Monday, June 30, 2003

Princess Diana, undead zombie

The Guardian reports on Peter Milligan, a British comic writer who has made the late Princess Diana a "resurrected mutant zombie" in one of his comics.

In the new strip, Di Another Day, the X-Statix posse save the mutant Di from "a nasty crew of mutant Euro-trash dead set on sending her back where she came from".

British newspapers, such as the Daily Mail, are shocked and appalled.
Hepburn, RIP

Movieblog's take on the career of Katharine Hepburn as a Hollywood iconoclast, not a "screen goddess", is intriguing.
Par-tay

Right We Are! is starting to compile some party recipes for Dominion Day...although for some reason they will be celebrating on the 4th. ;)

The first recipe is a yummy sounding dip.
Cue shower scene music from Psycho

The online Guardian asks Would you survive a teen slasher movie?:

...Certain characters are for the chop. A lucky few will stay the course. But which category do you fall into, and which character do you play? Answer the following questions and see if you would survive Guardian Unlimited Film Bloodbath...

My results:

You scored 3
Sole survivor. We've followed your adventures from start to finish, from the opening murder (you watched it from the window) through to the massacre at the prom through to your climactic showdown with the killer (your mad high-school principal) atop the old bell tower. Congratulations - you've made it. Your reward is top-billing in Film Unlimited Bloodbath II, plus a lifetime in therapy.


I knew all those psycho killer movies I saw in my teens would come in useful someday! Thanks, Mom! :)


Yes, sell the Report

AR alumnus and Edmonton Sun columnist Michael Jenkinson also thinks that the Byfields should be open to selling The Report:

I've never believed the generally accepted wisdom that permeated the magazine's culture that there was simply no way Alberta Report would ever make money because it was too controversial and advertisers wouldn't go near it.

Because the flip-side of that argument is to believe that a right-wing magazine couldn't make a profit in Alberta. And I find that very hard to believe.

Indeed, I submit that if the Byfields would be willing to sell the rights to the Alberta Report name to someone else with a solid business plan, there's no reason why the magazine couldn't continue being the unique voice on the right that it was for so many years.


However, I do disagree with him about one thing. One of the reasons that the Report went national and changed its name was to keep the readers that it had won from B.C. Report, who might have had a hard time subscribing to an Alberta Report. Perhaps in 1999, the magazine should have reverted to being "Alberta Report" in Alberta and being called "Western Report" (with exactly the same content) in the rest of the country.

Another factor, in retrospect, would have been "How can we get the money to keep all the extra reporters and publish every second week?" Did the Byfields really have the money to do this and just not realize it? I don't know, so I will leave that for others to answer.
.
"....You owned a home Beta video recorder..."

A list from the US VH1 channel: You're an 80s Child If...
Blogs with a bullet

From Online Journalism Review: Bloggers Rate the Most Influential Blogs

Happy reading...

Sunday, June 29, 2003

I like a bit of tea with my milk and sugar

Colby Cosh discusses the ongoing controversy on how to make the perfect cup of tea. Does the milk/cream go in first or last?

I was taught to do milk-first for far more pedestrian reasons than the ones that Colby outlines.

If I put in the sugar, and then the tea, I sometimes put in slightly too much tea. Then, when I add the milk, the mixture reaches the top of the cup with the tea too strong. Then you have to pour out a little of the tea-milk mix and add more milk, causing a waste. Doing milk first avoids this mistake. Usually.

I'm sure that my parents are pros at this process (India's biggest tea customers are Scotland and my mother) but as I am a bit of a tea amateur, that's what I do.
Don't mourn The Report?

Ted Byfield is right, in one sense, to not mourn The Report in his Edmonton Sun column today. He notes that he fielded many calls from friends who thought he would be very sad:

....But the brutal fact was that I didn't feel all that bad about it.

After all, nothing this side of the Kingdom of God lasts forever. At least 25 Alberta magazines have come and gone in that 30 years. Newspapers, too, are scarcely eternal. Where are the old Calgary Albertan, the Edmonton Bulletin, the Winnipeg Tribune? Even great nations expire. Anybody visited the Roman Empire lately?


Ted is right in one sense. The values that he has espoused for years will have value and meaning after The Report dies.

However, this writer below points out that Canadian journalism from a faith-conscious perspective is still needed:

It is commonly claimed nowadays that Christianity is no longer relevant in the discussion of pressing public issues, but this contention is the precise reverse of the facts. For what are the hot-button issues now before the country? Let's name a few: terms of marriage and divorce, parental rights, origins and importance of human life, human cloning, freedom to publicly express a moral viewpoint, the justice of war, the content of school science curricula, the appropriate scope of social welfare, man's relation to his environment, and on and on.

At the very core of each of these issues a traditional viewpoint collides, often sharply, with what advances itself as a more modern one, and the Christian faith inevitably underlies the traditional. Innovation in all these areas therefore involves the rejection of some aspect of Christianity, yet the defence of the position on purely Christian grounds is rarely undertaken.


It sounds like Ted Byfield is advocating the creation of something like The Report in his
National Post op-ed of a couple of days ago.

Unless, of course, there is no need for Canadian social conservative journalists to write on these issues any more.

One could argue that position papers, for example, could replace The Report quite easily. But, eternal issues of faith have often needed to be brought into a modern context to help people understand that in a moral sense, the more that society changes the more that it stays unchanged when it comes to the deepest matters of the human condition. Using news is a way to remind people that while the circumstances of life may change, the central moral issues that all people address do not.

Faith-conscious journalism is not the only, or even necessarily the best, tool in the toolbox. But you can't fault Canadian conservatives for wanting to still use it.

