Friday, December 17, 2010

About Time

Finally we might see an end to the political deadzone Canada is in. Iggy is talking about bringing the government down.

I have no idea how the next election will play itself out, but I've said for awhile that the Liberals simply can't hope for a wild swing in the polls without having one. They know exactly how the CPC will run a campaign, they know exactly what issues they'll want to talk about, they know exactly what they'll be saying about Ignatieff. One would hope that, given this knowledge, the braintrust at Liberal HQ could come up with a way to counter it, that they have some sort of plan that doesn't involve stepping on rake after rake. That might be too optimistic, but surely they have some strategy if Iggy is threatening to bring the government down. We can hope.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Love CBC

Far n' Wide posted this and thought I'd share. Call me paranoid, but I think Canadian public broadcasting is in trouble, and will be facing tough times if the CPC manages to form another government after the next election.









Thursday, December 9, 2010

Meanwhile, in London...

While Ottawa discusses the musical "talent" of the boss man (a talent which will undoubtedly register as a push into majority territory in next week's polls), protesters in another capital clashed with police, causing several injuries on both sides, and actually getting a couple kicks at a car carrying Prince Charles.

The LSE campus is buzzing with a new student protest movement. Pictures from The LSE's hayday marches down Fleet Street are plastered around campus. The Student Union is bubbling with excitement, I get a couple e-mails and facebook messages a day telling me about the next sit-in or march. I'd be surprised if this, the most serious confrontation yet, fizzles out. Even though the Conservatives managed to keep enough members in line today (not without a few surprising dissenters) , the student leadership seems to have a bit of momentum. Right now it's a matter of watching and waiting to see how hard authorities come down on them.

That aside, there's something positive to take from this. I'm not particularly interested in this battle. I think the education reforms are quite reasonable here, especially at my school. But it is good to see some life from students. Outside of Quebec, Canada's universities are depressingly lacking any serious student debate, and students certainly don't exert any influence outside their campuses. Canada's horrible apathy is as evident at our institutions of higher learning as everywhere else in the Great White North. Today in London, however, we witnessed students take a real stand and have a serious impact on politics, if not policy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homesick Sunday

'Tis the season, or at least the lights hanging around Oxford Street would suggest so. Unsurprisingly I'm getting a bit homesick for Canada. Doesn't help matters that I spent most of the week doing some federalism work that led me to the CBC archives and their clips from our nutty nation's bizarre contemporary history. When I get feelin' this way, there's only one thing to be done, load up some good Canadian folk music and imagine I'm back at a pub in Ottawa.

Here's Bye Bye Montreal from Newfoundland's Amelia Curran. If you have any favourite Canadian acts (folk or otherwise) you think I should look up, please let me know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fantino's Hitler Theory

Tory Taber gets all soft and cuddly with Fantino, who takes the high road by comparing the Liberal leadership to Hitler. Un-f'ing-believable.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nietzsche and The Great Recession

Great post by Brad DeLong:

Think of that when you consider this: The U.S. unemployment rate is stubbornly high, yet aid from a federal government that can borrow at unbelievably good terms could allow states to maintain their levels of public employment, and those public workers would then spend their incomes and so boost the number of private-sector jobs as well. But the voters are against that. No, they say. We have lost our jobs. It is only fair that those who work for the government lose their jobs as well -- never mind that each public-sector job lost triggers the destruction of yet another private-sector job. It's the underlying logic that has led to a wave of austerity across Europe that is now headed for America's shores. And it's the same logic that says, "It is only fair that homeowners lose their money" -- never mind that everyone's home prices will suffer. What does not kill me makes me stronger.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WikiLeaks

Frankly i'm not sure what to think about the latest WikiLeaks document drop. You place yourself in a bit of a difficult position when you take a stand against people knowing... stuff.

In a perfect world all governments would be completely transparent. Wouldn't have a need for things like intelligence agencies and secret diplomacy. But here we are and secrets and information matter. The first story that struck me from the release was about Chinese hacking. Whose interests are served by everyone finding out what the United States knows about Chinese intelligence efforts? It's possibly, maybe likely, that the Chinese already knew all of this stuff, but what if they didn't? What if this kind of release provides the piece of the puzzle that identifies some human asset in Beijing?

How does knowing that certain leaders in the Middle East were/are pushing for the bombing of Iran help anyone? Is there any way that ends well for the region?

Same goes for all the diplomatic "locker-room" chat, as the American Ambassador put it. Is anyone really looking forward to the release on Thursday when, much to the delight of certain media in Canada, we all get to read about how little American diplomats think of us?

In theory something like WikiLeaks is a great sounding idea. Certain things, like much of the Iraq stuff, should be made public. This latest drop though, strikes me as a shot in a personal crusade by Assange against the US. There will probably be some information in there that needs to be made public, but for the most part I think State is about right, this is going to put quite a few lives in danger.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Danny Williams

How interesting is it that the Globe throws in a bit of federal speculation into its report on Danny Williams' exit?

Tradition seems to last a bit longer out east and Williams is a pretty good example of it. He is a real conservative. A nationalist most definitely, though a Newfoundlander, not a Canadian nationalist. Yet the bit in the end about "nation building" certainly made me sit up a bit. The post Harper CPC looks more interesting by the week.

Cognitive Dissonance

A perfect example in this Sun editorial. The weaving back and forth over hospitality expenses is hilarious, though eventually they find a way out... has to do with ponies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, Monday

Quite sure I've never seen such a depressing set of Canadian headlines in my life.


Ontario voters would turf McGuinty: poll
Alberta safe for Tories to ignore
Government to CBC: Be open, comply with law
200,000 sign petition calling for Jean Charest’s resignation
Michael Ignatieff faces daunting 'enthusiasm gap'
Is Canadian democracy in real danger?
Kinsella: Liberal rumour
Fantino the man to beat in the vote the country is watching
Taber: By-election nastiness makes it to the House of Commons
Canadians tune out destructive politics
Bob Rae zips from dove to hawk
AECL up for auction but West’s industries protected
Defence department critics win booby prize

I'm not sure whether I should take solace in the fact that most Canadians don't care.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Election Day!

I note from a few dozen tweets that today is election day under Harper's fixed election rule. So get out there and vote!

EDIT: Actually that's not right at all! Twitter let me down!

The Bored Media

Coyne posts on the CPC's abandoning of principles. Not the first time he's written about it. I keep wondering when someone is going to tap him on the shoulder and let him know that it's a minority government.

Now, this isn't the good Liberal way of talking about the situation. As you can see from the comments it's alot of "Yeah! Coyne is right! The Conservatives are unprincipled!" But I still cling to the hidden agenda. I know it's there because I know the politicians, because I know where they come from, because I know their supporters. A minority situation forces governments to abandon their princples, for the life of me I can't figure out why this confuses Coyne so much.

However, let's assume for a second that he is right and that the CPC isn't ideologically sound. Why do pundits believe that politics exists to entertain them? Because that's the impression you get from Coyne's article, that elections in Canada are stupid because they don't result in massive swings from communism to anarchy. It's such an absolutely bizarre point. Elections in Canada produce exactly what Canadians want, a middle-of-the-road set of policies that at least presents the illusion of good governance. They get the last part wrong regularly, and have it horribly wrong right now, but eventually it corrects itself and the other guys get a shot.

Does anyone really believe that the American model of highly charged ideology is what we should be after? How can the media look with envy at the swing from Obama to Tea Party in the United States and suggest that it's a better way of doing business?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Austerity and Gold

A post on some of the nonsense economic talk going around.

First a good video on austerity and the fallacy of composition.

Second, I just wanted to address this little slice of insanity from World Bank President Zoellick:

The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values.... Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.”


It is, as DeLong points out, just plain wrong. Gold is not an alternative monetary asset. It is a commodity. That's it. I blame the internet for all this gold standard craziness. Suddenly every schmuck with access to google considers themselves an economist and the romantic notion of gold tricks people into thinking it's the solution to all our problems. They forget the problems that gold actually caused us and simply refuse to acknowledge the impossibility of going back to a gold standard. This economics "dark age" is starting to worry me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Religion

There are a few areas I split from what I consider traditional Canadian conservatism. One of the bigger ones is religion.

Religion has had an undeniably huge role in the development of the Canadian identity and psyche. The striking split down the middle of our founding cultures, English Anglicans on one side and French/Scots-Irish Catholics on the other, defined our society and politics. So it's not surprising that Christian conservatives, all of us romantics, usually embrace religion as another facet of Canadian nationalism.

