2010-07-31

A layman's take on the long form census issue

Last weekend I was out with friends and at one point we were in the company of chick drama in high gear. To avoid the drama, we turned to any escaping conversation to distract us we could come up with: after exhausting some sports chat I thought I'd bring up the long-form census issue. This is a major story, occupying the entire Macleans.ca website for possibly the rest of 2010. It might cost the Conservatives their government.

Suffice it to say, of the four guys in attendence none of them knew that any such controversy was going on. Of all the topics on the planet that might be of a going concern to these four Canadian males ranging from 28 to 33 years of age, this ranked somewhere with the ongoing crisis of gang wars in Portugal on the scale of political issues in which they cared about. So I explained to them the crisis, how the lead statistician with Statistics Canada resigned in protest, and that Harper was taking heat for diminishing the statistical value of the returns.

On this bit they were more than a little bit confused. How, they asked, was making the long form census voluntary instead of mandatory going to reduce its statistical value?

This, remember, is the major point of opposition to the Conservatives' new plan: if you make the census voluntary rather than mandatory, the claim goes, the data shall be useless. The issue is framed as one of personal liberties versus intensely vital knowledge for the setting of government policy. (Well, except for some Liberal wingnuts who think otherwise)

The notion is that the mandatory census will have information the voluntary census would not. So what happens when their point turns out to be wrong? What happens when it turns out any information obtained is meaningless?

One of the guys in the group was selected to fill out the 2006 long form census. Another was selected to fill out the 2001 long form census. Neither of them wanted to do it, and both got the followup (phone call/visit -- one got one, one got the other) insistence that the form must be filled out. Both of them didn't want to do it. Were it voluntary, as the Conservatives propose, the followup visit would have been the end of it: just thought we could change your mind. TTFN! Instead it wasn't voluntary, and both of them ended their mini revolutions and filled out the form for Statistics Canada.

And both of them lied their asses off.


As discussed, the census isn't a hot button issue with them. Until that conversation none of us knew they both were chosen. They both fibbed: one of them extraordinarily viciously. He made sure every thing he wrote down was a lie. Unlike Homer Simpson, they weren't even part of a "ball of lies", he just made sure every question was answered totally inaccurately. The other merely lied in the sense that he gave close to the real answer but never the actual answer: he really worked 11 weeks over the summer but wrote down that he worked 17, his dwelling was built one category newer than it really fell into, that sort of deal.

These are real people. These are ordinary everyday Canadians. They may have had no objection to the long form until they got it. Now they would prefer to have it voluntary. In theory they like that its mandatory to give accurate answers. In reality...well, if they got the mandatory long form in 2011 they would lie again. They couldn't even figure how StatsCan was upset about it not being mandatory anymore. People will just lie. They did!

Making the long form voluntary doesn't add a selection bias: it simply impacts the selection bias that was already there. People may chose to lie on the long form now that its not mandatory: but you can't tell me that those who oppose being forced to do it would be less likely to make some bullshit up. The 'Jedi Knight' issue is really only a small one: at the end of the day, the way that the census is performed is going to give you a lot of good data, and some bad data.

The Conservatives plan on cutting back the proportion of that data which is bad. They've increased the number of forms handed out which should improve the data which is good. Meanwhile, Statistics Canada is upset that the Harper government is going to let Canadians throw their form in the garbage.

They would much prefer it if you put garbage on the form for them.

2010-07-27

Alberta Expands Veteran License Plate Program

Today the province expanded the program by which veterans of the Canadian Forces can get their own license plates.

Okay, somebody's gotta say it: I'm against it.

A while ago I mentioned a friend who formerly served in the Canadian Forces in Bosnia. He has a veteran license plate: he's a retired serviceman with more than ten years in the service and therefore a veteran according to the Royal Canadian Legion, who decides who is and is not a veteran for the purposes of the Alberta program.

The problem is that he's not a veteran of the First or Second World War, or Korea. I don't mean this to diminish the services of later members of CF (though I am told that Cypress or late-to-the-Bosnian-party peacekeepers or German-stationed forces are sort of looked down on in the service -- particularly when they try to talk big about being in the Army.), my purposes for this is entirely selfish. You see, this guy is a mid-30something man driving a fairly nice car.

