Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Snap Out Of It......


So, a while back I was whinging on and on about a season of full of deadlines, and time away from home, and all sorts of other jetsam and flotsam associated with the thing I do that I get paid for (and mostly enjoy a heckuva lot).

Anyway, the frenzy officially came to an end, at least for now, last Friday night when I got home from the final trip of the fall.

And payback time began almost immediately when C. took off for Victoria the next day to visit friends and relatives for the weekend which was followed by a workshop she gave yesterday, Monday.

All of which left me home alone to get the two E's get ready for Halloween.

And to prepare the 'Bigger E.' for her very first round of massive, stress inducing high school tests coming up this week.

And to get the 'littler e.' through the aftermath of her first tooth extraction, a bad baby molar brought on by too much candy last spring - probably my fault for letting her use her allowance to buy sour candies and gummy bears after tap dance class every Saturday morning (I'm a sucker for old-fashioned corner stores that actually sell no longer penny candy).

Anyway, we made it through the analgesics and the discomfort for e. as well as the Science studying for E. on Saturday ('twas cells and microscopes; ha! easy for me, although maybe a little too much info for E. - I doubt they'll actually ask her about the physics behind confocal scanning laser microscopy); then we went to the pumpkin patch (on Westham Island in middle of south arm of Fraser River where it meets the ocean - small, DIY farm, great fun) on Sunday morning where we got freezing soaked by a freak hail/rainstorm, but still got our four gourds (38 lbs total), went through the haunted house, and had hot chocolate with marshmellows and whip cream in the greenhouse; Sunday afternoon was Social Studies studying for E. (man, I am stupid when it comes to the voluminous nit-picky details of the world's four major religions - why do you have to know so much about so much in high school anyway?) and a birthday party to and from with e. (had to say no to caramels and chewing gum from the goodie bag on the way home so she gave them to her sister and her friend P); Sunday night was movies - actually put my parental foot down on 'Clueless' being too much for e. so we split things up with something with the kid who was in 'Matilda', only it wasn't actually Matilda but instead had something to do with Fairy God Mothers and Martin Short which wasn't actually as good as Matilda but it was OK, and so was Clueless, as far as teenager movies go, but it was no 'Pretty In Pink' which I'd rented once before for E. and her friends and their slumber party (I was a big hit that night, lemme tell you).

On top of all that there were also other assorted and sundry items all weekend long, things like shopping and meals and baths and dictee and figuring out who goes where with whom during all the carpools, not to mention filling out forms and dispensing fees and dues and finding the My Fair Lady CD so that the two Ee's could show me their latest dance routine........

But nothing prepared me for the costumes.

As in getting them together and getting them to look right, and having them look appropriate to wear to school, etc.

In fact, even now, late on Halloween afternoon, I'm not sure what E. will be wearing when she goes out with her pack of teenager friends tonight - I'm just hoping it will actually involve clothes that will keep her from freezing to death. I guess I'll find out when I pick her up for the back end of one of those carpools later this evening.

As for e.? Well, she decided a long time ago that she wanted to be 'Edna Mode' from 'The Incredibles' (see above).

Leave it to e. to pick Edna instead of one of the actual superhero kids from the movie.

I mean, do you think there is anything at Toys 'R Us, or Zellers, or even evil Mr. Walton's place, or anywhere else for that matter that would have anything even remotely approximating an Edna costume?


Anyway, to be fair, C. had purchased/acquired a bunch of the individual components before she left.

So it was left to me to build the long black cigarette holder which, luckily, e. thinks is a pointer. And then I had to help get everything together in preparation for the big day.

The glasses were relatively straightforward from a kid we know who is obsessed with H. Potter, the dress took a lot of work which C's Mom finally finished sewing in Victoria and thus came home late last night; the boots we got last week; the tights caused no end of problems because of the way they felt under the dress; and the wig, well it was from our favorite dollar store but it had an unfortunate 'supermodel' label which caused e. to yell, in heavily germanic Edna-speak, 'I hate them, dahling - stick figures with pouffy lips!'.

