Media Pundits: Mark This Day On Your Calendar

CanWest's deadline to negotiate their way out of the path of an oncoming multi-billion dollar debt train has been extended to March 11. Bankruptcy looms, will our hero escape?

Stay tuned, true believers! (Toronto Star)


No Schools For NDP Ridings?

This one should've been in Thursday's Six In The Morning...unfortunately there wasn't one for reasons of editor laziness.

In brief: an NDP member of Parliament gets hold of an e-mail from an Indian Affairs official through an FOI request (wonder how long it took) that could be interpreted as saying the reason a school planned for an Ontario reserve hasn't been built yet is because the reserve is in an opposition riding.

In fact the official's exact quote is: "The existing facility is a 30 to 40 year old wood structure. No real issue, just sitting in (an) opposition riding."

Here's a link to a story in the Toronto Star, and here's a one to NDP MP Charlie Angus' Web page.

Do the Tories hold up school construction on reserves in opposition ridings? You decide.

(This post has been edited to reduce incoherence)

Sneaky Cephalopod

Earlier this week a scheming octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium opened a valve and flooded the place. From the L.A. Times:

"The tiny octopus, which is about the size of a human forearm when its appendages are extended, floated lazily in the water that remained in its tank. It watched intently through glass walls and portholes as workers struggled to dry the place out in time for the day's first busload of schoolchildren to arrive on a 9:30 a.m. field trip."

Full details here. Octopusses are awesome.

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

Gee, I guess things are tougher in the U.S. than was initially reported.

The "S" Word

the Conservative Political Action Conference is going on right now in Washington D.C. And those all-American Conservatives are buzzing about the country's new president.

Specifically, there is talk that Barack Obama is a socialist.

By "there is talk" I mean a Republican U.S. senator actually said Obama is "the world's best salesman for socialism." (CNN)

Senator Jim DeMint also says conservative Americans might have to “take to the streets to stop America’s slide into socialism,” which sounds to me like he might be advocating the violent overthrow of the United States' democratically-elected government. I'm not sure that's legal but what do I know, I'm a commie Canadian who doesn't own even one firearm.

The conference started Thursday. Noteable moment yesterday: Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said “the Union of American Socialist Republics is being born.”

So what's with the socialism scare? The term “Socialism” describes an economic system where citizens, through their democratically elected government, own and control the means of production. There are degrees of socialism, from fully state-run economies to European-style social democracies, but in practice a country like Venezuela — with its nationalized oil industry and hostility to foreign ownership — is probably closest to what most people would think of as socialist.

The Obama-smearers know this. They know that by calling Obama a socialist they're suggesting the U.S. president is a dangerous extremist who's not much different than a Latin American dictator (yes I know Hugo Chavez was democratically elected but most Americans wouldn't, and while I don't have any actual "facts" on this I'll bet the few who DO know who Chavez is would be scared of him).

This is of course all insane, delusional propoganda. U.S. conservatives are trying to frighten moderate Americans into thinking their new president is a power-hungry dictator leading a coup against democracy to attract support for their jerky little political party, the Republicans.

Regardless, whatever one’s preferred definition, “socialist” is not a useful catch-all description for the basic government activities like collecting taxes, administering public sevices (like delivering the mail) and providing state health care (well, not in America because that would be "socialist").

Oh, and desperately trying to repair an economy wrecked by a terrible, and very conservative, president.

By the way, both Bush and Cheney addressed the 2008 CPAC. It's really nice that this year, a new president's got better things to do.

Conservatives and the Politics of Fear

I guess if minister hound dog of love, Peter MacKay, is to be believed, we're all supposed to be terrified of the Russians again. That's good because I never really came to terms with this whole post-cold-war world. Its spy movies lack style.

I like how MacKay reassures us that Russian planes skirting the edge of our airspace is not an uncommon thing. A great piece of doublespeak that. He's saying, "Don't worry, they do this all the time," and, "Quake in your boots, the Ruskie air force is swarming our northern border! Quick, we need more money for the military!"

A couple questions... First, if this is not an uncommon thing... why are we hearing about it just now, I wonder? And second, if our northern border is so vulnerable to a Russian menace (I'm not saying it is, mind), then how exactly will all those extra billions the Conservatives spent on air conditioned tanks and camouflage in desert hues defend us?

Six In The Morning

Special extra-surly edition!

1 YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW THAT The Canadian government is getting slammed for their crummy track record on openess. Canada's information commissioner singled out the Conservatives for being particularly stingy with information about the government's activities. Freedom of information requests are supposed to be processed within 30 days, but Information commisioner Robert Marleau says that's become the exception, not the rule. Marleau told the Toronto Star that response to freedom of information (FOI) requests are frequently taking more than three months. the Defence Department and the RCMP are among the worst offenders.