Veterans plates used to be easy ways to predict
when you were stuck behind an old person.


How many times, I wonder, did I come up behind a veteran plate and realize that I could switch to the other lane and easily get in front of the old geezer long before I needed to be back in that lane. However, when the province relaxed the definitions to the Legion standards and started letting youngish people get the plates, this predictive ability was severely hampered.

Ed Stelmach, you have just obliterated the predictive ability entirely: now other than Chinese flags or Student Driver signs we have nothing left.. Most modern day soldiers (my friend notably excluded) have no problem with WWII or Korean veterans getting special veteran plates, and more recent veterans or current members getting a "member of Canada's Armed Forces" plate of a different design. This would not only recognize particularly in WWII the much more extreme nature of the service: 0.40% of the 1939 Canadian population died in the 6 years of dubya-dubya-two, which would translate to one hundred twenty thousand and twenty-eight deaths in Afghanistan -- just from 2001 until 2007. But primarily for my purposes it means that you would again be able to know when the veteran in front of you is unlikely to approach the speed limit on the same calendar day that the light turns green.

And that, my friends, is a Veteran Affairs outreach initiative I can get firmly behind.
And by behind I mean beside so that I can gun it when the light turns green.

2010-07-22

For @dominionpundit

Edmonton: home of the stupidly low speed limits:



(that city council morons are trying to make even lower!)

Update, July 23 2:45pm: Driving to Ikea this morning, I came across another bad one...

Twitter #FAIL

For the second day in a row now, I have no access to Twitter's website on my phone's mobile browser.

Originally I was using m.twitter.com, until yesterday morning when it stopped working: I received an "invalid URL" message. At first I thought Twitter itself was down, but people continued to post. When I arrived home, I found it worked just fine on my PC, but still not on my phone.

That's when @MikeJenkinson suggested switching URLs to mobile.twitter.com. This worked...sort of. Now instead of a "Invalid URL" error I get a "Parser Error". Both mobile.twitter.com and m.twitter.com still work on my webbrowser: but they don't work on my (non-smart) phone. This is quite the sad shock.

Any idea what the problem is? Is the issue with Twitter changing mobile configuration changes, or is my phone just officially screwed?

2010-07-17

ATTENTION LADIES OF EDMONTON!

If you hurry, you can follow all these steps before you bump into me later tonight at Diesel...

Saint Patrick

I know this is a long way from March 17th, but occasional Third Edge of the Sword commenter The Canadian Skeptic spent his St. Patrick's Day freaking out at people who dared to have fun on St. Patty's.

Seriously, the crazy fun drunk side to the Irish is their one endearing quality; yet he's jumping up and down desperately trying to remove it?

Wildrose Stomp

2010-07-16

Facebook: Add Friends. NOW STOP IT!

Every time I log onto Facebook, I get this message:
It involves the chance to add people who are associated with other people I know, which tends to be other conservative or at least politically minded people in Canada.

But today when adding somebody I now get this message:
So figure it out Facebook. Do you want me to add people? Or don't add people?

And after getting this block message? The "add more friends" window still exists. So, uh, I'm still blocked am I? Isn't this like holding Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in a seedy bar during Happy Hour?

Canada Buys F-35 Jet Fighter

OTTAWA (Dow Jones)--The Canadian government is buying 65 Joint Strike Fighter F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), an investment valued at about C$9 billion (US$8.7 billion), Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Friday.

He said Canada will begin taking delivery of the first aircraft in 2016.

"This is one of the largest defense procurement projects in the history of Canada," MacKay said at a joint news conference with Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Industry Minister Tony Clement.
CTV and the Liberals are trying to make hay out of the "lack of a competitive process" in this deal.

Of course, Canada was an early participant in the JSF program. The JSF program included a R&D/testng process that resulted in Lockheed beating Boeing for the next-gen fighter. In other works, there was a competitive process, one that we were financially involved in since the beginning. Why would we then abandon this effort when the actual procurement phase comes up? Why are the Liberals so clueless in military matters?

