Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trolling #7 - Reddit

How awesome is it that Obama did an AMA on Reddit?  Anyhow, it inspired some less than awesome comments.  I trolled with this:

Awesome comments guys!

You're right, with a middle name like Hussein, he must be a secret muslim communist nazi! His parents totally had that planned from the beginning when they gave birth to him in Afghanistan (same hospital as Bin Laden too!).

And it's totally obvious that the President of the United States is unaware of the Constitution! He's totally infringing on my rights to make as much money as possible at the expense of the environment, other people, etc. What a jerk! I heard he's even thinking of thinking up ways to prevent me from shooting people in the face!

Anyhow. I'm sick of this guy and his stupid ideas. I mean...think of how devious you would have to be to plunge the country into a recession before you even become president! In fact, he's so dangerous not being the President, we should probably keep him in office because if Romney wins, Obama will really get to work screwing things up.

I never actually thought that I would say this...but the US is just so crazy right now, I'm actually pretty happy with Stephen Harper.  It could be worse.  Right?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sixty-Nine! - Week 69 - Aug 20-27

Hey!  Week 69!  I feel like that deserves some sort of teenage-like celebration/joke.  That is, a bigger joke than Avril Lavigne marrying Chad Kroeger.  Which actually seems fitting now that I know it's week 69.
Anyhow, this week, I got really upset about not voting when I had a chance.  All the information was there.  I should have known where to go and how to do it.  And I feel really badly that my voice wasn't counted and I wasn't a part of the results.  Yes, I missed out on voting for my picks in the Pitchfork People's List.  And I think there is something to be learned here; Voting isn't complicated enough.  Honestly, if we had dozens of candidates to choose from and all the results were broken down by demographics/locations/etc, voting would be a lot more interesting.  Honestly though people...Radiohead?  How predictable.

Finally!  Some action on Robo-Calls!  Against the Liberals.

Congratulations British Columbia!  Highest (non-mortgage) debt levels in all of Canada.  Honestly, all of British Columbia, on average, has borrowed enough money to buy a mid-priced family sedan (most likely with sat-nav)?  That's crazy.  What are you people buying?

Way to go RIAA!  You sued some kid (none of the stories seem to say how old...just suggest that he is "young") for $675,000 US for downloading 31 songs.  Seems fair.  I mean, this one kid personally ruined the careers of all of these artists by downloading these songs and listening to them FOR FREE!  What does he think this is, the radio?

And, the RIAA is about to get a helping hand if the son-of-ACTA goes through.  Short version, a secretly negotiated "trade agreement" that foists all sorts of copyright requirements on signing countries.  This sucker always seem to get found out and stopped though, somehow.  But they keep trying.

And, there's a judge in the US that used to be a copyright lobbyist (for the RIAA) and is ruling on copyright cases.  Seems fair.

Here's a bit more information on the link I posted last week where Enbridge left out a few key features in one of their videos.  Can you see the problem here:
And speaking of Enbridge leaving things out...well, the spill response plan that they have filed doesn't actually deal with bitumen...it's only applicable to crude oil.

The National Post takes on our fearless defender of the North, pointing out that for all of his bluster, Stephen Harper hasn't really done shit for the North.  Yes, for all his Ned Stark proclamations, turns out he's nothing more than a Tywin Lannister.  At least they'll have a new parkAmongst more resource exploitation.

Great.  Vic Toews and the Canadian Government have decided that it's okay to use information obtained by torture.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trolling the Comment Pages #6 - Locavores

This shit really bugs me...this blowback on the "local food movement".  This argument is precisely the point that of the whole thing.  Food should be about more than corporate profits, supermarket hours, crop yields, convenience and disease resistance.  We can all probably admit that food can be made cheaper.  That common, industrialized plants and animals are hardier and easier to ship.  That large, one stop Supermarkets are the cheapest and most efficient ways to buy food.  But food needs to be about more than that.  There needs to be an element of adventure and diversity to what we eat.  That having a farmer down the road that makes a decent living is a good thing.  I don't think anybody expects that all of this "modern" stuff is going to completely disappear.  It just needs some balance.

On Sunday, we went out and picked some blackberries.  And as I look back on it, I've realized how stupid these actions were.

First of all, two people spending one hour to pick a couple of pounds of blackberries?  In wages alone those berries are probably worth 30-40 dollars per pound.

Add in the fuel burned on our drive there, in both cost and CO2 pumped into the atmosphere and the cost/benefit is really turning sour.

And that was before I factored in wear-and-tear on clothing, food costs for blackberry picking energy, the potential health care costs in the event of an injury...it goes on-and-on.

Yes, next time I will avoid such frivolous sourcing of blackberries and rely solely on Globex Brand blackberries - the berry to beat!