This raises an issue. Many pundits are wondering whether some kind of Canadian conservative magazine can work when "fiscal conservatives" are leery of "Holy Roller" or "Bible thumped types."

I think such a magazine can work. I will explain how in a future post.
I Accuse The Byfields....The Report movie

Kevin Michael Grace is making fun tongue-in-cheek casting suggestions for the movie version of The Report that you may see here. He thinks that Jared Harris should play me, which is a good choice. Mr. Harris does have some facial resemblance to me.

I think, however, that we should count our blessings. Given all the media and weblog reminiscing about The Report's alleged wackiness, it's a good thing that this didn't happen 60 years ago during the last days of the exploitation films. These were cheap quickie films catering to the lowest impulses of film viewers. For a quick mental image, the infamous Reefer Madness is an exploitation film.

With all the media and weblog tales of pot merchants, "insane" editors and brain-surgery-dogs that are swirling around, perhaps a quickie exploitation movie would be the best way to handle the story. Either that or something that would be shown on Showcase as Canadian content. Or an ABC After School Special.

The end of our magazine is being made to sound like something that would have been dubbed, oh, I Accuse The Byfields, a tawdry tale of journalists gone wrong, back in the day.

(Exploitation film makers reused everything (Stock footage? Try "stock mileage"), so the filmmakers may have used a variant of the title from I Accuse My Parents, one of my favourite B-movies with exploitation overtones.)

As much as we Report alumni might hope to at least get a Roger Corman to direct such a film, we would probably be stuck with an Edward D. Wood Jr.. I'm suddenly glad that no one wore angora in our office.

It's good to see that Kevin is trying to have some fun after all that has happened to us. Good for him.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Blooper of the day

Thanks to Charles Stough's Newsgorilla for spotting a howler:

THANKS FOR THE CORRECTION, WASHINGTON POST. "The last name of National Spelling Bee winner Sai R. Gunturi was misspelled in a May 30 KidsPost article and on the front-page promo and caption.".

His weblog is uniformly fine. Please visit it.
Link Byfield: The Report can be replaced.
Interim editor: By us. Thanks!


Two interesting nuggets in LifeSite's story on the death of The Report.

Canadian social conservatives don't need a print periodical as badly as they used to, argues Link Byfield:

Link Byfield, who took over the magazine from his father, told LifeSite today that "especially for pro-life people it is a blow, I think we had a very useful function. So that's a shame." "But," he said, "they have an awful lot of new media they didn't have like LifeSite News, it's not as thought they lost access to information."

Oh yes they do need something in print, says the editor of The Interim, who knows a market--thousands of paying subscribers who used to get The Report--when he sees it:

Interim editor Paul Tuns told LifeSite "The Left is doing cart-wheels, giddy that the proudly redneck publication has been silenced."....

....Adding that, "People hungry for moral and social conservative news and commentary in dead tree form (on paper), subscribe to The Interim, Canada's life and family newspaper, edited by none other than yours truly. We cover abortion, euthanasia, the gay-rights agenda, feminism, educational choice, judicial activism and religious freedom, among other issues."



Charlie McCarthy: "I have here in my hand a list of 57 card-carrying Communists in the State Department...."

The ladies on The View were eager to condemn Senator Eugene McCarthy for his superpatriotism until Ann Coulter corrected them. If this intrigues youRight We Are! has posted a transcript of the recent program featuring the exchange.
The new "Joan of Arc" ?!?!

Expect conservatives worldwide to start swooning over Sabine Herold, a 21 year old college student who is leading protests against French trade unions' efforts to block conservative government reforms. The Telegraph is besotted, as the newspaper gave her a red-caret tour of right-leaning London. Here's a photo and story.

Thanks to the vacationing Instapundit for the link. No, he's not made a beeline for France.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Report post-mortems watch

Ted Byfield, notes Licia Corbella in today's Edmonton Sun (sorry, not online), is philosophical about the death of his old magazine. Here's the gist of what he said:

"It's always been a borderline operation at best," he says with a chuckle, "and it was sinking too far below the borderline, so when it actually happened it didn't surprise me much.

"As society has changed radically, the magazine didn't change, it just kept asserting the same things it had 30 years ago. The effect was to make it look more stridently right, but the magazine never changed, what changed was society. That was eventually going to do it in, and it did," he adds, almost brightly......


and

But, surely he's sad? "No," he says, bluntly. "Look, there's no such thing as permanence ... this side of the kingdom of heaven anyway. You don't like to see something like this happen, but at the same time you never really expect anything to last forever."

Meanwhile, in the Globe and Mail opinions differ on what the end of The Report signifies. This story implies that the death of the magazine is bad news for Canadian magazines in general. Eric Reguly reports on his days at the Alberta Report Calgary bureau, which he describesamusingly. The newspaper's editorial on the death of magazine, although critical, offers some gracious words too.

The Vancouver Sun does regret that the magazine shut down but today's editorial chastens the magazine for being too conservative, not growing with the times, blah, blah, blah. Well, I'm looking forward to the Byfield response to this and I'm confident that some of my Report blogosphere colleagues will address it.

Readers of Alberta's alternative news and entertainment papers should keep an eye out for these items that aren't online. Calgary's Fast Forward Weekly does a small story with no quotes explaining what happened while Edmonton's See Magazine reprints some of its favorite Report quotes from the past. Colby Cosh may want to fetch a copy because he is on their list.

P.S. Link for those who have read Kevin Steel's blog entry today. When Kevin first used the phrase "Where are the helicopters?" in conversation, I thought he was referring to when the North Vietnamese took Saigon in 1975 and Americans and their friends had to be evacuated by helicopter. I said this to Kevin and he laughed and told me the story you've read.

