Saturday, October 28, 2006


This afternoon I heard a radio clip of Pope Benedict speaking in Ireland, which he is currently visiting. This was my first time hearing his voice, and to me it seems much less distinctive and powerful that John Paul II's. He sounds more like a parish priest, or an academic, which is what he has spent much of his life as.

Personally I suspect Benedict is probably more a transitional pope as anything. Given his age I suspect he was chosen, at least by some of the electors, as a pope who will have a relatively short reign that will allow some of the potential future candidates for the job to solidify their positions.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Warning For Telnet Users.

If you make use of the telnet protocol in your online activities you may want to hold off on installing Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7 for a bit. In their infinite wisdom Microsoft has decided not to directly support telnet on IE7. So you can't just type in something like telnet:// and have a terminal window pop up, like you could with IE6. You'll have to get you hands on an external terminal program. Come on, Microsoft, not everything we do online is on the cutting edge. Many "obsolete" protocols will continue for a long time to come, especially in areas where the Internet biz is behind the times.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Naughty Naughty Saskatoon!

Too many of you voted for Don Atchisson. Now the guy's gonna go off and get himself a swelled head. Me, I didn't vote for him, so don't blame me when his ego takes over the world.

On a more serious note apparently voter turnout was less than in the 2003 civic election. I suppose a lot of folks just find civic politics too boring or too confusing to bother.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Let's Do The Same Sex Tango Again!

Stephen Harper wants to hold a free vote on same sex marriage. It's pure politics as far as I'm concerned. There's no indication that the vote will be much different than the last time, and the courts likely would quash an anti gay marriage law anyways. But Harper can tell his conservative supporters he tried. And Conservative candidates in the next election who think their potential voters oppose gay marriage will have some ammo to use against opponents who supported same sex marriage.

Some people complained that under the current situation government appointed marriage commissioners might be forced to marry same sex couples despite their opposition to such marriages. But the obvious question is how far such commissioners should be allowed to go in refusing to marry someone. After all there are probably still people out there who oppose interracial or cross religion marriages. Should marriage commissioners also be free not to marry those people? Like gay marriage such marriage are perfectly legal under Canadian law, and marriage commissioners are acting as agents of the state.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I'm Not So Sure.

I was going to predict that the Detroit Tigers would win the World Series. But Saturday's 7-2 defeat by the St. Louis Cardinals makes me much less sure of such a prognostication. And now the sweep that some might have predicted for the series after Detroit's strong showing in the playoffs may now be reversed, with Detroit as the sweep victim.

It would be interesting to see who, if anyone, the psychic crowd predicted would win the American and National Leagues this year. It's not much of a guess to imagine they were all wrong.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Conspiracy Dumbassery.

This evening, while checking out one of the bulletin boards I regularly visit, I came across a September 11th conspiracy thread.(The board in question will remained unnamed to protect the reputations of the stupid.) As such threads do this one had me rolling my eyes about 2 posts in, and greatly decreased my respect for several of the posters involved. It also made me think that if I was more unscrupulous, and less lazy, I could make a lot of money off of catering to the paranoia of such folks.

As is generally the case the conspiracy believers didn't seem to use any of their supposed skepticism towards the "official version" on the conspiracy theories they believe in. To be blunt if they can take seriously the labyrinthine version of events that is supposedly "the truth" then surely they must consider the possibility that they themselves are being manipulated, that they are no less "sheeple" than those who don't believe in their version of the story. It's easy to think of nasties who would benefit from the promotion of "the US government did 911!" theories. Perhaps the goal is to weaken the US by making its people distrust their government. Perhaps there are those who promote such theories to hide their own culpability in what happened on September 11th. These are just two examples, and it's not hard to come up with more.

You can read a previous idea I wrote about 911 conspiracy theories here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm Doomed.

And chances are so are you, since there's a good chance you've got a blog if you're reading this. Apparently having a blog is evil in the eyes of God. Hmm, if blogging is bad because it promotes the sin of vanity, what about religious broadcasting where the focus is on some famous preacher? For example if you ever heard the late Gene Scott's broadcasts you know how ego driven he was.

I hadn't heard Scott had passed away last year. Interestingly he was another person who didn't have the common sense to get treatment for the cancer that killed him, instead claiming that God would heal him.

(The essay linked above courtesy of a post by Consigliere on Stupid Evil Bastard.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rats, Snow.

It's snowing tonight, and it's supposed to snow tomorrow. I did not want this to happen so soon. I always hate having to drive when it's just snowed. It always takes me a while to get my winter driving skills back, and lots of people drive every bit as recklessly as they do in mid summer. At least it's supposed to stay around freezing for the next couple of days, which may limit how icy it gets.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers. It's off to the World Series for them after sweeping the Oakland A's. They've won seven games straight in the playoffs. It's something no one expected, but now the Tigers have to be the favourites in the World Series, not only because of their playing so far, but because they'll have several days to rest before facing whoever wins the National League playoffs.