I was born a Roman Catholic in the Irish-Canadian tradition. I'm from a family of five with an extended family that I can't be bothered to count at the moment. I was raised in a Catholic community in Ottawa, largely french. Went to a Catholic school. Attended Mass at least weekly. Served as an altar boy. All that good stuff. I was a good Catholic right through the first couple years of my undergraduate degree.

Yet as I aged my relationship with the Church changed in a strange sort of way. From real faith and devotion I moved away from the religion itself and came to identify more with the community than the faith. It had nothing to do with the scandals or past sins of the Church. Horrible though the abuse scandals are, they have yet to touch me or mine personally. Other historic misdeeds are important to recognize and acknowledge, but they don't change anything about the faith or traditions of the religion. Rather, I turned away from the faith because I got to know the history of Christianity and the Catholic Church. Any religion depends on a certain amount of mystery and myth. Tracing the development of a church unfolds the mysteries and washes away the myth. You're left with historical facts. You're left not with sacred practices and divine instruction, but with practical policy and political goals.

There's another part to it, a problem that most atheists have with religion. It's the simple "How could a billion Hindus/Muslims/Buddhists be wrong?" The realization that, because of simple flukes of geography and history, more than three quarters of the world's population is doomed.

I'm not a militant atheist. I'm grateful for the role that religion played in my early life. Some of the greatest experiences in my life continue to involve the Church or Christianity in some way. An Irish Mass in the Gaeltacht, a Semana Santa procession in Galicia, Handel's Messiah at the NAC. Stuff like that makes it tough to hate religion. Honestly, I'm still not sure how I'm going to approach the issue when I eventually have children. Chances are they'll be raised liberal Catholics like my girlfriend and I were.

I posted the video "Science Saved my Soul from Religion" yesterday because it showed just how awesome life is even without religion. Winged angels, burning bushes, and hell have nothing on the unfathomable size and mysteries of the universe. Atheism doesn't have to be shallow compared to religion.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Science Saved my Soul

Hopefully I'm not the last person to have seen this, excellent stuff.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Eye on Prentice

Glowing send offs all around for Jim Prentice today.

And all of them are thick with the same political speculation in Kinsella's piece.

"Mr. Clean", as Weston calls him above, predictably played down all the musings about a future re-entry into politics, but the talk won't go away and his name will probably still come up in the prayers of traditional conservatives still hanging around the CPC.

He is the Liberals' worst nightmare, a moderate with feet firmly planted in West and East. More importantly he's Reform's worst nightmare, a spectre of the Progressive Conservatives, who, as a leader, would threaten to beat the populists back down and possibly reignite the flammable and delicate truce that is the Conservative Party of Canada.

Harper has one more election in him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On the Potash Bid

Fascinating stuff.

Fascinating because the issue is exposing one of those dirty little secrets of the market economy... actually it's not little, the implications are massive... and it's not a secret, everyone knows it, but the great thinkers in the liberal camp just ignore it. Free markets create monopolies.

One of the main concerns that the Calgary business community has is the near monopoly this hands BHP over potash production. Irony of ironies, unless the government intervenes and stops the deal, the free market will destroy itself. Potash prices will no longer be set by the market, they will be set by BHP. The simple fact is that laissez-faire and the market economy just don't get along that well.

EDIT: In other free market news, the feds reject a mine proposal on environmental grounds. When will government learn to just trust the free market with the environment!!!???

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Church of Economics

Great article from Caplan:

Imagine a so-called scientific discipline based on the proposition that humans invariably act on the basis of rational calculation and complete knowledge. This is not science; it’s blind, irrational faith.

Imagine promoting an economic system that busts as often as it booms and that always leaves an abundance of losers in its wake.

Imagine belonging to that fraternity of maven who are responsible for the economic and financial meltdown of the past two years.

Imagine that your “science” proffers wrong answers as often as right ones. Imagine that you make weather forecasters look prescient.

Imagine insisting that in return for much-needed loans, poor countries must agree to exactly the same kind of reckless de-regulation that enabled Wall Street to trigger the global economic meltdown.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Polanyi on Liberalism

I'm sure I'm among the last to read Polanyi's classic The Great Transformation as I never actually took much of any political theory in undergrad. I've been exposed to it here and, for anyone of a conservative mind, or socialist for that matter, it really is a fantastic book. In particular Chapter 12 The Birth of the Liberal Creed examines the argument made by liberals concerning the collapse of the market economy in the late 19th Century (and more generally made by liberals about everything since then). Stop me if you've heard this one before: the market economy would have sorted it all out had it not been for the collectivist conspiracy that forced intervention.

Polanyi accepts that there was intervention, but he rightly points out that it wasn't a collectivist conspiracy at all. It was upper middle class legislators, all laissez-faire faithful, who enacted these horrible laws that interfered with the free market. So what were these laws that ruined everything and prevented the utopian society we would surely be enjoying today? Polanyi takes them straight from the horse's mouth, 19th Century liberal Herbert Spencer, in his criticism of fellow liberals for abandoning their principles:

Analysts of food and drink to be paid out of local rates
The inspection of gas works
making it penal to employ boys under twelve not attending schools and unable to read or write
Power to poor law guardians to enforce vaccination
Local boards were authorized to fix rates of hire for means of conveyance
It was made illegal to have a single shaft coal mine
The creation of a Pharmacopoeia at a rate fixed by the Treasury
Extension of compulsory vaccination to Scotland and Ireland
Establishment of inspectors for the wholesomeness, or unwholesomeness of food
A Chimney-Sweeper's Act to prevent the torture and death of children
A Contagious Diseases Act
A Public Libraries Act


That was the damning evidence liberals used to show a collectivist conspiracy over a hundred years ago. You'll see a similar, slightly updated, list from liberals nowadays. Polanyi's entire point is that the countermovement against the free market is the most natural thing in the world. When business tortures children, sells fake drugs, destroys rivers, and is completely unable to provide education for a society's poor, the government has to act. No conspiracy. Just commonsense reactions to very real problems brought about by the free market.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just a Friendly Reminder...

That it's the Liberals who are the party of corruption, nothing to see here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Canadian Partisanship (in 1984)

David Akin posts about the nature of Canadian partisanship, citing a study that suggests Liberals inherit their partisanship while Conservatives think about their's. Problem: the CES he cites uses data for 1984!

The authors suggest the study still has valuable information because the Liberals and NDP still exist. It's an absurd argument, and one that should keep you from sending your children to UWO.

Canadian politics has experienced massive changes since 1984. Events in Quebec especially would probably invalidate the bulk of the article's conclusions. Indeed (and this might be in the piece, I haven't had time to read it) I'd be curious about how much of the inherited nature of the Liberal Party comes (came) from Quebec federalists.

I think their conclusions about the NDP are probably still valid, but the rest is just useless. Besides, we know the CPC has an official policy against thinking.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good Stuff

This is a good creative. Play stuff like this against the preschool crap that comes out of CPC HQ and I think we'd have a pretty interesting election.




UPDATE: And for something completely different.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Canadian Abroad II

While I'm able to remove myself from domestic politics a little bit, international affairs is tough to avoid at a place like The LSE. The expats feel our embarrassment at the UN keenly. We're attending a school where the international leaders of my generation are being trained, and the simple fact of the matter is that my country is no longer a leader. You don't have to be a flag-waving nationalist to grasp the importance of the unfortunate reality that your country just doesn't matter anymore.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

All the best to you and yours back home.

I'm just about to take my specialty, tortiere, out of the oven and head over to an expat meal. For the occasion, a special beer.

Kriek 100% Lambic Bio
Cantillon
Brussels, Belgium
Kriek
5%

The last time Ontario saw this beer, it was refused by the LCBO due to chemical similarities with cyanide from the cherry pits. It was a sad sad day. No such concerns in London, where I'm apparently free to kill myself with this prettiest of beers.

A kriek is a Belgian lambic (beer created from wild yeast) brewed with cherry pits. There are alot of beers out there claiming to be kriek, but many are sweetened with sugar. A kriek shouldn't taste like candy.

It pours a beautiful cloudy rose with a nice big pink fizzy head.

The aroma has some sweet cherries up front with a slight tartness lingering behind, hinting at what's to come.