Access to information is critical to democracy. These delays make it difficult for Canadians to know what their politicians are up to. The system's breakdown is no good and very, very naughty. You should probably click on this link to the Toronto Star article to learn more. (Toronto Star)

2 YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING, IN FACT Okay, so the CBC's president says the network is in major financial trouble like all media these days (I guess we should get some kind of official CanWest death watch going, huh?). So is our goverment showing leadership and making sure the broadcaster has the cash to do its job? Hahahahaha, sigh. (Toronto Star)

3 STILL ROLLING IN IT Of course why worry about boring stuff like the death of media and our government acting like a secret society that can do whatever it feels like when Saskatchee-wan is bucking the economic trends?

4 SPEAKING OF THAT TREND WE'RE BUCKING That giant sucking sound you're hearing from the south is not your imagination--the U.S. economy is shrinking faster than expected. (New York Times)

5 DELICATE, SENSITIVE BOTTOMS If I ran things it would be against the law to make toilet paper that wasn't recycled. It is insane and evil that trees are cut down to meet our our poop-wiping needs when landfills are cluttered with unrecycled paper. Well, not surprisingly, it turns out American toilet paper causes more environmental damage than SUVs. Those super-soft rolls apparently are being made from woood ripped out of virgin forests.

From the Guardian's article:

"Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution." Making toilet paper has a significant impact because of chemicals used in pulp manufacture and cutting down forests.

Full horrible, awful details are here. (The Guardian)

6 EVOLUTIONARY STEPS A South African archeolgist speaks about 1.5 million year-old fossilized human footprints discovered in Kenya. The prints are the earliest evidence of upright human walking. Also I'm going to assume that the reason there's only four toes is that second toes don't plant with much weight. Creationotologists are of course free to believe these prints are evidence of four-toed angels. (Associated Press/The Guardian)


Rider Pride 2009

I just finished listing Rider home games for 2009 in the 14 Days files I keep for upcoming prairie dog issues. Of the ten home games the team plays this year, six have different start times -- 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. So fans planning to attend games are best advised to check their tickets to ensure they're not late for kick-off.


God Made Me Funky

These guys are at the Distrikt on March 6. It's worth checking out I think. (YouTube)

Voices silenced

At a recent Vancouver gig, Library Voices had approximately $10,000 worth of gear stolen from their trailer. Among the items lost were a brand new accordion, a vintage woodblock, and a saxophone, age unknown, attests semi-frontman Carl Johnson in a YouTube video.

Here's hoping that if the thieves try to start a band with their pilfered goods will in turn to be doomed to empty shows CD-R albums.

Library Voices are performing in Regina on March 5 at the Mackenzie Art Gallery with Rah Rah and Saskatoon's We Were Lovers.


Perils of Touring

Looks like Myles Goodwin was right, rock 'n' roll is a vicious game.

This Week at City Hall

Monday, Feb 23
City Council Meeting (5:30pm): Lots on the agenda this week including some rezonings, something to do with the Evraz Place lease, three condo conversions, appointments to the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District board, and various and sundry other reports. Don't be late or you'll miss the Municipal Heritage Awards presentations.

Wednesday, Feb 25
Regina Planning Commission (4pm): Only one agenda item, a proposed rezoning of a portion of the Greens on Gardiner development which is being built on Regina's east side. I've only skimmed the report, but seems to me the developer wants to reduce the density of the subdivision under consideration. From the looks of things, though, it isn't a huge reduction in density. Plus, the developer wants to rezone the area to "Suburban Neo-Traditional" -- which basically means they want to lay the area out in a fashion reminiscent of pre-1945 neighbourhoods with back alleys and smaller front yards.

Anyone can attend these meetings and you can still make presentations at the Planning Commission meeting if you wish. For more detailed agendas and to download all the relevant reports, go here.


Academy Awards

If the Cookie Monster was picking the Best Picture winner in tomorrow's 81st Academy Awards in Los Angeles he'd choose Milk for obvious reasons. If Oscar the Grouch was doing the picking, he'd probably make the same choice because, being a grouch, he'd relish the opportunity to piss off Regina-Lumsden Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski and noted Christian crusader Bill What(TF?)cott. But from a cinematic and historical perspective, Milk is a superior movie, so it's definitely deserving of any Oscars that it does win.

Obama's visit

United States President Barack Obama, during a wildy successful visit to Ottawa, helpfully blocks Stephen Harper from a Canadian public that he doesn't like and doesn't like him much anyway.

(Tip of the hat to A Creative Revolution.)


Six In The (Late) Morning

Here's your random cocktail of news nibbles for the day. Read the short blurbs, click on the links and expand your horizons with these incredible facts of our time.