I would sometimes call Kevin to see what he had heard about how the magazine was doing. (It's just a matter of place--Kevin worked in Edmonton where the head office was, and I didn't.) We would try to figure out how our own prospects would pan out, and I would often let him go by saying "Enough joy and frivolity. I'll talk to you soon."
"I hate Illinois Nazis."

The New York Daily News is reporting that some very confused Jews in Israel areNazis. Very odd.

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle for the link.

Thanks

I have thought about it, and I think it appropriate to write a few thank yous for my 11 and a half years with Report magazines.

The reason that I argue so passionately that something like The Report is necessary is partly due to my own story. I first entered journalism during my days at The Ubyssey, the student newspaper at the University of British Columbia. I won't go into it in any detail, but The Ubyssey was a very liberal place back then, so when I started to ease towards working for British Columbia Report I enjoyed being able to work and learn in a newsroom full of like minds.

I'd like to say thanks to Ted and Virginia Byfield for patiently working with me. I hope that someone picks up the vision of what they created. I am glad that I was able to help them to do what they have done in a small way.

I respect Link Byfield as well. Although I disagree with him in the post below, that doesn't lessen my gratitude for our good working relationship.

When British Columbia Report was folded into The Report in the fall of 1999, I wish that more attention had been paid to the good work that the sister magazine to AR had done. Our readership was overwhelmingly located outside of the Lower Mainland, so the Vancouver media never really understood how helpful B.C. Report, and it's editor, Terry O'Neill, was to the conservative cause in B.C..

I owe Terry extra thanks for his unfailing work to develop me as a reporter. My future bosses will be grateful for his patience with me.

I also thank Kevin Michael Grace for his patience-of-Job labours with me when I worked in the same newsroom as he did.

I never did work in the Edmonton newsroom. I have tales of my own about the Vancouver office, but Alberta Report must also have been a fun place to work.

That I am thankful for my continuing relationship with my Report Blogosphere colleagues goes without saying. Except I just did. Rats.
Why not sell The Report?

David Frum has eulogized The Report in his online diary at The Corner.

Mr. Frum raises an interesting point that I would like to comment on myself: This exploitive relationship has taught Albertans to look at the doings of the Canadian federal government with more skepticism than any other group of Canadians. And it was this skepticism that the Report powerfully expressed - and forwarded. For the Report was more than a magazine: It was the vanguard of a movement. The Report midwifed the Reform party, which
became the Canadian Alliance, which is today Canada's official
opposition.


I would go further than Mr. Frum does. The West's discontent with Ottawa extends beyond Alberta. I came to work indirectly for the Byfields through my five years on staff at the Vancouver-based sister magazine of Alberta Report, British Columbia Report. In the 1990s, "B.C. Report" had thousands of conservative subscribers of its own. The various incarnations
of The Report had many subscribers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The fact that these magazines were at one time a Western Canadian and not just an Alberta phenomenon implies that many conservative concerns that The Report expressed were shared across the West.

Mr. Frum hints at something that I experienced during my last years as a contributor to the magazine. Especially in its last incarnation as the Citizens Centre Report, I would argue that The Report was evolving into Canada's version of National Review, albeit in fits and starts. In the last few months, we were taking indepth looks at policy questions with no hard news peg, such as a cover story on the thinkers that
made Canada the non-conservative nation that it is today and an entire issue devoted to the subject of "Reconfederation"--reopening and renegotiating the Canadian constitution. We still did non-political coverage, but we were also beginning to take the sort of long perspective on the changes that are affecting our country that National Review often adopts for the U.S..

Canada badly needs a National Review-type of magazine for the right. My concern with the Citizens Centre Foundation for Freedom and Democracy's decision to just kill the magazine is this--we had a magazine that could have become our NR. Now, whomever wants to start the Canadian version of
National Review will have to start from scratch.

Writers of the Report's obituaries may be celebrating the alleged
"wackiness" of the Byfield clan, but at least they tried to do something that Canadian conservatives have talked about doing for years. The Byfields acted while fiscal conservatives sat around saying "Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if we had a national conservative magazine...."

I have lots of respect for Link Byfield, who was the magazine's last owner as the guiding force behind the Citizens Centre Foundation. So, I hope that he won't take offense that I am disagreeing with him in public. I wish that he had sold the magazine instead of folding it, even if doing so would have meant that I was sacked by the new owners.

The history of National Review illustrates a different way that the
long-term future of The Report could have been handled. William F. Buckley Jr. realized that his son Christopher wanted to be a writer and editor, but he did not insist that the future of National Review be placed in his hands. Instead, Mr. Buckley looked for ideological children of his who could also guide the future of the magazine. That way, Chris Buckley had the freedom to decide what was the best way for him to help the conservative movement and National Review could have a long-term future no matter what Chris Buckley did.

The Report's end suggests that a lot of pressure was put on the second generation of Byfields to keep the vision alive. It led to a situation where either the magazine was published *or* the foundation was freed to do its important work.

Am I suggesting that Link Byfield should never have taken editorial or financial control of the magazine? No. He was a passionate editor and publisher for many years and others could have failed ignobly and not continued the magazine's good work as long as Link did. But, I do think that the Byfields should have considered a possible post-Byfield future for the magazine.

In a CBC Newsworld interview on Tuesday, Link Byfield expressed a lot of frustration with recent Canadian history. In the 30 years that he has been covering Canadian politics there has been setback after setback for Canadian conservatives. Understandably, he wants to concentrate on the work of his foundation and use seminars, position papers and advertising to create conservatives from scratch and not just write for the traditionalists we do have. Thinking of the very-long term is a wise thing for his foundation to do. It also makes sense for Link Byfield, wanting to leave his own legacy for the future through the foundation. I hope that it does well.

