Saturday, July 31, 2010

Christie Blatchford Loses It - Rightly

The state of our discourse is appalling and she captures a ton of it.
Aaaah but you see, and the inference was there to smell, these were merely soldier witnesses (simple fellows after all, who might be lying or have been lied to, not like those smart reporters in the nation’s capital) and the poor parents of the dead (who as the parents of such simple fellows could be so easily tricked or misled). Plus, their versions of events lined up with how the Canadian Forces and the evil Stephen Harper government had described the four deaths at the time: The cover-up (CTV actually suggested there was a cover-up in its first, newscast-leading report) was still a possibility.
Thus, the Tuesday evening edition of CBC’s As It Happens. The hosts dutifully gave the disclaimer (yes, witnesses had come forward disputing the document on WikiLeaks; parents had spoken up; the government still insisted there had been no friendly fire), then smarmed, “However, the fact the document even exists raises questions.”
The fact that a document exists raises questions? Good God! No wonder journalism is such a buffoonish profession now.
I think I will go off and create some documents. That can keep our Canadian media busy for a long time.
Thanks, Christie, for staying around and trying to do it properly.
h/t Halls

Twisted Sister Giggles

Mike Munger gives me my two biggest laughs of the morning.
Now I had heard of Twisted Sister, but did not know the name Dee Snider. I do now and look forward to more entertainment from him. Thanks, Mike! (I especially appreciated that one of the laughs was at the crazed sex-poodle's family values.)

Women's British Open Golf - Suzanne Pettersen Comment

Not sure what commentator it was but I liked it: "She puts a tremendous amount of emotion into every round she plays, and a tremendous amount of effort into controlling that emotion."
Hmmm - does that sould like a Norwegian?

Arts Subsidies

Serendipitously, shortly after I read this depressing piece of news:
Tax dollars from the very governments he's convicted of plotting to blow up are helping ensure the curtain goes up next week on a "sympathetic portrayal" of one of the members of the so-called Toronto 18 terror plotters.
The autobiographical play chronicles playwright Catherine Frid's more than a year of visits with Abdelhaleem in jail as he awaited trial.
Frid says the play is about raising questions around the criminal justice system that convicted him and the sweeping legislation police used to bust the Toronto 18 and charge them with terrorism crimes.
I then was reminded of this excellent essay about a real playwright:
Mamet dismisses state subsidy for the theatrical arts as no more than a means of propping up incompetent “champions of right thinking” whose work would otherwise be incapable of attracting an audience. Such playwrights, he says, are purveyors of politically correct “pseudodramas” that “begin with a conclusion (capitalism, America, men, and so on, are bad) and award the audience for applauding its agreement.” For Mamet, such plays are the opposite of true theater, whose power lies not in its willingness to coddle our preconceptions but its unparalleled ability to shock us into seeing the world as it really is. “In the great drama,” he writes, “we follow a supposedly understood first principle to its astounding and unexpected conclusion. We are pleased to find ourselves able to revise our understanding.”
Could one find a better confirmation of Mamet's point?
Shakespeare was a real playwright. Chekhov was a real playwright. Mamet, too. I doubt Catherine Frid is. Of course I would have to see one of her plays to know, and I probably won't ever. But it appears the brain-dead agencies have decided I have to pay for it anyways.
h/ts too complicated to assign becausde of the sheer serendipity.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Discovery Canada is running a 'documentary' that will deliver some opinions on the reasons of the crash of a Concorde that essentially led to the end of that project.
I do recall how that saddened me. In 1978-1979 I lived in Oxford and one of the daily delights was to be able to look up and see a Concorde on its flight path into Heathrow. As a North American (as I really realized I was that year!) I was not so caught up in the French-UK co-operation that delivered that airplane as Europeans might have been, but it gave me feelings a bit like those that came from the moon landing 10 years earlier. This funny little species can sure do stuff!
It was a different time, excited about our technologies, and eager for new ones. We seem to be developing new inhibitions now, and I regret this.
I am enjoying this documentary, as it explores a lot of the stunning technology that made this a fly-by-wire enterprise beyond anything before.
Will we have supersonic commercial air transport in 50 years? I expect so; and those who enjoy it need to look back on the Concorde and be thankful.

Wired Interviews Fred Brooks

And there are many highlights.
Of course they start with his finest and most famous metaphor:
You can’t accelerate a nine-month pregnancy by hiring nine pregnant women for a month. Likewise, says University of North Carolina computer scientist Fred Brooks, you can’t always speed up an overdue software project by adding more programmers; beyond a certain point, doing so increases delays. Brooks codified that precept 35 years ago in a small technical book, The Mythical Man-Month, which he named after the flawed assumption that more manpower meant predictably faster progress.
His greatest contribution:
The most important single decision I ever made was to change the IBM 360 series from a 6-bit byte to an 8-bit byte, thereby enabling the use of lowercase letters. That change propagated everywhere.
Sadly it did not propagatae fast enough for the youthful me, and I engaged in major wrestling matches with the different computers I had to program for. Still - he was right, and probably should have gone farther except for the expense it would have incurred at the time.
The interviewer asks Brooks about why software is an area apparently resistant to productivity improvement and he says something I think is quite wise:
Software is not the exception; hardware is the exception. No technology in history has had the kind of rapid cost/performance gains that computer hardware has enjoyed. Progress in software is more like progress in automobiles or airplanes: We see steady gains, but they’re incremental.
In my shortish career in software I saw things improve enormously, often DESPITE the fact that the hardware guys, especially recently, were entirely happy to toss the performance improvement problem entirely onto the backs of the software guys (not unjustly, as they were just running out of simple ideas).
His finishing advice for those who want to create?
Design, design, and design; and seek knowledgeable criticism.

An iSquirrel?

A nice essay by Natalie Angier on my backyard buddies.
But the squirrels don’t just bury an acorn and come back in winter. They bury the seed, dig it up shortly afterward, rebury it elsewhere, dig it up again. “We’ve seen seeds that were recached as many as five times,” said Dr. Steele. The squirrels recache to deter theft, lest another squirrel spied the burial the first X times. Reporting in the journal Animal Behaviour, the Steele team showed that when squirrels are certain that they are being watched, they will actively seek to deceive the would-be thieves. They’ll dig a hole, pretend to push an acorn in, and then cover it over, all the while keeping the prized seed hidden in their mouth. “Deceptive caching involves some pretty serious decision making,” Dr. Steele said. “It meets the criteria of tactical deception, which previously was thought to only occur in primates.”
The iSquirrel appears at the end of the article, a research tool.

What is it That the Unbelievers Have that we don't Have?

Hirsi Ali asks herself this question noticing that she is among a swarm of asylum seekers in Holland, almost all of whom are fleeing typically dysfunctional Muslim societies. It's a sign of a pretty open mind, willing to pose difficult questions, and work through them.

Ghomeshi, for whom I have some respect as an interviewer, squirms like crazy at her straightforward analysis of how useless, comparatively speaking, Muslim societies are, compared to secular Western societies. He is visibly unwilling to think through her questions.
She is so calm and direct, and his squirming is so hilarious. It is sad how deeply our multi-culti ideologies warp even reasonably sensible brains.The glaring irony, of course, is that Ghomeshi's family got the hell out of Iran when they could, and have no visible intention of giving up on secular Western democracies. As she points out, the traffic works largely in ONE direction. I'm not planning to try to fight my way into Jordan soon.
h/t Kate (though I recall hearing this on the radio and finding it agaizingly CBCish).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Terrible Thing About Socialized Medicine

A really good post by Colby Cosh on the, to me, weird decision by Brad Wall.
I believe that generally in Canada we cannot pursue on our own unapproved medical solutions.
We can of course go and seek them in other countries (though I wonder how true that will be in Obama-land).
But this means the pressure to have governments approve hocus-pocus will be terrible. It seems one province has collapsed (as had a few European countries). Rent-seeking sickens me.

Silly Country - Enbridge Version

The latest tizzie in Canada (maybe just around here) is about heart-stopping bills coming from Enbridge, our energy (specifically, in my case, natural gas) distribution utility.
To be honest, I was a bit surprised by my July bill which amounted to $156 (which I suspect would not even be noticed by Al Gore or Sean Penn). But when I saw it I was not surprised. I had been puzzled all winter by their bills - for example, my April bill told me I had a $67 credit. but also documented that my gas charges billed to date were almost $450 and my BBP instalments billed to date were only around $230.
BBP is their billing strategy to equalize monthly payments over the year and it was evident to me that my statements telling me I was in a credit status were to a degree erroneous and so I was generally paying $100 every month (totally against this claim of credit).
Now this did amuse me and I wondered when the rubber would hit the road. And, as it turns out, people like the environmentalist Al Gore (people whose carbon footprints are astonishingly unlike me in my semi-detached Toronto east-end unit) are finally facing their annual reckoning and whining loudly to the CBC and other sympathetic organizations, because their year-account-clearing numbers, incompetently calcuated by Enbridge (well, incompetently during the year, but competently NOW), are enormous.
What is delightful to me is that whatever glitch the Enbridge billing system had is making it a LOT clearer to a lot of dumb inattentive people roughly what their annual natural gas costs are. They are getting billed on ONE day for a lot of it (I am not). I love hearing the pigs squeal in pain. Keep it up.
I suspect that if Enbridge is politically smart it will amortize some of these costs over next year, leaving the squealing pigs totally puzzled over their monthly bills.
I still read mine and puzzle over them. And now retired with no income, I do care a lot more.

