Don't believe everything you see on the news

It won't be up for long, but Global Edmonton has the video up of their report from Thursday night posted regarding the campout in quad at the UofA to highlight affordable housing.

(Update, 1:39pm: This link should work for the next week: just click on "housing help" under Friday. After next week I fear the video will be lost forever.)

After Thursdays broadcast, says the video, several viewers have called and emailed offering accommodation to 3rd year physics student Matthew Comeau (pictured), who the night before showed off the shed he was staying at.

When asked by the Nightwatch reporter why he didn't get a part time job, he replied to the effect that "I'm a student, that's my full time job." The implication, of course, is that Comeau didn't have the time on his off hours to work. That might fly in Halifax or Baton Rouge, but this is Edmonton in 2007: you can set your own hours.

I bring this up because at one point the Nightwatch crew said "right now Comeau is in this shed" when he was not. At the 11pm broadcast on Saturday, I know precisely where Comeau was, and really wish I'd taken my camera to document it: he was 2 tables away from me drinking beer at the University bar RATT.

Now if he wants to drink at RATT, fine. If he wants to live in a shed instead of getting a job, fine. But as soon as he wants to get a good place to live, drink at RATT, not work, and bitch about money and be part of a group demanding increased government funding, we have a problem. If you have serious hardship then the cry for help may be justified. But when the bar is full of people cheering and celebrating because their advocacy group is on the news, there's something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Global TV got duped, but be glad that Third Edge of the Sword is here to the rescue!

Taxing the hell out of all hell for a basement

The Alberta Alliance (remember them?) has a response to the recent report calling for an increase of the Alberta royalty system for oil and gas. Unlike the whining of Brian Mason and his commie ilk, this analysis actually is based on, you know, what oil companies actually do. (Also keep an eye for a couple of observations that Alberta isn't Saudi Arabia or even Norway vis a vis climate and geography concerns...do you think Plawiuk would have thought of any of these?)

Alberta Alliance Response to the Report of the Royalty Review Panel.


Keeping in line with Chairman Hunter's warning that the report must be accepted in full or not at all, the Alliance Party rejects the Report of the Panel.

The Alliance Party has the following comments regarding the Report.

The panel did not follow the first term of reference given to them from the Finance Minister which was, "How Alberta's royalty system compares to other oil and gas producing jurisdictions, taking into account investment economics, and industry returns and risks in Alberta." The panel answers this question by talking about Alberta's royalties without mentioning what kind of return investors receive in Alberta. From our review, we cannot see where any effort was made to measure the rate of return of Alberta's oil and gas producers and explorers. To the contrary, the panel in its own words states that "Costs are not an argument for or against a particular finding of a fair royalty level" (Page 37). Costs in Canada are very relevant as our oilfield workers and tradesmen and women are well paid compared to many jurisdictions mentioned in the report. In some of the countries used to compare the government rate of take, rig workers earn less than a thousand dollars per month. Our environmental regulations are more stringent than most countries in the world (as they should be) and this costs money also. To suggest that costs can be controlled by good management in a booming economy is an absolute lack of understanding of the current state of the oil and gas industry.

2. The Report seems to discount in a rather flippant way, and fails to differentiate between, the effect of capital dollars invested versus the overall economy of Alberta and Canada. The main health of the Alberta economy comes from new capital and not just reinvestment of cash flow from Canadian oil and gas companies. Do we think that 140 billion dollars of investment in the oil sands are going to come from the cash flow of companies? Failure to demonstrate good rates of return will lead to the inability of companies to raise additional capital for reinvestment. The report does not mention the downturn of that capital investment, already being experienced today in Alberta. In conventional oil and gas, this has resulted in an estimated 10,000 people being laid off in the service industry. To scare away additional capital could result in layoffs tenfold higher than currently being experienced. We have seen that movie in the past and we do not want to see it again. We must retain a favorable investment climate for our future well being.

We have heard plenty of rhetoric from the Liberals, NDP and the left wing MLAs of the PC Party about the average royalty rate dropping to 19%. However, nobody in government seems to take the time to explain to Albertans that our revenue from the oil and gas royalties and leases has gone from $6.5 billion in the fiscal year 01-02 to $12.5 billion in 06-07. The report also does not consider other revenue streams that have resulted from the oil and gas industry under the current royalty structure. Corporate and personal tax incomes have also both increased since 2001. In the last fiscal year, the personal tax revenue jumped from $4.6 billion to $7.5 billion, for example. When estimates say that oil and gas drive 35% to 50% of this province's economy, these tax revenues should have been considered by the panel. Albertans have been served well by the current structure of the conventional oil and gas industry.