I hope that Canadians rally behind the Citizens Centre and what it will try to do. Link Byfield is right in thinking that that work is very important. But my concern is that although the foundation has decided to move on, there are some conservatives who want to join the battle in an old-fashioned way by continuing what the Byfields led in doing for so many years. The Centre should help and not hinder them.

I wish that the Byfields had considered that our magazine was a
"movement" business and not just a "family business". Folding The Report, if there are no other conservative Canadian magazines to take its place, is a decided blow to the conservative movement. I would respectfully suggest that although the second generation of Byfields have decided for very valid reasons to turn to what they see as as more profitable methods, that they let someone else have a go at making The Report succeed or let new owners buy whatever's left of the Report's resources to start something new.

I admit that this is a bit of a personal issue for me. Yes, I lost my job, but I think that I would be sad for other reasons too. I regret that other conservative Canadian journalists will lose the opportunity that I had to learn and work in a newsroom where you don't have to forsake your convictions on deadline.

There are other Canadian conservatives who want to carry on the Byfield tradition of conservative journalism. It may be a little different from what the Byfields did for so many years, but I would suggest that that's okay.

Please let them try.


Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Darn, I wanted to be Tobit ;o)

You are Ephesians
You are Ephesians.


Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The Report's end updated

The end of The Report got some coverage today.

The best place to start is the CBC online news page because there's an eight minute audio interview (taken from the CBC Newsworld story this morning) with the magazine's former owner, Link Byfield, available for viewing on the website. Just click on the link at the top right hand side of the page linked above.

You may also read online coverage from CBC Calgary and the Canadian Press story that ran in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.

The CBC National News did a story last night (sorry no link) as did the local CBC news in Edmonton. Broadcast News (Canada's national radio news service) did a short story and an update (sorry no link).

A National Post story, by Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal, is interesting as it is her affectionate look back at her days at Alberta Report in the late 1980s. Although today she is quite liberal, she writes that it was important for something like AR to exist and that she learned a lot there. Ditto, says me.

Speaking of the National Post, here's a report from the pro-life site Lifesite analyzing the paper's recent coverage of abortion and other social issues. In recent months, the site argues, the paper has become much more socially liberal. Well, I hope that pro-lifers find some Canadian print outlet that will give them a fair break.

Jeremy Lott is starting to flesh out some of his thoughts on the death of The Report. He seems not to be happy that the magazine was euthanized, not at all.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Ohhhmmmmm!

Weblogger The Gospel According to Mark has come across some Dutch scientific articles which discuss ways that human levitation may be possible.

Time to practice my Yogic flying. Bounce, bounce, bounce....
Damian Penny marks The Report's end:

"....Geez. At this rate, the only conservative publications left in Canada will be the Sun papers."
Saskatchewan?

HASH(0x87e2124)
You're Saskatchewan. Your life can get a little
boring-or is that a matter of perspective? Some
others would view it as dull while you would
view it simply as a slower pace of life, the
kind you like. You approach life cautiously and
are infinitely patient. You're not hooked on
the latest trends and prefer tradition to rapid
change. You have simple tastes and are not
extravagant.


What Canadian Province Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Enter Stage Right weighs in

...with warm fuzzies directed towards The Report's staff. There's comments too. Amongst them...Jeremy Lott thinks that ESR could soon become the intellectual standard-bearer of the Canadian right and Colby Cosh is supposed to be the next Mark Steyn
The attack on the so-cons begins

Noted in passing...

Blogger Jay Currie attributes the demise of The Report to the alleged inherent problem that Canadians have with social conservatism. If Canadians won't pay for these ideas to be printed, therefore there is something inherently wrong with the ideas. (It's an idea that Frank, for one, noted the last time that they took pot shots at the magazine.)

I won't address this here, aside from noting that I hope, for his own sake, that Link Byfield has some good responses ready when reporters and columnists start to make this argument.

Update: Ian King's The Vancouver Scrum is someone else making the "if-conservatism-is-so-great-why-did-the-Report fold" point:

"My goodness -- it appears that the magazine that promoted the primacy of the free market in matters economic (and some sort of conservative Protestantism in matters social) has been given the middle finger by Adam Smith's invisible hand."

He adds that The Report shouldn't have turned its back this year on the federal government postal subsidy offered to all Canadian periodicals.

Second update: Jay Curriewrites again, at some length, on what he thinks is needed to placate the "urban conservative" with subscription and advertising dollars which can fund a new national Canadian conservative magazine. The nub of his argument: "The trick is to leave the social conservatives...to sink in the tar pit of their own irrelevance."


Reason readers on The Report's demise

Reason's weblog, and its readers in the comment section, are having a look at The Report's death. Some interesting debate there.
"The Report died...because the management...wanted it to die"

Jeremy Lott is being a little skeptical about the death of the magazine. He's already working on freelancing something on it! He's amazing.

Meanwhile, my colleague Kevin Steel is being a bit more philosophical about things, having expected the death watch for some time.

Thought of the day

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."

--Mel Brooks

(Which is just to say to my patient readers...I will try to maintain a proper perspective on all this and return to my normal blogging pattern soon.)
Der Byfielddammerung

Of course, I am sad about losing my job, but I am saving this headline in case I want to comment on the further implications of the end of the Citizens Centre Report. Life interferes, however, and I need to get my dryer fixed.

