Friday, July 31, 2009

European Union bans seal related products, eh

There was a news-chunk on the CBC radio the other day about how the European Union has banned seal related products from their markets and how Canada is challenging this ban at the World Trade Organization. "Weirds-ville" I thought to myself as I started to take a closer look at this situation, and my initial reaction was right since this story is odd (or 'weird') from pretty much every possible angle.

The ban itself is kind of strange, or at least some of the reasons given for the ban are. The European Union has said that the ban is in response to public concern as to whether the annual hunt is humane. I found that to be interesting because if there was real public concern wouldn't the European public just stop buying products which contained seal? And if the concerned public stopped buying these products then the market would disappear and there would be no need for a ban. It would appear that since European Union politicians believe there is a need for a ban, maybe the European public just isn't all that concerned after all.

I suspect the is mainly a sort of public relations ploy, with the European Union politicians believing that they have grabbed the moral high-ground over those dratted blood-thirsty Canadians. After all, blood-thirsty and neanderthal Canadians are nowhere near as enlightened and civilized as your average European, right? It is an interesting, if deeply confused thought of course, but as long as they are fooling themselves it's all good. As everybody knows, cruelty to animals is frowned upon in the European Union. Frowned upon with a wink, but still frowned upon. Our friends the Spanish enjoy torturing bulls to death. They call it bullfighting but considering how often the bull wins versus how often the bull loses, it's not much of a fight.

How about our friends the French? When they're not too busy plucking snails off the plant-life and chewing them down, they're all about preparing geese to make foie gras ('foie gras' is French for 'fat liver' in normal language.) For foie gras a goose is force-fed a grain mash 2 - 4 times a day for up to five weeks. This force-feeding is by a method called 'gravage', whereby a metal or plastic feeding tube is stuffed down a gooses throat and the grain mash is just poured in. I'm sure the geese don't mind too much, but it is pretty likely that nobody had ever bothered to ask them.

Those rabidly anti-hurting animal folds who are currently occupying the United Kingdom (AKA: Eng-er-lund) were at one time passionate about hurting and torturing animals at every opportunity. Whether it was bear-baiting, badger-busting, hog-tossing, chicken-stomping, quail-pumping, or any of a huge number of other "sports", the English were enthusiastic about beating up on the animal kingdom, and the bloodier the better. Civilization finally reared it's ugly (but well-kempt) head and by 2005 the final blood-sport was made illegal. This last "sport" was fox-hunting and involved a bunch of twits on horses and a bunch of trained hounds chasing after a fox, which would eventually be caught and shredded by the hounds. Since being banned in 2005 (four-years ago by my clock) this "sport" has grown in popularity among the 'chinless wonders' segment of the British population, their spirited defense of the "sport" being, "Well, old chap, toodle-pip and all that, eh wot?" Many people who are not ferociously inbred totally disagree with this defense.

There are those in the European Union's animal torturing game who claim that it is alright for them to torture bulls to death or force-feed geese or hunt whales because these activities are culturally relevant to the countries they happen in. In that case I have to ask what all the confused squealing was when the governor general of Canada, Michaelle Jean, while on a tour of Canada's north took part in a community feast in Rankin Inlet, Nunavet. While there she ate a chunk of seal heart. The hypocritical rhetoric out of the European Union was particularly 'holier-than-thou' with anti-seal hunt campaigner from the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Brussels, Barbara Slee, saying, "The fact that the governor general in public is slashing and eating a seal, I don't think that really helps the cause, and I'm convinced that this will not change the mind of European citizens and politicians." Ah, Babs, you really should think before mumbling stuff like that. You see, Rankin Inlet is in the north and growing veggies and tofu is tricky at best (the growing season is about one week or so.) As it turns out, one thing they do eat up there, you know, for survival, is seal. It is part of the culture and I find the survival thing to be pretty compelling, unlike fox-hunting say which is just torture for fun. The governor general was showing the people up there what we call "respect" by "respecting" their culture. It is just a thought but you might want to drop that "white man's burden" attitude of yours and consider trying the respect thing.

