Saturday, April 29, 2006

Nightmare at K1A 0A2

I woke up this morning from a nightmare. In my sleep, I was hearing someone say that Canda had secretly signed a deal with the USA to re-commit us to NORAD without consulting anyone or announcing anything, and that, in fact, government officials were denying that any such deal had been signed.

It wasn't a nightmare. It was my radio alarm with the 5:00 am news.

" Ottawa, officials with the Harper government tried to keep word of the renewal under wraps.

"There was no notification of any signing ceremony.

"Officials at both the foreign affairs department and defence department initially refused to confirm that a deal had been signed.

"But after persistent questioning, defence officials finally acknowledged that the two nations had brokered a new defence agreement.

"'The text of a renewed NORAD agreement was signed in Ottawa on April 28 by the Minister of National Defence and the U.S. ambassador, which signals the end of the negotiating process,' O'Connor spokesperson Étienne Allard said yesterday afternoon.

"'As per our campaign promise, the new agreement will be tabled in Parliament for debate,' he said in an email. (Tabled for debate? To what purpose? Debate what -- that the government is out of control? And would someone please go back and find a verbatim transcript of that campaign promise? I want to see where it says that we elected a bunch of assholes to keep secrets and deny us the opportunity to voice our opinions before they go ahead and sign our lives away on a dotted line.)

"Calls to Harper's office were not returned.

"With Canadian officials saying nothing, it was left to U.S. officials to lay out the details of the renewal." (How nice. Our own government is afraid to talk to us. Either that, or they have so much contempt for, and so little respect for the voters of this country that they have -- also without consulting anyone -- elevated themselves to the level of dictatorship.)

Okay, my question is this: Is there anyone out there who still agrees with Harper's muzzling of the press?

We have a fucking government-by-fiat! When are we gonna wake up?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Let's Talk About Sex, Bay-Bee...

...or not.

"Trustee Heather Stilwell, a member of the committee, said she'll reserve her comments about the books until after she's read them. (This, at least, is a change from her original tactics, several years ago, of slash-and-burn before anyone had a chance to read them.) But she wonders why gay-themed books are being proposed at this time." (Now she's being coy. This is an ongoing issue in Surrey, but she keeps being "surprised" that anyone would bring it up at all. And each time, she tries to make like it's the first time. This attitude is getting to be as old as renewable virginity.)

However, we in Surrey at least have gotten to the point where we talk and discuss. In Massachussetts, where same-sex couples can actually get married (and so far, it's the only state that allows same-sex mariage), people go to battle over fairy ('scuze the pun) tales, calling them "sex education." Makes one wonder about how they feel about Snow White, now, doesn't it?

I gotta read this book and find out what all the flap is about. My local library, being rather activist in the war against banning any written material, should have about a dozen copies. "On the tallest mountain above the town lived a queen, the young crown prince, and the crown kitty." And we're off to a great start...

But it seems that in the war on sexuality -- straight, gay, or bi (and there are some who would deny that "bi" is a valid option; oddly enough, those opposed to "bi" are mostly gay), there is another group who remained rather quiet. I've only known of their existence for a couple of years, and I found out about them quite by accident. They don't look for much in the way of publicity. And considering the flap, fuss, and feathers regarding same-sex issues, I guess I don't blame them for wanting to stay out of the limelight.

Well, too late now.

"And now a Canadian psychologist who pioneered research into asexuality is planning an international study to determine whether it's a disorder or a legitimate sexual orientation on par with homo, hetero and bisexuality."

I guess it never occurs to anyone that sexuality is a personal thing. Not a personal choice, but personal, nonetheless. Instead, as a society, we are increasingly interested in examining every intimate aspect of each others' lives, with the inclination to either approve or disapprove. This would be fine, if the approval or disapproval were kept on an individual scale.

But when you bring to bear the weight of the opinion of someone who is trained to snoop into the psyche to determine someone's motives...well, here you have the foundation for abuse. If Bogaert manages to get this study under way, my bet is that asexuality will, at least at first, be judged to be an abberation and/or a disorder. Therefore subject to law. And medical probing, along with the usual trial-and-oops drug therapies (hint: if you're looking for a new investment, look to aphrodisiacs!). And public approbation.

