2014-10-30

What Excel can teach us about Jian Ghomeshi and his accusers

By now, even starving children in Cambodia have heard some of the sordid details about CBC Radio's Jian Ghomeshi's sex life. But for those needing a quick primer: Ottawa's version of "Bad Date Carla" published a tale of woe about a bad date with a guy who in retrospect could only be Ghomeshi, back in June 2013. About the same time, Ezra Levant and SUN media were hearing about sexual harassment issues at MotherCorp which earned them a (undeserved, it now seems) rebuke by CBC head Hubert Lacroix. Fast forward to this month: Jian Ghomeshi's father dies, and soon after the host (understandably) is given some personal time. Two days later, CBC surprisingly released Ghomeshi in an extremely odd (even at the time) press release. Later that day, Ghomeshi posted an extraordinary Facebook post putting forth his reason for the termination of their contract. He also hired a public relations firm and announced he was suing the Canadian taxpayer for $50M. The next morning, pointing out that the cat was now out of the bag, the Toronto Star started publishing allegations from reports they'd been collecting over several months from women claiming Ghomeshi sexually and physically assaulted them. Since then, a virtual tsunami of accounts have started coming forward, from CBC staffers he wants to "hate-fuck" to a non-anonymous account from Lucy from Trailer Park Boys. There are now 8 published accounts of 'inappropriate' behaviour floating around the news-world.

Of course, one of the key questions is what is inappropriate. As per Ghomeshi's Facebook post, he's into the famed "BDSM" lifestyle. [the author of this blogpost, for the record, is not. -ed] This means that the sort of things that people in normal relationships would consider abnormal and inappropraite behaviour is in this context entirely normal. Hair pulling, face slaps, puncturing skin, even emotional attacks such as demeaning names, phrases, and commands are perfectly cool and normal for people engaging in BDSM. For other people, not so much. Also key is whether or not the girls were as into the BDSM scene as Ghomeshi was: and whether they were cool with the actions they are accusing him of before or while they were happening.

Ultimately l'affaire Moxy Fruvous is a potential rabbit hole full of pitfalls and considerations and conditional clauses. Which brings us to Microsoft Excel.

If you've spent any time with Excel using it for more than just a giant two-dimensional poster board to change the colours of (don't ask), you're aware of nested IF statements.

The IF() function in Excel allows you to evaluate a situation which has two possible outcomes (e.g. sales are greater than $1000) and calculate a different value for each outcome. However, sometimes you need to work with situations where there are more than two possible outcomes. That's where multiple, or nested, IF functions come in handy.
Nested IF statements are ultimately what we need to evaluate if we're going to make any sort of sense of this entire affair.

IF Ghomeshi is telling the truth about the girl from his Facebook post just trying to smear him, she's a bitch.

IF Carla Ciccone is telling the truth about Ghomeshi, he's a creepy non-faggy asshole. But then again, she did let him basically fondle the hell out of her.

IF the CBC employee who Ghomeshi fondled at work is lying, she's the only female CBC employee ever that most of the country doesn't want to hate-fuck.

IF Ghomeshi did the things the three five seven eight some number larger than 7 women talked about to the Toronto Star, he's a serial abuser.

IF Ghomeshi did the things that these women claim but they consented to it at the time (either implied or explicit), then they are a bunch of lying bitches.

IF Ghomeshi did to Lucy from Trailer Park Boys what Lucy from Trailer Park Boys said, he's guilty of violently roughing her up

IF Ghomeshi did that, but then she still went on dates with him afterwards, she has nobody to blame but herself.

IF more women come forward with their stories, we'll have what Ghomeshi promised in his Facebook post we would see: a pattern of behaviour.

IF the women exhibit their own "pattern of behaviour" of having no problem Ghomeshi's slaps and gropes at the time, but then change their mind after the fact, the bitches should rot to death in a jail cell.

Let's all remember the key bit of persepctive here: I didn't like Jian Ghomeshi three weeks ago. He's the classic pretentious far-left radio host. He has that holier-than-though sneer in his voice that pretty much defines what NPR hosts are supposed to sound like (and, not surprisingly, Q is circulated on NPR). He's totally cool with Omar Khadr, Neil Young, and Ellen Page. He's less cool on Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Ted Byfield, or Ezra Levant. His politics are disgusting, his sexuality is disgusting, we've known for ages he's an ugly figure in the Canadian media landscape. Unlike his longtime defenders now turning on him, I never was his defender. If this leaves another progressive like him off the airwaves, so much the better.

