2010-06-30

Rocky Mountain High

Here are the two vids I shot while camping last week:



Toronto hosts the 2010 G8 and G20 summits

I've been holding off on any blogposts about the G20 summit garbage.

It's too bad, because with a few differences I would have looked almost exactly like this. So, uh, here it goes...

Le tout rightosphere up north has been riven by the actions and inactions of the Toronto Police during the G-20. P M Jaworkski sees it as the difference between libertarian conservatives and law-&-order conservatives - or perhaps between "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", and the less full-throated Canadian founding cry of "peace, order and good government". Except, of course, that peace, order and good government were noticeable mainly by their absence in Toronto last weekend.

Kathy Shaidle suggests it may be a rural/urban thing: She's a city gal; many of her detractors at Small Dead Animals seem to be rural dwellers. I don't know about that. In my corner of New Hampshire, I have very cordial relations with my one-man police department. His son and mine will be off at camp together next week. I have known a lot of police officers in northern New England over the years, and I have a lot of respect for the difference they can make to the rhythms of life in a small town. Because of that, I don't have any problem agreeing with Jay Currie that Officer #3478 "pretty much illustrates how not to deal with a law abiding member of the general public".

That's all we're saying, but it's nevertheless quite a lot: For one thing, this isn't Dragnet or Naked City. These days, everything's a camera - a telephone's a camera, a hi-fi player is a camera, just about anything larger than a Tootsie Roll is a camera. So the police ought to expect that every time they're out on the streets, especially in the downcore core of a major metropolitan area, someone somewhere will be filming it. The rest of us have had to get used to it. Just up the street from where Mike Brock was set upon by Toronto cops, I came out of the committee room at the Ontario Parliament after testifying on the "human rights" regime and had a bit of chit-chat in the corridor, and some guy with a cellphone had it up on the Internet in nothing flat. That's just the way it is. And, if the alternatives are either living with it or browbeating citizens engaged in non-illegal activity, then the police should learn to live with it.

Secondly, Officer #3478's response is simply not an appropriate way for a minor municipal functionary to talk to a member of the public. It demonstrates a defective understanding of the relationship between law enforcement and the citizenry - admittedly in a footling matter, but, left unchecked, who's to say where it could lead? Why, one day, you never know, it might lead to a chief of police who lies to the public and makes up his own laws.

My own approach to officialdom is summed up here. One reason I oppose the paramilitarization of the police is that it encourages the mindset on display in Toronto last weekend. Its defenders, in many comments at Small Dead Animals, say, well, sorry, but it's necessary in order to keep the Queen's peace. I think not. The disruption to the Queen's peace, in Queen's Park, in the shadow of the building that embodies the idea of a state accountable to its citizens, came from cops rending the air with their cheery cry of "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK". Actually, the very minimum that law-abiding citizens are entitled to demand from police officers is that they give a fuck what we think. One thing I happen to think is that no citizen going about his lawful business should have to put up with a police officer yelling "fuck" from the get-go.

In further defence of the Toronto Police, commenters have said, well, Brock and Shaidle were asking for it, making provocative statements about the accountability of public servants and wearing black T-shirts and whatnot. "After Saturday, police were jumpy", writes Ella at Small Dead Animals.

Oh, right. They're the fellows with the guns and the billion-dollar security budget, but they're the "jumpy" ones? That's great news, isn't it? I've encountered "jumpy" cops in Third World crapholes many times over the years: You choose your words with care, because it's not yet clear whether you're dealing with merely an insecure twerp or a thug who's itching to club you to a pulp. I don't think the residents of First World cities (which Toronto still is, just about) should be expected to perform similar psychological evaluations if they decide to take a stroll around Queen's Park of a weekend.

The other argument advanced at SDA is that, well, it was G-20, you should trim your sails accordingly. Really? 99.999 per cent of Torontonians were not participating in the summit. Unlike the Olympics or the World Cup, it's not a public event. It was a private (and pointless) affair imposed on the public, and if the price of that imposition is that Bill Blair gets upgraded to some rinky-dink Latin-American caudillo for a week then the only appropriate response of self-respecting citizens should be screw you.

Finally, Kate McMillan, for whom I have enormous respect and with whom I rarely disagree, argues that what happened in Toronto was little more than the "profiling" we conversatives claim to be in favour of, at least when it comes to young men from Pakistani madrassahs. I think not. When you're beating up Guardian reporters and harrassing Mike Brock, that's pretty much a failure of "profiling" by definition, isn't it? Or, at any rate, as inept "profiling" as that of the Metropolitan Police who, after the July 7th Tube bombings, decided to "profile" a Brazilian electrician and put five bullets in his head. If you reflexively defend lazy and incompetent policing, you'll soon find yourself having to defend lazy, incompetent and murderous policing.

And that's my biggest problem with "law-&-order conservatives": They seem to think when the coppers are kicking around Mike Brock, that just shows they're doing their job. Au contraire, the ten minutes they're kicking around Mike Brock is ten minutes they're not doing their job, ten minutes they're not devoting to the guys they should be kicking around - just as pulling over the octogenarian nun for secondary screening doesn't demonstrate the rigor of homeland security but rather the waste of limited resources. A cop who shouts "FUCK!" at Mike Brock isn't communicating the authority of the state so much as its insecurity. Or do you really think a bozo baying uncontrollably into the summer night on University Avenue is going to be the guy who spots the fellow with the darting eyes and the lumpy midriff?

2010-06-28

Taylor vs. Tyler ... Taylor??



Besides the physical resemblance, both men will be very rich and have women throwing their nimble young bodies at them for years.

And if they didn't get the high-paying gig with all the hype, women wouldn't give these two weirdos the time of day.

2010-06-27

Matthew Good wants our soldiers back from Afghanistan. He just doesn't know why

Mr. Melissa Auf der Maar has a new post up about the most recent deaths of Canadian Forces soldiers in Afghanistan. Try not to giggle uncontrollably as you normally would in a Matt Good post, and read:

I want them all back, all 150 of them. What purpose did their deaths serve today? We’re due to leave next year, and nothing of significance is going to transpire in that time. These two fine Canadians were doing their duty, just as the other 148 were. They don’t make policy, they follow it. Their blood is on the hands of the government and it is on ours for being too dismissive of the subject, too passive, too eager to be swayed by the glorification of the rifle and the cannon.

This is not the Second World War. Our military men and women have nothing to prove. Only those that govern this country have the power to place their lives at risk, and by doing so must be held responsible for their deaths. And so do we all for putting them in power or refusing to stand up when they make decisions that place our fighting men and women in harms way without a damn good reason.

The conflict in Afghanistan is not a good enough reason. Six years ago it was considered blasphemy to claim as much. Six years later those voices that claimed it blasphemy have fallen drastically in number. I wonder why.

Only the soldiers themselves know the reality of the situation, and most will admit that they are fighting for each other more than any cause. As a Canadian I am disgusted that they’ve been placed in that position. As a Canadian I have duty to say as much, no matter how unpopular an opinion it might be.
I'm confused, is it an popular opinion "those voices fallen drastically", etc. etc. or is it an unpopular one? And this "Canadian duty" is a dangerous path for anybody to base argumentative legitimacy on.