Again, you get subtle cherry flavours at first, but that's swiftly thrown aside by an almost puckering tartness. This lambic flavour can be off putting to some (most), but it shouldn't be. I don't think it's so much a matter of taste as it is of something unfamiliar. With any lambic I think you should let the first few sips roll around and your mouth. Let your tongue get accustomed to the "wildness" of the beer so that you can see beyond it. Once you've done that, the tartness sort of fades away towards the end and you're left with lovely cherry sweetness.

A classic, simple as that.

Enjoy your turkeys folks!

EDIT: By the way, halloween releases should be out so keep an eye out. Muskoka Harvest ale is a special release that I hear good things about. Sam Adams Octoberfest is out for a limited release so grab it if you can.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stupidity in the OLO

This is dumb. What upside is there to this? I think it shows a complete lack of understanding about how the "average" Canadian feels about different types of government spending. You will not get any traction (especially in flipping Manitoba!) attacking defence expenditures.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's with the CFIB?

I don't get these people, or, probably more accurately, I don't get Catherine Swift's bizarre obsession with the public service.

As the article states, the public service has agreed to an average annual increase of under 2% for the next 3 years, which is below the projected wage increase one might expect in the private sector. You're hardly keeping up with inflation. I think that qualifies as "belt tightening".

This isn't the first time Swift has stomped her feet in anger over public service job benefits. She's fixated on what civil servants make and how generous their pensions are. I don't think Canadian small businesses are hard up for staff, and as far as public expenditure go, the Canadian Public Service salaries are a drop in the bucket. I think someone might be angling for a career in politics.

Friday, October 1, 2010

When Business School Grads Strike...

It's never pretty (emphasis mine):

"The redesign is not just about design, or paper quality, or our new online navigation, or social media groups. It's about confidence."

"Our part of the bargain was to create a newspaper that was equally daring – one that did not seek to prolong the past, but burns to invent the future."

"As the young woman – our future – says on our TV ads, let's celebrate things not yet done or dreamed. Let's reach for what's beyond our grasp. "

"In today's Globe, you get your first taste of what's to come. I hope you find it delicious."

"One, we're a visual medium, showcasing outstanding pictures and colours.
We're also a medium of words and ideas..."

"...one that dares to lead the entire newspaper with an editorial because the first task for the new Globe is to deliver insight to Canadians." (Shiner: Front page editorials huh? That sounds familiar...)

"We're also striving for new voices and insights, to help Canadians seize the 21st century rather than yearn for the 20th."

"Our outstanding Ottawa Notebook – nominated this week for best blog award by Canadian Online Publishing Association – finds a new companion in print, coming this Monday with a political file that will set the week's agenda in Ottawa and every provincial capital." (Shiner: A political agenda set by Jane Taber!?)

"But we're also shifting strategically, with much more content, in print and online, to help us all enjoy and understand the personal sides of our lives. Today’s Life section launches as an expanded daily, glossy section that probes everything that should matter to you personally."

"If you don't push yourself, if you don't dare to make today better than yesterday, if you don’t believe in progress, you're doomed to defeat."

"Are you ready to begin?"

No.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stop the Stupid

First Rick Salutin, and now, according to Paul Wells, Tabatha Southey.

Maybe the Globe staff heard that big whale Teneycke was available and are trying to slip down to his standards to win him over.

Canada no longer has serious major newspaper.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adam Radwanski's Crystal Ball

This is an odd article.

Radwanski suggests that the pitchforks are being gathered in populist anger towards incumbent governments. Something about the recession and big government... or something.

Yet every single politician he names is in it up to his neck for a very good reason. You don't need to put on your wizard hat and blather on about "residual resentment toward public employees" to figure out why Brown lost, Campbell is done, and New Brunswick has a new government. Nor do you need to read very much into a Provincial Premier trailing in the polls after a trip up in the economy. There's nothing mysterious here.

God I hate fake narratives.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Black Sheep of the Social Sciences

"teach political economy on more modern and more socialist lines than those on which it had been taught hitherto, and to serve at the same time as a school of higher commercial education"
-Sidney Webb on the purpose of The LSE

This is a funny place. The LSE was created in a different time. A time when Smelly Ol' London really was Smelly Ol' London. When poverty was a civic emergency that mobilized people like Sidney Webb to fight against the newest breed of robber barons.

Today I had my School Orientation presentation and the difference between then and now was striking. On one hand we had the head of the student union talking about the glory days of The LSE, showing pictures from massive demonstrations down Fleet Street. She rhymed off all the achievements of the Union and its latest fight against unchecked tuition fees and encouraged us all to show up at the General Meeting to give the Director hell. She got a polite round of applause. The Dean of Graduate Studies, on the otherhand, told us a tale of a young economist he got a job for after Lehman Brothers collapsed. This produced an audible, impressed, gasp from the assembled would-be bankers.

Paul Krugman talks about this alot, but the difference in reactions from the students really illustrated to me how far Economics has fallen away from the other social sciences. I don't want to get up on a high horse, but very few people get into Comparative Politics for the bling, but for economics students it really is all about the money, and the way to that money is by acknowledging The Truth of free markets and evil government. There has to be some serious grave spinning going on in Westminster Abbey (aside: what happens when the spinner in question was cremated?).

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Canadian Abroad

You face a bit of a conundrum when you commit to an extended period of time away from your home. As an "informed citizen", do you keep up with goings on at home, or do you take a break and enjoy the responsibility free feeling of being a foreign alien in another country?

The last time I was living in Europe I didn't have much of a choice. Internet access was infrequent in the small oceanside village where I lived, and The Munster Express doesn't exactly have a Canadian office. It was a pleasant experience. Being forcefully removed from the gong show that is Canadian politics was good for me after my undergrad in Ottawa. Actually, having only a general sense of what was going on back across the Atlantic put me on the same level as most Canadians. I think it put alot of things in a more real perspective. It was nice to be able to read a newspaper and laugh about Irish political scandals (invariably involving alcohol) instead of kvetching about fake crises in Canada.

This time I have an actual choice to make. I'll have internet access and I'll be in a major world city, with access to all the media I could possibly want. So I have a decision to make over the next few days, between pints of real ale and the resultant hangovers. To be honest, the choice has already been made. I don't want to be reading Jane Taber and checking Paul Wells tweets from London. To that end, I, like anyone with half a brain, will be spending every spare second out and about in the City of Cities and every spare minute doing beer runs to Brussels and breakfast trips to Amsterdam. So really it's just a matter of discipline.

All that said, a few months from now, sitting in my local with a pint of Fuller's, I think I can realistically look forward to seeing an article in The Times with the line, "Canadian Conservative Party wins another minority government, sparks dissent within caucus." If I had a particularly cheery disposition, I might have written "loses", but it's always better to lower your expectations. Frankly, I think watching Harper fend off Flaherty, Clement, and Bernier, as they try to stab him in the throat would be pretty enjoyable.

So I'm off! Wish me luck.

A Coup by the Elites

Toronto Elite (Harvard trained no less) replaces Toronto Elite as Toronto Elite's Chief of Staff. Toronto Elite Party President is thrilled. Conservative grassroots is outraged... surely.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Conservative "Thought"

Now, David Warren is, objectively speaking, a very stupid man. For that reason, I'll rarely comment on one of his brain farts. But he wrote something this weekend that I just had to share:

They (Shiner: Thatcher, Reagan) knew that bureaucracy is an evil; but accepted it as a necessary evil, susceptible to reform and occasional "downsizing." We need to take one step farther, and grasp that it is an unnecessary evil -- that any human activity which requires a cumbersome bureaucracy is itself morally dubious; that anything which reduces the human being to a "unit" for bureaucratic purposes is in its nature inhuman.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the activities he's talking about are war and justice. Am I close? If anyone can decode the above nonsense, please share.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Night Beer: Wychcraft

And the countdown is on, one week until London! In honour of that, a bog standard English Pale Ale just released at the LCBO.

Wychcraft
Wychwood Brewery
Oxfordshire, UK
English Pale Ale
4.5%

Looks like a straw lager. Very pale gold. Loads of visible carbonation. Medium white head settles quickly to a thin film. Spotty lacings.

Hm. Don't know if I've ever talked about diacetyl in beer before. Diacetyl is a compound produced by fermentation. It also happens to be a key compound in butter. Usually, but not always, it's a sign that something has gone wrong in a beer. You'll get a very buttery taste, it will seem almost slippery. You'll also notice it on the nose, which is the case here. That said, there is also some vague citrus aroma, sweet orange, with just a bit of fruity malt in there.

