December 31, 2007

Be It Resolved

If, in the course of five years, this goober can manage enough words in a row to write what (assuming ignored standards of quality) could be called "a book", then I can manage one of those and two full-length plays by December 31st, 2008.

And, as I'm Canadian and thus not actually able to make money doing that sort of thing, I'd better get my locksmithing course done sometime in there, too.

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posted by Thursday at 11:03 pm 0 comments

December 30, 2007

May I Suggest...

...The lovely Susie Bright's lovely blog for a little night reading?

Or reading at work, of course. Assuming you have a corner desk with no one peering over your shoulder. And a history may be useful, too.

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posted by Thursday at 11:10 pm 0 comments

Troop Support Means More Than A Codpiece

A phrase I'm really getting to despise is "Support The Troops". Especially when it's declared by these gibbering idiots.

If you do not know that supporting someone includes trying to keep them alive, please go sit in the corner with a plastic bag and see if you can change colours, okay?

And if you know someone who is a United States Veteran, please let them know they now have less than twenty days to apply for Veteran's Assistance.

Good luck.

***Update***
Looks like this story was wrong... mostly. Here's the explanation.

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posted by Thursday at 3:33 pm 0 comments

December 28, 2007

If It's Not One Parent...

...it's another. A couple years back, I had a silly bit of spam forwarded to me about immigration from one parent, and now I get another. Here's my reply:

Oh, dear. You really do have to be careful who you send this stuff to, you know. Says your son, who's been on welfare. Or did you forget that?

(Heh - you should see the one [XXX] forwarded to me about immigration.)

Well, on to the story (with a teeny bit of commentary):

----- Original Message -----

From: [XXX]

Subject: Fw: This guy makes a good point!

----- Original

Not very, no.

This was written by a construction worker in Fort MacMurray ... Read on...

Bullshit. This is a form letter I've seen a half dozen times in a half dozen years. Any guesses why the font suddenly changes when it comes to the town name?

I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to earn that pay cheque, I work on a rig site for a Fort Mac construction project, I am required to pass a random urine test, with which I have no problem.

Really? Which site? Because that's not legal in Canada (though this is "under review" by the current administration). You wouldn't happen to be lying now, would you? Because even in the U.S. welfare isn't exactly the easy way to go.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Like, say, farming subsidies? Highways crews? Canada Council Arts grants? Help me out, here!

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare cheque[...]

Ah... THEM! The great unwashed masses.

[...]because I have to pass one to earn it for them...?

Actually, you don't.

Please understand - I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sit on their arse drinking beer and smoking dope.

And the difference is...?

Tell me, precicely please, how drug testing is going to stop people from collecting a welfare cheque.

In fact, do you know any damn thing about what someone on welfare has to do to qualify? Any idea how humiliating most of us find it? Do you know that the average person who does go onto welfare stays on for SIX MONTHS? Do you know that most welfare payments are to single mothers? Can you suggest a way for them to look for work and raise her children at the same time? Is that what you had in mind when you went on this idiotic screed, or are you still stupid enough to buy in to the ancient Ronnie Reagan lie of the welfare queen picking up her cheque in a limo?

Could you imagine how much money the provinces would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance cheque?

And one more clue that this was probably copied from the U.S. - which type of "public assistance" were you thinking of? Welfare? Child subsidy? Unemployment insurance? Canada Pension Plan? Good lord, those damn seniors are loaded to the nuts on all sorts of drugs! Why should they get off scot-free? Shouldn't the beer be tested for, too? Alcohol is, after all, a drug. So's tobacco, come to think of it - and a lot more people piss their money away on smokes of the legal variety than of the non-legal sort. Or is sitting on one's "arse" drinking beer and smoking Players Lights considered acceptable?

Please pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't.

Hell with that noise! If I read something stupid, I react to it. Terribly sorry about that.

Hope you will pass it along though, because something has to change in this country, and soon!

Really. And why is that, exactly? Because we're suddenly going broke? We're being overwhelmed by Them Dirty Hippies Corrupting Our Youth? Because lawlessness and anarchy rule the streets?

Tell me, oh please do!


Eagerly awaiting a reply,

Thursday



***As a side note, let me just say that I hate hate HATE transferring forwarded spammail into Blogger!***

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posted by Thursday at 9:15 pm 0 comments

December 26, 2007

Perfect(or)!

So my parents recently came by for a lovely Christmas dinner: the bad news is that they brought a bottle of wine with them.

Now, I do love my parents, but my word they make some horrible wine. Like many on a farm, they made wine out of pretty much anything that came from the outdoors: grapes, plums, cantaloupe, carrots… It’s what happened next that was the nightmare. One memory of my old home is the parents siphoning wine out of the carboy while it was still fermenting so they could have a bottle handy for dinner.

*shudder*

So the bottle they brought was all set to go: Sure, it was only a week old, but it had been aged by the “Amazing Wine Perfector” made (or possibly just imported by) by Danmar Beer and Wine Supplies. We thanked them, and immediately put the bottle in the wine cellar (okay, it’s just a crawlspace) to actually age, despite their protests.

I tried finding some information out about this miraculous device, but only found this question-screening screen at Danmar, and this question-ending screen from the Amazing Wine Perfector itself.

