Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Try sincerity, for a change

The Harper Cons must be wondering, what do we have to do to satisfy these guys?
After revealing the inadequate jury-rigged process which lead up to the Nadon appointment, now the Globe and Mail is describing Harper's new made-in-Quebec process as less than ideal:
The provincial Justice Minister was proudly telling the National Assembly that they had established a precedent, charting “the course for things to come.” Federal sources, however, were saying the opposite, and insisting that giving this kind of power to a provincial government was just a one-off, and not to be repeated. We need some clarity, please.
Actually, it is sincerity that is needed.
If the Harper Cons were making a sincere and honest attempt to find two best possible Supreme Court justices, then Canadians would be fine with whatever process they decided to use.
What we are seeing here now is only a profound cynicism, with politics as the only consideration -- that and childish pouting from the PMO, whose fee-fees are hurt by all the bad press so they're taking their ball and going home.
Whether Canada actually finds two outstanding justices in the Quebec list will be merest chance.
But you know what they say about sincerity -- if you can fake that, you've got it made.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fixing the TFWP? Fuhgeddaboudit

Tasha Kheiridin at iPolitics knows how to fix the TFWP.
The only problem is, the Harper Cons are too incompetent to do what she suggests:
Solutions to the abuse of temporary foreign worker programs ... should be to ensure that foreign workers don’t serve as cheap labour, but only as labour of last resort....
This means proper enforcement. It means inspectors going undercover to verify that hotels and restaurants are actually unable to meet their needs from the pool of local domestic workers. It means unscheduled visits to check on farm workers’ and nannies’ living conditions. It means prosecuting employers who abuse their employees, and denying them access to the programs, while protecting affected workers so they do not fear retribution.
This type of enforcement, and fair treatment of employees, costs money. More, one suspects, than would be covered by the $275 fee now charged to bring in a temporary foreign worker. That cost should be borne by the employer, not the taxpayer. Those who complain such moves would destroy their business, or expand the nanny state, should remember that these programs are not a right. They’re creatures of the state — and if the state can’t run them properly, they should be shut down.
This makes a lot of sense.
And its never going to happen, not as long as Harper and Kenny are fumbling around -- they think management is telling people to shut up.
As Ralph Goodale says, this government's policy is chaos.

#YesAllWomen is for us all

The power of Twitter and of its 140-character stories is now clear to me for the first time -- the #YesAllWomen hashtag  Here are some examples of why it is is the most important thing you'll read today

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Today is Towel Day

Towel Day - Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams:

A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blazing Saddles is 40 years old!

Mel Brooks on 'Blazing Saddles' at 40, Richard Pryor's Genius, and Keeping His Edge at 87 - The Moviefone Blog:

All the executives at Warner Bros. had seen the movie. And their head of domestic distribution, Leo Greenfield, God rest his soul, said, "Let's bury the movie. It's embarrassing. It's disgusting. We can't put the WB shield on this. Let's write off the $2 million budget. I've never done this before, but I beg you, let's bury this movie." And God bless him, John Calley, who's gone now too, said, "Let's have a screening."

Right from the first scene, they never stopped laughing. Me as the Jewish Indian, they went nuts. People were running up and down the aisles. Ted Ashley, who ran Warner Bros. at the time, took me into the manager's office, and he had a legal pad with notes, and he said, "Cut out the farting! That's out. Can't punch a horse. Can't hit an old lady! No sir! Can't use the N-word. Verboten! It's all out." He had 22 notes. And when he left, John Calley was with me, and I crumpled up the notes and threw them into the waste paper basket. We just went with the audience's reaction, which was stu-PEN-dous! The manager of the theater said he thought there was an earthquake, he'd never heard the place rock so much. And it went on to do exceedingly well."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to get rich

Product Details

So I noticed there are now more than 13,000 books on Amazon about how to make money by investing.

It made me recall the singularly priceless piece of investment advice which my father gave to me, lo these many years ago:

Buy low. Sell high.
Follow this advice, and you are bound to be as rich as I am.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This is why we can't permit another abortion law in this country

Because when politicians get the chance, they will spend endless time passing more and more ridiculous and picayune anti-choice laws.
Like this one in Missouri last week:
requiring a woman to wait 72 hours from the time of her initial medical consultation to have an abortion (current law mandates a 24-hour waiting period)
Or these ones in Louisiana
HB 388... would promote back-alley abortions by forcing the closure of three of the state's five clinics as a consequence of requiring their physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius that has obstetrical-gynecological services....
• HB 1274: This bill, already passed unanimously by the Louisiana House, would mandate that a pregnant brain-dead woman be kept on life support until the fetus develops far enough to be viable.
• HB 1262 mandates that physicians or other qualified persons provide a pamphlet to women seeking abortions. The pamphlet cannot come from an abortion provider but it can come from someone who counsels women not to obtain abortions. It would list the "serious psychological impacts, including severe emotional distress and mental and behavioral health afflictions" that supposedly accompany abortions.
• HB 305 prohibits "Knowingly providing any materials of any kind to school personnel or any other person for viewing by or distribution to students at a public elementary or secondary school, or at a charter school that receives state funding, regardless of the topic or viewpoint of such materials, if the materials are created by or bear the identifying mark of an organization, individual, or any other entity, or of an affiliate of any such organization, individual, or entity, that performs elective abortion. ..." That's right. Even if the topic is how to cook a cherry pie, anybody affiliated with an abortion provider or using materials developed by an abortion provider cannot make a presentation of the contents at a public or charter school.
And then the pro-choice activists have to spend their lives fighting these idiotic laws in the courts, where they are almost invariably overturned.  We don't need this in Canada.
Our politicians in Canada already waste enough time with pointless political stunts that do nothing but harass people.
Canada doesn't need to spend its time talking about another abortion law.

