Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blogger is driving me fucking crazy

I don't know if others have been having problems with submitting comments on the "new" blogger, but I think the fine people at Google are using a different definition of that word than I'm accustomed to. I can't count the number of times I've had to retype in that goddamn security word only to find that I have to retype my password, or vice versa. "New" now apparently means "(1) aggravating and frequently vexing; (2) an absolute pain in the ass; (3) no longer worth my time."

Over the next few days I'm planning on moving this blog somewhere else and kissing blogger goodbye. Anyone have any good ideas? Wordpress? Typepad?

If anyone can provide a compelling reason to not move the 'kog, I'm willing to entertain those arguments, too.

Just Desserts?

It seems that one of our favorite Necropublicans finally got a little tiny taste of what the troops have to deal with everyday. I wonder if the Taliban representative was driving a grassy knoll? In my view, too bad they missed.

Though This Be Madness, Yet there is Method In' t *

News this morning from the Chronically Horrid that unrepentant pseudo-scientific racist Jared Taylor is returning to Halifax, this time to debate Peter March, the Saint Mary's University professor who stirred up controversy by posting the Mohammad cartoons on his office door. While I don't support March's decision on that score, I certainly give him props for facing the issues raised by Taylor head-on.

I was somewhat dismayed by the speed at which SMU disavowed any connection with this event. Just as human beings have to stand by their convictions, so too should our institutions of higher learning. As an alumnus of the university (as well as of Dal, who cancelled the original debate, leading to the ensuing fiasco), I am feeling a little abandoned. Surely backing the person opposing the vile racist cannot carry any political liability. If anything, it might add to the prestige of the university to take Taylor on while its cross-town rival chickened out. I am forced to reflect on the establishment of their school for business ethics and wonder how much they really are willing to live what they teach.

On the dark side, Taylor seems positively consumed with glee to be coming back. Why? He's obviously hoping for a repeat performance of the mob scene to further bolster his credibility with the neo-nazi dogmatists. They showed a clip from the last event this morning, and I couldn't help but notice (although I didn't at the time) that the bastard is smiling as he's being driven from the room. The mob mentality serves his purpose, and I would encourage anyone who's thinking about causing a scene this time to let him speak - it's obvious he actually has nothing of value to say, and it's better for free thinking, progressive individuals everywhere if we let him demonstrate that very fact, let him indict his whole cowardly movement from his own lips. He says he has things to say, let's let him try to prove it.

While Dr. Peter March isn't necessarily a role model either, in retrospect, his comments about this upcoming debate has made me rethink my opinion of him. While perhaps rather clumsy, he did raise some valid questions about the portrayal of Islam in the media and it's perception by the public, whether he actually intended to or not. I've seen the Mohammad cartoons, and, quite frankly, they're not funny, and are racist on the face of them without the added meaning of the depiction of the Prophet. Was March trying to be ironic? Was he posting the cartoons to preserve freedom of speech? Was it a heavy-handed thump on the head to Muslims? We may never know, although I now suspect his motives may have been more positive than they were portrayed.

In any case, if he's willing to argue the point rationally, to remind Taylor (and us) that we are all human beings, to point out that 'race' is a social construct with no real validity, I say, let's back him up. Clear the stage, and let the two go at it with all their philosophical might, and I'm quite confident that regardless of who rationality's champion is, the side of truth, of tolerance, and of humanity will win the day.

*Hamlet, II, ii.

Labels: ,

Parking in the rear...

It appears that at long last, the Grand Parade may become something more than a HRM city council's parking lot. If the council agrees with the recommendation, on April 1, parking rights will be removed and councillor's will be forced (some at gunpoint) to walk half a block. "Heaven's to Betsy, what will happen to my shoes?" Ken Streatch was not quoted as saying, instead he simpered said:

When I took this job back in 1999, parking was part of the job, it came with the territory. And, quite frankly, this is a working city hall. This is not a museum, it is not a shrine...