Anyway, because e. is in grade 2 she wanted to wear her costume all day long today which caused a lot of keffufle and consternation before school this morning - especially with E. getting more and more worked-up about her tests and the fact that she was going to start this evening's escapade at her friend H.'s house, which was making her more anxious because H. is one of her new highschool friends.

So, do you have it all straight now?

And do you have a feel for the level of craziness at our house this morning that ratcheted up to infinity at 8:15am precisely when we finally got outside and found that there was frost all over the windows of the not-so VW microbus which signalled that we were going to be late for school for sure.

Which, of course, got my own bad mojo rising because I had a first-thing-in-the- morning meeting of an administrative nature that I had put off for weeks that still hadn't prepared for because, well, you know......

But then, just as I was fussing and muttering under my breath while trying to find the scraper that hadn't been used since February, e., who was strapping her now Edna-ized self into her booster seat, looked up and blurted:

"Snap out of it Dad..... Have you forgotten who you are?..... You are Mr. Incredible!"

Which, of course, is a lot of hooey, because the only thing I learned this weekend (for about the thousandth time) is how much more C. does than me about 99.9% of the time. Still, Edna's utterances made me smile in spite of myself.

And they also made me hope and wish that E., in all of her emerging anxiety-ridden teenagerness somehow manages to have even half as much fun today as I know that e., in all her happy-go-lucky kidness, will have for sure.

In fact, now that I think of it, I hope that all kids everywhere have even half as much fun as e. today.

Because if they do it will be an incredible Halloween for everyone concerned.



Sunday, October 29, 2006

Winning Hearts and Minds.......

......When They're Dead Meat


According to Human Rights Watch, last week's bombing of Afghani civilians by NATO was not a one-off thing:

Human Rights Watch said NATO has relied extensively on the use of aircraft to attack insurgent positions, adding that in June 2006, U.S. Central Command reported 340 air strikes in Afghanistan, double the 160 strikes carried out in Iraq in the same month.

"NATO should reconsider the use of highly destructive but hard-to-target weaponry in areas where there is a clear risk of considerable civilian casualties," (HWO's Sam) Zarifi said, referring to bombs and missiles launched by airplanes that can easily miss their target."

The thing about hearts and minds though is this.....for every dead one an occupying force takes control of for no good reason at all they also leave behind scores and scores of living ones that will hate your guts for a very, very long time.

I mean, have the NATO/US commanders already forgotten how they recruited all those Mujahideen warriors when the Russians rolled into Kabul a generation ago?


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Can Regrets Be Asymmetric?


Apparently, NATO is sorry that they're killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

"That innocent people were wounded or killed is to be regretted and investigated," he (NATO Supreme Commander and US Marine General James Jones) said. "I personally apologize for the incident, for any loss of life, and I expressed my concern to President [Hamid Karzai] this morning."

So, what is El Supremo Jones' explanation as to why even more hearts and minds must be lost to the killing of innocents?

"Sadly, in asymmetric warfare, when you're battling an insurgency, typically the insurgents do not play by the same rules that we would like to play by," Jones said at a news conference at Bagram, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan.

Which is arguable at best. Imagine, for example, what would have happened in Northern Ireland if the British had indiscriminately bombed Catholic neighbourhoods because they had received tips that there were IRA safehouses in the area.

Regardless, his Supremeness also said the following:

"Sometimes in the heat of battle, in the fog of war ... it's hard to separate one from the other and you make a decision on the spot,"

Which somehow doesn't quite jibe with what people on the ground had to say after their houses had been levelled and their loved ones killed by an offensive that was anything but 'on the spot' in terms of its relentlessness.

Villagers told the BBC Pashto service that the bodies of many locals had been pulled from the rubble of their homes after the raids and buried.

