Monday, November 26, 2007


This may come as old news to some visitors to this blog but I'm going to write about it anyway.

One thing I'd noticed of late visiting the magazine area of the Saskatoon Public Library is that a new issue of the right wing news magazine Western Standard hadn't turned up in a bit. I finally got around to checking out my suspicions today and sure enough publisher Ezra Levant announced October 5th that they would be going over to a strictly digital format. Frankly I wasn't hugely surprised. There had been talk for a good while that the magazine wasn't doing well, especially after they sent out an e-mail to various folks asking for unpaid volunteers who might be interested in working on the magazine.

Looking for the website on Google I came across a few comments on Western Standard's demise. There were of course the expected nonsense about horrible socialists and left wing media. The more sensible comments generally said things I agreed with. Most obvious is the problem of starting any sort of magazine in our increasingly online oriented age. There was also the suggestion that some of the big media outlets have drifted right and undercut the market for an openly right wing magazine in Canada. You can see that with Macleans, the Canadian equivalent of Time. In the past while it has gotten more right wing in its editorial stance and choice of contributors, such as the signing on of Andrew Coyne as national editor and columnist.

I also wonder if perhaps the magazine wasn't Canadian enough. I was never a big fan of Alberta Report, the right wing magazine that expired in 2003 and for which the Western Standard was intended to be a replacement for. But to me at least it seemed to have a lot more Canadian flavour to it. Western Standard had too much syndicated American stuff in it. I remember one issue I thumbed through had a column by some American pundit that had little relevance to Canadian readers. There are differences between Canadian and American culture and politics, and you just can't lazily assume discussion of elements of one automatically apply to the other.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


It wasn't the prettiest game ever. In fact the opening quarter was kind of ugly. But they ultimately rewarded the faith placed in them by the faithful. The Saskatchewan Roughriders won the 95th Grey Cup game, beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-19. The Grey Cup is the Canadian Football League's equivalent of the NFL's Superbowl, and this is the first time the Riders have won since the 1989 Grey Cup, a much more exciting and well played game. Still, you aren't going to hear any complaints here in Riderville. It was the first Grey Cup game as coach for CFL veteran Kent Austin.

While this was going on I was busy playing as well, but the game in my case was online poker. Having won a bit of money yesterday on a Pokerstars freeroll I decided on a whim to drop $1.65 on a Limit Hold 'Em tournament. Limit isn't a game I play as well as No Limit Hold 'Em, but much to my pleased surprised I came in 7th out of a field of 954. My winnings? $42.22, the most I've won to date on poker. But don't worry, I don't intend to blow my increased bankroll as quickly as possible, although I will be speonding part of it this week. Hopefully I can win a bit more.

Spare Some Heat?

If you've got any warm weather you're not using send it our way. The forecast for the next few days does not look good, and I just know I'm going to have to spend a bunch of time outside this week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Here's Johnny!

I've been hanging around Scans Daily quite a bit lately. For some reason this resulted in me thinking about an early example of the work of John Byrne.
Before Byrne joined up with Marvel and eventually became famous for his work with Chris Claremont on the X Men he worked for Charlton Comics. One of the titles he did was Charlton's colour comic adaptation of Space: 1999. (Charlton also produced a black and white magazine size comic of the series as well.) Issue 6 not only featured artwork by Byrne but he wrote the story as well. Frankly I think it's one of the better stories from the comic, featuring Commander Koenig nearly getting killed when an artifact from an ancient war hits his Eagle. Someone I went to grade school with gave me that issue. But it wasn't until years later that I realised that Byrne wrote himself into the story, a self insert to use a term from fanfiction. As you can see from the scan above and the photo of Byrne it's quit obvious Koenig's co-pilot in the story is based on Byrne's appearance. But even more amusing is that he didn't go to much trouble to hide the fact, naming the character Burns. This of course went right over my 8 year old head.
As a fan of Space: 1999 I ended up getting a subscription to the comic. Unfortunately it was cancelled just after I received my first issue, issue 7, which included their take on the second season opener, "The Metamorph." As I remember it I was sent a slip for changing the remainder of my subscription to something else, but while I sent it in I never saw another issue of whatever it was I decided to take in replacement. That's not a huge surprise, as Charlton apparently was already having problems, as it cancelled much of it's lineup in the late '70s. They eventually sold most of their superhero characters to DC, some of whom still exist in one form or another today such as the Blue Beetle.
June 2, 2008 Addenda:
One thing I had forgotten about when I wrote this post is that John Byrne wrote for the actual TV series Space: 1999. The British TV writer of the same name that is, who unfortuately passed away in April this year. He wrote or co-wrote more scripts for the series than any other writer, including the popular Season One episodes "Force of Life" and "Voyager's Return." His post 1999 credits include creating, and writing scripts for, the long running British TV series Heartbeat. It's funny that two people with the same name would produce material for the same property.

