Thursday, 30 October 2008

CBC Radio Orchestra to live on with new name and mandate

This is good news. The decision to axe the orchestra made no sense - and what is going to happen to it the CBC could have done themselves, and made themselves better off at the same time. Radio 2 is, except between 10 am and 3 pm weekdays, mostly not worth listening to any longer. Exceptions being the Vinyl Cafe, Jurgen (who is now on Sundays) and the occasional concert. There is streaming classical and concerts on demand from the cbc web page, but if you already have a program like streamtuner, why bother?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Youngster kills himself with Uzi at gun fair

In the movie "The American President" Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Benning) hurls abuse at President Andy (Micahel Douglas) for legislation to "keep Uzis out of the hands of 8 year olds".

In Real Life such legislation - if it exists - didn't work. But somehow if a "responsible adult" allowed an 8 year old to have a loaded machine pistol that's alright.

The US constitution does allow the "right to bear arms" but only to provide for a citizen militia. In any event the Bill of Rights is a series of Amendments - in other words the founding fathers recognised that the constitution being a human creation is imperfect. And thus mutable. It may not be always right and can and should be changed.

How many more innocents have to die before the NRA wakes up?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Carbon offset program a sham, says B.C. MLA

I just got back from Kansas. I booked the trip through the Air Canada web page and while I was there clicked the button that enables me to offset the carbon emissions. It cost me $10. Now I have read this story, I feel I have been swindled.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The box and the battery

I got one of those cards through my letterbox today telling a parcel could be picked up at a local post office. The parcel would not fit through the letterbox. It contained a new battery for my pda. That's it underneath the packing box. It would have fitted easily in a small padded envelope - which would have cut the shipping cost and would have easily slid through the letterbox.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The truth about Acorn

While I was in Kansas last week I heard a lot about Acorn. That is because CNN and FOX seem to dominate the public tv screens in USA airports. I do not know who decides which channel to tune these tvs to, but it is never PBS, for example. And of course it came up once again in the third presidential debate. It is an old and dirty trick to accuse your opponent of the very underhand tactics you are employing yourself. The Republican Party has always worked as hard as possible to prevent people from voting, if they come from the sort of groups who may favour their opponents. It is a long and dishonourable tradition in the US to try and stop people who are black or hispanic from being allowed to register to vote. Acorn has been fighting this and is now being smeared. The Republican Party stole the 2000 election. If they can they will steal this one too and if they can't they want to be able to discredit the result. The Republican Party cares nothing for truth, justice or The American Way.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Mobilien in Paris

I do not usually put transit stuff on this blog - but I liked this video but Wordpress is not happy with this embedded flash video

We were going to have something like this - we called it Richmond RapidBus - but it died the death of thousand cuts against intransigence from the City of Vancouver and a small but vocal band of citizens. The Province of BC likes promising this to outer suburbs who want SkyTrain but do not (in the MoT's) view justify that and something like this might happen in Surrey. Eventually.

I really liked listening to the Parisian engineer explaining why it works the way it does - all in plain English which is something most North American engineers cannot manage

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Bulking up Pentagon North

I have been taking the line "Anyone but Harper"

I take this view simply due to Harpers abysmal environmental record. Linda McQuaig produces another strong reason we need to get rid of this goverment.

He plans to spend $500 billion on defence: the plan is on the Department of National Defence's website – called Canada First Defence Strategy
In a 2008 pre-budget survey conducted for the finance department, Canadians were asked which of 18 different issues they considered a high priority. "Increasing spending on defence" ranked last.

There's a rich irony in this ramped-up military spending. In the election campaign, Harper has accused Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion of "reckless spending" for his plan to invest $70 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, Harper claims to be a thrifty economic manager, even as he quietly plans a massive spending spree on military hardware.

The Vinyl Cafe

Every Saturday morning I listen to Stuart McLean on the This week he was giving out his Arthur awards, and the one that caught my attention went to a gentleman in Edmonton. He owned a building that houses a restaurant where he liked to go to eat. A developer offered him a large sum of money for the building but instead he decided to sell it to the owners of the restaurant. I think you should be able to download a podcast of the show - it is quite the story.

So the restaurant is called The High Level Diner and it is at the south end of the bridge.

