Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's the Stupidest Way You Could Lose an Election

I've never loved cookies so much in my entire life.

If this is the kind of immaturity it takes to bring down the Stelmach government, then bring it on.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dead Wrong

Check out this video, sent to me by Ask yourself: "Is it right to potentially wipe out an entire, functioning aquatic ecosystem, in the name of restoring a native species of fish?"

The practice of poisoning entire lakes and riparian systems, in the name of "habitat restoration" is practiced by at least 38 US States and Five Canadian Provinces.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nine Years

Nine years ago my son Kaden was born.
Nine years ago the World Trade Centre bombers were guys with a truck and some poor planning.
Nine years ago there were no terror alerts.
Nine years ago we hadn't lost a Canadian soldier to combat in over 50 years.
Nine years ago this country didn't have a vocal religious right.
Nine years ago our Prime Minister was a cool guy, with a screwed up mouth who could and would, kick your ass if you got out of line.
Nine years ago our country had some independence of thought (if not media) from the US.
Nine years ago we signed Kyoto and promised the world, we'd lead the way to fix climate change.

Nine years ago Kaden was born. On that cold, dreary, rainy morning I held him up to the window in the hospital, showed him the world and promised him that he could change the world.

Nine years on... as we are led by a sweater-vest-wearing, small-minded, autocratic, power-hungry, micro-managing troll who seems hell-bent on creating the next USA, I wonder. In another nine years Kaden will be 18. Will he and all the other pre-911 babies have the courage to say "No, our fathers promised us we could change the world and make it a better place, so dammit, that's what we're going to do."

Our country is supposed to be the place that other countries look to for guidance, for a demonstration of tolerance and inclusion and for moderation. Today they look across the oceans and see us heading toward division, intolerance and "us vs. them" politics.

Today, somewhere in Canada, a new father is holding his newborn son up to the hospital window, showing him the world and promising him that he can change the world.

I hope in nine years, our sons won't have to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Newest Hero

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and the Director of the Hayden Planetarium. He's part of the rational-thinking skeptic community, fighting to keep pseudo-science and religion out of science classrooms. He is smarter than you, smarter than me, smarter than darn-near anybody. His intellectual equals are Hitchens, Dawkins, Chandrasekhar, Gould et al...

He is also a really, really funny guy. Check him out on the youtube machine, read his Twitter feeds, website and blogs, watch his television appearances and, if you ever get a chance to see him live and in-person, go listen.

To paraphrase him, we don't need to worry so much about separating church and state. We need to worry about separating ignorant, scientifically-illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.

Here's a video of Neil in action. Enjoy.

Those Ducks Totally Had it Coming

So, Syncrude (killer of 1600 ducks on an unprotected tailings pond in Northern Alberta) has directed their lawyer to seek the court to have all the charges against them dismissed. Their reasoning: That the crown hasn't made its case. They claim, and I swear to God I'm not making this up, that the statute they were charged under - "hazardous substances out into the environment where it comes into contact with animals in the natural environment and does them damage" - doesn't apply in this case. They go on to say that because the tailings ponds are intact, the tailings didn't come into contact with wildlife.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "that's crazy, everybody except Ed Stelmach) saw the pictures of ducks on the tailings pond, drowning under the weight of toxic sludge. There were 1600 of the little buggers.Clearly, the ducks had been exposed to the toxins in the tailings pond." You might think that, if you are a rational, intelligent person. However, that would be your common sense talking. If you are a self-delusional moron, you'd believe Syncrude and their lawyers when they say that the toxins in the pond didn't come into contact with the wildlife... wait for it... the ducks, by virtue of landing on the pond, came into contact with the toxins. It's the ducks' fault.

The analogue is telling a rape victim that she was asking for it.

Syncrude maintains that because they have a license to operate the tailings pond, and that because the tailings ponds have not been breached, nor have the ponds leaked, that they are not responsible for the fate of 1600 living, wild animals that came into contact with the toxins in the ponds. The company was supposed to have installed air cannons that would scare birds away from the ponds. They didn't have them set out. Syncrude execs claim that a snowstorm prevented their people from installing the cannons in time.

Apparently the cold, freezing, hellish depths of winter in Northern Alberta aren't too cold to stop the mining and processing of bitumen but they are too cold to have a couple of guys go out and put up air cannons. First, the idea that having some air cannons on a pond is a reasonable means of protecting wildlife from some incredibly nasty chemicals, is ridiculous. Second, the level of environmental regulation that these companies have to meet is absurdly lax. Third, they can't even seem to meet the most basic of the few regulations they are mandated to follow.

