I may have been born there, but I certainly couldn't live there now. Apparently the laws are different in the Peoples' Republic of Middlesbrough . . . it is deemed illegal to take photographs of stores:
Security goons, store-clerks and police officers detained Flickr user "i didn't mean to go to Stoke" for taking photos in the outdoor, pedestrianized area of Middlesbrough, UK:
Moments later as i walked away this goon jumped in front of me and demanded to know what i was doing. i explained that i was taking photos and it was my legal right to do so, he tried to stop me by shoulder charging me, my friend started taking photos of this, he then tried to detain us both. I refused to stand still so he grabbed my jacket and said i was breaking the law. Quickly a woman and a guy wearing BARGAIN MADNESS shirts joined in the melee and forcibly grabbed my friend and held him against his will. We were both informed that street photography was illegal in the town.
Two security guards from the nearby shopping center THE MALL came running over, we were surrounded by six hostile and aggressive security guards. They then said photographing shops was illegal and this was private land. I was angry at being grabbed by this man so i pushed him away, one of the men wearing a BARGAIN MADNESS shirt twisted my arm violently behind my back, i winced in pain and could hardly breathe in agony.
The UK government has been peddling a culture of fear since 9/11 as an excuse for ever more control over people's lives. Strange how people in Britain managed to survive all those years of Irish terrorism without such madness. To see how successful they have been at making this psychosis a pervasive feature of British life, check this out.
If this had appeared at Fark.com as a parody, it would have been totally appropriate. History teachers really do live in vain.
I really thought we'd already reached the nadir of political correctness in the schools, but I was wrong:
Is American public education a form of child abuse? A week ago, The Washington Post's Brigid Schulte reported on a student named Randy Castro who attends school in Woodbridge, Virginia. Last November at recess he slapped a classmate on her bottom. The teacher took him to the principal. School officials wrote up an incident report and then called the police.
Randy Castro is in the First Grade. But, at the ripe old age of six, he's been declared a sex offender by Potomac View Elementary School. He's guilty of sexual harassment, and the incident report will remain on his record for the rest of his schooldays — and maybe beyond. Maybe it'll be one of those things that just keeps turning up on background checks forever and ever: Perhaps 34-year old Randy Castro will apply for a job and at his prospective employer's computer up will pop his sexual-harasser status yet again. Or maybe he'll be able to keep it hushed up until he's 57 and runs for Governor of Virginia and suddenly his political career self-detonates when the sordid details of his Spitzeresque sexual pathologies are revealed. But that's what he is now: Randy Castro, sex offender. The title of the incident report spells out his crime: "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive." The curiously placed comma might also be offensive were it not that school officials are having to spend so much of their energies grappling with the First Grade sexual-harassment epidemic they can no longer afford to waste time acquiring peripheral skills such as punctuation.
Randy Castro was not apprehended until he was six, so who knows how long his reign of sexual terror lasted? Sixteen months ago, a school official in Texas accused a four-year old of sexual harassment after the boy was observed pressing his face into the breasts of a teacher's aide when he hugged her before boarding the school bus. Fortunately, the school took decisive action and suspended the sick freak. By the way, is that the first recorded use in the history of the English language of the phrase "accused a four-year old of sexual harassment"? Well, it won't be the last: In the state of Maryland last year, 16 kindergartners were suspended for sexual harassment, as were three pre-schoolers. School officials declined to comment to The Washington Post on Master Castro's case on the grounds of student confidentiality. However, they did say that the decision to call the cops was "the result of a misunderstanding". And it's not like he was Tasered or anything.
Words fail me.
James Lileks points out that Absolut's ad for the Mexican market might just work against their brand if it should ever be seen outside Mexico:
In this world, Phoenix and the environs would not exist as they do today, and that includes the Mayo Clinic. Brilliant move, Absolut. I'm done with you. A few nights ago I found myself at a bar on the waterfront in Scottsdale — absurd as that sounds, there is such a thing, and I'll talk about that in a few days. It was warm, and I wanted a cool clear beverage. To order an Absolut in such a place, surrounded by things Mexico never would have bothered to accomplish, would seem ungrateful. I went with the Reyka. From now on I will always go with the Reyka. I love Absolut, but I draw the line at giving money to companies that pander to the Reconquista — and manage to avoid any southward expansion of Mexico, so as not to irritate those developing markets.
Update, 11 April: Greg Beato weighs in on the topic:
Apparently, Absolut's ad agency put too much faith in news stories that we gringos are so geographically illiterate we think maps are just promotional posters for globes. But as any border patrol vigilante worth his margarita salt can tell you, what happens in Mexico City doesn't always stay in Mexico City. The controversial Absolut ads crossed the Rio Grande via the Internet, and U.S. bloggers with anti-immigration leanings, already sensitive to the idea of being undermined by an army of dishwashers and day laborers, demanded a boycottini.
But do these angry patriots really believe drunken Mexicans fantasize about owning Salt Lake City? Do they really believe Absolut wants to decrease the size of its most lucrative market, America? It's just an ad, part of a campaign that portrays a glibly "idealized" alternate universe. In another ad in the campaign, men get pregnant instead of women. In a third, the Almighty Bartender reaches down from the heavens to dump ice cubes into an ocean that is presumably hot with the sweat of boiling dolphins. As much as Absolut may position itself as a light-hearted advocate for gender equality and the War on Climate Change, it's mostly a light-hearted advocate for selling as much vodka as possible—and it's not above sucking up to its many different constituencies to do so.
It must be a slow news week, because there's no other explanation I can think of for this article to be published:
"Nappy-headed hos," the phrase that cost radio shock jock Don Imus his job and triggered a debate on how far free speech can go, was named on Thursday as the most egregious politically incorrect turn of phrase in 2007.
Trailing behind that phrase in the annual survey by Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), a word usage group, were "Ho-Ho-Ho" and "Carbon Footprint Stomping," said the group's president Paul JJ Payack.
"Ho-Ho-Ho" made the list after a staffing company in Sydney, Australia suggested to prospective Santas they drop their traditional greeting in favor of "Ha-Ha-Ha" so as not to invoke images of the derogatory slang term for women.
"Carbon Footprint Stomping" is a phrase used to describe flaunting environmentally "green" activities by doing things like driving gas-guzzling Hummers and flying private jets, which in these energy-conscious times might be considered the height of political incorrectness.
Okay, Imus was a twit — not that that was in any doubt before he uttered his prize-winning remark — but the other two examples are just dumb. Dumber than that, however, are the folks at Lindsey Gardiner's publishers who "asked [her] to eliminate a fire-breathing dragon from her new book because publishers feared they could be sued under health and safety regulations."
How far detached from reality do you have to be to think that mentioning a mythical creature (already very well established in fairy tales) would somehow expose the publisher to being sued? More disturbingly . . . what if their fear was not only well-founded, but mathematically likely? The article doesn't say where the publisher is located, but in some jurisdictions it might be a consideration (the publisher is in Britain, which explains everything).
Their list of choices is rather unconvincing, as evidenced by the term "race card" somehow making it as a contender in 2007 . . . when it was in common use well before the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995 (and in Britain in the 1960s).
So, how seriously should we take this list? Not very. This is how the announcing organization describes their methodology:
The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.
In other words, they pull it out of their collective asses. Nice work, Reuters. Here's a quarter . . . call us when you find some real news to report.
H/T to "Da Wife", who sent the link saying, "There is no way I can comment about this without risking that I will be on the list next year."
. . . by gouging the even less fortunate:
It seems that due to the deep and touching international friendship in the name of Socialism between Hugo Chavez and Ken Livingstone, Venezuela is providing oil at below market prices so that the welfare recipients of London can have half price bus travel. I do not know how your average man on the street in Caracas feels about this, but personally I am wondering just how fast it is possible to see the back of either of these amoral and wretched men. At least we in London have a mayoral election in May so that we can hopefully get rid of Mr Livingstone. The people of Venezuela are probably less lucky.
You may have heard that Playmobil, the toy company, recently introduced a toy to help train children to become
jackbooted thugs TSA workers. The reviews on Amazon.com are very interesting reading:
You can also read the Fark thread for more frothing-at-the-mouth goodness.
When stories like this one make the international media:
Freeloading hippie Mark Boyles, 28, decided to demonstrate his contempt for the modern world, materialism, and a bunch of other really terrific things by walking to Gandhi's birthplace in Porbander, India. Boyles is an acolyte of the "Freeconomy" movement, a method of living that, according to the group, "allows people to make the transition from a money based communityless (sic) society to more of a community based moneyless society." In other words, he's a middle class beggar. On the first day of his trip, according to this BBC report, he scored two free meals in the English town of Glastonbury. Hardly surprising; the town is, after all, listed as one of England's "hippie havens."
Boyles and two friends then managed, in a grubby version of Operation Overlord, to land in Pas-de-Calais, France, where the mission encountered into its first snag. According to the BBC, the wandering Freeconomist was quickly mistaken for an indigent "because he could not speak French [and] people thought he was free-loading or an asylum seeker."
In something that could only have been ripped from the pages of The Onion, yet was not, Radley Balko reports on the criminalization of sniffing hand sanitizer:
A 14-year-old boy in Lewisville, Texas was arrested, booked, and fingerprinted last October for sniffing his teacher's hand sanitizer.
Mr. Ortiz said the family's ordeal began Oct. 19, when his son picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his fifth-period reading teacher at Killian Middle School in Lewisville. He rubbed the gel on his hands and smelled it.
In the view of school officials, the boy "inhaled heavily," according to Mr. Ortiz, who said his son sniffed the cleanser "because it smelled good."
The youth was sent to the principal's office, and the Lewisville police officer assigned to the school began investigating.
[. . .]
Mr. Ortiz said he believed the matter was over until Tuesday when he was served with a petition charging his son with delinquency for inhaling the hand sanitizer to "induce a condition of intoxication, hallucination and elation."
He said he couldn't believe that his son would have to go to court for smelling hand sanitizer. "I think it's ludicrous," said Mr. Ortiz, who blames overzealous police and prosecutors for initially pursuing the case.
Joni Eddy, assistant police chief in Lewisville, said Friday that hand sanitizer has become a popular inhalant. "That is the latest thing to huff," she said.
Let's re-read that. The kid was charged for smelling the scent of a commercially available hand sanitizer. In what world is it possible to consider this a crime? What the hell are these folks smoking?
Jon (my virtual landlord) sent along this link to the progress report on the interrogation of noted hatemonger Ezra Levant:
CLERK OBSERVATIONS (use extra sheets if necessary)
Defendant acknowledges awareness of charges against him. He is represented by counsel but insists on opening statement and filming the hearing. Despite warnings and brochure on self incrimination he proceeds.
Defendant states he is attending under protest and would do crime again. States belief that AHRCC has no authority to prosecute. Under eye contact, defendent's counsel shrugs. Defendant says hearing in violation of "separation Mosque and State" (note: potential violation of Section 118-c(a) AHRCC Innuendo Act?). Claims "original intent" of Commission not to enforce Islamic law. Defendant apparently unfamiliar with AHRCC interoffice memo HVM-d11, "Koranic Compliance Guidelines for Non-Muslim Associates."
Calls Commission "dump for junk," cites previous cases. Calls AHRCC "joke," "pseudo court," "Judge Judy." Cites critical statements of Commission founder, even though he doesn't work here any more. Says authority unlawful, unconstitutional. Counsel seems oblivious to client's contempt, is seen reading "Highlights for Children" magazine from waiting room.
Starts yapping about British common law, Magna Carta, Canadian law, UN Declaration of Human Rights, other documents of white male privilege, etc. Subject seems agitated. Stuff about conscience, religion, expression blah blah blah. Seems to be stonewalling because none of this has any reference in my copy of Publication AHRCC-0503(k), "Hearing Guidelines for Human Rights Clerks." Long diatribe about Sharia Law, radical Islam.
I spotted this mindboggler yesterday, but I was too busy with non-blog activities to link to it. James Lileks did me the favour of not only linking, but putting a far more entertaining spin on the story than I could have done:
This story made my eyebrows hoist. A "conservationist, columnist for the Daily Telegraph, and the chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust" named Robin Page won 2K pounds in a court award for false arrest. It took five years to do so. From the article:
He claims that in order to gain the attention of listeners at the gathering in Frampton-upon-Severn, Glos, he started in a "light-hearted fashion". His opening remark was: "If you are a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you."
Naturally, he was arrested for committing a hate crime. It made me think of a Jay Leno remark I heard excerpted on the Hewitt show; Chris Matthews was describing the GOP contenders in terms of the Iraqi political players — these guys are Sunnis, these guys are Shiites, Romney's the Kurd. Leno responded that "Larry Craig was the guy with the sheep." If you wanted to be offended, you could note that this equated homosexuality with bestiality, and cast Arabs as dispositionally zoophilic. Should he be arrested? Charged with inciting the easily incitable, with equating the newly-minted right to play jiggery-pokery in a lav with an aberrant behavior? If it's aberrant , that is. We're probably ten years away from bestiality japes entering the no-go zone. Within five years they'll probably remake "Flipper," and it'll be a hard R. Critics of the movie, if they’re on the right, will be subjected to the usual eye-rolling, because they can’t possibly be objecting to sex with animals; it’s part-and-parcel of their desire to return to the 50s, when Donna Reed was chained to a stove, deprived of footwear, perpetually pregnant and forced to vote for Ike at knifepoint. Oh, sure, you disapprove of sex-positive dolphin movies. Your kind didn't want the nation to see Elvis from the waist down. Doesn't mean the critics will be comfy with Flipper-gets-busy movies, but they have a dread of making common cause with the trogs. So the movie will be criticized on aesthetic grounds. If nothing else, its poor script and pedestrian direction will be a lost opportunity to advance a controversial topic.
Unlike a lot of bloggers, I don't spend too much time taking potshots at the current leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition . . . but this just cries out for comment. Stephane Dion has been pushing for a definite end to Canada's commitment to the mission in Afghanistan, but now is talking about somehow invading a nuclear-armed nation to make that mission more likely to succeed:
Any attempt to counter terrorists war-torn Afghanistan will not succeed without an intervention in neighbouring Pakistan, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Wednesday.
Mr. Dion hinted NATO could take action in Pakistan, which has a porous border with Afghanistan, if the Pakistani government doesn't move to track terrorists.
"We are going to have to discuss that very actively if they (the Pakistanis) are not able to deal with it on their own. We could consider that option with the NATO forces in order to help Pakistan help us pacify Afghanistan," said Mr. Dion in Quebec City, commenting after his two-day trip to Afghanistan last weekend. "As long as we don't solve the problem in Pakistan, I don't see how we can solve it in Afghanistan."
That's not just ill-advised . . . that's absolutely batshit-crazy.
Frequent commenter "Da Wife" sent along this link, which explains why sales of GPS units to sex offenders has skyrocketed in Providence:
A tech company with ties to a school district plans to test a tracking system by putting computer chips on grade-schoolers' backpacks, an experiment the ACLU ripped Monday as invasive and unnecessary.