Now this is rich

Read it and weep!
h/t Timmy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RCMP Crybabies - More Silly Little Country

There have been reports for a few days that the RCMP is going to have a workplace asessment because of the management style of its current Commissioner.
Early reports documented meetings in which his employees were reduced to tears!? What kind of a gang of wimps and crybabies is in charge of our national policing!?
One complaint described an enraged Elliott throwing papers at an officer.
Wow - that is terrifying!
I had one style myself as a manager, which was occasionally baffling to my own managers, and I will say none of my managers ever threw anything at me, but I think I could have dealt with that without tears.

Well, err, umm, no I think We Need to Take that Responsibility

Let`s see how well his taking reponsibility has worked so far!
Court heard then he had breached two previous court orders banning him from having a firearm, one for 10 years, and the second for life. He was then handed another lifetime ban from having a firearm.
This would be funny were it not so sad.
"It is time you took responsibility for your own actions," Chapnik said. "Hopefully, you will make better and more productive choices in the future."
Yeah, that really worked well.

Reality Steve Gets the `Rated R`Interview

This is very interesting and makes me wonder about the contracts with the participants; I figured Reality Steve could never get this information.
I was never a fan of Justin Rego but it is fascinating to hear the level of producer manipulation; not that it bothers me - it makes the show way more interesting than reality would actually be!

Jon Stewart on Sherrod's firing

Maybe I REALLY should watch The Daily Show!
"This administration is so sorry that you people suck so bad".
This link works for me today. (July 26th show, early.)
I love the later use of "Teachable moment"! Democracy has its problems and Obama is a clear symptom.

Zakaria on The Daily Show

I do not watch The Daily Show, but maybe I should.
Last night Stewart had Fareed Zakaria on (link maybe for Canada but find it and you should!) and it was clear Zakaria was ready for him.
Their banter was brilliant. Two very smart guys together; Zakaria is just wonderful playing on the facial hair topic.
It was interesting in the opening part of the show seeing Stewart make sexuality suggestions about Bradley Manning.

"So what’s the (expletive) with these people?” - Elton John

It is nice to know that it is not the whole entertainment industry pandering to a stupid political constituency.
Keep it up, Elton!

I Don't Even Remember Who my Kindergarten Teacher Was

But it seems she was crucial (I do recall she was a she).
If kindergarten teachers matter as much as this new research suggests, then you would think that parents would have a large influence on their kids' adult outcomes. After all, you spend a lot more time with your parents than in your kindergarten class. But much research in behavioral genetics finds very little evidence for significant parental effects.
I find this all a bit dubious as all I recall about kindergarten was trying to see the undergarments of the girls. With significant success, as we were often required to sit cross-legged in a circle. One of those kindergarten classmates remained somewhat of a fascination right through high school, and then vanished completely from my life.

Quote of the Month

From Johh A. Hall, cited by Tyler Cowen.
Gellner's general view of the world of advanced liberal capitalism is by now familiar: it is a relatively open world in which science prospers, bringing both affluence and diminished moral certainty -- with Danegeld doing a good deal to secure social cohesion.
What a great way to describe all the scoundrelly human rights gorp - Danegeld!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

O'Leary and Lang

Woo hoo! They are both back tonight.
It has been too long.

More on the CBC - Jennifer Ditchburn Edition

So they tossed her and now she works for Canadian Press, but comes back on 'The Power Panel'.
I like seeing her back in this context as a) she is pretty smart and certainly had sensible things to say today about our census ludicrosities, and b) her legs beneath her knees looked really good on that CBC set and I wish we could have had a close-up of the shoes.
The CBC is getting to be so smart.
And P.S. Rosemary Barton is a great substitute host for Evan.

What Is Going On at the CBC?

Are there any men left employed?
I entirely approve of seeing lots of Aarti Pole.

Census Day!

A Parliamentary Committee is now looking into the Canadian census that will begin soon.
Some of the witnesses are primarily oriented on the statistical technical side of the discussion and they are clearly not sympathetic with the government's decision to make the long-form response voluntary. The mildly-trained statistician in me responds one way; the voluntary response will skew results, systematically underrepresent some groups, and cause the data to have a lot less value, and make it incomparable with previous censuses (though I wonder how well we have maintained comparability over history).
But there have been great challenges from the other side; has anyone ever actually been forced to fill the form in by law and by the legal punishment (yes, jail time!), and, moreover, has Statistics Canada ever been able to be sure people filling the long form in are telling anything close to the truth (the point of Jedi responses).
Now I have never had to fill in the long form and I suspect from what I have heard some of the questions would be tricky to answer, not because I would feel intruded upon, but more that I am not sure what the question means.
I was more outraged a week ago about this but if I do not hear that Statistics Canada has some trick to filter out phony responses, I am now coming around to the government's position. Moreover, if the likely underrepresented groups are as documented, that can only be good for me, as it likely means no Liberal/NDP government can make the same claims on my modest ownings to subsidize those underrepresented people.
All the same, The government minister's suggestion that the current direction was approved in any way by Statistics Canada is so incredible to me that I am appalled at Tony Clement's willingness to lie, and can only admire the appropriate public service head's resignation in the face of this slime.
(BTW - one of his predecessors indicates that Statistics Canada HAS studied the question of the honesty of the results they get; mind you, he says only that most of us don't lie. I wouldn't so I sort of believe that.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Some Things Are Just Delightfully Simple

h/t the lovely Lynn Harrison

I'm Gonna Stop Calling You a White Man

h/t Kate
We need WAY more of this:

Left on a Glacier in Iceland

It is amazing to me how much fun this episode of the Bachelorette - "The Men Tell All" - is.
ABC did a brilliant job of picking the men; this must be one of the most entertaining seasons ever.
I find to my surprise how amusing Casey, sent home and left on the glacier in Iceland (not really a contradicition if you watch the show) in favour of the multi-timing Justin, is.  Also amazing is how all the losing men get along, and can ruefully review their losing strategies, despite some clear real past divides.  They all agree on one thing - Ali looks pretty good, and I cannot disagree.
It is a wonderful exercise in game theory.

What Class Did Obama Come From? And what Race?

Steve Sailer has a very dandy and funny analysis:
- Barack Obama Jr.'s mother was on welfare for awhile.
+ His mother was working on her Ph.D.

- His mother got pregnant out of wedlock at 17.
+ His mother was accepted by the University of Chicago when she was 15.

- His father abandoned him when he was 2. 
+ His father abandoned him when he was 2 to obtain an advanced degree in economics from Harvard.

- He lived in a poor Third World country in a fairly poor neighborhood.
+ His Indonesian geologist stepfather was an oil company executive from a wealthy family and they quickly moved to an exclusive neighborhood in Jakarta.

- He came from a multiply broken family, abandoned by his father as an infant and twice by his mother, and had to live with his grandparents.
+ He lived with his grandparents on the tenth floor of highrise in a nice part of Honolulu with a fabulous view.

- He smoked a lot of dope in high school.
+ He smoked a lot of dope on the beach in Hawaii with his fellow students at the most prestigious prep school in the state.

- In college he hung out with Third Worlders.
+ They were rich Third Worlders, such as a son of a future prime minister of Pakistan.

- His maternal grandfather was a fairly unsuccessful salesman.
+ His maternal grandmother was a quite successful bank executive.

- His maternal grandfather was from a family with a shady reputation.
+ His maternal grandmother's family was quite respectable and academic-oriented. One of his great aunts became a statistics professor and great-uncle became the #2 man at the U. of Chicago library.

- His mother had to do lowly clerical work in Indonesia. 
+ She did it at the powerful U.S. embassy in Jakarta, where she got to know diplomats and CIA men.

- His paternal grandfather had been a servant.
+ His paternal grandfather was a large landowner.

- His father was a drunk.
+ His father's Master's degree made him a legacy at Harvard.

- His father got fired a lot.
+ His father was, when sober, an oil company executive and government official.

- His father was politically and ethnically persecuted. 
+ His father was, when sober, the protege of the CIA's main man to become President of Kenya, Tom Mboya.