Monday, August 20, 2012

North American Scum - Week 68 - Aug 13-20

 This breakdown of North American beliefs goes a long way towards explaining why we just can't all get along and why we have no idea what the hell those other people are thinking.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (I actually had no idea who he was!) has spoken out and said that he sees no problem in appointing current politicians to judiciary positions.  Isn't this the definition of a conflict of interest?  Even worse, the name that he is not specifically addressing as being up for this job?  Vic Toews!  Canada's gain, Manitoba's loss, if you ask me.

In an interesting coincidence, a survey suggests that only 2% of Canadians believe that climate change doesn't exist (although many of them believe that it is naturally occurring), and Canadian Real Estate prices have declined by 2%.
Holy Bejeebus!  Rex Murphy comments on Christy Clark and the Pipeline.  There are so many layers of sarcasm here (more than I would ever imagine possible in an editorial in a "serious" newspaper) that it is difficult to figure out what he is actually saying.  I have made two conclusions about this whole thing though:
1) The National Post comments section is the worst place in all of Canada.  Just awful, terrible people arguing crazy crap by breaking all of the "logical fallacies" rules
2) Christy Clark is an idiot.  She's turned BC into a laughingstock.  Honestly, I think people can understand "We don't want a pipeline because you're going to pour oil all over our Province."  People have no respect for "We don't want a pipeline because you're going to pour oil all over our Province...unless you give us a bit more money."  It's just really, really terrible how she has handled this.  She's single-handedly compromised the environmental argument by giving opponents the out that its' "really all about money".  Maybe that was her intention?

And then...the Premiere of Alberta claims that she's going to continue pursuing her "National Energy Strategy" with or without BC.  Honestly?  She thinks she is in control of our National Energy Strategy? 

As for the approval of the Enbridge Pipeline, the Federal Government may have cut too many scientists jobs to effectively conduct the environmental impact research.  No word on what this means...delay of the approval or just a rubber stamping because there is no research to indicate that it's a bad thing?  And seeing as Enbridge is publishing videos that show an empty waterway off the coast of Kitimat where all the supertankers will easily make their way to Kitimat with Sunshine and Rainbows....
The Tyee has a series going on the Norwegian oil industry.  I read the "ten commandments" of Norway.  I have a hard time coming up with something bad in any of them...

Is it me, or do housing price projections keep getting just a bit worse and worse...?

I'm thinking this guy must be friends with somebody at the Globe and Mail.  A canoeist is frisked because he tried to go paddling a little too close to Stephen Harper's picnic.  They even let him continue his canoe trip, just a little bit further from the picnic.

And, Stephen Harper's bizarre royal fascinations are starting to be implemented in the Canadian military.

The Canadian Mint pisses everybody off by changing the artwork on the new $100 bill as a focus group thought that the lady on it looked "asian".

This is pretty funny (via boingboing).  A man had his ipod stolen from his car and extrapolated what the reaction would be if he was the RIAA/MPAA and this had happened to him.

I'll admit that I've been thinking that Julian Assange is a bit of a skeezy pervert and I didn't really understand the hoopla about his extradition to Sweden.  But reading this article...well...I had no idea that:

- He has offered to be interviewed by Swedish police in the UK
- He has offered to go back to Sweden if they promise not to ship him off to the US
- He hasn't been formally charged with anything back in Sweden

He seems totally reasonable now, actually.  And what right does the US have to charge somebody who is not a citizen of the US with leaking secrets?  It's their secret, not the rest of the worlds.  To extend this to illogical extremes, what if they decided that Kim Kardashian's sex tape was a secret worthy of state secrecy protection.  And somebody in Sweden had that tape and let it leak on the Internet.  How is that a crime?

This is an Americaland link.  But I think it is interesting.  First, it comes from the Guardian.  Second, it's about Bain Capital taking a "profitable" factory, tearing it to pieces and then shipping it to China so that cheaper labour can run the factory.  Why does it take a British newspaper to talk about this.  And, straight from the comments section of boingboing, I love this explanation of private equity:

Actually, the competitiveness has nothing to do with the profit you can make from the company. It's the genius of private equity, LBOs, and debt financing.
 - Take one company that's making money, fully funded it's pension plan or whatever, and has no debt. That company's stock is flat as a pancake. It's a loser. It's not expected to grow much more, so there's no interest for speculators. As far as the market is concerned, that company is the boring kid in the corner that no wants to talk to.
 - Enter a PE shop. They gather some investors and borrow... oh say, 100+ million dollars to purchase the company and take it private. As collateral for the loan they put up the entire stock of the target company. They also agree to insane rates from the bank.
- Once they've purchased the company, it's time to juice that sucker up. They immediately borrow as much money as possible against the assets of the company. Part of that is paid out in dividends to the PE shop, part of that can be put into the company to MAKE IT GROW. Think of it as shoving steroids and growth hormone into a feedlot steer, that bovine is either going to keel over dead or get way big and tasty.
 - Next, borrow more money. Keep on borrowing. (Debt financing is great because of the tax advantages.) Pay more dividends to the PE shop, pay more management fees, and try to expand the company as much as possible.
 - An expanding company looks great to the market. "These guys are going places," folks think. Stock prices soar. More happy faces for the PE firm and their investors.
 - Now, PE firm dumps the company. Either takes it public, or sells it to another entity. More profit. Or the company collapses (either before or after the sale). All that debt and growth is risky, you know...
 - You don't need many successes for this to be a profitable enterprise. Consider that the PE firm didn't put up that much money originally, they borrowed most of it, and they borrowed it against the target. When it all goes bust they walk away without hardly a scratch.
 - Sure, some factories may have gotten closed, or jobs lost, or moved or whatever. Who cares if a pension plan was looted or underfunded or whatever? That's moocher talk, my man. Sure, PE firms sometimes destroy jobs. They also sometimes create them (although that's less common given the successful company vs. imploded bankruptcy ratio). But at the end of the day, that's not the point. The point is to make money for the PE firm. Anything else is just noise.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vacation Time - Week 67 - July 6-13

Sorry.  I've been on vacation this week, so things are a bit light.  No photo either.  Let's keep the poll data theme going.

You know you're in trouble when Danny Williams is the only person on your side.  Danny Williams decides that Christy Clark is correct when it comes to pipelines.

The NDP has accused the Conservatives of impropriety with the approval of a new ethanol plant on port lands.  What?  Ports aren't meant to hold ethanol plants?  Are you a communist?  And how dare you point out that the Port Authority that approved this and the company that are building this are stacked with Conservative insiders (former riding association executives, etc.)?

You have to love the Internet.  First, a police officer from Michigan visits Calgary and tells this frightening tale of a couple of guys asking him if he and his wife has been to the Stampede.  His conclusion "I wish I'd had my gun".  To the Internets!  A boingboing poster discovers that he also wrote in to another newspaper and complained that Obama had invited Common (the rapper) to the White House.  Awesome.

Real Estate difficulties?  Wha?  Oh.  Wait.  Ya, that might happen.  But don't worry, they're just going to stay the same until all the rest of those crazy numbers catch up to these ridiculous prices.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Statistics - Week 66 - July 30-Aug 6

We'll start with two great bits of data.  First, this fantastic graph:

I love that the Olympics opening ceremony put public health care front and center.  It led me to this story on the Guardian.  It's very interesting.  Key points for me:
- The US spends far and away the most money on health care as a % of GDP (17.9%)...this works out to $8362 per person.  Of that money, almost half comes directly out of pocket of the individual - $4437.
- Canada spends about 11.3% of GDP on healthcare.  This works out to a total of $4404 per person and $3104 of that comes from the government.  So, our health care costs about half of what it does per person as it does in the US.  And we directly pay about 1/4 directly out of pocket as compared to the average American.
- Canada lines up quite nicely in % of GDP spending with most European nations...a bit more than Italy/Spain/UK, a bit less than France/Germany.  We all seem to be in the 9-11% of GDP range, and $3-4000 per person range
So.  What the hell?  Either the US is getting far better health coverage (I doubt it) or there's an incredible amount of waste.  And you look at the huuuuuuge disparity in what sort of coverage people have and you can only imagine what the bottom end of their spectrum looks like.
This stupid-assed headlined Globe and Mail article claims that "BC can be swayed on pipeline".  Lets see... one poll claims 35 percent agree with Adrian Dix's outright disapproval of the pipeline.  Another poll claims that 65 percent are outright opposed.  But the first poll also suggests that 43 percent agree with Christie Clark's strings-attached disapproval of the pipeline.  So, ya, really sounds like we're on the fence here and just need a little nudge in the right direction!  What a bunch of jackasses.
Speaking of pipelines, way to go David Anderson.  I think he summed up many people's feelings on Enbridge: "They should just go away."  Awesome stuff.  I'm certain Peter Kent will not be this interesting when he retires.
 Hundreds of women have come forward with complaints of sexual harassment within the RCMP.  Man.  This is going to take FOREVER for the various governments and RCMP brass to come up with justification based on them all being sluts and alcoholics.

Stephen Harper, master of the Canadian economy.  Wasn't that his election promise?  What happened then?

Another Globe article claims that the Provinces need to stand together on bulk drug purchases.  Hmmm...lets see...a national strategy to reduce prescription drug prices....who could possibly oversee a program with National implications?