Tuesday, July 31, 2007
How Green is Green?
I remain sceptical. The environment is one of those issues that I take pride in knowing a great deal about. I don't believe climate change is as much as a concern as outright pollution. You know, real, honest to goodness smog generating pollution (like VOCs - volatile organic compounds, soot, fumes, dirt, that are pumped out by the thousands of tonnes, yet none coverage by the Kyoto accord.)
I would rather spend time and money trying to get factories in urban and sub urban areas to install scrubbers and carbon absorption to handle the smog generating chemicals and toxins rather than worrying about carbon dioxide and water vapour.
Climate Change is always going to happen. We live on a dynamic planet where we use our weather patterns to demonstrate chaos theory. Nothing is static. Nor will it be. We, as humans, have to use our God given intellect (or, if you prefer, our evolutionary luck-generated intellect) to adapt and overcome.
Which leads me to this:
I do what I can to reduce electricty use.
I compost quite aggessively (although the decompostion of organics produces carbon dioxide so strike one for the greenhouse one tonne challenge).
I would support a wind farm in our town (althought it may wreak havoc on our migratory birds).
I don't use plastic bags at the supermarket (although we actually purchased those "green bins" that will be here several thousand years past the decline of man).
But, am I green enough. Will I vote green because I am concerned about the environment. No, because I am more concerned about the high taxes that make it necessary for families to have two cars because the have to work two jobs. I am more concerned that our healthcare is failing because we don't take responsibility for our own healthcare needs and costs. I am more concerned that my children are going to be able to get a decent education AND not get shot while walking to school.
All of these are my priorities and as such, I won't be voting for the green party.
PS However, if MMP representation passes, I plan to start my leadership bid for the Green Party :-)
Monday, July 30, 2007
He has my vote...
What I find ironic is the same people who openly admitted that they rigged the contest that voted Tommy Douglas as the "Greatest Canadian" are soiling themselves over this magazine's survey results.
Lawyers Are Sensitive
Having a number of friends who are in said profession, I have to watch my tongue here. That being said, I think that the response thus far has really be a case of "thou doth protest too much, me thinks." I really think the reaction from various lawyers is not only over-the-top, but poor strategy in general.
Firstly, the article - which I have read - is actually an interview with a lawyer, Philip Slayton, who wrote a book entitled Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada's Legal Profession, about the shortcomings of the legal profession. Its not even MacLean's folk who are drawing the "rats" conclusion. So, targeting MacLean's doesn't make a lot of sense.
Secondly, sending out press releases, writing articles, blogs, and general wringing of hands is only playing into MacLean's ultimate goal: to sell magazines. If you want more people to read that article, that's a hell of a way to do it. Where there's smoke there's fire. I ask you: are these the actions of an innocent party? (Sorry, I couldn't resist)
Thirdly, Slayton is totally right in that law firms are driven by profit. And in any profit-driven company, the client is always right. Law firms that consistently tell their clients "you really shouldn't do that, and I'm not going to find a legal loophole to enable you" won't be in business for long. I've seen it - the emphasis is finding the gray area and arguing on definitons, rather than focusing on the spirit or intent of the law in question.
Fourth, I think the lawyers who are commenting (Exhibit A, your honour) are wholly missing the point. Its author, as he points out in the interview, is not trying to use specific cases to draw the conclusion that the entire profession is corrupt or evil; he's saying that its a major flaw that lawyers are disciplined by lawyers. The US and the UK are reforming their legal systems to address that issue. Right now, all disciplinary matters in the US are tried in court rather than an internal system like the Law Society of Upper Canada.
No Canadian reforms are being discussed and Mr. Slayton thinks it should be. Doesn't he have a point? Isn't the disciplinary system, as it stands, a conflict of interest? Aren't these knee-jerk defensive responses only proving his point - that the legal profession has invested self interests and view their colleagues in a particular light?
