Monday, November 30, 2009

Geist on the CRTC Hearinga

I watched a good bit of the hearings last week (on-line!) and realized only as the week went on that there were many more things being discussed than a simple surtax on cable and satellite providers, as had been suggested by the initial rent-seeking activity of both sides of the debate, the annoying and moronic ads running by both sides.
Michael Geist has a fine summary of all of the points in The Star.
Fee for carriage is only part of the story, as broadcasters are also seeking to: block U.S. signals; leave some Canadian communities without over-the-air television; and delay the transition to digital television transmission until 2013.
He discusses the requests in somedetail.
My own summary - the request is to reduce the level of current service to customers of the broadcast company, and regulate thee price upwards. This is at least better than what the Obamacare proposals seem to be - reduce choice and many aspects of quality in health insurance offerings, and then force everyone (except illegal aliens) to buy a policy. At least I can cancel my cable subscriptions.
Well, the hearings are not over yet.

New Grass Revival

Another Recommendation From Norm.
He's right - the transition at roughly two minutes is wonderful.
And I always love the site of that beautiful state capitol building (perhaps a fake but still pretty) on Austin City Limits.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Amazing Race - winnowing down to three

Well they sure got puckish (a feature I associate with my visits to the Czech Republic) with the telephone task. Assemble the five letters in the name Franz and guess that they should fill that name in some annoying form, among other items.
I give Meghan credit - she got it in two tries. She and Cheyne also have the full physical courage needed in this show.
Still that telephone thing seemed slightly unfair to people who would never know Prague's connection to Kafka. I love the Globetrotters but I think Sam and Dan were quite justified with their limited hint. Once you are told 'starts with F' it seems to me you have Farnz and Franz to try, though who knows in Czech.
More puckishness - the Golom task! Meghan was outstanding on that one.
Meghan and Cheyne reach the pit stop first and he rightly summarizes their virtues as being both physically strong and mentally strong, displayed clearly in this episode.
I had assumed the episode would just lead to the inevitable elimination of Brian and Ericka but the Globetrotters got themselves totally stuck on a simple puzzle (as had happened at least once before).
Farewell, Flight Time and Big Easy; I will miss you both.


I am astonished that Switzerland has managed to ban minarets and I think Oliver Kamm's comments are dead right.
I guess I should try to find out how 'minaret' is defined in the proposed law but I am assuming this is not simply a ban, which I could understand, on tall towers, hey maybe like steeples.
I do know this - one of my favorite new neighborhood architectural features is a lovely mosque building, which, according to my vague understanding, appears to me as well to feature a minaret.
I might be less thrilled if there were one on my block and prayers were called at nasty times of day, but that seems to me better handled by a noise control law.

I'm on Twitter!

Well, I am but that is not the point.
This is.
"Watch the ads and it's almost like paying."
I am sorry, as they point out in the song, I fear you have to click through to the site.
h/t Norm

ATP World Tour to Daydenko!

I would NEVER have bet on him at any odds, and I am a bit surprised that he dispatched del Potro in such a dominant way.
A large part of this is that I had not watched any Davydenko match in 2009.
I suspect that changes in 2010!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jaw-Dropping Fight!

Tiebreaker in the del Potro - Soderling semi-final. I agree with the announcers about the jaw-dropping!
And I have to agree. A bit sad that Soderling is falling rapidly behind.
As I see it, neither of these guys was known even to fans like me until June. They then participated in two of the greatest semi-finals ever at the French Open.
And they both then proved that this was not a fluke - they are a problem for a good while and can play on all courts. This makes my retirement plans look really good.
Soderling came in a substitute for Roddick but we can assume he will be around for a while.
I love watching del Potro. At no odds would I have planned to bet on a Davydenko - del Potro final,
Men's tennis is just too much fun this year!

del Potro!

I'll never forget the French semifinals this year.
I have now finally found the third set of the Soderling - del Potro match at the ATP World Tour and in two games (they are on set) there have been so many amazing shots.
Men's tennis is so great, I think as likely as ever now, and this is just confirming that.
They are on serve in the third, and I am delighted. I cannot pick one over the other.

BHL Really Jumps His Shark

This would be funny if it could be funny, and it is sad precisely as BHL has said a lot of good sense over the last years. But this is stunning in its lack of reflection; has he no sense of irony?
At this very moment, I am thinking about Emmanuelle, his wife. I am thinking about his two kids who saw their dad's name ignominiously dragged through the mud.
Well his wife chose him surely knowing what he had confessed to; and the word 'ignominiously' is comic in its placement. The guy confessed!
I am mostly thinking about him: Roman Polanski, who I don't know, but whose fate has moved me so much. Nothing will repair the days he has spent in prison.
Well he has not spent as many as he ought to in a sense because he fled many years ago.
Personally, I am astonished that this jerk got bail; he has proven a willingness to flee charges illegally, and I'd have thought that might play a role in such a decision.
Where do these European intellectuals live in their brains? Oh I know - anything the US does is wrong.
h/t Big Hollywood, who are much funnier than I am.

Friday, November 27, 2009

More CRTC Humour

Debbie Burke gets even funnier. She admits to being a producer on the bottom level who cannot get a contract for her stuff to appear on TV. She's making me wonder who would want to watch it.
She clearly calculates that being charming to the CRTC commissioners is more effective for her business than spending time creating better television that someone might want to watch.
Such is this country. Pathetic. Creative services indeed!

Canadian Content Offsets - Loons at the Helm

I've been grumpy about the CRTC hearings that are ongoing, but I am somewhat enjoying the comedic nature of the hearings this morning as Debbie Burke of something called MTroop Creative Services is testifying.
She sensibly seems opposed to fee for carriage or whatever the current euphemism is (basically it's a hand in my pocket removing money and giving it to Canadian broadcast capitalists who are able to exert influence).
But she has a howlingly funny proposal that basically mimics a carbon offset scheme but for Canadian broadcast content, not carbon. This is worthy of a company claiming to sell creative services!
I have to give the Pope credit - he asks sensibly who on Earth will manage the market for the Canadian content offsets and is trying to make ANY sense whatever of the proposition. Even the Pope finds this a bit complicated.
Needless to say, Debbie's solution is yet another regulatory body! Aaarrgggth.. What a silly little country.
Again, there is not a single person testifying in any way for actual Canadian viewers. I suspect most of them are like me - we like cable so we don't have to watch Canadian content!

Glee Episode 11 - Hairography

My original plan was to use a great line from the episode as the subject line.
But after a couple of great lines, I realized the writing was too good. About every minute there was a delight.
And to make that godawful song "Imagine" actually work is hard; but it did.
I loved the balance between political correctness and its negation.
Quinn's hug and the miniwagon were just perfect and delightful surprises.
And I am in love with Rachel. No doubt about it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Has There Even Been as Good a Year as This in Men't Tennis?

This has been a year of classics.
Right now I am watching Federer-del Potro on my computer, and Murray-Verdasco on my TV, in tape delay (and I know the outcome, and people should think about what that means).
But what a year. Verdasco-Nadal at the Australian! Federer at the French final! (And what a pair of semifinals there!) Federer-Roddick at Wimbledon!
I do not even recall what happened at the US Open. (del Potro one! wonderful.) It has been a stunning year.
And these ATP quarters are just great.
I certainly hope the women's game can get back to this level.
But that men's tennis in this year has tossed up the like of del Potro and Verdasco is a great tribute to sport in its most lovely moments.
UPDATE: Into a third set del Potro live online against Federer. Meanwhile the TV station carrying Murray-Verdasco is in the third set and I know how it comes out. People should think what that means and I strongly recommend CRTC commissioners try to figure it out. I know it will not come easily to them, having watched them at work.
UPDATE: into the third set, on serve.
Is this the best tennis I have ever seen? Sure looks like it to me!