"Twenty members of my family are killed and 10 are injured," one survivor said. "The injured are in Mirwais hospital in Kandahar city and anybody can go and see them.

"For God's sake, come and see our situation."

Another man said women and children were among 15 members of his family who had been killed.

"The airplanes came and were bombing until 3 am. And, in the morning, they started hitting our village with mortars and rockets. They didn't allow anybody to come to our help."

Still no definitive word yet if any 'non-regular' Canadian ground (or otherwise) troops were involved (ie. the original report from NATO was just about the furthest thing from definitive possible).


The Biggest Hedge Fund Of Them All



Looks like the Corptacular Fatcats must be looking at different polls than Mr. Karl Rove.

"I'm looking at all the same polls that you're looking at every day," (NPR's Robert) Seigel responded (during a recent interview with Mr. Rove).

"No you're not!" Rove exclaimed.

Rove said that he was reviewing 68 polls a week, and that "unlike the general public, I'm allowed to see the polls on the individual races," as opposed to public polls reported in the media.

"You may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally, but that do not impact the outcome," Rove said.

Rove claimed that the polls "add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House."

"You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math," Rove said. "I'm entitled to 'the' math."

Full transcript of interview which can be heard at NPR:

How do I know the obese fellinious ones are looking at different numbers?

Well, as Tom Cruise once said when he, apparently, was still sane.....

"Show Me The Money!"

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades......



Friday, October 27, 2006

Is This What We Signed Up For?


From the BBC:

Locals in Panjwayi and Pashmul districts of Kandahar province say the Nato raids began on Tuesday, during the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of Ramadan, and continued into the night.

They said that several houses were hit, and civilians killed.

Funerals have already been held for a number of those killed, relatives said.

Villagers told the BBC Pashto service that the bodies of many locals had been pulled from the rubble of their homes after the raids and buried.

"Twenty members of my family are killed and 10 are injured," one survivor said. "The injured are in Mirwais hospital in Kandahar city and anybody can go and see them.

"For God's sake, come and see our situation."

Another man said women and children were among 15 members of his family who had been killed.

"The airplanes came and were bombing until 3 am. And, in the morning, they started hitting our village with mortars and rockets. They didn't allow anybody to come to our help."

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zmarai Bashiry told the BBC that local police and officials had confirmed more than 40 villagers killed in the Nato raids.

Other local officials put the death toll at between 60 and 85.

Of course, Mr. Harper thinks it's just terrible - sort of:

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper lamented the civilian casualties. "I don't think these incidents help anybody, not NATO forces, not the Taliban," the Prime Minister said.

As for our actual direct involvement in the killing of the innocent in the name of so-called nation building?


NATO said no regular Canadian ground troops were involved in the series of clashes just west of Kandahar on Tuesday.

Please note the qualifier in bold.

Have we already become something we think we are not?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Does Every Talking Head Want To Be Ted Baxter?


A lot of people are telling me that Rush Limbaugh is nothing but a buffoon and thus is not worth worrying about.

But that's not the point.

The point is that his garbage, like when he smeared Michael J. Fox, is taken seriously.

By many people who, apparently, should know better.

Like ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts.

Which is the real problem - so called newsmen and women who don't have the guts to call a spade a spade and stop the whurlitzer dead in its tracks.

Thus, is it any wonder that the only person on the inside willing to give it an honest effort is a former sportscaster named Olbermann.



Shamelessness On Crack


Following up on the smearing of Michael J. Fox who has made campaign advertisements for U.S. candidates that support evidence-based science.

"So this is really shameless, folks, this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two."
Rush Limbaugh, Oct 23, 2006

The so-called issue, seized upon by Mr. Limbaugh and whirlitzered up by the other Screamers such that the mainstream media is now taking it seriously, is the fact that Mr. Fox is visibly shaking in the ads.

However, the fact of the matter is that the Parkinson's medication actually accentuates Mr. Fox's shaking.