The pilot program set to start next week in the Middletown school district would have about 80 children put tags containing radio frequency identification chips, or RFID chips, on their schoolbags. It would also equip two buses with global positioning systems, or GPS devices.
The school and parents will be able to track students on the bus, and the district hopes the program will improve busing efficiency, Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger said. The devices are intended to record only when students enter and exit the bus, and the GPS would show where the bus was on it's route.
Because, of course, it's far too difficult to attach an RFID to a schoolbus . . . putting them on the kids is the obvious solution. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
This is terrific logic. Americans should be bothered with useless, unsolicited junk mail so that the USPS can continue to pay otherwise unneeded postal workers to deliver it. Makes sense to me.
I thus propose a federal "Agency for Digging Holes in Americans' Front Yards." Then, because of the holes-in-people's-front-yards problem that will inevitably result, I propose a second "Agency for Filling In Yard Holes."
These two agencies will create thousands of new federal jobs. And as we all know, new jobs are good for the economy.
Radley Balko, "Public Choice in Action", Hit and Run, 2008-01-06
To borrow a phrase from Fark.com . . . having solved all the nation's problems, Congress turns its attention to the pressing issue of investigating professional baseball:
[. . .] we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you give a former Senate Majority Leader $2 million a month for more than a year and half, force clubhouse lackeys to testify under threat of $100,000 fine, and have federal prosecutors grant vastly reduced sentences to drug convicts in exchange for cooperating with Mitchell's private investigation, you can indeed produce circumstantial evidence that Nook Logan (career home runs: 2) and nearly four score others may have taken legal supplements without a prescription to help them recover more quickly after working out, many during a time when such supplements were perfectly acceptable according to Major League Baseball's own rules. And as a direct result, your teenage daughter might eventually face drug testing if she plays sports, once Congress goes through another thrilling round of reforming government.
In so many ways, this is a lovely example of why governments should be limited in the scope of what they can do . . .
According to a report from New Scientist, the IT industry is the latest in a long series of environmental criminal organizations, plotting the demise of Mother Gaia:
"Computers are seen as quite benign things sitting on your desk," says Trewin Restorick, director of the group. "But, for instance, in our charity we have one server. That server has same carbon footprint as your average SUV doing 15 miles to the gallon. Yet, whereas the SUV is seen as a villain from the environmental perspective, the server is not."
The report, An Inefficient Truth states that with more than 1 billion computers on the planet, the global IT sector is responsible for about 2% of human carbon dioxide emissions each year — a similar figure to the global airline industry.
The energy consumption is driven largely by vast amounts of customer and user data that are stored on the computer servers in most businesses. The rate at which data storage is growing surpasses the growth in the airline industry: in 2006, 48% more data storage capacity was sold in the UK than in 2005, while the number of plane passengers grew by 3%.
Of course, the solution is to scrap all those inefficient, Gaia-raping computers and go back to the practice of keeping all data on paper, tabulated by hand. Think of all the millions and millions of people who will be able to get jobs as office clerks, archivists, shipping/receiving clerks (to handle the vast increase in paper shipments), paper mill workers, and lumberjacks this wonderful innovation would benefit.
Let's just ignore the false correlation between air travel growth and data storage capacity growth, shall we? It's about as meaningful as comparing the rate of growth of any two radically dissimilar things.
After posting this, I might suggest the magazine change its name to New Credulist.
H/T to James Lileks.
Hey, who knew? Canada is apparently getting all muscular over religious extremism, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission is the point of the spear:
Jessica Beaumont does not own a website. She was merely posting comments on existing sites (mostly in the United States). But the fact that she could go to prison for posting Scripture verses on a server in another country means that our religious freedom is in direct jeopardy.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." It has also been said that the real test of a person's commitment to free speech is their willingness to defend the speech of those with whom they disagree.
I think, despite the fact that many of the targets in CHRC Internet tribunals have been people with political opinions that we find downright offensive, we need to put those differences aside and look at the big picture.
When a government agency has the power to make a ruling that could put a 21-year old waitress in jail for posting thoughts that do not violate the law, we should be worried. When they set themselves up to determine what Scripture quotations should send her to prison, we should be confronting our Parliament.
And high time, too. Those fanatics going around quoting obscure religious books are clearly a threat to the public peace and should be locked up where they can't harm anyone again.
What? What harm did she do? Well, she quoted biblical sayings and not only that, but she did it on the INTERNET!
God only knows, er, I mean who knows what other harm she might cause? Society must be protected.
Or, you know, we could mind our own flipping business and let her quote the Bible, the Q'uran, Torah, or the testicles of the Flying Spaghetti Monster without raiding her home and threatening her with five years in prison. Radical concept, I know, but I think it just might work.
Bob Tarantino outlines another case where the judge handed down an incredibly lenient sentence for an outrageous crime:
The maximum punishment which can be meted out for a conviction of aggravated sexual assault is a term of life imprisonment (see section 273 of the Criminal Code of Canada).
Cody Paul Lemay received a sentence from the trial judge of five years in prison.
Now what's fascinating about that punishment is how it was arrived at. It's an example of what I will dub the Moldaver Paradox (for reasons which will become apparent momentarily). As the British Columbia Court of Appeal noted, when the trial judge was reviewing other court cases for guidance on what constituted an appropriate sentence,
"he had difficulty understanding why some of them had not attracted longer sentences"
With the story so far? Confronted with a case of hideous violence (against a baby), the judge looks at what other judges are handing out as punishment — and he's bewildered to discover that the judgments he reads are lenient to the point of absurdity.
So what does he do?
He hands out an even shorter sentence.
Bob's summary is something that should be carved in the doorways of every courthouse in the land: "Our judiciary has the tools. They consciously, deliberately, inexplicably and consistently refuse to use them."
Because Americans can't be held responsible for the consequences of using products in ways they were neither designed not intended to be, game publishers should instead, apparently. According to Macworld, game publisher TakeTwo Interactive Thursday announced a preliminary settlement with all consumer class action lawsuits in the U.S. related to the infamous "Hot Coffee" software mod which unlocked simulated (not actual — participants are fully clothed) sex scenes in video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The question, as I see it, isn't one of scruples, but whether "existence" should blindly trump "intentionality" in the eyes of the law, especially with software governed by an End User License Agreement that explicitly forbids tampering and unauthorized modification of the game code. Does the presence of what amounts to particular sequences of 1s and 0s on a game disk make a game's publisher culpable if a user violates the EULA and manages to access them anyway?
Matt Peckham, "Take Two Takes Hit, Settles Hot Coffee Sex Lawsuit", PCW: Game On, 2007-11-15
For most of us, just substitute the local/regional/state/provincial or national government of choice and it'll still be absolutely true.
Just to show that Canadian politics can be as inane as any state in the union (even Florida), Quebec forges ahead with critical measures to curb pol-on-pol abuse:
Politicians in Quebec's legislature will have to come up with a new way to slag their opponents now that the word 'weathervane' has been added to the list of unparliamentary language.
Speaker Michel Bissonnet judged the word to be "hurtful" as the legislature resumed Tuesday after the summer break. Premier Jean Charest has called Opposition Leader Mario Dumont a weathervane on numerous occasions recently, elevating him on Tuesday to "national weathervane" during the legislature session.
Charest made the crack near the end of the heated debate as he reiterated his belief that the Action democratique du Quebec leader is like a weathervane in the wind because he is always changing directions.
From the daily Bleat, a link to a fascinating story of political correctness:
A priest has been interviewed by police on suspicion of inciting racial hatred for expressing his Christian views in his parish newsletter.
Father John Hayes, 71, was quizzed for more than an hour after commenting on the case of a Muslim girl who went to court over her wish to wear a full veil in class.
A sergeant and community support officer turned up without warning at his presbytery after an allegation was made to a Scotland Yard 'hate crimes' unit.
[. . .]
The inquisition in Hornchurch, East London, prompted a furious row about policing priorities. In the past 12 months there have been five murders, 33 rapes, 424 robberies and 2,267 burglaries in the local police borough of Havering.
Yet, despite being accused of turning a blind eye to the inflammatory remarks of some Muslim preachers of hate, the Met still found time to quiz Mr Hayes.
Last night the priest said his 'offending' remarks had concerned Shabina Begum, who, represented by Cherie Blair QC, claimed unsuccessfully that it was her human right to be allowed to wear her jilbab, a loose gown, in class.
After hearing an interview with the girl, Mr Hayes suggested in his internet bulletin to his parishioners that it was never possible to convince anyone by argument in matters of religion.
"My point was that you have to demonstrate what it means to be Christian through your actions," he said.
"Apparently someone in my congregation was unhappy with my comments and, after waiting a year, went to the police to say he had been 'disturbed' by it."
The Rev'll be lucky not to do hard time for this one.
In "Scream IV," Good-Looking Teenagers are Trapped in the MPAA Headquarters and Stalked by a Madman with a Press Release: Tuesday Morning Quarterback asked in 2005, "If Hollywood won't show smoking because viewers are impressionable, how come the movie industry eagerly glamorizes violence, torture and murder of the helpless as forms of cool recreation?" This question is worth asking again in wake of the recent decision by the Motion Picture Association of America to factor depiction of smoking into movie ratings. So Hollywood wants to discourage scenes of people lighting up — but scenes of young women being tortured to death, that's fine, show 'em in the mall! Even given that Hollywood's leading product is hypocrisy, this development borders on surreal. The movie industry trade association is very, very worried about depictions of legal use of a lawful product — TMQ doesn't smoke, so I've no brief here — yet has no problem with the glamorization of slow-motion slaughter. The same month the MPAA wrung its hands about lighting a cigarette, the MPAA gave its blessing via an R, rather than an NC-17, to "Hostel II," which graphically depicts pretty girls being tortured to death with power tools. Because of the MPAA's ratings favor, this depraved flick was shown in suburban shopping malls. But should someone want to light up, the MPAA has pangs of conscience!
Gregg Easterbrook, "TMQ: Throw to the tight end!", ESPN Page 2, 2007-10-09
SF author Charlie Stross provides his rules for (as much as possible) trouble-free flying:
I've been traveling too much lately, and it tends to concentrate the mind. Not your usual commuting travel, of course, but international, intercontinental travel, which in the post-9/11 era is more than a little trying.
(On the subject of terrorism and flying, I have this to say: your chances of being involved in a real incident — as opposed to a false alarm — are vanishingly small. Much of the post-9/11 security checks are smoke and mirrors, nonsense designed to demonstrate that something is being done in order to justify the ever-increasing demands for money and attention emanating from the monstrous $90Bn baby of the counter-terrorism industry that has sprung up since 2001. The real solution to the security hole exposed by the Hamburg Al-Quaida cell on September 11th 2001 was in place the very same day, as the non-arrival of Flight 93 demonstrated. The ground rules for hijacking have changed: if someone tries to gain access to the cockpit in flight, you need to stop them at all costs — all else is secondary, and the simple fact that the traveling public are aware of it makes the post-9/11 security measures pointless. As for the "liquid explosives" nonsense of 2006, it's precisely that — nonsense that obsesses scientifically illiterate politicos who slept through chemistry class at school and learned everything they fear about terrorism from Hollywood.)
But I digress. I'm not here to talk about terrorism, I'm here to talk about long-haul international travel, and how to do so with a minimum of discomfort and inconvenience. Herewith, a brain dump of what I've learned from flying upwards of 50,000 miles a year for several years.
The comment thread is well-worth reading, too. After reading all that, I'm even less eager to fly anywhere (my last flight was, um, interesting enough, thanks).
H/T to Pat Mathews for the link.
In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.
Matthew Philips, "BeliefWatch: Reincarnate", Newsweek, 2007-08-20
Commercial desecration of ancient pagan fertility symbol:
Pagans have pledged to perform "rain magic" to wash away a cartoon character painted next to their famous fertility symbol — the Cerne Abbas giant.
A doughnut-brandishing Homer Simpson was painted next to the giant on the hill above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, to promote the new Simpsons film.
Many believe the ancient chalk outline of the naked, sexually aroused giant to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.
Raindance starting in three, two, one . . .
Update: From disrespectful to ring tossers in one easy go.
Frequent commenter "Da Wife" is trying to get some work done on her property. This is probably just the start of a process:
I have begun the painful process of obtaining a building permit so we can build a deck on our property. Property that we are paying for and therefore own. Our property that is private and therefore nobody's business but our own. Last time I checked, a deck is not the same as having a grow-op on the property but you would think with all the red tape, it might as well be. The drawings, the clearances, the zoning, etc.
We also have the privilege of paying an extra fee to do this although our property taxes have been paying for the town to do this job already. What was supposed to be a 10 day process, according to one employee has all of a sudden stretched from 4 to 6 weeks depending on whom you ask.
Also, there is the absolute joy of wasting two weeks (and therefore two weeks of prime summer building time) waiting for paperwork that the employee "will put in the mail tomorrow" two weeks ago, just to find out we do not need it. I explained this delay today at the Building Department and requested that it taken into account when our application is looked at and ask that it is possibly speeded-up. I received a glazed-eyed, open-mouthed look of total incomprehension that at the same time told me that no one there is actually responsible for anything they say or do.
Now it is also a two step process. You go in to apply once for Zoning and then you go in again to apply for the permit. So today I brought 5 kids with me 'cause no one will want to make any extra demands on a person with 5 kids in tow. Next time, when it is time for the permit, I may borrow some of my friend's kids just to make the town staff do a bit more to earn their salaries.
Why do I do this? Well simply because of all the kids in the house. If anything was to happen to them on the deck and it was not inspected, up to code, etc. the insurance company would probably laugh at me.
I will keep you updated further and will attempt to omit many four-letter words while describing the reasons why so many people do not bother getting permits.
From a post at Hit and Run:
You laugh, but in 1802 a pistol-wielding Aaron Burr single-handedly fought off a dozen Thuggees as they tried to invade the Senate floor and sacrifice Gideon Granger, the virgin postmaster general, to the devil-goddess Kali. Later Burr would use the same skilled gunplay to kill Alexander Hamilton. Of course, that was before the cultural rot of the '60s set in.
The kicker is . . . this hyperbole is restrained compared to what set it off.
Radley Balko gets to the heart of the matter:
By definition, the aim of "terrorism" is not to topple the U.S. government, or even to rack up a massive body count (though that seems to be a perk for them). The aim of terrorism is to cause terror. It's to scare us. Frighten us. Alter our way of life, and get our government to change its policies.
In this sense, the very people who are supposed to be protecting us from terrorists are playing right into the terrorists' hands. Despite the absence of any specific information, and despite the fact that his saying as much would do little if anything to actually thwart a pending attack, Chertoff still feels he has to go public with his "gut feeling" that something awful might happen this summer. And so the newspapers and Drudge and the blogs run with it. And now we get to go about our summer business with the foreboding cloud of a possible terror attack looming on the horizon.
