Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hooray for Wal-Mart! And Exclamation Marks - Week 82 - Nov 19-26

Let's start the week by revisiting the 1%.  The Wal-Mart heirs - 6 people - have the equivalent wealth of the bottom 41% of America - Roughly 49 Million Households!  As well, somebody has compiled an interesting theorem.  Wal-Mart is essentially subsidized to the tune of 2.7 Billion per year due to government support of its ill-paid workers.

Here's a fantastic article about Gary Bettman.  It contains this fantastic analogy - Imagine your neighbor knocking down his house, then rebuilding it from scratch as his family lived in a hotel. You had to listen to the construction guys hammering, sawing and banging for a solid year. Finally the house goes up, the family moves back in … and seven years later, suddenly they're knocking the house down again. You ask the neighbor what happened and he says, "Yeah, sorry about that — we screwed up when we rebuilt the house, had too many flaws, we needed to do it over again."  Fantastic

An interesting defence has been raised by the Conservatives over robo-calls.  They're now claiming that everything is fine because there's no direct evidence that anybody was actually deceived by their misleading calls.  Goodness.  Basically "You can't prove that we did something.  But even if we did do it...it didn't really work, so there's no problem here."

And, just to prove that they aren't one trick election fraud ponies, a bunch of people in Quebec have shown up on the Conservative donors list.  The problem?  They claim then never made a donation.  And, I love this...to defend themselves, the Conservatives have produced cheques from some of the individuals who claim they didn't donate.  Except, the values of the cheques they've produced don't necessarily correspond with the values claimed!

Doesn't this whole system seem a little arbitrary?  So, a person deemed not responsible for a murder based on reasons of mental defect has their case analyzed once per year to see if they are healthy enough to be released.  That will now become once every three years...Why is there a timeline on this in the first place?  Shouldn't this be based on whether or not a person is "cured" and the opinion of medically trained individuals?  I know it sounds a bit crazy when you say something like "these people stand a chance of getting out every year."  But another way to look at it, maybe, is "once a year we take a look at their case to see if they've made enough progress to be released."  It feels like locking mentally ill killers up for longer is a cheap target.

Ummm...Call me crazy, but I don't exactly see anything terribly wrong with what David McGuinty says here about MP's "Going Back to Alberta".  Okay, for a backbench MP, yes, they do represent their riding and should be able to take a regional point of view.  But the government as a whole is supposed to represent the country, right?  Is it not reasonable to question the government on whether or not it has the entire countries interests in mind?

The Conservative candidate the Calgary center by-election skipped out on a debate.  This prompted a pretty amazing comment from the NDP candidate in the riding - "We don’t see them between elections. In fact, we don’t even see them during elections either".  Sadly, only 200 people were there to hear it.

What exactly does this bozo Brazeau do and how did he get appointed to the Senate?  It looks like he may falsely be claiming a Senate housing allowance.

This would only be better if it had been Bain Capital that had done the buyout.  It looks like Hostess had been subject to a past Romneyesque takeover that resulted in huge amounts of debt that ate away at profits.  The unions already rolled their salaries back once, several years ago.  One guys wages had gone from 48,000 per year, down to $34,000 and under the new proposal would be $25,000.  Yikes.  The executives?  Yep.  Bonuses and pay raises.

Justin Trudeau thinks that we should let China buy our companies because the USA is dieing and trade with Asia is our salvation.  Oh brother.  That's okay though.  Once the Chinese FIPA is in place, we probably won't even be able to decide this on our own.

This article says - Federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq (I think I may have spelled this wrong) says she is compelled by law — specifically, Canada’s Food and Drugs Act — not to withhold approval for a drug that is otherwise considered safe and effective for its intended use.  There are just so many holes in this argument.  First up, the only thing that we need to consider when approving drugs is whether or not it is safe for its intended use?  Even if there's drugs out there that do the same thing with a lower chance of addiction, we still have to approve it because it's "safe for its intended use"?  And what about marijuana then?  It could probably be argued that marijuana would be safe for a whole number of medical uses.  Why has it been a crazy political shitstorm to make any sort of progress with medical marijuana if the government is so against politicizing drug approval?