Yet Good's comparison to WWII is a notable one. After all, had Good been alive in 1938 he would have stood in progressive solidarity with his good buddy Hitler. Only in retrospect do the Goods of the world decide if a war was 'worth' fighting for. Their calculus is always confusing (cf. 19 million suffering in South Vietnam), yet still oddly predictable.



As for the soldiers themselves, I was out for drinks with one this weekend, and ironically enough this exact subject came up. Though the (recently retired) solider in question never set foot in Afghanistan, he was in Bosnia in the aftermath of the Battle of Medak Pocket, so he's been in his own share of hot war zones. More importantly though is his relatively recent time in the Service, and his account of the opinions of soldiers regarding our combat operations in Afghanistan. They generally fall into three categories.

There are those who believe, as Matt Good does, that the entire Afghan operation is a joke, that they shouldn't be there, and its a shame that Canada is even involved and we should have stayed away so the Afghan people could enjoy their beautiful culture.

The largest group, however, is fully in favour of Canadian operations there. Basically every female soldier is in this group, likely meaning that the recently deceased Kristal Giesebrecht is amoung them. The women are particularly interested in the fate of Afghan girls in their tribal and Muslim culture, and the hope of this group is that Canadian troops stay in Afghanistan at least as long as they have remained in Cyprus. With this long-view vision, there may well be a number of deaths as the violent Muslim warlords are loath to relinquish their power and dominance over the weaker sex that they intend to keep weaker. The Afghani people, in particular their young girls, deserve better than what they have gotten under the Taliban and their ilk. So goes the argument of this largest group, which means that the very soldiers Good is so worried about fundamentally disagree with him. They are of course saddened by the loss of life, and worry about the futility of the mission if it truly ends in November of 2011. They don't forget, of course, its the socialists and cowards and progressives in the Layton/Good camp who pushed so hard for this end of operations. The NDP thought it a victory at the time, though their defense critic was quick to suggest military operations remain once the concern of Afghani women started stabbing at the NDP's bleeding hearts.

There is, of course, a third group of soliders. I leave it as a reader exercise to identify them and their very different motives for agreeing with Matthew Good that the soliders lives were wasted. Hint: their argument makes far more internal sense than his.

2010-06-26

"I like curry. But...now that we've got the recipe..."

2010-06-24

2010 NHL Entry Draft: Why we started chanting "Fall for Hall" during Oilers games starting in mid-December

My hometown Edmonton Oilers, by virtue of being the worst team in franchise history, will get to do something they have never ever ever ever ever done before: draft first overall in the National Hockey League.

It's a big exciting moment, and in 2010 it comes with a whole new story: there is no clearly determined #1 overall pick (unlike Patrick Kane in 2007), yet the #3 overall pick is clearly a drop down in quality: its suddenly a 50/50 chance. Yet no guarantee you can really pick "wrong", either. Barring illness or injury or Lindros-style whinefest, it is very likely that in a few years this draft will seem like the slightly-less-talented version of the 2004 draft, which saw Ovechkin/Malkin as the top two picks who any team in the NHL would kill to have onside.

There has been lots of ink and even more blogging LCDs burned up on the Hall vs. Seguin question -- Lowetide is probably your source for the best of that fight -- and while I would pick Seguin if I were the GM, I would certainly toss and turn about it all night long. But this post isn't about that.

Rather, its about how important this #1 overall draft is. And to rip on the Detroit Red Wings. But the first bit first.

Here is the list of #1 overall draft picks in the past 30 years (1980 is considered the beginning of the modern draft era):

2010(Oilers #1 pick)
2009John Tavares
2008Steven Stamkos
2007Patrick Kane
2006Erik Johnson
2005Sidney Crosby
2004Alex Ovechkin
2003Marc-Andre Fleury
2002Rick Nash
2001Ilya Kovalchuk
2000Rick DiPietro
1999Patrik Stefan
1998Vincent Lecavalier
1997Joe Thornton
1996Chris Phillips
1995Bryan Berard
1994Ed Jovanovski
1993Alexandre Daigle
1992Roman Hamrlik
1991Eric Lindros
1990Owen Nolan
1989Mats Sundin
1988Mike Modano
1987Pierre Turgeon
1986Joe Murphy
1985Wendel Clark
1984Mario Lemieux
1983Brian Lawton
1982Gord Kluzak
1981Dale Hawerchuk
1980Hailey Wickenheiser's Dad
Now as you peruse this list you'll see that its very very very very hard to screw up the #1 pick. Who was a dud? Kluzak was injury prone and never made a huge NHL splash (Brian Bellows was #2 that year, so Boston picked wrong). Daigle was a bit of a dud [code for "okay, a massive dud, but hey Ottawa keep that scout employed, he surely just had bad luck!" -ed], especially with Chris Pronger as the #2. Ottawa had bad luck in the 90s, with Bryan Berard being injured by Hossa before making a splash, and the following year they picked Chris "Steve Smith" Phillips. The only other dud on the list is Erik Johnson, and that's because of an injury -- it turns out golf is more dangerous than first thought! Joe Murphy wasn't a "dud", though he ended up a solid NHL player rather than a superstar. Brian Leetch, drafted 5th that same year, did better.

Yet if you want to do well in the draft, you need a lot of luck, and first overall really really really helps. In fact, you could say luck is the most important thing of all. Unless you're a Detroit Red Wings fan, in which case you are busy declaring that your team is the Greatest Drafting Team in NHL History, a point to which we are slowly yet inevitably coming to.

For starters though, let's take a moment to appreciate the greatest draft in NHL history: 1984 (with apologies to George Orwell).

As we discussed, Mario went first overall. Second overall was Kirk Muller, so if the Oilers pick wrong it could easily be not a horrible event. Who else went the first round that year (remember, only 21 picks)? Al Iafrate, Petr Svoboda, Shayne Corson, and Gary Roberts. Third round, and fifty-first overall? Just a kid named Patrick Roy. Tom Glavine, the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, went 69th overall in the fourth round. Don't feel bad for the LA Kings though, that was the year they drafted Luc Robitaille. In the 9th round. 171st overall. And nine picks behind him was Gary Suter! Round six, 117th overall, was Brett Hull, who was only ten picks behind Kirk McLean.

There were surely some gems deep into that round. Yet none of these teams recognized the potential: at least, not enough to draft them earlier. This is where the Red Wings bashing is about to begin, incidentally.

We travel to the year 1999. Bill Clinton had dodged impeachment, Y2K had yet to be exposed as a massive cock-tease, and the NHL entry draft was held in Boston.

