Friday, January 30, 2004

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the Right, here he is stuck in the middle with you!

PM the PM must wonder how he can catch a break. On the left of the spectrum he's got Smilin' Jack Layton trolling Liberal retirement homes, searching for warm bodies of the centre-left days of yore. Jack of course is still waiting for wallflower Sheila to come to the dance, bookworm Lloyd to drop in at the NDP offices and of course that ancient warrior Paul Hellyer to make up his mind. While he tries to palm pilot his way through the Liberal party membership lists, the right are also doing their best to help out their Liberal brethren.

Word out of Washington as reported by Gillian Cosgrove of the National Post (sorry folks, no link, the Asper empire have made their website a pay as you read affair and I'm not inclined to line their pockets) is that Brian Mulroney has been "talking up" Paul Martin to the Americans. The Mulroney's and their friends the Desmarais' recently did the social circuit in Washington, including a party at Ben Bradlees home, where they met the likes of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bob Woodward and host of other "power" people.

The Mulroney's also spent an hour and a half with Dubya and his dad in the Oval Office. Talking with Condoleeza Rice and other assorted Bush cabmins about Canada and the USA. (an hour and a half that's about 89 minutes more time than Jean Chretien got in four years!!!). Mulroney was privy to just how bad the relationship was between Mr. Chretien and Mr. Bush; the loathing, the spite, the nasty comments he heard it all. He felt he should do his national duty and try to smooth things over. Apparently Brian spent the weekend telling one and all great things about PM the PM, and how he is going to re-connect the Canadian-American wiring.

Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, considering how relations deteriorated during the Chretien/Bush years, but for a Liberal PM to have a former Conservative PM doing your point work is kind of a dangerous ledge on which to walk. Especially when the Conservative is one who's mere name can elicit howls of outrage from one segment of society, countered by the huzzahs of support from another.

The appearance of Mr. Mulroney as a cheerleader for Mr. Martin while probably helpful in relations with the Americans, is not going to be as beneficial in national issues. Already many Canadians are of the opinion that the Martin years will be a more Conservative period in our lives, little did we know that they would be championed by the main Conservative proponent of the last twenty years. As far as Liberals go, having Brian Mulroney endorse you is possibly not the most positive development of the day. This will fuel Sheila Copps conspiracy theories for months!

Now while you probably should not feel embarrassed when someone says nice things about you, it depends on who is doing the speaking, in some things perhaps silence is more helpful than praise.

So what, we just hide in the basement and cower?

Is too much information a bad thing? Is it scare mongering, or just some much needed honesty about our current lifestyle? We seem to lurch from one omen of doom to another these days, one wonders if we should even roll out of bed. In the last six weeks we've gone from a BSE crisis in our cows, a health warning about green onions from Mexico, to a report that says farmed salmon is nothing but a toxic wasteland. So what now? Are we all to be vegans? If so what about those green onions?

When we're not wondering if our food is going to make us sick there's that worry about the guy or gal beside us in the grocery store. You know the one, they're busy sneezing all over the place grabbing the veggies (again what about those green onions?) and fruits at will. We've been treated to six weeks of warnings about something called the Fujian flu, a rebirth in the SARS scare and now the grand daddy of all threats, a pandemic flu. You sure you want to load up on produce after standing beside Mr. or Mrs. Sniffles.

The latest health scare comes from some kind of mass infection of fowl in the Far East. The "bird" flu has jumped border to border, from Thailand to Vietnam to China to Pakistan, to name a few of the countries wondering if Foghorn Leghorn is safe to eat. The worry is that the virus in the fowl will jump to humans, a brand new strain of infection that has no cure. Even more worrisome is the trend of countries in that triangle to be less than forthright with their health problems. Thailand recently apologized for not coming clean with the severity of the bird flu in it's countryside. A little too late for the neighbours there and in this age of trans national transportation in the air, a little too late for the rest of us as well.

Our health officials here say we're overdue for a world wide pandemic of the flu. Which is rather disturbing, you would think that with all our progress in the field of health, the idea of the flu wiping out a sizeable chunk of us would be a thing of the past. But nope, we're rushing vials of flu shots to Thailand to inoculate the folks charged with killing all the birds, before they kill us. Now I'm all for helping those brave cullers out, but isn't this the same flu shot that won't even work on the Fujian Flu, the one that supposedly was going to wreak havoc with us. Hard to believe it's going to work on a virus that they can't even identify yet. Then again, you send me into a warehouse full of dead birds and tell me to pick them up and burn them, well start jabbing me, give me whatever you have. Make me a pin cushion for the cause.

A flu pandemic apparently won't be a pretty thing according to Health officials. The three pandemics that have been studied killed millions, the Spanish Flu 1918-19, the Asian flu 1957-58, and the Hong Kong flu of 1968-69. By far the worst was the Spanish Flu which claimed over 50 million lives. It was in a world ill prepared to deal with sickness on a grand scale, a war just ending brought home troops from the far reaches of the world, bringing with them a virus that proved to be devastating beyond belief.

The world is better prepared these days, but yet the fear is out there that we aren't too far past the days of mass infection. The Sars cases in Toronto of last year, may prove to be a testing ground for how we handle a major health crisis. Yet without shared information, we'll all be at the mercy of nature and nature seems a tad upset with us these days. Countries like Thailand and China that hide incidences of infection and try to cover up the severity of the problem are not helping the rest of us. So perhaps as gloomy as the news can be, it's best to have it all out and in the open. While it's tempting to want to go through the day in the dark and worry free, surely we're better off at least with a warning, a heads up is always a welcome thing. That is, as long as we heed the information provided.

Short of that, stay away from the sneezing ones and wash those fruits and veggies vigorously. And what the hell dig into that steak or hunk of salmon, somehow with all the worries of the flu, the idea of giving up on beef and fish just doesn't seem as pressing all of a sudden.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Chuckles from the wired world

One of the more interesting aspects of the world wide web and e mail, is the increase in humour making the rounds. Before my e mail connection, I'd be hard pressed to hear more than a dozen jokes a month. Now with the relative ease of e mail I receive jokes, jokes and more jokes. Today we'll share some of the recently received batches of humour.
Our topic is the world of aviation. Fly at them as they say...

Subject: Conversations between pilots & control towers
Here are some conversations that airline passengers normally will never
hear. The following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline
pilots and control towers around the world.

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"
"TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
"Centre, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
"Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"
From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm bored!"
Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was bored, not stupid!"
O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a
Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."
United 239: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've got the
little Fokker in sight."
A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While
attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your
last known position?"
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."
A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll
out after touching down.
San Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end
of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe
exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the
There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing
because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a bit peaked." Air
Traffic Control told the fighter jock that he was number two, behind a
B-52 that had one engine shut down."Ah," the fighter pilot remarked,
"The dreaded seven-engine approach."
Taxiing down the tarmac, a DC-10 abruptly stopped, turned around and
returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off. A
concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, "What, exactly, was the
problem?" "The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine,"
explained the flight attendant. "It took us a while to find a new
A Pan Am 727 flight waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the
Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in
Germany. Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent):
"Because you lost the bloody war."
Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency
Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way,
after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of
the runway."
Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact
Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and
yes,we copied Eastern... we've already notified our caterers."
One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short
of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out,
turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted
comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little
plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a
real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours
and I'll have enough parts for another one."
The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a
short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking
location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it
was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following
exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747,
call sign Speedbird 206. Speedbird 206: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear
of active runway."
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven." The BA 747 pulled
onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not
been to Frankfurt before?" Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944,
but it was dark, -- and I didn't land."
While taxiing at London's Gatwick Airport, the crew of a US Air flight
departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose
with a United 727. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the
US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going?!
I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on
Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the
difference between C and D, but get it right!" Continuing her rage to
the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now
you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You
stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect
progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour and I want you to go
exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got
that, US Air 2771?" "Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded. Naturally,
the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after
the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the
irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every
cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an
unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking:
"Wasn't I married to you once?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Snowbound Podunk

Seemingly non stop snow, Artic outflow winds and a struggling public works crew brought Podunk to the brink of standstill this morning. Over a foot of snow had fallen by 4 am, pushed into drifts by 50 to 70 km winds. Clogged intersections, slippery roads and treacherous hills, made autobody shop owners dream of early retirement.

In an unusual strategy of snow removal it seemed that the Podunk Public Works department chose to wait out the storm, rather than proactively plow streets as the drifts accumulated. The snow had stopped by
4 am but it seemed that the crews were not out until around 7. By the morning drive to work the town was a mess of cars locked to the curb by waist high drifts, those that could free themselves from the drifts, quickly found that there was no place to park once they got to where they were going. Only folks shopping at grocery stores had a hope of a clear parking spot today.