CRTC Madness Continues

The hearings go on and the discussion continues to seem to hover around the idea that commissioners and arbitrators can decide what the signal from as TV channel is 'worth'.
Look - every room in my house has a TV, and I have been a customer of Rogers Cable for over 30 years, and I have begrudged their charges. They sell stuff in weird packages, so I end up able to receive around 300 channels, when I actually really want only at most ten.
Now the current hearings are actually pretty funny from my point of view. There seems some weird worship of local programming, when for 30 years it is perfectly clear that the reason I have paid for cable TV is to get non-local programming! The local channels are not among those I want! I don't need or want cable to get the local crap. And now some government commission wants to dun me to pay for what I never wanted at all!
The deepest irony is that I am watching these hearings on my computer, not over cable OR the air. These guys are headed the way of the dodo, and I hope I get to see a lot of them fade away. These hearings are an unpleasant blot on this society.

More Thoughts on the CRU Hack/Leak/Whatever

Having spent some days reading many many comments on some of the exposed communications, I feel perhaps somewhat less casual about it all. h/t to King Banaian for a reference to Stephen Karlson's post, which seems to me a nice summary of where my thinking is now. Personally, I think I am where Ilya Somin is cited as being in that post. Though the defensiveness about sharing the data seems utterly appalling to me, and not in keeping with anything that should resemble 'science'.
But the excellent reference to econometrics at the end of Karlson's post makes another great point: it's something I once sort of did and at the end this does affect my thinking. There is nothing more similar to climate models than econometric models, and the jiggery-pokery in those has always been an embarrassment.
And more embarrassing, both these sorts of models lie behind large policy decisions.

Do Not Mess With Mother Squirrels

...or, at least, with their babies.
But it appears to have underestimated its diminutive opponent, as the brave mother squirrel clearly has no intention of letting her baby become dinner and rushes to its aid by jumping on the dog's head.
After the whirlwind attack the mother squirrel springs free of the dog and rushes her baby back up into the safety of the tree.
The frustrated dog is left sitting forlornly at the base of the tree as its prey escapes into the upper branches
I am pretty impressed that the baby knows so readily to head up a tree, but I expect that is in fact a pretty useful adaptation, and not solely a just-so story.

More On Dancing With the Stars

This review was to the point in many ways.
Ya-freaking-hoo! For the first time in 6 seasons someone with a personality and someone we heard of before they danced on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars actually won the mirror ball trophy! I love Donny Osmond and I am so happy he won!
I grant you I knew who Kelly Osbourne is before watching the show, but other than she and Donny, anyone I had actually heard of got eliminated early. I have no idea who Mya is as a celebrity, though I grant she can dance.
But it is true that for pure charm, Mormons do pretty well.
I also agree with this part of the post:
Also way to go for Kelly Osbourne! You were the most improved and a joy to watch! She won over a whole new fan base and I hope we see more of her! Even though she was on the DWTS diet and there is a whole lot less of her!
Someone who seemed a mere brat to my mind came around wonderfully. Reality shows like this that generally try to reward excellence are the ones I like. It actually drives people who were not so excellent to find it a bit. And it was clear she knew she was being changed in the process as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michael Irvin versus Jerry Rice

One must give ABC credit. Putting these guys up against one another as dancers was a delight. It was particularly American that is was two Afro-American guys and two Slavic girls. What a country!
And it was sweet to see the snowboarder return.

Dancing With the Stars Season 9 Outcome

I cannot complain too much (and I do not disagree with Rondi's earlier cheering). I would have voted for Donny Osmond had I bothered to vote; he is just a charming fellow.
I suspect Mya suffered because a lot of viewers are like me and have no idea who she is and so no major reason to vote for her despite her clear dancing superiority; that is not what this is about.
Were the first seven seasons this much fun? I started watching only last year and have to admire the wit of the production team. It must be a very inexpensive show to produce as so few of the celebrities are known to me before the show. And some of the most famous, like Kelly Osbourne, are known only for worse reality shows. (I am VERY glad ABC involved her this year and she has been a treat to watch.)
I confess to totally enjoying the returns of the early round losers.
And the coaching session with Donny was really quite funny. Americans are awfully good at this kind of humor, in ways other cultures fail at badly. (We Canadians have a VERY mixed capability by comparison.)
The return of the Woz, Cloris, and Tom Daschle was good for a giggle.
As I watch this show now, what I most love is that these great dancers have a source of income.
In the end Donny Osmond's win is also Kym Johnson's, and she was fabulous. I loved them both. "I've got a boob on my back" - (I confess to being more taken by the ones on the front.) And she's an Aussie, like a couple of my nieces! No regrets at this outcome.
But Kelly made me cry, and it is very strange to find myself being so moved at the sight of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne being so moved. And the judges agreed utterly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dancing With the Stars

What will happen tonight? It is clear that if sheer performance is how it works out, Mya wins, and by miles.
But I find all the finalists quite attractive. Any Osmond would be automatically, and, it turns out, so is an Osbourne, especially when we see her parents standing up and applauding, despite how she probably spent her youth.
I still have no idea how Mya is a star or why the y has a funny thingie on top of it, bet she is certainly the class act in dancing. Let us hope some stupid other popularities do not stand in her way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Amazing Race

They hit Prague this week, a city I had managed to parlay into a business trip to Dresden a couple of years ago. And their visit featured the wonderful Old Town Square, the Estates General Theatre, where I attended a recital, and Prague Castle as the pitstop.
It was right that this was not an elimination leg, as the search for miniature mandolins was almost as ridiculously random as the haystack escapade.
But it was an entertaining leg, as it allowed for more tensions to grow between teams; this year has been astonishing in terms of teams helping one another, but with only four remaining, it seems a concern for individual survival is taking over.
I think I rather like all the remaining teams.
I am certainly a fan of Meghan, who is very competent physically (as was needed this week), and has proven great at solving problems. She does tend to chirp at Cheyne, as the Globetrotters say, but she is nothing in terms of complaining next to Ericka (though I can guess at why Brian stays with her). And both the gay brothers are great at bitchy whining.
So the next small number of weeks should be major fun.
In the show Prague looked great, and the Estates General Theatre was as magnificent as it is. Oddly they did not enter Wenceslas Square. Very oddly, to my mind.

MTS Allstream Before the CRTC

"Local signals have a value of zero"! Chris Peirce also points out that all the incentives that come of the useless CRTC are supplier incentives, and that we ought to be looking at demand! Hey, demand, that's me! Is there some way I can sign up for MTS Allstream service? Of course that is a pure dream in such a country as this.

Customers Mentioned Again at the CRTC!

The Pope mentions us, saying we should be ready to pay a lot more because HDTV is better than standard resolution TV.
The group presenting this morning (Canadian Cable Systems Alliance) points out that getting HDTV requires you to get a new TV and a new cable box, and maybe just driving charges up forever is not brilliant!
The spectacle of these ill-qualified bureaucrats contemplating setting prices would be funny if it could be funny. It is not funny - it is profoundly ugly, and I am coming to dislike every commissioner, through no fault of any one of them but for taking this role.
It is a little strange hearing ONLY the cable companies apparently worried about their customers.
A passing comment a little while ago may suggest why - the realization that nobody needs to watch television on a television. That development leaves the broadcasters with some sort of business model (it is not clear what) but the cable companies with nothing. So the cable (well, and satellite) companies are the ones most worried about alienating us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last Posts on Secretariat

Unless, of course, someone posts new videos on YouTube.
But there is a reason from my point of view. I am now in my seventh decade, and should I soon vanish, I want to document that the 1973 Belmont was the most amazing athletic event I can recall.
The earlier Triple Crown races should have been in that category but I was careless back then.
Please pardon my obsesion. I think the horse deserves it.