But before we chastize him for his 'crimes' against these women, let's remember the nested IF statements: the danger of the BDSM lifestyle is that if a woman decides after-the-fact that she wants to withdraw consent, the physical bruises and other pieces of evidence are still there. Women pull this sort of shit all the time: they're devious critters that absolutely are capable of stooping so low as to want to humiliate an ex: possibly even one who behaved badly during parts of their relationship. These women are totally capable of making up, fabricating, or falsely remembering things that happened between them and Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi is too, of course, and the mathematics start going against him as the number of accusers adds up. He's on his way to becoming Canada's Chris Brown, and he's being vilified by many as his own friends succumb to the "never trust a man" feminist nonsense. There's a reason "bros before hos" took off as a saying.

Of course, sometimes there really is a badly behaving bro.

Why Doesn't the Death Star Blow Up Planet Yavin?

You just knew somebody would find a way to blame it on George W. Bush (pbuh)

2014-10-28

Lochlin Cross's comments about Wildrose prove the need for a leadership review

With yesterday's Progressive Conservative sweep of all four byelections, news comes today that Wildrose leader Danielle Smith has requested a leadership review after numerous people online (and a couple at my work) expressed concern that the failure to win one of the seats was her fault.

In a way, it is. While it's probably a silly idea at this point to replace Danielle with another leader (especially with no heir apparent waiting in the wings, and the high-profile outsider being the guy who won his byelection), the results are a pretty strong indicator that the "mildrose" shift that Danielle pushed for so hard almost exactly one year ago was an abject failure. For more on that, Leigh Patrick Sullivan covered it today (and, also, predicted this result months back.

But for my money, ignorant off-the-cuff comments today by Lochlin Cross on 100.3 The Bear is a better indication of why the Danielle Smith method is a failure.

Around 5:30 during one of those segments where a local TV news anchor goes on the radio station owned by his media conglomerate to discuss the news of the day came on. The Danielle Smith leadership review was one of the topics they promised to cover. When the segment was over, Cross declared "God help us if the Wildrose ever get in". The problem with the default cultural positions feeble minded DJs adopt (far-left extremism is 'normal', slightly right-of-centre conservatism is 'extremist') is that they are the lazy stereotypes that I warned you about during the Fringe Festival. People like that are going to keep using their soapbox to spew such nonsense. You can't escape it by trying to change into what you think they like. Wildrose already did that, Cross ran his mouth anyways.

Instead, the only possible option is to stick to your principles. Don't cavort with the faggots: fight them. Don't implicitly provide the notion that your ideas are wrong any traction. They aren't, that's the facts that are on your side when you're a principled ideological conservative. Far-left extremist liberals like Lochlin Cross are the problem: don't cozy up to them, attack them back. You can't do that when you're "tweaking" policies and "pruning" parts of your policy which do the right thing, just because the people whose entire lives are made up of doing the wrong thing disagree. Mark Steyn has been talking about "moving the centre" this past week, Danielle Smith and the Wildrose party need to listen to him.

As Leigh put it, when the choice is between PC and PC-lite, what's the point of the choice? The Wildrose Party hasn't been in government, Prentice has. Given the choice, why not stick to the people with experience doing the job. Yes yes, Wildrose asked to "send the PCs a message" (which I disagreed with from the get-go), but the person people wanted to send a message to already got it: Red Redford resigned (twice) in disgrace. Prentice hit a reset switch upon his election so fast Hilary Clinton blushed, and like it or not it worked. Slogans only work if people are in the mindset behind it. During the Redford era they might have "sent a message". Now they're stuck with two parties who are basically identical, no message to send, so they decide to throw their support behind people who (and this cannot be said enough) didn't even attend candidates forums. Rob Ford attended candidates forums, for crying out loud.

PC-lite don't grab voters attentions, they just attract lazy stupid comments from the likes of Lochlin Cross. If he and his ilk are going to trash the party no matter what they do, maybe they can try going back to doing the right thing, and standing up for the right people? For that kind of a course correction, the grassroots need to make their voices heard, and communicate how Wildrose's failures to stick to their guns means you'll be casting a very jaundiced vote at that leadership review

2014-10-21

Did Naomi Klein sock puppet her own editorial literary defense?

There's a minor theory tonight that this bizarre "editor's" rant is actually Naomi Klein herself.

Now we're in no condition to actually say for sure: one of the best ways, getting a forensic linguist (yes, those exist) to compare the writing to Klein's own, is possible, but that means having to look at a second piece of her drivel, and frankly one potential piece is enough.

Instead, let's run it through the famed Gender Guesser and see what we can find.

For informal writing, the text comes out 62.47% male. For formal writing, the text comes out 50% even-steven, with the note that "Weak emphasis could indicate European." [that's very meta... -ed].

