8.31.2009

New Dog Blog Record


One-hundred and twenty-five posts this August. A new monthly record, demolishing March's mark of 108 posts. Not bad! That brings us to 791 since we launched this thing last year. Also not bad. Keep it up, dog bloggers--the literally hundreds of people who visit this site appreciate your hard work.

Killjoys Close Pool on Labour Day

Just received an email tip that for unknown reasons Wascana Pool will be ending its season a day early on September 6. (Confirmed via the city's announcement page. And sure enough, on old the pool schedule the last day was supposed to be Sept 7, Labour Day. It's too late at night to phone city hall and ask what's up.)

Seems a strange decision. The weather is finally decent enough so that outdoor swimming almost seems an attractive idea. You'd think maybe the city would want to end off the summer with a loved-by-many, outdoor facility open right through the holiday weekend.

Inside Edition II

Hey Alex, if you and the rest of the Super Mario gang (official website) are looking to engage the Bomber faithful prior to the Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium, you might want to head down to the Distrikt Sept. 4. Apparently, Troy Westwood (DayLife) is hosting a Blue Bomber fan party there.

Inside Edition

Shaquille O'Neal must have visited our office last week when I was out, because the mini-basketball hoop and sponge basketball that we got a couple of years ago as part of a cute promotion for the Billy Bob Thornton movie Mr. Woodcock where he played a sadistic gym teacher, and that used to hang on the side of my desk, is now busted. (YouTube)

News Flash

Speaking of magazines with compromised editorial content, I know who's going to be on the cover of the next issue of Fine Lifestyles Regina (CBC). Just kidding, it's actually this guy. (Nexus Blog)

Prairie Dog Does Not Trade Articles For Advertiser Dollars


"Prairie dog's editorial content is independent and is not for sale under any circumstances. We write what we like, and our readers like it that way."

—From prairie dog's masthead

The organizer of an upcoming event contacted recently to lobby for an article on it. The event—I’m not going to say what it is — sounded sort of interesting and I was fairly keen to cover it, depending on available print space and having an interested writer. Then I got an e-mail from this individual telling me they were buying an ad in our paper — but it was conditional on us writing about their event.

Here's an excerpt: "In exchange for the article, [our organization] would like to purchase a 1/4 page ad. Please have the writer contact me ASAP so that I can meet with him or her [for an interview]."

I sent the organization an e-mail explaining that we don’t trade editorial coverage for advertising. But in a subsequent e-mail to our publisher, this person repeated their demand: "We will be pleased to submit an ad for the issue if there is going to be an article about [our organization].” In other words, this person won’t advertise in prairie dog unless we write about his/her event. Which one might be inclined to call “extortion.”

Long story short, I’m not commissioning an article because we don’t publish a “you grease my back, I’ll rub yours” magazine and I resent the suggestion that we do.

And I assume there won’t be an ad either. But hey, maybe I’ll be surprised.

Advertising is one thing. Stealth advertorials are another. Stealth advertorials are bad business because readers can tell the difference between advertising and editorial content and if they feel you’re trying to fool them with an ad disguised as an article, well, you’ve probably lost a reader.

Hey businesses, want an advertorial? No problem! Buy a decent-size ad from a friendly p-dog sales rep and put a bunch of words in it about your product/event. It will have to be labeled "advertisement" so our readers don’t confuse it with actual content, and it’ll have to use a different design template than our articles — but aside from that, pretty much anything goes.

Editorial and advertising need to remain separate. If you’re mixing them you’re not publishing a newspaper, you’re publishing a catalogue.

This Week at City Hall


Tuesday, September 1
Finance and Administration Committee (12:15 pm): To help facilitate public access to six new, multi-use arenas on the Evraz Place property, Finance Committee is being asked for $288,635 to support street improvements. The money represents the amount the city received from Evraz from a land purchase and was earmarked for this purpose. Meanwhile, the communications department is asking for approval to seek out an advertising "agency of record" so that it can better coordinate marketing efforts for the city. The committee is also looking at an adjustment to the accounting of fleet revenues and expenditures, and a report on changes to the Administration Bylaw.

Wednesday, September 2
Board of Police Commissioners (9 am): At present, it would seem they still have the July 21 report on the Regina Police Service website. I'll try to keep an eye out to see if it gets updated. I suspect that this week they'll be looking at year-to-year crime stats for June and July so it'll be interesting to see if the "property crime down, people crime up" trend continues. Here's hoping that's a no.
Paratransit Advisory Board (5:30 pm): Reviewing service improvement initiatives, service hours for July through September, and the May - June 2009 ridership statistics.

Thursday, September 3
Mayor's Task Force on Access (5:30 pm): Looking at a report from the provincial government covering items in the budget that impact people with disabilities.

Full reports and agendas can be downloaded, this week and every week, from the city's website.

Six In The Morning

1 MICKEY BUYS SPIDEY Thwiiipp! Disney is paying 4$ billion in cash and stock for Marvel Comics, the publishing company behind The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk, X-Men, Captain America, Iron-Man and piles more leotraded heroes. (New York Times)

2 THIS GOOD NEWS IS REALLY BAD NEWS Canada's economy is growing again. Why is it growing? Because of oil drilling and real estate. (Globe And Mail) Real estate sales growth isn't inherently a bad thing, I'm thinking, but it's very, very worrying that our economy's success hinges on extracting resources that are wrecking the planet's climate.This is what's called "mortgaging your future."

3 DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T Making hybrid cars requires rare elements that our planet doesn't have a limitless supply of. Uh oh. (Reuters/Toronto Star)

4 PIGS: OKAY TO EAT, NOT OKAY FOR SURGERY PRACTICE The University of Saskatchewan is the target of a complaint by a doctor organization concerned about the ethical treatment of animals. (StarPhoenix)

5 AFGHAN STUDENT TO ATTEND REGINA SCHOOL AFTER ALL Here's a nice story. Kudos to everyone who made this happen. Does anyone have any doubt this girl will enrich her classroom at least as much as she is enriched? (CBC)

6 UNDERWEAR: IT KNOWS ALL What men's underwear tells us about economic recovery. (Washington Post)

8.30.2009

Science > Religion: Quantum Physics Edition

If a tree un-fell in the forest, would we remember it?

Nope, says a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And he's supposedly got the math to prove it.

In what I assume is a deliberate attempt to make my head hurt, MIT physicist Lorenzo Maccone has attempted to solve the problem of the arrow of time.

The arrow of time, if I understand it right (fingers crossed here), describes a contradiction between events at the microscopic level, which (theoretically?) occur in the same way whether time is moving forwards or backwards, and events at the macroscopic level which occur in a different way depending on the flow of time.

For example, the tree falls when we're moving to the future. It doesn't fall if we're moving to the past--it lifts itself back up. Imagine a film of a tree falling, running in reverse. Like that.

Most importantly, the tree doesn't un-fall in the future.

Or does it? Maccone's math apparently suggests it often does. We just don't remember it because of our quantum entanglement with the system of time moving forward.