My 300th Bill Hit.

This afternoon I had my 300th marked bill hit. And it's a pretty nice hit as well. It would be kind of anticlimatic if it had been a bill recently entered and hit by someone nearby in Saskatoon.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Geez, who knew enemas were of such interest to people? As a result of this post I've received multiple enema related hits. Frankly folks that's a practice you can keep, coffee or no coffee.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Death In The Yankee Family.

Condolences to the family of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. He was killed in an aircraft accident this afternoon when the Cirrus SR-20 he was flying hit a New York apartment building. An as yet unidentified passenger was also killed. Lidle also pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays several years ago.

This not the first time an airplane crash has taken the life of a Yankee. Yankee catcher Thurmon Munson was killed in 1979 when his Cessna Citation business jet crashed while he was practicing take offs and landings.

A Request.

Non fiction writers, please include an index with your book. There's nothing more annoying than picking up a book on something you're interested in, deciding to see if it covers a specific person or topic, and then finding there is no index to allow you to look that topic up. Even if I'm familiar with the book I may not have time to flip back and forth trying to find some bit of information I need.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The North Korean Bomb.

Pretty much everyone believes that North Korea did actually detonate an atomic device over the weekend. The obvious question is whether it's a weaponised device. In other words do the North Koreans actually have something that can be stuck on the end of a missile or dropped from a plane. It's one thing to make something that will blow up in a test chamber, it's quite another to make something that will blow up on demand after sitting around for months and can be transported by something other than a cargo ship.

Beijing has condemned the test, which is no surprise. North Korea's action has threatened regional stability, including increasing the possibility that Japan and/or South Korea may embark on nuclear programs of their own. The last thing the Chinese need is more military competition, as they already have enough trouble figuring out how to deal with the US advantages in technology. Japan taking a more aggressive stance on the use of military force would complicate matters greatly. The North Koreans may live to regret the effects this has on their relationship with China, which is the closest thing they have to a patron. Chinese aid to North Korea is substantial, and reductions in that aid will effect all areas of North Korean society.

Oddly enough one of the big losers as a result of the test may be Iran. The North Korean test is sure to bolster the position of those in the Bush administration who favour military action to stop Iran building a nuclear device, either directly or via support of possible Israeli action against Iranian nuclear sites. Unlike North Korea the Iranians are not in a position to directly militarily threaten US allies and interests. Backing the current insurgency in Iraq is another matter.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

WIll Joe Go?

They were the team no one expected would even have a chance at the playoffs when the season started. But now the Detroit Tigers have defeated the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, and are one step closer to the World Series. The obvious question now is whether Yankees manager Joe Torre will be in the dugout at Yankees Stadium much longer. This is the third consecutive playoff series the Yankees have lost, despite having the biggest payroll in baseball. George Steinbrenner's patience may very well be at an end.

Personally I think that the results of the last few years are good for baseball. Having one team show up in the World Series year after year isn't a good thing. Having different teams each year will keep up interest both in the series itself and the season as a whole, as people are more likely to watch something that isn't highly predictable.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oh Those Scammers.

One thing you can say about the e-mail scam crowd, some of them can be quite clever in parting you from your money. I received a scam letter today claiming to be from a 14 year old boy in England who needs my help to get at money left to him by his late father. I wonder whether they're trying to play on the sympathy one might have for a boy who has recently lost his father, or on the nasty side of a potential mark who sees an opportunity for him or her to exploit a naive teenager and part him from his money. Of course as long as someone takes the bait it really doesn't matter.

End Is Nearers.

Via James Nicoll's Livejournal here's an interesting piece by Kurt Andersen on current trends in apocalypticism. Of course as Andersen admits that this kind of thing never really goes away. For example one just has to think of the people who figured Bill Clinton was going to introduce martial law and bring in the New World Order "any day now" with Chinese troops hiding in Mexico. Others thought May 5, 2000 would be doomsday because of an alignment of the planets. Ten years from now we'll have some new versions to get hearts a flutter with fear, and as is often the case, anticipation.

A group called World's Last Chance has one of the more amusing takes I've seen in a while. They say the beginning of the End Times will be ushered in when John Paul II becomes the next and last Pope. That little being dead problem? Apparently it won't be the real John Paul II, but a devil pretending to be him. Of course given that these folks don't like the Roman Catholic Church anyways I don't know why they just don't have Satan resurrecting the real John Paul II, who is probably in Hell if their world view is correct? Their laboured interpretation of the Bible would no doubt allow such an idea without much effort.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Loss of Income.

