Monday, March 31, 2008

Smile!

Having trouble figuring out your emotions? Just look into the Web cam and sort things out.

Mona Lisa's expression is 83-percent happy, 9-percent disgusted, 6-percent fearful, and two-percent angry.

A computer vision expert in Amsterdam used software developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to design emotion recognition technology. With a Web cam, they map a person's face onto a mesh computer model. It calculates the expression based on facial points like lip curvature, eyebrow position, and cheek contraction -- with 85-percent accuracy.

Just in case you're a paranoid Orwellian kind of person and want to mess with the medication you'll be prescribed down the road based on your test results - or you've just forgotten how to smile - here's a public service announcement:

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Think Before You Dig

A small German town is apparently sinking after geothermal probes were employed to extract environmentally-friendly heating. Only weeks after the Staufen's "forward-thinking" town council embarked on the project, cracks began to appear in many of the town's historic buildings, including the town hall, area schools and residences. Assuming the town doesn't disappear into a giant sinkhole, the cost to repair the damage is expected to cost several thousand carbon credits.

The problems began when, as part of the refurbishment of the town hall -- built in 1546 -- the council decided to heat the building with geothermal power from deep below the earth's surface. In September last year an Austrian company sunk seven geothermal probes 140 meters into the ground.

Not long later, the first cracks began to appear, and the number of buildings whose facades have cracked open has risen steadily. At last count 68 buildings in the town center have been damaged. The cost of repairs, the mayor said, will run into six figures.

[..] The town's 8,000 residents are now waiting to see what will happen next. Repairs to buildings cannot start before the cause has been conclusively established and the town stops sinking. Mayor Benitz said it was still too early to say how severe the damage will be in the end.

"Will the earth continue to sink or is it going to stop?" he wondered. "If it does stop now, then we will have got away lightly, but if it does continue it could turn out to be quite bad."
cp: Dust My Broom

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

No sir, I have never taken LSD . . . nor have I ever denied climate change . . .


. . . and I have especially not admitted to it in writing on-line. At least that is what I'll be telling the border guards in coming years. This story is pretty old, but I think it is an interesting cautionary tale on the real-life limitations of "free speech".

The Blaine border guard explained that Feldmar had been pulled out of the line as part of a random search. He seemed friendly, even as he took away Feldmar's passport and car keys. While the contents of his car were being searched, Feldmar and the officer talked. He asked Feldmar what profession he was in.

When Feldmar said he was psychologist, the official typed his name into his Internet search engine. Before long the customs guard was engrossed in an article Feldmar had published in the spring 2001 issue of the journal Janus Head. The article concerned an acid trip Feldmar had taken in London, Ontario, and another in London, England, almost forty years ago. It also alluded to the fact that he had used hallucinogenics as a "path" to understanding self and that in certain cases, he reflected, it could "be preferable to psychiatry." Everything seemed to collapse around him, as a quiet day crossing the border began to turn into a nightmare.

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Earth Hour hangover?

Feeling a little nauseous after last night's Hour of Power? A hair of this dog is probably not going to help you feel any better. Your neighbours' lights might have been out but Al Gore's ego was likely lit up like a Christmas tree:


Plans for Al Gore to take the Democratic presidential nomination as the saviour of a bitterly divided party are being actively discussed by senior figures and aides to the former vice-president.
Sorry - did I cause you to lose the greasy bacon and eggs that were just settling your stomach?
Former Gore aides now believe he could emerge as a compromise candidate acceptable to both camps at the party's convention in Denver during the last week of August.
Is that twist in your stomach a stifled laugh or dry heave?
Following a brief flurry of speculation that he might jump into the race last year, Mr Gore claimed he had "fallen out of love" with politics, but he has pointedly refused to rule out another tilt at the White House and said that the only job in public life that interests him is the presidency.
Absolute Power.

Get the feeling that while many citizens denied themselves access to power being readily generated by coal-powered plants, Al Gore was consolidating his?

Prepare to damn up the waves of support and ready yourself for "the War on Carbon".

Rage Against the Bank Machine:
"I Won't Go to War (Fight for Al Gore)"

PLAY LOUD


***Rage Against the Bank Machine want to assure listeners that all their compositions consist of sampled music: "It takes too much energy to record original instruments - we cannot continue to cut down trees for guitars or kill innocent animals for skins. The 1960's left us, not only with a legacy of activism, but also an endless supply of Beatles samples which we can use. After all, nobody has made better music than those drug-addled Liverpudlians. Those people who don't like the Beatles don't know anything about music and should be ignored."***

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Canadians dim. Lights to mark Earth Hour.

Sheri
Others that see this as silly I see as educational for my kids and for my kids future's! ..
We should do this more often
Chris
Everyone who claims that this is silly and stupid should get back to the towns from whichthey came for they are lacking their village of their idiot.
MikeInMontreal

I just took a walk and noticed that the brightest building in my neighbourhood was Solin Hall, the McGill University residence. The problem is not awareness - it's motivation. Voluntary targets are a joke. Legislation is the only thing that will work.
DK
I hope they do this next year, I'm going to get a big carton of eggs and throw them at the house with all the lights on. Maybe a bag of potatoes for the mufflers on those cars that are running...

Lots more here.

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Earth Hour: Going That Extra Mile, Making A Difference

A lot of the discussion about Earth Hour participation has focussed on directly using more energy. This is indeed a very important effort. But please, everyone, don't forget to waste food too! Remember, you can always buy more food than you need, and put the extra stuff straight into the trash.

In our affluent capitalist society, we often like to forget that food has its own carbon footprint. And, unlike an unnecessary hour-long empty-dishwasher session, it takes up space in a landfill if you just go ahead and trash fresh food without eating a bite. You can make a difference that will be felt for millennia. Simultaneously turning on your air conditioning and your space heaters may feel good now, but you can change the world forever with a few simple gestures like this.