So here's the deal: To all our friends in the European Union, until the day arrives when you stop torturing geese, bulls, foxes and other animal, once you stop hunting whales and drift-netting. Once you have managed to get your own house in order, then maybe, maybe you can start pointing fingers at other people. Until that day arrives you just don't look all that good, that is unless you think that being hypocritical is good in which case you look just fine.

So, deal?

Anyway... Humouroceros

Profoundedly thinking

I have found that one way to stimulate the profoundus maximus centers of the brain (in order to force oneself to think profoundly) is to stay awake for extended amounts of time. A constant lack of sleep leaves one in a near-permanent state of pre-R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement), which as everybody knows is what the vulgar call the 'dream-state'.

Traditionally the dream-state is where a persons mind is processing the days (or a lifetimes) worries and thoughts, and this is all fine and natural as far as it goes. Unfortunately, it is unfocused. A persons mind wanders aimlessly so the trick is to essentially enter the dream-state while still awake enough to control it, and by 'control' I mean to carry on with a thought to its logical (or illogical) conclusion, no matter how odd that conclusion may be. Once one is able to do this, profoundity may occur.

As an example: I was thinking the other day about animagi, people who use the magik arts to transform themselves into animals of various types. Lets say that one of these people chose to become a frog (perhaps this person is a member of a crack ninja squad who is infiltrating a swamp.) Now as a frog this person would have all the attributes of a frog, including an uncontrollable taste for flies. It is generally accepted that humans would rather poke wood splinters into themselves rather than eat a fly but as a rule, frogs totally rock out on flies.

So this crack ninja is all busy infiltrating this swamp and he becomes peckish. He notices a particularly juicy fly, all full up with poop-juice and rotten crud, and he lets loose with his tongue and is soon chewing on that fly, jowls quivering as he chomps on that tasty delight. And here comes the profound part; As long as this ninja remains a frog, he can chew and swallow that fly with total enjoyment, but what if halfway through his snack he is startled and accidentally turns back into a human? A human who now has a half-chewed fly in his mouth. He would probably puke and then get caught by the swamp-owners.

Now that's profound.

Here endeth the lesson.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Friday, July 24, 2009

US health-care (such as it is)

My Sunday started about the same as usual; up at 0545 hrs, fire up the double-caf, and flick on the dopey-box to catch up on whatever wisdom the talking-heads have to share, starting with our friends to the south (the United States). There was some chatter on the US health-care system (such as it is) and my ears were forced to perk up some when the Republican senator from Kentucky, the Right honourable Mitch McConnell, said, “I had a friend of mine in Florida who called up recently and said he’d just lost a friend of his in Canada because the government decided he was too old for a certain kind of procedure, and apparently he didn’t have the money or the ability to get down to the United States for quality care.”

Now I understand that Mitch is a politician, but I would still like to believe that he thinks a little, tiny, teeny bit before he opens his mouth and lets the mouth-noises out. But I guess not. I mean, “the government decided”? So in Mitch-world some (I assume) elected official in an unspecified ministry in an unspecified province made the arbitrary decision to deny Mitch’s friend’s friend a critical unspecified medical procedure, thus allowing Mitch’s friend’s friend to die. Granted, in some countries this sort of compelling evidence might allow one to decide that the health-care system in question is NFG, but in this particular case I believe that Mitch-buddy has either got the wrong end of the broom, or else he is dumber than a sack of two-dollar hammers.

But let’s give Mitch the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he is not dumber than a sack of two-dollar hammers but is, in fact, just as smart as, if not smarter than, a sack of two-dollar hammers. To me it would appear the Mitch is appalled that someone would be denied medical treatment so I can only assume that this never happens in the United States, so I can totally understand Mitch being all upset and everything. The thing is, I don’t believe it. It seems to me that people are denied medical procedures in the US when they don’t have the correct insurance, or when they don’t have enough (or any) insurance, or when the insurance company feels like it. I have heard that in the US there are about 47-million people without any medical insurance at all, and I have also heard some on the right say that many of these people choose not to have health insurance (I can only assume that these people also choose not to have life, house or driving insurance either. Oh, and they all smoke too.) That is wild. Land of the free, right Mitch?