This was the draft where a young asshole named Brian Burke did something amazingly clever: he worked out a four-team trade to secure the #2 and #3 draft picks, and used them to draft the Sedin twins. Here's how wikipedia describes it:
The Canucks already possessed the third overall pick; they acquired the Chicago Blackhawks' fourth overall pick in exchange for defenceman Bryan McCabe and Vancouver's first-round pick in either 2000 or 2001; acquired the Tampa Bay Lightning's first overall pick for the fourth, 75th and 88th overall picks; and acquired the Atlanta Thrashers' second overall pick for the first overall pick and a conditional third-round choice in 2000.
This was also the draft where the Detroit Red Wings, the Greatest Draft Team Of All Time, secured Henrik Zetterberg 210th overall in round 7. Yes, that's right, even later than the Kings got themselves Robitaille. This is also known for the Oilers disaster which is Jani Rita: picked 13th overall, the Oilers nabbed him for themselves while Martin Havlat (26th overall) was still available. Yet for all the complaining in Edmonton about Rita, who was indeed a dud, Denis Shvidki and Jeff Jillson were picked before and after, respectively. If the Oilers had a 6th overall pick that year, they might have taken Brian Finley as Nashville did, when Taylor Pyatt and Jamie Lundmark were available (and indeed picked a couple spots later). Calgary took Oleg Saprykin in 11th spot, yet the Islanders had just rejected him in favour of Branislav Mezei. Sometimes what looks like a smart idea just ain't.

So who, in this first round, did the super-amazing Detroit Red Wings pick? Well, nobody since they didn't get a pick until the 4th round that season. Who did they pick in the fourth round? Well, a nobody named Jari Tolsa. Had they been a little earlier than 120th overall, they might have nabbed Ryan Malone. Had they had a 3rd round pick they might have drafted Mike Comrie. Yet the Oilers, who did indeed pick Comrie in the third round, skipped Mr. Hilary Duff in favour of Jani Rita and Tony Salmelainen and Alexei Semenov. They also skipped over Comrie in favour of drafting Adam Hauser ten picks earlier. Clearly the Oilers didn't recognize Comrie's potential, as even when he was one of the better players still available his name was skipped. Comrie's no superstar, but I think he illustrates my point: you don't know that your draft choice will morph into good NHL player. Look how long Rob Schremp was held in such high esteem. Not every top prospect works out, and there isn't much of a system to pick it.

The exception, of course, is the Detroit Red Wings: History's Most Amazing Picker Of Astounding Superstars While Cleverly Drafting Dozens Of Useless Pylons Until The Time Is Right. Zetterberg is one of their big achievements: which is why they drafted the following players higher than Zetterberg:
  1. Jari Tolsa (120)
  2. Andrei Maximenko (149)
  3. Kent McDonell (181)
So where are Maximenko and McDonnell at these days? Well, maybe the Red Wings draft backwards (but still awesomely!), and we have to look at who came afterwards:
  1. Anton Borodkin (238)
  2. Ken Davis (266)
Hmmm, that doesn't seem to work either.

Maybe jump to 2004, where Johan Franzen, drafted 97th overall is another prime example for Red Wing fans to show how awesome their team is at drafting. Again Detroit never drafted in the first round, instead trading their pick to Washington so the Capitals could get Mike Green and Detroit could secure Robert Lang. Ohhh, good one. Franzen may be the best example, as he was their #1 pick: they didn't skip over him in favour of anybody. Yet nobody else from Detroits picks did well: not McGrath nor Haskins nor Axelsson nor Covington. Maybe there just weren't any solid picks available for Detroit? Well except Kris Versteeg, who went only six picks after McGrath. Versteeg was gone but Aaron Boogaard was still available the next round when Detroit picked Siarhei Kolasau. After Boogaard, Detroit had three picks before Montreal scooped up Mark Streit: none of whom can compare in the NHL.

Let's take a break here to appreciate the architect of Detroit's incredible drafting:
Devellano was one of the first NHL general managers to assemble a strong European scouting staff back in 1984, a progressive move that has produced several Red Wing standouts including Russians Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov and Pavel Datsyuk, and Swedes Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall.


I almost forgot about Datsyuk! Detroit famously had a scout cover him to explain how awesome he was. In the 1998 entry draft, Detroit managed to scoop up Datsyuk 171st overall. This was impressive. Of course, they didn't think Datsyuk was as good as Adam Deleeuw, or else they would have drafted him earlier in the 6th round rather than let all these other teams have a chance to scoop up Datsyuk. Hey, if Detroit had taken Andrei Markov for their 151st pick they could have still had Datsyuk twenty picks later! Calle Steen was their 5th round pick, so clearly they thought Steen was better than Datsyuk, or Deleeuw, or Markov, or Ales Kotalik (164th overall ahead of Datsyuk). This, remember, is the mark of an astoundingly brilliant drafting strategy by Detroit, not dumb luck! In the fourth round, realizing how much better he was than Steen, Detroit picked up Brent Hobday. Of course, by the time Steen's pick came around, other teams identified Francis Belanger, Jaroslav Spacek and Andrew Raycroft as better players. I think Spacek is a better player than Hobday, though Hobday is a great Spiderman villain. Detroit again traded away their 87th overall pick, and Toronto used it to pick up Alexei Ponikarovsky. Three spots earlier, with Ponikarovsky still available, the Red Wings nabbed Jake McCracken in a clever play designed to leave the other GMs giggling. It didn't work long enough, and by the time Hobday was around to propel Detroit to Stanley Cup superstardom the Red Wings watched the Oilers take Shawn Horcoff and Toronto to take Ponikarovsky. Detroit did have two picks back to back, Burkie style. While the Vancouver asshole picked the Sedins #2 and #3, with their #55 and #56 pick Detroit got both Ryan Barnes and Alexander Zevakhin! Again, as the Greatest Drafters Ever waited for their next turn they had to watch Francois Beauchemin, Jarkko Ruutu, and Brad Richards go to other teams who might have made a stupid mistake and took Zevakhin had Detroit not made him unavailable. I won't make too much hay about Jiri Fischer, since nobody could anticipate what happened. But nobody knew that Erik Johnson would suffer an injury either. Jiri was chosen, however, over Jonathan Cheechoo, Scott Gomez, Mike Ribeiro, and Mr. Carrie Underwood (Mike Fisher).

I think my point has been made: nobody in 1998 expected that Scott Gomez was going to do so well: except maybe Tampa Bay who were busy turning their #1 pick into Vinny Lecavalier and wouldn't get another choice until 72nd overall. The Rangers certainly wish they had picked Alex Tanguay (who went 12th overall) with their #7 pick of Manny Malhotra. Yet while Edmonton Tanguay by one pick, they still shouldn't have nabbed Mike Henrich when Robyn Regehr or Simon Gagne were still hanging around. Edmonton did score Horcoff in that draft, but if they really wanted him they could have picked up Brad Richards the round before, and Gomez in round one. Yet these teams didn't do this. Why? Because only with hindsight do we realize the errors in their ways. Detroit certainly can make some smart picks, but they can also make some dumb ones. They brag about Holmstrom as a 10th round pick, yet they could have had him along with their choice of:
  • Evgeni Nabokov
  • Tim Thomas
  • Tomas Vokoun
  • Marty Turco
  • Jose Theodore
    (and those were just goalies!)
  • Patrik Elias
  • Chris Drury
  • Sheldon Souray
  • Fredrik Modin
  • Milan Hejduk
  • Daniel Alfredsson
"I turned down Marty Turco so we could set our sights on Tomas Holmstrom!"
Is that the motto of successful teams? Even teams that are acknowledged to suck at drafting can pull out Dick Tarnstrom in the 11th round that year, long after Sergei Shalamai and Lubomir Jandera have been chosen by teams like Chicago or San Jose.