Let's compare with an excerpt from Shock Doctrine. You can read it yourself in the link if you want to. It's not recommended.

With this clip, informal writing analysis puts the text at 79.1% male. On the formal writing side, the analysis again says weak emphasis could indicate European, and slaps a 59.9% "male" label on it. It's worth noting of course that the other Klein excerpt is longer. Of course, it's less accurate, unless Noami Klein needs a more competent male ghostwriter to spew out her works.

On a balance of probabilities, it could go either way it seems. Regardless, it does appear from the least rigorous of analyses that Noami Klein did write her "editor's" note.

Now who would do something like that? [wait, what? -ed]

2014-10-09

Socialist Don Iveson is out to lunch on photo radar

On Tuesday, in response to this (mostly) excellent petition, Mayor Coward and the rest of the dregs on city council addressed photo radar:

“I’m just tired of this sense that some people have that they’re better than the law. This is my kids’ safety, this is people’s safety that’s at stake here,” he said.

“These people that want to argue that they’re above the law, I have just had it with them, absolutely had it.”
The problem with "this sense" that we're better than "the law" is that it's true: drivers willing to flout the law are less likely to be in an accident. That drivers are capable of figuring out the safe speeds better than our useless lout of a mayor is a fact that's pretty much beyond reproach at this stage.

"People's safety" is, of course, a misnomer: speed limit decreases can mean increases in accidents and mortality rates! (not to mention the obvious, the "safest" speed that Don Iveson the Coward could set would be 0km/hr city-wide. Unsurprisingly, the City of Edmonton is unwilling to put this level of stake into "kids's safety"!)

And why on earth are Don Iveson's playing on the Whitemud or Scona Road? I realize that his children are the byproduct of him and the only (cowardly) woman dumb enough to hook up with him, but even they surely cannot be stupid enough to confuse a playpark with the intersection at 91st street and 34th avenue.

Cowardly Iveson, of course, put it all in a blogpost as well. Most of everything the asshole says is wrong, as you may have already guessed:
Last year, 23 people died in collisions on our streets. Thousands were injured in an average of 68 collisions per day, which altogether caused millions in damage and worsened congestion on our roads
What was the average speed during these collisions? Were they caused by drivers going above or below the speed limit? Were the drivers even at fault in all of them? Even at 50km/hr, a drunk Indian crossing the Hendy at night would be killed if he was hit by a car. Will the limit on the Henday be lowered to 20 to avoid this?

More to the point, do you know what's causing all of this ridiculous conjestion on the roads? Badly designed LRT intersections and artificially low speed limits. Hey, idiot! That's your department. There's a term for people who create problems and then make cosmetic changes to make it look like they are trying to solve those problems. "Cowardly asshole Don Iveson" is one of those terms.
The good news is that injury and fatality rates are coming down, thanks in part to a suite of integrated traffic safety programs including Automated Photo Enforcement. Back in 2007, there were 7.44 such collisions per 1,000 Edmontonians. Last year that number was 3.89 per 1,000 people
Remember the "superficial things" issue above? It comes back to a head here: the City has (to its credit) been looking at real things to prevent collisions: namely redesigning intersections to make them less likely to cause collisions (such as changing angles so that less extreme shoulder checking is required). This effort was mostly done in between 2004 and 2010. Kindly note that the "back in" bad old days corresponds with the time period in which the roads were being rebuilt to minimize accidents. So where does the coward come up with crediting photo radar? A city-commissioned study that, surprise surprise, tells the city exactly what they want to hear (and oddly seems to counter every neutral study ever conducted on the relationship between speed and accidents).
“according to Dr. Karim El-Basyouny, the City of Edmonton’s Research Chair in Urban Traffic Safety at the University of Alberta, the risk of a collision doubles at 5 km/h over the speed limit in a 60 km/h zone. The risk is four times higher at 10 km/h over and 10 times higher at 15 km/h over the speed limit.”
Is there an increased risk of collisions between two vehicles exceeding the silly random number posted on the side of the road? The "exciting" stats being peddled here is just the obvious notion that speed differentials cause issues. Studies have shown about 10% of the population are retards who blindly follow whatever nonsense the government tells them to. As per https://twitter.com/FACLC/status/519556711086964736my favourite (and always unanswered) question, if the city set the limit to 10km/hr on every road tomorrow, how many of these "just don't speed" whiners would actually do it?

