Friday, April 30, 2010

M.I.A. - Born Free


Holy cow, this is harsh. Enjoy.

Anyway... Humouroceros

One for the road...

Party's over, losers!
Things seem to be getting a little tougher for the pro-drinking and driving crowd in the great province of British Columbia and would you know it but all sorts of good folks are getting dragged into the fray. It's too bad for the dicks who feel that it is their right to pound back a 2-4 of foamy-brown before driving home to watch the hockey game and have a night-cap, but I'm okay with that bunch being inconvenienced by getting yanked off the road. And under the proposed new rules getting yanked off the road will be the least of their problems because if they score a .08 blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer they are also going to come face to face with: a $500 administrative penalty, a $250 licence reinstatement fee, a $700 bill for towing and impoundment, $800 for mandatory participation in a drivers program, $1,420 for a years use of an ignition interlock (for when they get their licence back), plus a 90-day driving ban, a 30-day vehicle impoundment, and possible criminal charges. Now that would make for a pretty expensive night out. Poor old booze-hounds, getting treated all harsh and everything. Gosh, that's rough.

The theory seems to be that the last forty years of trying to get people to act responsible and not be idiots when it comes to liquor and cars just hasn't' gotten through to everybody so now it is time to aim for their wallets. The accused drunk would have the right to appeal the fines to the Superintendent of Motor-vehicles and I do have to wonder just how that would work. "Yeah, I was plastered but you guys are being unreasonable!" just isn't real convincing to me. Well, it would probably convince me I was dealing with a complete idiot who should be put down for the common good, but I'm pretty sure that is not what someone in that position would be going for.

The proposed changes are being welcomed by the police and by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (I would hope that the fathers are against it too) but there are some concerns being expressed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which does not support being pissed while driving, which wonders whether the new rules will pass muster under the Charter of Rights. "You need to give people a chance to challenge them (the new rules)," says executive director of the Association, David Eby, "to make sure there's not an abuse of the process, by police for example..." Oh yeah, good example, fanning the flames of the 'fear the police' mindset, or more accurately, mindless-set. What say we all grow up for a moment and admit that the cops do not spend their days cruising around harassing folks who are just working their way through the daily grind. Now if those same cops happen to jerk some liquor-riddled dork off the road (the same road my friends and family are using in fact) then more power to them. As far as the new rules running against the Charter of Rights, we'll just let the courts decide that. For the record though, B.C. Solicitor General Mike de Jong says, "we think we have covered off and struck the right balance so that they (the new rules) will withstand what is probably going to be an inevitable challenge." Time will tell.

The liquor-mutts have one bit of "good" news in that they have essentially been given a 'freebie', criminal charges-wise. The fines, not being charges under the criminal code are covered by personal privacy laws so someone who is concerned about the embarrassment factor of a drinking and driving charge is safe. Unless they choose to pursue the matter in court, in which case everything becomes public. I encourage all these people to lawyer up and hit the courts. I like to know who the drunks are. Of course a second offense will not be treated quite so leniently and since the authorities now will know they are dealing with a real prize-winning idiot, that person will now be the nail to the laws hammer. Bam!

An argument that has been made against these new rules is that they take legal recourse away from the booze-monkeys. This is, as they say in the courts, a huge steaming mound of poop. Every accused has the right to appeal the fines, as I said above. Heck, I am not a big fan of the L.O.G. (Liberal Occupying Government) in Victoria, but I like what they have done here. If I were of a less generous nature I might have said "even a blind pig finds a truffle every now and again", but that would have been needlessly rude. In any event, any new rules that smack a drunk-driver around are a-ok in my book.

Anyway... Humouroceros


Monday, April 26, 2010

Duck, it's the HST!

Bottomless pockets across the great province of British Columbia are watching with an admirable amount of trepidation as the latest evolution of our provinces sales-tax looms. The ever popular L.O.G. (Liberal Occupying Government) in Victoria has announced their intent to have this thing in place by the middle of this year (2010). The so-called Harmonized Sales Tax (snakely shortened to the HST) is described as a harmonized tax between the provincial sales tax of 7-percent and the federal sales tax of 5-percent (the mathematically astute will notice the this adds up to 12-percent. Well done people and now you can smoke 'em if you've got 'em). Of course there are those in favour of this and there are those who want nothing to do with it. Those in favour of the HST say it will create jobs, lower prices, and cure all of your major diseases and if it does not pass then the entire province will dry up to a Tatooine-like aridity and everyone's dog will run away. Those against the HST say it will cost jobs, raise out-of-pocket costs, cause an infestation of boil-covered frogs, and eventually the only reason anybody will have children is so that they will have something to eat. Swift! Now both are valid views, but it is a little bit confusing. What is a poor boy to do?

Being as I am a 'benefit-of-the-doubt' kind of guy I motored off to the pro-HST government web-site at which I found to be very promising. Lots of nice pictures of good-looking people smiling and having a good time spending money and paying the HST. Apparently prices will drop as "hidden" taxes are removed and business will pass on the massive savings to the paying public. Okay, I added in the word "massive" myself, but only because I got all excited there. But then I hit a bump in the road. The site is curiously short on specifics as to just how the prices will drop. I came across the following "Car Service Repair Example" graphic:

My first reaction was, "Oh, ho! Let's examine this carefully!" and my second reaction was, "WTF is this BS?" I mean, what are they trying to pull here? I'm not talking about how the graphic is miss-labeled. I suspect that is merely some graphic designer's decision to 'maintain the integrity of the balance of the work' by leaving "GST" off the car on the right. Reading the graph suggests that under the current system of provincial taxation the car-repair business passes all the PST costs on all their overhead on to the trusting consumer. The graph points out that this will not happen with the HST, but it does not explain why this will not happen. Hmmm... Thinking-cap time. I think it won't happen because... Well, why won't it happen? The business is still paying all those overhead cost taxes, only now it will be the HST rather than the PST and as the cost is still there then why wouldn't the business continue to pass them on to the consumer?