To some degree, you can sympathize with the bureaucrats in the anti-terror organizations . . . they need to be seen to be doing something, even if that something isn't particularly relevant to their primary job. By going through the motions of raising the warning level — whether justified or not — they are seen to be doing something. If an attack happens, they're in the clear, "We warned you". If no attack occurs, they're still good, "We prevented an attack by raising the warning level".
About the only thing preventing them from doing this more often is the tolerance of both the media and the public for false alarms.
There's still hope for common sense and justice to prevail in the strange case of Julie Amaro. (See here for earlier reports on this case). According to a link posted at Slashdot, the judge has granted the defence request for a new trial:
A New London Superior court judge this morning granted a defense request seeking a new trial for Julie Amero, the former Norwich middle school substitute teacher convicted of exposing her middle school students to Internet porn. Acting on a motion by Amero's attorney, William Dow III, Judge Hillary Strackbein placed the case back on a trial list. Amero had faced 40 years on the conviction of four counts of risk of injury to a minor. State prosecutor David Smith confirmed that further forensic examination at the state crime lab of Amero's classroom computer revealed "some erroneous information was presented during the trial. Amero and her defense team claimed she was the victim of pop-up ads — something that was out of her control. Judge Strackbein said because of the possibility of inaccurate facts, Amero was "entitles to a new trial in the interest of justice."
Real justice would entail giving Ms. Amaro her life back, but that's not likely to happen. Judicial over-reach and media feeding frenzy between them have destroyed any chance of her being able to resume her teaching career, even when (not if) she is completely exonerated. But at least she shouldn't have to be further abused by serving a term in prison.
A friend of mine, whose name I can't use for reasons which will become obvious, had to travel by way of Moscow recently. Unfortunately for him, he'll have to travel there again. He's not likely to be looking forward to the opportunity, however:
On [date] I booked flights from Kiev (Ukraine - not Russia) to Minsk (Belarus - also not Russia) through Moscow on Aeroflot. The email confirmation made no mention of any requirement for transit visas but when I collected the ticket from the Aeroflot desk [at a western European airport a week later] I asked if I need one and was told not, provided I had a valid Belarussian visa, which I did.
Some days later I was in Russia on a single entry visa and, on leaving for Kiev, again checked whether I needed a transit visa for my Kiev-Minsk flight and was assured I did not.
[Two weeks later] I lectured in Kiev and then caught the first of my Aeroflot flights.
On arrival in Moscow en route for Minsk I went to the transfer desk and was told to go Immigration. When I got to the head of the queue I was told to go to the transfer desk, who in turn sent me back to Immigration, who told me that I did need a transit visa.
After making me wait for an hour they produced an Aeroflot official who escorted me to the Russian Consular Office on the airport who issued me with a transit visa — it was now forty minutes before the flight to Minsk left from the other terminal, five road miles away. Instead of taking me to the aircraft Aeroflot told me to take a taxi round the perimeter.
Having queued at an ATM for roubles and found a taxi driver who spoke enough English to understand what I wanted I arrived at the other terminal to find that the officials who were supposed to have been alerted to my arrival had not been — and by the time they agreed that they should be helping me the flight to Minsk had long gone.
There was no flight to Minsk arriving before midday, and my lecture was at 09:00, so about 100 people from all over Belarus had to be sent home without hearing it.
Since there was now no point in going to Minsk I asked Aeroflot to rewrite my ticket back to Kiev, where my flight home was to depart (with no convenient flights from Minsk I had booked an overnight train back to Kiev to fly home via Amsterdam from there). There were no seats available until the following day but that would still have enabled me to make my connection.
So I found myself a hotel near the airport and waited.
[The next day] I checked in on the flight to Kiev and at Immigration was told that my transit visa had only been valid for two hours and that because I had not caught my flight I was criminally guilty of illegally remaining in Russia and would be fined $2,600. When I objected that I had not been issued with a visa in time to catch the flight and enquired what I should have done I was sent to an expensive hotel, which took my credit card for B&B but would not accept it for meals, nor, because I was an "illegal immigrant", would it change my money. So eating ceased to be an option, and my "No refund, no alteration" ticket to Amsterdam from Kiev died unused.
I was told that I could not leave Russia until [my country's embassy] had made a formal diplomatic apology to the Russian Foreign Ministry, and they told me that as it was a holiday weekend there was a real risk that this could take a week. Fortunately it did not and I was told at 16:00 on the [following day] that I must leave Russia by 20:00 or face the same problem again. Of course I did not have a flight booked so I had to find a flight in the time-frame with an available seat. This was not cheap — but I made it to Amsterdam where I discovered that my electronic ticket, which I had not seen because the only hard copy was handed to Immigration and not returned to me, was to Brussels as its final destination, not [my actual destination].
On Schipol I received all the help and consideration which, if I had had one tenth as much in Moscow, would have had me to Minsk in time and the audience not disappointed. KLM, the airline for the last leg, although it was not their fault reissued the ticket to the correct destination without charge and provided a car to take me to the aircraft to avoid my having to run to make the connection.
As I write my luggage, which did make it to Minsk, is still impounded by the Belarussian authorities awaiting my arrival in person to claim it. It will be interesting to see if I can ever pry it loose.
A pretty crummy experience, as you can see, and yet in a disturbing way . . . successful. In the sense that, at several points along the way things could have gone much worse. This sort of thing isn't by any stretch of the imagination new: travellers were reporting similar problems with Russian/Soviet officials in the 1950's and 1960's. The sad thing is that clearly little has improved since then.
Last week, Whitby made the news when a local parent strenuously objected to the Boy Scout badge her son brought home. The Toronto Star had somewhat predictable coverage:
Cale Northey went to a Scouts Canada camp to learn about gun safety. He came back with a "licence to kill."
That's how his parents view the badge the 11-year-old brought home from a target shooting event in Oshawa last weekend.
The badge features an Agent 007-type figure pointing a gun with a red target over his heart.
"I think it's terrible," said Cale's mother, Jane Northey. "We've got kids shooting up everyone these days. What kind of message are we sending them? This badge is a licence to kill sponsored by Scouts Canada."
I thought the whole thing was overwrought, and just another excuse for the Star to run a glib anti-gun article. Until I got a look at the actual badge, and I discovered that Jane Northey had a case:
Could you have designed a badge that was more likely to get up the noses of people who aren't comfortable with guns? This is the intellectual equivalent of a drive-by mooning.
What. Were. They. Thinking?
What part of "responsible gun handling" does this illustrate?
You wonder if he realizes just how accurate he's being here:
"The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation," Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Richard Parsons said, referring to the Civil War American general George Custer who was defeated by Native Americans in a battle dubbed "Custer's Last Stand".
The sad thing is that enough people will have so little historical understanding that they'll take this at face value: Google/Custer killed by MSM/the Sioux nation. Of course, the Sioux were unable to capitalize on this one victory and the rest of the war went terribly for them, and their descendents still suffer the long-term consequences today. But that's perhaps reading too much into Mr. Parsons' thoughts?
OK, so I run a good little blog here and have for sometime imposed my will on the idiotic and rude by giving clear warning, then imposing supersmall text or messing around their words and then deleting. No guru needed yet. All sensible and, of course, none of your business because all this is mine and all you are here based only on my will. Yet now I and you have to have read crap like this: "We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation." I cannot bear when people use celebrate like this. I do not "celebrate the blogoshere." I (and you) waste my life on the internet and record that futile and stupid hobby through blogs. That is the second step. First, the gurus make us listen to them. Then they tell us what to celebrate.
And what would be my Code? I care not for your frankness and openness — I have to be honest, right?. I do like your wit or unusual experiences but I reserve the right to edit them to my liking when I am having a bad day. Your thoughts are like crayons in the desk of a six year old, to be considered and abused as I deem fit. I reserve the right to demand civility but not have it demanded of me. Yet gurus would have me not be so fully me. I have to remake myself in their image.
Alan McLeod, "Attack Of The Gurus Of Blogging Sighted", Gen X at 40, 2007-04-10
In yet another silly move, the Veterans Affairs department of the Canadian federal government takes careful aim and shoots itself in the foot:
The department has withdrawn an offer to provide lunch for 3,600 Canadian students — one for each of the Canadian soldiers killed in the attack — who are to attend a ceremony at the memorial on April 9.
Meanwhile, Radio-Canada has reported that the translation at the memorial has errors in verb tenses, gender and word usage. [. . .]
The trip organizers thought the government was going to feed the students, but then told teachers across the country that Veterans Affairs changed its mind about providing the lunches due to the cost.
Now organizers are allocating $30,000 that was to have bought the students souvenir hats to buy box lunches.
The students raised the funds to pay for their travel and other costs on the trip.
Typical cheese-paring behaviour of certain branches of the government. Surely the cost of 3600 boxed lunches wouldn't have broken the budget?
Obligatory declaration of interest: two of Victor's friends are among the 3600 students taking part in the ceremony.
"Da Wife" started typing in a comment to the Quote of the Day on Self-Esteem, but it quickly outgrew what the comment dialog box allows. She sent it along to me by email, and I decided that it deserved to be an entry in its own right:
Recently we went to a birthday party for a classmate of my 4 year old. I left 2 hours later shaking my head and completely irritated.
Every minute some parent would be exclaiming "Good job, Buddy!" (GJB) to a child for some minor achievement. To show how minor: one of the GJBs was because the birthday boy picked up a gift bag. Yes, closing his hand around the handles of a gift bag and picking it up, was enough of a reason for the mom to burst into rapturous (and I mean rapturous) congratulating. This mom was constantly hovering over this kid and GJBing everything he did. Now imagine how irritating it was in a room FULL of parents like her.
Somewhere in the brainwashing and guilt-tripping that passes for parenting education these days, they have taught parents that children need to be praised for breathing. If they are not praised, their wee little self esteems will suffer and in addition, they will not like their parents. Parents have to realize that it is their role to parent and not to be their kids' best friends. Kids have plenty of friends but only 2 (1, 3, who knows in these days, but let's say a small number) of parents. These parents need to remember that kids mistreat their friends all the time. Are they more likely to mistreat their parental buddies too if they think of them at the same level and not figures of authority? What exactly are parents teaching their kids by all this excess praise?
My kids get praise when appropriate. I have one daycare child who is obviously in the praising buddy category with his parents. Firstly, he does not listen to them. They do not enforce discipline or do so with reasoning, talking, empty threats, and few if any consequences. Secondly, this child will walk up to me dozen times a day pointing out that he did this, he did that, and "aren't I a good boy?" Demanded praise looses all the meaning of praise. Something that should be spontaneous and from the heart, is now irritating to the person forced to give it.
. . . is to imprison the people who attempt to film it.
The French Constitutional Council is moving to solve the problem of non-accredited journalists filming or broadcasting acts of violence — by making it illegal for anyone other than bona fide journalists to do so:
The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday in the night of March 3, 1991. The officers' acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.
If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US$98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.
Remember this case?
A Utah teen is being charged with having sex with a minor (in this case, someone under the age of 14). The other involved teen is also being charged with the same crime. Each of them is accused of criminal activity, and each of them is considered a victim of criminal activity.
Just in case you thought this was a one-of-a-kind, Radley Balko is here to disillusion you: teenagers, 16 and 17, get charged with taking photos of themselves engaging in "sexual behaviour". They emailed the photos from one computer to the other. Then the long arm of the law intervened, to "save them" from themselves:
Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.
He is 17. She is 16. They were actually convicted. Worse, the sentence was upheld on appeal. [. . .]
So they've been convicted of exploiting themselves. And though the article doesn't explicitly say, I would guess that the two will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. [. . .]
Also note that the acts themselves weren't illegal. Only photographing them.
Remember the pop-up porn case? The teacher who was charged (and now convicted) of morals charges for exposing seventh graders to pornography? She's facing a possible 40 year sentence for being the victim of spyware:
Julie Amero, a substitute teacher in Norwich, Connecticut, has been convicted of impairing the morals of a child and risking injury to a minor by exposing as many as ten seventh-grade students to porn sites.
It's a short story: On October, 19, 2004, Amero was a substitute teacher for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School. A few students were crowded around a PC; some were giggling. She investigated and saw the kids looking at a barrage of graphic, hard-core pornographic pop-ups.
The prosecution contended that she had used the computer to visit porn sites.
The defense said that wasn't true and argued that the machine was infested with spyware and malware, and that opening the browser caused the computer to go into an endless loop of pop-ups leading to porn sites.
Amero maintains her innocence. She refused offers of a plea bargain and now faces an astounding 40 years in prison (her sentencing is on March 2).
Let's remember the proportionality of this offence: murderers and rapists get significantly shorter sentences than this. This case is a terrible example of both judicial computer illiteracy and the modern witch-hunt whenever children's interests are involved. One can only assume that the presiding judge has somehow never encountered an unwanted pop-up from a porn site (hard though that may be to believe).
Although an appeal is pretty much guaranteed, regardless of the sentence to be handed down on March 2nd, the case should never have gone to trial in the first place.
As a follow-up to the recent Macleans cover story "Why are we dressing our daughters like this?", you can get your very own kiddy stripper pole from British retailer Tesco. After all, they wouldn't carry it if there wasn't a demand for it, right?
H/T to "Da Wife" for the Tesco link, who also pointed out "there were more inapropriate kids toys following this one. Just press next.".
Update: Here's more on the Tesco product line from the Daily Mail:
Tesco today agreed to remove the product from the Toy section of the site, but said it will remain on sale as a Fitness Accessory, despite the fact that the product description invites users to "unleash the sex kitten inside".
Also on sale on the Tesco website is a strip poker game, "Peekaboo Poker" which is illustrated by a picture of a reclining woman in underwear.
The card game is is described as a game that "risks the risque and brings a whole lot of naughtiness to the table.
"Played with a unique pack of Peekaboo Boy and Girl playing cards, the aim of the game is to win as many Peekaboo chips as possible and turn them into outrageously naughty fun."
The pole dance kit is the latest item to fuel allegations that major retailers increasingly sell products which "sexualise" young children such as T-shirts with suggestive messages.
In recent years Asda was forced to remove from sale pink and black lace lingerie, including a push-up bra to girls as young as nine.
The mother of a high school senior who posed in chain mail and held a medieval sword for his yearbook picture sued after the school rejected the photo because of its "zero-tolerance" policy against weapons.
Patrick Agin, 17, belongs to the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international organization that researches and recreates medieval history. He submitted the photo in September for the Portsmouth High School yearbook.
But the school's principal refused to allow the portrait as Agin's official yearbook photo because he said it violated a policy against weapons and violence in schools, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by the Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
So, it sounds like a reasonable stand, yes? The school has a zero-tolerance policy on displays of weapons in any form. Except . . .
According to the lawsuit, principal Robert Littlefield told Farrington she could pay to put the photo in the advertising section of the book, but he would not allow it as Agin's senior portrait.
So, it's now a "zero-tolerance except when you pay extra" policy is it? It's also a policy with some built-in tailbiting: "the [school] mascot — a patriot — is depicted on school grounds and publications as carrying a weapon."