If you are worried about your contribution just rotting away and not making a difference, then the easy solution is to make sure you store it in imperishable containers and throw the entire package into the garbage. For example, Big Mac-style styrofoam or microwave-safe plastic lunch containers will ensure that space is forever taken up in landfill sites. Remember, it takes energy to make those containers too! The rule of thumb for preventing hungry dumpster-divers from interdicting your contribution is to fill the remaining space in the plastic container with laundry detergent.

And don't forget to throw out the food's original packaging! Why not use an extra plastic container to keep it safe on its journey into the garbage?

This earth hour, think inside the box.

Crossposted to Mitchieville

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Friday, March 28, 2008

The naked boom pt. 2

As a postscript to the revelation that public sector employment in Ontario grew 6.6 per cent year-over-year from Oct. 2006 to Oct. 2007 against an 0.2 per cent decline in private sector employment is the latest StatsCan survey showing an astounding 9.8 per cent growth in public sector employment year-over-year from Feb. 2007 to Feb. 2008 and an even greater decline over that same period of 0.6 per cent in the private sector. While over half of new jobs created in Ontario since the Liberal government was elected in 2003 have been in the public sector (225,000 out of about 400,000), the private sector is now shedding jobs in the province.

Taking on the role of "a giant employment services firm," as Jacqueline Thorpe put it in Wednesday's National Post, may help prop up employment figures and, perhaps more importantly, government approval ratings, but it represents a substantial withdrawal on the private sector's ability to invest in jobs to create the wealth that must pay not only for all these new public sector jobs but their typically extravagant benefits and future pension liabilities. Given the reluctance of governments to confront their public sector constituencies with reductions in numbers or privileges, it's also likely to represent a permanent withdrawal.

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Save The Loch Ness Monster!

They're not just a glorified babysitters' union -- they're saving the Earth!

"It's something to do during the day when the students are in class and hopefully they'll go home and encourage their parents to turn off their lights the next day," said Jeff Major, a board learning co-ordinator.
As the oceans cool, and something else becomes the popular hysteria of the day, one good effect of the passing "climate change" fad is that bright kids will learn to disrespect their babysitters' (and their future childrens' babysitters') judgment.

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Get out of my head!

I'm really not sure how raising the drinking age by two years does anything but create more "crime".

The Middlesex-London health board is calling for Ontario's legal drinking age to be raised to 21 from 19, part of a series of measures to combat alcohol-related deaths and injuries.

"If we prevent one death, it's worth it," said Mary Lou Albanese of the health unit.
You know, sometimes people die because of their liberty. But liberty is something so valuable that people are willing to die for it. We could prevent a lot of deaths if we banned everyone from driving too.
Alcohol is a factor in 6,000 deaths a year in Canada, including injuries from falls, drunk driving collisions, assaults and drownings, the board was told in a report by Medical Officer of Health Graham Pollett.
Why don't we ban alcohol all together? Are all those 6,000 deaths 19-20 years old? Hell, booze kills more people than handguns and they're looking to ban them entirely.

I had forgot about Graham Pollet. I was happy without his opinions in my head. So when I read about control freaks recommending we remove the right of legal adults to choose whether or not to drink, I wasn't surprised to see his name attached. I was - perhaps naively - surprised to see Susan Eagle's name come up. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a politician and minister would have some sense of moral superiority to subjugate us to.
Board chair Susan Eagle said she felt strongly in favour or raising the age after losing two grandparents in crashes involving teenage drivers who had been drinking.
Sorry about your loss, but that sounds like some pretty bad luck to lose grandparents in two different crashes under any circumstances. Were these teenagers even 19? Perhaps they were drinking illegally?
"Nineteen now seems to be the night that you can go out and get yourself absolutely drunk," Eagle said.
Yes Ms. Eagle, people go out and get absolutely drunk - even before turning 19 and for many years to follow. Gee, it sounds like you want to take issue anyone's liberty to do so because you don't like the idea of people being "absolutely drunk". Will you raise the age again when you discover 21 year olds do the same damn thing?

Or how 'bout this: You remove the drinking age all together, teach kids from an early age to drink responsibly, and that way no one learns to anticipate the ritualistic removing of that taboo at the 19th birthday party. Start 'em young enough, and maybe by the time they learn to drive they'll know enough about alcohol to know the two shouldn't mix. And to tell you the truth, I don't know of too many people who waited until 19. So maybe we should just criminalize alcohol - I mean, face it - more people harm themselves on alcohol than on pot and pot is criminal. We can all see how effective prohibition is.

I hate reading about these jackbooted moralists - Get out of my head, damn it!

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No

It is the strangest feeling, actually, kind of sort of missing the Liberals. But there it is.

I never voted for a Conservative, but I would stand up for them when people would tell lies about them.

Now, I will encouragingly laugh along in good conscience with Liberal voters when Stephen Harper gets called crooked or a fascist theocrat or a Bush lickspittle. I will try to add my own smears to their tv-based vocabularies.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Give Me Chicken

I just about spilled my coffee all over the mixing board in front of me at the news. How can this be possible?

Sammy Souvlaki is planning to close its last downtown trailer on Richmond Street, citing a drop in business from tzatziki-loving Londoners.

"My business downtown is disappearing," says Sotirios Cardabikis, the owner known as Sammy. "People are not spending like they used to. The business is just not there."

In my culture, nothing quite caps off a night of beer like a Sammy's chicken souvlaki. This will take some getting used to.

UPDATE: This Free Press story turned out to be a load of global warming. I just talked to Sammy and he says there was a misunderstanding. The Carling St. location will not be closing any time soon. Yay!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flick On For Earth Hour

“Earth Hour is a great collaborative effort to heighten awareness of the world’s quickly-changing environment and the need to address our tremendous impact on it,” says Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. “By turning off our lights for an hour on March 29, Londoners can join together and do their part to help save our environment for future generations.”

Excerpted from a press release from the Corporation of The City of London, Ontario.
On Saturday, March 29th of this year, municipal leaders around the world are asking everyone to refrain from burning "non-essential" lighting between the hours of 8 and 9 PM. Inserts in our hydro bills, public awareness campaigns, complete with billboards, posters and pamphlets and LED light displays, are reminding us to conserve for that precious hour of symbolic allegiance to a vacuous ideal. The carbon I save from sitting in the dark for one hour will promptly be spent between the hours of 9 and 10 PM.

