Friday, December 29, 2006

Murder Free Zone.

Imagine living in a jurisdiction where there are no murders. If you live in the Yukon you don't have to at the moment. Barring violence over the weekend the Yukon will have gone murderless for two consecutive years on January 1st. This is a cool statistic, especially since the territory, with a population of 31,000, had 7 murders in 2004. Some suspect efforts to curtail the illegal drug trade may have played a hand. Whatever the cause hopefully it will stay that way.

Hopefully Saskatoon's murder rate will drop over the next year, and be much lower than other years. In recent years there have typically been 7 to 10 murders per year in Saskatoon, giving us a murder rate fluctuating between rougly 3 and 5 per hundred thousand population.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dutch Mason, RIP.

The deserved press coverage of the death of James Brown may have caused some people to miss another musician death in the past few days. Norman "Dutch" Mason, a veteran of the Canadian blues scene, has died at 68. Sometimes refered to as Prime Minister of the Blues Mason came from Kentville, Nova Scotia, and worked in a number of bands as a youth, including his own rockabilly band in the late '50s, before discovering B.B. King lead him in a blues direction. He spent much of his early blues career working the circuit in the Maritimes, but in the 1970s became a nationally known artist and toured across the country after becoming a recording artist. Unfortunately arthritis ended his ability to play guitar some 15 years ago, and growing health problems with diabetes eventually curtailed his ability to take the rigours of performance.

Gerald Ford, RIP.

Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, died Tuesday at age 93. Ford was America's only unelected President, taking office when the disgraced Richard Nixon left office in 1974. Unfortunately for Ford he was saddled with too much baggage from the Watergate scandal, especially when he pardoned Nixon, and would prove unable to defeat Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election. Of course Carter's luck wasn't much better, but at least he was able to serve a full term in office. Ford was also the last surviving member of the Warren Commission, which investigated John Kennedy's assassination, so I suspect we'll see some of the more paranoid, and to be blunt stupid, conspiracy mongers claim that Ford was "silenced" for some reason.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Greetings.

Merry Christmas to everyone passing through, and a tip of the hat to those of you who celebrate other things at this time of year. And for those of you who might be drinking in the next few days, please don't drive unless you're sure you're sober.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Request To Visitors.

At the top of this blog you'll notice a button with the number 312 on it. That's my link to the One Million Blogs site. Unfortunately every time I've tried to visit the site of late I've received no response. So if you're using something besides Internet Explorer 7 please click on that button and let me know in the comments section of this post if you can get in. I'd really like to know if it's a glitch on my end, or if the site itself has gone offline.

Were You Christmas Shopping Today?

Hopefully you didn't find the crowds too bad. My brother went out this morning and said it was busy but not crazy. Still, I'm glad I had my Christmas shopping done last week. Since the stores will be open tomorrow I would imagine it's a bit less busy than it might have been in the old days when stores were closed on Sunday. But I would imagine it's a little too late if your gift buying plans included one of the hot gifts this year, whatever they are.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rocky Balboa-Fresh.

I must say I'm quite surprised. I was just checking out Rotten Tomatoes to see what the critical response is to Rocky Balboa, released yesterday. It's currently rated "fresh" with 76 percent of reviews being positive. Frankly I would have thought this film would be the biggest target of the year, given a scenario that would probably not happen in the real world because no boxing commission with any sort of common sense would allow a fighter that old back in the ring. Yet apparently Stallone has pulled it off. Still, I won't be rushing out to see it.

Slow News Day?

That's the only explaination I can come up with for the amount of attention the "feud" between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump generated today. Even the CBC had a link to it on the main page of their website. Surely if they wanted to present an ultimately meaningless fluff story they could have found a Canadian entertainment story, or something cute involving animals. Sometimes you have to wonder if things like this aren't staged. After all Trump never is one to shy from publicity, and what better way to up the ratings for The View than a loud but ultimately safe verbal tussle.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brent McKee on Joseph Barbera.

I was going to post something about the death of American animator Joseph Barbera. Instead I'll just link to this post by Brent McKee, who has something more interesting than what I would have come up with. As he noted Barbera and the late William Hanna's most durable creation, The Flintstones, aired forever on Saskatoon's CFQC. I saw the series so many times that there was a time when I could watch any episode for maybe 5 seconds at most and know which one it was. I can still easily recognise many of them within a few seconds.

Interestingly I caught an episode of The Jetsons recently on Teletoon that had an apt Flintstones reference. Elroy Jetson is sitting in class, and one of his classmates is watching the one millionth airing of The Flintstones on his wrist TV. Although meant as a joke it's entirely likely that some station will eventually air what is the one millionth airing of The Flintstones, and it wouldn't surprise me if it happens in my lifetime.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rapture And Donuts.

Even though I know I must cut down on such things I stopped at a Hortons today to grab a double chocolate donut and a Coke. At the table next to me were a couple of what looked to be high school kids. The topic of the Rapture came up, including the one kid saying that as long as his sister was still around he knew the Rapture hadn't happened yet, because he was sure she'd be taken. I couldn't help but wonder if these guys knew anything about the history of Rapture theology, that it really only dates from the early 19th Century and only really became popular at the beginning of the 20th Century. I'd go so far as to say you probably would have been accused of heresy if you'd esposed the idea in some parts of the "Christian" world prior to the 20th Century. For a moment I imagined saying something along those lines to those kids, but of course I didn't. I had better things to do than trying to change what is probably years of conditioning with a brief encounter. Better they find out that kind of thing gradually on their own.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hey, Vernon, Can You Lend Me A Buck Or Two?

If you're good friends with Vernon Wells this is probably a good time to hit him up for a loan. News reports Friday indicate that Wells will re-sign with the Toronto Blue Jays for a 126 million dollar contract that starts in 2008. Wells' current contract was to end at the end of the 2007 season, during which he will make 5.6 million. The new contract will reportedly last until 2014. Those are of course US dollars.

It will be interesting to see when the first 300 million buck player contract is signed. My guess it will be sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wiggle Your Way To Perfect Health.

I can only wonder if this product would get any sales if the word "chi" wasn't involved. After all invoking the mystical concept of chi makes it sound much more esoteric and powerful than calling these gizmos Wigglesizers or something similar. It would be interesting to know what practitioners of traditional Chinese and other Asian medicines, from which the concept of chi was ripped-er, I mean borrowed from, think of these devices as well.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yes, I'm Still Here.

Just haven't had anything to write about. A couple of ideas will hopefully soon take shape.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Save Room For Dessert.

I was reading a review in Skeptic magazine today of Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman's Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever. According to the review Kurzweil claims in the book to take 250 different pills a day to extend his lifespan. 250! I'm surprised he has any appetite when he's taking that much stuff a day. He must spend a significant amount of time popping pills. And he's doing this simply in the hopes he might live longer. He's apparently perfectly health. It's not like he has some terrible disease like AIDS that requires large quantities of drugs to stave off.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Unintended Free Advertising.

Last month saw the Bank of Canada introduce a new series of five dollar bills, which incorporate the security features used on the current issue tens and twenties. The new five also has a new varnish on the Laurier side, intended to improve the life expectancy of the bills. So far I've received two, and I found the serial number amusing. Both serials begin with AOL. I doubt America Online needs any more advertising, but I doubt they'll mind such subliminal support either.

Friday, December 01, 2006

From the Law and Order Files III

The big legal news in Saskatchewan this week is of course the parole of Colin Thatcher. The former Progressive Conservative MLA and cabinet minister was jailed for the 1984 murder of his ex-wife JoAnn Wilson. He has been trying for parole for several years, and was finally granted full parole Thursday, despite continuing to claim he did not murder Wilson. This had been seen as an impediment to Thatcher getting parole, as it usually is in such considerations. The idea is that the convict must admit his guilt as an indication he has been making efforts at rehabilitation. However the issue did not come up at the latest hearing.

