starting-blast landlocked

Category: politics

For the hundredth time, enough of toronto’s walking circus already.

So for those of you living under a rock, toronto has its very own walking circus. That self same walking circus has decided it’s not done dragging the city down the pipes from a PR perspective, so it’s off to the races in its second shot at being mayor. And yet, the media doesn’t even really wanna talk about its second shot at being mayor. So instead, we get treated to things like its attendance at a Leafs game. Or when it decides to show up at a football game wearing the team’s jersey. Or when it gets told it’s not allowed into a lounge area–presumedly where there happens to be alcohol service–at the aforementioned Leafs game.

Granted I don’t live in toronto, so wouldn’t have a dog in this fight regardless. But let’s draw some comparisons here, if we can. Quebec’s got themselves an election tomorrow. Ontario may or may not have itself an election between now and 2015. Canada’s got a federal election coming up in 2015, whether the government likes it or not. What we’re hearing from all of those corners, with maybe the exception of the federal one (more on that in another entry later), is the beginnings of actual election platforms–and, in Quebec, the plank by plank dismantling of the same. But in Toronto, the majority of the attention is focused on the circus–and not even because the circus is dangling a platform in front of our noses. Hell, even in situations where there’s a potential person to carry on the supposed politics started by the circus without the, you know, circus, we’re hearing less of a platform and more of a “This is what you *shouldn’t* be doing if you’re Toronto’s mayor.”. Which just about anyone with an ounce of common sense already knows, which is why this post refers to him as the circus and not, instead, as toronto’s current mayor.

Okay, we get it. It’s a walking, talking, political bombshell. Some might even go so far as to say a public relations disaster if not a financial one. So why is the media (note: by the media, I don’t just mean the toronto Star–although they should probably be entitled to their own special place among the media by now) still eating all of this up? If the circus is at a hockey game, the media should be following someone like, let’s say, Olivia Chow around instead–and maybe somehow managing to coax something that vaguely resembles how she intends to pay for yet another local transit brainstorm. Or see if John Tory can give something for the opinion pages aside from his code of conduct. Like, you know, an election platform. I’d even settle, grudgingly, for more about Sarah Thomson, if I must. Just please, for the love of anything and everything sane, enough about the circus already. The reruns are killing me.

That’s what ya do with a drunken traveller… (*)

So. I get all ready to mock the hell out of another city’s politicians for doing something absolutely braindead stupid, and instead they go off and throw some common sense at me. I mean what’s with that, anyway? Aren’t they all supposed to have given that up as a prerequisit for, uh, being politicians? So what’s the occasion? As it turns out, cab companies in Woodstock get an aweful lot of, shall we say, less than sober passengers on weekends. Who knew? Could probably say the same thing for, say, Toronto. Or Ottawa. Or Kitchener. Or pretty much anywhere that has bars and taxi services. Some of these passengers don’t necessarily have the ability to keep all the booze they’ve slammed before calling their cab where it belongs. Or, for that matter, keep just about any other fluid that doesn’t belong in the back of a taxi cab from, you know, being in the back of a taxi cab. According to folks that are pushing for this, it costs about $120 to have a cab professionally cleaned after one of these alcoholicly fluid-filled episodes. The city’s solution? You break it, you buy it.

The City of Woodstock is looking into imposing a $120 charge on anyone who vomits or leaves other bodily fluids in taxis.

Taxi companies in the southwestern Ontario city have been complaining about an increase in intoxicated passengers on Friday and Saturday nights.

A taxi industry representative recently told council that vomit and other body fluids must be dealt with as a bio hazard and the affected cab must be taken off the road until it is professionally cleaned.

That costs about $120.

The city plans to consult with its solicitor, police and bylaw enforcement officials before coming up with a report on how to deal with the issue.

Of course I wouldn’t place any money on not hearing about this again because someone’s taken the idea to court, but hey, if more cities did this they’d probably not need to be charging the responsible folks so damn much for, you know, being the responsible folks. Yeah, I know–I really aughta stop with this whole thinking thing. But since that’s not gonna happen…

(*): for maximum effect, sing the title of this post to this song and enjoy. Then, see if maybe your city does something similar. And for the love of all things sane if the answer is no, ask them what the hell they’re not thinking.

Rob Ford gets the remix treatment. I may or may not still be snickering.

So. When you’ve escentially been cornered and forced to admit to smoking crack by way of every single one of your denials blowing up in your face, you pretty much can’t go any lower, right? Of course not. It’s when your public life, scandalous as it might be, becomes the very material worthy of a snerkwhile remix that you pretty much can’t go any lower. See also: Rob Ford yesterday, versus Rob Ford today. Very quite probably the best kind of spin ever put on a Rob Ford the Crackmayor story. And I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. It’s not embedded, so RSS and email types should have no problem grabbing it. stream and/or download the thing at will–I don’t think it’s covered under copyright.

Hat tip to KiSS 92.5, who actually put this thing together. I only wish I coulda been there for the mashing.

Update: And right on the heels of this one, a remix of Ford’s crack confession hits Youtube. This one’s an embed, unfortunately, so if you’re reading this by way of RSS or email you’ll need to click over to the site and smack play. but it just might be worth it. You may suck as Toronto’s mayor, but you’ve got a future in what passes for modern music, Rob old chap.

An open letter to Justin Trudeau.

Good evening, Justin. Can I call you Justin? It didn’t take long for you to go all high and mighty so far as the senate kerfuffle’s concerned. And why wouldn’t you? I mean–if a word of what Mike Duffy–nevermind those other two–came up with this week is even remotely true, I’d probably be right there agreeing with you on Twitter. And why not? This is a soap opera of Stephen Harper’s making, so naturally, it falls to him to claim it as his own, right?

Why, of course he does. He made the bed, he might aughta think about getting nice and comfortable–and securing himself a halfway decent lawyer if this thing does, as I know you’re hoping, end up going to trial. You get no argument from me there either. But here’s a thing what interests me.

You’re up in arms about something Stephen Harper, a conservative, may or may not have had a direct hand in setting a blaze based on the word of Mike Duffy, another conservative. And, as I said, that in and of itself is fine. Meanwhile, 5 hours away from you, your provincial counterpart’s in a mess of her very own–one that she and Dalton Mcguinty each had a hand in making, albeit the latter’s finger prints were probably all over a lot more of it than hers. And let’s maybe not drudge up, again, the entire reason the liberal party’s a teeny tiny little bit of a mess federally, yeah?

So I’m just kind of wondering. Did Kathleen Wynne, just for a start, get something similar from you? Maybe in a private email? Since, you know, if she ends up finishing the tank job Mcguinty started on the liberal party in Ontario, you can’t honestly tell me that won’t come back and hurt the liberals federally.

And let’s talk about Mcguinty for a second, speaking of taking responsibility and showing leadership. Telling folks to escentially go screw themselves they were getting a gas plant, then cancelling that gas plant when it actually occured to him that hey, these people vote liberal. And doing it twice. Then ducking and running when it looked for 10 seconds like he might just be sunk. He didn’t tell the media what he knew and when he knew it either. He sat on documentation that could have and eventually did shoot his entire narative in both feet with a smile for as long as he possibly could. Then he prorogued the legislature–a no-no in your book, apparently–and resigned before anyone could nail him to the wall for it. He’s at harvard now, if you’re curious. Are you thinking maybe he might also aughta come on back and testify under oath to what he knew and when? Considering, I mean, there’s a lot more out in the open that points directly at him–and a Mike Duffy wasn’t really all that required, by the way.

Somehow I’m pretty sure that consideration hasn’t really entered your mind, either publicly or privately. Actually I’m pretty sure you are and were fairly immune to that consideration, if we’re being entirely honest. Which begs the question. Is there a different set of rules for members of your own party, or did these just kind of slip your mind on account of they have no direct baring on whether or not you eventually become prime minister–I mean outside the fact if the liberals are sunk in Ontario that’s probably an added complication you’d rather not actually have to deal with.

