Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Now, more than ever, we need this list!

Here's a story on the most overused words of 2002 and the list of banished words itself.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Gutting Canada's freedom of religion like a fish

Oh yes, I quite like Kevin Michael Grace's take on the Surrey School Board case, and I commend it to your attention. Canada's Supreme Court has recently decided that parents and school boards should not have the power to keep pro-gay materials out of Canadian elementary schools.

"The Ambler" explains the ominous consequences of this court decision well.
Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Warren Kinsella may be at it again. Over the Christmas holiday, his weblog had some criticism of a NDP activist who had critiqued his obituary on Joe Strummer. The Kinsella weblog professed to be very upset with this fellow (whose name escapes me) and the post even posted his work phone number and e-mail. If this was a valid post by Mr. Kinsella, perhaps he intended to deploy a legion of flying monkeys to annoy this NDP boffin for speaking his mind.

I logged on to the weblog this afternoon to comment on it here, and this Kinsella post is nowhere to be found! Perhaps Mr. Kinsella's website was hacked...but what I think is more likely is that Mr. Kinsella changed his mind. That is good, but in addition to removing the post--if Mr. Kinsella himself was responsible for it--he should also write a brief post in his weblog that he is sorry for what he wrote, so much so that he pulled it from his weblog.

(BTW...blogging will be thin for the next day or two until I file all my work. I hope everyone had a good Christmas :) )

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

O come, let us adore Him

Here's a neat Calgary Herald story about how some sailors were helped by a carol after their ship was torpedoed and they were drifting in life-rafts praying for rescue.

Jim Sadler can't hear O Come All Ye Faithful without getting butterflies in his stomach....
Look Ma, one hand!

Hank Luisetti, the first basketball player to frequently use the one handed set shot that everyone now uses has died.

I remember a P.E. teacher in high school being surprised when I prefered using the prehistoric two handed set shot in our basketball sessions.
Highest scorer in the history of English soccer dies

Arthur Rowley, who scored 434 goals in his English soccer career, the most ever, has died. The BBC story seems best, with a picture and a archived radio clip. The Guardian's obituary has some good details. The Shropshire Star story reveals how Mr. Rowley influenced the famous England goalkeeper Gordon Banks.

Monday, December 23, 2002

A fun looking link for you

Here's an interesting looking site for you: Trash Fiction

Exploitation novels

Movie & TV novelisations

Celebrity poetry

Trash non-fiction

and other stuff like that... "
Merry Christmas!
She's only 92

Canadian Jean Buchan operates a medical mission in an India town of 15,000. She has only one leg and is 92 years old. Meet this amazing Order of Canada winner in my story here.

“I give shots, pull teeth, set bones, deliver babies, treat lepers, anything a nurse would do,” Miss Buchan says.

I couldn't do what she does, that's for sure.
And not only that, bin Laden shoplifts too!

This is still suprising a year later. Two days after 9/11 El Nuevo Diario, a Nicaraguan newspaper, played up strongly the theory of a local professor that the CIA used Osama bin Laden to fund the Contras, the anti-Communist guerillas that tried to topple the Sandinistas in the 1980s!

Here's the story in Spanish: El Nuevo Diario - Bin Laden fue Contra

Here's the story run through Google's beta translator system: on this page.

Well, when your paper has a lasting grudge, any excuse will do.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Okay Warren Kinsella, I call

Warren Kinsella is
well known in Canada as a federal Liberal strategist and backroom boffin.
Why, I'm not sure, as my Report colleague Kevin Michael Grace has often
deftly deflated him in print.

Mr. Kinsella has started his own weblog. Here's the opening of an entry that
made me angry:

December 9, 2002 - I was in a good mood already, but this one made me
deliriously happy. Oh, bliss! As we were hustling our brood out the door to
church, my pal Charlie Angelakos called: "Oh, you're going to love this," he
giggled. "Ben Mulroney rips you in the Sunday Sun." I asked him to repeat
his message, so happy was I to receive it.