Death Panels

Look, any medical system that has to figure out how to ration services will have to feature something that resembles what has been called 'death panels'. How they function and who is in charge of them will be a giant political issue. As a simple example, I have a personal view that chiropractic services should not be covered by any public system, as the basic claims of their 'science' are known to be bogus.
Meanwhile, hysteria has broken out in the US over a recommendation that suggests mammograms be started later as a routine. Much of the commentary suggests that this is anti-customer, but Mark Chu-Carroll has a story that suggests it is not so simple. It is a difficult optimization problem.
Disclosure: I am connected to someone whose mammogram in her 40s was very important and helpful. I still believe the concerns related in MarkCC's post.As he says, on a slightly different topic:
If we started doing colonoscopies at 30 instead of the current recommendation of 50, we'd save some people from dying of colon cancer. But we'd also hurt a whole lot of people without colon cancer. So we don't do it.

The CRU Hack/Leak/Whatever

The exposure of the childish behavior of many climate scientists has been pretty entertaining, and some of it is truly appalling, including the threat to delete data files that might come under the influence of Freedom of Information Requests. But I think Robin Hanson characterizes it all best:
Yup, this behavior has long been typical when academics form competing groups, whether the public hears about such groups or not. If you knew how academia worked, this news would not surprise you nor change your opinions on global warming. I’ve never done this stuff, and I’d like to think I wouldn’t, but that is cheap talk since I haven’t had the opportunity. This works as a “scandal” only because of academia’s overly idealistic public image.
It is a shame that academia works this way, and an academia where this stuff didn’t happen would probably be more accurate. But even our flawed academic consensus is usually more accurate than its contrarians, and it is hard to find reliable cheap indicators saying when contrarians are more likely to be right.
The scientists who have been exposed should feel dreadfully embarrassed; they behaved like utter asses. But it does not yet refute any of the science, just makes the debate rage on, as it always should have anyway.

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food - Is He Simply Wrong?

That is coming to be my view.
Canada's Food Network is running his Rotherham experiment again, and it is hardly encouraging. I do though find it awfully moving.
It causes me to wonder whether the fast food he is fighting against is so uneconomic.
Fairly recently retired, I have now returned to my kitchen, from a position that was well-established; as the eldest child, I learned a lot about cooking way back then, and as a student, undergrad and grad, had the curiosity to explore cooking in a lot of different styles. First SillyWife shared that enthusiasm and second one is also an excellent cook. So I have some skills.
But I wonder watching Oliver's show whether people who can barely recall how to assemble a pancake recipe are better off cooking on their own.
I still have an enormous problem NOT having raw materials go to waste and I have all the time in the world to plan and cook. Not so with Jamie Oliver's Rotherham students. It costs them a lot in time and money to get around. Moreover, I suspect they face significant costs getting raw materials assembled, likely far more than they face simply assembling the 'fast food' readily available in stores that are closer to home.
Has anybody sensible looked at this question? I see no evidence of such research.
I really want to know. My current view is that Jamie Oliver is just barking up the wrong tree. I would love to be wrong. I really admire the guy and his motives. But I fear his economics are goofed up.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Too Pretty to Do Any Good

Makes me cry.
They won't let me embed so I have to link.
"He had a tremendous mind."
There is a social value in having wives of rich men free to indulge in entertaining pursuits. This horse sure entertained me. THat Penny 'Chenery' sang 'One More River' is weirdly amusing.
And Sham was a wonderful horse. Just born in the wrong year.

Jill Barber

I confess reluctantly to enjoying Vinyl Cafe, and it is that show that first made me aware of Jill Barber.
Lately. it is Bravo Canada that is featuring this wonderfully cheeky video as a filler:

This is a wonderful voice, with a wonderful sense of humor.
For a further sense of her wit and wonderfulness, try this from the East Coast Music Awards (I was disappointed to learn she is a born Ontarian transplant to Nova Scotia).

"Ever since you swept me off my feet you've kept me on my toes"; great writing.
Go buy her music.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Docility and Compliance?

Our 'Human GrievancesRights' Tribunal provides us with some more comic relief. Probably not so funny for Officer Ruffino, though. What a pathetic farce. How much longer will we tolerate this sort of nonsense in Ontario?
The Post editorialists summarize it very nicely:
It's almost like the Human Rights Tribunal... made it up.
Government officials inventing, promoting, and publishing brand new racist stereotypes. Your tax dollars at work, Canada.
But actually, this is Ontario's tax dollars at work.

When I Sign a Mortgage, I Plan to Pay It

So says Jim Shaw of Shaw Communications, suggesting at the CRTC hearings that the hearings are a stupid waste of timer, and I agree with him. It's a pure rent-seeking effort on the part of local broadcasters, and it is an invitation to the Commission to overrule business contracts arrived at in the past, somewhat freely (well, as freely as you can in Canada), and not currently pleasant to the local stations.
Generally I find these hearings very depressing, as the commissioners seem convinced it is their responsibility to help out the briadcasters. Rarely do I hear any mention of the choice of the TV viewers; Rogers tried that at one point, and the Pope lectured them on how inappropriate that was. Jim Shaw has mentioned them a few times, and the commissioners in general seem to disapprove of such mention, knowing that we viewers are a sorry bunch who do not know enough to understand their much wiser pronouncements and yearnings.
And then there are the odd dim ones; one recently said she could not understand the financial information Shaw provided, because it was 'text' - please, can you send in pretty pictures?
Jim Shaw seems quite the diamond in the rough, though. I enjoy his crustiness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wow Does My Left Arm Ever Hurt

Still glad to be vaccinated!

Sharpe's Peril

What a fine piece of drama-making!
Life is full of surprises, and one of the biggest is that I have a sister I would never have imagined could care for Sean Bean's Sharpe series, but she did, and sold me on it, and today I watched the latest episode. And I can only say Wow! I love this series, and I am thrilled that my sister does. Thanks, Sis!
(And casual readers, no, it might not be a usual suspect. I have a fair number of sisters.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aspers present to the CRTC

My rough translation:
CanWest Global: We want money. Please give us some.
CRTC (the Pope speaking): Any ideas on how we can give it to you?
As the stomach turns.

Yes Maybe They Could Lead Sensible Civil Lives and not Blow Other People Up!

Who is pro-Palestinian?
I think Terry Glavin has a far better idea than some of my erstwhile commentators.

A Vaccinated Man

That's what I am, at least for the swine flu! Now I am wondering when the city will hold seasonal flu vaccination clinics.
The irony is that my lifestyle makes my getting swine flu unlikely; the only real occasions I have to catch it are when I am shopping (maybe once a week), or standing in a queue awaiting the swine flu vaccination.
All in all, this was not a bad experience - it took a couple of hours of time, and involved some enjoyable socializing with other amused Canadians. We really are generally a pleasant people.

DWTS - The People Have Spoken

I expected and feared this, and now Joanna has been voted off Dancing With the Stars. I say voted off, as she is demonstrably the only remaining person who can come close to competing with Mya. I admit that Kelly Osbourne and Donny Osmond are more popular (hey I like them both too now), but this makes a foregone conclusion even more foregone.
I'll still be watching, just to see what new magic Mya creates!

TVA-Videotron Before the CRTC

Am I in an alternative universe? These guys say if the current silly idea gets put into effect, the LPIF (Local Progamming Some Fund or Other) should be cancelled! They talk about how companies should adjust expenditures to their revenues!
Maybe I should watch TVA a lot more.
Ahh this is another conflicted corporation (as they all are) - I had not realized this was Quebecor.
Still, it is refreshing in a way.

Dancing With the Stars - More Spiritual than Erotic

We are now down to a manageable number of dancing celebrities (yes, though I had heard of few of them before the show).
The sad thing is that there seems an obvious overall winner - Mya has been stunning, and nobody else has been other than vaguely excellent. (I have no idea who Mya is but she can sure dance.)
Her only real competitor, Joanna Krupa (and who is that?), is so far behind her, and this was exposed beautifully by their waltzes last night.
On the other hand, I love the show for what it does to people. My guess is Kelly Osbourne will be a lot more OK after this experience. And Donny Osmond, ever likable, will get some more exposure.
And last night's "Where They Came From" sequence was very informative and moving.
Overall, this show is a celebration of excellence and we need more shows like it. Not 'reality' shows that ask people to be slimeballs.