I get that most politicians are the sort with a rulebook for me and a rulebook for thee. That part doesn’t really surprise me. But you’re supposed to be the different one, here. Doing politics differently, you’ve said a few times. From where I’m sitting, this part’s looking pretty close to business as usual to me. Not all that great if actually trying to get folks my age out to vote’s a thing you’re aiming for, Justin. A little consistent honesty–hey look, another different kind of politics–wouldn’t hurt either. But I’m guessing you’re not quite ready for that yet. Damn shame, that.

I won’t be one of those folks who decide to go after you on account of the only thing on your resume’s the fact you were a drama teacher. that’s been done to absolute death, and really, we’ve all seen what happens when a true academic grabs hold of the wheel. Not pretty, kids. But you can’t sit there and call someone on the carpet for pulling a stunt or 5 you’d otherwise have no problem with if you and he sat on the same side of the house. You especially can’t be doing that if the whole aim of your leadership campaign and gearing up for 2015′s election is that things would be different under prime minister Justin Trudeau. Well, you can–but I’d not want to be in the same room with you while you tried pulling off the mental gymnastics that would give a thing like this a remote chance of sounding like something that maybe might make a little sense if you just let it sit long enough.

So, mr. politics done differently, can we have some different politics please? For a start, a little consistency–particularly with members of your own party who wind themselves up on camera having shoved their hands up to the wrist into the cookie jar? Failing that, could you perhaps restrain yourself from openly supporting people for federal office who most of your potential voters would rather see in jail–even if they fly the same banner you do? Could that be a thing? If you could give that a try, that might actually be something I could call kind of awesome. And hey, if it ends up being something you don’t need to lie about, that’d work too. I mean you still wouldn’t be someone I’d vote for, but it’d be an improvement. Maybe someone more in your circle can work with that and I don’t have to entirely dismiss the political class. I’d honestly love to be able to say I voted for a change. Right now, I can’t. Make me, and we’ll have something here. But until that happens, I’d settle for a raincheck on the hipocricy. Really, that’s not doing you any favours anyway.

The government wants you to pick your TV channels. Here’s why it won’t happen.

So around the middle of last week or so, there was a big to-do around the speech from the throne–that’s the kickoff to the new legislative session, for those folks what read this who aren’t up on their Canadian politics. The government’s decided, what with it being 2 years before the next election and all, that now would be the absolute perfect time to go all consumers first on us. Taking aim at cell phone bills. At the trend of selling 75 tickets for a 60-seater airplane. At those fees you cough up for the privelege of being able to pull cash out of a bank machine on the rare occasion in freaking 2013 where you actually still need to pull cash out of a bank machine. But my absolute favourite part of the throne speech was aimed squarely at folks like Rogers, who I’ve gone back and forth and back again with a few times for pulling the stupid out of thin air. It’s my favourite not because I expect it to actually have a chance in hell of happening, but rather because there are too many wicked obvious reasons, just taking into account the TV viewing habbits in this house, why it’s got every chance in this world and the next of not happening.

Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.

Don’t get me wrong. It sounds awesome. And if it actually happens, I’d absofreakinglutely love to be proven wrong–I’ll take those words with a side of fries and a coke, please. But it’s not happening, or it’ll be a long freaking way off if it does. An explanation, in list format, based on viewing paterns here in the last year or so. Because lazy, efficient, and why freaking not?

  • The most regular watching that’d be happening now, if Rogers and I were on speaking terms not related to arguing over their various levels of broken, would be hockey. And very little of that, unless I wanted to watch the Senators ruin what’s left of their season.
  • I’m in Ottawa, so Leafs TV isn’t happening. If you’re local, go ahead and call your provider to ask–it won’t exist for you. Thank the Senators in particular and the NHL in general.
  • Even if a chunk of the games wouldn’t be broadcast on Leafs TV, living in Ottawa means I get the local feed of stations like, for instance, sportsnet Ontario. I’ve yet to find a workaround for that. So if Toronto and Ottawa are playing on the same night and broadcasting on the same channel, I get Ottawa. Which is awesome, except I’m not looking to *watch* Ottawa.
  • That leaves the CBC, and Hockey Night in Canada. Fortunately there are enough of those channels that at least one of them will be broadcasting the Leafs game even if Ottawa’s playing on the same night. Of course the CBC also has HNIC online for streaming or on-demand purposes, so I technically need not even be concerned with that necessarily. Not to mention several radio stations will stream the games–it’s how I can follow even the ones the NHL won’t let me watch on TV in the first place.

Second on the list would be baseball, unless the Jays actually manage to outsuck themselves next year.

  • Most of those games are on one or the other of TSN or Sportsnet, so if I absolutely had no other option but TV I could still watch pretty much all of those.
  • Again, they’re also carried on several dozen radio stations, one of them local, so if I had to there’s that option as well.
  • Plus, Gameday Audio. Which, let’s be honest–for the price you pay it would almost be worth cancelling cable for the summer anyway. I mean unless you’re a fan of reruns but I address those below.

Trailing behind both of those, but not by much, is the occasional tuning into CPAC–that’s Canada’s answer to CSPAN, for you US political folks. Because while it can be interesting to read about political events unfolding, depending on the event it may be more interesting to actually watch it live. I mean I didn’t tune in to listen to the whole damn throne speech, but I’ve had question period on in the background while I’ve done things around the house–it’s a thing to do. That’s also streamed online, so again if it were a thing I needed to watch for reasons, that would hardly be problematic by any means.

Game Show Network. That gets watched every now and again, mostly if May and I happen to be downstairs at the same time with little else to do. I haven’t yet found an alternative to requiring a TV for that, but I also wouldn’t lose sleep over it if I never had that channel on again. There are probably several less than legal ways to catch hold of at least most of those shows, but again, doesn’t really bother me enough to go wandering about looking.

All things wrestling, but mostly of the pay per view variety and primarily for May’s benefit rather than my own. Again, most if not all of those are probably available online if you’d rather not cough up the cash and don’t mind waiting a day or two for them to come available, but if you’d actually like to know what’s happening before John Q. Fanatic with a cable package and a pay per view order in decides to get on Twitter and advertise it, you’re ponying up the dollars. But you’d be doing that anyway whether or not you paid for 900 other channels of which you may only watch 2.

Local/national news. This one used to be huge back before things like RSS feeds and Twitter took right the hell off. Part of my routine was come home, fix me something to eat, flip on the news then flip over to hockey or baseball or whatever after. Now, I can’t recall the last time I actually had a news station on for specificly news related purposes. This includes both the TV and radio versions. I mean sure, I’ll flip on an all-news radio station once in a while. But nine times in ten I go back to the computer after on account of I’ll find more info online on whatever story I’m following. And the rest of the time that particular all-news station’s broadcasting the Jays game, so we’re good.

New episodes of current shows, and reruns of older ones. I honestly just about snickered writing this, but it’s still a thing. The only time I actually sit down to watch a CSI or Big Bang Theory or something like that on TV now is when I’m at my parents’. Because being realistic over here, they’re not all that technical enough to be going out and scraping the interwebs for the same damn thing. Besides–it makes for fairly good background noise while we sit down to supper and talk about taking the backroads to get out there by way of greyhound. But other than that, I’ve got an external HD full of TV crap and the ability to glom onto more if the need be.

Looking at that list, there’s actually nothing on it that’s really up in the “must have it” category. I mean sure, GSN would be nice occasionally, but unless Rogers and friends decided to start massively overcharging on a per-channel basis (ha), it would almost cost more in extra service fees and crap they’d no doubt tack onto the bill than it would for the actual channel. Assuming the price for pay per views don’t do some massive skyrocketting as a result, and assuming a per-channel rate of we’ll call it a generous–in my opinion, anyway–$10, the highest bill for cable services we’d see around here for our one channel and maybe a pay per view, before any additional service charges and the like, would run about $70 or $80. That’s on the outside. Assuming the cable/satelite providers stuck to the theoretical $10 per channel model, and assuming the average subscriber watches more actual TV than we do here, that can add up amazingly quickly–to the tune of roughly what we pay for the package we’ve got now, most of which neither May nor I have bothered actually watching, for maybe 6 or 7 channels. That before you factor in any of the pay per view goodness. And this assumes they decide to do the flat rate thing re: that per channel fee–a mighty fine assumption, given who I’m talking about. Suddenly things look a lot less like the consumers first picture the throne speech painted for us. Which is why I’m not holding my breath when it comes to actually seeing this become a thing. It’s a wicked nifty cool idea, in theory. The problem with theory, though, is it dies a death just as soon as it meats reality. Putting this kind of thing into practice will be a right royal hot mess. And in the meantime, I’ll be over here watching the Leafs online. But hey, thanks for trying, guys. I owe ya one.