Perhaps all the First Nations people living downstream, in communities that experience cancer rates far above the national average, should not expect to have clean water. After all, it's their fault for interacting with the toxins, not Syncrude's fault for producing the toxins in the first place.

Damn environment. Always with the sexiness and cheap come-on's. Those trampy ducks were probably asking for it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Law Unto Itself

These few words are proving to be an exceedingly odious piece of prose:

Civil laws to which the law of the Church yields are to be observed in canon law with the same effects, insofar as they are not contrary to divine law and unless canon law provides otherwise.

This is Canon 22 from the ecclesiastical laws in the Code of Canon Law. The Code of Canon Law is the rulebook by which the Roman Catholic Church conducts itself. Canon 22 is exceptionally problematic because it gives the Church the right to tell civil authorities to mind their own business. In other words, if the Roman Catholic Church feels that a piece of civil legislation, i.e. the rules that a we in a civil democracy live by, runs contrary to divine law then they are allowed, under the canon to invoke divine law and ignore the civil law.

What civil laws might be deemed less important than divine law? How about pedophilia, ephebofillia, sexual predation, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation to name a few.

It should come as no surprise to anybody that there is a history of abuse - even an apocryphal one - associated with the Catholic Church. The stereotype of priests abusing little boys has been played out on television, movies, books and magazines; in both fiction and non-fiction. However, for me this unspeakable history took a new turn with the revelations of Patrick Wall, former Benedictine Monk.

In his interview on The Current (you can listen to part of it here or download the podcast from iTunes) Patrick chronicles his work as a "fixer", sent by the church to clean up after priests were caught abusing their parishioners; especially minors. He quit the church and turned his back on the only life he'd ever wanted because of the Vatican's refusal to permanently deal with abusive priests. The Vatican, according to Wall, would move priests from parish to parish but never strip them of their vestments or have the excommunicated. And, when the authorities do attempt to get involved in these cases, the Church invokes Canon 22; what I've come to term the "go screw yourself" clause. It's like they have a get out of jail free card.

Wall now works as a legal consultant for sexual abuse victims.

This was merely an interesting, albeit sickening discussion topic for me until I heard about the Saturday night service at one of the two Roman Catholic Churches in town. As reported to me by a friend who was there last week, the priest's message last Saturday evening was essentially "Let's not blow this out of proportion." My friend was so angry she left before the service had ended.

Get this straight, the Catholic Church is being publicly vilified, former Church administrators are coming out to talk about the scandal and the history. The Church, according to Patrick Wall, has centuries of secret documents locked in a vault in Rome (Wall claims to have seen them) documenting the priests and their behaviour. Victims of abuse are finally finding the courage to speak openly about what happened to them. And here in Red Deer, in 2010, in a community that has already been through a residential school tragedy, we have a Catholic priest who is preaching to his congregation "Let's not blow this out of proportion."

How on earth does this antiquated instution keep a following of right-thinking, morally-upstanding, intelligent people?

As for Canon 22, I need to get me one of those. It would make all the annoyances of life (filing taxes, dealing with parking tickets...) so much easier. "Sorry, I'm invoking my personal Canon 22, my authority comes from Yoda. He trumps your silly little laws."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

He's Not Killing and Eating Babies. You Know That, Right?

As a democrat, in a democratically-elected government, what legislation or political stance could earn you a death threat?

Gun control? Nope
Pro-Abortion? Maybe, but not likely
Pro Death Penalty? Highly unlikely
Anti-Death Penatly? Nope (although you'll probably be called a soft-on-crime fag)

hmmm what else could incite enough hatred in somebody that they could actually threaten your life? Healthcare? Surely not. Surely an attempt to make sure that every body in your country can afford medical care would be met with open arms. And, if you think that, you'd be wrong.

That's right folks, a whole new, fresh batch of lunacy has broken out, south of the border.

The US President and some select Democrats have received credible threats to their lives for passing a healthcare bill. The threats are coming from the same people who are anti-choice regarding abortion and pro-death penalty. The irony and hypocrisy never ends.