Further, to the larger issue, which the mainstream media is also now hammering on thanks to the bleating of Mr. Limbaugh et al., here is what an actual neurosurgeon has to say.

Dr. John Boockvar, a neurosurgeon and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical Center at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, called Limbaugh's claim "ludicrous." Boockvar said those with Parkinson's have "on" and "off" spells.

"If there is one single disease that has the highest potential for benefit from stem cell research," Boockvar said Tuesday, "it's Parkinson's."

But, unfortunately, facts means nothing in the face of The Screamers and their viscious fictional onslaughts. Just google Mr. Fox and you will see what I mean.

And, as a number of folks have pointed out in the comments, this is only one tiny example of what's going on. Clearly, unless the so-called legitimate press receives an massive osteoprogenitor stem cell implant and suddenly grows a spine, we in North America will very soon wake-up and find that we are living in an 'Obfusca-mock-racy' in which we are led not by the tyranny of the majority but rather by a small, rabid pack of shameless liars.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How Low Will The Swine Go?


Rush Limbaugh says Michael J. Fox is faking.

Clearly, if this crap continues to work these people will ultimately say and do anything, no matter how vile and disgusting, to hold on to power.

And that will be very bad news, indeed, for all concerned.

Update: This thing has now gone mainline, errrr......stream. Remember, these people only smear that which they fear most.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Burnaby Mike Comes Through


A couple of days ago I made a snarkish remark about the possibility of a rise of faith-based, anti-science in Canada.

But this is not a joke to people like Michael J. Fox.

And here he tells us why, and why voting matters.

Original link source: Digby.


Why Do The Screamers Hate Ol' Saint Nick So Much?


As one who is always interested to see what the next amped-up, yet patently false, pejorative thrown at thinking, caring sentient beings down in Who-ville will be, I couldn't help but notice that the latest seems to be S.P.

Which, apparently stands for 'Secular Progressive'.

It is a term that the the screamers, and most prominently Bill O'Reilly, are now spitting out between sneering lips because it sounds, they hope, like a very, very scary condition that is way worse than that other term that starts with a 'p', ends with an 'a' and rhymes with Ophelia.

The thing is, if you believe it is important to be nice to all people regardless their race, creed or religion (ie. you are secular) and if you also think it's a good thing to help folks out whenever possible (ie. you are a progressive) and if you work on, say, the wee hours of the morning of December 25th, wouldn't that make you, ummmmm.........

Santa Claus?

And gosh, wasn't the 'War on Christmas' Mr. O'Reilly's, and his Antler Dog's, lame attempt at framing nice and helpful people that boomeranged on him last year?


No wonder it's like shooting fish in a barrel for Mr. Olbermann.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Has The Next Brain Drain Begun?


Yesterday, in Macleans, Paul Wells made the case that Stephen Harper's government is killing Canadian Science, by comparing where we are headed with what is happening South of the 49th.

.....I'm always baffled when, after one of my columns on the importance of aggressive federal support for science and technology in Canada, I get a flurry of emails from readers who argue that it's socialism, or bad federalism, or a waste of money for the feds to be in the science game. "Leave it to the market," the refrain goes. "The way the Americans do."

"Well, first of all, the Americans don't," Alan Bernstein told me the other day. "The Americans invest way more than any other country on science. And way more per capita than any other country."

Bernstein is the president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a keystone of Canada's research effort since it was founded in 2000. But compared to the Americans, Bernstein has done his work at bargain rates. It's an oranges-to-apple-pie comparison, but Bernstein figures the CIHR has less than one-third the budget of its rough U.S. equivalent, the NIH -- even if you take population differences into account.

All of which I cannot quibble with. And Dr. Bernstein is doing his best.

But that is an historical comparison.

Because the way I see it, if Mr. Harper continues on his current path, he will actually be chasing Mr. Bush down the scientific rabbit hole.


What the heckfire am I talking about?

Well, science geeks measure the health of granting programs on the basis of their 'funding rates'.

