Archive for July, 2009

A good lottery win

July 29, 2009

I keep trying to win on the Super 7 lottery to no avail, but I don’t begrudge the latest winner of a $20 million pot.

A jobless, single mother is $20-million richer after picking up her lottery payout in Toronto on Tuesday.

Lydia Nono, 49, of Toronto won the jackpot in last Friday’s Lotto Super 7 draw. Laid off 16 months ago from her factory job making paper cups for Tim Hortons, she has been playing the lottery for 20 years.

That sounds like a good win to me.

File Under Irony:Whistler wetlands converted to a parking lot for green buses

July 22, 2009

One of the big hypes for the 2010 Olympics has been how green they will be and one of the green programs that the government is showcasing is a fleet of hydrogen powered buses to be used in the Whistler area..

Sounds like a good idea and great publicity for B.C.’s hosting of the winter Olympics.

But BC Transit needed a place where they could park these green icons of transportation in order to show them off to the world. So where was the site that was chosen to build this parking area?  How about a red listed wetland area.

Hard to believe but in their zeal to show how enviromentally sensitive they were, a provincial crown corporation destroyed a sensitive wetland in order to build a parking lot to house hydrogen powered buses.

Does that not define irony?

West Kelowna Fires: The Continuing Story

July 20, 2009

Our area has so far avoided an actual evacuation order and my personal feeling is that we are in little danger of that happening. Although we are in close proximity to the Rose Valley Dam fire, which is burning in the canyon just over the hill behind us, I doubt that it is going to come over the top. The canyon is quite steep and not very accessible to fire fighting crews but they are bombing it constantly with fire retardant. However with the right (or wrong) conditions you can never bet on what a wildfire is going to do.

The local media, particularly radio, is giving constant updates but it is mostly repeat information throughout the day. However you have to stay tuned because you never know when some new information might actually become available. If the evacuation alert gets lifted for your area then you can resume your normal life. For the people who have already been evacuated it is waiting to see if they will be allowed to go back into their homes, if not permanently, at least to pick up things they need and see if they have sustained any damage.

If you are under an evacuation alert you are afraid to leave your home in case an evacuation order comes through and you can’t get back up to your property for a final check.

And of course the rumour mill is in high gear. Mostly it feeds the hope that something good is going to happen; evacuees will be allowed access to their houses, or the highway south will open on some limited basis. But so far everything remains a rumour.

Air quality is much better today and little sign of active smoke from the Rose Valley fire, apparently due to a shift in wind direction.

There is nothing you can do to affect the outcome, so it is stay prepared and hope for the best.

The backdoor push for US gun control: Hope and Change

July 20, 2009

In the U.S election the NRA was very vocal about Barack Obama’s history on gun control legislation; and it wasn’t good. But gun owners, didn’t or wouldn’t listen.

In the Obama love-in that marked this election voters were more taken by the message of ‘”hope and change” and the possibility of electing a young, charismatic, black president to lead their country for the next four year than the reality of past voting records and speeches and interviews made prior to becoming a presidential candidate  ‘

It was as if the public didn’t want to hear anything that might flaw the perception of a president who would do everything for everyone. And gun owners were no exception.

Obama said that he supported gun rights and that was good enough. But to accept that he had become a supporter of the 2nd amendment it was necessary to ignore his past voting record and public statements which were as anti-gun as the best of them.

Since his election, President Obama has continued to publicly state his support for gun owners, but looking at many of the people surrounding him, as well as some of his comments on related issues, makes it difficult to reconcile his actions with his newly acquired pro-gun stance.

Some of his surroundees:.

Vice President Joe Biden
Chief of Staff: Rahm Emanuel
Attorney General: Eric Holder
Secretary of Education: Arne Duncan
Health and Human Services: Kathleen Sebelius
Drug Czar: Seattle Chief of Police Gil Kerlikowske
Legal adviser to the US Department of State: Harold Koh
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA): Cass Sunstein (not confirmed yet)

Not a group that a US gun owner would want to rely on to protect his or her 2nd amendment rights and I have probably missed some (notably Hillary Clinton).

