Friday, September 30, 2005


Hamm out; MacKay in?

Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm has resigned after six ho-hum years of leading the province. There are no obvious caucus successors, but one large federal Conservative looming - Peter MacKay. He claims to be not interested, but just ask David Orchard how much MacKay's word is worth.


Art imitating life

People outside of anatomy classes will have an opportunity for a rare look at human innards. A collection of plastically preserved human bodies, Body Worlds 2: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies, a bridge between science and art, is on display at the Ontario Science Centre until Feb. 26.

This is definetly on the to-do list.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


The difference between Want and Need

You have to have to hand it these creative people - they are definitely giving new meaning to the term "want ad."

Looking for well connected businessmen to help with getting out Katrina wristbands. This is VERY important as we look to reach our goal of getting 40 million Americans wearing them. Also will help Habitat for Humanity. Let us know how to contact you (phone number) and how many you can get out.



I also love giving bj’s to businessmen but this is separate from the above.

If you are only interested in the BJ please do not respond.

* this is in or around New York

Read ad here.


The real sad side of diaster

Within two minutes of this AFP photo of Katrina victim Latesha Vinette holding up her Red Cross debit card, Ms. Vinette was paged by the management of Reliant stadium to receive a call from MasterCard asking about cash advances totally $65,237, the attempted purchase of a Ferrari automobile using her card, along with hundreds of purchases from eBay, including - ironically - camping gear.

In September 2005, the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency distributed a series of photographs showing Hurricane Katrina evacuee Latesha Vinnett and her daughter, Mychal Boykins, at the Reliant Center in Houston, Texas. Ms. Vinnett had just received one of the many $2000 debit cards issued to Katrina evacuees by the Red Cross, which she happily displayed for the camera — providing a full view of the debit card's number and expiration date. The photos were carried by a number of news outlets (such as Yahoo! News) or published as an accompaniment to news articles about Hurricane Katrina, thereby broadcasting a supposedly valid debit card number to millions of viewers.

A number of Internet-distributed rumours and spoofs have chided the participants (i.e., the cardholder, the photographer, AFP's photo editors) for all failing to realize they should have obscured at least a few numbers on the displayed card, and have posited wild spending sprees by hundreds of identity thieves that drove the debit card's balance to zero mere minutes after the photos were published.

Although events may not have transpired in quite that spectacularly rapid a fashion, it is clear that some assholes were trying to profit off the misfortune of the most desperate Americans.

Verified by Urban Legends.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Steroids and the US Legislators

If only US legislators showed as much interest in real domestic and foreign issues - a real environmental blueprint, unjust wars, a fiscal plan to tackle the deficit, social security and health care reform, and domestic security / emergency preparedness - as they do on the goose chase of professional sports and performance enhancing drugs, the US would be a beacon for the world, instead of a laughing stock.

The US Senate is considering two bills that call for a two-year suspension for a first positive drug test and a lifetime ban for a second. Senator John McCain, R-Ar., sponsored the Clean Sports Act; Senator Jim Bunning, R-Ky., a member of baseball's Hall of Fame, sponsored the Professional Sports and Integrity Act. There are three similar House measures.

NBA, NFL and NHL officials raised some complaints about the bills, saying a "one size fits all" proposal isn't fair; U.S. law couldn't be applied to Canadian teams; and the two-year ban for a first offence is too harsh.

McCain and Bunning said they'd prefer not to legislate but warned that Congress is prepared to. Apparently, Rafael Palmeiro is now more dangerous to America's youth than Osama Bin Laden.


Puppy Love

Conservative MP Rick Casson's attempt to raise the age of consent has failed, with a resounding defeat on the floor of the House of Commons. Parliamentarians voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to increase the minimum age for consensual sex by two years, to 16. 167 MPs voted against the bill with 99 voting in favour.

Under existing Canadian law, 14-year-olds can legally have sex in the country. Casson wanted the minimum age raised to 16, in the hope increasing the scope of the law would protect children from sexual predators.

The proposed legislation raises an interesting question, when are individuals considered responsible for their own actions? Why is it that individuals start paying income tax when they can't vote, drive a car, drink a beer or fight in a war? Should we not try to standardize the age for all these activities? If we allow individuals to work and pay tax at 16, than why not allow them to vote, have a shooter or two and join the army, navy or air force? It seems silly to have staggered age of consent for some of these basic citizen rights.

Read full story.


Fresh food for Freshman

Want to avoid the freshman 15? Tired of cold cereal, pizza pops, Kraft Dinner and beer? Why not try organic farming.

In the last decade or so, student-run farms have cropped up across the country, at almost 60 schools in 27 states. Foodies call it the latest sign of the seasonal, regional food movement's influence, even on a collegiate landscape that's virtually paved with Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts and leftover pizza.

In fact, over the past few years, about 200 US schools have signed up with farm-to-college programs, which match up local farmers with area universities, according to the Venice, Calif.-based Community Food Security Coalition. The University of Montana in Missoula, for example, allocates about $425,000 to local meat, dairy and wheat products, about 17 percent of the school's overall food budget.

The student forum on farming is here.

There is even an organic organization for secondary schools.


One to watch

The State of New Jersey, always progressive in pushing for consumer and individual rights, has launched a lawsuit against three oil companies and several gas stations for allegedly gouging consumers during Hurricane Katrina.

The lawsuits accuse Hess, Motiva Shell and Sunoco with artificially inflating gas prices and for increasing prices more than the once-a-day legal limit. Independent gas station operators selling Hess, Shell, Sunoco and Citgo brands were also sued.