During a typical evening, Mapmaster and I run our respective computers, employ the light of one small lamp and turn on the bathroom light if it's particularly dark to ensure we pee in the correct repository. This upcoming Saturday, between the hours of 8 and 9 PM, my abode will be the most energized on the block. Why waste electricity that's going to be generated besides? Take advantage of those smart meters.

The London Fog, Dust My Broom, Mitchieville and Lisa's Kitchen invite you to hasten Spring. Burn as much hydro as you can during this hour. Turn on every light and lamp, fire up the space heaters, bake some bread, cook some soup, do some laundry, print some recipes and be sure to flush. Do your part to combat global cooling.


PLAY LOUD


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Earth Hour: I Ain't Turning Off Shit (Video)


THIS IS DENIALCORE.

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I am just as God didn't make me


I love post-modernism. You are free - no expected - to mix and match realities, giving all and none equal weight, because they're all true - but not really. It's all relative and I am my own construction.

Whatever.

This sounds like a story invented by those masters of all things offensive, The Frogs.

Ethicist Margaret Somerville says Mr. Beatie's story speaks to the uprooting of the biologically natural family, a process that began with same-sex marriage.

"Once you take away that fundamental biological reality, once you say that family is what you define it as ... then you can do this sort of thing," said Ms. Somerville, founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

"Where I would do a reversal on this is to say, 'You've artificially made yourself a man. You're not a man, you're a woman and you're having a baby and you're actually having your own baby. Just because you put on a clown suit, doesn't mean that you don't still exist underneath.' "

She added: "It's a very touchy thing, this deconstruction of our biological reality and the institutions that have existed across all kinds of societies over thousands and thousands of years to establish stability, respect and certainty. I think we're just playing with fire."

Hmmm . . . yes . . . well, next week I think I'll add some animal cocks too . . .

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Monday, March 24, 2008

"Left Wing Fashionista" mp3

PLAY LOUD

"Left Wing Fashionista"
words & music: Francis del la cruz le Fou

She’s a left wing fashionista.
I went to hear give a speech, yeah.
So much taller in her boots, yeah,
With dogma which she shoots ya.
She’s got ideas for you and me.
Beneath the wool she’s a ravenous beast.

She’s got books on postmodern culture.
In the classroom she’s the vulture:
Picks apart unjust ideology;
She mixes pathos with sociology.
She's so practised in her patience -
The way she rolls her is just amazing.

She’s not quite sure what you just said,
So she’ll offer her opinion instead.
She’s a left wing fashionista;
She's done the journey to the east, yeah.
She’s a left wing fashionista.
Beneath the wool is a ravenous beast, yeah!

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Save the Pandas from the Polar Bears

Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring. It would be self-defeating if the environmental movement degenerated into a religion of gloomy faith. (Faith, ungrounded certainty, is no virtue.)
Author Ian McEwan, suspect climate change sceptic.

Self-defeating yes, but not for those looking to profit from the gloomy outlook of the converted who seek not only to atone for their own sins, but also the perceived sins of their united neighbors. Some like it hot, some like it cold, and the sun doesn't care whether you work for Exxon or Al Gore. The climate giveth and the climate taketh away.

Biologist Jennifer Marohasy in conversation with Mike Duffy:
Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."

Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"

Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."
Not a squeak out of Jack Layton this year lamenting the fact that the majority of Canadians have not yet shed their winter coats in favour of shorts, even though Spring has officially arrived.

cp: The Broom

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Absenteeism among the decision-makers

By Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best's account of the City's policy on administrative pay, a 5.4 per cent increase that gave Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Fielding a $248,824 salary last year was part of a program to retain "the best of the best" in London. This might even be an admirable policy if there were any demonstration at all that London's administrators are in fact among "the best of the best" or even competent. In the absence of any evidence pointing to that conclusion, however, taxpayers will have to take the Mayor's word for it and dismiss any suggestion that her word might be informed in any way by her long-standing close association with Fielding.

Fielding's in-house reputation may account for the genial reception he was accorded earlier this month for his presentation to Council on the subject of absenteeism among municipal employees under his administration's oversight (PDF) — figures that are now reported as an average of 19.4 days per employee per year, or twice the 9.7 day national average for municipal workers. To the untrained taxpayer who must bear the brunt of the estimated $485,000 cost for every day contributing to the average, these numbers alone might call into question Fielding's competency at managing the surfeit of highly-paid municipal administrators who are responsible for city workers. In any event, they can only speculate which or how many of the eleven recommendations Fielding made to address the problem — most of which are couched strictly in bureaucratic mission-speak — are simply a continuation of his administration's existing "engage[ment] in addressing absenteeism […] for the last four years." Given that absenteeism has climbed over the last four years, a little less engagement by administration might actually make for an improvement.

Of course, taxpayers can only speculate because politicians have declined to find out the answer out on their behalf, as they have with the question of why administration hadn't been forthcoming with its recommendations after four years of engagement until now. Far from questions regarding his competency, Fielding instead received the praise of many Councillors for his efforts as well as the gratitude of Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best for an "incredible amount of work" put into the presentation — work that, from the position of those paying for it, might be described as a necessary exercise in damage control in the face of sudden scrutiny over not only his administration's performance but also over concerns of secrecy and an apparent reluctance to communicate administration's problems to Council or to the public until brought to Council's attention by Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen at the behest of some of his constituents.