4. The panel has recommended an increase of 56% for conventional oil royalties and an additional 16% for natural gas royalties. The Panel does its best to sell this increase with a break to low producing wells but fails to recognize a basic fundamental of how the conventional oil and gas industry works. The good wells drilled pay for the poor wells drilled. Raising royalty rates to 50% maximum on good wells will cause companies to change their risk profiles and drill fewer wells. When wells are drilled that will never pay for themselves due to low productivity, it does not matter what royalty rates are, the well is an economic failure. The low royalty rates are in place just to keep the good wells producing and contributing to the overall economy of Alberta. The good wells pay for the poor wells.

The Alliance Party understands that oil sands, being a relatively new industry that is just being proved economically viable, will always require some adjustment up or down. We believe that industry understands this also. The key is to not kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs for Albertans. We saw what happened in 1982 with the National Energy Program and thinking the industry could withstand large tax increases. Albertans were subject to severe economic hardships that took years to recover from. We cannot go there again.

6. It should be noted that in the fall of 2006 a total of $700 million was clawed back from the industry by the removal of the Alberta Royalty Tax Credit (ARTC) and Low Producer and Well Reactivation programs.

7. We were also disappointed that the report did not take the initiative to compare oil sands mining with other low margin mining projects in the world. It should be noted that in Alberta, like oil sands, coal mined for electricity generation is also a low-margin product mined in pit operations. Coal royalties give a rather paltry 11 million dollars per year to the Government of Alberta. The most probable reason for this number being so low is the political liability that would come with increasing Alberta's take of coal royalties due to a resultant increase in electricity costs for consumers.

8. Finally, it is disturbing that the report did not seem to seriously consider the possible repercussions of raising royalty rates. The panel despite making firm predictions in other areas, refuses to take a position on how investors will react to royalty hikes. It also takes a dismissive tone when mentioning those who did predict consequences for Alberta if rates go up. In order to judge the panel's findings and the government's response to them, the people of Alberta deserve more balanced information.

Alliance Recommendations

1. Before it even considers royalty changes, the government needs to get its current royalty house in order
. One of the findings of the panel often ignored in the media was that the government's understanding and maintenance of the current royalty system is incomplete and flawed. Evan Chrapko, one of panel members has been quoted as saying about the current royalty accounting structure, "we have record-keeping that works for Third World countries in the 1960s." This need to be rectified before we can move forward.

2. Leave the conventional oil and gas royalty system as is. We are in a basin that consistently yields smaller and smaller pool discoveries. The cost per barrel of finding these pools is increasing. We must accept that Alberta is at a disadvantage regarding potential discoveries in conventional oil and gas and work to remain competitive in attracting capital.

3. We should not break deals currently in place without consultation with the industry. The report suggests that it is common place for governments to change deals with companies around the world. The Alliance Party suggests that we should be what Albertans want us to be and that is deal-keepers. We can make changes only through consultation with those who are investing and Albertans themselves. Albertans want Alberta to be known as trustworthy. This is not just a moral obligation but a practical financial one. International investors will certainly think twice about putting money into this province if they know their deals with the government aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

4. After consultation and with contribution from industry, increase oil sands royalties on the front end by 1% in a progressive four year phase-in. When fully phased in, this would result in an increase of $292 million per year by 2010 and $438 million per year by 2016 when bitumen production will have risen to three million barrels per day (based on $40 per barrel bitumen.) The phase in period will give industry proper time to adjust for the increased burden. The 1% would continue after projects payout as well, in essence be a Gross Overriding Royalty.

The Alliance Party is convinced that if the report in its current form is implemented that it will result in catastrophic consequences for all Albertans through our collective connection to the oil and gas industry.

Other Alliance Points of Contention with the Report

  • The panel had no mandate to suggest what should be done with the additional two billion dollars it suggests the government should grab. It is the underlying belief of the Alliance Party that money in the hands of business and people is far better spent than in the hands of government. The PC government over the past several years has demonstrated that clearly. Most industry profits are reinvested in more drilling or paid out to shareholders. It is well understood that primary dollars such as oil and gas industry profits will have a five to seven times multiplier in growing the economy of Alberta. Why not turn the two billion into 14 billion rather than allow the government to waste money on projects that will only increase costs to taxpayers?