An Excellent Essay on Canadicare

Of all things, via Cafe Hayek, I find a great short piece by Rondi on Canadian healthcare.
Her mother is, of course, also my mother, and Rondi is exactly right, that the people reviewing the worthiness of surgical intervention form effectively a death panel, as exists in all systems that do not have unlimited resources, that is, all systems. She also cites a Statistics Canada study I have reported on in this blog that shows the level of satisfaction with health care in Canada matches that of uninsured Americans.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Obama Appointment I Think I Quite Like

... is that of the new US Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson.
He's writing a very entertaining blog recounting his experiences in that role, and it provides an interesting outsider's-eye-view of my silly little country. In this post, he tries to find out what those visiting his embassy experience. A very nice idea.

Happy Birthday Gordon

I saw him perform live, I would say a little incompetently, as part of my freshman week at the University of Waterloo. Looking back I of course now think of that as a great privilege.
Count on PowerLine to give him the respect and recognition he deserves. It is here.
As for me I love this cheesy piece:

Carry on, Gordon! Even I, a totally reluctant fan, am a fan!
(P.S. Am I superficial? This song makes me cry. So yes. The hero would be me.)

Stop Protecting These Failed Behemoths

Wendell Wilks is spot on on this. He seems a bit of a crank but I like that idea!
Of course it flies in the face of the point of the CRTC, which is to preserve the behemoths. The Pope asks what needs to be done, and it seems his answer is a public option. Oh well.

CRTC - We're Into Self-Invited Witnesses

Edgar Cowan's neighbor at the table, an attractive younger woman, seems unsure of this apparent old hippie.
But the old hippie is kind of fun - does not want to be thrown to the lions!
Pam Astbury, the attractive younger woman, has gone out of her way, she claims, because of her commitment to high-quality television. And yikes! Another digital television conversion fretter! The Pope reports that she is speaking too quickly.
This poor woman says she has a deficiency of David Suzuki. My own view is that she should be thankful!
She is raving about Kamloops. Apparently the forest fires have relevance to TV. Do they not have cable there?
Ahh she is a group that is part of the solution to the problem. So what is that? Conversion to multiplexing is only 90K and it can be divided among six stations. What the hell has this to do with these hearings? Ann - now at the bottom line - not a damned thing. But it is about the digital transition.
Thanks for your time.
And now Wendell Wilks, who apparently is a perennial at such hearings. He speaks of President Charles deGaulle of Fraunce. Dear God - I am starting to feel sorry for the commissioners. They have to listen to this? Though I doubt the Pope will rebuke him for failure to genuflect. I'll give this guy credit, though - he does a nice job of documenting the uselessness overall of the CRTC.

Hey - A Smart Commissioner!

Ms Duncan asks sensibly whether if Bell provided a local satellite signal to Yarmouth, NS, and was not licensed to provide the same to other localities, is this a cost to Bell's bandwidth.
The answer was an obvious yes. But a good question.

Another Dim Commissioner!

Please don't give me data in text format! Give me graph format.
How stupid are these people? They must have staff who can produce graphs.
Bell obligingly agrees.

I Get A Bit of It Now

I could not understand remotely why the CRTC was grilling the CBC on the costs of the transition to digital this morning. But the questioning of Miss (Ms?) Molnar to Mr Bobic of Bell has explained to to me.
We who are hooked up into satellite or cable service will not notice the day that analogue transmission dies. Those who rely on over-the-air TV will.
Now there is no reason why the commissioners should be bugging the cable and satellite providers about this, except that the local broadcasters want to mitigate their own costs in getting to the future by dumping them on the former. And the commissioners seem halfway sympathetic!
What the hell kind of silly little country is this?

More CRTC - "I'm Not Technical"

... speaks one commissioner, who is apparently not technical, though cute.
And yet, she will be ruling on this in her total ignorance.
What the hell have we got ourselves into?

CRTC Hearings - I Love Bell!

Their representative says flatly that the local TV fair value signal is 'zero'! I love it. The Bell rep is wonderfully concise and sensible.
Meanwhile I must say I am coming to despise the commissioners; bureaucrats full of themselves, inflated by power from the government. They are behaving as the worst of public choice theory would suggest.

That Obviously Doesn't Apply to the CBC

So saieth the Pope of the CRTC, the Mel Brooks character.
What a boring meeting of preening on both sides. The Commissioners know full well that their job is to protect Canadian capitalists in the broadcasting industry and they suck up perfectly. It is ironic that it is the testimony of the CBC, the ultimate socialist capitalist institution, that generates this repulsive behavior.
Skinny Basic is back. I know what I want as Skinny Basic - no Canadian stations at all!
I am pretty sure my CRTC will not allow this.
The morning has included a ton of discussion of CBC expenses, none of which has any relevance to the fee for carriage issue, unless you are already committed to the notion that broadcasters should be bailed out.
Generally it has been very boring. I am hoping that the artist and writer pigs at the trough will show up soon as that should be more fun.

RIP Edward Woodward

The end of 'Breaker Morant' features one of the greatest bits of dialogue I can recall in film, between the characters played by Woodward and Bryan Brown, heading for their execution:
Woodward: I'm a pagan
Brown: What's a pagan?
Woodward: It's someone who doesn't believe there's a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.
Brown: I'm a pagan too.

Good Laugh at Rondi's Blog

Go follow her link. it is not just funny but it is too deadly true, like all good satire.

CBC at the CRTC Rent-Seekers' Party

These guys are more blatant! They say they are the 'heavy-lifters'. And they have financial difficulty so give them money, as EcelctEcon summarized it nicely.
I'll give one commissioner credit; Timothy Denton asks whether the business model for broadcasters is changing, which might suggest handing out someone else's money might be unwise. The CBC answer appeared to be, we don't care, give us money.
The Pope appeared to wander off into what seemed to me to be irrelevant questions about the switch to digital, but I suppose if the argument is simply about donating other people's money to the broadcasters,
OK the CBC is bad, but you should read about what CTV said yesterday when I was not watching!

Miracles in Minnesota

... and in some other states - PowerLine assembles some stories.
In their post on Minnesota they quote the Minnesota Freedom Foundation, describing 'data' on the Obama administration's site:
The North Star state, of course, has a total of eight congressional districts. You'd never know it by logging on to the federal clearinghouse for all things stimulus. The summary page for tracking where the stimulus money is going lists Minnesota as having a total of 19 congressional districts. Altogether, the eleven extra congressional districts posted received more than $7 million in stimulus spending, creating or saving about 50 jobs. Such a deal.
Apparently, according to links in the post, Minnesota is by no means unique.

Malcolm and the Steves

THe ever-glib and deeply superficial Malcolm Gladwell takes offence at a review of his recent work by Steven Pinker, and calls him an IQ fundamentalist for paying attention to extensive research.
The best way to follow the debate is by reading another Steve, Sailer, which you can do here, here, and here.
Gladwell's problem in the debate is that both Steves know how to use spreadsheets.
I particularly like "Igon values".
There is an even funnier old post in which Sailer describes Gladwell's snit at being criticized by Megan McArdle. It does seem that as the son of an academic, Gladwell has an excessive trust in everything his favorite academics say.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Adjournment of Today's CRTC Hearings

Pope von Finckelstein said again to the Rogers team:
"You did not genuflect enough, as I have always received from previous Rogers teams."
I sure hope today's Rogers team will fight this asshole.
We shall see.
Does he really have Harper as a solid backing? I sure hope not.
Mel Brooks come watch!

A Quick Summary

The Commissioners are not educated in economics. (I could be proved wrong.)
The Commissioner have minimal knowledge of technology. (I could be proved wrong.)
So how is it that they are deciding what I can see on my home TV?

Yeah, This is the Way to Make Public Policy!

It becomes more and more clear the 'Commissioners' deciding how media distribution will work in the country have NO idea how anything even today works.
How did they get appointed?
Why do we even have a Commission?
Is ignorance the main recruiting standard?