As the principle support and government of administration, Councillors cannot help but be acutely aware that the absenteeism problem reflects poorly on their oversight. So it is no surprise that many of them should give themselves over to being mollified by Fielding's assurances — enough not only to dispose of their interest in the matter for the foreseeable future but also to deflect the issue to the improbable one of perceived insults towards city workers. Aside from the Mayor's gratuitous apology "on behalf of others" for that "disservice," Coun. Nancy Branscombe took the opportunity for a piece of preposterous grandstanding before the presentation's audience of firefighters and unionized city workers packing the gallery when she accused "some" Councillors of making irresponsible and flippant remarks about their work ethic. Whatever sensitivities those workers might have about their work ethic, Coun. Branscombe is well aware that a search for any of these putative remarks would be entirely in vain. The theatrics on both sides of Council chambers certainly reinforce at least one common perception, however — that politicians are often more interested in cultivating the approval of their unions than protecting the interests of taxpayers.

The reluctance of some Councillors to address the absenteeism problem should not, however, be taken to disparage all of the recommendations culminating from "four years of engagement," which include the sensible precautions of supporting "changes to the number of 'sick day codes' and apply[ing] strict definitions to their application," endorsing discussions of "sick day entitlements" in future contract negotiations, surveying other municipalities' practises, and developing tools to track replacement wage costs (PDF). We would like to add make-or-break performance targets for municipal managers, but the sad truth is that they are relatively powerless to address absenteeism on either an individual or group basis except to monitor the problem, just as even the most worthwhile of policy recommendations will prove only minimally effective. The reasons for this are amply demonstrated by the particular phenomenon that attends every Council discussion of the issue, but neither politicians, administration nor the media seem interested to even remark upon the forceful display of unionized city workers packing Council galleries, let alone to draw the necessary conclusions from it.

Much of the speculation when the issue was first raised surrounded the psychological reasons behind absenteeism — feelings that one's contributions are not adequately "valued," or other variations upon the theme. But the simplest and most obvious explanation is that employees will most often miss time when their attendance makes little difference to either their own job performance or the productivity of their workplace. This kind of redundancy is built into not only union contracts but also the expectations of departmental administrators in public service, and it is a security that municipal unions will expend their tax-funded resources to protect at all costs. The disproportionate political power that these unions wield over public decision-making undermines the ability of cities to deliver services efficiently and to budget in the public interest — as when a threatened CUPE strike in Hamilton averted the City's plans to control expenses by employing more casual workers. Politicians claiming to oversee the public interest more often than not must defer to union management in questions of service delivery and cost containment, an arrangement that produces decidedly one-sided benefits going to unions and not to taxpayers. One would be tempted to conclude that municipal services are the property of public service unions rather than of taxpayers or their representatives.

The solution to absenteeism is both simple and straight-forward, even if the ability to achieve it is less so — minimize the influence of unions on personnel and contracts by out-sourcing basic services like public works maintenance, information management and permit issuance to the private sector which has, unlike municipal departments, a financial and not simply political incentive to reduce unnecessary costs like those associated with absenteeism. Given municipal authority over contract deliverables, out-sourcing is a remedy that would save taxpayers money without inflicting costs except to union privileges.

Until municipal services are wrested away from the control of unions, hand-wringing over absenteeism will remain just so many presentations and reports without any real achievement. Considering administration's collusion in negotiating union contracts, out-sourcing management is another idea worth exploring.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Did Not Inhale The Smoke From That Burning Cross

VDH:

I think the liberal blanket endorsement of the Obama speech will later come back to haunt its enthusiasts, once they see the creepy freak show that emerges from the woodwork, immune in public discourse now from absolute standards of rebuke...

This was a transformational speech—but in ways its endorsers can hardly believe but will surely regret. The voters of Pennsylvania will be the first indication of Obama's folly, followed by the moral paralysis that meets the next outbreak of racism and hatred in the public forum.

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Expensive at half the price

Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best defended the rapid expansion in the number of municipal administrators earning $100,000 or more from 50 to 74 last year as the price of keeping "the best of the best" in London — a price that some taxpayers might even be willing to bear if there were any evidence at all that London's administrators are "the best of the best." But in the absence of any apparent competitive pressures luring administrators away from London, as Gerry Macartney of the London Chamber of Commerce notes, salary hikes consistently above the rate of inflation between 2000 and 2007 — as much as 40 per cent in at least one case — appear to be nothing more than examples of palm-greasing among friends. The London Free Press is right to call it the "$100K club (PDF).

As documented earlier this year by Jim Horne, and published here on the London Fog, the number of all municipal employees making $100,000 or more rose from 12 to 71 just between 2000 and 2006 (PDF). According to Ontario Ministry of Finance figures, Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Fielding was the seventh-highest paid municipal employee in Ontario in 2006. As one of "the best of the best," he has recommended to Council for at least two years running that it grant requests to departments that exceed budget targets.

On a related note, the Statement of Remuneration and Expenses of the politicians who approve the department budgets that include salary hikes for administrators is now available (PDF). Taxpayers can expect a 4.5 per cent increase last year in total salaries, benefits and expenses for politicians to be surpassed this year now that Council has voted itself an almost 30 per cent hike in expense allowances.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Return of the humanitarian junket

According to the London Free Press, Controller Gord Hume would be "shocked" if anyone opposed a recommendation to Board of Control to support a CIDA-funded initiative lending the City's solid waste management expertise to municipalities in Cambodia (PDF). Allow me then to shock Hume and the theatrical sentiments he employs to ward off scrutiny.

"I think part of our responsibility as a leading municipality is to help others in the world," said Hume of the project, a laudable objective if true in the first place, or if it could be assumed that the municipality is competent at helping Londoners in the second. In any event, it should come as no surprise that there is neither documented nor even anecdotal claims of any connection between London's expertise in the subject and the experiences or resources of waste management in tropical third-world countries in the staff recommendation to Board of Control. The benefits to Cambodian municipalities can only be imagined, which is more than can be said for any benefits to London despite the bald assertion of Noelle Grosse, outreach officer for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities sponsoring the program.

Given the dubious merits of the project for either Cambodians or Londoners, the most that can be said for it is that an electronic exchange of emails or reports would probably do no harm. However, there are decidedly tangible benefits to the municipal employees on behalf of whom the City's Chief Strategic Planning Officer and Chief Administrative Officers are making the recommendation to Board of Control, which include paid travel and expenses for "one or 2 technical missions" to Cambodia each year for two or three years on paid municipal staff time — of which the Planning Officer, Jennifer Kirkham, has already had one opportunity to take advantage. Just as certainly, there would be direct and appreciable costs to taxpayers of paying staff time to employees in Cambodia.

