Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tax-Free TV? Not For Thee

When Canadians sing their national anthem, they refer to their country as "The True North strong and free." Well, Stephen Harper's born-again government has redefined the concept of "free" for the Canadian movie and television industries. According to this report in the CBC today,

A new bill would give the federal Heritage Department the power to deny funding for films and TV shows it considers offensive ... "It sounds like something they do in Beijing," director David Cronenberg told CBC News.

He says Canadians have a reputation for making edgy dark movies that go places other filmmakers wouldn't venture.
[Now] "You ['ll] have a panel of people working behind closed doors who are not monitored form[ing] their own layer of censorship."

Of course, when we consider its prudish and authoritarian history [British influence among the Anglophones, the Catholic Church for the Francophones], here in Canada we have a long and proud tradition of cens-----p.

So you movie and television folks can just head to the back of the line, be thankful it's taken this long to join the club, shut the fuck up and produce what you're told to produce.

Freedom to Read Week 2008
[Thank you for voting Conservative]

Good Luck With That Itch

Italy's Court of Appeal has issued a hands-off landmark ruling outlawing men from scratching their crotches in public. Superstitious Italian men often hold or touch their private parts for good luck ... Italy's Court of Appeal made the judgement after listening to the appeal of a 42-year-old man from Como fined 200 euros.
-Sky News

Exxon 5 [billion$] Alaska 0

$5 Billion :
"So what can a corporation do to protect itself against punitive-damages awards such as this?"

Priceless :
"Well, it can hire fit and competent people."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reverse Psychology

First, make a western invention more Islamic. Then, return the favour by making an Islamic invention more western.

The CharmingBurka sends a self-defined picture of the wearing person to every mobile phone next to it ... it sends an image, chosen by the wearer, via Bluetooth technology. Every person next to her can receive her picture via mobile phone and see the women's self-determined identity.

The modern age never ceases to amaze. Come to think of it, neither do the long lost ones.

Fire And Ice

"Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice," wrote the poet Robert Frost. Astronomers, it turns out, are in the former camp.

A new calculation predicts that Earth will be swallowed up by the sun in 7.6 billion years, capping off a longstanding debate over whether the sun's gravitational pull will have weakened enough for Earth to escape final destruction or not.

Well then it's settled: the Book of Revelation was bang on. And if you're hoping for the best ...

There may even be hope for Earth. Some scientists have proposed a scheme for down the road to use the gravity of a passing asteroid to budge Earth out of the way of the sun toward cooler territory, assuming there is life around at the time that is intelligent enough to engineer this solution.

Of course, you should also know that these idiot

scientists are curious about the ultimate fate of our planet after we are gone (like all previous hominids and more than 99 percent of all species that have lived on Earth, humans will probably go extinct, and it will likely happen sooner than a billion years).

No wonder the world is in the shape it's in. When even the scientists [the ones who pride themselves on logic] start talking this kind of bullshit we may as well start praying, because there ain't no hoping for the best when you let the lunatics loose to run the asylum. Which is exactly what's happening.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hey Ladies: Check Your $tatu$

The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. The 52nd Session opened yesterday and runs until March 7. This year's theme is "financing for gender equality and empowerment of women." In other words, money.

But the way things are run around here, you may want to consider taking up a more lucrative career. Like international jewel thief.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hey Kids: Expand Your Horizons

This story says it all about humankind's maturation. After roughly 50,000 years of sedentary living, evidently we need a little more room. Since there's so little land left to conquer and pound into submission, it should come as no surprise that Antarctica is under threat of becoming a playground for the rich and famous. Check out scooop, New Zealand's independent news blog, for more.

And be sure to pack a snorkel and flippers for the kids. They'll thank you later in life.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival

From Thursday February 28 until Wednesday March 5, Toronto is hosting one of the most kick-ass film festivals ever. For a schedule and other pertinent information click on Human Rights Film Festival.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Little Bridge, Anybody?

Police in the Czech republic are trying to find out who stole a 4 tonne railway bridge from the border town of Cheb. The company which was responsible for looking after the bridge raised the alarm when, ever alert, they noticed that the bridge wasn't there any more.

Martina Hruskova, a spokeswoman for the Czech police: 'We are not sure if it was taken for personal use or for its scrap value.'

Phantom Credits

JEFFERSON CITY Lawmakers have proposed a measure that would allow parents of stillborn children to claim them as dependents for one year when filing tax returns ... the Legislature passed a measure in 2004 that allowed parents of stillborn children to receive a birth certificate.

In an unrelated story, Missouri's official records indicate 547 [stillborn] children have been named Alan Smithee since 2004.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mucking It Dry

(Photo : SkyTruth)
Detail from Landsat satellite image, Gulf of Mexico, taken on 10/24/99. Individual vessels can be seen as bright spots at end of sediment trails. Other bright spots are fixed oil and gas production platforms. One sediment trail can be traced for 27 km.

