Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Coming.

It's getting pretty obvious we'll be having a Canadian federal election soon. I saw a Stephen Harper ad, which I found rather eye rolling, on TSN tonight. You'd think the Conservatives could at least have waited until an election was called before annoying us with their stupid ads.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ring The Bells.

If you're in Saskatoon and heard a series of weird noises between 7 and 8 AM this morning don't worry. That was just the sound of kids realising that registering for school begins today, along with classes for high school students. Some of those noises may also have been sounds of happiness from parents who'll have some free time on their hands with the kids spending the day in school. I even had a dream last night about going to school. Fortunately it wasn't the one I sometimes get, in several variations, where I'm back in university, realise I haven't been to a certain class in months, and that I've done nothing on an assignment that's due in a few days.

Another sign of the upcoming change of seasons was that the furnace was running when I got up this morning. Quite a change from the sweltering temperatures at the start of the week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Rings Are Packed Away.

Another Summer Olympics has come and gone. And I didn't watch more than a minute of it.

I'm not much of a sports fan. My viewing is generally limited to Canadian football, major league baseball, and the combat sports. Although baseball and the martial arts are represented at the Olympics I really couldn't be bothered to watch them. The professional versions provide me enough entertainment without going to the trouble of figuring out the broadcast schedule for the Olympic versions.

I didn't even watch the opening and closing ceremonies, which many people do even if they have no interest in the games. I'm definitely not a fan of overrought and contrived spectacles like those.

The Olympics themselves seem to feel more and more contrived with each passing edition. Consider the fact that the IOC has decided to drop women's softball. This comes only a few years after women's beach volleyball became an Olympic sport. Given what the uniform for the latter is it's hard not to speculate that women's softball was dropped because the uniforms just aren't sexy enough. Gotta get in those TV viewers. If you're a competitor in a less telegenic sport it might be worth your while to find ways to sex it up or you too may be on the way out the door, to be replaced by women's "fitness" competition or something like that.

One of the more amusing disconnects about the Olympics is the closing speech of the head of the IOC, who for years has called upon "the youth of the world" to assemble again in four years for the next Olympics. But not all Olympic competitors are youth. Take Canada's Ian Millar. The veteran equestrian is 61 this year. He's old enough that he could have a grandkid competing alongside him. This is his ninth Olympics. From what I can tell the shooting sports also tend to skew older, which is not a surprise given that they rely on accuracy and not sheer physical ability.

Canada won 18 medals this year, and of course the response was the inevitable. "We didn't win enough medals! What went wrong?" This is the same response after pretty much every Olympics. I suspect that if Canada were to come in second some day we'd hear the exact same whining.

There has been a lot of criticism of the Chinese for doing things like stifling protests and replacing a singer at the opening ceremonies with a better looking one. But really, does anyone think we won't see similar things in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games? You can bet people will be displaced from their homes to make room for Olympic atheletes and specatators, or even just to hide that there are "undesirable" people in Vancouver. You can bet various civil liberties will be tramped on in the name of preventing terrorism or "disruption" of the event. And you can be it's going to cost the Canadian taxpayer a lot more than was predicted.

One thing the Olympics seems to have done for me is generate some visitors. Specifically I've gotten quite a few hits in the last 2 or 3 weeks as a result of my Don Whitman obituary. Not having watched CBC's Olympic coverage I have no idea if this was because they had a tribute to Mr. Whitman, or if it was simply people not knowing he had died and trying to find out why he wasn't there like they expected.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The View From Here.

In his latest Livejournal entry Randy McDonald discusses an article by Canadian journalist Christie Blatchford about why she doesn't want to blog, including the idea that a writer might only have so many worthwhile words to contribute. Randy himself feels that at one point he was blogging too much. And here I've been thinking for a good while now that I'm not writing enough blog posts. As always it all depends on where you're sitting.

(It will be interesting to see if the title above attracts any search engine hits. Why is something I may reveal if it does happen.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Need Some Hot Weather?

You can sure have ours. The past couple of days have been hot as can be. It's coming up on 11 PM here and it's still 24 degrees C outside, and a bit warmer than that in the computer room, not to mention sticky. So if you have a giant heat trap handy bring it on over and suck some it away from me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Old Days Radio.

Driving along tonight I had Ninety by 808 State playing. The final cut on side one of the cassette is "Pacific 202." As I listened to it I realised the first place I heard that tune was on CBC FM as end of the hour music on one of their late night programs. I think it might have been Nightlines. I listened a lot to CBC FM late night in the late '80s and early '90s, and the music on Nightlines and Brave New Waves no doubt shaped my musical tastes. I'm sure that's where I first encountered Nomeansno, Change of Heart, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. That was a great period in radio, with Brent Bambury hosting Brave New Waves before he went on to the neutered world of CBC TV's Midday. Dave Bidini of the Rheostatics sat in at times and made a good host. Then there was Nightlines on Saturday nights, hosted for by David Wisdom for the last 10 years of its 15 year run. I personally think the name Wisdom is a great name for someone hosting a radio show that took advantage of his extensive knowledge of pop music and his gigantic collection of singles, showcased for years via the feature "10 Singles in Alphabetical Order." Nightlines came to an end in 1997, and I never really got interested in the various replacement series that CBC FM carried afterwards. I'd guess I stopped listening to Brave New Waves sometime around the mid '90s, but I'm not really sure. CBC finally brought it to an end last year in March.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Attack Of The Morons.