Weighing the speculative benefits against the concrete costs, the program appears to be another of the City's exercises in providing junkets to its employees under the guise of humanitarianism, as when Council set aside $25,000 last year to cover shortfalls in fund-raising for a project sending city staff to Honduras to install playground equipment.

As for the question of why Hume would wax so hysterical in defense of junketeering even in advance of any criticism, politicians like himself are by and large sequestered in a close society in which actions and thoughts are more often scrutinized and approved by their managerial peers who expect to benefit from shared codes and purposes, than by taxpayers.

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How tapeworms propagate

Some City politicians are describing as "fear-mongering" the London Property Management Association's warnings to tenants of $20 per month rent increases if the Housing Advisory Committee's proposed Rental Licensing Program (PDF) is adopted, as neither licensing fees nor the question of which rental units will have to be licensed have been settled yet.

The amount itself may be speculative, but it is hardly fear-mongering to warn that regulatory costs to landlords will be passed on to consumers, costs that must assume not only any proposed fees to cover the $219,000 needed to hire and equip two new full-time inspectors to police the program but the additional regulatory burdens of drawing up and submitting various property maintenance, waste management, parking and floor plans, and, in the case of out-of-town landlords, employing local agents. Given these costs, $20 per month would appear moderate in many instances, but under the proposed program tenants will face the additional penalty of deterring landlords from providing discretionary upgrades when regulatory costs must be assumed instead. If Coun. Judy Bryant is worried that speculation about the costs causes "a huge amount of unnecessary stress for tenants," the obvious solution would be not to impose any.

It should hardly need to be said that the presumed objective of the program to create a "fair playing field" in the rental housing market is not within the City's proper sphere of responsibility, but it must be added that such a course, if rigorously pursued, will have the effect of denying Londoners rental opportunities. Under a burdensome regulatory regime, the availability of decent and mid-priced units will always tend to be sacrificed either for cheap units in which upgrades can be kept to an absolute minimum or to luxury units in which high prices can absorb the regulatory costs.

Under existing property standard laws and the availability of various recourses to tenants, the proposed program is a solution in search of a problem. In defense of replacing complaint-driven inspections with mandatory ones, municipal officers submit the highly anecdotal claims that tenants do not complain because they fear retribution and that licensing will "potect [sic] the residential amenity, character and stability of residential areas."

For the first claim, it is refuted by staff's own admission in the proposal that the number of property standards complaints has nearly doubled between 2002 and 2007, due in part to increased referrals from municipally-funded agencies that have already expanded staff to work with these issues. Will these hires be rescinded if mandatory inspections are implemented to forestall the need for complaints? Of course not. For the second claim, as much as "amenity, character and stability" are anecdotal and arbitrarily defined in the first place, they ought to be characterized as more functions of an area's residents, as their neighbours will usually testify. If licensing were a remedy to community concerns, it would be substantially more useful to license tenants rather than units…

…except that that idea would hardly be amenable to the class-division prejudices of the program's core of progressive socialist proponents, expert raconteurs of the classic landlord-as-oppressor narrative. In a city with as high a rental vacancy rate as London's, it is a stretch of any ordinary sensibility to imagine that people have been "put" into oppressive tenancies from which they cannot extricate themselves without the intervention of politicians and bureaucrats. Nevertheless, a passive victim class is a pervasive invention of political documentary in pursuit of political interventions on its behalf, even when prior political interventions have created the apparent exigencies for which they must be exercised.

As example, Edward Michael George submits an article by Peter Kuitenbrouwer in today's National Post that ascribes the blame for violence in some Toronto neighbourhoods to urban planners and politicians for designing areas that "teach […] residents that they are less valuable." As much as massive planned low-income projects degrade the structural environment of cities, it is obvious that no one has ever been "put" in them, let alone with permission to receive the lesson that they are vessels to be filled with degradation or that they are simply passive distributors of violence in response. By denying their roles as actors in their own lives, the author ascribes rather more a poor — shall we say, less than human — value to people, which leaves them with no recourse nor reason to amend themselves of course. It should be evident that if urban planning and politics were responsible for this state of affairs, then less of the same would be remedial, but alas a program that denies people rationality to compose their own actions leaves them dependent upon nothing else than more of the same — except different in some urban planning or political way, it must be supposed.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pothole London

London, Ontario is notorious for it's crumbling, pothole-ridden streets and aging sewer system. Council blames it on the weather and continues to beg higher levels of government for a bigger share of the collective loot. Meanwhile, London is at risk of becoming a modern day Atlantis. Taxes continue to go up in this city, but us hapless Londoners see no corresponding increase in common sense.

Lcrap: Politicians who underfund road work are to blame for a growing army of potholes, London's road chief says.

"We're losing ground," roads director David Leckie told city council's environment and transportation committee yesterday.

[..] So, while some have blamed this year's potholes on constant freeze-thaw winter cycles weather, Leckie begs to differ.

Poorly maintained roads are criss-crossed with cracks that allow water to seep in and expand when it freezes.

"The freeze-thaw cycles are blamed, but if those cracks weren't there in the first place, we wouldn't have a problem," he said.
If you have some time left over after navigating the streets of London, bother a bureaucrat by reporting every pothole you see during business hours - 519-661-4570 - or if you prefer, leave some voice mail - 519-661-4965 - for them to catch up on when they return from a sick day. The result of such badgering will likely only result in a further increase in taxes with no improvements in service for dollars coercibly collected, but protests can be fun.

PLAY LOUD

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Caledonia occupation creates union jobs and unsurprisingly promotes moral relativism

The proposed solutions justify the means to an idealized end. Time for a group hug!

Ontario taxpayers have shelled out $50 million and counting for costs associated with the two-year aboriginal occupation of a housing development in Caledonia, including almost $500,000 to pay for the aboriginal negotiating team.