Maccone says events like a coffee cup heating up instead of cooling or a pane of glass un-shattering do happen, but our memory is erased by necessity. So says his math.

Hence my throbbing temples.

There's a Guardian story on this here. And the Wikipedia entry on Time's Arrow is here. Read 'em and you'll know as much as I do. Probably more--I don't need quantum disentanglement to not-remember insanely weird and complicated physics theories.

But actually, the only reason I'm posting this is for purposes of atheist propaganda.

My understanding, probably similar to yours, is that physicists conceive of the word in bizarro, science-fictionesque ways. I'm not the slightest bit able to understanding their ideas. But I do have respect for them. From what I understand of history, science, and technology, physics seems to have a good track record at bringing us dependable knowledge of the universe we live in. Physicists study time, gravity and the elegant dance of microscopic particles. And while physicists argue about their theories and conclusions, they have an established framework for hashing out their disagreements.

Most importantly, if they can't prove something they call it a theory and they welcome challenges to it. 'Coz that's how stuff gets figured out.

Compare this to religion. Multiple Millennia have passed and there's still no agreement on the nature of god, his motives, how his power works or what he wants. Just lots of argument and fear and hatred and killing in his name. And when something isn't understood? Apparently we're not even supposed to try to figure it out. "God works in mysterious ways."

Physics maps the universe and tries to understand/explain our place in it. It brings forward tentative answers and adjusts its ideas as new facts emerge. I find it meaningful and beautiful. Religion says personal belief is more important than knowledge and tunes out argument. It uses politics, wealth and bullying to get its way. It celebrates that which is crass and ignorant.

Physics is the smart, weird kid who enriches a classroom. I like that kid.

Religion is the out-of-control child throwing books at teachers and biting other students.

I wish I knew how to help.

8.29.2009

Desperately Seeking Justice


I've never been a huge Madonna fan. Sometimes, it seemed to me, especially when it came to the Church and sex, she was just trying to push people's buttons. Which is fair enough. But when it comes to religion and sex, it isn't exactly hard to push people's buttons. But she has had a great career. And after what happened in Romania the other night I just want to give a shout out to her. (YouTube)

Local TV? What’s that?

About three months ago, CTV Regina was part of a CTV campaign (CTV) urging the public to write into the CRTC to force cable companies to implement carriage fees. In the end, it would mean that your cable bill would probably rise by about $10 a month, because the cost of carriage fees -- the charge the networks would charge the cable companies to carry the stations would be passed to the consumer, you and me. Of course, CTV and Global don't see it that way. Carriage fees have to be implemented in order to save local TV. So they say.

Well, what's the state of local TV now? How much can local TV stations respond to local events? Let's take the recent tornado strikes north of Toronto as an example.

From Dead Things on Sticks …

In the midst of a horrific local storm, with Tornadoes touching down all over the city, local TV failed in the most profound way possible to inform its citizens. If you ask "what am I paying for?" then based on yesterday, the clear answer is nothing. Nothing at all.

Or The Legion of Decency, a blogger who lives in the middle of what became Tornado Alley …

In the centralized model of Canadian local TV I'd predicted months ago but never thought might ever personally affect me, the two million people who live just beyond the Greater Toronto Area had no television service addressing the imminent threat they all faced.

Instead, I was treated to the same pre-packaged news segments, the same smiling meat puppets and the same banal "Sparky, what the heck's happened to my Blue Jays?" banter.

By now, the weather site on my computer was giving me moving satellite maps and Doppler radar showing the second, much larger wall of storms approaching fast and a couple of my friends were Tweeting blocked roads and that the Twister in Newmarket had hit a children's riding competition at the Canadian Equestrian Centre.

However dedicated local TV reporters are (and they are), whatever they say and do doesn't matter. The local newsroom – and the local station – isn't calling the shots any more. The local stations are nothing but money makers for the conglomerates who own them, and the carriage fees that will soon be added to your cable bill are more of a revenue stream to head office than an economic lifeline to people who actually serve your community.

The final word

TorStar's Damien Cox nails it on Garry Bettman's integrity, or lack therof. (Toronto Star)

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Pinocchio

The company behind Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town made some strange little TV shows back in the day.

Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass' shop was responsible for the bizarro stop-motion animated series The New Adventures Of Pinocchio, based on Carlo Collodi's famous fictional puppet. I used to watch it all the time as a kid--if I remember it was on right after another weird Rankin/Bass show, Tales Of The Wizard Of Oz.

But that's a cartoon for another day. Here's a yootubed clip from the New Adventures Of Pinocchio:




Zachary Zombie, by the way, was voiced by Canadian actor Paul Kligman who was also the voice of J. Jonah Jameson in the classic '60s Spider-Man cartoon. Kligman apparently went to college in Winnipeg, the city all cartoon newspapermen come from.

Anyway, In addition to ghouls and witches the show also had scary invisible ogres, leprechauns, talking trains and a friendly Loch Ness Monster. Here's another clip, with Rankin/Bass spins on several of the characters from the book including Geppetto, Cricket, and Cat and Fox.




Weird stuff!

8.28.2009

Halloween II: Solid effort


About two years ago, I trashed Rob Zombie's Halloween remake in prairie dog. The film was almost a frame by frame copy of the original by John Carpenter. This, despite Zombie's efforts to give Michael Myers severe Oedipal issues.

In Halloween II, Zombie finally makes the story it's own. Even though some serious gore makes its way into the film, the movie is beautifully shot, gritty and poetic at the same time. The director ventures in some areas barely touched by similar serial killer flicks, such as the effect in the survivors psyche of the killing spree. Also interesting--the violence the murderous Myers shows against the victims. It sounds obvious, but when you observe the swift slaughters of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger, Myers seems particularly merciless.

Halloween II has problems. Malcolm McDowell's Dr. Loomis is too much of a caricature. For vintage Zombie, rent the excellent and proudly counterculture "The Devil's Rejects." And under no circumstance dismiss White Zombie frontman's as a filmmaker. The guy is a natural.

Oasis Goes "Kerblooey"

Noel Gallagher has left the building. (Guardian)

Was never a big fan of Oasis' over-rated, whiny and pompous "grunge Beatles" sound but I guess some people are and it is for those I offer a sympathetic, "yep, this is a shame" on this, the moment of a world-famous band's possible end.

Would a nice song help? Here, have an Oasis song. (Yootube).

Friday Afternoon Batty!

For Dechene.



(Via Yootube and probably copyright violation)

Quit Picking On Bats



















The Leader Post is reporting on a Regina Qu'Appelle Health region warning about bats. Apparently, the Health Region has received a higher than normal number of reports of bats in houses -- three in the last month!

Seriously? Three? Three bats in houses warrants a health warning?

The reason cited for all the hand wringing is the fear of people somehow contracting rabies from this terrifying, trifoil bat plague.

I've always been a little suspicious of this "bats give you rabies" story so I called up Dr Mark Brigham from the University of Regina's biology department. He's an expert on bats. I asked him if we should be worried about catching rabies from bats.

