Yeah, Right

If Sarah Palin's new biography was called Going Commando I might have considered buying it, or at least requesting a review copy from the publisher, but alas it isn't. Here's some analysis on how things have gone for her so far on her book tour through the U.S. Midwest. (YouTube)

This Week At City Hall

Monday, November 23
City Council (5:30 pm): Hot on the heels of the Rider's big finals win, Chris Szarka will be making his first appearance as a city councillor tonight. As will John Findura who didn't play in yesterday's game, but who was out for the recreation infrastructure funding announcement two weeks ago, so I got to shake his hand and chat with him a bit and he seems a nice guy, so you should come out to council to see him too.


Aaaaanyway, big items on tonight's agenda include rec infrastructure funding, an airport tax exemption bylaw, and the city manager's contract. That last item -- which includes an approximately $49,000 raise for city manager Glen Davies -- might raise some eyebrows. (L-P has it covered here.) Be interesting to see how discussion develops.

The complete agenda can be downloaded on the city's website.

Six in the Morning

1. STOLEN EMAILS POINT TO CLIMATE CHANGE CONSPIRACY???!?!? A big controversy erupted over the weekend when it was revealed on Friday that climate change deniers had come into possession of some emails between climate scientists -- 6MBs worth. They date back to the mid nineties and the climate liar crowd -- the Friends of Science (who are no friends to science) and their friends -- are crowing that this is smoking-gun proof that there's a conspiracy to suppress science that contradicts the consensus view that the globe is warming, people are the cause and the consequences could be very serious.

Problem is, there is no such smoking-gun proof in all 16 years worth of email. Worst they were able to come up with is scientists maybe being a little insensitive upon the death of a prominent climate change liar and one off-hand reference to a data-handling method as a "trick." Beyond that, nada.

For coverage on this check out Desmog Blog here and here, Deltoid here and here, and a nice satirical take on it here.

2. WHO CARES IF CANADA DAWDLES ON CLIMATE CHANGE? Well, Canadians, for one. (Globe and Mail)

3. HARPER RESPONDS TO TORTURE CHARGES WITH BULLYING: Last week, a respected Canadian diplomat, Richard Colvin, told a House of Commons committee that senior government officials were aware of the fact that Afgani prisoners were being tortured avter being turned over to local authorities by Canadian forces. He claims even people in the PM's office knew about the charges. He's a pretty reliable source and as a consequence the ruling Conservatives have responded by trying to smear his reputation. Rick Salutin calls this Canada's Abu Ghraib scandal. (rabble.ca)

4. DION'S WIFE TELLS IT LIKE IT IS? Mrs Dion posted a scathing message to Facebook (and cc'ed the Globe and Mail) saying that the Liberal party is falling apart and won't recover. (Globe and Mail)

5. WHEAT BOARD LEAK: Apparently the Canadian Wheat Board shared personal information about grain farmers with companies that buy and handle grain. (Globe and Mail)

6. PEOPLE ACTUALLY PAID MONEY TO WATCH THIS??? Apparently, the latest New Moon pictured shattered some box office records over the weekend. (Rotten Tomatoes)

B.C. Backlash

Big night in Vancouver tonight as the province's artistic community assembles to protest the recent 92 per cent cut in funding imposed on the arts by the Campbell government. Yeah, you read that right. Ninety-two per cent. (Globe & Mail)

Pick of the Day: Mind the Gap!

I wrestled a bit with the piece I wrote on Mind the Gap! for the Nov. 5 issue of prairie dog. When I dropped by the Dunlop's main gallery the week previous, I had every intention of doing a more conventional review that would recount how the curators Amanda Cachia and Jeff Nye had travelled the highways and bi-ways of Saskatchewan in search of talented young artists, talk a bit about their purpose in doing so (to dispel the notion of Saskatchewan as a cultural wasteland where nothing much happens), then briefly discuss the work of a couple or three artists in the show.

I took a quick look at the exhibition, then fell into conversation with the gallery facilitator. I was born and raised in Saskatchewan. Unlike thousands of my contemporaries who fucked off once they were done university, I never bailed on the province. Instead, I stuck it out through thick and thin. There are things I like about Saskatchewan, obviously. I wouldn't have stayed here otherwise. But there are plenty of things that drive me nuts. The facilitator and I talked about how it was an interesting moment in Saskatchewan's history. Until Rod Gantefoer's Nov. 19 budget update anyway, and its projected $1 billion shortfall, the province had been on the economic upswing. No longer was it a poor sister of Confederation. But at the same time, over the last 20 years or so, there had been a definite shift to the right in political thinking with a subsequent hardening of attitudes on a host of important issues like the environment, crime, human rights, urban sustainability, poverty and the social safety net. Judging by the poor quality of our political representation in Ottawa, and in many sectors of provincial and municipal politics, we are definitely out of step with progressive thinkers in the rest of the world.
During our conversation, the facilitator and I talked about how, while the province may have no longer been an economic backwater, it still had a long way to go before it shed its reputation as a gap province. Really, what did Mind the Gap! prove? That there's good art being made in the province. I've been writing on art for 20 years now, that's not exactly a newsflash for me. I also know that the bulk of the cultural activity that occurs here is due primarily to the hard work and dedication of artists and other workers in the cultural sector who toil for peanuts to subsidize "the arts". Not only that, time and time again we've had to fight like hell to preserve what little cultural life we actually have here: remember the struggle the MacKenzie Gallery had in the late '80s to move to a modern facility with proper environmental controls where the art wouldn't rot on the walls; or when Queer City Cinema came under attack by the provincial Conservatives in 2000 for promoting "porn"; or when the RPL Board voted to close the Dunlop Gallery in 2003 to save money; or the over 15 year struggle to win approval for Status of the Artist legislation and improved funding for the Saskatchewan Arts Board to reflect the growing importance of the arts to the province; or the campaign late Conservative MP Dave Batters (Palliser) waged in 2007 to censor Canadian films by denying tax credits to films deemed non-family friendly?
I could go on. In fact, the day before our Nov. 5 issue hit the streets, Saskatoon-Humboldt MP Brad Trost made headlines with a petition in the House of Commons to revoke funding for the international chapter of Planned Parenthood on the grounds that it supports the right of women to make choices about their reproductive health. Check out Stephen Whitworth's editorial in our Nov. 19 issue for his thoughts on that travesty.
As I noted in the article I did write on Mind the Gap! survey shows like this do not lend themselves to a conventional review. Thirty artists, maybe six or seven different media, no unifying theme or subject. Instead of just doing a lame-o Leader-Post type recap I elected to question its basic premise. To a certain extent, I agree Saskatchewan does get a bad rap in Canada. But in many ways our reputation as a gap province is richly deserved. Having had the pleasure of writing for prairie dog for over ten years now, and knowing firsthand the struggles we've had to endure over that time simply to survive as an independent media outlet in what essentially is a small town where the modus operendi for success is: to get along, you go along, and if you don't, you're dismissed and demeaned; I stand by what I wrote.

As a survey show, I have nothing against Mind the Gap! It offers a useful introduction to the work of many young artists who I'm sure we'll hearing much more from in the future (pictured above, by the way, is an image from a dream-like video by Amalie Atkins). So by all means, check it out. It runs at the Central and Sherwood Village galleries until Jan. 3.