And I have had experience with such rates on both sides of the border.

In fact, when I came back to Canada to set-up my own lab back in the age of Clinton, people said I was crazy to leave the US because, at the time, the National Institutes of Health (the NIH Bernstein mentioned above) was funding grant applications at the rate that sometimes approached 30%, which means that almost one in three scientists got the money they asked for. This might seem harsh, but it is actually very good - it keeps the competitive juices flowing while simultaneously funding both good/new and mature/blockbuster stuff. Which is what you need, because almost inevitably, it is the new/good research that ultimately gives rise to the mature/blockbuster (just Andy Fire, one of this year's Nobel Prize winners who had this crazy idea when he started that something arcane called small interfering RNA might be interesting; it has since become a boon to people like me who want to efficiently manipulate genes in mammalian cells rather than fruit flies).

On the flipside, when I left the U.S., Paul Martin's austerity measures were gutting Canada's old Medical Research Council (which has since become Mr. Bernsetein's CIHR, also mentioned above) and funding rates were significantly less than at the NIH. And even more troubling, the size of the grants was piddling, such that even if you got one it was very difficult to do the research you had proposed

However, by the time small Paul became PM a few years later the situation, as Wells describes in his piece, had vastly improved in Canada.

And at the same time things had reversed under Mr. Bush. U.S. NIH funding rates sank dramatically, so much so that they now often dip down into single digits (ie. 1 in 10 applications funded) while Mr. Bernstein's Canadian CIHR moved up to the high 20's.

As a result (and this is no joke), by 2003 friends and colleagues who once thought I was crazy to return to Canada began calling me from places like the Bay Area, New England and Grand Forks North Dakota, to ask if I knew about any jobs up here.

But all that is starting to change now as the latest predictions due, apparently, to Mr. Harper's dereliction of evidence-based science, are that CIHR funding rates will soon all to 15-20% .

Which is very troubling indeed, because when you get down to levels like that you begin to cut out all the 'good' science that has not yet reached 'blockbuster' status.

And when you do that you can kiss innovation good-bye.

Not to mention a whole generation of new scientists, because it is the young folks that have the most difficulty getting those first grants. And if they can't get grants, fewer and fewer of them will return to Canada after they have fanned out all over the world to get the best training possible as post-doctoral fellows.

But perhaps I'm being too pessimistic about an emerging Harper-induced brain drain.

After all, based on how things have gone so far, it might not be unreasonble to speculate that there will soon be a huge market for 'faith-based' scientists.



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When Was A Digression Not A Digression?


(Updated at footer)

When it was a stream of consciousness bit from Lister Sinclair on any, and every, subject imaginable.

Like, say, taking the word 'lavender' to every corner of the earthly world, then taking it through all the other worldly places that can never quite be fully understood, and then bringing it back again with nary a hiccup in between.

And, despite the fact that I dig Paul Kennedy, I will never forgive the Mothercorp for unceremoniously yanking Lister from 'Ideas' against his will.

And worse, my idea of ditching that ridiculous rehash of breathless Shelagh at 8pm and going with a one-two Sinclair/Kennedy punch for two full hours every weeknight will now never come to fruition.

Because, sadly, Lister has left us forever.

He will be missed.

To their credit, Kennedy and the Ceeb have made it an all Lister all the time affair on Ideas this week.
Gosh, it's scary when the google-bomb points you back to your own stuff that you had forgotten. Here is Mr. Sinclair's description of himself as an 'Omni-Brow'.
And speaking of Google.....will they soon be re-naming U-Tube as.....'Goo-Tube'?


Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's Not Always The Smoke That Gets Them...


So, as we predicted early Friday, it's true.

Former BC Ferries safety officier Darin Bowland has dropped his lawsuit against the corporation.

And, while he himself has apparently been gagged by a confidentiality agreement, Mr. Bowland says that BC Ferries CEO David Hahn should release the list of his safety concerns, including those he had before the tragedy of the Queen Of The North sinking.