I suspect that if, instead of pissing away upwards of half a billion that the council seems prepared to throw into the Commonwealth(y?) Games, we spent it on public transportation, perhaps we could make it convenient enough so that even Ken Streatch could take the bus or ferry in from Eastern Passage like the little people do.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Billy Bragg on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Updated a bit, but still one of my favourite songs.

Friday, February 23, 2007

... I should be a bundle of joy ... by ... now ...

Not light, nor lightning, but lightening...


(h/t to Dan for pointing me to Jim's Big Ego, which landed me here, at home. It's a funny world.)

Okay, It's Official - Conservatives Really Do Live in their Own Little World...

Even to the point of creating their own version of Wikipedia, called appropriately enough Conservapedia - apparently among their complaints against Wikipedia are that they use C.E. and B.C.E for their dating system, and they actually use gasp - British spellings in some articles - apparently, the concept that those articles were actually written by Britons is too subtle for their acute minds to grasp...

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Canada Post wants to know what to call it's new $1-million, 100 kg coin. Oh, I don't know, how about a vulgarity? A stupidity? Or, riffing on the past head of the mint, an entitlement?

How long until someone designs a poker machine for it?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Worthless reading

I suppose that it's no surprise that a National Post columnist doubts the validity of global warming, but that Barbara Kay would put more credibility on the typings (writing is too good a word) of Michael Crichton than on someone that has studied environmental issues all his career, shows that she has chugged the entire pitcher of Kool Aid.

It's simply dizzying.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Worthwhile Reading

Dr Bob Altemeyer, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba, has studied and written extensively on the subject of Authoritarianism - indeed his work was extensively referenced by John W. Dean in his book Conservatives Without Conscience. He's recently put his latest book The Authoritarians online - so far the first six chapters can be found here. It is, as I said in the subject, an interesting look into the mindset of those who insist that Bush has to be right no matter what.

This just in...

The Halifax police have just announced that Ernie Fage has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. I see that they are keeping the "glug, glug, honk, honk, smash!" out of it though, so he's going to get a light penalty.

I figure that Rodney will have him dusted off and made Minister of Public Safety or somesuch just as soon as he's paid his fine.


Now where did I put that Silver medal from Grade 6?

Perhaps it's just pre-election spending combined with perhaps simple nostalgia on my part, but it's nice to see the federal government has decided to revive Participaction. Of course, in true Conservative fashion, which is to say exactly the same as true Liberal fashion, they are not going to give it enough funds to really do something, but it is a start.

Remember those flexed arm hangs?

Locally, and related, here in Nova Scotia it seems to me about half of everyone I meet could stand to shed 15 or 20 kg. Today it was announced by the Conservative government that they are going to put on hold until at least 2008 their plan to have every high school kid in the province take a physical education class. The delay largely has to do with hiring enough qualified people and providing adequate equipment on a shoestring budget; in other words, the Tory government (gasp!) promised something before actually planning for the details. I'm thinking that only on the fiddle does Rodney know how to play more than one string at a time.

It might be shallow of me, but I have to believe that a healthy, active person is going to be less of a drain on the healthcare system than an overweight, inactive one. The government should see that it is not such a big stretch to assume that money spent now on developing active lifestyles will pay off later (and really, not that much later), in savings on healthcare.

So just why do we think it is such a victory to get high school students into a phys. ed. course once over a three-year program? Why not every day?

Labels: , ,

Here's a Thought....

To all those people who felt compelled to write hate mail to the newspaper, simply for running the story of Ashley MacIsaac's wedding - don't worry, George Takei has a PSA that addresses your fears...

Otherwise, let's try this bizarre concept on for size - if the sight of two men kissing bothers you that much - DON'T LOOK AT IT!!! Or don't buy the paper at all. And if you're opposed to Same-Sex Marriage - don't attend one. Whether you like it or not - SSM is the Law of the Land, and if the Harper Government wasn't gonna make a serious attempt to roll it back, it's not going to be changing.