Okay, verdict one; this graph is a lie. And even worse, it's a sloppy lie. A quick jaunt around the rest of the site is not reassuring. There are lots of promises that the costs will not rise and everybody will be spending less, thus everybody will have more spending money in their pockets. Well that sounds pretty darn good, but if it is so good then why are lower income folks getting a rebate on the HST? If it is so great then will they not already have more money left after shopping or whatever? Plus, and I know this is off topic, but if the provincial Liberals have all of a sudden discovered a compassion for the working poor then why not raise the minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10 per hour?

A little further searching and I found an article by legislative reporter Tom Fletcher ( where he takes to task those who are against the HST, comparing them to those who were against the GST back in 1991. Toms' gonch are twisted pretty tight is what I figure. In his humble opinion those who were against the GST 'back in the day' were consumed by an "unfocused rage" and unable to understand the benefits of the GST which "replaced a 14-per-cent manufacturers sales tax that was imposed on our own industries, but not on imports" with a 7-percent tax paid by consumers. I think that Tom's implication is that prices on domestically manufactured goods would drop by 14-percent and the consumer would pay a 7-percent tax, with a net saving of 7-percent and Canadians were too dumb to understand how good this was.

It's a great theory, undone by the fact that everyday items stayed the same price with a shiny new tax of 7-percent on top of it. "Then," as Tom puts it, "we stood around in our dirt glazed lumberjack shirts, Molson stubbies in hand, and wondered why were (sic) still hewing wood and drawing water for the world." This sentence either says much about Tom's personal hygiene or it lost a great deal of meaning in translation from the original gibberish. I don't know for sure what he is trying to say but I think it may be that he thinks the GST may have been a good idea and that people ought to settle down and quit whining about the HST. Well Tom seems to like the L.O.G. in Victoria and at the end of his article he mentions that the HST is necessary to raise money because of the aging baby-boomer population and those freeloaders have to be supported somehow. Right on, so Tom is saying that the HST is essentially a new higher tax. My question is this: the government site doesn't mention this and goes to a lot of trouble to explain that this will actually lowering people's cost of living by getting rid of "hidden taxes". So which is it?

The thing is, if the government is going to change the sales tax system then they should be honest and forthright about why they are doing it. They are raising taxes for future expenses? Then say so. I'm not one of those people who think that everybody wants a free ride with no taxes. I believe that most people have no problem paying their fair share and it is unfortunate the the government doesn't seem to share that belief. Their web-site appears to be saying, "It's good because it's good" and that is as deep as it gets. And that is why I will be signing a petition against the HST. Tom might believe that I would do that because I am afraid of something that I don't understand but it is actually more along the lines of I don't like being lied to or treated like an idiot. It is also unfortunate that in his effort to convince people to not sign a petition Tom resorted to the same sorts of arguments as right-wingnut loud-mouths do south of the border. Smarmy comments and slippery insults are not going to convince me to change my mind and if you are trying to teach me a lesson by your clever little rantings, the lesson I learned is probably not the one you were trying to teach. Tough luck, Tom.

Anyway... Humouroceros


Friday, April 23, 2010


Yeah, it's Rat Silo and they're great.

Anyway... Humouroceros

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Heritage Conservation Act

I don't know but I've been told that people who buy a designated "heritage" house are usually pretty limited as to what sorts of work they can do on that house. (Oh! Quick anecdote! Years back I was watching a home renovation show - This Old House or something along those lines - and it was about a couple who had bought a heritage home in some US city or other. They wanted to renovate it to how it had looked when first built over a hundred years before and did a huge amount of research into how the house had originally looked. They even found the original colour that the house had been painted. So, to be clear, this couple was ready and willing to put some pretty serious coin into this house and had some some hardcore legwork into doing it up right. The heritage committee in their town turned down their plan to paint the house it's original, or "heritage", colour because that did not fit into their heritage colour scheme. I don't remember how that particular episode ended, but I find it illustrative of the point that all too often the people who are in charge of these sorts of things are the last people who should be in charge of these sorts of things.) This is not my cup of tea but there are plenty of folks who are in to that sort of thing and good luck to 'em. And as these people should know what they are getting into, let's not hear any whining about how expensive it can be or anything, right? Buy a heritage home and you accept the property rights limitations and obligations that go along with it. That's the deal and fair enough.

As it turns out, in British Columbia we have what is called the Heritage Conservation Act. This is to protect First Nations heritage from being lost or destroyed. Anybody who owns property which is a heritage site cannot develop that site until an archaeological assessment has been done, and any First Nations artifacts or remains removed, all at the property owners expense. Obviously when one decides to buy a property that is a designated heritage site, there are 38,000 in British Columbia with almost 2,000 more being added every year, then one accepts that possibility of having to pay way extra if one decides to build on ones own property. Fair enough, right?