  • We feel that the Alberta Department of Energy has performed in line with the expectations given to them by the Government of Alberta. Any changes should be in who the government is and not by adding more departments and ministries as suggested by the panel.

  • In comparing Alberta with some of the states in America, little recognition is given to distance from markets and the harsh climate we must build and design for, in Alberta.

  • The report regrettably does not acknowledge the fact that the Alberta oil sands are unique in this world and should be treated so, rather than being compared to some heavy oil projects in the world.

  • The report makes a large number of comparisons to countries where dictatorships and communism are the rule. Alberta is a free market society and should not be compared to any state-owned companies or industries.

  • Regrettably the report does not compare the Marginal Effective Tax Rate (METR) in percent to the mining business, which is what the oil sands are.

  • The report intentionally leaves out municipal taxes as stated on Page 32. The terms of reference specifically instruct the panel to include taxes in the review.

  • The report talks about the importance of stability but then suggests a radical change to the royalty system. Industry has said they can accept some small changes. Why create an atmosphere of instability?

  • Presentations to the panel suggested satisfaction with conventional oil and gas royalties yet the panel suggests a 16% increase in gas royalties and a 56% increase in oil royalties. Why?

  • Alberta's average size of gas pool discoveries is 1.7 BCF since 1994, while the global average is 490 BCF. This in itself should explain why we have to have more competitive royalty rates to attract investment.

  • Alberta's average size oil pool discovery since 1994 is 0.3 million barrels, while the world average is just over 100 million barrels. Once again, why do we compare our royalty rates with these giants?

  • The report recommends an increase of 50% of the Freehold Mineral Tax from an average payable currently of 4% to 6%. This is a tax on 50,000 mineral Freeholders in the province. This is a tax, off the top, on people and companies who own the oil and gas below the ground. Should this be taxed at all?

  • The report claims that oil sands costs are largely a management issue. This shows a total lack of understanding of how business works during a commodity boom economy. Plenty of socialists think this can be controlled but then Albertans will miss out on the upside of the commodity cycle.


TSN's Paint Drying Friday

So this afternoon TSN decided that nobody in their viewing audience deserved to be entertained.

Not only did they show golf, it was the President's Cup, surely the most boring golf tournament of the year (and that's saying a lot).

After that was over? TSN Fantasy Hockey played. What's that? Get this: 4 different TSN personalities held a fantasy draft. And it made it on the air. An hour of watching 4 guys pick fantasy hockey players. [not even something that thrilling: they just flashed the text up of who drafted whom -ed]

Anyways, there is a good reason that I haven't posted anything hockey related lately. I have in fact joined the political gurus at North of 49 Hockey, a new blog where bitter political rivals try their hands at being bitter sports rivals. So far I've discussed Robbie Schremp's ego, a Mike Myers upcoming Maple Leafs movie, and a negative look into the Oilers upcoming season.


Pick one and stick with it!

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 19, 2007) - This Sunday, September 23, approximately 400 participants will assemble at Edmonton's City Hall to show their solidarity for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS by participating in AIDS Walk for Life 2007.

I thought the homo pride parade was held in June.


But I was like, no freaking way, I got way too much range for that



For the next significant other, I could certainly do worse than Naked News anchor Alex Pantos:

Greek by birth, Alex and her family came to Canada when she was an infant. With an older sister always ready to egg her on, Alex showed off her natural spark very early. Famous among her relatives and neighbors for her willingness to tell jokes or put on a skit, it was always obvious she’d end up in front of the cameras.

Alex has brains as well as beauty, and graduated from University with a Bachelor of Science degree with a specialty of math and statistics. Many of her favorite number problems involved deciding whether or not to hand hers out to the men who approached her at clubs.

After graduation, rather than heading straight to the boardroom, where her immense personality would be stifled, Alex decided on a career path allowing her more freedom. With a passion for fitness, she soon became a Pilates instructor, competing in fitness shows and bikini contests.