But while Obama personally continues to publicly maintain his 2nd amendment support he chose as his appointment to the US Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor who also has a pro-gun control history.

Will these appointees drive an anti-gun agenda in Washington?

Well, back in February, 2009, Eric Holder talked about resuming the assault weapon ban and he used as his justification the drug violence in Mexico.

The Obama administration will seek to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 during the Bush administration, Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

“As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” Holder told reporters.

Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border.

“I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.” Holder said at a news conference on the arrest of more than 700 people in a drug enforcement crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating in the U.S.

(snip)

During his confirmation hearing, Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee about other gun control measures the Obama administration may consider.

“I think closing the gun show loophole, the banning of cop-killer bullets and I also think that making the assault weapons ban permanent, would be something that would be permitted under Heller,” Holder said, referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Washington, D.C. v. Heller, which asserted the Second Amendment as an individual’s right to own a weapon.

Sort of, ‘I’m all for gun owner’s rights – right after I pass a few little legislative surprises that I think I can slip by Heller’.

And now the government is using the Mexican government’s problem with their drug cartels as an opportunity to further attack civilian gun ownership in the US, using a government study whose numbers seem a bit suspect.

As time goes on those gun owners who voted for hope and change may find that there has been change but not that which they had hoped for.

Fire in the Okanagan – Again

July 19, 2009

From hot and serene to hot and a disaster in literally minutes.

Apparently yesterday, just before 3 PM a fire was reported in the timber above the highway on the south side of Westbank, in the Glenrosa area and just above Gorman’s mill.

I was on my way back to Kelowna on the Connector from a meeting in Kamloops when I heard the report on the radio and could see the smoke rising from the other side of the mountain. I intersected with Highway 97 just before 4 PM and the highway was lined with vehicles on the side of the road with people standing there looking at the fire just up the hill. Lots of smoke and you could see flames. The police had stopped all of the traffic going into the Glenrosa area but at that point the highway traffic was still moving through. If I had arrived an hour or so later I wouldn’t  have made it through and home.

It was incredibly windy, which is what was driving the fire. Water bombers and ground crews were working the fire.

The fire was right around the houses. Although the media said they couldn’t confirm any houses being lost, at that point, Morag said that there was a man in where she was working who was in tears as his son’s house had been destroyed. The Glenrosa area was evacuated with no advance warning.

Not too much later that it was reported that the fire had jumped across Highway 97 and was burning down towards Okanagan Lake and into the Gellatly area and all of that area was evacuated as well.

Then it was reported that there were two other fires – unrelated – burning in the area. One right behind us in Rose Valley canyon and the other to the north of us on Terrace Mountain. The Terrace Mountain fire at least was not threatening any houses.

Then this morning we woke to find that we were on evacuation alert due to the Rose Valley fire over the hill behind us. The good thing the first thing this morning was that the wind had abated, it has now picked up again a bit which will not help the situation. I am keeping the radio on just in case there is an evacuation order for us. I suspect that unless there is a radical change that we will be OK as it was ranked as a level 4 fire last night but has been downgraded to a 2 right now.

Now (11 AM) there is a new report of another fire on the other side of Okanagan Lake in the Mission area of Kelowna, but I think they got that one quickly under control.

It almost feels as though we are under attack.

In the meantime we have put together our emergency pack and loaded my truck with things we couldn’t replace, such as photographs, etc. Unfortunately my plan to watch the final round of the Open rather went out the window. Only saw the playoff between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink, where Watson unfortunately – after leading right to the final hole in regulation – literally came unglued. To bad as it would have been an even bigger story than if Greg Norman had won last year. Not to be in either case.

On the other hand Cink earned his first major and has been around and played at a high level long enough that he deserves to be there.

A segue from fire to golf.

Obama can do no wrong, even when he is doing right

July 12, 2009

This column in the Vancouver Sun by Shelley Fralic annoys me on two levels.

Firstly she looks at the photo of US President Obama supposedly ogling the butt of a Brazilian girl, along with French President Sarkozy and immediately writes a gushing column as to how it is not only all right for Obama to be doing this but it is a good thing.