Mr. Hahn, however, will have none of it.

"If there was fact, if they were credible allegations, why would he drop the lawsuit? It's very clear that if someone had the smoking gun stuff he's talking about, they would continue with this."

Which makes perfect sense, I suppose.

After all, it's not as if Mr. Hahn hasn't hidden a smoking gun in the toilet tank before, right?


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thinkin' About What A Friend Had Said....

....I Was Hopin' It Was A Lie


How to stop Rona Ambrose and her anti-scientific brand of scientology from destroying the planet?

Perhaps we could force her to listen to the following over and over and over again until she comes to her senses.


Fantabulous graphic bliss swiped with reckless impunity (I hope) from Scout over at Harper-Valley.
This bizarre juxposition popped into my head after Billmon wrote a tea leaf-reading post in which he suggested that maybe, just maybe, we the Canuckistani people are going to be alright after all. Me, I'm not so sure.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Muzzling The Conversation On Health Care


Who said the conclusions to be drawn B.C. premier Gordon Campbell's upcoming 'Conversation on Health' weren't way, way, way foregone already?

After all, if they weren't, why would his minions be doing things like this?

Island health care workers are worried the health authority is trying to put a stop to their participation in the provincial government’s Conversation on Health.

Employees have been ordered by the Vancouver Island Health Authority not to speak with the media or politicians without its permission and must go through the communications department for all incoming requests.

And as an example of the Vancouver Island Health Authority's communications department's desire to obfuscate with double-speak, get a load of this response:

VIHA spokeswoman Suzanne Germain said the memo the health authority sent out regarding employees speaking with the media or politicians is by no means a gag order.

“This memo went out before the conversation on health care was announced,” she said.

“It was a reminder, if you wish, that inquiries should be channeled through communications.”

Sure thing, Ms. Germain.

And curtailing whistleblowers has nothing to do with it because, if we were to take your words at face value, it we would have to conclude that a gag is only really a gag if it makes you laugh hysterically and/or if it chokes you to death.


Paul Willcocks also has good piece up on this. In his comment thread I suggested that the only way to really deal with this is to force working journo's to completely ignore the flack-hacks at all times, which is what the author of the quoted piece, Jenn Marshall, writing in the Nanaimo News Bulletin, did in spades. Good for her.


Is Something Up With BC Ferries?


There is nothing on the wire.

And there is nothing on google.

But for some strange reason I'm getting bombed this morning on the search term 'Darin Bowland'.

You remember Mr. Bowland, he is the former safety officer with BC Ferries who demanded changes, did not get them, and promptly quit after CEO, and Keith Baldrey favorite, David Hahn apparently tried to scapegoat him after the sinking of the Queen of the North.

We wrote about it here.

And it is that post folks have come looking for today, including people from, apparently, CP, Canned West and the CBC.

Wonder what's up.......

This kind of thing is kind of interesting from an archiving point of view....because as more and more 'major' news organization tear down their stories and hide them from the google cache behind 'premium subscription wailing walls' etc. it looks like blogs are, more and more, becoming the true repositories of the collective online memory of what has actually been published. I've run into this a lot lately while looking for stuff I remember having originally read in, say, the pages of the NYT or the Globe and (nolongerEmpire)Mail.
Update: Well, whaddya know. That didn't take long now, did it.


Will The Quisling Cut And Run?


Now that he's done selling our log booms down the river, it looks like corporate made-man David Emerson is getting ready to go to ground:

At least that's the story according to the kite flyer from the CannedWest print organ grinder monkeys this morning:

Federal Trade Minister David Emerson is hinting at a return to the business world after a rocky run at politics that has seen him defect from the Liberals to the Tories.

Oh, and the header atop this fine little piece of hackery:

David Emerson Ponders A Return To Corporate Management

Guess the joke's on us.

After all, I didn't think he ever left.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

How Come They Didn't Blame Small Paul?