Or perhaps I am looking at this entire deal wrong. Should I maybe be focusing on “the government” angle? As Mitch no doubt knows, each province in Canada manages it’s own health-care and while I can’t speak for an of the other provinces, in British Columbia if you are not covered by your employer then health-insurance is not free, but it is very inexpensive (about a $100/month for a couple to have universal coverage). So, Mitch is essentially saying that if I were to need, say, a knee replacement, some bureaucrat in the government (in beautiful Victoria) would say, “What?! That Humouroceros guy needs a knee? After he’s been beating us like a bent mule for all this time? DENIED! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!” Um, I don’t think so, Mitch. I do have to admit how funny I find it when someone in government says you can’s trust the government to do the right thing. Officer thinking there, Mitch. (Also, I have always found this argument kind of interesting. The right-wind in the States [quick, pull my finger!] constantly asks if people want a bureaucrat standing between them and their doctor. But it is okay to have an insurance company between the patient and the doctor? Good thinking. Not muddled at all.)

The very Presidential Barrack Obama has made reforming US health-care a top priority (along with many other top priorities due to the eight-year long nightmare that finally began to end in January of 2009.) The (supposedly) non-partisan US Congressional Budget Office took a look at one reform plan being considered by Congress and came to the shocking conclusion that it would cost 1-trillion dollars over ten years. A trillion (with a ‘t’) over ten (with a ‘t’) years. Now that is some serious coinage (to put it in a perspective of sorts; the US defense department spends about a trillion dollars a year on defense and related industries). I made the mistake of thinking about this for a minute and I figure that that trillion dollars breaks down to 100-billion a year for 10-years. I thought why not divide that 100-billion among everybody living in the United States (with an estimated population of about 307-million) which would give everybody in the United States, the rich and the poor, the ugly and the pretty, an equal cut of that 100-billion. In 2010 everybody in the United States gets a cheque (sorry, a ‘check’) for $300-million. I suspect that the health-care debate would disappear instantly, and the government would save about $900-billion (the remainder of the trillion the Congressional Budget Office is talking about) to but towards the federal debt, which the Bush administration ran up to historic heights (bunch of reduce tax and spend like drunken politicians those Republicans.) Easy-peasy, really. Problem solved and you’re welcome.

Getting back to Mitch’s friend’s Canadian friend, Mitch figured that maybe the guy couldn’t afford treatment in the US, just like many US citizens. I don’t doubt that health-care in the US is very good, but it you can’t afford it does the quality really matter to you? I have read that about 62% of bankruptcies in the US are due at least in part to health-care costs. So, a family is going through a medical crisis, and the icing on the cake is that they get to declare bankruptcy? I’ll pass on that action thank-you. If that’s a better system then our friends to the south (the United States) are welcome to it.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I'm not what you could call a big fan of the liquor industry. I am not by any means advocating prohibition (heck, let's get rid of cigarettes though) but I don't really like the way booze is advertised. Drink beer and hot chicks in short shorts will play volley-ball with you and your drunk friends, drink a sparkly rum drink and dance the night away, maybe sometimes but not always. And usually not even sometimes.

The latest trend I have noticed is cute names for what we used to call (accurately) liquor stores. I mean like the Booze Depot or maybe Booze Barn or the even more nauseating Boozarama. I suspect that this little deal began south of the 49th because most to that sort of thing tends to, but now it has infiltrated up here to the Great White North (Ho! There was an unfortunate reference, after all what did Bob and Doug used to drink all the time?) And it gets even worse. Today I received a flyer from one of the local big-box liquor stores and it now has what it calls "recession buster" prices. I assume this is to make it easier for those who are out of work to get liquored (IE: drink), and after all, that is just what the unemployed need, right? Party on.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BC paramedics on strike

Ponder, if you will, the ridiculousness of the situation; British Columbia's paramedics are on strike and the folks who should be bargaining with them are under no real pressure to do so since as the paramedics are considered an essential service (and rightfully so), they are not allowed by law to deny service. Wages are part of the story and it is a bit of a hoot really, in a sad sort of way, since your average MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) pulls in over 90K a year, not counting various perks and allowances, while the people who will do their all to save your life in an emergency... Well I am pretty positive that they are not in the 90K+ per year wage bracket. Or even in the 80K a year range.