- His father was the prime witness of his mentor's assassination by President Kenyatta's allies in 1969, and was hounded by the dominant Kikuyus after that.
- Well, that is a bummer.

I could go on and on. I know a lot about Obama, and I have no idea how to definitively categorize him as a young man by any usual ranking of class from low to high. (I might say he came from the Vaguely Academic Class, but I just made up that term.)

So, does class not exist?
 In the same article he makes an amusing observation about Obama's race:
I've certainly pointed out abuses myself. For example, Henry Louis Gates and Lani Guinier have complained for years that an ever increasing number of black affirmative action slots at Harvard are going to people who aren't descended from American slaves: people who have a white parent, and/or are descended from African or Caribbean elites. 

Of course, Barack Obama (Harvard Law, '91) is the classic example of this. His racial identity was so ambiguous that he had to write a 150,000 [ed. word] autobiography talking himself into believing he was black enough to be a black politician.


I apologized, I still think rightly, to Shirley Sherrod in accusing her of racism, but she has since jumped her shark by insisting quite stupidly that Andrew Breitbart wants us to return to slavery.  So while she may not be a racist she is clearly deeply a stupid woman.
Dan Riehl goes deeper, responding to Joan Walsh at Salon.
As things stand, an extremely controversial woman is sitting there with a free ticket for a promotion at the USDA from an incompetent in the WH who created this mess by appointing her, then firing her too quickly for some reason. This isn't Breitbart's mess. This is now Obama's mess to clean up, or justify, as far as I'm concerned. Heckuva job, Barry. Heckuva job. At least we're starting to get used to it. I believe the word is: incompetent.
Obama really does seem to have some of the strangest friends, just like Joan Walsh, of Sherrod's white media conspiracy against blacks. Who'd a thunk it?
Seem like a pretty unpleasant bunch to me.   Actually a whole gang of unpleasant people.

Howard Dean Jumps the Shark

Chris Wallace, Jake Tapper, and Fareed Zakaria are my favorite journalists.  (Tapper is being removed in favor of the totally godawful Amanpour - maybe CNN could hire Tapper).
There was a time when I had some admiration for Howard Dean, but Chris Wallace pretty much dismantles any taste I had for Dean.  Like so many lefties, he loves his non-facts and cannot let them go.

We All Need a Good Laugh Now and Then

h/t Macleans

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Thought it Was Just a Vodka Cooler Thing

Lilith Fair, I mean. 
Ann Althouse has the right level of outrage at this nonsensical piece from the NY Times.
Who exactly is genuine?  What performer?
I still really like Lady Gaga.  I have never 'got' Sarah McLachlan or the rest of her Lilith bunch.


Watching the CBC coverage of the world junior track and field championships and the women's high jump features the winner, a competitor from Montenegro.  Is Montenegro a country?  Ot just for the IAAF?  Maybe just for the juniors?
Are there are other non-countries?

Contador! Charteau! Pellacchi! Schleck!

The last leg of the Tour de France was pretty much its ceremonious natural self, except perhaps for a little uncertainty from one breakaway that never seemed to me as vulnerable as the race commenters wanted to suggest on tleevision, but hey one needs drama.  Some drama, but only a little, as Paris simply offers its beauty as the race finishes.
For me the highlight of the coverage this morning was the interview with Andy Schleck in which he indicated he is already thinking about next year; as am I.  And the eyes were twinkling again, as he said he has no disappointments this year.  Well, I hope he has a better bike mechanic next year.  No chain slips, please.
And I hope Frank can join him!
Congratulations to all the jersey winners.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

TVO Really Loves Jumping the Shark

Having spent a quarter-hour pretending that The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is important, now they are pretending that Veodrome is anything but a typical silly Cronenberg piece of half-porno-horror.  OK it was in some way Canadian, so it is part of the mandate.
But in the end give me a break and don't invite Sonja Smits on as an expert witness!
This is what Canadians think is deep philosophy?  What a silly little country!

Silly Movies that once Seemed Important

The proof of the silliness is that TVO can run another ridiculous documentary telling us that The Spy Who Came in From the Cold matters.
Years after the utterly welcome collapse of the wall, the 'smart' TVO people lecture us not to take simple sides.  When, of course, the sides were clear and should be clear today.  The movie is based on a morally relativistic joke.  How can anyone watch it seriously today?  I know I cannot.  And in my stupid youth I thought it as wise as the idiots Wesley Wark and Jesse Wente are currently pronouncing.
Time destroys some positions, though there are people who will not recognize the idiocy of what they once thought.

This Way Surely Leads to Madness

July is SO rich in real sports - Wimbledon, the British Open in Golf, the Tour de France, that is sort of makes sense that something totally ridiculous is featured on TSN.
This is a deeply weird version of softball (which is a great sport), a slow-pitch version, that allows a maximum of 10 home runs per team.  So a home run made early, as the second in the first inning for Canada, is a problem.

There is a part of me that loves goofy incentives.  But this goes too far.
An 11-man lineup, and everyone starts with a 1-1 count?!  Why don't they just change the walk and strikeout criteria.  Ahh - to make it easy to match to a REAL sport.
Canada is fucking up big-time - three home runs in the first inning.
This all rather fits the Obama notion of how to achieve things.

UPDATE: This sport is really appealing to me.

UPDATE: Canada wins 30-29 largely because the US hits forbidden home runs in the last inning.  Strange but rather fascinating sport.

Tour de France Curiosity

It appears at today's presentations that it was DOUBLE, not TRIPLE, Air kisses, still started on the left.  Every previous stage has featured the triple version.  Is there a complicated rule about the last weekend?
You can see why I have a difficult time visiting people in Europe.
It is SO hard knowing how to greet the suckers.
Over here it is just a shake of hands, or a hug with someone with whom you are unreasonably close.

Getting Me in the Mood for Season 4

Like Rondi, I can hardly wait!

Free Conrad?

Please don't free him to sue me!
Margaret Wente is great on this.
No matter what you think of the man, you can’t help but admire Lord Black’s sense of purpose and his serene certainty. “We will bring this gigantic, malicious persecution down around the ears of its authors,” he once wrote in a late-night e-mail to his nemesis, Tom Bower. Would you bet against this man? Not me.
I agree utterly.  And will call him Lord Black too, something the CBC apparently could not bring itself to do reporting the news last night.

Tour de France - Final Time Trial

Contador and Schleck are on the road; there is much discussion of whether Schleck can gain 8 seconds in a time-trial, a discipline that has been Contador's.  For me there more interesting question is whether Contador wants to try to gain 40 seconds on Schleck, more or less what he gained by his questionable decision to take advantage of Schleck's chain malfunction.  That could at least neutralize some of what will continue to be the discussion of ethics; on the other hand he seemed not to be being booed today as he started his time-trial.

UPDATE: (Tour Time 16:16) I am pleased that the Versus team are not  ridiculously constrained by the defined checkpoints and are getting intermediate data; Contador is apparently up early by 4 seconds over Schleck.  This all makes me wonder what makes a good time-trialer?  Ryder Hesjedal is apparently closing the gap on Gessink and may move up in the general classification.  Go Canada!

UPDATE (Tour Time 16:26) Hmm at the first tiem check Schleck has gained 6 seconds at the first time check!  Ouch.  Meanwhile Denis Menchov is making up time too; he is currently in fourth and was looking to third.  We'll see.  Drama!  I need drama!

UPDATE: (Tour Time  16:33)  The perversity of time trials.  Not all the riders ride in the same conditions!  In fact those at the top of the general classification are facing much worse winds than theesrlier starters.

UPDATE: (Tour Time 16:42)   Menchov seemingly solidly in third now, having started out in fourth.  Starting times here seem to be having effects as great as in the (British) Open Golf last week.  It seems Schleck and Contador are still really close; I confess to having fallen for Schleck's twinkle in the eye last week.

UPDATE: (Tour Time 16:50 )  Contador goes through the second timecheck 6 seconds up on the day.  Samuel Sanchez appears to be losing two places, which is a bit sad, as he suffered a really bad crash in the mountains.  Mind you, the peloton held up and waited for him on the day.  A truly weird sport.

UPDATE: (Tour Time 17:00) Did the organizers mean for the leaders to face bigger wind resistance?  This is something that really matters in bike racing!  It is clear from the results as they come in that Denis Menchov had the real ride of the day.  Of all the leaders, only Menchov finishes anywhere high in the stage standings. Next year is starting to look so exciting.  Contador hits the latest timecheck 20 seconds or so up.

