Stating The Obvious

Steve Jalsevac is doing fantasy land so-cons a real service in this piece:
"Many still think that Stephen Harper, despite his blunt statements to the contrary, is genuinely pro-life but is following a temporary but necessary political strategy of laying very low on the issue until the Conservatives win a majority. Then, it is said, he will free some of his MPs from his currently tight control, to propose private members’ bills that would gradually increase protection for Canada’s unborn children."

"Based on easily obtainable evidence, however, such a scenario appears unlikely to ever happen as long as Harper is Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. In fact it remains to be seen whether even an opposition member will be allowed to introduce and have a vote taken on a bill deemed in any way related to changing the abortion status quo."

No kidding.

I've been saying so since the sky was blue.

It isn't a secret either. Harper's been very open from the beginning that for him the dreaded "A" issue is on the backburner so long as he is leader. People just forget, or choose to ignore those past comments in the party.

Back when Harper was running for the Alliance leadership, I distincly remember him answering the Abortion question by saying that he would be willing to commit his government to not introduce Abortion legislation in it's first term of office. That willingness soon became commitment as you read his comments later on. During the Alliance race he was even asked repetitively in one instance of his PERSONAL views on abortion.

He deflected.

He was asked again.


Then finally he blurted "quite frankly I'm divided on the issue."

It is the sole time I have ever heard him ever make a pronouncement on his personal views on moral issues. Harper probably regretted saying that and probably feared it would be blurted on the news as "Harper divided over woman's right to choose." I've never forgotten the moment and never will.

I don't gather his opinions have changed much since then. Although I get the distinct impression that as his children grow older he's gained more simpathy towards the pro-family cause. But in the end whenever a reporter has asked him what philosophy best describes his views he answers "Libertarian."

Now there are many types of Libertarians. Not all are pro-choice. But many are. And in Harper's case that answer he gives at nauseum at the very least insinuates that his priority is more towards the fiscal conservatism side of things.

So then why did I, and many other informed so-cons support him? It's simple. He's a TRUE BIG TENT Conservative.

And when I say "Big tent" I don't mean a tent that is filled with so many people that are completely oblivious to the word conservative or that conservative principles are so completely watered down being "conservative" means nothing anymore. What I mean by a "big tent" is that all the factions of conservatism, Red Tories, Libertarians, Populists, Democratic Reformers, So-Cons and every other type of conservative are welcome at the table so long as they believe in those basic conservative principles of limited goverment, a strong military, and a justice system that works.

Harper believes that he needs all the factions to be united to win. He literally believes that if one of those factions isn't in line, he looses support. He's watched the Liberals. He knows that the only way for conservatism to succeed in this country is for all the factions to be united.

That's a see change of difference between him and candidates of the likes of Belinda Stronach, who quite frankly would have went on a crusade to exorcise the party of anyone with a contrary ideology - especially people of a moral conservative bent.

Harper's openess to so-cons means that so-cons can fight at the table for their views on equal footing. It means that so-cons have a shot. That's how the party's Trad Marriage position in my opinion came about. I've always questioned whether Harper really has a moral objection to SSM or if it's more a political one... Notice his position is that he is in support of "civil unions..." Not once does he ever offer a moral objection to SSM like a so-con would.

It's no matter. So long as so-cons exist in his caucus, the point is, HE WILL LISTEN to them.

That's Harper's strenght. He believes in a Conservative Party that is united and principled. He's no so-con of the likes of Stockwell Day or Jason Kenney, but he could suprise people - and HAS.

Give me a Space Garage anyday...

The Shuttle's a go. Astronaut Thomas Reiter, one of the few that beat the staggering 1 to 1000 odds of getting selected by NASA to get his behind blasted into the great beyond, had this enlightenment to offer:
"After years and years of training, I think this is a remarkable moment. I think we all are confident our launch will signify the continuation of assembly of the station, returning to a three-man crew and utilizing the station for its (intended) purpose."

I guess he means by "purpose" to spend exhorberent amounts of money on science that could be done on the ground rather than in space, to take thousands of photos and atmospheric readings that could be better done my an unmaned "Jonny-Five"'s, repeat pointless experiments, see how brake grease floats around, watch mold grow, and some more stuff that could be done on earth...

I have a counter proposal for using the space station. I can be summed up in two words: Space Garage.

You know a way point to other planets? A point in space where ongoing construction of large vehicles could happen?... Or is that too practical for people?

Papal Balancing Act

Ms Arroyo appears to have gotten the Papal Seal of Approval:
"ROME -- A pat on the back and the words 'well done' from Pope Benedict XVI more than made the day of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose political opponents back home filed an impeachment complaint against her hours before she met with the Pontiff."
The Church has a long standing policy of not meddling in state affairs. Although more of a guideline than a reality, the Fillipines is a perfect example of why it should be the later.

The problem is some Bishops and priests just don't seem to listen.

Recently the Bishops in the Fillipines have requested a ban on the Da Vincy Code in theatres. The Government happily agreed.