As for myself, I think I speak for my fellow 'Koggers when I say - Congratulations, Ashley! Personally, I still think you're a bit of a freak, but that has nothing to do with your sexual orientation - and hey, if married life helps you deal with accusations of racism and cocaine addiction, then all the power to you. Just one thing, though - don't run for politics please; Nova Scotia elected one Fiddler to public office, and it hasn't worked out too well...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Reality - Open to Interpretation?

So, in a perspicacious nod to the acceptance of reality and denial of supernatural causes, the Kansas Board of Education has rewritten the science standards to exclude reference to the 'questionable' nature of evolutionary theory.

Of course, this news is not greeted with joy by all sides - the god-fascist press (I hate to even acknowledge this as a viable phrase) have the opinion that pro-evolution scientists, as well as the sane members of the School Board are 'Narrow minded':

"Don't expect the ‘mainstream’ media to notice the biting irony here: The people they like to portray as the champions of free inquiry and scientific literacy are the very ones trying to dumb-down science curricula in order to suppress information they find uncomfortable...Fortunately, Americans still have the freedom to investigate the truth for themselves, which is why the Darwinists’ current strategy will be such a loser over the long term...Trying to stamp out the discussion of ideas you don't like is a sign of insecurity, and thoughtful people will eventually see through such tactics."

Yeah. And presuming that one supernatural being, in particular your favourite supernatural being, not all those other ones, made everything is a very enlightened idea.

I don't know which makes me madder: the idea that the zombie christ worshippers can even think to characterize scientists and their work as an underhanded 'tactic', or framing the assertion of science in science classes as somehow inhibiting freedom. What'cha got there, Billy Bob, ain't science, or even legitimate knowledge - it's superstition.

Look, I'm all for people kissing the cosmic butt of whichever fake construct of human consciousness you please. Don't expect me to calmly accept it, however, when you decide to assert that natural examination of the natural world is somehow lacking something. I'm not missing some subtle inference of supernatural influence or missing the deific 'paint-by-numbers' guide for the world around me. I'm using the right methods for the right result. The tool of science is the appropriate one to explain the phenomena of the natural world with minimal bias or dogmatic intrusion.

Imposing god on nature constitutes the dulling of Occam's Razor. If I have to accept the existence of an all-powerful entity in order to explain a leaf, I don't want to explain it at all - I'm just looking to comfort myself because I don't understand it, and it frightens me.

I don't come to your church, spill your crack and chase away your male prostitute*, then tell you you've picked the wrong horse or pantheon thereof. Don't come to me and try to tell me that I'm narrow-minded because I don't accept your even narrower, tribal and childish view of the world. If the United States wants to fall further behind the rest of the world in science and technology because they refuse to let go of their invisible security blanket, that's just fine with me.

Just don't come knocking on the border when your prayers aren't answered.

*This sentence was a lot worse originally. Trust me.

Didn't See It Coming - the Friday Edition

In the York Press, we see the sad news that the Psychic Museum in Stonegate will be closing its doors, due to a lack of visitors My favourite quote from owner Jonathan Gainer:
He said: "If you are asking me for predictions when exactly it will open up again, then it is hard to say.

"Although I'm in the prediction business, I don't believe you can make predictions about things you are close to."
Personally, I think the problem was that the Museum worked too well, why, just by thinking about visiting it, I could tell it was a load of crap...



I've been off the blog beat this week for a number of reasons. Mainly, I've been busy with work and what free time I've had I've devoted to playing with my kiddies, a bit of Guild Wars, and obsessing about running, which I've just been able to start back up after a month off (broken rib, see playing with kiddies and man, I'm getting old). For the record, and once it's in print here I suppose it's more or less official, I'm actually going to try to run my first marathon this year. Specifically, the Blue Nose International Marathon here in Halibedmouth. After missing a month of running, I'm starting off behind the eight ball, but I have nice shiny new shoes, my Forerunner, and the desire to turn my one-pack into a six-pack by summertime to motivate me. I'm not trying to BQ, just finish it smiling, so I'm looking forward to a managable challenge.