The civil action is believed to be the first in the U.S. responding to recent rising gasoline prices.

It is about time that some jurisdiction took legal action against oil companies since price gouging and fixing has been going on for far too long. In Canada, the price of gas has increased as much as 25 to 30 percent in a single week even as the price of a barrel of crude oil remains relatively stable - high, but still stable. In fact, the price of gas shot up almost 100 percent - to over $2.25 per litre - at some stations, temporarily, in Central and Atlantic Canada recently for no reason.

It will be interesting to see if any Canadian jurisdiction has the courage to launch such a suit. It is doubtful, instead the country will see the Conservatives push for a gas tax reduction (justifiable) and the other parties clamour to cut cheques to low-income earners to reduce the so-called pain.

Read full story.


The "Tab" Key

Tab is back. Coke announced this week that they will be relaunching it as an energy drink. The cola that once achieved status as the most popular soda in the America during the 1970s, but has since become harder to find than Jimmy Hoffa's body, with the onslaught of diet soft drinks in the 1980s.

Coke has slimmed down the can into something reminiscent of the 1960s, and poured in some extra caffeine. The announcement states that they are planning to market it towards young women, not sure why the gender target?

Warning: Tab Energy does not taste like regular Tab. Which is probably a good thing.

Read full story.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Alexander Keith and Socialism?

Is the province of Nova Scotia really ready for a New Democrat government? Yes, according to the most recent poll by Corporate Research Associates. The opposition New Democratic Party has now become preferred political party in the province with 32 per cent of respondents in the province indicating that they would vote for Darrell Dexter and crew in the next provincial election.

John Hamm's governing Progressive Conservative party is second with 31 per cent followed by the Liberal party of Francis MacKenzie with 26 per cent. The Progressive Conservatives won 25 of the Legislative Assembly’s 52 seats in the August 2003 election - fuelled mostly by rural Nova Scotians. Hamm has served as Nova Scotia’s premier since 1999.

Nova Scotia residents face no shortage of ballet box issues. The province has the highest university tuition in the country (an average of $6,000). Youth out migration, like all the other Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and most of rural Canada, is an issue. Maximizing oil and gas exploration is also high on the agenda. As well, the province still has some outstanding automobile insurance issues - notably higher than necessary rates.

The NDP has never governed any Atlantic Canadian province and so these poll results are somewhat perplexing. It will be interesting to see if Nova Scotia residents are ready to abandon the comfort of either the Conservatives or Liberals in favour of the untested New Democrats.

View the entire poll here.


Music in high rotation

September Pleasures

James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
Magic Numbers - Magic Numbers
New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Surfan Stevens - Illinoise
David Usher - If God had curves

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Snowy Mountain

Kate Moss is causing quite a stir now that the cat is firmly out of - the bag. It was shocking to learn that one of the world's top models is addicted to mountains of cocaine. She has weighed 95 pounds for about 15 years and the whole time I thought she was on the South Beach diet.

Moss, a model icon, worth £30 million, is known to do up to 20 lines of coke in just 40 minutes. Safe to say that she is not a recreational user. Also, her apparent love of the drug has lead to lesbian threesomes and wild nights with everybody's favourite - Jude Law. The hits just keep on coming.

Read full story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


1st Britney Spears photo up to $2 million

Courtesy of the Gallery of the Absurd.


The Buzz in the Biz

Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) to marry fat kid (Jerry O'Connell) from Stand by Me.

Jack Osbourne likes the stranger, no, not that type of act.

Sir Anthony Hopkins reads the phonebook to Oprah. And people wonder if she has too much money and time?

R Kelly's wife has a restraining order on him. That is bad news for McDonalds.

Keira Knightley is infatuated with Sienna Miller. Jude Law plots his next move. Hire nanny, order wine...


Beware - The Hunt and Peck

University of California, Berkeley researchers have figured out a way to eavesdrop on your computer simply by listening to the sounds of the keyboard. Those seemingly random noises, when processed by a computer, were translated with up to 96% accuracy.

"It's a form of acoustical spying that should raise red flags among computer security and privacy experts," said Doug Tygar, a Berkeley computer science professor and the study's principal investigator.

Researchers used several 10-minute audio recordings of people typing away at their keyboards. They fed the recordings into a computer that used an algorithm to detect subtle differences in the sound as each letter is struck.

Read full story.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Line em up

The Parti Québécois (PQ) leadership race has largely been a boring event, however, that is about to change. The nine candidates vying for the job will only have one subject to discuss the next few weeks - cocaine. Over the weekend, word started to leak that perceived frontrunner André Boisclair, 39, may have used cocaine during his early years. Now, he has come clean and admitted that he in fact did use the drug and that it came at a time when he was a junior cabinet minister in the Bouchard government. The acknowledgment comes just weeks before PQ members choose a new leader in a vote in November.

Boisclair admitted he used cocaine in the years during which he was a PQ cabinet minister, between 1996 and 2003. But he didn't want to discuss when he consumed coke, with whom he did it, and from where he got it.

Boisclair, an openly gay man, has faced minimal questioning about his sexuality and that is real credit to both Quebec society and the media. He is, however, facing some questions about it now combined with drug allegations. To date, he has managed to run a safe campaign, steering clear of any questioning. Most jurisdictions are concerned about whether someone inhaled marijuana or not, this is going to push the envelope. It will be interesting to see how he handles the remaining few weeks and how rural PQ members react to his recent admission.

Read full story.

Monday, September 19, 2005


How do you like them apples?