"No," he says. "Absolutely not. Because the likelihood of a bat having rabies is very low. And 99 per cent of the time, if it does [have rabies], it'll crawl into a corner and die."

"The only way to get rabies [from a bat] is to be bitten. And usually, bats get dumb rabies, not aggressive rabies. So they won't go out of their way to bite people."

He says this annual "bats with rabies" scare is all courtesy of the Old Yeller myth, referring to the Disney film in which a young boy has to shoot his beloved dog because it's rabid and aggressive.

"I hate Walt Disney," says Brigham.

He points to the claim in the Health Region warning that bat bites are small enough that you could get one while sleeping and not know it. Brigham says this is impossible. No adult could sleep through a bat bite.

He notes that the only way to get bitten by a bat is to try to pick one up. So, don't do that and you're safe.

Now, let's say you do -- foolishly -- choose to pick up a bat, and it happens to be one of the few to be infected with rabies, and it bites you, you're still not guaranteed to contract the disease.

And even if you do, he notes that one of the best vaccinations against a virus that medical science has to offer is the one to combat rabies. So getting bitten by a rabid bat is no death sentence. You just get five needles over a number of months and you'll be fine.

As to the question of how many people have died from rabid bats, Brigham says, "To the best of my knowledge, in North America over all of recorded time, so a couple hundred years, maybe 20 to 40 at the maximum. And in Canada, you could easily count them on one hand."

The reason there's an uptick in the number of bat sightings this time of year, says Brigham, is because young bats are just learning to fly and tend to wind up places they'd rather not be. Like our houses.

And, I'd like to add, if we're getting more reports of young bats getting into houses, it's probably a good sign because it means there might be more young bats than usual. And bats are awesome. Bats eat mosquitoes! (Now, mosquitoes. There's a creature that's earned some hate.)

[UPDATE: Double checked the "bats eat mosquitoes" thing with Mark Brigham... Apparently wikipedia lied. (How about that.) Bats in Saskatchewan don't usually eat mosquitoes because they're are too small (mosquitoes are, I mean) and they don't fly around so much. Bats usually eat beetles, moths, midges and caddis flies, etc. And, well, those are all -- moths especially -- pretty disgusting. So I stand by my "bats are awesome" statement.]

So, in short: It's the time year when bats are about. But bats are good and there's no reason to be afraid of them.

Lies My Prime Minister Told me

Harper didn't say he wanted Senate reform (Warren Kinsella), he said he wanted a Reform Senate. (CBC).

8.27.2009

Anthropomorphism


Steve blogged on this earlier today. What I want to know now is why we insist on attributing human characteristics/impulses to objects that, unlike us, are inanimate; or in the case of less advanced lifeforms, cognitively incapable of the actions that we ascribe to them. Gigantic suicidal planet. (MSN) Really? It's a catchy hook, I suppose. But it's misleading as hell from a scientific perspective.

New Dog!


Cover photo by Carey Shaw. Model: Billy.

The new prairie dog is out and it's pretty good. This is the last issue we're publishing in an internationally-recognized summer month in 2009--next time a new paper comes out, it will be September. Which is great for those of us who like autumn, perhaps somewhat less great for people who wanted to have a summer this year (hey, you got a few weeks here and there, quit complaining.) Speaking of fall, as I look out my window and soak in my glamorous view of the Scarth Street pedestrian mall, I see that we have a few trees with leaves beginning to turn. You probably don't want to hear that. Oh well. Even prairie dog's mighty purple editor cannot stop the march of the seasons. Anyway, this issue:

LATE SUMMER READING GUIDE Cover model Billy the Bunny stands in for Lewis Carol's well-known white rabbit, who was famously late for an important date. The feature covers six or seven books that, while not particularly new, should make a nice, end-of-the-season read.

WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE UNIONS? No doubt there are a lot of reasons ranging from the "okay fair enough I can see that" variety to the "dude, are you psycho?" category of ideological rationalizations. Anyway, various prairie dogs weigh in with a Labour Day look at union-bashing.

BYE-BYE PLAINS HOTEL The Regina landmark is facing a showdown with the wrecking ball. Some people are sad. Some people are glad. Will this be good? Or will it be bad? LaRose reports.

Free Passes: Inglourious Basterds

Attention Dog Bloggers: we’ve got five free double passes to give away for Tarantino's hit flick Inglourious Basterds--another exclusive for Dog Blog fans.

First five readers to e-mail contests@prairiedogmag.com with “BASTERDS” in the title will get them. We’ll have them ready for pick-up tomorrow morning and they're good for as long as the movie plays in Regina. Winners will be notified by e-mail.

Now go, ya basterds!


Inglourious Basterds Trailer - Click here for funny video clips

Downtown Plan: A Date is Set


Word on the street is the highly-anticipated, much-delayed, Downtown Neighbourhood Plan will be going before the Regina Planning Commission on September 18 and then before Council on September 21. (You can look back at some Dog Blog coverage of the plan and its delays here and here.)

The plan will be going forward at the same time as the proposal to replace the Plains Hotel with a hotel/condo highrise -- presumably as a showcase for what the plan can achieve.

More details as we hear 'em.

Superman Supports Public Health Care

Of course he does. Superman at his best is a compassionate, generous hero. And he's a rational-minded realist--Supes knows that communities need to work together to solve problems that are too big for individuals and families and neighbours to tackle. Superman also knows that a strong government sector doesn't automatically threaten indivuality and freedom--it promotes it by protecting individuals against amoral market forces like the profit motive.

The full comic is here, and there's some sharp commentary too. (Comic Mix)

Six In The Morning

1 OUR BUSINESS, OUR PROFITS Saskatchewan First Nations want to keep all of the profits from their casinos. Cue White hysteria in five, four, three, two, one... (CBC, Leader Post comments)

2 CAR INSURANCE PROBABLY GOING UP If you have a car, I guess you'd care about this. (StarPhoenix)

3 CANADIAN RESEARCH HELPED CIA TORTURERS "REASSURE QUEASY BUREACRATS Yeah, well, ugh. (Globe and Mail) Here's a thought: every single person involved in the U.S. torture regime brought in by Bush and Cheney should be arrested and prosecuted. Starting with Bush and Cheney.

4 FIXING FACEBOOK Social media giant says it will comply with Canada's privacy laws. (Toronto Star)

5 BUT NOT TO CANADA The National Hockey League has filed a bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. The NHL's bent over backwards to keep the former Jets in Arizona, but if their bid is accepted by a judge and things don't work out, they would look at moving the team. (Toronto Star)

6 IT'S SUN-POSSIBLE An exoplanet (a planet outside of our solar system) has a crazy orbit and should have been fried by its star. But it hasn't. Oh, the mysteries of the universe! (LA Times)

8.26.2009

Help Wanted


We have plants in the office that apparently need watering. Is anyone up to the challenge? I nominate Chauncey Gardiner. (YouTube)

UPDATE: Whitworth points out that though a couple of the plants may be droopy at the moment, he has done an excellent job of keeping them hydrated for the last half-decade, so there. Also, Being There is a terrific movie.