The good news is that President Barack Obama is a real live red-blooded all-American man, and I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have that kind of guy running the most powerful nation in the world than some moribund frozen-pulse old fart (can you say the Bush boys) leading the free world.

[snip]

Thank heavens Obama has a natural, instinctive eye for the ladies, otherwise he’d be dead.

In fact, anthropologists will tell you that humans always have been, and always will be, attracted to beauty in the opposite sex, be it a peacock’s plumage, a woman’s curves or a man’s burly biceps. It’s what keeps the species interested, and going.

So if the U.S. President, who’s married to a looker and is no slouch in the handsome department himself, has a thing for junk in the trunk, good on him.

The continuing story from the media: If it;s done by Obama it,s OK.

Secondly, it is all bullshit as the actual video of the event shows.

I am no fan of the President of our neighbours south of the border, nor his apparent policies, but I detest this kind of cheap reporting. Pluck a frame out of a video stream or a sentence out of a paragraph to prove a non-existent point to manufacture a non-existent story.

They used to be able to get away with this type of crap, but since the advent of the internet it is much harder to keep under cover. But obviously Ms. Fralic needs to learn how to do a bit of research.

Scum of the earth

July 7, 2009

In my mind, one of the worst crimes is that of rape, and the vilest of the vile is the rape of a small child. Unfortunately it happens far too often as this most recent story of a rape of a 6 year old girl in Surrey attests.

We can only hope that the piece of scum that perpetrated this crime will be caught before he harms another child. The problem being that even if he is caught and convicted there will come a time – far too soon – when he will be released back on to the streets where he will be at high risk to offend again.

I am not a proponent of the death penalty although I am inclined to believe that there are those who, like rabid dogs, should be put down for the well-being of the populace at large. Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo come immediately to mind.

Unfortunately even if Canada still had a death penalty the human aberration who committed this latest crime, because his victim – however traumatized – lives, would not qualify for the ultimate penalty. If caught and convicted there would not even be the comfort of knowing that his sentence would permanently remove him from  contact with the general population.

The courts dispense the law but the pity is that too often they don’t impart justice.

New Zealand police call for a return to firearm registration

July 4, 2009

A District Arm Officer in New Zealand has called for a renewal of the gun registry, which was terminated in 1983.

The district arms officer says without firearms being registered in New Zealand there is no real control over them.

Paul McLennan, who has been in the role 27 years, said registration of individual firearms – scrapped in New Zealand in 1983 – once kept holders of firearm licences accountable and responsible for their weapons. It also helped identify stolen firearms.

Today, firearms are not registered and there is no restriction on how many firearms a licence holder can own.

“If we had a registration system we could have firearms licence holders accountable for their firearms,” said Mr McLennan.

This after a raid by the Tauranga Armed Offenders Squad (which appears similar to the US SWAT teams and the Canadian ERT or Emergency Response Teams).

On Thursday morning, the Tauranga armed offenders squad raided a Pyes Pa home where they found 18 firearms or pistols and 2000 rounds of ammunition. The hoard allegedly belonged to David Bryan, 48, who is expected to appear in Tauranga District Court on Monday for a bail application.

Bryan does not hold a firearms licence.

Among the cache found at Bryan’s home were two military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) weapons.

The guns require a special endorsement on a firearms licence, brought in after David Gray killed 13 people in Aramoana in 1990.

Which rather makes his point moot.

The person raided wasn’t licenced to own firearms to begin with so it would be a bit silly to expect him to have them registered. Actually more than a bit silly.

There was no mention in the article as to why the individual was raided – although I can only assume that the police had probably been informed that he had unauthorized ownership of firearms. Was he a threat to his neighbours or the public? Did he have a criminal background and would have been denied a licence if he had applied? Or was he just missing the paperwork that would change his status from “honest citizen” to  “dangerous criminal”.

It all comes back to the fact that by their very nature, police want as much control over the citizenry as possible. They need to have everything in black and white because it makes their job much easier. And unfortunately, whenever the political need seems to warrant it, governments seem to be more than agreeable to further expand police authority over various sections of the public.

