Wednesday, August 30, 2006

There's doins' a-transpirin'

The usual BBTM (Better Bloggers Than Me) crew has good, if scary and depressing, stuff about the federal Tories basically creating a slushfund for the Bush Whitehouse. Check out Cathie from Canada and Creekside, and prepare to be appalled.

Breaking News: Sun Columnist Being A Twit!!

Yup, in the wake of Ted Morton's execrable attempt to revive legal gay-bashing, some people are pissed:

No compromise
By Paul Stanway

The rights and freedoms of Albertans suffered a double blow yesterday, as the opposition parties torpedoed a bill to protect the rights of those among us who don't want to be actively involved in gay marriage.

So, I guess we're all going to have to get gay married, or something?

A private member's bill sponsored by Foothills-Rocky View Tory MLA Ted Morton died as a result of the time-wasting tactics of opposition MLAs. Morton's bill would have offered some protection to those who continue to oppose gay marriage, and it forbid the punishment of anyone who refuses to officiate at a same-sex wedding.

No, it forbid the punishment of public employees, paid out of the public purse, who refused to do their goddamn jobs. Religious leaders who don't want to perform same-sex weddings, or any other wedding for that matter, don't have to as it stands now.

Anyway, Stanway blathers on at length on the theme of "We're dooooooooooomed", and I don't particularly feel like going over it at length, but I do want to say one thing about the whole issue. Ted Morton is in a no-lose situation here. Because his bill lost, he can now portray himself as the guy who stood up for rights of "normal" Albertans and was cruelly beaten down by the mean ol' opposition parties. What's sad about the whole thing is that are people out there who will fall for that shit.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Laugh-out-loud stuff, via Bartcop:

SARASOTA -- In the words of the schoolchildren who watched that day, it is a simple thing to describe memories of watching President Bush learn about the 9-11 terror attacks: happy and sad.

It was supposed to be a day of celebration -- with the nation's leader there to congratulate the classroom of second-graders for improving their reading scores -- and it was, until a man stepped forward and whispered something into the president's ear.

The best part of the article? This:

"His face just sort of turned red,'' said Tyler Radkey, who had a front-row seat that morning. "I thought, personally, he had to go to the bathroom.''
Short Friday Archaeology Blogging

I don't have much to say about this beyond, "Hooray"! Unlike the finds I mentioned last week, there doesn't seem to be any doubt whatsoever about the identification and significance of this site.

Long-lost Jacques Cartier settlement rediscovered at Quebec City
Kevin Dougherty, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, August 19, 2006

QUEBEC -- An archeologist called in to look for anything interesting in the path of a development commemorating Samuel de Champlain's 1608 founding of Quebec City has stumbled on an even older site.

Archeologist Yves Chretien has uncovered Jacques Cartier's long-lost 1541-1543 settlement.

A rather fanciful depiction of Jacques Cartier learning the word "Canada."

As the article goes on to point out, this is the second-oldest European site found north of Mexico, after the Viking settlement at Ainse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

"Morally Disgraceful" is Right!

Welfare payments called 'morally disgraceful'
Last Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2006 | 11:19 AM MT
CBC News

After successive federal surpluses, it's a moral outrage that Canadians on welfare are receiving some of the lowest payments in 20 years, says a national poverty group.

And guess who the main culprit is!! Could it be, oh I don't know, Alberta? Yes, yes it could.

Single employable person:
N.B. - $3,427
N.L. - $8,198

Person with disability:
Alta. - $7,851
Ont. - $12,057

Lone parent with one child:
Alta. - $12,326
N.L. - $16,181

Couple with two children:
N.B. - $17,567
P.E.I. - $21,213

That's appalling, particularly the amount given to people with disabilities. The main problem here is the strange notion, particularly prevalent in Alberta, that being as rich as Croesus has somehow removed any moral obligation on our part to be compassionate or generous. And of course, the situation was not helped when Klein dumped the entire provincial debt squarely onto the shoulders of the people least able to handle it.

Alberta Welfare Minister Mike Cardinal said Thursday that plenty of jobs are available in the province and there is no reason for able-bodied people to remain on assistance.

However, he conceded that welfare rates may have to be reviewed for people with disabilities who can't work.