On an unrelated note, are Ambrose and MacKay an item?

She was with him at this F-35 announcement in Ottawa.

She was with him at the announcement of building new support ships for the Navy on Wednesday.

Here they are sexily shoveling together announcing a new RCMP headquarters.

Here they are again last week announcing an upgrade to the LAV III fleet.

Something we should be keeping an eye on? Tony Clement was present for 2 of the 4 engagements, and his department has way more to do with these military contracts than Ambrose's.

2010-07-13

2010 Honda Edmonton Indy

The big race is now ten days away, and the Indy girls have now been selected. Naturally, nowhere can you find photos of them. That would be crazy talk! The Edmonton SUN has a little thumbnail photo as shown on the left, that's all you get. Regardless, the SUN does give you a little chat with Barbara Jackson, a 24 year old Edmonton model who tried out to be an Indy girl: no word whether or not she got the gig.

“It would be a great experience, I have never done anything like this before,” said Jackson.

The 24-year-old works as a movie extra in her spare time and has always wanted to get into modelling.

She was on the fence, however, when it came to choosing a favourite Indy driver.

“They are all good in my eyes,” said Jackson.
Awww, isn't that sweet: they're all good in her eyes.

Okay, for anybody without a functioning bullshit detector, this means that Jackson can't name a single fucking Indy driver.

Tired Gay Succumbs to Dix



Seriously? Seriously? That's the headline the Reuters editor decided to run with?

2010-07-12

"It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you / There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do"

Hey, why not quote Toto twice in one evening?

As the World Cup wound down, we learn of carnage in Uganda:

(Reuters) - Somali Islamists said on Monday they had carried out two bomb attacks in Uganda that killed 74 soccer fans watching the World Cup final on television.

The explosions in the closing moments of Sunday's match ripped through a crowded restaurant and a rugby club in the capital Kampala.

Al Shabaab militants in anarchic Somalia had already threatened to attack Uganda for sending peacekeeping troops to prop up its fragile, Western-backed government.

In Mogadishu, the group threatened more attacks unless Uganda and Burundi withdrew their peacekeepers.

"Al Shabaab was behind the two bomb blasts in Uganda," spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told reporters.

"We are sending a message to Uganda and Burundi: If they do not take out their AMISOM troops from Somalia, blasts will continue, and it will happen in Bujumbura too."
The world just seems to be getting more and more batshit crazy, doesn't it? Take special note about that AMISOM, we'll get back to it in a moment:
Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust an Islamist movement. That sparked the Islamist insurgency that rages today.

The blasts came near the end of the match and left shocked survivors reeling among corpses and scattered chairs.

"We were watching soccer here and then, when there were three minutes to the end of the match, an explosion came ... and it was so loud," witness Juma Seiko said at the rugby club.

Heavily armed police cordoned off both blast sites and searched the areas with sniffer dogs while dazed survivors helped to pull the wounded from the wreckage.

Uganda, east Africa's third largest economy, is attracting billions of dollars of foreign investment, especially in its oil sector and government debt markets.

But investors in Uganda and neighboring Kenya, which shares a porous border with Somalia, often say the threat from Islamic militants is a serious concern.

"I certainly think the blasts will make risk appraisals tighter on Uganda. If it does transpire to be al Shabaab, that will certainly raise the concerns of Western investors and also Chinese investors in Uganda," said Alex Vines, Head of Africa Programmes at London's Chatham House think-tank.

The Ugandan shilling fell slightly against the dollar on Monday.

Somali residents of Kampala said they feared a backlash.

"We are in fear and locked in our homes today," said Bisharo Abdi, a Somali refugee. "Some Ugandans are saying 'Kill Somalis'."
Already there is talk about demonstrations being held in Uganda to convince the government to remove the peacekeeping force that is currently working in Somalia -- though the 'peacekeepers' are basically holding an area similar to the Upper West Side vs. the rest of the city. And by "holding" we mean "slowly losing".

