Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Monday, September 30, 2013

Just Warming Up - Week 126 - Sept 23-30

Thank goodness nobody posts any comments here.  Popular Science is taking away comments on news stories because it's been proven, scientifically, that assholes in the comments section really do ruin it for everybody.

Oh man.  What a jag-off.  I'll bet Dean Del Mastro is regretting all of his "poor me...either charge me or let me go" speeches.  Well.  He's been charged.  Let's celebrate with a photo.
The Harper Fanboys at the NP think it's great that he isn't addressing the UN.  "Harper takes a pass on UN blowhard opportunity"  Like Stephen Harper has ever passed up an opportunity to blowhard.  And yes.  Let's celebrate our lack of participation in the International Community.

Yeah.  We're fucked.  Just thinking about the premise that fighting global warming will cost too much.  How much has the US spent on "Homeland Security" in the last 10-12 years?

I love this:
Harper - "When it comes to Keystone XL, we won't take no for an answer!"
Obama - "No."
Harper - "Well okay then!"

Thomas Mulcair has officially announced his intentions to include election reform in the next NDP platform.  Huh.  Perhaps this will become his ask when Trudeau approaches him to form a coalition?

A trio of Tyee articles.  A bit more on the bitumen leaks in Alberta that nobody knows what to do about.  Some speculation that the Canada Job Grant will be a spectacular failure.  And a postulation that Vancouver's housing situation is worse than the numbers indicate.

The RCMP will be investigating Pamela Wallin.

Want to feel worse about how you relate to capitalism?  Well, it's actually just computers initiating trades and fortunes won or lost based on a millisecond or two.

This is a news story?  New Brunswick sees its population drop by 1000?  I could see if that was all caused by some sort of food borne illness, that might be a story.  But that doesn't seem to be the case.

Two stories that struck a similar, kind-of-awesome, vein.  First, Russell Brand makes fun of Hugo Boss (well, points out their past links to the Nazis) while receiving some kind of ridiculous GQ award, and is then thrown out of said awards show.  Next, Godspeed You! Black Emperor...I don't even know...just kind of point out how stupid music awards are, shortly after receiving the Polaris Music Award.  And from a while back...this story actually made me want to hang up my writing hat.  In this stirring tribute to Margaret Thatcher, Russell Brand creates and discards a better idea for a movie than I will ever have.  Sorry.  The Hugo Boss story just reminded me of this.

When I first read about the AIG chief talking about "lynch mobs" and everybody getting upset, I started thinking that perhaps we need to cut him some slack.  Although it may be insensitive to the plight of other, "lynch mob" is a relatively common phrase and using it doesn't necessarily suggest that you're diminishing horrendous things that happened in the South.  But then I read his actual quote.  Man.  What a fuckin' idiot.  "was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that -- sort of like what we did in the Deep South . And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong,"

Another "go kill yourself article".  In this one, big pharma keeps the meth epidemic alive by squashing any attempt to legislate tighter controls on pseudoephedrine.

I've always enjoyed Steve Albini's rants and ravings.  This one (a letter to Nirvana about recording In Utero) is just absolutely fabulous.  Just the antithesis of greed.  Amazing.  And Steve Albini made an unused recording of In on the Kill Taker for Fugazi?  The things you learn on the Internet.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New York Comedy Story

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed some activity related to a comedy show in New York this past weekend.  Somebody called bullshit, here is the full story, even though I look pretty stupid.  And this has almost nothing to do with Canadian Politics.

First, some info to set the tone.  Whenever my girlfriend and I travel, we catch comedy shows.  Louis CK in Seattle. IO and Second City in Chicago.  Upright Citizens Brigade in New York.  We always try to catch a few shows and we always have an awesome time.  This trip, we were going to make more of an effort to catch some stand-up.  We already had plans to go to a 10:30 show at the Comedy Cellar (Friday, September 20th), so comedy was on our minds.  On with the story.

We were riding our Citibikes from Central Park down to Soho.  We'd gone over our half hour and were nearing an hour time, when the rate gets jacked.  So we had to stop and recharge the City bikes.  I mention this because normally we wouldn't go anywhere near Times Square, but the closest station was nearby, just to the north.  We parked the bikes and I was messing around with my camera when a guy approached.

Super friendly, young guy.  "Hey, you in to stand-up?"  I normally just shut this shit down right away, but my camera bag was open and I couldn't move and he seemed nice enough.  I assumed he was trying to sell us tickets to his show that night, so I engaged.