In fact the entry level position is called Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and is paid $2 per hour to be on pager alert. That's a whopping $24 per day but the BC Ambulance web-site says that this gives the EMR the opportunity to hold another job or to pursue other activities while pulling in that huge $2 per hour. Unfortunately the site doesn't say where these jobs are that the EMRs can grab, you know, the jobs that they can drop every time the pager goes off. I'm sure these jobs are out there and are quite easy to find, but a list would have been helpful.

I was wondering about those EMRs working off-station. In an emergency I would think that time is critical. Having to wait that extra few minutes for the EMRs to be able to drop the job they are working on (you know, to pay the bills and all) and get to the station seems kind of likely to cause some fatalities. I'm sure the folks in charge (the ones who are in no hurry to get the paramedics off strike) have considered this, so I'm not worried.

Those paramedics who are considered "full time" and are paid an hourly wage are not exactly the best paid in Canada (although they are in the top-ten, provincially speaking). They would prefer to be paid a wage comparable to other paramedics across the country. They would also like a wage comparable to BCs other emergency responders (police and fire), but this is something for the bargaining table.

It turns out that everybody's favourite BC premier, the alleged Gordon Campbell, couldn't help but step into the fray. While at a meeting with the Liberal candidate in Vernon, BC, the Gordon was confronted with some paramedics who wanted to discuss the issues. Quicker than tossing back a six-pack and a pint of hard-stuff, Gord tugged a loonie from his pocket and tossed it to a paramedic with the utterly clever accompanying comment of, "Don't spend it all in one place." Good one, Gord. Millions might think you were an insensitive clot for a stupid move like that, but not me, by golly.

It did get me to thinking though. If politicans went on strike, would they be legislated back to work under the essential services act? I understand this is just fantasy since whenegver the members of the legislature have a hankerin' for more money they just vote themselves a raise and some more perks. It's still something to think about though.

Anyway... Humouroceros

They only come out at night... fortunately

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I was talking to some associates from south of the 49th a while back and I accidentally let the Y-word slip ("yanks"). At first I was hoping that they would pretend it hadn't happened, but no, those boys were too sharp for that. "What did you call me?" my buddy Dave from Waco, Texas asked.

"Um," I Canadianized, "I called you a 'yank'. Why, was that wrong?"

"Well lemme tell ya," he explained without pulling out his gun, "these two fellas are from New York and Washington. They're 'yanks'. I'm from the south, and I am not a 'yank'. Comprendo?"

Time to set the story straight I figured. "Here's the deal, Dave. You guys are all from south of the 49th. You are all 'yanks'. And that includes Hawaii and Alaska."

Dave thought about it for a bit. "Well, okay," he said. "But to be honest those two fellas are 'damn-yankees' anyways. I guess when I'm in Canada I can be a 'yank'."

Wham! Another blow for international understanding but to be honest when you are dealing with someone like Dave (from Waco), that man is flat-out cool and I'm proud to know him.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Westboro bitch-slapped

I was just wondering so I hit the information-superhighway and check and yes! Now that Michael Jackson has gone on to his reward the merry skanksters of the Westboro Baptist Church will be on hand to protest at his funeral. Apparently they will be taking time out from protesting at the funerals of the soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to rant and rave at Michael's funeral, and I think it is great. Not for all the expected reasons but because I think that the video footage of a bunch of MJ's fans slapping the crap out of a bunch of homophobic, self-righteous religious nuts will be great. I can only hope that the head ugly, bug-eyed Freddy Phelps his own bad self will show up. I'm pretty sure that he probably doesn't do protests much himself anymore, being old and ratty and all, but this one will be pretty high profile with a definite opportunity to get his picture in the paper, ranting, covered in drool and looking crazier than a train-rattled skunk. Why, with any luck at all some skinny thirty-year old dude who has been a Michael fan for all his life, wearing pancake makeup and a dress will tackle Freddy and squat on his head. Man, I'll be checking YouTube daily to see that footage. Oh yeah, I've got my fingers crossed now.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Ark of the Covenant revealed(ish)!