Perhaps this is a preview of life in Podunk when we hit our budget wall. Podunk council is presently trying to decide how to pare it's budget in order to make up for lost tax income over the last three years. Podunk Public works claims all three trucks, three tractors and all crews were on the job, but the task must have been daunting as the streets remained clogged late into the day.

Cabs were running over an hour behind, when they were running at all. At one point Podunk taxi only had three cars on the road, run ragged as they tried to move from point A, to B, without getting stuck at C. It's expected that the Podunk crews will continue this evening to try and ready the town for tomorrow's return to work. It usually takes the crews about 14 hours to catch up when hit by a dump like this, and that is usually aided by a warm Pacific front arriving to aid in the removal.

With more snow in the forecast for Podunk tonight and a cold wind blowing from the North, nature is taking a pass in snow removal help this time around. Scraping shovels and spinning tires, the sound of Podunk in the snow.

Can't find a job in Podunk, then get the hell out of town

Podunkians awoke today to a blustery snowstorm and a cold wind blowing through the town. And the weather wasn't the only thing blowing cold and throwing bluster. At a community forum on BC Benefits, Podunkians were treated to a dose of tough love from a representative of the provincial government.

As an April 1st deadline for welfare reductions or elimination approaches, Ian Harrower, assistant community relations officer for the Ministry of Human Resources gave the advice that "if there aren't jobs available locally, then you may have to consider moving".

The forum featured many local Podunkians expressing concern and worry about their fates as the local economy continues to decline and struggle. The official unemployment rate of approximately 12% is widely derided as a tad optimistic, there being precious little in the way of continuous employment available in the Podunk these days.

And while the flack from the Ministry may be speaking a truth, "if there's no work, then move on" there are bigger issues to concern ourselves with. For example a depopulation campaign blessed by the provincial government is not exactly a pro-active approach to developing the beloved "Heartland" of the Liberal government. As more and more people feel the need to leave, then more and more services decline, the base of a vibrant economy becomes unstable and then the cycle repeats itself endlessly. I'm not sure that targeting the most vulnerable part of your society is the way to approach a brave new world of social engineering.

Lots of finger pointing and blame assessment to go around here. The local Podunk council seems to have gone out of it's way to drive any form of industry away over the years. Chasing after failed forest product processors, instead of attracting other more stable industries to the city. Exploring industries that may employ a number of people but at a vastly reduced rate of pay and seasonal employment, leading to a limited family income and of course less of the purchases that drive a city, homes and cars.

Woe is Podunk in it's winter of discontent. No warm words about potential anymore, no promises of better times just around the corner. Instead the cool calculated advice to just get up, pack up and go. The government has great plans for our province, if only those troublesome poor people would only get with the program..

Advice offered, Advice discarded

So my career as matchmaker has gone up in flames. Less than 24 hours after I float the trial balloon of a Kerry/Edwards ticket. Edwards says hey, not likely, unless I'm the guy on the top of the ticket. Since that isn't likely to happen, so sad, too bad, sayonara Mr. Edwards. Ego, it's the one leveling force for all politicians, too much of it and you go kaboom off to irrelevance.

The First rule of broadcasting

Always assume the microphone is live or the tape is rolling. Any Broadcast Journalism student understands the concept, you can't have it back once it's out there. And Gord Martineau , a news anchor for City TV in Toronto is just the latest example of that age old axiom.

Martineau is suffering the embarrassment of some rather unfortunate attempts at humour, caught on tape, that have caused an uproar in Toronto. City TV is in full damage control over the incident , with press releases flying out of the TV station offices today.

During a promotional video shoot for the station several years ago, Martineau mocked many of the stories and personalities that they were featuring. Using crude language and expressions Martineau exhibited a less than professional appearance. The outtakes were released on the internet by Frank Magazine over the last few days. The release shares Martineau's less than funny sense of humour with the world.

Martineau who has been a fixture in Toronto media circles for over 30 years is mortified at the development. It would seem that someone out there decided to bring his high flying reputation back down to earth. He should have remembered to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. Short of that he should have just been a bit more intelligent.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Lights Dim on the soundstage

Tonight, Jay, Dave, Conan, Jimmy and any other late night talk show host shall share one thing. The knowledge that they have or had their jobs, thanks to Jack Paar. Parr passed away this morning at the age of 85, he changed the way most of us watch television. He took over the late night slot on NBC from Steve Allen in 1957 and his Tonight Show did things a little differently. Instead of a variety show, Paar talked, he had entertainers and politicians on and they talked, Paar brought out details even they might not want to have shared. He gave the audience details about himself, sometimes spending most of a show just talking about anything that seemed to come into his mind, the audiences ate it up. By 1960 the day was not complete until you heard what Jack had to say.

There are a lot of musicians, comedians and other noteworthy celebrities that can say they got their break on Jack Paar's Tonight Show. When he walked away from the show in 1962, many couldn't believe he was serious. He was, he hosted a prime time show for three more years then retired from television. The man who took over in 62 went on to own the late night slot for decades, Johnny Carson eventually would be known as the King of Late Night, but it was Paar who set the format in motion.

To this day the Late night spot on television is one of the most coveted, Leno and Letterman have been slugging it out for years now. Others have come and gone, good and bad. All can be thankful that in the late fifties, a man sat down at a desk and just talked.


Well for Joe Lieberman, Tuesday night in the Hampshires was not a great night out. Lieberman finished fifth out six candidates on the ballot (Rev. Sharpton did not register above 0 this Tuesday night) with only 9% of the vote, a not so subtle sign that his candidacy is going nowhere fast. For if the most republican like of Democrats cannot attract votes in the fiercely independent state of New Hampshire, then exactly where can he.

For the second week in a row it was the John Kerry show, as his campaign message hit a cord with 39% of the primary voters. Howard Dean, governor of neighbouring Vermont finished second with 26%, General Wesley Clark kept his campaign at least on the radar with a third place tie with John Edwards at 12%, Dennis Kucinich brought up the rear with 1%. And for the record Rev. Sharpton attracted 342 votes which comes to just a smidgeon more than 0%.

The results tonight show a trend of this becoming a two man race, with Kerry and Dean most likely trading off primaries through the winter and spring. If Gen. Clark can get his message out of the drift it's in at the moment he might yet get a shot, but as each day goes by he appears to be moving more and more to the fringe.

What will be interesting is what Edwards will eventually do, he's not likely going to be the nominee, but he could start angling his name in for a Vice-Presidential spot. What we could end up with is a Kerry/Edwards ticket, which would appeal to many Democrats as it would cover both northern and southern Democrats. It's doubtful that Kerry will be inclined to take on either Dean or Clark as a VP candidate, so Edwards makes the most sense.

On the other side we could end up with a Dean/Clark partnership which would give the term "angry white guys" a whole new look. Both of the candidates have seemed to need some anger management assistance in the last couple of weeks, and the visage of two ranting and raging guys may not play well in the long term. The other problem there as well is; which guy is going to be the Presidential candidate, both Dean and Clark are not missing in the ego department, thus it could end up that the Democrats employ a WWE cage match finale to pick the Presidential candidate.

For Kucinich and Sharpton it's nice to have met you now get off the stage. Next Tuesday features seven primaries, by the time the networks sign off in one weeks time, we should have a very good idea how the Democrats are lining up. And right now the line forms to the back of John Kerry.


Primary Day for the Democrats in New Hampshire, and for many of the contenders it could be the night that is their swan song from politics. While John Kerry and Howard Dean seem to have put their campaigns back on track, the rest of the Democrats are struggling to remain relevant to the Democratic landscape. One who desperately needs at least a third place finish tonight is Joe Lieberman, a candidate who has been holding a rather low profile thus far. He needs to get his name back into print and on the air, countering the perceived front running status of Kerry and Dean. A loss tonight could very well put the former Vice-Presidential candidate off the radar.

Lieberman who had his campaign stumble when Al Gore chose not to endorse him for President, is hoping that New Hampshire will give his campaign a boost and thus help bring in more campaign funds. Trying to keep the interest up is a hard slog, but Lieberman is doing his best, going so far to say that he senses a wave of JoeMentum. Many pundits sense that the Joementum is rather limited, but hope springs eternal. Lieberman is claiming that the McCainiacs, Independent voters, that are choosing to vote in the Democratic primary are all for him, as are the undecided. Other Democrats are saying that it's a rather desperate move to point out that quasi Republican voters are all for you, could scare off the real democrats that you need.

