Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quick Follow-Up

After yesterday's announcement that a third CFL team would be brought to Ottawa by benefactors under Charlie's Angel levels of mystery by out phallicly shaped mayor, it has come to light that one of them may be that guy from Minto. They developed a lot of stuff in Ottawa and are one of the culprits of the revolutionary design of our buildings.

With that in mind I've decided to use the power of imagination (not unlike the Muppet Babies) and advanced sticky-note technologies to give you the first plans of the Minto Stadium redesign for Frank Claire Stadium.

Take in that beigey glow of awesomeness. If they actually manage to get a CFL team, I've already claimed 3 seasons in the pool. Hey, I'm an optimist.

Also, we need to get the team called The Ottawa Beige. I'm sure if I start an online petition we can make it work just like it's worked for getting lawn signs our of elections, getting Jedi as a religion on the census and stopping spam.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Third time's a charm

So, Mr. Mayor who is totally in touch with the average slob, has announced that he's in talks with some mysterious benefactors to bring a CFL team back to Ottawa. Because, it's totally what we all want right now what with the lower deck of the south side ready to collapse and the Liebermans ruining two CFL teams from Ottawa.

How does that saying go? You know, the one about doing things the same way repeatedly hoping for a different result?

Fix the stands, put some real lawn on the surface and create a Wimbeldon like complex for soccer in the heart of the city. Personally, I'd like to move the Sensplex there brick by brick but having a major arena there probably isn't the best location - ideally it would be where the convention centre is or on Lebreton Flats.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Who bears the responsibility for climate change?

Last week, San Francisco District Judge Martin Jenkins ruled that it is impossible to determine to what extent automakers are responsible for climate change damages in California.

It might shock those of you who know me that I'm saying this. I agree with this decision.

Cars and automobility are a symptom and a symbol. They are not the cause of emissions; they're just where they are most concentrated (well, them and our houses). Energy use, for the large part, is the source of emissions. And I'll look here, very briefly, at personal uses of energy, because it affects industrial emissions; industrial emissions are largely the result of producing materials that either make up the goods that we purchase, or at least go towards making those products.

The problem is that many neighbourhoods and urban areas are just not designed for people to get around by any means other than a car. I mention urban areas because that's where the majority of us live. The services that people utilize in their day-to-day life are just too far to depend on foot or bicycle transportation, or even public transportation in some cases(e.g. doctors, grocery stores, other shopping). Since this is a case that was brought forth in California, I'll use an example from out there. If you live in the circuitous labyrinthine neighbourhoods of, say, Irvine or Mission Viejo, then, really, can you imagine not having a car? You'd be stranded. This is a major issue throughout much of the U.S., and to a lesser extent throughout Canada as well - Mississauga comes to mind. A couple of years ago, I stayed with a friend who lived very close to Square One mall in Mississauga. This showed me that distance isn't necessarily the sole problem. The proximity to the mall almost didn't matter, even though it was walking distance (about 1 km). It just wasn't a safe walk, because of the lack of sidewalks.

It's easy to scapegoat the production industries, such as the auto industry and the oil and gas industry. But really, they only provide the means; if the demand for their products were curbed, then this would be a non-issue (or course, then we could get into the discussion of how they create demand through marketing, which may be as much of the source of the problem as anything; it's probably worthy of another post. However, if people (or that other word we use for people these days, consumers) were thoughtful about their purchases, this would be a non-issue). That's an important issue - how to curb demands for industrial products without curbing quality of life.

Let's keep in mind, also, that quality of life is different from standard of living. Just because someone has a higher standard of living and is able to acquire more, doesn't mean they have a great quality of life.

I believe that urban spaces have a lot to do with this. In Canada, we're a very urbanized country; 64% of us live in urban areas of more than 100,000 people. These spaces can be designed such that they require less use of resources and demand of us less purchase of goods. They're not, however; housing and mixed-use developments such as Dockside Green are still the exception to the rule.