I'm glad to see that Dan and Flash have kept the fires warm here in my absence. I promise to be more on the ball next week when things settle down.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention Nova Scotia Premier Rodney's Valentine's Day emission to the federal government that $400 million just ain't gonna cut it as the fed's committment for the Commonwealth Games. It's going to be interesting to see what the final budget for this monstrosity is when it's released later in the spring. How is the city council reacting to the spiralling costs estimates? Deputy Mayor Sue Uteck, who supports the bid, says:

I have no intention of leaving any local legacy of debt.

Which I suppose means that she has also forgotten that there is only one taxpayer and would love to offload as much of the cost on other branches of government as she can. However, she also restated that if the costs of the Games are too rich for the city, Council can pull support and the issue dies.

Ultimately, this means that, since the provincial government is broke, the city might pull support for the bid if (oh please!) the federal government does not pledge more money from its famously open pockets.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, when considering The Diddler Fiddler's request for more money, please keep in mind that we're not Quebec. Continue to ignore the East Coast, "move along sir, nothing to see here." The federal Conservatives have won just about as many seats as they're going to win in Nova Scotia, so money thrown into the Commonwealth Games is money lost as far as you're concerned. Save it for where it's really needed - undermining the federal Liberals in Ontario and buying votes in Quebec for your best pal Jean Charest, who in turn will tickle your prostate when the next federal election rolls around.

(h/t to Mrs. Flash for pointing me to the CBC article.)

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This Is What She Means...

...When she says, "Forever".

Just in time for Valentine's day, news from Italy that a young couple, buried together in the Neolithic period between five and six thousand years ago, will be examined together, rather than being separated. They were discovered not far from Verona, the setting for Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". Some traditions are lasting ones, it seems.

I'm glad that they are taking care to preserve them as they were. Although it's impossible to determine the exact nature of their relationship, their embrace continues after thousands of years. It's a nice thought, at least, and we can use more of those.

What scientist would want to interrupt?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Didn't See it Coming...

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory is closing. The lab has, for nearly thirty years, studied the potential effects of human extrasensory perception (ESP) on the functions of machines.

The only positive result indicated in the article in the New York Times is the 2 or 3 times out of 10,000 that an individual supposedly changed the settings on a random number generator. As one of our critics pointed out, some 'experts' try to examine claims outside their area of expertise - I think a jet propulsion engineer studying the paranormal confirms his view in this case, don't you?

As you may be able to tell, I'm not exactly ready to change my worldview on this idiocy, and as far as I'm concerned Princeton will regain some of its prestige when this delusional 'scientist' retires.

PEAR's loss is our gain.

Friday, February 09, 2007

We present The Disgruntled Seven

Owing to the fact that the Disgruntled Seven have now filed their lawsuit to get their $8,200 per year back thusly:

In a democracy, elected members of a school board or other representative body may have firmly held views, the verbal expression of which is messy... That does not mean that we should abolish democracy. A breach of the code of ethics, resulting in the partisan and impolite statement of opinion, can never be grounds to remove the board from office.
In a democracy no less!

We here in Eastern Kogistan are fully in favour of the messy display of firmly held views, which is exactly why we allow anonymous commenting. (Hell, that's why we blog! With this messy display comes some responsibility, however. We request that those that comment respect one rule(including ourselves): that while they might find the ideas presented in a post or comment odious or facile, they address the argument and refrain from insults, however tempting. This is done in an effort to make commentors feel comfortable that they will not be "flamed" (to use a '90-ism). It increases participation. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy: it veritably curls our toes to see that sometimes someone not us takes the time to not only read what we write, but think and write about it back to us. We may well disagree with the response, but we hope no one storms out in a huff. Well, not as often as say, a Halifax Regional School Board meeting.)