1 CANWEST ON VERGE OF BANKRUPTCY Yikes. Then again I'm not sure the Asper family losing control of CanWest would be bad for journalism in this country. (Globe And Mail)

2 NO CANCER ALLOWED IN OUR WORKPLACE A cancer patient scheduled for mastectomy is told by her apparently piece of shit employers that she just resigned from her job--much to her surprise. (Toronto Sun)

3 NORTH DAKOTA'S ABORTION MELTDOWN A couple of days ago the Republican-controlled North Dakota house voted to declare that a fertilized egg has all the rights of a person. And now the state senate has passed a bill saying that abortion clinics have to post signs to remind woman that no one can force them to have an abortion. (Daily KOS, MSNBC)

4 HE CAME, HE CHARMED, HE LEFT Obama visits Canada and meets Stephen Harper and eats some beaver tail. (Toronto Star)

5 SORRY YOU WERE OFFENDED BY OUR UNINTENTIONALLY RACIST CARTOON The New York Post apologizes for a bad political cartoon, sort of. (Guardian)

6 LEAFS LOSE IN SHOOTOUT Tough night for Toronto Maple Leaf lovers who saw their team fall 4-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nice night for Canadian Jackets fans, though. Hee hee. (Columbus Dispatch)


Yet More Monkey Business

Shades of Howard Cosell.

More Monkey Business

Fine, but one day a captive chimp named Caesar will come along who will throw off the shackles of slavery and oppression imposed on him and his brethren by human society and outwit the trigger-happy cops who respond by trying to kill him, and then all hell will break loose. It is foretold.


Further to Steve's Post About the Monkey

So let me get this straight. Someone takes a chimpanzee out of its natural wild African habitat and trains it to semi-function in upper middle class North American society. "Travis" behaves remarkably well, learning to dress and bathe himself and use a computer, but has one unfortunate lapse when he viciously attacks a 55-year-old woman who was probably mildly over-bearing anyway, and what do we do? Shoot him. Great.


Re: Feast

Allow me Steve.

Alas I Have No Camera HandyTo Document The Sheer Awesomeness Of This Feast

Just got home after taking three hours to figure out how to write a complicated e-mail that people needed me to send out last week and not surprisingly, was starving. But whatzuh to eatz? Editor don't rememberz how to cook.

What was needed here was simplicity and improvisation.

So I fired up the rice machine and got some premium organic basmati going. Then, I chopped up two fat onions which I fried to slimey, carmamelized perfection in a quantity of olive oil far exceeding two tablespoons. I added some habanero sauce, a mountain of salt, two cloves of garlic (minced) and a can of garbonzo beans, then simmered the amazing mixture to glistening, gooey spectacularness before adding some awesome broccoli (to defray some of the inevitable cardiac damage). Needed a secret weapon though, and aha! A splash of lemon juice and about three pounds of fresh ground black pepper (recently discovered scientific "fact": not possible to over-pepper beans).

Served on the now-ready rice, eating...Mmmmmmf, ghub.Vry vry ghub.


In other news, California is really, truly, totally fucked. Turns out you can't cut taxes relentlessly and make it next-to-impossible to raise them in an emergency, then expect to breeze through a cataclysmic economic meltdown. Layoffs, program cancellations and copious suffering to doubtless follow.

Yep, far-right conservative small-government delusions just don't work. They break economies and ruin lives. Kinda like communist delusions used to do back in the Cold War era, ironically. Funny how extremism, intransigence and bullheaded devotion to ideological fairy tales always seems to cause trouble.

But maybe after electing a break-the-mold president Americans are, finally, ready for change? For centrist ideologies and policies based on reason, realism, co-operation and sustainibility?


(First link to the New York Times, second to Fox.)

This Week at City Hall

Because City Hall is worth paying attention to...

Tues, Feb 17:
Works and Utilities Committee Meeting (4 pm): Considering the "Bad Apples Campaign" to reduce improper use of recycling programs, an expanded water conservation program, and an increase in the levies for properties with back alleys.
Development Appeals Board Hearing (5:30 pm)

Wed, Feb 18:
Executive Committee Meeting (11:45 am)
Parks and Community Services Committee (4 pm): The Regina Citizens' Public Transit Coalition is presenting a petition of over 7,000 names urging the city to expand transit service on Sundays and holidays. The more people who show up at this committee meeting the better.

Thur, Feb 19:
Board of Police Commissioners (2 pm): Considering the review of monthly crime stats for January '09. Crimes against people up 15% over Jan of '08. Crimes against property down 27%.

Anybody can attend these meetings. You can even make presentations at them. To view detailed agendas for these meetings and to download the reports, go here.

Six In The Morning

Special post-Family Day edition!

1 COUNTDOWN TO BARRACK U.S. President Obama will be in Ottawa Thursday--but how will this populist, eco-saavy urban Democrat get along with our glorious leader, an anti-environment, anti-labour, anti-culture, made-in-Alberta corporate stooge? (Toronto Star)

2 APESHIT A pet chimpanzee goes berserk, mangles an elderly woman and corners cops, who quite reasonably shoot its vicious, face-eating, monky-ass dead. (New York Times)

3 MANITOBA MENACE The U.S. deploys unammed surveillance drones to monitor the Canadian border, detering both al Quada and over-enthusiastic duty-free booze buyers. (Winnipeg Free Press)

4 NOT IN MY BACKYARD (AND/OR PRISON SYSTEM) Sneaky state politicians attempt to disrupt Obama's orders to shut down U.S. torture prison Gitmo. (The Guardian)