Found out pretty quickly he was selling tickets for a venue and not performing, although he did admit that he was trying to get into comedy.  I told him we were planning on going to the Comedy Cellar so probably weren't in to other tickets.  He proceeded to whip out this binder full of really terrible pictures of the venue.  "Here's a picture of Chris Rock.  He was in just a month ago."  I was going to make a joke about binders full of women, but I didn't.  He also proceeded to tell us all about why Stand Up NY was way better than the Comedy Cellar. (footnote - oh my god was this guy full of shit.  Comedy Cellar is absolutely amazing.  Drinks are half the price too).  I can't remember all of his reasons.  He also mentions that tickets are 20 bucks, but far more at the door.  I ask about drink minimums, as I figure this is probably the scam.  He says it's no big deal.  There's a two item minimum, and if you want to buy a pineapple juice, that's cool.  He then talks for a while about how he just drank pineapple juice the last time he was in the club because he didn't feel like drinking.

So, of course, we asked him about the line-up.  Funny thing, I don't even think the proper line-up is up on their website now.  He mentioned Nikki Glaser (funny girl, she actually showed up).  He mentioned some others.  And then, I think he smelled weakness and went in for the kill.

This is where I hesitate.  This is where I feel like I start to really look stupid.  In hindsight, it's just...man...what were you thinking.  But behind every good scam is a greedy mark, right?  People seldom get taken advantage of if they're not trying to get something for cheap.  I do realize there are countless stories that contradict this claim, but bare with me.

"You know Jay Pharoah, from Saturday Night Live?  He'll be there tonight.  People don't know this, but he's been doing stand-up since he was 15.  He's so funny."  We then talked about that for a while.  I don't know, after everything he had told us, after we'd had this long conversation with him, peppered with his personal details, we believed him.  But Jay Pharoah wasn't a dealmaker for us.  Which, of course he should have been!  You kidding me!  Jay Pharoah for 20 bucks!

So he kept going.  "You guys like Juday Friedlander?  He's here tonight too!  He does shows all the time."  At this point, my partner was sold, but suspicious.  We started asking him for more details.  We asked very direct questions like "Seriously?  Judah Friedlander is playing three shows tonight?  Like, he's for sure booked?"  Insistent, emphatic yes to every question.  Even adding his own details.  "He's such a cool guy.  He always hangs out after the show.  You can probably meet him if you want!"

At this point, I in no way questioned anything that the guy was saying about the show.  But I assumed he's selling us fake tickets.  He pulled them out.  They looked legit.  And we started to question him on what his piece was.  He explained to us that he got a cut of every ticket and that he did have a vested interest in selling us these tickets.  I asked at this point "We're not going to show up and these tickets won't work, are we?"  I mean, I was kidding.  I trusted him.  Then the clincher.

He calls his boss over, who was standing about 20 feet away.  He confirms everything that the first guy says.  Then, he starts adding shit.  "Tell you what.  If you go to the 7PM show, I'll sign you up for VIP seats and throw in a round of shots.  Just make sure you're there by 6:45."  I mean...what the hell.  I figure that if this is a scam, it's the most oddball scam in the entire world.  Selling comedy tickets for 20 bucks for less than household name comedians (no offense to Judah and Jay)?  Gotta be the stupidest crime in the history of New York.  Of course we take that deal.  Worst case, we're out 20 bucks.  Boss phones the tickets in (we heard him do this, for what that is worth) and our trusty sales guy rights his name on the tickets, so he gets his cut.  James is his name.  I think.  And we're on our way.

This is where you shake your head and call me a dumbass.  But we were tourists!  We didn't have data.  We didn't have much time.  A quick search would have exposed the scam, but we didn't have the means at our fingertips.  Off we went.

We spent the rest of the day bombing around Soho.  I had to pick up my new, bulky as shit motorcycle jacket that I'd bought the day before.  And we headed back uptown carrying all sorts of shit, scurrying along to make it by 6:45, which we barely did.  And that's the other thing that got us.  If we didn't have all that crap.  If we weren't almost late.  We might have stopped at the door and wondered what exactly was going on.  Looked for a poster with the line-up on it or something like that.  But we didn't.

So we show up, and there's maybe 8 people ahead of us.  Bad feeling.  And they advertise really cheap drink specials on the sign out front.  We've already spent 40 bucks, gotta see what happens.  We're actually super happy that the tickets actually worked and that our reservation had been phoned in.  They warn us that there's a two drink minimum and show us to our seats.