Another candidate hoping to show his stuff is retired General Wesley Clark, who is hoping that New Hampshire will launch his bid for the nomination. Clark who has had a rather rough eight days, has to counter some rather questionable comments of late and a sense of a campaign sputtering.

The remainder of the field aren't really expected to last the length of the race, as the voters go to the polls it's not expected that Al Sharpton, Dennis Kuchinich and John Edwards will gain much support and will be hard pressed to hang on for next Tuesdays primaries, where voters in seven states get to make their selections. By midnight tonight, Dick Gephardt could have some company on the political sidelines.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Frying pan to the fire!

BC's newly reshuffled provincial cabinet was introduced to the public this afternoon, and it would seem that Christy Clark has been moved from one hot spot, to a hotter spot. The former Education minister who frequently found herself at loggerheads with teachers, administrators and parents, has a whole new challenge ahead of her. Clark has been handed the Children and Family Development portfolio which has a smaller budget than education, but just as many, if not more headaches. It was the position that was recently vacated with the David Hogg resignation, as his department faced turmoil on many fronts, and is best described as a mess.

The shuffle of Clark is perceived by many as a lateral move, not quite a demotion but certainly not a promotion. Taking her place in Education is Tom Christenson, his arrival to cabinet was not universally applauded by the opposition. NDP leader Carole James considers his appointment to be a sign the Premier attaches no importance to education, placing a relative unknown in the high profile job. As she put it Tom Who? Of course it wasn't too many months ago that many were saying the same thing about her, wondering how the NDP could entrust her with the leadership of the opposition party.

Other losers appeared to be Judith Reid the transportation minister, the ghost of the Coquihalla mess and other troubles in Transportation haunted her through her time in office. She announced later in the day that she was leaving politics for the private sector, thus it was actually her decision to leave the portfolio, or so the spin goes. Sheila Copps in Ottawa/Hamilton, should take notes on exit strategies. Kevin Falcon was given the transportation position, it's now his job to make sure that the right roads get paved before the next election.

The other loser of the day was newlywed Ted Nebbling, who announced Sunday that he had married his long time partner in November. The morning news was full of details on Mr. Nebbling being the first cabinet minister in Canada, if not the world, to have a same sex partner. By the afternoon he was out of cabinet, and off to the backbenches. Bad timing for that announcement, the optics of firing Mr. Nebbling the same day he makes news on the social awareness front, is best left to the Liberal party machine to try and explain.

Those were the main stories, the rest of the shuffle had all the drama of changing lines at a pick up hockey game. Of note for northerners and Heartland watchers was Roger Harris of the Skeena riding becoming a Minister of State for forestry, his northern neighbour Bill Belsey once again managed to avoid being named to the cabinet. The tea leaf readers on that say the Liberal backroom folks (those presently not talking to their lawyers) feel they may lose the North Coast seat in the next election, while increasing the profile of Harris could save the Skeena seat for another term.

All in all 6 folks were dropped, 11 changed portfolios, one new position was created and one was discontinued. The Big money ministries, except for Education, all have the same folks in charge, so whatever direction the Liberals are going in will continue. Assuming they actually know which way they are going these days.

A George that has a thought!

Well since I've promoted a comedian on the right wing of the spectrum, guess in the spirit of fairness it's time to showcase one from the left. Found an interesting snapshot of how George Carlin is doing these days, and it makes for an interesting read on how the US (and to a degree, but not quite as much, Canada) has changed over the last twenty years. How democracy is being played with to suit the powers to be and how that is a danger. How our cult of consumerism is running counter productive to what really should matter. Carlin has been a pretty solid barometer of what's current in the States for years, and he's still a vital force for observing our ways as he's into his mid-sixties. It's worth a read, though it's too bad there wasn't more to the article, he has some valid points that should be put out there for us.

Changing deck chairs on the Good Ship Gordo!

2:30 today, that's the time that the Premier will "readjust" his cabinet. Campbell is hoping to deflect some of the less than positive press of late surrounding his government. Should be interesting to see if this is a minor shuffle or a wholesale makeover. It's the first change since the Liberals found themselves elected so perhaps it's time. The only thing is the optics of this won't be of strengthening the cabinet, but rather trying to do some damage control. Stand by for further details as they become available.

Dennis Miller Rants Again!

This should be enough to send Al Franken into intensive care and Michael Moore across the border to Canada. Dennis Miller is back on nightly television. Tonight he debuts his new effort for CNBC, which has offered him the 9PM (6PM Pacific) slot Monday thru Thursdays. It's their hope that Millers' brand of caustic humour will attract those folks tired of Larry King's celebrity love ins and themed shows.

Liberals should be forewarned though, it may be a rough ride that they face should they tune in. Miller has developed a rather Conservative streak in the last few years. Look for him to send many a Democrat off to their thesaurus, to find out just what it was they were called.

As a mater of fact his opening week line up of guests is pure right wing, California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the first guest tonight. Followed by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani as the week progresses.

Miller was in fine form as he appeared at a launch event for CNBC, giving his take on the network news and those that deliver it. Don't expect Peter Jennings to be showing up any time soon, as a matter of fact he probably has a better chance of being the emcee at a Toby Keith concert than he does of guesting on the show.

A brave new world in ranting begins tonight, listen carefully or you might miss something. And like reading a Reader's Digest, you'll be able to improve your vocabulary while you watch.

Sunday, January 25, 2004


Five shows that certainly are better than Friends!

The NBC publicity department went a little bombastic this past week, with trailers for the season finale of Friends. Advising television watchers that history is just around the corner and not to miss the final episodes of the best comedy show ever on television. Needless to say this caused an uproar around the industry, not to mention on the set of Frasier. It too is winding down it's run this season and all of a sudden feels like the unwanted waif, the who keeps hanging around the front door with a hand out. At any rate below are my selections for five shows that are far and above better than Friends.

1. ALL IN THE FAMILY-Ground breaking social satire, a terrific cast and the show that defied the censors, special interest groups and network executives. It was successful because we watched and understood where it was coming from. Humour helped to bridge the uncomfortable aspects of a society that was changing too fast for some, not fast enough for others. Carroll O'Connor took on a role of the bigoted Archie Bunker, middle aged America's divining rod and lightning rod. Jean Stapleton was his rock, Edith always there with a beer or an ear. The Show also provided millions of viewers with a whole new lexicon to work on, Meathead, Dingbat to name a couple of Archie-isms that managed to work their way into our vocabulary.

2. MASH-Could a television show help to end a war? Possibly, a war weary nation watched the Korean War unravel on M*A*S*H and knew it was actually about Vietnam. The senseless loss of life, the insane directives from HQ, the camaraderie of the doctors and nurses of the 4077th. It all flashed before us year after year. Beloved characters left explained away in tragic style, replaced by others who brought their own talents to a show highly acclaimed. It became a television show that eclipsed it's movie parentage, actors and actresses forever identified with their TV characters. It had a political opinion that was hard to miss, and at that time in a cynical America that opinion was almost Gospel. The best way to a viewers conscience apparently was through the funny bone.

3. THE HONEYMOONERS-To the Moon Alice, to the Moon. Perhaps the only place where the Kramden's and the Norton's weren't a household name. The show that was the career highlight of Jackie Gleason, his bus driver Ralph the hero of the common working man. From the hassles of the job to his crazy get rich schemes, we laughed along with Ralph and the long suffering Alice. His neighbours the ever present Norton's were there as well; equal part partner and tormenter. Week after to week audiences tuned in to see what insanity was to follow.

4. CHEERS-A place where everybody knew your name. An ensemble cast of folks just hanging out in a bar, making small talk, hatching plans, avoiding work. It provided one of the great love/hate relationships of television with Sam and Dianne. Spawned a spin off series featuring an uptight psychologist in Frasier and showed that sloth and laziness can actually pay off, right Norm! From the introduction to coach, Sam, Cliff, Norm and Carla, through Dianne, Frasier, Woody, Rebecca and Lilith we sat down at the bar and shared their exploits. If we had the cash, we would have bought the bar ourselves.

5. I LOVE LUCY-In 1951 a manic red headed woman and her Cuban bandleader husband arrived on television sets and seemingly never left. The Ricardo's opened the door to the house and when Ricky said; "Lucy I'm home" we all sat down to watch. Based on the state of married life of one of America's favourite female comedians, I Love Lucy was thirty minutes of non stop entertainment. As the Arnaz family grew in real life the family grew on television as well, family viewing time took on a whole new meaning with Lucille Ball. On a weekly basis we would sit back, wait and see what kind of trouble Lucy and Ethel could get themselves into. The show also made a little TV history, it was the first show to ever go into rerun. Which became a whole new money making adventure for the medium. The show lasted a decade on network tv and has been played somewhere on earth daily ever since.