5 SCIENCE JES' AIN'T IMPORTINT While much of the world re-invests in intellectual capital one frustrated, underfunded Canadian researcher who just wants to help the children says he's getting better offers from Singapore. (Globe And Mail)

6 WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE WAL-MART The recession-resistent retailer posts a quarterly profit that exceeds expectations. (New York Times)


Blogger Fighting Harper Spam

Abandoned Stuff blogger, Saskboy, was on CBC Radio this morning talking to Sheila Coles about how he and the other residents of Ralph Goodale's riding are being spammed with junkmail from the Conservatives. Apparently, even though MPs are only supposed to be using their postal privileges to send mail to their constituents, Harper has been mailing residents in swing ridings that went to other parties. A misuse of his position? Or simply an exploitation of a loophole, one that any governing party would take? I don't care. It's yet another example of sleazy, underhanded politics from out the Calgary School.

Here's Saskboy's post detailing the scam. Hat's off to him for fighting the fight.

Shape of Things to Come?

Following their early-February collision in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the British and French commanders [pictured at left] of the nuclear-armed submarines involved met with media for the first time the other day at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the circumstances of the accident which caused moderate damage to both ships. During their press conference, the commanders dismissed the mishap, which could have had catastrophic consequences, as a high-stakes game of chicken that went a little too far. Reports have since surfaced, however, that both vessels were equipped with sophisticated stealth technology and that they were quite possibly unaware of each other's presence in that sector of the north Atlantic. I'll post more details on this story as they become available.


Laotian Food Rocks

Went to my second Regina Laotian Community Buffet and Dance. It was put on by the Laotian Youth Society at the downtown Legion. The food was great!

Regina needs a Laotian restaurant. If it has one and I've missed it, let me know. I ate at this hole-in-the-wall Laotian restaurant in Edmonton once. If you've had Vietnamese or Thai food, then the territory will be pretty familiar to you. But then, there are a few dishes that're really strange and surprising. So, a message to Regina's Laotian community: Regina needs more Laotian food. If you cook it, I will come.

Anyway, the community will next be hosting a Laotian New Year party on April 9. I'm hoping to attend just to find out what calendar Laos uses. Did you know Regina has an inordinately large Laotian community? That's what I hear, anyway. I don't know if it's precisely true but I'm happiest believing it is and will therefore continue to disseminate that information as though it were fact.

Also, for this year's Mosaic, the Laotians and the Irish will be sharing a building. Laap on one side. Guinness on the other. Excellent. Plus, I hear that every year the Laotian community gets in a supply of Beerlao for Mosaic. My wife (who's been to Laos) swears Beerlao is great. I have my doubts but hope to have them dispelled. Repeatedly.


More Valentine's tips

It’s Valentine’s Day – and on a Saturday night, no less – and I am sitting alone, wondering what to do with myself, as usual. I was expecting to at least get a date out of that stupid article on online dating, but no. Sigh.

For your trolling pleasure, here are some of the sites that I came across while 'researching' the topic of online dating:  Lavalife, Plenty of Fish, Cupid.com, eHarmony, DateMyPet, MarriedButLonely, SexyAds, BindiDates, PerfectMatch, In The Rooms, ChristianCafe, WildMatch, Gaydate, BBWPersonals, MILF-Date.com, Soulful Encounters, Crazy Dates, SugarDaddy, Speed Date, True Acceptance, OnlineBootyCall, BDSMSinglesSingles.net, EasyDate, Fling.com, Ashley Madison, WealthyMen.com, Ldate.com, FarmersOnly.com, MilitaryFriends, DateAMillionaire, STDFriends, ForeignLadies.com, Senior Friend Finder, XXXBlackBook, LonelyCheatingWives, InterracialSingles.net, SwapperNet, IwantU, SexSearch, CherryBlossoms, flirtbox, GayNerdCentral.com, Heart Detectives.

I wasn’t able to get in touch with a company called National Computer Date in time for the article. They were in Cuba on a singles’ trip, which is probably where I should have been. They’ve been matching Saskatchewan singles since 1982, so you never know. They can be reached at (306)525-2795, or (306)665-3283. or on the interweb at http://ncdate.ca/default.asp. 

Valentine's Day Night

I'm spending tonight listening to Lily Allen's latest It's Not Me, It's You; Romi Mayes' new disc Achin' In Yer Bones and Annie Lennox's new greatest hits package; and writing an Ask Greg on Jessica Simpson's recent weight gain.

Who's arming the Taliban in Afghanistan?

Hmmmm ....

Thanks to Crooks and Liars


On-Line Dating Re-Visited

Further to Carle Steel's cover story on on-line dating in the Feb. 12 issue of prairie dog, and with the annual love-fest known as Valentine's Day now mere hours away, with hordes of Regina couples about to descend on city restaurants for romantic candle light dinners followed by who knows what type of shenanigans, here's another take on the growing phenomenon of Internet dating courtesy of the Onion News Network. Unlike Carle's story, it seems to suggest that there may be an upside to joining networks like LavaLife, Plenty of Fish and eHarmony after all.