Who's feeding this seething mass of hatred? Well, there's the normal culprits at Fox (Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, super-crazy Glenn Beck and of course Anne "good God I'm a racist loudmouth" Coulter). I'd add the links to their names but really, just go and search out their blogs, websites, facebook groups and twitter feeds. You'll get the idea and spare me having to lose my supper.

The one I really want to draw your attention to is Sarah "I'm a Maverick" Palin. Here's a screenshot of her healthcare-combat map. Yes, those are gunsights aimed at states that have a Democrat for a Congressman. In addition she was recently quoted as saying - on her facebook page - "Commonsense lovers and Conservatives of America: Don't retreat, instead RELOAD" (emphasis: hers). Just for fun, visit her facebook page and leave snarky comments on her wall.

There is a part of me that is really hoping this is racially motivated. Hold on, let me explain.

I can understand racial hatred in that I get there are lots of people in the world who hate other people just because they look different. If this hatred toward Obama is racial at it's root, then I can write it off as ignorant bigots who are probably already known to the FBI and Secret Service. Knuckle-dragging, sloped-forehead, mouth-breathing, inbred, undereducated crackers from south of the Mason-Dixon are a predictable threat. They're easy to spot, easy to track and the people who protect Presidents have had lots of experience dealing with them.

However, if people are truly coming at this issue from the point of view that, getting looked after in a hospital and not being presented with a $100,000 bill when you leave, is somehow going to cause the downfall of liberty; then by God I'm scared. I'm scared because while even Fox can't sell racism as an excuse for revolution, the right-wing talk-radio jockeys, Fox News, Carl Rove (yes creepy little Carl is still oiling his way around) and the rest of them can simply "report" (if ever air-quotes were warranted it's there) on the growing movement of ordinary Americans as they try to protect what left of their vanishing freedom. If you think I'm just blindly spitting words out, steel your stomach and watch Fox for an hour.

I know this post isn't as polished or even intelligent as some others I've written. But this issue has really got me confused. I just do not understand how providing the framework so that people can have healthcare without losing their lives' savings can incite the kind of hatred that would lead someone to pick up a gun or encourage others to do so.

If anybody can explain to me how universal healthcare threatens their way of life, their freedom, their liberty or their family, please leave me a comment. I will gladly sit down for an intelligent conservations. The only caveat: you have to present an intelligent argument. No "Obama-care", no ranting about socialism, no name-calling, no bible prophesies. I want an intelligent, referenced, grounded-in-non-mediated-truth explanation. If you can give me that, I'm all ears.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's Fun to Use Words You Don't Understand

Stephen Harper went back to work and I couldn't care less. Things in this country are running the same Ostrich-like, head in a hole in the ground, way they normally do. The only really exciting point of late is that apparently if you are a Conservative MP, former Conservative MP or if your wife is a Conservative Cabinet Member, you get a free pass on your DUI and drug-possession problem.

Also, in this God-forsaken, redneck-infested, backwards-thinking hellhole province of progress, wealth and abundance, apparently the news doesn't reach the Premier's office. At least not the new-fangled kind with moving pictures and such. Really? Really?! The leader of the Province - a province bathing in petrochemical dollars - has not seen the photos of the 1600 dead ducks on a tailings pond in Fort McMurray?!! Really?! Eight-year-olds with mommy's cell phone can download them and show them to their friends. But apparently, according to an aide, it wouldn't be appropriate for Steady Eddie to view them. Why? Might they upset him, cause him to be nauseas over lunch? Might he actually have to direct his Environmental Review Board and the Provincial Environment Ministry to put some standards and regulations in place that, oh I don't know, actually protect the environment?

I'm not saying turn the taps off. Just conduct business in the Province as if there are 3million people depending on the water, air and land in and around the Province for their survival.


Changing topic here.

I wrote a while back about the new Retards on Parade Tea-Party movement. One thing I forgot to point out is the incorrect use of some terminology.

Right-wing, nut-case, Christian-fundamentalist, Conservatives (aka Republicans) seem to love bandying about the terms "Socialist" and "Fascist" interchangeably, with abandon. I've seen Obama referred to as Hitler (the King of the Fascists) and as a Socialist, by the same people, on the same protest sign, at the same march. The only problem, is that these people are, well, stupid. No, wait they're not stupid. Ok, they're not just stupid. They're also uneducated and totally sucked in by what they hear on Fox News - those guys screw this up all the time.