And here's where it starts to fall apart.  Flip the menu over.  The two item minimum promised by the sales guy?  No, two alcoholic drink (per person) and a 20 dollar (per person) minimum.  Drinks are $9.50 as well, so if you only order two, they still fuck you with an extra 50 cents per drink.  Oh well.  Beer list isn't terrible and we kind of expected something like that.  A few more people trickle in and there's a not totally embarrassing crowd by the time the show starts.

It was pretty weird comedy.  The host (Bob Dibuono) recognized the absurdity of the crowd.  He engaged with pretty much everybody and set a decent tone.  The comics were all pretty funny.  Even started to get excited to see Judah in such a small space with so few people (I'd had a few drinks when this thought entered my mind).  But then...."Please pay your bills before the headliner starts."  Okay.  Something ain't right.

It actually turned into a hostage situation.  At this point, I know that my only leverage is to not pay my alcohol bill.  And they won't start the final act until the bills are paid!  They came buy at least 4-5 times to encourage us to pay the bill so we don't miss any of the final act.  No fucking way I'm paying at this point.  Just like that, my gradually rising suspicion turned into a blinding rage.  Finally, they relent.  They actually flash a little light letting the host know he can bring out the last guy.

Out walks Jay Oakerson.  He's a big dude, but no Judah Friedlander.  I'm just enraged at this point.  I feel so stupid to have fallen for such a ridiculous scam.  I want to just ruin everything.  I assume the comedians are in on the whole thing and I just want to ruin the guys show.  I actually heckled some Southern Republican Sorority Girls when they were too slow to answer the comedians question about why they hadn't dated a black guy before.  I was just so furious.

The show ended.  I asked to see the manager.  I opened with "Okay.  You scammed us with the tickets.  How about knocking some money off the liquor bill?"  I know.  classy, right.  But it was a $48 dollar bill for 4 drinks.  She was pretty confrontational at first.  "I don't have any control over the street team.  They say all kinds of things to sell tickets.  But you drank 4 drinks and you have to pay for them."  I tell her that the drinks cost 5 dollars not 20 feet away and that I'm more than willing to pay for the alcohol that I drank, but that I'd appreciate it if she'd charge me the outside rate for drinks.  I also explain that, as manager, she was the representative of the establishment and although she wasn't directly responsible for the lies that were told, as far as I was concerned she was my official contact for this organization.  She offered to buy us another drink at the bar for our troubles.  I kept going.

She softened somewhat.  She printed off a new bill that knocked 20 bucks off, apologized and gave me the e-mail for the owner (who I haven't written, but probably should have before I tweeted).  The waitress overheard at this point and seemed really embarrassed.  They even offered us tickets to another show.  I think partially they just wanted us out of there because there was a huge, huge line-up out the door for the next show.  We left.  Went down to the Comedy Cellar.  And it killed.  And drinks were only 5 bucks.

Lesson learned.  I'm a greedy dumbass and if it's too good to be true...well...

In the end, we spent 70 bucks on a night of okay comedy (although it almost was 90).  Far from the worst scam out there.  Heck, we were pretty close to buying the tickets with no big name headliners.  Had we not gone in to the thing with such high expectations, we probably would have been pretty happy.

Home - Week 125 - Sept 16-23

I've been away for the last week and haven't looked at the news much.  But doesn't this seem like it should be a bigger story?  Scientists are standing up to Stephen Harper.  Protests!  The key to good decision making is good data.  Doesn't a goverment that seems uninterested in data (science, the census) scare the shit out of you?

The Stephen Harper pre-election charm offensive starts.  All of a sudden, he's concerned with consumer rights.

Why can't/won't the RCMP tell us how much it will/has cost to destroy the gun registry?

What is Stephen Harper hoping to gain by continually shunning the UN?  Is he trying to diminish his failures within the UN environment by diminishing their import in the eyes of Canadians?

Oooooh Steve.....stickin it to the bad guys. Sex offenders may have to report in before leaving the country.

Huge surprise. Economic action plan ads don't work.

Vancouver's Insite program has been a crazy success by many, many standards.  No deaths through 2,000,000 injections over 10 years?  Yes, that much heroin is not good, but I'd rather have that much heroin and no deaths than the alternative.  And here's the crazy part.  I'll bet if you did a survey you would find that zero percent of people have found that Insite encouraged them to try heroin.