An mp3 player the size of a business card and an iPod to boot, it is almost too good to be true. It is, however, finally in stores. The Nano has been in stores for a little over two weeks, but so far, it looks like Apple has another hit on its hands —and another opportunity to crush competitors.

In computers, Apple was the early innovator but lost the advantage when companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Dell and Hewlett-Packard came in with lower-priced solutions. Its market share is now just 3% of the computer market.

In digital music, however, Apple has "defied the laws of business," says analyst Gene Munster of securities firm Piper Jaffray. Apple has 74% of the digital music device market, according to researcher The NPD Group. Closest rival SanDisk has just 6.4%.

Apple wasn't the first to introduce a digital music player. Rio, Creative Technology and others were active players when Apple unveiled the first iPod in October 2001. But its breakthrough ease of use and sleek design changed the market dynamics. It is also has had some of the best commercials and uses the best indie-low fi tunes around. When is the last time someone bought an mp3 player that wasn't an iPod?

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Blade Wars

The Swiss Army of razors will soon hit the market. Earlier this week, Gillette unveiled its newest shaving system, a five-bladed razor called Fusion with a trimmer on the back of the cartridge aimed at the 50 percent of men who have mustaches and beards.

Fusion is Gillette's counterpunch to the Quattro sold by rival Schick. It also raises the ante since it has a trimming blade on the back of the pivoting cartridge for shaping facial hair, trimming sideburns and shaving under the nose.

Read full story.


It is delivery

Why have two utensils when one will do fine? Introducing the Pizza Fork and Cutter. What a fantastic invention, now you can slice and eat with the same utensil. This time-saver cuts through pizza crust, forking up bites and delivering them right to your mouth!

The makers, however, don't want to be pigeon holed and claim that it is great for other pancakes and waffles too.

Order here.


Youppi! is back

After 26 years of patrolling the god awful surroundings of various Montreal Expos homes, the Montreal Canadiens announced this weekend the official lifetime adoption of Youppi! as the organization’s new mascot.

Youppi!, age unknown, will make history in becoming the first mascot in professional sports history to move from one league to another when he makes his in-game debut with the Canadiens in October 2005. The beloved orange-furred creature, a staple at Olympic Stadium from 1979 through 2004 while with Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos, found himself without a home when the latter franchise moved to Washington.

Youppi! will also be a very valuable asset for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. There could not be, in fact, a more natural association - it is like gravy, cheese and fries.


Saturday Night is alright

The curtain dropped at 9 and the rock didn't stop until 10 45. For over an hour and half, the White Stripes cranked out hit after hit at the Bell Centre. It wasn't the best crowd or sound, but Jack White is an amazing musician and they are a great duo. After missing them on their last tour, I was so glad to have seen them this time around.

If you don't own any of their albums, start with Elephant, an instant classic. Or, try the website to discover them.



Years of hard work from multiple provincial politicians, mainly on the Saskatchewan side of the ledger, have finally brought a deal between Alberta and Saskatchewan on a new northern highway. Alberta will now have easier access to a new labour pool for the exploding tar sands and northern tourism in Saskatchewan should flourish.

Last week, the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan officially announced a plan for construction of the La Loche Road. The project will cost $45-million and will be completed within the next three years, cutting travel time between La Loche and Fort McMurray from 10 hours to less than two.

With up to 15,000 new jobs expected to be created by the massive oil sands projects in northern Alberta, La Loche Mayor Georgina Jolibois believes the road will open up new opportunities for residents of northern communities such as Buffalo Narrows, Ile-a-La-Crosse and her own village. Unemployment among the largely aboriginal population of about 2,300 in the La Loche area is estimated as high as 90 per cent.

Hat tip to Accidential Deliberations.

Read full story.


The Buzz in the Biz

Tori Spelling is changing zip codes, again.

Renée Zellweger and country singer Kenny Chesney spiltsville. She claims the relationship was fraudulent - shocking.

The P in P Diddy stands for Pert Plus.

Motley Crue showing their age. Vince Neil breaks leg on stage, literally.

The Donald to appear on "Days of Our Lives."

Like a Virgin - the sequel.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Lucky Pierre, your number is up

$10,000 for your chauffeur to accompany you abroad when you don't require a driver. Pettigrew's explanation that he invited driver Bruno Labonté to Europe in 2001 and to Latin America in 2002 as a "personal security adviser," is utter non-sense. What kind of security could he provide to Pettigrew? In fact, Liberal sources are now claiming it was more likely an expression of gratitude for Mr. Labonté's work at home. So, it was a reward or a tip. What is wrong with chocolates or flowers?

It is time for Prime Minister Martin to show Pierre Pettigrew the door. He hasn't contributed anything of substance in all his years of cabinet and it time to promote someone else.

Read full story.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Turbulence - The definition of a troubled industry

The second, third and fourth largest airline carriers in the United States are now officially bankrupt. Northwest has joined Delta and United (US Airways is also in protection) in filing for bankruptcy protection. Both have cited the recent spike in jet fuel costs - further exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina - which have soared nearly 20 percent since June 1, as prime reasons for seeking protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy laws. It is, however, more than just about the cost of fuel.

The American airline industry, similar to the Canadian one, was in bad shape and living on borrowed time before September 11, 2001. This event through the whole industry into massive chaos, even with the billions in bailouts that flowed from Congress. Most carriers slowly adjusted to that, but now have been hit with rising fuel prices. Most of the major carriers don't bulk purchase fuel - unlike Southwest Airlines - so ever increase hits hard. Also, the American industry has a elephant in the room with unfunded pensions.