This type of relationship is a recipe for disaster. And the Vatican knows it. Clerical matters are not state matters and vice versa. The Church has a right to speak out when it comes to moral issues - but not to wage political battles of the like we've seen in the Fillipines where the Church regularly sanctions insurrections against particular regimes. That can be a dangerous thing. The Church is not a government. And if it behaves as such, it will be perceived as such.

Most generally I've noticed that Ms Arroyo seems to do alot to curry favour with Catholics in that area of the world. It seems more like she's pandering for votes than really implementing these policies because they truly are sound.

Case in point:

"Handing the Pope a maroon booklet with the presidential seal, Ms Arroyo told Benedict: 'This is my second gift to you -- the abolition of the death penalty law. These two gifts are the expressions of faith of the Filipino people.'
Notice the words?... It's a gift, not to God, not to the Filipino people but to the Pope. Then she explains how these acts are "expressions of faith"...

Forgive me for wondering, but does Ms Arroyo really believe that the death penatly and abortion are wrong? It seems to me she just thinks they are "gifts" to show fidelity to the Pope. She's making good policy decisions no doubt, but I wonder if she's more Constantine than St Maurice so to speak.

"Ms Arroyo emerged from her 20-minute talk with the Pope claiming that she had virtually gotten his blessing for the way she ran the government and for pursuing policies in line with Catholic teachings."

" 'The Pope is very supportive and encouraging,' she said, adding that a big part of the talk was about the situation in the Philippines."

" 'He loves the Philippines and is happy about our policies, which are attuned to the teachings of the Church,' Ms Arroyo said in an interview with government television station NBN 4"

Ms Arroyo couldn't pay for this type of propaganda even if she tried. She appears to have the blessing of the Pope himself. The Pope appears to have betrayed the very same rule the Vatican has chastised Bishops in Austria during Hitler's regime for breaking: don't meddle in politics. Speak out on moral issues - but do not appear to support one politicaly party or person over another.

But things may not be what they seem:

"The Pope does not look kindly on the alleged meddling of the Church in Philippine affairs, said Ms Arroyo, who has been the target of criticisms from certain Filipino bishops."

"She said she got this impression after she received a copy of an encyclical on the Church and justice which, according to her, spoke of 'the role of the Church in the search for justice.' "

The Bishops in the Fillipines have given Arroyo a very hard time. The Vatican back in 2005 chastised those very same Bishops for political interference. It is so bad that the impression that has been left is that the Church doesn't support her regime and they want her out. That is distinctly a political determination and is way way outside making a moral proclamation of the faith.

It appears that the Pope may playing a political balancing act. By appearing to support Arroyo he may be figuring that is the best way to balance the damaging effects of the Bishops in this region.

The Right To Coercion

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Captain Kirk.... Matt Damon?

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Here Come The Senators...

Opposition Shenanigans or true Senate reform?
"Jack Austin and Lowell Murray served notice Thursday of their intention to introduce a resolution to amend the Constitution to significantly increase the number of western seats, particularly for British Columbia. Under the proposal, B.C.'s Senate seats would double to 12, Alberta would get 10 and Manitoba and Saskatchewan would each get seven."
Assuming this passes the Senate floor, I would say that the Tories would be the first ones gunning to approve such a measure. They could take all those new VACANT WESTERN seats and hold senatorial elections? Is there any doubt to which party most of those elections would go to? My thinking is that the opposition's strategy in all this is to tarnish the PM's developing pan-Canuck image he's been crafting. Quebec Nationalists in parliament will no doubt stand up against the measure unless Quebec receives more representation themselves, which will put the country into another two-solitudes moment where Harper will have to choose sides.

Polls are for the dogs...

There's more than one problem with this poll:
"The results of a poll released today show that Canadians are rejecting Stephen Harper's plan to distribute a $1,200 child allowance to parents with children under six years of age. The Environics poll asked more than 2,000 Canadians their views on child care and the response was clear - 76% of Canadians support a national affordable child care strategy such as the 2004 federal-provincial agreement that was cancelled by the Conservative government."

"Monica Lysack, Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC) says that Canadians are not buying into the Harper government's child-care strategy adding, 'They see that this plan isn't going to help them find affordable, quality care for their children.' The poll showed that only 35% of Canadians support the government's child allowance plan."

First of all what are the undecideds? These might just be decided voters, in which case the actual split might be drastically different.

Next where is the 95% confidence interval for the poll? That's usually standard piecemeal givings for any news story.

Also how many people actually knew what in the heck the 2004 agreement was?

What were the questions asked? These are all glaring holes in this poll.

And finally, just how does this match up to other polls? Has support dropped from another point?

All good questions. But they mean nothing. Because another poll was taken early on this year. It was called an ELECTION.

Apparently the plot thickens:
"Dryden’s criticism of the Conservatives’ child-care plan also seemed to receive a bit of a boost this week, when an Environics Research poll revealed that 50 per cent of Canadians prefer the national day-care program proposed by the former Liberal government. In comparison, 35 per cent said they favoured the Conservative government’s plan."