Here’s the claim:

Test for yourself this truly unique product. Simply pour off a glass, place your bottle of red wine on the the Wine Perfector coaster for 30 minutes and compare. (taste the 'treated' wine first before before your palate is covered with tannin)! The treated wine from the bottle will have a better nose, with a richer, smoother taste, revealing luscious layers of fruit flavour.

Wines, due to their varied characteristics, will show subtle to quite remarkable difference when treated with the Wine Perfector. The more tannin the more dramatic the difference.

The same results as if you had aged the wine in your climate controlled cellar for years.

Now that you know what to expect, simply place your opened bottle of wine on the Wine Perfector before serving and voilà. Your wine is ready to pour and enjoy. You will also improve the flavour of port, sherry, brandy, cognac and other barrel aged spirits.

There are several things wrong with testing a claim this way, of course; not the least of which is that it’s not a blinded test, in any way, shape or form. The second flaw is the tasting method: you MUST cleanse your palate between tasting samples! This is why water and neutrally flavoured crackers or bread is available at real tastings.

The best method for a taste-test between liquids is with three glasses, two of which have one product and one glass holding the other. The tester must not know which is which; but if there is a difference, then they should easily be able to discern that one of the glasses is either much better or much worse than the other two.

Here’s what I’d propose: we bring down two new bottles of our own wine, and the Significant Other would take them and an Amazing Wine Perfector into a separate room out of everyone’s sight. There, she would use the device on one bottle only. As it aged, however many glasses as needed would be marked A, B, or C (three glasses per tester). Half an hour later, she would pour the Perfected wine into either one or two of each A, B, or C glass, so that each set of three are identical.

Then the testers get to see if they can tell which glasses were “aged”, and which weren’t. Judging by the claim, it should be quite easy for all concerned.

So I think I’ll be making a phone call to the store itself to see just what information they have on how this odd device supposedly works. They are, after all, selling the item to their customers, so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind performing a double-blind test…? We’ll be heading down there in a couple of weeks, so we’ll drop by then and see what they have to say for themselves and their magical device.

As one shop proprietor said when hearing of the Amazing Wine Perfector: “Wine is a natural substance, and must be aged naturally.” We buy our kits from this gentleman’s shop, and there is nary a wine making woo-device in sight.

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posted by Thursday at 4:15 pm 3 comments

December 25, 2007

The Holiest Day: March 25th

You'd think that there would be another important day on the Christian calendar, given their predilection that life begins at conception...

Scene: Mud brick house. Two women, obviously friends, are talking. One [MARY] is dressed fairly conservatively, the other [BETHSHEBA] less so.

MARY: I mean, Joseph is a really nice guy…

BETHSHEBA: I agree!

MARY: He really cares about me, you know?

BETH: Total sweetie.

MARY: It’s just…

BETH: That you’re thirty and still a virgin.

MARY: I know, I know!

BETH: No, honey, you don’t; and that’s the point.

MARY: I do to!

BETH: Taking matters “into you own hands” isn’t the same thing, darlin’!

MARY: Well, I did find a piece of doweling that Joseph had lying around the shop…

BETH: Better, but still not the real thing.

MARY: There’s no way Joey can know about this, right?

BETH: You tell me: how often has he com home from work early?

MARY: He‘s a good worker; he wants to make sure we have enough money for when we have kids…

BETH: Yeah, well there’s something else he has to do if you guys want kids!

MARY: And…

BETH: Looked after is one thing, taken care of is another.

MARY: Maybe he’s gay?

BETH: Then the house would look nicer. Well the problem isn’t with you anyways, honey. You’re gorgeous!

MARY: But I’m so old!

BETH: If a guy’s smart, that just means you know what you’re doing.

MARY: That would be a lie.

BETH: I can change all that for you.

MARY: … What’s he like?

BETH: He’s a little older, but he’s done this sort of thing a lot.

MARY: Really?

BETH: Oh, yeah. He’s been around. I’d take him myself, but he’s got a real thing for virgins, apparently. He’s really excited to met you!

MARY: I don’t know…

BETH: The guy is powerful, too; really important. Like, REALLY important. Bit of a temper some times, but some old guys are like that. Grumpy teddy bears, really.

MARY: …

BETH: All you have to do is meet him. See what he’s like, and let it go from there. Look, even if he only wants one thing, that just means he won’t be hanging around later, right? Trust me, it’s a lot less complicated that way.

MARY: Okay. I’m just going to meet him though, all right?

BETH: Good for you! I’ll just go get him… Have fun! [leaves]

MARY paces back and forth, waiting. Soon we hear angelic voices in a heavenly choir, and a radiant light appears under the door. She opens it, and there is YAHWEH.

YAHWEH: Uh, hi. Mary, is it? [MARY nods] I’m Yahweh. [awkward pause] I brought flowers. [He gives her flowers]

MARY: Please, come in. [MARY waves him to the couch, where he sits]

[She take the flowers and puts them in a vase. YAHWEH watches her, and likes what he sees, especially when she ends over to put the vase on the table in front of the couch]

MARY: This was very sweet of you.

YAHWEH: No problem.

[She joins him on the couch]

MARY: So… Bethsheba has told me a lot about you.

YAHWEH: Really?