Unlike their Canadian counterparts at Air Canada, most American carriers have been unsuccessful in securing concessions from all labour unions. Each carrier has got a single deal here and there, but not enough to obtain significant cost savings.

Now, nearly half of the American industry's capacity is now on carriers operating in Chapter 11, according to an estimate from Bear Stearns. In Chapter 11, a company is protected from creditors while it keeps operating and tries to cut costs and reorganize.

There have been only a few profitable quarters for a few of the major airlines since the beginning of 2001, when a downturn in business travel eight months ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks started the red ink flowing. The Air Transport Association estimates that from 2001 though 2004, the industry posted net losses of $32.3 billion, even with the profits made at lower-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue.

Meanwhile in Canada, Air Canada is offering an unlimited North American travel pass for the months of October and November. The pass costs $3,500 per month and allows the traveller to go anywhere Air Canada flies in continental North America from October 1 until November 30. An interesting concept for the business traveller and wealthy grey hairs.

Read more.


Hot Air

Albuquerque, New Mexico - the balloon capital of the world - is taking their title to new heights -literally. The city is poised to open a unique museum devoted to the rich history of this most graceful form of flight.

The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum is scheduled to open Oct. 1, coinciding with Albuquerque's annual Balloon Fiesta, which starts the day before and draws people from around the world.

If you have ever wondered how balloons get into the air and stay there, this museum will answer that and many more questions.

Using interactive computerized exhibits, an expansive collection of ballooning memorabilia and displays of record-setting balloons, the city hopes to bring to life the history of ballooning. The displays, assembled from the collections of famous balloonists worldwide, will make their home in a newly constructed $20 million building. Architect Marc Shiff designed the building to look like a balloon about to launch.

Read full story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Money grows on trees

BUMF has asked Moldy to weigh in on the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) Board of Governors debacle.


The FNUC Board has budgeted more than $600,000 for itself this year, an amount four times higher than Saskatchewan's other two university boards combined. Documents obtained by the Saskatchewan News Network show that the 32-member FNUC board spent $407,116 last year and has approved a budget of $612,957 for itself this year.

FNUC has a total student population of about 1,200. The U of S, with more than 19,000 students, spent $87,800 on its board last year and The University of Regina, with 13,000 students, has a board budget of just over $70,000.


Why does an institution with only 1,200 students need a 32 member Board? My first thought was that that number is outrageous, however, a closer look and one can see how that number is achieved - not justifiably. The SIFC Act specifies the composition and responsibilities of the board of governors. Two members of the board are appointed directly by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). Other members (partners) are appointed by the senate, Agency/Tribal Councils of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan universities, Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Saskatchewan Learning, First Nations University of Canada faculty and the First Nations University of Canada Students' Association.

There is no doubt that FNUC is a complex venture and there is a need for many partners to be around the decision making table, however, nothing rationale can get decided with a 32 member board for such a small institution. It isn't like the institution is experiencing tremendous enrolment growth (flat), embarking on massive capital projects, leading cutting edge scientific research and development. Nope, they are offering students mainly a liberal arts education - spare the National School of Dental Therapy. Plus, FNUC has a Senate to presumably over govern some more.

A closer look at some of their counterparts provides some valuable insight into other governance models. Mc Gill University, with close to 33,000 students, has a Board comprised of 28 members. However, unlike FNUC, at least one-third of their representatives are elected officials from campus - students, faculty, senators, etc.

The University of Toronto, the countries most populous higher learning institution, only has a Governing Council of 50. They also do not have a Senate and have over 50,000 students.

The FNUC's board expenses are probably the most troubling aspect of this entire story. The board's expense budget, per capita, is far and away the largest in the country. There is a total of $96,000 for travel and honoraria. Any Board of Governors need to provide stipend and travel for its members, but one has to wonder why a board made of almost exclusively Saskatchewan residents meeting ONLY in Saskatchewan require that much money.

It is, however, not just the travel costs, but rather the improper coding of administrative spending that requires explanation. Some FNUC board expenses are items most other institutions wouldn't include in the board budget, but rather in central administration. For example, an ordered forensic audit is budgeted for $320,000 and also $32,000 is budgeted for their presidential search.

There is, however, one large unjustifiable expense. There is an annual $125,000 "management fee" paid to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations for political lobbying and connecting with other institutions. This is an utter shame. What is the FISN lobbying for? Doesn't the board connect with the University of Saskatchewan and Regina representatives when they attend board meetings? Plus, shouldn't the FISN lobby on behalf of the countries only Aboriginal institution because they believe in the model not to pay the bills? That is a disgrace and only emblematic of larger problems within First Nations governance models.

Serving as a member of a board - as I once did - at an institute of higer learning is not meant to be a money making venture. Individuals do it out of committment to the institution, not greed. This story is shameful and requires more than a forensic audit.

Monday, September 12, 2005


So long Moose

The retirement of Mark Messier from the National Hockey League marks the end of an era. The game of hockey has officially lost one of the greatest leaders in professional sports. Messier, leaves the game with six Stanley Cups, 1,887 points and a legacy of grit, determination and leadership. His mail can soon be forwarded to his new hockey address - The Hockey Hall of Fame.