While downtown today I spotted a new feature. In an number of places large billboard/recycling bin combos have been installed. They're about 3 or 4 feet wide and a couple of feet tall. One of the sections in them is for recycling beverage containers, along with a section for recyling paper and a garbage section. This isn't going to make the people I sometimes refer to as pickers happy. These folks go through the various garbage bins around town looking for pop cans and so on to exchange for the recyling deposit on them. Now a lot of the containers they previously picked up will end up in these bins, cutting down on their income.

I'd hate to be the folks who will end up servicing those bins. Given the stupidity of many people its likely a lot of garbage will end up in the recycling sections of the bins instead of the garbage section.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bust Out?

The growth of poker over the last few years has been phenominal. Even I'm playing Texas Hold 'Em online a bit. But poker may be about to take a hit given the US Congress approving legislation over the weekend that will make it illegal for US financial institutions to make payments to online gambling enterprises. The actual online casinos may be based in other countries, but the majority of the 12 billion dollars spent on online gambling each year comes from the US. The possibility of losing a large hunk of their customer base caused online gambling related stocks to fall heavily on Monday. It's reasonable to assume some online gambling firms may go under without US revenue. Others will reportedly be less at risk because their primary markets are Europe and elsewhere.

The US legislators claim they're trying to protect innocent Americans from gambling their savings away. But you'll forgive me for being cynical and suspecting some of them are more worried about online gambling cutting into the business of "brick and mortar" casinos located in their jurisdictions. After all with online casinos you can play any time you want without leaving the comfort of your computer room.

In fact you don't need money to play poker online. Various companies offer play money tables, where all you are wagering are poker chips with no real world value. These are the kind of tables I play on, as I'm far from confident enough to play with actual money yet. But the future of these tables will be in jeopardy if the money gambling sites they're associated with hit hard times. The companies may decide to drop these non-revenue earning features to cut down on costs. There is also the obvious question of what effect the new legislation will have on play money "freerolls" that offer the winners the chance to compete in real money tournaments without putting up any money. You may have seen the ads PokerStars have been running for several months for their Moneymaker Millionaire promotion, which is an example of such a freeroll.

This also brings up the question of what if any dangers there might be for America poker celebrities associated with various sites. Some, such as World Series of Poker Main Event champs Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, are the public faces for sites like PokerStars. Others, such as Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, have direct involvement with the operations of a gambling site. Of course the money gambling sites are already technically illegal in the US even without the legislation, and no one has gone after these people.

On the other hand they have tried to go after the execs of offshore gambling sites, including one with a Saskatchewan connection. Calvin Ayre is the head of Costa Rica based Bodog Entertainment Group, and has faced US attempts to go after his online gambling business. Ayre was born in Lloydminster and grew up here in Saskatchewan.

It's a given that someone will challenge this legislation in the US courts. There is too much money and too many people involved for it not to happen. Some have even suggested the new regulations may be in violation of World Trade Organisation agreements the US has signed on to. Folks will also try and find ways around the bans, one obvious method being to get a credit card and/or bank account in a bank operating outside the US. And the gambling sites themselves may come up with clever ways to get around their inability to use US financial institution. But whatever happens the companies will still take a hit, and it remains to be seen what spinoff effects this will have on poker's current popularity.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Migration Time.

It's time for the Toronto Blue Jays to head off for whereever they're all going to head off to. Today is the end of the regular season, with the Jays coming in second in the American League East. This is the first time they've finished higher than 3rd since 1993, with 87 wins and 75 losses to end at 12 games over .500. It's a considerable improvement over last year's 80-82 finish.

Hats off to Adam Lind. The rookie scored the last RBIs for the Jays this year with a 2 run homer in the top of the 9th against the Yankees today. It's only his second home run in the majors. Yankees Stadium is a nice place to hit your second home run, especially given that the stadium will be replaced in a couple of years with a new Yankees Stadium.

Unfortunately as the playoffs are about to begin performance enhancing drugs are rearing their ugly head again in the majors. It's been revealed that veteran reliever Jason Grimsley has claimed several major leaguers have been using steroids and other prohibited substances. Most shocking of those named are former Blue Jays pitcher and Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and former New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, both of whom pitched for the Houston Astros this year. Others named include Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, Jay Gibbons, and David Segui. Of those named by Grimsley only Segui has admitted to doing anything questionable, admitting to using human growth horomone as recently as the 2004 season, and using it without Major League approval. Unfortunately it's a fair guess that this isn't the last batch of current or recent players we're likely to see accused.