Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Coming Storm....Of Stupidity.

Condolences to the people of Chile.  Hopefully any visitors here who have relatives there aren't facing the lose of loved ones.

The Chilean earthquake wasn't the strongest on record, merely the 8th strongest on record at 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale.  In fact the strongest recorded earthquake ever occured in Chile on May 22nd, 1960 at Valdivia, measuring 9.5 on the scale.  But the occurance of such a strong earthquake so soon after the Haitian earthquake is sure to feed into the increasing amount of nonsense being spewed about the supposed end of the world in 2012.  As we get closer to that date every disaster, no matter how slight, will feed the frenzy.  Unfortunately people have short memories and are ignorant of history, so they will fall for claims that contemporary disasters are the most terrible of all time and that they are more frequent than ever before.  Most folks probably don't remember even the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China that killed hundreds of thousands, and they aren't likely to know of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that destroyed much of Tokyo and the surrounding region.  So it will be quite easy for the words of the scare mongers to take hold.  Hopefully we won't see real craziness take off in the next couple of years, but you can be sure a lot of people will worry needlessly, while others will end up being fleeced by the con men that always seem to ride on these waves of paranoia.

The 2012 silliness is based on the ending of a 5000 some year cycle on the Mayan Long Count Calender.  What is especially unfortuate for the sane and non-guillible is that the calender supposedly ends just before Christmas of 2012, meaning we'll have to put up with a whole year of this crap.  But don't blame the Mayans.  Mainstream Mayan scholars say there is no evidence that the consensus amongst the Mayans was that end of the world, a cosmic transformation, or other gigantic event would coincide with the end of the calender.  The modern day descendants of the Maya don't see this as the end of the world either.  In fact most of them don't use the long count calender.  Frankly the whole thing seems like a great big act of cultural appropriation, or perhaps cultural misppropriation.  Not that those behind it will ever admit this, to the world or themselves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

HK On Air, 1981.

Stumbled across an interesting interview with Bay Area improvising guitarist Henry Kaiser at  It's from September 14, 1981 and appeared on the radio show Ode to Gravity, recorded at KPFA studios in Berkeley, California.  It's interesting to hear him comment about the problems  he had recording his then about to be released album Aloha on a multitrack digital tape recorder, then a new technology and today, some 28 years later, almost an obsolescent one.  It's also interesting to listen to some of his comments on the kinds of music he was interested in at the time in comparison to what he would be doing 5 years later, when he would incorporate a lot more vocal oriented music into his repetoire, although with his own unique take on it.  But even in 1981 he was beginning to move beyond the strict free improvisation that had been the hallmark of his earlier albums.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Three For The Set?

Opening day for the 2010 Major League Baseball season is only 6 weeks or so away, but the player lineups are still in flux.  This week the Toronto Blue Jays signed catcher Jose Molina to a one year contract.  How much if any playing time he'll see is unknown at the moment.  But whatever happens he's the second Molina to be signed by the Jays.  His older brother Benge, also a catcher, played with the Jays i the 2006 season.  This of course brings up the question if we'll ever see the third Molina brother, Yadier, signed by the Jays.  If you're thinking Yadier is a catcher as well, you're right. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Bit Hasty.

A lot of people were no doubt flashing back to September 11th, 2001 when they heard a plane crashed into the Austin office of the US Internal Revenue Service yesterday.  But local and US federal authorities were quick to claim it wasn't an act of terrorism, doing so within a short period of time after the attack.  I'd love to know how they came to that conclusion.  The dead perpetrator, Joseph Stack, did leave in effect a suicide note online before setting his own house on fire and flying his plane into the building.  He'd had a long dispute with the IRS.  But there is no way the authorities could have determined so quickly that Stack was merely a lone nut.  Opposition to taxes and the IRS in particular has long been a rallying point on the fringe right, so it's not hard to imagine Stack having links with such groups.  Although suicide attacks haven't been a tactic of US domestic terrorists there's nothing stopping them from using them, or encouraging allies to do so.  Somehow I doubt that if all the details of the attack were the same except one, that the attacker had been someone with a "Middle Eastern" name, they would have been so quick to claim it wasn't terrorism. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In With The New.