I would gather that the apology letters have already gone out from NBC in Burbank. For while Friends may be a nice little comedy, it's a long way from the greatest of all time. No amount of PR spin can make a TV viewer think otherwise.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Belinda's voice

Well as the peek a boo campaign continues, it might be helpful to actually hear the woman speak in her own voice. Belinda Stronach began her march to the leadership of the Conservative Party this week under a glare of media attention, occasionally ducking some of the more controversial questions offered up to her. Sometimes she managed to avoid the media beast completely, much to the chagrin of those who would formulate opinion.

So as she travelled across the country on her journey, journalists and broadcasters weighed in with their opinions on how they thought she was doing. Many were quite blunt with their assessment of her abilities, her credibility, her background and the message she was delivering.

She began her limited media engagements in Winnipeg on the Charles Adler show, here are some highlights from the show as provided by the CJOB website. And since the media events seem to be scaled down of late, this may be one of our few chances to actually hear her speak and form our own opinion.

Bill Maher helps the cause

On my right hand side of the blog are a number of links that I like to check out frequently. One of the great "thorns in the side" these days is Bill Maher, his website is terrific and provides some comic relief for a troubled world. Check it out sometime.

For now tale a look at these "helpful" posters he's designed to help get the world back on side with American Policy, some of them are just a hoot.

Follow the Money

Another weekend comes and yet more turbulence for BC politics. Earlier today the Liberal Cabinet Minister for Children and Families tendered his resignation, following an internal audit. Gordon Hogg said he was resigning so as to "ensure public confidence in his office." He steps aside as an independent audit is launched into the financial dealings in his ministry. The resignation is yet another embarrassing announcement to come from the legislature of late, with many political observers wondering what's next in Gordo land.

Rumblings of a cabinet shuffle, as early as Monday are making the rounds, as Captain Gordon tries to get his boat back on a smoother course. But this latest situation should provide even more grist for the rumour mill. The ongoing investigation into the Doug Walls situation was the prompt for today's resignation, Walls resigned earlier this week, amidst questions about his former business interests in Prince George. What appeared to be a low threat to the government a week ago, now has claimed a cabinet minister. Is it any wonder that people are wondering just what is going on in Victoria.

While this drama was playing out at the Legislature, the courts were also busy. Lawyers for the two Liberal ministerial aides currently the subject in a police investigation were earning their pay. Arguments were presented, that the search warrants used in the highly public raid on the legislature last month, should remain sealed. So far the lawyers have been full value for their billing hours, as the warrants remain sealed. That decision is bad news for the Federal Liberal party though,as their lawyers were trying to get the warrants unsealed promptly. The Feds are afraid that all this suspicion will dog them through the Spring and a possible Federal Election.

For the Premier it's another week in January he probably would just as soon forget. Unfortunately for him weeks are starting to turn into months. One wonders how long will his caucus remain united under such heavy scrutiny, as the government continues to live in the glare of a media spotlight?

Firesale Hockey

And so it begins, the great salary dump of 2004. Washington apparently set to lead the way by unloading Jaromir Jagr and his hefty paycheque, for Anson Carter who found himself in Glen Sather's doghouse rather quickly. This marks the second time that Jaromir has been moved in order to cut costs, having helped Pittsburgh's bottom line not too long ago. Not sure of the logic of this deal, the Caps will still be on the hook for a hunk of his salary for the next four years, some 20 million, in effect paying him to go away, we should all be so lucky!

Washington may not be done yet, they may next deal Peter Bondra possibly to Ottawa. Cutting and pruning will continue until the Capitals can run purely on popcan return revenues. I Wonder if the long suffering Capital's fan will be so lucky and be given a rebate on their season tickets, since the Caps seem to have abandoned all hope for this season.

This is just the tip of the salary dumping iceberg, Carolina too is about to pare the payroll and rumours continue that the Chi Hawks will also take a knife to their paycheque recipients, though to be fair that won't amount to much there. Now that it's open season, how many other teams will decide to chuck this year and try and save some money?

This trend is just another indication of the trouble Hockey has found itself in over the last few years. Between struggling franchises in the Sunbelt, disinterested fan bases in many cities, underperforming talent, and an ugly labour dispute looming, things are just not so rosy beyond the Zamboni machines.

This firesale concept could turn the playoff race upside down, teams that built their line-ups from the draft, by developing players on the farm clubs and taking the slow and steady approach may find their best efforts go unrewarded. Instead the victors this season, may be those with the money to chase a flood of highly talented players that become available to the highest bidder.

Finishing first overall, building momentum for the season it could all be a waste of time. Instead the smart GM will be the one with the fistfull of cash ready to scoop up the available talent from the teams looking to cut their losses and cut their costs. Play like bums for half a season and then load up on stars for the homestretch, it could be a whole new management style coming our way.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Mother's lock up your sons, JLo is on the loose!

Ah, those star crossed lovers Ben Affleck and J Lo just couldn't make it go. So with a lot less fanfare than the relationship exhibited at it's zenith, they are kaput. No more Bennifer, no more mad media chases through backward southern burbs to see if they took out a marriage or a gun license. No breathless updates on ET about the latest twist in the love cycle.

Alas, the celebrity chase will move on to other targets. Michael, Brittney, Kobe the stage is all yours. Ben and Jen will go and lick their wounds and become stronger for their pairing. Lessons no doubt will have been learned from the volatile relationship. Never again will they be featured together on People, US, Entertainment Weekly and the unsavoury tabloids. Ben can visit strip joints without concern, J Lo can look for solace in old friends, perhaps P Diddy can send her some clothes to soothe her shattered heart.

Regardless they can now get on with their careers, such as they were. With a fine effort like Gigli as your definitive piece, it's going to be a hard field to plow. But if all else fails there's always the reality shows, how about one where two old flames get back together to rekindle the passion. Whoa I can see the planning meeting at FOX right now.... Get me rewrite. Call the agents, lets get this party started..

Smilin' Jack wants you, you and you.

Give him your tired politicos, the poor (or those with only a House of Commons pension to get by on), your huddled Liberals, yearning to be breathe free. Smilin' Jack has room for all. The latest recruit for the Smilin' Jack travellin' band is none other than that blast from the past Paul Hellyer. Seems that while Jack waits for Sheila to come to her senses and jump, he's busy trying to find more ancient warrior Libs to bolster the ranks of the socialist revolution.

Hellyer who is 80 years old has joined pretty well every party but the NDP, currently he's the leader of the less than well known Canadian Action Party. Hellyer, who first joined a Liberal government in the era of Louis St. Laurent, served in the Pearson and Trudeau cabinets, he is probably best know for his Unification of the Armed Forces which to this day remains one of the most controversial government moves ever.

He has been holding "talks" with Smilin' Jack about many issues of national importance. But seems to be hesitant to join a party called New Democratic, rather he would like his party to somehow factor into the name of a united new party. Layton thus far has diplomatically turned down Mr. Hellyer, offering him membership in the current name brand.

Most of the cards are in the hands of Smilin' Jack in this little bout of unity madness, in the 2000 election the Canadian Action Party only attracted 27,103 voters nationwide. Though they did vote to merge with the NDP if only they will change their name. Somehow I can't see Smilin' Jack getting rid of all the NDP campaign signs and stationery just to get 27,000 more votes.

With Hellyer considering his options his name gets added to the list of ancient warriors currently under the spell of Smilin' Jack. Lloyd Axworthy, Charles Caccia and Sheila Copps are all Liberals for whom Jack carries a torch. Recently he spent some time with well known Canadian Nationalist Mel Hurtig, who while remaining non committal, must surely be on the wooing list as well. Layton has successfully brought Ed Broadbent back from the political wilderness as a star candidate in Ottawa, but interestingly enough not one "name" under the age of 60. Guess he's writing off the youth vote.

One question that keeps popping into my head is; Why this fascination with old Liberals? How come the likes of Roy Romanow, Bob Rae, Stephen Lewis, Gary Doer to name a few are not in any hurry to rush to the cause. How come the former union names like Bob White , Nancy Riche and current
CLC President Ken Georgetti
, don't throw their hats in the ring. Now show me some of those names, if they'll take the pay cuts and maybe I'll think things are happening. But digging up the names of the Liberal past (and not necessarily the A List Liberals at that) just doesn't seem like a forward thinking strategy.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Ah, Can't a dog get a break!