It was difficult to grow up in 1980s in western Canada without having many, many images of - arguably the greatest team in hockey - the mid 80s Oilers. Gretzky, Coffey, Lowe, Kurri, Anderson, Fuhr, Moog and company were amazing to watch and completely revolutionalized the game. On the surface it was easy to say that they won on talent alone, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Messier was the glue that kept that team together. It was Messier, not Gretzky, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when the Oilers captured their first Stanley Cup in 1984. Would Glenn Anderson had been a perennial All-Star without him? Does Gretzky get the rest he needs without the 2nd best player in the league behind him - think 90s Forsberg / Sakic? Who takes all the big face-offs? Who kicks the shit of Joel Otto, repeatedly? It was Messier who led the Oilers to a 1990 Stanley Cup victory - their fifth in seven seasons and just two years after the team traded Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.

Next stop was the Big Apple and the results were equally impressive. Messier transformed that team from a talented squad to winners. In 1994 Eastern Conference Final, he single handily guaranteed victory over New Jersey and went out a played one of the best games ever. The Rangers, down 3-2 in their series against the rival Devils, needed a miracle and Messier answered the bell. In fact, Messier scored a natural hat trick to win the game, the series, and eventually the team's first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Playoff hockey truly was Messier time.

Messier was more than just the NHL though. He answered the bell for his country on numerous occasions and managed to run roughshod over Europeans in various tournaments - the modern day Bobby Clarke. He brought a sense of renewed pride to the maple leaf and teams still search for that all important component.

The Rangers, in a classy move, will retire retire Messier's number 11 on Jan. 12, when the Oilers visit Madison Square Garden. I am sure that an announcement is pending on when the number 11 will go to the rafters at Rexall Place.

Messier's bio.


The Buzz in the Biz

Portia de Rossi is hoping to tie the knot with her significant other Ellen Degeneres - IF AND WHEN gay marriages are legalized in the US. Announcement to read: Rossi and Degeneres married in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on August 32, 2030 by an alien priest.

JLO wants her staff to call her Mom. It is very likely that they call her a lot of things, but Mom isn't one of them.

Paris Hilton lacks the libido. Hmm, did she not see One Night in Paris?

Kate Cruise? It sounds like an Asian knock-off purse.

Weekend Update - Tina Fey gave birth to a baby girl.

Finally, somebody call the Red Cross and get Nicole Richie a freakin sandwich.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Back Monday


There is still some fight left

Thank God for digital cable or Quebec residents would not see a significant number of national advertisements that are running on television. Finally saw the new Conservative ads yesterday and came away feeling impressed on a couple fronts.

The Conservatives are finally showcasing other Members of Parliament - e.g. Jim Prentice, Peter MacKay, Bev Oda, etc. These individuals are assets and it is great that someone in the party has finally recognized this fact. The Conservatives are the most diverse party in Ottawa and showcasing that to the country can only help take the perceived negatives away from the leader.

The focus on policy is refreshing. One may not agree with the stated policy objectives, however, they are stated and you are free to choose whether a certain policy or three appeals to you.

The Conservatives may not win the next election, but it sure as hell will not be for lack of resources and effort. The fall / winter are shaping up to be better than expected.

FYI - There have been significant staffing changes in Stephen Harper's office. This is somewhat suspicious, but if he is readying an election war team than you only want team players. To be fair, there have been some departures at PMO, not as many as there should have been, but departures none the less.


The Buzz in the Biz

Keira Knightley is a juggler.

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards to exchange vows, again, this time with meaning.

Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow to marry.

Jeremy Piven - Ari on the hit show Entourage - is getting advice from his mother. Apparently Mom thought he looked good with Lindsay Lohan. He is 40 and she is barely there and just legal.

Jay-Z backs Kayne West's comments about Katrina and George W Bush.

Pamela Anderson has love / hate relationship with.... her breasts?

Country singer Keith Urban is reporting singing exclusively to Nicole Kidman.


A day late

It is officially time to put away the white pants for another year as summer has drawn to a close and Labour Day has come and gone. Summer is often the time for Canadians to head to the cottage, visit relatives or enjoy their garden, however, the season is ending with millions of Canadians not having taken all the vacation they could have.

Despite the best efforts of Expedia and others, statistics show one in four working Canadians don't take all the time off they are entitled to - which is an average of 21 days annually. In fact, the average employee gives up three vacation days a year, according to a survey by Ipsos-Reid Canada.

It is not surprising why workers shy away from taking their earned time off. The majority are worried about job security and advancement. Experts are witnessing an increasing avoidance to people taking off large blocks of time, in exchange for two- or three-day breaks.

The real interesting part of the survey is that of the people who don't take time off - work on vacation days out of fear (30%) than out of financial need (20%). It isn't, as many knee-jerk Polly Anna’s fear, always about lack of money.


Knee jerk

Nobody likes to see gas prices fluctuate like a yo-yo, but do the majority of Canadians really believe that nationalization of petroleum resources and gas companies nationalized is the answer. Apparently, yes, according to a new poll done by Leger Marketing.

The Leger Marketing telephone survey of 1,500 people was conducted between Aug. 24 and Aug. 31, the bulk being done before the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina were felt. Gas prices have jumped around 25 cents a litre since the storm that battered the U.S. Gulf Coast.

This week, for example, prices in Montreal and Halifax averaged $1.38 a litre but the regulated price in St. John's, Nfld., was $1.48. In Toronto, prices stood at about $1.35 but were also seen at around $1.22. Western drivers tanked up for between $1.08 to $1.13 in Edmonton and between $1.07 to $1.14 in Calgary.

Quebeckers, not surprisingly, were the strongest supporters of resource nationalization at 67 per cent, followed by residents of the Atlantic provinces at 53 per cent, Ontarians at 45 per cent and British Columbia at 42 per cent.

Forty per cent of respondents on the Prairies and 36 per cent of Albertans were in favour. Among those opposed, Albertans led the way at 49 per cent followed by British Columbians at 39 per cent.