What happened to the 70%? Apparently, just like Liberal principles, they are a "lving" concept subject to change.

"With the CAW..."


That was the title of the two page double sided hand-out from the CAW
this morning.

Or should I start by how I got it in my hand?

Well I drove up to work this morning and saw this harmless looking lady
in the middle of the entrance. Now, being not the murderous sort, I
slowed down nearly to a halt and tried to nuzzle past her on her side.
She was slightly reluctant to move.

Although she did at least "shift" herself slightly, which in the end I
do appreciate being the one driving the high powered machine that could
steam roll over her. Not that I would, but occasionally, the
stubbornness of hard headed ignorant pedestrians makes wayward
temptations appear in the mind.

To play along, or maybe it was submission, only Angels could tell, I
stopped beside her and rolled down my window to chat with the lady that
obviously wanted me to.

Now I can't recall much of what she said. But she gave me that hand-out
with big bolded letters "ARE YOU READY YET?"

The top right hand corner gave the insignia of our lovable Jewish
boycotters and Hardgrove maniacs at the CAW.

Keep in mind; I was wearing a dress shirt and slacks. Management was
written all over me. The expression on this lady's face at my stopping
was one of confusion.

Poor woman was. She's spending her Wednesday mornings handing out
literature for ultimate poison pill of manufacturing environments. But
I guess from her perspective she's merely helping out the poor oppressed
proletariat in this plant that is mostly made up of quaint middle aged
women and pregnant mothers by the looks of it.

No matter. I read through it all sitting at my desk. Apparently things
are "worse than ever" at the plant, and "favoritism, lack of dignity and
respect, inconsistency, and no voice" seem to be rampant here. Which is
strange, because I don't notice the roof quite falling down yet at this

Once more I learned that with a union there will be no more "favoritism"
and workers will be able to express themselves without "fear."

This reminds me of a story... Uh-Oh... This is flashback time...

Once upon a time I lived for a while in some nameless town in Ontario
very heavily dependant on manufacturing plants. There was one in
particular that employed many and was unionized and I was an engineer

Engineers hated employees there. Employees, for the most part returned
the favor. The working environment was needless to say less than

I lived with a quaint old lady that made me meals every night for less
than three hundred a month. She knew my mother was Italian and even
tried to reproduce my mother's masterpieces. It was so loving a
gesture, but no so kind to Italian cuisine. She was much better at
cooking Canadian food in general - which I ate up in plentifuls.

She was sweet woman, more like a mother than anything else. I
frequently would tell her about my problems at work and she would offer

She once confided in me that her son in a law once worked at the plant
but was laid off. That convinced me not to bring my problems to her
anymore. She no doubt held a secret hatred for engineers at that plant
because they were managers, and her son in law was a former employee.

I felt like I walked on egg shells for the longest time. She was still
so nice a lady. I just hoped she never disliked me too much.

One day her son in law came for a visit. I was tense the whole time.
He knew who I was... Didn't he despise me with the same vitriol that I
got everyday at work?


Instead he confided in me. He told me that when he worked at that plant
he was always chastised by his fellow "comrades" to stop working so hard
because it made them look bad.

Then he explained to me how it works with a union. After X months a
person qualifies for entry into the union. Before that, they can be
fired at any time. And for the most part they are. Because as soon as
they do enter the union, they work less, and take more breaks.

I started to see what he meant when I went back to work. I could even
differentiate visibly who was a union member and who wasn't yet.

Most people will be fired before X months for fear of gaining another
ball and chain so-to-speak. Most of the time they get re-hired as
"temps" that will never get full benefits or any job security months
later. All of this while those that are in the union sit back and do
little work. It's mostly the temps and those new guys that work the

You could visibly tell who was a temp, because they were the most
co-operative and hard working all the time.

Slowly I started to see what he meant. This decent enough son-in-law
was right. He was fired and was quite happy for it. That environment
for him was sickening. And I could relate. Everyday it seemed like I
had to be worried about violating a collective bargaining agreement for
doing something as simple as plugging in a coord or screwing on a small
air hose to something... That was not my job I was told.

That man made me see a lot of things differently. He made me understand
not to distrust people so much. But he also taught me to trust my
instincts as much as I temper my opinions.

Though I can't help but think back to him today after reading that
hand-out. I wonder what he would say to all of this nonsense.

I think he would say that there is real FEAR with a union - the fear of
going up against the union. He would probably also say that there is
favoritism - favoritism towards people already in the union. He would
also remark that there is a lack of dignity and respect for people when

In the end I think he would say to the question "ARE YOU READY YET?" his
answer would be "Not now. NOT EVER!"

In the year 2021...

15 years isn't so long:

"The Futron study predicts that space tourism could become a competitive, thriving business. By 2021 it is possible that up to 14,000 passengers annually could book suborbital flights and the industry could be taking in over USD700 million. Orbital passengers may increase to 60 per year and generate over USD300 million in revenue during the same time frame."