I had hoped to find out a bit more, so I poked around on Stuart's blog where I found an even better story on Tyler Aspin's Canada Tree.

Radio Two has been overhauled - and made much worse in my view. But Stuart McLean is a national treasure and at least they had the sense to leave the Vinyl Cafe alone.

This crash was predicted and could have been avoided

The link is to an article by Katrina van den Heuvel in The Nation - but the source is a piece in the New York Times. She decided to highlight the role played by
a woman you're likely never to have heard of, Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission -- a federal agency that regulates options and futures trading -- was the oracle whose warnings about the dangerous boom in derivatives trading just might have averted the calamitous bust now engulfing the US and global markets. Instead she was met with scorn, condescension and outright anger by former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and his deputy Lawrence Summers. In fact, Greenspan, the man some affectionately called "The Oracle," spent his political capital cheerleading these disastrous financial instruments.

Definitely worth a read

Friday, 10 October 2008

Palin abused power, violated law in firing commissioner

She is not going to shake this one off with a wink at the camera.
An ethics inquiry in Alaska has found Sarah Palin abused her power as governor and violated state ethics law when she fired the state's public safety commissioner, according to a report released Friday.

The news came shortly after Alaska lawmakers voted unanimously to make public a report about the abuse-of-power investigation into Palin, the U.S. Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Palin was accused of firing the commissioner because he refused to dismiss a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody fight with Palin's sister.

It occurs to me that should the unthinkable happen, and the Republicans return to power, then there is at least an escape route. Once McCain dies and Palin steps forward, she can be replaced. The plot is laid out in a movie that starred Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. We simply replace Palin with Tina Fey - and just like that we have someone in the White House who is a real live sentient human being. Wouldn't that be a change for the better?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Harper has the edge in economic management

At this point, it's pretty much all about the economy, stupid.
But possibly it should not be. The need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions dramatically and in a very short order has not gone away. The economy depends on the environment, not the other way around. Our current practice of simply ignoring "externalities" is not good economics - or even good business. It is willfully stupid, since costs to our health and well being - let alone of other species - is so apparent.
Polls show nearly two-thirds of Canadians now expect a recession and 70 per cent anticipate a budget deficit. Still, a plurality believe Harper would be the best economic manager. Indeed, there's something to be said for steady-as-she-goes and stability which may give an edge to the Conservatives.

Which just shows how stupid and gullible voters can be. The current recession is not simply a market being cyclical - it is the result of eight years of idiocy in the White House. A set of "policies" straight from the same right wing think tanks that Stephen Harper still listens to. Deregulation of American financial markets went too far, and the result was entirely predictable. Just as the earlier Savings and Loan crisis was produced by deregulation of that sector under Ronald Regan. The current banking crisis mirrors that of 1931 and the legislation that was brought in subsequently was repealed by Senator Phil Gram's bill so enthusiastically supported by the conservative ideologues. In fact Gram now works for McCain. If he gets re-elected expect more of the same.

When you are steering into a hurricane "steady as she goes" is not at all a sensible choice of course. Change is needed here as much as in the US. Drastic, dramatic change that abandons failed policies.

When you find that you are in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

War on Taliban can't be won, says army chief


In an interview published today, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said "we're not going to win this war" and the aim was not total victory but reducing the insurgency to a low level, something which could involve talks with the Taliban.

Carleton-Smith, the commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said the objective was to enlarge the Afghan army so it could take over the security of the country.

While paying tribute to his troops in Helmand province, and describing successes against insurgents, the brigadier told today's Sunday Times: ""We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army."

And the Taliban's position is that they will not negotiate until all foreign troops have been removed from Afghanistan.

Yes, they are indeed appalling - but so was the IRA. And indeed every other group of guerillas willing to impose their views on their own country by force of arms.

Canada's position is that we will stay until 2011 - and then someone else has to take on our job. In other words, tacit acceptance that occupation - as in Iraq - will continue indefinitely. This is not something we can afford to do, nor will the position in 2011 be very much different to what it is now. Our troops have been there4 for far too long and they are not a peacekeeping force. They are a token from our government to enable the US to keep more troops in Iraq, since we at least once upon a time had the ability and spine to maintain our own foreign policy.

It is time to bring our troops home. The Afghans need to determine their own future. It may well be not one we would like, but it is not our choice to make for them.