No. You see the current 38,000 heritage sites are not registered on any title deed. When you are looking at and even buying a property there is nothing to let you know that it is a heritage site. As an example; when I bought I was given all the property facts back for over a hundred years. In fact, technically, the government has the right to herd cattle to market through my back yard (as well as my neighbours I assume). Well, good luck with that and it will never happen but if it did, I couldn't say that I had not been aware of the possibility before I bought the property. Well, not honestly anyway.

But if my property had ever been claimed as being culturally significant by any First Nation group short of my actually contacting the Provincial government there is no real easy way to me to find out. If I tried to build on my new property I could wind up on the wrong side of the law due to something that I had no way of knowing, and that is not right.

The provincial minister in charge, Kevin Kreuger (Liberal - Kamloops-South Thompson) says the lack of disclosure has been a long-standing issue. "We are carefully working through how to address this whole issue." Kevin also points out that people assume some responsibilities when they buy a property, which is quite true. If I were to buy a property where I knew there was a dead tree about to fall on the neighbours house, I assume the responsibility to deal with that tree. This is a responsibility that you accept when you buy a property. Oh, and you are also aware of it before you buy the property. So I'm not sure what Kevin means with the "assume some responsibility" thing. How can you be expected to assume responsibility for something you don't even know about? Or why should you be responsible for something that changed after you bought the property? Almost 2,000 new sites every year, remember? That ain't right.

Kevin also points out that if the government does change the disclosure rules property owners will still have the main financial obligation. "The ownership of the land on the surface doesn't mean unrestricted control of what happens subsurface when the ground is disturbed." I think that last bit means "when you dig a hole" but then Kevin is 10x smarter than I will ever be so it would be unreasonable to expect him to speak normally. I was intrigued by the entire statement and it's implications though. Let's say I am digging a hole (!) in my back yard and I happen to find a chunk of gold. No, better yet, I find a well preserved leather sack of Roman gold coins. No, betterer yet, a pirate chest full of gold doubloons, triploons, quadloons and all sorts of jewels and crowns and swords and stuff! Yeah! Now who owns that and how do I find out?

A former chief of the Nanoose First Nation, Wayne Edwards, says that every BC landowner and buyer whose property is affected should be told. "Home owners should be afforded the courtesy of having that kind of information," he says, which is very reasonable. Unfortunately he also says, "Buyer beware. That land you are buying may be of historical importance to First Nations." I have no doubt that too much First Nation history has been lost forever, both accidentally and maliciously, and it is only right that a mechanism is in place to save what is left, but why is the home owner the one paying the bill? And why is everyone who can do something about it OK with how things are? I just think that as these artifacts are so important, why aren't the First Nations themselves paying to have them preserved? Are they maybe not quite that important? Obviously I don't believe that, but I have to wonder.

It would be nice if this were all a legalistic thought experiment used to illustrate how bad laws are enforced anyway, but unfortunately a family in BC is dealing with this stuff right now. The Allix family on Vancouver Island bought some property about 40-years ago, before the Heritage Conservation Act was brought in. They have lived on the property since and in 2007 the owners decided to build a smaller home for themselves beside the house they had lived in all this time. The local archaeological cabal finds out and goose-steps into the picture, stinking up the place and telling the family they cannot go ahead with their plans until an archaeological assessment is done, at the family's expense. There is an estimated cost of $4,000, which the family agrees to and the next thing you know there are archaeologists swarming all over the property, leaving trails of slime wherever they go. Some "artifacts" were found as well as some human bones and then the archaeologists had the nerve to present the family with a bill for $35,000, which is like $4,000 except way higher. The Allix family had even been billed for the archaeologists accommodation and meals.

I think we can call this an example of a family trying to do the right thing and getting screwed for their troubles. Years of issues, which may have hastened the death of one older member of the family, permit after permit, and at the end of it they get a bill for $35,000. Now there are probably people out there who can afford to flush $35,000 down the toilet but I don't know any of them. And where are the politicos who should be making sure that this sort of thing does not happen to BC landowners? Shaking their heads with phony sympathy and with crap-licking little smirks on their over-paid faces. And to be frank, the First Nations don't come out of this story looking real good either.

The fact is that if folks are going to get screwed over then somehow I think that people are going to stop worrying about it and just go ahead and bulldoze, which would make it a little worse for First Nation artifacts than it is now. Wouldn't it make a little more sense to have an environment where people want to help preserve this history? Unreasonable laws and threats won't do it. As things stand, if you ignore the Act then you are liable for a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 6-months in jail. Knowing government they will just increase the fine or something. It's easier. I am reminded once again that justice and the law are two different things.
Anyway... Humouroceros


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Big Bad Lloyd

The reign of error that was the career of master-criminal Lloyd Carr has come to an end, for now. On April 16 Lloyd had an appointment with the Canadian Justice System in Edmonton, Alberta where he landed a three and a half year sentence in prison for defrauding the Albertan provincial government of $635,000. Yeah, they could afford it, being the richest province and all, it was just the principal of the thing.

Between 2004 and 2006 Lloyd as the director of the tobacco reduction program at the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission. That was by day, because by night Lloyd claims that he was packing a gambling addiction so huge it cast a shadow. During his time as director he diverted the $635K to his own personal accounts to maintain his jones for the pull-tabs and the scratch and wins. This is what he says anyway. Oh, he also "gambled" and bought a house and a car. No matter how you look at it though, the financial oversight by the Albertan government was nothing short of astonishing. Second to none, you might say, if you were prone to saying that sort of thing.