For my part, I have had a lot of experience with lawyers. Many are very good friends of mine. In general, they are good, honest, community-minded people. But being a lawyer is like being in an exclusive club; and they all are proud to flash their membership badges. Law firms generally are cliquish, with a lot of self-aggrandizing backslapping: they're only a secret handshake away from being the Stonecutters.
Don't you think they would err on the side of on of their "own"? And even if that risk exists, shouldn't steps being taken to make sure you are above reproach when dealing with matters of trust, personal gain and criminality?
Word of advice for you legal beagles out there: people don't like lawyers for the same reason they don't like mechanics - you know more than they do about issues that affect them deeply and personally. In many cases, their life (physically, financially, professionally or otherwise) is in your hands. You have specialized knowledge and you charge out the butt for it. People are going to resent you. Unless you're doing legal aid on the east side of Vancouver, stop acting like some Robin Hood figure.
And instead of the "et tu, Brute?" routine, look past the senational headlines that are designed to get people to pick up a magazine and focus on what Slayton is saying. If you're truly as professional as you say you are, you'll see his critique as an opportunity to reflect and evaluate, rather than jump up and down in protest.
Case closed. Oops! I mean, I rest my case.
UPDATE: Looks like my tags worked. We've had visits from lotsa law firms and the Canadian Bar Association.
Oh, and Paul Wells. Of course, now that I've put him name on my blog means we get another visit!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I Make No Apologies For My Apology....
This is when someone is apparently apologizing to you, but within said (apparent) contrition there are two elements:
a) no real admission of wrongdoing;
b) a vigorous defense of what you are "apologizing" for.
For the original "kinsella apology", I'll let Adam Daifallah's post on the matter explain. Here's my example. Like many readers of the National Post, I was disgusted that Vision TV let violent crackpot Israr Ahmad on their network. So I wrote to them and told them their network would no longer be welcome on my TV set.
So I have copied their "kinsella apology" and highlighted the most fun parts - especially when the second line is that I've been misinformed by the National Post, something I didn't even reference in my original e-mail.
Subject: Dil Dil Pakistan (Israr Ahmad)
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 13:46:41 -0400
From: "VisionTV Audience"
Thank you for sharing your concerns about the issues raised in the
recent issues of the National Post.
suggesting that offensive comments were broadcast on VisionTV. At no time
were derogatory remarks about people of the Jewish community, or any
other group, broadcast on our network.
As Canada's multi-faith network, VisionTV celebrates the freedom of
religious expression and spiritual diversity that is uniquely Canadian. It
is part of our mandate to make airtime available to a broad range of
faith communities and ministries. However, we also understand that
fundamental freedoms must be balanced against each individual's right not to
be subjected to fraudulent claims and misrepresentations with respect
to matters of faith. We therefore review each program on VisionTV prior
to broadcast to ensure that the content complies with our Code of
Ethics, Standards and Practices. It is not always easy to achieve an
appropriate balance between these competing priorities. Decisions on what
content to broadcast are not taken lightly but are part of our ongoing
effort to provide both a wide range of faith perspectives and the highest
quality programming possible.
Israr Ahmad did appear on the program Dil Dil Pakistan, as reported in
the Post. But his comments in that program were limited to readings
from the Quran and interpretations of scripture from that holy text. The
offensive comments quoted in the Post were apparently made by Mr. Ahmad
in other writings. Again, those comments were not broadcast on
Having reviewed this matter with the producer of the program, and
having learned of Mr. Ahmad's comments outside of the Dil Dil Pakistan
program, the producer voluntarily agreed not to have Mr. Ahmad appear again
on Dil Dil Pakistan. We will also be broadcasting an on-air apology for
any offence caused Mr. Ahmad's previous appearance on the show.
VisionTV and Dil Dil Pakistan have a long history of promoting positive
dialogue and the peaceful teachings of the Quran. We will strive to ensure
in future that we maintain the highest standards of broadcasting to
achieve those goals.