Personally I wouldn't be at all surprised if Thatcher is telling the truth as far as not murdering Wilson himself. After all if he hired someone to do it he wouldn't have actually had to pull the trigger. It's not hard to think of reasons why he wouldn't admit to having Wilson murdered if that's the case.

Should Thatcher be out of prison? I have no real opinion. Although he is all but certainly no danger to reoffend he still hasn't admitted his crime.

The ongoing effort against Montreal's so-called Sixth Family organised crime group has gained a Saskatchewan connection. Rocco Caruso, 34, was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for conspiracy to traffic in cannabis. He was arrested Wednesday by the Spiritwood detachment of the RCMP. He was reportedly hunting in the area when he was arrested without incident. His arrest comes as part of Project Colise, a multi-agency operation aimed at Montreal's Mafia community and its associates. Since November 22nd 90 people have been arrested, including Nick Rizzuto, father of reputed Canadian Godfather Vito Rizzuto.

An obvious question that comes to mind is if the Mafia or similar European originated organised crime groups have any sort of permanent presense in Saskatchewan. The Hell's Angels certainly do, so it wouldn't be surprising if the Mafia does.

Karen MacDonald, aka Karen Ponto, was back in court again Thursday. As previously mentioned on this blog Ponto was charged earlier this year with violating a child custody order. Ponto claims membership in the Church of the Ecumenical Redemption International, and refuses to recognise the jurisdiction of the provincial court, as she did back in May. As a result Judge Robert Gordon entered not guilty pleas on her behalf after noting that Ponto's statements amounted to "babble," and that she didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Ponto also demanded to know why she wasn't provided organic shampoo in jail.

It's hard to say whether Ponto is doing this as a dodge, actually believes the stuff she's spouting, or both. Whatever the case it isn't likely to do her any good. Courts not surprisingly do not accept defenses based on oddball readings of the law.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dave Cockrum, RIP.

Sad news to report. Comic book artist Dave Cockrum has died of diabetes related complications. Cockrum worked on numerous titles over the years, but is probably most remembered for his role in turning the X Men from a second string comic property into the juggernaut it would become in the 1980s. Cockrum also played a major role in setting the tone for DC's Legion of Superheroes with his early '70s run as artist on their title. Peter David has a post on Cockrum' death here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Future of the Saskatoon Free-Net.

This evening I received a message in my e-mail about the upcoming general meeting for the Saskatoon Free-Net. The obvious question of course is if the organisation has much of a future, which will be discussed at the meeting. It currently serves primarily as an e-mail service while hosting a few web pages. However taking a look at some of them this evening it's obvious that some are no longer updated, while others merely point to the current pages of whoever ran them. Even the SFN homepage itself has sections that obviously haven't been updated in a good while. It's hard to say what value the service continues to have in an era of easily accessible free e-mail services. I know my continued use of the SFN for e-mail is as much inertia as anything else, and I would guess it's the same for other users. Funnily enough I found my old SFN profile page is still up. Not that I can actually do anything to it, but it's still there.

If you're interested the meeting will be held December 18th in the Meeting Room of Rusty McDonald Library in the Lawson Civic Centre, starting at 7 pm.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Spoke Too Soon.

I was wrong in my last post. Today I got a bunch more of that same annoying e-mail. Oh well, it only takes a few seconds to delete them.

Friday, November 24, 2006


The past few days I've been getting a bunch of bogus eBay messages in my e-mail, all purporting to be from the same eBay seller asking for payment. Of course the item in question isn't one I purchased. Usually you get a bunch of these a week claiming to be about different eBay transactions, not all about one. Most peculiar. In any case I just checked my mail, and I haven't received any in a few hours. So either it was a really clueless scammer who gave up, or someone finally cleaned a virus out of their e-mail system.

Tony Carey On Youtube.

In a shameless attempt to keep the hit counter spinning here are are a couple of vids from Tony Carey on Youtube. First is the video for "A Fine, Fine Day," which hit number one on the Billboard Rock Tracks chart in March of '84. Carey also released material as Planet P, and from the self titled Planet P debut here's "Why Me?" which got some radio play in North America as well.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

John Allan Cameron, RIP.

Reading in the paper this morning that East Coast music vet John Allan Cameron has died of cancer at 67 surprised me. Frankly it's been a long time since I've seen anything to do with him. And this is kind of a surprise. Given the success of groups like Great Big Sea you'd think he'd have been more visible given that he was promoting East Coast Celtic music when a lot of today's performers in the genre were probably banging their heads in their bedrooms to Motley Crue.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Sixth Family Under Attack.

As Canadian readers may have heard by the time they read this police have launched a major series of raids against figures in Montreal's "traditional" organised crime community. This includes senior mob figure Nick Rizzuto. Anyone interested in more background on this situation might want to check out The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto by Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphreys. Lamothe and Humphreys present the history of the Rizzuto family's rise to the top of Canadian organised crime, and argue that it should be considered the Sixth Family of North American organised crime alongside the infamous Five Families of New York's Mafia community. Vito Rizzuto is currently in an American jail for his alleged role in the murder of several New York mobsters in 1981, an event detailed in the book and also presented in the Johnny Depp film Donnie Brasco.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Angelina Jolie, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I was in McNally Robinson today and spent some time browsing through the comic collections. One of the ones I thumbed through was the trade paperback of Marvel's Secret War, not to be confused with Secret Wars, Marvel's 1980s crossover miniseries that introduced Spider Man's black symbiote costume that eventually joined with some other guy and became Venom.(If you're not a comic book fan that last bit likely has you shaking your head.) One of the characters introduced in this series is Daisy Johnson, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who can create earthquakes, and just happens to be the daughter of long running Marvel villain Mr. Hyde.(Long running indeed, since Hyde first appeared way back in 1963.)

And she looks like Angelina Jolie. Quite literally. If you didn't pick up on this instantly you've probably been living in a cave for the last 10 years. In one way I'm surprised they'd do that in our litigious age. Jolie might object to her likeness being used without her permission in a continuing character, since the character has appeared post Secret War. On the other hand this isn't the first time Marvel has done something like this. Justin Hammer, a long running foe of Iron Man's, was all but certainly modeled physically after Peter Cushing, the veteran British actor who appeared in numerous Hammer horror films and as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. For that matter the Marvel version of Hercules, who first appeared in the 1960s, was probably based on Steve Reeves' portrayal of the character.

As for the series itself the art is cool, but I found the actual story a little blah. In it Nick Fury recruits several Marvel heroes for a secret mission into Latveria when the US government refuses to take action against a terrorist plot being planned by Latveria's Prime Minister.(See what happens when you don't read comics? I had no idea that Dr. Doom had been deposed, yet again, as despot of Latveria.) Unfortunately his actions come back to bite him in the rear, as is often the case in covert ops. As this takes place in the regular Marvel Universe this story features the classic white dude WW2 vet with an eye patch Nick Fury, versus the Nick Fury in Marvel's Ultimate line who is a black dude.

With an eyepatch.

On the same eye no less. Geez, why not at least switch eyes?

Included are excerpts from Fury's personal computer files, and I had to smile at the entry for Jimmy Woo. It subtly acknowledges the fact that Woo is no spring chicken, something no doubt intended to make older Marvel fans smile. After all Woo first appeared the late 1950s as an opponent of the Yellow Claw, and apparently current Marvel continuity has him being around in that era. Jasper Stilwell also appears, another nice surprise for long suffering Marvel fans.

While we're talking about Angelina Jolie and comics, here's a suggestion for the braintrust at Marvel's movie division if they stumble across this post. Angelina Jolie as the Black Widow. Seriously, I could imagine her as Natasha Romanov.