MARY: She tells me you’re a very powerful man.

YAHWEH: Well, I try not to brag too much, but yeah, you could say I’m a pretty important guy. [MARY moves closer as he talks] I’ve got the ear of the most important people in this town. When you’ve been around as long as I have, power’s just something you get used to wielding. I admit I was a bit reckless with it in my youth, destroying cities and all that; but you grow, you mature with time and realize your responsibilities, and -

MARY: Is it true you’ve got a… “thing” for virgins?

YAHWEH: Er… That’s a bit more direct than I’m -

[MARY jumps him, thrusting him back on the couch and hopping on with an eye-widening, satisfied yell]

MARY: OH! Oh, yeah… Oh, yeah… That’s it… Oh, God…

YAHWEH: Er, yes?

MARY: Mmmm.. Oh, God!

YAHWEH: Yes? What?

MARY: Oh, GOD!

YAHWEH: What? What?!

MARY: Rub my clit!

YAHWEH: Your what?

MARY: My clit!

YAHWEH: Um…

MARY: My clit! My clitoris!

YAHWEH: … I can’t seem to find it…

MARY: [grabs his hand] Right here! Oh, YES!

YAHWEH: [to himself] I didn’t put that there…

[They finally finish. YAHWEH, somewhat embarrassed, straightens up from a happily sighing MARY and places his robes back in order]

YAHEWH: [assuming an authoritarian tone] *ahem* In nine months, you shall give birth to the Savior of Man -

MARY: Hmm?

YAHWEH: Hey, could you listen here?

MARY: Mmm.. Yeah, sure…

YAHWEH: Right then. In nine months time, you shall give birth to the Savior of Man -

MARY: Say what?

YAHWEH: You are pregnant with the Christ-Child.

MARY: WHAT? Fuck!

YAHWEH: It is the greatest blessing -

MARY: Maybe for you! You’re not married! Damn it! Beth said I couldn’t get pregnant the first time!

YAHWEH: Er… I’ll send Gabe along later with the details.

MARY: Who’s that, your lawyer? ‘Cause you’d better have a good one, bub!

YAHWEH: Now, if you’re going to get all irrational about things, perhaps I should just go.

MARY: Yeah, I guess you should!

[YAHWEH leaves in a flash of blinding light, and voices are heard through the angelic choir: “So, did you get some?” “Shoots and scores, bro!” “Dude!”]

MARY: Oh, man… What am I going to tell Joe?

Merry Christmas, one and all!

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posted by Thursday at 2:20 pm 8 comments

December 24, 2007

For the Last Time!

Only Terrorists get locked up for any long amount of time! Really!

No, you don't need to talk to Narinder Singh.

And Homeland Security is NOT stupid in their enforcement of entry laws!

Who the heck is Erla Ósk Arnardóttir Lillendahl?

Just stop asking! Okay?

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posted by Thursday at 10:49 pm 0 comments

Good (Un)Intentions

I've already mentioned how the invasion of Iraq has helped Venezuela more than any other nation. It's made a hero of Hugo Chavez, even as he gains the enmity of the United States and Spain. Gosh, I just can't imagine why a man who is half Native and half Black and who lives in South America would feel that way...

However.

It's also allowing him to get other Central and South American nations out from the odious clutches of the International Monetary Fund and the horribly corrupted World Bank.

America hasn't yet recognized it, or at least not publicly, but they are going to have to decide how many fronts they want to fight on. They have used military might for financial reasons before, and both the World Bank and IMF are furious at Venezuela buying off the debts of other nations and escaping the usurious rates and crippling economic policies forced on them.

The upper echelons of power in the white house (I'll capitalize that when someone worthwhile in in there) and on Downing Street are staunch supporters of both institutions - many members of those upper classes directly profit from their actions - but is there any reason why the general populations of either the United States or the United Kingdom should be?

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posted by Thursday at 10:29 pm 0 comments

Consolidation is Good for Business!

Especially if your business is getting re-elected.

A note on why cartoonists count from my home province.

*Hat tip to sharper eyes than mine*

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posted by Thursday at 10:27 pm 0 comments

December 22, 2007

Blackwater's New Motto:

We're Batman!

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posted by Thursday at 12:56 pm 0 comments

December 21, 2007

Merry "C" Word, Everybody!

I'll let the folks at Whisky (just because they spell it wrong doesn't mean I should) Fire explain...

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posted by Thursday at 11:15 pm 0 comments

AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

*pant* *pant* *pant*

Okay...

Better now...

I just want to give the Honourable Prime Minister of Canada a little advice after seeing him on television yesterday. I don't know if it will help, but it's worth considering HOW OLD DOES PLASTIC MAN THINK WE ARE?!?!? FIVE!?!?

*pant* *pant* *pant*

Sorry. Getting it together now.

Whoo.... Sniiiiffff... Whooooo...

In his year-end interview with Peter Mansbridge on December 20th, Our Awkward Leader said this about Team Blue's environmental policies (note the sad nod when Mansbridge brings up "climate change" at the 9:20 mark):

I'm gonna tell ya what's gonna happen: [points] this will be a challenge [...] As soon as you are dedicated to actually reducing emissions, that imposes costs on [sotto voce] the economy. It imposes them in the short run. I'm already starting to hear the first, you know, the first cries from industry and from provinces [...]