Lidstrom was a great pickup at 53rd overall, and Detroit also got Mike Sillinger that year and Federov in round four. The 1989 year was a great one for Detroit, no question about it. Yet in 1990 Keith Primeau was picked by Detroit 3rd overall while Jaromír Jágr and Martin Brodeur sat ready for the picking. We've established that picking early in the first round is usually a key to success, and I'll delve more into this later. Yet when Detroit picked up Vyacheslav Kozlov instead of Sergei Zubov, Tony Burns instead of Roman Turek, Jason York instead of Robert Lang, can we call them merely lucky the year before, rather than "skilled"?

Let's move on, and look at the Greatest Red Wing of All Time. Stevie Y actually fits this moniker well, and these days its hard to imagine a young kid deciding to take a series of pay cuts and retire with his original team. He was drafted a year ahead of Hull/Lemieux/Robitaille/Roy and company, and fourth overall. Pat LaFontaine was one spot ahead of him, with Cam Neely five spots behind. Wikipedia shows the image to the right, which features All-Stars in orange and Hall of Famers in Green. 1983 is a good year to illustrate a fundamental bit of importance about NHL drafting: top ten is good, top five is better. Top twenty is useless.

Did I really say that? Yes, yes I did. Again, look at the top five spots, and remember that number one overall was a dud this year. No less than four of the top five and eight of the top ten were superstars (defined here as being given a pastel colouring behind their name). In the second batch of ten (#11-20), exactly ONE superstar (Dave Gagner is a pretty weak one, too: All-Star, let's say with a lot of charity). #21-30 and #31-40 both have zero, yet #41-50 contains Bob Probert. Meanwhile, Dominik Hasek was #199. Once you drop out of the Top 10 in 1983, it looks like you've lost any sort of predictability. Let's ignore 1984 since it was such a famously deep draft and move onto '85. This was the anti-84, as Wendel Clark was first overall followed by a shitload of nobodies. Joe Nieuwendyk went 27th overall, followed by Mike Richter. Since this was the second round, we can safely say that teams who didn't pick a superstar in round one merely lucked out. [for those following along, if your team picks a Sidney Crosby in Round 1, if you narrowly miss out on an All-Star in round 2 there's nothing you could have done. -ed] Boston picked Bill Ranford #52 overall. Nobody goes into their 52nd overall pick expecting anything other than a miracle. Yet when you start looking at the history of the draft you quickly see that after you're in the top ten you find yourself basically hoping to get lucky. Look at the 2002 draft: the top 7 (Nash, Lehtonen, Bouwmeester, Pitkanen, Whitney, Upshall, Lupal) were all great NHL picks. But the next 7 were not: Bouchard, Taticek, Nystrom, Ballard, Eminger, Semin, Higgins. The next 7 even less: Niinimaki, Klepis, Gordon, Grebeshkov, Koreis, Paille, Babchuk. Cam Ward was a great first round pick, but he went 25th overall. Apparently Cam Ward wasn't as good a prospect as Jakub Klepis. Of course, Martin Vagner wasn't rated as good as Klepis either...and he still isn't. Yet any grouping of good players you can find in any draft still has its duds. Outside of the top 10, you're playing with fire.

Which is why the Oilers getting a #1 overall pick is so important. The previous high for the Oilers in the modern draft was our 4th overall selection of Jason Bonsignore in 1994. Generally the Oilers either have to make something out of a late round pick (36th overall Stoll, 188th overall Kelly Buchberger, 195th overall Fernando Pisani), or luck out on a 5-20 pick (Gagner, Hemsksy, Arnott). It hasn't always worked (see Steve Kelly, Bonsignore, Boyd Devereaux), mostly because those 5th-15th picks are a dangerous game. You think they should be far more likely to produce superstars than the 20th-50th overall, yet they aren't. Look, for example, at the 1999 draft year: Here are picks number 4-20:
  1. Pavel Brendl
  2. Tim Connolly
  3. Brian Finley
  4. Kris Beech
  5. Taylor Pyatt
  6. Jamie Lundmark
  7. Branislav Mezei
  8. Oleg Saprykin
  9. Denis Shvidki
  10. Jani Rita
  11. Jeff Jillson
  12. Scott Kelman
  13. David Tanabe
  14. Barret Jackman
  15. Konstantin Koltsov
  16. Kirill Safronov
  17. Barrett Heisten

Eccch. Either you got the Sedins 2nd and 3rd overall, or you were disgusted by your first round performance (nobody Patrik Stefan was first overall that year). True Ottawa scored Havlat, but he was 26th overall: even knowing they needed a centre, the Leafs wisely picked Luca Cereda in his place. Now look at a smaller group of players that went in the 2nd round: 35th to 45th overall:
  1. Milan Bartovic
  2. Alexei Semenov
  3. Nolan Yonkman
  4. Dan Cavanaugh
  5. Alexander Buturlin
  6. Alex Auld
  7. Tony Salmelainen
  8. Mike Commodore
  9. Andrei Shefer
  10. Jordan Leopold
  11. Martin Grenier
Now true none of these players are bound for the Hall of Fame: unless Salmelainen becomes the President of Finland or something. But wouldn't you rather be picking in this group?

This, I guess, is the point of all this: the Oilers have a chance to pick from the acknowledged cream of the crop. For all the hand-wringing about Hall vs. Seguin tomorrow, the Oilers can be sure that at least this time they aren't going to screw up by picking the Tyler Wright of a new generation. Though they could still end up picking the next Mel Bridgman.

2010-06-21

2010 Summer Solstice

At right now, 5:28am on June 21, 2010, it is the summer solstice. The sun is closer to the north pole (the Tropic of Cancer, specifically) than it will be at any other point until 2011.

This is also the longest day of the year. But what you may not full appreciate is how much your northern location influences how long your day is:

If you are in Leduc, the sun rose at 5:06am and will set at 10:06pm, giving you exactly 17 hours of sunlight.

But if you live in St. Albert, the sun rose at exactly 5am and will set at 10:12pm, giving you 17 hours 11 minutes and 53 seconds of sunlight. That's right, just in the span of one side of Edmonton to the other, you can gain almost 12 minutes.

If you live in Grande Prairie you will get 17 hours, 24 minutes, 53 seconds. Up in Indian Cabins, close to the NWT border, your sunrise will be at 4:25am and your sunset at 11:15pm. If you want crazy, remember that if it wasn't for daylight savings time the sunrise would be at 3:30 in the morning.

Happy longest day of the year, everybody. If you need a good way to celebrate...I'm just sayin'...

2010-06-18

FACLC's Father's Day camping trip packing list

No, seriously, I am going camping. No, of course I'm not taking my father, what do you think I'm nuts?

Anyways, since I will be off in the joys of our beautiful mountains this Sunday [and, as is Father's Day traditional Third Edge of the Sword World Headquarters in Sundre, Alberta, Feynman & Coulter's Love Child will be unable to answer any women who may wish to phone him on Father's Day...]