A Utah teen is being charged with having sex with a minor (in this case, someone under the age of 14). The other involved teen is also being charged with the same crime. Each of them is accused of criminal activity, and each of them is considered a victim of criminal activity. Confusing details here.
So, in summary, a 13-year-old got pregnant from having sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend, and both are being charged with a crime which will brand them as lifelong sex offenders (and require them to be listed on sex offender registries wherever they go for the rest of their lives).
Can someone point out to me how society, the "criminals", or anyone else can possibly justify this? Yes, kids this young shouldn't be encouraged to indulge in this sort of sexual experimentation, but is this in any way proportional to the "crime"? Laws like this were supposed to be aimed at adult sexual predators, not precocious teens.
H/T to Kerry Howley.
Today's QotD is probably NSFW in some areas, due to adult content.
This guy was so worried that his mom might find out that he has (and travels with) a penis pump, he lied to airport security and claimed the device was a bomb. Now he faces a prison term . . . and the whole world, including his mom, knows that he has (and travels with) a penis pump.
[. . .]
I say, if you're "caught" in the airport with any sexual devices, plaster a huge grin on your face and describe the item proudly. "Yes, that's my VibraMaster Clit Licker 8100 SR5 with Nipple Suction Attachment! Woooo eeee! No way could I leave home without that. You wouldn't believe the orgasms that thing produces — I mean, if I can't travel with the boyfriend, I've got to have this thing along. Want me to switch it on so you can see how it works?"
It's asinine that anyone would rather be thought of as an airplane bomber than admit he owns a penis pump.
Regina Lynn, "That's not my bomb, baby", Sex Drive Daily, 2006-08-24
$124,000 have been found guilty and sentenced to forfeiture. The accused were found hiding in a rental vehicle driven by Emiliano Gonzolez. Gonzolez himself was neither charged nor convicted of any crime: clearly he's considered the innocent dupe of the criminal gang of dollar bills.
It's not immediately clear whether the guilty money will be held by the government or merely released into the wild. Gonzolez should probably thank the kind law enforcement officers for saving him from an unimaginable fate. Who knows what that pack of illegal currency notes had in store for him?
Well, it didn't take long . . . although I thought the overreaction of the authorities in Atlanta was bad, it doesn't hold a candle to what the geniuses in Britain are requiring now:
All cabin baggage must be processed as hold baggage and carried in the hold of passenger aircraft departing UK airports.
Passengers may take through the airport security search point, in a single (ideally transparent) plastic carrier bag, only the following items. Nothing may be carried in pockets:
- Pocket-size wallets and pocket-size purses plus contents (for example money, credit cards, identity cards etc (not handbags)
- Travel documents essential for the journey (for example passports and travel tickets)
- Prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight (eg, diabetic kit), except in liquid form unless verified as authentic
- Spectacles and sunglasses, without cases
- Contact lens holders, without bottles of solution
- For those travelling with an infant: baby food, milk (the contents of each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger) and sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight (nappies, wipes, creams and nappy disposal bags)
- Female sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight, if unboxed (eg tampons, pads, towels and wipes)
- Tissues (unboxed) and/or handkerchiefs
- Keys (but no electrical key fobs). All passengers must be hand searched, and their footwear and all the items they are carrying must be X-ray screened.
If you didn't sell your shares in airlines before yesterday, you're almost cetainly too late now!
Update: Not long after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, a Libertarian blogger (no longer remember exactly who, I'm afraid) predicted that the government's response to these and subsequent terrorist attacks would be to forbid travellers to carry any luggage at all. In fact, he went on to predict the inevitable future: air passengers would be required to strip naked, be x-rayed, cavity-searched, handcuffed, and then strapped into their cages for the duration of the trip.
At the time, this was hyperbolic enough to be funny.
It's not as funny now. In fact, it's not funny at all.
Update the second: Several people have reported that they've had books confiscated when trying to get onboard aircraft. Books. I know you can get a nasty papercut from a book, and a rolled-up newspaper or magazine can be a fair improvised weapon, but books? I can't imagine a flight of any duration at all without a book (or two) to read.
So, we're not allowed anything liquid, any electronics, any reading material . . . does anyone else think that this has the best chance to kill off the "travel for pleasure" market? If they're still allowed to serve alcohol to passengers in flight, then they'll almost certainly be making huge profits due to the increased intake among the bored, captive audience.
I'm almost sorry I started this post in the "Absurd" category . . . because it's becoming extremely absurd.
Someone Elizabeth works with recently suffered a loss in her family: her grandmother died suddenly. To mark their loss, the family is going to get group memorial tattoos.
There are times I wish I were kidding.
I linked to a post by Scott Burgess earlier this week, which did a nice demolition job on the New Economics Foundation's "Happy Planet Index". But apparently, even Scott was taking the numbers too seriously:
Apparently NEF just made up Vanuatu's life satisfaction number by extrapolation from other countries. But, truly, this competely defeats the purpose of self-reported life satisfaction. There are undoubtedly unique aspects of Vanuatu's culture, economy, climate, character, etc., that would enter into their pattern of self-reports. So it's pretty funny that Vanuatu "wins" in a much-touted index in part due to numbers the authors made up.
Hat tip to Jane Galt for the URL.
Scott Burgess takes the bludgeon of fact to the tissue of fantasy that is the New Economics Foundation's "Happy Planet Index":
But those wondering why so many residents of such exemplary societies as Colombia and Cuba take such risks to emigrate to the evil paragon to the North are soon set right:
"We might think that the vast number of immigrants coming to the West is itself evidence that our life is inherently better. The reality, however, is that these immigrants represent a tiny proportion of the overall populations of their countries of origin. Many are lured by false images of the luxurious Western lifestyle and their dreams are shattered by a reality which is itself bereft of luxury and, for many, of spiritual or community value."
They're being lured here under false pretences, you see. Often by relatives.
The report continues:
"It is a peculiarly Western arrogance which assumes that people with little in the way of material wealth cannot possibly have as high levels of well-being as the world's richest."
See the top ten in terms of life satisfaction, above.
As sanctimonious and dubious as the report is — given its contrived statistics (see appendix 2), its taking policy-makers to task for "having been led astray by abstract mathematical models of the economy that bear little relation to people's day-to-day realities" is particularly amusing — media coverage has been even worse.
Go and read the whole post. It's worth it.
Canada will be hosting the 1st World Outgames, an athletic competition for gay, lesbian, and transgendered athletes, but many of the competitors are having trouble getting their visa applications approved to enter the country . . . because many of them come from countries where being gay is a crime:
Just two weeks before the games are to begin, 242 foreign participants are still waiting for visas, say organizers for the 1st World Outgames.
More than a dozen other participants for the event, which runs July 26 to Aug. 5, have already been refused entry to Canada, they say.
On Tuesday, the Liberal party issued a statement calling on Solberg to look into the matter. [. . .]
Noel St. Pierre, an immigration lawyer in Montreal, told CBC that several of those rejected entry into Canada were told it was because they have criminal records.
St. Pierre said he was investigating the nature of the criminal records, since many of the invited athletes face prosecution in their home countries for being homosexual.
The 1st World Outgames are being billed as the largest sports gathering in Montreal since the 1976 Olympics.
I hope that the minister sees this as the kind of bureaucratic stupidity that can — and should — be quashed. If any of the applicants have criminal records for things that would be considered crimes in Canada, fine, but if the criminal record is for something that is perfectly legal here then morally there's only one correct answer.
Hat tip to Fark.com (but you can safely ignore most of the troglodyte comments in that thread).
According to this report at CNN, Toyota is going to recall thousands of Tundra trucks in order to make them less safe:
The recall, announced Monday, is meant to make Tundras comply with a set of safety regulations. The rules say that vehicles built after 2002 must have a child-seat anchor system known as LATCH in the front seat if they also have a front-seat airbag shut-off switch.
The Tundras in question were built with an airbag shut-off switch but not the LATCH system.
The solution? Spend lots of money and inconvenience customers...to remove the airbag shut-off switch.
The move not only doesn't enhance the safety of these vehicles, it actually makes the vehicles unsafe for small children riding in the front seat.
Those shut-off switches exist because airbags can injure and even kill small children even in otherwise minor crashes.
There are few things more implacable than bureaucratic stupidity.
When a news story reads like a comedy skit, something has changed. Researchers using heavy teddy bears and other extra-weight toys in order to get kids to burn more calories signals a move into some sort of perspective-free zone where the manifestly stupid does not get a second look.
The obsession over childhood obesity in America is an exercise in ignoring the obvious. Kids are fatter because they are much, much less physically active than previous generations. Opportunities for unstructured, creative play — the kind of play that goes on for hours and burns the most calories — are greatly reduced today. They are reduced for a host of reasons including smaller families, worries about safety, and neato electronic gizmos.
Heavier blocks, balls, and teddies really are not much of a factor as long as playtime is built around busy adult schedules and adult ideas about what is fun.
Jeff A. Taylor, "Heavy Lifting on Obesity", Reason Express, 2006-07-05
According to a report at Strategy Page, the North Korean government has an interesting approach to upgrading their dilapidated railway network:
Meanwhile, North Korean officials engage in even more bizarre behavior. For example, food and fuel supplies sent to North Korea have been halted, not to force North Korea to stop missile tests or participate in peace talks, but to return the Chinese trains the aid was carried in on. In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program. It's no secret that North Korean railroad stock is falling apart, after decades of poor maintenance and not much new equipment. Stealing Chinese trains is a typical loony-tune North Korean solution to the problem.
Hat tip to Jon for the URL.
On the way in to work today, I stopped at a traffic light in Markham. It's rainy today, so traffic had been a bit slow . . . clearly too slow for some drivers. Here's someone who is so special that they can choose to ignore the line of traffic already occupying the left-turn lane and start a brand new one:
Isn't that special?
Of course, it's a "fine German sports convertible". But I didn't really need to say that, did I?
This is one person whose presumption of innocence is going to be questioned:
A man charged with murder in Massachusetts was so angry with his lawyer's performance he attacked the attorney in court, trying to strangle him as a shocked judge looked on, Boston radio reported on Wednesday.
Nova Scotia's government, having solved all the problems available, have now decided to regulate the price of gasoline and diesel:
Nova Scotia will regulate gasoline and diesel fuel prices, beginning July 1.
Service Nova Scotia Minister Richard Hurlburt said Wednesday the responsibility for setting prices for fuel will be left to the province's Utility and Review Board after a hearing process this fall. Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations will act as the interim regulator until the review board process is in place.
"Nova Scotians want more stable gas prices and they want to know those prices are justified," Hurlburt said in a release.
"Nova Scotia will soon be the only province east of Ontario that does not regulate gasoline and that's a reality we have to respond to."
Because, of course, you have to keep up with the neighbours, right?
After this, the Nova Scotia government will be requiring the rivers to run uphill (just like in New Brunswick, eh?).
According to this report, twenty schoolkids have been suspended for viewing a threatening post on a private web page:
A middle school student faces expulsion for allegedly posting graphic threats against a classmate on the popular MySpace.com Web site, and 20 of his classmates were suspended for viewing the posting, school officials said.
Police are investigating the boy's comments about his classmate at TeWinkle Middle School as a possible hate crime, and the district is trying to expel him.
According to three parents of the suspended students, the invitation to join the boy's MySpace group gave no indication of the alleged threat. They said the MySpace social group name's was "I hate (girl's name)" and included an expletive and an anti-Semitic reference.
So we've reached the point of absurdity where even innocent bystanders are being punished for the actions of others? When did we pass through that looking glass anyway?
But here's my favorite part:
[District assistant superintendent of secondary education Bob] Metz said the students' suspensions in mid-February were appropriate because the incident involved student safety.
Oh, that's okay then . . . as long as it was done for safety reasons.
Hat tip to Radley Balko.
Yes, that heading is correct: the British government is going ahead with plans to monitor all housing stock in the UK to ensure that all taxes are being paid on home improvements, according to a report in The Independent:
John Prescott has told tax inspectors to use satellites to snoop on householders' attempts to improve their homes.
Images of new conservatories and garages taken from space will be used to hike up council taxes and other property levies, official guidance obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveals.
Mr Prescott's department is overseeing the creation of a database containing the details of every house in Britain to help tax inspectors to assess new charges.
Even minor improvements, invisible from the road, will be caught by "spy in the sky" technology that uses a mix of aerial and satellite images taken over time to spot changes.
[. . .]
Houses in the country will be particularly targeted. "Aerial photographs are very effective in rural areas where improvements are hard to see from the road," a handbook for property inspectors says.
The Tories warned of a Big Brother-style inspection regime which could see householders forced to reveal every detail of their homes, including the finish of a children's playroom or the type of central heating.
They accused the Government of using satellite technology to spy on families so they can levy stealth taxes.
Paging Google Maps . . . call for Google on the white courtesy phone . . .
Hat tip to "Andy" from rec.woodworking for the URL.
This week, Bourque has made the unpleasant discovery that the red poppy traditionally worn in early November is no longer a popular symbol of respect for the veteran, but a brand that somehow became the aggressively defended intellectual property of the Canadian Legion. (As far as I know, the Legion has never objected to the politicians who don the poppy increasingly early, every year, for what can safely be described as "other purposes".)
The Legion's legal pestering of Bourque enrages me, in the same way and for the same reasons as it would if some private organization tried to trademark the image of the Christ child. I never thought I was helping to remove a piece of our cultural heritage from the public domain by buying Remembrance Day poppies. And I am certainly surprised to learn that "Remembrance" itself has become anyone's formal property. I won't pay for or wear one ever again. And neither should you.
Colby Cosh, "It's official: nothing is sacred", colbycosh.com, 2005-11-07
Update: Let It Bleed explains why the Legion isn't the bad guy in this situation.
Okay, I'm in favour of gay marriage, but this is ridiculous:
Paintings of traditional wedding scenes have been removed from a register office in case they offend gay couples, it has emerged.
The pictures at Liverpool Register Office are being replaced with landscapes ahead of the introduction of "gay weddings" later this year.
Register officer Janet Taubman said the new paintings were less likely to offend.
So, even when gay marriage is legal, it still won't be considered "normal" because non-sexual heterosexual images might be offensive? Huh? So what happens if the office has a pair of gay or lesbian weddings one after the other, where one or more of the participants chooses to wear a "traditional" white wedding dress? Won't that be equally offensive to the people the office is trying not to offend?
Once again, whose "right not to be offended" will trump everyone else's "right"?
Hat tip to Nick and Nora at The Thin Man Returns for the link.
Christine Forber passed along a link to a really weird patent . . . a patent for a fictional storyline:
I have to say. They have at last invented a way to destroy all cultural development forevermore. That's an achievement of a sort.
Remember, a published patent means it hasn't issued yet. But if you wish to throw up, read about the dreams being dreamed. They are willing to destroy the world's culture for $67,200. Here's Knight and Associates' legal analysis, which they are probably proud of. To me, it's like figuring out how to destroy the planet and all human life on it. What is your responsibility? To implement it, to even tell anyone what you cleverly invented? I know. Knight and Associates would advise patenting it first.