The Amazing Race, November 15, 2009

Finally the midwestern father-son team is eliminated. And in this case it is somewhat just; they lost because they had a delay imposed by their last-place finish last week. I found them greatly appealing.
What impressed me most, as so often, was Meaghan's resilience. She has found herself frustrated and fought her way back so many times. She will not quit. I admire her and her partner.
But I rather admire all the remaining competitors. I suspect Brain and Ericka will be dropped next (and I wish Ericka could cut the bitching, though I suspect Brian barely notices it). I hope the slight nastinesses between the Globetrotters and Sam and Dan do not continue.
This is a fascinating season!

Von Finckelstein Wants a 'Skinny Basic'

Englehart and Purdy point out why this is totally stipid.
I don't think von Finckelstein has any idea what he is talking about.
And I as a potential customer think the idea is utterly silly.

Who the Hell are These Commissioners

Rogers representatives, now representing their media division, are trying to explain what CITY-TV Breakfast Television is. It is my preferred morning show.
Nobody on the commission seems to have an idea what the show is.
THESE PEOPLE are making decisions about this?
What a silly little country. This makes me feel sick.

CRTC's Concept of a Break

... corresponds with my expectations of a bureaucracy.
They send they would return from lunch at 2:05 and did not come close. Probably 10-15 minutes ago they broke for five minutes and I see no signs of life.
And these are the people determining our broadcasting future.
Well, no, not determining it; they are mere bureaucrfats and deliver none of it. They simply try to make it harder for the people who want to give us what we want.
So who cares how long it takes to obstruct other productive people? Surely nobody has anything better to do with all this time?

von Finckelstein's Closing Statement to the Rogers Team

"You did not genuflect sufficiently!"
I despise this rent-seeking, especially from those holding the rents.

von Finckelstein's next idea

Now I think this is more like Hogan's Heroes.
He suggests to Rogers they go negotiate something with the OTA broadcasters. And THEN they bring it to him to decide whether it is acceptable. And then he will decide whether the conclusion is OK.
What the hell kind of country is this? Short answer - silly and very little.

The Margin versus the Average - von Finckenstein versus Engelhart

Engaelhart (Rogers) has tried to explain to von Finckenstein (CRTC head gonzo) that if we consumers have to spend extra money on being able to watch television stations on our local cable provider we might want to revert to watch those stations over the air, if the cable company could cut our fees by removing those stations from our cable offerings. I think this is a great idea. I would move that way overnight.
von Finckelstein objects that 90% of Canadians watch those stations by cable! What a dumb response, confusing the average with the margin.
Are these CRTC commissioners this ignorant? I think so.
Could we possibly require that commissioners take an initial course in economics? Probably not, as they are political positions.

Unbelievable - well, no, entirely Believable

Across many fronts.
Rogers are presenting their position to the CRTC, and the current commissioner cross-examining their position (that is what is happening) is Konrad von Finckenstein (no, I cannot invent this, and his accent fits the name perfectly - I feel at times that I am in a Mel Brooks movie).
But von Finckenstein asks the Rogers rep what harm that would do to Rogers, and the rep crazily says "This would hurt our customers". von Finckenstein responds that he had asked about harm it would to to Rogers as a corporation. Stunning!
Rogers actually arguing for its viewers, and the government representatives blatantly showing their indifference to that.
It does indeed seem it is an issue of how to carve up the cadaver of the consumers' required contribution (by the CRTC) to this pie, and not remotely what we consumers care about.
I may have go this wrong but I sure think not.
The thing that stuns me is Rogers actually standing up for its customers against this government commission. I am not surprised to find the government commission indifferent to the concerns of consumers.

A Small Comment on the Competence of the CRTC to Judge Anything Today

Poking around the CRTC web site I found I could listen on-line to today's hearings. Wow! Hey!! This is truly a with-it organization, ready to make judgments on all the key issues regarding telecommunications in Canada.
But given that I had watched the Supreme Court hearings regarding Omar Khadr last Friday, I went over to CPAC and discovered that I can WATCH the hearings on-line live there.
Yeah that CRTC is right up with it.
This is one silly little country.

The Vultures Have Landed

In this case it is just the usual rent-seeking suspects at a hearing of the CRTC regarding the 'TV Tax' proposing carriage fees for local television stations on our cable and satellite systems.
The Writers' Guild of Canada put out a cute little video on Youtube documenting the ridiculousness of some of the arguments on this.

Of course the real problem here is that the Writers' Guild is no more interested in a sensible solution to the pseudo-problem being discussed than the broadcasters or cable and satellite companies. You can tell in a number of ways - typical bits of demagoguery ($2.3 Billion dollars profit! with no mention of rate of return or the size of the industry, and the assertion that the fee is not a tax - sounds like Obama versus Stephanopoulos in its ridiculousity). I also love the assertions that Canadians want Canadian TV - if we really did why do we need a government agency to protect them?
Now the word 'Guild' is a pretty word artists use to hide the fact that the group is simply a union, and the pretty word is meant to obscure its pure rent-seeking nature.
You can be sure they are lined up at the table waiting for their piece of the action, and the CBC reported this morning that the actors were as well.
No doubt they will all be on the news tonight, explaining how crucial their getting the money is vital to your future enjoyment of Canadian 'culture'.
The vultures are doing what they do best, exploiting the constant excretion of government regulation upon regulation to gouge the consumer, and trying to find a way to increase their own share of the cadaver.
The creature being eviscerated by the vultures of course is the Canadian television viewer, and the vultures get the full support of the Canadian government. After all, it is awfully hard to just go out and perform so well that ordinary people want to buy your services.
Rent-seeking is a disgusting sight.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Harper Speaks Eloquently

h/t The Torch
Over the years, Canada has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.
... reportedly in response to a fatuous, possibly sneering question, from a French cabinet minister. Read the linked post for the full story.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You Can't Invent This Cra%

Once again Unbroken Window would have me laughing if it were funny, examining the new bureaucracies envisioned as part of Pelosicare. He picks a list of all-stars from a much longer list (go to his post and follow the link); my favorites are:
71. Grant program to develop infant mortality programs (Section 2532, p. 1433) (wintercow: cool, a program to develop more … programs)
95. Demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (Section 3101, p. 1717) (wintercow: we have these already – they’re called economics classes)
What we have here is at least partly a jobs program, with the jobs designed to be beholden to the creator of the largesse.
I am developing a haunting feeling that the US is soon going to have the most ridiculous health insurance system in the world.

The Real Purpose of Regulation

... is exposed beautifully, though I suspect not quite intentionally, in this article on the Obama administration's approach to the airline industry.
A parade of low-cost carriers have at times driven air fares below cost, Wytkind said. That causes economic chaos for mainline carriers until finally the new entrants go bankrupt in a process that hurts the entire industry, he said.
Bald-faced and clear. The incumbents, in bed with the regulators, don't want competition. It is inconvenient, makes their lives hard, and makes it harder for them to extract the rents that they and their union pals so clearly deserve. And I fear Obama's mentality is that they do, in fact, deserve the rents. As for whether the claims about driving fares below cost are true, this could of course depend on the airline, and also simply be window-dressing.
h/t Unbroken Window, where there is a lovely skewering of the premisses of the whole discussion.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Queen's College Oxford Honors Neda

And makes Michael Petrou proud.
I had the privilege of spending a year as a visiting scholar there, and it makes me proud too!

John Baird is a Cat Person?

Or was.
Turns out, the deceased was actually Thatcher, Transport Minister John Baird's beloved, 16-year-old grey tabby named in honour of the Iron Lady of British politics.
Baird, at home in his Ottawa-area riding in Nepean, Ont., had sent a message about the cat's death to someone at the dinner in Toronto.
But in the meanwhile, Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas was in contact with Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street.
Both were baffled by his inquiries.

Give That Man a Teleprompter

After some fumbling over the last few days, POTUS enlists TOTUS and gives a very good speech at Fort Hood.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Obama Administration Vetting Process

Run it up the flagpole and underbus it when it becomes obvious you have to.
OK maybe no more Mao-worshippers.

