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.