I know almost nothing about patent law, especially American patent law, so I can't judge, based on the evidence in this post and the linked patent letter, whether this really is the end of the line for fiction writers, or perhaps the end of the line for the over-extension of patents to cover things that they never should have been granted for.
IANAL, as the acronym has it, and neither is the original poster. This may be a total over-reaction, but if not, we may need to cheer for activist judges to rein in the USPTO.
On Oct. 4, Delphi Corp.'s beleaguered management found time to prepare an 8-K filing for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Never mind that the company was a day away from the biggest auto-industry bankruptcy in U.S. history. A serious wrong needed righting before the power to right it disappeared.
"After reviewing the various separation programs in place at Delphi it was determined that the service-based separation policy that Delphi had for all salaried employees was not competitive for executives," the company said in its filing.
Uh-oh. Whenever you see the words "executives" and "competitive" in the same sentence, you just know some manager is about to shove his face deep into the compensation pool and start snorting back gobs of cash on the spurious grounds that his peers at the company next door are doing the same.
Mark Gilbert, 'Delphi's Pre-Bankruptcy Trough-Filling Is Odious", Bloomberg.com, 2005-10-12
Is it really a victory for "tolerance" to say that a council worker cannot have a Piglet coffee mug on her desk? And isn't an ability to turn a blind eye to animated piglets the very least the West is entitled to expect from its Muslim citizens? If Islam cannot "co-exist" even with Pooh or the abstract swirl on a Burger King ice-cream, how likely is it that it can co-exist with the more basic principles of a pluralist society? As A A Milne almost said: "They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace/ Her Majesty's Law is replaced by Allah's."
By the way, isn't it grossly offensive to British Wahhabis to have a head of state who is female and uncovered?
Mark Steyn, "Making a pig's ear of defending democracy", Telegraph Online, 2005-10-04
Not mentioning anyone by name (*cough* Jon *cough*), of course. But this will portray medieval life in a totally unexpected manner (Quicktime required).
. . . but this is ridiculous:
HUNDREDS of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors is to be burned.
US red tape is stopping it from reaching hungry evacuees.
Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption.
Smooth move, FDA. You'll certainly send the right message to all the countries and individuals who tried to help the Katrina victims, won't you?
Even better, apparently the "bad" food is acceptable to serve to American service personnel, but not for civilians:
The aid worker, who would not be named, said: [. . .] "The FDA has recalled aid from Britain because it has been condemned as unfit for human consumption, despite the fact that these are Nato approved rations of exactly the same type fed to British soldiers in Iraq.
"Under Nato, American soldiers are also entitled to eat such rations, yet the starving of the American South will see them go up in smoke because of FDA red tape madness."
As we've all been made aware by the constant drumbeat of media-generated panic, obesity is the biggest problem facing the Canadian healthcare system. Canadians are getting much fatter, getting less exercise, and generally imperilling their own health and, in the aggregate, the entire healthcare system — the core of the Canadian identity. The government is moving to confront this looming problem in the very near future.
Because voluntary measures have failed, the federal government, in consultation with the provinces and territories, is going to amend the Canada Health Act, the cornerstone of the healthcare system. Poor health is no longer an individual problem: it affects the entire country. This means that the government is going to get very serious about tackling the causes of the problem, not just treating the patient after the problem becomes severe.
The current provincial health ID cards will become federalized: this is to ensure that all Canadians are able to get consistent treatment when travelling outside their home provinces. The new ID cards will carry biometric information and it will be mandatory to carry these cards at all times.
To ensure that we comply — it is for the sake of our healthcare system — the health ID card will be requested on boarding all public transit, commuter rail, airplanes, ferries, and ships. Inexpensive card readers will speed processing. No ID? No travel. Simple as that. Our healthcare system is too important to risk for minor concerns like individual rights, privacy, or freedom of movement.
It is expected that the major banks will quickly realize the advantage of integrating their ABM networks with the new universal ID card, obviating the need for them to maintain their own card issuing services. Any who do not quickly adapt will find it difficult to get government business. But it will be strictly voluntary, of course.
Once the banks have adapted, the government can phase out the production of printed money . . . there will be no need for it since you will always carry your combined ID/ATM card. This will be a boon to shopkeepers, banks, and anyone involved in handling money right now.
One of the biggest advantages of this will be that the government will be able to act decisively to combat the scourge of obesity: all food purchases will be directly traceable to show who is eating too much or too much of the wrong kind of food. Within a few years, as the existing printed "Nutrition Facts" information is encoded into RFID tags, it will be possible for your ID/ATM card to restrict the amount of food you purchase to the recommended daily allowance for your diet. Won't that be great? You won't even need to think about what to eat, because you'll only be allowed to eat the "right" amount of the "right" foods, as determined by the government.
Of course, those Canadians who have allowed themselves to eat too much should not be given the same top-priority access to healthcare that their less weighty fellow citizens should have . . . overweight patients will be treated in inverse proportion to their deviation from the norm. That's only fair, and fairness is nearly as important an aspect of Canadianness as Universal Healthcare.
There may be some bleeding hearts in the civil liberties movement who decry this extension of government power, but we can safely ignore them. The only thing that makes Canada the great place it is today is universal healthcare. This has been repeated so often that most of us accept the concept without any doubt or uncertainty.
Universal healthcare is Canada; Canada is universal healthcare.
Universal healthcare matters more than anything else, again as uncounted public opinion polls and government surveys have discovered, so anything that strengthens the healthcare system is good for Canada. Critics of the system are clearly not acting in the best interests of the healthcare of all Canadians, so we must move to suppress such unpatriotic — even treasonous — talk.
Snuffing Out Smoking
After obesity, the next greatest threat to the system is already being addressed by all levels of government: smoking. It will soon be possible, using the same combination of mandatory ID/ATM cards and RFID tags to completely stamp out the purchase of tobacco products. The government would be remiss if they failed to take full advantage of the current wave of public support to make tobacco use illegal everywhere. Canadians are naturally law-abiding: they will quickly adapt to the need for vigilance for signs of illegal tobacco use. Snitch lines may be required in certain areas to provide more support to those Canadians who want to ensure the health of their fellow citizens — and, of course, the essential healthcare system!
Other methods can be used to ensure compliance, especially in the delivery of healthcare: patients who have smoked will be required to wait longer for all services, to be fair to those patients who never smoked. In the model of "plea bargaining", patients may be able to get faster aid by reporting others who supplied them with tobacco.
Alcohol abuse is the next problem to be overcome. The cost to the healthcare system from treating the direct results of alcohol abuse are staggering. It is manifestly unfair that non-drinking Canadians must pay to rectify the self-inflicted damage of alcohol by drinkers. Earlier Canadian and American governments tried to stamp it out during the last century, but they failed. This government will not: we have the tools to enforce compliance that earlier governments lacked.
As a first step, all sales and production of alcoholic beverages will be nationalized. All citizens must apply for permits to allow them to drink alcoholic beverages, which will only be available from government outlets at strictly controlled times. Sensible limits will be applied, so that packaging that encourages abuse (24-packs of beer, 1.18 litre bottles of alcohol, etc.) will be quickly removed from use. Purchase limits will be strictly enforced, to ensure that so called "binge drinking" can be controlled and eliminated. Drunkenness will be dealt with as sabotage of the healthcare system.
Importing alcohol will be eliminated as a source of health problems, and domestic production will be gradually curtailed and then eliminated in turn. Home brewing and winemaking will be very quickly made illegal: snitch lines will certainly be needed to enforce this, but good Canadians will realize that the health of all requires us to clamp down on those who do not follow good health guidelines.
It's not going to be easy to make Canadians as healthy as possible, but the vigour of our Universal Healthcare system can only be enhanced by improving the physical well-being of all Canadians. Voluntary efforts to encourage healthy exercise have been a dismal failure, so mandatory exercise is the only way to move forward. In the short term, all public and private schools, offices, factories, and other workplaces will be required to add exercise periods to every workday.
Mandatory exercise, however, will not be allowed to encourage carelessness and risk-taking — so-called "extreme" sports are all foreign concepts to Canadian culture, and should be discouraged at all cost. The healthcare system must not be held hostage to stupid, careless victims of unnecessary accidents. They'll be in last place for healthcare services, after the obese, the smokers, and the drinkers.
The End Result
Let's be honest . . . this is going to be a gruelling regime, and some will not have the intestinal fortitude to pull through. By phase IV of our program, we should expect to see some weaker souls emigrating to escape the rigours of our brave new healthy world. We should let them go, but ensure that they have paid a fair price for the privilege of living in the healthiest country in the world: a sliding scale tax on property maxxing out at 90% for the wealthiest.
But what a wonderful country it will be without them: everyone at the absolute peak of health and vitality (because getting sick will be illegal).
The right and the left take turns deciding who's going to be anti-semetic this century. For some time now the hard left in the West has led the charge against the Jews — or, as the sleight-of-hand term has it, the Zionists. The adolescent spirits of the left love nothing more than a revolution, a story of a scrappy underdog rising up against a colonizing power, and the Palestinians, with their romantically-masked fighters and thrilling weapon-brandishing, fit the bill. Plus, there's something so deliciously naughty and transgressive about calling Jews the new Nazis — if it feels that good, it must be right.
Doesn't matter that one side is a liberal democracy that grants rights to women and non-Jews, and the other side has thugs and assassins for rulers and sends its kids to summer camps where they learn the joys of good ol' fashioned Jew-killin'; doesn't matter at all. According to the script of the hard left, Israel was created when some Europeans (hisssss) invaded the sovereign nation of Palestine, even though we all know the Jewish homeland is somewhere outside of Passaic. Then for no reason Israel invaded the West Bank and Gaza — which for some reason had not been set up as New Palestine by the Egyptians and the Jordanians, but never mind — and made everyone stand in line and get frisked. Those who joined the line in '67 are just getting through now. Evil Zionists.
James Lileks, "The most important story in the world last Sunday", Screedblog, 2005-08-11
. . . but I was just so wrong:
Reader Russ Dewey points to an un-fucking-believable turn of events in Kelo v. New London, the Connecticut case surrounding the use of eminent domain to boot homeowners to build a privately owned luxury complex: The leaders of New London are now demanding rent from the people whose property they've seized!
As one of the first comments points out, one of the properties which was condemned as being blighted is being assessed at over $6,000 per month rent. Talk about having it both ways!
On Tuesday, Maria Alquilar worked under the blazing sun, using power tools to reshape and install tiles changing "Eistein" to "Einstein" and "Van Gough" to "Van Gogh."
But Alquilar — who last year claimed artistic license and said she wasn't going to fix the faux pas because people were being too mean about it — was in no mood to talk.
Wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat and working under a tent, she wagged her finger at a television cameraman and threatened to throw a rock at a Chronicle photographer.
"No pictures of me!" Alquilar yelled, standing behind a barrier that officials had put up to separate her from the public. "If I'm in it, I'm going to sue you."
Hat tip to Hit and Run.
Hit and Run links to a story of a government informer who's been honing his entrapment skills for 32 years:
[. . .] undercover operative Marc "The Mole" Caven suggested it would help applicants' prospects if they could hook him up with a bit of methamphetamine or marijuana. And at least 46 of them succumbed to the pitch, landing them berths in the Yamhill County Jail.
The suspects include a 22-year-old McMinnville youth who finally came up with less than half an ounce of marijuana after reportedly being hounded by Caven on a daily basis for weeks. Pumping gas, the lure of construction work at $10.50 an hour got the better of him.
Of course, we're all so much safer now that weak-willed "criminals" like this are safely locked away for their mandatory 20-year sentences, and more informers like Caven work to entrap others. Yeah, sure.
I'm certain you'll all be glad to hear that the European Union is getting tough with some member nations who have some glaring maritime safety issues. Samizdata helpfully points out that both Hungary and Slovakia are failing to conform to EU policy on passenger ship safety and pollution caused by shipping.
Apparently, neither nation has any laws on the relevant topics. These slackers are basing their lack of concern for public safety on the spurious grounds that they're landlocked and have no ports. Imagine letting details like that get in the way of conforming to orders from Brussels!
Update: Yeah, I know, they both have river ports . . . it's not clear from the original report whether those are governed under different EU regulations (which I'd suspect to be the case), and that the rules in question are for deep water ports.
This got posted to a mailing list I belong to, but it had originated (without attribution) somewhere else. If I manage to find out who to credit, I'll do so. . .
If WWII were an online RTS game ------------------------------- *Hitler[AoE] has joined the game.* *Eisenhower has joined the game.* *paTTon has joined the game.* *Churchill has joined the game.* *benny-tow has joined the game.* *T0J0 has joined the game.* *Roosevelt has joined the game.* *Stalin has joined the game.* *deGaulle has joined the game.* Roosevelt: hey sup T0J0: y0 Stalin: hi Churchill: hi Hitler[AoE]: cool, i start with panzer tanks! paTTon: lol more like panzy tanks T0JO: lol Roosevelt: o this fockin sucks i got a depression! benny-tow: haha america sux Stalin: hey hitler you dont fight me i dont fight u, cool? Hitler[AoE]; sure whatever Stalin: cool deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye frenchy Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry Churchill: wtf the luftwaffle is attacking me Roosevelt: get antiair guns Churchill: i cant afford them benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is? paTTon: stfu Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys deGaulle: eisenhower ur worthless come help me quick Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me an army paTTon: yah hurry the fock up Churchill: d00d im gettin pounded deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck *deGaulle has left the game.* Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k? benny-tow: with what? ur wheelchair? benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head? Hitler[AoE]: ROFLMAO T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont! lol Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u Hitler[AoE]: wtf Hitler[AoE]: america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin army Hitler[AoE]: thats bullsh1t u hacker Churchill: lol no more france for u hitler Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me! T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the other side of the world retard Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a path Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE Hitler[AoE]: i changed my mind lol benny-tow: haha benny-tow: hey ur losing ur guys in africa im gonna need help in italy soon sum1 T0J0: o **** i cant help u i got my hands full Hitler[AoE]: im 2 busy 2 help Roosevelt: yah thats right ***** im comin for ya Stalin: church help me Churchill: like u helped me before? sure ill just sit here Stalin: dont be an arss Churchill: dont be a commie. oops too late Eisenhower: LOL benny-tow: hahahh oh sh1t help Hitler: o man ur focked paTTon: oh what now biotch Roosevelt: whos the cripple now lol *benny-tow has been eliminated.* benny-tow: lame Roosevelt: gj patton paTTon: thnx Hitler[AoE]: WTF eisenhower hax hes killing all my sh1t Hitler[AoE]: quit u hacker so u dont ruin my record Eisenhower: Nuts! benny~tow: wtf that mean? Eisenhower: meant to say nutsack lol finger slipped paTTon: coming to get u hitler u paper hanging hun cocksocker Stalin: rofl T0J0: HAHAHHAA Hitler[AoE]: u guys are fockin gay Hitler[AoE]: ur never getting in my city *Hitler[AoE] has been eliminated.* benny~tow: OMG u noob you killed yourself Eisenhower: ROFLOLOLOL Stalin: OMG LMAO! Hitler[AoE]: WTF i didnt click there omg this game blows *Hitler[AoE] has left the game* paTTon: hahahhah T0J0: WTF my teammates are n00bs benny~tow: shut up noob Roosevelt: haha wut a moron paTTon: wtf am i gunna do now? Eisenhower: yah me too T0J0: why dont u attack me o thats right u dont got no ships lololol Eisenhower: fock u paTTon: lemme go thru ur base commie Stalin: go to hell lol paTTon: fock this sh1t im goin afk Eisenhower: yah this is gay *Roosevelt has left the game.* Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to join *tru_m4n has joined the game.* tru_m4n: hi all T0J0: hey Stalin: sup Churchill: hi tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his stuff! tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets T0J0: wtf is nukes? T0J0: holy ****holy****hoyl****! *T0J0 has been eliminated.* *The Allied team has won the game!* Eisenhower: awesome! Churchill: gg noobs no re T0J0: thats bull**** u fockin suck *T0J0 has left the game.* *Eisenhower has left the game.* Stalin: next game im not going to be on ur team, u guys didnt help me for **** Churchill: wutever, we didnt need ur help neway dumbarss tru_m4n: l8r all benny~tow: bye Churchill: l8r Stalin: fock u all tru_m4n: shut up commie lol *tru_m4n has left the game.* benny~tow: lololol u commie Churchill: ROFL Churchill: bye commie *Churchill has left the game.* *benny~tow has left the game.* Stalin: i hate u all fags *Stalin has left the game.* paTTon: lol no1 is left paTTon: weeeee i got a jeep *paTTon has been eliminated.* paTTon: o sh1t! *paTTon has left the game.*
Hat tip to Martin Cracauer.