Well the Chinese have kicked off year number 4702 and as the ancient Chinese curse goes, may we live in interesting times. This is apparently the year of the Wood Monkey, and all sorts of mischievous behavior should befall the world. The Monkey is clever, flexible, innovative, scheming, mischievous and vain; qualities that fortune-tellers and astrology experts predict will make for an eventful year. Chinese astrologers are quite mixed on their interpretation of how the year will play out under a watchful monkey, but expect the unexpected.

As for me a nice friendly DOG, this apparently is a year I should lay low (uh ok, can't see how I can be any more below the radar, I guess I can go back to bed) as Dogs and monkeys apparently don't see eye to eye on many things. If you want to tempt the fates check out your animal here.

So if you'll excuse me I guess I'll go eat some kibble and take a nap til 2006, that apparently is when the Dog will bark again. Til then it's an insufferable monkey wreaking havoc on my peaceful little canine world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Belinda's Magical Mystery Tour!

Well with one full day of campaigning under her belt, one wonders if Belinda Stronach knows what has hit her. The Billionaire candidate spent the day jetting from Winnipeg to Vancouver, meeting and greeting in closed door sessions with "supporters" and generally treading carefully through the media minefield.

Her stop in Winnipeg featured a visit with Charles Adler at CJOB, Adler apparently invoked the mercy rule during his radio show. As in an interview with Global TV he said he went rather easy on her, as he put it, who wants to be the guy who shoots Bambi. And that is probably going to be the fatal flaw in the long Stronach march. If they think they are going to be allowed a learning curve, free of critical commentary they are sadly mistaken. After a couple of weeks (if it can wait even that long) that media beast will start to salivate, snort and growl and it will be have to be fed. Any gaffes, mis-spoken policies and generally naive utterances, will be welcomed as if a banquet for a starving army.

Indeed it would appear that her political debutante ball has already ended. Probably you can track the time as five minutes after she took to the stage in Aurora at the Canadian Legion Hall, a hall that she probably couldn't find again if she needed to. The teleprompter didn't work and well that was seemingly the end of the communications part of the launch. Eventually they replaced the batteries or fed the chipmunks and she continued on with the platform, but an inability to ad lib will be a quick death for any politician.

Her first batch of meet and greets seem to have been reserved purely for the monied folks in the cities she visits, in Vancouver she arrived an hour late for her greeter and the media jackals promptly found themselves banned from the festivities, left to look in through the frosty windows of a downtown Vancouver Pub, nothing to say tonight boys and girls.

It would appear that this may be the peek a boo campaign, maybe an interview; maybe not. So far it seems to be based on the idea of maybe we have an answer, then again maybe we don't. Her boosters aren't exactly resonating with enthusiasm, former Tory cabinet minister Tom Siddon says he thinks she'll be a good candidate, even though he hasn't actually met her yet. Now that's an endorsement! The walking undead of the Mulroney years currently handling her campaign, must find a way to project her image. At the same time they'll have to protect her ego from being crushed by a tsunami of negativity.

Time will tell as to how she is received by the actual voting public, but the formulators of public opinion are busy sharpening their knives, er pencils. Already today, she was eviscerated in print by Chantal Hebert and Margaret Wente. No doubt Rafe Mair is polishing his vocal cords to admonish her for not showing up on his chat show. Peter Warren says his producers are negotiating with Ms. Stronach's people for an appearance, I would think that those negotiations will drag on for a while yet. Surely even the most cruel hearted political handler won't subject her to the twin fates of Peter and Rafe in the same week, just wouldn't be fair. It's doubtful either would give her the mulligan that Adler felt necessary.

So far not a peep from the NDP about a billionaire candidate, who just happened to be Chariman of a company that wasn't particularly union friendly. You would think her candidacy would be like a gift from Socialist Heaven, but Smilin' Jack Layton has nothing to say, for the second day in a row!! Of course this new development kind of throws a wrench into his strategy of painting Paul Martin as the Millionaire candidate. Hell, Martin looks like he's on welfare compared to the candidate from Aurora. Won't be any beneficial bashing of him anymore. Maybe they don't fly the Canadian flag at Magna!

Even the socialist worker has weighed in with an article about her candidacy, needless to say it's not an endorsement. At least the negativity was expected from that corner, the test for her will be when the right wing and centrist press pass judgment. So far they don't seem to be laying petals at her feet as she travels on by.

The case for a strong defence!

Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Middle East. As Canada continues to dwell on the funding level for our national defence commitments, we must also think of the home defence. A reminder from Russia of the importance of a strong military. When disaster strikes, the Russian military is more than willing to jump in and do what must be done.

Be careful for what you wish for!

Friday night's Super 7 Lotto has a jackpot of 25 million dollars. Let your mind drift away now, how that would change your life. The things you would buy, the trips you would take, a life of never ending luxury.
Now let reality slap you upside the head. Still I'll take my chances with my 25 million.

Win one for the Sheila!

So is this the first time the Liberal Party of Canada has ever had nominations for electoral ridings? You would think so the way they flip and they flop over the now infamous nomination disclaimer. The disclaimer made famous the last few days by Sheila Copps, is in for a bit of fine tuning. Ms. Copps who expressed outrage over having to actually fill one out, may have shed some light on a document that most folks were unaware of. There are many personal questions on that declaration form, an awful lot of which are really nobody's business. As a matter of fact, one wonders if the nomination declaration form may not indeed be in contravention of the Federal Government's newly minted privacy regulations.

At any rate, PM the PM must have suddenly discovered that the declaration form didn't exactly embody the spirit of Liberalism. He's apologized for some of the more probing mental health questions and ordered some changes to the document without delay. Some of the less libertarian ideas are going to get a second look as well. Perhaps a reminder of a quote from that wily old Liberal Pierre Trudeau might be in order. "The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation". Add to that the medicine chests, the doctor's office and the detox centers as well.

While it may not be enough to save Sheila and her quest for her riding, it certainly paints her as a defender of personal privacy, which is a role she never would have been cast in during her days in Opposition.

Margaret Unleashed!

Ah, finally the gnomes at the Globe have let Margaret speak. Somehow one gets the idea that Belinda probably wishes that link had stayed broken.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A glitch, or something more?

Interesting reading on the Globe and Mail website today, now by the time you read this perhaps it will be fixed, but for now all links lead to nothing.

Margaret Wente has offered her opinion on the candidacy of Belinda Stronach, but I dare you to find it on the website. Repeated attempts this afternoon, to access the "full story" led to a blank page.

No such problem with the rest of the comprehensive coverage of the candidate's launch.

Poor Ms. Wente so much to say, no one can read it.

Dress for acquittal

What the well dressed businesswoman should wear to her next court appearance. A few sartorial suggestions from the Diva of Domesticity.

A tale of two websites

With the launch of Belinda Stronach's campaign there will no doubt be quite a bit of interest in her beliefs, her vision, her history and such. And of course by using the internet she'll be able to get her message across.

There will also be a benefit well beyond the world of politics, for there are two Belinda websites out there. One is the website for our newly minted candidate, the other a website for a young lady who wants to share her passions, visions and visuals with us, not to mention take some of our money.

Fat fingered web searchers are going to stumble across the other Belinda some time. So as a public service here are links to both Belinda's, you cast your vote as you will.

Be forewarned, the links on lead nowhere, sure must hope that is not a trend! or The choice is yours!

It's Belindamania!

Ah there it is, she's gone and done it! Belinda Stronach has joined the foul smelling OLD men of politics! She announced today that she too is a candidate for the Conservative party, and with a snazzy looking website she's ready to roll. She's looking for help from the young and the Young at heart. The website has an issues section, an about Belinda section and of course a photo section. It even features a parallel French website, though since she doesn't speak French not sure how that's going to work out.

Credit Stephen Harper for at least putting all the Belindamania into perspective, as he said "well she certainly has more money than me", yep that's true.

And Paul Martin said only nice things about her entry into politics, advising us that she'll bring some interesting ideas into the race.

Jack Layton said nothing today, possibly a first! Then again maybe he's waiting for a couple of days to pass, before he invites her to cross over to the NDP as well.

Her website has three buttons you can select, you can join and vote for Belinda, you can recruit supporters for Belinda or you can donate to the Belinda campaign. I dunno, me thinks the third button won't get that much of a work out.

At any rate, she's on the road today heading to Winnipeg for public appearances and a radio interview tomorrow morning on CJOB. Then it's off to Vancouver, where she'll avoid the likes of Rafe Mair and Peter Warren by appearing on that well known talk radio hotbed JACKFM.

We can all follow her progress on the road by keeping her blog close to our links list..

