Archive for July, 2007

Ingmar Bergman: 1918 – 2007

July 31st, 2007
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There’s something magical in those old Ingmar Bergman movies, something about the way he tells the story, weaves the narration that draws a viewer in. So many directors attempt it, so few have succeeded. Among them, 1957’s Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) has always been a favourite of mine.

Farväl herr Bergman.

Note: The amazing Michelangelo Antonioni (1912 – 2007) would pass on the same day.

Colby Cash has done an amazing write up on both deaths.

There's no business like show business

Alberto Contador winsTour De France

July 30th, 2007
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It’s drug tainted and hard to like, but Alberto Contador is a likable winner. More specifically, it’s easier to cheer for a guy who three years ago underwent “risky surgery and a long, painful road to recovery” after he was diagnosed a blood clot n his brain.

But I also like the way the tour threw out so many possible winners, the yellow jacket that signifies the tour leader sometimes seeming like a target rather than a symbol of success. But, hard as it seems now, and I know one cycling fan who is disappointed in the pro tour right now, the amount of riders booted from the tour should be good for the tour eventually. Every year it becomes clearer that doping is not the way to win the tour and sooner or later that information will sink in to the riders. Sooner or later the riders will decide on their own not to dope. As long as the tour, and the professional associations associated with biking, keep making it clear that no doping will be tolerated, doping will decrease in the sport. Eventually.

Meanwhile, anyone who thinks that sports should just legalize doping and we can cheer for whichever drugged up trotter coming up the straightaway at the Derby that we choose, should read this piece from the Freakonomics blog:

Why Legalizing Sports Doping Won’t Work

It’s worth considering, as the Tour de France practically grinds to a halt as one after another top competitor is removed from the race under suspicion of doping, whether we might just throw the doors of the pharmacy wide open and say have at it.

Or is that such a good idea? If we play Prometheus to cycling’s mortals, what happens?

First, let’s set aside two logistical problems.

One, not all cyclists dope, nor do they want to… Second, not all doping techniques are created equal…

Read the whole thing, it’s a solid argument against opening the door to a “gladiator class” of athletics, including pointing out that even if you did open up the door, many doping techniques are also illegal, so you would have the same problem, you just moved the goal posts.


Picture of the Day – Hummingbird

July 30th, 2007

Picture of the Day – Monarch

July 29th, 2007
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One Great Quote

July 23rd, 2007
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Today’s Sun media has a back and forth with Rachel Marsden and (supposed) democrat Bernie Goldberg, Doing the D.C. Dash, about the front runners for the next US Presidential election. No big deal there, but this line by Goldberg, in response to Marsden’s comment that “those photos of Rudy Giuliani in drag… should freak out the enemy a bit”:

I can picture Osama bin Laden sitting around the cave, checking out YouTube on the iPhone he just got at Crazy Ahmed’s Electronic Store in downtown Nut-Jobistan and saying, “Let’s see if I have this right, Zawahiri: Some bald guy running for president in the land of Satan puts on a dress, high heels and lipstick — in public! — and they say we’re crazy But you know what, Z? Just between us. He’s kind of cute. I hope he’s not Jewish.”

“Crazy Ahmed’s Electronic Store in downtown Nut-Jobistan.” One of the funniest lines I have read in a long time.


Just How Far Are You WIlling To Go To Please Al Gore and David Sazuki

July 20th, 2007
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When it comes to global warming, there are three questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Is the global climate warming?
2. Will it be catastrophic?
3. Is it anthropomorphic (man made).

If you answered no to any or all of the above questions, then continue on with life. If, however, you answered yes, yes and well… yes, STOP! what you are doing and fix it now.

You see, those who believe, they are coming, and they will try to change everything. And equivocators, who want to straddle the fence, are emboldening them.

How else to explain such a piece as Pat Watson’s in todays Toronto Sun: Will It Be Your Money Or Your Life?

And sure we can assuage our guilt by throwing our empty plastic water bottles into the recycling bins and switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. But what we need to get into our “new” way of thinking is that trying to do the old actions with some slight new twist is not really going to turn this behemoth around. It’s not recycling bottles and plastics that will really help, but not using them at all.

Plastic — and there are myriad products made from it — is a petroleum by-product. And while it has revolutionized the consumer industry, it has put us in all kinds of peril. Take a look at the rising incidence of cancer worldwide and the relationship between that and the chemicals found in plastic products.

What is so frustrating is there is a critical mass emerging that wants change and wants to change, but the system of our lives is so tied to subsequent environmental damage that it will take more than separating our garbage into different bins to make it happen.

Critical Mass emerging? That’s you equivocators. Eliminate plastic, even though it has revolutionized, not just the consumer industry, but the world. (What is the consumer industry anyway?) But the worst is yet to come:

In this 21st century we face a real fork in the road that in truth really means we would have to completely change the way we exist on Earth.