Officially, however, nobody at the City can take a position that the speed limit is anything other than the speed limit.

lim·it

'limit/

noun

1. a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass.
This may be a bit of a shocker to somebody as dense as Don Iveson, but we extend or pass this point or level every goddamned day. Excepting for a few insane people, and the brief pause when we pass a radar van, it's a constant that happens all day every day. Speeders are national benefactors, and leeching mayors aren't quite as much. The random number that is posted on the side of the road is just that, and we ignore it quite happily thank you very much.
To me, the solution is simple: the most effective and principled way we can put photo radar out of business is to stop speeding.
Yes, this is true. However, the only principled way to do this is to eliminate speeding as a thing. "Speeding" is just "driving faster than a sign says to". The signs can change, and of course need to. Coming down is just the perfect level of change.

Iveson made the following idiotic comments:
"I'm a law maker, I make laws not to be casually obeyed as it suits you, I make laws so that they get obeyed. We are going to enforce them and we are going to make them stand."
I don't obey your laws, you statist twit. I never will, and everybody will fully understand why you chose cowardice when I confront you if you ever dare stop me. Your enforcement by corrupt cops is laughable: you'll never stop us. We outnumber you, and we're smarter.

The comments on Iveson's post, which are usually a series of dreck by whichever pro-sodomy group has retweeted him lately, is refreshingly positive. Here are a few highlights:
If you set all speed limits to be realistic with the flow of traffic, I will cease complaining about photo radar. Until then, photo radar in my mind is unreasonable criminalization of the normal actions of everyday working people. Going 115km/h with the flow of traffic on Henday should not be against the law.

Also concerning is the fact that you still don’t understand why people still think photo radar is a cash grab. People are now well aware where the money goes, what grinds our gears is how photo radar is run like a for-profit company. For example, does hiding a photo radar van behind bushes or on top of overpasses make the road any safer than placing it in plain view? No, but it makes the program more money. Especially now that city employees at running the program, I wonder if they’re more interested in justifying their existence than anything.

I would also prefer not to hear the “well, stop speeding” argument from you anymore. You’re here to represent the people of Edmonton and address our concerns. As soon as you start lecturing people like that, your case for keeping photo radar loses a lot of credibility. People don’t like being talked down to, especially when they feel like they’ve been wronged in the first place
Do you think this a joke MR Iveson. You think 17K+ people just decided one day, “Hey I’m gonna sign a petition for photo radar….” Open your eyes and your mind Mt Iveson. This is an awakening. An awakening from people representing all ages, gender, race, profession. This has only begun
Except photo radar should not be set at a threshold that seems unfair. Then it is correctly seen as a road tax. It’s simplistic to say just don’t speed. Ask any enforcement personnel who have done radar/speed enforcement, unfair enforcement ie using a low threshold, getting people in a transition zone, down hill. In an area that doesn’t have traffic accidents but is just a convenient “fishing” hole actually causes people to go faster elsewhere. Photo radar is perceived as a road tax grab by many drivers.
there is a photo radar truck on 132 Ave which is a 4 lane wide road with good visibility that is only 50kms an hour. While driving on this road it is VERY easy to increase speed to 5 or 10kms over the speed limit to go with the flow of traffic. I have now started setting my cruise control to 50kms because I can’t trust myself not to speed on that road. My partner and I received 6 photo radar tickets (within a period of 2 weeks) all around the 60kms/hour mark (what we thought the speed limit was, but no posted speed equals 50kms, and I know we should know better, but we didn’t). As it is we both now use the unsafe practice of using cruise control to ensure the speed is adhered to to the letter on a road that as I mentioned is wide and with clear visibility.
Also to note, if the risk of accidents has decreased over time, why take away something that is working? Ironically the moment the thresh hold was decreased below the 11km/h window, accidents have actually increased in intersections and on regular roads. At least thats what the city of edmonton website shows.
Honestly I don’t think Iveson is a bad person, but he’s honestly blind about all this Photo Radar stuff. The issue isn’t speeding (Sometimes when the flow of traffic is above the speed limit, then it’s actually safer to stick with the flow of traffic). The real issue is that drivers aren’t properly educated here in Edmonton. Too many people tailgate, drive non confidently, recklessly (even slower drivers do this), and at times people just don’t know how to drive (don’t even get me started on merging onto highways). Those are the things that the city should be dealing with. Not people which go lets say 10km over the speed limit especially in zones which require higher speed limits.