UPDATE: (Tour Time: 17:19) Schleck finishes to amazing cheering, Contador at least to an apparent lack of booing.  The gap in finish times raises a whole bunch of questions.  It leaves Contador's certain victory this year forever tainted by his decision in the mountains.  It must leave Contador stunned to find Schleck can now time-trial, and so next year is highly in question.
The good news for me - nothing to watch tomorrow (I do not care about the Green Jersey any more than I care about the 100 metres in Track and Field).
This has been a great Tour de France.  I suspect they are all using "llegal" means to achieve their performance levels.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oppressive Regimes

What a wonderfully silly country.
The Conservative government, as it keeps lying about the impact of the change they have decided to make wrt the census, just gets siller and sillier.  This is ONE intrusive question, how many bedrooms there are in my house!  Actually, I would not know how to answer; what exactly is a bedroom?
Silly bints indeed.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

h/t and major thanks to Megan McArdle - just a great link, and so neat to discover not only Josh Friedman's great post but his TV series, which I had never heard of!
Lena Headey is wonderful (those forehead wrinkles are lovely) , and Summer Glau, utterly new to me, is a treat.
There is just way too much high quality stuff out there now.

"Thank you Chris" WTF?

So on the Bachelorette Ali has been stiffed by the producers with two guys who have girl friends back home and she thanks the producer for his consolatory performance after the second dumping?
Is this girl a total masochist?  Why?  I doubt there is male over twelve years old in North America who would be troubled by anything other than surprise if he woke up and found her in bed next to him of a morning.
This seems to me like a failure of ABC staff, or is it a success?
Why is she not pissed off at ABC, who surely screen the guys she evaluates?
On the other hand I bet the ratings are roaring!

Frank and Nicole Deserve One Another Grammatically

So in the latest Bachelorette, Frank is struggling with his apparently not quite resolved relationship with Nicole from Chicago (who does seem to be a thorough cutie).  But I see a common thread that suggests they belong together.
`Frank says `She doesn`t know about you and I`.  Aaaaaaaaaarrrrggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!
Can we not teach our kids the smallest bit of grammar?!  I know when I was young Moms had to whack their kids for saying "Johnny and me are going to the mall" so dorks started saying "Johnny and I" everywhere, determinedly ignoring some simple points about cases in English.
And now it is too hard to recognize that  "about you and X" is the accusative or objective case and so the pronoun should be 'me'.  I have siblings who make this error systematically and it stuns me.
And then Nicole matches him with the misuse of the reflexive pronoun 'myself' for what a prescriptivist might well suggest should be 'me' in:
 "You could be getting closer and deeper with someone other than myself".  Yowza!
Two grammatical illiterates and loose on the world.
I think Nicole is pretty cute but do not like her body language much.  Cannot judge Frank too well except for his poor grammar.
They probably do belong together.
Though I am a descriptivist and of course a part of me says, well, yeah, tough, distinctions fade, and the clarity of expression goes with it.
Still they belong together.
Now I should go hear Ali speak.


So let us see - retread actors Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise decide to get into photo-ops with Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.
Had I been a photographer (simply for myself) I would have asked Cruise and Diaz to go stand somewhere else.
Pantssuits again for the stage winner and triple air kisses. 

Cavendish Again!

Fourth stage win this year, and more power to him as I seem to recall discussions about his sorry state getting through the mountains.  I should be sorry to see Hushovd (Norway!) moving down the green jersey standings.
I am cheering for Schleck tomorrow, but don't really have a reason; maybe just that he is the up and comer.  But of course that means he can win in future years.
From my point of view, as someone who mostly focuses on the GC winner, but who am also learning to appreciate all the other awards, I am learning and this is not a bad Tour de France. 
Nice interview with Julian Dean - " he was clearly faster".
Too bad - I have never much cared for sprints.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yup it Truly is Hell

h/t the real LGF
(I love the woman at :22 in the white headcovering (well everything-covering) desperately trying to see anything outside the silly outfit she inhabits.)

Obama's Black Cred Questioned

Well, one would expect so.  His black family just tossed him, leaving the poor vulnerable little man to be raised by whites and go to Columbia and Harvard and suffer so badly.
The Shirley Sherrod story just keeps giving!
“He is not someone who has experienced what I have experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him,” she told me. “I don’t know if that would guide him in a way that he deals with others like me, but I at least would like to have the opportunity to talk to him about it.”
Fightin' words!  Tee hee.  Take that whitey Obama!

Silly Little Country

I have had some dim-witted people wonder about the title of this blog, but for Pete's sake!
My country is into a major dizzie fit because the Chief Statistician resigned!  Now I caused great embarrassment to the Chief Statistician at the time (I said in a CBC interview that my summer high school job at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics was 'boring', as it surely was). But this is way better! or worse  The current government, as I have already posted, has decided to destroy any statistical validity in the census process in Canada.  And then insisted that Statistics Canada supported this totally invalid view, and in the end effectively forced through this lying the resignation of the head of the organization.
Don't get me wrong.  I am not sure that is bad.  It may be that the policy directives that come out of our careful history of trying to do the census correctly have produced bad outcomes .But let us at least be honest.  Tony Clement's proposal is to make the census useless in any serious way.
Personally, I think that is bad.
Surprise, those of you expecting me to support Harper all the time.  But I would guess, you guys agree this is one silly country.

7000 Feet! Col du Tourmalet

The ascent of the Col du Tourmalet in this year's Tour de France is just beginning.  I have been waiting days for this; can Schleck successfully attack Contador!  Andy Schleck has no choice but to try, and Contador is a truly formidable opponent.  Nobody is in any doubt about what needs to be done.  This is so much fun.

I have to give the US Network Versus great credit for their superb coverage of the Tour, relayed to us happy Canadians by our Outdoor Life Network.   This is one of those rare summers when I am not in Europe during the Tour, and the coverage available here is SO much better than what I am used to seeing in Europe.  One lovely innovation on stages that feature long climbs, where major battles are enacted, is to run the ascents commercial-free.  Thanks Versus, and thanks, Toyota (Whoops, today it was Nissan, not Toyota, though I will defend myself by pointing out that is was Toyota earlier in the week.  Womder if ObamaAutos can do the same.)!

UPDATE (16:46 Tour time): The teams are slowly starting to melt away; Cancellara currently up front working for Schleck.  Schleck's Saxobank team are killing themselves in his support.  This is a very interesting sport and a very interesting and complicated event; there are so many secondary prizes and victories and the role of the team is extraordinary in individual performance.

UPDATE (16:51 Tour time): The peloton keeps shrinking; Cancellara has dropped but Saxobank and Astana have team members defending Schleck and Contador; Saxobank currently controlling the pace.

UPDATE (16:55 Tour time): Of course there is a breakaway group, but now down really to one person with a hope of stealing the stage.  Schleck cannot wait much longer if he wants to start the time-trial Saturday with the yellow jersey.  Wow!  Vinokourov is dropping off the peloton.  Hesjedal, the Canadian, still hanging in.

UPDATE (17:02 Tour time): Armstrong is still in the peloton (with three other Radio Shack riders!) as Saxobank keeps throwing riders into forcing the pace.  Kolobnev, the one remaining breakway rider, still has a couple of minutes on the field.

UPDATE (17:04 Tour time): Contador the only Astana rider in the peloton now.  Barredo is trying to break!  And here goes Schleck, with all his team having peeled off, and Contador is holding on.

UPDATE (17:08 Tour time ): This is what sports does best. One on one. It is Schleck and Contador on his wheel; they will eat up the last breakaway rider.  Contador holding on nicely so far.

UPDATE (17:10 Tour time): Sami Sanchez, despite a terrible fall early in the stage (at which the field slowed down to allow him to rejoin the peloton, by the way) is holding on behind Schleck and Contador.  Ryder Hesjedal is looking good.  But the duel at the front is fabulous.  I feel exhausted already and I am just sitting on the couch.

UPDATE (17:18 Tour time ): "Contador dancing on the pedals" and that is indeed how it looks.  It now seems Schleck cannot shake the Spaniard.

UPDATE (17:23 Tour time): Seems Schleck knows he cannot drop Contador with 4km to go.  And Contador attacks!  And Schleck sits behind him.  Oh I now so look forward to next year's Tour!

UPDATE (17:33   Tour time);  This was just incredible.  What a duel, and what class to give Schleck the stage.

UPDATE: (17:35 Tour time) Hesjedal finishes fourth in the stage!  Fantastic for an unknown (in Canada) Canadian.  This should move him up the general classification.

UPDATE: (17:50 Tour time):  It's nice to see Contador and Schleck congratulate one another at the end.   Hesjedal is really happy, and that is nice to see.  Go Calgary!  RadioShack's Chris Horner is having one heck of a last week and finished eighth, heading his team.  He clearly feels he has served his team, "and today I was there for me."

UPDATE: (18:00 Tour time): Stage winner still gets pantsuits and it is three sides air-kissing starting on the left.  Hmm Yellow jersey pantsuits too today.  Not sure I much like this.