Toronto apparently has a bylaw restricting the use of Nathan Philips Square. Who knew? It's being applied to ban the current Miss Universe from opening a Thai festival:
"Activities which degrade men or women through sexual stereotyping, or exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purpose of attracting attention, are not permitted on Nathan Phillips Square."
There, says Ms. Reid. Miss Universa non grata.
She can come. But no sash, no tiara.
Do not introduce her as Miss Universe or even as a beauty queen.
The bylaw says you must call her "an individual of note contributing to our community."
Lovely. Here she is... Miss Individual Of Note Contributing To Our Community.
Not surprisingly, Natalie and the Thais took a pass.
Hat tip to Jon for the link.
Update: Over at Small Dead Animals, Kate has a fascinating discussion going on in the comment thread on this topic.
Update the second, July 22: Nick Packwood rounds up the details on this little contretemps and spikes down the lid on some of the most scary commenters at SDA.
James Lileks has a post about some Czech refugees who have fallen afoul of the technicalities of the US immigration system: even though they've been in the US since 1988, they're being deported now because their son's illness is now in remission. Picture-perfect bureaucracy in action.
A report in The Scotsman details the push by the Scottish regional government to ban swords, knives, and pointy sticks:
Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister, published a consultation paper yesterday which recommended a ban on the sale of swords and severe restrictions on the sale of all "non-domestic knives".
If the restrictions are approved, only licensed shops would be able to sell hunting and sporting knives and anyone who wants to buy one will have to provide their personal details to the government as well as a good reason for ownership.
Ministers also announced plans for an outright ban on so-called stealth knives, police-style night sticks and truncheons, to be implemented within a matter of months.
Stealth knives, which are made up of non-metallic blades, are popular with criminals because they can slip unnoticed through metal detectors.
All these weapons will be banned without a consultation, probably by September, bringing Scotland into line with England and Wales.
There really is a problem in Britain, but banning knives and such will only start to tackle it. Next, all beer will have to be sold in plastic containers (broken beer bottles are better bar-fighting weapons than knives, really). That will promptly be followed by all other liquids. Sell your stock in the glass industry now.
Batons, which are really just specialized sticks, are included in the proposed ban. Normal sticks will be banned in the next session — including walking sticks (with or without concealed sword blades), cricket bats (England will never beat Australia again, so why bother encouraging the sport), and hockey sticks. Only licensed sporting goods stores will be allowed to sell any non-round wooden or composite sports equipment.
Tree branches will be covered in the session following that, with unlicensed possession of anything made of wood becoming an ASBO-able offense.
The police will have discretion to interpret the law on the carrying of offensive weapons, as they do now.
So, as long as you don't get up the nose of the investigating officer, you might just get off with a warning. Be in any way distasteful to PC John Peel, and you'll be up on charges faster than you can blink. Discretion is always part of the job of policing, regardless of what the written law may say, but actually writing in the discretion is a license for unequal application of the law. Do I need to say that this is a bad idea?
Hat tip to Elizabeth.
I know you'll find this amazing, but I was shocked, shocked to discover that French wine stewards in British restaurants are biased in favour of French wine:
It would seem, according to snobbish French sommeliers, that the closest most Australians get to fine wine are the corks that dangle around their hats.
While New World wine has stormed the high street in recent years, concern is growing that when it comes to selecting the best bottles, snooty French experts are deliberately excluding many fine Antipodean vintages from restaurants.
The conspiracy theory is backed up by research which shows that while sales of French wine in off licenses represent only 17% of the market, restaurants still choose to have more than 40% of their stock from just across the Channel.
Imagine that: just because they're born in France, trained in French schools and wineries, and are effectively ambassadors for their native wines, they still brazenly show bias toward French wine! Who'd have ever thought of such a thing?
I read this piece in The Guardian and I was absolutely certain that it was an Onion-style send-up:
The Octagon library at Queen Mary, University of London, in Mile End, east London, is in the process of refurbishment and decided that it would have to dispose of its surplus books.
These have now been dumped in skips outside the library, to the outrage of staff and students who were clambering through them yesterday to find what they described as literary gems.
"This is a crass display of philistinism," said one staff member. "There are books dating back to the 18th century, there are first editions, there are copies of Voltaire."
Another lecturer looking through a skip said: "This is sacrilege. Look at all these books that are being thrown away without any thought. It is shocking."
It sounds to me as though the work of the true librarian — the preserver of knowledge and guardian of truth — has been totally supplanted by the spirit of the bureaucrat and the morals of the tone-deaf beancounter.
Hat tip to Marna Nightingale for calling my attention to the story.
The Chinese market for cigarettes is 99% state-controlled. As a result, the government spends a lot of time and effort pushing the benefits of cigarette smoking:
Cigarettes, according to China's tobacco authorities, are an excellent way to prevent ulcers.
They also reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, relieve schizophrenia, boost your brain cells, speed up your thinking, improve your reactions and increase your working efficiency.
And all those warnings about lung cancer? Nonsense.
You're more likely to get cancer from cooking smoke than from your cigarette habit.
Welcome to the bizarre parallel universe of China's state-owned tobacco monopoly, the world's most successful cigarette-marketing agency.
When the monopoly profits from this controlled trade go directly into the government's coffers (or, more likely, the private pockets of generals and high party officials), the chance that a dissenting view will be crushed approaches absolute certainty.
Hat tip to Jon.
Therapism has caused a decline in the quality of our culture. People are now engaged in a kind of arms race, feeling obliged to express their emotions ever more extravagantly to prove to themselves and other just how much and how deeply they feel. This leads to the peculiar shrillness, shallowness, and lack of subtlety of so much of our culture.
Theodore Dalrymple, "Bad counsel", The New Criterion, 2005-06
In short, the Legislature within its jurisdiction can do everything that is not naturally impossible, and is restrained by no rule human or divine. If it be that the plaintiffs acquired any rights, which I am far from finding, the Legislature had the power to take them away. The prohibition, 'Thou shalt not steal,' has no legal force upon the sovereign body. And there would be no necessity for compensation to be given.
The Supreme Court of Canada, April 2003
Angry in the Great White North provides some context for this rather bladder-loosening declaration.
Sicily may be a bad place to drive for gay men:
A court has intervened after Sicilian authorities had suspended a man's driver's license upon learning he was gay.
The court ruled, "It is clear that sexual preferences do not in any way influence a person's ability to drive motor cars safely."
The judges added that homosexuality "cannot be considered a true and proper psychiatric illness, being a mere personality disturbance."
License authorities discovered the sexual orientation of the 23-year-old man, identified by the Ansa news agency in Italy as Danilo G., when they discovered he had been exempted from military service because he was gay.
This one just floors me. The exemption from serving in the armed forces at least has some pretence of having a reason (however idiotic), but preventing you from driving because of your sexual orientation? Huh?
In a shocking, hard-to-believe, cold-sweat-inducing revelation, it appears that Christians — actual believing-in-capital-G-God Christians — are also attempting to take over the Liberal Party:
Socially conservative Christian groups purportedly infiltrating the Conservative party have been equally involved in the ruling Liberal party for years.
"People of faith are engaging in the democratic process in the Liberal party as well as the Conservative party," Charles McVety, head of Canada Christian College and a founder of the Defend Marriage Coalition, said in an interview.
Reactions from traditional strongholds of Liberaldom have been somewhat confused:
McVety said his group, which opposes same-sex marriage, helped a number of like-minded Liberals secure nominations prior to last year's election.
Among them were Toronto-area MPs Paul Szabo, Tom Wappel, Jim Karygiannis, Dan McTeague and Albina Guarnieri, now veterans affairs minister, and Oshawa MP Judi Longfield.
"And those are just some of the Liberals we've helped."
The terrible news will undoubtedly leave knees quivering and jaws sagging all through the Liberal hierarchy.
A report from AP, via Yahoo on one of the oddest restaurant concepts I've ever heard of:
Taiwanese restaurateur Eric Wang has given new meaning to the traditional revellers' cry of bottoms up.
His Marton eatery in the southern city of Kaohsiung delivers its food not on conventional plates and dishes, but in miniaturized Western and Asian style toilets, both the flush and non-flush variety.
For anyone missing the point, diners are encouraged to stir up mushy, earth-coloured offerings like curry chicken rice and chocolate ice cream to conjure up — well, the real thing.
Located in a downtown area with a variety of competing eateries, Marton — the name means toilet in Chinese — attracts its customers through its some dazzling bathroom decor.
Somehow, I'd have expected this to turn up in Germany, England, or Holland first, but never let it be said that Taiwan doesn't lead new trends. I just hope this one fizzles, if you'll pardon the phrase.
According to informed sources, General Motors will no longer be authorizing scale models of their cars or trucks in sizes any smaller than 1:64 (S scale for you model railroad types) because of the
fear of lawsuits risk to children:
Citing concerns about infant and toddler choking hazards, General Motors will no longer license any scale models of its vehicles smaller than 1:64 or S scale. This is not a rumor. This has been confirmed by the senior executive handling the GM account at EMI and by GM's manager of licensing.
Remember, any stupid decision can be made less stupid by claiming that it's for the children. This should be filed beside the British reports on banning long, pointy knives.
An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."
The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.
Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.
After all, we can't let parents decide anything serious like what religion to raise their kids in, now can we? They might be making the wrong decision, so let's just take that potentially dangerous tool out of their hands. We'll start with the divorcing couples and work our way to the rest of the population "for the children", of course.
Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin today launched an attack on his record label EMI and the company's shareholders.
It came after EMI, the world's third-largest music company, warned that profits would be lower because the band took longer than expected to finish their first studio album in three years.
How dare those cretins at head office criticize the genius of Chris Martin?
"I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world."
Martin told reporters at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre that the band was uncomfortable that they sell so many albums they can affect a major corporation's stock price.
"It's very strange for us that we spent 18 months in the studio just trying to make songs that make us feel a certain way and then suddenly become part of this corporate machine," Martin said backstage.
He criticised what he called "the slavery that we are all under to shareholders".
If it makes Martin uncomfortable, just imagine being one of those poor shareholders!
Damian Penny has the breaking story. This is just freakin' ugly.
Update: Kate writes:
Well, we always knew she was a Liberal — they were just hagging over the price.
I wonder if she realizes how many new Western separatists she just created today with her comments about Conservatives not understanding the "complexity" of the country? That the party must "grow in Quebec" before it's a national party? I wonder if she understands that her defection speech will be interpreted as another slap by a self-serving and politically ambitious Ontario power broker at western aspirations to finally have an equal voice in Canada?
Probably not. The woman is that stupid.
Update the second: Bob wonders:
Hands down, funniest news of the day [. . .] Not because Stronach has elected to join the illustrious ranks of people like Scott Brison and Signorina Giuseppe Volpe, but because this will now prompt a slew of reversing reappraisals amongst media talking heads: whereas, previously, Tory Belinda was a well-clad blonde bimbo with too much of daddy's money who was a vessel/puppet of Mulroney-esque forces determined to seize back control of the country, now, Liberal Belinda will be hailed as a shrewd and effective political operator with a deep understanding of, in no particular order, French, public speaking, complex economic and/or political issues, "what Canadians want" and "how evil Stephen Harper and the Conservatives really are".
[I]n January, after the tsunami hit, [Canadian prime minister Paul Martin] flew into Sri Lanka to pledge millions and millions and millions in aid. Not like that heartless George W. Bush back at the ranch in Texas. Why, Prime Minister Martin walked along the ravaged coast of Kalumnai and was, reported Canada's CTV network, "visibly shaken." President Bush might well have been shaken, but he wasn't visible, and in the international compassion league, that's what counts. So Martin boldly committed Canada to giving $425 million to tsunami relief. "Mr. Paul Martin Has Set A Great Example For The Rest Of The World Leaders!" raved the LankaWeb news service.
You know how much of that $425 million has been spent so far? Fifty thousand dollars — Canadian. That's about 40 grand in U.S. dollars. The rest isn't tied up in Indonesian bureaucracy, it's back in Ottawa. But, unlike horrible "unilateralist" America, Canada enjoys a reputation as the perfect global citizen, renowned for its commitment to the U.N. and multilateralism. And on the beaches of Sri Lanka, that and a buck'll get you a strawberry daiquiri. Canada's contribution to tsunami relief is objectively useless and rhetorically fraudulent.
Mark Steyn, "Bolton's sin is telling truth about system", Chicago Sun-Times, 2005-05-15
The Liberals have lost a series of confidence votes in the House of Commons. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Conservatives won two votes to force adjournment. By long constitutional usage, a Westminster-system government that is forced to adjourn must either resign or call an election. But the Liberals, apparently taking their advice from the lawyers of Charles I, seem to believe that they can continue governing without the support of Parliament.
If anyone had taken the time to look up the history, they'd have seen that Charles I didn't have a particularly happy end to his reign. It left him a much shorter man . . . by a head.
In hopes of buying votes, they continue to announce lavish spending proposals — even as 400 years of British constitutional law denies a government that rules without a majority in Parliament the right to spend so much as a single penny.
Eh, tradition. Piffle. Not as important as Paul Junior's right to be prime minister. In Paul Junior's book, anyway.