The CanWest Death Watch

One of my favourite bloggers, Ottawa Watch, has a recurring segment called the Canwest Death Watch. He hasn't gotten around to linking to this story (tip of the hat to federal Liberal Party back-roomer Warren Kinsella), but give him time. From reading the story, I would imagine Canwest's financial problems are even worse than what we're led to believe, and I would give the organization six months to a year before it all comes crashing down ... not just the folding of the National Post (which would rebirth itself as the Financial Post, which was what it was before Conrad Black bought it to make it into the business section of the NP) but the collapse of the Canadian mainstream print journalism system.

I still think that Stephen Harper isn't going to let one of his biggest (only) boosters go down the financial drain. That's why the federal government will amend its legislation to allow a majority share of Canadian media outlets to be owned by non-Canadians, allowing Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to buy Canwest Global on the cheap. But News Corp. is having its own problems.

Are we going to wake up one morning and see no Leader-Post on our doorstep? Or see Jill Whatshername on News At Six begin the newscast ... 'This just in ... MY PAY CHEQUE BOUNCED!" Maybe, but unlikely. The television system that's set up today doesn't allow for small, independent television stations -- they all have to be part of a massive chain (CBC, CTV Globemedia or Canwest Global) or they don't get the programs to fill their schedule.

The print edition is a different thing: the L-P and the Star-Phoenix's dead tree editions remain profitable -- what's killing them is the increasing amount of profits they have to pay to head office in order to keep Canwest from sinking faster into its ocean of red ink. Journalists are relatively cheap to employ (especially with a J-school trundling out grads every April who need to work at whatever job they can find to build up a portfolio and keep Kraft Dinner on the table), and hiring Marty Klyne as publisher, someone with a lot of roots in Regina's business community, will go a long way to help the L-P negotiate its sale to local concerns. The only problem may be that by the time the L-P goes up for sale, the newsroom will be cut so dramatically that Reginans may find that there's nothing worth reading in the newspaper ... which is always a bad sign if you're trying to attract readers.

So what does it all mean? First things first. I would imagine that the local private radio stations -- say, Harvard and Rawlco -- are taking a good look at buying the L-P and Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on a discount in the ensuing fire sale.

Secondly, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers may as well give up the fantasy that they are going to be playing in a brand-spanking new football stadium. In fact, I think the reverse will be true -- the Bombers will probably one of the next CFL teams to undergo a financial meltdown as a community board of directors pick up the pieces from David Asper's financial flameout. Ottawa Watch calls the Asper family's crisis management of Canwest Global the 'flinging tables and chairs in the way of the people who are trying to chase you out of the bar' strategy ... the Bombers will be just another piece of furniture flung the creditors' way when it all goes down, as it appears it will, inevitably, in 12 to 18 months.

Them Kids

Sell off the justice system to the private sector? Whatever could go wrong?

Six In The Morning

You know the drill:

1 HORRIBLE CRASH A plane hits a house in Buffalo, 49 are dead. Awful, awful details here. (Globe And Mail)

2 DRUG ARRESTS The RCMP in Regina have nabbed 26 culprits in something called a "dial a dope" scheme. I note with interest the only weapon seized, according to the story, was an "expandable baton" whatever that is. So much for my fantasies that all dealers are scowling Cuban immigrants spouting catch phrases and dying in spectacular machine gun rampages. (Leader-Post)

3 CIRCULAR JUSTICE The sentancing circle is underway for Christopher Pauchay, the man guilty of criminal negligence in the freezing deaths of his two young daughters. (CBC)

4 FIREBUG Authorities in Australia have arrested and charged a man alleged to have intentionally strated bush fire that have killed 21 people and destroyed 7000 homes. Police also charged this sweetheart of a dude with possessing child pornography. (The Guardian)

5 ROLL UP YOUR KID'S SLEEVE A U.S. court says the evidence is overwhelming: vaccination doesn't cause autism. (AP/Toronto Star)

6 TOMORROW IS VALENTINE'S DAY So here's some YouTube of two pets and their unlikely wuv for each other. The cuteness is deadly. Happy Valentine's Day! (YouTube)


Good Movie, Left Happy

The new prairie dog is out today and full of good reading, including Carle Steel's takedown of the whole online dating racket and not one but two articles about beer.

I'll say that again: TWO stories about beer. Ah, you're running out the door to pick up your copy now. Excellent.

There's also a short write-up on a good documentary playing at the RPL tomorrow. Died Young, Stayed Pretty is a made-in-Canada (well, Calgary) flick about underground rockaroll poster culture: the posters, the weirdos (and in at least one case internationally recognized graphic designer) who make them, their cultural significance--basically the wacky shenanigans of the whole nutty scene.

I saw it tonight with Carle and Paul Dechene, and we were all dazzled, educated and entertained. If you care about underground/outlaw art, rock, punk or gay Elvis, work as a graphic designer or you're in a band in this city, you should see it. It plays again tomorrow night at nine.