"Space Adventures is now charging USD102,000 to pre-book a suborbital flight to depart when the trips become available in about two years. Virgin Galactic expects to charge about USD200,000 for its first suborbital flights. However, Futron projects that prices will decrease gradually after the first three years of commercial service, and as demand increases, the passenger flight fee could fall to USD50,000 by 2021."

With the boat load of companies joining the sub-orbital bandwagon I find it hard to believe that there isn't at least some sort of potential market out there. Part of it is no doubt hype and stargazing dreams that only gajillionairies can deludge into by founding rocket companies and building rockets for a market that "could become" all they hope it is.

I'd also like to know if these numbers are inflation adjusted or not. That seems to me to be a very BIG thing they are not talking about in this article.

Fly Brick! Fly!

Apparently only two engineers out of 200 dissented from giving the "thumbs up" for the Shuttle to launch. The Orlando sentinel doesn't agree with them:
"Delaying Discovery's mission to make more changes to the fuel tank would increase the pressure to launch to finish the space station before the shuttle's scheduled retirement in 2010 -- a pressure that could shortchange steps to deal with other risks."

"Manned spaceflight is, even under the best conditions, a risky business. NASA took a well-deserved pounding from critics after an investigation showed it had neglected safety before the Columbia disaster. But if the agency overcompensates, it might never return astronauts to orbit."

The important question here is WHY did those two engineer dissent? Was it because of cocerns of foam still falling off of the ET?

Or was it because NASA still hasn't worked out just what in the heck is going on with those pesky ECO sensors?

What if those "other risks" are risks that should be of primary concer now?

Let's get our ACT together

Australia is having some problems enacting civil unions:
"ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell lashed out today at the Senate decision to reject a move to overturn the federal ban on civil union laws, describing it homophobic."

"LABOR and the minor parties failed this afternoon to reverse the Federal Government's ban on the ACT's civil unions law in the Senate."
" 'I welcome his decision to support the right of the territory to make laws that affect our community.' "

"The ACT would now look at creating a new Act, but Mr Corbell warned it would not water down the intention of the original law."

Besides some really bad verbage I found this article drenched with irony. In Canada, where we don't have civil unions but full blown same sex marriage, the will of dissenting provinces like Alberta is ignored by lobbyists for SSM who say dissenting voices must accept the will of the majority.

Meanwhile in Aussie country, dissenting territories all of sudden have "rights." I guess when ssm proponents are in the minority, all of sudden a majority vote does not determine the truth.

Them Papists are at it again...

You're daily Papist intefference for the day:
"Father Anthony Charanghat, spokesman of the Bombay Archdiocese, told IANS: 'The Pope is a highly revered spiritual leader and his concerns expressed from time to time regarding violation of fundamental rights and deprivation of religious freedom cannot be construed as a threat to the political governance of any country.' "

Father Charanghat might want to consult his encyclopedia. He might want to look under the topic "Polish Solidarity Movement" for starters.

I don't want to disagree with a priest but come-on! This is a threat to the powers that be in India. As it SHOULD be.

The Pope has a moral duty to speak out against injustice wherever it may be - as I believe we all do. Regardless if it's in Poland, Spain, France, England or anywhere else, defiance of evil is never wrong. Infact a little ruckous is sometimes in order.

God Bless Pope B16!

Douglas The Fake

Apparently the CBC has pulled their series on socialist NDP Premier Tommy Douglas due to complaints about that ever pesky of things "Historical Accuracy":
"One example cited was the suggestion Gardiner drank alcohol, when in fact he was a teetotaller. In one scene, Gardiner berates miners in the 1931 Estevan coal strike in a broadcast to the province. However, historians say the speech never happened and Gardiner wasn't premier during the strike."

A by chance mistake or a deluted left wing propaganda? This is telling in the search for an answer:
"Last week, some trustees with the Prince Albert-area Saskatchewan Rivers School Division argued the movie shouldn't be shown to students. One trustee argued it was a free-speech issue and students shouldn't be prevented from seeing it."

Students aren't prevented from watching the show. But if you want to teach history, mee thinks you'd want to teach REAL history.

When I first heard of the CBC effort to produce this series on Tommy Douglas, I knew what to expect. Firstly it's telling they chose to do made for TV movies and miniseries on people like Trudeau, and Douglas. Where's Mulroney? Where's Ernest Manning? Where's Sir John A?

It's just as telling to note what the CBC's usual coverage is like. With the likes of Neil Mcdonald, who's political views are pretty clear by his "chosen" stories, you know that a miniseries of Tommy Douglas done by the CBC would no doubt be skewed with a left wing bias.

Now I've never seen the series, so these suspicions I can not confirm for sure. But I can say this - Tommy Douglas was not the ideal left wing visionary he's made out to be today - especially by the NDP. The NDP itself would not find itself agreeing with many things Douglas believed... Namely that homesexuality is a mental illness for one...

If the movie portrayed him as an enlightened man, able to fit in today's NDP like a glove- then it's clearly out of whack with reality.