Okay, Teletoon, since 6teen is done isn't it time you guys finally get around to playing new episodes of Stoked?  Seriously, you're playing the opening episode yet again tonight.  I'm not even sure when you last played a new episode.  So it's about time we saw a new episode.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scratchy And Scratchy(Foiled Yet Again).

Here I was, going to do a post that included the promo video for Kim Carnes' hit "Bette Davis Eyes," but I can't find an embeddable copy.  So you'll just have to watch it in a separate window.

In any case if you were around to pay attention to pop music in the early '80s you probably know this song.  Trolling around YouTube last night it came to mind and so I found the video for it and watched it.  Looking at the Wikipedia entry for the tune I was surprised to learn it was actually written in 1974 by '60s pop singer Jackie DeShannon and her collaborator at the time Donna Weiss.  It appeared on DeShannon's 1974 album New Arrangement, and as you can hear it had a rather different arrangement.  Carnes' version not surprisingly has a New Wave sound to it given its 1981 release date, and it's not hard to suspect keyboardist Bill Cuomo, who came up with the arrangement, was thinking of Blondie, then at the peak of their career, when he came up with it.  The simplicity of the arrangement and the production used results in a recording that actually sounds quite contemporary.

A number one hit in various parts of the world, it appeared on the album Mistaken Identity, pushing sales of the album to over 8 million copies.  Although Carnes wouldn't see such success again she continued to do well in the music business, including having considerable success as a songwriter.

I suspect the success of the song may have led to the success of another raspy voiced singer, Bonnie Tyler.  In fact as is often the case of similiar sounding singers I wouldn't be surprised if some people think that Tyler's breakout hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was actually done by Carnes.  The promo video for that song you can actually watch and listen to below.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Short Memory.

I'm no fan of the Olympics.  I think it's a waste of money given the way it's currently conducted.  But I had to roll my eyes at the foreign press reports claiming the Vancouver Games are the worst ever.  Apparently these supposed journalists have no knowledge of the subject they're supposed to be writing about.  If you're one of them all I have to say is do some research about the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.  That is the worst Olympics ever, for obvious reasons.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Finale. (6teen Spoilers)

Don't worry, it's not the finale of this blog.  Rather I thought I'd make a couple of comments on the series finale of 6teen.  This contains spoiler material, so if you haven't seen the final episodes of 6teen yet now is the time to stop reading this.   Especially those of you who have been watching the series on Cartoon Network in the US, as who knows when they might air these episodes.

Still here?  Then don't say I didn't warn you.

The titles of what were assumed to be the final 13 episodes were revealed way back in September of 2008, and given the copyright on the end of that last batch it's not unreasonable to assume they may have been completed by then.  If so Teletoon decided to sit on them for a year or more for some reason.  My guess is that it had something to do with the possibility Cartoon Network in the US would buy the series, but that's only a guess.  In any case we knew the series finale would be a two part episode, called "Bye Bye Nikki?"  And given that title it wasn't hard to guess what the plot would be, that Nikki would somehow leaving the rest of the cast behind.

Sure enough that did turn out to be the plot.  Nikki's father is up for a job with Ruts, a clothing company obviously intended to make the viewer think of the highly popular Canadian clothing company Roots.  But taking the job involves moving to Iqaluit in Nunavut.  As expected the gang try and stop this in humurous fashion, they of course fail, and we get to see a nice going away party sequence, including clips from throughout the series.

But to I'm sure the surprise of most viewers, including me, the show didn't go for the expected cop-out.  Most were probably expected that somehow the status quo would be maintained, that the job would fall through, or that Mr. Wong would change his mind, or some other way would be found to have Nikki stay.  Instead when he actually suggests not taking the job Nikki quickly decides she can't let him give up the opportunity of a lifetime just for her, and Nikki and her family actually do leave, off on a new adventure without her 5 other friends.