Ecstasy! Rapture! Oh, sweet Lord! I have been critiqued by plenty of media
maroons and morons in my day - Jan Wong (fired), Allan Fotheringham (fired
twice) - but can there be any better media critic than the progeny of the
Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney? Can there? Thought I : "This one was going to be so
easy, it isn't even sporting."

To the mean-spirited, Benjy is a millionaire's son who grew up in the back
seat of limousine, and whose attractive head is remarkably uncluttered with
complexities. Receives his weekly Sun columns via fax from a secretary at
Ogilvy Renault's Montreal offices
, gushes over bored-looking B-grade
movie stars for CTV entertainment segments. That's our Ben.

I hold no brief for Ben Mulroney, but I do think he should be allowed to try
to make a career for himself.

And yet, there is a grave charge here if you can spot it, namely that Ben
Mulroney's columns are being ghost-written for him. As Mr. Kinsella should
know, accusing any journalist of taking full credit for the work of others
as their own is a smear on the journalist's character, unless you do have
evidence to that effect.

He goes on to write "I utterly reject all that," but in such a sarcastic way
that you know he doesn't mean his praise of Ben Mulroney.

Well okay, Mr. Kinsella, you've placed a rhetorical bet and I call. Perhaps I missed it, but I would like to
see your evidence that Ben Mulroney's columns are ghost written for him.
Time to take out the trash

On Dec. 16, Rick Boudreau of Victoria B.C. received a nine month conditional sentence for leading a group of people who destroyed a crack house in their neighbourhood. My story just after the impromptu renovations: Hasta la vista, crackheads! has all the juicy details, including what they yelled at the crackheads:

"It's moving day!"
Inspiring story of the day

Some disabled people in Powell River B.C. have recently obtained a license from the CRTC to start their own radio station. My story on them is called Just see what they can do.
This just in, aboriginals not killed

Professor Bunyip, Australian blogger, writes on a down under prof being caught making up evidence that local aboriginals were killed. Keith Windschuttle consulted the prof's original sources and found no evidence of mass killings at all.

Prof. Bunyip has fun watching the professor at fault squirm in the link above.
"That's not a gun. This is a gun."

A carjacker picked the wrong guy to attack--
a US Marine just back from Afghanistan.

Thanks to Kim DuToit for the link. Although, I would rather have Santa taking out Al Qaeda than what is photoshopped there. All things considered, lots of good stuff to read.
DDT is better than the alternatives

Why are thousands of people dying in the Third World due to malaria? Because the developed nations of the world are unreasonably skittish about the dangers of DDT.
Workin' for the man

The University of Victoria has commissioned a Cdn $200,000 study to learn whether prostitutes are stressed out by their jobs. Read my story to find out why real service workers are annoyed by the study's rationale.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Equipment manager plays goalie and wins

On to a happier sports story. Joe Franke of the United Hockey League's Fort Wayne Komets is a hero today. He's usually the equipment manager for the team, but had to step in and play goalie with 11 minutes left in a game...even though the 42 year old hadn't played hockey, aside from beer league netminding, since high school. In the Canadian Press story, he says that he doesn't plan to play goal again:

"No, sir," he says. "I get paid to take care of the equipment, not play goal. "Plus, I'm an old fart."

Here's a column from the local Fort Wayne paper about Franke's heroics.

By the way, Mr. Franke replaced Pokey Reddick, the former NHL netminder, in goal.

Those who remember the old Canadian TV commercial may end this blog entry by chanting "Albert! Albert! Albert!" now.
Sudden death overtime

In a new medical study in England, doctors found a disturbing spike in the number of heart failures in Britain on and just after June 30, 1998, the date that Argentina's soccer team beat England 4-2 in a penalty shoot out. Here's a story on their findings.