My thinking is that the CBC's usual spinning and stretching of the truth has finally caught up to our most revered public broadcaster.

Hopefully they'll learn to turn down their enlightened Urban-high class-Toronto Centric agenda a smudgeon... But somehow I doubt that.

The Clown Show Files XIII

Well Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum! I smell the blood of a Liberal.

"The federal Liberal leadership race took a combative turn Saturday as the 11 contenders locked horns over Afghanistan and campaign financing during a debate in Winnipeg."

"Toronto MP Joe Volpe announced that he will disclose all donations to his campaign and challenged his rivals to do the same or 'bow out of the race.' "

Amazing the amount of Brouhaha that $5,400 donations from 11 year olds can make.

"Volpe cast himself as the victim of a 'smear' campaign after his team accepted donations from children as young as 11, and criticized perceived front-runner Michael Ignatieff for suggesting the donation scandal has 'caused reputational damage' to the party."

Because, you know, how could Volpe have possibly caused more damage to the party than It already had thanks to "Le Scandale Des Commandites"...

" 'I don't need to take lessons about how to serve the party from anybody,' Volpe told Canadian Press, contrasting his years of service to the party with Ignatieff's newcomer status."

Yes sir.

Don't need to take advice - gotcha... NO argument here... Just please don't hurt me Overlord Volpe...

"Volpe said his call for disclosure was aimed at 'clearing the air' on the controversy that surrounds his campaign. But other contenders were upset that Volpe insisted on reminding the public about an issue that has cast an ethical cloud over the entire party."

More like "cemented the ethical cloud over the entire party." Scott Brison much aided this with his own ethical booboo let us not forget.

" 'I think that it's unfortunate that this controversy is consuming what is otherwise a very positive leadership race,' former cabinet minister Scott Brison told reporters on his way into the debate."

Ya, a positive leadership race that's showing the unmistakable signs of a little "et tu Brute" going on.

"Ken Dryden, a Toronto MP, said the donation controversy is 'a setback' to the party's efforts to regain public trust in the wake of the sponsorship scandal."

This is a curse for sure, but it might also be a blessing. The next leader of the Liberal Party is going to have to deal with the "ethical" legacy of the party. This gives members a chance to see how prospective contenders fare on that front.

What am I doing? Giving respite to Liberals! Forget it! You're all doomed... DOOMED! Muhahhahahhaahahhahahhah1!!!jaf;dlkfaj;sdfk!12;3lk3,;.,;.4,3....

"Ignatieff praised Volpe's idea of speedily disclosing all donations, but that didn't deflect Volpe's attacks. Volpe accused Ignatieff of siding with the Tories on Kyoto and the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan, saying Ignatieff is 'very Republican-minded.' "

That's like a Tory calling a Tory a pinko commie up here in Canuckland for those unintiated poor Yanks. What's particularly ironic is where this comment comes from - the one man in the Leadership race that supported Bush's war in Iraq.

Of course now he's had a spontaneous change of heart that only Harvard Academics that have spent the majority of their lives outside of Canada apparently can have.

"Other contenders took more gentle shots at Ignatieff. Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario, praised the Liberals for seeing Kyoto as 'an opportunity, not a liability,' as Ignatieff has dubbed it."

All this Ignatieff attention leads one to conclude that snotty nose Harvard brats are preferred right now in most Liberal membership polls...

Ignatieff the front runner?... Well I guess it's better than PM Bob Rae...

"But it was Afghanistan which exposed the deepest divisions among the 11 contenders."

Uber-interesting, considering the lack of divisions on this issue when Jean Chretien was in power.

"Ignatieff and Brison voted last month to extend the Afghanistan mission to 2009, the only two candidates to support the Tory government."

And the only ones to support the mission that was created by the FORMER Liberal government.

"Ignatieff explained that he couldn't 'in good conscience' oppose the motion when, that very day in Afghanistan, Capt. Nichola Goddard became the first-ever Canadian female combat soldier killed in action."

That's pretty weak. The decisions around war can't be motivated by passions or emotions solely. I would hope it would be a rational decision by those who make it.

" 'I supported the extension of the mission because that very day a brave soldier from Shilo, Manitoba, gave her life,' Ignatieff said. 'I couldn't in good conscience stand up in the House of Commons and not vote for the extension of a mission when our soldiers' lives were on the line.' "

Again weaksauce. By that rationale the Germans should've continued the occupation of France because their "soldiers lives were on the line." Now I'm sure that our lovable Harvard Prince aint nowhere near a Nazi, but he should consider the logical conclusion of his reasoning.

We should stay in Afghanistan for one simple reason: to win the war on terror. What were the goals of the war in terror again? Because we've all seemed to have forgotten it was to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, destroy the Al Qeda network, and to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.

Canada signed on to that war, as well as many other western nations, because they considered it an attack on their citizens as well... The WTC was an international target chosen for a reason. Hence our participation in the war, and now how 'bout we get going on those goals?

"Toronto MP Maurizio Bevilacqua said Canada must have 'an independent foreign policy.' "

codeword for anything the US says we do the opposite.

