Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mid-Week Post

The nucleus of the work-week...

Well, this must be embarrassing:

The US middle class, long a symbol of the nation's economic might and proof that the "American Dream" was more than just a dream, is no longer the world's wealthiest. 
Citizens of other advanced nations have received "considerably larger raises" over the past 30 years, with after-tax middle class incomes in Canada, which lagged substantially behind the US in 2000, now surpassing those south of the border, the New York Times reports. Also, poor individuals in much of Europe are now earning more than poor Americans.

Whatever will Justin Trudeau do now that one of his chief talking points is officially utter crap?


Young children may learn more by listening to their parents describe a picture book than by reading a book meant to teach new words, a new Canadian study has found.

The researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario asked 25 mothers to read two books to their toddlers, each featuring six animals.

In one book, the animals were part of a story told in pictures, while in the second book, the animals were presented on a black background in the usual style of "vocabulary learning" books.

When reading the picture books, the mothers tended to use generic language to talk about the animal, such as saying, "Giraffes have long necks." This taught children about all giraffes.

The mothers also tended to give more details about the animals in the picture book than when they read the vocabulary-style book.
I think the last sentence gets to the crux of the finding. A word is just a word when the concept is not adequately explained. Once the child gets what a giraffe is and looks like, its spelling should come naturally.

Note the baby giraffe's broad smile, brown, blotchy fur, knobbly legs and long-necked cuteness.

But will these non-resident new citizens pay the taxes that keep the tanks rolling into Estonia, Poland, the rest of Ukraine...?

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved on Monday legal amendments to make it simpler for Russian speakers in the former Soviet Union to acquire Russian citizenship, the Kremlin said on Monday.

The evils of "green" energy:

The British Columbia Health Ministry has admitted that the remains of babies destroyed by abortion in B.C. facilities are ending up in a waste-to-power facility in the United States, providing electricity for residents of Oregon.

If you can kill, using bodies for fuel is the next macabre step.

Personally, I thought this was amusing:

An Opera company in St. John’s have taken down a billboard promoting their run of A Midsummer’s Night Dream that some say used homophobic language.

The ad from Opera on the Avalon read, “Filled with more fairies than St. John’s on Pride Day,” in reference to the city’s annual LGBTQ celebration with “fairies” being a double entendre for both gay men and magical woodland creatures. Given that we don’t live in a bubble where the gay community is free of persecution and men don’t face harassment for displaying traditionally feminine traits, the ad struck a nerve.

“I find it incredibly offensive. Gay pride is about acceptance and creating a safe space. Perpetuating stereotypes goes against that,” Erin Alexis wrote on the company’s Facebook page.

(Sidebar: people who use words like "safe space" are probably pants-wetters. Did I go too far?)

It's called a joke. People used to tell them without getting into trouble.

And now, celebrate the Bard's birthday with food:

"O! my sweet beef, I must still be good angel to thee.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Post

On this glorious Earf Day....

... a day co-founded by a man who murdered his girlfriend and on the anniversary of the birth of a syphilitic Russian dictator.

Speaking of Russia...

Russia is already feeling economic pain from its Ukrainian land grab-even without tougher sanctions from the West.

A fresh round of violence in Ukraine has prompted calls for Western leaders to ratchet up economic sanctions against the Kremlin. 

But with capital flooding out of the country, the local stock market falling and Russia's currency weakening, the seizure of the Crimea is turning out to be a costly move. 

"Even if a diplomatic solution to the crisis can be found, this may not be enough to prevent Russia from sliding into recession over the first half of this year," according to Neil Shearing, an economist with Capital Economics. 

Investors have dumped assets this year as President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and massed troops on Ukraine's border, fueling a reprise of Cold War tensions and concern that sanctions could push Russia's slowing economy into reverse. 

By annexing Crimea and massing troops on Ukraine's border, the Kremlin has set off a reprise of Cold War tensions that is already having a chilling effect on trade.

But everyone was so sure this was nothing to worry about.

The death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has now risen to one hundred and thirty-five:

The confirmed death toll from the South Korean ferry disaster rose to 135 Wednesday, but there were many more bodies left to be retrieved as divers swam through tight, dark rooms and passageways to search for nearly 170 people still missing.

The victims are overwhelmingly students of a single high school in Ansan, near Seoul. More than three-quarters of the 323 students are dead or missing, while nearly two-thirds of the other 153 people on board the ferry Sewol when it sank one week ago survived.