The fact of the matter is the elected board of the Halifax Regional School Board was not dismissed because of a difference of opinion, messy or otherwise. No, you were dismissed because you were unable to reliably produce a quorum at meetings owing to your juvenile reaction to the "firmly held views" held by various members, even after repeated warnings. In short, you wouldn't grow up when told to, and you got sent to your room.

Too goddamned bad.

So now you sulk. I guess that's the next logical step, isn't it? What's next, refusal to make your bed? Screams to your parents to "go die"?
I guess we'll have to wait and see.

P.S. This announcement, more precisely, the wording of this announcement, seems to confirm that one of the D-7; Gary O'Hara, Deborah Brunt, Grace Walker, Bridget Ann Boutilier, Debra Barlow, Wade Marshall, or Darren Watts, must have commented to this post earlier in the week under the clever pseudonym "Democracy". Note that in the comment, they cleverly tried to hide their identity by using the third person to describe their selfless efforts to defend democracy from the march of tyranny (I quote: "You are free to say what you want because people like this fight for our rights.")

Fight on, Defenders of Democracy, fight on! At least now you're not fighting amongst yourselves.

Labels: ,

Some people just can't get enough...

Fox has announced their determination to create a more "business-friendly" news channel. Because the world out there is just so unfriendly to business, I guess.

Labels: , ,

A scary mix of party/ religion and state

THIS one should prove interesting to all you 'koggers. Ever wonder why our neighbours always come off sounding like a bunch of ignorant, inbred, backwoods cousins? The kind whose parents and siblings happen to be the same people? This interview with author Chris Hedges lays out what he thinks is wrong with the nation inhabited by our cousins to the south, and specifically, what is wrong with the necropublicans. I think the argument is presented well, although, with no data, it is really just an opinion. If this is what Der Harpenfuehrer has in line for us, its time to start looking for that grassy knoll in Ottawa.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Karen Casey: Bluenose Puritan

When I graduated from university, I did so with a $15,000 (or so) student loan. When my sister-in-law graduated a few years ago, she did so with close to $40,000 owed. How many years passed between these two graduations? Ten. Was I rich? No. Did she take the summers off? No.

The difference between the two of us, no matter what minister Karen Casey would allege, is not lifestyle. I drank beer and smoked pot when I went to university, like most students I knew, certainly like most students I roomed with, and neither of these are free. I ate my share of Mr. Noodles when the rent was due.

Casey is simply blowing smoke to try to deflect the fact that Nova Scotia students, for a number of reasons, pay $2,000 more per year in tuition than the national average. That means that even those that aren't getting the Acadia Advantage pay way more than others.

$2,000 per year can buy a lot of lifestyle when your grocery bill is $50 per week, Ms. Casey. Laying the blame on the students is no way to solve this problem any more than blaming the sick frees up beds in the hospital.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

And the beat goes on (and it's in my wallet)

Readers of 'kogsworth here will no doubt be aware of my affections for Halifax's bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Now, it might be curmudgeonly of me, but the announcement that even the upper-estimate $785 million isn't going to cover the costs is not doing any more to win me over. On the heels of announcements that the Vancouver 2010 is going over budget and the London 2012 Olympic budget may have to double, this is as disturbing as it is expected. According to the Herald, when asked what the actual cost would be, bid CEO Scott Logan winked said:

How much will it be at the end of the day? At this point in time, it's in the hands of the three (government) funding partners because they'll tell us what they're prepared to pay.

Does this "we'll spend whatever we can" attitude not scare you? What is this guy, a defense contractor? Can we hire him to fix our schools and hospitals?

Let's first set aside the little fib about "three funding partners"; there's only one, the Canadian taxpayer. And they will pay. The feds have promised somewhere around $400 large, which leaves a province with what, a $10-billion debt and a city that is wrankled about having to shell out a few hundred thousand to keep the Sackville Curling Club open to split the remainder. How is HRM going to manage to find that extra change a few years down the road when they (we) are paying interest on a $250-million dollar debt? Sackville - say goodbye to your curling rink.

