rescues cats and another woman who rescues abused horses rescue a homeless local hero after hearing how he helped to rescue a drowning woman.
Keith Finsterwald, who does not swim, went twice into the Fraser River to try to rescue an injured woman whose truck had plunged past his squat and into the water. When police constable Gerry Proctor arrived on the scene, he had Finsterwald help him off with his boots and gave him his gun to look after while he made the successful rescue.
And now two women who heard about Finsterwald's part in it have given him work and a trailer.

The whole thing is thoroughly uplifting, but a small detail really stood out here for me : the police constable gave a homeless man his gun to look after.
How many places in the world do you think that would happen?


How we voted

~created by Kmf164 at Wikipedia. Click to enlarge.

It doesn't look half as bad this way, does it?

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