But his opinions would be acceptable if he was a transsexual Muslim lesbian, right?

As explained by the Canadian Press, Frank Coleman — the only candidate in the race to replace former premier Kathy Dunderdale as Conservative party leader — was recently outed for attending anti-abortion rallies in the past.

Incidences of "income inequality" some would rather not mention:

Earlier this year, a team of researchers led by Harvard economist Raj Chetty reported that communities with a high percentage of single-parent families are less likely to experience upward mobility. The researchers' report—"Where Is the Land of Opportunity?"—received considerable media attention. Yet mainstream news outlets tended to ignore the study's message about family structure, focusing instead on variables with far less statistical impact, such as residential segregation. 

In the past four years, our two academic professional organizations—the American Political Science Association and the American Educational Research Association—have each dedicated annual meetings to inequality, with numerous papers and speeches denouncing free markets, the decline of unions, and "neoliberalism" generally as exacerbating economic inequality. Yet our searches of the groups' conference websites fail to turn up a single paper or panel addressing the effects of family change on inequality.

(Gracias, El Barto)

India's caste system affects students even in public schools:

At the government school in this north Indian village, 8-year-old Dilip Banwasi is being taught his place.
His third-grade teacher makes him sweep the classroom floor and sit in the back row. 

When it is time for lunch, Dilip—a member of a low social class referred to as "rat catchers"—is among the last few to be served. At recess, his classmates warn, "Don't play with us," Dilip says.

Dilip's experience reflects a significant obstacle to improving social mobility in India: discrimination in schools. 
Roughly half of all Indian public-school students drop out before eighth grade, and most of the dropouts are from lower caste, Muslim or tribal communities, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.

The report, which looked at four Indian states, places the blame, in part, on discrimination in the public education system.

And now, an Earth Day cake with a rock candy centre. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

It's Easter. Let's high-five.
“And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.”
         (St. Augustine)

Enjoy the beauty that are Easter cakes.

... and the disasters.

Maybe India doesn't have to march China into the sea:

Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied. 

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution. 

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation. 

"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule. 

"It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change." 

What does the "basic dictatorship" think will happen when it withholds spiritual and material freedom from its people?

Now, go enjoy some candy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Story So Far....

Quickly now....

You don't say:

Ontario’s most senior bureaucrat says he was shocked to learn that a top aide to former premier Dalton McGuinty allegedly oversaw a “criminally stupid” plan to delete emails about the gas plant scandal.

Six hard drives have been seized from an Ottawa office, one of which may have been involved in the deletion of files.

The captain of a ferry that sank near Jindo Island, South Korea has been arrested.

Just in time for Easter:

A Muslim father upset his son came home from public school with an invite to celebrate the holy holiday with an Easter egg hunt, went on local television in Michigan, accusing nearby churches of using schools to convert Muslim children.
Did anyone tell this guy that not even members of his community care what he thinks?

And now, Easter desserts. Enjoy.

Holy Week Moment

... brought to you courtesy of Johnny Cash:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mid-Week Post

Four days until Easter...

Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was remembered by family and friends earlier today.

I would suggest that the same person being sued for political man-handling also took his opposition for the Fair Elections Act from south of the border just like his ideas about the middle-class:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has pledged to repeal the government’s Fair Elections Act if he forms government next year, a move that comes amid mounting opposition outside of the political fray.

Just ask: who would benefit from vouching rather than bona fide official forms of identification, of which there are forty?

Can I vouch for this guy? He's a friend of mine.

Nepotism: it oils the gears that make the Liberal party go round:

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s brother-in-law has been appointed “interim” CEO of eHealth, the Toronto Sun has learned.

David Rounthwaite, brother of Wynne’s wife, Jane, was appointed to the $210,000-a-year job effective March 7.

A spokesman for eHealth said Rounthwaite has been general counsel for the giant agency charged with getting health records online for more than four years — before Wynne became premier.

I often wonder if Kathleen Wynne wants to be kicked out of office and then I remember that in Ontario, no Liberal voter would allow it, hence her girlfriend's brother lands a cushy job.

A nineteen year old has been arrested for the Heartbleed hack that took nine hundred social insurance numbers:

A Western University computer-science student described by acquaintances as bright and studious has been accused by authorities of exploiting the online security vulnerability known as Heartbleed that led to a breach of personal data from the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Do people still believe that Russia will not take all of Ukraine?