Cameron and Careful Optics

That seems pretty simple, doesn't it?
For the first time on a major official visit, the Premier turned down chartering his own plane to make the two-day trip to Washington DC.
And he even spurned First Class tickets to travel in the far cheaper Business Class. The move saved £200,000 in costs, Downing Street officials said.
Passengers were aghast when Mr Cameron and his team of officials boarded the plane to Dulles airport and took seats beside them.
In the past, PMs travelling on long overseas trips have always chartered a Boeing 747 or 767 - at a cost of £300,000 - or used RAF jets

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Has Any Bachelorette Been Dumped by so many Guys?

Is it Ali (THAT I find hard to believe) or is it ABC's producers?
Supposedly these clowns were signed up to court her.
(But may I say that dropping that flower from her hair was a piece of genius.)

Rondi Did Way Better than I

This is all I could produce:
The logic of normative value(s) is homologous with the legitimation of exchange value.
Regrettably it almost makes sense.

Free Conrad!

You know it is not as if Conrad Black is the first guy to get confused about corporate governance.  So I was never much a fan of his imprisonment, which now seems to be ending!  Yay!
The greatest and most amusing irony in some ways is that CBC Newsworld has decided to become the all-Conrad network today.

The JournoList Archive Starts to Leak

And it is even uglier than I could have imagined.
For a while I read Ezra Klein as he seemed reasonably intelligent, but I feel comfortable now in not bothering to read any of those guys, who are clearly comfortable with manipulation and mistruths.

Shirley Sherrod fights back!

The Shirley Sherrod case does keep giving, as I hoped, though not in the way I had expected!
She is fighting back this morning on CNN - apparently the clip we see in my post was her telling a story on herself, about when she thought as a racist, as a step along the way to becoming who she is today.  She seems rather credible to me, and I certainly feel like apologizing for the earlier post.

Fresh and Healthy?

I think not.

This woman needs to put on some weight and beef up a bit.
I doubt, though, that she would hire a doctor who would actually help.

Michael Ramirez Has This One Spot On

I wish it were funny.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Damn! I am Saddened

Just after saying I was thrilled at the women replacing Evan I see some moron named Eric Pooley given a ton of CBC time.
For God's sake, it would have been easy to counter this moron with Steve McIntyre, who is about the most reasonable human being on the planet on this subject. And he is Canadian!
Hey wait!? He does not agree with the stupid CBC notion of what needs to be done, based on no real science.
I weep for my country at times.

CBC Near-Nirvana

With Evan Solomon on vacation I get Rosemary Barton and Jennifer Ditchburn. Can it get better?

Steve Sailer really can write

And what a great piece this is.
The leftist documentarian is peeved that the conservative media mogul stands foursquare behind traditional Italian values, such as big-breastedness. Gandini suffused his Michael Moore-style documentary with dire music and ominous slow motion footage of veline, the celebrated showgirls who dance on Berlusconi’s equivalent of The Daily Show, to intimate that while they may look like the fiancés of famous footballers having the times of their lives, they are actually, if you stop to think about it, the real victims of patriarchy.
I love lefty mentality!
The root of the half-Scandinavian’s resentment appears to be his awareness that to be a star in Italian television you need a big, extroverted, Berlusconi-sized personality. That’s not news. Italians pretty much invented celebrities. Tuscany alone produced Dante, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Galileo, along with numerous other one-name wonders.
Sailer is brilliantly right to make a point of the Scandinavian piece of this 'documentarian' (in quotes as I am used to CBC 'documentaries', which also belong in quotes). We Scandinavians have high moral standards, of a sort.
Like all fine writers, he finishes with bravura:
In contrast, many Americans who enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are now vaguely disappointed that he has turned out not to be as epic as the President Will Smith character they thought they were electing. Instead, they wound up with a part time law school lecturer and part time state legislator who needs his golf. Hence, the Democrats are now terrified that the young and star-struck won’t turn out to vote in 2010 like they did in 2008, unless maybe the Democrats get a new Will.I.Am video.
At the end of The Big Lebowski, cowboy actor Sam Elliott comments upon Jeff Bridges’s character: “The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.” A lot of Italian voters seem to take comfort in knowing that Silvio’s out there, enjoying life for all Italians.
I think it is true. There will be embarassment about the Obama administration. Berlusconi does not even ask for such judgment.

Isn't Post-Racialism Great?

I rather hope the Shirley Sherrod case keeps giving, as I suspect it is symptomatic of this sleazy gang of thugs running the US government now. We shall see.
For those not in the know, a black racist got fired for blatant public racism, fortunately caught on video, fortunately as her NAACP audience had no problem with her behavior.
Now the question to be pursued is how she ever got hired.
That could be fun.
UPDATE:! And why did she get underbussed?

41 Years

Still an amazing memory.
I do not observe this every year, but maybe this year is special thanks to Obama's dim-witted decision to focus NASA on outreach to Muslims.


I tend not to get headaches; in fact I can think of none I have had in the last thirty years that could not be attributed to hangover effects (and even those are very rare).
So I can read this article without taking it too personally.
An interesting treatment for headache was that recommended by the 10th century astronomer and physician Ali ibn Isa (ca. 940–1010 CE), who recommended binding a dead mole to the head
I suspect this is a front-runner among the contributions to science and engineering that the head of NASA is supposed to celebrate to make Muslims feel good. I'll be watching for people walking around this neighborhood with moles attached to their heads.

Jedi Census

I still think the (a?) long form should be mandated, but this is excellent and I think captures the other side's viewpoint nicely.

Contador Booed Again

Or so it seemed to me at today's yellow jersey presentation.
When I was getting excited about today's stage, I failed to note that the stage, despite having two category 1 climbs and two uncategorized, featured a long descent and then a flat stretch to the end, so the final showdown between Schleck and Contador will not come until Thursday. Moreover, it is not quite final, as there is also a time-trial of some length to come.
Today's stage was not a complete waste, though. There was a successful breakaway in which Lance Armstrong participated, though, as he ruefully admitted in a post-race interview, the old legs were not up to both a challenging breakaway and a successful sprint finish.
Moreover, careful study of recent podiums has shown that pantsuits are the standard for the presenters of the stage winner, and the far more fetching skirts and/or dresses seem to be what the other winners get. I forgot to check the air kiss protocol today to see if it was still three starting on the left.
In other news, apparently the US FDA wants a place in the Tour de France. I am befuddled why they think this is their mandate.

Don't Yank our Chains

Armstrong in an interview is not impressed with Contador's claim that he did not see Schleck's problem with his chain - "Don't yank our chains; say you saw and you went". It is interesting though to hear so much discussion of whether Contador should have taken advantage of the chain problem or should have waited. In few sports would this even be a question.
Of course, in another sport, there is the case of the most incredibly stupid, beautiful, foolish, gentlemanly act.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Bachelorette: What is wrong with Ali?

This is always an interesting show and one should never assume that the matings it produces are useful. The history is not good.
My problem in this season is that Ali is as a bit of a floozie. and she seems to pick guys who are quite prepared to exercise their charms elsewhere.
Of course were she other than this ABC would not have hired her.
I desperately hope all the emoting is fake (but I fear she is reacting honestly to all the rejection - and I must ask how one could reject her except for the whining).

TTC Close to Useless

So yesterday I have a commitment to meet a friend near Bloor and Yonge at 10:45 am.
I set out in good time - I am in Woodbine Station by 10:15 am and see a sign that says the subway is closed from St. George TO Pape (carefully note the prepositions); the way I read this it is the opposite direction from the one in which I am traveling. So big deal not a problem.
AFTER I am in the train they announce it is a closedown both ways and that we must evacuate at Pape to take shuttle busses. OK I think, not a problem, I jump onto a shuttlebus and will make my destination with no problem.
I leave the subway at Pape and find at surface level there is a three-block queue waiting for apparently non-existent shuttle busses!
I take a taxi.
I make it.
So most is cool.
Except the fucking TTC sold me a ticket under false pretences! Typical Toronto! And they cost me an extra $20 for the taxi. BTW the taxi drivers were in heaven.
What is not cool is that the moron Adam Giambrone, directly responsible for this, is at least as dim-witted as his personal sexual life suggests. Why has he still his job? Do he and Miller have an interesting relationship? I don't know.
Just a question.
I would have thought just this one incident would have cost him his job. Seems really hard to get rid of Miller favorites in this administration.
In almost any of the jobs I have had such incompetence would have got me fired immediately. Damn I was born too soon and lacking an Italian surname and a tie to the NDP! I can think of no other explanation.

What is the Most Racist Outfit in America?

I think it is pretty obvious.
Things are not so far different in Canada.

Unions Drive up Wages Arbitrarily

What? No!? Surely Not?!
This has been in several blogs but I will link to Greg Mankiw.
It's pretty revealing they outsource to non-union labor rather than even use their own resources.
Of course it is no surprise to me and ought to make the company's point.
The people running extortion operations like this are not attractive to me.


Surprise surprise!
Obama is appalling.