As a broadcaster, VisionTV takes its responsibilities for content on
our network very seriously. In response to your feedback and comments
from other viewers, we have undertaken to review our Code of Ethics with
stakeholders including the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith, and
leaders of other Canadian faith institutions. It is often through viewer
feedback that we are able to improve our broadcast standards, and we
appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with us.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any additional
What is with this new PR trend? You basically spend the first part of your correspondence telling people you've done nothing wrong and that its really someone/something else that caused all the hubbub. WTF? By the time I got to the second paragraph, I didn't care what remedy they were proposing, because they really aren't sorry for what they did - they're sorry they got caught.
Someone at Vision TV (and David Miller's Office - I have my ribbon campaign e-mail response as well) better wake up and realize that this kind of kinsella apology just makes things worse.
The guy is a hatemonger. You let him on your network.
Who gives a rat's ass about what he was talking about when we was on-air?
And I'm very excited the producer "volunteered" not to put him back on the show. That was mighty nice of him.
As an aside, my favorite part of this whole saga is that the producer's explanation was that his kid is getting married and he usually does thorough background checks, but was "very distracted".
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
MY working thesis:
I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt......ONCE.
Once that person has breached that trust by cheating welfare, committing armed robbery, shooting a child, drinking and driving, etc.....that person should lose all rights and be tossed in jail until they rot.
That's just me.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
My working thesis
Left-leaning liberals and socialists believe all people are inherently good.
This is at the core of why they are willing to give almost anyone the benefit of the doubt, which is why they think welfare cheats are down on their luck, criminals need hug therapy, terrorists are freedom fighters and that government can solve most, if not all, problems.
The more I watch lefties at work, the more I believe they honestly and sincerely think people automatically will do the right thing and aren't really bad - just misguided.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Check out the "girl" lead!
Oh my god, I'm literally laughing my ass off as I write this.
Michael Moore Got Me Thinking...
So, I went and saw Sicko this weekend. I'm generally not a fan on Michael Moore, but I have to admit I always want to see what he's saying - which I guess means he's successful at what he's doing.
He has always stated that the purpose of his "documentaries" is to get people talking and thinking. And, he did get me thinking - but maybe not in the way he intended.
Firstly, a quick review: as with all Moore films, Sicko is a massive generalization that has been tailored to butress his thesis: in this case, that the American healthcare system (specifically health insurance) is profit driven and is not taking care of the people who use it.
Fair enough. As much as I complain about the Canadian system (I'm getting to that), I am very glad to be a citizen of a country that has universal healthcare. Now, Moore makes Canada (and the UK and France) look like a medical utopia, where everyone is treated immediately using state-of-the-art equipment. Uh, yeah. That happens.
Anyway, after his 2-town (London and Windsor) adventure, he states, rhetorically: "This may all be good, but aren't residents who live in these countries drowning in taxes?", to which he "answers" by talking to a British doctor. Interesting questions he asks: how much do you make? What kind of a place do you live? What are your incentives to make money? (that doctor made about $200K a year)
Moore doesn't ask how much of that is taken by the taxman, which would be the logical question to ask. Nor, when showing the doctor's nice apartment and Audi coupe did he mention how much his wife (who appears on screen) makes or what she does for a living.
ANYWAY, watching the film made me wonder why I'm so peterbed at the Canadian healthcare system. Here's my answer.
Its all about the taxes I pay. It sucks ass that tax freedom day is in June in this country. WAY, WAY, WAY too much of salary goes towards paying federal, provincal and municipal taxes. But hey - I understand that we need taxes for basic infrastructure, some social programs and yes, healthcare.
So, how can the government make li'l ol' B-Double happy? Here's how. I would MORE than happy to pay my share of taxes if you took some of the pressure off other areas that affect my pocketbook. Try deregulating industries that smack around Canadian taxpayers, so they have more disposable income. Some examples:
Why does it cost me $1500 to fly to Boston via Air Canada when in the US I can fly from one coast to another for $200 with Jet Blue? Its almost criminal. Open up the skys and let Air Canada compete with the big boys - instead of wasting its money trying to stomp out competitors like Porter Airlines.