Or, Chretien, or Trudeau, or, heckfire, even John Turner?

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The sawmill closures rocking Eastern Canada's lumber industry cannot be blamed on the U.S.-Canada softwood trade agreement that went into force on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Both Harper and Trade Minister David Emerson said the industry is caught in a cyclical downturn of North America's housing market, and that the situation would be worse without the deal.

"The softwood lumber deal is necessary to provide stability for our industry in the future, but it's not sufficient, and the government will be coming forward with additional measures to help," Harper told reporters in Toronto.

Sure, sure Mr. Harper and Quisling.

Except that, the thing is, it is only when prices fall that your stinking deal really gets putrid for the country formerly known as Canuckistan.

From the same Reuters article by Allan Dowd:

At current prices, the seven-year deal will see many Canadian producers begin paying a 15 percent export tax on their shipments to the United States instead of the U.S. duties of just over 10 percent they had been paying.

Canada's tax is linked to the composite price of lumber in the U.S. market, ending only when it reaches $355 per thousand board feet. Current cash prices are between $250 and $252, according to industry publication Random Lengths

So keep on tightening those the economic lever thumbscrews H&Q.

Because, apparently, as long as we get money back from high-priced hockey sticks, we love it.


Mr. Bush's History

The HorrorVille

"History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead."
George W. Bush, to his former best enabler, Bob Woodward
Early 2004

Now, of course those who deny that death is actually a bad thing, especially when it is done in the name of Ideology and/or Haliburton, will soon be spewing all over the latest bit of epidemiology just published in that crackpot/whacko journal 'The Lancet' which estimates that more than 600,000 people have died violently since the nakedly aggressive occupation of Iraq began in 2003.

And because of that we thought it might be worth actually posting the abstract from the paper before the mainstream media buries it beneath the death lover's mountain of projectile vomit.

So here it is, by Burnham et al.:

An excess mortality of nearly 100 000 deaths was reported in Iraq for the period March, 2003–September, 2004, attributed to the invasion of Iraq. Our aim was to update this estimate.


Between May and July, 2006, we did a national cross-sectional cluster sample survey of mortality in Iraq. 50 clusters were randomly selected from 16 Governorates, with every cluster consisting of 40 households. Information on deaths from these households was gathered.


Three misattributed clusters were excluded from the final analysis; data from 1849 households that contained 12 801 individuals in 47 clusters was gathered. 1474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the observation period. Pre-invasion mortality rates were 5·5 per 1000 people per year (95% CI 4·3–7·1), compared with 13·3 per 1000 people per year (10·9–16·1) in the 40 months post-invasion. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654 965 (392 979–942 636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2·5% of the population in the study area. Of post-invasion deaths, 601 027 (426 369–793 663) were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.

The number of people dying in Iraq has continued to escalate. The proportion of deaths ascribed to coalition forces has diminished in 2006, although the actual numbers have increased every year. Gunfire remains the most common cause of death, although deaths from car bombing have increased.

Now, I am a basic scientist, not an epidemiologist. Thus, I am not an expert on population sampling (which is why the rigorous peer review from scientists in the field concerned that goes on at top flight journals like The Lancet is so important), but even if you ignore the total numbers and just think about the specific families that were interviewed you can only come to one conclusion:

We already know Mr. Bush's history - and it is, indeed, death .

And, most importantly, it is a history that will never be forgotten, and likely will the driving force of any future rash actions of Iraqis, by those who are still alive.

Which is a terrible and damning legacy indeed.

For those who can't get behind the Lancet's subscription wailing wall here is a pdf of the entire paper from Burnham et al.
Update: Billmon does a nice bit of compar-o-rama re: who is a better killer, Saddam or Mr. Bush. The thing is, regardless whose numbers you use, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the latter has killed more people than anyone else in the 21st century. Period.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Check Your Snark At The Door


I'm on the road at the moment, staying in a place that just might be the actual inspiration for the real 'Pension Grillparzer'.