Six in the Middle of the Night

Hoooo man am I ever late getting this done. If I dawdle any longer it'll be a Six in the Wee Hours of Tomorrow Morning....

1. TED KENNEDY RIP: Sad news I just read about.... Yeah.... I've been in a media vacuum today. (New York Times)

2. ALTA IN HOCK FOR $7 BILLION: Thanks to natural gas prices plummeting by half this year, the days of rosy surpluses are past.... for a time, anyway. (CBC)

3. UK CONSIDERS TAXING SOCIALLY USELESS BANKS: In an effort to curb the culture of mega bonuses for executives within their financial sector, the head financial regulator in the UK is publicly contemplating a tax on many of their banks, calling them "socially useless." Hear, hear. Let's hope that kind of moxie is catching. (Guardian)

4. HARPER STACKS SENATE SOME MORE: A couple more Tory faithful are expected to be sent to the senate this week. Remember, Harper's not a hypocrite, he's a realist. (Globe and Mail)

5. WATER SHORTAGES IN IRAQ: The Euphrates is drying up, leaving millions without electricity and drinking water. (Guardian)

6. LIFE IS BETTER WHEN YOU SKIM WHEN YOU READ: There is no reason to read this story from the Guardian, unless education criticisms from the UK's conservative party interest you. I post on it only because the short headline on the Guardian webpage was: "Tories want education divide – Balls" and if that hyphen had been a comma, that'd be the funniest thing I'd read all day. Incidentally, while "Balls" is a pretty unfortunate last name to be saddled with, I once worked with a guy whose last name was "Bagges". His first name was Harold. No fooling. (Guardian)

Free Stuff: Taking Woodstock

Hey Dog Blog fans. Do you like prizes? Well we've got a good one. It's a prize package from the new movie, Taking Woodstock. There will be more chances to win in this week's 'dog, but this prize pack is an exclusive "enter to win" for Dog Blog readers.

The prize:

-A Taking Woodstock screenplay. by James Schamus, foreword by Ang Lee
-Taking Woodstock soundtrack

-Woodstock 40th anniversary 2-disc set (music!)

-And bubbles! Yes I said bubbles!

Sorry no free passes for this one--but you get bubbles!

Just send an e-mail to contests@prairiedogmag.com with "Woodstock" in the subject line by 5 p.m. tommorrow Thursday, Aug. 27th.

You can check out the trailer for the movie through this link. Or, just click on the video below. It's got Demetri Martin in it and it's supposed to be pretty good. Opens Friday.

Bubbles!


8.25.2009

Another Top Six this A.m. from Rosie LaRose

1 CALL OF THE WILD Our family just got back from a week's camping vacation. Let's put it this way: CBC Radio Two is a Godsend. (cbc.ca)

2 WHO’S ON TOP? Public opinion polls seem to be all over the place – some saying the Cons are far ahead of the Liberals, while another suggests that the Cons and Liberals are an a deadlock. (CalgaryGrit) IMHO, it's probably the latter. The mainstream media – especially CTV and Canwest Global – are pretty much in the tank for the Cons because of the carriage fees issue (Google) – if that doesn't go through, those media outlets won't get $300 million extra in cash and an election may upset that applecart. As well, there are two other issues – in Saskatchewan (especially rural Saskatchewan) and Alberta the Cons's popularity has skewered national public opinion polls the same way the Liberals' popularity in Quebec skewered national public opinion polls during the Trudeau years. These recent polls don't factor into the equation the Kenyan refugee screwup, which will implode any Cons support in the 416/905 areas where there are many immigrants. My bet is this … a minority government for Prime Minister Michael Ignatieff, this November, or if he doesn't pull the plug and run an election he's going to be Stephane Dion reincarnated.

3 YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY Still want Saskatchewan to be the next Alberta? (Calgary Herald) Ron Gantefoer does. Or maybe he wants to be the next Devine Comedy (Regina Leader Post)

4 I HEAR THERE WAS SOME BIG CONCERT? I didn't make it to the AC/DC concert at Taylor Field last night. But if Bon Scott (photo of a memorial plaque in his birthplace courtesy Wikipedia) were still alive, I would have gone, and taken another former resident of Kirriemuir, Scotland, with me – my mom. Her father was the blacksmith in town: the Scotts were the bakers. The family, with a little wee Bon, emigrated to western Australia in the mid 1950s: Mom moved to Weyburn to work in the general hospital around the same time. Bon was a bagpiper in a marching band in western Australia in the 1960s: my grandfather – who died about 15 years before I was born – was a noted piper. Of course, mom still thinks J.M. Barrie is still the greatest son of Kirriemuir. But in Bon's and Mom's honour, and thanks to YouTube, I give you four views of, arguably, one of the greatest songs in the history of Rock and Roll – It's A Long Way To the Top (If You Want To Rock and Roll): a promo film done on the streets of Melbourne, Australia in 1976, another take filmed at the same time in Melbourne's City Square (not used), and an appearance on an Aussie TV show in which only blonde girls can dance, apparently. And one more, taken from the bootleg of a concert in Sydney in 1977.

5 HE'S AN AUTHORITY ... He's David Vitter. He's an American Republican Senator from Louisiana. He's a holy rolller. He likes having sex with prostitutes, especially while he's wearing adult diapers. (AlterNet) And he wants to destroy Canada's health care system. I got nothin.' (Scott's DiaTribes).

6 HOCKEY NIGHT IN .... NAHHH About 20 years ago, so one story went, the Montreal Canadiens front office decided to go after the Expos' popularity by badmouthing their operations in the media. They must be doing the same thing today with the Als, because otherwise this story – that the Habs can't use The Big Owe for a New Year's Day game because the Als' season stretches too long and they don't have time to prepare the facility for hockey – seems to have a certain scent of bull. (PuckDaddy)

8.24.2009

Nightwatching

I caught British director Peter Greenaway's film Nightwatching at the RPL Theatre Sunday night. I wouldn't say I'm a fan. But when I was just getting into the arts in the late '80s the Dunlop Gallery held a mini-Greenaway festival. He's a very visual director, and like a painter really knows how to work with colour and composition, and his surreal style really broadened my perception of film.


Nightwatching has a really neat premise. It suggests that when Rembrandt did his famous painting of prominent Amsterdam militia members The Night Watch in 1642, he inserted several visual clues that accused them of murdering a fellow militia member a few months prior to the portrait being painted. Kind of like Emile Zola's J'Accuse in France 250 or so years later, but in the form of a grand painting.

At 134 minutes, I found Nightwatching a bit long. The visuals are certainly stunning. Bone up on your Rembrandt catalogue before you go and you're sure to recognize several famous tableaux as they distill from live-action scenes. Greenaway, through his characters, also does a reasonable job of discussing the symbolism inherent in the style of representational painting that was in fashion then.