Friday, December 20, 2002

And Jeremy says "Thank goodness!" :)

Senator Lott Resigns As GOP Senate Leader
Customers of Hooters excluded from survey

A new study reports that during the past 40 years, men have developed a taste for less zaftig women. Their research material...the evolving Playboy Playmate.
I think I'll hold it until I get home

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on new high-pressure toilets that use compressed air for more powerful flushes. One plumber, after an elderly aunt used it:

"She thought the thing was exploding," Mr. Block says. "She fell off the toilet and right into the tub," breaking a kneecap.
Jesus goes surfing

Report colleague and layout boffin Dave Stevens is in a modern day surf-rock band, The Capacitors. They have some songs on a new CD of surf-rock covers of Jesus Christ Superstar. If you click on the above link, you can listen to one of the songs The Capacitors did on the CD.

I was reminded of a funny comedy routine by The Vestibules called Jesus Goes to Hawaii, which is their audio parody of a Elvis/Beach Party movie ad starring Jesus. Hear it here.... Bystander yells: "Hey, He's not using a surfboard!" One of the songs, sung like Elvis, "In the name of the Father/The name of the Son/Come on-uh, everybody, let's have-uh some fun..."

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Look for the suspect who is glowing in the dark

The Peace Arch News has a story on the theft of a radioactive scanning device used by engineers. No direct link, but please click on the above and scroll down to the Dec. 17 story, "Police seek radioactive device".

I bet *that* will be easy to fence in a neighbourhood bar. "Hey Buddy, are you interested in a nuclear densometer, real cheap?" :)
Does Abbotsford have weapons of mass destruction?

The Abbotsford News reports on how some local shop students are helping to test radar technology by building a replica Scud missile and burying it at the local airport.

Sorry no direct link to the story, but when you get to the website, scroll down to the Dec. 7 story "Scud to be 'launched' at airport". That's it.

L'affaire Ahenakew continue

Today's Globe and Mail reports that two of the men who raised David Ahenakew to prominence in Saskatchewan affiars--Lloyd Barber, the former president of the University of Saskatchewan and Edgar Kaeding, Saskatchewan's former agriculture minister--are urging that those who want to strip Mr. Ahenakew of his Order of Canada not do so. Says Kaeding:

"I think he got caught in a bad situation, and that should not nullify all the good he did," Mr. Kaeding said....."At that time, the natives didn't have a lot of good spokesmen," Mr. Kaeding said. "They've got a lot of good people now, but at that time there weren't many people in the native groups that were very articulate. But he was very much so and he was pretty reasonable."

There seems to be an undercurrent of "Well, we wanted to grab the first half decent guy we found...There's no way we would pick him again, knowing what we now know..." here. I wonder if the Globe reporter asked him to expand on this.

In recent years, Canadian Indians have often argued that there should be no talk of good intentions or mitigating circumstances when it comes to passing judgement on the white people who ran Canada's residential schools for Indians. Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Ahenakew is learning what can happen to you in the court of public opinion when such standards are applied to members of the Indian community.

On a related matter, I'm looking to see if anyone has posted a full transcript of his original remarks. If I see it, I'll pass it on.

When Blogger gets cranky

If you don't see my archives, please try again later. I'll keep trying to fix it, but Blogger seems to be cranky this evening for some reason. Let's hope it's only temporary.
Non-living doll

After reading some wire service stories, Kevin Steel wonders if there is a serial doll-killer on the loose in Alberta.
It's not baaahd

See what happened when a British poet tried to use sheep to compose a haiku. And yes, she got a grant for the project.
Drowsy men with guns

The U.S. military has commissioned studies to find out whether soldiers can be medically changed in order to severely reduce the amount of sleep they need. If the program succeeds, we'll need to watch out for sleepwalkers. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The truth is out there. Way out there...

I may have a knack for unusual news stories... my editors have been assigning these sorts of stories to me recently. No complaints, though, as people do read them. This issue I am writing on Bigfoot. Last issue, I wrote on a giant spider web covering 60 acres of a Northern B.C. farm.