"Brison said he supported extension of the Afghanistan mission because he feared Parliament would be seen in New York newspapers as withdrawing support for the Afghan mission if the motion had been defeated."

Balloney. Where's the principled argument from anyone?

"Toronto lawyer Martha Hall Findlay shot back: 'We do not establish our foreign policy in this country, with all due respect, because we're afraid of what the headline in the New York Times will be.'"

Ouch. MHF: ten points. Brison minus a million.

And minus another million points from Kennedy, Dion, Bennett, and Fry for not getting a single quote into this article. Were these people even there?

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Alan Boyle's Nutshell ISS explanation:

Via the Cosmic Log, Alan Boyle gives his own straight forward explanation of what the ISS is today:
"...the station is still basically a construction site, with two workmen living in a trailer (or, ahem, a manufactured home) and trying to do science experiments on the side."

Laughter begin now.

Where's Charlton Heston when you need him?

Damn Dirty Apes!
"Spain could soon become the first country in the world to give chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and other great apes some of the fundamental rights granted to human beings..."

"The law would eliminate the concept of 'ownership' for great apes, instead placing them under the 'moral guardianship' of the state, much as is the case for children in care, the severely handicapped and those in comas..."

So... Let me get this right... Apes are equivalent to the severely handicapped...

And babies, a second before popping out of the womb, are of less value than Bongo the Chimp?

Mee thinkee there mightee bee a problemee theree...
"Their 'declaration' calls for great apes to be kept locked up only when they are a threat to the community, and then only with a right of appeal to the courts, with representation by a lawyer."

Now they have Ape lawyers? And remind me again why Terry Schiavo wasn't allowed the same?

Oh wait it gets better:
" 'To move a baby ape is to split up a family. They have feelings, they can feel sad, and they have the capacity for love. If a zoo has no room for new births, it would be better to sterilise the females.' "

So they're already starting to talk about Ape birth control I see... I guess that must be one of the first signs of being human: when Planned Parenthood starts servicing you...

I'm starting to wonder if I'm on some sort of Planet of the Apes...

Wait... What's this?

Oh no! I was wrong! It was Earth All along!

Sorry... I just couldn't help myself...

The Clown Show Files XII - The Volpe Legend Continues...

"'I think any candidate for the leadership of this party has to safeguard not only his or her reputation but the reputation of the party,' Ignatieff said in a telephone interview from Winnipeg."

"'And there is no way to avoid the fact that Mr. Volpe’s campaign difficulties have caused reputational damage to a party that I’m sure he loves as much as I do. Mr. Volpe must draw his own conclusions.'"

Ouch! What happened to being all nice in this race to become the leader of the Party of No Principle?

I guess that one went straight out the window.

How does Volpe respond?
"Volpe said he has an 18-year political record of integrity."

"'If people join onto our campaign, if we expand the base of support for the Liberal party, then clearly we would not have damaged it,' he added."

Especially if the people that join are the children of rich pharmaceutical execs...

Oh and the quote of the day comes from political scientistHeather MacIvor:
It's a chance, ... for "the Liberals to be like Madonna. They can go away for a time and reinvent themselves."

Will the Maternal Girl be coming back wearing a cowboy get up then?

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The Legendary Shuttle Foam Saga...

Shuttle's a go:
"'We have found no show stoppers. We believe we have made significant improvements since last year in the elimination of many of the hazards from foam,' said shuttle program manager Wayne Hale."

But that doesn't mean that there won't be foam falling off the Shuttle:
"But one of the things I don't want to hear when I go home and turn on the TV tonight is that we've fixed the tank and no foam is going to come off. Because that is not the case. ... There will continue to be foam coming off the external tank. What we have done in a very systematic manner is eliminate the largest hazards."

Gotcha. It's all about eliminating risk. A certain amount of risk is acceptable. You don't want to chasing chunks of foam that couldn't hurt your grandma let alone a Space Shuttle tile.

But you need to show some sort of metric that you've improved by. Like a method of calculating probabilities, that shows a reduction in the probably loss of a shuttle based on the improvements you've made... Or else how in the crap do you know if you've improved anything?
"While today's Debris Verification Review, or DVR, did not generate any formal probabilities regarding the actual threat posed by ice/frost ramp 'foam shedding,' Hale said he believes the IFR foam should be listed in a threat matrix as 'probable/catastrophic,' meaning that over the life of the shuttle program, debris from the bracket insulation, in a worst-case scenario, could lead to a disaster."

That's... what we had... already! The foam insulation falling of the shuttle was considered a minor threat, of minor significance to most shuttle flights for years. If anything the threat of falling foam affected the shuttle over the long duration of its lifetime.

Not every flight resulted in a loss - only one. So there's bupkis for difference as far as I'm concerned.
"Even so, Hale believes NASA is justified in pressing ahead with near-term shuttle flights while engineers devise a bracket redesign that eventually will allow them to remove the ice/frost ramp foam altogether."