Bottom trawling for fish stirs up billowing plumes of sediment that can be seen from space and destroys entire seafloor ecosystems, new imagery reveals. The technique, used all over the world, is a way to catch fish in deeper parts of the ocean with huge, deep nets, now that many near-shore fish populations have been virtually wiped out from over-fishing. Several studies have shown the significant impact that trawling has on ecosystems, killing corals, sponges, fish and other animals.
Yeah but we live on land, not in the oceans, so what's the big deal?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pulling The Holy Handbrake

From the BBC : The Vatican has issued new rules making the route to sainthood more difficult. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins called for more rigour and sobriety in the Catholic Church's saint making process ... Critics have suggested the department has become what they call a "saint factory."

How can people be so irreverent as to call the Vatican a saint factory? Just because Pope John Paul II, in his 27-year pontificate, beatified more people than all his predecessors put together, more than 1,338 [and] canonised 482 [also a record], that's no reason to accuse the Church of fecklessly fast-tracking saintly men and women like Pope Pius XII into Heaven.

And don't read anything into the fact that
The Vatican requires one miracle to have been performed at both the beatification and canonisation stages. It used to be two at each stage, but that was changed by John Paul II. Everybody's entitled to be ridiculously hypocritical once or twice in life.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

That Was Real Good ... Gimme Another

A South Korean company says it has taken its first order for the cloning of a pet dog. A woman from the United States wants her dead pitbull terrier - called Booger - re-created. RNL Bio is charging the woman $150,000 ... this is the first time a dog will have been cloned commercially.

Using the phrase "one-of-a-kind" will henceforth be punishable by up to 15 years in prison. And following up on the previous entry regarding scientific fraud, this story goes on to say ...

The work will be carried out by a team from Seoul National University, where the first dog was cloned in 2005. The university's team is led by Professor Lee Byeong-chun, who was previously in a team headed by the disgraced stem cell scientist, Hwang Woo-suk. Mr Hwang's results on cloning human stem cells, initially hailed as a breakthrough, were found to have been falsified and he is now on trial charged with embezzlement and fake research.

What we need now is a slogan. Something like ...
"Cloning, Yay. Extinction, Nay."

Voilà La Science

Tapez "fraude" sur Google et le moteur de recherche listera près de 2 millions de pages uniquement liées aux déboires de la Société générale. Ajoutez "scientifique" et l'écran annoncera seulement 250 000 références. Moins médiatisés que ceux de la finance, les errements de la science sont pourtant légion.

Les statistiques sur les pratiques frauduleuses sont très lacunaires. En France, elles sont absentes ... Une récente enquête sur le plagiat a révélé, sur les 7 millions d'articles les plus cités de la base documentaire médicale Medline, 70 000 cas (soit 1 %) de "haute ressemblance" détectée par un moteur de recherche spécialisé. Une autre étude américaine, publiée en 2005 par la revue Nature, donne à penser que les manquements à l'éthique sont de beaucoup plus grande ampleur. Sur près de 8 000 chercheurs du secteur biomédical questionnés sous le sceau de l'anonymat, pas moins de 33 % de ceux qui ont répondu ont confessé un comportement coupable au cours des trois années précédentes.

La palette est large : données falsifiées (0,3 %), appartenance non signalée à une entreprise (0,3 %), pillage d'idées (1,4 %), rapports critiquables avec des étudiants ou des clients (1,4 %), usage d'informations confidentielles (1,7 %), omission de résultats contradictoires (6 %), modification de résultats à la demande d'un bailleur de fonds (15,5 %)... Les fautes avouées, précise l'étude, sont plus nombreuses en milieu qu'en début de carrière (38 % contre 28 %), peut-être parce que les occasions de fraude sont plus fréquentes et le sentiment d'impunité plus assuré.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dr. Obvious, You're Needed In Detox

Beer cheaper than water in Scotland!

Asda recently slashed the price of its own value-brand beer to just 22p for a 440ml can following similar moves from Tesco and Sainsbury's. It puts the price of beer at 50p a litre. Own-brand water costs between 56p and 92p a litre, depending on the store, while own-brand cola costs between 56p to 65p a litre ...

In an unrelated story, the rate of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland is more than double the rate for the UK as a whole.

Love Is In The Air

Some vital statistics from the good folks at Reuters, just in time for people to get a grip on their love lives and handles for Valentine's Day.

1. Eight million Americans admit they send themselves Valentine's Day gifts
2. One in three British lovers picked Paris as the city most likely to cause them to argue on a romantic break
3. Saudi Arabia has banned red roses ahead of Valentine's Day

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Sleep" Now Officially Confused With "Sex"

"The respondent had engaged in this behaviour – sleep sex – with four different women before the complainant ..." In the previous incidents the victims were all women with whom he was having a relationship and who raised no particular objection when he initiated sexual relations while asleep and without their consent.

Sexsomnia ... is an exotic form of parasomnia, or sleep disorder, and the 35-year-old landscaper had been so deep in sleep that he could not form the intention to commit a sexual assault when he was found on top of
[sic] Toronto woman.

What next - sleep driving? Perhaps we should just do away with the notion of sleep altogether.

Follow The Light Timmy

Omaha resident Tim Green is now "in critical condition with third-degree burns" after trying to "light a cigarette using a propane torch." Oh yeah, two bottles of propane in the garage "caused secondary explosions that only made matters worse."

If that isn't a sign it's time to quit smoking I don't know what is.