Hey, this could even inspire people to build a killer poster culture in this town. Okay, that IS crazy.

Happy Darwin Day!

It's the 200th anniversary of the birth of one the greatest scientists who ever lived, the guy who pretty much invented the field of biology and utterly changed the way people look at the natural world: Charles Darwin. Learn about the celebration here.

CBC radio's Quirks and Quarks did a pretty good show devoted to him this week. And if you want to read that book of his that caused all the fuss, On the Origin of Species, it's in the public domain so it's free to download.

Sadly, there isn't a lot -- if anything -- going on in Regina to celebrate Mr Darwin's birthday. I spoke with the director of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, thinking it would be a logical spot for something like this. Turns out they had nothing planned. However, in May, he says they'll be launching a Darwin exhibit.

Anyway, if you're hosting some kind of Darwin-related event this evening, please feel free to mention it in the comments.


Breaking the Law

I'm not a fan of the tags that mostly pass for graffiti art in Regina. Yes, an argument can be made that a tagger, especially if they belong to a marginalized community and they're tagging a building, bridge or other structure located in a prominent public location, is asserting their right to be seen by civic powerbrokers -- and by extension, acknowledged and heard. But tagging in Regina seems to be pretty indiscriminate. And defacing the garage or garbage bin of a cash-strapped senior or impoverished inner city family, forcing them to undergo the expense and trouble of having the tag removed or else be fined under a City of Regina bylaw, isn't exactly my idea of sticking it to the man. It would be nice too if taggers were a bit more creative with their mark-making instead of just squiggling away.

But there is such a thing as true graffiti art. And it does have a legitimate role to play in our society as a form of socio-political commentary. That's why the arrest this week of Los Angeles graffiti artist Frank Shepard Fairey on the eve of an exhibition of his work opening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston is extremely troubling. Fairey isn't the first artist who began their career on the street, cultivating a unique and edgy urban visual style that initially brought them into conflict with property owners, police, the courts and politicians, but that later won them acclaim in the contemporary art community. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring are the two best-known examples.

Graffiti has been around since ancient times. When done with style and panache, it provokes people to think about the structure of the space around them and how messages of power and privilege are conveyed in our society. For Boston police to arrest Fairey for his graffiti-related activities (including a felony charge for an outstanding warrant dating back to 2000) was a simple power play on their part that confirms their role as an instrument of state oppression. Oh, in addition to the Andre the Giant image posted above, here's another sample of Fairey's work. It currently hangs in the US National Portrait Gallery in Washington.



Here's a really interesting piece on the A-Rod affair by a former teammate. 

It raises some troubling questions about privacy.

I don't really do sports, so I don't have much else to say. 

Go Riders!


Three (Extra) in the Morning

Because my daughter is reading quietly to herself (wow... this is new) so I'm sneaking a little blogging (read: surfing) in...

7. Canadian Labour Congress May Reverse Position on IP Policy: This is a good article that looks at where the CLC presently stands on Intellectual Property policy and where they could be headed if a proposed resolution gets passed... yeesh, next week from the looks of it. Seems they could be coming down in favour of the WIPO's internet treaties --- treaties which are being opposed by many consumer and education groups --- and they'll also be supporting a strict enforcement-based approach to copyright enforcement. A worrying about-face from the CLC. If you're suspicious of copyright laws, that is. Which I'm.

8. Baseball = Making Out Metaphor Explained, Finally: Generally speaking, stick-figure webcomics inhabit a rung or two below even student newspaper comics. This one, however, is very good. Update: Hahahaha, this one is too.

9. Indian Matchbox Cover Art: Because the world needs more India.

Aaaaaand... my daughter is now roaming about so I'm off...

Six In The Morning

1. Canada Failing on Climate Change: The environment commissioner is upset with Ottawa's lackluster performance on climate change. Gosh, who saw that coming?

2. University of Vermont Rethinks Ben Stein Speech: Apparently something he said about science made him unsuitable as a commencement address speaker. Could it have been this quote from Expelled, maybe? "I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed." Go back to the gameshow, Ben.

3. Beware of Zombies: The atheist bus is coming to Canada, but we can only hope a band of merry pranksters will start doing this to Regina road signs.

4. Writer Threatened for Being Thorough: Dr Ben Goldacre, author of the Bad Science column for the Guardian, devoted a blog post to debunking claims about vaccination made by a UK radio show host. To illustrate his concerns, he posted the relevant sections from the radio show: 44 minutes worth. As a result, he's been contacted by the radio station's lawyers for copyright infringement.

5. Bill Gates Infects Nerds With Malaria... Psych: Claiming, "Not only poor people should experience this," Gates started his TED 2009 talk by releasing a jar of malarial mosquitos into the audience. Only it turned out later the jar was empty and he was just "making a point." Your first instinct was right, Bill. You should've used real mosquitos.