It means not wanting or giving value to the things we used to. It means pantyhose can no longer be an option for looking well dressed. It means the use of nail polish has to end. It means no longer packaging water in plastic bottles. It means air travel as we now know it can no longer be seen as the way to go. It means when we talk about the advantages of hosting something like a grand prix race for two days we should have better reasons for allowing it and the kind of pollution that comes with it then it will bring an estimated $50 million to the city.

The main reason given for so much of why we cannot accelerate the changes to save the planet, and by extension our sorry selves, is it will be a shock to the (economic) system: Job losses, tax losses and the like.

Here’s the thing, as if it’s not too obvious: It’s the way we are making money that is killing this planet and causing an increase in preventable diseases. So what’s it going to be: Your money or your life?

See, no pantyhose, nail polish, air travel, car races (not to mention cars, which she somehow neglected, but it’s the obvious end result).

So what is it going to be people, your way of life, your ability to feed your family, or save the planet from yourself and your family?

There is no fence here. People like Pat Watson want to take away everything you have, and will succeed if we just sit around waiting for it to blow over.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment

Andrew Coyne and the 2037 Economic Crisis.

July 18th, 2007
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The boomer generation has created financial havoc in their wake since they entered the workforce. The 70’s small car boom can be attributed to a huge number of young workers, needing inexpensive transportation, as much as the oil crisis of that decade. In the 80’s housing prices began to jump, as the boom generation started spending their earnings on housing. Add in, for the first time, double income families, and it’s no surprise housing prices skyrocketed. and other than a correction somewhat in the early 90’s, they have fairly consistently risen since.

The 90’s saw the price of health care skyrocket, and the stock market has been strong since the ’87 crash, with the exception of the implosion of the dot-com bubble.

I have long believed that the stock market will crash badly sometime between 2012 and 2017 as boomers remove their retirement money from the market, into safer havens and to finance their retirements. Huge amounts of money leaving the market can only cause a crash, and the only possibility of saving it, as one financial analyst once argued with me, is the addition of pools of inheritance money into the market.

But no doubt, where the boomers money goes, so goes our economic activity. It is with this in mind that I point out a brilliant piece by Andrew Coyne, From 2037, a cautionary tale, in today’s National Post. His argument? A pension crisis, a health care crisis, a rising deficit, rising taxes and “youth flight.” All serious possibilities, and as he points out, all foreseeable and predictable.

His medicine? Improved productivity through better facilitation of labour and capital movement, and adding competitive forces to infrastructure improvement. All sound ideas, all would cause the left to go ape. And Coyne is right, without such medicine, Canada is heading for some serious problems.

Economic Fundamentalism, Great Writing

Picture of the Day – Up, Up In The Air…

July 17th, 2007
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Dr. Brian May

July 16th, 2007
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Congratulations to Queen guitarist Brian May, who on Wednesday received his Ph.D. in Astrophysics.

The guitarist began his thesis in 1970, but back-burnered the project when he got busy being a rich/famous/brilliant guitarist.

For great reading, by the way, visit Brian May’s website, and specifically his blog, or soapbox, as they call it.

Interesting there is a couple of posts re: Toronto in his July posts, including one entitled RIP Ed Mirvish.

Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin'

Me and the Blogging Tories

July 16th, 2007
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Back in March, my posts fell off the Blogging Tories aggregator. No reason given, no reply to e-mails I sent. Ne response, even, from this post:

Is there anybody out there who is on good terms with Stephen Taylor or Craig Smith, who run the Blogging Tories? My posts have not been showing up on their aggregator for three weeks now, and I can’t get a response as to why. I have e-mailed both guys three times, but never a reply, and no solving of the problem.

So it was with interest I read this weekend that Halls of Macademia had been “blackballed from the Blogging Tories aggregator…”, and by today had been re-instated.

I received an email from Stephen Taylor at Blogging Tories early this morning, letting me know that I have been reinstated.

An e-mail from Stephen Taylor? What makes him so F***ing special?!?

So this morning I sent a note to Stephen Taylor myself:

Hi Stephen.

I have been following the issue of access to the BT aggregator. My blog, At Home in Hespeler ( has been off the aggregator for months now. I have e-mailed previously about this, but received no reply, either from you or Craig Smith.

Is it possible to get reinstated on the aggregator, please. If not, please remove me from the blogroll, as I really don’t like being a partial member of the BT’s. Either way, if it’s not too much trouble, could you let me know what your response is.

I eagerly await response, but it may be time for At Home in Hespeler to move on to a new phase. I will keep you updated.

