Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Safety & Shallow Gene Pools

Advocacy group Safe Kids Canada commissioned a survey in March. Here's some of what they concluded as a result :

Safe Kids Canada suggests five "layers of protection" that should be used to keep children safe from drowning :

Actively supervising children.
Training adults in CPR, first aid and water rescue.
Using four-sided fencing, not three, around home pools.
Wearing lifejackets.
Teaching kids to swim.

An estimated 58 kids drown every year, and another 140 are hospitalized from near-drowning incidents, according to a decade-long review the group published in 2003.

Fifty-eight kids drown every year?! Since the population of Canada is roughly 33.6 million people, that works out to one drowning for every 579,000. Better take that life jacket. And build an electric fence, just to be sure. There's no telling how stupid your kids are.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

...Glorious And Free?

Le chef du Parti marijuana de la Colombie-Britannique, Marc Emery, doit faire face à de nouveaux démêlés avec la justice. Il sera en cour lundi. Un juge décidera s'il doit être extradé vers les États-Unis pour faire face à des accusations de vente de semences de marijuana à des Américains par l'entremise d'Internet.

S'il est reconnu coupable dans ce pays, il risquerait plusieurs années de prison. L'activiste a été arrêté une vingtaine de fois pour diverses actions liées à sa campagne pour la légalisation de la marijuana au Canada. En 2005, il a été remis en liberté sous caution à la suite d'accusations de vente de drogue et de blanchiment d'argent.

So, Marc Emery is facing extradition if Canadian authorities don't come to their senses tomorrow. Here's The Strange, Seedy Case of Marc Emery in case you'd like more info on his 2005 arrest by the American government, in Canada mind you. Jesus Christ, some days this country feels like ... like... .. . Iraq!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

La Culture Menacée

A festival due to be held in Paris this weekend to celebrate American music and culture has been called off after death threats from an anti-US group claiming links to al-Qaida.
The death threats, along with warnings suggesting that the event itself might be attacked, were made in anonymous telephone calls and an apparently badly written letter containing numerous spelling mistakes.
These accused the festival’s organisers of supporting the “American imperialists” and the recently elected rightwing French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, nicknamed “Sarkozy the American” for his pro-US views.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oh, Canada...

Last week, a 200-page Conservative party playbook on how to disrupt and control House of Commons committees mysteriously fell into the hands of the National Post. [...] The excerpts that the Post republished read almost like [sic] corny self-help book. It tells committee chairs to "use negative body language," when it is appropriate to engage other committee members with humour and when it's not. [...] all you have to do is follow these simple universal Tory principles.

1. Remember, if you mess up, it never happened. Love is never having to say you're sorry, just Tory.

2. If someone gets in trouble, it's Peter's fault. Peter MacKay is a master of soundbites and probably a better politician than you, so don't be afraid to hide under your desk and let Peter do the talking for you.

3. If someone questions the war you say "So you want the Taliban to win?" War is hell. War is messy. But even worse - war is something Stephen Harper can't control.

4. Declare historical victory even when you lose. Voters like confidence, even if it's delusional... Never, ever say you failed. This is similar to Rule No. 1.

5. Never underestimate the power of threatening arrest.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Is There Anybody Out There?

(Photo NASA-JPL)

According to a study cited by National Geographic (so you just KNOW it's gotta be true!), "The sun and Earth will probably be spun out into a lonely region of space when the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies finish colliding about five billion years from now."
Which may help explain why Stephen Hawking was rambling on like a crazy person before his space-simulating, zero gravity flight in late April : "I think the human race doesn't have a future if it doesn't go into space. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space. A zero-gravity flight is the first step towards space travel."
But what is so very special about a species willing to pay more for gasoline, soda pop, nasal spray, printer ink and perfume than it is for tap [forget clean] water? Sounds to me like that kind of animal has a blind date with extinction, not an appointment with immortality.

Turkey, Basting And Hell-Fire

(Photo - AFP)

Tens of thousands of Turks have rallied in the northern city of Samsun in the latest of a series of weekly pro-secular demonstrations against the government ahead of elections. The choice of Samsun as the venue for the latest protest was symbolic. It was in the Black Sea port city 88 years ago that Ataturk launched a liberation movement...after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the first world war.

Despite its Islamist roots, the [ruling AKP] party has pledged commitment to secularism and carried out reforms that secured the opening of membership talks with the EU and stabilised the economy.

Opponents say the party still harbours Islamist ambitions, pointing at AKP policies such as opposition to a ban on the headscarf in universities and public offices, encouragement of religious schools and a failed attempt to restrict alcohol sales.

A Hole Or Two In One

Suk Ho-ick, chief of the Korea Information Society Development Institute, is a big fan of the second sex and he isn't shy about expressing it.