Anyways, the peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are there as part of AMISOM, an African Union initiative. The whole idea, you may recall, was to have a peacekeeping force not involving either the "evil colonial powers"(TM) or the "Great Satan"(TM) or "the batshit crazy Russians or ChiComs"(TM). This was to be the African Union's great triumph: the nations of the dark continent [as this phrase was typed, a black chick popped up on MSN. -ed] banding together to dig one of their own members out of despair and civil war: the idea being that African nations helping out their communal brothers would have a greater moral authority to be involved and would give better results.

Unfortunately, the moral authority argument turns out to be less than persuasive: the Islamic Courts Union rejected AMISOM from the get-go, and the ICU later morphed into the very same Al Shabaab that now blows up good Christian football soccer fans in Uganda. This also kind of pushes into the "not so much better results" territory.

The big danger now will be that Uganda pulls its peacekeeping contingent. If Burundi follows suit, the remaining forces in the region won't even have enough manpower to dig their own graves: of the two largest armies in north Africa Ethiopia has basically pulled out of the country, and Eritrea is more interested in helping the ICU and its splinter factions than helping build a prosperous Somali society.

If the planned demonstrations affect change, then Uganda will be pulled from the list of 'African countries interested in having Somali become a peaceful society'. A list that, quite often, seems to be solely comprised of Uganda.

For those Third Edge of the Sword readers not fully up on contrasting Afro-Marxist political theory into the real world, when they talk of "communal" the proper word is "tribal", and when they talk of "brothers" the proper word is "enemies". On some level, the Afro-Marxists are aware of this, but on some far shallower level when AMISOM and similar initiatives fail to work out as planned, they are still somewhat surprised.

"I bless the rains down in Africa / Gonna take some time to do the things we never have"

Could the north African battle over the Nile river become the world's first water war?:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi have not signed yet either and analysts are divided on whether they will or not. Six Nile countries must sign the agreement for it to have any power but Egypt says even that wouldn’t change its mind. The five signatories — some of the world’s poorest countries — have left the agreement open for debating and possible signing for up to a year.

Tensions were clearly still running high after two days of negotiations in Addis and despite grinning around the table and constantly referring to each other as “my brother”, the ministers always seemed in danger of breaking into bickering.

When the Sudanese water minister said his country was freezing cooperation with the Nile Basin Initiative — the name given to the ten-year effort to agree on how to manage the river — Ethiopia’s water minister loudly protested to the media that his Sudanese colleague had not revealed that during their private meetings.

However interesting a read this story is though, the real gem comes in the comments at the end of the article:
Posted by Ethio:
The treaty that has been signed during the period when the colonial power was in a position to impose their will on Ethiopian leaders never ratified by Ethiopians and the rest nations (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, etc). It has never been accepted and will not be accepted by Ethiopians. We don’t care if some groups came together and sign only for their own sake. Blue Nile is a God given resource for Ethiopians as Sudan has oil and Egypt possesses its own Pyramid and other resources. No one let me repeat it; no one has a legal base to stop Ethiopians and the rest people from using our precious resources. And for this, we will pay what ever the cost will be; we are a brave and reactive if some one tries to impose us, go to read our respected histories: who we are.

We will never repeat the mistake that has been made by our elders. From now on wards, no more for free we will give them water and they will provide us oil, it should be mutual. What surprised me is their cheap say, they said we don’t have water; we are totally dependent on it. Yes no doubt, every nation has its own recourses and ever nation is buying from others to satisfy its own need. This can be the only solution.
We Ethiopians call to Nile “Abbay” and Abbay is our blood!!!
So the Nile is a God-given resource like the oil in Sudan or the pyramids in Egypt??? Uh, I know the average African who sputters on about "colonials" and "elders" isn't particularly bright, but in any of those histories you want people to read did you happen to notice the bit about how Egyptians built the pyramids themselves? God didn't give that to the denizens of the Nile delta, they did it on their own.

Which just leads us to the notable fact that Africa still has trouble with: as the cradle of civilization why are there no pyramids or historic constructs in the rest of Africa.