Carbonation seems to get in the way a bit. It's almost club soda like up front, hard to get much taste off it. Once you get past that there's a noticeable lager character to the flavour, sort of grainy as opposed to the usual fruit and caramel you get from and English ale. Hopping leaves a bit to be desired. Bittering, but I'm getting almost no citrus flavours off it. Moderate sulfur throughout. Aftertaste leaves a nice hint of lemon.

Mouthfeel threw things off for me. Carbonation seems out of whack.

Not my favourite from a brewer I've always enjoyed. Their Fiddler's Elbow was one of my favourites, though many find it too sweet. Give this one a shot while the LCBO has it, let me know if I'm way off.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Awesome

I like to think that I usually pass on stories that everyone else is going to be commenting on unless I have something worthwhile to say. Not in this case. Like it says above, awesome.

EDIT: Paul Wells via twitter: June 9, 2010 - Sept. 15, 2010: the best summer job since Kim Campbell's. Ha!

"Tories thrilled"

That's how Don Martin describes the mood in the CPC caucus after Layton's declaration that he has saved the long gun registry. His (or Funke's) analysis is spot on. The opposition should have let the registry die. The Conservatives never wanted to win this fight, and Layton (and Ignatieff for pushing him) played right into their hands. Which is bizarre because my dog saw through this little nugget of political strategy... and he's a Lab.

Others saw this coming a mile away.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Afternoon Beer: Blanche du Paradis

Beautiful thing about being happily unemployed is that Monday afternoons are the same as Friday nights. Don't tell my girlfriend though, she thinks I'm reading Lipset, Horowitz, and Said.

I've been a bit lazy when it comes to beer news in Onterrible, and so failed to tell everyone about a big Dieu du Ciel promotion in the province. Dieu du Ciel, a brewpub in Montreal, is probably the best commercial brewery in the country. Take a look at the link above and check your local LCBO's online inventory for any stock. They're all good beers. Peche Mortal, an imperial coffee stout, is widely considered the best beer in Canada. Corne du Diable is a wonderful Canadian IPA. Aphrodite was an epiphany beer for me when I had it at the Montreal beer festival this year.

Today I'm going with something new for me, DDC's take on the delicate wit, Blanche du Paradis. Wit beers, if you'll pardon the expression, broke my good beer cherry. Unfortunately we don't get many good examples in Ontario. Blanche du Chambly from Unibroue is probably the best made, and I'm not a big Unibroue fan. The wit is the classic Belgian wheat beer. It has little resemblance, aside from maybe colour, to its German cousin the Hefeweizen. I said delicate above, and that, I think, is the perfect description for a wit. These are light refreshing beers, but they're incredibly full-flavoured. We're talking about a barnyard wheat base, dusty Belgian yeast, zippy coriander spicing, and bittering citrus from orange peel. The best ones blend all these flavours perfectly on top of a nice chewy, I like to say cookie dough, malt base.

Blanche du Paradis
Dieu du Ciel
Montreal
Witbier
5.5%

Looks like a wit should. A very light straw. Hazy. Snow white head balloons up and settles quickly.

Strong spicing on this example. A nose full of coriander first, followed by some mellow tangerine. Also a noticeable bitterness that suggests some heavier than usual hopping unless it's coming from the spices.

It's that odd bitterness right up front. There's a really unique herbal character to this beer. You can feel those nice rounded flavours, but they're lingering behind heavy spicing. There's a real out-of-place bitterness to it.

Mouthfeel is right. This should be a smooth, lightly-carbonated beer.

An interesting example. I think I enjoy it more than the Chambly from Unibroue, and it's certainly better than Hoegaarden, but I wouldn't buy it by the case. Worth a try. Do a blind tasting with the other two and even include the Keiths' and Rickards' examples for a real learning experience.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The New Economics

Interesting read from Salutin in the Globe.

Once upon a time Europeans and Americans built things, Canadians mined and farmed things, and everyone else bought things. Then free-trade became all the rage. Suddenly Europeans and Americans were still building, but the nuts and bolts manufacturing had been shipped off to China and South America, Canadians kept mining and farming. Free-trade was sold as an evolution of things, yes we (or they, the Americans) were moving away from the dirty work, but they were heading towards the information and knowledge economy, an entire nation based on the creative class, a nation of people that simply came up with stuff for other people to build and then bought it from them.

The theory that all this was good for Americans was sound... as long as the Chinese, Indians, and South Americans stayed poor and uneducated. Well, they aren't anymore. Suddenly the technology and productivity of the poorer countries are sneaking up on, or moving ahead of, that in the United States.

The only way to stay ahead is by becoming more educated, which is near impossible given the speed of knowledge today, or to have value buried in the dirt, Canada's saving grace (though probably not for long given the new Conservative's insistence on selling off every harvesting asset in the country).

So there's the question, what happens when the Western world no longer has anything to offer to the invisible hand?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

8 Long Years

Something caught my eye this morning. Here's the story. To be completely honest, it caught my girlfriend's eye. My reaction was "So what?" and she said "Well, I just think it's interesting. Everytime you hear about soldiers dying over there you hear that they have young children. Guess their children aren't so young anymore."

It's true. The children of soldiers who were deployed in 2002 are now eight years older. A 9 or 10 year old, not even in highschool when the Twin Towers came down, is now heading to university. To put it another way, the children of the younger members of our military are just about ready to join dad or mom in Afghanistan.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heading West

And by west I mean Winnipeg.

Today was my last day of work at the market research firm where I've been for the past 3 years. It was a halfday of wonderfully enjoyable inbox and desk cleaning. Then it was off to the Sir John A pub (Hooley's was closed) for a Hoegaarden and some fish and chips.

There's nothing quite as refreshing as voluntarily leaving a job. I now have a week in Winnipeg to relax. I've never been, but I doubt I'll be disappointed. It'll be a week of cottages and golf leading up to a friend's wedding next Friday. I come back to Ottawa Sunday and then it's a month of "reading" and "research" until I board a plane for London, England to join all the radical socialists at The London School of Economics. Life's good just now.

So silence from me for the next week. Anyone reading this should also consider a break from the intertubes to enjoy the rest of this wonderful summer in Northland. See you in a few!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Next Level: Harper Takes on the CRTC

All I can do is echo impolitical's thoughts on the matter.

You can't put too fine a point on it. If Martin's reporting is correct, the Prime Minister is looking to establish a must-carry network dedicated to the Conservative Party of Canada. I'm at a loss. "Disturbing" doesn't begin to describe it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Keynesians Would Say

I just saw this tweet from Andrew Coyne from two days ago. It links to a post from Cafe Hayek holding up the robustness of the German economy as proof that austerity pays off and all you dirty commies don't know what you're talking about.

My response is that Keynesians would first point out that the German and American economies are incredibly different. They would then point out that the Germans suffered nowhere near as badly as the Americans did in the recent recession. Finally, they would point to Ireland and just as arrogantly ask "What say you libertarians?"

That's what Keynesians would say. This type of absurd argument is common place, indeed it's the basis for just about all economic arguments. I remember reading a Krugman post a few weeks ago lamenting the current ideological warfare in economics. It is pretty disturbing. There is no more, or at least very little, truth seeking in modern economics, just a constant tug of war between saltwater and freshwater schools.

National Post vs. Sun Meida

Chris Selley calls out Sun Meida on yesterday's nutty "Lock n' Load" story.

But I don't want to focus on teh crazy from Sun Meida. In fact I've decided to stop linking to their articles, no matter how insane. Instead, I was wondering whether there's any significance to the National Post calling out Kory's lemonade stand.

Could it be possible that Canada is heading for a split in the Conservative 'movement' along the lines of what we've seen in the United States? There's an, uh, interesting comment from MIKEMURPHY in the National Post link there, where he suggests Sun Meida may "take over the NP's place as a real Conservative voice". That's the kind of stuff we're used to from the American Tea Baggers. It puts the National Post in a bizarre situation. Do they hope the non-crazy element of the right in Canada is big enough to keep them afloat, or do they take part in a race to the bottom?

Entirely possible that I'm reading way too much into one man's opinion, but I do see a bit of a divergence since the census story broke.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Experts!

It's been amazing watching anti-intellectualism come to the fore in the CPC since the census story broke. Some of the comment boards at my regular haunts have me sitting slack-jawed at my desk. The theme continues today in the G&M. That's right, in order to get to the bottom of this issue the CPC is going to call Mike from Canmore to testify about the census. I hope to God Public Works is installing a gong in the chamber. What a joke.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Night Beer: Ontario Beer Revolution

I'll be meeting up with some friends visiting from the Yukon tonight and I'll be drinking my go-to: Flying Monkey's Hoptical Illusion of Barrie.