20 absolutely ridiculous government shutdown pick-up lines.

I’m as much a fan of poking a government on its way off a financial cliff in the eye as the next guy. It’s actually a personal hobby of mine. So I was about knee-deep in all manner of government shutdown tweets. Most of them were snarky. Some of them were even funny. None of them were nearly as left field as the Ottawa Sun’s 20 government shutdown pick-up lines. I’ve omitted the “funny” from their title. Because no.

Aside from actually somewhat improving the song, I got nothing. There’s 19 more just like that one in the article. You’re trying too hard, Ottawa Sun. You went for funny and came back with ridiculous. but, A+ for effort. Cash it in somewhere special.

On the NSA: 2013 Obama versus 2006 Biden.

Because we’ve had very little actual debate about what the hell the NSA’s in the middle of and if we even really need or want it there (thanks bunches, secret courts of secret interpretations of otherwise not so secret laws), somebody thought it might be fun to create one. So now, we have the 2013, pro-NSA Barack Obama versus the 2006 apparently anti-NSA Joe Biden. And just for the record, the 2006 side wins. If it wasn’t for the fact he probably won’t be in politics after the 2014 election, I’d be placing bets on how long before someone uses this in an ad campaign. Ah screw it. Who’d like to make a wager?

Why I’d never be in politics, part 2: Even in 2013, your background can sink you.

Last month, I went into a bit of an essay on why exactly I’d have absolutely nothing at all to do with anything political. Simply put, there’s no honesty in it whatsoever–and, in fact, a guaranteed way to see yourself quickly shown the door is to express some of that honesty, whether it’s got support from the people who voted you in or not. I was reminded of this after the National Post published an entire page of letters on the topic, most of them agreeing politics and honesty don’t go all that well together–and referencing recent events like the mess around Toronto mayors and their aledged crack habbits, or the slightly less B-movie-inspiring soap opera around senators and misbegotten tax dollars. What no one on that page mentioned though is you almost need to be willing and more than able to disconnect yourself from reality, if only to distance yourself from your family background, before you even consider the thought of running for office.

For the first time since this broke, I’m going to break my rule and dip my toe into the Rob Ford mess in toronto. Because as this thing unfolds, it escentially explains my point. Let’s leave out, just for the sake of argument, your opinion on how well–or not–Ford managed things with the city since he was elected. That’s a non-issue insofar as this goes, particularly considering he could have spent the last two years in hospital and the city wouldn’t have gone to pieces around him on account of if he’s got no one backing him, he’s got about as much power on council as any one of the guys who decided about the day after he was elected that he had to go. But it outlines one of the problems with running for office pretty much anywhere, on pretty much any platform that makes a degree of sense. As soon as someone decides they don’t agree with you, the gloves come off. It looks vaguely like the toronto Star versus the Fords. Or certain columnists versus Justin Trudeau. Or even normally sensible people versus Stephen Harper (disclaimer: I’m not a Stephen Harper supporter. I just don’t see the point in slagging the guy for breathing.). And the only thing that really gets accomplished is attention is drawn from whichever issue prompted the disagreement in the first place.

I’ll go back to the Ford thing, because it’s happening now and honestly, trying to pull evidence of the Harper thing could take for bloody ever just to sift through it all. Both Rob and his councillor brother Doug could benefit from a quick crash course in public relations management. Or, failing that, a lesson in how not to piss the current ones off. That’s no secret. And whether you’re a Ford supporter or not, that much has to be admitted up front before anything else. And yes, they could probably do with maybe not having shared an opinion or two. But if you really do get what you paid for, then my guess would be the media’s been paying for this since the target was painted. And it translates to roughly what we’re seeing here.

Last weekend, everyone was expecting–in fact, almost demanding–that toronto mayor Rob Ford address accusations that he’s been caught on video smoking crack. Even if it was to deny the reports, they wanted something. This past weekend, Ford finally did deny the reports–and many of the folks who said they’d be fine with that turned around and then said he was lying–that now, the only thing he could possibly do is resign. A side story came up near the end of this past week that says in the 80′s, Doug was a hash dealer. The Globe and Mail had apparently been working on that particular story for 18 months, so this didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the kerfuffle as regards to Rob, but it was released in connection to the last week’s events, as a sort of profile of the Ford family–an indication that, in politics, nothing is off-limits. And folks in the political and journalism arenas have run with it since–the connection being, of course, “Rob Ford smokes–or, at least, smoked–crack. This isn’t new to him. Drugs are in his family.”.

Admittedly not having as sharp of a political nose as I maybe should, I can’t see how a report like that does much more damage to Rob than what he’s already doing to himself, save maybe periferally. The damage, if any at all results from this report by itself, would seem to land more at Doug’s feet–possibly a warning shot in the event he follows through with his brainstorm to run for the provincial conservatives in the next election, whenever that ends up being. But if timing is everything, then by publishing it now, the Globe is hoping I’m wrong in that assessment–and, at the same time, indicating how far outside the arena they’ll go to drive their idea of Doug, and presumedly Rob, home to anyone who’ll listen.

As it stands now, Toronto’s current soap opera goes vaguely something like this. A video exists, say 3 people who’ve seen it, that shows Rob Ford smoking crack. No one except these 3 reporters have seen the video. Ford, acting–his explanation, not mine–on the advice of his lawyer, stayed the hell quiet for a week before denying the reports and saying he’s not adicted to crack and doesn’t smoke crack–choosing his words carefully, in other words, according to a few. “Not good enough. You’re lying. Resign already and get help.” And as if to prove the point, the Doug Ford story comes out. Rob’s older brother, A.K.A. guy with the hash. In his teenaged years, he was the go-to for the good stuff, the report says. Doug, naturally, denies the hell out of it. But still, it’s just one more thing to add to the list where the two of them are concerned. People will react to it how they will, even if how they will roughly equates to not at all, but it shouldn’t have needed to go that far.

The Globe and Mail, as said earlier, was working on this story for a year and a half. Meaning at some point, crackstarter notwithstanding, they planned to release a profile of at least one of the Ford brothers as a teenager involved in the drug scene. Pinning this as a Ford family profile, as they have, implies that crackstarter campaign notwithstanding, they would have gone ahead and published the story regardless because, as the Globe’s editor said, these are people of public interest running on an anti-drug platform.

When explaining to readers how its story was in the public interest, the Globe noted that the Ford brothers hold sway over much of the city’s business and have campaigned on anti-drug platforms.

“The rest of city council, and citizens at large, deserve to understand the moral record of their leaders. In most matters, public or private, character matters,” Globe Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse wrote in a column accompanying Saturday’s article.

So as a public service to the community, the Globe and Mail decided it had to let the citizens of toronto know that at least one of the men they voted for may or may not have done something stupid in his teens. For the record, I’ve done something stupid in my teens. Sure, it’s not quite on the level of the drug trade (I, like Rob, have a brother who may or may not have done that for me), but I’ve been pretty brainless. Mind, I also have been very careful to stay as far away from public office as humanly possible. Why? Because even if I haven’t done anything more than shoplift at the age of 13, I’ve got family and they’ve got baggage. And, as the Globe and Mail points out above, the voting public would deserve to understand my moral record–especially if I decided, say, to run for office on an anti-drug platform–or, I guess, as of right now on an anti-shoplifting platform. And because my family’s got baggage, any number of today’s current issues could come back to bite me in the rear were I to bother with running for office. Tough versus soft on crime? Check. Legalizing or decriminalizing pot? Check. Upping the penalties for sexual assault? Check. The list goes on. And all it takes is one or two of the several people I’ve crossed paths with that I’ve managed to piss off in the nearly 30 years I’ve been pissing people off and at least one reporter with 5 minutes to catch a story over coffee. Proof? Why, the word of someone who says they knew me is proof enough. What does it matter if I didn’t stand in a public place and pass a joint back and forth with a bunch of other folks? The reporter for the local paper’s got two people I haven’t spoken to since before I was voting age that says I did.