Great. So why didn't they do that in the FIRST PLACE.
"While the IFR foam represents a clear long-term threat, the risk on any given flight is in line with dangers posed by other systems."

That's not re-assuring.
"With the very worst-case assumptions, there were some numbers down as low as 1-in-75 and for some of the better-case assumptions, you're talking about numbers on the order of 1-in-400 for ice/frost ramp foam losses," Hale said.

"I hate to quote probability numbers without context because it depends so much on what the assumptions were and how conservative or how fine the calculations were that went into the case. But we're talking, basically, something on the order of 1-in-a-few hundred, or 1-in-100, which is consistent with the entire overall risk we fly with the space shuttle."

Again is this an improvement or not? And as to the "context", let me fix that problem up with you. Take the most conservative estimate as the God given truth. Work with the worst case scenario and hope for the best.

Though I find it a little perplexing... They already have a shuttle program to gage where there statistics are sound or not. I mean they had 1 bad flight in over a hundred. That should indicate to me, that any estimate that comes near or close to a 1 in 100 chance is probably a good estimate. But the whole point of this exercise was to decrease or eliminate that chance. Doesn't sound quite like they've done that.
"While the PAL ramp debris lost during Discovery's flight didn't hit anything, NASA managers ultimately decided to remove the ramps on the assumption computer modeling and wind tunnel tests would show the pressurization lines and cable tray are tough enough to endure the ascent environment.

Then why were they put on in the first place? This sounds like incredibily wasteful engineering. Who was in charge of the PAL ramp design? Didn't someone think about testing it in the beginning of the program? How much money would it have really cost when you consider the hassles they're going through now?
"'Today we have a tank on the pad that has lost 34 pounds, the largest amount of foam that we've ever taken off the tank, to reduce the hazard,' Hale said. 'We have put on a special set of sensors, both accelerometers and force measurements on that tank, as well as a suite of six new cameras on the solid rocket boosters that will be monitoring the performance of the vehicle during ascent to ensure that we have done our job properly in the removal of that protuberance air-load ramp. But we do expect to see foam come off.'"

Now that can be seen as progress. That's the first real measure I've seen quoted that I think can be considered an improvement. A reduction of 34 pounds of foam out of a total of what though? That's the other thing to consider.

I'll give Hale one thing: he's honest. This quote proves it:
"Basically, this vehicle, and you can take this to the bank, is about a 1-in-100 vehicle..."

And there you have it folks. That's what the Shuttle has been, and so far will continue to be: a 99% safe vehicle. Give it a hundred flights and something will go wrong.

Canada's Almost 9/11?

The press is a buzz with a story of an apparent attempted Al Qaeda strike against Canadian targets like the TTC:
"At a news conference earlier in the day, a CSIS official said a series of terrorist attacks plotted against unspecified targets in southern Ontario were 'inspired by Al Qaeda,' adding that the ring of suspects arrested posed a real and serious threat."

"Three tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a commonly used fertilizer used to make explosives, were recovered by police, who say that three times the amount used in the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma that killed 168 people."

A full day has gone by, and so I'm assuming that had this been the press trying to purely sell papers the story would have went away by now.

Whether or not these people had ties to Al Qaeda or they were merely "inspired" makes little difference. Those three tonnes of ammonium nitrate had to come from somewhere. Barring a miraculous coincidence of happenings with Aluminum Nitrate just happening to be in these guys hands, it means that this was one close call Canada just had with terrorism.

My sister travels on the TTC almost every day. Thinking about that one fact makes me cringe the most.

Got 300 bucks?... I got a bad need to launch some photos in the great dark beyond...

For the price of $295 USD, you can send a comprising picture of yourself into space thanks to Hotel Tycoon Roger Bigelow:
"Freefloating inside will be 1,000 photocards and small personal objects contributed by Bigelow employees. If all goes well, those items will be continuously blown throughout the pressurized module in a kind of space collage. Six onboard cameras will stream video to Bigelow's new website, which will launch tomorrow or Friday. Seven external cameras will provide views of the Earth from space and the outside of the module..."

"But it gets better. Subject to a successful launch of the first module, Bigelow will launch a second Genesis module in September, and that one will contain photos and other small items contributed by anyone who cares to pony up $295."

I better make sure no one in my family finds out of this. Years of collecting photos of myself in embarrasing situations could become universaly worse if they have some spare cash to burn...

The Clown Show Files XI

Volpe's $5,400 per person money laundering scheme -er- I mean totally legal and clean donations, has earned some bad mojo. Now he's returning said donations in the hopes that his leadership ambitions won't be tanked by his uncorruptable actions...

Along with that offensive, the Volpe team has decided it best to threaten legal action against those that called a spade a spade:
"Volpe's lawyer also sent New Democrat MP Pat Martin a letter, threatening a libel suit if he didn't retract his accusation that Volpe perpetrated a 'deliberate and well-orchestrated fraud' to circumvent the ban on corporate donations."

Note to self: don't say anything bad against Volpe... Volpe can do no wrong... Volpe can not be critized... All Hail Volpe!