How Can Government Screw You?

In SO many ways.  Here's another one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Suggestions from Victor Davis Hanson for The Great Bloviator

Some ideas for the great windbag, which might allow him to show some small sheds of grace.
We are not asking Obama to rush to judgment before the facts are in (e.g., in the manner of the Professor Gates mess, in which he, in Pavlovian fashion, immediately condemned the Cambridge police as acting “stupidly” through stereotyped racial profiling)—only that he express some sort of visceral outrage at this serial killing of innocent Americans.
Instead, what if the President had told his staff, “I disagree with much of what airs on Fox News, but no one in this administration is going to strong-arm anyone from appearing on it. We believe in freedom of expression and are not about to start blacklisting those who associate with a news organization.”
My favorite bit though is his final look at the feeble Tribal Nations Conference speech:
At about the time of the Fort Hood terrorist attack, the President was hosting a “Tribal Nations Conference.” At one point in his remarks, he confessed, “I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I’m in this White House.”
What does “ignored” and “forgotten” actually mean in this particular context (I do not think it is a reference to his father’s absence or his grandparents careful custodianship)? President Obama went to prep school, the elite and pricey private Occidental College, the Ivy League Columbia University, and Harvard Law School—no doubt thanks either to grants and scholarships or government-subsidized loans. Forgotten and ignored at prep school or Harvard Law Review? If so, what does that make the working classes at Cal State Bakersfield, or those who went into the Marines at 18, or those who began driving a semi at 19? In comparison to the wretched lonely ordeal at Harvard and Columbia, not forgotten and not ignored by American society?
He is not just lacking grace, he is at times offensive.
The whole thing is good, including a reminder to the very forgetful Robert Gibbs, and a "do as I say" observation, on Obama, the king of the "present" vote, applying moral suasion to other legislators. Hypocrites all.


I did not watch this live, but what a tactical run.  The horse cannot have known how long the race was, and yet ....

Bending Over Backwards to Lie

CNN has been chanting "backlash against Muslims" so repetitively that it turns my stomach. (I'd feel differently if such a thing had ever happened other than in the imaginations of our media elite.)
But this means I may not bother ever turning to that channel again. Twisting words is one thing, but this takes it to new heights.

Incredible Self-Absorption

And again a total lack of grace; unable to mention Reagan, and somehow worms himself into a story he likely opposed at the time.
"Few would have foreseen ... that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it." Unbelievable. What the hell has he to do with this profound story? Merkel, yes.
Listen to the hollownness of this windbaggery.

An antidote is needed. Clarity, that is, especially in hindsight, quite moving.

PowerLine features some appropriate commentary from Paul Rahe.
In his speech he made no mention of Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev, or the Soviet Union, and he was tellingly silent about Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. The only American he quoted was John Kennedy, the President who acquiesced in and privately favored the building of the wall.
Even more to the point, Obama proved unable to refrain from injecting his own autobiography into the event. You see, walls fell down when he was elected President.
It was perfectly appropriate that someone sound this theme at the time of Obama's inauguration. It was, indeed, an important event when the first American of African decent was elected to the presidency.
But Barack Obama seems to think his presidency as important a milestone as the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the world of the narcissist, everything that happens is always about him.

The Media on Fort Hood

Count on Iowahawk; his Headline Roundup is priceless.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Good on Obama and Hillary!
We have expressed to the Cuban government our deep concern with the assaults, and we are following up with inquiries to Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Claudia Cadelo regarding their personal well-being and access to medical care.

That Mouth Sure Makes an Amazing 'O'

The Return from Iraq - Free videos are just a click away
h/t Phil Miller, in his Facebook incarnation

Can it Be Twenty Years

The dismantling of the Berlin Wall is the great symbol of the events that brought about the well-deserved and long-overdue collapse of the exceptionally stupid idea called Communism. I did not post yesterday, hoping to outsource commentary on the topic. I'll outsource this one to Ross Douthat, who adds an interesting twist.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Amazing Race - the last two weeks

The eliminations seemed very weird to me.
Two yearsweeks ago Mika would not perform the completely simple task of sliding down a water-slide - I can understand the fear at some level, but not when roughly twenty people had just gone ahead and done it.
It makes me wonder how the show hires couples. I know both SillyWife and I would have been willing to do that slide for the prospect of a million dollars. Did Mika get signed on because they knew of her fear? If so, I think she needs a lawyer.
And then last weekend broke my heart; I actually liked the poker players, despite their natural trend to duplicity. The poker players were both cute. But faced with two tasks that required one to develop a swing, neither could find it over several repeated attempts. This was in utter contrast to Meaghan, who started the 'golf' with no idea what to do, and figured it out after about a half dozen swipes.
One wonders what the producers want and contrive to exclude.
Who recruited these incompetents?
Still, it is a show that plays on skill, and I love that.

The Amazing Race Season 15

It is time to blog on it. In the initial weeks I just do not know what to make of the teams and so it is hardly worth commenting.
Now they are down to five and it is really entertaining.
I am SO pleased that last week's leg was not an elimination. The final task was SO arbitrary and random that it would have been brutally unfair to eliminate the midwestern farmers. Especially as they are my favorite team.
The funny thing this year is I actually like all the finally five teams.
There are the "token gay" brothers. They mix cynicism and a strange willingness to form alliances - I think I hated their giving a clue away to the poker-playing girls, and was satisfied that led nowhere.
I clearly like the Midwestern dad and son. Say no more - they are so mutually supportive and from a part of America that deserves approval. (Especially with the current witless president.)
Cheyne and Meaghan? They are both physically competent, but it is Meaghan who impresses me. She keeps finding herself in situations where she does not have control, and it drives her nuts, but she learns her way out, largely through physical skills. The silly golf thing a week ago was fascinating - when she started, she was hopeless, but within a few whacks at the balls, she was engaged and competent. For all the chipping that couple do at one another, I have some faith in them.
The Globetrotters. Hell, I just like them. They did such great dancing in Holland, and enjoyed it so much, and made the side cast so happy! They are clearly very competent physically, but they have a great sense of humor. They got stuck on the briefcase combinations, so have a major vulnerability, but they are engaging.
Brian and Ericka! They are just so much fun to watch as Ericka constantly criticizes Brian. But I must give her credit, even as she fucks up, she does not give up, and they seem mutually devoted. In the last show it was interesting to hear her say, am I right?, that her mother felt she was screwed up by an interracial marriage? Not a great start, despite how great they at times seem tomgether. (And interestingly, if this is the case, she is like Obama, a child of a black-white marriage, who has decided to project as black.)
I will be tuned in Friday!

Someone Else's Money

This American Life produces interesting shows, some of which can be considered documentaries.
Recently, they produced this one, with the subject title, which encouraged me no end, that included a fascinating and delightful discussion of how the US health care system came to be what it is. In the podcast, start at about 19:30. You need to translate one phrase, "Go to war", with "Invite the government to help out".
The analogy to groceries starting around 29:10 is superb, and describes the dynamic that has now produced the Pelosicare, which layers more stupid government regulation on top of the original idiocies, and has zero chance of "cost control", barring some draconian behavior that has never been a skill of Congress.
The show also includes a comparison to pet care. And Tim Harford appears and finds the pet insurance system extant is vastly better than even today's system in the US for humans.
In the end, no existing health care system really does a great job of balancing cost control and availability. People always have some apparently reasonable compaint about whatever system they live under.

Arabs must think we are stark, raving mad

Following up on the post below, John Hinderaker makes the above observation.
Evidence really does not matter to these clowns,. on issues like this so rife with political correctness.  As Mark Steyn observed at the Corner:
The soi-disant "moderate Muslim" has far more to fear from a coreligionist boarding the subway train yelling "Allahu akbar!" than he does from the allegedly "Islamophobic" Americans forever on the brink of "backlash." That our media cannot see what the commenter above sees is, even in a relativist age, a very advanced stage of decadence.
And it's that decadence that should cause giggles abroad.