My other issue with all of this is how the Photo Radar program is a cash grabbing program. Not a safety program. If it was about safety then Photo Radar vans wouldn’t be hiding in the bushes, behind signs etc. Instead they’d be out in the open which would actually get speeders to slow down. Plus the amount of Photo radar now being used due to the councils horrible budgeting skills is just ridiculous. They’re just trying to compensate for going over the planned budget.
I used to be like you are Mr. mayor. A limit is a limit, anything over is exceeding the speed limit. Then I started wondering, why aren’t tickets given out for 51 in a 50 zone. I would think most people would agree that getting a ticket at 51 was silly. Then what should be an acceptable over-the-limit variance?
I also wondered about the safety argument. Are the photo radar units put in places of high accident rates or in places where speed limits are low or change a lot. Here’s a location I see a lot. The 107 ave and 142 street traffic circle. That is a high collision spot. Three entrances to the circle have 60 kph limits, one has a 50. Where is the photo radar unit placed? Not entering the circle, where the collisions happen, but on the 50 kph exit. I can give more examples where the photo radar is placed in areas that catch speeders than in areas of high collisions. I am leaning toward the side that says photo radar is a cash cow
It is good news that injury and fatality rates are coming down. I am sure that safer cars, better brakes, tires, better road surfaces, improved signage, better lighting and visibility all contribute to this positive change.

The city’s active photo radar enforcement program correlates with this change, but likely has done little or nothing to cause this change.

The #1 and #2 causes of fatal collisions are 1) following too closely and 2) making left turns into oncoming traffic. These collision causing factors are not something that photo radar enforcement can directly affect.

In the Edmonton Police Service’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey, people ask the EPS to deal with these problems. Instead, what we get are photo radar trucks hiding in bushes and overpasses on freeways. Nothing at all to do with educating drivers and reducing fatal collisions.
However, you make reference to the police survey citing traffic as a major concern. However, speeding is only a very small part of this concern. People failing to signal, changing lanes without shoulder checking, turning illegally, tailgating, cutting people off, cutting corners, and running red lights are all a much higher concern to me than speeding. On my drive to work I have 3 curves where I have to be extremely careful on because people cut the corners so much that they would run me off the road if I was next to them. Outside of that, I have to react to bad drivers on a weekly, if not daily, basis in order to prevent accidents. These are not caused by myself or the other driver speeding, but rather by, failing to shoulder check, running stop signs, turning illegally, or failing to signal. Essentially, it’s lazy driving. Speeding is such a small issue on the roads as it has been addressed over the past handful of years. What now needs to be addressed is driver training and licensing (I realized this isn’t a city matter) and enforcement of the traffic laws outside of speeding.
I really should commend you on your audacity in taking baby diaper scrapings and serving them up as pudding. Like Ryan, I nor my colleagues have a fundamental problem with photo radar or red light cameras. However when these devices are employed there is some expectation of ethical enforcement. What is disgustingly apparent within your fair city is that the technology has been leveraged to maximize income in the laziest way possible with a guise of “Public safety”. This is not even to discuss the glaring conflict of interest involved in a city department that can cover it’s financial incompetence by tightening the screws and self funding. Asking the administrators pointed questions hahahaha I’m sure that is like asking an alcoholic if they drink too much. It comes out after 5 years that there where cost overruns but nobody noticed since the bottom line was all fine and dandy.
Sorry to here you think photo radar is not going anywhere. Perhaps you can tell me how you seem to think you have so much power ? While riding your bicycle maybe you could think about how much you contribute to our roadways ? The petition is not some trumped up bull and whether you care or not that is only the tip of the iceberg. People in this city are fed up with this cash cow, show me how the safety of the public is served with the location of these traps.You said photo radar is not going away, neither are the people that signed the petition.
Secondly, if zero tolerance is the way forward then we need to take a serious look at the speed limits and where the traps are. You can’t expect people to drive at artificially low speeds because it’s the law. Spend the money and re-evaluate the limit on each road and set it according to it’s design. No more widening Scona road to freeway proportions and keeping the limit at 50. Fix the Whitemud so that it can have a higher limit that is safer because of the flow of traffic and the design. Put traps in places that make a difference, and not just make money. For example I have had many near misses on rowland road around Dawson bridge. This is a road that needs enforcement. There are about half a dozen residential roads and alleys that abut it with no lights and residents coming and going and yet people frequently barrel down this road in excess of 70 Km/h which is too fast for anyone to safely turn out onto the road given it’s curves and reduced visibility. I see a sign that says that the road is radar enforced and yet in 3 years of daily frequent use I have not seen a single photo radar trap or officer enforcing the limit. I did however experience months where good old Scona had traps in one direction or the other most days of the week with it’s one intersection which is controlled by lights and numerous lanes.

You can read some great similar attacks on the coward's silly ideas from Lorne Gunther, with another excellent set of comments below. Iveson's fellow coward David Staples weighs in as well.