Now one count of fraud over $5000 (sure, $635K is over $5000, but a charge with a wimpy name like that is almost an insult, from a certain point of view) does not a master-criminal make. It turns out that while out on bail Lloyd had told his probation officer that he was fighting the good fight and gainfully employed as a house-painter in Swan River, Manitoba. Now I was surprised that someone on bail would be allowed to leave the province where the bail was imposed but this is not something I have ever had to deal with and the workings of the Canadian Criminal Justice System are frequently a mystery to me anyway. At any rate it turned out that the only part of Lloyd's work story that was true was the working in Manitoba part. The rest was, as they say in the halls of jurisprudence, a load of crapola. As it turns out Lloyd has enterprisingly got himself hired by the NOR-MAN Regional Health Authority by faking up a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Calgary and by claiming, fakily, that he had work experience in Ontario. It would appear that the rubes in charge were so impressed by hearing the words "Calgary", "Ontario" and "Bachelor" that they didn't bother with any silly old checking of references or anything and before you could say "what the hell is wrong with these people", Lloyd was working as a mental health clinician for children in Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Yet there was still this pesky trial and possible jail time to consider, for Lloyd to consider anyway. Even he was aware that as shiveringly able as he was to convince even the sharpest Manitoba government hiring dude of whatever he wanted, it was pretty close to impossible to put a good spin on, "I have to go to Calgary to face a hearing for stealing government money and I am probably going to jail for a short time." The optics are bad and even a Manitoba government official might notice something a little iffy about that story. Lloyd's new job would be in peril, if not actual jeopardy, so he pulled open the old tickle-trunk of stories for all occasions and told his employers that he had bowel cancer and would be going to Winnipeg for an operation, and for this he would need some sick leave. I have heard that he even faked up a doctor's note on the inside of a torn up cigarette package, figuring that the subliminal connection between cigarettes and cancer would work in his favour, which it did. He was granted sick-leave time and off he toddled to old Edmonton town for find out what his near future held for him.
The thing was that the media had been watching this case and when it was put out that Lloyd was working in Manitoba some bright spark who is doing a damn fine job of working towards being a journalist checked the story out and the truth had actually come out (just goes to show that you can't trust the liberal, lame-stream media no way no how). Lloyd wasn't aware that he had been outed, but I feel confident that he figured it out when he was arrested outside the courthouse in Edmonton. His employers out in Manitoba figured it out when they read it in the newspapers. Crown Prosecutor Greg Lepp pointed out to the judge that Lloyd's actions regarding his parole and how he had scored his job in Manitoba showed that Lloyd was perhaps not quite ready to reform his behaviour and thus he should be sentenced accordingly. "He attempted to play us for fools", said Prosecutor Lepp. A seemingly contrite Lloyd said from the stand that, "Change is not an overnight journey, my journey isn't done. I stand knowing I've been forgiven by the Lord." Yeah, well the Lord appears to forgive priests who molest little kids so that isn't a real point in His, or Lloyd's, favour.
Apparently the "contrite" thing didn't cut any ice with the judge either and now Lloyd is off to the big-house to play 'who has the soap' in the showers with the guys. No worries about old Lloyd though. I figure that someone like him will land on his feet, and a three and a half year sentence doesn't mean much anyway. I think that works out to about a year in real time, minus time served, of course. Then he'll be back on the street, frauding governments and having a whale of a good time. Good luck in the joint, Lloyd.
Anyway... Humouroceros
PS: Okay, I'm busted. I added the twirly mustache and the fencing scar into the picture of Lloyd to make him look more dashing and pirate-like. The goofy gelled hair just wasn't cutting it on it's own.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Revenge body

I was in line at a local food-selling-store and to pass the minutes I was mindlessly staring at the "magazines" they had cunningly placed all over the place. I believe the term is "impulse buy" although I seem to be immune because the only impulse I get is to want to get through the line quicker. I don't care what the "celebrities" are getting up to or about 65 new sex moves that will tilt your man's world, or whatever else the real lame-stream media are able to come up with as they continue on their never ending quest to insult the intelligence of all women. One term grabbed my attention though as I don't remember ever having seen it before. "Revenge body". According to some rag called Life & Style says that some woman has lost five pounds and now has a revenge body and blah, blah, blah. I mean, WTF is that all about?

If I am to understand this stuff right, this means that all she has is her body? There is no mind or ability there, just body? That is about as pathetic as it could possibly get. I mean, seriously, what could be worse? It's like all the battles that women have had to fight for over a century now just don't matter. I mean, if it were just this one poor deluded woman that would be one thing but when I googled it there are other "revenge bodies" out there. Unbelievable and now I'm going to have to use sandpaper to get that thought out of my head. I need a coffee real bad.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Friday, April 16, 2010

All in the family

Conservative bobble-heads Helena Geurgis and her loverly husband Rahim Jaffer have both chosen to use a lawyer who has the same high regard for the truth and the facts as they do. I am at this time unwilling to enter into some sort of anti-lawyer screed. I do not like everything that lawyers do, but they are an important part of the justice system and I don't think that is as obvious or as trite as it sounds. There are too many folks out there who confuse lawyers with the clients they represent. "Some lawyer represented a murder? Obviously he supports murder as a pass-time" some people seem to think, and this is just wrong. I don't like murders getting off, or criminals of any kind, but there has to be proof that the accused have committed a crime, and the accused as a right to be defended. As Doctor Gonzo says in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "Even a goddamn werewolf is entitled to legal counsel..." Of course I prefer the Atticus Finch model from To Kill A Mockingbird (one of my favourite books), but Dr Gonzo cuts right through to the heart of the matter in a way that Atticus never would.