Quebec, again, led in support for nationalization of oil companies, with 61 per cent in favour, followed by the Atlantic provinces (46 per cent). Alberta was most opposed at 59 per cent, followed by the Prairies (49 per cent), B.C. 46 per cent and Ontario, 41 per cent.

In the throw away question category: Most of the respondents — 79 per cent — suggested they would like to see taxes on gasoline cut, although federal and provincial governments have made it clear that is unlikely. What is surprising here is that the number was significantly higher.

Clearly Canadians are frustrated by the high prices being charged at service stations around the country. North American residents are just now getting a taste of what the price of gas is like in most European countries. Motorists’ best accept this new reality since there appear to be too many convenient factors keeping the price of oil high and production too low.

Accidental deliberations has a good analysis of the situation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Where is the line?

The back-to-school rush has a new addition. Cell phones for primary school students. The concept seems to be fairly fool proof - provide youth with a phone for emergencies to call home, parent's work, to grandma's house or to the trusted neighbour. There is, however, more too it than just that. This is decision that parents should not make in haste.

Today's 9-year-old wants her own cell phone and companies like Mattel will be happy to provide one. The toymaker is one of many companies vying to connect with the preteen and younger market through mobile phones, services and accessories. The goal is not just to tap new revenue — it's also to establish brand loyalty early. This is very similar to why financial institutions launched post-secondary student lines of credit over a decade ago. Short-term bridging for the individual with an eye to long-term loyalty.

According to research from GFK's NOP World Technology, about 16 million teens and younger kids have cell phones, with the bulk of them older teens. But as the teen market gets saturated, cell providers and other companies are eyeing the younger set.

In February 2002, 13% of 12-to-14-year-olds had cell phones. That number jumped to 40% in December 2004, according to NOP. Some 14% of 10-to-11-year-olds now own cell phones. There are no comparison data for that group yet, but NOP is confident that its ownership rate is rising.

Even kids under 10 are using cell phones to call for rides home. "We're seeing cell phone growth from ages 8 and 9 on," says technology analyst Rob Enderle.

Mattel licensed its "My Scene" brand name, which focuses on preteens, to Single Touch Interactive. This month, they'll sell a full-service $79.99 cell phone with prepaid minutes priced at 25 cents each. Next year, Walt Disney launches Disney Mobile service through Sprint. It is designed for families with kids as young as 10.

Some companies are aiming even younger.

Educational tech company LeapFrog and wireless firm Enfora are launching the $99.99 TicTalk phone for children ages 6 and older. Firefly Mobile has a simple $99.99 phone with five "speed-dial" buttons for "mobile kids."

In addition to paying for upgraded phones, parents and kids are also buying ring tones, cell phone shells and hip carrying cases. Firefly's Web site, for instance, promotes a $12.99 wristlet purse to carry the phone, as well as colourful "bubble gum" and "limeade" exchangeable outer shells for the phone at $12.99 each.

That might be just the start. While Disney hasn't disclosed all its plans, some telecom analysts already are speculating

It is important to keep this in mind. When parents put phones in kids' hands, they're likely creating expectations. The child will want accessories and lots of them. The phone becomes a secondary purchase as children move to glamourize the phone. Also, every new purchase for a 6 year-old creates a lifelong cell phone customer. That gives both the service providers — such as Virgin, Sprint, Bell, Telus or Verizon — as well as brands with names on the handsets — such as Mattel's "My Scene" — access to new customers and sets the stage for future sales.

Read full story.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Why all the fuss?

The August 6th issue of the Economist, as usual, had a great expose on the real impact of video games.

Gaming has gone from a marginalized activity two decades ago to mass entertainment. In fact, video games resemble movies more and more each year. Game consoles are the most mass produced computer in the world. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are all set to launch new consoles soon that will attempt to reach out to non-traditional gamers.

The video game industry has recently been getting some heat in the United States from politicians - mainly from Democrats like Hillary Clinton - who are pandering to the soft centre. A single game - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - is causing politicians, social advocates and traditionalists to notice the gaming industry. All these groups have renewed claims that video games are rotting America's youth and this must be stopped. Their arguments, however, are not grounded in any scientific fact.

The most commonly cited reason to curb video games is that they are violent and as a result produce (and encourage) violent behaviour. In fact, multiple studies and statistics show something completely different. According to United States crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime is at a 30-year low. It is true that the rates may have dropped further and faster without game exposure, but there is definitely no causation - correlation maybe, but that would be no different than television, music or film - inferred from these data.

Also, researchers have found that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. It's true that young offenders who have committed school shootings in America have also been game players. But young people in general are more likely to be gamers — 90 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls play. The overwhelming majority of kids who play do NOT commit antisocial acts. Other test groups (short-term, but still conclusive) - one gamers and another not - have proved no conclusive connection between gaming (and playing violent games) and violence.

Another commonly cited problem is that video games are waste of time and kids could be exercising or learning instead of fixating on Mario and Friends. This is simply an oversimplification, likely a misread of the actual situation and a generational divide.

Video games are increasingly complex. Many players are forced to choose between good and evil and these choices determine how the game unfolds. The majority of games have no educational intent, but are in fact very enlightening. Most require players to learn a great deal. Gamers must create hypothesis about the game world, learn the rules through trial and error, solve problems and puzzles, develop strategies and get assistance from other players. In short, games cause people to informally learn.