So, as I'm an educator (no really I am), I'm going to educate.

A Socialist is a left-wing, group-thinker, who wants to create a level playing field for the entire population. A Socialist feels that all people should be treated as equals, that the rich should support the poor and that the State should provide for the needs of the people. Socialists are generally inclusive of other cultures and races; given that an expanding population creates a bigger tax base from which the State can draw to provide for the population's needs. A Socialist has an interest in seeing other countries succeed economically; understanding that (sort of) what comes around, goes around. This country (Canada) under Trudeau, in the heydays of CIDA spending like drunken sailors, was pretty darned Socialist.

A Fascist on the other hand is, um... ok Tea Party folks... I don't quite know how to say this but... well, Fascists are you. See a Fascist is an ultra-right-wing Conservative who yearns for days gone by. Fascists believe that the individual (at least the chosen individual) is boss. They want everything to not just remain the same, but to revert some fanciful time that never existed. American Tea Partiers dream of an all-white nation, free from gay people and high taxes. They truly believe that the current government is acting against the will of the people. They believe in the resurrection (not the one in the big funny book of Jesus, the one that is surely coming to save them). They believe that people from other countries should stay in those other countries. Not to be cliched or overly-dramatic but the modern Tea Partiers are one madman away from Germany in 1933.

So, new-generation lunatics, call Obama all the names you want. Just call him the right names.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So, apparently tomorrow Tiger Woods is going to host an invitation-only press conference and tell his story to the world. How great would it be if nobody showed up? How amazingly cool would it be to see one lone camera shot of Woods and his handlers, standing at a podium, with nobody from the press in the room.

It would make my day to find out that nobody cares about Tiger Woods, his infidelity, his squandering of the public trust and his image. It would make my day for a celebrity to finally understand that they are not a reflection of real people; that they are trinkets that we take off the shelf to look at, then put away when we get bored of them.

Quite frankly - jokes aside - I'm bored of Tiger Woods. I'm not just bored of him. I'm bored of what he's come to personify: the celebrity fall from grace. It's old and boring, yet for some reason we continue to tune in to scandal as if we can sanctify ourselves in the bloodlust of public disgrace.

And so, tomorrow when the cameras role, a large part of me will hope to hear stories of reporters shrugging their shoulders and asking "Is that all you've got?". Then, filing out of the press-room, they'll go do something useful with the rest of their day; leaving the gasping, yearning masses to scour the internet for the remaining sordid details of their failed dreams.

Me, I'll do something useful with the time not spent watching Tiger Woods air his dirty laundry; Women's Half-pipe on CBC! See, totally productive and important... right?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You The People...

First, before I go on to my somewhat irrelevant tantrum I must send a note to someone in Brazil. You see, one of the nice things about having a counter (that little Sitemeter icon at the bottom right) is that it tells you who read your blog, where they are, and how they found you (search terms, direct links etc...). So, to the person in Brazil who was here yesterday: Dude, whoever you are, get some help. I can't imagine how google found my blog with the search terms you typed in. However, more disturbing to me, is that you thought to type that combination of words into google. Now, I have to figure out how to block your IP. Stay away from my blog you sick, pedo, freak.

Back to the sideshow now...

If someone needs to be called out, I'll generally be happy to do just that. I've written about, argued in person with, and advocated against some pretty arrogant, ignorant and insolent people in the past few years. Some people are just asking for a dose of coherent vehemence shoveled their way. If I get worked about about someone or something, I have been known to drop an F-bomb here and there, either as an adjective to describe a person or to modify the colossally stupid action they are taking. However, I have a line. That line is hate.

There are some people in the history of human-kind who were and are so evil, so mindbendingly deranged, that to invoke their name to describe another person smacks of the hate that created the namesake in the first place. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ceausescu... just a few names that are responsible for what, 40 - 50 million deaths of innocents? To call George W. Bush or Obama the new Hitler; to claim that these two men (and I really despised W) are cut from the name curtain of Hell that spawned Hitler is just plain ignorant.

I was reading some of the coverage from the Detroit Auto Show today. Apparently some of the worst-informed, cream of the Fox News audience demographic decided to show up and hold the lamest protest ever. Among the protesters was a guy holding a huge picture of Barak with a Hitler mustache inked in. He was standing next to another guy who had a sign that said something like Socialism? Over your dead body! Clever right? Compare the guy to Hitler and threaten his life. Way to go smart guys.