Honesty wouldn’t make a difference in my very hypothetical situation, and it doesn’t make a difference in the Ford mess. Sure, both Fords could be flat out telling the truth. Hell, even one of them could be telling the truth. Of course it’s equally–and some would argue quite a bit more–likely that both of them are flat out lying with a straight face. But it doesn’t matter. Because 3 people saw a video owned by a guy who’d like to remain nameless, Rob’s guilty. Because the Globe heard from people probably still in the drug trade, who because they’re likely still in the drug trade would like to remain nameless, Doug is likely going to end up equally guilty. And whether one, both or neither of them were involved in anything remotely on the north side of the law, this will follow them into any future election one or both of them decide to take on. Doug running for the conservatives in the next election? I can already see the liberal ad campaign. Rob running for another term as Toronto’s mayor? Win or lose that one–and folks are saying he’d win if it happened today, anyone running against him has that to hit him over the head with. They have plenty of other, much more proveable things to beat him over the head with, but tell me that one wouldn’t make the list. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to stick in the back of someone’s mind long enough for them to get to the polls and stick an X next to someone who’s last name isn’t Ford.

If you have any baggage at all, be it your own or that of a relative, public service of nearly any variety is almost 100% not the place for you. A rare exception is those who, through whatever means they manage to do it, can distance themselves from that baggage and its causes. And even then, it’s only one “investigative report” away from being front page news 30 years later. We all have things we’d have rathered not done. Most of us, I’d like to hope, are smart enough to have learned from those things and maybe aranged things in such away that some of them don’t end up repeated. I don’t plan to be anywhere near public office now, but in 20 years, who knows? Maybe something I write here will be the springboard that pushes me in that direction. Maybe instead I’ll get a job doing AOL style tech support for John Q. Customer and what my uncle was involved in before I was born won’t need to be justified, denied, explained away, covered up or any number of other things people have done to their past before they undertake a career in public service. I’d like to say maybe in 20 or 25 years it won’t matter, but that might be being slightly too generous–and I don’t feel like being that generous. But as long as people’s backgrounds are front page news, because somebody somewhere did something that can be used to make a point, it won’t matter whether you’ve got the next mother Theresa running for office. If you go the dishonest route, you can make a decent living out of it–at least until somebody comes up with a background article that focuses on that drug ring your cousin was arrested for being involved in 2 weeks after you graduated. If you decide to take the honest approach, you’re sunk on sight. Because an anti-drug advocate who was into drugs when he was 16 just can’t happen. And if the guy running opposite you doesn’t make sure of that, the media almost certainly will. Even if you weren’t actually into drugs. For proof, you need only look at Rob and Doug Ford.

Dear Amy. It was a wrong number. Signed, God.

Most of you have probably already seen some variation of this. The owner of Amy’s Baking Company, in arizona, figures cooking is what she was born to do. She remains so convinced of this that she started, with help from her husband, a restaurant. Just one problem. Pretty much no one who’s ever been there, including the staff, agrees. That hasn’t stopped her, of course, from proclaiming this precisely what God intended her to do–and creating no fewer than a dozen lables for everyone under the sun who’s ever disagreed.

So when Gordon Ramsay, of Kitchen Nightmares fame, agreed to do an episode about her restaurant, she took it as a sign from God. Sheff Ramsay, she said, would prove all the hateful haters who hate dead wrong. Except, of course, for that small part wherein just no (note: Long video is long. It’s why we’re not embedding it here, thanks much.). Instead, everything folks were saying was wrong with this restaurant suddenly became wrong with this restaurant on national TV–and, now, on Youtube. And her reaction? Just keep screaming, screaming screaming. then play the appology card and announce the grand reopening. Because, you know, that works so well.

It must absolutely suck to go for a PR boost like that and have it absolutely blow up in your face. I mean not that I’d know, not being brainless enough to 1: continuously bang my head against a thing I just plain suck at and 2: nearly strangle myself with denial of the reality that I really do suck at it. It’s why you don’t see me anywhere near the kitchen in any capacity but the helpfully helpful. But you do have to wonder at what point it becomes apparent that God’s calling for you might have been a wrong number. If you’re Amy, it might aughta think about being somewhere around now. Mostly because I’m sure even he’s running out of ways to tell her.

Why I’d never do well in politics. Thank heavens I’ve never tried.

I’ve always had a passing interest in politics. Mostly in the following of things. Occasionally, I’ll find some aspect of a party or a specific member that I agree with–but more often than not, I find something to mock. It’s why I’ve never considered myself really right wing, left wing, whatever. Both sides have brilliant ideas. Both sides have moronic ideas. And both sides have more than a few just plain morons. But the thing that keeps me from going from a passive follower of politics to actually being directly involved isn’t a right or left thing. It’s an honesty thing. Specificly, there’s little to none. It’s a disconnect from the majority view, or even a view that a significant number of the common folk have that, if even hinted at by someone with political aspirations, is suicidal.

Take the recent example in BC, of an NDP candidate who was removed from the party over her comments, in 2009, about aborigional people and against bilingualism (she’s running as an independent now). Both have been bandied about by the common folk for years–I, myself, have snarked a time or six on this blog re: bilingualism (see also: Quebec, overfrenchification of). But because she holds these opinions, and wants to actually help fix the province of British Columbia, the two collide and she sinks. All on account of political correctness.

“It’s not the status cards, it’s the fact that we have been paying out of the nose for generations for something that isn’t our doing,” Van Ryswyk wrote on Feb. 11, 2009. “If their ancestors sold out too cheaply, it’s not my fault and I shouldn’t have to be paying for any mistake or whatever you want to call it from MY hard-earned money.”

“I don’t think anyone is saying that wrongs didn’t happen (incredible wrongs). You could have almost any race, group or ethnic people tell you horrible haunting stories of what happened to them. If someone did me wrong, it’s my right to sue … as it is everyone else’s.

“Again, how many Jewish, Polish, Russian, Dutch, etc. walked into a gas chamber, were gunned down, raped, tortured and starved to death. . . tell me how many Germans do you know that are handing over a (portion) of their paycheck EVERY month for what happened NOT very long ago. . .”

There is truth to this. BC’s NDP–and, in fact, just about every other party even federally–might not like it, but that changes a grand total of nothing about its truthfulness. These treaties were signed in the early 1900′s, before Canada was Canada. They were signed with Britain, and as I wrote before, weren’t supposed to be permanent life support. That aborigionals are still beating us over the head with them in 2013, sadly, says more about Canada’s various governments than it does the aborigionals–and the former NDP candidate turned independent acknowledged this fact. The catch? I don’t know very many who’d disagree. The NDP, however, prefers not to hear it.

It’s the same with bilingualism. Federally, the NDP has a vested interest in saying whatever Quebec wants to hear–because Quebec is the reason they’re the official opposition. So if the issue of the week is Ottawa isn’t French enough, the NDP’s all over it. Understandable. Annoying, but understandable. But in BC? French isn’t even the second most common language in the province. Even when I lived there–you were more likely to hear someone speaking Chinese before you would French. But calling out the ridiculousness of it, even after Quebec’s own 54 levels of ridiculous, shoots you in the foot politically–at least if you want to be a member of a party.

On a bilingual Canada in several posts, Dayleen wrote: “I’m getting so tired of getting french stuffed down my throat… this isn’t Quebec it’s western Canada… we speak English here … so does the majority of Canada. When you force it down my throat every time I turn around, it pisses me right off. Seems the only group of people universally hated around the world other than the Americans are the french and the French-Canadians. Their arrogance is astounding … the bigots are the french and not us.”