6. Chemistry or Life? I don't read Russian, but the message on these anti-Coca Cola posters is pretty clear. Cool design.


Downer Of A First Post

Oh, dammit.

Lux Interior has died. I need to go play some Cramps and make wild noises now.

What Hath Mick Jagger Wrought?

First the Stones at Mosaic Stadium, then The Eagles at Credit Union Centre, and now Mr. Vegas himself ... in Swift Current ...


A Sizable Slitherer

Scientists have announced the discovery of the fossilized* remains of the world's largest snake. The animal, found in Colombia and thought to have lived around 60 million years** ago, is called Titanoboa cerrejonensis and is estimated to have been around 12.8 metres (42 feet) and 1135 kg (2500 lbs), which is freaking huge. The longest snake currently living is the reticulated python and that tops out under 10 metres (The record is just under 33 feet long). The heaviest on record was a 182.8 kg (403 lb.) captive Burmese python.

So this thing would've been one huggably fat monster.

More on the big-ass ancient snake here.

Now, you might not care. You probably don't. But there are people in this city who do. They are the silent but devoted keepers of icky pets, from snakes to lizards to frogs to bugs. And by god, this blog is for them too.

*Or Jesusized, for those who believe science is pretend.
** about 2,600 years Biblically.

Six In The Morning

Your Humpday update!

1 AFFORDABLE HOUSING? The Sask Party government plans some investment. (Leader-Post.)

2 THEY'RE UP TO SOMETHING! The opposition NDP says Brad Wall and company need to be more forthcoming about their nuclear plans. (Leader-Post)

3 TILMAN Speaks. (Leader-Post)

4 MORE GUNS TO MORE PEOPLE The Americans want to arm Afghan militias, but critics say this might just mean better-armed criminals. (Guardian/AP)

5 CARDED A charge card company tightens up the rules for debt-happy Canadians. (Toronto Star)

6 TRADE WAR? WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT A TRADE WAR? Obama makes noises that sound like a retreat from his previous position. (Globe And Mail, Salon)

(And about that... I was two-thirds asleep yesterday morning when I heard something on the CBC from some pundit who said something about U.S. protectionism being "unethical" (or maybe it was "immoral"). Can't remember the details, the cat was on my ears making it hard to hear. Okay, look: I know U.S. politicians might be (are) just pandering to voters and political donors with the "buy U.S.A." rhetoric but that said, there's something profoundly ETHICAL about a country talking about putting it's own citizens/workers/industries first. This is a problem critics have always had with free trade agreements: they put foriegn interests on the same field as domestic ones and local needs/interests lose out. This is one of the criticisms levelled at TILMA (the BC-Alberta Trade Investment Labour Mobility Pact) actually--that it will reduce Provincial government's abilities to make decisions in the public interest on things like investment and tendering and professional standards .)


Windchill Warning

It’s minus 14, but with the wind chill it feels like minus 24.What if you don’t go out? How does it feel then? It feels like you should get a real job, that’s how it feels. It’s minus 28 outside, but it feels like you are blessed, because your old boiler is working its heart out, it thinks this weather is just dandy. Your apartment is so hot that you open a window and suck in the cold thin air through your nose. You are outside in the stillness of minus 43, but you feel like you are on the moon. You wonder what it’s like to be dead. It’s minus 27, but it feels like you haven’t done your creative work this winter, again, and soon you won’t have the cold to keep you in, pinned to your desk. It’s minus 9, and yes it does feel like minus 25, because you’re not smart enough to dress warmly enough unless it’s minus 25. Other days the conditions can be exactly the same, but you feel like a winter animal, something fat, a seal or a polar bear, happy as a clam and warm right down to your tootsies. It’s minus 20, but it feels like a normal, pre-climate change winter, and for that you are grateful. It’s minus 21, but the sun is coming up so much earlier now, you’re not sure you can face another spring, you just had summer, it seems. Time goes so much faster when you get older. It’s minus 22 and the conditions are perfect for the creation of crystals in the snow. There are diamonds everywhere you look and you wonder why this wasn’t on the weather report, like “Severe Risk of Wonder,” and jokesy admonitions like “Boy it’s looking pretty magical out there folks, better take care out there, don’t want you to get hurt in any flights of fancy.” It’s minus 27, but the rabbits love it, sitting in silent contemplation of the moonrise. You and the rabbits feel gypped: some stupid groundhog somewhere has said that winter is almost over. If it’s true, the rabbits will have to start changing into their spring pyjamas. You will just have to cope with the absence of cold, the promise of spring. It’s minus 33, and you wonder why they keep telling you how you feel, how they never even come close.
(photo depicts a Regina bunny in warmer times)

Stephen Harper Is Still Prime Minister

Ignatieff's Liberals help the Tories pass the budget. What was it Tommy Douglas said about white cats and black cats?

Nobody Ever Dies Of Boredom Covering The Saskatchewan Court System...

Color me gobsmacked.