The Right to Water - Departing from Norm

He posts somewhat minimally on this, even counting for his link.
I am not sure we can prescribe a right to a scarce resource; if it starts to run out how exactly are we supposed to make sure everyone gets it?
This is not like the right of free speech, or the right not to be arbitrarily beaten up by police. It is something quite different. These examples simply require our governments not to bugger around engaged in useless activity.
The 'right to water' is mostly a rhetorical device. Almost all the major distortions in water distribution are the products of governments - California's deep subsidies to Central Valley farmers are a great example.
As for me, I suspect pricing water seriously is the right thing to do when it becomes scarce (misallocation by governments is the usual problem). I know for sure this is not what the very dim Maude Barlow means by such a right. I am not sure Norm knows much about Barlow.
So look - I think it is a good idea that everyone have all the water he or she watns or needs, that this is not practical as an objective, and that we need a mechanism to do the allocation; I also think it is much more practical to use market and pricing mechanisms than government allocations, and that if this is a problem for whatever local poor people, we just find a way to give them more money. We are really good at redistribution. We are really crppy at what Maude Barlow aches to do - stand above the world and allocate according to her wishes.
I am distressed that Norm implicitly endorses thios dork of a woman.
Far better to go read David Zetland.
I would be thrilled to be proven wrong on any of this.

Alex Tabarrok Makes a Point about Birds

And I agree that one ought to keep things in perspective.
Nobody should pretend that windfarms are free, for example, or that the fish they (as do I!) enjoy eating come without environmental costs that extend beyond the fish.

Voeckler! Contador Booed

A fascinating stage in the Tour de France.
To start - delightful to see Voelcker win this brutal stage; he was so tough holding onto the yellow jersey in a previous year
Very interesting was to watch the developments as Andy Schleck's chain slipped during an attack. I previously referred to this rant about soccer, which contrasted it with bike racing. When Schleck's chain slipped, there was no noble waiting for him by Contador or anyone else; if anything, they pressed harder, and now Contador has the yellow jersey and was widely booed at the presentation ceremony for the jersey.
The commentators are split on the ethics of exploiting the mechanical mishap. Schleck is angry in his post-stage interview (lacking the 'twinkle in the eye' he had in interviews so far, as noted by Phil Liggett, rather reminding me of Louis Oosthuizen). Contador says he had no idea there even was a mechanical mishap.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal made the very sensible (to me) point that the chain could perfectly well have slipped BECAUSE OF the strength of the attack Schleck had just started. Hey, BTW - Hesjedal is now in the top ten in the general classification! Fantastic! Here's to almost unknown amazing Canadian athletes (God knows we waste enough time on the less amazing better known ones).
One thing I can say is I will NOT miss tomorrow's stage! Two category one climbs and two HC. If Schleck wants revenge, he can certainly get it.

It Is Much More Questionable

Norm a) makes me feel a bit better about the UK and b) hits the key point.
He reports on the ongoing outrage in the UK, that Muslim bus drivers deny entry to the bus to blind people with dogs, because they (the drivers) have the idiotic stupid Muslim notion that dogs are in some way 'impure'.
It is encouraging that the UK minister of transport is cracking down on this utterly sick behavior of the drivers.
As Norm points out, it is less to be praised that the minister in question describes the behavior as 'much more questionable' (a lovely relativization). As Norm says:
In fact, pitching a blind person off the bus because his or her guide dog is impure according to one's own belief sytem is bloody outrageous. It should be a disciplinary offence in the second instance and a sacking offence thereafter. For it is a requisitioning of public space, or at any rate space public to the extent of being covered by disability law, to impose a restriction on others who do not share the beliefs in question - even though the activity thereby restricted is not demonstrably harmful to anyone and is demonstrably helpful to someone.
Every one of the drivers is manifestly unfit to be a bus driver (heaven knows what they are fit for!). The first incident should have been a firing offence, though I suspect union rules protect some pretty outrageous behavior with a minefield of grievance procedures.
Still, overall, this is somewhat encouraging.
In Canada, on the other hand, the lunacy is increasing, it seems. (Add to that the woman in Calgary who got probation for strangling her daughter to death.)
We have a pretty good country, and seem to be admitting people to it who are simply not fit to live here. We still have time to explain the rules to the newcomers if we actually believe in the rules.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Officer Bubbles

There is much in the blogosphere, and especially in many of the blogs I like to track, about the apparently outrageous behaviour of 'Office Bubbles' in the video below.

Is he a madman? I don't think so.
I do not know the exact context of this video, clearly staged by miss bubble-blower and her buddies, but I have asked myself a bunch of questions.
My questions are partly informed by having lived in Berkeley, California in the 1970s and knowing full well how disingenous 'peace' behavior is.
So suppose she was planning to punch him in the face? Would her punch be assault? Yup, I suspect so.
Spit in his face? Yup, I suspect.
Blow a bubble in his face? Well, it is meant clearly as a proxy for the other engagements.
And she is clearly up on the front line as a proxy for her nastier and vastly more cowardly little counterparts behind the scene. I do not know if she is a dim-witted useful idiot or a conscious provocateur who knows full well how cute she is and how she can affect the public view.
The courts can decide whether she is worthy of any grief, but it is perfectly obvious from the presence of cameras recording this and her buddies around her that it is NOT the police who staged this.
Sorry, some of my favorite 'conservative' blogs. I cannot sign up for any sympathy with 'bubble girl'. And I do not think 'Officer bubbles', as you so casually choose to stigmatize him, is so off the mark.
OTOH his partner is clearly uncomfortable. I recognize that but just disagree.

Hmmmm - Stupid Reality Show Questions

"If you are in the continental United States and you are following the sun, which direction are you headed?"
This is a question posed to a "beauty" contestant on the "Beauty and the Geek" reality show I was just watching.
What is the correct answer?
My view is that the question is meaningless as stated.
She said "East", and was judged as wrong, and I find that outrageous.
If I am in the continental United States (a ridiculous part of the question, as the answer should not differ based on location - unless you are at a pole), and follow the sun in the morning in the sense of heading for it, I am clearly headed east. Well, in the morning. In the afternoon, in a state of total frustration, I will head the other way. And this will happen day after day. OK maybe this marks a geek - the geek will figure out an underlying model and the 'beauty' will just be frustrated.
So what does 'following the sun' mean?
Well, don't expect a reality show to speak with any precision on that!
And that 'wrong' answer eliminated her team. If this really mattered I might want to make an issue of it, but I suspect it is from a season several years ago, and the show does not matter anyway except as a weird form of soft porn.
(BTW I love 'Beauty and the Geek', as a geek happily married to a beauty - who would immediately recognize what a stupid question this is, as she is also a geek.)

British Open Finish

There are many things one can enjoy in the final round of a major golf tournament; one is the topsy-turvy pleasure of the lead changing moment to moment over the last round. And that is a pleasure to watch.
Today's British Open finish provided a different pleasure, and it was a great one.
After three rounds Louis Oosthuizen (yes, nor had I heard of him before the tournament but he had credentials, and that is a measure of how great a worldwide sport golf is) had a commanding lead. To get to the above scenario you need to see him start making major mistakes and give up his lead; that is a scenario we have often seen.
Instead we saw this young, attractive, gap-toothed young fellow with a fabulous swing and no apparent fear simply increase his lead, maintain it where needed, and dominate an amazing international field. Also, toward the end, he had the good sense to play conservatively when he knew he had several strokes he could yield and still win. And all along the way he was a delight to watch with no petty outbursts, in fact laughter at one shot he had made poorly.
Can golf please produce more of these guys? He was just a treat!
(That his caddy was a black South African moves me more than some dumb movie like 'Invictus'; it was fun to hear them talk as their backgrounds were so clear in their speech.)
I am really hoping to see a lot more of Louis Oosthuizen in the future, and I would love to see younger players model themselves on his jaunty demeanor.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Steven Horwitz on Payday Lenders

A very good essay on the unintended (well, maybe, unintended) consequences of the new payday lending price cap in Arizona.
As Horwitz points out, following a helpful discussion of the 'interest rates' the lenders charge (I have raved in the past about how misleading the numbers involved are) there is a real question about the usefulness of such a law.
But who exactly is hurt here? No one points a gun at the heads of the borrowers. Clearly they perceive a need for that additional liquidity and, to use a little economic jargon, their time preference is high enough that they are willing to pay the high rate for the very short-term loan. Their willingness to do so is most likely a consequence of their poverty; they lack the assets and collateral, and even the human capital, necessary to get a standard loan or a credit card. For such people the payday loan option is better than going hungry between paychecks.
He finishes with an interesting speculation about theintended consequences:
Ironically, the law will probably be praised by those on the left who have (rightly) criticized Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration. It’s ironic because research shows that payday lenders are most commonly found in areas with high immigrant populations, such as Arizona, suggesting that immigrants, legal and otherwise, are a large part of their customer base. Without citizenship and the relevant ID, and with limited economic assets, they likely have only one borrowing option. Pushing these lenders out of the state is completely consistent with the state’s anti-immigrant bias. Rather than preying on immigrants and the poor, payday lenders offer them a service that would otherwise be unavailable. Sending them packing makes Arizona that much more inhospitable to people seeking freedom and opportunity in the United States. The leftists who claim to support immigrants, illegal or otherwise, but who praise this law need to see the harm it will do.
What’s really undefendable are not the loan sharks and payday lenders but the politicians who callously deny the poorest among us access to credit that might enable them to put another few meals on the table or buy medicine for their kids now rather than later. We should be closing down the Arizona state legislature not the payday lenders.
Well we cannot really carry out that last recommendation but we certainly do not have to praise them for this ill-conceived law.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Please please

More Reshmi Nair!