No review this week, but this is a fun read from Steve Beauchesne of Beau's Brewery east of Ottawa. A what-if Ontarians started drinking good local beer scenario using some simple economic calculations. Worth a read. Consider spending that extra 40 cents a beer, or $3 a six pack this weekend on something local.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mario Laguë

This morning I walked by a traffic accident on my way to work. I, like my neighbours, stopped a second to see what happened. It was a particularly bad one, as motorcycle accidents so often are. I noted the black SUV that seemed a rather odd addition to the group of responders on site. Thought nothing more of it and went on my way, making a mental note to call my girlfriend to see if she saw it. I had forgotten all about it by the time I got to my desk. I was going to say it's strange how these brushes with events leave you more touched when the headline hits, but it's not strange at all.

From all the accounts I've seen, Mr. Laguë was a good man, well-liked in this town. It's a shame that this is the closest I know that I have ever come to him. Thoughts and prayers with his family.

CP Blames Statcan for Bad CP Reporting

If one thing has been made clear during this whole census kerfuffle, it's that journalists aren't that great with numbers. Not to say that this wasn't clear already, but watching them report on something as number and method heavy as statistics gathering just puts a giant exclamation point on the fact. This story adds another exclamation point, followed, perhaps, by a "WTF?".

The headline suggests that Statcan is just rotten at its job. The first half of the article suggests that economists throughout the land are exasperated by Statcan's economic reporting. The damned bureaucrats don't know what the hell they're doing. Presumably, and I may have my partisan goggles on here, the author would like the reader to think that the government is right to give the agency a quick kick in the arse... even if the kick is poorly aimed and the government ends up on its behind.

Then you get halfway down and find out that actually it isn't really an issue. Real economists take individual job surveys "with a grain of salt" and pay attention to wider trends from multiple sources. This is followed by this hilarious line:

"That is what private sector economists also advise, but the caution often gets lost in the headlines about jobs created and lost."

And then it all becomes clear. It isn't that Statcan is doing a poor job. It's that the media doesn't know what they're doing and that an issue that isn't particularly new is now big news because of another completely unrelated story.

I get off my bus at Tunney's Pasture every day and walk past Statcan's office on my way home. Lately, if you listen very carefully, you can hear the cries of pain as mild-mannered statisticians pull their hair out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Language Question No Longer Intrusive

Funny how this works. So the long form census is scrapped because it's intrusive. This included questions on language skills and the language most often spoken at home. Suddenly though, word comes down from on high that no, those questions in particular are not intrusive and shall be added to the totally not intrusive short form census.

Now if CPC supporters were at all honest in their position on this issue, they would be quite outraged at this Big Brother-esque move by the government. HOWEVER, it really is a victory for liberty and freedom because the government will put forward legislation to decriminalize the regular census. So really, asking those questions about language is not a big deal anymore because the non-threat of jail is gone. The other questions on the long form though? Still totally intrusive, jail or no jail.

The knots these folks are tying themselves in would make even the most badge-winningest boyscout run for the hills. I notice that in the general discussion of the issue on the web, most intelligent Conservatives have climbed off the ledge and are now settling for "Maybe it's not the bestest policy move ever, but it's not that serious. Can we talk about something else?" So the only people left on the government side of this issue are the raving lunatics, week old talking points firmly in hand.

Friday, August 6, 2010

PM sticks head out of hole, sees media, six more weeks of census talk

Read Taber's description of Harper's first "scrum" after his self-imposed exile from the planet (by the way, does anyone remember the furor over Ignatieff's apparent disappearance awhile back? And he wasn't even the guy supposedly running the place!). Now go check out Paul Wells' tweets starting at about 10AM, culminating in this.

EDITED TO ADD: Also, tangentially related, a new meme was born this day. Sun Meida is on the rise!

Future of the CPC

Must read columns from both Wells and Hébert this week. I lean towards Hébert's take on the summer's events, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.

I think the key thing to take away from all this is that discontent within the CPC is Harper's biggest threat. Yes, he has a firm base of true believers that the Liberals don't. Yes, the CPC goes into an election in an incredibly strong position, from an organizational and financial perspective. No, the Liberals have not done themselves many favours lately. Yes, Harper could probably govern forever from a minority position with no opposition. Yet it's not really all up to Harper. The Conservative Party wants a majority government. While the PM seems like he would be perfectly happy to nibble away at the edges of Canada's institutions forever, the rank-and-file are looking for a wrecking ball.

I think when Harper went for the census, it marked a point where he said "screw it" to a majority. I can't really blame him. Despite the accepted narrative that the LPC is dead in the water, and Harper is always just one election away from destroying them, the CPC still can't get above that 40% mark for long. His complete refusal to wade into a debate over the issue, despite the cries from both sides of the political spectrum, just reinforced that view for me. Hébert is absolutely right on when she says the census was essentially this year's equivalent if the culture cuts, but in Ontario instead of Quebec. I can't believe that Harper expected to fly the census change in under the radar. He had to know that there would be more than a few people on Bay Street, Elgin Street, and quadrangles around the country that would speak up.

Add to this the sudden reappearance of Maxime Bernier on the scene, shooting for the hearts of the grassroots crazies of the CPC, and I just can't buy the master plan angle of Wells. To me, it adds up to trouble ahead within the ranks, or a Harper that's sick of the job.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Survey Says: Not Very Much! Part II

I love looking at the way polls are reported on. I work in a sector of market research where I'm lucky in that I rarely do the marketing stuff. I can't remember the last time I had to write a torqued headline for a dull press release. It's nice because I can get up on my high horse when the media puts out truly craptacular stories like this one from, you guessed it, QMI:

QMI poll: Half would tell truth on census

Oh my! Well that's disturbing, isn't it? Maybe I, and so many others, have been wrong in our assumption that Canadians, by and large, reply to census questions truthfully. Could it be true that 1 out of every 2 of those people walking by outside, 50% of the folks reading this post, have a deep-seated hatred of Statistics Canada and go out of their way to lie on the census? Um, no.

Read a bit farther (and I'm curious about how many in QMI's audience do) and you'll see that the headline is extraordinarily misleading. First, the question wasn't "Would you tell the truth on the census?", it was:

"If the mandatory Canadian census form contained questions that you considered to be very personal and embarrassing, what would you be most likely to do?"

So right off the bat, we see the question is garbage. However, even with the silly question, the results are not as simple as QMI let on in their headline:

54% said they would tell the truth
24% said they would leave embarrassing questions blank
5% said they would lie
15% said they didn't know

So even if the question is very personal and embarrassingy , like "boxers or briefs?" or "honestly, do you read the Sun?", only 5% of survey respondents said they would lie. Just think, you're going to be able to get this kind of top notch story on TV soon!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Only Politics Article You'll Ever Have to Read

'What if political scientists covered the news' from Slate.

"Prospects for an energy bill, meanwhile, are looking grim, since Obama has spent all his political capital. He used to have a lot. Now it's gone. Why winning legislative battles builds momentum but saps political capital, I have no idea. Just go with it."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Real Prisons for Imaginary Criminals

Okay, so let's give Minister Day the benefit of the doubt on unreported crimes. Let's go with this idea that Canadians are just tired of reporting things like, uh, murder.

Now how does it follow that the solution to this problem is more prisons? How do you put someone who has committed an unreported crime behind bars?

Or, a better question, are these seriously the guys running the country?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Night Beer: Mill Street Betelgeuse

Whew, been awhile. The nastiest thing about the LCBO is that there are never any surprises. I know a beer is going to show up months in advance (by the way, the fall release is looking like a corker!). There are never any neat finds, and the one-offs are very rare because a craft brewer rarely knows he's going to brew something special with enough time to notify the LCBO, get it tested, etc. etc. Hence the lack of Friday Night Beers.

I forgot, however that I had purchased Mill Street Betelgeuse awhile back and had it stashed away in the fridge. Mill Street is a great Ontario brewery. They're known for their Tankhouse, Wit, and Organic Lager (bleh!), but they also do quite a bit of experimental stuff at their pub in Toronto. A month or so ago they sent the LCBO a bunch of this Betelgeuse and a Roggenbier (rye beer, highly recommended).