Example: Canada’s two official languages, as far west as BC and as far east as Nova Scotia, are English and French. Except in Quebec, who’s only official language is French–and they remind us of this every second chance they get. A pretty sizeable chunk of the attendees at just about any event held in BC will speak English, and probably some other language that isn’t French–if they speak multiple languages at all. But when an event comes up that even remotely references Quebec, according to Quebec, you’d better be busting out the French and pronto. That, or be prepared to have the folks across the river spend a year wining about it. Again, Dayleen had a point. And again, she expressed it. And again, it’s something a significant chunk of the common population’s said more than once, and thought way more often than that. And again, consider a career as a member of a political party out of the running as a result.

This is why I have never, and will never, consider a run in politics at any level. I’ve made my share of comments on these two topics myself. And probably several others that’d count against me. All they’d have to do, most likely, is toss a site-specific search into Google for any number of politically correct terms and I’d probably be blacklisted as a candidate. Because the two groups most in need of a swift kick in the rear end are the two you’re least allowed to give one–and everyone on both sides of the equasion knows it. Instead, I’ll just sit back, relax, grab a coke and watch things happen. And in 10 years or so, after we’ve gone through half a dozen more rounds of negotiation with aborigional reserves, and after Quebec’s signature still isn’t on Canada’s constitution as that childish little protest continues, I’ll come back and reread this post. And once again, be thankful I didn’t get the bright idea to jump into politics. I’ll watch from over here, thanks.

An open letter to Charles Sousa: Please don’t fubar ODSP.

I’m a little late to the party, but welcome to the fold, Charles. Taking over the finance ministry after the hot mess of the last, oh we’ll say 10 years can’t be what you were looking for when you ran for office. But, I suppose congratulations are still in order, given that–well, whether you were looking for it or not–it’s officially all yours. So, congratulations. Please don’t completely screw the pooch.

I don’t do well with preamble, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if I did, so I’ll get to the point. The Ontario disability Support Program (ODSP) has been the Ontario government’s favourite punching bag since the mid to late 90′s. In fact–that was, and is still, one of the things your liberal party continues to blame on the conservative government you replaced–a decade after you replaced them. Here’s the problem, though. The situation of people on ODSP hasn’t exactly done a whole lot of improving in that time. My last actual check on the ODSP situation, all of which you can easily brows over here, gave every indication that while people on ODSP are improving financially, they’re not doing so at a rate that will allow them to continue to live independently (disclosure: for the moment, I am one of those on ODSP, but I’m hoping to change that in the not too distant future). Added to that, the gap between what a person on ODSP receives and Ontario’s minimum wage–and, subsequently, what an able-bodied individual with nothing preventing them from finding and keeping work can and does earn–continues to widen, thus effectively defeating the purpose of a minimum wage when seen in the context of an individual who can’t find work due to a disability.

Presumedly, Ontario’s minimum wage was adjusted since 2004 to its current level of $10.25/hour to account for increases in cost of living. However, recipients of ODSP have not seen a similar increase–or, in fact, anything close to that over that exact same time. Assuming you’re getting the maximum allowable on ODSP, before any additional credits/bonuses/what have you such as an allowance to provide care for a guide dog, on an hourly basis you’ll top out at roughly $6.71, or $1075 per month. From that $1075 per month, you’re expected to pay for rent, electricity, groceries, heat, a phone (ODSP doesn’t consider it a necessity, but try getting a job or even reliably communicating with ODSP without it), and that’s just at a minimum. Want anything extra? Like, say, to be able to aford an air conditioner should your place not include it in the rent? For that matter, want to be able to live in a place that includes things like air conditioning in your rent? Not happening on current levels of ODSP. Especially not happening in a market like Toronto, Ottawa, or pretty much any other major city–thus ruling out pretty much any chance a recipient of ODSP has of moving to a location that would increase the recipient’s chances of finding work.

I get it. Ontario’s $9 billion in debt. You’re not expecting to see it clear that debt entirely until 2016. It might not have been quite so bad had it not been for a couple of gas plants, eHealth, the OLG mess, and the several other self-inflicted wounds that could have probably been avoided if somebody somewhere’d used their freaking brain. But it’s there, and now you get to deal with it. Awesome, except for all the ways in which it’s not. But “deal with it” doesn’t mean leave the folks on ODSP further behind than they already are. Paying rent shouldn’t need to come at the expense of shorting yourself a week’s worth of groceries, or going without heat in January so you don’t need to short yourself that week’s groceries. Do the math, Charles. Other current and former MPP’s already have, and it ain’t pretty. You have the ability to do more than provide lip service. Give it a try. If for no other reason than the opposition already has enough reason to want an election. Why go handing them a free one? That’s what I thought.

Beware corporate spying from China! … Or maybe not.

I’m going to blame the fact everything these days seems to be political when coming out of the US, even if it really doesn’t need to be. Because honestly, that’s about the only reason I can think of for a congressional committee, based on not much other than it wanted something to generate headlines, to go into an investigation having decided two Chinese telecom companies were involved in some high level spying–and improvising a report to say as much at its conclusion. The committee, investigating companies Huawei and ZTE, pretty much said the two companies were allowing the chinese government to use their equipment to hide trojan horses (escentially, software and/or hardware backdoors) that would allow the government to gain access to sensitive information, or to use that hardware to launch a cyber attack–basicly, bring down any service or website they so choose. Rather than coming up with some veriety of proof on their own, it was left to Huawei and ZTE to escentially prove they weren’t.

Leaving alone the fact it’s virtually impossible to prove the nonexistence of something–people have been trying to do that with religion for an age, and leaving alone the fact that not long after the release of this report, the whitehouse came out with its own and cleared the company, the question has to be asked. Did anyone on this committee happen to maybe consider that pretty much everything tech these days has spent at least some time in China before making it to wherever it’s now being used? Did no one maybe bring that up to the committee before they got the idea to hey, let’s go ahead with this investigation and see what sticks?

Of course it may be that, you know, being vaguely technical-minded that explanation comes far more natural to me than it would to, say, a career politician in his 50′s. But you would think that, you know, if China was actually on the lookout for ways to accomplish something like that, there’d be ample opportunity for them to do so without needing to expect that of one or two of their own companies who happen to have a market in the US. And you’d think at least one of these politicians, in their 50′s or no, would have somebody vaguely technical-minded on their staff who’d speak up about it. Of course the fact that they might not may very well be why we have things like this in the first damn place. at which point, look for one of those folks to be made aware in the near future that Apple makes pretty much all their iThings in China–well, until some point this year, anyway. I wonder how long it’d take for that investigation to unfold. Oh, wait–US companies with Chinese interests good. Chinese companies with US interests bad. I forgot that’s how these things work these days. Silly me. Oh well. The thought was fun while it lasted.

The conspiracy theorists have found me. And ya know what? They’re kind of adoreable.

There’s whacky, messed up spam, there’s loopy conspiracies, and then there’s whacky, messed up spam dressed up to look like loopy conspiracies. I’m used to hearing all about them on TV, or the radio, or reading about them in $newspaper–see: Alex Jones, meltdown of. But this is the first time I’ve ever had one sent specificly to my email address. I mean hell, they didn’t even bother to do me the courtesy of slapping it into the contact page. It must be wicked major important then, right? I mean, only hugely important things get flung directly at my email address–and without any real delay at that. Nope, sorry, try again. It’s just a random American nutbar stalking me. How boring. Bright side: in so stalking me as this particular nutbar chose to, he/she/it more than happily self-mocks. But here–let me help out where I can.

Guns, CSI, murder novels good. World of Warcraft bad. got it?

Oh, I wish I could have come up for air long enough to snerk at this when it actually happened. But I was tailspinning all over the place trying to catch up from previous tailspins all over the place. So I completely missed–or rather, set aside and completely forgot about–the ascertion by the Maine republican party that, uh, playing World of Warcraft is evil.