The cell phone oligopoly here in Canada is a joke. A PDA costs $2-300 more here than it does in the US. And they just fleece you with their monthly rates and 200-year contracts. It is not uncommon for me to have a monthly $800 cell phone bill.
The TTC monopoly (and VIA) needs to go as well. Or at least they need to find corporate partners to invest in the system. The way it stands right now, ridership goes up and so do fares. That's insane and completely unsustainable. I know of large companies that specialize in transportation solutions who have had very innovative proposals quashed by TTC bureaucrats scared to DEATH that they will lose their hold on transit riders if any alternative transportation systems were even considered.
If the federal government had the courage to open up any or all of these industries to competiton, that means more money in the pockets of consumers. I care less about the taxes I pay and more how much I actually take home at the end of the day. If the various levels of government want less complaining about healthcare and taxes, but like the revenue, they may want to look at offering ways to make it easier (read: cheaper) to live in Canada.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Now, I too, am reading America Alone
I am looking forward to reading it and I will try to post some sort of review once I am finished with it.
B-Double, if you want to change the cover art on our blog, feel free.
Oh and I am still listening to Songs in the Key of Springfield as a warm up to the Simpsons Movie.
B-Double responds: I will be very interested to hear your thoughts on what I think is a very important book. I'm also very happy to change the book covers, although my real target is completely removing ANY reference to Battlestar Galactica. What kind of interplanetary nerd are you?
Friday, July 20, 2007
It's good to see Garth has some pull...
If Dion can bend a little, maybe our pal Jim will push harder for it in budget 2008.
I recogonize that the Tories can't do everything they want to do on the fiscal side of things because they don't have a majority....I also recogonize that saying things like the previous sentence gives all those critics a chance to scream "God no, don't give them a majority, they may actually act like principled conservatives."
But honestly, as a Tory, I was embarrassed by the last budget.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
From the GIVE ME A BREAK files:
It is another thing completely to spend $2.4 Million of taxpayers money to do so.
Hopefully Kinsella can spin this as a positive for the Fiberals. You know something like: I don't care that your child is autistic and I promised to fund your special needs...maybe John Tory can pay from his personal account because he is so rich and successful, he doesn't need the money.
Are You A Parent? You Need To Read This Post
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Here's The Sound of Toronto City Council Blinking...
Don't get me wrong - City Council does NOT have to raise taxes. They lost me when they announced that the $300M would only cover a part of the $600M+ shortfall they expect in next year's budget. There are a number of options Miller and his cabal have to bring Toronto on to firm financial footing besides saddling home and car owners with more fees. No one is saying that Toronto is in a tough financial situation; and yes - part of that is due to the downloading of provincially-mandated services and the decision to move away from big-ticket cpaital spending on things like subway lines (yep, that was my boy Mike Harris).
However, if Miller had the sticks (and the brains it seems) for it, he could get us out of this mess. Try reading this book, for one. Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith decided to open up his city to competition. But instead on making it about "contracting out", he encouraged the unions to bid as well. Because after all - who knows how to do the job better than they do? And guess what? 80% of the time they won the contract - albeit with a streamlined crew (who were deployed elsewhere) and at less cost.
And why do the cuts have to be swimming pools for kids? How about this program? Or this navel gazing exercise? Or this whole mess? Miller is completely within his rights to say "Sorry, guys. Lovely idea, but we have no money and we just can't do it."
Why, for the love of all that's holy, are the choices either closing libraries or 12% tax increases? That's a total shell game and we can't fall for it. So, were those proposed tax increases necessary? Hell, no. Am I glad they were shelved? You betcha.
Another side of me is saddened to see Toronto City Council squander an opportunity to become an "adult" level of government. They were the first municipality in Ontario to be given new taxing powers. The argument went: "Look, we're not a 'child' of the province. Give us responsibility and we'll do our own thing." I am completely in favour of that sentiment. Cities are the future - 85% of the population live in them. But in Ontario (and Canada), cities have always been the red-headed stepchild of the provincial government: "Sit in the corner and behave."