I also wrote a story in October on a Canadian university masters graduate who had analyzed the religious implications of the messages that aliens pass on to humans when they meet. Are aliens evolutionists or evangelicals? Perhaps my online story, Little green gurus, will interest you.
Bigfoot, RIP?

This week, I am working on a story about whether Bigfoot exists or not. It's pegged to the recent death of Ray Wallace, who claimed, on his deathbed, to have faked all the significant Bigfoot sightings. While doing some research, I found this humour column on the subject.

Sadly, some liberals in the media just do not give up. Ronald Reagan is long out of office but this columnist, using Bigfoot to take shots at people he dislikes, even mentions Reaganomics!

I guess the Teapot Dome scandal slipped his mind.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

He's sorry, all right

David Ahenakew has apologized for his remarks. The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix version of the story is interesting because it includes this comment here:

Ahenakew "was never very politically correct," said Doug Cuthand, who worked with Ahenakew in the 1970s.
"His attitudes towards not just the Jews, but other races and women were fairly backward."

If this was so obvious to people, then why was Ahenakew elected to all the various province-wide native positions he held? Why was he named to the Order of Canada? It's infuriating. If aboriginals want respect, they should insist that their leaders respect everyone. Sorry, Indians shouldn't indulge in "payback". If we accept the native argument that they are victims, the rest of us may reasonably assume that should know better than anyone else how people should, and should not, be treated.

I haven't seen the full apology statement but as he is quoted in the press, he apologizes for hurting people's feelings, being too emotional, etc. Did he say that any of his anti-Jewish diatribes were factually wrong?

Monday, December 16, 2002

The Ambler meets Attila

After reading Kevin Michael Grace's account of a spookily annoying man who wanted him to push one of his pet schemes, I can only hope that Mr. Hun has taken the hint and gone away.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Indians can't be racists, eh?

David Ahenakew, a Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations ex-chief, complained about the Jews and how they started World War Two. He says that the Germans should have "fried" them, as they were on their way to conquering the world before the Nazis stopped them. He added that the Holocaust was justifiable. What an idiot.

It will be interesting to see how the story is played in Canada's newspapers. You should see as much ink up here as the Trent Lott faux pas received in the US...but many members of the Canadian news media will tell you that Indians, as a matter of course, cannot be racist.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

A timeless present

The great people over at Snopes.com, the Urban Legends debunkers, relate a touching and hilarious tale about two brothers, and their determination to not be the last person to get that pair of horrid moleskin slacks.
At least they're not into bagism

Two Canadians have gone to Iraq to act as "human shields" to initimidate the US into not attacking the country

I think David Pryce-Jones' poem in the Spectator may apply here:

"Backwards, Christian soldiers,
Sneaking out of war,
So that this great tyrant
May kill thousands more."

Friday, December 13, 2002

Toto in Istanbul

Seanbaby's reviews of Turkish films also includes a look at their version of the Wizard of Oz.

By the way, he writes for The Wave, an interesting looking San Francisco alternative newspaper.

And...I hope to do some "thinking not linking", as Colby Cosh puts it, in the next little while as I get ready for the next issue of the magazine. Thanks for your patience.
Paul Martin, weblogger

Paul Martin, the Liberal MP who seems to have a lock on becoming the next Prime Minister of Canada has started his own weblog at the behest of the twentysomethings on his staff. Thanks to Colby Cosh for mentioning this.

Colby's done most of the hard spade work. Yet...I would like to take a moment to look at one statement in Mr. Martin's explanation about why he is starting the weblog. He mentions that during a recent trip to Windsor he visited his old home and the graves of his parents. "It wasn't newsworthy but it was an immense pleasure for me," he says.

People usually start weblogs because they don't have a group of reporters who follow them around looking for news, as Mr. Martin does. If it was important to Mr. Martin to get a sense of his roots and where he came from--as he had "immense pleasure" in seeing things that remind him of his past--why not ask a single reporter to tag along and then share what he is thinking? If these are genuine emotions, why not share them and flesh out for Canadians what makes the true Paul Martin tick?