Has the CBC Any Shame?

I will give Evan Solomon credit - each tine he produces Andrew Heintzman as an expert witness he announces their relationship and the corruption of using this guy as a witness or anyone who supposedly has anything to say objectively.
How big does the CBC want this joke to get?
I'd like to randomly say 'their call' but of course I do not pay for this misbehavior, the government will send people to shoot me.

How Stupid is Evan Solomon?

I have already suggested he is pretty stupid.
So his small brain took another step today, reporting that apparently Czech female cabinet ministers and officials were participating in making a cool calendar with sexy saucy pictures.
Little dim bulb Solomon is amazed this can happen and wonders why it does not in Canada?
Let me ask little dim bulb Evan and his CBC bosses what treatment cute women cabinet ministers would get in Canada if they allowed themselvs to show up in any slightly saucy way?
Little dim bulb Evan and his equally dim bulb CBC manager/bosses would be outraged and drive outrage.
He is a little slime in my view. It would be beter in many ways to live in the Czech Republic and not have to suffer this twit as a supposed pundit.
He is a deeply sad and very little man.

How Did the CBC Find Tim Fernholz?

Like if they want a lefty to defend Obama, sure, but this freak? He still needs a dentist and the people who sold him glasses must be still laughing their heads off.
He has been on Evan Solomon's show for more than one day! How can that be?
Are Solomon's porducers this sad?
It worries me when the National Review guy looks relatively sane.

More Paisley

I will check in after with whether I have succeeded.

The ring was once there but now gone. Not my choice.

Yes Please!

As soon as possible.
I want Wendy. I will never forget sitting a few rows back of her flying home from Paris.

Matt Ridley at TED Oxford

A fine talk.
Now in my 60s I find it sad how convincing and excellent this talk is, while I have lived a life during which I have been bombarded with doom-talk.
When I was young I ached to know what was happening during the Wimbledon tournament; this problem is gone, and certainly not reflected in ecenomic statistics. There is so much more that is just routine today that will not be reflected in economic statistics.
A great example is your ability to see this talk on the Internet.
I am reading Ridley's "The Rational Optimist" and will comment further.
But for the moment it is the inestimable Brad Paisley who has got it.

Bastille Day Tour Stage 2010

Well, it is a bit weird having to wait almost a quarter hour to get the current Green jersey standings sorted out. The Norwegian guy still leads (YAY! I have no idea who the individuals are.)
Now I am going to wait for the ceremonies and check out the dress codes in Gap.
Hmm - pantsuits for the stage winner again, though almost a Lycra look.
Yellow jersey - great local legs and the three-kiss protocol with no hesitation anywhere.

How Dumb is Team Ignatieff?

A lot dumber than Kate McMillan who shares her mirth!
I am looking forward to what happens when he gets to my neck of the woods!
I am of course a man of the world so would look forward to the $12 Baby Spinach Salad - important to make sure it is not mature spinach!
How stupid are these people? No wait. People still vote for them. How stupid are those people?

That Is What I Would Miss Too

Norm reflects on what it would mean if he were cut off from reading. I can only agree enormously!
But if I were cut off from reading for a longer period, especially indefinitely, what I would miss is the pleasure of entering other worlds during chunks of my day: being immersed in these other places and/or times and in the inner and outer realities lived by others, their thoughts and feelings, their interactions. Escape? No, that's a pejorative way of putting a perfectly healthy impulse - wanting to be a party, if only vicariously, to the varieties of human experience. One can get the same thing, it might be said, through film, and that's true to an extent. But in reading it has a different kind of depth and a certain 'privacy' (for want of a better word). So it seems to me anyway. Something like that is what I'd miss.
As the title of his post says, "Missing worlds".

Stunning Story from Alda in Iceland

Read through all the comments. Reminds me of reports I have read about the Somali taxi drivers in Minnesota. I do wonder actually how firmly we would stand in Canada behind service dogs. Much depends on whether our authorities think the rights of blind people trump those of Muslims, and that is a hard call, that could easily change every week or so.

Murder is murder

I'm with the Canadian Council of Muslim Women!
The Canadian Council of Muslim Women opposes the addition of "honour killings" to the Criminal Code on the grounds "murder is murder" and a special category could stigmatize new immigrants and some ethnic or religious groups.
So this is all over the news because Rona Ambrose misspoke once again (I like to watch her misspeak - she is cute) and suggested that the Justice Department was 'looking at' honor killing as a special category.
The point should surely be that it is NOT a special category. What happens when one makes it a special category is that one starts to relativize it and invite the special pleaders to start whining that the poor little murderers could not help it because of the expectations of their community. Keep the damned community out of this sort of discussion - it only pollutes our society to even think about that.
That perhaps many people connived in a murder seems to me only a good reason to file charges against a lot more people.
So I hope these law professors are right:
Three law professors said the first-degree murder provisions of the Criminal Code already contain all the tools needed to prosecute and punish those who commit "honour killings" and they knew of no Canadian judge or jury who treated cultural family "honour" as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
I'm not so confident but cannot see how creating a special category for this sort of murder helps anyone.
Weirdly, I think I may agree with an NDPer:
Nova Scotia NDP MP Megan Leslie said the government has undermined its own case by cutting programs to help immigrant women, denying settlement services to refugees and stripping "equality rights" from the mandate of the Status of Women office.

Happy Bastille Day

And I know no better way to observe it than with a little Brie and a lot of Mireille Mathieu!

I am glad there is no Human Rights Commission to dismantle those truly aggressive lyrics.

Wow! Those French!

I am utterly stunned at the face-covering ban:
In Tuesday's vote at the National Assembly, there were 335 votes for the bill and just one against it. Most members of the main opposition group, the Socialist Party, walked out and refused to vote, though they in fact support a ban. They simply have differences over where it should be enforced, underscoring the lack of controversy among French politicians on the issue.
The bill passed Tuesday bans face-covering veils everywhere that can be considered public space, even in the street, but the Socialists only want it in certain places, such as government buildings, hospitals and public transport.
This is not something I think is consistent with classic liberalism (and it faces constitutional scrutiny in France) but I am impressed with the near unanimity.
I have noted lately that retired men in the summer here tend to dress in T-shirts, shorts, white socks (the whiteness is the least universal fact), and sneakers. I hope that attire does not get legislated against.