Decades back when I was in high school I went to hear a local lawyer speak about the Canadian justice system. He told us about how trials as shown on television or in movies were not even close to how it really was. Another point he wanted to get across was the difference between lawyers in Canada and the United States. He said that in Canada lawyers wanted to get to the truth of the matter, while lawyers in the US wanted to win for their clients. I remember thinking at the time, what a load of butt-junk, and my opinion has not changed much in that regard over the years. Lawyers are people and people like to win. It's hard-wired in (no, I am not identifying with the Intelligent Design nimrods by using the phrase "hard-wired in". Intelligent designers are dorks and I just happen to like the phrase.) Lawyers are doing a job and that job is defending their clients best interests and I think this is where it gets a bit slippery, to wit: what are the clients best interests? This is also where I finally get back on track with Helena, Rahim and their lawyer, 'Big' Howard Rubel.

This particular story began September 11, 2009 when after an evening of high-powered business schmoozing, Rahim decided that those silly old drunk-driving laws didn't apply to him. He hopped into his ironically named Ford Escape and laid rubber for his trip home. A member of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) radared Rahim flying at 93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone (apparently speed limits are rather silly too, or maybe they just shouldn't apply to top flight, happenin' business dudes like Rahim) and he was pulled over. The officer noticed the smell of booze and when Rahim claimed to have had only two beers in the previous hour the officer whipped out the approved road-side breath-test device (I assume the Alcotest 7410 GLC, the breath-tester of choice among members of the OPP, unless I am very much mistaken) which Rahim blew, and failed. (A quick breath-tester primer: The road-side device is calibrated to show whether a person would pass, fail, or receive a warning, depending on the amount of liquor detected on the suspects breath. With a "fail" the officer can then make a demand for the suspect to give a formal breath sample at the police station. This second test is considered the "real" test. Here endeth the lesson.) Oh, and as Rahim was being bustled into the police car a small amount of cocaine was found in his jacket.

He was taken back to the station for the "real" breath test, and he was given the opportunity to contact a lawyer. Unfortunately nobody was returning calls at that particular time of the night (two of the lawyers he called were in Calgary, a couple of time-zones away) so the officer suggested that he call the free legal aid 1-800 number. The advice he got there was to take the test,and while he was doing that both lawyers from Calgary called back. Unfortunately the police didn't want to interrupt the breath tests and didn't allow Rahim to speak to the lawyers right away.

Then for some reason after the breath test the officers decided to give Rahim a strip-search. There is no apparent reason for this to have happened as Rahim was going to be released, had no previous record, and was cooperating. When he finally did walk out of the station his drivers licence had been suspended and he was facing criminal charges for speeding, drunk driving and possession of a controlled substance. All federal charges and all bad news.

Several months of bargaining commenced then and on March 9, 2010 all charges were dropped and Rahim plead guilty to a provincial charge of careless driving. So no criminal record, a $500 fine, a $500 donation to a charity and 6-demerit points on his driving licence. That'll teach him!Even the judge was shaking his head at this one, drunk, with drugs and speeding and he gets away with it. And then, as if to rub salt in the wounds, Rahim's lawyer ambles up to the press and babbles, "He was never in possession of any illegal substance and never drove while impaired at all and I think the withdrawal of those charges vindicates that position."

So the OPP made it all up? Is that what I'm hearing you say, Howard? Good one there buddy, that is stereotypical lawyer behaviour, isn't it? Essentially you have told Rahim that it isn't his fault, society is to blame and so rather than taking responsibility for his own actions he gets to smirk and pretend that he is sorry with the ultra-smarmy, "I know I should have been more careful and I took full responsibility for my careless driving." (Italics mine because it was such a dickhead thing for him to say.) Yeah, it's too bad he didn't take full responsibility for the booze, the coke and the speeding, and here's hoping that next time he doesn't kill someone. It's too bad that Rahim and Howard didn't have the smarts to just keep their mouths shut, and yes it's too bad the OPP detachment didn't allow him to speak to his lawyer right away, and it's too bad they strip-searched him. But I really don't see how helping Rahim get away with breaking the law is in any way in Rahim's best interests.

Rahim's wife, MP Helena Guergis would most likely disagree with me, and not merely because Rahim is her husband. When she was tossed out of caucus last week and had her name given to the Federal Ethics Board as well as the RCMP, well let's just say that Helena is no shrinking violet. She know she had to lawyer up and she know that her husbands lawyer was willing to play fast ans loose with the facts, the statement he made to the press regarding Rahim's "innocence" vindicating that position.

Well Howard has only two settings: Attack mode and Blitzkrieg so he was on it like bigot on a Tea-partier. "She has made it clear from the outset that she will respond to these allegations, and she wants to respond to these allegations," thundered "Git 'em off" Howard. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to respond to allegations if they have not yet been disclosed to her." Good point, Howard, absolutely true, except for the part where you say she hadn't been told what the allegations were. You see the Prime Minister's Office says that they told Helena what the allegations were when she was told she wasn't going to be in Caucus anymore, and in this case I think I actually believe the PMO because as I said earlier, Helena ain't no shrinking violet and I'm sure that she would have at least asked why she was being tossed. Seems to me that this is the sort of thing her lawyer would know about her.

So this saga is still in the early days and I'm willing to bet that there is lots of dirt still to come, which is good for me, but maybe not so good for Helena and Rahim. On the other hand there is really nowhere for them to go but up.