The republicans trotted this one out against democratic senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz, and backed up their attack with comments they pulled off a forum –presumedly for world of Warcraft players–from a few years ago in which she said she liked to poison and stab people. So suddenly, according to the republicans, they were running up against potentially the next psychopathic mass murderer–because, you know, every mass murderer has at some point played a game not too dissimilar to World of Warcraft. And here’s the snerk factor.

The republican party, when they’re not championing all manner of constitutional rights violations (Warrantless wiretapping, anyone?), is only slightly less ridiculous a defender of the second amendment than the NRA. It’s why John Q. Crazy can and has gone to the nearest gun show and come home with a semi-automatic. Couple that with the fact we’ve got shows like CSI. Also add the fact even kids’ shows now are considerably more violent–or, at least, more graphic about that violence–than they were, let’s say, 20 years ago. And, just because it’s there, let’s add one more thing. Murder novels and the like–who’s violence can be as detailed in text as any violence in, say, WoW can be in graphics. If you’re of the right mindset, some of the going reading material out there could serve a dual purpose–an entertaining/interesting novel, and a how-to manual on creatively causing all manner of damage. But World of Warcraft is wicked evil cruel and all manner of generally not recommended. Clear things up any for ya? Even if the NRA would very likely be in agreement? Well, okay then. They tried. And as for that election? Yeah, uh, about that. Clears things up for me, if nothing else. World of Warcraft good. Maine republicans bad. Yeah, that looks much better. Now, I think I’m missing CSI.

Please, by all means, be idle no more.

For anyone not living in Canada, or anyone living in Canada who’s decided now would be a fine time to secure themselves under a rock, it might have gone missed that, for lack of a better way to put it, the natives are getting restless. They’ve started a series of protests, blockades and the like, that they’re calling “Idle No More”, which supposedly is meant to express several things all in one movement. If you ask Theresa Spence, a native chief who’s been on a hunger strike of sorts since before the official birth of this “movement”, it’s to protest the condition of native reservations, one of which has–well–its own problems independant of whatever the government may or may not have decided to do, or not (note: Spence is the chief of the reservation referenced in the linked article). Apparently, same goes if you ask any of the chiefs that support her–yes, still, even though she’s already moved her own goal posts several times in the span of a couple weeks. When they’re not also still smarting over the violation of a treaty their great great grandparents signed with mine (*), they’re insisting on a greater share of any and all resource-based industry that passes anywhere near, on or around what they believe is their lands–industry they aren’t even willing to approve anyway (see: northern gateway, keystone, etc). But, see, here’s the thing that passes me by. They want to be self-sufficient, which is completely and entirely reasonable–and they should be. But they want to do it by relying on their traditional way of life–hunting, fishing, escentially living off the land, as I’ve seen a few folks put it. That’s great too. I’d never presume to deny someone the right to live their life as they please. But I’ve never seen it actually explained how, in 2013, the natives who take up issues like this one plan to go about doing that.

In fact, I’ve seen it spelled out rather nicely exactly how, assuming the government agreed completely with those demands and gave them complete self-governance, complete with allowing them to go back to their traditional ways of life, it would very quickly fall apart. In short, from the day the treaties were signed, the natives’ hunting days were numberd.

It’s important to emphasize that these Treaty commissioners were not anthropologists or do-gooders. Notwithstanding their respect for the Cree, they came with a very specific mission: to set the stage for white commercial development in these territories.

For instance, the commissioners reported a meeting in Fort Hope, on the shore of Lake Eabamet, with a certain well-regarded chief named Moonias. At one point, a local Indian named Yesno (“who received his name from his imperfect knowledge of the English language, which consisted altogether in the use of the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’”) told the commissioners that the terms of the Treaty should ensure that natives in the area receive “cattle and implements, seed-grain and tools.”

This horrified the commissioners, who evidently wished to guard against unfulfilled expectations: “As the undersigned wished to guard carefully against any misconception or against making any promises which were not written in the treaty itself, it was explained that none of these issues were to be made, as the band could not hope to depend upon agriculture as a means of subsistence; that hunting and fishing, in which occupations they were not to be interfered with, should for very many years prove lucrative sources of revenue. The Indians were informed that by signing the treaty they pledged themselves not to interfere with white men who might come into the country surveying, prospecting, hunting, or in other occupations; that they must respect the laws of the land in every particular, and that their reserves were set apart for them in order that they might have a tract in which they could not be molested, and where no white man would have any claims without the consent of their tribe and of the government. After this very full discussion, the treaty was signed, and payment was commenced.”

What I am quoting here is the commissioners’ Nov. 6, 1905 report, not the actual text of the James Bay Treaty (which is brief). But it expresses the real nub of the intended treaty relationship: The natives would continue hunting and fishing for sustenance and trade, and receive annual payments from the government (four dollars, to be exact), while white men would have the right to put down their train tracks, mines, forestry operations and settlements. Some reserve lands were stipulated in a schedule to the treaty (“not to exceed in all one square mile for each family of five”), but the exact location of such lands was not then considered as important as it is now. That’s because the local Cree were semi-nomadic, and came and went with the hunt. (At Lake Abitibi, for instance, the commissioners reported: “We did not expect to find many Indians in attendance, as they usually leave for their hunting grounds about the first week in July.”)

As the article goes on to say, it’s that treaty, and the creation therein of this type of reserve, that’s still today being held over our heads–over a century later. The problem? We tried to bring the natives into what was then modern society. We just, well, only did it about halfway. oh, right–and by “we”, I mean the about, we’ll say, 1930 or so “we”.

Cree men such as Moonias and Yesno, were they still around, would be absolutely appalled by this state of affairs. They apparently believed they were negotiating Treaty terms that would permit them to continue to provide for themselves as rugged hunter-gatherers (and possibly farmers). The notion that the white man eventually would put them up in permanently subsidized year-round housing that allowed them to abandon hunting and fishing — the very heart of their culture — would have seemed alien and unexpected.

That move from semi-nomadic to settled life, which was seen in part as a humane gesture aimed at bringing natives into modern civilization, is the real “cultural genocide” we keep hearing about. It’s not a Stephen Harper plot. It’s something that happened mostly before Harper was born.

So wheres the halfway point? well, that would be right around this part of those self-same treaties.

Yet the altogether worst aspect of the James Bay Treaty is that, like other treaties, it ensured that reserve land “shall be held and administered by His Majesty, for the benefit of the Indians,” and that “in no wise [sic] shall the said Indians, or any of them, be entitled to sell or otherwise alienate any of the lands allotted to them as reserves.” This was basically Soviet-style communism, avant la lettre. To this day, this system of communal land ownership ensures that reserve-resident natives are the only people in Canada who are systematically denied the right to buy, sell, lease and mortgage their land.

This is the single most awful thing we ever did to the Indians: bring them into a settled, capitalist society, and then deny them the basic tools to generate capital. Yet, perversely, it is the one aspect of native policy that is consistently championed by left-wing native-rights advocates, who see in it a sentimental vindication of Marxism despite its European failures.

And this, combined with some one-time assistance to actually see to it the people on those reserves aren’t swept out to sea by the changes, is exactly what the people involved–be they native or not–should be pushing to be changed. At the moment, natives living on reserves have no actual attachment to the property they occupy. Nor are they actually allowed, legally, to have any attachment or place any value on those properties. Which is why, in communities like Attawapiskat, they made headlines when it became clear just how bad the housing situation was actually getting. And when they made headlines, they still had to wait for the government to do something about it–as opposed to anyone else, who can pretty much make any changes they please to their living arangements–including deciding to forget about paying rent and go buy a house across town. And it’s these remote, mostly fly-in communities, that protesters are saying should be allowed to do their own thing, their own way, in compliance with those self-same treaties. It’s those self-same communities that folks like Theresa Spence are saying the government should hand more money to, for presumedly very similar results. But complying with treaties from over a hundred years ago and giving natives their self-sufficience are mutually exclusive.

Ms. Spence and her Idle No More supporters are absolutely correct to say that the James Bay Treaty made provisions for Indians to get land, cash payments, and even some measure of autonomy. But ramping up those perqs won’t do anything to change the fact that the whole basis of the treaty was destroyed as soon as traditional native hunting life came to an end.