The biggest problem, sadly, is that people not properly connecting various events together: the disaster of the bloated photo radar program, the way photo radar isn't geared towards safety at all, the crazy speed limits on Edmonton's roads, and that speeding itself is not nearly as dangerous as commonly believed. Judging by the speed we drive, people understand this deep down but not explicitly enough. Education needs to happen, and once that starts gaining critical mass, statist cowards like Don Iveson will crawl into a hole to hide, or get run over. And no, that last bit isn't a metaphor.

2014-10-07

The only possible response the Secret Service should be giving

Secret Service Director Dame Judy Dench Julia Pierson is coming under fire for the inadequate security measures that allowed a guy to hop the fence and enter the White House before being nonfatally apprehended:

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday assailed Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, about security breaches at the White House, including an intruder who earlier this month breached multiple security measures and evaded capture as he ran around the first floor of the mansion.
Ms. Pierson said in opening statements before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that she takes full responsibility for the breaches and she pledged that “what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again.” But her promise of a comprehensive review of the incidents appeared to do little to satisfy members of the committee.
Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat from Massachusetts, lashed into Ms. Pierson, saying that he does not believe the Secret Service takes seriously their duty to protect the president. He said he has “very low confidence” in her leadership.
I ask you to all join with me right now in sending a very very very clear message to these lawmakers:
Oh come off it.

The saga of Omar Gonzalez is a fairly minor one in retrospect, and proof that both Americans and their lawmakers need to calm the fuck down. First off, let's look at the NYT "timeline" of the incidents:

Hey, don't you remember another "recent incident" involving White House security? Oddly enough, the NY Times doesn't seem to think this one quite makes the grade.... Instead, officials are so anxious to highlight Tareq Salahi being a Vince Vaughn inspired "wedding crasher" at a White House reception, which on balance wasn't much of a slag about the Secret Service's vetting capabilities as much as a slag about the vetting process entirely. These people aren't out to cause harm to President Monkey, they're out to attend the swanky parties. The Times also seemed to leave this guy off the roster, probably in the interests of "racial insensitivity". Hey come to think of it, don't Thamsanqa Jantjie and Miriam Carey have something in common?

As Ben Franklin would have put it, a lot of essential liberties along Pennsylvania Avenue have been sacrified for what somehow became not a temporary security but a permanent security apparatus. Delusional black mothers driving past checkpoints getting gunned down may make security sense but not so much in the broader picture. That heads of state need protection in some form is obvious, but perhaps not as obvious as it would first appear. The Queen of England is the head of state of a major first world power who lives in an iconic building that lots of people want to visit. Her guards, like the Secret Service, are legendary in their own right (with distinctive costumes). Also like the Secret Service, they've had some well publicized screwups. Yet I've been to Buck House, and in fact got a full tour of the building (well, "full tour" being the tourist tour, but still). The White House used to be available for this purpose, and technically still is if you feel like getting a Congressman's recommendation, but it's not easy. In New York a few years ago I chanced upon a man who actually got to visit the White House: he thought it was insanely ridiculous that a fellow visitor thought he'd be allowed to carry his knife with him inside the facility. My first response is "why do you think that's crazy"? Ever-wider security "perimeters" are forming around the White House, while those enforcing the perimeter are increasingly less capable at actually doing their jobs anyways. Inexplicably, this calls for a bigger and tighter security fence that can be even less effectively guarded.

If this is going to be the end result of all this security, isn't it time to ask whether or not it's even necessary? Can the 40-car motorcade be scaled back? Can a pathetic embarassment of a President who's convinced America's stature in the world needs to be reduced not admit that under such a circumstance his own stature, and the stature of the security detail around his office needs to be scaled back alongside? Okay, if your plan is for President Monkey to develop a human brain, your plan has an obvious flaw. But how about getting "bipartisan" support on both sides of the aisle to smarten up and not keep insisting that every possible dime is spent to prevent a situation that arises the more and more dimes you throw at it?

2014-10-03

NDP's Linda Duncan officially opposed to Alberta's economy

Everything wrong with the NDP encapsulated in a single title...

2014-09-24

Every time they touch, the taxpayer burden is honestly too much


This throwaway Colby Cosh joke reminded me of a little something: when sleazy slum property owner Stephen Mandel left office as Edmonton's mayor, he also left behind the multi-million dollar new arena, a cool new facility for Daryl Katz's Edmonton Oilers to play in without having to do any of that obnoxious capital investment that other hugely successful companies would tend to have to do. That Mandel's little arena deal also meant great news for property developers and speculators (like longtime heavy Mandel financier Terry Paranych) isn't at all a sign that he's beholden to interests willing to use government power to exert control the free market wouldn't give them.