There are gonna be very real costs, we believe those costs are manageable, but there is no way of getting emissions down without facing the short term costs, so that's gonna be a challenge for the government, because it is gonna impose some costs, and that's gonna provoke some reaction. [bravely] But it has to be done!

And I'd ask your viewers to think of that whenever they [waving hand] have other people out there saying we should be doing more. Because once we start really these things start biting.

The criticism that we're gonna be getting it that we're doing too much. [Looks down, sadly; yet, somehow, he gathers the strength to continue.]

And then he goes off on what's going to be the Official Party Line on climate change, "we can't do it alone". Or, as I paraphrased it, "we're not doing anything until everyone else does first."

What absolutely infuriates me about this little stump speech he gives is that he's acting like WE DON'T KNOW THE POSSIBLE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY!

Sorry, didn't mean to yell; but Lord Love a Duck, what the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks does he think we've been yelling about? We know, junior, we know! And we want you to do it anyways, okay?

And anyone who says you're "doing too much" deserves to be laughed out of your office and into the unemployment line. Because they, quite clearly, DON'T know the consequences of not having an environmental policy.

This might help. For the small stuff, anyways; like coastal regions and wetlands. Then I suggest you buy a map, and LOOK AT YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY AND SEE HOW MUCH WE ARE COASTAL REGIONS AND WETLANDS, ASSHOLE!

Whoops! Gosh, I have no idea where these emotional outbursts are coming from. Anyhow, I do hope that helps.

I do know that I feel better!

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posted by Thursday at 6:30 pm 0 comments

Dot... Dot... Dot... Part Two

The game continues!

See if you can connect these three things:

1) U.S. Senate passes a bill a couple years back to make it much, much harder to declare bankruptcy on credit card debt;
2) Banks, being mostly unregulated at this point, have been doling out sub-prime mortgages for years now (from $136 billion worth in 2000 to $635 billion in 2006) to entice new purchasers, qualified or not;
3) There is a massive increase in jingle mail, where people are walking away from homes that now carry more debt for than they are worth.

Last time I talked about the new bankruptcy law, I linked it to the then-new malpractice liability restriction. Holy nightmare if both disasters happen to you at once, eh?

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posted by Thursday at 5:58 pm 0 comments

Dot... Dot... Dot... Part One

Let's play a game!

See if you can connect these three things:

1) U.S. fertility rates hit a 35-year high;
2) U.S. teen birth rate increases for the first time in 15 years;
3) At least 14 states have declined sex education money, as to accept it requires the teaching of abstinence-only programs exclusively.

What blows me away is paragraphs like this, supposedly lauding the increased birth rate:

"The high-octane consumer economy, for example, helps women run households more efficiently in a number of ways, including making prepared foods more widely available, and weekend and late-night shopping possible."

And this:

"We also have a relatively high percentage of part-time jobs available," said Ronald Rindfuss, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina. "There's also more shift work outside the normal nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday schedule that enables parents to share child care."

These are good things, bear in mind. Much better than those evil, socialist Europeans who do stuff like this:

"[...]many European countries offer women incentives to have children, such as providing lengthy paid maternity leave, guaranteeing their jobs and subsidizing child care[...]"

I mean, it's obvious, isn't it? Which would you rather have?

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posted by Thursday at 5:40 pm 0 comments

December 20, 2007

A Round Europe

Last time in Denmark, this time in Sweden!

The Skeptics' Circle is up and running at Aardvarchaeology! And he's got just what you need...

So when are Finland and Norway stepping up to host one of these?

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posted by Thursday at 11:40 am 0 comments

December 19, 2007

A Vote For Low Expectaions

Watching Politics with Don Newman today, and they're going through the usual talking-head routine (one Con, one Lib, one Dipper), when the strange and useless Canadian Representation at Bali came up.

Defending his government's position ("We do nothing until everyone else does, first!"), the Team Blue rep made noise (around the 18 minute mark) about putting in place "the most aggressive environmental plan in Canadian history", and that "if you talk to anyone in industry, they'll tell you that."

Let me paraphrase: The regulations on industry are tough! If you don't believe me, ask my buddy who's drilling for oil right now if he wants less regulation.

Gosh, I can't imagine what he'd say. Can you?

Saying that the plan in place is the best ever is like saying someone in a coma is better than them being dead: true, possibly, but not by much.

The Perpetual Party did nothing for 13 years - if you're going to brag about being "better than them", you need a better set of benchmarks.

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posted by Thursday at 9:04 pm 0 comments

Well, He Didn't Die, So...

Arguably, the most dangerous thing on the ice during a hockey game is the same as the most dangerous thing during Ice Capades: it's those sharpened steel blades attached to everyone's feet.

And they do indeed have to be sharp to function properly.

Now, you'd think this would be obvious to anyone involved with skating in any way, shape or form: "Hey", they would think, "realistically speaking, we're doing the equivalent of playing basketball with Prussian helmets for elbow pads! Better be careful with these!"

Some, however, are apparently either too stupid or to psychotic to have noticed.

Chris Simon, a player who has been suspended from the NHL seven times for dangerous plays, has been suspended an eighth.

Here's why.