"I'm a feeling man...but what I am feeling is not 'newsworthy', thank you." Paul Martin...as an empty canvas that you may paint as you choose.

I can hear an objection. "But, these are private moments that he shouldn't have to share." Quite so. Well then, why start a weblog to talk about such things, even in passing? Mr. Martin will find that people who read weblogs have a naturally curiousity to dissect everything that is posted by the weblogger in an attempt to read what is in his or her soul. In some ways they are like an online diary, whether they are intended to be or not. His privacy, if he intends to do a good weblog, may shrink somewhat.

In this passing observation, Mr. Martin opens a door and closes it quickly. Something seems a little false here. Is the Martin team trying to find a way to get hipster bloggers to read the text of his stump speech online, in "weblog" form?

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

A cast of tens

Seanbaby's review of the Turkish knock-off version of Star Wars includes observations like "Although setting world records for lack of production values, Turkish Star Wars is a lot more entertaining than Episodes 1 and 2, and not nearly as unexplainably stupid as Jar Jar Binks."

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

"Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter" and other cultural delights

Thanks to my colleague Philippa Byfield for passing along this Toronto Star story on a new study analyzing whether culture is
anti-Christian, specifically the new film "Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter".
Internet publishers: "Crikey!"

Kevin Steel, on the Report website, has found a scary story for journalists. An Australian court has ruled that an Australian can sue Dow Jones in an Australian court for their story on him, which was published on their New Jersey-based website. Australian legal expert Ken Parish says that freedom of speech fans on the 'net shouldn't worry yet
Why isn't Spock wearing a fez?

I didn't know that ColbyCosh also has a fondness for bad movies. He passes along this really funny review of the super cheap and cheezy Turkish version of Star Trek.

Too bad it doesn't have subtitles. I would look into buying it then, if it wasn't too expensive. Yes, really.

I'm a movie buff, and I like to watch all sorts of films. I particularly like older movies, enjoying their merits and chuckling at their faults. When a good friend of mine dropped by a while back, she looked at my video collection and said, "Oh wow, you have *new* movies too?"

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is my favourite TV show. This week I was writing a story on a giant spider web in Northern B.C. and I though to myself as I was writing the lede, "This vaguely reminds me of the film 'Beginning of the End', where Peter Graves has to save Chicago from the army of mutant giant grasshoppers." I doubt that would come to the mind of any other Report writer.
Breast count of this post: zero

I've been a fan of drive-in film boffin and humour columnist Joe Bob Briggs for a while now, but I wouldn't agree with his arguments in his latest column that Christ was completely apolitical. Yes, Christ was only incidentally political ("Render unto Caesar..."), but Mr. Briggs would see in his Bible that the Romans only crucified Christ when the Jewish leaders politicized the situation by making the threat to Pilate that anyone who spared Jesus would be "no friend of Caesar."

Even the most innocent of Christ's teachings can be seen as political, depending on whose ox is gored by them.
I have post-Chretien traumatic disorder :)

This Wall Street Journal column spoofs the tendency to apply post-traumatic stress disorder to everything, even the slavery of your dead ancestors.
When Chickens Attack, tonight on Fox

Some stories that I thought you might be interested in...

A U.S. town is being attacked by chickens. US ballerina Leigh Zimmerman has set a new record for consecutive ballet twirls . "I've got the world's longest tongue" says this 12 year old German girl. Check out the pictures...she's a female Gene Simmons.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

"I'm sorry, sir, you will have to fill out that deposit slip in human blood."

Envision Financial (www.envision.ca) is a credit union with most of its branches in B.C.'s Fraser Valley "Bible Belt". That makes the credit union's current newspaper ad campaign (which I wish I could link to somehow, but only the dull corporate stuff is online) all the more odd. In one ad, they pose the question "Do they demand a sacrifice?" and then the ad copy assures readers that Envision has friendly staff with lots of services. However, it is illustrated by a photo of a man in a teller line-up carrying a goat!