Our home on borrowed land

EDMONTON — A documentary on children in Fort Chipewyan and their concerns about oilsands pollution in their area has made it to a short list for a Fan Favourite Award at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.

The short documentary, called Keepers of the Water, features several children aged nine to 12 talking about what they think the industry is doing to their water supply and to their health. The film is competing with four others for votes for best emerging filmmaker. Voting closes at the end of Wednesday.
I brought this up earlier this week on Twitter, noting that the evils of the oilsands seem to be limited to some of the families boiling their tap water as a precaution. If you've ever been to anywhere in Germany, you'll notice right away that most people would kill to have water this "contaminated". What else is really the story here? "Remote and genetically invariant communities with drug and alcohol abuse problems noticing spike in cancer rates?" Is anybody really surprised by this stuff?

Anyways, director Ayelen Liberona promotes her new film in the Edmonton Journal article linked to above. Why, she volunteers, did she interview young children who are more effective to use as weapons in a cheesy propaganda war so important for the future?
"As I was reading it really got me right at my heart. ... I realized it was our children who will really inherit all our mistakes that we’re making now and will inherit our water, or what’s left of it."

She found a group of children in the community who had already taken it upon themselves to protest against water pollution. "I really wanted to let them speak and let their voice be heard because often we forget that we’re just borrowing this land from our children."
Well if we're going to go this far, why leave it to the children? Those children will have children (our grandchildren) inheriting their water, and maybe we should make a movie entirely showing 5 week old babies giving us their uninformed opinion on the matter. Especially if it just happens to be that their opinion is drill baby, drill!

But wait, our grandchildren will have their own children! Even worse, their children will have their own grandchildren, and we're all just 'borrowing' from them! I guess none of us should be doing anything! We've been blessed at this point of our development with awesome reserves of built up energy, but if we use them up we're depriving our great-great-great-grandchildren of the singular thrill of sitting on awesome reserves of built up energy and not using it lest they deprive their great-great-great-grandchildren.

2010-07-10

From Havana, with bitumen

Colby Cosh, July 13, 2006:

Wait a minute... Cuba's got oil?

It sure does, according to this AP wire story. With three little words, one can feel a sudden lurch in the bowels of American foreign policy. As bad as Fidel Castro is--and that's a quantity whose exact magnitude won't be known until he dies--he's never flown jumbo jets into any American skyscrapers. And as bad as he is, the U.S. military-industrial establishment might regard Hugo Chavez as being worse, regarded purely as a short-term geopolitical pathogen. Moreover, Castro will turn 80 two weeks from today. The United States will never turn him into a friend, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the beginnings of a low-key rapprochement starting at the cultural and intellectual level.



CNN, April 13th 2009:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama lifted all restrictions Monday on the ability of individuals to visit relatives in Cuba, as well as to send them remittances.

The move represents a significant shift in a U.S. policy that had remained largely unchanged for nearly half a century. It comes days before Obama leaves for a key meeting of hemispheric powers, the Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad and Tobago.

Germany vs Uruguay

The second half has begun, and Uruguay has just taken a 2-1 lead.

This is a good time to link to the 1516 German Purity Laws, which German brewers all claim to abide by -- when technically they don't.

The downside is that the vaguely flat flavour of German beer is common to all brands: making it really not a great tasting beer. I've been drinking two German beers during Germany World Cup games: Krombacher Pils and Ayinger Ur-Weisse. They both have decent but not great flavours, though only Ayinger claims Reinheitsgebot compliance. Yet both taste pretty damn close to the same, though Ayinger has the edge here. Generally, there's a reason German beers haven't captured the world's attention while Dutch or Belgium beers are popular around the world. One can pretty much lay the blame on 1516 purity laws.

Update, 1:43pm: Germany just tied the match 2-2.

Animals predicting sporting events

Pete, the German octopus who has been eerily predicting World Cup scores, has pegged Espanola as victorious over Netherlands in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final on Sunday:

Paul the psychic octopus has so far been correct about the results of all six Germany games, but his visions of Spanish victory tomorrow have left Dutch fans hungry for calamari.