The bulk of the costs stem from the round-the-clock policing, now pegged at $35 million and rising, according to government figures quietly posted on the province's website.

[..] While opposition critics say the occupation is "savaging taxpayers," Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said negotiation is still much cheaper than litigation down the road.

"The cost of policing is the cost of keeping the peace," Bryant said. "We can either spend 10 times this amount in the courts and the lawyers are the big winners, or we can try and negotiate a resolution that will avoid the extremely damaging and expensive economic costs that come with confrontation."

The province isn't hiding the cost of the dispute, Bryant added. After several requests from the media for cost breakdowns, the Liberals have posted the tally online and will continue to provide quarterly updates, Bryant said.

Although the occupation has dragged out over two years with little progress at the negotiating table, Bryant said he's feeling more optimistic now than when he started. Having met numerous times with Six Nations representatives, Bryant said he's looking forward to a time when the dispute is resolved by a negotiated settlement and the community can get on with healing.
HT: The Broom.

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"I said that dirty word again. Every time you say Israel, Negros get awfully quiet . ."

Here is some more video footage of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man Barack Obama has frequently credited as a significant influence. Perhaps Obama doesn't agree with everything this so-called representative of God preaches, but 20 years of frequent exposure to someone who clearly seems to be overtly obsessed with race and class divisions is chillingly unsettling.

Mark Steyn:
All Senator Obama will say is that “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” And in that he may be correct. There are many preachers who would be happy to tell their congregations “God damn America.” But Barack Obama is not supposed to be the candidate of the America-damners: He’s not the Reverend Al Sharpton or the Reverend Jesse Jackson or the rest of the racial-grievance mongers. Obama is meant to be the man who transcends the divisions of race, the candidate who doesn’t damn America but “heals” it — if you believe, as many Democrats do, that America needs healing.
cp: The Broom

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The psychosomatic benefits of health warnings on cigarette packages

For those smokers who are encouraged to quite smoking due to the graphic warnings on cigarette packages, Health Canada can pat themselves on the back. To the majority of smokers who have not quit since these images were introduced, they might be suggesting they don't want them hanging around too much longer.



Ever imagine the bright red broken heart as your own? You know, just after you climb that third set of stairs and happen to reach for a cigarette to calm your racing heart once you reach the top?

Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., found that heart patients in a study who were more optimistic were 30 to 50 per cent less likely to die in the 10 years following their diagnoses than those who are more pessimistic.

Dr. John C. Barefoot, who presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Baltimore on Thursday, said the study looked at the impact of a patient's attitude toward disease.

"For patients, this means that having positive expectations can not only make you feel better but also potentially live longer," he said in a news release issued Thursday.

. . . Dr. Redford Williams, director of the behavioural medicine research centre at the Duke University Medical Center, told CBC News that the most optimistic patients were anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent less likely to die over the 10-year period than the least optimistic patients.

He said the study compared the top quarter of the patients, who were most optimistic, with the bottom, least-optimist quarter of the group.

Even when the researchers adjusted the data to account for such factors as depression and social isolation, the more optimistic patients had better outcomes, he said.

. . . Barefoot said the higher risk of death, resulting from a more pessimistic outlook, remained consistent despite several factors, including the severity of the disease, age, gender, income, symptoms of depression and ability to complete routine tasks.
So when you're feeling immortal and reach for a cigarette, just stare into the warning you receive, visual your arteries clogging, and contemplate.


Now light that cigarette, inhale deeply, and think really hard about how guilty you feel and how badly you want to quit. Hold that drag in a little longer just to really go deep. That's it, choke your brain.

You are damned dear smoker, you are damned!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Precautionary principle

The term "Spitzer" belongs in the dictionary, and its definition should be "any politician."Arnold Kling
Harsh, yes, but if the precautionary principle should ever be invoked in the context of politics it should be from the experience that harm almost always obviates good from political actions (link via Roger Kimball).

See also: Spitzer's Media Enablers. In possession of near plenary legal powers, Spitzer deserved at least as much or more scrutiny than his targets, who held at best merely financial and commutable wherewithals. Instead, the media acted as though they were adjuncts to his office.

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Aspirationalista



There may come a time when Americans look back amenably on George W. Bush's presidency as a period of relatively benign tinkering and only sporadic malfeasance… or they may continue to lionize Franklin Delano Roosevelt and uphold his administration's spite and venality as the model for all his political heirs.

See also: The Wit & Wisdom of Barack Obama

The overarching theme of Obama's speeches, and of his campaign, is that America is a fetid sewer whose most glorious days lie just ahead, thanks to the endless ranks of pathetic losers who make it a beacon of hope to all mankind.
Links to Obamaganda and Wit & Wisdom via Billy Beck, here and here

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Your baby is spoiling my Earth

During Joe Fontana's 2004 federal campaign, I recall an audience member at a debate at Central Library questioned 'Smokin' Joe' on the apparent contradiction in his claims to support both breeders/families and protecting the environment. Joe tried to weasel his way out of answering, calling the question ridiculous, and questioning the sobriety of the questioner. One could easily see that beneath Joe's slickly polished veneer he really didn't want to answer the question. Even some of the Greens in the audience cowered when this question arose. It seems not many people want to face this truth: babies and environmentalism are in conflict.

And babies are perennially popular. No matter how seemingly enlightened a woman appears these days, most still seem willing to sacrifice their bodies, lives and minds, and breed at some point.

In today's Free Press, Vivian Song admits to attending a Babypalooza - the very name of it sent shivers up my spine and forced me to withhold a choking burp over my keyboard.

This scenario is shameful not only for being so cliche, but it's also appalling for contravening a basic tenet of eco-consciousness: Stop breeding.

. . . Having children is selfish, environmentalists say, driven by the egotistical need to preserve the genetic line at the expense of the planet.

The world population is projected to grow from 6.7 billion in 2007 to 9.2 billion in 2050.

Humans are consuming the planet's resources faster than they can be renewed, says the WWF in its Living Planet Report published in 2006.