*sigh* You very often find discussions, either on line or in person, about what it is that separates the human species from the so-called lower animals. I now think I know what it is. It's our pre-occupation with sex. Especially when it 's about people other than ourselves.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


(H/T Howlin' Hobbit)

Rube Goldbergisms from Japanese television. Activate your Flash player, and enjoy thirteen minutes of assorted follow-the-action-if-you-can clips.

Anyone know where you can get a job doing this stuff?

No Nudes, Please -- We're Canadian

One of the best-kept secrets in this country has to be the ability to customize your own postage stamps! Go to the website, upload and edit your digital photos, send off the order, and you get your own personalized legal-to-use postage stamps by return mail.

The price for a sheet of stamps is a little...pricey. A 40-stamp sheet, if you order only one or two, will cost you $39.95. That's a dollar per stamp, give or take a fraction of a penny. But if you order over 100 sheets, the price drops 'way down to $26.00 per sheet. That's still a little more than the going price for a regular stamp.

And if you don't have a digital camera from which to upload your art, you can download a form with which to send in your off-line photos.

Just be careful what kinds of photos you want to try to use on your mail. The government censors are a little priggish when it comes to bare flesh, no matter how tastefully presented. In one set of photos presented, the woman was wearing a bikini top made of maple leaves. But the photos were rejected because apparently the flag was about to be insulted by them. And in a world where flags are worn on the ass pockets of jeans, used as draperies to cover windows, and sometimes burnt in protest of some idiocy, we certainly can't be so insulting as to use one (or part of one -- only the leaf was being used) to cover the nipples of a rather gorgeous young redhead who was just trying to celebrate her new citizenship!

(H/T: Up In Ontario)

Friday, April 14, 2006

First, Gag The Reporters...

...then gag the novelists:

Feds Cool Launch of Enviro Novel
Fri, April 14, 2006

OTTAWA -- A scientist with Environment Canada was ordered not to launch his global warming-themed novel yesterday as the Conservative government was quietly axing a number of Kyoto programs.

Ordered not to launch a novel? Since when does our government get to order its citizens not to take part in a completely legal activity? Does this not come under the department of "restraint of trade?"

The bizarre sequence of events provided an ironic end-note to the week in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced his first piece of legislation - aimed at improving accountability and transparency in government.

Not doing so well at this, are we, Stevie?

Publisher Elizabeth Margaris said that Mark Tushingham, whose day job is as an Environment Canada scientist, was ordered not to appear at the National Press Club to give a speech yesterday discussing his science fiction story Hotter Than Hell (scroll down), about global warming in the not-too-distant future.

The book, by th' way, was published last November, before the election, so Stevie and cronies were not able to stop its actual release to the public. They seem to be doing their damnedest, though, to muzzle him and keep him from talking about the environmental science (which is his area of expertise) on which the novel is based. That's novel. As in fiction.

"He got a directive from the department, cautioning him not to come to this meeting," said Margaris of DreamCatcher Publishers.

Yeah, well someone in the department has more nerve than I'd want in a toothache!

The novel imagines a world where global warming has made parts of the world too hot to live in, prompting a war between Canada and the U.S. over water resources.

Okay, be honest -- has this thought not crossed anyone's mind in the last ten or so years? I know it has crossed mine -- I can't help it; the little news items keep popping up about the world's shortage of potable water, usually coupled with a quote from an American source saying that the United States is not woried, because Canada has all the water they'll ever need...

"Due process for this event was not followed and that's why it was cancelled," said Ryan Sparrow, a spokesman for Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

That's panic talk for "oh, shit, he's gonna give the game away if we don't stop him!" It's also bullshit. "Due process" my ass -- someone over at the ministry is up to something, and they don't want us mere citizens finding out about it and asking questions -- even if the source of information is a science fiction novel!

Oh, and don't forget -- Tushingham was going to be appearing at the National Press Club. Our government is officially at war with the National Press Club. I wonder -- if he ignored the warnings, and appeared anyway, would he be charged with treason?

Me? I'd be inclined to award him a medal and draft him as the new leader of any political party...

(H/T Dawg)

NOTE: Other bloggers are following this story.

And...Rick Mercer interviewed a certain Environment Minister who didn't want to tap a sugar maple tree because she didn't want to hurt the tree -- catch her comment about the five-minute mark: "Hey, I never said I had integrity..." (H/T Boing Boing)

Sunday, April 09, 2006


(H/T: one of the Belweathers)

Oh. Wow. A nesting eagle on streaming video -- with sound!