This is the fundamental reason that the Idle No More message on treaties is irrelevant: The great challenge of native policy in the 21st century will be to integrate natives into the larger economy that is based in Canadian population centers.

Remote fly-in communities such as Attawapiskat, on the other hand, are doomed: You can’t turn he clock back to 1905, or even to 1930.

And as much as that means folks like Theresa Spence would have to be out of a job, that has to be the simple reality. That should have been the reality years ago, but a combination of the government mucking it up and the natives fighting it lead to, well, the exact opposite. If being idle no more means fixing this system, and giving native people the ability to make themselves sufficient and get them off the government take, then by all means, please do be idle no more. But if, in seaking these changes, the natives can’t accept the fact that some traditions–some aspects of their culture–they want so badly to hold onto simply cannot survive a transition like that? To continue to hold to that expectation, and to insist the rest of Canada work around that expectation, will only continue to end up in situations exactly like this one. And really, honestly? I think we’re all getting a little tiny bit tired of reading headlines that start off with “Native Group Protests”. Just tossing that out there.

*: I can’t be a hundred percent sure how accurate that statement actually is, as I have great great grandparents on both sides of the issue. Pretty sure that puts me in a bit of a conflict of interest when writing a post like this. But, then, I never did give much thought to that kind of deal.

Probable cause is so 2000, y’know?

Every couple months, something new and interesting crops up that makes me quite glad I’m not actually a US citizen. A recent example, following the federal trend, comes out of California–who’s governor has vetoed the hell out of a bill that would have required law enforcement to actually, you know, have a reason–and a warrant–to obtain information such as the location information that’s now stored on pretty much any smartphone in existence. What that means, escentially, is that California cops can get a hold of your cell provider, and request a history of everywhere that cell phone has been detected. For no reason other than, uh, they can. Oh yeah, and terrorism. I guess I shoulda listened to the guy who called me at Dell at 4:30 in the morning just to talk to me about how the government’s watching everything he does so he has to be careful who he talks to–he might have just been onto something. Oh, and the next time some lawyer friend of yours starts talking about probable cause, just smile, nod, and walk away. The government don’t need no stinkin’ probable cause.

It’s time to watch the TSA quite handily mock themselves. Again.

I don’t do nearly enough of these. As evidenced by the stack of mock-worthy pages–or rather, pages that pretty much mock themselves–currently sitting here, staring at me, and waiting for me to get around to them. Now, granted that stack got a little bit bigger just this morning, but hey, you’ll have that.

The US Transport Security Administration seems to have several secondary jobs, not remotely related to actually catching terrorists–which they aren’t actually all that good at in the first place. when they’re not walking off with iPads and blaming their wives, or giving the third degree to dying women, they’re spending the majority of their time railroading people who have a less than positive opinion of their railroading tactics. And that’s just the material I remembered to save. Just think of how much lower the national debt would be if your taxes weren’t going towards funding this unholy mess. Or rather, the TSA would prefer you maybe not think about that–lest it keep them from doing, well, pretty much everything they can to make damn sure the money keeps coming in. Yep, including being in charge of determining who from the private sector is actually authorised to compete with the TSA to offer the same services, and bound by the same–er–rules. Nothing says anticompetition like letting the monopolists set the competition standards. So, yeah. The next time someone you know feels a rant about the US going bankrupt coming on, just smile, nod, and say very calmly, “TSA”. Then show them this entry. The counterpoint pretty much makes itself.

Well slap me in the face and call me a terrorist–I’ve mocked the government on twitter.

The US army has apparently been borrowing the Transport Security Administration’s (TSA) definition of a terrorist. That’s the only explanation for why use of a social network, like Twitter, could be considered a sign of radicalization. Also, apparently, so could complaining about bias, or even if you’ve changed your choices of entertainment recently. come on, Steve and Carin– you guys weren’t always into the comedy scene. I knew it. Also on their list: being frustrated with mainstream ideologies. So yeah–all those entries up here mocking the governments on both sides of the border? Yeah. Should probably delete those. And their asociated tweets. Oh, and the conversations on Twitter I’ve been involved in re: certain government policies–ah hell, I should just delete my twitter. Or the US army could just, you know, stop copying the TSA. So where’s that delete button…

In which the government catches up to the rest of the world. Again.

For years, you couldn’t do anything without them wanting to run a credit check on you. Wanna rent an apartment? Credit check. Apply for a mortgage, or creditcard? Credit check. Sign up with most cell phone cariers? … Yeah. You get the picture. Pretty effective way of keeping an eye on folks, right? So you’d think Canada’s government would be all over it. Well, they are. Just recently. They’ve decided to use it to try and step on businesses tasked with collecting the GST (General Sales Tax) or HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) for the government, and have already gone after $3000000 worth of it. The plan is to eventually (read: probably in about 15 years) use it to make sure folks aren’t taking advantage of things like, you know, welfare when they aught not to be. But right now, it’s a tax grab. Still, even for a tax grab, it’s about damn time. As long as this kinda thing’s been around, you’d think they’d be the first. But, then, since when does that apply up here?

Rob Ford is an idiot, the left half of Toronto’s got a hate on, and other asorded goodness.

What we have here is a random thinggy. Because random thinggies are good. Even if done at half past odd while coming off a weekend spent in Pembroke with a machine that could use a couple replacement components. And even if done by a guy who apparently wouldn’t know what spelling was if it walked up and shook his hand. Thank christ this will see some editing before it sees the light of day. Maybe. And since I should be sleeping before we have to leave in an hour and a half, have a list.

  • If you live in Ontario, you’ve probably heard about the Rob Ford kerfuffle. He’s been ordered–well, pending appeal, anyway–removed from office as toronto’s mayor after participating in and voting on an issue that, well, kind of involved him. There are two really good entries on the subject by Toronto Mike, with some pretty nifty comments on both, from both the folks in favour of and against what happened and how it happened. The short version: Rob ford is an idiot for voting on a resolution in council as to whether or not he should pay back what amounts to pocket change if your name is Rob Ford–even if he voted with the majority, and would have ended up not having to pay it back anyway. But that there’s one person in Toronto, namely the voter that took him to court over it, that has the power to remove someone the majority voted in from office is a little tiny bit concerning. Not quite as concerning as the fact the judge interpreted the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act to mean removal was his only option. Or as concerning as the fact that mayors of several other cities (I’m looking at you, Quebec) have either resigned or not for far worse. And let’s not talk about Dalton McGuinty. Both sides kind of flopped this one. And now toronto gets to more than likely go through another election–in which Ford wasn’t even banned from running, meaning he could very likely end up right back where they tried to kick him from. Not bad for a broke city.
  • The NHL has killed off pretty much half the season at this point. Is anyone even still paying attention? How many more times are talks going to end up going nowhere before they just come out and tell us what we’re already expecting? Bright side: the Leafs have their first .500 season going into Christmas since… uh… anyone remember when? Now about baseball.
  • We were staring at -13 degrees C coming on the end of last week. That’s freaking cold degrees, if you’re in the US. It was a fair bit above freezing in spots yesterday–note: not *this* spot, as evidenced by our driveway. Mother nature, please to be making up your mind. Thankya.
  • May and I came to Pembroke this weekend for a Christmas party. Well, it’s what the natives call a Christmas party–they serve passable dinner, we get to hear a couple speeches, then a couple somewhere in the neighbourhood of tolerable old guys from around here get up on stage and try not to kill what would otherwise be okay songs. But the conversations were good, anyway.
    • Related: I learned more about my cousin’s girlfriend in a couple hours during that party than I think I ever wanted to know about someone I’m not dating. Small towns’ll do that to ya, I guess. Is it too late for a refund?
  • This. So much this. It was on my mockery list. Then I read this post. I can do no better. Well, okay, I *probably* could. But both caffeine and alcohol are required and I only have easy access to one.
  • The one year I don’t get a lot of folks asking what I’d like for Christmas is the one year I’m exceedingly easy to buy for. I’ve had an iPhone for a bit over a year and a half. This means iTunes. This means gift cards. So if you’re looking…
  • There is a Twitter. It is awesome. And I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. But, should you find yourself watching the afore mentioned twitter and then developing a liking for Big Bang Theory, you can gladly hand the credit this way.
  • And lastly, because there can never be enough promotion, click, then hit play. You’ll love it. Yes, I’m a part-time fortune teller now. And also the awesome factor. I’m right. You’ll see.

the ford brothers are a step closer to ruining toronto. And it isn’t even because of their policies.