Now Mandel is sadly back in public life as the unelected Health Minister in the new Prentice cabinet, and as thin-skinned and unwilling to speak with opponents as ever. What does this put him in charge of? If you guessed the industry that would be a customer to the pharmaceuticals which are the primary business of one Daryl Katz.

At least there's a good chance that Alberta will be getting new hospitals, even though there's even money that half the space of each will wind up dedicated to free floor space for a Rexall Pharmacy or two...

2014-09-23

What books do you own but never read?

The Federalist, as part of its killer series taking down Neil deGrasse Tyson, has mentioned several books Tyson claims to have read yet didn't seem to know (or understand) what was in them. This led to this top ten list of books people claim to read but don't. Oddly, no books from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, or Hillary Clinton made it on the list.

So in the interests of full disclosure, here is my breakdown of this list:

Have read: Les Miserables (translated, though I do own a French language copy to show off on my bookshelf), 1984 (numerous times, which I once alluded to), The Art of War, and The Prince (plus listened to the excellent BBC audio book).

Haven't read: Atlas Shrugged (I have read The Fountainhead, and that was painful enough to get through), The Origin of Species, A Tale Of Two Cities (I got about halfway through this one, but compared to A Christmas Carol it's not nearly as fun to read),  Democracy in America (I have read some of the Federalist Papers and all of the United States Constitution though), The Wealth of Nations (I've skimmed through some of it, I do own a copy), Moby Dick (again, I own a copy and read a few chapters but yet to finish), and not surprisingly Ulysses.

What other books are there that people own but haven't read? I haven't finished reading the entire Iliad yet, I do it in chunks, and Martok is bad for buying reams of books because they look good on his bookshelf without actually cracking them (lots of Chomsky, Capital in the 21st Century, Peddling Prosperity, The Skeptical Environmentalist, etc.)

Feel free to add yours in the comments. Anonymously, of course.

2014-09-22

What a Halloween prank about flatscreen TVs tells us about the flaws in women

Apparently over the last few days another round of postings has been made about this LG viral ad campaign video from 2012:


In case you can't view it, they setup the elevator floor with monitors, then make a rumbling and the video "cuts away" to look like the floor is collapsing. Besides the obvious fact that you wouldn't need particularly good picture quality to believe, for the couple seconds required, that the floor was giving 'way (indeed, many of the YouTube clips are being posted at 240 resolution!), what caught my eye was that chicks aren't good at self-preservation.


First let's look at Guy 1: the floor starts "giving way" top to bottom (all directions will be from the perspective of we the viewer unless otherwise noted), and he immediately steps downwards away from the falling tiles. It isn't a quarter second before he realizes it's fake and stops moving.


Guys 2 and 3 are in the elevator together: Guy 2 at the top right has his tiles fall before he even looks down, he backs up against the wall for support while Guy 3 at the bottom leaps back to the remaining "good" tiles. Since Guy 2 isn't falling, they both clue in quickly that it's a prank.


Guys 4,5,6 are all in the elevator together: again, Guy 4 at the top should be falling by the time they notice the floor, so no real reaction is possible here. Guy 4 jumps up a little bit. They really shouldn't have even bothered including this run on the ad, it really didn't push the illusion that they fooled anybody. In fact, this is a great demonstration of how the illusion was too fast...even if you bought the scenario it's hard to be convinced you're in danger while your buddy is standing there on thin air.


Guy 7 does really well: he looks down to see the tiles falling in an upper left to lower right progression, and immediately jumps back to the "safe" tiles behind him.


Guy 8 and 9 are together: 8 in the upper right sees his tile fall away, and leaps to a safer tile behind him and hugs the wall. Guy 9, like Guy 7, immediately leaps back against the tiles last to fall. I like that all of the men in this video were heroes in what J. Michael Straczynski calls the "Heinleinian tradition": sure I'm about to fall dozens of stories, but by standing here I gain precious milliseconds I can use to figure out a way out of this situation. Keep that in mind, the contrasts are about to be striking.


Now we come to the ladies. Chick 1 sees the tiles falling starting in the upper left. She's standing on a tile yet to fall, yet jumps to her right to leap onto a tile that's already falling! As she watches tiles fall away, she continues to run away from the yet-to-fall tiles.


Chick 2, like Chick 1, leaps to the upper right tile as she's watching the tiles fall from upper-left to lower-right. In fact, she's so close to as bad at this as Chick 1 I had to re-watch to confirm they were in fact different girls. (Chick 1 is hotter).