On top of that, the Volpe team got into some nice spinning about the whole affair:
"I think this is an indication of people's confidence in Joe Volpe as a leadership candidate and they're doing everything they can to ensure that support comes from all quarters."

Interesting way of looking at it... Money Laundering = indication of people's confidence...

I guess Al Capone must've been one popular guy then.

h/t CCC

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So much for "voteable" private member bills...

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act appears to be in the can:
"Benoit's bill is the only private members bill, other than the one to support traditional marriage, to be deemed non-votable since Parliament changed procedural rules to assume all bills voteable unless specifically targeted as problematic by the committee."

This decision, in a Conservative lead committee was probably a 3 to 2 split against with the NDP, BQ and Liberals scuttling it on mass. Now the actual votes are unknown, but I would be surprised if I saw otherwise. I could see a potential situation where the Harper government may not want to see a bill like this come to a vote because of it possibly could endanger the well crafted "moderate" conservative image. Though at this point I think it's more probable that the socialists on the committee formed a pact.

This type of behaviour is about as wrong as anything could get. ALL private member's bills should be voteable.

Apparently that concept is lost on the so-called "progressive" left.

Will The Church Ever Learn?

The Bishops in Sri Lanka have had an affect:
"COLOMBO, May 31, 2006 ( - Sri Lanka has banned screenings of The Da Vinci Code in theatres and local television channels following an appeal by the country's Catholic Bishops Conference to the President..."

"'...The movie attacks the very roots of Christian faith and hurts the sentiments of all Christians,' the Catholics Bishop Conference said in a letter to the Sri Lankan president. It called the movie as well as the book blasphemous."

"However, the Asian Human Rights Commission responded with outrage to the ban. 'The Executive President of Sri Lanka does not have any power under the Constitution or any law to engage in the banning of a film. When he acts outside the law he acts as a dictator,' said the organization in a press release."

The Da Vinci Code has to be one of the stupidest books ever written. The number of factual errors in it staggering. Though the claim I can't stand is that the Merovingians founded the city of Paris. Go to Paris. Go to a museum. READ history. That claim is about as valid a the piltdown man. 3rd century BC, the city was a village started by a tribe called the "parisiennes"...

And although it is only "fiction," it's stupid fiction. It's fiction steeped in Anti-Catholic propaganda. It's like coming up with a conspiracy theory saying that Jews have been foisting a global conspiracy to control the world since time memorial... What's wrong with that?... I think it's obvious to anyone what's wrong with a book like that. A book like that, although officially being "fiction" would still lead people to hate Jews by a certain few that TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY.

That's the destructive influence of the book and movie: some people invariably are weak minded and so weak spiritually that they screw themselves up. And it's destructive influence, although small and only to those that don't know any better, is no less real.

That being said, this decision is WRONG. The Church throughout history, or should I say certain misguided Bishops throughout history, has encouraged actions like these, I believe at the Church's own peril. They were well intentioned acts, but they didn't think it through enough.

The Church has always been at it's best when it is in struggle with the State and with modern culture. The Da Vinci Code is always going to exist - despite whatever the Sri Lankan government or the Church attempts to do. They should be focusing on saving souls, and countering the dribble and anti-Catholic crap. You can't destroy temptation - but you can make people's faith stronger by education and debate. How many people will just get DVC on the internet in that country, or they'll smuggle it in from somewhere else?

We should be discussing the Da Vinci Code and debunking it. We shouldn't be running away from it.

What the Bishops have done, unknowingly, is it as if they have walked up to someone reading the Da Vinci Code and ripped the book out of their hands and thrown it away. That is theft. That is wrong.

The Church has always said that the ends does not justify the means. An evil act done for good, is never justified.

The Church has no right to deny other people the right to read and watch whatever they want and did not in this case. The State did, after these Bishops requested it.

In fact the doctrine of the Catholic Church states that God isn't some sort of arrogant dictator running around forcing them to believe in him. Love requires choice. God gave us choice, and does not force us to do anything.

The Catholic Church, similarly, does not force people to follow the Ten Commandments. People choose to do so. People have the choice. The Church just says, and rightly so, that people should choose right - they should choose the truth. We have the right to choose wrongly, at our own peril.

Ripping the book at of someones hands, negates their choice. It's condescending. It's arrogant. It destroys something that is someone's else's property.

A much better choice would be to sit down with the person and have a chat explaining the fallacies in the book... You can be forcefull in your debating style. You could even raise your tone of voice and tell them off. That's your right, and I would argue, that would be an example of rightous anger.

Actually, they say it's the other side that negates choice. So I honestly question the logic, rationale, and I pray that the damage this will do over time will be mitigated.

At least that's the way I see it. And I'm sure the great majority of my fellow Catholics would rather shut their eyes and ripp the book out of other people's hands. But I'm not intimated by the book or the movie whatsoever and I know that the truth always wins out over lies. Eventually people deceived by DVC will realise their blunder - but that will only be done by the Church doing it's job: speaking out on the truth.