Jim Hopson's press conference told us nothing, which was understandable, because (a) he's not privy to the police investigation, (b) anyone facing charges is innocent until proven guilty, (c) nobody is really going to know anything until the trial starts, (d) the alleged incident involved a minor, so it's more than likely that the judge will impose a media blackout, and (e) there's a one-in-a-10-million chance that the accuser is from the Rachel Marsden School of Attracting Attention To Yourself.

The first media stories said the RPS investigation began last August or September, but charges weren't laid until today (3 February) which means ... what? The sex crimes division is understaffed? The investigation dragged on? The investigating officers wanted to make sure their case against Tillman was air-tight?

There'll be a lot of ink spilled between now and the trial date, but little of it will comment on the two groups most affected by this -- the claimant (assuming, once again, that she's not making this up, and given whatever claim she lodged with the RPS has withstood the five-to-six month investigation) and the family of Eric Tillman (he's married, and, I think, the father of two children). Instead, Roughrider fans and the Leader-Post will be more worried about what this does to the team, as if the whole club was involved in these escapades.

On Pittsburgh, Home Of The Championship Steelers

This, my friends, is a sandwich.

Pittsburgh is basking in Superbowlular glory, so it seems like a relevent time to sing the city's praises (have I mentioned I've been there and really liked it?).

Pittsburgh is great. It's got a dynamic, compact downtown. It's got the Warhol Museum. It has one of the best dinosaur fossil collections on the continent at the Carnegie (promounced "car-naggy") Museum.

It's got the Penguins, even if they're having a stupid year. It's got the sublime Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, where I had an amazing wasabi bloody mary last February.

It's got the Superbowl Champion Steelers.
Best of all though it's got regional haute cuisine in the form of sandwiches stuffed with French Fries and coleslaw. They're the pride of place dish at Primanti Brothers Restaurant, a downtown sandwich shack a few blocks from the hotel that says they invented 'em.

Truly, the food of champions! (And yes, I did eat it.)


Legacy Study Lays Groundwork for North Central Neighbourhood Plan

Spent Monday evening at the open house presentation of the draft of the North Central Community Legacy Study. Fun stuff.

Ostensibly, this study is about integrating the North Central Shared Facility (NCSF) into the larger community. What we got instead was the foundation for a new North Central neighbourhood plan. From the sounds of things, the time is ripe for such a thing. There've been a series of studies done on North Central over the last five years and all the while there are a myriad of community groups on the ground who're committed to improving the neighbourhood. The Legacy Study and any neighbourhood plan it could inspire appear to be a good way to help focus all those energies.

The presentation involved an extensive list of recommendations around issues such as sustainability, land use, housing, leadership and transit. It was very comprehensive, getting down to things like recommending strategic placement of community gardens so that no one will ever have to walk more than five minutes to get to one.

Might sound like overkill considering what was being considered was the integration of the NCSF, but according to Bruce Rice, the city’s Manager of Housing and Neighbourhood Planning, you can't just plunk a facility like this into the centre of a neighbourhood and expect it to succeed. (For the record, I don't think he actually used the word "plunk".)

For instance, he pointed to the fact that the NCSF will have a daycare that services 90 kids, and for that to work you have to have a neighbourhood in which people feel safe as they'll walking their kids to and from the facility. That's why the recommendations are so extensive and reminiscent of plans put forward for the downtown and the Core Neighbourhood.

The study is being shepherded by some familiar faces. Office for Urbanism, the crew heading up Regina's Downtown Plan, were brought on board in November so it's no surprise the study hits a lot of the same notes.

Other highlights include recommendations to preserve the Albert Library Building (which will be vacated as the library moves into the NCSF) and turn it into an active public use; establish an urban design framework; integrate Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles into a neighbourhood plan; and advocate for a regulatory framework for rental housing which could include landlord licensing. Mention was also made of the need for enhanced transit and pedestrian linkages with the rest of the city and of the importance of small schools in building and sustaining communities like North Central.

Once feedback is incorporated and other stakeholders are consulted, a final report will be prepared and could be released as early as March.

Six In The Morning

And not just ANY morning. Monday morning! Hooray!

1 FOOTBALL HEROES The Pittsburgh Steelers win Superbowl XLIII. Didn't watch the game, don't particularly care but I am a fan of that city, so...yay! I guess. (TSN)

2 MALIGN MEAT MONEY Twenty-seven million dollar settlement to listeriosis victims, pending paperwork. (Globe And Mail)

3 HE SMOKED THE "MARIJUANA PIPE"! OMG!!! Fishman Michael Phelps gets flack for using a performance un-hancing drug that should be legal (and taxed, and regulated, and yadayadayada). (Toronto Star)

4 GODLESS HORDES Remember this post? They're coming to Canada! They're invading Toronto! They've targeted Calgary! Eeeek! (Various media)

5 AFGHANISTAN COPS KILLED Twenty-one police die in a suicide bomb attack. (CBC)

6 RECESSION REFUGEES Chinese migrant workers leave the cities because there's no jobs there. How many people are on the move? Try 26 million. (The Guardian)