The film shouldn't be mistaken for a documentary. It is highly stylized, and in certain sections feels more like a stage play that's been filmed than an actual movie. But there are many graphic reminders of the brutality of life in the 15th century. Not to mention numerous F-bombs -- most dropped courtesy of Rembrandt. Overall, definitely worth a look. Here's the trailer. (YouTube)

There is a bit of nudity, so be warned.

Saturday Night Live

I haven't watched the show in ages, but for those who do, the first guest-host for season 35 (which starts Sept. 26) has been named. (Celebrity & World)

Michael Jackson Death: It Was Murrrderrrr!

The Associated Press says Michael Jackson's coroner has ruled the pop star's death a homcide. Will charges be laid against Michael's injection-happy doctor? Stay tuned for the next dramatic installment of As The Jacko Turns.

Stephen Harper's Conservatives Gain Support: Poll

Good news for the many fans of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party today. The Ottawa Citizen reports that a new Ipsos-Reid poll puts voter support for the Tories firmly in front of the Liberals, NDP and Greens. If an election were held today, the Conservatives, whose support is at 39 per cent, would be flirting with a majority. But all is not lost. If you're one of the one or two Dog Blog readers who hates the Tories' guts because you think they're a bunch of bigots, morons, radical ideologues and religious lunatics who can barely run a caucus let alone a country, there's hope. A smart person I know points out that the Conservatives are benefiting from the annual politics off-season and without the opportunity for Tory MPs to say insane things in public, politics-bored Canadians will be inclined to support the status quo.

Give Ignatieff the floor in the House of Commons and the NDP a shred of charisma to go with their (secretly) populist policy platform, and Harper will slink back under his bridge. Just wait and see.

Then again maybe my smart guy is wrong and we're all dooooooomed.

Blasphemy Blues


After making tremendous strides over the last few decades to escape its divisive religious past, is Ireland poised for a return to the Dark Ages with a silly new law (Guardian) that would impose a 25,000 euro fine on anyone who "publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion"? If so, the keepers of the Blarney Stone better be on guard that it doesn't get put to another use. (YouTube)

Six In The Morning

1 LOVE IS A PRETTY STRONG WORD Local filmmakers are shooting a movie about this town, but the Leader-Post's headline writer apparently didn't read the story. The pertinent line is this quote by organizer Mark Wihak: "This isn't a public relations exercise or an advertisement for the city, it's filmmakers responding to the city they live in." (Leader-Post)

2 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO CIA UNDER BUSH? I'm not holding my breath but I guess the Guardian's writer thinks it's going to happen.

3 PALESTINIAN PARTS FOR PROFIT A Swedish newspaper makes the shattering claim that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs. Israel's finance minister unhelpfully says this is "anti-Semitic blood libel". Well no, actually, it's a claim that there's some heinous organized crime going on. Right thing to do: launch an investigation. Wrong thing to do: give a crazy person rant about "blood libel". (CNN)

4 STICKING TO HIS GUNS Colin Thatcher still says he didn't kill his wife. Thatcher is currently on parole after a jury convicted him of killing his wife. (CBC)

5 FUGITIVE MURDER SUSPECT FOUND DEAD Ryan Jenkins, a former reality-TV person who was accused of killing his ex-wife and packing her dismembered body in a suitcase, has apparently hanged himself in a hotel. Creepy is an understatement. (Globe And Mail)

6 GOD THINKS LOVE IS GOOD AND SO DO LUTHERANS Hey, how about we end on a happy note: American churches open the door to married/partnered gay clergy. (New York Times) Lutherans, Dog Blog salutes you.

8.23.2009

Really Great Band Posters

For reasons of a cover-art situation I spent some time this afternoon Googling "gig posters" and similar search terms. Along the way I found this post about great concert posters on a website for photoshop users. The band posters they've got up are all gorgeous in that arty, decadent and maybe a little vapid way Whitworth-pleasing posters are. Those of you into pictures, drawrings and rockaroll should check these out. And if you're in a band...something to aspire to!

8.22.2009

Inglourious Basterds Is A Hoot


Saw it. Loved it. The film has problems and will definitely not be to everyone's taste. But if you liked the first trailer, you should like the movie. It's the same--witty, crude, offensive and schlocky--but longer and gorier. Truth in advertising for the win.

Speaking of long, I think it's something like two and a half hours. I could've handled four. And I think everyone I saw Inglorious Basterds with felt the same. The consensus complaint was, "I wanted more Nazi killin'!"

One friend said this will be a great movie to watch in a living room with copious amounts of beer. Yup.

Far from a great film but a blast to watch with pals on a Friday night. We'll have a full review by Jorge in next Thursday's paper.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Way back in 1992, a bunch of comic book artists got together to form their own comic company called Image Comics. It was going to be free of the corporate greed and control that plagued the Big Two (Marvel & DC). They were going to create their own "original" super-heroes. Like former X-Men artist Jim Lee. He created a new super-hero team called WildC.A.T.S. (covert action team). Instead of drawing everybody's favorite X-men character Wolverine, who has claws in his hands, Lee created an entirely new super-hero. Warblade - who had claws for hands. Ah, the originality.

Being the early 1990's, the market was full of speculators out to make a quick buck and the company quickly became as big as - well - the Big Two. And natural they all tried to cash in as much as possible, thus in 1994 WildC.A.T.S. became an animated Saturday morning cartoon on CBS. It only lasted 13 episodes. Recently somebody lent me the complete series on DVD and I have to say it has the worst (best?) theme song ever written for a cartoon.

Remember - they're heroes, not zeroes.

8.21.2009

Friday Afternoon Kitty: Do Not Watch This If You Are High Special Edition

No, I haven't forgotten the Friday Afternoon Kitty. Actually I had something else I was going to post, but Friend Of Dog Blog Dakota says I should put this up. "It's three minutes long but totally worth it," he says.

One warning, since we've been posting about drugs all day: whatever you do, do NOT watch this video while smoking pot. Because while it's kind of amusing straight, it would be LETHALLY HILARIOUS to watch stoned.

So DO NOT walk away from your computer right now, roll a fat one, and come back and puff away to this reel of dumb-cat comedy, eight or nine times in a row. That WOULD NOT BE SAFE. You might LAUGH YOURSELF INTO A COMA.

I care about the well being of Dog Blog readers. I don't want you hurt because something was too funny when you were stoned.


This Week In Cocaine

Speaking of drugs, there have been a couple other interesting stories this week that we haven't blogged about.

ON MONDAY, there were media reports all over the place whooping about a discovery by the American Chemical Society that paper money in up to 90 per cent of big U.S. cities is contaminated with cocaine.

The claim sounds like an urban legend but apparently it's true. But what does it mean?

On the New Scientist magazine blog Short Sharp Science, reporter Ewen Callaway points out that coked-up bills didn't neccessarily get that way by being rolled into snort tubes. For example, the bills could have easily picked up traces of coke just from spending time in an ATM with other bills that had come into contact with the illegal narcotic.