This covers so many things, from why women are homo acerbia to why men are so predominantly the authors and subjects in heroic drama. It's right there in the TV ad campaign, folks. We're just better at it.

2014-09-19

No matter how many parades you hold, your lifestyle is still illegitimate

Wasn't the Uranist Pride Parade back in June?
And I don't see anything about a beer gardens for some reason.

(Yes, this is an old joke. And I love it)

Costco Canada rejects American Express

Costco Liquor (and, I suppose to be technical, the rest of the store too) is going to be discontinuing its relationship with American Express:

Costco Wholesale Corp said it will stop accepting American Express Co cards in Canada from next year as it will not be renewing its credit card relationship, which expires on Dec. 31.

“Costco warehouses and gas stations in the United States will continue to accept American Express Cards after Jan. 1, 2015, with the exception of TrueEarnings and American Express Platinum Cash Rebate cards issued in Canada,” Costco said in an email to customers.
Isn't that a bit surprising? For years, any occasional trip I make to Sherwood Park have featured a stop in at good ol' Costco Liquor, and I've finally trained my brain to remember two things:
  1. Don't buy Kirkland Bourbon
  2. Remember that they only take American Express
What will Costco take? They have yet to let us in on that little secret. Meanwhile, American Express loses support of a major retailer, which probably isn't good seeing how American Express is only used in about 6 locations around the globe (I remember when I got my AmEx card the sadness to realize I could only order from Pizza Hut, Pizza 73 didn't take them...they probably still don't).

I'm also really really hoping that I don't lose that other mental note to self while I'm in the store. Kirkland Bourbon really is fucking horrible.

Is Stéphanie Beaudoin the "world's hottest criminal"?

21-year old Victoriaville, Queerbec native Stéphanie Beaudoin is in a bit of legal trouble.

Meet the bikini-clad 'crook' who's been described as being every bit as hot as the goods she's accused of stealing from people's homes.

Stephanie Beaudoin has been dubbed the "hottest alleged thief on the planet" after a sultry snap of her posing in a black bikini emerged on social media.

Beaudoin, from Quebec, Canada, originally hit the headlines after she was charged with 108 offences relating to 42 alleged burglaries over the summer.

Six additional counts of breaking and entering and receiving stolen goods were added when she appeared in court in Victoriaville on Monday.

According to news website Surete du Quebec, the counts include gun charges.

Beaudoin, 21, is said to have broken into homes in Arthabaska and Maple through back doors or basement windows, carrying out the burglaries with three teenagers.

However, the nursing student is attracting plenty of attention online - mainly from admirers who are enamoured with the image of her in swimwear.
SUN Media is catching some flack for their poll on the topic:
Meanwhile, which pic are we talking about?
This one. more pictures are available at Elite Daily.



Meanwhile, everybody getting so excited about this girl being "the world's hottest criminal" has apparently forgotten both Casey Anthony, Lorena Tavera, Jennifer Jensen, Alexis Neiers, Elle Evans, Tori Black, and...of course.... Anna Chapman.

Bonus link: Fellow Canoe.ca content member tvanouvelles.ca shows a picture of Beaudoin looking like she's been beaten by the ugly stick of justice

Rob Ford's cancer diagnosis is doubly dangerous

More information has come to light this week on the surprise depature from the Toronto mayoralty race from Rob Ford: he has been diagnosed with liposarcoma, which naturally far-left Democratic Underground has characterized as "cancer of the fat".

The prognosis is about 40 days of intensive radiation therapy, similar (but with less of a success rate compared) to the treatment millions of men have received for their prostate cancer. Almost every news article published on the topic are making it clear that this is far from a death sentence. Olivia Chow isn't about to watch another man in her life slowly fall apart during an election campaign. However, the 5-year survival rate for this cancer is about 65% (though the sigma is huge, varying wildly at which stage the cancer is discovered). The figure for prostate cancer is closer to 94%.

Nobody can say whether or not Rob Ford looks at this as a terminal illness, though, which brings me to my next major point: we're looking at a guy here who has been known to abuse drugs and is looking at a serious health issue with no guarantee of success and a potential for unpleasant treatment.

Nevertheless, for those who are diagnosed with cancer or other major medical conditions, the future can seem terrifying.

This fear about the future may be responsible for the increased risk of suicide that tragically occurs in the first week after the diagnosis of cancer. Depression or demoralization may also emerge later, particularly when there is pain or other physical symptoms. Whole-person care means treating these symptoms as vigorously as the disease itself.
It has yet to be seen if Rob Ford will pull through his cancer treatments. However, just as critically, Ford Nation needs to make sure that he pulls through long enough to receive them.