Picking the set list for the Super Bowl pre game!

Billboard magazine has unearthed the pre game lineup of entertainment for this years Super Bowl. And with a salute to Texas as the theme it comes as no surprise that Willie Nelson and Toby Keith will be a couple of the featured performers.

This could make for an interesting listening experience, Willie could play his latest single "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth" which is certainly against the War in Iraq.

Toby could then counter with "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue", which while not pro Iraqi war, is definitely a more proactive (or is that reactive?) approach to world events.

Then again perhaps they can split the difference and do a duet, "Beer for my Horses", suspect that would be a more unifying choice for the crowd assembled that day. Not to mention a wonderful plug for the leagues main sponsors.

Monday, January 19, 2004


Aislin continues to be one of the funniest cartoonists in the Great White North, prior to his latest "assignment", he took aim at Lord Conrad Black's cash crisis

Hack, sniffle, Hack, Hack, spew!

Feeling a little under the weather? Wondering if it's safe to sit down in the restaurant beside that shivering guy in the corner. Thinking of storing survivalist supplies in the basement because you just never know! Well if that's you, here's your early warning system, (well not so early I guess, the site is about a week behind with information, by the time you read this you could already be sick)the Canadian Flu Report.

You'll quickly learn that the further north you go, the less chance of getting the flu. Gee imagine that, where there are no people, there is no flu, what a concept! At any rate provided as a public service to all.

Be sure to phone your relatives in a panicked voice and tell them that they live in a highly contagious area, should be great fun for everyone.

Satire! Wherefore art thou oh Satire.

With the exception of a couple of television shows on the CBC and Frank magazine, one worries about the state of satire in Canada. A brief search for political satire sites in Canada came up with some thin gruel to munch on. Many of the sites found, just weren't funny at all, in fact some were just a waste of surfing time.

A few of the sites I found seem to be tit for tat reprisals of the NDP and Liberal parties, who seem to be taking the internet wars personally. It all started with the NDP's flyourflag website, a rather quaint little reminder to Canadians that Paul Martin is a rather rich fellow, who occasionally found ways to reduce his past corporate tax levels.

There was the Paul Martin Times which was a rebuttal to the actual Liberal website about Paul Martin, it would seem to be the conservative counterpoint to the Martin Camps brave new world revelations and aspirations.

Needless to say it seems that being the governing party makes you more of a target. But not to be outdone the Liberal backroom boys and girls have crafted their own little tribute to creative license, a page that explores the many facets of Jack Layton of the NDP. Say Anything.....Jack takes on Layton's acerbic points about the Prime Minister. Its apparently a new arrival on the satire scene, so it's a tad underwhelming. It should be interesting to see how this site takes on Layton's affection for left leaning Liberals. His current attempts to lure them to the socialist bosom surely won't go unrecognized!

There are a few sites dedicated to the Bloc Quebecois, but they're in French. This of course poses a problem for me as my ancient high school French is a tad rusty, I really can't tell if they're spoofing the Blocheads or celebrating them. Perhaps with a little time I'll be able to determine the difference, but by then the party may be extinct and beyond relevance.

Left in the dust in all of this satirical splendor is the poor old Conservative Party. While totally unscientific, I spent fourty minutes searching variations of anti-Conservative possibilities. Harper stinks, Torywatch, DeadTories, nary a current hit came back. Lots of dead sites no longer visited or maintained (much like the various parties of the past I guess). There are quite a few anti-tributes to Stockwell Day and Preston Manning, none of which are really satire. But the current batch of Right leaning politicians are all below the satirical radar.

This can not be a good sign for the newly minted creation known as the Conservative Parry. If you're not worthy of being made fun of, are you worthy of being voted for? One suspects that with Belinda Stronach about to reach for the Conservative crown that the satirical value will increase, at least we hope so.

If you know of some other politically oriented satire sites let me know at the ContactPodunk link on the right ( right side of the blogsite that is). I would like to think that our political elites are not going to get a free ride.

Weasels beware! The awards are out and we have some winners!

Ah yes, it's award season! You have your Golden Globes, the People's Choice, your Oscars, indeed there is an award for everything and everyone. But by far the most revealing of the Awards is the Weasels.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert has taken the pulse of cubicle dwelling humans everywhere and delivered to us the Weasel Awards. Thousands of voters made their choice as to the Weaseliest person, country, company and behavior to name a few. And if your address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, this is a banner day. You would be the proud recipient of two Weasels!!

Yes George W. Bush is a two time winner, he personally "shocked and awed" the competition by taking the weaseliest individual award, Bush garnered 13,959 votes, his nearest competitor, the always verbose Michael Moore could only attract 5,104 votes. Bush also can take credit for an associated win as Politicians took the title for weaseliest profession, with Lawyers not far off the pace in second.

The United States was a close second in the weaseliest country category trailing France by close to 2,000 votes, but then again France has had so much practice over the years. It seems that Canada just can't muster up much weaselistic behavior, as we finished well down the list ahead of only Germany.

And it was a moral victory for the White House as it came in second in the weaseliest organization category, only the Recording Industry Association of America could topple the power of the US government. No doubt the RIAA can thank downloading lawsuits against senior citizens and pre-pubescent teenage girls for their victory.

Bill Gates can create a new house for his award, Microsoft takes the title of weaseliest company. You know you have a PR problem when you're outpolling the likes of Halliburton and World Com for a company that folks just don't think necessarily has our best interests at heart.

And what is the weaseliest behavior? It would seem that self denial is the thing that trips the voters switch. By an overwhelming majority of over 3 to 1 and a total of 18,887 votes "blaming fast food restaurants for making you fat" took the title. This will be bad news for the second place winners of the profession category, but then again it could be a match made in weasel heaven.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Yep, that was the Super Bowl!

Well, the games both stunk, but the one I figured would be a fine example of football, wasn't. The Colts and Patriots game was pretty well all Patriots. Tom Brady was in control of this one right from the start, Peyton Manning who looked so strong the last four games looked terrible today. He could never get into a rhythm, his receivers were dropping balls, when they weren't running the wrong pass patterns and the defence couldn't hold the Patriot attack. While the Colts stayed within striking distance until the fourth quarter, the game really was over by the half. The Patriots dominated the Colts throughout the game. And then there were the interceptions, Manning who until today was riding a retty good wave, met his match. Tyler Law made three interceptions off of Manning, it was as if he had a copy of the playbook as he was always in the right place at the right time. Add to the mix a Patriots defence that rushed, sacked and dominated the Colts and you get the picture. The Patriots look like a team that is going to win the actual Super Bowl game in two weeks. They looked very strong and confident and were full value for their win.

They'll play the Carolina Panthers who defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, the Eagles were terrible, they too had receivers that didn't seem capable of running a simple pass pattern, Donovan McNabb spent too much time on his back wondering if his ribs would ever relocate to their proper spots. In fact he ended up out of the game by the fourth by taking one hit too many. Don't know much about the Panthers, but today they were far and away the best team on the field. This will be their first appearance in the Super Bowl, so they'll just be happy to be there. I can't see them being as dominant against the Patriots, actually I think the Patriots will make short work of them in two weeks.

So in a way I was right about today being the Super Bowl, for one thing the Patriots beat the only team that seemed to be equal to them, and the game itself was lousy just like most Super Bowls. We'll be treated now to two weeks of hype for a game that may be a complete blow out. There is one bright spot about two Sundays from now, Super Bowl Sunday is one of those days that the advertising agencies love. They have a huge audience for commercials that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce, it's the capitalist system run amok dressed up as a football game. And sadly, the commercials will probably be far more entertaining than the actual game

The Super Bowl is Today

Yes I know your TV Guide won't be telling you this and Jim, Dan, Deoin and Boomer will probably not share this with you. But for all intents and purposes the Super Bowl takes place today starting at 12 noon (pacific) at Foxboro, Mass. This afternoon the Colts and Patriots will take to the field in what should be an exciting display of football talent. And with apologies to the Panthers and Eagles who also take to the field today, the AFC Championship is THE GAME. Two evenly matched teams with almost identical records. In fact it was only a loss to New England earlier in the season that has sent Indy to New England.

Quarterbacks who are at the top of their game right now, receivers that can change a game with just one catch. Defenses that are ready to prove they aren't the poor cousins of their offensive team mates. This game should have it all. The Patriots have given up only 82 points in their last nine games, Peyton Manning will want to change that ability to shut things down. He's been so hot the last four weeks that he just might make this a game to remember. Tom Brady has been waiting an entire season to get the Patriots back to this final stage of the season, the loss last year to the Raiders still sticks in his craw. So look for him to have a terrific game as well.