The important thing is, New Yorkers don't have to worry about most of the bills in their wallets having been inserted into someone's gross nostril quite yet.

THEN, ON WEDNESDAY, the Guardian had a great article about a cocaine "bar" in Bolivia. It's not legal but apparently all the right officials have been properly bribed so it seems to be flourishing. I recommend the article--in addition to being a good piece about a crazy place, there's a good bit of ranting about the war on drugs. Check it out; it'll help you kill 10 minutes of your pre-weekend work afternoon.

Mexico Legalizes Drugs


It's a start anyway. Hopefully, the new law (RantRave) passed by Mexico legalizing small amounts of drugs for personal use will prompt Canada and the U.S. to rethink their draconian policies. Like Prohibition in the 20s, where the manufacture and sale of alcohol was outlawed, the so-called War on Drugs has been a dismal failure. Use does not automatically translate into abuse, especially with softer drugs. Government regulation is the answer. Do that, and suddenly a whole bunch of problems from police corruption to drug cartel violence to petty charges against otherwise law-abiding citizens disappear.

Ding Dong, the SPP is Dead

The Council of Canadians is announcing that the Security and Prosperity Partnership is no longer an active initiative. (Analysis of this development on the rabble.ca website here.)

Looks like a big win for campaigners protesting the much maligned "NAFTA Plus" project. And considering this could never have happened under the U.S. administration in place a year ago, it's also a refreshing sign that the new boss is not the same as the old boss.

Rider Rumbling


Miracles can happen, I suppose, but the odds of the 4-3 Riders emerging victorious in their game against the 6-1 Alouettes in Montreal tonight have to be considered long. While the Riders have shown flashes of brilliance, they've been plagued by inconsistency. They're tied for the lead in turnovers forced with Montreal, for example, with 27, but whereas Montreal has only turned the ball over 12 times, the Riders have done so a whopping 26 times. Another worry is the Riders' tendancy to implode in the third quarter of games, where they've been outscored something like 71-6. In their July 18 game against Montreal at Mosaic Stadium, the Riders trailed 14-8 at half-time, and ultimately ended up losing 43-10. If the Riders can find a way to run the ball and sustain some drives, keeping Anthony Calvillo and the potent Montreal offense off the field, they might have a chance. But considering that the forecast calls for it to be hot and humid in Montreal tonight, and the fact that the Riders rarely play well there, it seems a pretty safe bet that the Riders will head into the bye week at .500.

Six In The Morning

1 RATS! Swift Current is under attack by rats. Hordes of rats. People, this is why we need more snakes. Snakes kick rat ass. Well they can't actually kick because they don't have legs but you get the idea. (Leader-Post)

2 IRAN'S GOVERNMENT SUCKS SLIGHTLY LESS THAN USUAL Country behaves like a good global neighbour by letting nuclear inspectors in. (The Guardian)

3 ABANDONED CANADIAN SUES CANADA She's a Canadian citizen who was marooned in Kenya and jailed for a week and, and this is the key problem, our government sat on its hands. Here's rooting for a big settlement. (Toronto Star)

4 BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T BEEN BAD ENOUGH ALREADY The Conservatives want a majority government. Good luck with that. (Globe And Mail)

5 A PLACE TO FIT IN Founded five years ago in Edmonton, a four-day summer camp for teenage gays, lesbians and transexuals is setting up in Saskatoon. Good stuff. Sexual identity doesn't start when you get to college and high school is enough of a nightmare when you're straight so it's definitely a step in a civilized direction to have something like this for queer teens. (StarPhoenix)

6 OBAMA IS FAILING Support for the U.S. president is dropping. Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because Barack Obama is starting to look like an out-of-touch, spineless coward more concerned about pleasing his (insane) political enemies than working for his supporters? (Washington Post) Like seriously, Sarah Palin actually says he's plotting to set up "death panels" for disabled children and he doesn't rip the crazy, lying bitch a new asshole and point out that's actually the way it works now? (Salon) Radical anarchists show up at his public events armed to the teeth and he doesn't shit-can their asses to Guantanamo? (YouTube) What a sissy douche Obama is becoming. Of course sane Americans are disappointed.

8.20.2009

Alberta Flu Doctors Want $500/Hour

Here's something to chew on while you're ruminating on the Canadian Medical Association's plan to push governments on private-sector solutions to health care problems (Star Phoenix). The Alberta Medical Association wants its flu doctors to earn $500/hour. From a canoe.com article:

The Province and the Alberta Medical Association are now trying to hammer out a deal on compensation for doctors who'd volunteer in the case of a renewed and widespread swine flu (H1N1) pandemic here, said Alberta Health spokesman John Tuckwell, who insisted the proposed pay scale is still "premature."

In a letter to doctors, the association lists a series of rates that could be paid if the province was scrambling to deal with a major flu outbreak this fall. The top rate quoted for doctors who volunteer to be part of the flu-fighting team would be $518.45 an hour.

Full article here.

I am reluctant to question the motives of Canada's valued doctors. When they say they want to reform Canada's health care system by lobbying for more private sector delivery, I'm not going to immediately call them a pack of greedy, manipulative jackels using a manufactured health care crisis to extort higher profits from Canada's publicly-funded system.

No, I'll respectfully listen to what they have to say.

But $500/hour? That's insane. Tons of Canadians working full time barely make $500 a week. And I sincerely doubt there are many "volunteers" making that kind of coin. (Do Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan even earn that kind of money?)

I know there's a strong culture of compassion for patients among Canada's doctors. And I know a lot of doctors support Canada's public system and are concerned about some of the directions suggested for it (Doctors for Medicare).

I'm just worried there's also a growing culture of "I want my second yacht".

Six In The Morning

PRIVATE PRESCRIPTIONS Doctors at the Canadian Medical Association conference call for private competion in health system and a ban on antibacterial soaps (Globe And Mail). The conference wrapped up yesterday in Saskatoon.

SASK HIV RATES SKYROCKETING AMONG FIRST NATIONS Not a new story (this was reported on extensively a few months back) but still critically important. (CJME)

AFGHANISTAN ELECTION COUNT BEGINS Votes are being counted. (Guardian)

ANONYMOUS SMEARERS, BEWARE A maligned model forces Google to reveal the identity of the blogger who cyber-bashed her. (Globe And Mail)

ALIENS? OR JUST SOME ASS-HAT? A mutilated cow found on a farm north of Saskatoon might not be the victim of animal predators. (CBC)

HEADLINE OF THE DAY! "Flight to Ottawa delayed by drunken fracas". (CBC)

8.19.2009

Library Open House

Stephen Whitworth and I dropped by Central Library this afternoon to see where things were at with the proposed expansion of the downtown branch. James Youck from P3 Architecture was there, and based on a number of principles that had been developed in visioning sessions, his firm had produced several drawings exploring different options for how the project might proceed. These were strictly blue-sky, so a lot of things are still up in the air. But here's a few points.