The murder of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus last week has not surprisingly generated a large amount of press activity. Unfortunately it has also brought out the inevitable reactions from the idiot squad. The odious Fred Phelps, head of the Westboro Baptist Church, has stated he and his brainwashed cadre of followers will protest at McLean's funeral. This is a standard Phelps tactic, one he has attempted at funerals of all sorts, Phelps claiming the deaths are examples of God's wraith for not obeying his supposed prohibitions on things like homosexuality. But at least Phelps is a nutter, and his congregation brainwashed simpletons. You'd think members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would be more rational. But once again PETA has opened their collective mouth wide and stuck both feet in. PETA wanted the Portage Daily Graphic newspaper in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, to publish an ad comparing McLean's murder with the commercial slaughter of animals for meat. Not suprisingly the Daily Graphic said no. This is typical of the kind of ads PETA thinks will attract people to their cause, having created similarly tasteless and exploitative ads in the past. Given some of the conspiracy theories that have been proposed over the years it's surprising no one has claimed that PETA is secretly part of a plot to discredit the animal rights movement by making them look like a bunch of idiots.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

From The Law And Order Files IV

There's been quite a bit of press over the last few days in Saskatoon about an odd abduction. The victim is not a person but Tickles, a Royal Python owned the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Zoo. Sometime Saturday afternoon someone smashed in the lid of Tickles' cage and made off with the 5 foot long, 12 pound creature. It's quite the act of nerve when you consider that this occured during visiting hours, with perhaps one thousand visitors on hand. Although Tickles is a calm snake used to being around people and was recently fed police are asking anyone who might come across him to be cautious, as he could injure someone if provoked. Why the snake was stolen is currently unknown, although the thief or thieves might have had a buyer interested in exotic pets.

One of the most famous crimes of the 1970s is back in the news. A Spokane, Washington lawyer, Galen Cook, claims he has determined the identity of D.B. Cooper. In November of 1971 a man using that name hijacked a Boeing 727 by threatening to blow it up. He demanded 200 thousand dollars and parchute equipment. Cooper released the passengers after the money was provided during a Seattle refueling stop, and shortly after the plane took off again jumped from the rear of the 727, never to be seen again. The story generated lots of popular attention, including movies, songs, and other references in pop culture. Cook claims Cooper is actually one William "Wolfgang" Gossett, a resident of Utah. Gossett's son Kirk, currently an Arizona corrections officer, claims his father had the parachuting skills to pull off the caper. Cook also claims that the money from the heist was deposited in a Vancouver financial institution, which he declines to name.

Unfortunately there are a couple of problems with the story, most notably that Gossett died in 2003, which the cynical side of me thinks is rather convenient for Cook, who plans to release a book soon. There's also the fact that the only money found to date from the 200 grand was 6 thousand dollars in waterlogged and useless condition found along the Columbia River in 1980. None of the other bills, whose numbers are know to the authorities, have ever turned up. It seems odd that Gossett would go to the trouble of such a risky operation and then never spend any of the money that presumably is locked in a Vancouver safety deposit box. Personally I think the default position of the FBI is the correct one, that Cooper, whoever he was, didn't survive that jump.

The RCMP hasn't been having the greatest PR lately, and a news story about their activities in the 1970s isn't likely to help. Recently released documents regarding activities of the RCMP Security Service reveal that popular singer Rita MacNeil was one of dozens of women monitored in the early 1970s over concerns about Communist infiltration of the women's movement. MacNeil was part of the Toronto Women's Caucus at the time, and was described in an RCMP memo as "one who composes and sings women's lib songs." MacNeil finds the whole thing amusing, noting she nor any of the other women involved in the group ever discussed Communism. And this wasteful spying on legitimate political activity is pretty tame compared to some of the other things the RCMP Security Service got up to at the time, such as illegal seizure of documents from Quebec political groups and stealing dynamite to frame the FLQ with. Revelation of these activities eventually led to the disbandment of the Security Service and the creation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in January of 1984.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Blue Jays Versus Tommy Hunter.

If you're Canadian and old enough the title to this post sounds like a lawsuit instead of a baseball game. I couldn't help but be amused when I turned on the Blue Jays game tonight and found out the starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers was rookie Tommy Hunter. This is the second time the Jays have faced a celebrity name alike this year, with Corey Hart playing for the Milwaukee Brewers when the two teams faced off. For those of you who are too young and/or not Canadian here is Tommy Hunter's Wikipedia entry and his official website. As for Tommy Hunter the pitcher the Jays have beat up on the kid pretty good as I write this, having scored 6 runs, including 2 home runs.