Update to follow...?
The Report "blogosphere" on the end of the magazine

Colby Cosh gives a quick notice about what has happened. If I can make a request for him, he can use the PayPal help you can offer.

Kevin Michael Grace hinted that something was amiss on Sunday.
The Report, RIP

The conservative Canadian magazine Citizens Centre Report which has published for thirty years--most notably as Alberta Report and its sister magazine B.C. Report--has been killed off...

Colby has the essentials of what's happened in his weblog, but as a service to other bloggers, here is the full text of the press release:

[press release begins]

Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy

News Release

Embargo: 10 AM, June 23, 2003

Citizens Centre Shifts Emphasis From Publishing To Advocacy

EDMONTON--Changes are taking place at the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, the non-profit organization that earlier this year acquired ownership of the Edmonton-based The Report magazine.

When we launched the Citizen's Centre last fall, we set out to redefine the role of The Report and at the same time establish a long-term advocacy role for our new organization", said Link Byfield, Citizens Centre chairman and long-time publisher of The Report.

"Today we are announcing the next step in our transition from magazine to movement."

"Over the past several months, we have sought advice from our donors and supporters about which is more urgently needed, a general newsmagazine or an aggressive agenda for constructive change for Canada and the West."

"The answer we consistently received is that people enjoyed the magazine, but even more want to bring about change. On a survey of thousands, they told us they are troubled about one thing: The undemocractic centralization of power in the hands of the prime minister and the courts."

"There are also financial considerations. Although The Report magazine is thirty years old, it has not been profitable over time. And after the Citizens Centre acquired ownership earlier this year, the first thing we did was turn down a $360,000 federal grant fore which the previous owners had applied and which they had received on an annual basis." (Several hundred Canadian magazines receive annual editorial and postal subsidies from Ottawa.)

In light of these financial considerations and what our members are telling us, we will cease publication of The Report. In future the organization will issue a regular newsletter and periodic special reports on policy questions.

"This was a tough decision," said Byfield. "Our family feels a tremendous gratitude to those many subscribers who have enabled The Report to get its message out for the past three decades. But with this, we open a new chapter."

Byfield explained that the decision posistions the Citizens Centre as an advocacy and education group rather than a publisher. "It means we can focus all our attention on where the West and Canada should go in the next decade--a mission that our members and supporters have clearly stated to be worthwhile."

(Contact info for Link Byfield that I am not including)

[press release ends]

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The worst soccer team ever

I've often wondered what the worst-ever soccer team is (or as you non-North Americans might put it, "What is the worst football side (or team) ever?" So, recently I had a boo around the internet to see what I could find.

To begin with, I had once read in passing that Accrington Stanley used to have a reputation for eternally taking the wooden spoon back in the days that they played in English football. However, now all I can find is the website of the now spiffy semi-pro/amateur club of the same name.

Perhaps if I asked nicely, some English soccer fans who read this weblog could let us know why Accrington Stanley was supposed to be so bad. Did they have lots of players with the turning radius of a North Sea oil tanker? Anyways assistance, or your own opinions, would be most welcome.

Let's start our investigation with the The Offical Real Ale Sociedad Club. This squad is a St. Andrews University in Scotland intramural team, and boasts (?) that it has never won a game against a squad that had all 11 men play. They lost all their nine games in one season a few years ago and gave up 45 goals. Says the website: Prospective candidates for players should enquire to the author, and should not be concerned about their elligibility if, for example, they live in Fiji. Absence from matches has not prevented such greats as Sandy and Rob from being integral members of the squad. One player is described this way: "Left-winger of boundless enthusiasm, whose playing-for-the-jersey attitude would have endeared him to the fans had there been any.

And then there's Dunmow F.C., which modestly claims to be the "worst football team in Britain". Although...their coverage of their 2001 season starts with a win, which is never a good omen for this sort of thing. (The other team showed up and didn't forfeit!). As of when the site was last updated, they were playing .500 soccer. Also, they finished second from last in their division the previous year. No, this will not do. But...they had a perfect record of 20 loses in the 1999-2000 season, scoring only 16 goals and giving up 150 before their failed by starting to win. Notes a story from the Herts & Essex Observer, which you read in full here: "Their cause was done few favours by the team's player manager, Simon Gypps, who scored a staggering 16 own goals!" (goals on his own net)

A better candidate for worst ever soccer side is probably Scot FC, a Bletchley amateur team which had a sterling 1 win, 31 loss record, scoring 24 goals and conceding 190. They are profiled in this
article, which has pictures, TV also did a piece on them.

A team with a very slightly better record is the Green Giants. Over nine seasons, the Nottingham amateur team has a 14-92-3 record. One regular player is described this way: "He is distinguished from other regular players in that he has not forgotten everything that he has learnt about football except for how to balance on his feet."

What adds to their bid for the coveted title of worst team ever is their tactics page. It illustrates how your own team can go out in a blaze of inglory. For example, here is their description of how to defend when the other team has a free kick. The page on their website has a helpful diagram too:

"Fig 1: Giants players either congregate on the ball or waddle slowly around trying to gravitate towards each other

Fig 2: Giants Player 1 passes the ball to Opposition Player 1

Fig 3: Opposition Player 1 takes advantage of the general confusion by running up pitch and slotting it past the Giants’ stunned keeper."


The Heidless Chickens, another Sunday league squad, holds the distinction of losing one game 25-3.

Of course, there are non-British teams bidding for the honour of wresting the anti-World Cup. How about Guvno FC of Perth, Western Australia. Their website from a few years ago displays a wry humour: ....Guvno players and supporters were shocked to turn up for their weekly game on Thursday, only to find that they had been promoted to Division Five for the remainder of the season.