Like him or not, comparing Obama and his brand of so-called, pseudo socialism (and people, compared to most of the rest of the world, he's no socialist) to Hitler and his genocidal mania is the saddest statement I think one can make about their intelligence level. Obama may cost you more in taxes. He may try to spread the wealth around. He may even create policy that sees the dramatic increase in the production of hybrid vehicles at the expense of V8 American iron.

However, he did not, has not and will not create a plan for the extermination of an entire race of people. Comparing rational, non-maniacal people to Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin etc... is just wrong. Get over yourselves and figure out how to make a constructive argument.

As a side note... the socialism thing? Take a political science class and learn something. I find it endlessly entertaining that the people most worked about about the idea that they could find themselves living in a socialist state, are the ones mostly likely to benefit if that actually happened - which it won't; under any President. Socialism at its roots is about creating equity, ensuring that all people have equal access to all resources and spreading wealth through all sectors of society. It's not perfect but it's also not inherently bad. If you are a middle-income American working a 40 hour week with no health insurance, and struggling to put some money away for retirement (I just described about 45 million people), you could use a little social equity. You could use some of the shifting of taxes that would see your taxes fall and the shortfall made up by high income earners and corporations. You could use subsidized or socialized medicine; paid by for by everybody's tax dollars so that the costs of medical are financially catastrophic to you.

And yet, the new Tea Party movement - created by Sean Hannity and the rest of the idiocy at Fox News - seems to be populated by people who need some social supports. These rallies aren't being attended by the uber-wealthy; people who should really be worked up by the thought of a socialist President. These rallies have people screaming about things like estate taxes when they have no idea that an estate tax would affect something like the top 5% of American income-earners and have absolutely no affect on the savings left after a career making $50k/year.

The really weird part, is that I can't figure out how two disparate groups of people have managed to completely misunderstand where their country is headed. On the one side, we have blue-collar, unionized workers railing against socialism and that it's hurting their jobs, when it was largely socialist ideas that created the Labour movement in the first place. Labour unions are all about socialism and the protection of people against the forces of rampant capitalism! On the other side you have right-wing, super-patriots who somehow think that 234 years of America are going down the drain because the new guy in charge feels that "All men shall be created equal" may actually be an idea worth trying to attain. All of these folks are bleating that socialism is destroying their country, when they don't have the foggiest ideas of what socialism is. They just mindless repeat what they hear from Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, that crazy blonde religious gun-nut pundit mouthpiece who's name escapes me, Carlson and the rest of the right-wing, but we'll call ourselves "fair and balanced" media.

I think a lot of what's fueling this is a lack of patience on the part of the American population. I honestly think that people felt they'd wake up the day after the inauguration of Barak Obama and that all would be right in America; they'd get their homes back, their jobs would be re-opened, their retirement funds would magically reappear, Iraq would fix itself and terrorists would simply decide to love America and never do anything bad ever again. Well guess what folks. It doesn't work like that.

Bush Jr & Co. spent eight years screwing over you, your country and by extension, the rest of us. And, as will all things, entopy - the inevitable trending of a non-maintained system to slide toward disorganization - is a faster process than rebuilding. Obama sold you on hope. What he forgot to tell you was to hang on and be patient. My advice is to turn off you tv, or at least watch something without a talking head telling you how bad your life is and who you should blame for it, go outside and take a walk. You still live in a country where capitalists cater to your every whim and desire - sad though that may be.

To the Tea Party protesters: If you must act like uninformed children then do a good job of it. Put down your signs, get an ice-cream cone, ride on a swing and whine to your mommies that the big dark man is being mean to you. Otherwise, grow-up, act your age and educate yourselves.

You'd be doing me a favour because Lord know I can't keep this ranting up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Adam Savage isn't the only Mythbuster

I just started reading Christopher Hitchens' book, God is not Great. He (Hitchens not God) opens with a story about being in grade school in England and having an epiphany based on something his teacher said. She said to the class something along the lines of isn't it wonderful how God created the grass and trees in the colour green, for green is pleasing to the eye, whereas orange or purple grass would have been terrible. That's the gist of it anyway. Hitchens' epiphany was that his teach had got it wrong. The earth was not created for our enjoyment, rather we adapted the perception of beauty and comfort. Our eyes and sense adapted to what was already there.