Packing list has begun:

  • Beer
  • Shotgun
  • Matches
  • Fishing Rod
  • Tackle Box
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag (thanks to @MikeJenkinson)
  • Beef Jerky

2010-06-17

For fun and profit

Mostly to make an off-colour Twitter joke...

Some true stuff on the slideshow

Glenn Beck shows off how the U.S. Treasury has suddenly fallen in love with printing money:

2010-06-16

Investigating serious flaws in Alberta's proposed distracted driving legislation

"There aughta be a law"-itis strikes again, this time with Alberta's proposed new distracted driving legislation. Naturally, the media seizes upon the "not tough enough" crowd:

Dr. Dan Voaklander, the director of the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research is a strong supporter of the proposed law and is confident it will have no trouble passing.

However, Dr. Voaklander feels the law may not go far enough. He'd like to see hands-free devices added to the list.

"You can stop talking to someone in your car because they know what the driving situation is, whereas the disembodied voice on your hands-free doesn't know what your doing." Says Voaklander.

Motorist caught doing anything other than driving would face a $172 fine under the proposed law. Dr. Voaklander thinks demerits should also be added to the punishment.

Well good for you Dr. Voaklander. But what are you punishing drivers for? If all you read are the op-eds and the opinion of Health & Safety Nazis like Voakey here, you would think you are punishing people for texting while driving. Are you?

All you have to do is look at a giant giant giant flaw covered on Alberta Transportaton's website of FAQs to see a huge problem with the legislation:
Will I be able to text a message or comb my hair when I am stopped at a red light?

No. You cannot engage in distracting activities when stopped at a red light, delayed in traffic or waiting for a train.
Can I be charged if I am just holding my cell phone or PDA?

Yes. Drivers who are holding a cell phone or PDA, even if the phone is powered off, can be charged. This applies to ALL hand-held electronic devices, such as cameras, MP3 players, video gaming devices etc.

Let's tackle the second silly situation first. Can a driver be charged for holding, say, an apple? Nope, take a look at this tidbit:
Also, they will be able to do things like eating, talking with passengers, smoking, or adjusting the vehicle controls.
So if a driver can be holding an apple (which isn't being used to text, phone, or surf the web), why is it different when he's holding an Apple (which isn't being used to text, phone, or surf the web)? I can puff away on a cigarette while driving, flicking ash into the ashtray. Yet if I have my phone charging (and off) on the passenger seat, and flip it upside down if I find I'm being distracted by the reflection of light off the screen, that's against the law? That makes absolutely no sense. If I'm holding a cellphone in my hand but not using it, then I'm no more "distracted" by it than if I was holding a molded piece of plastic with absolutely no electronics contained within. In fact, a half-smart person would drive around holding one such device in his hands -- not faux-talking or texting -- and try to get a ticket just for the joy of quashing it in court.

Yet this is, bizarrely enough, the lesser of the two evils of folly contained in this legislation. Let's go back to the first one:
You cannot engage in distracting activities when stopped at a red light, delayed in traffic or waiting for a train.
What? What? Why?

The purpose of this legislation, remember, is to reduce accidents caused by inattention when driving. Was there a serious problem with people being injured in accidents caused by texting while waiting for a train? Were a lot of drivers combing their hair at red lights accidentally putting the car in drive and slamming on the gas pedal?

As it currently stands, when you are waiting for a train you don't even need to have your engine running. Many times if I'm stuck at one of those atrociously long trains on 170th street, I'll actually get out and stretch. Its not exactly like you're holding up traffic. Do you know something else you can do while you're at a train crossing or a red light? You can close your eyes. Next time you're waiting on a train, do it. When a good song comes on, close your eyes and enjoy it. Open them at the end, when the train is...still there.

So why can't you be on your phone while at a red light, or while waiting for a train, or stuck on a gridlocked and not moving roadway? One of the great sets of innovations lately has been things like mobile apps and services like Twitter to help you learn how to get around construction or accident related traffic tie-ups: a trick that will help reduce overall gridlock, reduce driver frustration, and indeed reduce accidents. [if you care about this sort of crap, it also will reduce greenhouse gas emissions! -ed]

So the Province of Alberta is now foolishly taking away all of those positive developments...for what? There is a simple thing that can be added to this legislation so that when at red lights or behind trains or stuck in traffic drivers can access their electronic devices:
The driver of a vehicle which is not in motion on a roadway and in compliance of traffic laws is permitted to engage in behaviour elsewhere prohibited in this legislation, however the driver must cease the activities when the vehicle resumes motion.


Bear in mind that if you plan to use a traffic light to let your wife know you're stuck in hideous traffic and going to be late, use a break stuck in gridlock to check a paper map on your seat to investigate alternate routes, take photographs of scenery while waiting 16 vehicles back in a left hand turn lane without a left turn signal phase, or comb your hair while waiting with your engine off for a train that is visibly going to be more than five more minutes, you will have broken this new distracted driving legislation. And lets not forget that if you hold a device without a circuit its legal and if you hold a device with a circuit its a crime even when the act of holding is the same in both cases.

Write and call your MLA. If you're an AMA member, encourage them to support removal of these unnecessary provisions. If you're Dr. Voaklander, read up on what you want us to stop doing and then explain to us why.

We've all seen people not paying sufficient attention while on their cellphones, or putting on makeup and accidentally veering out of the lane, or making wild turns while adjusting an iPod. Do you know what all these events have in common? The vehicle was moving.

If the vehicle isn't moving, the driver isn't a danger and these passages should be removed. End of story.

2010-06-15

Vuvuzela

BBC is working on a vuvuzela-free version of its 2010 World Cup Coverage says this Daily Mail article.

When the talk of banning the obnoxious horn sound was first discussed, I expressed a lot of confusion why they needed to bother. The vuvuzela operates in a distinct and quite narrow sound range. Sound engineers are sort of good at this sort of thing, and one would expect the BBC to employ one or two of them. Yet the BBC is only talking about cutting the ambient stadium noise and including the silence of their commentary.

Is there some engineering reason this option is not available for the World Cup?

2010-06-14

Not at all Banned from TV

"Band From TV", featuring amoung others Hugh Laurie and Terri Hatcher, performing a Stones classic:

2010-06-12

Sodomist Marching Band (note: not a "special upcoming epiosde" of Glee)

It's that time of year again, time for Third Edge of the Sword's semi-annual joke:


Bonus Link: somebody more willing than me to cover this stupid thing.

.

"Is the Pope Catholic"? "Yes, but so were his murderers"

The perils of late night reading.

Now I'm wondering if I should pick up a copy of Illustrissimi by a quiet little Italian priest named Albino Luciani.

2010-06-11

A Good Monkey Needs a Little Improvement

In its final post in early November of 2008, Zaphod's Heads wrote::

With the election results coming in last night, it is as if a great darkness has been lifted from the world. The historic victory by Obama may help change many things... for the better no doubt!


Yeah, how's that working for you? Really, that good?