The demographic divide on video games is easy to explain. People under 40 have grown up with some form of a video game console and haven't stopped playing. In fact, three quarters of all gamers are under the age of 40. The largest cohort of players come from the age bracket, surprisingly, of 18-49 years at 43%. This is slightly higher than the under 18 crowd at 35%. Maybe equally surprising is that nearly 1 in 5 adults over 50 are gamers. In the US, the average age of gamers is 30 - quite a bit higher than the average person would think.

Marc Prensky at games2train sums it up best:

Most under the age of 40 are digital natives who grew up surrounded by technology. He describes the older generation as digital immigrants who, like newcomers anywhere, have had to adapt in various ways to their new digital surroundings. Digital immigrants have had to learn to use technologies such as the internet and cell phones, however, very few have embraced or even expressed any interest in game consoles. For this group, the very word game confuses matters, since it evokes childish playthings. These folks don't understand that the average game is complex, takes between 40-100 hours (mainly over a certain holiday at a certain house) to complete and is often played by young adults not teenagers.

Games can also be used for education and training. Many companies are incorporating games into training sessions (e.g. PriceWaterhouseCoopers). The military has long used games to prepare soldiers for combat and train pilots. Even secondary schools are getting into the act by teaching using Sim City and Rollercoaster Tycoon. These games often provide students with model economies that they must grow and help various populations flourish.

The inclusion of sexual and violent content in games is likely a larger symbol of just how entrenched gaming is in society. Games are a powerful medium and will be around for a long, long time. The Economist sums it up brilliantly: Once the young are old, and the old are dead, games will be regarded as just another medium and the debate will have moved on.


The Buzz in the Biz - Long Weekend Edition

50 Cent pissed at Eminem for not passing Mariah Carey his way. Do celebrities really need seconds?

Eva Longoria is an overlapper.

Sean Penn should stick to acting. He will not be cast in a version of Disney's Rescuers anytime soon.

Britney Spears needs shares in General Electric. Who joins a faith for light? The scripture is in Hebrew and too complex for her.

More Spears news, apparently she forgot to vote for her man George W despite proclaiming in Fahrenheit 9/11 that you should support the President. The process was in English and too complicated for her.

98 degrees reunite for a benefit / rally for group member Justin Jeffre's run for mayor of Cincinnati. Where did they find the time in their busy schedules?

Definitely not interested. Aniston and Vaughn there is nothing there.

Sunday, September 04, 2005



5 loses in a row is quite enough- thank you. Despite some questionable calls and mounting injuries, the Riders are back in the win column and heading into the 2nd half of the season with a new QB.

Game ball to Corey Holmes.

Next weekend is the rematch and will be a good game in Winterpeg.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


The Will of God or Will and Grace

Repent America has come out with the most insulting and absolutely galling piece of literature following the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina. The event, according to these good Christians, is the fault of New Orleans due to their acceptance of homosexuality, underage drinking and promiscuity.

Repent America believes and adheres entirely to the teachings of the Bible OR at least the parts they want to interpret. Christian hypocrisy has never been so clearly articulated as in their press release:

Just days before "Southern Decadence", an annual homosexual celebration attracting tens of thousands of people to the French Quarters section of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina destroys the city.

Southern Decadence has a history of filling the French Quarters section of the city with drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars. Last year, a local pastor sent video footage of sex acts being performed in front of police to the mayor, city council, and the media. City officials simply ignored the footage and continued to welcome and praise the weeklong celebration as being an "exciting event". However, Hurricane Katrina has put an end to the annual celebration of sin.

Also, New Orleans was also known for its Mardi Gras parties where thousands of drunken men would revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewellery for drunken women to expose their breasts and to engage in other sex acts. This annual event sparked the creation of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series. Furthermore, Louisiana had a total of ten abortion clinics with half of them operating in New Orleans, where countless numbers of children were murdered at the hands of abortionists. Additionally, New Orleans has always been known as one of the "Murder Capitals of the World" with a rate ten times the national average.

"We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.

"[God] sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

Now, you should ask yourself what publication would cover such utter and disgusting non-sense? Enter, The Most In-depth, Conservative, Honest News & Commentary. Why, of course. A good red-meat Conservative rag.

FYI - is all about.

Conservative papers are often where many of the best economic ideas come from. Business people writing for other business people. They are, however, societal challenged when it comes to social issues. Progress be damned. Woman can vote, isn't that enough? Abortion is murder and must be stopped, however, unjust wars are ok because they are killing "others".

The piece can be found here.

Before you leave, Repent America has a challenge for you - Are you good enough to get to the pearly gates?


Who does Number 2 work for?

Tired of the mundane look of porcelain? Why not add a little splash - literally - to your bathroom with an aquarium. The fully functioning tank fits American Standard bowls. Custom bowl installation is available.

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Obvious: Fish and aquarium components sold separately.

Via: Double Viking

Friday, September 02, 2005



No amount of prayer, spirituality - as claimed by artist Santana - or the signing of international anti-global warming treaty could have prevented Hurricane Katrina. No, this was an act of God and a punishing one at that. There are, however, legitimate concerns and criticisms coming from the preparation, coordination and response.

New Orleans has plunged into a state of disrepair resembling Baghdad or Kabul. The city has limited power, almost non-existent law and order and residents are being jerked around. The situation is eerily similar to the collapse of Baghdad and the lack of planning that was there to provide law, order and transistion.

Mayor Ray Nagin has blasted federal, state and local authorities and can you blame him. It is great that legislators have approved massive spending on reconstruction, but they need immediate assistance with rescue efforts, not rebuilding.