Our "Ecological Footprint" has more than tripled since 1961, and now exceeds the world's ability to regenerate by about 25%. But overpopulation is largely ignored among politicians because of what John Seager of the Population Connection calls CIA -- China, immigration and abortion -- three highly controversial issues.

. . . "We can drive hybrid cars and buy compact fluorescent light bulbs but we're not going to shop our way out of this," Seager says.
Fortunately, the hosts of the debate at Central insisted Joe had an obligation to explain the apparent contradiction of the various sides of his mouth. When he did answer, he admitted that he was most supportive of families. Joe was no fool: families vote; trees don't.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

We Don't Believe (In Global Warming) - The Video

Germany's Kohlenstoff Sauerstoff Freundschaft (KSF) were denying anthropogenic climate change before anybody ever even thought to affirm it. Their new release is as uncompromising as ever in its single-or-fewer-minded denial of settled science.



Crossposted to put the evil back in Mitchieville

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Diversity at War

"Jesus was a black man", so says Obama's pastor, which is appropriate since the second coming of Christ appears to be black as well.


Ht: Darcey

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

There's no "I" in "Equity"

Oh, hang on a moment, there is one … smack in the middle.

After former premier Mike Harris expunged the word from ministry documents in 1996, Ontario Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced on Sunday that "equity" would be restored to the province's public schools — that, or $43 million to hire social workers and psychologists, whichever comes first.

According to Ms. Wynne, "[w]e have to introduce that so teachers, parents and kids can function in this diverse society," presumably meaning that a majority of the province's population has not functioned since 1996, and that it took her ministry almost five years to notice. Equity will be allowed to take the place of literacy in Ontario schools, as the Minister of Education has clearly demonstrated her capacity to function without any ability to string words together to form a meaningful sentence. Similarly, voters are apparently still expected to be able to function in their capacity to elect Ms. Wynne without the ability to grasp that fact.

The ministry will be assisted in its reinstatement of university-speak for "we need jobs for our pointless social science degrees" by Dr. Karen Mock — from accounts, a qualified expert on the subject.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Smokers are terrorists and fatties are potential suicide bombers


Nobody's Business points to two ads that could have been produced by graduates of the Fenris Badwulf School of Telemarketing Excellence. Enlarged images here and here. Minding your own business has never been a popular notion with advocacy groups seeking to create a utopia of bliss with other people's money.

Ht: The Mighty Billy Beck.

cp: Dust My Broom

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I Don't Recycle No More: The Video



count your tears as they pour
i leave my butts at your door
and i don't recycle no more.


Crossposted to Mitchieville, where mere possession of a blue bin can result in a morals charge

UPDATE: Speaking of Mitchieville, there's a new denialcore video for WE DON'T BELIEVE (IN GLOBAL WARMING) premiering there tonight.

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FC5's "Forest City's Sinking" mp3


As the Forest City crumbles down, more underground music continues to surface from beneath the ruins. The recently discovered Forest City 5 are a distortion-loving quintet, fueled by malt-liquor madness, with a huge chip on their collective shoulder.

As with other members of the London underground scene, including Diversity Workshop, Hippy Sympathizer and Frank le Fou, FC5 claim to have been inspired by an obscure political manifesto known as "Londonista!" While the details of the manifesto remain obscure (the text was made available only to a select few living within the original city limits), FC5 guitarist, Frank 'Scenic' Smith, assures that it is a London centered cultural movement.

"We don't write songs about nothin' but London. It's where we live, what we eat and what we think about. This is a cultural movement to transform how we think about cities. I hear a lot a honkies talking about a lot of infrastructure funding from various levels of government. That's bulls*%t, man. The resources of the city belong to the people. This is a grass roots movement.

"Screw this top down funding - it's how the honkies of old have always kept us - the people - in place. They take our taxes, pay themselves then give us back what little remains and tell us where and how to spend it. We are going to declare the free city-state of the Forest City. We have the means to elevate London to great heights, but first we must dismantle the apparatus which has been keeping us down."

With Detroit only two hours away, the rumblings of the revolution can be felt all the way down the 401 (so watch out for potholes).

Forest City 5: "The Forest City's Sinking"

PLAY LOUD

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Paying The Piper

Ezra Levant on the confused and confusing Cross-Country Checkup scattershot equivocation of Bill C-10 and the Human Rights Commissions, under the general question of whether freedom of speech is passing out of favour in Canada. One almost got the sense that C-10 was an excuse to also tackle the taboo subject of HRCs as censorship bodies in a "balanced" way -- as if the two issues shared any common elements at all.

Not being given free government money to inflict your artistic vision on the rest of us is completely different from being threatened by the police for inflicting that vision.

It's easy to be brave when criticizing Bush; the silence of the arts community about human rights commission censorship suggests the only thing they're really idealistic about is free money.
Good on Rex Murphy for covering this issue and raising the obvious problems with government-as-editor in a gentle way with freedom-refractory guests; bad on Canadians for the shallowness of almost every caller.

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Getting beyond petition drives

Rabbi Dow Marmur in today's Red Star, on the cruel, systematic discomforts that "lofty" ideas about freedom can inflict on the blasphemophobic.

Similarly, though free expression must always be a given, if the cartoons offend members of the Muslim community it's a good enough reason to curb our quest for liberty for the sake of harmony...

For even lofty democratic principles can be used as tools to oppress, or at least cause discomfort to, minorities.
Fenris helps expand on the rabbi's implicit lesson for budding change agents suffering from discomfort.
..[I]f I wish my agenda to be pushed forward, perhaps I too should do things that inspire fear. But in a way celebrated by my culture, of course. Otherwise rioting is a violent mob, not a celebration; burning is arson, not raising consciousness about Global Warming; and beheading is murder, not something dreamboat Che Guevara would do...