On Wednesday, NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen upped the ante promising to increase its military footprint in Eastern Europe amid growing concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions in the region.

"Today, we agreed on a package of further military measures to reinforce our collective defence and demonstrate the strength of Allied solidarity," Rasmussen said in a statement.

"We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land.

"For example, air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region. Allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere, as required. Military staff from Allied nations will deploy to enhance our preparedness, training and exercises. Our defence plans will be reviewed and reinforced."

In response to a question from a reporter, Rasmussen added that NATO does have the capacity to implement these measures.

"We already know that some Allies will come forward with concrete contributions and I’m sure that more will follow," he said.

Just weeks after Russia annexed Crimea, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are now believed to have massed upon the eastern Ukrainian borders. Meanwhile, pro-Russian separatists have taken over government buildings and facilities in about 10 eastern Ukrainian towns and cities.

In 1994, the United Kingdom and the United States made Ukraine surrender its weapons to Russia in exchange for protection. Discuss.

No one wants anyone to suffer from a hemorrhagic fever but imagine if such a fever was detected in a major metropolitan area, like, say, Sydney, what then?

An outbreak of dengue fever at an Australian refugee detention center in the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru sparked calls on Thursday for greater oversight at the facility, which has been criticized by rights groups and the United Nations.

 Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office said that medical officers at the center had confirmed three cases of the potentially fatal tropical disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Two of those affected by the sickness are potential refugees awaiting processing, while the other was a member of staff working at the center, they said.

"All three people have been isolated and are receiving appropriate treatment and are expected to make a full recovery," a spokeswoman for Morrison said in a statement.

But Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, immigration spokeswoman from the opposition Greens Party, said that outbreaks are inevitable in crowded camps like the one on Nauru and called for greater independent oversight of the overseas refugee detention system.

"The government can't control these types of outbreaks in the harsh detention camp environment. With seven families to a tent, it's impossible to keep children safe from the disease," she said in a statement.

Australia uses detention centers in Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea to process would-be refugees sent there after trying to get to Australia, often in unsafe boats after paying people smugglers in Indonesia.

(Sidebar: yes, I am aware of how dengue is spread but there are cases of it in these detention centres, so... Also, bringing the UN into this all the while ignoring human smuggling is just so morally profane.)

Ringing in the Easter season with this:

Nigeria's military said on Wednesday its forces had freed most of the more than 100 teenage schoolgirls abducted by Islamist Boko Haram militants and were continuing the search for eight students still missing.


Nine people died and 287 are missing after a ferry sank off the southwest coast on Wednesday morning. The ferry carrying 475 people was on its way from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju. The passengers included 325 students of Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province who were on a school trip, of whom about 200 are missing.

Some 175 were rescued before the ferry went under completely, but the others apparently became trapped inside the ferry.

The disaster looks like the worst since a ferry with 362 passengers sank in 1993, killing 292.

Because he's Mark Steyn:

One of the most ingenious and effective strategies of the Left on any number of topics is to frame the debate and co-opt the language so effectively that it becomes all but impossible even to discuss the subject honestly. Take the brothers Tsarnaev, the incendiary end of a Chechen family that in very short time has settled aunts, uncles, sisters, and more across the map of North America from Massachusetts to New Jersey to my own home town of Toronto. Maybe your town has a Tsarnaev, too: There seems to be no shortage of them, except, oddly, back in Chechnya. The Tsarnaevs' mom, now relocated from Cambridge to Makhachkala in delightful Dagestan, told a press conference the other day that she regrets ever having gotten mixed up with those crazy Yanks: "I would prefer not to have lived in America," she said.

Not, I'm sure, as much as the Richard family would have preferred it. Eight-year-old Martin was killed; his sister lost a leg; and his mother suffered serious brain injuries. What did the Richards and some 200 other families do to deserve having a great big hole blown in their lives? Well, according to the New York Times, they and you bear collective responsibility. Writing on the op-ed page, Marcello Suarez-Orozco, dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and Carola Suarez-Orozco, a professor at the same institution, began their ruminations thus:

"The alleged involvement of two ethnic Chechen brothers in the deadly attack at the Boston Marathon last week should prompt Americans to reflect on whether we do an adequate job assimilating immigrants who arrive in the United States as children or teenagers."