"Women are more developed creatures than men," he said last week at a lecture, "since they have one more hole."

[Still On A] Road To Nowhere

The White House has dismissed former US President Jimmy Carter as "increasingly irrelevant", following his sharp criticism of President George W Bush.

Mr Carter on Saturday said the administration's impact on the world had made it "the worst in history". A White House spokesman responded by saying that Mr Carter had engaged in "reckless personal criticism".

Of course, Mr. Bush didn't read this BBC report from last week, did he?
Iraq faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation, UK foreign policy think tank Chatham House says. Its report says the Iraqi government is now largely powerless and irrelevant in many parts of the country.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Road To Nowhere

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Life on the road as a trucker can be described as numerous things ... Sister Mary Annette Gailey, formerly of Greencastle, discovered her calling to the sisterhood on the highway.
Gailey, 38, has pursued many of her passions, including child care, computer work and the opportunity to drive trucks. The long hours of quiet solitude as a trucker led Gailey's life down a new road.

"This particular venture allowed me to listen to the Holy Spirit," Gailey said. "It was a metaphoric* journey being played out."

*metaphor, n. 1(a) the appplication of a name or descriptive term or phrase to an object or action to which it is imaginatively but not literally applicable, e.g. a glaring error. (b) an instance of this... metaphoric, adj.
-Oxford Canadian Dictionary (paperback ed. 2004; pp. 635)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Birthday

The planet is fine. The people are fucked.

-George Carlin
May 12, 1937

... a day late. So sue me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Which Channel's God TV Again?

The head of Iran’s state-run television has said all homegrown drama programmes should feature scenes showing characters praying or they will be denied airtime.... Citing a scene in a popular Iranian series where a murder suspect is shown praying, Ezatollah Zarghami said: “Prayer scenes should not be confined to positive and leading characters, the elderly and the clean-living types.” He said children’s programmes should also seek to teach the young about praying.

None of which is really new to the Islamic Republic :

Zarghami took over two years ago... Programming is interrupted for the broadcast of the daily prayers, newsreaders invoke God before each bulletin and there are frequent readings from the Quran.

Teen Angel, Will Travel [For Abortion]

Sky News reports that a pregnant 17-year-old named "Miss D has been in the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE) since March but asked the court to step in and let her travel. On Friday the HSE [...] would not object if the teenager had consent from a district court judge and her mother...."

Of course, this sudden case of the enlightenment came "after health chiefs had initially refused to let her go" and "The High Court in Dublin decided there were no statutory or constitutional grounds for stopping her from travelling to have the operation [abortion]."

How very Catholic of them.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Et Voila

(Paris, Place de la Bastille, dimanche soir. Photo - AFP)
Les multiples appels au calme lancés par la classe politique - particulièrement à gauche -, semblent impuissants. Après un début de soirée plutôt calme, malgré des débuts de tension dans les grandes villes de province (Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Lille, Strasbourg et Toulouse, notamment), les échauffourées semblent gagner la banlieue parisienne.


La Maudite Décision ... ?

The greatest virtue of man is perhaps curiosity.
...For Mohammed Chirani, 29, who is walking across France to call for unity among his fellow citizens, 'the election has crystallised all the faultlines that divide the nation. I've never seen so much fear and hate. I'm not optimistic for the country, whoever wins.'
There is talk too of a 'third round' of the election in the streets. France's powerful unions last week vowed a trial of strength with Sarkozy who, through his plans to modify France's legally enforced 35-hour week, labour laws and expensive welfare model, is seen as the living incarnation of 'the excesses of American-style capitalism'.
'If Nicolas Sarkozy thinks that if elected he will have the right to push through all the reforms that he has announced, whatever the unions think of them, then he is making a big mistake...'

La Mauvaise Décision...

Amid the shoppers hunting the perfect brie, warm pain de campagne or fresh okra, a lone activist broke the official ban on campaigning this weekend to distribute leaflets for Segolene Royal, the Socialist candidate, in Paris yesterday. 'It's more in hope than in anticipation,' she admitted glumly.

La Décision

34,11% de participation à midi, selon France 24 aujourd'hui...

Répartis sur tout le territoire, les bureaux de vote sont ouverts de 08H00 à 18H00 dans 70% des communes, et jusqu'à 19H00 dans 106 communes, dont plusieurs grandes villes comme Dijon, Rennes, Tours, Nantes, Angers, Toulon.

(France 24)

Comme à chaque élection, le taux de participation, habituellement plus élevé au second tour qu'au premier, constitue la première inconnue de la journée. Avec un taux de 83,77%, le 22 avril s'est rapproché des records des présidentielles de 1965 et 1974, donnant un coup d'arrêt à une hausse continue de l'abstention depuis une vingtaine d'années.

(France 24)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some Other Favourites...