Like many gamblers, Paul uses the tried-and-tested method of hooking a ­mussel from one of two labelled fish tanks, watched with bated breath by ever-larger crowds at Germany’s ­Oberhausen aquarium. He called it correctly when he favoured Germany over Argentina, England, Australia and Ghana, and he foresaw the country’s losses to Spain and Serbia.

But what other animals are big on predicting sports scores?

Canadians will of course remember Maggie the Monkey, the monkey who spun a wheel during NHL playoffs on TSN -- and tended to out-pace the commentators when it came to making predictions.

Technically a goat is responsible for the Cubs being kept out of the World Series since 1945, but it was his human owner who predicted it, not the actual goat.

Pete has some World Cup competition of his own: Mani the Parakeet has been cleaning up in the quarterfinals, and predicts Holland will defeat Spain. One of these two animals will turn out the winner, the other the loser.

Already in the World Cup loser parade is Sayco, the dolphin from Argentina who already lost in the Germany-Argentina prediction. Both he and Paul went for the hometown heroes, and only one emerged victorious.

A hot asian girl used I-Ching to predict the final. She's a hot chick, so click the link. She probably shouldn't be on this list, but she's likely no smarter than the octopus anyways so I guess its fair.

Even the Edmonton Valley Zoo has jumped on this craze.

South African vultures were predicting England to win it all in the World Cup, but the vulture was dead at the time, which means they are probably motivated to pick wrong to preserve the future brains of their race.

Back in the 20s, Jim the WonderDog was able to predict the winner of seven Kentucky Derbies and a World Series: presumably during those 7 years he predicted the Derby, he also predicted a lot of World Serii inaccurately. They never mention those parts, do they?

The Yanks also have a camel who has been pretty good at predicting NFL games, though she was wrong in 2010. I think. The Saints won the Superbowl this year, didn't they?

Finally, beginning last year, the Americans have had a monkey who predicts the NCAA March Madness.

2010-07-08

Bianca going out of business?



I saw a flyer somewhere in my travels lately indicating that Bianca Amor's Liquidation Supercentre is going out of business.

Bianca, who has appeared on this blog before, was a 14 year old girl who became a multi-millionaire. She's now in her early twenties, and perhaps the jailbait factor sold more merchandise than the average blogger understood.

Of course, I think of this because the $14 velt fabric Guinness collapsible lawn chair I bought there in December, which I've sat in maybe a dozen times over the past 2 months due to the lousy Edmonton weather, just broke: the fabric pockets holding the frame and the seat together snapped, landing me on the deck and spilling my entire Corona. If Bianca is going out of business, I can't say at the moment I am too hurt (pun intended) by this, especially when I see that minus the Guinness logo I can buy chairs for the same price at Crappy Tire.

2010-07-04

I'm a little late to the party...

...but Wildrose executive Jane Morgan is running for Alderman in Calgary's Ward 4.

Jane is also a Third Edge of the Sword reader [and follower, in one of those Google Aps the boss is loathe to join -ed].

If only some of the morons on Edmonton City Council could be blog readers, they could read quickly in shame how awful some of their plans are, and we would see teary-eyed resignations from self-disgusted politicos like Don Iveson, Amarjeet Sohi, Dave Thiele, or Mr. Laurie Blackman.

2010-07-03

Links in the News

The Real 2010 FIFA World Cup won't be this funny.

Also on the World Cup, North Korea ran into some rules issues regarding their keeper.

Back to Iraq: An Ottawa man finds the old country is preferable to the ethnic violence in Ontario.

Only in Edmonton could City Hall claim that landowners acting against the central planning initiatives of government by charging what the market will bear for their off-peak parking areas are "artificially deflating parking prices."

Grand Marnier vs. Cointreau face off in a knife fight. Also, what should you keep at your home bar for cooking?

Photo: a definitive statement in a co-worker's spreadsheets:

2010-07-02

Defeating faggotry in the womb

Sodomy might soon become akin to Tuberculosis