National Post is turning into nothing more than a Trudeau attack machine.

I think the NRA needs some training in public relations, crisis management...heck, in logic too.  Wayne Lapierre responds to another incident of gun violence by blaming it on everything other than an excess of guns in American society.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not Happy with the Media - Week 124 - Sept 9-16

The Tyee has determined that the Robocalls saga stinks.  Which is a pretty undramatic revelation.  This Michael Sona thing is getting complicated.  Lucky for us, the Conservatives have dug up witnesses that are able to blame the entire thing on Michael Sona!  Good thing they don't have a vested interest in making him a scapegoat or anything.  Heck, he may have made the whole thing up!  He is prone to exaggeration.

Stephen Harper hired a new spokesperson.  Man.  Who would want that job?

I think Joe Oliver is taking over for Largest Conservative Dipshit now that Vic Toews is gone.  "Hey guys.  All these things we announced we will do just happen to be similar to what the US asked of us.  They're not concessions though.  We just didn't plan on doing them before we were asked to.  By them.  In exchange for things."

What a loony country we live in.  Quebec continues to discuss their "Charter of Values" that limits peoples freedoms...and the Conservatives are going to be the voice of reason behind stopping it.  And then the BQ expels an MP for criticizing it.

This Sun News guy thinks Trudeau is incapable of governing because his stats on Pot arrests don't add up.  Well none of Stephen Harper's stats on crime add up.  What does that suggest?

Pretty staggering information on income distribution in Canada.  Staggering in how little (relatively speaking) it takes to bust into the top 1%.  Staggering at what "average" is.

I know that this is a train disaster, but this is precisely why we need to be careful with who we let build pipelines and where we put them.  As we learn more about Lac Megantic, we learn that this company really cut corners, broke rules and didn't have the public's interest at heart.  Then, before they could be held accountable, they threatened bankruptcy.  I realize that there is a lot of red tape in this country for starting a business, but at some point businesses have got to be held accountable.  This country seems to be all about just letting companies do whatever they want, claiming a pittance in taxes and then yelling at anybody that complains that they're going to cost jobs.  We need a system that:
a) Makes it easier to start a small business.
b) Requires more out of large business (insurance, procedures, trusts, etc.)
Oh.  What am I talking about?  The Lac Megantic train was carrying crude that was far more explosive than labelled.  It should have been classified in a more stringent category.

So many stories about rape chants, so little information.  I commented last week, alluding to stupid things said by University students.  But after seeing some of what was chanted, this whole thing seems even more puzzling.  I never really liked the whole organized frosh/school spirit bullshit that happened when I was in University.  It all seemed a bit too forced.  This whole thing seems so, so odd.  How can similar chants pop up on opposite sides of the country?  What kind of idiot would be putting together a large group event and think that this was a good idea?  We said stupid things, but not quite this stupid.  Not as a group.  Not as a chant.  I do remember somebody leading a busload of students on a pub crawl with a song about beastiality...but that seems a lot more harmless than this.  I don't think anybody went out and raped a goat though, afterwards.

Oh boy.  This article is just kind of sickening, talking about the insane practice of re-adopting kids by people that can't deal with them.  And I totally, totally realize that I'm doing something I hate hear, assigning some sort of master blame to an issue.  But honestly, if there was ever an argument for what government does, why we need governmental organizations and what taxes should be used for, this is it.  No.  I know.  The free market will figure it out.

Why you shouldn't believe everything that you read.  I personally know Mike Zupan and the insinuations of this article are ridiculous.  Can't believe that I'm even linking to this story.

Here is different than there.  Harrison Ford is nearly deported from Indonesia for speaking too directly to a government minister about illegal logging that he witnessed.

I stumbled upon this article when the author was complaining in another story about death threats he had received after writing it.  I read the original piece and all I can think is "This is why people hate 'Liberals'."  I understand what he is saying - Blindly aping the "Support Our Troops" mindset does us no favours.  But come on.  His stance is just such over-the-top, academic, hoity-toity, look-at-me-I'm-a-professer garbage.  You can just see this guy going to every single party, letting a conversation carry on for 10 minutes, and then interrupting with an ill-timed "Well...actually" that just kills the participants will-to-live.  Okay fuckface.  We get it.  War isn't good.  Soldiers are the instruments of war.  Etc.  But you do realize that the average soldier really has no control over these decisions, right?  You realize many of these guys end up in the Army through less than ideal circumstances?  You realize that some of us recognize that these guys are doing a hard job and facing death due to the machinations of corrupt politicians and that perhaps it's not a bad thing to express a degree of support, no matter how hollow, towards that idea?  So fuck off with your pedantic lectures.  Even though that's your job, I guess.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Keeping Busy in our Free Time - Week 123 - Sep 2-9

I can't believe this is a thing.  Stephen Harper's hockey book is out soon.  Obama's book on basketball to follow.  Then Americans heads will explode and the government will fall in a revolution.  Because that's what would generally happen if a population found out that their leader had written a book about a sport.  In his "free time".