The Betelgeuse is in the style of a Belgian Tripel. The "Tripel" in Tripels refers to the amount of malt used (alot). These are strong ales, with a good dose of Belgian candy sugar, giving it a characteristic sweetness. The standard bearer in Ontario is Unibroue's Fin du Monde. We do get some of the true heavyweights from Belgium now and again from the Trappist breweries, but usually as seasonals. They're pretty powerful beers, and this one is no exception, weighing in at about 8%.

Mill Street Betelgeuse
Mill Street Brew Pub
Toronto, Ontario
Tripel
8%

Pours a dark peach, almost tangerine. Nice big creamy head, but it quickly fades away to nothing. Bubbles are slow moving, hinting at some very laid-back carbonation. A bit off-style.

Yikes, alcohol phenols just jump out at you. A little bit of light fruit in there, but it's like you'd expect from some flavoured vodka. Tripel should be much more complex.

Very sweet. Lots of fruit, but it's hard to nail down given the almost overpowering alcohol. Pear and candy sugar combine to leave an almost cloying taste. Where I'd usually expect a nice soft spice and yeast finish, I just get another hit of sugar.

Carbonation is off. The lack of carbonation just accentuates the almost unpleasant sweetness. You want a bit more to contribute to the overall complexity of the style.

A rare miss from Mill Street. Goes overboard on the sugars and misses the other flavours that make this style a Belgian beer geek favourite.

Monday, July 26, 2010

King Louis = Steve

The above title is for the CPC supporters who have been having the darndest of times trying to understand even the most basic facts involved in the census discussion.

For the rest of you, I present a quote from Reynold's exercise in stupidity from today's Globe:

"Le stat, to paraphrase Louis XIV, c’est moi."

First off, the horrible pun doesn't even make sense. Stats, er stat, is Louis XIV? I'm sure this had Reynolds chuckling to himself at his typewriter, but it's gibberish.

Nonetheless, there is some value in the quote. The irony is fantastic. Tell me, what reminds you more of Louis XIV: Collecting information about the population for the purposes of developing and running public programs and municipal planning, or the Prime Minister making a decision of national importance without consulting anyone, with no debate, on an issue outside his political mandate? L'etat, c'est lui.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cannons to the right of them, Cannons to the left of them...

My but Mr. Harper is cantankerous lately.

Probably a good deal of upside in scrapping affirmative action for the CPC, but it's sure going to be a noisy fight. Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward...

The Personification of the State

If there's one thing that stands out in this whole census debate, it's the strange habit of the populist new right of referring to the state as a person or creature. Two comments from a John Geddes blog post at Macleans are worth reading:

From Sir Francis:

Are you quite sure it is the state qua state that produces the tragedies of which you speak? Is it not perhaps the dispositions and overall ethical character of the people who make up the state which determine whether it produces tragedies or triumphs?

From Emily:

There is no such thing as 'the state'. There are only people.
...
Don't blame anything on some nebulous 'state'....look in the mirror.


In this whole discussion, the proponents haven't been concerned about politicians gathering information on the number of bedrooms you have for their own enjoyment. The conbots aren't worried about John Baird finding out where their ancestors were from and, presumably,jumping into his Delorian, going back in time, and killing them so that they were never born (I think that's what the issue is). They've been concerned about the government doing these things. The government is a creature. At turns, depending on the point being made, lazy, ignorant, and stupid, or, activist, all-knowing, and, above all, nefarious, the government is a villain to be stopped.

Government leads to fascism, or communism (the new conservative refuses to differentiate, mere definitions won't stop the liberal mind), no ifs, ands, or buts. Forget that Hitler and Stalin are exceptions when considering the modern developed state (as far as domestic life goes). It doesn't matter that the Nazis and the Communists were brought to power for the express purpose of targeting a specific group of people. Don't even think of mentioning that the Nazi's base was the same as the modern right's base today. Nonsense! They were all bloody socialists! Government is a creature and, grown up, it's evil.

Yet at its simplest, modern government is simply a pooling of public resources. We all pitch in, according to our ability, to pay for things that benefit all of us. To decide what those things are we elect representatives to decide. To carry out our wishes we hire public servants. However, once a country gets as large and as diverse as Canada, the public loses sight of what the government does. As is the case now, the public turns on itself. Populists with half-baked flavour-of-the-month ideas take this disconnect and wield it to knock down the structures built over a century and a half. Structures that weren't created for the heck of it, but were introduced to fill a need. In all of this, has anyone stopped and asked, why was statscan created in the first place? Why did those that came before us decide that this information was necessary for a better Canada?

The tragedy of it all is that the machinery of government does have a face. Munir Sheikh, a man who could have made a fortune in the private sector, but chose to literally dedicate his working life to his adopted country, steps aside and faces the wrath of the Conservative faithful for doing his job.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Epic Flail

David Eaves has a great post on Tony Clement's cringeworthy efforts at defending a bad policy, complete with twitter capture of Stephen Gordon giving the Minister a swirly.

The funny thing is that the exact same horrible justifications have played out in comment sections around the blogosphere in the exact same order. Be interesting to see whether Mad Max can give the trolls better material.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Advice

1) If you've never seen Great Big Sea live, you're missing out. Friday's Bluesfest performance was brilliant.

2) Go see Inception, great movie.

3) Singapore Noodles is the best value item on your local Chinese food menu.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Long Form Census

Everyone seems to be talking about the long form, but I have a hunch not many people have actually read what's in it.

So here.

Quote of the Summer

Paraphrase actually:

"Mr. Clement said the medical journal and other critics should trust Statistics Canada."

Also, excellent article from Gardner this morning. This, in particular, made me spit out my Cheerios:

"Then the Earth shook. The change to the census will produce "seriously biased" data, the legendary statistician Ivan Fellegi told this newspaper. It is "indefensible." Coming from a man who spent half a century at Statistics Canada, including 23 years as Chief Statistician, this was rather like Moses returning from the mountain and explaining to the wayward Israelites that, no, you can't worship a golden calf, you idiots."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CD Howe Institute Defends Long Form

Yeah, the CD freakin' Howe freakin' Institute.

Sure, there's a token, and bizarre, shot in there at mysterious nameless opponents, but when even the CD Howe Institute is against you...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This Editorial Brought to you by...

From The Globe's recent article on Kory:
"Yet Mr. Teneycke rejects the suggestion that Sun TV is designed to further Conservative fortunes. Being a house organ for the Tories would not make commercial sense, he said. He promised there'd be a clear line between editorializing on the station's talk shows and news gathering by its journalists – although, he added, reported stories would be more “populist in orientation.”

Today's editorial from Sun Media.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Survey Says: Not Very Much!

So you're a journalist. It's a lazy Saturday night in Ottawa. It's humid, thunder storms hover over the region, and you're trying to get an article sent off for the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Citizen so you can head off to see Metric at Bluesfest.

A survey lands in your inbox saying the following:

-44% agree that people should not be convicted of crimes if their mental competency prevented them from knowing what they were doing or that it was wrong.
-37.9% disagree with the statement that people should not be convicted.
-18% neither agree nor disagree.

So, what headline do you come up with?

Probably not this:

"Survey Says: Do the Crime, Do the Time.
Four in 10 Canadians believe mental incompetence shouldn't prevent guilty verdicts
"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Historic Moment for Whites

I got nothing...

UPDATE: From the link: Editor's Note: Due to the high number of inappropriate comments, the commenting feature has been turned off. If you want to comment on this editorial, you can send a letter...


Thanks to jkg in the comments.

UPDATE x2:This is starting to get picked up now that it's in the print addition. Paul Wells' tweet is good for a laugh.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Losers are the New Winners!

The appointment of failed federal candidates to the Senate is hilarious. Pity poor Navdeep Bains who, despite delivering a whooping to the CPC in Brampton South with 6,000 more votes than CPC candidate Salma Ataullahjan, will have to run again within the next couple months while Ms. Ataullahjan gets cozy in the red chamber. Talk all you want about needing to control the Senate to change the Senate, but there are better ways to do it than by picking a person who the people already rejected. I'm sure the CPC grassroots is concerned.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dance Iggy, Dance

Canada needs an election. The federal political scene is stuck in a horrible limbo. At a time when Canada, with all our current wealth and health, should be planning for the future, setting ourselves up to be world leaders in every field, we're governed by bumpkins whose sole goal is to make future government in Canada ineffectual and impossible to afford, while methodically chipping away at our institutions and long-standing policy.