Angry continues, in his post:
Of course, that all makes sense now. During caucus meetings, they are holding seances, and getting advice from the courtiers of Charles I of England:
Charles I (19 November 1600-30 January 1649) was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 27 March 1625, until his death. He famously engaged in a struggle for power with Parliament; he was an advocate of the divine right of kings, however some in Parliament feared that he was attempting to gain absolute power. There was widespread opposition to many of his actions, especially the levying of taxes without Parliament's consent.
A comment on Angry's post points out that holding seances is practically a Liberal rite of passage, in the post-Mackenzie-King era.
Let's say the government is right, that a vote of the majority of the House of Common expressing no confidence in the government does not count as a vote of non-confidence: that although the House may have demanded "that the government resign," it forgot to preface this with the critical words, "Simon says." What does this mean?
It means that we now have a new form of government in this country: government by technicality. The government can no longer claim to govern with the consent of the governed, the traditional standard of legitimacy in a democracy. It governs with the consent of itself. It is the constitutional equivalent of a circular argument, a government that rules solely on the strength of its own assertions. It holds a new kind of power: the power of positive thinking.
Andrew Coyne, "Government by Technicality", AndrewCoyne.com, 2005-05-11
Damian Penny asks the obvious question:
Do we Canadians still have the right to sneer at the Yanks for all the problems they had with their election in 2000?
When did we blow past the counting of the number of dimpled chads that can dance on the head of a pin? Yesterday? Day before that? Whenever it was, that was the point at which we can no longer pretend any sort of moral or political high ground whatsoever.
A Les Mackenzie comment at Daimnation puts it well: "Speaking of George W . . . Why hasn't he called out Prime Minister and congratulated him on his new dictatorship? Damn Americans!"
The Minnesota Vikings appeared to have an over-abundance of running backs coming out of the draft last month. On the roster were Michael Bennett, Onterrio Smith, Mewelde Moore, Moe Williams, and fourth-round draft choice Ciatrick Fason. Bennett and Smith each consider themselves the starter, with Moore as the dark horse.
The numbers just got a bit murkier as Smith has been caught carrying a drug test masking kit — something to allow him to fool the drug tests that the NFL mandates for randomly selected players on a monthly basis.
Smith had already served a four-game suspension for marijuana use at the beginning of last season (during which Moore ran for the only two 100-yard games the Vikings had that year). If the league decides to pay attention to this little matter, Smith is out for a year. The team would pretty much have to cut him and move on.
Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse imagines the situation:
He did tell airport security that he was taking the device to his cousin. Which leaves me with a large question: How close would you have to be to a cousin to agree to place his Whizzinator in your carry-on bag and take it through airport security?
Even conceding that some families are very, very close, I'm having a tough time fathoming the conversation:
Cuz: Hey, Big O, that you? Could you hook me up with a giant favor? I remembered my iPod, my BlackBerry, most of the important stuff for this trip, but there's this one thing I left in the condo.
Onterrio: You're my favorite cousin, Cuz. What do you need?
Cuz: Only going to take you five minutes, O. Key's under the mat. Walk into the bedroom, bottom drawer in the big chest. Just grab the funny-looking thing that's in there, maybe wrap a towel around it, and bring it with you on the flight.
Onterrio: You got it, Cuz. Anything else?
Cuz: There's six or seven vials of white powder in the drawer, too. Bring those, but don't get the wrong idea. No one wants to be snorting that stuff.
Yes, this could have been the exact conversation that led one of our football heroes to be carrying a device for making phony urine through airport security.
I didn't publish anything on the "runaway bride" story, because I figured it was just a silly season story appearing a few months early (August is notorious for this sort of non-news creeping into news coverage). iFeminists.net had a link to this little morality tale of modern capitalism in action:
The latest offering from a company known for culturally relevant action figures is a doll in the likeness of Jennifer Wilbanks, the Georgia woman who disappeared days before her wedding date and ended up in New Mexico by way of Las Vegas.
HeroBuilders.com rushed into production a limited-edition doll sporting Wilbanks' shoulder-length dark hair and pearly-white smile.
My favourite part came next, however:
It is featured with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Hillary Clinton in the "Female Heroes" section.
Wendy McElroy has the final word on the whole runaway bride issue:
Another under-discussed but newsworthy element: Wilbanks allegedly made false statements to the New Mexico police (and later the Georgia authorities), claiming she was kidnapped by an Hispanic man and a woman. That allegation has been widely broadcast, and perhaps she will be prosecuted. But her mental instability makes that prospect unlikely and the absence of criminal intent is a problem.
What is unmentioned by the media, however, is the fact that until she made those statements — an act that occurred at the tail end of the police investigation — Wilbanks had done nothing wrong in a legal sense.
The foregoing statement is not an expression of sympathy. As far as I am concerned, Wilbanks should be disowned by her parents, shunned by friends, and bitten by the family dog.
But she is a free human being. Except for the purpose of fraud or other crime, she has a legal right to disappear, to run out on a wedding. The alternative is to require people to inform authorities about their whereabouts and movements, as they were required to do in the Soviet Union.
Ernest Miller digs deeper into the recent stories of near 100% correlation of arrested pedophilia suspects and Star Trek "hardcore" fans in Toronto:
Last week I wrote a post about a claim in the LA Times that of the more than one hundred arrested in the past four years by the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit Child Exploitation Section "all but one" were "hard-core Trekkie[s]". I thought the claim was improbable, so I called and spoke to an officer in the unit, who denied the specific accuracy of the claim, but not the high percentage of pedophiles arrested who were Star Trek fans [ . . .]
Colby Cosh points out (in the comments to the above posting) that the numbers don't seem to make much sense at all:
Note, though, that the sampling bias here cannot conceivably be large enough to account entirely for the allegedly observed 99:1 ratio between Trekkie pedophiles and non-Trekkie pedophiles. The latter figure would suggest that the hardcore Trek crowd is overrepresented amongst sex abusers by a factor of many thousands. The fraction of the general public that uses the Internet — or even the fraction that habituates esoteric Internet manifestations like chatrooms and BBSes — is surely too great (probably no less than 1/100 unless you're going to get ridiculous about it) to allow for the scaling back of that factor. Even if the Trekkies all use every corner of the Internet, they couldn't possibly outnumber us normals there — but they appear to, dramatically, in the world of child pornography users.
I've been coaching youth soccer teams since Victor was 4 (his first soccer coach quit when her son stopped wanting to play), so I'm on a few soccer-related mailing lists. One of those lists must have shared my email address with other lists, because I sometimes get soccer spam from certain groups and companies. One of those is the San Andreas Youth Soccer Organization.
San Andreas is a little bit out of the way for me, so there's no benefit to me getting emails from them about tryouts, referee clinics, and tournaments (3,000 miles and an international boundary is more than enough barrier, I'd think). At the bottom of their mailings, they offer a "one-click" removal from their mailing list.
But it isn't really one-click. You click the link, it pops up an email message which you then have to send. But wait, it's not over yet: the recipient has signed up with a spam-filtering service, so my message (asking him to not send me spam) has generated another email message from them. My original message has been put into a waiting bin until I click yet another link to open another web page to confirm that I really want to send it to him, that I'm not sending him spam, and agree to their terms and conditions. Then it will allow my email to be delivered to him.
All this, to get unsubscribed from a mailing list I never subscribed to in the first place. Aarrgghh!
The Last Amazon points out the absurdity of involving the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in questions of whether a hair salon should be allowed to charge their female customers more than men:
I am literally outraged that the provincial government thinks it has the right to tell retailers, hair stylists or dry cleaners what they can or cannot charge for their goods or services. Furthermore, I am incensed that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (which already has a backlog of far more serious cases to hear) could potentially be further burdened by having to adjudicate the cost of shirt versus a blouse that these "gender based pricing" issues will generate.
She also points out that it's not necessarily sexist or discriminatory to charge customers different prices for similar services:
I have a good friend who owns a unisex hair salon. She charges women more for the same services she offers for men. Here's the difference: she can wash, cut, blow-dry and style three men's hair in one hour's time. A simple hair cut for a woman takes 40 minutes to 1 hour because their hair is longer. Not to mention that the styles women often desire require more hair products. But you know, if you're a woman; there is nothing to stop you from going to a man's barbershop to get your hair cut. And speaking from personal experience — they won't charge you a different rate but they won't wash. Style or dry your hair either.
[. . .]My dry cleaner doesn't ask me if I bring in a man's shirt if it's for me or my sons. But if it's a tailored woman's shirt with darts over both breasts and in the back he charges me more. You know why? It takes longer to press. No darts, no pleats and all cotton — same price as a man's.
I'm sure that there are still troglodytes and Neanderthals out there who try to charge women more than men for no reason other than sexism, just as there are still racists and bigots who still try to charge blacks, Asians, or "obviously gay" customers more. A few probably still survive from the golden age of White Man's Privilege (whenever that era is officially defined in the histories). Trying to address a few isolated cases by legislative fiat over the entire economy is just plain absurd, however.
In any case, merchants who try to pull stunts like this are just begging to lose business to those competitors who don't. If you suspect that someone is trying to cheat you, why would you deal with them again? Rational people don't go back to be ripped off repeatedly (unless there _are_ no other businesses to choose).
Matt Welch claws the eyes out of those billionaire welfare bums, the football team owners:
But These Welfare Queens Are Manly!
The state of New Jersey has finally spread 'em wide enough for football's "New York" Giants to accept building a new $750 million stadium in the swampy Meadowlands. Battered-wife quote of the day goes to acting Joisy Governor Richard Codey: "This will be the best deal for the taxpayers of any stadium deal in the NFL."
Ronald Bailey dissects the story for you:
As a consequence of the looming unnatural prolongation of the ancient cycle of birth and death, Mann outlines an improbably dystopian vision of greedy geezers growing ever richer as their deserving children languish in poverty. "In the past, twenty- and thirty-year-olds had the chance of sudden windfalls in the form of inheritances," writes Mann. "Some economists believe that bequests from previous generations have provided as much as a quarter of the start up capital for each new one — money for college tuitions, new houses, new businesses." Apparently, Mann thinks that parents today only invest in their children — pay for piano lessons, braces, college tuitions, or make them partners in the family business — because they know they're going to die soon. What makes him think that aging decimillionaires in the future won't have any money to spare for their indigent children? And just where does Mann think geezers will be investing their money so that they can take advantage of the magic of compound interest that he says will make them so rich? It's got to go into, yes, new businesses, new technologies, and so forth.
Strangely, when I tried to run The Flea's site, I got an error — proving that the FLEA IS EVIL!!!
. . . or that his site was larger than 100K. Whichever.
Some wanker is offering to sell permanent advertising space on his John Thomas, The Register reports. Starting bid is reportedly £3,000.
Quebec's Economic Development Minister, Claude Bechard, points to the group that is suffering the most from the scandal:
What is happening at the Gomery commision is making all politicians ill at ease. [. . .] It is clear that the big loser in this matter is the political class.
Well, under the circumstances, all I can say is GREAT!
According to a post at Minority of One, the latest testimony implies a link to the federal gun registry. This should not be too much of a surprise: the gun registry was introduced as a cheap ($100 million) fix for all our worries about guns and violent crime. The registry has been around for years, and the cost has already gone well above $1 billion: lots of extra money that could easily be redirected if the right (that is, the wrong) people were involved.
Hat tip to (of course) Angry again.
Update: Kevin Schoedel comments to Angry's post:
Here's a back-of-the-envelope calculation. Gun owners: around 3 million. Index card: 3 x 5 x 0.005 inches. Gold: around 10 troy ounces per cubic inch, around CA$500 per troy ounce. Total: $1.125 billion.
The government has handed out nearly twice as much as it would cost for a gun registry on solid gold index cards.
It would be interesting to see where that money really went.
I took an informal poll of parents I know. At what age or stage of development can Mom or Dad go ahead and sit down, reasonably assured their little darlings will survive a solo whirl on the jungle gym? Instead of a hard-and-fast answer, what I got was the sense that we hover for numerous and complicated reasons. We fear school buses, babysitters, and sometimes even Grandma and Grandpa, who may not know any better than to let the baby cry a little on her way to sleep. We're scared adversity will scar our kids or, conversely, that they'll be bored — a condition that, left untreated, might turn them into school shooters.
But we also fear their independence. We're up there in the climber because we can't afford to miss a minute of face time, you see. We believe our physical presence is the linchpin to the children's emotional well-being and, although we never say so out loud, we want it that way — because it's central to our well-being. We're scared the kids will grow up to resent the fact that Mommy works, or — the biggest golem on the list — they just plain won't like us. And in an age of high divorce rates and transient communities, kids who don't like us suggest the possibility that we might really end up alone.
Beth Hawkins, "Safe Child Syndrome: Protecting kids to death", City Pages, Volume 26 - Issue 1267
Kerry Howley points out that, in way too many cases, there already is a law:
Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, West Virginia, North Dakota, Virginia, and North Carolina still have laws punishing the unmarried for shacking up, which is kind of cute until someone tries to enforce one. A North Carolina 9-1-1 dispatcher, fired for living in sin, is suing the state with a little help from the ACLU.
Think about that. In this day and age, where all sorts of things are considered "fair game" in the inter-personal relationship sphere, there are still at least seven states that haven't yet caught up with 1955, never mind 2005. How many other absurd laws are still on the books, but ignored?
On my first flight to Europe, everyone dressed for success. Now everyone dresses for Gold's Gym. And I'm sure the next step in TOTAL SECURITY will be to require everyone who is not of Arab descent to arrive with a note from their doctor attesting that they had a high colonic an hour before the airport to make the body cavity searches a bit more pleasant for the staff. Then there's the added coach thrill of a blood clot developing in the legs that stops your heart at 50,000 feet. Plus . . . no peanuts! After all, think of the allergic children! Add to that the new innovation, no pillows! I don't see why the airlines don't simply install hooks and, working in concert with government's laughable security cops, require everyone to hang from said hooks naked. It will come to that. You know it will.
Gerard Vanderleun, "The Brand-Extension Blight", American Digest, 2005-03-10
. . . something comes along to show that I've been living a sheltered existence after all. Like this:
Getting to the bottom of an unwholesome obsession
HEARD of sphincter bleaching? Beauticians are billing it as the new Brazilian wax.
"In the last couple of months I've had a lot of requests, so I've started some experiments," says Sydney beautician Anna Marsiano from The Bees' Knees salon.
"I've got one client who's a divorced woman with a couple of kids. She was looking at a Playboy magazine with her new boyfriend and he was making some comments about how clean and light the women looked. My client started to get a little paranoid."
Marsiano says she uses a herbal brand popular in the Philippines as a facial whitener. It is applied to the dark pigmentation around women's rectums as well as to their vaginal areas. Marsiano says the product does not damage the skin and has "rejuvenating" properties.
I could say "go read it all", but I think you've probably heard everything you wanted to hear by now. Or more. Perhaps too much. I know I have.