Because nothing is more important than some Albertans guns getting temporarily taken away during a flood...I can't believe this is still a story.  Do these people think this is America?  We don't give a shit about your right to own a shotgun.

And here's what's wrong with North American drug laws.  What percentage of Canadians have admitted to marijuana use?  50, 60%?  More?  And that's just those who have admitted it.  So this lawyer is pointing out that under US law, 50-60% of Canadians (and probably more) are barred from entry into the US.  I have to go look this up.  Ahhhh...can't find anything.  10% active users though.

An interesting article in the Tyee about Republicans coming around to climate change, and some that are even proposing a carbon tax.  Interesting tidbit: "Heartland ran a billboard in Chicago comparing believers in global warming to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber... called off future billboards featuring Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro"  Reminded me of a discussion the CBC had a few months ago with Bob Inglis - former Conservative Congressman who considers a carbon tax.

A sad article on the state of BC Hydro.  I don't know much about IPP producers.  But I have dealt with BC Hydro through Powersmart, where they pay industry millions of dollars to implement projects that will save them money.  By them, I mean the companies that take Hydro's money.  Not Hydro.

This article on life expectancy in Slate was very interesting.  But what I really took from it was this.  People are stupid.  Always have been.  Seems like we always will be.

I thought it was a rule that University students were required to march around campus doing stupid shit?  Fuck, we would have all been expelled had we actually been held accountable for what was coming out of our mouths back then.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Existential Crisis - Week 122 - Aug 26 - Sept 3

Oh man.  I just can't get interested.  Sorry people.  I have a few stories for you this week, but something needs to get me more engaged.

There appears to be some evidence that senior Conservative Senators are full of shit and knew all about the Duffy/Wright affair.

Some more information on Robo-Calls, including a detailed timeline.  To me, it sounds nearly impossible that this was the actions of one lowly guy, acting alone.

From my cold, dead hands...Love this story.  First, the police talk about how dangerous all of these weapons are and how they could have found their way into the hands of criminals.  And then at the bottom it mentions that almost all of the weapons are legal in Canada, it's just illegal to re-sell them on the "black market".  Sensationalist garbage designed to stir up fear.

The Fraser Institute thinks we should only allow immigrants into the country that have been hand-picked by businesses and industry.  Which also seems to be the policy of our Conservative overlords.  Yah...nothing could go wrong with that.

People love to complain.  Complain about police not having tasers.  Then complain about the cost of the tasers when the police announce that they're going to issue tasers.

John Baird talks tough to Syria.  Which, to me, seems a bit like a Vancouver High School President talking tough to a Toronto street thug.

The Sun compares pro-Palestine ads with homophobic or sexist material.  And won't actually tell us what the ads say.  Perhaps buses aren't the place for politically charged advertisements, but this isn't the way to argue it.  This story shows the actual ads...Huh...But oh man.  The comments sections of these things are really disintegrating.

A lady was stopped on Skytrain for a fare check and is now being deported, even though it sounds like she was following the rules.

More wasted military procurement dollars.

I've been meaning to post and read this for a while.  The CBC does a bit of a breakdown on our lowered crime rates.  There are no real revelations, other than "Don't credit recent Conservative legislation."
Mac Harb has decided to retire from the Senate and repay all the money that he owes.  Good for him, I guess.

An opinion poll has shown that 2/3rds of Quebeckers think that a ban on religious garments is a good thing.

This sounds vaguely Tea Partyesque...The Canadian movement of "Freemen".  Oh boy do they ever come out of the woodwork in the comments.  "Chemtrails" conspiracy theories...everything.

Dave Chappelle walked off stage last week.  Not many of the details were talked about.  This story is an interesting take on what happened and suggests that the crowd was a bunch of drunk, white frat boys that wouldn't stop yelling.  So he left.  And of course the comments degenerate into "Why Canada isn't or is racist."