And don't forget the kicking game, Canadian born Mike Vanderjagt does the kicking for the Colts, he has been pretty amazing all season long, but he will have to keep that streak going and be there if needed. Last year he ended the season on a low note when he and Peyton Manning traded hostilities through the media, at one point Manning called Vanderjagt an idiot placekicker. If the game is on the line and it's 3 pts needed for the win, Vanderjagt better make sure that his foot hits the ball just right, otherwise idiot kicker will be a compliment.

If you can only watch one game today, make your non football plans for later tonight. Colts and Pats the REAL DEAL is at Noon, the Eagles and Panthers are later at 3. And the Super Bowl, well officially it's coming up in two weeks, but in reality, it should be over and in the books by 3 pm today...

Saturday, January 17, 2004



I've been driving around town the last couple of days with a Bon Jovi compilation pounding out of my CD player. A collection of the hits and some eclectic stuff they have done over the years. One song that never fails to catch my ear is HEY GOD! This got me to thinking (Don't worry I have no plans to appear on your doorstep with magazines in the near future) about how musicians deal with a Higher Spiritual being in their music. And so this weeks Fives, Five songs that I've resurrected that seem to resonate a tone of belief (or lack thereof in some cases)..

BON JOVI-" Hey God! ", like I mentioned it's been rattling around in my head the last few days with one of the catchiest guitar riffs that just suggests urgency. The lyrics are in the form of a question of faith "Hey God, tell me what the hell is going on", "Do You ever think about me". The song lives with people at the end of their rope, begging, pleading actually, for some help, a sign something is going to change for the better. The song builds through it's 6 minutes and ten seconds and at the end you're not sure if the belief is still there, or if it has been shattered beyond repair.

BOB DYLAN-" Gotta Serve Somebody ", written during Dylans much discussed and obsessed over period of perceived Christianity. His fans didn't quite know what to make of his themed album, titled Slow Train Coming. Though it wouldn't be the first time that he provided them with something unexpected. Wasn't a preachy kind of song, but it showcased his songwriting quite nicely. He touches all segments of society rich, poor, entitled and dis-enfranchised, all are equal with the knowledge that they have to Serve Somebody. We're left with the thought that we will have to answer for ourselves come that day.

VAN MORRISON-" Whenever God Shines His Light On Me ". A light bouncy feel to the song that can actually get you singing along if you're not too careful. We're left with no doubt that Van believes all will be well, if only we believe. The song builds upon itself as it progresses, indeed the song seems to lift just as the lyrics advise us that we'll be on higher ground. As his career has evolved through the years Morrison has touched Religious themes more and more. This was a nice soothing little ditty, which definitely has a message to it.

THE BEATLES-" Let It Be " A Song even the Bishops at the Vatican could probably agree with. From the opening piano riff to the very last lingering note it's a powerful testimony for faith. McCartney's voice is strong and gives you solace that someone out there cares. The gospel feel to the song builds and builds and builds, the church organ break leading into the guitar work is a great bridge. By the time four minutes has elapsed you feel renewed. And the ending is the perfect punctuation mark for the song.

U2-" Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For " One of my favourite U2 songs ever. It's a testimony to the search for love, for belief. As the song begins the music sets the scene of a journey, you can almost see someone walking off through the mountains and fields. Angels, devils, crosses and Kingdom Come all find their way into the narrative. The middle bridge just makes you think of someone wandering aimlessly in search of what? Faith, Hope, a sense of place or peace. As the song winds down, Bono is still searching, with the music trailing off you can still sense him seeking some kind of sign that the journey will end soon. On the Joshua Tree this song segues nicely into "With or Without You", which provides more questions than answers. Some pretty great songwriting and arranging on this album. It's a work that makes you think.

I'm sure you can think of your own list of songs (Sympathy for the Devil won't be accepted by the way, unless you identify yourself as a Satanist I guess) Feel free to send in your suggestions using the ContactPodunk link on the right hand side of this blog. Be forewarned your list may end up as a feature on atowncalledpodunk, so use a pseudonym if you don't want folks trying to save your soul!

From bad to worse in the land of Gordo

The first three weeks of 2004 have certainly been a rather miserable barometer for British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. His government just seems to keep stumbling from one incident to another with no relief apparently in sight. The new year hadn't even begun when he received word of the RCMP raid on the Parliament Buildings in Victoria. There's really no better sight for a democracy than that of Police officers carrying box after box of files out for investigation. It gave a whole new definition to the term Boxing Day..

Not wanting to rush back from his vacation, he sent his trusted finance minister Gary Collins back home to sniff out the stench (he too was in Hawaii on vacation, it seems the province can run itself over the holidays). Collins apparently not too concerned, quickly returned to Oahu the next day with the details. By the time the sun had set in the Pacific off Diamond Head, two BC Liberal aides had either been suspended or sacked.

The police rather tight lipped about it all, just gave tantalizing hints as to what may come. Drugs, money laundering, commercial crime, organized crime, pick your poison, all could be on the docket by the time this makes it to court. The various media sources in BC, without any real meat to chew on have been chasing down leads and rumours everywhere. We're treated to links to the Federal Liberals, instant party memberships, Monster Houses and Grow Ops all intertwined in whatever it is the RCMP is investigating. The pundits have a field day, the newspapers fill columns and guests on Rafe Mair and Bill Good weave more conspiracies than those JFK fanatics ever had. Television provides "comprehensive" coverage, everyone it seems has an opinion as to what is coming and how it will affect the Premier and his government.

Finally the premier ended his visit to Hawaii returning to the province to hold his first caucus meeting of the year. All hands are on deck showing a united front, there's nothing to worry about we're all informed. At this same time for some inexplicable reason Campbell decides to re-apply for his drivers license. Now this normally would not be a big deal, except for the Premier there is that nasty little episode in Hawaii last New Years when he was arrested for DUI. With his apparent need for a drivers license, the media take great glee in the opportunity to once again publish his mug shot from his Hawaiian indiscretion. There's really no better sight for a democracy than that of a Premier's mug shot in the newspaper. Especially at the same time that there is a police investigation whirling around his party. A prudent political advisor might have foreseen this possible free shot and suggested the Premier take a taxi for a couple of more months.

Today yet another sidebar story surrounding the Premier, and while it really has nothing to do with him, his name once again makes it into the newspapers, on the radio and as part of the nightly television news. A relative by way of marriage, who is also the head of a government agency, is the subject of interest from a special prosecutor. There are apparently concerns about business practices at a truck dealership he ran in Prince George prior to his career in government. Oh by the way, he was also a former president of a BC Liberal riding association. Just another fine bit of publicity for the government of the day to deal with. All of this explains why the Premier was in no hurry to get home from vacation, out of sight out of mind may be the new operating policy for the government.

With all of this going on, one must wonder what exactly is going on in this province. Our largest cash crop would appear to be high grade marijuana, a crop which the government receives no revenue from. The operatives of the political party in power are mired in suspicion, stuck under a magnifying glass and dragging their respective ministers into the light with them. Grow Ops, money laundering, organized crime, who knows what is next. Makes you think that maybe we should change the name of the Province from British Columbia to British Colombia, but then again, things seem to be under control down in South America, not sure of the same in the Northern Hempishere.

Friday, January 16, 2004

A real estate agent's dream client

Bill Gates is into property consolidation, and all the consolodating is happening around his Medina, Washington mansion. It seems that Mr. Gates (actually agents for Mr. Gates) has been on a buying binge of late gobbling up neighbours homes to the tune of 14 million dollars. His moves have extended the perimeter of his 5 acre estate with every purchase. Thus far he has bought up 11 properties, including 9 houses. This should help to eliminate the possiblity of a nosy neighbour coming over to borrow the ladder or something. As a matter of fact the chances of anyone dropping by are slim, most of the consolidated properties are being used by Microsoft employees.

On the plus side unlike some other rental properties in other parts of Seattle, by all accounts the homes are still in immaculate shape. John McIlwain is an observer of land use and property issues in Washington state. He says the last time that anyone can remember this kind of feudal activity was back in the 13 and 14 hundreds, when Baronial Lords would purchase entire tracts of land and then plant their vassals on them.

As for the remaining neighbours they say that the Gates' have been decent neighbours, but the neighbourhood has changed. One of the changes is the manner in which neighbourly disputes get solved. Perhaps in the old days a couple of beers and a pizza would smooth over ruffled feathers. But in the new era of neighbourly relations, representatives of the Gates family will meet occssionally with troubled neighbours to address concerns. So while Gates continues to build his own little Xanadu, I guess the idea of getting him to pop over and help fix those Windows XP bugs is out of the question.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Sheila, Exit stage left, VERY LEFT!