Bringing this back to Ottawa, there are many parts of town where it is impossible to live without a car. Lamentably, the cost of living in those parts where it may be possible to do car free living is higher (particularly for property ownership, even for condos) - though if one can do it without the $700/month average car ownership costs, it does bring down the price.

I was at a conference on energy efficiency earlier this year. There, Nils Larsson of The International Institute for a Sustainable Built Environment brought up the four types of energy required - construction (or embodied) energy, operational energy, maintenance energy and commuting energy. He also mentioned that while we are able to use less energy per unit of floorspace to maintain comfort, the benefits of this have been lost through an increase in the size of the average new build house in Canada (by 50% over the past 10 years). Given that there were ministers of energy and environment from several countries in attendance, I was very impressed to see someone speak like this in a forum, about how choices that we make in lifestyle link to energy. Too bad the person making the final statement at the conference didn't have it in him to incorporate Mr. Larsson's statements.

I'll finish this off on a final thought. I don't know if this is a chicken or an egg case. I really don't know if this is because people want bigger homes with bigger lots, or if it's because developers want to build cookie-cutter homes and developments on big lots. I do believe that at least some of those that run urban planning departments in many cities are, on this point at least, either intellectually lazy or simply incapable of winning these fights against the developers.

And worse, I don't know if we really have the interest to tackle climate change as a population. If people decide that it's worthwhile to commute 45 minutes each way to work in a car by themselves so that they can have their 3000 sq.ft. house in the suburbs and drive everywhere they want to go, and if this is simply considered a normal, desirable life goal... what hope do we really have? I'm not asking for us to return to hunting and gathering and foraging; the planet can't feed 6.5 billion people now, or 9 billion people by 2050, if they do that. I ask us to look at the best practices out there for urban development, and for lifestyles, and to mimic those. I may, in a later post, try to list what, to me, are the top options for people to reduce their impact on the climate.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Praise the Lord!

That Catholic School Board I wrote about yesterday decided to allow the HPV vaccine.

Reason triumphs.

Satan laughs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This little light of mine...

While the real newsmen are as happy as pigs in shit that Dion’s party totally fucked up the Quebec by-elections (so they can just change a few sentences in their mound of reprinted “Dion is totally screwed” articles), I feel it is my job as a so-fake-I-don’t-even-pretend-to-be-a-newsman to shine my flashlight into the oft-ignored underbelly of the by-elections. Of course I mean how the Green Party really is falling into obscurity. Sure they got a new leader, got rid of most of their troublesome staff and tend to be asking for a lot more money these days (apparently to get shudders that go with the new house in New Glasgow aka their election “hope chest”) but they have momentum right?

I mean they finally have all the ingredients to actually become the political force they remind us they are/want to be. They have a leader that people: actually know, listen to, and gets press. They have federal funding and a big upsurge in members (at least they should) as well as success in the last round of by-elections (except that they forgot to register that candidate in Quebec – oops). This should be something they eat up and manage to use to their advantage, especially when there is such a major shift in the political landscape. By-elections are where small parties make their breakthrough, so why didn’t it happen here with the Greens?

In fact they’ve reversed their trend as of the last election. All ridings went down in vote percentage except Saint Hyacinth-Bagot. Sure it slipped 0.1% but that’s pretty negligible. Outremont had the Greens at 2.2% from 4.8% and Roberval-Lac Saint-Jean had the Greens at 1.7% from 4.3%. Alarming trends, if I was involved in planning on having a Green Party around after the next federal election.

This doesn’t seem like a party building on its momentum. It should be able to use the base federal funding to drive in enough new members and contributions to send the party out of a consistent last place. I’m sure up until this point the party has just been coming up with many horrifically complex systems to make sure the associations get some of the federal funding rather than go out into the community to fundraise, raise awareness, and attract members and ever better candidates – you know, politics? I know most outsiders looking in are wondering why the party can’t seem to capitalize on its apparent growth and momentum and I guess maybe I know too much and not enough at the same time. Although I’m pretty sure anything I guess and exaggerate isn’t too far from the truth because I’ve seen them operate and tried to fix it for a few years. It’s like trying to teach a cat to play to banjo. After a certain point you just have to admit it was stupid to even try because it simply won’t happen, no matter how stubborn you are.