A Whiny Culture of Entitlement

Cassandra, the wife of a marine, is less than impressed with the recent performance of her Commander in Chief, and for good reason.
Faced with largely imaginary ills, the Obamas are all sympathy. During the campaign, they were more than willing to promote a whiny culture of entitlement that undercuts everything the military stands for - just to win a few more votes on Election day.
Tell me something: in a moment of national tragedy is it really too much to expect the President of the United States to forego the "shout outs"? Is it too much ask that he learn the difference between the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor? What we require from our leaders at times like this is not much, really. No one expects them to actually care. What we want is precisely the kind of thing that comes so effortlessly to Barack Obama: honeyed words and a reassuring show of compassion from a man who thinks that quality is the most important attribute a Supreme Court judge can possess. A public acknowledgment that something grave has happened. But for some reason, asking the Commander in Chief of our armed forces to give even the appearance of empathy was a bridge too far.
 It's that perpetual lack of grace again.  Read her whole piece.  One can see military morale heading back to that in Carter days.

Of course it is not just Obama.  The whole media establishment have been bloviating since Thursday, and have managed now to get Army top brass falling into the same stupid narrative, about imaginary backlash against Muslim soldiers, of which there is no evidence.  I suspect this has to do with the college kids influenced by their sixtiesish professors and leaders picturing soldiers as rednecks.  The sad fact is there are numerous recent instances of Muslims shooting up soldiers, even fellow soldiers, and no backlash to date.  And this is because people are not so stupid as to think it is ALL Muslims; they know the difference between a Hasan and the many fellow Muslim soldiers who have served loyally with them (and there is sorry evidence that this difference was known before the shooting).  Perhaps it is more a problem of the media folk and the higher authorities unable to make the same distinction so easily, and projecting their own sorry problems on more sensible people.

h/t PowerLine

Sunday, November 08, 2009

EMS at Fort Hood

A short compelling account from one of the emergency medical team at Fort Hood, by way of Kate  Read it over there.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sounds Like Time to Apologize to Cuba

After all, they have such a benign government.  Beloved, after all, of the political philosopher Sean Penn, and also by our great Pierre Elliot Trudeau in his time.  Yoani Sanchez and blogging colleagues in Cuba are beaten and threatened.  Why am I not surprised?  Thugs, after all, behave thuggishly.

UPDATE:  Yoani reports on the experience.
How am I going to tell him that we live in a country where this can happen, how will I look at him and tell him that his mother, for writing a blog and putting her opinions in kilobytes, has been beaten up on a public street. How to describe the despotic faces of those who forced us into that car, their enjoyment that I could see as they beat us, their lifting my skirt as they dragged me half naked to the car.
I managed to see, however, the degree of fright of our assailants, the fear of the new, of what they cannot destroy because they don’t understand, the blustering terror of he who knows that his days are numbered.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Alexander Hamilton, Perhaps Not Quite As You Recall from History Class

h/t Clive Davis again
And Clive is right, this is brilliant.

A Good American

Major Hasan's cousin describes his cousin as 'a good American'.  Yeah right.  Good Americans shoot up Fort Hood.
What is wrong with these people?

Oh Crap

I imagine worse things could happen but this is pretty bad.  Council will be overjoyed at the opportunities to raise taxes.  There will be useless construction everywhere for the next five years.  The weeks during the games will drive me out of town.
I only hope I can rent my house out for the time at some extortionate rate, but I doubt that will happen smoothly.

Emma Thompson Does The Right Thing

I no longer see her as a signatory on BHL's unfortunate petition.
Thanks, Emma, for being willing to think for twelve seconds about it, though it took you a bit longer
But at least you listened to appeals for help.
Who else can we knock off that sorry list.  I doubt we can remove Woody Allen.  :-)

CNN is Mystified

I spent an hour on a treadmill this morning entertained by CNN, and they are mystified by Mr. Hasan's motivations in shooting up Fort Hood.  They must work very very hard at being mystified.  Even the CBC manages to report:
Lt.-Gen. Robert Cone told NBC's Today show that the shooter shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great" — before he began firing.
Wilfulness can be pretty unattractive. Infidel life is cheap.

UPDATE: (noonish) Seems even CNN cannot hold back the flow of circumstantial evidence of a connection to Hasan's "faith".

Norm Profiles EclectEcon!

I think my favorite response is:
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > I nominate David Suzuki to be the ruler of Iran. Send Maude Barlow with him.
I thoroughly endorse it.

One Reason Recorded Music Sounds So Awfully Good a guy like Tom Dowd.

h/t Clive Davis
"Don't ask me where this comes from."  I loved that

Dorm Chemistry

See it and other excellent cartoons at xkcd.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Now This Actually Is Funny!

But you have to go over to my sister's blog to see it.  I laughed as I did not in what I discussed in my earlier post.
Click on a pile of ads while you are there.  People are so wacky.

This is Funny?

During my mid-life career transition, many of my former students recommended to me following the travails of Jeff Shalit, something I have in fact been doing over the last years, as I have blogged, often linking to his excellent posts at his generally fine blog, Recursivity.
But he has a post that baffles me now.  I invite my reader to go and listen.  All I hear is casual and useless cruelty, total self-absorption, and a kind of sorry self-satisfaction at hurting other people (not Jeff's).  Well, maybe that is funny to some.  Not any more to me (I fear it was once to me).
So look - if you want a GOOD satire of "My Way" (Gladwell superficially calls it a 'Frank Sinatra' song, eliding the interesting fact that the English lyrics are Paul Anka's (a real talent), and that the original song is French) would be well served by going to CDBaby and ordering 'Their Way' for 99 cents.
That song is actually funny, and not at all mean-spirited, and I know no academic who has ever heard it who does not laugh with a sad recognition.


Steve Landsburg shows how you can join the 100-Mile Club.
As for me, I have turned down the invitation.

A Stimulus for Signmakers

This really is appalling and typical of politicians - puffing about what they do with our money, and at our expense.
Municipalities are being told if they want federal infrastructure cash, they have to pay for and install additional signs at each project promoting the federal government's economic action plan.
The signs can cost between $1,000 and $7,000 apiece. That, when multiplied by the thousands of projects approved, means municipalities could spend as much as $45 million on the four-coloured signs — which have the same visual style as the government's $100 million advertising campaign promoting its economic action plan.
"For $45 million, the Conservative government could hire 3,000 extra nurses, or double the number of vaccination sites, or extend the hours of operation to accelerate flu vaccinations," Liberal MP Ralph Goodale said in the House of Commons Wednesday. "Local tax dollars are being forced to finance Conservative propaganda."
The Liberals also say that by forcing municipalities to cover the sign costs, Ottawa can hide the true advertising costs of its economic action plan.
Of course, as usual, the Liberal outrage is directed at activities they engage in as well.
"The stimulus agreement says you must install signage on the projects," Hume said. "This is consistent with every other project when there have been funding programs.
"This is not something new for us. In every other infrastructure project, we have installed these signs to give credit where credit is due. I don't think this is unreasonable when the federal and provincial governments are contributing two-thirds of the cost of such projects. You get millions of dollars and the biggest requirement is to put up signs and complete the project within two years."
 Nevertheless, I don't like seeing the signs and this will make me feel even more annoyed each time I drive by one.