So get on with it, then.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

Rogue animal activists stole Mike Costello's dog

Detectives in 14 Division have launched a police investigation into a rogue animal rights group that stole a homeless man's dog and then wrote an anonymous and caustically worded letter bragging about its exploits.

The article's fairly depressing. What these idiots have essentially managed to do, in one fell swoop, is to do absolutely nothing, and I mean zero, for the protection of animals, to deal a nasty PR blow to legitimate animal-rights and animal protection groups (most of whom are working hard to get the guy's dog back for him), and to further fuck up the life of a completely innocent person who has enough worries as it is. Well done, assholes.
On Haircuts, The Classification Of

Via Sadly, No!, we have a link to a Kathleen Parker article on the whole Republican-candidate-calling-a-brown-person-a-"macaca" affair. While Parker's article is actually vaguely reasonable for a Townhall columnist, there was one passage which caught my attention:

According to one version, Allen was trying to say ``mohawk,'' referring to Sidarth's hairstyle, which is also the subject of much debate. Is it a mohawk, or is it a mullet?

I think we may be able to help, here:








Sorry righties, if you're going to get your boy off the hook, you're going to have to do better than that.

UPDATE: Wow! I'm honoured!!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Spreading The Mirth

Originally seen over at donkey o.d. (if all you can see is a large white rectangle, click on it):

Yes, I do know what "schadenfreude" means, thank you very much.
Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work

The always excellent Allison at Creekside has posted a piece about Canada Pension Plan money being invested in companies involved in the arms trade. It's important, and she's provided an e-mail address for the CPP Investment Board. Anyway, go read the article.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Archaeology Blogging

Well, a couple of things this week. It seems the past month or so has produced a couple of finds that could be filed under the "famous lost sites" category. I'll deal with the most recent one first:

Ancient Welsh city found

Caer Caradoc at Mynydd y Gaer, Glamorgan, is one of the most important locations in all of ancient British history. It is the fabled fortress city of King Caradoc 1, son of Arch, who fought the Romans from 42-51AD.

Caradoc had some success against the Romans, fighting a guerrilla campaign for a number of years before he was betrayed by the queen of a neighbouring tribe, and arrested. Unusually, his life was spared by the emperor Claudius, and by all accounts he lived out his life with his family in Italy. He is sadly overlooked as a historical figure, with most of the credit for opposing the Romans in Britain going to Boudicca, whose revolt happened more than a decade later.


I would point out here that so far, the site has only been identified from aerial photographs, so hopefully they're intending to get in there and dig. Apparently, they're basing the identification of the site as Caradoc's city on toponomy and ancient records, so excavation is going to be necessary to confirm it.

Moving along then, to another "famous" discovery:

Augustus' birthplace believed found
Posted 7/20/2006 5:51 PM ET

ROME (AP) — A team of archaeologists announced Wednesday they have uncovered part of what they believe is the birthplace of Rome's first emperor Augustus.


This one's a bit more dubious. What they've found, in fact, is part of fairly elegant house on the Palatine Hill, in Rome. There is, so far, no evidence whatsoever that Augustus was actually born there; in fact, there is some debate over whether he was born in Rome at all (the other possibility is Velitrae). However, a house on the Palatine that survived the Great Fire of July 19, A.D. 64 and the subsequent rebuilding is in itself an interesting find, whether the future emperor was born there or not.

Lastly, in a bit of follow-up news, in an earlier "Friday Archaeology Blogging", I described the site of a purported pyramid in Bosnia as "unquestionably something, and a pretty damned impressive something at that." Not so, apparently:

Bosnia "Pyramid" Is Not Human-Made, U.K. Expert Says
Sean Markey
for National Geographic News

June 13, 2006
A war of words continues to rage over the alleged discovery of an ancient pyramid in Bosnia.


Speaking at a press conference in Sarajevo, Anthony Harding [President of the European Association of Archaeologists] told reporters the pyramid-shaped hill was a natural phenomenon.

"My opinion and the opinion of my colleagues is what we saw was entirely geological in nature," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

So, basically, it's a hill, and I'm an idiot... :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Suffering the Little Children

Let judges deal with kids as young as 10: Toews
Last Updated Tue, 15 Aug 2006 11:45:32 EDT
CBC News

The federal government want courts to have jurisdiction over offenders as young as 10 to help them avoid further crimes, Justice Minister Vic Toews says.