The candidates will blame the party, the party will blame the associations, they’ll all complain about lack of money, nobody will actually do anything worthy of getting a vote or improving their situation and we’ll see how things turn out in the next election. I think these by-elections are a good litmus test for where the party will end up. I mean things certainly can’t be going well when you’ve got all the ingredients for more success and you’re doing worse.

There was a lot of optimism, in some cases renewed optimism, in the Greens when their leader finished second in the London by-election. Where was she for these by-elections? It makes me wonder how committed she is to the party’s success compared to her own? Why hasn’t the party been able to simply get its shit together and be able to challenge for seats, when people are tuned into the message? It makes me wonder how utterly incompetent you have to be to not be able to come up with an appealing platform to voters who want environmental change?

I guess it is just easier to blame first-past the post for your own failings than actually work hard at becoming appealing to the voters.

It will be interesting to see if the Green Party survives after the next federal election.

St. Guano-Loco is from Ontario and the patron saint of misogyny

Today will see a plethora of jackassery. And not simply because September 19th is "Talk like a pirate" day.

Nope it just all seems to happen at once. I just read about how the Halton Catholic School Board is considering to not allow public health nurses to administer the HPV vaccine to grade eight girls. Because, they say, HPV is sexually transmitted and sex is only permissible in marriage. Well, Satan get behind me because I’m thinking this is further proof that absolutely no public funds should be given to faith based schools. They do not want to inoculate your daughters against cervical cancer.

This is batshit insane.

Whether they have sex in marriage or out of it, women can still get HPV which leads to cervical cancer and die if they do not receive the vaccine at this young age. It's not about admitting your daughters are tramps, it's about preventing cervical cancer at a later age. Cervical cancer does not really care when you have sex. It kills you regardless. This isn't about belief or faith, it's about preventing 80% of cervical cancer in women (including 80% in married women you jackasses).

I should just forget about it and buy stuff for an exceptional discount on Amazon when the dollar reaches parity (even with shipping). That will help me forget about a religious group getting public funds then refusing to protect young women.

Peter and Paul

Today I heard about the government's plan to rob Peter in order to pay Paul. Peter is the money going to conservation and helping out migratory birds in Canada. Paul is climate change.

I wonder if Harper knows that Paul has been convicted of embezzlement numerous times and is know to drink and lie a lot about where the money is. Why doesn't he just take the money across the river and put it all on black? It would make more sense than pretending he's actually going to maybe eventually do something about climate change, if it even exists.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Canada's history - abridged yet again

On the weekend, an out-of town friend and I had a good look at the statues of the 'Valiants' , the fourteen bronze statues of military heroes from our past that stand on the overpass near the end of the Rideau canal.

I asked my buddy - "What two prominent figures are missing from this collection?"

It didn't take long for a response...of course, General Wolfe and Marquis de Montcalm are missing. Most of us would give the same answer if we stopped to think about it for a minute.

We both agreed that this is yet another example of Canadian bureacratic pussy-footing around some obvious historical facts. To have a war-related memorial and to profile Canada's military past without mentioning the two central leaders in the most pivotal battle ever on our soil, the Plains of Abraham, is like having a rock n'roll hall of fame without the Beatles or Jimi Hendrix. And it is also an example of hypocrisy because the 'Valiants' contains at least two figures from our past (Count Frontenac and D'Ibreville) who had been, in their era, actively engaged in the British-French conflicts in what was later to become, no one should be able to play the politically correct card and say, "oooh, can't have Wolfe and Montcalm there, it's too controversial."