Sigh.  This is a story about how the average global temperature - i.e. the temperature of the entire planet, taken as a whole - has been higher than average for the last 332 months.  I will admit that there is some information missing here and it's not particularly well written.  What exactly is the average temperature that we're comparing this too?  Over what time period was that taken? (of course, you could click through the link and see that the temperatures have been taken since 1880)  But read through the comments and you realize what sort of battle we're up against.  There's one guy saying that of course it's rising, it always rises between ice ages.  And another guy that points out that Australia has experienced many cooler than average months so this is bogus.  Hey fuckface!  He didn't say that every point on the entire planet experienced higher than average temperatures!  He said that the earth as a whole did!  Anyhow.  There's numerous excuses for ignoring science, I guess.

Here's a good round-up of US Election stories from Slate.

Did Vic Toews actually do something productive and not step in it for once?

Time to go out and buy!  It only takes 42% of your pre-tax income to own that house of your dreams.  Bargain!

Why won't Harper attend a Premiere's meeting?

Monday, November 19, 2012

All Over the Place - Week 81 - Nov 12-19

I've been feeling a strange feeling the last few weeks.  And this isn't just a problem with Stephen Harper.  Why are we continually talking about the lack of money?  Sure, there was a recession.  But there were years of boom times when we should have built up a nest egg.  Why do we have crumbling infrastructure?  Why are people ending up dead because we have no mental health services?  Why is it just kind of accepted that things are worse than they used to be?  From service on airlines to general corporate culture, it seems like it is a given that there isn't enough money to properly do a job and that's just the way it needs to be because we need to save money.  What the fuck are we saving our money for?  To pay for shit that's worse?  And...kind of related, but not really...why do we accept a strange story about two girls in Thailand ingesting DEET and dieing, and then just stop talking about it?  What is our government doing to get some answers on this?  Why is a bullshit story just accepted?  What the fuck do we have a government for if they can't even ask a few questions about why two citizens are dead?

Hmmmmmmm...The Conservatives aren't polling too well in the lead up to the Calgary Centre by-election.  If they can't win this seat...holy shit.

This is my favourite article so far about the US election.  And it comes from a hockey blog.  Anyhow, it details the meltdown of Romney's Project Orca.  And it includes:
- A Canucks playoff meltdown reference
- A Tim Thomas the Tea Partier reference
- A Kevin Smith "gretzky" reference
It's pretty awesome.

Don't worry everybody.  Real Estate is going to be fine.  Record debt loads growing at an even faster rate?  No problem.

Holy Fuck!  This newspaper is psychotic!  First up, a story about racism rising in Greece results in crazed racist lunacy in the comments section.  And this article about "support for unrestricted abortion"...my goodness.  It's like a pro-life reunion in the comments section.  I love the new term though.  "Unrestricted Abortion".  Like doctors are just going to drive around, randomly aborting things.

I like this.  Stephen Harper suggests that, wow, just in time for the next election, the budget will be balanced...probably until right after the next election.

This article...oh man...this article.  So it talks about how Thomas Mulcair is a crazy communist for suggesting that Canadian oil be processed in Canada.  And then it talks about how we'd be better off shipping our oil outside of the country for world market rate.  And that we'd be better off bringing gasoline in from China and India because it's much cheaper.  Which...I don't know.  Seems a bit contradictory to me.  And it's a bit short sighted.  Okay.  RIGHT NOW, we can sell our oil for more outside of the country.  RIGHT NOW there are some cheaper gasoline markets.  But does it not seem insane that we ship one thing out at a lower price, only to buy it back with a bit of processing at a higher price?  Why don't we look long term?  Okay, 10 years to build a refinery.  And then...we're golden.  We don't have to worry about "world markets".  We don't waste crazy amounts of energy shipping things around the world in the name of maximizing profits.  But no.  Thomas Mulcair is an insane communist and Alberta should be allowed to do whatever they want, even if it involves digging up the rest of the country.

I haven't followed this temporary-chinese-mine-worker story all that much, but it sounds kind of sketchy.  Apparently the jobs were advertised for a ridiculously low wage in Canada and when there were no takers they went offshore.  And the government is doing all that it can to avoid transparency.

Stephen Harper doesn't care that the CBC has no money.  In fact...I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that he's pretty darn happy about it.

11,000 Federal Government jobs have disappeared this year.

Can't wait for John Baird to grandstand about the latest UN "outrage" - declaring contraception a universal human right.

Oh boy.  A comedy of errors in the Federal Governments efforts to entice internationally known (Rob Base?) scientists to Canadian Universities for obscene amounts of money.  First, they hired the guy but made him languish in immigration hell.  Then, they offered his wife a job but balked at giving her an extra 11 days off.  Unpaid.  Then, well, then he actually went to Edmonton and tried to live there.  In the end, he went home.  And millions and millions get sunk into high profile scientists while homegrown programs are cut in the name of cost savings.  Sometimes fairly trivial amounts of cost savings.  Interestingly, some of the other famous science chairs is actually doing climate change research.  Surprised that was allowed!