Having a bit of a cold I bought some Halls cough candies yesterday. I just went to look at them only to find they aren't in the pocket of the pants I wore yesterday. It seems I lost them someplace. Crap, $1.37 gone. I only had one.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Know Your Topic.

If you're going to advocate some controversial position you should know a great deal on the subject. Not doing so will get you in trouble. While trying to look up a pistol manufacturer on Google I stumbled across a pro-gun control blog called Gun Guys. Skimming through it I came across this piece about a young woman suing the careless hunter who shot her. The young woman was hit by a 7mm Magnum slug. That fact resulted in the following comment: He was shooting at a deer with a 7mm rifle? Did he expect there to be any of it left afterwards?

Apparently the writer didn't bother to do any research. The 7mm calibre is a common size for hunting deer. It's in roughly the same size range as the .30 calibre rounds that have long been a standard hunting calibre. The clown in question no doubt expected to find the majority of the deer to be where it fell after he shot it. All that making a statement like that does is allow one's opponents to point to it as an example of your general ignorance on the subject, and hence that your ideas shouldn't be taken seriously. And if there's anything that gun control foes are going to jump on it's anything that indicates an ignorance of firearms.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Request For Howard Lederer and Chris Rose.

If you guys do Poker Superstars IV, and Eli Elezra takes part, please find out how his first name is pronounced and stick with that pronuciation, please? It's rather annoying when you both say it differently, and aren't consistent about it. It'll take you all of about 2 seconds to ask the man. I'd hate to think how you'd mangle my last name given the chance.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Like any sensible person I believe that one should practice safe sex. However one should also dispose of one's birth control equipment in an appropriate fashion. This afternoon I saw a condom draped over the seat divider on a bus. As you might imagine I made no effort to see if it had been used or not. If it had been used I can only imagine what kind of pig would dispose of it in a public place like that. Of course it's far more likely it wasn't used, and was simply put there as someone's idea of a crude joke. After all no one is likely to be having sex on a city bus during the daytime, and who carries used condoms along with them?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spy Versus Spy.

The front page of today's National Post carries a report that a man has been detained on charges he was conducting espionage against Canada. The news item alleges that the man was a Russian, and that he was an illegal, that is a foreign intelligence operative operating under a false ID, versus someone operating under diplomatic or other legal cover. The obvious question that came to my mind on seeing this is how the spies of an ally would be treated. Would say an American illegal be arrested and charged, or would a double standard be observed and said illegal quietly asked to leave the country?

Anyone who doesn't think allies spy on each other is foolish. The world of espionage is a dirty one, and you spy on whoever you can spy on. It has for example been alleged that the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian equivalent of the US signals intelligence agency the National Security Agency, intercepted the telephone calls and other transmissions of American trade negotiators. Then there is the well known case of Jonathan Pollard, an American tried and convicted of espionage for US ally Israel against the US. In the end national interest trumps friendship.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Beat Goes On.

I was putting my bed back together a bit ago after washing the mattress pad, mattress cover, and quilt today. As I did so I was listening to Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto. This was one of the first CDs I bought when I got my first CD player as a Christmas present 16 years ago. I bought it on a trip to Regina, which for some reason at the time seemed to have a good bit of Japanese pop music floating around. I stumbled across this disc in an HMV, not specifically looking for it. 16 years later it's still going strong. This is especially cool given the fears of CD rot that have been floating around at different times over the years. Thousand Knives was Ryuichi Sakamoto's first album, released in 1978 at around the time Yellow Magic Orchestra released its first album. An interesting album to pick up if you're interested in what could be done with late '70s commercial electronic music equipment.


The past while it seemed like the only way gas prices were headed in Saskatoon is down, including a drop early this week. No longer. The price of gas rose 5 cents a litre today to 90.5 cents. It could be worse I suppose, since it could have gone up quite a bit more. But I would suspect that we may see the price rise fairly rapidly in the next little bit.

Monday, November 13, 2006


While I was talking to my brother in BC on the phone yesterday I mentioned that former Supertramp singer Roger Hodgson was coming through town on a solo tour. He mentioned that that Hodgson and the other members must really hate each other if they can't do some sort of reunion tour. After all a reunion of the "classic" lineup would be the kind of gig that could be expected to make lots and lots of money with 200 buck a shot seats. Hodgson and Rick Davies did try and reunite as Supertramp in 1993 but it didn't work. So perhaps they don't have a great deal of emnity towards each other, but just can't agree musically anymore.

One group that we know is currently beset by personal dislike is Van Halen. Michael Anthony had been there from the beginning, taking part in every lineup. But this has all come to an end with a report that Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang is replacing Anthony. This comes on the heels of various interviews over the past year that indicate amongst other things Anthony is no longer speaking with Eddie Van Halen, and that the Van Halen brothers wanted him out at least as long ago as the 2004 tour with Sammy Hagar. One can only wonder at how much dislike there is floating around amongst them that they'd want Anthony, who has been loyal to the group for 3 decades, gone.

Whatever happens hopefully young Wolfgang will act as a damper on some of Eddie's current excesses, and hopefully he'll be able to stand up to the pressure of being part of a major band at the ripe old age of 15.

Unfortunately sometimes the tensions of the business of a band can even trump blood. John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival and his brother Tom Fogerty were unable to truly reconcile their relationship even while Tom was terminally ill. This was all the result of the interpersonal problems that split CCR and John's feelings of betrayal when Tom didn't take his side in his financial dispute with Fantasy Records.

The Perils of Youtube.

Youtube is a great place to find videos of all sorts of interesting things. Unfortunately said videos are often ephemiral. This is especially the case of copyrighted materials. I just went on Youtube to look at a live video by Japanese new wave group the Plastics of their song "Top Secret Man." Unfortunately the video has disappeared. This has happened to a lot of things I've watched on Youtube, including some I've linked to here. So if you like something watch it while you can. It is possible to download Youtube vids but its rather a pain in the rear since the service wasn't designed for that.

Incidentally the Plastics were the first Japanese pop group many people likely were exposed to when their promo video for "Top Secret Man" aired on an early '80s episode of SCTV.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I was just checking the size of files in the recycle bin on my computer. There are 1.22 gigabytes in there at the moment. Just a few years ago having a one gigabyte hard drive on your computer was the cutting edge of technology, yet now I can have that much in junk files in one place alone. And the 80 gig hard drive currently on my computer is starting to look small by the standards of current drives. Of course as hard drive sizes have gone up so has the size of programs and the files they handle. I can't help but wonder though if it hasn't lead to sloppy programming. After all clever programmers did some amazing things with the by today's standard miniscule memories and tiny floppy drives on machines like the Commodore 64 back in the '80s, let alone the even more primitive devices on machines like the Voyager space probes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Supper Imitates Art.

Yesterday I received a package of several CDs I ordered from One of them was Chicken Skin Music by Ry Cooder. And what did I have for supper? Chicken, with the skin on it. Cool album as well.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Tip.

Don't shave with your electric razor while trying to watch a boxing match on TV. You'll probably miss a spot.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

No Money For Me.

Alas, I didn't make it through the first hour. I played a couple of hands too far and lost a bunch of chips, enough to weaken me too much. Oh well, you can't get lucky all the time. Besides, to make even a buck I would have had to finish 270th or better.

This Time For Real.

In less than a half hour I'll be doing something I've never done before, playing online poker with a chance of winning money. The online poker room PokerStars has a Sunday tournament that you enter by placing 27th or better in one of the multiple freerolls they offer each day. I took part in one last night, and managed, much to my surprise, to make it. In fact I came in 8th out of an initial field of 10,000. I never thought I'd get that far. As you can imagine there were some big hands, including one where I went all in with a pair of kings, picked up the third king and won something like 250,000 chips, making it the biggest hand I've played yet if I'm not mistaken.