For starters, I have no problem with WHO is among the so-called Valiants. I also have a good feeling about having a monument in Canada's capital that simply acknowledges good, competent soldiers and commemorates acts of individual heroism in miltary struggles. All of the people portrayed there had served either our country or the predecessor countries, England and France, some of them died, some died while saving others, and some of them had lead our armed forces to significant victories. Isaac Brock, to name one, can be credited with having saved the 'country that was yet to be' from American takeover in the War of 1812. These are no small deeds.

So, I ask, why not Wolfe and Montcalm? They were both, according to historians, brilliant and - for their era - gallant soldiers. Both had distinguished themselves in actual hand-to hand combat in their youth, and later became leading strategists of the time. Both died in the eventual battle in Quebec City; a reminder of another, much more dangerous time, when generals actually commanded their troops into the line of fire and faced bullets along with common soldiers. So, physical bravery is not at issue. Neither is compassion at issue, as both men were known to treat non-combatants and captures enemies very humanely, at least by 18th century standards. When taken, the city of Quebec was not sacked and pillaged, its people were not harassed or forced to convert. Finally, Wolfe's and Montcalm's importance, albeit almost accidentaly, is so central to the birth of Canada (and to its evolution as a bilingual and bi-cultural nation) that they should tower over any other of the otherwise brilliant 'heroes'.

Of course, we know two possible answers to why these men are not standing in their bronze liknesses at the memorial: Political cowardice, or plain old lack of perspective.

I think here is a symbolic cause waiting to be taken up by a local politician.

Fight Back with Pink

This is absolutely brilliant.

Stories like this remind me that things get better the more exposure kids get to different ideas rather than being isolated at schools (such as faith based schools, Catholic system included).

Good on them for doing what too few high school boys would ever have the balls to pull off. This makes an honest difference in the world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Area Commission Satirized

I haven't read The Onion online in quite some time, so I find it kind of telling that when I did today this is the story I come across. It's like they were visiting Gatineau or possibly attending a Council meeting for the political party I used to work for.

I particularly like the line "Over the course of the six-and-a-half-hour meeting, the only variation on the endless monotony of inconsequential concerns was the occasional tone of entitlement."

Fun times.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Veiled Thoughts

I think Elections Canada got it right.

I think women who chose to wear a facial covering should be able to vote without revealing their faces. I also think Elections Canada was slightly too expedient in their process though. People like to be asked before someone else makes a decision on their behalf. And with good reason, Muslim women are now uneasy about having the spotlight shone on them in Quebec because of something they didn’t actually ask for.

The reasons I think Elections Canada got this right are probably a bit facile to the rest of you. Firstly, I think anything that makes the voting process more accommodating to everyone is a good thing. Voter turnout is low and this allows more people to vote without really interrupting their lifestyle choices or religious faith. I really don’t think this will lead to widespread voting corruption scandals. Fear of that is really just a disguised racist fear. Secondly, just because there is the right doesn’t mean it will actually be invoked by anyone. It wasn’t an issue before, anywhere, so it probably won’t be now. So I think we should just all chill out because this is just saying “you don’t have to if you don’t want to” before someone took the nation to court over a violation of their rights as a Canadian. Not that I think it would necessarily happen but if this wasn’t decided upon by Elections Canada then it is much more likely that it could.

Also, you can vote even if you don't actually have any identification but can get a sworn statement that you are who you claim to be. Say you've had a house fire and lost all identification the night before an election or you were robbed or some other circumstance (veil not required). At least that's how I remember the Canada Elections Act, it has been a while though.

I’ve already heard of these people in the by-elections protesting that the people at the counter don’t know if the person voting is really the person voting and this is somehow a bad thing (even though you provide I.D. to vote as the person and nobody has since shown up to vote a second time unveiled). I mean how often does someone steal someone else’s identity in order to elect the candidate of their choice? I mean honestly, this isn’t the 1800’s or Chicago in the twenties. If you provide official identity you get to vote, it’s simple. There are no major identity theft rings created for the purpose of voting – buying gasoline and computers online, sure, but voting? C’mon, get a grip.