This is an interesting article from Slate suggesting some real world ways to combat climate change.  I agree with these, for the most part, and appreciate that they don't dwell on trivialities like "buy a new refrigerator".  These all make sense.  Except cap-and-trade.  But maybe I can be swayed.  See, as an engineer, I'd probably be one of the people called upon to calculate the actual outputs of "polluters".  Having participated in exercises similar to this I can see how pointless and difficult and bureaucracy creating something like this is.  It's so, so difficult to even get an accurate representation of things like liquid effluent pumped into a pipeline, let alone an accurate idea of the amount of gases escaping into the air.  I just cannot see a meaningful measurement system that would work in any meaningful or reasonable form.  Perhaps you could make something work for the largest of large corporations and perhaps having something in place for the...I don't know...60%(?) of emissions that this would cover would be good enough.  But it just doesn't feel workable to me.  Too many workarounds and loopholes.  Honestly.  A carbon tax with some sort of low income reimbursement mechanism is probably the way to go.  Make energy more expensive and watch the "free market" stumble all over itself to save energy.

I didn't talk about this last week, when the data was published that supported "P2P users spending more money on music than non-P2P users".  Michael Geist dug into it a bit.  And discovered that the arithmetic presented in the chart supplied by RIAA associated group that published the study is way, way off.  They added a bunch of numbers into a subtotal, and then included the subtotal and the original numbers to get their sub-total.  When you do the proper math, P2P users actually spend 50% more than non-P2P users as opposed to the 30% claimed.  But how can you trust anything that these bozos produce anyhow?  And why are they trying to discredit their own study?

In other copyright news, House Republicans released a paper suggesting some sensible rollbacks on the psychotic copyright laws that exist in the States....and promptly retracted them due to (speculative) pressure for lobbyists.

Once again, stories from unlikely places.  Here is a story of a 1-percenters making of a fortune.  Long story short - buy a baseball team with borrowed money and interest free loans.  Run the team into the ground while dangling the promise of a "winner" to the fans.  Blame your woes on a poor stadium.  Threaten to leave town until your government subsidized stadium is built.  Fund your portion with government provided interest free loans.  Reap the profits.  This isn't a story of "working hard".  This is rigging the system to make a fortune on the backs of regular joes.  And then charging them to watch your shitty team.

As a cyclist, I feel like I have some perspective on Lance Armstrong that has been formed by more than just a few headlines over the last 6 months.  Friends and relatives seem to get a bit confused as to why I so passionately hate this man and why I get riled up about any defense of this terrible human being.  The comments of "they were all doping so it was a level playing field" or "it's their bodies, why can't they do what they want" completely miss the point.  I don't want to get into it too much, but read through an article such as this one and you might gain perspective.  If it was simply a matter of Lance Armstrong doping and admitting his malfeasance when finally caught, I would probably be okay with how things have unfolded.  Indeed, I have a lot of respect for past dopers that admit their past wrongs and work towards a solution.  But Lance Armstrong bullied and intimidated his way to all of these victories.  He ruined careers.  And now he's acting like a smug little baby.  This tweeted photo sums up how much of an asshole this guy is.  It's like OJ Simpson showing off the receipt for the leather gloves a few weeks after his acquittal (okay...not that bad).  It would be pretty awesome if USADA got a special court order, busted down his door and took back those 7 jerseys.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Obama - Week 80 - Nov 5-12

Fucking assholes.  I didn't take a screenshot, but the National Post still had Romney in the lead 30 minutes after everybody called the election.  And the morning after...this is what their site looks like.  What a bunch of sad idiots.

And they give this fucking blowhard an avenue to spout his ridiculous shit?  Have you read any of his articles?  Oh my gosh.  I guess this must be just as frustrating for the paper, forced to print the ramblings of your mad uncle.

Does anybody know anything about this trade treaty with China?  It doesn't sound very good.  And, at Chinas insistence, we have to give them 15 years notice if we want to leave it.  Yikes.

Oh.  Great.  20 totally impartial financial forecasters don't think we're going to have a real estate crash.  Merely a 10% drop.  And get this, they think that it's because Jim Flaherty is reeling things in now that we won't have problems.  See, I don't really see it that way.  If you asked me, well, he changes the rules in 2008 and allows things to become insane over the next 3-4 years.  And then, just on the cusp of a major turn, he changes the rules back to compound the problem?