I doubt I'll make the money today. Even if I do I won't win much, as the maximum prize is apparently 200 bucks, and the lowest prize is, well, very low. But just getting the chance at winning actual money is a pleasure. Especially when it didn't cost me a dime.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Streak Is Broken.

Wow, I managed to go a week without posting here. I had several ideas for posts, but I never got around to writing them. Sometimes that's just as well, as there are enough half assed posts on here already.

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.

Friday, September 29, 2006

"Do you want cream, sugar, or an enema bag with that?"

Orac has a good one for his Friday Dose of Woo this week, another variation on the good ole coffee enema. I didn't realise that you should only shoot organicly grown coffee up your butt, because the non-organic commercial stuff contains chemicals that could cause you problems. Of course as Orac notes taking too much caffeine into your system at once can give you an irregular heart beat, so perhaps decaffeinated coffee is a better idea if you're considering such an enema. Of course its better to just say no because its nonsense.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The religious right doesn't have the same kind of power and influence in Canada as it does in the US. But there is a Canadian religious right. Journalist Marci McDonald has an article in the October issue of The Walrus magazine called "Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons." Its a discussion of the connections between Stephen Harper's government and the religious right in Canada, and well worth reading if you have an interest in that kind of thing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Goose Egg.

Very weird. Yesterday I received no hits. I can't remember that ever happening before. It's especially odd since I made a post yesterday, which usually generates at least one hit.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Boz Burrell, RIP.

I found out via my brother yesterday that British musician Boz Burrell has died of a heart attack at 60. Burrell got his start in the business as a singer in the '60s, recording both with his group The Boz People and as a solo artist, although none of his releases had any real impact. In late 1970 Burrell became the new vocalist for King Crimson, and soon had his musical abilities expanded when he was pressed into being the group's bassist after bassist Rick Kemp left unexpectedly, being taught by group leader Robert Fripp. Although the lineup produced only one studio album, Islands, before breaking up becoming a bassist would prove a major boon to Burrell when Paul Rogers recruited him as bassist for Bad Company in 1972, playing on the group's major releases, including the hit single "Can't Get Enough." After leaving Bad Company in '86 Burrell played in several groups, including touring with Alvin Lee and a reunited version of Bad Company in 1999.

Friday, September 22, 2006

"The Seance Spectre"

I spent the day at home. Looking at the TV schedule I was rather unimpressed with the offerings. So I eventually decided to sit and watch a Space: 1999 episode, and chose "The Seance Spectre." I'd say this is one of the better year two offerings in concept, although it probably would have been even better with the more subtle handling more often found in year one episodes, as there is probably a little too much emphasis on action. The question of what effect years of being cooped up on the Moon would have is a good one, and its not hard to imagine some of the Alphans, like Sanderson and his exploration team in this episode, might begin to develop some paranoia about the command staff. One element that would definitely have improved this episode would have been at least a brief explaination of what Sanderson and friends are doing with their "astroprediction," and how they started doing it. This also happens to be the last episode in which Zienia Merton plays Sandra Benes. Merton, who appeared in every episode of year one, had not been given a contract for year two but was hired on an episode by episode basis. In frustration she left after the third year two episode, but was eventually convinced to return for several of the later year two episodes by Barbara Bain.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Them Drums!

I was listening to some of Abbey Road tonight, and as always I got a kick out of some of the drum sounds. Presumably they were using a lot of compression, but they just sound great to my ears. As for Ringo I think part of the reason some folks bash him, if you'll pardon the usage, is because he doesn't do a Ginger Baker/Keith Moon and play incredibly flashy. Funnily enough Charlie Watts can be very minimalist as well, yet he seems to get more cred than Ringo. Go figure.

Right now I'm listening to The Honeydripper by Jack McDuff. Recommended if you like '60s organ jazz. One of these days I need to figure out which Jimmy Smith Blue Note to buy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Here Comes The Sun.

After several days of rain we actually had some sun today. Unfortunately the departure of the rain has lead to clear skies for tonight, and hence the arrival of just at freezing temperatures and frost. The furnace has started running occasionally the past few days, another sign that summer is gone and winter isn't that far off. Time to start thinking about the winter gear I suppose.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Warped Minds of Toy Designers.

I've wondered about the minds behind certain toys in the past. Today I had cause again. I saw an ad for a new Barbie doll. This one comes with Tanner the dog. The brain warping part this time is that the doll comes with snacks to feed Tanner. After you feed them you can then pump on the dog's tail and they come out as poop! And better yet this Barbie has a pooper scooper to pick up the plastic pellets. Besides the Barbie version there's also the Teresa doll that comes with a cat that uses its litter box. Hmm, are Beavis and Butthead working for the R&D department at Mattel?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't Believe It.

Today I saw a truck with a plate on the front that read "This truck protected by Smith and Wesson." The owner might just as well have put a plate on his vehicle that read "This truck protected by bullshit." Unless your work justifies it, or you can convince a judge you're in such danger that you need one, you cannot carry a handgun on your person or in a vehicle in this country ready for use. You're not supposed to carry loaded long arms in your vehicle either. So such a statement on your vehicle is a load of nonsense.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Name That Music.

If you're familiar with the old Spider Man cartoon from the '60s you may remember the organ music used in certain places. I'd love to know who did that stuff. Anyone got a clue?

Monday, September 11, 2006

If I Post, Will They Come?

I hope so. Traffic here the last couple of days has been pretty abysmal. Not that I'm giving the big blogs a run for their money even when I'm getting lots of action.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Poor Donna.

In the early 1980s, back when I was a young comic fan, DC Comics revived the Teen Titans, a superhero team that when created back in the mid '60s was comprised of several teen sidekicks of popular heroes. The New Titans, as they were frequently refered to, carried over several members of the old team including Wonder Girl, the teen sidekick of Wonder Woman. I was a fan of the series for several years, reading the series regularly until just after Wonder Girl, in her civilian guise of Donna Troy, got married. So when I saw the collection Who Is Donna Troy? in the library today I thumbed through it. The title story, which dealt with Robin's efforts to find out the truth of Donna's personal history, and the story detailing her marriage I was quite familiar with. I may even still have those issues stored away in a box. But having stopped reading the series after that point I was unfamiliar with the other material reprinted within.

The details are too complicated to relate here. But I have to say, poor girl! In 1985 DC had a megacrossover amongst its titles called Crisis On Infinite Earths. It was intended to simplify the continuity of the DC "universe," as considerable baggage had built up over the years. Unfortunately this retcon resulted in a bunch of problems replacing the old problems. This included Wonder Girl's connection with Wonder Woman being at odds with the new continuity that had Wonder Woman as a recent arrival on the scene. So Titans creative team Marv Wolfman and George Perez came up with a new origin story for Donna Troy, who also took on a new superhero name, Troia. This story line is reprinted in Who Is Donna Troy? and frankly its rather a mess. Big surprise, as its an attempt to reconcile a character's old continuity with a comic universe's new continuity.

Bad as this was, the folks at DC couldn't leave well enough alone. As time went on they screwed around with the new continuity, trying to patch over holes they made with the 1985 changes. And now they've changed a lot back to the way it was with the series/crossover event Infinite Crisis. No doubt current comics fans will be debating the effects of the new changes for years to come, and wondering how long it will take for the powers that be at DC to decide its time to screw around with things again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Congratulations to pitcher Anibal Sanchez of the Florida Marlins. Tonight he pitched a no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks in what was only his 14th start in the majors. He's 22 years old, so he's got lots of time to get another one. Most starters never get one. This no hitter is also the first no hitter since May 18th, 2004 when Randy Johnson threw a perfect game, that is a game where no runners were allowed on base, for, ironically, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Although Sanchez gave up no hits he did have four walks in tonight's game. Fortunately for him none of these base runners went on to score. It is in fact possible to have a no hitter yet lose if runs are scored via walking a batter with the bases loaded or having runners on base reach home via an error. In 1990 Andy Hawkins of the New York Yankees pitched what was a no-hitter by the rules in place at the time, but lost the game 4-0 when a combination of two walks and 3 errors allowed the Chicago White Sox to score 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sad But Not Surprising.