Hizzonour Patriarch Abuna Pauolos

According to the journalistic aces of the Italian news-service, Adnkronos, the leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Abuna Pauolos planned to “unveil” the Ark of the Covenant last week on Friday, June 26, 2009. The report claimed that Patriarch Pauolos said, “Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses.”

The 26th came and went and then on June 28th Patriarch Pauolos announced, “No, the Ark is not going to be revealed. Nobody could touch it. If you do so, God will smite you.” Well golly, nobody wants to get all smited upside the head now, do they? Especially by God, but the question remains, does the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church actually know where the Ark is, or is he just a publicity-hog?

According to archeologist Bob Cornuke, who has been described as a “real-life Indiana Jones” (except that he uses a slap-stick rather than a whip, and he doesn’t wear a hat, or a leather jacket, and he likes snakes), “They (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church) either have the Ark of the Covenant or they have a replica that they have believed to be the Ark of the Covenant for 2000 years.”

So maybe the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has the Ark, and maybe they don’t, in either event it may be instructive at this point to review a short history of the Ark of the Covenant. First off it is important not to confuse the Ark of the Covenant with that other famous ark, Noah’s Ark. It is true that there are many similarities between the two; their names rhyme for one (Ark ~ Ark) and neither contained dinosaurs, unicorns or hefalumps. In this case however it is probably best to focus on their differences. Noah’s Ark was built some 900-years before the Ark of the Covenant was even a gleam in Moses’s eye, and Noah’s Ark was slightly larger than the Ark of the Covenant being about 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits (a cubit is a variable length generally divided into seven palms of four digits). The Ark of the Covenant was a svelte 2 cubits 3 palms and 2 digits by 1 cubit 3 palms and 2 digits by 1 cubit 3 palms 2 digits and a pink fuzzy one.

The Ark of the Covenant was built by Moses to hold the original stone tablets upon which were written the 10-commandments. Actually the Ark contained the original stone tablets as well as the second set which were produced when the first set got broken (typical guy, that Moses. He couldn’t even throw away something that was broken.) For centuries afterward the Ark spent a lot of time in transit, first being placed in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod. That particular temple soon had the living daylights smited out of it and Ashdod was destroyed with a holy plague. The Ark was brought to Jerusalem and placed in a specially constructed temple, but Jerusalem was later attacked and destroyed by the Babylonians and the Ark was on the road again. There are reports that the Ark spent some time in the palace of the king of the Babylonians (King Cacapoopalot, if you believe that sort of thing) where it was used as a coffee table of some description.

Later tales place the Ark in many areas of the “Holy Land”, areas that generally got invaded by plagues, poisonous toads and other “natural” disasters and by the early 300s of the common era the Ark disappeared from all histories. There were stories of course. The Ark would be reported helping a little old lady cross a busy street, or lifting a child over a raging river, but by and large these stories are considered pretty unlikely, if not actually completely silly.

The most reliable (heh, yeah, reliable) sources claim that the Ark was placed in a deep crypt in the Egyptian city of Tanis, which was later destroyed by a sand-storm lasting an entire year. Of course many stories of similar reliability place the Ark in; Herdewyke in Warwickshire, England, or inside the Hill of Tara in Ireland and even in the care of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (and here’s a funny story; There are, once again, reliable reports that at the end of the Ethiopian civil-war in 1991 a hardcore cadre of Mossad operatives, including several specially trained Levites, went into Ethiopia and came out with the Ark and it is now stored in Israel. Cool, right?)

So does the Patriarch Pauolos even have access to the Ark? Who is to say but at least he got his picture in the paper for a couple of days, and that has to be worth something.

Anyway… Humouroceros

An actual artists drawing of what the Ark of the Covenant is suspected to look like.

Another actual drawing, this time of Noah's Ark. Notice the subtle differences between Noah's Ark and the Ark of the Covenant