There appears to be a complete lack of coordination between federal agencies given what has unfolded in recent days. For days people were warned that the hurricane was coming and that it had the potential to be devastating. And yet, when it arrives there is no plan in place to deal with the thousands of residents that were stranded in the city.

Some critics point to the fact that a large majority of residents simply ignored the warning and chose to stay in New Orleans. Unfortunately, these morons don't understand that this part of the country is among the poorest part of the United States. It is fine to issue an evacuation notice and tell folks to get in the cars and head out of town, but not everyone has that luxury. What if you don’t have a car? What if you don't have a place to go?

Finally, National Guard troops are moving in force into this storm-ravaged city today as state and local officials are struggling to reverse a growing sense of anarchy sparked by reports of armed looters, suicides, rapes, bodies floating untended in stagnant floodwaters, and food and water supplies dwindling for thousands of trapped and desperate residents.

Great emergency coordination lead to thousands being advised to head for temporary shelter in the Superdome. This idea was great as a band-aid solution to get people out of immediate danger, but what to do after that had passed. Apparently, nobody thought that far ahead. Maybe, just maybe, bus them to Houston. Oops, there is only room for so many. Sadly, this is emblematic of the entire lack of coordination between government departments.

The White House reaction has been embarrassing. The Do Not Disturb sign is finally being removed from Crawford, Texas. Thank God that his annual August vacation has come and gone. At least Americans can take solace in the fact that their President is in great physical shape and loves to bike.

In the hours and days after the horrible terrorists attacks on September 11, the administration was consistently reassuring citizens that the situation was under control - the best that it could be given the circumstances - one doesn't get that same sense today.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (Illinois Republican), took the ignorance to a level on Wednesday. In an interview with the Daily Herald, a suburban newspaper in Chicago, Illinois, Hastert questioned whether it made sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city "that's 7 feet under water." He claimed that it looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.

"Your heart goes out to the people," Hastert told the paper. "But there are some real tough questions to ask. How do you go about rebuilding this city? What precautions do you take? "When the electricity goes out and everything else goes out -- you don't have the pumps to pump it out either. Because it doesn't work either."

Hastert said he thought the issue merited a second look. "But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures, and they rebuild too. Stubbornness," he said. Oops, shit did I say that out loud. Yes. Issue standard misquote. Hours later, that is exactly what happened. Hastert's office later issued what his aides called a clarification of his remarks insisting he was not calling for the city to be abandoned or relocated. Too late, damage done. Real good for morale in the area.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


South Africa anti-rape condom aims to stop attacks

Rape, incest and AIDS are rampant problems in South Africa so it makes sense that someone there would take the unprecedented step of inventing an anti-rape contraption. On Wednesday, Sonette Ehlers, a South African inventor, did exactly that and introduced a new anti-rape female condom that hooks onto an attacker's penis and aims to cut one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world.

Ehlers unveiled the product in a small village east of Cape Town and said that nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and she thought it was high time.

The device is worn like a tampon that has sparked controversy in a country used to daily reports of violent crime. Police statistics show more than 50,000 rapes are reported every year, while experts say the real figure could be four times that as they say most rapes of acquaintances or children are never reported.

Ehlers said the "rapex" hooks onto the rapist's skin, allowing the victim time to escape and helping to identify perpetrators.

The device, made of latex and held firm by shafts of sharp barbs, can only be removed from the man through surgery which will alert hospital staff, and ultimately, the police. It also reduces the chances of a woman falling pregnant or contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases from the attacker by acting in the same way as a female condom.

South Africa has more people with HIV/AIDS than any other country, with one in nine of its 45 million population infected. Rather than preach to these countries about abstinence only policies, like the Bush administration and various religious groups including Congress are, it is refreshing to see innovation taking shape.

Read full story.


Lego and the new Europe

Rising production costs in some parts of central Europe are causing businesses to examine the potential of relocating to cheaper destinations. Now, it appears that the Danish toy maker Lego will close a factory in Switzerland and five European distribution centers, and move those operations to the Czech Republic.

The high costs in Switzerland are cited as the key factor in deciding to transfer production to Eastern Europe. Lego didn't say how many jobs would be created at its factory in Prague as a result of the move of the Swiss factory, which employs 239 people.

Lego said it would also open a European distribution center in the Czech capital in early 2006, and close five existing centers in Denmark, Germany and France. Two of the centers — in Billund, Denmark, and Hohenwestedt, Germany — are part of the Lego group. The three others are run by other companies.


The Buzz in the Biz

London calling - Spears chooses one of the greatest cities in the world as her soon to be child's name.

Jennifer Garner and the Biscuits - not a band name, but close.

Greg Brady rescues Denise Richards.

Coldplay fans rejoice, Justin Timberlake is so impressed with the band that he is changing his sound to reflect them.

Arrested Development just got a whole lot more interesting.


Christy Clark is back on the BC political scene

Christy Clark, former BC Deputy Premier, announced she's returning to political life to run for mayor of Vancouver. No big surprise here, as she is consummate politician and is a true Liberal on the west coast. On Wednesday, Clark filed candidacy papers with the Non Partisan Association (NPA), a business-leaning civic party that is affiliated with the Liberal Party of B.C.

The race to replace populist Larry Campbell (recently appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin)now has a clear front-runner. Clark, 39, had also served as Education Minister. She resigned last year, saying she wanted to spend more time with her young son, Hamish, now four.

British Columbia, and Vancouver in particular, are on good economic roll and could really use Clark's leadership. Also, she is likely to continue many of Campbell's socially progressive ventures.

Read her announcement.