Australian outdoorsman Steve Irwin, who became famous via the TV series Crocodile Hunter, has died of a stingray sting while diving off Australia. He was 44. Irwin's death may not be that surprising to many. The perception has existed, rightly or wrongly, that Irwin took unneccessary risks in his dealings with animals. The most notorious example of this occured in 2004, when Irwin had his one year old son under his arm while feeding meat to crocodiles in a pen during a wildlife show. The idea was widespread enough that it was used as part of various comedy sketches involving actors pretending to be Irwin, or thinly veiled parodies of Irwin, getting hurt in humourous ways by mishandling animals. There are likely to be many mutterings of "I told you so" regarding Irwin over the next few days.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Last night I decided to see what was on MuchMoreMusic, since I hadn't tuned in to the channel in at least a couple of weeks. Imagine my surprise when A Different World appeared on my TV screen, a sitcom that has nothing to do with music. It was followed by Fame, which makes somewhat more sense since its a show about a performing arts high school. Both shows are now regular weeknight fare on the channel. As anyone who has paid attention to MuchMoreMusic knows the channel has played less and less direct music content as the years have gone by, and more and more gossip/Entertainment Tonite/reality programs with celebs content. And now they're getting even more away from their original purpose by playing a sitcom. Given the changes perhaps it's time for some "truth in advertising" by having the station change it's name. Of course the station is just following the path of VH1, its American equivalent.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beware The Killer Chicken!

I was just looking at Fandom Wank to see what's new there.(Rather than explain Fandom Wank I'll just let you find out about it by looking at it.) They currently have a thread going about writer Terry Goodkind, who is apparently upset that his "masterworks" are shelved as fantasy and not with Nabokov or whoever. In the course of the thread someone mentioned one of Goodkind's books featuring an evil chicken. Fortunately someone was good enough to post some examples. Somehow I suspect Goodkind would not be happy at me laughing at his description of the evil chicken. It seems to me a long enough piece of wood would soon end the menace of the killer chicken, but what do I know? I've never encountered a demonic chicken before.

Now I'm thinking I should go to the local KFC....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm 292,019th!

At least according to Technorati. Compare that to Pharyngula, which Technorati lists as 176th. Given some of the crap that PZ Myers gets as a result of Pharyngula he probably occasionally wishes he was as low on the blog totem pole as I am.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Question of Priorities.

I'm skeptical of claims of media bias. For every claim that the North American media is a bastion of liberalism(in the modern American abuse of the word, of course) I could find you a claim that it's a tool of the corporate elites. But I'm far less skeptical of accusations of exploitation and sensationalism. A classic example occured tonight at the start of local CTV affiliate CFQC's six o'clock news broadcast. They pushed aside what was obviously intended to be their top story, a report on how a local taxi driver helped police capture a robber, to give us "breaking news" about the JonBenet Ramsey case. Why? The story has no direct relevance to the citizens of Saskatoon. It didn't even occur in Canada. Yet CFQC's news department decided this was so important a story that it should be covered immediately. Call me cynical, but such a move seems a rather blatant example of pandering to prurience. Of course it's just the latest example of what's been going in with the Ramsey case for ten years. Some of the coverage over the years has seemed pretty damn close to abuse of the poor girl. And why? It's safe to say dozens of little girls were murdered in the US in 1996, yet that case was the one that got all the press. But one assumes most of those cases didn't have various elements that made for easy use by the media, like the artfully done photos, video footage, and so on of JonBenet Ramsey, the odd to outsiders world of child beauty pageants she was involved in, and other details that have made for tabloid fodder, whether it was the actual tabloids exploiting it or not.

Hurry, Before It's Too Late? Yeah, Right.

"These commemoratives may well be among the most historically meaningful collectibles you will ever own."

This line comes from this ad for National Collector's Mint's World Trade Center Commemerative. Funny, but I would think a "historically meaningful collectible" would be something a bit more than a kitschy gold coin with a centre bit that stands up. The silver is supposedly from a vault recovered from under the WTC, thus supposedly making the quantities limited. Therefore you can only order five. Sounds like there must have been a lot of silver in that vault given how many potential customers there will be. Of course the text uses the word clad, which of course means the coins aren't solid gold and silver, so the actual amount of silver used on each of these things is probably pretty small. Indeed it should be pretty obvious by the price they're offering these things at that they aren't solid gold or silver, but who knows whether some folks will be foolish enough to think they are.

I have no idea how the collectable coin market treats these kind of things. But I suspect they're far more interested in things that have true historical significance and/or novelty, like coins minted in a short lived government mint or what have you, not mass produced gimmicks.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Iris Is Closing.

I just found out tonight that the Sci Fi channel in the US is cancelling Stargate SG1. Unless I missed it I don't think it got any coverage in the local paper. In any case as you might expect there have been the inevitable calls for petitions and so forth to be organised in an effort to save the series. Good luck to them, but personally I think the series has probably had a long enough run. They recently aired the 200th episode of the series on Sci Fi, and ten seaons and more than 200 episodes is a great run for any series, let alone a science fiction one. The producers are reportedly still interested in followup made for TV movies or a miniseries, so it may not be done yet. But a clause in their contract with Sci Fi makes its appearance on another network as a weekly series unlikely.

The spinoff Stargate Atlantis series will continue. But some fans are speculating the death of the parent show may mean its days are numbered as well.

With the series ending I may have to work up an idea for a commentary that came to mind recently.

The series has made Amanda Tapping a familiar face to untold numbers of sci fi fans, but my first encounter with her was Canadian TV ads. I can still remember the Advil ad she did all those years ago. Not a surprise really given that I found her a very attractive young woman at the time.

Those two pictures at the top of the post? They're of Swedish poker player Bengt Sonnert and of actor Michael Shanks, who plays Daniel Jackson on SG1. Maybe its just me, but to my eyes Sonnert looks a lot like Shanks, which I found kind of amusing when watching Sonnert compete in the Monte Carlo Millons poker tournament on TV. I'm sure it's pretty obvious which is which, but if not I've proven my point.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A&B Sound Saskatoon, RIP.

I found out from today's Saskatoon Star Phoenix that tomorrow will be the last day for Saskatoon's A&B Sound outlet. Financial troubles have lead to the BC based company deciding to concentrate on its Alberta and BC outlets. They had an ad in the paper this morning for their going out of business sale which must have been quite effective, as very little was left when I went there this afternoon. The fact that the ad made no mentioned of CDs and DVDs being on cheap, which is why I went there, makes me suspect that those are either going to be shipped back to their labels for credit, or will turn up as stock in the surviving A&B stores elsewhere. Whatever the case the CD/DVD section of the store was inaccessable. I bought a lot of CDs from them over the years because their prices were probably the cheapest overall in this market. It's sad to see them go, but sadder for the folks who have been laid off.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Maynard Ferguson, RIP.

Another jazz great has passed away. Trumpeter/bandleader Maynard Ferguson has died at 78 after a brief illness. Ferguson was born in Montreal, and got his start as a teenager playing on the CBC in the early '40s. Ferguson was an active performer until the end of his life, having played several sold out gigs in New York in July.

"Repeat, Repeat."