Anyway... Humouroceros

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Smoker's "rights"

Once again I have to wonder, what's the deal with smokers? I was driving by a well known international coffee shop this week and there was a young girl smoking in front of the shop. Apparently she had just sucked the last bits of tar and nicotine out of that bad-boy because as I was driving past she tossed it out into the road. I honked my horn politely, she gave me the finger and I could see that our relationship was coming to an untidy end. I suppose that honestly it was doomed from the start as mixed relationships rarely work out. She was a smoker with the smokers finely honed sense of entitlement ("It is my right to throw my smelly butts all over the place!") and I think that smokers who throw their fag-ends on the ground should be make to clean up dog-poop in the parks with their bare hands.

I am not some sort of anti-smoking zealot. If someone wants to put that poison into their own bodies then that is up to them. Just keep it out of my face and we'll be fine. But why do smokers think they don't have to clean up after themselves? Everybody has seen it; out the rear door of a business there is a "smoker's pit" where the butt-suckers go to indulge their addiction, with a litter of butts laying all over the place along with a couple of quarts of spit. Maybe there's a large coffee can over-flowing with a toxic brew of water and cigarette butts. It's as though smokers don't think their habit is quite gross enough, the have to add a big mess into the mix. And that poisonous brew in the can would be laughable if it weren't so vile. One can imagine some smoker having a fit of cleanliness and putting out a can for butts not realizing that putting out the can isn't even half the job. You have got to replace or at least clean that dude every so often before it fouls up the area even more. In this case, the thought just doesn't count.

I have seen "smokers remorse" and it can be a wonderful thing. I was walking into a local mall when a fellow flicked his butt into the road. "Nice throw," I said, "right into the road." he went over and picked it up then threw it into an ashtray moulded into the top of a nearby garbage can. "Happy?" he asked, sarcastically, I suspect. "Ecstatic," I answered, and I was not being sarcastic. One small victory will do to start.

Anyway... Humouroceros

"Royalty" has it's way

Well it is about friggin' time. It has been so many years since there has been a Canadian politician who was as wildly erratic as, say, Republican Congressperson Michelle Bachmann is from south of the 49th. Granted, back in the long ago Brian Mulrooney (a Conservative Prime Minister, if I recall correctly), who is generally acknowledged to be two-hundred pounds of horrible in a fifty-pound sack, ran wild in the streets of Ottawa running down stray dogs in the early morning light. Brian was, and is, so crooked that he is purely incapable of walking in a straight line. He personally trashed the Progressive Conservative party so totally that the only way they ever became viable again was when they joined with the western based Reform party, and they were not the senior party in that particular merger. Thanks, Brian (that polite rumble you hear is the synchronized spinning in their graves of Sir John A MacDonald, Sir Charles Tupper and John "the Dief" Diefenbaker.)

Then there was Jean Chretien (a Liberal Prime Minister of the old school) who came in like a lion and went out like a bug-eyed old actress, unable to accept the fact of her own advancing age. Jean fell face-first into the traditional Liberal mindset of, "you voted us into power so obviously we are ten times smarter than you will ever be." Polite people called him arrogant and the rest of us called him an obnoxious dick at the end. You go, Jean (that muffled swishing you hear is the head-shaking going on in the Liberal afterlife where the spirits of Alexander Mackenzie, William King and Pierre Trudeau are especially disturbed - this is pretty weird because King was nuts anyway and Trudeau never really respected Jean much.)
Of course over the years there have been other Canadian politicians who have aspired to weirdness and to a certain extent may have even distinquished themselves in this endeavour. Not up to British standards perhaps, but then the British have been at it longer. Canadian politicians tend not to be as haywire nuts as they can be south of the border, which is good for Canada, but not so good for Canadian political humourists (not counting Rick Mercer, but then that guy is pretty much brighter that I will ever be). But now the new(ish) kids on the block have kicked it up a notch, with an enthusiastic erratisism that would impress even the most wild-eyed tea-partier in the good old US of A.
Rahim Jaffer and his wife Helena Guergis either are or were Conservative Members of Parliment, depending on which one you are talking about. Rahim was the MP for Edmonton-Strathcona from 1997 to 2008, starting out as a Reform MP then becoming a Conservative MP when the parties merged. He was fired by the voters in 2008 and replaced by NDPer (New Democratic Party - lefties) Linda Duncan. Now that is an impressive change by anybodies standards, from a Conservative to a NDP MP - in Alberta of all places. Way to go, Rahim! If you are going to drop the ball, drop it a long way.
Helena Guergis' career in the Houses of Parliament isn't quite as long as Rahim's was (yet), but it was pretty high profile. First elected in 2004, Helena was appointed Minister of State for the Status of Women in 2008.
These two rose high, which only made it possible for them to fall that much harder. Firm believers in quality over quantity, neither member as flailingly crazy 24/7, not in public anyway, but the sign were there. In 2001 Rahim had one of his minions to take part in a radio interview in his place, and pretending to be Rahim. Oddly enough he was caught and had to apologise in the House of Commons. After being tossed out of office, Rahim was pulled over in Ontario for speeding (93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone which in the old Imperial system was known as "driving too damn fast"). The police officer who pulled him over noticed that Rahim smelled of booze and had cocaine smeared all over his face (rumours that Rahim tried to pass this off as powdered anthrax are probably untrue). At any rate, rank has it's privileges and the charges were reduced to being a sloppy driver with a fine of $500. Even the judge in the case was disgusted, saying to Rahim, "I'm sure you can recognise a break when you see one."
Helena has not been a MP as long as Rahim was (which was a pretty decent 11-years) but she has hit the news with a vengeance. Last year in Charlottetown she threw a major wobbly at the airport when airport and security personnel didn't think she was as important as she herself does. She showed up late for her flight and when the security people started doing their job she had a meltdown. Apparently the news that security regulations applied to her just as they do to everybody else set her off and in an entitlement frenzy she called Charlottetown a "hellhole" and began swearing at the airport people who had made the unforgivable mistake of taking their jobs seriously. I guess it is pretty frustrating when other people don't recognise just how special you are, right Helena?
Recently there have been stories of Helena allowing Rahim to use a Parliamentary e-mail address, thus allowing Rahim to claim that he has some influence with the Prime Minister's office, as well as stories of a $0 dollar down mortgage for a $800,000 house. Granted, the "rules" are a little different for the elite, but maybe not quite as different as these two thought they were.
Last week Prime Minister Harper announced that Helena was no longer a member of the Conservative caucus and due to recent "serious" allegations, his off had referred Helena to the Federal Ethics office and to the RCMP. Helena has resigned as the Minster of State for the Status of Women and will no doubt be fighting "baseless allegations and unfounded assertions" by her enemies. I'm not sure but I think it would be unusual for a Prime Minister to boot someone out of caucus and call the cops on them unless there were some sort of proof. More proof than you would get from "baseless allegations and unfounded assertions" anyway.
In any event these two are a welcome blast of the strange to the normally bland Canadian political scene. You know, to take your mind off the serious stuff.
Anyway... Humouroceros