Allan Rock Rightly Pilloried

Generally I am not a fan of Denis Rancourt, but his analysis of Allan Rock's work as University of Ottawa president related to Ann Coulter's failed attempt to speak on campus (on a tour where she sucessfully spoke at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Calgary) is magnificent and has a good laugh every couple of paragraphs.
The first thing (40 minutes after the Wolfe email was sent) Allan Rock does (rec-2) is ask his executive officers and his communications staff for their advice in which he states “In my opinion, respect for free expression must be maintained … but I am sensitive to these concerns.” The operative word here is “respect”, as in “appear not to interfere with,” as opposed to “unconditionally defend.”
I love that explication of the word 'respect' as used by Rock.
Another lovely analogy later:
As Allan puts it (rec-21) “there are important principles at stake and we must keep them in mind.”
Can we kill that dude and how would we reconcile that with the law against murder? Can we claim self-defence if the dude can be argued to have had criminal behaviour in the past? This is a former Minister of Justice at work – You can hear the gears turning.
Later Rock sends a note that starts with this:
Ann Coulter is a mean-spirited, small-minded, foul-mouthed poltroon. She is “the loud mouth that bespeaks the vacant mind". She is an ill-informed and deeply offensive shill for a profoundly shallow and ignorant view of the world. She is a malignancy on-the-body politic. She it a disgrace to the broadcasting industry and a leading example of the dramatic decline in the quality of public discourse in recent times.
I think of her as a pretty good stand-up comic; Rock seems really obsessed with her. She is fairly attractive so I can vaguely get an idea of why he is obsessed.
And of course the truly sleazy behavior:
In point-5 Rock does not only instruct Houle to write the now infamous letter; he actually dictates word for word content of the letter. Rock wrote the March 19th Houle letter. And then let Houle take all the heat for it for weeks before sheepishly stating that he had “approved” the letter and “shared responsibility” for it. Rock entertained numerous calls that Houle be demoted, saw Houle being publicly ridiculed in the national media and received comments in confidence about what an obvious error the Houle letter was but never responded that he had written the letter or came to Houle’s defence - honourable behaviour for any academic to say the least. (Many academics have been turfed for far more tenuous academic fraud misrepresentations or misattributions.)
How that man is still president of anything is beyond my understanding.
And Rancourt is spot on:
It is beyond this observer to understand how a seasoned federal politician could not see in this letter exactly what Coulter saw immediately and what all the local, national, and international media saw? I will venture that most other university presidents in Canada would have seen this letter for the harmful idiocy that is was. As soon as I saw the letter on Coulter’s web site I was stunned that anything like this could be produced by a VP-Academic (LINK), let alone a “star” president. This continues to baffle me.
Wonderfully, but no surprise, one of those hideous Axworthys appears in the story. Rock asks him:
Question: is it a derogation from the principle of free speech for a university, while expressing to a mindless poltroon the willingness to receive her, to issue as well a plea that she be civil and respect the legislative limits of free speech?
Axworthy actually responds with the right answer:
I think it is. Because it always plays as this one has - that tlre university doesn’t really believe deeply in these fundamental freedoms.
The cops and immigration officials can enforce our laws on speech. You should and no doubt did as AG [Attorney General] but not as President.
University's (sic) have a unique role and the President has to not only uphold it but be seen to. That means nuance, subtlety and balance need to be put aside. Unequivocal defense of the freedoms is where the President should stand at Canada's university.
What baffles me how this answer is not obvious to Rock, as it clearly was to other University presidents.
Then a real blow:
Suffice it to say I am very disappointed in how the University of Ottawa handled the visit of Ann Coulter.
Disappointed enough too actually send an email.
Surely someone as erudite and politically educated as yourself realizes the University of Ottawa gave Mrs. Coulter exactly what she wanted - the role of pariah.
When did my alma matter turn its back on free speech?
Why can latent anti-Semitism fester on campus (as an ex student I have seen it) in the name of Palestinian rights but a right wing blowhard cannot?
I do not like Mrs. Coulter, she is a sensationalist and in my opinion a media-whore. That does not condone the actions of Mr. Houle.
Mr. Houle allowed his personal politics to cloud his judgment and should be punished for harming the character and image of the University as it is now, a laughingstock.
The student council should be ashamed of themselves as well.
Going forward, my father, my wife (alumni as well) and I, will no longer be donating to an institute that allows anyone to be silenced in this matter (sic).
I have taken off my school ring.
I would appreciate any thoughts you may want to share on the matter
In that pretty much the sole job of a University president is to raise money, this probably hurt a bit.
And then the hideous Amir Attaran shows up with an intelligent suggestion:
At 3:16pm (rec-72) Associate Professor of law Amir Attaran offers his legal services to Houle and Rock and disparages Levant (Coulter’s lawyer) in the process:
“[..] My condolences - nobody deserves this. If you end up being sued, as seems likely, [...] Litigating against Ezra Levant, no excellent lawyer, on a sell-evidently specious claim would be none too taxing of the grey matter. [...]”
Are there any Ottawa scoundrels not involved in this? Earnscliffe (Elly Alboim) offers advice as Rock considers compounding his errors by re-inviting Coulter after the cancellation:
Remember as well that part of the controversy unfortunately is attributable to Francois' email. Your statement today does not address that, nor does the proposed invitation. Obviously without distancing yourself from what he wrote, the impression will stand that the university made some sort of presumptive judgment about her and her motivation in an attempt to moderate the way she expressed her views. I'm not sure we can underestimate the importance of that email and the way it is being perceived. The university cannot credibly position itself as a wholly innocent victim of a drive by.
As Ranscourt points out, good advice.
In this mess Rock ducks out of the big Liberal gabfest in Montreal, but Herb Dhaliwal has some fun:
We are all wondering why you are not in Montreal, even your friend Anne Coulter asking about you.
Give me a call.
Why am I not surprised that is the Dean of Engineering who speaks clearly, and not the Dean of Arts or the Dean of Social Sciences or the like?
On March 29th a single brave and clear thinking dean speaks out to Rock. Claude Lague, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, reminds Rock about the university’s founding mission statement regarding free speech (rec-122). Lague points out that U of O is the only university in the Coulter tour where she was not able to speak. Lague states that “if the university is not prepared to do everything in its power to ensure that all opinions, in all their diversity and complexity, can be heard and debated on campus, then we have a serious problem with our mission statement” (translated from the French) and ends:
“Bottom line: We need to learn the lessons from this unfortunate incident and make sure that it never, ever happens again.”

Rock responds with a terse “OK” (rec-122).
I know how to parse those OKs.
Rancourt's summary is great:
A definition of poltroon is “a base coward; an abject coward; an abject or contemptible coward” (web free dictionary). Using my own web research, I fail to see on what basis Ann Coulter can be considered a coward, in particular. On the question cowardice, however, I believe that - even just based on the present ATI disclosures - there is significantly more evidence that Allan Rock is a coward. For example, his overreaction to a misguided student request to censor a controversial speaker, his overreaction to the remote possibility of a lawsuit, his “hiding under a rock,” and his refusal to own up (even in private) to his idiotic letter while letting Houle take the heat for weeks, might all be interpreted when taken together as evidence for cowardice.
I guess there is no point having or attempting to understand principles if one is too cowardly to stand for principles? And deficient judgment would certainly increase one’s fear factor.
In my opinion, if the University of Ottawa is to evolve, either Allan Rock is going to have to start acting out of character or more BOG members, Senators, and other members of the university community are going to have to stand up and keep Mr. Rock and others in line; help them grow so to speak.
Thanks Denis Rancourt - that was a lot of work and well done. Unfortunately it tends to confirm what I have always thought about the quality of the University of Ottawa.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Peaches You Fool!

I wondered about whether November would be a better starting date.
I have in my head a lot of actuarial calculations about how long it would be good to survive. I now very much hope INTO the next peach season. My finances can handle that barring some truly insane inflation.

More on NCIS Tonight

"Abby is not herself" ... They have set up brliiliantly what that means. There is no way for me to explain what that might mean to someone who does not watch NCIS. And no need to say more than that to someone who does.
And they have nicely rolled Dianne Neal from L&O into the cast. She was great in L&O and they know how to use her here.
American television has learned so much from the Germans, and of course is now outdoing them again, having learned it so well.

Stoic? Understated, Then?

Just a great line from one of the soe many so well-written TV shows gracing my recent life. Those descriptions are Toni DiNozzo characterizing his boss's home.
You have to watch the show to know how prefect evry single word of that is.
TV writers are SO much better than when I Was young.
And they enrich each minute of passive TV-watching life that much more.

Veil Ban

I do and do not like it. I have written on why not; it is easy to infer why.
The next six months will be interesting.
In a way I hope that French society is just trying to draw a line and say, "No more".
How each side responds will be fascinating.
Our turn is surely coming.

Not The World I Grew Up In

I have lots of lesbian friends and I hope none of them want to arm-wrestle the great Mark Ruffalo.
Ruffalo worried "she was going to arm wrestle me or something." He didn't think he'd fare well either: "Not against that passion."
Just for boffing Juianne Moore, though I think I would rather were it Annette Benning; after all in the latter case there is a family connection.

How Stupid is Evan Solomon?

Probably only as stupid as his CBC producers.
So a feature today has to do with the US DHS and Canada.
He expresses astonishment that the US is expecting passenger lists from flights originating in Canada that might not land in the US (!!) but might just fly over the US (!!).
Like fly over and into the twin towers?
How puny are the brains of these producers? What a useless distinction.
Vic Toews was fine.
Evan Solomon is turning into what seems to me a crank; something Don Newman has only done in his dotage.
How stupid are people in this country? Deeply.

CBC Has Found an Expert on Water

Must have taken them forever to find Sarah Harmer; and my God she is knowledgeable!
She feels she must overcome a lot of bad stuff using anthemic music. It's a bit sad but this self-importance is a tad hard to deal with.
Good God - she has saved the Niagara Escarpment! It's pretty big, pretty hard to wreck. Oh well, the CBC needs to talk to her and she needs to talk to them.
I imagine there is something good on A&E.
UPDATE: Just as I was leaving the interview I found that Sarah is deeply concerned about the science of her cause (without actually bothering try to learn or understand it). Must do some web surfing tomorrow to understand how deep her knowledge is. I think I know already.
I will say Evan Solomon salivates, and while she admits at the end she is not a scientist, he continues to salivate.