  • P3 is looking at infill on the entire block where the library currently sits ie the empty lot west of Knox Met, the parking lot south of the Masonic Temple, and the pocket park west of the library. No negotiations have taken place to acquire the properties, but it seems likely that the expanded facility will occupy more than just the existing library lot.
  • Harvard Developments is in charge of finding possible public and private partners to become part of a new complex. Youck said Harvard had received favourable responses from a number of parties, but that no committments had yet been made. Retail stores, a condo tower and rental housing are some of the possibilities being explored, but integral to any mixed use complex that might emerge is the idea of it being a cultural hub.
  • most of the drawings incorporated the existing library, but in conversation Youck said that it was still possible that it could be demolished and an entirely new library built. One person at the open house proposed building a condo tower on the site, then using the revenue garnered from the sale of a prime piece of real estate overlooking Victoria Park to build a new library elsewhere. But I think there's a firm commitment that the library will remain at its current site.
  • for people paranoid about parking in the downtown, Youck said that if a large-scale complex was built, underground parking could be incorporated.
  • with a municipal election scheduled for Oct. 28, it's likely that nothing much will happen until after a new mayor and council are in place, but further opportunities for public input will occur down the road once more details are fleshed out.

U.S. Congressman Destroys Health Care Critic



Barney Frank for the win. Finally a politician acknowledges you can't argue with crazy people. Here's a short news piece on this exchange, which happened yesterday in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

For Those About to Rock







Going on over the lunch hour is an Angus Young air guitar contest where people have the opportunity to win tix to the sold-out AC/DC show next Monday, along with a number of consolation prizes, including an electric guitar and AC/DC memorabilia. The contest, which was sponsored by Regina Downtown and Jack FM, had originally been scheduled for Victoria Park, but it got moved to Tower II on the Scarth St. Mall because of inclement weather. Here's hoping conditions improve by Monday (YouTube). The top photo, by the way, features judge Michael Huber of Regina Downtown showing contestants how it's done.

Child Stands On Wing Of Flying Plane

Why, why, why is the phrase "child endangerment" not in this story? (Leader-Post/AFP)

Tiger Brewer, aiming to be the world's youngest wing walker, stood on top of his grandfather's plane as it climbed to an altitude of 1,000 feet (300 metres) during the stunt at an airfield near Cirencester in southwest England.

The name of the dad is pretty good though. (Thanks to Alex Whyte for the link.)

Six in the Morning

1. PR COMPANY EVIL Old but relevant story I just stumbled upon: Think Progress has outed the Coalition to Protect Patient Rights, as a complete sham. The American group, which is advocating against healthcare reform was created, surprise surprise, by PR company the DCI Group. As Desmog Blog is pointing out today, DCI Group is notorious for protecting tobacco companies and attacking climate science. (Think Progress, Desmog Blog)

2. NOT SHOCKING Taser International is filing a lawsuit against the Braidwood Inquiry findings. (rabble.ca)

3. POTTY MOUTHED PMO In advance of PM Harper's trip to the Arctic, the PMO sent out a press release in which it repeatedly misspelled "Iqaluit" with an extra "u". The extra vowel makes a big difference as "Iqualuit" means "a person with an unwiped bum". Ha! Ha! He said "Iqualuit". (Globe and Mail)

4. A LITTLE LATE FOR AN APOLOGY A campaign in the UK is calling for the British government to apologize to Alan Turing. Turing was a genius computer scientist and mathematician. He was also gay. And he was prosecuted by the British government for being gay then chemically castrated to cure his gayness. As a result, Turing committed suicide in 1954. (Manchester Evening News, Pharyngula)

5. FOOD SPECULATORS IMPERIL MILLIONS The head of the International Food Policy Research Institute is saying that speculation in the world food market leads to malnutrition and starvation worldwide. (Guardian)

6. SO WRONG, IN SO MANY WAYS They're casting children to appear in a live-action film version of the Smurfs. (Cinema Blend)

8.18.2009

Regina's New Sunday Bus Schedule Is A Disaster


Last spring Regina Transit, in response to a petition requesting expanded service on Sundays (when buses typically run hourly from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.) and stat holidays (when there's no service at all) to make it easier for transit users to do stuff like go to work/church and attend special holiday events, announced plans to extend service on Sundays (no mention was made of holidays) so that buses ran from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. At the same time it announced a fare increase (adult jumped from $2.10 a ride to $2.25).

The fare hike was instituted Aug. 1. Today, our office received a fax from Regina Transit announcing its intention to begin expanded Sunday service on Aug. 30. Oh good, I thought. But then I read this:

In order to better serve riders' needs and provide extended hours without significant budget impact, service was redesigned resulting in removal of service from limited areas of the city. Sunday service will operate on 11 routes. Only three of those routes will be the same as on weekdays. The Sunday routes were designed to provide service to as many of the religious buildings, shopping areas and activity centres as possible. This means walk distances to the bus stop may be longer in some instances. Where changes to routes have been made, bus stops will also indicate whether there will be no Sunday service at a particular stop and some new signs will be installed for Sunday service only.

What it boils down to is that instead of 18 routes, there will be 11. They'll have different names than existing routes, and their own numbering system (901 through 912). And the bus routes themselves, except for three, will all be different--sometimes radically so -- from the routes people ordinarily ride Monday-Saturday.

Uh yeah, right. I cycle for transportation as much as I can, but for a good four months of the year I rely heavily on Regina Transit for getting around, and I wholeheartedly support it as a service vital to any notion of Regina being a modern and progressive city. And this is a pathetic joke. Way to make transit use safer, more convenient and user-friendly. Yes granny, we'll give you Sunday service. Only thing is, you may have to walk a bit further to catch your bus. Yeah, it's icy in the winter. And cold too. And it gets dark early. And buses only run once an hour. So make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to make it to the stop (heh-heh).

I don't blame Regina Transit. That phrase in the first sentence "without significant budget impact" says it all. Regina Transit doesn't control its own purse strings. It works with the money it has.

I can't wait to see what the petition organizers will have to say about this.

More On That Jerk With The Rifle At The Obama Rally

Turns out his show of force was planned in advance--police had been notified and the "journalist" who interviewed him is apparently a friend and fellow libertarian wackjob. Here's the story on Talking Points Memo.

So, instead of this being a spontaneous event where a lone asshole shows up with a gun to intimidate people who disagree with him it's an organized, calculated show of force by an organized group of armed right-wingers and fringe media creeps. Phew! A group of heavily-armed, self-absorbed egomaniacs with axes to grind and a following is so much better than one loon with a machine gun. I feel so much better about America's prospects for the future now.

The gunman's name is supposedly "Chris B.". In the interview he attacks the public option in health care by saying, and I quote, ""We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote." (I wonder how he feels about gay marriage.)

Naturally, this guy also says taxation is theft--one of my favourite psycho anarchist right-wing talking points.

Here's the charming little video where he says many pleasant things.





Of course this is all insane garbage. No one is talking about taking his "right" to private healthcare insurance away. But most Americans want a public system. They voted for it. They should get it.