If you missed it, or don't want to watch allow me to describe what happened there: Jarkko Ruutu was at his bench, yapping away as usual, when Simon stretched his foot out under the linesman and hooked Ruutu's foot towards him, causing Ruutu to fall to the ice. No harm there.

Then he jumped on it.

If you don't want to see it, don't worry: the Ruutu isn't injured. Some base survival instinct, some tiny shred of whatever remains of Chris Simon's intellect thought "this is a really stupid thing to do" and he cut into the thickest part of the skate.

So let's think of whatever the hell it is Simon was thinking of. Was he hoping to:

A) Sever the tendons of an opposing player;
B) Break an opposing player's ankle;
C) Just sprain the opposing player's ankle; or
D) Field test the protective capability of Kohos?

As a result, the NHL in all their wisdom decided to kick him out of the league... Until February.

My.

For a league that's utterly paranoid of its image, to invite back someone who's had seven suspensions when his latest action was deliberate, dangerous, and insanely stupid, this is just not going to leave any kind of impression at all.

Simon's last suspension was for 25 games. That wasn't enough to make him think about any kind of repercussions: he planned to jump on Ruutu's ankle, and in fact pulled it closer so he could. The best result from his actions, from his perspective, was... what?

The man clearly can't control himself; either that, or he can control himself and doesn't care. Take your pick.

He's too dangerous to keep on the ice. Send him home.

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posted by Thursday at 8:08 pm 0 comments

December 18, 2007

All Inclusive Holistic Racism

This is arguably the clearest example of a "miracle cure" producer specifically targeting the ignorant, the poor, and the desperate.

What we have here is the brilliant theory that inaudible humming (or something like it) can cure guinea worm infection; but only in Africa, apparently. Likewise tuberculosis, snake bite, tapeworm, AIDS and malaria.

If you live in "the West", the only cures they have for you are for flu, bird flu, the common cold, and "injury", which strikes me as a fairly wide-open description. But the parasitic cures being promoted for Africa are ONLY for Africa: they are simply beyond your reach, apparently.

In the West's favour, however, is that Africans aren't allowed to receive the "injury" download, even though you'd think there would be quite a market for it...

However, why shouldn't the AIDS cure be available to the West? You want money, the West has it! There's a lot of cash out there for all sorts of cures; far more than in Africa. If only the poor are to have one cure and the rich another in some deranged variant of altruism, does that mean there are no poor in the West?

It's almost as if the only downloads they want the far more skeptical West to try using are the self-diagnosed, the vague (injury), the self-curing (cold, flu), or the absent (bird flu). And there are NO free downloads for anywhere in Asia at all! Gosh, why should that be?

How about because any so-called cure for parasitic infection is easily diagnosed in the West, while similar access to diagnostic equipment is far more difficult in poorer nations; add to that the built-in excuse that someone who is crushingly poor is not likely to be mobile. This means that the same someone who was infected once is likely to be exposed to the same infection, which the purveyors could claim happened after they had been cured.

But wait! That's only the free downloads that are limited in scope! If you want to pay for it, the magic of inaudible humming (or something like it) can cure damn near anything - though "epidemic and serious disease downloads are limited to professional homeopaths only", which surely brings a sigh of relief that they can't possibly be misused!

So if you're looking for something to clear up those nasal polyps, genital herpes, human papilloma virus, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, poverty consciousness, ulcerative colitis, leprosy, any septic wound, religious fanaticism, syphilis, mobile phone toxicity, fear in the womb trauma, or epilepsy, then this just might be the thing for you!

You can even cure your kids of rubella or scarlet fever!

But don't worry about its legitimacy, as "there is a line of continuity back a billion years"; just please don't ask what the Sam Hill that is supposed to mean. And they do have listed on their web site this almost-disclaimer:

"If listening once daily for a week, or often in an infectious illness, has no affect on a chronic problem or disease then it maybe there is a more pressing problem, it’s a wrong understanding of the problem, wrong diagnosis, etc and stop."

After all, since you diagnosed your illness yourself before downloading the audio cure, it must be your screw-up if the cure doesn't work!

And if that doesn't tell you all you need to know about the care these folks have for you and your illness, then perhaps you need to listen more.

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posted by Thursday at 2:38 pm 1 comments

December 17, 2007

I'd Like To Go To Vegas...

...It is, after all, where I got married.

It would be great to see if Reverend Rudy is still at the Graceland Wedding Chapel, and let him know we're still together and having a blast.

I'm dying to see what is in their art museum.

I want to sit at a poker table in Caesar's Palace, at whatever stakes, just to say I have.

Heading down there when the Canadian dollar is close to par with the U.S. would be good timing, too!

But you know something? I may have to wait an election or two first...

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posted by Thursday at 11:21 pm 0 comments

Is It Christmas Yet?

Have a geek you don't know what to get?

Can't afford an expensive gift?

Insist on recycling?

Like toys?

Amish?


Any of the reasons above are good enough to get a paper animation kit from Flying Pig!

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posted by Thursday at 2:25 pm 0 comments

December 16, 2007

Women = Clowns

The abuse of women comes down to the clowns.

Let me explain:

First, there's another member for our brigade of Honorary White Trash! We can add the family of Aqsa Parvez to the list.