You know, this explains a lot of things wrong with Edmonton City Council

The City of Edmonton's Contaminated Gas Stations Task Force is going to be holding public hearings so you can voice your opinions on 50 former gas station sites that the city is willing to let sit as a useless eyesore for a decade-and-a-half while City Councillors collect paycheques and sit in meetings discussing them. [seriously, it looks like the Ground Zero site will be finished before we can finally build on that location the world's coolest half-open patio bar and condo tower! -ed]

There's probably not much of substance that anybody can contribute to here. I mean, what are we expecting?

City Council: We want to do something about these lands. What do you think?

Citizens: We think something should be built there.

City Council: Okay, we're hearing a lot of great ideas here. What's the maximum carbon footprint we should be allowing on these sites?

Citizens: Uh, big, I guess. Are we going to be starting construction yet?

City Council: How in-depth should the environmental impact assessments be? Who should pay for them, the property owner, the developer, or both with the City of Edmonton providing an approved list of assessment organizations.

Citizens: Wait, there are developers? Cool, when will they build something?

City Council: Now we need to look at potential zoning changes. Should land in CNC status have to remain in CNC status, or can we permit redevelopment in CB1 or even IB/IL zones? If the land in question has a CB1 status already, can it be reverted to CBC zones or must it remain in CB1 or CB2 status?

Citizens: Hold on! Aren't we building anything yet? Can you please just build something?

City Council: What? Build something? No no, these meetings are just to establish the City's position on contaminated gas station sites and to advocate to other municipalities, the provincial or federal government, or other stakeholders on behalf of City Council. Also to develop a plan for the City that will encourage contaminated gas station site clean-up, identify barriers to clean-up and ways to address the barriers.

Citizens: Uh, so that means you aren't building anything? Is there maybe some property in Sherwood Park I could look into purchasing for myself?

CBC Commentator Darkhorse21x: I want to create a clean up fund which is contributed to by all members of the Petroleum Production Sector. Use this fund to target sites for clean up. It may take a while to complete but the status quo is unacceptable. Contributions sould be on a sliding scale based upon the number of employees or the relative worth of the company. This way, the industry as a whole can take on the corporate responsibility for past shorts sighted ness and we can move forward.

City of Edmonton: Don't forget to answer important questions on possible opportunities to reduce the maximum allowable height to ensure that...

Citizens: To fuck with you all! Either build something on there or get out of everybody else's way!


Anyways, the City of Edmonton plans to hold a public hearing, for some sort of reason. When? Monday, June 14th in City Hall, at 3pm.

No, seriously, when?

Nope, no kidding: at 3pm on a Monday afternoon, when the only people who would be attending are homeless people, minimum wage shift workers, or students. Now its probably a moot point at this level, but it got me thinking: is this maybe the reason that so many stupid ideas (that socialists are in favour of) get passed off as crème brulée when they really are just big steaming piles of shit? If this public hearing happened to be about something important, you'd find the people in attendance [and chairing! -ed] are not the productive class of society, the men and woman who work hard day in and day out making the greasy commerce wheel go 'round, or generate the industrial capacity that keeps our modern day City on the Hill afloat. No, instead they would be the shiftless layabouts, and the same sort of slime who have time for midweek rallies and protests. In other words, the last people that City Council should listen to.

The more I think about this, the more depressed I get: if you schedule events so that the least productive members of society are the only ones who you get input from, your inputs will be mostly garbage, and your decisions will by default be very unproductive.

Wait, haven't we already experienced some of this?

2010-06-09

A curious appeal to the hockey gods

Dear Hockey Gods

I like hockey. Watching it, at least (as you know, I refused to play in Atom when the coach tried to make me play left-wing).

I've very much enjoyed these playoffs, even though Montreal and Vancouver went far too deep for my liking. Also, Chris Pronger is still alive, and I thought we discussed this after the Anaheim fiasco.

Still, despite my love for hockey, I have one small request: until the fall, can we have no more games after tonight?

My regards,
Feynman & Coulter's Love Child

Go Blackhawks!


Lots of people mention "The Hockey Gods", but few know who they really are. There are four: the ghosts of Jacques Plante, Bill Hunter, 16th Earl of Derby (Frederick Stanley), and Don Cherry's dog Blue.

Russian Mathematical Genius Confused by Simple Algebraic Equation

Russian mathematician Grigoriy Perelman has ignored an invitation from the Clay Mathematical Institute to come to Paris to receive a $1 million prize for the resolution of the Poincaré conjecture.

Of all the seven Clay's Millennial prizes up for grabs, only the Poincaré conjecture has been solved. The following video briefly describes the efforts made to come up with a solution:


When Perelman refused the Fields medal in 2006, it was the open question around the scientific community whether he would also do the same for the Millenium prize. Fields is worth a mere $15,000 [in Canadian dollars, that is! -ed], and with an almost guaranteed Clay award coming his way it was thought the first refusal could be political while in the second case he'd take the money.

Now, however, it seems Perelman is just batshit crazy -- which in fact is not an incredibly shocking thing for anybody who follows the career of mathematical or physics geniuses. Excluding, of course, the author of this blog, whom all can agree is perfectly reasonable. If nothing else, I understand this key equation that Perelman has difficulty with:


Bonus Clay Millennium Prize Info:

The P=NP Problem is probably the most important of the Clay problems: the Clay website explains that even far-flung future supercomputers could never use brute force to achieve a simple goal like planning the optimum NHL schedule...but if P=NP can be (constructively) solved, they won't have to. It turns out to also have the coolest way to prove it: play a lot of minesweeper. Disclaimer: This won't actually help.

The only Clay problem I've worked on personally, mostly during hot showers, has been the Riemann Problem. The best thing about this problem is that after it baffles you for a few dozen hours in Rutherford Library at the cost of several angrily-broken pencils, you can gain future notoriety by writing a letter claiming to have solved an even harder problem, write a whole bunch of unrelated papers with densely packed margins of half-proofs and notes, and people will believe you did it for ninety-eight years. It's also fun to alternate between proofs that it is true versus proofs that it is false, since the latter case makes you seem evil and badassed. Disclaimer: Though it won't break internet security, it'll just piss off a lot of people who expect their prime numbers to distribute evenly.

2010-06-07

Penny, Royalty?

2010-06-06

City of Edmonton Taxypayers paying to dig a hole, and then to fill another one

Have you been up in the northwest corner of the city lately? A year or two ago they started work on 137th avenue close to St. Albert Trail. Last June, Google Street View captured this image:
Well, I didn't have my camera when I drove that way last week, but holy crap has it changed. Lots of work going on there, I tell ya.

What is the final end product? You may not know this, but the City of Edmonton puts out diagrams and artist renditions for all ongoing construction projects. For the "137 Avenue Widening" as its officially known, it will ultimately look something like this. The plan includes widening 137th avenue all the way to 156th street.

As a sidebar, last year I was tempted to blog about this topic already, since I noticed there was no talk of putting an overpass at the intersection of 137 Avenue and St. Albert Trail. As typically happens, the city will spend a bunch of money on this road, only to rip it all out in 5-10 years and build the overpass they should have built the entire time. Most seriously, they let a car dealership build on the southwest corner of the intersection, making it more difficult and expensive to build the stack interchanges needed. However, using only two corners of the intersection, it would still be possible. Still, the City is foolishly building all around that area (with the resulting congestion issues) without having a great finished product by the end.