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

War dog

Anyway... Humouroceros


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ocarina of Time

Man, I thought I had gotten this particular monkey off of my back. I really enjoyed the Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, "back in the day" and it only took one little hit to get me all hooked again. To my mind the newer games just don't have the cool factor going for them that this one did. They don't look as good and the games themselves just are not as interesting. Not to me, anyway.

Anyway... Humouroceros

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Pope on the ropes

Roman Catholic church number two (such a fitting designation), Pope Benedict XVI, feels that the liberal, mainstream media is being kind of hard on him these days, and he is not alone.

The poop-mist surrounding the Pope formerly known as Joe "the rat" Ratzinger just keeps getting thicker and smellier. Pope Benedict, no doubt known as Big Ben to a select few, is probably missing the heck out of the old days when the threat of excommunication would keep the victims of child abuse (known within some circles of the church as 'boy-toys') quiet. In these ungodly times we live in where the liberal, mainstream media can pretty much report on anything it wants to it would appear that nothing is sacred any more. Like the myth of Papal infallibility, or the secret of the choirboy sweetheart dances. Nope, these days that sort of news hits like a wet soccer ball to the face, and that is one sting that is going to last a good long time.

One of the latest bits of news is that it very much appears that under his old identity of Joe the Rat, Benny was involved in pulling a child molester out of one parish and plunking him right down in another where there were a bunch of new young boys to molest, or as they say in the church, where there was some "fresh meat". The abuser involved was named Father Peter Hullermann and he was a sick bastard from top to bottom. At the time (1980) Ratty was the Archbishop of Munich and there are those who were around him at the time who say he probably wouldn't even have known about the situation, putting all the blame for what happened on Ratty's deputy, Father Gerhard Gruber (in Secret Service terms this is considered "plausible deniability" and is called "taking a bullet for your principal" or "tossing the Christians to the lions"). In what must have been an accidental fit of honesty, church officials have said that the memo regarding Hullermann's crimes was "routine" and was "unlikely to have landed on the Archbishop's desk." A priest child-molester is considered "routine" by the catholic church? I wish I could say that was a surprise.
At any rate the freak Hullermann was transferred to another parish where, surprise, surprise, he continued abusing children, and in fact he kept working right up until mid-March 2010, over 30-years after the initial allegations. Of course some cynics might use an isolated incident like this to prove that the church is more concerned with it's own image and financial well-being than it is with any of those children entrusted to it's care. Silly old cynics.
Then the same cynics point to the case of Father Lawrence Murphy who spent the years from 1950 to 1974 molesting children at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin, USA. Years later, in 1996, when the internal mechanisms of the catholic church finally kicked in Father Murphy was called before a secret canonical court to face trial. Well poor old Larry felt pretty hard done by so he ripped off a letter to the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one Joe "Ratty" Ratzinger, saying he "wanted to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my Priesthood." Just like how old Nazis want to live out their lives in the dignity of their anonymity. Well soft-hearted Ratty sez "aw" and orders the trial suspended. Murphy up and died in 1998.

The recent media attention on the cases of Hullermann and Murphy (as well as a host of other equally grotesque examples of the catholic church harbouring child molesters) has forced a response from some of the apparently "pro" child abuse members of the catholic church. University students from the catholic group Opus Dei gave a letter to the Pope saying in part, "to these sowers of mistrust we wish to say with clarity that we do not accept their ideology. We hold respect for them, but we demand from them respect for our faith and the recognition of the right that we have to live as christians in a plural society." Right kids. Demand respect? Why not try earning it and culling the child abusers from within your ranks or the ranks of the church in general?