Because not everyone gives a royal anything about what goes on in toronto, you probably missed–or likely didn’t notice– that mayor Rob and councillor doug ford have been on a somewhat ridiculous anti-media bent since, oh, about 3 months after the former was elected. It’s largely been the fords versus the toronto Star, but lately they’ve been expanding. Now, if you ask Doug ford, pretty much anyone in media is a prick. Which, yes, okay, most of them probably can be–especially if they work for the toronto Star and your name happens to be Rob Ford. But, uh, guys? You’re supposed to be, you know, preventing the city of toronto from running full tilt off a fiscal cliff. That does not mean take the wheel instead and run it off a PR cliff. especially if you, oh I dunno, want that self same media to actually cut you a break when you do run something unpopular but still decently inteligent up the flag pole. Oh, and just for reference, if you didn’t mean to offend the self same media you’re eventually going to actually need to find a use for, maybe give not offending them a try. See how that works for ya. In the meantime, nix the public speaking, boys. Or hell, borrow Obama’s teleprompter if resistance is futile. You’ll thank yourselves. Well, okay, maybe not. But I will.

And Canada’s government ups the creap factor. thanks, gov.

email is awesome. I practically live on email. that and RSS–which is where I find most of the mockery. So if someone from the government of canada wanted to give me an idea what their department was up to, and decided to do it through email, I wouldn’t complain. In fact, I’d be pleasantly surprised–mostly because most government officials who happen across this thing tend to rethink communicating with me, lest they wind up part of my collection. However, if they decided to talk to me through email about something because a thinggy in a database I don’t recall adding myself to says I’m interested, I’d get a little tiny bit concerned. Most especially if the person in question is immigration minister Jason Kenny and he’s sending me an email about what they’re doing to help gays and lesbians in another country and I just so happen to actually be gay. I have a lot of respect for what Jason Kenny’s doing. Hell, he’s done more with the immigration file than anyone has in the last several governments–both liberal and conservative–before him. But, um, what? How the hell is this anything but absolutely creapy and crawly and yarf inducing and just WTFOMG no. Seriously, who told anyone remotely close to Jason Kenny that this was a brilliant idea? Better yet, why was that person not promptly fired for such a blatantly not so brilliant idea? Really, you guys. You’re doing a lot of decent things with this country and most of it, for a change, at least doesn’t smell like fluff. Then you go and pull something like this and just… what? I have no idea. I seriously cannot brain on this subject. Guys, you ended up with a majority for at least sounding less crazed than the opposition. Not that it’s stopped the opposition from branding you a bunch of crazed rednecks hell bent on setting Canada on fire or some other damn thing anyway. this upping of the creap factor for no real good reason? Not helping. Knock it off already. We’re kind of running out of somewhat credible alternatives, and with that much nationalist support in Quebec I’d really rather the next election not default to the NDP. Can ya help with that by maybe dropping the creapy? That’d be awesome. Thanks, gov. Appreciated.

texting while driving goes from illegal, to confusing and illegal, in California.

Texting while driving is one of those things I’ve ranted on here about before. Namely, yes you’re probably stupid for doing it, but not as stupid as the ones making it illegal. Mostly, because you can’t actually legislate common sense. but, also, because really, the idiots more likely to not pay attention to the road because they’re texting or talking on the phone are the same idiots who won’t pay attention to the road because they’re talking to the guy or girl beside them, or flipping stations on the radio, or, hell, just being an outright tool–and we’ve yet to outlaw those things. But now, in California, they’ve decided just making it illegal isn’t good enough. So they’ve made it confusing as hell instead.

Now, it’s legal to text while driving–if, and only if, the texting while driving is done completely hands free. Meaning dictation software is perfectly okay. Which, yeah, okay, makes sense. So you could use, for example, Siri to send a text to your girlfriend to have her meet you outside because you’re a block away, right? Well, uh, rather, um, no not really.

On Friday, after much head-scratching and acknowledging nobody in Miller’s office owns a Siri-equipped iPhone 4S, the assemblyman’s aides concluded it will still be illegal to use your actual phone to text behind the wheel — even by speaking the message directly into Siri.

The California Highway Patrol confirms that just the act of turning on the phone or selecting the phone’s hands-free text app, like pushing the Siri button or Google apps on Android phones, is enough to warrant flashing lights in your rearview mirror and a $100-plus ticket. The same thing goes for using your phone to read texts.

“The phone can’t be in your hands,” said CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee. “Hands-free is the key.”

So it’s now legal to text someone as long as you do it hands free in California. But the act of slapping the phone in hands free mode (activating Siri) so you can actually send that hands free text? Yeah, pull over. There really aughta be a law against tools in the legislature.

Conservatives don’t actually get the tech they’re regulating. But you knew this already, right?

I’ll be the first to say there’s a few things the conservatives have done that I openly agree with–immigration reform, anyone? But there’s an equal number, at least, that make me wanna scratch my head. Or beat someone else’s. The copyright bill up here has pretty much already been dealt with, but I still find it interesting that not very many people picked up on parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro’s complete and utter technostupidity. According to him, and presumedly most of the rest of the party (Tony Clement used to be against it, as did James Moore–probably why they suddenly don’t have a whole lot to do with this bill now), buying a CD with the intention of putting it on your iPod or other such technothinggy is the equivalent of buying socks and intending to steal shoes.

It’s like going to a clothing store and buying a pair of socks, and going back and saying ‘By the way, it wasn’t socks I needed, what I really wanted was shoes, so I’m just going to take these — I’m going to ‘format shift’ from socks to shoes — and I’m not going to pay anything because it was all for my feet.’”

I can’t even wrap my head around where a comparison like that even comes into play. That would be like going into a store, buying a Celine Dion CD (I know, I know, but bare with me), then going back and saying “I actually wanted the titanic movie, so excuse me. I’ll just walk off with it.”. Except, uh, no one’s saying that either. It’s like I’ve been saying for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever. You buy a thing once. It’s yours to do with as you please, or so the rule’s supposed to go. That can and should include backing it up on your computer. Or putting it on your iThing so you’re not hauling the CD with you to and from work. Or, hell, copying it to another CD for those people who still insist on hauling the CD back and forth to work–so you don’t, you know, go and lose the original. In dean del Mastroland, that’s exactly like walking out with the titanic movie for the price of a Celine CD. Which is exactly what no one, legally or otherwise, is trying to do here. Ah, but you don’t get to play spokesman for a bill like this if you can actually, you know, use your head.

Related: I wonder how many songs dean Del Mastro’s iPod or equivalent has that maybe he aught not to, by his own logic. Just sayin’.

Wanna be a Canadian citizen? Brush up on your official language of choice…

From the “it’s about goddamn time” department, the folks what run this country are actually doing something else that makes sense and is long overdue. For folks not so familiar with the workings of Canada, we have two official languages. Well, unless you live in Quebec–then there’s one, with grudging acknowledgement of some kind of second language type thing going on over there. thing about it is, people coming to Canada weren’t required to actually learn either of those languages. That makes things really quite interesting–particularly when I run to the store across the street and the guy serving me can speak an entire… maybe… 4 words in English (that’s another entry). The folks over at Citizenship and Immigration would very much like to change that. A new thought bubble to be floated out of the downtown core is that folks wanting to apply for citizenship must now be able to prove, in writing, their proficiency in at least one of our two official languages–English, or French (yes, Quebec, that probably includes citizens who want to live there). Now, here’s a question. How long before somebody on the opposition benches turns that into an attack on immigrants? Any ideas?

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