Yikes, I thought Don Newman was going to toss her a box of Kleenex through the TV today. Sheila with that lump in her throat, the misty eyes, her hoarse voice, bemoaning the fate that the evil Blue Paulies are inflicting upon her.

My how she forgets the barbs she tossed at Brian Mulroney over the years (not that there was anything wrong with that) , the battles and outrage with John Crosbie. Her shrill performances while a member of the Rat Pack!

How as a Cabinet Minister she lived the life of a Sultan's handmaiden for years jetting (first class) to France, to Germany to wherever her little heart took her. Her many costly endeavours at Heritage. Now sniff, sniff, she's feeling unwanted. Blaming the backroom boys and their evil ways.

Exactly what will it take for her to figure out that uh, you're not wanted anymore. You've had a nice run, now go away. She probably represented Hamilton in fine style, and did contribute to Canadian public life. But all good things must come to an end, or so we would believe.

I dunno, does smilin' Jack know what he's doing? Other than the short burst of press he's received with "the offer" and the shorter burst he'll get should she actually cross the floor, I'm not sure this is a fate that even the travellers of socialism deserve .

Regardless the battle is not over yet, the forces of Sheila are gathering to collect their ammunition.

Oh well, if nothing else it's good theatre, and that's what Newsworld Politics was today, just amazing theatre. Worthy of Lady Macbeth... Guess the Chretien era isn't gone just yet eh, we have his first lady of pain to carry his torch a little longer.

On second thought, when does the next trip to Mars leave

While Earth prepares to lob more space junk at the Red Planet on January 24th, the Mars Rover has been busy taking temperatures of the Martian landscape. And uh, folks it's warmer than Winnipeg. Toronto and the rest of Eastern Canada could use the warming dust of Mars as well. Near as we can tell there is no wind chill today on Mars. The Spirit Rover made it's first move out into the sandbox of Mars, having sat in park for twelve days while NASA tried to figure out the best way around. The Rover will spend a few days circling the block so to speak before heading out to the hills. And that will signal the start of exploration on the planet that has fascinated us for many years.

From the novels of H. G. Wells, to the radio adaptation of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles, we have wondered if the little green men were going to be coming soon. Through the years literature and movies explored every possible angle of the Martian landscape, climate and possible civilization. So now we're there, one out of two crafts that have landed so far seem to be working, the Beagle landed and never did bark, the Spirit Rover is doing it's Steppenwolf imitation today. And more space traffic will land on the 24th of January, on landing fees alone we're going to owe the Martians a ton of whatever passes for currency there.

Here is an excellent list at our obsession with Mars, the movies, the TV shows the books and such. Make special note on the blurb about Capricorn One, and then think of the news conference yesterday at NASA. Ask yourself if it's possible for life to imitate art! Finally, lets hope we do a better job on Mars than we seem to be doing these days around the ole blue planet, third from the Sun.

Clear the Roads, Gordo's back behind the wheel!

News Item:

Premier Campbell gets his driver's license back

VICTORIA/ CKNW (AM980) -- Premier Gordon Campbell has his driver's license back.

The Premier's staff say it was not a case of having the license lifted following his impaired driving charge a year ago, rather it was a matter of the licence expiring on his birthday last January, shortly after his arrest for drunk driving on Maui.

Staff say he has reapplied for his license and now has it back.

Hey I wonder if he had to take a re-test, if he has to showcase the N or L in the back window, or do they have a different letter for his status?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Five reasons Belinda Stronach would make a better leader of the Conservative Party

Belinda Stronach is apparently about to throw her hat (no doubt a fashionable chapeau from Holt Renfrew) into the ring, and seek the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. KP

Five reasons why she would be the best choice.

1. She'll be able to finance Government expenditures from the Magna petty cash drawer.

2. She'll make sure that all Canadians receive that pesky missing car part promptly.

3. She's good friends with Bill Clinton and can count on him for ah, uhm, er, advice.

4. She probably knows that the Niagara River flows northward. (assuming she received her grade 12)

5. She will be a far sight better looking on a jet ski than some other politician!

Britney Spears and the Sanctity of Marriage!

What can you say, Fox News has the latest earth shattering opinion of Ms. Spears. Just when you thought that Bennifer was more than enough Celebrity debris for the world!! Two words for Ms. Spears "Mars Probe", Volunteer!

Prime Minister Martin shouts out to his new pal Jack Layton!

I can only guess the following is about to be drafted from the PMO's office to the leader of the NDP, cause a good deed should not go unrewarded. KP

The Office of the Prime Minister
Langevin Block
Ottawa, Ontario

January 14, 2004.

Dear Jack:

Jack ole buddy, can't thank you enough. Was watching CTV Newsnet tonight, just after I got back from patching things up with that great guy George and what did I see but you're going to offer me some personnel help.

I mean asking Sheila (not my Sheila but that other Sheila) to saddle up with your fellow travellers in the socialist movement just made my day.

She's continually turning down my employment options, so I can only hope she accepts your invitation. Should she accept your kind offer it certainly will take that stone out of my shoe so to speak, as it opens up a spot for that hard working Tony Valeri to run in the Hamilton-East Stoney Creek riding.

Gosh Gee, Jack thanks, you know I just can't help but think how lucky I am. I'm not in place more than a month and already that great guy Scott Brison has joined my team in the Atlantic provinces, which will be quite helpful whenever I get around to going to the voters.

And today, that great medical practitioner in Victoria Dr. Keith Martin (he he, hey we have the same last name, but there's only one MARTIN in power eh Jack!) has decided to leave the new Conservatives and sit as an Independent and he might even join our party in time for the election.

What a banner day, I can't help but feel things are going great; George likes me, Scott likes me, Keith likes me and now you Jack, you really, really like me.

I knew all those digs about my boats and my friends were just smoke, gotta keep up appearances hey Jack! And having Svend out there calling me a Conservative in Liberal's clothing that can't help but get me some more votes out West. Boy I can feel the love all over, tis a great time to be a Liberal.

Again, Thanks for everything Jack, you guys are great! Come on over to the house sometime, 24 Sussex, not the Big one (you're not elected yet you know, so you can't come into the big one yet) Sheila (not the one your thinking of) and I would love to have you over for a taco or two and some Coronas (got a great deal on some Mexican food and beer from Vicente while in Monterrey)

Take Care

PM, the PM..

JOKE: For anyone who has ever worked for fools!

Received the following in my e mail a couple of days ago, I think we can all safely identify with the gathered staff. Especially those of us who have been downsized, outsourced or just got fed up and quit...

A big corporation decided it needed a shakeup and hired a new CEO to carry out the task.

The new boss was determined to get rid of any slackers. While on a tour of the company's facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was full of employees, and the boss wanted to let them know he meant business.

The CEO walked up to the guy and asked, "And just how much money do you make per week?"
A little surprised, the young fellow looked at him and replied, "I get paid $300.00 per week. Why?"

The CEO then hands the guy $600.00 in cash and screams, "Here's two weeks' pay; now get outta here and don't come back!"

Feeling pretty good about his first firing, the CEO looked around the room and asked, "Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-of'f did around here?"

With a sheepish grin, one of the workers muttered, "He's the pizza delivery guy from Dominoes!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Crime Wave Hits Podunk!

Well the Daily Podunkian carried some terrible news today, crime is rampant in Podunk. Podunk police are asking for Podunkians to be vigilant and keep their eyes open, as thieves are working the Ninth Avenue East area stealing CD's and CD players from automobiles. Two vehicles were targeted early on the 9th and the owners are now tuneless for the drive downtown. You know if they had "burned" the copies of their tunes on their computer they would only be out the cost of a disc. Perhaps this could be a great defence in the great music piracy debate. We're not pirating your honour, we're protecting our personal use music from the clutches of thieves.

Criminals continued their wicked ways as a suspicious disappearance took place on Ambrose. Podunk police are investigating the theft of a pair of ski boots from a residence, no size was made public no doubt so as to assist the investigation.

And while Podunk suffers this unprecedented run on crime, we're still small potatoes compared to our neighbours 90 minutes to the east in Bench. Police there are still trying to piece together the brazen daylight theft of the entire outdoor display of snowblowers at the local Canadian Tire. It seems that a number of daring miscreants loaded up all the snowblowers in record time into the back of their truck and roared off into the snow. Police are still investigating but if your neighbour should all of sudden be moving his snow with a new thrower, ask a few questions. Remember we can all help take a bite out of crime.