And while I have not yet been awakened by a bear on a unicycle or a man walking on his hands, there is a real WC down the hall and I can hear horses down by the fountain every morning.

And while my dreams are not so, so bad these days I do feel the need for some kind of a 'vision', literary or otherwise, to sustain me in this, the age of 'Crap Is All You Need'.

Luckily, by way of the magical treasure trove of the comment threads, I have received such a vision.

And even better, for a wannabe music man like me, there is a song to go with it.


Now, for all I know the link I'm going to give to you, which was given to me by Great Aunty Bertha, may be little more than yesterday's exhausted viral meme in the presque-vu world of the intrawebangerbarandgrillnets.

But I don't care.

Because it's a perfect combination of sound, vision, and, perhaps, a little bit of that wistful yearning that can only be turned from sadness into joy by people just being, well, human.


It is.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

How Could Ms. Atwood Have Gotten It So Wrong?


Not the Commander, his Cronies, or his Lickspittles.

She got that all that as far, far right as a very bad, bad reign can possibly be.

But who knew that she we would get the sex of the maids wrong.

Because clearly this thing is turning out to be The HandPages Tale.

And just to drive the point home, here's Matt Drudge trumpeting the Lickspittles' Talking Points re: the true plight of poor Mr. Foley:

"And if anything, these kids are less innocent — these 16 and 17 year-old beasts…and I've seen what they're doing on YouTube and I've seen what they're doing all over the internet — oh yeah — you just have to tune into any part of their pop culture. You're not going to tell me these are innocent babies. Have you read the transcripts that ABC posted going into the weekend of these instant messages, back and forth? The kids are egging the Congressman on! The kids are trying to get this out of him. We haven't got the whole story on this."

Ya, sure.

And, the Republican aide that tried to end this is actually a braying Walrus.


Get all the lickspittle lowdown at FDL courtesy of Ms. Hamsher.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Who Says We Want Him?


Well, lookie here.

Apparently Conrad the Marauder wants back in:

TORONTO (Reuters) - Fallen press baron Conrad Black said on Tuesday that he was ready to fight to become a Canadian again, five years after renouncing his Canadian citizenship and becoming a member of Britain's House of Lords.

But here's the best part. In addition to his self-declared role as a Freedom Fighter, the Marauder is also claiming, again self-declared, that he is an upstanding citizen who has a lot to offer our society:

In an article published in the National Post newspaper, Black wrote that he believed he was a "law-abiding, economically productive person" who could clear all hurdles that candidates for citizenship must meet.

Here's an idea. Instead of of hurdles, perhaps Stockboy could invoke a retroactive traitor rule and force the Marauder onto the Hamster wheel for a decade or two until he has generated enough power to pay back all the people he has 'allegedly' ripped off and/or whose careers he has 'reportedly' destroyed.

And just for good measure, especially given that his self-declared declarations of non-clarity were published by the nattering neighbobs of NaPoism, why not force him to wear a yellow badge on his skidmark brown hamster suit declaring him to be actually be an (un)FreedomFlighter for the duration?



Can Do vs. Canned West


Just a reminder that BC Mary and her merry band of citizen journalists are doing the work that British Columbia's mainstream media either can't, won't, or don't want to do.

Heckfire. They've even managed to find out when the Trial of the Century is slated to begin.

Imagine that.


Monday, October 02, 2006

So, What Did He Tell Mr. Harper?


Remember when Mr. Bush told Mr. Blair that the solution in Lebannon was to:

"get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop doing this sh*t and it's over."

Well, that statement was positively a nuance-o-rama-lamalamadingdong-diplospeakapalooza compared to what Mr. Bush apparently once said to our (notMichelle)Jean:

"If I catch anyone who leaks in my government," Bush tells Chrétien in March, 2002, "I would like to string them up by the thumbs -- the same way we do with prisoners in Guantanamo."


Hard work, indeed.