Peter Baumann first came to public attention as a member of Tangerine Dream. Betcha most fans of his work with TD were rather surprised at the single "Repeat Repeat," from the 1981 album of the same name. I'd never heard the tune before stumbling across the video on YouTube, but I quite like it. The real question is how much of Baumann's intent was to do a straight techopop tune, and how much of it was a poke at the frequent repetitiveness of pop songs. It's certainly a better tune than his cover of "Strangers in the Night," which you can also find on YouTube.

Does Racism Drive September 11th Conspiracy Theories?

This question came to mind when listening to CBC Radio One's The Current this morning. This morning they were reading letters in response to a segment last week on conspiracy theories. Today's segment included a brief talk with Barry Zwicker, a Canadian freelance journalist who has been promoting the theory that 9/11 was a US government plot. He claimed that the idea Osama bin Laden could have pulled off the September 11th attacks from a cave someplace with a laptop is the least credible theory. Others have made that statement as well. But why? Does it have anything to do with the fact that bin Laden is an Arab? I can't help but think of various theories that ancient peoples didn't build the great works such as the pyramids and so on, that instead it was mysterious "others" who did. I often get the impression that those theories are sometimes driven, even if only subconciously, by racist ideas since those ancient wonders were built by "brown" peoples. I've never heard of anyone trying to claim ancient Greek and Roman wonders were built by aliens or the inhabitants of Atlantis, and I would guess in many cases this is because they're seen as "our" anscestors, are perceived as being "white."

Would we be hearing as many "they couldn't possibly have done it" claims if 9/11 had been pulled off by Japanese cultists, say Aum Shinrikyo? After all the Japanese have a society and economy seen as directly equivalent to Western industrial ones. I haven't seen conspiracy theories about Aum's attack on the Tokyo subway, claiming say that someone gave them the nerve gas they used, and this is probably for the obvious reason that people expect there would be some kooks in a highly industrial and technological country like Japan with the education and skills to cook up nerve gas in their kitchen. Compare this with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, which are perceived as primitive and ignorant backwaters. This of course ignores the fact that bin Laden was of the monied class in Saudi Arabia, the kind of folks who get access to Western technology and education. Bin Laden himself has degrees in civil engineering and economics/public administration. In other words this is not some hick who doesn't have a clue about anything other than being violent, and we know the kind of damage even those kind of people can cause. His educational background sounds exactly like the kind of thing that would make coming up with a plan like the "offical" version of 9/11, and making it happen, completely plausible. It certainly sounds more plausible that theories that for example would require sneaking tonnes of explosives into the structure of the World Trade Center without anyone noticing something very weird was going on.

Addenda: It should also be noted that bin Laden probably wasn't hiding in a cave before the US attack on Afghanistan, given that he was there as a guest of the Taliban government.

Monday, August 21, 2006

One Name, Three Products.

It was a picture of a car and a guitar together that seems to have got me thinking about how one product name can be used for very different products. Ask most people to name a product called Mustang and they're likely to immediately name the classic Ford Mustang. The car was introduced in 1964, and racked up more than 2 million sales the first 2 years of production. The name continues to be used by Ford to this day, with its galloping horse logo probably as well known as the actual body shapes its gone through over the years.

Ask a guitar player and they may think of the Fender Mustang. One of the last products developed by Leo Fender before CBS(yes, that CBS) bought Fender in 1965 the guitar was very obviously named after the car, just as earlier Fender guitars had been given names evoking the cutting edge broadcasting and aerospace industries. Fender made the connection even more obvious when they introduced the Competition finishes in 1969, which featured racing stripes on the body. Although the sleek little instrument was intended as a student model its turned up in the hands of many pros over the years. The bass model was also quite successful, and turned up in the hands of musicians such as Rolling Stone Bill Wyman.

Then there's the Colt Mustang. In 1986 Colt introduced this pistol, which is chambered for .380 ACP calibre round, also know as the 9mm Short. Its intended to fulfull the role of "pocket pistol," in other words an easily concealable weapon you might carry in a pants or jacket pocket, and is based on John Browning's classic Colt Model 1911 .45 ACP calibre pistol. Like many Colt products this gun has a prancing horse logo on both its slide and on medalions on the grip plates, which might make one think of Ford's Mustang logo.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Poor John Hattig.

In my last post I mentioned that John Hattig was about to become the first citizen of Guam to play in the majors. Today was his first game, as he was brought in to play third base in the bottom of the fourth, replacing Troy Glaus. Too bad for him his debute happened to be during a horrible game, with the Baltimore Orioles beating the Jays 15-zip. It's not the worst beating the Jays have ever taken, but damn embarrassing nonetheless, especially given the Orioles aren't exactly world beaters these days.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Two Bags Short.

As they have for several years VTech is having a contest in connection with Toronto Blue Jays games broadcast on TV. If any Blue Jay hits for the cycle some lucky entraint will win one million dollars. Every time a Blue Jay hits a home run they give away a free cordless phone. Thursday night they came within two bags of giving away that million. The unlikely almost hero for the contestant in question was Jays catcher Bengie Molina. He missed getting a double in his final at bat to complete the cycle. The idea that Molina would hit the cycle is pretty wild, as Molina is probably one of the slowest runners in baseball. Like most catchers he doesn't run fast, which comes from years of spending half the game kneeling down behind the plate. His first at bat saw the amazing sight of Molina getting a triple, the hardest part of the cycle to get. I was sitting watching the game and had to jump to my feet and run over to the TV as this happened. Knowing his slow speed I shouted "What are you doing?" as he went past second on his way to third, and was amazed when he beat the throw. This is only the 3rd triple of Molina's career, his first since 2000. Molina's later home run in the 8th inning was a two run shot, helping to insure a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

There have been two Jays who have hit for the cycle. Kelly Gruber did it first back in '89. Jeff Frye pulled it off in 2001, albeit with a bit of controversy when he stopped at first base to get the single when he all but certainly could have taken second. Ironically Gruber happened to be in attendance that day.

The Jays have just pulled off another milestone. They've called up John Hattig from Triple A. Hattig will be the first major league player from Guam. The Western Pacific island is an organised unincorporated territory of the US with a population of 170000, and its citizens are US citizens.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hello Iroquois Falls!

You're the location of my latest Where's Willy hit. My Ontario hits are slowly creeping up.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Thoughts On Mr. Kotkin.

Thanks to everyone who's visited as a result of Orac's link here in his post on David Copperfield. Don't forget to click on the other links here, the linkees would likely appreciate the traffic.

Since making my last post I've read a number of comments elsewhere that Copperfield's "Fountain of Youth" tale may just be a publicity stunt. This is a reasonable guess. If so he still gets a slap on the wrist from me for possibly following the dubious dictum that any publicity you get is good as long as they spell your name right. Personally I'd rather he not do things that promote irrational thinking or get the hopes up of the desparate who might think they'll benefit from his supposed discovery.

On the other hand this isn't the first time in recent memory Copperfield has apparently made a bizarre, paranormal oriented claim. Last year he told a German publication he was going to make a woman pregant onstage, without sex. I can just imagine the cringing his legal representation must have gone through, fearing the statement would lead every kook and con woman in sight to claim they were made pregnant by Copperfield's magic. I haven't heard if he actually claimed to have pulled this off or not, assuming it wasn't some misunderstanding by an interviewer.

Of course some wags would argue that magic is the only way he could make a woman pregnant, as rumours have long persisted that Copperfield is gay. His six year relationship with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer? Just a scheme to hide his sexuality the claim goes, for which Schiffer was paid. Of course the question arises why Schiffer, hardly a slouch in the income department in the '90s, would do something like that, and why Copperfield, if he felt a need for a "beard," wouldn't engage the help of a presumably much cheaper to pay Hollywood starlet or two.