I think, though, that my favourite bad soccer team is probably the The Pathetic Sharks of Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, who were immortalized in a TV documentary. Although they finished second from last, they do have a noble history of lovable ineptitude. I'll look forward to when their multimedia page is up and running again. There's lots of dross posted there amongst the gold.

Do you have any nominees of your own? Please let me, and us, know by using my e-mail in the About section at left. Links to websites would be appreciated.
"Answer unclear, fascist"

Follow the link for politically incorrect fun....

"Behold the amazing
Hysterical Liberal Magic Infinity Ball

Simply ask a complicated political question and
click on the ball for the hysterical liberal's answer."

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Monster dance hits

Raymondo has a selection of cool and cheezy monster records from the 1960s for you to look at. You can even listen to snippets of things like Zacherle's cover of the Monster Mash here.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Taxing sheep farts

After signing the Kyoto accord, the New Zealand government has levied a tax on farmers because their animals pass wind in a way that might threaten the ozone layer. The tax will help pay for global warming research.

Thanks to the vigilant Tim Blair.
Agent Orange found dumped in gravel pit

Here's a very unusual story that I can't directly link to, but as I write you can find the direct link to the story at the Vanderhoof Omineca Express website.

Jeffrey Hodson's story starts like this...

Environmental contractors working for the Ministry of Transportation and Highways unearthed 12 old fuel drums near the Mapes gravel pit, a 20-minute drive east of Vanderhoof [B.C.].

The drums contained a combination of two chemicals: 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)—a combination of chemicals that is better known by the monicker: Agent Orange—a herbicide and defoliator used heavily by the American military in the Vietnam War....

"Scary" stories can be good for kids

So argues a recently published doctoral dissertation that you may read about here. Lots of good things are built into spine-tingling tales that help children learn and grow.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Breathing is good

HOORAY!!!!
Oxygen! OMG!!! You're actually a NICE person! If it
weren't for exceptions like you, some of us
would have given up on the human race a long
time ago! Too bad there's not a lot of you out
there...


What Element (heh, heh...) Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Bill O'Reilly, a prophet

Bill O'Reilly, in an online column, says that news anchors should feel free to editorialize:

"....the good old days when the Brinkleys, the Cronkites and even Tom, Dan and Peter could simply introduce stories in measured tones are coming to an end....

Can you imagine Peter Jennings pointing his finger demanding that President Bush come clean about weapons of mass destruction?

Can you picture Tom Brokaw pounding his desk and chiding Hillary for writing a book full of propaganda?

It is hard to imagine but wouldn't you like to see it?"


In a word, no. The news media, by and large, tends to be quite liberal. It seems to me that without standards of "professionalism", such as trying to be respectful when you speak to people, liberal bias would go nuts.

Mr. O'Reilly has to know what would happen. Liberals would tee off on conservatives, and conservatives teeing off on the "wrong" person or cause would rarely make it to air.

No reporter is unbiased, but they can make efforts to be fair in what they do. Their deportment is part of this.

If you also have concerns about this idea, it will dishearten you to know that Walter Cronkite has announced plans to start a syndicated column.
Chicken Little was right

Canada's federal government has decided to legalize gay marriage following a Ontario court ruling. Our Prime Minister is promising that there will be safeguards put in to protect religious freedoms but some are worried about the precedent this sets.

For good reason, as Kevin Steel shows. Only five years ago, in the Vriend case, various political figures were saying that this case--which involved the right of an Edmonton religious school to not hire the gay Mr. Vriend on moral grounds--would never lead as a precedent to anything as socially radical as legalized gay marriage.

Well, the sky isn't falling, it already fell.
"The string in my leg...it's gone"

Any blogger who calls himself Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, RAF (ret.) is worth a link in my book:Across the Atlantic. His top 100 facts about himself is kind of interesting, especially this one:

37. I was briefly a suspect (before the post mortem) in the death of a close friend.....
She slipped something in your pocket....hmmmmm

Tales from a Yeti Suit is wondering whether the lady he met in a bar really likes him or is thinking "Dance, Monkey, Dance". Perhaps you could have a read and try to give him some sage advice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

We need more bagpipes

A team of researchers has constructed what they believe to be the most popular and least popular pieces of music that could ever be written. See an introduction to their findings here.
Frane Selak update

The Croatian man who survived all those potentially fatal accidents has more luck that we thought. He's won a lottery.
Why do all TV shows eventually suck?

Problem: Why is it that so many television shows start off well and then begin, slowly yet inexorably, to suck as the years pass?
Answer: Good television never happens on purpose. It is always an accident, one which market forces will sooner or later correct.


This is how The Plaid Adder opens his theorizing on The Accidental Theory of Television. I don't agree with it as much as his other "crackpot theories" on the same page...but it made some sense to me.

Please read the whole thing and see what you think.
"....women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them but...they lack initiative in finding work themselves...."

This comes from an article explaining wartime hints on how to hire women...from 1943. They're sort of obnoxious even for the time and Snopes confirms that they are quite true.

Thanks to An American Aries, who spotted it.
Free trade football

Loosening protectionist rules has the sort of effects that the average reader of economics may not be able to forsee. For example, the Canadian Football League's decision to allow another import player on CFL rosters will probably lead, this story notes, to the end of the Canadian kicker/punter. There are just so many good American punters in U.S. colleges that CFL General Managers can turn to one of them instead of developing and training a Canadian kicker. That will mean the end of another Canadian Lui Passaglia or a Bob Cameron lasting for many years in the league, for better or ill.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Mr. O'Reilly cries "Go up, Baldhead!"