When I saw this story this morning, my first impression was that it was another right-wing ploy to kick the shit out of young people. Let's find out if I was right, shall we?

The Youth Criminal Justice Act makes children older than 12 subject to courts, but under that age, social welfare agencies are the main means of dealing with delinquents.

On Monday, Toews proposed lowering the limit to 10 years of age, saying the point would be to help the children, not jail them.

Hmm, maybe I was wrong! Helping 10-year-olds, rather than incarcerating them! What could be better?

The courts should have that jurisdiction so they "can order appropriate treatment," he told reporters at the Canadian Bar Association conference in St. John's.

"Uh, Captain, I'm picking up a warning light here. A Conservative is using disturbingly vague phrases like 'appropriate treatment'". Yeah, and we know all about what the right thinks appropriate treatment of young people is, don't we.

The change would not necessarily mean charges would be laid, but the courts need some mechanism to intervene in cases where young children act in a criminal way, such as becoming involved with gangs and drugs, he said.

"Sometimes children, by the time they're 12, because the courts have been unable to access them under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, have in fact established a pattern of conduct that will be harmful over the long term," Toews said.

Ok, here's where the problems really start. Toews, being the nasty little piece of shit that he is, is attempting to paint a picture of children falling victim to a life of crime because our namby-pamby justice system can only sit back and helplessly watch while it happens. Which, of course, is bullshit (the following passage is from a document called Child Welfare 2000 on the Human Resources and Social Development Canada website):

When child welfare authorities confirm the need for protection following an investigation, or when circumstances change in an open case, a child may be taken into the care of the child welfare authority by means of a warrant or a court order to remove the child from the home. An application for a warrant or court order to search for and remove (apprehend) a child from the home is made to the court or a justice of the peace, depending on the jurisdiction.

In situations where a child is believed to be at immediate risk of harm, the worker (or police officer with statutory authority) may remove the child immediately without a warrant or court order, when and if delays may further endanger the child. In these instances, a court appearance takes place within a prescribed period of time to justify the action and to determine whether the child is in need of protection.

A judge hearing a protection case may also consider an application from the child welfare authority for a custody order for a child found to be in need of protection. A court order for a child's protection can range from returning the child to the parents or guardians under the supervision of a child welfare authority, to temporary or permanent custody by the authority. Each jurisdiction has its own rules and limitations on orders; these are defined in detail in the following chapters.

Far more despicably, he's also implying that social workers will actually sit back, look at a case file, and say "Yeah, he's nine years old and he's dealing crack, no need to intervene here!", but that's a matter for another day. What's got Toews' knickers in a big sweaty knot has nothing to do with any inability of the courts to get at these kids, since the courts plainly can intervene. It is simply that he cannot bring criminal sanctions to bear against 10-year-old children. Back to the CBC article:

Proponents of the change argue that, in some circumstances, children aged 12 who have criminal connections — carrying drugs for a gang, for example — may be too set in their ways to rehabilitate. Opponents say children under that age are not aware of the consequences of their actions.

The current act is based on the principles of preventing crime "by addressing the circumstances underlying a young person’s offending behaviour," rehabilitation and ensuring young offenders are "subject to meaningful consequences."

And that's what he wants inflicted on 10-year-olds. So, if you're ten, and your mother's abusive boyfriend is pimping you to his creep pedophile friends, take what comfort you can from the notion that Canada's Justice Minister wants you to face "meaningful consequences".

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

David Gemmell Dies


Fantasy writer Gemmell dies at 57

Fantasy novelist David Gemmell, best known for stories such as Legend and Waylander, has died at the age of 57.

As a die-hard afficionado of cheap fantasy paperbacks (the kind that fit in your coat pocket so you can take them on the bus easily), I was dismayed to see this. While Gemmell's novels could be, sometimes, accused of being formulaic, this problem was mitigated by the fact that the formula was pretty good. And some of them, Knights of Dark Renown and Echoes of the Great Song for example, were quite original. All-in-all, Gemmell was a clear cut above most modern fantasy authors. R.I.P.