Update: Everything is now sorted out and back to normal. Thanks to Stephen Taylor for getting this sorted out.

Blog Administration, Blogging Tories

Stephane Dion: $22.8M to proviode employment for artists

July 13th, 2007
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From a Liberal Party of Canada mailer:

There’s no question that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives’ $22.8 million cuts to arts programs like the Public Diplomacy Program (PDP) and international arts touring are putting at risk thousands of artists’ livelihoods and are hurting our arts and cultural community.

Last week at a roundtable discussion with arts and culture groups like the Writers’ Union of Canada, Mr. Dion pledged to restore the full $22.8 million cut by the Conservatives.

What is it that makes politicians think the Government of Canada, and specifically the Taxpayers of Canada, owe artists a livelihood? And as William Watson points out in today’s Financial Post:

The real reason our governments pay out all these subsides is not pseudo-scientific economic calculation but naked political fear of offending lovers of jazz or comedy or fast cars, or the hundreds of other different activities modern governments subsidize. Wouldn’t it make more sense if we all used our own money to directly support the activities we each favour?

And if some artist can’t create a livelihood under those conditions? Hey, there’s an oil patch out in Alberta that has all sorts of livelihoods available.

Silly Liberals, Unsolicited Political Advice

Question For Buzz

July 10th, 2007

I work for Chrysler, and we are always told “buy Chrysler, it protects your job, it’s good for your community &tc.” We hear it from Chrysler, we hear it from the union. Makes sense, really.

Until now. Since Chinese Chery is going to be building cars that Chrysler will sell in North America, if I buy one of these “Chrysler” cars, aren’t I supporting outsourcing my job? And isn’t my community better served if I buy a Corolla, which is built here in Cambridge?

It seems the CAW has been awfully quiet on this one. C’mon Buzz, where’s the guidance?

CAW, I Love My Job

Meanwhile Over at Facebook…

July 9th, 2007
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I have thrown Tater Tots, an orange, a shrimp ring, a donut and pickles at Gerry Nicholls and Rondi Adamson. They have countered in similar fashion, although that ice cream that Gerry threw was cold.

I mention this because both had columns in today’s papers, Gerry in the Sun media, Vote For None of the Above, the first of a regular column this summer (and hopefully beyond). Rondi’s is in the Globe, but is firewalled. However, I can report that I saw it, read it, thought well of it.

Congratulations to both of you for fine work, it is an honour to be allowed to throw Tandoori Chicken at you.

Canadian Content, facebook, Gerry Nicholls

Quote from Live Earth

July 7th, 2007

From the Black Eyed Peas Will I Am, looking like he ran his hummer into a retard tree, at Goreapalooza (sorry, but I’m paraphrasing).

We have to force our corporations to make better products for us to consume.

OK, I’ll start.

Dear corporate entity known as the Black Eyed Peas: please stop making shite music!

But really, I think Mr. Gore would say it’s your responsibility to consume less.

Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, Thank God I Wasn't Born a Rap Fan

Is It Time to Pull Out of Afghanistan?

July 6th, 2007
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Maybe Jack Layton is right, maybe the time to pull out of Afghanistan is right now. With polls constantly showing a majority of Canadians want our forces out of Afghanistan, with a Parliamentary majority making it clear that extension of the mission will not be supported, and with Stephen Harper saying a Parliamentary majority will be needed to extend the mission, why should anymore soldiers die in a lost cause?

Let me be clear. I support this mission, I think we should be there until the bitter end, however long that takes. I think Afghani’s want us there, I think we are doing what’s good and right and I think we are making Canada safer by being there.

The results of pulling out? Well, we lose, we are at greater threat. Those who pretend to understand history, and recite the mantra that we created these guys in the late 70’s and through the eighties, need to understand this: We did not create them by helping them; We created them by discarding them as soon as they served our needs. Not finishing the job is what got us into this mess, much like not finishing the job in Iraq in the 90’s opened us up to the current war there. Not finishing the job in Viet Nam led to Pol Pot’s Cambodian massacres of the mid-late 70’s, not finishing the job in Korea in the 50’s led us to a world were an insane lunatic like Kim Jong-il has the bomb. Not finishing the job in Afghanistan will be a disaster. Anyone who doesn’t think pulling out will increase, not decrease the terrorist threat in Canada, anyone who doesn’t understand that these terrorists prey on the weak, and a pull out is a show of weakness, is an idiot of the simpering variety.

But we, as a country, seem determined to not finish the job. Yesterday six soldiers tragically lost there lives in Afghanistan. If it is a lost cause, then the tragedy is greater yet. And if it is a lost cause, then every soldier who dies hence will be that much more tragic.

So Jack Layton is right. If we aren’t going to finish the job, then lets get out now.

Stephen Harper, whack-a-mole politics