I'm sure a lot of people will not be happy with this ending, but I have to say that I'm impressed with it.  The series didn't take the easy way out.  Instead it ended on a realistic note, as one of the things that everyone faces in life is having to part with friends as they find themselves on a different path.  Not that the ending is a completely down one, as the writers left it open for our heroes, especially Nikki and her love interest Jonesy, to reconnect again sometime in the future.   But even with that out series creators Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch must have known the ending would upset some viewers, and one assumes must have considered taking the easy way out.  They didn't, and I give them a thumbs up for that.  I think it shows faith in their audience.  It also makes for a nice "closing of the circle" with the beginning of the series, which revolved around Caitlin joining what had been a group of five friends and making it six.

Of course I can't help but wonder if this is the last we've seen of new 6teen material.  The ending of the series did leave an opening for a followup special at some point, along the lines of the one hour special "Snow Job" that ended what is commonly seen as the second season of the series.(And which I can't help but wonder might not have been intended as a series finale had the series not continued.)  Whatever the future fate of the franchise it will continue to air on Teletoon for the foreseeable future given its popularity and the fact it has 91 episodes.

It will be interesting to see if the last batch of episodes airs on American TV, as Cartoon Network hasn't exactly been committed to giving 6teen a consistent and regular slot in its schedule.  Especially the episode "Role Reversal," in which a temporary co-worker of Nikki's, a girl named Jean, not only openly states she is gay, but is also seen going to a Sadie Hawkins dance in the company of Connie, who first appeared in "Snow Job" as the drummer in Wyatt's band.  The couple can also be briefly seen together amongst the party guests in  "Bye Bye Nikki? Part 2."  It would have been interesting, had the series run longer, to see if they would have turned up again.

In closing thanks to everyone who worked on the series and provided me with a lot of entertainment over the last six years, even if I wasn't the intended audience. 

Friday, February 12, 2010


Something that keeps you from making silly comments when you really should be in bed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A 6teen Reminder.

Tonights the night.  Teletoon will be airing the final episodes of 6teen this evening, including the two part series finale "Bye Bye Nikki?"  Check your local listings for the starting time in your area.  Fortunately if you miss it they'll be airing them again on Sunday, and of course Teletoon will pretty much certainly continue airing the series in reruns for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


The University of Saskatchewan unveiled Monday its new student residence project.  Phase one of the College Quarter project will house up to 400 students.  Many people are sure to be asking why this is being done now, and why it has been more than 30 years since the last U of S run residence was built.  Student housing has long been a problem, with University students competing with students attending other schools such as SIAST.  It has only gotten worse in recent years as many apartments have been converted into condos.  Current on campus housing only provides 1190 beds, which in 2008 provided for only 6 percent of the U of S's 18,474 students, and which is far lower than most other similar institutions in Canada. Even with the new residence, scheduled for completion by the Fall 2011 semester, there will be University run housing for less than 10 percent of students.  All this is sure to be a surprise to you if you attended a school that required manditory dorm living for part or all of your attendance unless you could provide a good reason. 

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Minor Surprise.

It was my dad's birthday today so we went out to Chili's Restaurant.  The food was good, but a minor surprise was the noise level.  It was quieter than I was expecting given how loud some recent restaurants seem to be.  This was of course greatly appreciated.  We also arrived at the right time, as things seemed to get pretty busy a bit after our food came.  You can see their menu here.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blue Indeed.

I watched a bit of Spike's new comedy series Blue Mountain State tonight.  My verdict is thumbs down.  I've got better things to watch than what largely amounts to bad sex jokes.  Interestingly the series is filmed in Quebec, so it may technically count as Canadian content.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Gas In Saskatoon, February 5, 2010.