A Blast From The Past(of this blog).

It's time for me to do something I haven't done in a long time on here. Mainly because it didn't work. Once more I present the Random Search Engine Attractor Phrase. Today's attempt: intelligent design.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Horror.

Tim Hortons has increased the price of its donuts. With tax they're now 90 cents a piece, an increase of 6 cents. At that price if you buy one donut a week you'll be paying an extra $3.12 over the course of a year. I'm sure it will cost them customers.

One or two at least.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Near Miracle.

I was just looking through my e-mail and received an almost shocking message. It was a message from PayPal that was an actual message from PayPal, and not a phishing message from some crook in Lagos. One of the ways to determine it's really a message from PayPal and not a phishing attempt is that they'll use your account name in the body of the letter. Given how infrequently I use my PayPal account it's surprising they'd bother to send me a message at all.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Small Fry.

Time for a little after election analysis. But I'm not going to talk about the 3 major parties. After all half the bloggers in Saskatchewan will be writing about what a Sask. Party win means, how much longer will Lorne Calvert and David Karwacki hang on and so forth. Instead I'll make a few comments on the "minor" parties in this election.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan was the most ambitious of these. They ran candidates in 48 of the 58 ridings. If they could somehow have magically transfered their votes into one riding they might have actually won a seat. Unfortunately this of course is not possible, and instead they came in last place in most ridings. So their breakthrough to elected party status is still at least an election away. My guess is that it's going to be longer than that given the polarisation of politics here. If the Liberals can't even elect their own leader the Greens are going to need even more luck to make it to the legislature.

There is often talk of election reform when discussing parties like the Greens, as using systems like proportional representation makes it easier for such parties to take a seat. But given that according to their own website they apparently got 2 percent of the popular vote it seems unlikely they would have elected a member even under PR, which usually has a minimum number of votes to take a seat in the range of 5 percent.

Nothing says "single issue party" like the name Saskatchewan Marijuana Party. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that their major interest is in legalising marijuana. They managed to run a grand total of five candidates, none of whom came close to winning a seat. Frankly their issue isn't one that's likely to generate much voter interest. Voters are much more concerned with what the government will do with the provincial finances, health care, and the highways than whether or not they can toke up. I can't see them ever running a full slate of candidates, or even coming near to doing so.

The Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan managed to run eight candidates. But I doubt their goal of Western Canadian separation from Canada is any more popular than legalising marijuana. In fact I assume the reverse is the case. In any case the chances of them electing anyone to office are pretty much nil. Western separatism has waxed and waned over the years, but it's fair to say that Saskatchewan has not been one of it's strongholds. I won't be at all surprised if the WIP isn't around by the next election given the short shelf life similar parties have had in the past.

The ghost of elections past in this election was the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan. For the first time since the 1995 election they ran candidates, a slate of five. Even ignoring the small numbers who ran Brad Wall isn't going to be worrying about a challenge from the right anytime soon. The party persists in linking itself to the unpopular Grant Devine era, hardly a recipe for success, and has a leader, Rick Swenson, who doesn't exactly come across as dynamic. I find the attempt on their front page to link the NDP governments of Saskatchewan to Communist governments like those of Cuba and "Korea" amusing. "Red baiting" just reenforces the impression of a party living in the past.

Apparently no independant candidates ran in this election. Or if they did they received no votes, which is exceedingly unlikely. All the minor candidates did receive sufficient votes to indicate that they were voted for by more than their immediate families, which should at least take some of the sting of losing away.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To The Polls.

Today is provincial election day in Saskatchewan, and I've already voted. Even though it was just past 9 I spent a while in line given that apparently others thought they'd beat the rush too by going early. Who did I vote for? None of your beeswax, folks. I can tell you I didn't vote for the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party, which isn't saying much.

Hopefully if you're a Saskatchewan resident and are eligable you're going to vote today, even if it's just to vote for who you least hate, or to keep a candidate you really don't like from winning.

For those interested in the mechanics of voting here we still use paper ballots. You mark your choice in the circle beside their name with an X and that's it. You vote for one candidate. And unlike some parts of the world elections are always on a weekday, never on a Sunday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Off The Dial.

A long chapter in Canadian radio ended today. The callsign CFQC left Saskatoon's radio airwaves as Hot 93 FM, the current holders of the callsign, became 92.9 The Bull under the call letters CKBL. The original CFQC hit the air on the AM band in the 1920s, broadcasting on 600 khz until February 6th, 1995, when it became Hot 93 on the FM band. CFQC will continue in use on television as the callsign for the local CTV affiliate, which retained them even after the ownership of the radio station changed in the 1980s.

Although I didn't listen to Hot 93 it's sad that CFQC has been replaced. One of the earliest Canadian radio callsigns is now gone, assuming of course someone doesn't attempt to have it reassigned to them, although I would suspect if it is reused it may not be in the Saskatoon market.