Hooray for Hollyweird

From Cynthia Nixon's Wikipedia page:

Nixon has two children, daughter Samantha (b. 1996) and son Charles Ezekiel (b. 2002), with Danny Mozes, an English professor, with whom she had a relationship from 1988 to 2003.

In September 2004, it was reported that despite previous relationships with men, Nixon had been in a nearly year-long relationship with the education activist Christine Marinoni. In February 2005, the New York Post and other sources reported that Nixon had moved to Brooklyn to live with Marinoni. However, Nixon told the The New York Times in January 2006 that she had not moved and that keeping her kids in their Manhattan public schools took priority. Discussing her relationship in an interview in New York Magazine in 2006, Nixon stated that she never felt any struggle with her sexuality: "There wasn't a struggle, there wasn't an attempt to suppress. I met this woman, I fell in love with her, and I'm a public figure."

Nixon is a breast cancer survivor, but due to the stigma of having cancer in Hollywood, she did not go public about it for two years. Since then, she not only has openly admitted that she had cancer, but she has become a breast cancer activist and was able to convince the head of NBC to air her breast cancer special in primetime

(emphasis added)
Oh that wacky left coast: you can go ahead and munch carpet all you like, but heaven forbid you should get a serious disease.


1 = 1 (not valid between 1976 and 2007)

All of Canada celebrated today as the Canadian dollar achieved parity with the U.S. dollar. Well, except for in Saskatchewan, where they instead looked up the word "parity".

Gee golly FACLC, even you're celebrating this?

Yes I am, and unlike the people dancing and celebrating at work today, it has nothing to do with reflexive anti-Americanism, or boosterish (and boorish) Canadian pride.

Well then why are you so happy?

Because of intense personal benefit. Next year I am planning a trip to the United States. Plane tickets just got a lot more affordable. For example, say on June 11th 2008 you want a one-way ticket from Seattle to Boston: Travelocity.ca says that'll be $194 (Canadian dollars). Meanwhile, Travelocity.com can get you there for $185 (American dollars, which as of today are the same as Canadian dollars for my Saskatchewan readers). On longer flights, this disparity grows... disparagingly. More importantly, this is already adjusted: a month ago such a flight cost about $225 Canadian, and a year ago would have been closer to $300.

Who do we have to thank for this? Paul Martin. For one thing, as some will remember, the dollar was a relatively strong high 70s performer when he took power in 1993. By his departure in 2003 the dollar had dropped to historic lows. (This, incidently, is a major reason why 1995-2003 was also the drought of Canadian teams appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals). Martin's coup suddenly caused the dollar to shoot up in value, as Canadian currency was no longer under the control of a dangerous lunatic. Additionally, Martin's politiking skills were so poor that Stephen Harper was able to become Prime Minister, and I don't need to tell you how confident the world markets are in his leadership abilities. (Unless you're from Saskatchewan. I'll summarize. Tory good. Liberal bad).

So citizens of Canada, dance. Unless you're from Ontario, already whining how the high dollar will hurt your exports. Boo hoo.


Hopes and Dreams

SUNshine Girl Ngan is 30 years old, single and loves hockey. As if that isn't enough, she also enjoys baking, auto racing and once met NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. Her dream is to open a free music school for under-privileged kids.

Now this, in my mind, is a good reason to have gotten rid of the SUNshine boy. Could you imagine Ngan as a boy? Here, lets' demonstrate:

SUNshine Boy Nguyen is 30 years old, single and loves hockey. As if that isn't enough, he also enjoys drinking, selling drugs, auto racing and once met the star of The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. His dream is to have sex with three girls at the same time.


That's my favourite new tune

I just can't stop humming that tune.... "_level0.img1_mc.song, whenever you're on the radio I know I can do no wrong..."

Overheard last night at Brewhouse

I've tried anal a few times, so no, I won't be doing it again.

"I've tried bologna sandwiches a few times, so no, I won't be doing it again."

"I've skydived a few times, so no, I won't be trying that again."

No matter how many analogous [no pun intended? -ed] sentences I construct, I just can't get this one to make any sense.


Introducing the F***Nemesis

The new rage in dating, for those who have been out of the loop, is something called the "Friends with Benefits" -- see the Urban Dictionary page -- in summary, two people who are friends decide to start having sex, and just remain as friends. It's a much more casual relationship: in the same way that if you tell your friends you don't feel like going to a movie tonight because you're just not in the mood, nobody freaks out. Likewise, if you tell your friend with benefits that you don't feel like getting naked and doing it in the shower, nobody freaks out.