Noted in passing: Fox News boffin Bill O'Reilly slams the excesses of the evil Internet in his latest column. The Internet, starting with Lileks and Instapundit says, "It's clobberin' time!".

This is a bad idea. I'm reminded of a story about the Biblical prophet Elisha. Some kids from Bethel made fun of his lack of hair. ("Go up, baldhead!" in the New American Bible. 2 Kings, Chapter 2). Elisha cursed the kids and they were promptly mauled by two bears. Baiting the Internet, I would argue, is a similarly bad idea.

I am surprised, though, that a jouurnalist should call for regulation of the Internet. I'm sure that it's easy for Mr. O'Reilly to write that there should be crackdowns on the Internet, when you have an overtly conservative news network willing to hire him as a columnist and program host. As someone who believes that conservatives don't get a fair shake in the mainstream media, shouldn't Mr. O'Reilly be calling for a thousand conservative weblogs and websites to bloom?

One nice thing about the Internet is that it's self-publishing aspect allows the ideologicially devoted or somehow silenced to publish for no pay, if they are willing to go that route. Think, obviously, of Salaam Pax.

This not a right-left issue. Think of democracy advocates in Iran. It probably would now be very hard for communists or Maoists to start newspapers in many countries, so let's welcome them to the Internet in the meantime.

Monday, June 16, 2003

A funny Mountie

RCMP Constable Chris Swain writes the crime report in the Gold River Record newspaper. He's noted for a wry sense of humour in print, as noted in an admiring profile

One brief example of his work:

"What not to say to the nice police officer?" Today's answer? "Hold my beer while I get my drivers licence."

Sorry, although the paper has a website, it doesn't seem to post Const. Swain's column.

"Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine..."

A new report in the Canadian Journal of Surgery has found that Canadian surgeons sometimes operate on the wrong side of the body, including one case where a brain surgery team drilled into the wrong section of the skull.
Time for me to start getting my reps in

Should hot dog eating become an Olympic sport? The International Federation of Competitive Eating thinks so, and you can read the details here.

By the way, the eventual winner of the local hot dog eating contest mentioned in the linked story was Chris Eyre, who scarfed 14 wieners and buns in 12 minutes.
USA! USA!

My friend Jeremy compares his hits to Colby's Cosh's, and comes out the winner?!?!

Check it out.
Das Euro-blog

The European Community is thinking of bringing in new laws for European weblogs. Amongst the future
regulations...weblogs will have to allow compulsory right-of-reply space to people are organizations that have been criticized by the blogger.

Scary. Compulsory right-of-reply is the sort of thing that the Alberta Socreds of the 1930s tried to bring in with their disallowed as ultra vires "Accurate News and Information Act", the infamous "Press Gag Bill". Alberta's infamous law, which fortunately was never put into force, also featured compulsory naming of anonymous sources and other lovely non-freedom of the press provisos.

Update:A Small Victory thinks this is dumb too.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Greatest. Remote. Ever.

Here's a review of the Philips iPronto, the ultimate remote control. It only costs $1,500 US, but it can run "everything you need to comfortably watch TV and entertain yourself from the couch".

Bet the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons is first in line to buy one.
Robin Williams is not an isolationist

Fans of the comedian Robin Williams will be pleased to know that the e-mail list of foreign policy suggestions attributed to him--which include pulling the US Army back to North America, kicking out all adult foreign students and such--is not at all something he really believes in.

Snopes has the truth about this on the Urban Legends website.

It's all for the best. I don't think that Charles Lindbergh and Robin Williams would have got along....

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Oh, I get it, the Vampires are Democrats?!?

I get regular Google hits for "Republican Babes", so I decided to have a look at the site and see what's new. Well, they have decided that Sarah Michelle Gellar is a conservative hottie, and they have addded her to their pantheon of beautiful right-wingers.

Would the site owners be willing to humour me by answering the question "Why?" Is she known for doing or saying anything conservative?

Perhaps there is a missing episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that includes this exchange:

Buffy: "I'm going to drive this text of a flat tax bill right through your heart, Vampire!"
Vampire: "Look out, she's holding up a Cross of Gold!"


Update:. Okay...found this on the Internet. This is why she's "conservative":

National Rifle Association Fax Alert 9/10/99 ".... Showing honesty and common sense that is far too rare among NRA's critics in Hollywood, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of the hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer of the Warner Brothers Network, refused to blame firearms for the tragedy at Columbine High School in April of this year. In an interview published in the October 1999 issue of Teen People, Ms. Gellar, whom the magazine described as "the WB's hottest star," admits she "grew up around guns." She also said that she was taught not to touch them as a child. At the same time, she admits that it is impossible to fully comprehend what can lead to this sort of tragedy....."

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

There isn't power in a union

Jonah Goldberg is floating the idea of a trade association or union for weblogs. Yes, he seems to be kind of serious. Check it out, and send him some e-mail on the subject.

Since Mr. Goldberg works for a magazine that recently tried to purge paleocons from the right, let's just say that I am sceptical about the idea. I'd also bet dollars for doughnuts that there would be affirmative action-type calls for the "underrepresented" to get more hits based on their social status, etc.
Space pictures

The website for the Hubble Space Telescope has interesting pictures of deep space on their website.

There's wallpapers for your computer too.
Hide your gerbils and hamsters!

CNN reports that NBC is making another V miniseries about those sneaky lizard aliens. Those of you who came of age in the early to mid-1980s will remember the two previous miniseries that aired back then.

I recall that everyone at my school was talking about the first V miniseries the next day, particularly the scene when one of the female lizard characters ate a gerbil or hamster like it was a Twinkie, in one bite.