I remember a similar moment when I was a young Anglican boy in a Catholic private school -St Joseph's in Victoria, BC. In grade one we were given a small book, sort of a primary study guide of the bible. We had a religion period where we would learn the classic stories of the Old Testatment and learn that if you live against God you'll surely go to Hell. Things began falling apart, or perhaps falling into place is a better term, for me and religion when we got to the story of Noah, the ark and a great Jesus-big flood that wiped out life on earth. Noah, apparently built the boat that God wanted and put two of every animal on board, thus saving the "good" fauna and his family.

I lived next to an ocean in a particularly rainy part of the world. Getting 40 days and nights of rain in BC's south west is not unheard of. Also, oceans are really, really big. I had never seen it rain so much that the ocean could rise and eat Victoria. I also had a really great grasp on nature from watching Wild Kingdom and all the rest of them. Even at seven years old, I knew there were a hell of a lot of animals in the world and that keeping two of each of them in a boat was beyond ridiculous.

I also was allowed to watch Nova occasionally, Cosmos regularly and had parents who would do their best to answer any question I had. So, when we got the sections about creation and it's six days of work and one day of rest nonsense... well, I had already been exposed to the big bang, light speed and the concept that the earth was 6 billion years old.

Adam and Eve couldn't hold a candle to Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey and Richard Leakey and their explanations of how we had descended from a common ancestor that we shared with Chimps, Gorillas and Gibbons.

Information is powerful. Truth is scary. Myth and story are comforting. Because I didn't believe any of the heaven/hell stuff I spent a lot of sleepless childhood nights, worrying about death and nothingness. I just couldn't go to that place that other people have that tells them "It's ok, when you die you go to heaven to be with Jesus".

I even remember having a kid-size dispute with Sherry Noel about it. Our families were camping one year and she said that if she died young that would be ok because she'd get to see Jesus early. Being that I was a polite kid I didn't outright call bullshit but, I do remember telling her that she was wrong. Pretty mean in hindsight. But, I was probably 8 years old to her 6.

Myth, as I said, is powerful stuff. All myth is about deluding ourselves that we are somehow unique and special among the cosmos; that other things may have exploded into being or evolved from something else, but we were created by a diety in his image. This is not limited to the Abrahamic gods either. Every human culture has given themselves privilege over everything else in the universe and decided that some other force created us, just for us.

These myths stand up with remarkable and unfortunate resilience in the face of science. Not to saw an old log but by way of illustration, school districts in the States are requiring science classes to include the bullshit, pseudo-scientific nonsense that is Intelligent Design.

And we keep creating new myths. Climate change denyers, oil-sands developers, land-developers, captains of industry, all cling to the myth that there is no environmental problem and, if maybe there is, that we can fix problems after we find them, but we sure as hell didn't cause them. What really gets me though is why conservationists, environmentalists, environmental scientists, environmental educators are portrayed as the deluded ones.

The environmental movement as a whole is not interested in taking away anybody's quality of life or their jobs. They aren't trying to hurt families or kill off hard-earned savings. They simply want to use science and evidence to build a cleaner, more efficient, more advanced, less impactful society; one that uses less water, less land, less fuel. They are attempting to build a world where your kids can drink from a stream without worrying about what may be leaching in from upstream. They are attempting to create transportation that won't poison the air you breathe. They are attempting to produce food that is nutritious and equitably available. They are attempting to keep the oceans' smallest life alive; the life that creates the oxygen we breathe.

What these people are trying so damn hard to do, is preserve the planet as the place that will sustain us. They understand that the technologies of a hundred years ago must pass and that new, cleaner tech must rise up to take it's place. They also understand that that tech will create jobs and profits.

And yet, myth continues to win the day in a lot of the world. Myths are the old stories we tell ourselves that things are ok; that we're special and doing just fine. The new myths are that we can't possibly poison the air, there's too much; we can't affect the ocean temperature, it's too big; we can't alter the climate, carbon's a trace gas.

History has shown that all myth passes into legend. New information is assimilated as new truth rises and old myths are put to rest. At this point, I'm hoping that our current myths of self-importance, profit as the final end and wanton environmental pillage for our new shiny toys, can be overcome by science and truth.

Because honestly people, if God is real He's gonna be pissed at us for messing this place up and we can't afford another damn flood.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ho Ho Ho, Wait... what?

What's the difference between Santa and Tiger Woods? Santa stopped at three hos.