And if you see anyone out filling potholes you might want to take a picture.

At least in the case of Vancouver and London it's for an event that people pay attention to. I mean, how many people followed the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne? Okay, now how many of you had family members competing?


Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vous Pouvez Etre Un Cou Rouge Si...

The last time anyone passed laws (or wanted said laws passed) that denied people of different racial and ethnic groups the rights and freedoms of citizens, it didn't end up going so well. Just ask the Germans.

The Mayor of Herouxville, Quebec needs to lose some of his anxiety by learning a bit about other cultures. Accommodating, learning and making your community better through the introduction of new cultural traditions is what built this country in the first place.

(apologies for the clumsy translation)

It's A Miracle!

To be an evangelical christian, you would have to be particularly gullible, but I expect even these people would have their limits.

If there is a god (which I doubt), I sincerely hope she's laughing her ass off...

(Many thanks to the equally cynical Ms. Flash, who caught this one.)
(and a h/t to Buckdog, who beat me to this one.)

A New Low in Demonization

Generally speaking, most of the opinion and analysis we hear coming from major universities is well-reasoned and interesting. As in any field of endeavor, however, there are those who tend towards the embarrassing side of academia. Dogma, for some, has become the cloaking device du jour, eliminating the need to consider alternate viewpoints. Some on the left see nothing redeemable about modern Western society, and some on the right stop just short of advocating a Fascist police state.

In the latter category, we now have Dinesh D'Souza, who out-Fascists the Fascists. If the review in the New York Times is accurate, Mussolini would think to himself, "This guy is nuts."

In espousing a dogmatic, narrow view of 'Leftists', whom he views as 'domestic insurgents', he describes his rationale for believing that the 'Secular Warriors' are responsible for screwing up the American mission in Afghanistan, sabotaging the Decider's grand plan for Mideast peace and for advocating in favour of a godless, soulless America. I think he may want to check the dipstick on his own soul, before pointing any fingers.

The Times has posted the first chapter of his book, so you can judge for yourselves just how scary this guy is.

Update: Upon detailed reading of the excerpt, it seems relatively innocuous - the 'good' stuff must come later. It's a little disappointing, frankly. Sorry to get your hopes up.

If D'Souza is representative of the 'think tank' at Stanford University, it's pretty clear that in some cases, more education has nothing to do with more intelligence or clarity.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Penn and Teller on the Moon Landing HBers

Posting this because it combines 3 of my favourite things - Penn and Teller(Why, oh why won't some Canadian Cable Network carry "Bullshit!"?) Phil Plait of Badastronomy.com, and the always dear-to-my-heart cause of pissing off the Moon Hoax Believers....

Science for sale?

Well, so much for the idea that science is an objective exercise, carried out by people with a desire to find "the answer", no matter what the answer may be. This article in the Guardian shows that SOME people really "can't handle the truth". It is somewhat disturbing to me that the fellowship (of research scientists) I hope to join in the near future has members mercenary enough to participate in this type of exercise. It's not a surprise to me, just terribly disappointing when it is presented in the open. This is both ethically and morally wrong.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stimson out...

Well, that's one fascist down.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

HRSB update

In case anyone had any question that (a majority) of the former members of the Halifax Regional School Board had any pride, dignity, or maturity, today's anouncement that they are launching a lawsuit to get their jobs back should settle the issue. As of yet there is not confirmed announcement as to which members are participating, but it appears that at least Debra Barlow, Deborah Brunt, Grace Walker, Darren Watts and Bridget Ann Boutilier are. Recent comments by Gin Yee, who is proving to be the one grown-up in the group, lead me to believe at least he is not.

The "participants" claim that they are suing for the principle, not for the ~$8K annuity they receive as Board members. If this was truly the case, I would suggest to whoever is doing public relations for these loathsome whiners that they should maybe have launched the suit immediately upon the dissolution of the Board, not two days after having their stipends stripped.

Childish and stupid as shit - excellent qualities in a school board, no?

Labels: ,