This is set up on Hornby Island, on the West Coast. And the mic is sensitive enough to pick up sounds from other birds in the area.

The link takes a few seconds to load, then there's a very short commercial, and then you get live, streaming video of an aerie with two eggs and either Mama or Papa incubating. See if you can catch the changing of the guard, when they switch places -- both of them trying to occupy a space that's barely big enough for one!

There's a link below the video to a forum, and I found some interesting info there -- like that the eggs are scheduled to hatch around the third week in April. And how to tell if it's Mama or Papa on the nest.

The camera is live 24 hours a day, but there's nothing to see at night, so it's set up to replay daytime video at night.

Just awesome!

UPDATE: Some stand-alone short vids, courtesy of a nice person on a private members' site:

Changing of the Guard: mms://

Noisy: mms://

For some reason (possibly the "mms://"), I could not get the links to embed properly. Ah, well, you should be able to see them, anyway...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Drama Queens 'R' Us!

(H/T Beep Beep) ...and one of these days, I'll find out just how she finds all this great stuff!

I don't watch television -- haven't had it hooked up for years -- but as I understand it, there is, or was, a "reality show" called Trading Spouses. Yes/no/maybe? Those so-called "reality" shows are the main reason I don't watch television, by the way -- if I hafta pay good money outa my pocket, I want fantasy, and lots of it! I can get reality by walking out my front door!

*Ahem* Anyway, I vaguely remember hearing about this show, or something like it. Where two people switch houses for a period of time, and become the "spouse" (I'm assuming without bedroom privileges, but maybe that's one of the unspoken perks; who knows?) in each other's house. There's a cash prize for going through with it. And a camera crew gets to invade the privacy of both families for the edification and entertainment of the rest of the world...

This clip looks to be the finale and homecoming of one supersized fundamentally insane fundamentalist after she spent a period of time in a pagan household! Watch her terrify her youngest child with her screaming and histrionics. Watch the rest of her family visibly wish they could be elsewhere. Watch her tear up the cheque she got from the TV show -- tear it into confetti and throw it, and the camera crew, out the door.

Then watch the end credits, and read that she got another cheque, cashed it, and got herself some tummy staples so she wouldn't have to spend time, energy, and will-power on a diet!

Oh, yeah -- right under the video screen is a link to "view comments." After you've watched it, if you can make it all the way through, give yourself another laugh by reading the viewer reactions...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More Cartoons?

(H/T Sandmonkey)

The continuing adventures of Jesus and start at the beginning, hit the "first comic" link below and to the right of the current one, then just keep following along with the "next" button.

This is great!

Link going on my sidebar...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Upping The Ante -- Again!

(H/T: Dhimmi Watch)

Pakistan wants to extradite two American bloggers who posted the cartoons on their blog, Plus Ultra. The link to the blog may be slow in loading -- it seems there's quite a bit of traffic to the site right now. I just hope their server doesn't go down...

A television station in Portland, KATU-TV, Oregon, is carrying the story. Click on the top two links to watch (.wmv files).

I keep hearing/reading that bloggers, in the grand scheme of things, are not at all important. Just a time-wasting plaything, a blog is. A toy. With no impact. No power.

I hear/see this from the MSM.

I also hear it from other bloggers.

All I can say to that is: when the government of a foreign country wants your head served up on a platter for doing something that is not against the law of the country in which you live, you've become important!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Human Too

From my e-mail:

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.

And that, my friends, is how a company policy begins.

It reads like a joke, but it's actually quite true.

I'm in the middle of reading a book by Richard Conniff, called The Ape In The Corner Office -- Understanding The Workplace Beast In All Of Us. It's a wonderfully witty look at the corporate structure, how it got that way, and why it will probably stay that way unless someone gets smart about it.

But that smart someone, in order to change the corporate structure, would have to change it not only from the inside, but from the top. And once one gets to the top of something, what's the motivation for changing the structure that helped one get there in the first place?

I highly recommend the book. Whether you're one of the top managers/owners or one of the entry-level clerks, this book can not only give you an insight on your business-day world, but it can help you survive it with understanding.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cassie And Moses: A Love Story

In the spirit of finding inter-species co-operation as a learning point from which we humans might gather some value, I offer a rather incredible bit of video.

So much for the theory of "natural enemies."