Maybe. Alternatively, the above opening sentence should "prompt Americans to reflect" on whether whoever's editing America's newspaper of record these days "does an adequate job" in choosing which pseudo-credentialed experts it farms out its principal analysis on terrorist atrocities to. But, if I follow correctly, these UCLA profs are arguing that, when some guys go all Allahu Akbar on you and blow up your marathon, that just shows that you lazy complacent Americans need to work even harder at "assimilating" "immigrants." After all, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were raised in Cambridge, Mass., a notorious swamp of redneck bigotry where the two young Chechens no doubt felt "alienated" and "excluded" at being surrounded by NPR-listening liberals cooing, "Oh, your family's from Chechnya? That's the one next to Slovakia, right? Would you like to come round for a play date and help Jeremiah finish his diversity quilt?" Assimilation is hell.
The same people who delight at the removal of acerbic but mostly harmless fellows are the very same who cannot force themselves to feel even the tiniest bit angry that an eight-year-old boy was blown up.

And that, in a nutshell, is the left for you: hypocritical, cowardly and mentally incongruous.

Speaking of mental incongruity:

Three hundred students from 11 Saskatoon schools gathered at the Western Development Museum Tuesday to show off in-depth projects on sustainability.

At Bishop Pocock School, Grade 6 and 7 students worked to cut waste at the school and at home. They got their hands dirty with a garbage audit - which "was gross and everything, but knowing we were helping the environment was a good feeling," said Kristen Weisgerber, one of the students who took part.

There one has it. Nothing but fluffy feelings were achieved. Children in the Third World still pick through garbage for food, waste at the farm level still occurs and there certainly won't be a moral discussion on materialism, greed or gluttony because that would be too Jesus-y. Nope. It's all about feeling good.

That is also the left.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nina Simone.


Her punishment should be getting struck by texting driver:

Texting while driving is so totally wrong.

But according to 21-year-old Kimberly Davis, it’s totally not her fault. 

Davis, who according to phone records was texting with seven different people while driving her vehicle through Koroit, Australia, slammed into a cyclist from behind, severely injuring him. Local police say she used her phone 44 times while driving during the trip.

It happened at about 7:20 p.m.

Apparently the warning lights that had been placed on the front and back of the cyclist’s bike were invisible to Davis.

“I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it,” Davis told police, according to The Standard.

She was apparently "pissed off that the cyclist hit the side of her car."

What a little b!#%^.

And now, Easter egg bark candy. Enjoy.


Holy Week Moment

 "Behold the Bridegroom"

Your Holy Week moment courtesy of the Saint Petersburg Chamber Choir.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Post

A pleasant sur sdei chhnam thmei to all y'all.

Gee, who can we thank for this?

Ontario needs industry reforms, better tax policies, and needs to make better use of its natural resources before it brings down Canada's economy any further, according to a new Fraser Institute study.

"Because of Ontario's immense size and population, and because the Canadian economy is highly integrated, what happens in Ontario significantly affects Canada's national economy. An economically stronger Ontario means an economically stronger Canada," study co-author Livio Di Matteo said in a release.

The study, Can Canada Prosper without a Prosperous Ontario?, says the province's terrible record on GDP growth, employment and business investment "reflects a damaged provincial economy that's dragging down the national economy," Di Matteo said.

The province needs to improve tax and regulatory competitiveness, boost capital investment, reform energy and industry policies and make better use natural resources like mining and forestry, the study said.

"If Ontario adopts smarter policies focused on competitiveness and economic growth rather than interventionist government, it could unleash its private sector and improve Ontario's economy for the benefit of taxpayers in Ontario and across Canada," Di Matteo said.

Parents marched to the Alberta Legislature building to protest a new and ineffective math curriculum:

Parents, children and educators took to the steps of the Alberta Legislature Saturday demanding a change in math curriculum.

Protesters rallied behind Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies, a rural Alberta parent and family doctor whose petition to restore traditional math for Alberta’s K-6 students has more than 13,000 signatures. ...

The 200-plus protesters blasted changes made in the last several years that have moved away from traditional math instruction in favour of an “inquiry based” system that was outlined by the Western and Northern Canadian Protocol and touted in Alberta’s 2009 Inspiring Education initiative.

Math marks have been slipping on Provincial Achievement Tests among Grade 3 and 6 students in Alberta since 2009. Some parents blame the decline on the new teaching strategy, which they say is convoluted and confusing.