I bought my copy of the second V miniseries a few years ago at a thrift store that had a few boxes of videos that someone had taped off the air. It's particularly fun to watch because the mystery taper left in all the commercials, so you have commercials for 1983-84 cars and Bill Bixby selling the Commodore 64 computer. They left the tape running for the CTV National News for a few minutes, so there are stories about what "Prime Minister Trudeau" had done that day, etc. Fascinating stuff.

Monday, June 09, 2003

The last Beetle

Volkswagen has announced that it will stop making the last of its original rear-engine Beetles this summer. More details here.
Leslie Nielsen gets hungry too

"Actors will do anything for a free meal."

--Comedian Leslie Nielsen explains to Kelowna Daily Courier reporter
Ron Seymour why he agreed to speak at a recent fundraiser for the Okanagan
Film Commission.

P.S. Journalists will *cover* anything for a free meal. Or at least show up
for the press conference.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

They've got a little list

Status of Women Canada, a branch of the federal government, has compiled a list of "masculinist" writers on social issues. The list seriously argues that those who are sufficiently anti-feminist be charged with hate crimes. Columnist Ted Byfield is wondering why he isn't on the list, and explains why the Canadian government has better things to do than look for "deviationists".

Friday, June 06, 2003

Was the Roman emperor Caligula as crazy as they say?

The Straight Dope has the skinny on this. Surprise--the Guccione film is historically inaccurate!

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Lead paragraph most likely to make you double take

"What's that horrible smell?"

--Syndicated columnist Jim Mullen writes about a deer that stumbled into his driveway and dropped dead, in the latest Chetwynd Echo newspaper.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

For sale on eBay...a ghost

This guy has caught a really real poltergeist in a jar. The bidding with about 20 hours left is at $5,000 U.S.here.
Computer mouse of the Gods

An Edmonton Journal story on the history of the computer mouse notes that Canadians invented the trackball system that is the basis of the mouse in 1953. However, the earliest trackball system needed improvement as the ball for it was a regular size and weight five-pin bowling ball!

"Let me just click on that...Unggggh!"
Boffin bloggers

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a feature on academic bloggers here.

It notes:

A directory maintained by Henry Farrell, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, lists 93 "scholar-bloggers," most of whose blogs made their debuts during the past six months. (Almost all are in public policy, law, or the social sciences; only 14 of the blogs in Mr. Farrell's directory are by scholars in the humanities or natural sciences.)

I'm not looking forward to the first decontructionist blog: "I had a cheese sandwich for lunch. Of course, the sandwich was a signifying other in the sense that it was acted upon... [continues for 47 pages]"

Unsafe at any time, or speed?

I always wear my seatbelt. That said, there seems to be an odd lack of correlation between accident fatalities and the rising use of safety equipment in cars. Columnist Andrew Ferguson writes:

Traffic fatalities, per mile, are a fraction of what they were 50 years ago, for multiple reasons: better roads, safer cars, fewer drunk drivers -- and greater use of seat belts. Yet the cause-and-effect evidence is complicated.

Last year, for example, according to the American Automobile Association, U.S. seat belt use had its highest single-year increase in eight years. At the same time, traffic fatalities rose to their highest level since 1990, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
.

Jeremy Lott has a go at this subject too. You might find what he has to write interesting as well.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Spam worth opening

You may find Kathy Kinsley's Spam I'd open to be kind of funny. Perhaps not until after you kill the first 3,000 items of spam in your office in-box, but it will still be amusing.
Footy in Canada

Is there Australian rules football in Canada? Yes. Some expat Aussies and brave Canadians have taken up the sport and The Province reports that the latest B.C. Footy Cup tournament was recently played this past weekend. As the lengthy story explains, footy requires lots of fitness and skill.

I've always had an interest in Australian Rules Football since I was in Grade 9. That year, my social studies teacher went to Australia on an exchange and we got an Australian teacher--a Mr. Neill, I think his name was--who was a footy fan from one of the suburbs of Melbourne where they have all those teams. He explained all about how the game works and posted some Quantas tourism Grand Final (AFL championship game)posters with some guys "taking a mark", or colliding in midair in some kind of "jump ball" type thing. I remember being amazed that footy scores could get up to 147-124.

Does anyone remember the name of the Aussie rules football player who did the battery commercials a few years ago?

Monday, June 02, 2003

Jim Bakker: "I Was Wrong"...to leave television

Jim Bakker, reports Charisma News Service, is back on TV.

I hope that he has taken to heart a lot of the lessons that he has written that he learned about his sinful mistakes. His book is self-serving in several places, but it seems that God has taught him some good lessons. That said, I can imagine that some people are going to look askance at this paragraph from the above story:

But there are still financial struggles. "I had hoped I could do this without raising money on the air, but airtime is so expensive," Bakker said. "Many stations gave us a few months for free or at a reduced rate to get us started, but now we have to generate the money needed to keep us on the air."

I'm taking bets on how long this takes to get into a late night monologue. Well, at least Mr. Bakker is being honest.... *sigh*
Ten things he's learned from soap operas

Mitch at Gum for Thought has discovered many things he did know before after watching soap operas. Alas, Blogsport permalinks aren't working for him, so please scroll down to the entry "Ten things I learned from soap operas", if the above link doesn't take you there. Funny!

Thanks to Right We Are. Now with Vargas girls! :)

Sunday, June 01, 2003

And the H.W. Kaltenborn memorial award for political prognostication goes to...

Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf, the recently retired Iraqi Infomation minister, has allegedly been tracked down by Britian's Mail on Sunday newspaper. "Comical Ali", friends say, may never go out in public again.