What makes some people so cowardly, so utterly terrified of women that they must control their every move? And don't kid yourself: this is fear.

Not fear of "losing control" - that's an excuse to rape, not a "loss of control". When one of the leaders of a sect won't even look at the person interviewing him, you know he's got woman issues. Forcing women to wear burkhas or chadors is not even mentioned in the Koran! That women should "dress modestly" is as close as it gets. And I won't even mention Mohammed's first wife being a successful businesswoman...

This could be considered a religious issue, but I'm not convinced it is - certainly not limited to a single religion, anyways. The suppression of women in both ancient and modern Christian, Muslim and other faiths is well enough documented to move beyond that. Abuse of women is all to common in secular regions, or in circumstances where religion plays no part.

This could be considered a teenage rebellion issue, but let's be serious here: a kid acting up, even to the extent of being "uncontrollable"is going to get, what? Kicked out of the house, perhaps; maybe even arrested. But killed by their parents? Name the last time that happened to a young man.

Bottom line: it's the clowns.

There's a common fear of clowns, and it often walks hand-in-hand with a fear of children and a fear of toys. If you saw the movie Toy Story, you may remember how the toys stopped the local bully from treating the young "hero" badly: they came to life and threatened him. Sounds odd, sure; but how we treat others is both a signifier and result of that fear.

Not sure where I'm going with this? Here's another analogy that may make more sense to you: slaves.

The Ku Klux Klan started as a response to former slaves being freed, and the terror many white people held for that idea. The reason for the whites fear wasn't just the possible loss of social position, as Harper Lee discussed in To Kill A Mockingbird - though that was certainly part of it.

The fear came from a fear of retribution. As poorly as the slaves were treated, in America the idea of them being freed was not considered possible, and so retribution was never thought possible.

Which brings us to the childish fear of toys: unanimously, those who fear toys are those who deliberately destroyed them when they were younger. It's not a binary equation, of course, as lots of typically psychotic youth did horrendous things to Mr. Potato Head or Captain Kirk; but guilt and fear bring nightmares of inanimate things springing to life for the sole purpose of revenge.

And to clowns. We laugh at clowns, dumping public scorn and ridicule on them with their helpless antics and terrible misfortunes. That the open derision is publicly acceptable makes it no more bearable; even that they make themselves the targets by their costumes ("They look so different!") is little solace if you imagine yourself in their place: how you would feel, what you would want to do to those who mock...

Again, it's not everyone who feels this way; but there are enough who know what their history is, how they treated others, others they never expected to be anywhere near their equals: the worse they behaved towards these "others", the more terrified they are...

And here is where I'll leave you to consider fears and why they come.

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posted by Thursday at 9:58 pm 2 comments

Let It Rest, Already!

I was watching Sunday Report today at work (I won't tell if you won't), and there was a light-hearted report on the changing attitudes of men and women in a changing society etc. - pretty standard stuff, and nothing you haven't heard before.

There is one note I do wish people would give up as a rather stupid argument, this time from Susan Bordo, author of The Male Body :

"Phallus is an idea about male power, that is associated with the penis in a particular mode. They're cars with enormous long prows; they're rocket ships; they're all of those products of the masculine mind that are... suggest a penis that is never soft, that's always ready to perform, that's always hard."

And as per usual, you have a series of images playing of the CN Tower, and a rocket launch, and cars.

The problem I have in accepting this, ah, andropomorphic obsession is that there really are very few shapes that are otherwise appropriate for these items!

Skyscrapers?

What other possible shape could be used for high density living? Which reminds me: if the CN Tower is a penis, what is the gently rounded sports stadium beside it represent...? And shouldn't there be two of them?

Cars, rocket ships and other aircraft (and pretty much everything else that moves)?

The most efficient shape for something to get through atmosphere is oblong. Really! A flying breast just isn't very aerodynamic, I'm afraid.


So could people just give it up on making everything built by humans into penises? Even cars have given up on bragging about the length of their vehicles; though do seem fatter now... "stockier", almost. Thicker, I suppose is the best word to describe them. Especially SUVs.

Can't see what soccer moms like about them, really.

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posted by Thursday at 9:00 pm 0 comments

December 12, 2007

They're Scared! Er, I Mean Sacred!

You have GOT to be kidding me.

A special house resolution about how special Christmas is?

Good - Freakin' - Lord.

This is the whining of a little kid saddened that he got a stupid sticker in his Cracker Jack (tm) instead of the plastic ring he really, really wanted. And now Mom's gonna hear about it for the next twenty or thirty days unless she buys him one.

I mean, really: is this thing serious? Well, 'Tis the Season for Pandering, I suppose. Better have a look-see...

Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.

Off to a roaring start, there. I notice Christmas comes first for ya, though! Can't say I blame you.

Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans and many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world;

Yeah - there's waaaay too much pagan symbolism in Easter, anyways. Rabbits and eggs? Sheesh! Hellooo, fertility rituals! Now help me put Santa on top of the tree, here.

Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the American population;

But would you let your daughter marry a Rosicrucian? Catholics, of course, are right out.

Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians throughout the world, making Christianity the largest religion in the world and the religion of about one-third of the world population;

Er... I suppose we have to include Catholics, then, don't we? Well, okay... but no fucking Amish!