Anyways, back to the original issue: the widening is also combined with an underpass, to allow 137th Avenue to go underneath the railroad tracks. Now I have a coworker who lives up in north Edmonton and therefore she uses 137th daily in her commute. She reports that the train does occasionally interfere with rush hour, usually in the afternoon: sometimes for as long as 10 minutes. Lets say the train goes by five times a day (she thinks thats far too high, but bear with me). The time lag isn't a big issue as much as the traffic disruption of stopping flow and backlogging in all directions (including, you may note, the if-only-it-was cloverleaf interchange over at St. Albert Trail). This disruption happens less than five times a day.

Hey, does anybody remember what happened when they built the LRT along 111th street just a couple months ago? Again, Google Street View can show you this view:Notice something about this intersection at 51st Avenue and 111th Street? Nobody who uses 111th for their commute can fail to notice that there's a level grade there. The City of Edmonton just spent sixty-three bazillion dollars building the south LRT line. LRT trains aren't a long as the ones that freight crossings endure to be sure, but every time the LRT comes by there is a a lengthy break in traffic flow. I said above that 5 times a day is pushing it for the 137th Ave crossing: well the LRT during rush hour comes by five times every half hour.

So the same moronic City of Edmonton that spends the defense budget of several nations building an underpass for a train that passes a half dozen times a day also builds an above ground LRT line that will interfere with traffic ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TIMES A DAY -- assuming that the north and south trains cross at exactly the same time.

This is not, in fact, a made up number. Southgate station receives exactly 150 southbound trains per weekday, and another 150 northbound trains.

If that doesn't boggle your minds already, look at the defense of this decision by the moronic City of Edmonton by the moronic City of Edmonton's stupidest member:

One way to think about this is that opening LRT is like building a six-lane freeway in terms of its capacity to move people, so when you’re crossing 111 Street in a sense it’s like crossing the equivalent of a 10-12 lane road.

Many have contacted me to ask why the major intersections were not tunneled under or bridged over, and the decision was made during the planning phase based on computer modeling of each intersection. Each grade separation costs millions to implement, and cause more serious disruption so they are used very sparingly.

Other citizens have asked whether the experience at these intersections will change the city’s intentions to run the new southeast-to-west line on the surface, including through downtown.

This is a fair question that we will have to explore. The initial plans involve limiting many of the left turns, which wasn’t done on the South LRT.
The first thing that should strike your attention is that Iveson apparently has never seen a freeway before. The salient point about them is that they are elevated or sunken and therefore cause no disruption to traffic moving perpendicular to them. I understand that somebody who thinks the Yellowhead is a freeway can be confused by this, but if we really built a 6-lane freeway to replace the LRT along 111th street, we the commuters of Edmonton would actually appreciate it. Hey Don, why not tear down your stupid train and build one of those! The other thing about freeways is that the intersecting roads are all useful additions to the vehicles that will travel on them. A freeway driver doesn't mind having 34th Ave and Whitemud Drive and 51st Ave and Argyll Road there, since he might be turning off onto one of them. No so with the LRT.

The cost argument is truly laughable. Remember that eventually they will end up having to redesign the area roadways to compensate for the stupid decision they made in 2008. I remind future citizens of Edmonton that Iveson will not pay out of pocket for these stupid decisions: unless you force him to with some sort of retroactively personally culpable legislation. I strongly encourage this to all surviving Edmontonians in 2045 who aren't recovering from their stab wounds: especially when you realize that idiot Iveson's defense of the next LRT phase is that they will get rid of left turns entirely. Wait, isn't this the guy all up in arms about our carbon footprints? And now we're going to wind up with big stretches of traffic-jammed roads where you aren't able to cross the LRT track in order to start going West when you wanted to be going East. Bad enough this occurs on the Henday at the 111th street abortion overpass, but this is an area where people are trying to get around in: at least, that's the ultimate desire of the local business population.

Already there are plans going forward for yet another LRT line, this one northbound towards St. Albert. For those keeping track, this is going to cross 137th Avenue. As the City of Edmonton Transportation Department debates an overpass or an underpass when crossing the CN line and the Yellowhead, they totally forgot that they will be crossing this intersection:


Will the City of Edmonton be putting a level grade for the LRT in this space? We don't yet know how often the trains will be running, but we can guess it will happen more often than the five (or less) times a freight train crosses this exact same road exactly two miles away. The train delays that Edmonton decided were worth creating an underpass for.

Anybody in Edmonton who is looking forward to missing the occasional train on 137th Avenue shouldn't be getting too excited: in 5 years, the braintrust at Edmonton City Council will be making you wait at 113th Street a hundred or so times. Oh, and the braintrust at the Legislature will tell you that you can't phone work to tell them you'll be late while stuck behind the trains. More on this later.

L'affront pour les Roughriders de Saskatchewan dans Montreal

The following is a rough translation (mostly thanks to Google, I've made some changes of my own) of my recent post where I come up with a taunt to use against Saskatchewan when they play Montreal in August:

Après la catastrophe qui a été en 2009 de la Coupe Grey, où la Saskatchewan a perdu à Montréal en raison d'un trop grand nombre d'hommes sur la peine de domaine (dans le sens le plus absolu de «perdues en raison d'une« peine imaginable), le CFL saison 2010 est sur le point d'obtenir en cours.

C'est l'année où le fans de Philadelphia Flyers ironiquement transformé le slogan L'Habitants de Montréal contre eux , de sorte que la Ville de Montréal a besoin pour obtenir leur retour mojo.

Alors, quand Saskatchewan de venir en ville le vendredi, le 6 août, il incombe à la grenouille à venir avec un chant bien.

Puis-je suggérer ce qui suit?

Onze!
Douze!
Treize!
Oups!

Taunting Wheatherders en francais

After the disaster that was the 2009 Grey Cup, where Saskatchewan lost to Montreal due to a too many men on the field penalty (in the most absolute sense of "lost due to a penalty" imaginable), the 2010 CFL season is about to get underway.

This is the year in which Philadelphia Flyers fans sarcastically turned the Montreal Canadians slogan against them, so the City of Montreal needs to get their mojo back.

So when the Roughriders come to town on Friday, August the 6th, it would behoove the Frogs to come up with a good chant.

May I suggest the following?

Onze!
Douze!
Treize!
Whoops!

Links in the News

As I continue my trend of making modifications to the blog, I will be cleaning up some of the links on the sidebar.

Therefore, I'm putting them here so I can still find them, thanks to the much improved search feature.

Edmonton weather

/.

Debian Linux

Wikipedia article on separatism

Complete Military History of France (which I can almost cover in Twitter)

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

How to tie a Windsor knot

2010-06-05

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives coming to Edmonton

My friend Martok suggested I watch today's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathon on the Food network.

He's asked the question before, and perhaps the greater population should be asking it, is if the show ever came to Edmonton (the title of this post aside, its not), which places would be ideal candidates for the show?