That being said, it will be interesting to see just how utterly racist Quebec really is during the Taylor-Bouchard Commission hearings. I find it funny that a culture that is extremely Catholic claims to be secular. It’s like discussing the canon of being Canadian or Quebecois. I heard an outtake this morning about how it was terrible that Sikhs could wear turbans if they were in the RCMP. As if being Canadian is determined by “not turban wearing” which I’m sorry, is racist bullshit. But don’t get me wrong I don’t think these feelings are limited only to Quebec, I’m sure they are present across Canada it’s just that Quebec has Herouxville.

This all sounds like a lot of baseless fears. Hmmm, who else believed in a religious conspiracy to take away from a specifically limited cultural definition then used that as a way to deflect from any serious issue until mobs were formed to rid themselves of a global conspiracy to poison pure cultures?

Monday, September 10, 2007

No more a girl, and, well, sort of a woman

I admit I was not home during the MTV awards. I was down in Kingston, kayaking on the St.Lawrence, more worried about my boat taking on water in the waves than worried about whose public stock has risen or plummetted, or about who made a splash across the scandal-hungry media pages (bad puns, all around).

I do admit to having read about the MTV awards, though. Yeah, thirty five and still interested in the 'charts'...I was kind of hoping to see who won what award and if anyone among the performers I actually like made it to the podium. In my rather naive viewpoint, these events are still supposed to be about achievement, talent, and giving something back to the fans...and not primarily about who is wearing (or not wearing) what and who will make a stupid remark.

Now, enter the Ottawa Citizen. Their lead-up to the coverage of the said ceremonies was Britney Spears and her attempt to emulate a stripper. Point for Britney, zero for the Citizen. I had to search through the rest of the Arts section to find out who was actually awarded for what (and, yes, Shakira did win something, so the world is essentially unfolding the way it should).

Why am I so put off by the Citizen's coverage?...hmm, let me count the ways...

First, the article was a living proof that even a slightly above-the average paper in a big Canadian city will go for the obvious, albeit lame, hint of ' sleaze and scandal' instead of focusing on someone else who is actually accomplishing interesting things. Britney's slightly sagging midriff is bigger news than singers like Shakira, Kaney West and Justin Timberlake who actually have some talent, actually are recording and selling albums and happen to be in constant play across dance floors. It reminded me of huge amoung of coverage of Eddie 'the Eagle' in the ski-jumping competition, back in the Calgary winter olympics, the last-place finisher, rather than Matti Nykkanen, the winner (and one of the best ski jumpers to ever fly off the 90 m jump).

Second, there was such a palpable sense of schadenfreude in the coverage of Britney. Let her rest, don't give her any more headlines, for God's sake. The media vultures, sensing someone's reputation will fall by the wayside, are lining up to feast on the fast-cooling but still-twitching body. Speaking of body, I find it offensive that so much attention was directed at the fact Britney's bod no longer the super-buff, preternaturally toned and sleek machine but more of a 'natural' looking 25-year old woman's body. Gents, you know what I mean when I admit to liking normal girls, normal women, with a bit of flesh around the hips and some pleasing curves. Britney may not be bright but she is still sexy. To send the message that anything else than the gym-honed, traithlete-like figure is 'sexy' is to further add to the inferiority complexes that just about every young female out there seems to have...

Last but not least, she lip-synchs. The horror, the horror...Hasn't this lip-synching stuff been around for the last 20 years, ever since bands starting running around and having intricate dnace/floor shows, with acrobatic-type moves? How 'bout Janet Jackson or scores of other pop stars?

So, basically, I regret to see - yet again - a terribly shallow approach to media coverage of anything to do with pop music. And, I'd sleep with Britney, for sure. We might not sit around and talk about existentialism or the history of diplomacy, but I'd still sleep with her.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tory vs. Fossil

I think someone should throw a fossil at John Tory. It would probably fly just over his head. Or he'd ignore it.