If Copperfield has fallen for paranormal nonsense he wouldn't be the first big name magician to do so. The late Canadian illusionist Doug Henning retired from magic in the mid '80s to devote his full time to the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation movement. This included running for office in the Canada and the UK as a representative of the TM backed Natural Law Party. Although I have no proof I have often suspected that Henning might have been intended to be the Mahareshi's public successor if he hadn't passed away. There were stories Henning was considered a comeback tour in the months before his death in February of 2000, which is sad if true.

As for the title of this post Copperfield's real last name is(or perhaps was at this point) David Kotkin. I have no idea why he adopted the last name of a Dickens character as his stage name but it was probably a good idea. At the time his star first began to rise the American mentalist The Amazing Kreskin was quite popular. Given the minor similarity between the two names it's not hard to imagine some confusion resulting if Copperfield had performed under the name Kotkin.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What's With David?

Is David Copperfield going nuts? The well known illusionist has bought a group of islands, the Exuma chain, for 50 million bucks. (I didn't know he had access to that kind of money.) Musha Cay in the chain is a private resort that rents for up to 300 grand a week, the other islands in the chain serving to shield the island from nosy onlookers. But my questions about ole Dave's sanity come from the fact he claims one of the islands holds the legendary Fountain of Youth. He claims the waters it contains cure illness and so on. Well, it's either figure Copperfield is going around the twist, or suspect he's up to some scam to fleece the ill by offering quack health treatments. You'd think someone who deals in making the impossible seem real through carefully designed illusions and lots of practice would be able to spot trickery if someone is trying to dupe him.

Do You Have Them?

Officials at NASA are a bit embarrassed right now. It's been revealed that they don't know where the original video tapes of the first landing on the Moon are. They've been hoping to use the tapes to see if they can be treated using modern technology to produce better images of the landing, but a year's worth of searching hasn't turned them up, although they are sure they're still there, someplace, in the archives.

It's screwups like this that display the silliness of government conspiracy theories. We're supposed to believe the powers that be can cover up the truth about the Kennedy assassination, or that some nefarious government plot was really behind September 11th. Yet the folks at NASA haven't been able to keep track of the tapes of their most important triumph. Indeed one might wonder why NASA still had them, and not the US National Archives or the Smithsonian. This and other similar mistakes make most folks roll their eyes and mutter about the incompetence of government. But dispite such things conspiracy theorists cling to their warped faith in the power and competence of governments to create and run elaborate schemes involving large numbers of people conducting nefarious deeds, often on very short notice, and get away with them.

There is one group that will have their beliefs strengthened by the missing tapes, the Moon landing conspiracy nuts. They'll no doubt claim the tapes are missing because they provide the "smoking gun" that proves the Moon landings were faked. Of course the obvious question for such people is why NASA is claiming to have lost the tapes when it would be far easier to simply claim the tapes had deteriorated too much to be usable, which ironically may be the case even if they are found. Unfortunately common sense tends to have little effect on the true believers.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Feet On The Beat.

This week the Saskatoon Police Service welcomed a group of new constables to the force. Listening to the police frequencies tonight its not hard to see they need more personnel. They've been quite busy tonight, including looking for a man reportedly walking around with a pitchfork. Of course it doesn't help that the Fringe Festival and Saskatoon Exhibition are on tonight,which is probably spreading resources thinner.

It rained heavily here early this morning, and at times looked like it would do so later in the day. It seems that if the Ex is on there will be rain at some point, even though it now takes place in August instead of July like it did for years.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Anonymous Ones.

Anyone who pays more than a vague bit of attention to poker probably knows that the Big One, the World Series of Poker main event, has been going on for the past few days in Las Vegas. Tomorrow is the final table, with the winner set to take home 12 millon bucks American, minus the US taxes, of course. Even the 8 players who don't win will make at least 1.5 million a piece. Not bad for a few days of work. The final table players are Richard Lee, Erik Friberg, Paul Wasicka, Dan Nassif, Allen Cunningham, Michael Binger, Doug Kim, Jamie Gold, and Rhett Butler. Even many casual poker fans will notice something about this group, namely that none of the really big names are at the final table. No Chris Moneymaker, Howard Lederer, or Phil Helmuth. Last year's winner Joe Hachem didn't come close to the final table. Of this year's final table players Allen Cunningham is probably the closest to being a poker celebrity, a seasoned pro who already has four WSOP bracelets. That's what makes poker so appealing to many, the idea that maybe, just maybe, with some luck and some good play they too might be at that final table someday. After all they're watching a bunch of guys that most folks have never heard of duke it out for the top honor in poker, while the famous figures of poker have to sit back with the rest of the world and watch.

I'm Still Here.

My output here has dropped quite a bit the past couple of weeks, but I am still around. It just seems I never get around to posting thing while they're running through my head. I could blame the hot weather, but it was somewhat cooler on the weekend. Boy, is it hot and sticky in here tonight. There's no fan in the computer room, and not much of a breeze through the open window. I'm sure this summer is more humid than last.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I'm Surprised.

I was just checking out the reviews for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby over at Rotten Tomatoes. The ratings are 75% positive, swhich surprised me. Frankly the ads made me think it's a turkey. After all you usually stick some of the best bits of the film in the ads and trailers to get attention, and if those are some of the best bits the film looks bad to me. Admittedly the film isn't one I'd have much interest in seeing anyways. I'm neither a Will Ferrell nor a NASCAR fan. Given that NASCAR is largely an American fandom it will be interesting to see how well the film does outside North America. Apparently sport films tend not to travel well outside their home markets, which isn't a surprise. For example a German audience wouldn't have much familiarity with American football, and hence have little interest in seeing a comedy revolving around football players.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Woo Is A Girl's Best Friend?

On Fridays Orac has started having regular posts on "woo" he's encountered. I would think this story would fit the category. Canadian singer Sherrie Lea Laird claims to be the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, something she supposedly first realised when she was 12. She is now the subject of a book Marilyn Monroe Returns: The Healing of a Soul. Written by California pyschiatrist Adrian Finklestein it chronicles her "past life regression" and the supposed details it reveals about Monroe's life, such as that she wasn't murdered, as has often been speculated.

Laird claims she's not doing this for publicity, and that it might "ruin" her career. That's doubtful. Plenty of entertainers believe in equally flaky things without apparent career harm. Just ask Tom Cruise. The fact that Laird is 43 and a rock band singer might make one a little bit skeptical of such a claim, as it's not hard to see this as an attempt to bolster a career that's getting a bit long in the tooth. The fact that she'll get a cut of the sales may be a better reason to be cynical, as Marilyn Monroe being the focus is sure to make this book much more likely to be a hit than if she claimed to be the reincarnation of some lesser known figure. Rather convenient for both Finklestein and Laird. You can bet that many of the details supposedly found via hypnosis actually came from Laird, and for that matter Finklestein, being exposed to the tonnes of Monroe material produced over the last 40 some years.

Monday, July 31, 2006

No Way, Mann?

The reviews are in. Michael Mann's big screen version of the classic '80s TV series Miami Vice has hit the theatres, and so far the consensus has tilted towards the negative. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 47% rating, hence rotten. Frankly the idea of Colin Ferrell as Sonny Crockett just seems off to me, but apparently the movie version has little to do with the TV version played by Don Johnson except for the name. And Jamie Foxx as Tubbs? Seems to me some rapper would make a better fit. The new version may be closer in intent to what Mann wanted to originally do with the series, but that ironically may not have been the best thing to do with it, as it loses what made the show interesting in the first place.

Robert Butler of the Kansas City Star has a great line in his review: Miami Vice is like watching a great chef boil a hotdog.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I was hoping for a nice, watcheable thunderstorm tonight. No such luck. Instead all the cells went north of us. Hopefully I'll get to see something cool again before the summer ends.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


George Michael is in trouble again. A News of the World photographer captured Michael on film having sex with a stranger in a London park. This apparently threatens his planned marriage to long time boyfriend Ken Goss. When I saw that last name I couldn't help but wonder if he was a member of Bros, a highly popular late '80s British boy band. (Bros had multiple top 40 singles in the UK, but did very little on this side of the Atlantic.) That turned out not to be the case.