The Perfect One-Year Asessment

I am a bit surprised to see it on Huffington Post.
Marking the one-year anniversary of his historic election to the presidency, Barack Obama delivered a major speech today in which he said he had "fulfilled the vague and diffuse catchphrases laid out in my campaign."
There's more and it's worth reading.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Harsanyi on PelosiCare

Great title and an entertaining read.
The King James version of the Bible runs more than 600 pages and is crammed with celestial regulations. Newton's Principia Mathematica distilled many of the rules of physics in a mere 974 pages.
Neither have anything on Nancy Pelosi's new fiendishly entertaining health-care opus, which tops 1,900 pages.
So curl up by a fire with a fifth of whiskey and just dive in.
You will, of course, need to be plastered to buy Pelosi's fantastical proposition that 450,000 words of new regulations, rules, mandates, penalties, price controls, taxes and bureaucracy will have the transformative power to "provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending . . . ."
All of this, as Madame Speaker says, constitutes a "a historic moment for our nation and families." True. No legislation in modern American history compares when in comes to injecting itself into the everyday decisions of the citizen.
And few can compete with its deception. The bill's intentions are cloaked in euphemisms and it is teeming with ulterior motives, all cobbled together in closed-door meetings where industry payoffs are offered using taxpayer dollars to facilitate a power grab of unprecedented cost.
All of it, rolled right into a neat 1,900 pages.
And yet, as per the previous post, there probably are some people who believe the nonsense coming from Pelosi and her minions.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Don Boudreaux Told You So

Gravity exists and this crew of politicians is not on your side (unless you are an influential company or union or the like).
The wonder is not that politicians are meddling [ed. in the auto companies]. The wonder is that America is populated with a sufficient number of persons so gullible as to encourage Mr. Obama to issue his ‘no politics’ assurance with a straight face.
It's amazing to me had to tell anyone.
At another level, it is obvious that people are sometimes dumb enough to have actually believed the great windbag was doing anything but blowing wind. But then, he does blow it so prettily. Just listen to how great his nonsensical characterization of his forthcoming health insurance (NOT health care) revolution sounds at times.

For Want of A Piece

I've been taking a bicycle repair course (very empowering!) this fall, and so ordered a bicycle repair stand from Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC). Today, I finally decided to assemble it from the pieces in the kit.
It was a Velomann V2500, not the highest end stand, but not the cheapest they offered, either. The instructions were in multiple languages, very terse, and the parts list on the back of the instructions was in Italian only.
In any case, a veteran of many IKEA assembly efforts, I began with a mix of hope and fear. It took about an hour to get past the first page of the assembly (simply to attach two flanges to a tube); the problem was that the picture of some plastic devices was simply wrong, and also that there was a large number of very similar, but different enough for the right choice to matter, plastic pieces. After that things moved more smoothly, as I had re-learned about lock nuts, and had begun to understand how to parse the very strange illustrations.
And then the IKEA nightmare hit! The last two major pieces did not seem to look quite like what was in the picture. And in fact they did not - the last bit of assembly was to add the clamp that grips the bicycle - it consists of an upper half and a lower half. My kit contained two upper haves, and no lower half. This was not going to work.
Now MEC's apparent return policy is to require you to ship the product back for an exchange. I am not eager to do so, as I would have to undo my efforts of the last few hours (though that would be easier, and a re-assembly would go much faster too). In any case, I have asked whether I could just trade an upper half clamp for a lower half clamp (in their Italian names and Velomann part numbers, of course.)
I'll give IKEA credit - in the times I ran into similar problems they had a wide variety of replacement parts available, which were readily available at their outlets.
If MEC insists on their policy, I'll try Velomann too. But this was discouraging. After last night's class, I was getting very excited about the prospect of ripping my bicycles apart.

Andrew Coyne on the Consipcuous Rent-Seeking All Over Our TV Screens

He has it absolutely right, and he says it a bit better and more amusingly than I did.
Sorting through the duelling barrages in the interminable public relations war between the cable and broadcast industries over “fee for carriage” — now mercifully coming to an end — I find myself agreeing with both sides.
In any logical universe, there would be a simple solution to this. In that universe, the broadcasters could charge a fee for their signals if they wished — but cable companies would be under no obligation to carry them. Cable companies could pass on these fees to consumers — but consumers would not be forced to subscribe to channels they didn’t want. Instead of forbidding broadcasters to charge for signals the cable companies are obliged to carry that consumers are then forced to pay for, nobody would be forced or forbidden to do anything.
But that’s not the world we live in — not in this country. In this country, everything is decided by the CRTC, everything is based on force, and as a consequence, nobody has any incentive to share or compromise: it’s winner take all, depending on who can get the CRTC to side with them. So rather than focus on making better programs, or cutting rates, or otherwise improving their product, both sides spend inordinate amounts on crude propaganda campaigns trying to sway the public their way, and thus to pressure the CRTC and/or the cabinet to award them the prize.
Note too that this arrangement is one that is profoundly anti-market, but also likely pro-business. The broadcasting and cable incumbents probably find it more congenial living in a world where they need only lobby a handful of politicians and bureaucrats, rather than take the risks inherent in the logical world Coyne describes. On the other hand, that logical world is much better for us consumers, who I would like to think are the people that matter. However, once a government starts intervening, it is by fay organized lobbying interests who are bound to win.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

OK OK Opera Atelier Again - Iphigenie en Tauride 11/1/0

I suspect I could simply say "Yada - yada- yada". All my posts about our seeing the Sunday matinee of an Opera Atelier production are roughly of the form, "We just saw the latest production and it is the best one yet, and amazing!" I was not so sure of "the best one yet" but all the rest works well describing their wonderful production of Iphigenie en Tauride. Very very well. There were several rounds of curtain calls, not necessarily separated by the curtain, but repeated insistence by our audience to recognize pretty much everyone involved. The sad thing is we could not recognize either Euripides or Christophe Willibald Gluck.
I am now deeply accustomed to watching Opera Atelier productions, so it may be that some of the productions jump out less at me now; this is not to say I do not bathe in the magic on the stage, but that I am more familiar. And much did jump out at me; what is lovely is that the company is getting very good at using the Web and creates a very useful discussion of what they are doing differently, and it hits beautifully much of what struck me.

Opera Atelier's Iphigénie en Tauride from Opera Atelier on Vimeo.

This is a bit long but NOT boring at all if you have ever considered seeing a Baroque Opera.
Now, one great thing they do is get people in to talk about the operas; normally it is some musical expert, but this time it was a classicist, and she was quite helpful to me, as I had forgotten the Atreid stories, and she counterpointed Euripides and Aeschylus, and the wonderful thing Euripides does with Iphegenia, changing her from an utter victim to a vital actor. And the opera made me love this story.
And next, Gluck. It is only recent productions by Opera Atelier that have ever made me really listen to Gluck, and my gosh, it is fine. He matches the music to drama so beautifully, and can produce such stunningly lyrical arias.
For me the two greatest arias were Plyade's commitment to Oreste in the second act (in another opera the love leads would have had this one), and then Iphigenie's aria just after Oreste has told her what has happened to her family.
The scenes mentioned in the OA discussion above were also great.
The themes - again this was about taking the Atreid story into a tale where self-sacrifice replaced the tribal "barbarian" story, carried out by Greeks, that preceded it. There is much in the text balancing the murderous barbarian interpretations of the tribal requirements of the gods with a more balanced respect for nature (I'd like to think human nature, but not all the humans are there yet).
And now on to the implementation. Every performer was great - I am used to seeing most of them now, so perhaps am less impressed by how completely naturally Peggy Kriha Dye performs; she was superb. Other ensemble members, also excellent, were Olivier Laquerre and Curtis Sullivan.
And Pinkoski's notion that he was doing this production FOR Kresimir Spicer is a fine one; he (Kresimir - I know that behind the scenes Pynkowski is always blowing me away) blew me away last year, and was a fabulous Oreste. Bring him back!
So let me sing the praises of the new guy, Thomas Macleay; woo-hoo! A fine performer (if you cannot act and get the gestures, you won't get used - he did both), but also a wonderful singer, and his French diction was the best in show - sometimes I did not need to read the surtitles. Great find!
OK - I REALLY LIKED IT. And Yes that is screaming not just Caps Lock. So anyone who might want to see - it is running all next week and you have all the links you need.
And as a last resort, if you want to see eight young guys, barely dressed, with utterly ripped bodies, jumping all over a stage. Get a ticket.
(Other OA shows I would have MORE recommended the women dancers, but not this one.)