Gosh darn, how does your culture celebrate upset-ness? There are many villagers in the family of the village peoples of the family of Male, Female, Transgendered, and other Interspecies Erotica celebrants. And the next time the Double Standarded Toronto Star hurts your feelings, how ever shall you communicate your desire, your demand, your dictated order for censorship? Hmmm?
Wretchard provides further hope and support to the aggrieved and victimized.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

We're Dumber Together

Seen at the Corner.

I want to live in an America where ants and rain never bother my picnic.
I want to live in an America where ice cream and beer help you take off the pounds.
I want to live in an America that is only visited by friendly space aliens like ET and Spock, not bad ones like Predator and the body snatchers.
I want to live in an America where it's never too hot in the summertime and winter always has enough snow to be pretty but not enough to make the roads dangerous.
Not sure whether this is a parody of "Triumph Of The Will.I.Am", or just stuff that would have been included but still found resistance in focus groups and won't be unveiled until 2012 or 2016-ish.

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Friday Night Circle

Who needs performing arts centres, when there are used mobile police command buses?

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

High times on Mount Sinai

You can get hold of some pretty good shit if you got connections to The Big Guy.

High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

"The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a clasic [sic] phenomenon," he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see music."

He mentioned his own experience when he used ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, during a religious ceremony in Brazil's Amazon forest in 1991. "I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations," Shanon said.

He said the psychedelic effects of ayahuasca were comparable to those produced by concoctions based on bark of the acacia tree, that is frequently mentioned in the Bible.

"Whoa,dude! I gotta tell somebody about this shit!"

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Do you have a permit for that ziplock baggie?


This is arguably the stupidest story I have come across all day and a perfect example of the twisted logic employed by the majority of those who are sadly paid to determine the fate of their constituents. A city council committee in Chicago is recommending a ban on small plastic bags because they are used by drug dealers to traffic small quantities of their wares. As if the drug dealers won't simply obtain their supply of small bags on the black market, like they do their illegal drugs, or upgrade to a larger bag. No word on the strategy in the works to deal with large scale traffickers. The only losers here will be the merchants who sell small bags, who are essentially being treated as illicit dealers themselves.
Lt. Kevin Navarro, commanding officer of the Chicago Police Department's Narcotics and Gang Unit, said the ordinance will be an "important tool" to go after grocery stores, health food stores and other businesses. The bags are used by the thousand to sell small quantities of drugs at $10 or $20 a bag.

Navarro referred to the plastic bags as "Marketing 101 for the drug dealers." Many of them have symbols, allowing drug users to ask for "Superman" or "Blue Dolphin" instead of the drug itself, he said.

Prior to the final vote, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) expressed concern about arresting innocent people. He noted that extra buttons that come with suits, shirts and blouses -- and jewelry that's been repaired -- come in similar plastic bags.

Burnett was reassured by language that states "one reasonably should know that such items will be or are being used" to package, transfer, deliver or store a controlled substance. Violators would be punished by a $1,500 fine.
Cross-posted at Dust my Broom

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We Are The Boot Stomping On A Face Forever That We've Been Waiting For

Nothing says "America", "Freedom", and "Peace" like a mob chanting the name of a messianic political figure as he promises his believers "unity" with the state.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Searching out the true deniers

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change has just released a report showing that humans have very little do with global warming.

Before facing major surgery, wouldn’t you want a second opinion?

When a nation faces an important decision that risks its economic future, or perhaps the fate of the ecology, it should do the same. It is a time-honored tradition in science to set up a ‘Team B,’ which examines the same original evidence but may reach a different conclusion. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was set up to examine the same climate data used by the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The whole report is available in PDF format, here.

As Peter Foster notes, if the proponents of man-made global warming are so certain of their own grasp of reality, they should have no trouble disputing the claims of the NIPCC without resulting to the usual series of ad-hominem arguments.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Overtime on the undertime

"This is a defining moment in my relationship with this council so I hope that your minds are not already made up and there is no rush to judgment."
Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Fielding struck this defensive pose right from the beginning of his remarks to Council before today's presentation on the problems of absenteeism among municipal employees (PDF). Mr. Fielding should at least be commended for a mostly forthright acknowledgement of his position as he faces unprecedented scrutiny over concerns of secrecy and unwillingness to communicate issues in his administration to Council or to the public. These concerns stemmed not only from the insupportable advice of the City's lawyer to initially disclose the absenteeism problem in a closed-door session of Board of Control, but also because the issue was only flagged for discussion by Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen after two of his constituents noticed the implicit troubles as signalled in the City's advertisement for a Health & Wellness Specialist.

Aside from the absenteeism figures released in today's presentation (PDF), Mr. Fielding makes the critical observation that "the issue of attendance and absenteeism was first flagged in the 2006 Budget submission, and further defined with a business case for the 2007 Budget." If nothing has changed at City Hall, it would appear that it may be at least as much a lack of diligence on the part of elected officials to receive communications as it of administration's to forward them. Nevertheless, the question must be begged: What was the scale of the problem as reported in those previous documents?

Not to put too fine an apology on Mr. Fielding, however, his admission — it would appear almost to be a boast — that administration has "been engaged in addressing absenteeism […] for the last four years" obviously underscores his administration's competence at dealing with it. As the chart below shows, absenteeism rates have largely escalated over those same four years, particularly among inside workers (CUPE 101), outside workers (CUPE 107) and Dearness Home employees.* Mr. Fielding seems to be revealing more than he intends when he says that "we understand the absenteeism issues, but that we may not fully understand completely all its reasons for existence." In other words, we know what's going on but we haven't got the faintest idea what to do about it.



*Note that absenteeism figures do not include employees of the City's boards and commissions; for example, library or police workers.

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A Discussion With Supreme Master Ching Hai On Climate Change

Can vegetarianism save the planet?



Q: "Do other civilizations in the universe have the same problem (of climate change)?"

A: "Wherever there are people or planets, these things can always happen."

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City's Gonna Be Inna Pie Shape, Yo! mp3

When the budget rolls around, no matter how you slice it, you know the "city's gonna be inna pie shape, yo!"


Diversity Workshop
City's Gonna Be Inna Pie Shape, Yo!

PLAY LOUD

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