The other ad that I have seen is also peculiar. It asks the question "What about the wierd secret meetings?" The answer assures readers that although a customer feared an "initiation ritual" or a "spooky gathering" where financial secrets would be passed on, all will be well. The photo is of a goateed man, dressed all in black (think Dieter, the "Sprockets" character from Saturday Night Live). The man has odd marks painted in his face, and is glaring in diabolic fashion at the camera.

I guess the Illuminati must be slipping up. ( :) )
A virtual home town

Grant Montgomery of Osoyoos B.C. has come up with an interesting idea that other former residents of company towns will probably emulate if they haven't already done so. Mr. Montgomery grew up in Kemano, a fomer Alcan company town in northern B.C. When Alcan closed up shop there, the entire town--which was only for employees, their families or a small amount of people who were providing essential services--was burnt to the ground. Mr. Montgomery, however, has come up with a Virtual Kemano, B.C. where former residents can meet through e-mail, share stories and look at photos.

I've had a quick look on the 'net, and some of the Canadians who grew up at the base in Lahr, Germany have a Lahr Revisited virtual home town too.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Cheerleader yells: "Go Milkmen!" "Go Milkmaids!"

I'm glad, in one small way, that I didn't attend Cowichan Secondary School. According to a recent Cowichan Valley Citizen story on a ham radio program there, the school's nickname is "Cow High"!

Ambient Music

Kevin Michael Grace seems to be listening to music all the time, as he often posts lyrics from songs he listens to.

This started me thinking about how people work to music. Ever since my college days I have found that I sometimes find English lyrics to be distracting when I am trying to intensely concentrate on something. Foreign languages don't seem to affect me the same way. So, when I am trying to write, I sometimes listen to classical music, opera, or big band music. (On my turntable for the time being: Glenn Miller: A Memorial).

Perhaps The Mozart Effect works on adults too. But how would other people then be able to successfully listen to music that is very distracting (such as punk, heavy rock, etc.) when they are trying to work? I guess that it all depends on what you become used to listening to when you are younger.
How do you say "Yo Mama!" in Italian?

Dave Stevens has some amusingly helpful advice if you want to go to a European country and get punched in the face.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Who needs lights when you have a boxful of bras?

Memo to my parents: Be glad that Juan Gato didn't offer to help decorate the Christmas tree. Funny post though, Juan.
The best game I never saw

James Marsh of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman (sorry, no direct link to his piece) devoted part of a recent column to the 1962 "Fog Bowl" Grey Cup. Thanks to him!

(He begins)

"Likely the weirdest Grey Cup game took place in Toronto on Saturday December 1 and Sunday Dec. 2, 1962 -- the infamous Fog Bowl. As the game progressed into the second quarter, the fog rolled in from the cool waters of Lake Ontario like mustard gas over a battlefield. The Toronto Star reported the 'Metro air was fouler than ever recorded . . . sulphur and muck, trapped in a layer of stagnant air show levels 10-times higher than normal.'"

"The fog caused several deaths, chaotic traffic and a crime wave."

...."The players also lost sight of the ball when it was airborne. In the second half, Hamilton's Joe Zuger threw a touchdown pass to Dave Viti."

"'I threw it up in the air into the fog,' he said later, 'and I don't know how he saw it coming down.' Punt returners could hear the ball being kicked, but could not locate it until they heard it hit the ground.'

"'You'd run over to pick it up,' said Henley, 'and you could see bodies coming at you, but you could only see them from the knees down.'"

"For CFL commissioner Sydney Halter the game was a nightmare. He visited the field several times, peered into the mist and declared that visibility was not that bad. Finally, with nine minutes and 29 seconds left, he stopped the game and announced it would have to be completed the next day."

"....The game resumed the following day as the fog lifted. Hamilton moved the ball well but failed to score and Winnipeg won its fourth championship in five years. Former Eskimo great Jackie Parker, who drove 17 hours from his home in Tennessee to watch the game, summed it up: 'That was the best ball game I never saw.'"