It's not like the chances haven't existed to topple the clowns at the right hand. Yet every opportunity passes by, with the Opposition's ass waving in the air, its head stuck firmly below ground. They're terrified. The golden moment is always just over the horizon. Something's gotta catch. Nothing does. A shockingly apathetic public refuses to pay any attention to serious issues, dismissing them as 'just politics'. A bored and cynical press loses interest in stories quickly and nothing gains traction. All the while the CPC rakes in the loonies, with the PMO going as far as acquiring its own news chanel.

And so another opportunity presents itself. The CPC, so confident in the timidity of the Opposition, laughably threaten an election over privitization of overseas mail delivery, neutering environmental assessments, and selling off the once world-leading AECL. A dare. And the Liberals will cave. It seems they already have given all this silly talk about making a "very important statement".

So back to the waiting game. The bill goes through, the Upper House clears out, and we can all look forward to it all starting up again in a few months time, and Iggy can go out and barbeque a few burgers while nobody pays any attention.

It needs to stop now. Our government is starved of oxygen. We need an election to break the stalemate. I'm not suggesting the Liberals would win a government (though I, perhaps foolishly, continue to believe a campaigning Ignatieff would be a different animal), but anything is better than this. I think a Harper majority would be horrible for the country, but I'm also a firm believer that "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard". If this is really the type of government the people of Canada want, they can have it, enough with this slow death. Nothing would make me happier than to see Iggy pick up the gauntlet and smash it over Finley's monstrous, miserable skull.

Shaky Stats

Two things on my mind this morning:

First, EKOS has officially outsourced their political polling to a codfish. I don't doubt for a second that the Liberals are in a bad way, but look at those bounces in BC, and the NDP's results in Alberta and Atlantic Canada (!!!). Margin of error aside, these results are downright wonky. Nonetheless, I'm sure everyone is looking forward to the wild election speculation over the next couple days and talk of the big Mo'.

This conveniently leads into my next point on the dangers of crap polling and bad data. I'm a bit sensitive over this stuff, but this census thing really has my hackles up. It's just another step in Canada's not so slow descent to an idiocracy. Like most important policy issues, this isn't a sexy topic, so there's little reaction to the horrified cries from academics, economists, and public servants, and that's depressing. This is really important stuff, and nobody gives a shit.

EDITED TO ADD: And if I hear or read one more person saying "well alot of people just make stuff up on the long form" I'm jumping out my office window. What nonsense.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

But before you get too excited, time for Andrew Cohen's annual finger-wagging. The pompous arse has taken a different approach this year. Where usually he picks a random nation and explains why it's so much better than Canada, this year he sneers at your red mittens, timbits, and hockey.

Nonetheless, he's right about some things (though I'll never understand the anger the name "Canada Day" generates in some people). But Canada Day is a time to celebrate. To celebrate the fact that you either won the cosmic lottery and were born here, or were fortunate enough to make it here from somewhere else.

So have a wonderful day, drink some wonderful Canadian beer (Hoptical Illusion from Flying Monkey's in Barrie is my choice), and celebrate this wonderful place.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kinsella on G20

A great post from Warren Kinsella on the events. My thoughts exactly on why people should be angry and what Harper was thinking with the location (screw Toronto).

Queen and Spadina

It's funny, last night I was watching the season 5 premier of the BBC spy thriller Spooks. The two first episodes are about a plot by MI6 and an oil tycoon to take over government. Their final act is to wreak havok in a peaceful protest by splintering off sections of the group until the smaller factions are overcome by nervousness, hunger, cold, and then provoke them into doing something stupid.

Then I read this just now.

I'm a conservative. I have little in common with most of the folks protesting in Toronto the past couple days. Yet I found the action of the security forces more than a little disturbing. More disturbing is the reaction in the media this morning (and among acquaintances on Facebook) that those dirty hippies deserved it, or that classic line of "maybe they should go try that in Iran/Iraq/China/Afghanistan, etc."

I doubt this will provoke much outrage beyond the usual places. We won't see a lasting cry from the media. The politicians will get in line, not wanting to be associated with the juvenile black clad thugs, or those strategically placed and abandoned police cruisers.

Nonetheless, the image of Queen and Spadina is burned into my mind.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yoohoo! Kory!

In which Spector just makes shit up.

I can't imagine the frustration real journalists at the CBC are experiencing at all these jealous baboons flinging their feces. I'm sure an apology is forthcoming... with a suitable number of qualifiers of course.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not a Fun Earthquake

I seem to remember having quite a few earthquakes in Ottawa when I was growing up. They were always pretty fun. Feeling an earthquake on the upper levels of Ottawa's tallest building? Not that much fun. Don't know how people could live somewhere that gets these regularly.

Canadian Manchurian Candidates

Richard Fadden, spy chief, says some Canadian politicians have been bought by foreign governments.

The first reaction to this is "Tell us!!!" That's a reasonable response and the one I immediately had when watching The National last night.

However, after thinking about it, I became much more uneasy about this information being released. Fadden's appearance on CBC, their whole CSIS story, was beyond bizarre. He obviously appeared on The National with very specific aims, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a PR job to give the spooks a sparkly new image in time for the G20.

The obvious result of these revelations is that, at some point in the future, members of a particular party are going to be fingered by the press as being bought and paid for by foreign interests. At this point it looks like it will be in BC. When this happens the Liberal brand in that province, and elsewhere federally, will be destroyed. CSIS just put a time bomb at the feet of the Liberal Party of Canada. That reeks.

I'm not being partisan. I'd put money down on members of the Alberta government and the upstart Wildrose being under the sway of foreign governments. We know the kind of influence the Americans already have on federal politicians. This has nothing to do with party. A Liberal is no more susceptible to bribery than anyone else. Foreign governments will target those with the best chance of getting into power, they won't be partisan with their offers.

CSIS should have quietly informed the government in question of the issue and the people in question should have quietly disappeared from public life. It's the obvious solution. Instead, Fadden shows up on CBC and drops none too subtle hints about the people involved.

What's Fadden's game and did CSIS do this without some friendly prompting from Wellington Street?

UPDATE: Remember when Fadden said CSIS was concerned? Yeah, well not that concerned.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Canadians: A Bad Investment

According to the National Post that is.



Behold the Church of the Free Market in all its glory. Looks like the NP let the intern, possibly a first year economics undergrad, write today's editorial. I've always found it interesting that the National Post is considered an expert on financial and economic issues. In this case they take aim at the rather intelligent and necessary idea of increasing CPP contributions, something all the major parties seem to agree needs to be done. But not those cute, cuddly, libertarians. No, according to the National Post the CPP is baaaaaaad.

Why?



Even with oscillations in the market, over time private retirement plans produce post-employment incomes double or more those of public pensions. If workers were able to take the more than $3,000 they and their employers pay into CPP on their behalf each year and invest it in a conservative private fund, at the end of their working lives their private pension income would be nearly $26,000 annually. With CPP, the same $3,600 taken every year yields annual benefits of only around $10,000 at age 65.

Well at least if the NP finally dies at some point in the future the editors can get jobs as mutual fund salesmen. You don't need any financial planning accreditation to figure out the problem with the above paragraph.

Nonetheless, let's pretend the NP actually has any idea what they're talking about. What's their solution to the retirement quandry so many Canadians face and will face if, realizing the CPP is apparently a bad investment, work hard to invest their money in the right place and plan it so they turn 65 at the height of the market?


He could start by increasing the amount workers can shield in their RRSPs.



Yup. Higher RRSP contribution limits. You remember RRSPs don't you? That's that measly savings account you have that you're sometimes able to chuck a toonie or two into after paying your daycare bill, your hydro bill, your mortgage, your car payment, etc., etc. What? You haven't been maxing out your contributions? Yeah, neither have at least another quarter of the population.


Have no fear though, the NP assures you that trickle down economics will do the trick. Throw your money into, say, Nortel. Then, according to the NP, jobs will be created, resulting in more wealth for everyone!!! Hooray!!!



Yet it's not just the NP that's talking this way. A google news search will give you a bunch of hits from the similarly brain damaged about the evils of government pension plans. The idiots are out in force on this issue, and it's one that's too important to ignore.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

LCBO Summer Beer Release

A couple beers came out that you should be buying. First, the Creemore Kellerbier, released last year, has returned. Kellerbier is the German version of cask ale. It's unfiltered lager served directly from the cask. Creemore's effort is admirable, a "highly" hopped version of their regular lager. I like a bit more of a bready malt profile in my Kellers, but this is a good beer. Available in brownish cans from the LCBO.