Whereas Christians identify themselves as those who believe in the salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice of their savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and who, out of gratitude for the gift of salvation, commit themselves to living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible;

Very, very specific teachings of the Holy Bible. In fact, the fewer bits we have to actually read and act upon, the better; cause trying to obey the whole thing is actually a bit of a pain.

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the development of western civilization;

Better thank the Irish, then. Gah! More Catholics!

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that points observers back to its roots in Christianity;

Okay, now it's getting interesting! Bet you this is actually what the whole spiel is about, right here: the declaration that the United States was founded "as a Christian nation" because most of the folks who were there at the time were Christians. One poison pill, sugared up and ready to swallow.

Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ;

And Thank God no one else does!

Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace; and

LOOT! And LOOT, you fool! LOOOOT!

Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the United States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas as a time to serve others: Now, therefore be it

Oh, you noticed? Now, have you noticed that these same people, Christian and non-Christian alike, try carrying that feeling throughout the year? No? Well, you're right - who would bother, really...

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

      (1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;

      File under "no shit";

      (2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;

      As you should all your citizens, douchebag;

      (3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;

      Repeat file;

      (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;

      Ah ha.

      (5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and

      And no one else? Um, hello? Bigotry and persecution are bad things, genius; but they get directed at a hell of a lot more than just "Christians, both in the United States and wherever the hell else exists"! Better make damn sure there are no gay Christians, or female ones, or any darker than, say, the frighteningly cubical John Tesh.

      (6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

      And?


Bottom line, here: this entire whiny, drawn out, pitiful exhibition exists for two reasons only. First, to pander to the delusional "War on Xmas" crowd, headed up by the Gigantic Head himself; and second, to put the squeeze on anyone who knows better than to fall for the "America was founded as a Christian Nation" line. Supporters can point to the two lines I've noted above and say: "See? Even the Demon-crats say so!"

Because there's no way, absolutely no way anyone in either the House or Senate is going to oppose this bill, as ignorant and racist* as it is, because who wants to go into their next election fight as the person who was against Christmas?



*If you disagree, ask yourself if this singles out a race, religion, or creed for special treatment. Then ask yourself why.

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posted by Thursday at 8:18 pm 0 comments

December 11, 2007

I Shall Endure!

Interesting (as ever) post on Nellioness' site a couple days back: advice on having men last longer during sex. **Added Note: link not, not, NOT safe for work!**

And don't worry, you can just read without being traced. Even leave anonymous messages, if you'd like to share your own experiences. I'm copying out my own comment, and expanding on it a little:

The Significant Other and I found an interesting circumstance: sex really is all in the mind!

We passed out tenth anniversary this August, and were intimately involved for a year before that. In being so, we now have a history of experience with each other: we both know how good the other is already, and that anticipation comes into play every encounter we have.

Something you WON'T hear from idiot shows like Keys to the VIP: sex gets better the longer you're with someone. Assuming you're interested in making it so.

The biggest problem is that the most exciting thing to me is a woman reaching orgasm, and at this point the SO gets there really soon, and usually repeatedly. Great for quickies, but for a night of it we've got to change the game plan...

Not that that's a bad thing!

We've added a grab-bag of tricks, toys, and twists to the standard variants of coitus over the years, but have to find time to play with them. It's a bit cold to be "tie-me-down" weather, and our schedules are often conflicting, and her recent medical history cooled things off as much as the season has.

Yet when I have sex with someone else, I can last just fine. The condoms help, of course; but I've used those with the SO and have still had the same issues *ahem*. Not having the built-up sexual history seems to make the most difference. Perhaps it is a matter of still exploring what works for someone rather than going for what I already know works perfectly well that makes all the difference. Hmm.

Perhaps the next toy we buy should be a pith helmet?

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posted by Thursday at 12:52 pm 0 comments

December 10, 2007

Four Dead, Thank God!

"I just want to thank God for letting me score the winning touchdown."
"Why does God hate your opponents?"
"Um... Because... they're apostates?"

-Second City sketch

"God was with me and the whole time I was behind cover -- this has got to be God, because of the firepower that [the gunman] had vs. what I had -- was God."

-Security guard Jeanne Assam


Herein lies my problem with worshipers. Well, one of them, anyways: credit where it's not due. Ms. Assam believed that God helped her kill a psychotic gunman, but apparently it didn't occur to her that he didn't help out any of his victims before she did. Why, for instance, did He decide to let police lose the gunman's trail after he had killed two young church members?

I guess they just weren't devoted enough to Him. Otherwise, they would have caught him and he wouldn't have killed two more young women before he was stopped.

I wouldn't mind if she had said that her faith in God gave her the courage to face the psycho down. I understand the sentiment: even if she was killed, her soul was consigned to God already etc etc. She acted bravely and necessarily to save the lives of who knows how many others, and should rightly be commended for her actions. Instead, she claims that God was with her and gave her "the assignment to end this".

Here's a question: would God have been there if she wasn't?

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posted by Thursday at 4:58 pm 2 comments

December 08, 2007

A Tale Of Two Countries

One last time for the Friedman Fanatics out there: the free hand of the marketplace doesn't do a damn thing but make profits for those folks who run companies. It doesn't help a society in any other way. This is important: companies have to make a profit and be competitive if they wish to survive, but to expect them to experience sudden bursts of altruism is naive in the extreme.