Gotta admit, I really like that one.

This is just a maintenance post. I've put a couple of new books on the Safari bookshelf and will engage in some ranting below.


Can someone please explain to me how one hour becomes three hours in less than five minutes? Let me illuminate you.

This past Sunday I called the local Canadian Tire (mistake #1 but I knew they'd be open) and asked how long I'd have to wait to get a set of snow tires put on my car. The person on the phone said "About an hour." Wow, one hour? That's almost unheard of so I confirmed with them. "One hour today? If I come down now?". They confirmed an hour and so off I went; book in hand.

I arrived at the service counter and asked again about the wait. "One hour. There's only a couple of sets ahead of you." Perfect. Set me up, put me in line and let's go.

An hour and a half later, I notice that the same truck that was on the lift when I arrived, is still there. I begin to feel a deep sense of foreboding. I also get my first look at the kid who will be doing my tire replacement; the person who literally, has my life by the snowtires and the quality of job he'll do. My sense of foreboding deepens. By deepens I mean picture yourself peering into the inky blackness of deep ocean crevasse and imagining yourself trapped in a small submarine, running out of air, kind of foreboding.

To say the young man in question was lazy would be unfair. Thick-witted? Possibly. Unkempt? Definitely. Slow? Like cold molasses in frozen crystal. Able to complete multiple tasks simultaneously? Not a snowball's hope on a hot day in hell. What he was was thorough. Painfully, sluggishly, anal-retentively, obsessive-compulsively thorough. I mean, how else do you begin to fathom a person who takes 15 minutes to change a set of windshield wiper blades on a pickup? Not the whole wiper arm assembly; just the blades.

Apparently (let's call him) Jed was the only tire-guy on that day and I think that rattled him. Every wheel that came off a vehicle and had either a tire fixed or replaced with a new tire, was given a two minute session with the portable power washer. Yep. Every single one. And, rather than clean all the wheels on the vehicle, he only did the one that actually came off and was put back on. Only had work done on the left front wheel/tire? Only the left front got washed. Weird. Notice how I italicized the word "portable" a few sentences back? The power washer was the gas-generator kind mounted on wheels. Rather than bring it to the tire station to wash the offendingly dirty wheels, Jed would open the bay door, back out the vehicle, park, lope over to the next bay door, open it, head back to the vehicle, drive in, get out, close both bay doors, do his ever-important washing of the one dirty wheel, open the door back up, back out, park, close the door, open the other bay door, pull back into the tire station, close the bay door and get out. He'd then shuffle to the desk, scribble on the work order and file it. Then he'd re-open the bay door, climb in the vehicle, back out, stop, get out, close the bay door and go park the car. Then he'd walk back to the service desk, pick up a new work order & keys, go wander around the parking lot aimlessly looking for the next car to work on, find it, drive up to the bay door, park (in one actually shutting off the car), walk in, open the bay door, back to the car and pull in. He did this every single time with every single car!

I won't give you the complete three-hour hour journey for my two snow tires. However the door/washing procedure was only slightly less absurd than Jed's obsession with his tools. I'm a neat person. I put my tools away when I've finished a job. However, if I know I'm going to be hammering nails all day long, I keep my hammer in a belt or at the very least, close at hand to the project I'm working on. Likewise, if I need lots of tools but only once or twice during a project, I'll put them away as I use them. However...

Changing/mounting tires in a shop requires four hand-tools: 1) an air-driven impact wrench, 2) appropriate size sockets, 3) a pry bar 4) some soapy water solution stuff with a brush. It also require a bloody big, hydraulic machine that apparently is designed to put tires on or off rims as a side effect of scratching the hell out of the rim's pretty, metal finish. Now, if you are going to be doing the same job, all day long, would you not keep the tools you need (in this case four of them) as close to you as possible and then put them away at the end of the day? I know I would. Not Jed though.

Nope, our boy Jed put away his sockets, his impact wrench, his pry bar and his soapy water after every, single, damn job. Seriously. Then, when he'd find his way back to his workstation with a new work order, he'd look around, scratch his head and go about searching for his tools. Apparently, surprised every time that they were in their drawer or holder or wherever stupid people put their tools.

Anyway I wasted three hours at Canadian Tire, gave them $200 for my trouble (and two new snow tires) and a meagre "sorry" when I question how I could be told "One hour" and end up waiting for three.