 I post this Globe link only because I accidentally followed it from Google News and I really liked the photo.  I think it's funny that India wouldn't offer up our Prime Minister a decent car.  In my mind, I picture him huddled over a rental car counter arguing with an uncaring clerk.  "But I paid for a full size sedan!  What do you mean you only have compacts?"

Stephen Harper and his "transparent government" are preventing the Parliamentary budget watchdog from doing his job through lack of information.

A Liberal Senator is suggesting that we spend some time tracking down overseas tax cheats.  Ya.  Good luck getting Steve-O motivated for that.  They're probably his biggest donors!

MP Pension reform?  Ya, not so much.

This story is pretty crazy.  I've known about some of the Sting's that the RCMP runs in Canada.  But this puts a new perspective on how...well...fucked up the whole thing is.  First off, you're not allowed to coerce a confession out of a suspect if you're a cop.  No threats.  No bargains.  Etc.  But, if they don't think you're a cop, then it's alright?  What the hell.  So, basically, the cops set up a sting where they convince you that they'll kill you if you don't confess to a murder.  And that's allowed to stand?  Crazy.

Anonymous claims to have hacked Jim Flaherty's website.

I searched for "Nancy Greene" in Google News for some reason today.  Here's an article about how great she is.  And her views as a climate change skeptic.  I hate this woman so much.  So very much.  "I got mine.  Go fuck yourself."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Back into it - Week 79 - Oct 29 - Nov 5

A Conservative Senator has come out to suggest that the Government doesn't need to act to protect Canadian's online security.  Let's see...
1 - Increased regulation to limit the use of technology by consumers in the name of "copyright protection" - No problem.
2 - Increased government monitoring of technology in the name of "crime prevention" - Sounds good.
3 - Increased regulation to prevent fraud and hacking on citizens - Not the governments concern.

Remember when Stephen Harper decided that the Long Form Census was a silly, bad thing?  Well, Statistics Canada is starting to see some problems with data.

Oh man.  They're really grasping at straws.  Real Estate sales in the Fraser Valley jump 23% in October!  Oh.  Wait.  They're down 8% compared to last October?  But they jumped?  23%?  Right?

I'm always looking for new and novel ways to explain what is wrong with Real Estate in Vancouver.  This link is a bit old (from the summer) but there is a gem buried inside it.  In April of 2012, there were 7,000 homes in the entire United States sold for over 1 Million Dollars.  Around the same time period, there were 5,000 homes in Greater Vancouver on the market for more than 1 Million Dollars.  Yes, yes, sold vs. listed, etc.  It's just very interesting.  And there's some fantastic graphs buried in this story.

The changes tot he Navigable Waters Act are confusing.  At face value...it almost makes sense.  Cut everything that doesn't have to do with navigation out of it.  Of course, the act has always done more than that.  And it's interesting that the majority of waterways that remain protected are in Conservative ridings.  Regardless, this shouldn't be in an Omnibus bill.

The report in to the collapse of Sockeye Salmon runs has been released.  Great, a whole bunch of new recommendations that can be ignored.

The man who would probably have the largest part to play in all of this is Peter Kent, our Minister of the Environment.  Problem is, he seems to have a habit of skipping out on media questions by providing incorrect and misleading estimates of his schedule.  He shows up early, does his thing and then leaves before the media shows up.

The guy that the Conservatives are blaming for the entire robo-call scandal - you know, the junior guy that had no authority or access to information? - has spoken out and suggested that he's been a convenient scapegoat.

Supposedly Jim Flaherty has cut 8 Billion in spendingAnd some Conservatives fear that this might cost votes.

Wait.  MP pension reforms haven't amounted to much of anything?

Somehow, I was thinking about prorogation.  The whole "Jean Chretien did it to avoid the sponsorship scandal" thing came up.  And it's funny because I don't really remember that happening.  This guy dug into it a bit and it all seems to be a myth to support Steve-O doing whatever he wants.  So, the fact is, Stephen Harper appears to be the only Prime Minister in recent memory to prorogue Parliament to avoid accountability.  Prorogue is a legitimate tool of Parliament.  Just not that way.

The Long Gun Registry has been destroyed.  Except in Quebec.

Parliament Hill renovations have slowly but surely ballooned to ridiculous levels.  I love that a part of the renovations is to get rid of asbestos.