I give McGiggles and his government their due - they said they are willing to let Toronto take on responsibility and make tough choices. Those new taxes were a tough choice. But Miller, to his credit, was willing to step up to the plate and take the heat. And what did Council do? Defer the discussion and ask each provincial political party to come up with a plan on how to bail out Toronto.
That's not leadership. Its once again trying to pass the buck to your provincial mama and not live with your own choices. These guys took the absolute coward's way out and they should be ashamed of themselves. They have clearly told the province that they are not ready to be treated like adults.
While Toronto taxpayers revel in last night's reprieve from tax increases, they must also understand that cities in general just took a HUGE step backward. Most of the problems we will face in the next 10-20 years will be urban ones (infrastructure, gridlock, jobs, trade, competition, etc). Surely we all understand that it makes no more sense to let let the federal or provincial governments make decisions on local issues than it does for Toronto to weigh in on national defense (God help us!).
Congrats to the Canadian Taxpayers Coalition and their allies for a spirited defense of the average homeowner and taxpayer. But this is a silver lining on a very dark cloud.
POSTSCRIPT: So, to celebrate defering the tax hike to the provincial election to await the province's plan on how to bail Toronto out of their fiscal mess, they went and spent $1.2M on a money pit theatre. Every personal financial planner will note that if you're in tough financial straits, the key to reducing your household debt is to buy a big screen TV. Just think of it as an "investment" in your future entertainment.
Monday, July 16, 2007
A Good Gig If You Can Get It....
Homeless woman known in Paris as 'the princess' amasses a fortune of about $100,000
Published: Monday, July 16, 2007
Social workers in Paris were astonished to find more than $98,800 on a homeless woman when they moved her off the street last week, police said. The woman, known only as Denise, 66, had lived on the streets of Paris's chic 15th district for 10 years but authorities moved her on July 6 because she was dangerously close to a wall found to contain asbestos. Nicknamed "the princess" by locals, she was reluctant to leave. Police and social workers soon discovered why, uncovering the cash hoard in a variety of rubbish bags and old suitcases she kept around her. Police are mystified over how she amassed the fortune, which took a week to count, and Denise has not told them. Denise has since been moved to a halfway house in the Paris suburbs, while authorities mull how best to look after her money.
Almost $100K? If I gave the "princess" any money in the last 5 years I'd be at that halfway house demanding a refund!
Now, I know this is not exactly typical, but we all remember the Toronto Sun expose on the "shakey lady" fraud artist. I have also been accosted many a time by able-bodied dudes with nicer clothes than mine!
Spare some change? Pound sand, jackhole. Go sell your dog first.
Non-aggression pack faltering?
Now I was not a big fan of the Green-Liberal alliance. But not because I am worried about (or for that matter, care about) Peter MacKay.
I was not a fan because I cannot understand why the Greens would want to give up the $1.75 per vote per year they get in government subsidies. The Green party is slowly building up a base and some credibility. I think the Green Party should be invited to the leader's debate.
But unfortunately Elizabeth May is not a leader (TM).
She has squandered the potential for the first Green Party MP in Canada by tying her little red wagon to Stephane Dion's shooting star.
If the liberals get another majority, do you think the Green Party will have any influence. Unlikely.
If two or more Green MPs were elected in a minority government, do you think the party would have some influence. I don't know for sure, but why don't we ask those Socred members from 1979? or Belinda Stronach in 2004?
People will be asking: Do you actually stand for something? and the answer will not be: Fiscally Responsibility and Sustainable Environmental Stewardship. It will be: Anyone but Harper.
Friday, July 13, 2007
35% vs 39%
However, the math works out to a difference of 13 seats (115 at 35% vs 128 at 39% in a 330 seat house).
That is a rather significant difference.
But the real question is: Does anyone not involved in politics really care?