The Vatican isn't happy with the media coverage either (just as they weren't last year when it was reported that Big Ben said that he figured that condoms were not a solution to HIV/Aids, but instead made it worse. Good one, Ben. Not dumb at all) claiming that the Murphy situation was hardly their fault since they hadn't heard about it for twenty years. That is twenty years after Murphy's diocese knew about it. The memo must have gotten lost or something. The Vatican newspaper said the allegations are "clearly an ignoble attempt to strike at Pope Benedict and his closest aides as any cost." Cardinal Jose Saraina Martins, an aide to Big Ben, says there is "a conspiracy" against the church. That much is true. There is a conspiracy to get the church to stop hiding and protecting child molesters.

One of the latest chunks of near-criminal cluelessness to squirt out of the Vatican bunker came on Good Friday 2010 when at a service in St. Peter's Basilica the Pope's personal preacher, the Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa compared the current fire-storm surrounding the catholic church to the unpleasantness the Jews went through in Nazi Germany. Let's see, a bunch of priests abusing children and being protected from prosecution by church and who are now finally coming under serious media scrutiny is the equivalent of the Holocaust? No. It isn't. What a totally revolting thing to think, or say.

After it finally dawned on the upper management of the Vatican that what Cantalamessa has said was considered completely filthy by normal people they stomped all over it. Vatican spokesman, Reverend Federico Lombardi spun that Cantalamess hadn't been speaking for the Vatican when he compared the public revulsion with catholic priests molesting children with Jews being slaughtered by the Nazis. I guess they just let any-old-body babble away in St. Peter's Basilica then? Of course then Reverend Lombardi looked like a total dork when Cantalamessa's entire service was printed in the official newspaper of the Vatican, L'Osservatore Romano. Spin unspun, it would seem.

So the church looks to be in some serious denial about just how rotten child abuse is. They toss out the very occasional apology for past abuses, but I don't think they understand why they have to apologise in the first place. The church has complained that it has been singled out regarding child abuse, which is a problem society wide. The thing is that society at large does not hide and protect child molesters, and the church does.

Anyway... Humouroceros

A Liberal wage

Ah, the things you can find online with a minimum of effort or smarts. Why just this week I found a new whipping boy who is an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) in BC (British Columbia) who swings through the low branches under the name of Eric Foster, Liberal, Vernon-Monashee.

Eric is a relative newbee to Provincial politics with just under a year in office, but he has shown an excited willingness to say things in public that would embarrass your average village idiot. This is, of course, what brought him to my humble attention. Recently the BC Federation of Labour (not to be mistaken for the Federation of the Star Trek universe) demanded that the minimum wage in BC be raised from $8 per hour to $10 per hour (Ontario raised theirs to $10.25, Nova Scotia is at $9.20 and New Brunswick will be going to $9.00 per hour in September). Eric, all bug-eyed and bristly, I figure, leapt into the fray, honking that a raise in the minimum wage was unnecessary as in BC, "we have one of the highest average wages in the country." Ah yes, very good Eric. As we all know "average" means that some are being paid much higher (MLAs say) and some are being paid much lower (like those at the minimum wage) and the average really doesn't reflect either of them. Interesting misuse of statistics there, Eric, since the average wage really doesn't help someone who is barely getting by on the minimum wage. Still, it's good to see where your head's at (more on that later) and the small amount of respect you have for those who are reading what you said.

But then, Eric wasn't done yet as he went on to point out that "Many people who get minimum wage work in the service sector and they get tips. They don't earn minimum wage." I understand that tips are considered taxable (thus "earned") income by the tax-masters at Revenue Canada, but I don't think that anybody normal would be crazy enough to consider a tip 'guaranteed' income. By that I mean no-one can plan on or depend on tips to make up the shortfall of a minimum wage job. Good luck taking that "wage" to a bank. "Yes I am actually being paid minimum wage, but I do get tips." Yeah, that'll work, but it does make it a little tough to get ahead.

Eric says, referring to the current economic "situation" that now "is the worst time to increase minimum wage." The impact on small business would be too great in these troubling times. Interesting. Of course using that "logic" the question is, why wasn't the minimum wage increased when times were better a few years ago. The MLAs of the time sure had no problem raising their own wages while leaving those at the bottom even further behind, even including the tips. Would it be a little tougher for small business? Yes. Could the government help out small business? Yes, but it is a little easier to just blame those greedy employees being paid starvation wages (while pulling in the big tips).

Now the theory that Eric has his head stuffed up his own ass is just rude and most likely untrue. Let's just give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that as a rookie MLA he got a little reckless and distracted by the mouth noises coming out of the front of his head. In that spirit, and at no personal expense, I am willing to put forth a little suggestion that will make him appear not to be a dickhead. Here it is: Reduce your own salary to the new suggested minimum wage ($10 per hour)(of actual work that is. No travel time or bar-b-ques allowed), and then ask for tips (couldn't you sort of consider politics part of the service sector?) Do some good work and I bet the tips will just pour in. Why if your work is good enough I bet you will do better than the current $98,000 per year you have to scrape by on now! At any rate, try it. I bet you'll be surprised.

Anyway... Humouroceros

PS: The article I read identified Eric as a MLA "who represents the Liberals in Victoria." Now, was this a typo of some type, or was the journalist being ironically accurate? I only ask because it doesn't look like Eric is representing his constituents. At all.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Born again? Wasn't once enough?

From the "Man, I wish I had thought of that" department:

I saw this as a bumpersticker on a truck I was following today (along with a "666" sticker). I'd say, "I gotta get me some of that", but I don't use bumperstickers.

Anyway... Humouroceros