These gun-toting maniacs really need their own country. Ideally on Mars. In the meantime, where, exactly, is the FBI? Yeah, yeah I know, probably spying on some neighbourhood anti-poverty organization somewhere. Snort.

Here's the Guardian's take on the whole thing, by the way.

Library Development Drop-In Session Tomorrow

Here's the skinny on the library dealie:

The RPL will host a "Central Library development drop-in session" tomorrow. According to my information, the RPL will "share our progress to date on the Central Library Development and discuss the ideas that will create this new Regina landmark."

The drop-in will occur at the Central Library branch in downtown Regina and be located on the second floor in an easy-to-spot locale. According to the person I spoke with, the drop-in will be operational during library hours. I recommend going between one and five if you can, since those were the times I first heard so that's probably when they will be serving delicious confections. (I am speculating on this detail. I do not have confirmation that there will be confections.)

Sounds like something people should be following. You should go if you can.

See you tomorrow perhaps!

Obama Joker Artist Interviewed


The scoundrel behind that portrait of Obama as the Joker has been found--and he's not the conservative you'd think he is. From the Los Angeles Times:

When cryptic posters portraying President Obama as the Joker from "Batman" began popping up around Los Angeles and other cities, the question many asked was, Who is behind the image? Was it an ultra-conservative grassroots group or a disgruntled street artist going against the grain? Nope, it turns out, just a 20-year-old college student from Chicago. Bored during his winter school break, Firas Alkhateeb, a senior history major at the University of Illinois, crafted the picture of Obama with the recognizable clown makeup using Adobe's Photoshop software. Alkhateeb had been tinkering with the program to improve the looks of photos he had taken on his clunky Kodak camera. The Joker project was his grandest undertaking yet. Using a tutorial he'd found online about how to "Jokerize" portraits, he downloaded the October 23 Time Magazine cover of Obama and began digitally painting over it. Four or five hours later, he happily had his product.

Full, very interesting story here.

The pictures, of course, have been used by right-wingnuts to attack Obama as a socialist. The artist's critism of the President, however, is that there "wasn't much substance to him".
As for the Conservative red-baiting? "To accuse him of being a socialist is really ... immature," Alkhateeb tells the Los Angeles Times. "First of all, who said being a socialist is evil?"



RPL Open House

I posted something on this last week, then e-mailed the RPL for confirmation and never heard back from them. Received an e-mail from another source today saying that there will be a drop-in open house Wednesday Aug. 19 from 1-5 p.m. at Central Library to discuss progress that's been made on plans for an expanded downtown library. The announcement is framed in terms of an invite to Regina Public Library Stakeholders. I assume that means everyone, but these days it's hard to be sure, as some people/organizations apparently hold bigger stakes in public facilities and policy issues than others. Why else would they receive direct invitations, while others, like prairie dog, only learn of things through word of mouth?


UPDATE FROM WHITWORTH, 2:20 P.M. : I have a call out to the Library and will report back on what this thing is before the end of the day. Is it innocent? Is it sinister? We'll soon find out!

WHITWORTH UPDATE: 2:24 P.M. Amazing what can be cleared up with a phone call. There's no conspiracy, it's an open-to-the-public drop-in. I am told we were definitely sent a media notice (which I can't find). I'll post more details when I have them officially, which will be later this afternoon.

Six In The Morning

1 PLANE DOWN, TWO DEAD A flight instructor and his student are dead after a crash near Saskatoon. (Leader-Post)

2 HEALTHCARE FOR EVERY AMERICAN IS UN-AMERICAN Hillary and Bill couldn't get it done and now Obama's floundering in their footsteps. The White House is taking about being open to other ideas--much to the delight, I'm sure, of paramilitary lunatics, traitor Democrats, the entire Republican Party and Fox News bullies. Oh, and the special-interest for-profit medical system. But if you skip the headlines and read the actual stories, it ain't over yet. Washington Post)

3 TRASH TROUBLE Regina's dumpster situation is dire. (CBC)

4 AFGHANISTAN'S DUBIOUS DEMOCRACY Corruption, threats and bombs, bombs, bombs rattle nerves leading up to elections. (Guardian)

5 THE WAR ON AGING Researchers are fiddling with drugs that may extend lifespan. I don't think our planet could handle us sticking around any longer than we do but that's a problem for another day. (New York Times)

6 CONSTITUTION SAYS EXECUTING INNOCENT PEOPLE OKAY: AMERICAN SUPREME COURT JUDGE Yeesh. (firedoglake) Oh, and speaking of dick judges... double yeesh. (Telegraph) Judges only work 9-5 but state-sponsored murder is okay anytime I guess.

8.17.2009

Man Shows Up At Obama Rally With Assault Rifle





















photo swiped from Daily Kos.

Holy crap. From Talking Points Memo:

About 12 people were carrying guns, including at least one semi-automatic assault rifle, outside a building where President Obama was speaking today. No one was arrested outside the VFW National Convention in Phoenix, according to the Associated Press, where hundreds of people demonstrated both for and against health care reform. There are no reports that the 12 were part of an organized group. The man spotted carrying the assault rifle and a pistol, who gave his name only as "Chris", was asked why he was armed. "Because I can do it," he said. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms."

So was the scary gun guy arrested by Homeland Security? Ha ha ha, of course not.

Two police officers kept close by. Carrying guns, including the AR-15 assault rifle, is legal under Arizona law. "If we need to intervene, we will intervene at that time," said Detective J. Oliver.

Full article here. (TPM)

Two points of my own.

One: what would've happened to any anti-war activist who showed up at a Bush or Cheney event with a weapon like that a year ago? Exactly. (Thanks Blaine.) Funny how America has different standards for peaceful liberal protestors than it does for armed conservatives. Where is this "liberal bias in the media" the Fox News pundits are always wailing about, again? This guy isn't even in a free speech cage.

Two: This man is clearly threatening political violence. He's intimidating health care supporters with the implicit promise of mass murder should they not back down.

Meet the face (well, the back of the head) of the anti-healthcare movement. They're fucking brownshirts, but better armed than those Nazis ever dreamed of. Next step: smashing windows, beating and killing political opponents, assassinating politicians, riots, misery etc. Welcome to real, honest to god fascism, America. At least it's not a white-only party.

The politicians always say you aren't supposed to negotiate with terrorists? Well, so be it, I say. This thug is a terrorist. He can't get his way through peaceful conversation. He can't get his way through democracy because his views (which I promise you are insane) don't have majority support.

He can only get his way if he frightens people into silence with his (legal!!!) assault rifle.

Most Americans want public health care (CBS.) The Democrats have to stop trying to build consensus with Republican saboteurs, they have to stop trying to appease the lunatics and they have to force this thing through. It's what Americans want. If the conservative lunatic fringe explodes into violence, I'm sorry but, well...they're going to anyway, sooner or later. Right? Deal with it now.

You can't stop working for a better world because the nuts have guns and are holding everyone hostage. Health care now, America.