I have brought up the issue to many non-political types and the indifference is incredible. They all answer with the same, sarcastic "Oh, well, we really need more politicians!"
B-Double's Take: Could it be that Ontarians, generally, consider themselves Canadians first and do not feel the need to have their province's "voice" in the House of Commons reflect their position in the country?
I would suspect that if we as Ontarians had a more "Ontario First" perspective, those 13 seats would have all the meaning in the world.
For her part, Chantal Hebert over at the Star thinks this is part of a bigger trend of influence shifting away from Canada's most populous province.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Getting the old juices flowing
It was this bitterness which allowed me to write regularly and vent my anger at the man. Now B-Double is back and posting copyright material from Pixar, I can feel the juices flowing and am looking forward to reviving this blog.
It is certainly better than listening to him nag though.
PS I haven't fully settled on this colour for my postings, so expect a rainbow of posts over the next little while (not that there's anything wrong with that ;-)
B-Double added: I'm not prepared to take anything seriously from a guy who comments in purple. As for hijacking the blog (that's a little insensitive - shouldn't we say "liberated"?), it wouldn't be necessary if it was up to code.
Oh, and no more talking about "juices" - I just threw up in my mouth.
Mike Wazowski for President?
A rerun of Monsters Inc was watched by more US viewers than the Live Earth concerts.
Does that mean Mike "Ol' One Eye" Wazowski should be the democratic nominee in 2008?
He sure does have more charisma than Al Gore.
Better looking too.
Q-ADDED: I can't really make myself watch those hypocrites trying to pretend they are doing something for a worthwhile cause. In my humble opinion, the entire event was a Al Gore Campaign Fundraiser.
The Conrad Black Trial: Who Did Who To The What Now?
Okay, I'll admit it. After months and months of blogs, media articles and magazine spreads, not to mention a 38-page spread in the National Post, I really have NO idea what this trial is about.
Q-ADDED: There's a surprise. B-Double doesn't have a clue.
Okay. Its about fraud and bilking investors. My problem is this: with all due respect to my good friend Adam Daifallah, why do I care? Why does Maclean's magazine have a full-time columnist (Mark Steyn) covering the trial? Why does it lead national headlines?
And lastly, why am I finding it so hard to follow? Is it the fact that I only took grade 11 math and barely passed my general accounting courses in university?
Please, Lord, help me to understand!!!
Q-Added: The Canadian Press are all drooling over themselves. The majority of which want to see a conviction because they all worked for him at one time or another. The British press is even worse. Personally, I hope he walks and sues the pants off of everyone. The guy made his shareholders billions. Yes he got a bonus, but show me a CEO that didn't. The only reason they were "non-competes" is because they were tax free. Why wouldn't you want to get tax free bonuses, especially when they are legal.
Hipsters: a hand, please?
But as usual, there are no clear instructions on how exactly to do that.
Folks? A little help?
Danka in advance, hipsters!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I make no apologies for my Transformers obsession....
So, all the 30-year old guys get mocked for being jazzed about the Transformers movie. We're grown men, get a life, etc.
Fair enough. Until now.
NO ONE can say anything to me about being a loser when I saw a bunch of dorks (female dorks no less) who were dressed in full Harry Potter "school uniforms" at 8:00am this morning.
Yeah, those ties are WAY cooler than my Optimus Prime action figure I have in my basement.
Unleash the Awesomeness!
So, instead of nagging Q like some sort of 1960's-era housewife, I've decided to ante up and become a contributor. We will be making some fairly significant housekeeping changes ("The Simpsons" album? Not on my watch.) in our quest to satisfy our egos and attract more readers.
Here's hoping that me talking crazy and often will push Q to up his game. And we all know that when Q brings out those factoids, he's always on point.
Let's get things poppin, yo.
B-Double back in the saddle
Only fair, in that I used to do the same to him.
After a fairly hefty lunch, he has decided to get back to doing what he does best, blogging.
So, we are going to tag-team this blog and keep each other on the straight and narrow.
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