Dadeos is the first name that comes to mind: their creole cooking far north of the 49th parallel [for that matter, north of the 53rd parallel -ed] would certainly qualify them in the 'funky greasy spoon' category.

Barb & Ernie's is the other place that came to mind, partly since we were sitting in it at the time of holding the conversation. The style and the stories, moreso than the food, would be what caught the shows attention. Of course, if they enjoyed the Bratwurst Benedict....

So what else? Martok suggested Tasty Tom's, though I remain unconvinced. Blue Plate Diner or 9th Street Bistro are options too, I suppose.

What do you think, Edmonton? Where would you send Guy Fieri?

Blog redesign

Well, if you're a new visitor to Third Edge of the Sword, welcome! If you have been here before, you might be a little shocked: this isn't the blog you thought it was:

This is probably more what you remember (if you haven't been here any more recently than the Internet Wayback Machine than you also remember the bar along the right-hand side not lining up for two months in 2007). I've added a Twitter feed here and there, but otherwise the layout and colour scheme of this blog have been static since we opened December 2005.

The big motivation for this change was the YouTube widescreen videos: going to a nice clean blog layout where I could make the post widths more accomodating was the big plan here. This blog isn't quite optimized for wide-screen monitors, but it wouldn't hurt. The total blog width does remain at a nice 1024 pixels. I figured this would be appreciated.

There have been a few other changes as well: the most noticeable is that IntenseDebate® has been loaded up as the official new commenting system used at Third Edge of the Sword. I don't exactly get enough comments to encourage IntenseDebate®, but the new layout seemed to vastly disagree with the comments system.

It has also disagreed with my dashboard and quick-edit link options, which is rather annoying. Not that any of you would notice.

So IntenseDebate® is now locked and loaded on all new posts. Old posts get a little trickier: if there is already comments, then IntenseDebate® will not load -- but you cannot post using the old comment method. There is some sort of glitch keeping IntenseDebate® from allowing Blogger blogs to import all old comments, which is a bit of a shame. Hopefully that gets up and running again, and you can get back to a happy lifetime of commenting on David Swann's medical lies, Miley Cyrus probably not kissing Ashley Tisdale, or how awesome it is that Lily Tran has died.

The other big change is Twitter-related: with the rise of the hashtag and the already loaded labels on Third Edge of the Sword, it made sense to rearrange some of them. As a result, "Edmonton Current Events" (an already unwieldy name) has changed to "#yeg". "Hockey" becomes "#NHL", "Baseball" becomes #mlb, "Canadian Politics" becomes "#roft", "American Politics" becomes #tcot, and "Alberta Politics" becomes "#ableg".

There are a few smaller changes as well: up in the top left corner you can find quick links to my Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook pages. There is a slightly expanded "About Me" section; also if you're all into that fancy RSS thing, you may notice that the RSS feed for Third Edge of the Sword is up in the top left corner too. Another link remains at the bottom right corner of the page.

With the loss of the top menu bar search function, I have brought in a more robust custom Google search, an example of which I provide here:


Other than that, though, not much else different 'round these parts. There is a nice calendar icon now to indicate dates, I guess. As usual, any questions, comments or complaints, please feel free to join in the IntenseDebate®!

Intense

I have loaded up IntenseDebate. New posts will use IntenseDebate for the comments system.

Old posts will continue to use the Blogger commenting system, which is currently offline. We are investigating.

Tax Freedom Day rap

Its Tax Freedom Day today (for Canada as a whole: mine was in mid-May).

The Fraser Institute has put out a relatively entertaining rap song, though the rips on Don Cherry seem awfully out of place. Do you really think carbon-tax-happy David Suzuki is a better person to be paying for on CBC versus Don "Support the Troops" Cherry?

The Loud Pipes Save Lives Challenge

Will CBC commentator robear5440 and other "Loud Pipes Save Lives" motorcyclists agree to the following challenge?

Either here on this post or on the wall of my Facebook Page, please post a photo of you in your riding gear and your motorcycle.

The rest of us can start buying 110 decibel airhorns to mount on the sides of our pickups, cars, and yes indeed bicycles.

Then, as soon as we see you are alongside us, we can blast the horn directly in your ear. You know, for your own safety.

G-20 Security bill

With over a billion dollars already spent on G20 security, perhaps its time to ask the question:

Can we sacrifice some security to save some money? How much would G20 security cost if we only provided security to the following world leaders:

  1. Prime Minister of Canada
  2. EU Commission President
  3. EU Council President
  4. President of France
  5. Chancellor of Germany
  6. Prime Minister of Italy
  7. President of Russia
  8. Prime Minister of Great Britain
  9. Prime Minister of Austrailia

That's it, just protect this core crew, and leave the rest to the mercy of whatever flavour of the week NDP protesters feel like showing up.

2010-06-03

Edmonton's "tough" new bike law

Last year I wrote about Edmonton's motorcycle bylaw.

Today the subject is up again, and see how many things strike you as odd in this CBC story.

CBC:

Edmonton is one step closer to turning in motorcycle riders whose bikes are too loud.

A city committee voted Thursday to make it illegal for a motorcycle to be louder than 92 decibels while idling and 96 decibels while in motion.
Third Edge of the Sword:
DAYTIME DECIBEL LIMIT - NON-RESIDENTIAL
(1) A person shall not cause or permit any sound exceeding 75 dB(A), as measured at the property line of a property zoned for use other than residential, between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.


CBC:
Edmonton police have already purchased eight sound meters, Edmonton Insp. Brian Lobay told CBC News. Officers are expected to start enforcing the change in July on Whyte Avenue, Jasper Avenue and Groat Road, he said.

"The instrument is placed at a certain distance behind the exhaust and it gives you a digital readout on your decibel level…you either pass or you fail," Lobay said.
Third Edge of the Sword:
(3) A person may be found guilty of a contravention of this section whether or not the decibel level:
(a) is measured; or
(b) if measured, exceeds any limit prescribed by this bylaw.


So is this really a "tough new bylaw"? It has a threshold 18 decibel levels above the old bylaw, which police could use to ticket motorcycles running at 75 decibels with their fancy new noise testers. It has no provision to fine loud bikes operating at 67 db(A), which existed before. The fine of $250 is unchanged.

The City of Edmonton should really get around to reading my blog more often. Then they might learn what their noise bylaws actually say.

2010-06-01

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Calgary MP Rob Anders is in hot water today after signing a Support the Troops card in Parliament Hill with the slogan "When in doubt, pull the trigger":

Anders' message did not sit well with his constituents in Calgary West.

"I find this very offensive and disgusting as my husband used to be in the military," said Dorthy Wright on Monday. "I don't think it's a joke."

B.K. Samuel, 18, said if Anders was joking, he should have made it clear in case soldiers took his message the wrong way.

"It's pretty funny, but I don't think it's appropriate to send to … soldiers," said Nyuon Jock, 16.

Phone calls to Anders' office were not returned on Monday, and a spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office had no comment.
As I mentioned on Twitter today, it took me all of 20 seconds to walk a few steps, ask the veteran I work with about the authenticity of the slogan, and know more than the CBC or the Edmonton Journal's Paula Simons bothered to research.