This relationship is also known colloquially as the f***buddy. Personally, looking at my female friends, I don't get the appeal. I mean, if Jennifer Aniston was my Friend with benefits (ha ha) we might have something here.

The big problem, and I have seen/heard of this happening far too regularly, is that the "Friend with Benefits" model simply doesn't work. It always turns out that one (or less frequently, both) partners feels more emotional attachment than the maximum allowable under the friends with benefits system. This means that if one friend decides she wants a second friend with benefits, there will be a violently jealous reaction from the first friend, even if jealousy doesn't come into play. Likewise, if one friend meets a pretty girl at Dantes and they start dating, the friend with benefits -- who at least in theory loses the benefits -- is guaranteed to be jealous, and probably also wondering on some level why this other girl was "better" than her. All in all, its a messy system.

Now I've been of late analyzing these relationships for those around me, and while I don't have all the kinks out of the system yet [first commenter to make a lame pun about wanting 'kinks' in a sex system wins a punch in the nose -- ed] I think its time to debut something which will hopefully replace the ineffective friends with benefits system:

Enemies with Benefits

Think about it: with Enemies with Benefits, most of the Friends with Benefits problems melt away. If one partner meets a nice boy and starts dating him, the Enemy with Benefits won't get bitter and jealous: he's already bitter and hateful towards the person. No change! And if two people who hate each other start doing the horizontal shuffle in their off hours, the risk of emotional bonding is very small. And remember, just because you hate somebody doesn't mean you don't want to have sex with them.

Now its not yet a perfect system, much in the same way that the electric car wasn't a perfect system: the distribution infrastructure simply isn't yet in place, and its a serious societal capital expenditure to establish it. Don't understand what I mean? I'll explain. Do you have a lot of enemies? Do you want to have sex with any of them? Do you think that despite their hatred of you they probably are physically attracted to you as well? Okay, sounds good...er, you do have their phone number, right? Even if so, will they agree to meet you for coffee to discuss the proposition?

Another small flaw is the expanded rolodex problem (though these days expanded cell phone contacts problem is perhaps the better term): with friends with benefits you already have your existing circle of friends, and simply treat one of them differently. An enemy with benefits is another person to have to communicate with, albeit for one specific purpose. One of the oft-hyped (but never realized) advantages of friends with benefits is that this person can go skiing with you this weekend, not see you the next, have sex with you on thursday, and maybe the weekend after go to see a hockey game or something. You can do friend things or sex things with the same person, and on occasion combine them. Enemies with benefits wouldn't work...after the sex, if you ask them out skiing next week, they'll likely say "no, I hate you" and leave. [As alluded to though, this isn't too much of a problem inasmuch that friends with benefits in reality quickly degrades to either friends or benefits, and never both -- or else the friends and benefits continue together until it ends up being dating anyways, somebody mentions the "d-word", and the system collapses. FACLC's Enemies with Benefits has this weakness that might later turn out to be a strength. -ed]

So tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell your enemies (if they'll pick up the phone)! If word gets around, you might find yourself getting a phone call from that girl at HMV you had the yelling match with, where both of you physically threatened the other, until you got kicked out of the store telling her that next time she sees you she goes 6 feet under. And she'll say "you're still an ass, I still want you dead, but any objections to me stopping by your place around 8:30 tomorrow to ride you like a bucking bronco?"

And somewhere in Alberta, I will smile.

Fringe Reviews, Fantasy Baseball Summaries, Hockey Previews, and Responses to Recent Comments

Er, this post contains none of those. I'm lazy. Sorry.

(It also doesn't include Day Break synopsis, women's tennis highlights, Quebec soldiers in Afghanistan jokes, my 9/11 story, or funny youtube discoveries. Again, sorry.)


What a difference a year six years makes

FACLC six years ago this morning: "We're all gonna die!"

FACLC this morning: "%$&@^$^*&$ Edmonton drivers! I'll kill you!"

(An aside, this morning The Bear did a 9/11 tribute thing at 8:46 this morning in honour of the time of the first WTC impact...apparently forgetting that it actually happened at 6:46 Edmonton time).

Remember one year ago when I said I was considering sharing my 9/11 "where was I?" story?. Well...keep waiting, I guess.