Fun for the weekend

From io9 - This animated short is the best 10-second adventure you'll take today:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's Jump-the-shark season on TV

As the season finales appear day by day, we see more and more TV shows that end by some lead character jumping the shark.
Remember how pissed off everyone was when the producers ended the first season of The Killing without actually solving the killing, which was the one reason anybody was watching the series?
That's nothing to how pissed off Castle fans are about not seeing the wedding they've been talking about and talking about ALL DAMN SEASON LONG!  The ridiculous Castle finale actually ended with one of those Is-Castle-Dead? burning car endings -- and with Becket, in her wedding dress, weeping on the side of the road.  Maybe Nathan Fillion's contract is up for renegotiation.
And I think contract negotiations are the only possible reason for that silly Chicago Fire finale -- virtually the entire cast dashed into a burning building which of course then immediately proceeded to explode. Whocouldanode?  I guess which characters stagger out next fall will depend on who signs contracts over the summer.
At least NCIS spared us another Is-Gibbs-Dead? / Is-Ducky-Dead? / Is-Ziva-Dead? ending, which wouldn't have worked very well anyway considering that Ralph Waite really is.
And while the Person Of Interest finale dispatched their Anonymous-clone Vigilance group in a predictable way, the dispersal of its cast in the final scene was as fascinating a way to end a season as I have ever seen.
And next season, these:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat

It was May 13, 1940 that Winston Churchill made his first speech to the Commons as Prime Minister, the "Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat" speech:

You ask what is our policy. I will say, it is to wage war with all our might, with all the strength that God can give us, to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.  ..come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.
As Edward R. Murrow said, Churchill mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Great tweet of the day

Via @fernhilldammit

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

I am Canadianized!

In other parts of the continent, its called "uppity".
But I like calling it "Canadianized" -- asking for an employer to treat you like a fellow human being instead of an indentured servant.
Deny it all they like, but of course the advice given by a Saskatoon recruiting firm to a restaurant owner was intended to intimidate his temporary foreign workers from asking for better treatment from their employer:
According to the email, which was obtained by CBC's iTeam, the Saskatoon-based recruiter told Houston Pizza in Estevan, Sask., that some employers of temporary foreign workers find that over time, the workers "become 'Canadianized' and increase their demands on the employers.'"
"We believe a simple reminder to the workers will reverse the effects of the Canadian influence," it says. The 2011 email essentially suggested telling such "Canadianized" workers that if things don't work out, they could be sent home.
...Apparently, among the worker demands the company was referring to were requests for time off.
The email reminds the restaurant owners that "time off must meet the employer's schedule NOT the workers."
I think these folks need a union!
Many years ago, I heard a drugstore owner complaining up and down when the minimum wage was raised, because he didn't want to pay his "girls" any more money because they were all such awful employees.   And I thought, No wonder nobody wants to work for you, you old misogynist, when you treat your staff only as a drain on your profits.
I had hoped that attitude was long gone in Canada, but I guess not.
Because it seems like some employers just cannot resist the impulse to act like dirtbags to their employees when they get the chance.  And the TFW Program has given them that chance.
Why can't these employers understand that we are proud of our country and we want it to treat well the people who come here to work?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Lost boys

Stephen Harper has lost Andrew Coyne:
It is one thing to savage a political opponent or beat up on a distinguished civil servant. But to accuse the nation’s highest judge of professional misconduct — for that is what was insinuated, if not quite alleged, an ethical breach serious enough to warrant her resignation — is so ill-considered, so destructive of both the court’s position and his own, that it leaves one wondering whether he is temperamentally suited to the job.
Umm, no, he never has been.
And now even Charles Adler is jumping ship:

Embedded image permalink

Friday, May 02, 2014

Now the Harper PMO thinks it can get rid of McLaughlin?

You can see where this is heading.
The Harper Cons have rid themselves of dozens of principled civil servants over the last eight years.
Now they think they've found a way to trash the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and get her to resign too:
Harper alleges Supreme Court Chief Justice broke key rule with phone call - The Globe and Mail
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accused Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of breaching a basic rule of her office, as a deepening conflict between the government and the country’s highest court breaks out into a public dispute.
The Prime Minister’s Office publicly asserted that the Chief Justice attempted to contact Mr. Harper about a court case, and said that he refused to take her phone call when Justice Minister Peter MacKay told him it would be “inappropriate.”
This smear tactic was refuted openly and strongly by McLaughlin's office: an unusual move, McLachlin's office publicly replied to allegations she may have lobbied against Nadon's appointment.
A statement issued by the Supreme Court's executive legal officer, Owen Rees, explains McLachlin was consulted by the special parliamentary committee that was tasked with studying a short list of names drawn up by MacKay's office....
"The chief justice did not lobby the government against the appointment of Justice Nadon," Rees wrote. He said McLachlin or her office flagged a potential problem to both MacKay and the prime minster's chief of staff, Ray Novak, but "did not express any views on the merits of the issue."...
Françoise Boivin, the NDP's justice critic, said the government tends to trash people who are the bearers of bad news. "When they are stopped by the court, well, it is not them who is wrong, it's everybody else," she said.
MP Sean Casey, speaking for the Liberals, said the government attacks people who offer what he called "contrary" opinions. "That's the way these guys operate — when the only tool in your tool kit is a sledge hammer everything looks like a rock."
These guys also don't know when to shut up.