Its pretty obvious Michael gets off on the potential of being caught, as surely someone with his money could have anonymous sex with strangers elsewhere besides public places. He was arrested by LA cops back in '98 for having sex in a public washroom.

You can add another member to the gay celeb list, although admittedly he's kind of low on the celeb list these days. Lance Bass of boy band N'Sync has come out as gay. He said he waited until recently to come out because he was worried doing so might hurt the group's popularity. This would seem to indicate he realises the group's day is done, which I suspect most everyone else who cared already had. Bass says he's in a strongly committed relationship to actor Reichen Lehmkuhl, who won season four of the reality series Amazing Race. Hopefully Bass is smarter that George Michael.

Bass and fellow N'Sync member Joey Fantone are working on yet another take on The Odd Couple, with Bass apparently going to play a gay character, and I can't help but wonder if it will be the Felix Ungar role. If so that's kind of redundant, since many people perceive Tony Randall's portrayal of the character in the classic '70s TV version as being that of a closeted gay man. There were rumours Randall himself was gay, despite being married to the same woman for more than 50 years, then remarrying and having two children after she died.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mako, RIP.

I just found out that Japanese born actor Mako has died at age 72. His distinctive gruff voice will be familiar to many, including many cartoon fans given his voice work in recent years on shows such as Samurai Jack and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Unknowable Number.

I was just listening to Magazine's Real Life, their debut album. As I did a thought came to mind. I wondered how many different albums I've listened to over the years. There is of course no way of knowing, but its a more than reasonable guess that it must be verging on close to a thousand, if not more. I have in my possession hundreds of LPs, cassettes, and CDs, have owned others that I traded off, have listened to various albums belonging to relatives, taken stuff out from the public library, and even listened to a few LPs in the last few years in the University of Saskatchewan library. So a thousand titles isn't a wild guess. There are many in my own personal collection I really need to listen to again. If only I would stop buying new ones.

Hot Weather For Sale Or Trade.

If you're in need of hot weather I'm sure the people of Saskatoon would be willing to trade ours for some cooler weather. This has been quite a hot summer, and some cooler air would be nice. It also seems to be a more humid summer. My aunt and uncle(the owners of Dudley) bought my parents a portable air conditioner as an anniversary present. It has a dehumidifier in it, and its amazing how much moisture its been pulling out of the air. The water tank for it has been emptied several times, and it holds I'd guess something like 4 or 5 litres of water.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Another Improvised Music Link.

In the past I've made references to the Paris Transatlantic web magazine as a good site if you're interested in jazz and improvised music. Since I've been reading it the past few days I figured it was time to post a link to another site with similar content, Bagatellen. It covers similar material to Paris Transatlantic, and comments from PT's Dan Warburton can frequently be found in the comments section for various articles. Although I doubt PT would feature a review/commentary about the heavy metal band Venom.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bad News, Shea.

You petulantly end your time with the Toronto Blue Jays, calling the team a sinking ship. What happens the next day? The Jays beat the Yankees in extra innings when Vernon Wells hits a walk off two run homer. Something tells me they aren't going to miss you for very long.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Truth In Shelving.

Looking at the book section of London Drugs today I spotted a book called Alien Encounters. It was a cheapy paperback, probably produced by the same folks who cook up quickies to cash in on issues of the day, overpublicised trials and so forth. But what caught my attention is that it was shelved as fiction. I thought maybe it was just placed there by some one thumbing through it. A quick check showed several copies in the same slot. If the book shelver at London Drugs put it there deliberately hats off to them.

Truth In Advertising.

This morning I received one of those spam e-mails where they use a bunch of random words to try and get past spam filters, and the actual message is presented as an image file. But this time the subject line was quite appropriate for what they sent: gobbledygook.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hey, Reed Johnson!

If you're looking for a nickname this one came to mind after seeing you get hit again: Targetman.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I Feel Sorry For These People.

Les over at Stupid Evil Bastard made this post after coming across this webboard. Reading through various posts I couldn't help but feel sad for these people. They believe in various irrational things, and are happy at the thought of a massive war because it supposedly means Jesus will come. Just like so many others over the last 2000 years they will be disappointed. Some will eventually fall away from this vision of the future, and find themselves wondering what harm it has done to their lives. Others will hold onto such beliefs for the rest of their lives and let them determine what decisions they make, many of which will ultimately lessen the quality of their lives. One of the more disturbing statements was from one poster who can't see in their mind their kids past the ages of ten and under, which is coming in the next couple of years. So they hope this is a sign of the Rapture coming and not something else. I can only imagine what kind of stress this person will be under as time passes and it becomes obvious that no one is getting sucked up into the sky. Others must live in states of more general discomfort given that they believe these things and others close to them do not. I saw several mentions of spouses who don't share the beliefs of posters, which must be stressful on a marriage.

I found it amusing to see comments about how too many churches aren't teaching the "right" things about Biblical prophecy. I wonder if people who make comments like that even know the history of Rapture theology. It only really dates to the first half of the 19th Century, and is the product of interpretation. The concept is not mentioned explicitly in the New Testament. Many denominations, including the largest ones such as the Roman Catholic Church, do not accept the idea at all. A modern Rapture believing Christian transported say to the era of Martin Luther would likely find themselves rather dismayed if they described the concept to Luther, who would likely ask them where they heard such foolishness. Given the human capacity to find new interpretations in a text I'm sure 200 years from now some new interpretation will have come along and prove highly popular with millions of believers.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Bit Too Close.

Hmmm, if this keeps up I'm going to have to start a Saskatoon Transit System blog.

As mentioned a while back on this blog my dad's car was hit by a deer. It was a near thing, but it proved repairable. My parents drove out to Kitimat, BC last week for my aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary. They had no problems going there or coming back.

But what happens today? A bus drives a bit too close to the car and breaks the driver's side rear view mirror. A bit further over and it would have been back to the autobody shop. Talk about bad luck!

In a way its surprising I haven't heard of more bus related accidents. Some of Saskatoon's bus drivers can be very aggressive. After all most vehicles will come out second best went going up against a bus, and the drivers no doubt know this.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Imaginary Friends Are All Right, Yours Aren't.

Yeah, a second post within a few minutes of the last one. I just figured having the two separate was more appropriate.

Some Christians in Calgary are upset because Ghanaian village chieftans invoked ancestral spirits at Sunday's Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show. Minister Gord Smith is worried they may have brought the "wrath of God" upon the city by this happening, and wants folks to pray for Calgary. Mark Sorell, a local missionary who works in Africa, claims his mission groups see "demonic invasions into people's lives" from such invocations in Africa.

It amuses me when people take the religious beliefs of others so seriously. Instead of taking the sensible position that weird behaviour is the result of mental illness, substance abuse, or other factors these guys think that the spirits are every bit as real as the Ghanaians do, except they think they're evil instead of good.

I wonder what the response would be if it had been one of the local tribes making such an invocation? Probably not much different. These guys are just as likely to see aboriginal beliefs as products of evil as they are African ones. In fact there are apparently tensions in some of our First Nations communities between those interested in their traditional beliefs, and their counterparts who have adopted certain forms of Christianity that see other religious beliefs as possibly being the products of Satan.

As for Sorell's claims I bet you wouldn't see him trying to make such claims about say Shinto rituals held in Japan, which like the African tradition in question often deal with the spirits of one's ancestors. After all unlike most of the parts of Africa Sorell and his people work in Japan is a modern industrialised country where people who act irrationally will likely receive treatment from competent mental health care professionals.