Yet many companies do such things. How do I explain that, then, huh? Huh?

Simple enough: the companies can get good advertising from behaving in a socially responsible way, which is good for the company; but they also get tax breaks for helping out, which is a fiscal incentive provided by the government.

Yep, the evil "G-word".

Governments have much more visible responsibilities to their populations than companies do their customers. This is never more visible than when a government applies restrictions or rules on an industry: almost invariably the industry in question will fight it tooth and nail, either by forming Astroturf "people's committees", loudly declaring that the new rules (or the ability to bypass existing ones) will render them bankrupt or unable to compete in the world economy, or trying to entice legislators into attaching poison-pill riders to the bill or simply voting against it.

While there are enough examples of governments changing the laws to benefit corporations, I'm going to look at two things that have happened recently in Canada and the U.S. that show what governments may do for a much vaguer issue like the environment. I'm choosing the environment as the case study because it is an issue well beyond the scope of a company or even of a single nation.

Both of these nations have free market economies within democracies, and both have a conservative ideology in their leadership; there are differences in the powers of each government in relating to their citizens, and that will show up later.

In Canada, the recent meetings in Bali has shown where exactly we stand on climate change: no where. The government that is in power now first pulled out of the Kyoto Accord, loudly proclaiming that they wanted (and would come up with) a "Made in Canada solution" instead of one imposed upon us. Petroleum businesses, needless to say, were enthusiastic. Now, the federal government says they'll sign an agreement only if every other nation is held to the same standard we would be: absolute consensus or no deal.

The problem there being twofold: first, there won't ever be absolute consensus, unless the agreement is reduced to "will think about trees one day per year"; and second, our standards suck. Yes, despite all our advertising about the wondrous outdoors and natural beauty that abounds, we're one of the worst polluters in the world.

In short, the Conservative government in power now is using the same tactic the Liberal one did: talk about doing something until the problem goes away.

In the U.S., a recent bill has passed the House demanding an improvement in minimum car fuel efficiency by 2020. This will be the first time in over thirty years such a law will come into effect - can't imagine what was happening then. Manufacturers are not pleased about it, but more importantly neither are petroleum producers, as they are having their $13 billion in tax breaks recently handed them taken away again.

The government is enacting this bill simply because the auto industry isn't. The technology for more fuel efficient cars is already existent, but isn't being used except in a few brands. The changes are happening slowly, and in some cases not at all; so some added muscle is being applied to make sure the work actually gets done.

The bulk of opposition so far seem to be coming from the petroleum producers and their supporters, who are claiming that the reversed tax breaks "will increase fuel costs". But seeing as granting the tax breaks in 2004 did nothing to reduce the same costs, why should that be? I digress.

These are sorts of things that governments can do for their citizens. The same citizens (that would be us) can also force a government to act on issues which concern them when industry - and Milton's Magic Hand - fail them. Not a bad idea to remember that.

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posted by Thursday at 12:53 pm 0 comments

December 06, 2007

Happy 75th Anniversary!

Short, simple, and sweet marks the 75th edition of the Skeptics' Circle this time out. Actually, it's short, simple, sweet, and Danish.

Mmmm... Danish....

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posted by Thursday at 2:07 pm 0 comments

December 05, 2007

A Geek of Every Era

What does it say when I'm just as turned on by a steam-powered toy boat (comes with a boiler and everything!) as I am by a molecule chain... er, key chain. Or a t-shirt that detects wi-fi in the area.

Time to make a new Christmas list...

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posted by Thursday at 8:00 pm 0 comments

December 04, 2007

The Thing About Knowledge Is... *Updated*

...It doesn't go away.

Reading biographies of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, a few of them mention what happened when they told friends and/or coworkers that they had to leave town for a while: they got the reply: "Oh, are you working on the nuclear bomb project?"

That for the most secretive project in military history, with the possible exception of the Ultra project.

This wasn't proof of a leak in the high offices of government or army; it was a proof that physicists of the time knew what the hell was going on. Building an atomic bomb was not just theory at that point, but was something that could be put onto a blueprint. The math was already done. And when an atomic theorist friend of yours says he's leaving suddenly and can't say where to, and is joined in absence by several other leaders in the same field, it's a pretty safe guess something big is going down.

Why am I babbling on about this? Because knowledge is unstoppable. This is a basic truth of life. When humans used perspective in painting for the first time, the very way we think was changed forever. Show someone who had never seen a body of water before a boat, and they'll come up with their own design for something that floats, displaces water and carries people. They may have to work out the details on their own, and it will look different from the original idea, but eventually it will work. Granted, sometimes it takes a special sort of mind to manage it, but minds we have.

Once we know an idea is possible, we'll wedge it in to reality somehow. It's what we do.

The catch is this: once knowledge gets out there, it's available to anyone and everyone. Especially if the math is already done. Which makes the just-released NIE report so damning.

Which is why anyone who wants to go to war to stop knowledge is fighting a losing cause.

Period.

*Updated: H-H-H-Help Me, Doctor Zaius!*

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posted by Thursday at 9:42 pm 0 comments