Asked if he would allow creationism to be taught, John Tory practically got on his knees and rang out merciful and humble thanks to his Lord for His magnificent intervention (and to have a bit more fuel for the fire - it gets cold when the media doesn't pay attention during a campaign). So yeah, he's thinking we should give money to enforce ignorance. You can't teach creationism, it's like teaching someone to be an idiot. You just are.

I mean how to you teach faith based math? The easy joke is to look at the Conservative campaign budget. But seriously, you don't understand square roots, just denounce your instructor as an agent of Satan. You don't like history, no worries, God created everything that was and is as it always was and will be. Don't worry about specific dates, that's just fickle knowledge and recorded truth. Knowledge and truth are human conceits and have no place in the faithful learning environment.

You can teach evolution and you can teach science but faith simply can't be instructed. No matter how much money you give. You simply have it. You learn devotions but not actual faith - try looking it up sometime. Then again if you're a believer you don't need to because you'll already know everything you need to know through god.

You see, I don't have faith because I've got too many actual thoughts getting in the way. Because I learned things. I didn't take things on faith.

If anything, John Tory is the perfect advocate as to why adding more representation to the provincial legislature is a bad idea. We can get more like him. You know, people who think The Flintstones was a documentary and will get paid to not teach your kids.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kind of Faulty Logic There Guys

So Emperor Harper and a bunch of representatives from the most environmentally unfriendly nations, most of whom did not sign Kyoto, will be meeting to discuss solutions to global warming. It's sort of like Satan and a bunch of imps and demons getting together to discuss which religion they'll choose.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Not so-Super series

I don't know whose idea it was to mark the 35th anniversary of the legendary 72' hockey series by pitting our juniors against Russia's juniors. I don't care to know, and I would be willing to forgive this error in PR judgement...if it wasn't for the fact that we currently have one of the best generations of hockey juniors, ever, while the Russians are struggling with all kinds of issues in their program.

I have watched a little bit of the series. The hockey was allright but it's a sad reality (and a huge indictement against staging hocky tournaments in the summer) that I would be almost immediately changing the channel and looking for US Open tennis, picking up that good book, or actually doing something myself. I simply wasn't sold on the Not-so Super Series.

Think of the original 72' classic as the equivalent of the original Pink Panther movie. Now, advance to the 21st century and find a lame remake (even if Roberto Begnini was actually quite funny in the remake...) of that police comedy classic. Imitated but not even close to duplicated. This hockey tournament falls in the same category.

When you sweep your opponents, despite your guys being jet-lagged half the time - the Russian games were played in crazy places like Omsk in Siberia - it is not "super". Canada should have faced Sweden, Czech Republic or Finland. They would have given us a better run for our money than the current crop of up-and coming Russians.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More "This Is Not News"

Seriously. Someone had to do a study on this? This is really something that shouldn't earn someone a Master's or a Ph.D. I think we learn this somewhere around grade 5 or 6, when our hormones start kicking in.

Weekend Religion

I went to a Catholic wedding this weekend. I've since decided that I will never be stepping foot inside another Catholic church, except perhaps for a funeral of a loved one. It was one of the most intolerant exhibitions I've ever witnessed, especially since I was there to celebrate two people I love in their love for each other. Instead there was an hour long ceremony explaining that I don't love my wife, our kids can't love us and we simply can't love them, and that my marriage it is a lie. There was more but I stopped listening and decided to play with the kids in the pew in front of me instead rather than cause a scene by leaving which I was prepared to do.

So guess what my thoughts are on faith based school funding? I think we need less and not more. If you want faith based education, pay for it your damned selves. Unless you're going to create a pagan viking school or the Blessed Lucifer School of the Second Ring as well.

I'd totally send my kid to viking school.