Libertarians are also naive about the range and perversity of human desires they propose to unleash. They can imagine nothing more threatening than a bit of Sunday-afternoon sadomasochism, followed by some recreational drug use and work on Monday. They assume that if people are given freedom, they will gravitate towards essentially bourgeois lives, but this takes for granted things like the deferral of gratification that were pounded into them as children without their being free to refuse. They forget that for much of the population, preaching maximum freedom merely results in drunkenness, drugs, failure to hold a job, and pregnancy out of wedlock. Society is dependent upon inculcated self-restraint if it is not to slide into barbarism, and libertarians attack this self-restraint. Ironically, this often results in internal restraints being replaced by the external restraints of police and prison, resulting in less freedom, not more.
Robert Locke, "Marxism of the Right", American Conservative, 2005-03-14
As soon as you see the recommendation from Noam Chomsky on the cover of the book, you can pretty much guess where McQuaig is coming from. I refer to the Chomskyan school of thought as American Monist: in short, the only actor on the world stage is America. It is the sole source of evil and depradation. Everyone else is motivated solely by love and concern for humanity, whilst America is, singularly, motivated only by greed, lust for power and a general animus for all things good, sunny and nice. Only America acts; everyone else is acted upon by the Hegemon, and can't be blamed for the consequences of their actions. America is the Primus Mobilis. And America is bad. So, for example, the notion that an economy-based increased lust for oil is driving foreign policy is solely a characteristic of America; no other nation on earth appears to give a shit about oil. Certainly not France, Russia or China; McQuaig hardly mentions them. While McQuaig is forced to acknowledge that French, Russian and Chinese support for Saddam (and attendant undermining of UN sanctions) was related in some fashion to the oil deals they had each struck with Iraq, she airily dismisses the role that oil plays in their respective foreign policies. So the "oil as the root of all evil" trope is batted away in the space of two sentences when talking about other countries, but more than 300 pages are required to explain how oil and America are mutually catalyzing demon twins. When the rapaciousness of oil companies is discussed, it is almost exclusively American oil companies which are named; hardly ever any of the European, Russian or other oil companies. Because those other oil companies don't possess the true indicia of evil, you see: they don't stamp their barrels "Made in the USA".
Bob Tarantino, "LIB Review: It's the Crude, Dude", Let It Bleed, 2005-03-05
Just as the Vikings seemed to be moving into a better phase, having signed former Redskin cornerback Fred Smoot and re-signing tight end Jermaine Wiggins, a new scandal breaks. This time it's the head coach, Mike Tice, being accused of scalping Superbowl tickets.
While I strongly hope that this is not true, part of me would not be surprised to find that there's something to it. It's been reported that players and assistant coaches are notorious for reselling their Superbowl tickets, and that just about every team has some involvement. A head coach being involved in this is just plain ludicrous, but Tice is the worst-paid head coach in the league (many assistant coaches are better paid), which makes the accusation a bit more believable for the reporters.
As with so many other financial scandals, it's not really a surprise to find that people try to get away with shenanigans of this sort, it's that they do it for such relatively tiny amounts of money. The worst-paid player in the NFL is earning $300,000 per year: even to a league-minimum-wage player, the $2-3,000 payoff for scalping tickets is peanuts, especially as the IRS is the organization most interested in tracking down this sort of activity.
Need I bring to your attention the utter gall of a leading member of "Canada's natural governing party" accusing the Bush Republicans of running a one party state. Didn't the Yanks just have a bruising knock 'em down, electoral race that had all the thrills and spills of Northern Dancer winning the Queen's Plate.
Checks and balances? Canada? Third parties can't even participate fully in electoral campaigns here. Checks and balances are very few in this centralized, caucus whipped, PMO run federal government. Let us pass on quickly lest the good doctor/statesman becomes completely embarrassed by his own rhetoric.
John the Mad, "Lloyd's Unworthy Letter", John the Mad, 2005-03-05
Any parent who has ever smoked a joint has a moral duty to give up all hope of achieving good things in life, give him- or herself permanent brain damage, and get a career working on an assembly line, wearing a hairnet and stamping packages of irradiated food. Only in this way will kids realize drugs always lead to a bad end.
Tim Cavanaugh, "Don't try this at home, kids; you might end up becoming President", Reason Hit and Run, 2005-02-20
I learned a new word today: "heteronormative". Now I'm going to try very hard to forget it.
At the Crimson Online (via Drudge), a discussion about the disappointing "heteronormative" remarks made by Jada Pinkett-Smith at Harvard where she was receiving the "Artist of the Year Award" from the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations:
Students said that some of Pinkett Smith's remarks concerning appropriate gender roles were specific to heterosexual relationships.
Maybe that's because she is in a heterosexual relationship (she's been married to actor Will Smith since December of 1997; they have two children).
"Some of the content was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA [Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance] members feel uncomfortable," he said.
Calling the comments heteronormative, according to Woods, means they implied that standard sexual relationships are only between males and females.
Aaarrrgghh! I feel an RCOB moment coming on. This is Offensensitivity on steroids! Where did the meme get started that everyone (in certain groups) had to be free from hearing words that might upset them? Whose bright idea was it to make those easily offended the ones who decide what it is that can and cannot be said?
"I had just started to open FrameMaker when the drugs began to take hold. . ."
So starts the unpublished tale of Gonzo technical writing by the late Hunter S. Thompson, who apparently tried turning his attention to software documentation during the early 1990's. The hand-written story was found in the bottom of a case of shotgun shells that appeared on the desk of the CIO of [name removed for legal reasons], a medium-sized software company in Silicon Valley. Only a few barely legible pages survive — or perhaps are the only parts Thompson ever set down during his life.
I love stress myself, and I have learned to survive under savage and unnatural pressures. I am a stress freak. On some days it seems like I have lived in my cubicle for half my life. There is blood in this keyboard, and some of it is mine.
You don't need to be paranoid in the savage, world of software: it makes you paranoid. The wolves are always there, waiting for that split-second of inattention to hurl themselves upon you and rip off steaming chunks of your flesh. I survived this hell, but only through judicious applications of drugs, alcohol, and carefully placed .45 caliber bullets.
[. . .]
The department manager was Bruce Hawkins, an Australian, and a true drunken bastard in the classic mold. He always referred to the department as "Docco". I hated that, but the man had a survival instinct. No matter how often we tried to get rid of him, he'd be back the next day, blood in his eye and beer on his breath. I still don't know how he survived the time I cut his brakeline (the office was at the highest point of the hill, with a long twisting road down to town).
The skin-flayer of the week was the status meeting, where the tortured souls of the department were taken out for beatings and repeated humiliations. With the right mix of ether and peyote, I could survive the worst the manager had to offer. The screams I could suppress, until the hyenas started to howl, just as the [illegible] tore open and the bile spewed out.
Your everyday Nervous Breakdown is nothing compared to the hopeless Craziness of a woman who woke up a team lead on the flagship product and went to bed as the new trainer for interns. This is a guaranteed overwhelming shock to the system; if you don't go insane from suddenly having to see the world from the POV of the brain-dead new intern, your mind will be churned into butter by having to crawl, head-first, with your eyes open, down a septic tank hatch, just to have a place to sleep.
[ . . . ]
Programmers are swine. They know it. They go out of their way to prove it. But I know how to treat 'em. You need to cut out the head swine from the herd and break him; that forces all the others to give you respect, and tell you when they fuck with your software. I favour cutting off the little toe on each foot: no head swine can keep the respect of his homies when he's unable to walk in a straight line, bouncing off partition walls and filing cabinets, wailing his distress.
[ . . . ]
I have always hated editors, and I like to have sport with them. They are harmless quacks in the main, but some of them get ambitious and turn predatory, especially in Silicon Valley. In Santa Cruz, I ran into a man who claimed to be Microsoft's chief editor. "I consult with Bill Gates constantly," he told me. He produced a business card and gave it to me. "I can do things for you," he said. "I am a player."
I took his card and examined it carefully for a moment, as if I couldn't quite read the small print. But I knew he was lying, so I leaned toward him and slapped him sharply in the nuts. Not hard, but very quickly, using the back of my hand and my fingers like a bullwhip, yet very discreetly.
He let out a hiss and went limp, unable to speak or breathe. I smiled casually and kept on talking to him as if nothing had happened. "You filthy little creep," I said to him. "I am Bill Gates!"
That was the tone of my workdays in Silicon Valley: violence, joy, and constant Mexican music.
[ . . . ]
The one I knew I had to keep my eye on was the office intern, a pimple-faced whelp whose reptilian gaze and inability to sweat marked him as potentially deadly. I pistol-whipped him on his second day, just to keep him off-guard. His life revolved around TV and relentless masturbation. Deprive him of one and he collapsed. That was the key; showing him that you had to power to destroy him. Vaya con dios, amigo. I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.
[. . .]
Why bother with technical writing, if this is all they offer? Hawkins was right. The writers are a gang of cruel faggots. Technical writing is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the basement of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and wank off like a monkey in a zoo cage.
The preceding post is complete fiction, derived in very large part from the works of the late Hunter S. Thompson. Don't sue me!
It takes one's breath away to watch feminist women at work. At the same time that they denounce traditional stereotypes they conform to them. If at the back of your sexist mind you think that women are emotional, you listen agape as professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT comes out with the threat that she will be sick if she has to hear too much of what she doesn't agree with. If you think women are suggestible, you hear it said that the mere suggestion of an innate inequality in women will keep them from stirring themselves to excel. While denouncing the feminine mystique, feminists behave as if they were devoted to it. They are women who assert their independence but still depend on men to keep women secure and comfortable while admiring their independence. Even in the gender-neutral society, men are expected by feminists to open doors for women. If men do not, they are intimidating women.
Thus the issue of Summers's supposedly intimidating style of governance is really the issue of the political correctness by which Summers has been intimidated. Political correctness is the leading form of intimidation in all of American education today, and this incident at Harvard is a pure case of it. The phrase has been around since the 1980s, and the media have become bored with it. But the fact of political correctness is before us in the refusal of feminist women professors even to consider the possibility that women might be at any natural disadvantage in mathematics as compared with men. No, more than that: They refuse to allow that possibility to be entertained even in a private meeting. And still more: They are not ashamed to be seen as suppressing any inquiry into such a possibility. For the demand that Summers be more "responsible" in what he says applies to any inquiry that he or anyone else might cite.
Harvey Mansfield, "Fear and Intimidation at Harvard", Weekly Standard, 2005-03-07
This is an excerpt from a discussion I had a few months ago with a fellow woodworker-wannabe. The topic of overseas manufacturing of machine tools came up, and eventually he summarized the price and quality differences in this way:
Not that it matters, really. All these tools are made off-shore by people who will be dessicated, ground up, and rolled into honey-dipped sesame seed-coated balls that will be sold as impotence remedies.
Maybe that explains the quality of the tools. The Porter-Cable and DeWalt labourers are months away from dessication, so they are still pretty upbeat and do a good job.
The Black & Decker workers are just a few weeks away, so they don't do a very good job assembling the tools.
The Craftex guys go into the drying racks at the end of their shift.
A report from Associated Press indicates that Hunter S. Thompson's death was even tackier than I'd thought:
The widow of journalist Hunter S. Thompson said her husband killed himself while the two were talking on the phone.
"I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and he did it. I heard the clicking of the gun," Anita Thompson told the Aspen Daily News in Friday's editions.
She said her husband had asked her to come home from a health club so they could work on his weekly ESPN column — but instead of saying goodbye, he set the telephone down and shot himself.
But wait. . .it gets even better:
His son, daughter-in-law and six-year-old grandson were in the house when the shooting occurred.
I lack the words to express just how disgusted I am that a once-talented writer (yeah, I know, but he did write some great stuff . . . thirty years ago) could be such an asshole. Offing yourself is your call, but how he chose to do it? And with a six-year-old in the house? Pathetic.
Police and school leaders in Sikeston say the case involving a 6-year-old girl and a bag of dirt needs to be taken seriously.
"If she would have been 14, we would have been arrested her and taken her to jail." Sgt. Shirley Porter said.
It's a story you saw only on Heartland News. One that generated an incredible response from you. More than a 1,000 of you logged onto our web site to voice your opinion on the Sikeston first grade student disciplined for giving a bag of dirt and grass to a classmate.
Let's just meditate on this one for a minute. A six year old gave a clear plastic bag filled with dirt and clover to a classmate. This is such a serious offence that she is suspended from school and warned that she'd have been facing 90 to 180 days of suspension, plus possible criminal charges. For giving someone a clear plastic bag full of dirt and clover.
I don't know about you, but this would have been one of Kim du Toit's Red Curtain of Blood moments for me, if it'd happened to my kid.
By what possible convolution of thought could this have been anything like a crime?
BatesLine finds the Tulsa World both clueless and bullying:
The Vice-President [sic] of the Tulsa World has threatened legal action against me for "reproduc[ing] (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials" and for "inappropriately link[ing my] website to Tulsa World content." ("World" is the legal name, although here at BatesLine we call it the Whirled, in the spirit of Private Eye's renaming of the Guardian as the Grauniad.)
I shouldn't need to point out that the entire blogosphere would curl up and die if we weren't even allowed to link to copyrighted materials, never mind excerpt or quote from the text. (This blog, in particular, I'm sure some of you are noting. . .)
BatesLine finds the Tulsa World both clueless and bullying:
The Vice-President [sic] of the Tulsa World has threatened legal action against me for "reproduc[ing] (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials" and for "inappropriately link[ing my] website to Tulsa World content." ("World" is the legal name, although here at BatesLine we call it the Whirled, in the spirit of Private Eye's renaming of the Guardian as the Grauniad.)
I shouldn't need to point out that the entire blogosphere would curl up and die if we weren't even allowed to link to copyrighted materials, never mind excerpt or quote from the text. (This blog, in particular, I'm sure some of you are noting. . .)
It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.
And, of course, corrupt organisations rarely stop at just one kind. If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits — in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves.
Mark Steyn, "UN forces — just a bunch of thugs?", Telegraph Online 2005-02-15
Last night, after watching the Superbowl at my friend John's house, we were subject to the local Canadian TV station try to make up for lost time by cramming in ads for other programming. One of the items was a teaser for the 11 o'clock (or whatever time it was) news, which had a female newsreader give a brief report on two separate toboggan accidents. (Stay with me . . . it's relevant, I promise.)
One of the accidents was in Gatineau, where a youngster died of head injuries caused by losing control of his toboggan. Comment was made that mandatory helmets could cut head injury by 25% (or 33% or whatever number they quoted — I wasn't paying close enough attention).
The second accident was in Ontario, where a teenager died after his toboggan hit a snowmaking machine. Where can you ride a toboggan that you could be near snowmaking machinery? A ski hill. He and his friends had been riding their toboggans down a ski hill after the ski facility closed.
So, based on the tiny amount of information we were given, one accidental death by misadventure, one death by trespassing and recklessness. So how did the TV teaser end? By portentiously asking "what we should be doing about the dangers of toboggans." (OWTTE).
Though both deaths are tragic to the families, in neither case is it reasonable to be reaching for new laws. But, to be honest, I wasn't particularly surprised when that meme got tossed out.
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