Remember when Mitt Romney declared Russia to be a "geopolitical threat" and everyone laughed at him, and when Sarah Palin rightly predicted that Obama wouldn't stand up to Putin when he invaded Ukraine?

Laugh at Harper if you wish. See how well that goes:

"I know this is of great concern to our NATO allies in the region, but it should be a great concern to all of us," Harper said.

"When a major power acts in a way that is so clearly aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic, this represents a significant threat to the peace and stability of the world and it's time we all recognized the depth and the seriousness of that threat."

While wags are far more concerned about maligning the perpetually correct, they ought to be analysing the very dictator who has had journalists jailed and killed.

Just a thought.

Why you shouldn't give kids cell phones:

Authorities have arrested the 14-year-old girl who ignited an Internet firestorm after tweeting a threat at American Airlines Sunday. ...

The girl, who identified herself as Sarah online, initially tweeted at American Airlines that she was a member of Al Qaeda and was going to “do something really big” on June 1. She later said she was joking.

The airline tweeted back at her saying they “take these threats very seriously” and said that her IP address and details would be forwarded to security and the FBI.

Pesach Sameach to all.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Post

First, a sermon from the Reverend Elron.

Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week:

The faithful waved palm and olive branches as the 77-year-old pope rode into St Peter’s Square on a white jeep and stopped at its centre to bless palm and olive branches.

The pontiff was particularly solemn when he delivered an impromptu homily, putting aside the one he had prepared.

Francis spoke of the events on the last two days of Jesus' life - his betrayal by Judas, his arrest, beating, trial and crucifixion.

He asked those present to think hard about who they resembled more, those who helped Jesus or those who condemned him, betrayed him or were indifferent to his fate.

"Where is my heart? Who among these people am I like? This question will remain with us all week," he said.

No one had a problem giving a state funeral to the first Trudeau who ruined this country or to the philandering caviar socialist, Jack Layton:

I don't know about you, but I was surprised when it was announced former finance minister Jim Flaherty would receive a state funeral. ...

Perhaps one needs reminding that Detroit was ruined long before this:

The burned-out, abandoned parcels of property in a west-end Detroit neighbourhood are the reverse image of an oil boom town — a ramshackle yin to the thriving yang of Fort McMurray, Alta.

For three-quarters of a century, crude oil has arrived here at the Marathon refinery. Even as this once-bustling, blue-collar area became blighted by crime and neglect like so much of Detroit, the industry survived.

No, you have three-hundred-and-fourteen million people forced to pay a tax that also caused them to lose their coverage and healthcare providers and virtually no young people to foot the bill:

A new, highly anticipated study on the effects of the Affordable Care Act suggests the number of Americans without insurance has plummeted since September, lending more evidence to the notion Obamacare is having its primary desired effect.

There is yet another ObamaCare surprise waiting for consumers: from now until the next open enrollment at the end of this year, most people will simply not be able to buy any health insurance at all, even outside the exchanges.

"It's all closed down. You cannot buy a policy that is a qualified policy for the purpose of the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) until next year on January 1," says John DiVito, president of Flexbenefit which has 2,500 brokers.

John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas adds, "People are not going to be able to buy individual and family policies, and that's part of ObamaCare. And what makes it so surprising is the whole point of ObamaCare was to encourage people to get insurance, and now the market has been completely closed down for the next seven months."

That means that with few exceptions, tens of millions of people will be locked out of the health insurance market for the rest of this year.

Only about one in four subsidy-eligible people signed up for health insurance," says Robert Laszewski of Health Policy Associates. "That means about 13 million subsidy-eligible people have not yet signed up for health insurance."

Add to that millions more who waited, or thought the policies under ObamaCare were too expensive and decided just to pay the tax penalty.

Although those who failed to buy insurance during the enrollment period could face a government penalty, most will not have to pay that penalty until they do their taxes next year.

“In all likelihood," says Laszewski, "we've only signed up somewhere between one in five and one in seven people who were uninsured prior to the start of ObamaCare."

Bono said what?
Bono, frontman for the Irish band U2, investor, and philanthropist, said he believes Jesus Christ was divine, that he arose from the dead, and that he made promises to the world that will come true

Bono, frontman for the Irish band U2, investor, and philanthropist, said he believes Jesus Christ was divine, that he arose from the dead, and that he made promises to the world that will come true.
And that was your Holy Week moment.