What goes down, must come up.  Gas in Saskatoon is currently 99.9 cents a litre.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Waste Of Time, His And Ours.

Some people just can't seem to get the point.  Former Reform and Canadian Alliance MP Jim Pankiw announced today that he plans to run as an independent in the next election.  The obvious question is why is he bothering.  Independent candidates virtually never get elected in Canada.  Pankiw himself is a good example, losing by some 2300 votes to my current MP, Conservative Brad Trost, in 2004, and then losing to Gerry Ritz in Battlefords-Lloydminster in 2006.  Those independents that have won have been highly popular as individuals.  That doesn't describe Pankiw.  It's quite obvious that Pankiw's election wins were because a significant percentage of those who voted for him were actually voting for the party he represented, not him personally, as a large percentage of that support disappeared with his becoming an independent. 

Pankiw of course claims he's going to win.  It would be silly for him to do otherwise.  But does he really believe it?  Or is it yet another gambit on his part to make sure people don't forget him?   I suspect that whatever his goal is Pankiw likes the sound of his own voice.  He no doubt will get some voters just on name recognition and his dubious views alone.  But actually winning is just not on.  So all he is doing is wasting everyone's time, including his own.

Pankiw's campaign includes a new website.  If you click on the link I take no responsibility for whatever negative effects it might have on you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hey, Mad Scientists!

If you're working on a time machine, stop!  I want a time stopping machine, or at the very least a time slowing machine.  Something that will let me insert extra days every so often into my existence.  Seriously, why would I want to travel back in time?  So I can see people make all those mistakes they made instead of just reading about them?  No thanks.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Go Pass In Action.

As a followup to yesterday's post on the new Saskatoon Transit Go Pass system here's a shot of the electronic fare box used.  This includes a printer for transfers on the right of the unit.

And here's a closeup of the top of the unit.  To use your Go Pass you hold it close to the blue area for several seconds.  The unit then scans it and confirms your pass is currently paid up.  I found it worked with my pass sitting in a card sleeve in my wallet, so I won't have to take it in and out all the time.

Apparently not everyone got the message about the changes.  Even this morning there was a lineup of people trying to get into the customer service office in the downtown bus mall.  You can in fact already buy the passes elsewhere, but apparently you need to go to customer service to exchange any existing transit tickets you have for a Go Pass.  I bought mine at the Centre at Circle and 8th Shoppers Drug Mart.  Some people were probably hoping to get their pass personalised, which allows you to easily replace it without losing your existing balance on the pass should it be lost or stolen.  I'll probably do this as well, but I think I'll wait for a week or two and let the rush die down.

One interesting thing I did notice is that the bus driver apparently has to sign in and out of the unit if he leaves the bus.  I wonder if this kind of information might not be examined by management to keep an eye on what the drivers are doing when buses are stopped at the various bus malls and so on.

If you have any comments about the new system feel free to leave them in the comments section.  I would especially be interested in hearing from anyone who is familiar with the actual technical operation of this and similar systems.

"No, I'm A Girl."

That's what a little girl I saw today will probably be saying a lot during her life.  Her name is Austin.  There has been a long trend of names that were once thought of as male names becoming seen as female names.  Names like Hilary, Ashley, Beverly and so on were once fairly common male names, but in recent decades have become almost exclusively used for women.  As a result most people would now think you were being kind of cruel if you were to name your son Beverly.  But somehow I doubt Austin will be joining the ranks of names used primarily by women.  It just sounds too masculine.  When I think of the name I think of the late Austin Willis, a Canadian actor and TV show host.  Others are likely to think of the long running British motor vehicle company.  Young Ms. Austin was with her younger brother, who is named Kingston.  Names ending in ston and stin seem very popular these days for some reason.  Of course there's the long shot that both these tykes were born in places bearing those names, but probably not given the number of kids with non-Saskatchewan place names you're likely to run into in Saskatoon these days.