Also, for all you wheat beer lovers, you may have seen a green labelled Schneider on the LCBO shelves. The Schneider Weisen Edel-Weisse, is an excellent hefeweizen that you need to try. Probably my favourite product I've tried from them.

I should have passed this along earlier, but it completely slipped my mind. The LCBO put the Summer Release out there, and some of the goodies have been hitting the shelves. The list from Bartowel (follow link for working links and reviews on BA and RB):

164046 / Schneider Hopfen Weisse / $3.25 / 500ml
1617130 / Gaffel Kolsch / $3.25 / 500ml
676304 / Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold Edelhell / $2.75 / 500ml
105874 / Great Lakes Green Tea Ale / $4.95 / 650ml
168393 / Ölvisholt Brugghús Skjalfti / $3.95 / 500ml
14514 / Pump House Blueberry Ale / $12.95 / 6 x 341ml
165746 / Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’Hibiscus / $3.10 / 341ml
TBC / Trafalgar Cherry Ale / $4.50 / 630ml
696955 / Christoffel Bier / $2.95 / 330ml
171546 / Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Brew / $3.95 / 330ml
171439 / Samuel Smiths Organic Raspberry Ale / $5.50 / 550ml
73718 / Edelweiss Weissbier Snowfresh / $1.95 / 330ml
76497 / Sam Adams Summer Ale / $13.65 / 6 x 355ml

Some of these have already started hitting the shelves. Of note is the Gaffel Kolsch. If you've tried Beau's from Ottawa, you'll want to give this a shot. I haven't had any myself, but I hear it's a bit of a standard for the Kolsch style.

Otherwise there are a few goodies on here that beer geeks are interested in. First amongst them is the Hopfen Weisse. This beer is a collaboration between famous hefeweizen brewery Schneider, and famous American craft brewery Brooklyn. The idea was for a hoppy hefe, made in each country, but substituting local hops for that part of the recipe. It's a beer geek darling, and I'm pretty excited for it. This is the German version.

Otherwise, the Skjalfti, Rosee, Christoffel, Hitachino, and Samuel Smiths, are all interesting entries that I plan on buying.

Great Lakes' Green Tea Ale wasn't a favourite last year, but the brewers say it's been tinkered with, so give it a try if you're of the mind. You're always taking a risk with Trafalgar, so I'm staying away from their Cherry Ale, but if you've had better luck with their beers, more power to you. If you like Blueberry, try the Blueberry Ale. I'm not a big blueberry fan, so can't say that I've indulged. The Sam Adams Summer Ale is a nice light summer beer, but nothing fantastic. I would definitely give the Edelweisse Snowfresh a shot. It's a sweetened weissbeer that's perfect by the pool.

Happy hunting!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In Defence of Politics

"It's just politics" has become the standard response to any and all government scandals or screw-ups from the CPC, Conservative media, and their fluffers on the internet. They say/write it with a sense of finality, fingers planted firmly in ears to show they're not willing to hear any more about Jaffer, prorogation, Afghan detainees, or, most recently, Speaker Milliken. Just politics, not worth discussion.

Prime example today from Persichilli in The Star today. Headline says it all:

Speaker's rulining not historic, just politics

Isn't that a fascinating point of view? That being political and being historic are mutually exclusive? Screw the referenda on Quebec sovereignty, screw Meech Lake, screw women's suffrage, heck, screw Confederation. Politics can't be historic. To be historic, according to Persichilli, you need to be carrying a gun and defending democracy in Afghanistan.

The fact that a politician tries to make political hay out of an issue should never be sneered at. Politicians should not be chastised for playing politics. Opposition politics are a feature of our political system. Because something might benefit the Liberal Party, or the Conservative Party doesn't void whatever real concerns are lying underneath. To the contrary, we expect a healthy opposition to play politics constantly, especially in a minority situation, in order to hold the government to account.

The idea that Conservatives are now using this tired old defence to wish away something as important as the Speaker's ruling on Parliamentary privilege is a shame. The fact that a good many, possibly most, Canadians accept Persichilli's view is just disturbing.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Screw you NHL

No offence to Ted Lindsay, but this is sacrilege.

Friday Night Beer: Half Pints Pothole Porter

Sorry for the missed beer posts, busy month, but things are starting to settle down.

Pothole Porter
Half Pints Brewing Company
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Baltic Porter
7.9%

Friend grabs me Half Pint brews whenever he's coming out to Ottawa, or our paths are going to cross. Half Pints is a great brewery, if you're in Manitoba make sure you give them a try. I'm pretty sure they have a rep in Ontario too and there have been some consignment orders. This time I got a Pothole Porter. Baltic Porter is akin to an Imperial Stout; big, boozy, roasty.

Pours near-black with read highlights all around the glass. Couple finger thick mocha head settles pretty quickly. Spotty lacings.

Alot of fruity alcohol on the nose, tones down the roasted coffee a bit. Burnt bread when you dig a bit deeper, almost coal like.

This has an interesting malt profile. Lots of fruit to it, dark fruit but hard to nail down. Bit of a cherry taste to it, maybe black currant. Bittersweet chocolate kicks in soon enough, giving the impression of chocolate covered cherries. Roasted coffee flavour is a bit hit and miss, it's fleeting. Nicely integrated alcohol throughout.

This is a well made porter. Strength is well controlled. Flavours mix nicely. Gives you a bit more than run-of-the-mill coffee bitterness.

To be completely honest, I'm not a huge stout/porter fan, I find they all sorta taste the same, you're just dealing with different degrees of coffee/chocolate. Nonetheless, this is a good one.

Calling All Trolls!

From the "are you still beating your wife?" department...

Ever asked yourself Is the CBC a Liberal propaganda outlet? Ask no more! Jane "Tory Talking Point Dispenser 2000" Taber and John Doyle will, apparently, answer that very question at 11AM. Yeah this will end well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One for the Good Guys

Listening in on the activities in the House will, more often than not, make you angry. Great men and women have spoken on the Hill, great issues have been discussed. It's more than a little refreshing to hear something worthy of the place being said in that old building on Wellington.

Derek Lee has it absolutely right when he says (paraphrased from Kady O):

the opportunities to benchmark these sorts of powers come along once every fifty years or so, he reminds us, but our speakers "have never been so clear" before now.

Pay attention to her spot for the full text. The closing is great stuff, it should be printed in every newspaper in the country tomorrow. In fact they should carve it in stone and set it up in the lobby of the House.

Entertain Us



When I saw the above video I, like most anti-Conservatives that saw it, thought it was good fun. Look at Levant making a fool of himself, look at him embarrass the CPC on National television.

Then I saw this column by Globe tv critic John Doyle this morning. This sort of thing unnerves me. No, I don't usually rely on tv critics, food editors, and gossip columnists for insightful political analysis. However, I can't help but feel that someone who has made a career out of watching tv is a bit more representative of the Canadian population than an Ottawa boy with a political science degree. I know the blogging tories enjoyed this, but they're certainly not representative of the Canadian population (we hope).

I don't doubt that if you ran a poll about whether Canadians were interested in watching this sort of stuff, a large majority would say no, not at all, but we know Canadians also say that they hate attack ads, and we know those definitely do work. I remember an anecdote a journalism professor once told me about FOX executives watching FOX News with the volume on mute to decide if they were doing their jobs well or not. So how many uninvolved Canadians watched that bit on P&P the other night and found something to like about Levant's exaggerated movements and shouting?

This whole Graves-CBC thing has just been a fundraising drive for the CPC (possibly ruining a private citizen's career in the process), of that I have no doubt. Yet I'm worried it's a sign of things to come. With gas bags like Levant and smarmy courtiers like Teneycke becoming increasingly prominent in Canadian current events programming, are we destined for nothing but Crossfire-esque political commentary?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Ironing is Delicious

EKOS is a very respected pollster. I work for one of their competitors, but we all recognize their polling abilities, especially when it comes to election polling. So this crusade that the Tories have undertaken against Frank Graves is a bit bizarre to all of us in the market research world.

Let's set aside the irony of Tory windbag and paid hack Kory Teneycke whining about someone else being biased. Let's also set aside the absurdity of the outrage coming from Canwest papers and Sun Media, shocked to hear that the CBC might use the services of a pollster who has (or has not) done work for the Liberals. Bias in the news media, well they never!

While most everyone is focusing on whether Graves actually ever spoke with the Liberal Party or not, few seem to be pointing out the hilarity of the CPC getting offended that someone might be playing wedge politics. Nasty of them Liberals, using CPC strategy against them.