Historically we have seen the end result of this in oligarchies such as the Soviet Union and the Shah’s Iraq to name just a couple, but in democratic nations the tendency toward the extreme is at least blunted by public reaction.

That is a positive, but we should never lose track of the fact that the tendency to control is alive and well.

On a final note:

A firearms licence can only be held for 10 years, with licence holders contacted by police when their licence expires.

However, Mr McLennan said one of the biggest problems in firearms licensing was people not notifying police when they changed their address.

The Government scrapped lifetime firearm licences in 1992.

Ten years later nearly 50,000 people failed to respond to a campaign appealing for lifetime gun licence holders to renew or surrender their weapons.

A pretty frightening scenario. It appears that in 2002 New Zealand generated 50,000 new and dangerous criminals. I’m surprised that the country has survived.

I see dead celebrities

July 2, 2009

So Michael Jackson has passed to the great MTV show in the sky and from all of the media hype there is apparent concern that civilization teeters on the brink of the abyss.

I must admit that he was outside of my era but I can accept the apparent consensus that he was an innovator and a brilliant performer. But I’m afraid that from my point of view his weirdness trumped his musical heritage.

From his friend the chimp (the best line I read that was that Bubbles had been relegated to a sanctuary because he knew too much),  to his flamboyant dress and the gloves and the face masks, the ongoing facial surgery that left him looking more and more like a fugitive from a horror movie and the numerous stories, lawsuits and charges that tainted him with the evilness of pedophilia, he had become more of a caricature than  a real person.

Heavily in debt and living far beyond his means he was in the process of engineering a ‘comeback’ through a series of concerts, which no doubt would have brought the crowds and money in, but would in reality have been, shades of the Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond and others,  just one more trip down memory lane.

A comeback would have entailed  new material and acceptance by the young crowd that drives the pop market and that was not likely. Jackson had his time and his place in the fickle world of pop music and he was unlikely to ever regain the glory years.

But what fascinates me in all of this is the public reaction, with people in tears and apparent trauma over the death. It’s not like Jackson has done anything positive in recent years – just the opposite, but his passing seems to generate a hysterical response in a certain section of the populace. Is this a ”get a life’ factor coming into play?

Of course it’s not just with Jackson. When Princess Diana was killed the reaction worldwide was even more pronounced. And even when Pierre Elliot Trudeau died at the advanced age of 81 and many years removed from the political process, there were people calling in to talk shows concerned about the future of Canada with PET no longer there to steer the country.

There is always the public fascination with celebrity death – even minor celebrities – as witness the never-ending soap opera regarding the death of Anna Nicole, but only a few of them generate the mass grieving syndrome.

It’s not as though it is a new phenomenon either. The death of Rudolf Valentino in 1926 saw a massive turnout of people.

An estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City to pay their respects at his funeral, handled by the Frank Campbell Funeral Home. The event was a drama itself: Suicides of despondent fans were reported. Windows were smashed as fans tried to get in and an all day riot erupted on August 24. Over 100 Mounted officers and NYPD’s Police Reserve was deployed to restore order. A phalanx of officers would line the streets for the remainder of the viewing. The drama inside would not be outdone. Polish Actress Pola Negri, claiming to be Valentino’s fiance, collapsed in hysterics while standing over the coffin, and Campbell’s hired four actors to impersonate a Fascist Blackshirt honor guard, which claimed to have been sent by Benito Mussolini. It was later revealed as a planned publicity stunt.[69] Media reports that the body on display in the main salon was not Valentino but a decoy were continually refuted by Campbell.

This article purports to give an explanation for the phenomenon:

The rise of celebrity also corresponds with a public increasingly devoid of total relationships with others, individuals’ connectedness with others and the broader society dampened by the anonymity of urban life, reduced civic involvements, increasing rates of singlehood and living alone, and by the instrumental relationships demanded by the workplace and marketplace. Further amplifying appetites for celebrities’ stories is the new personality type populating the social landscape, characterized by sociologist David Riesman as being “other-directed,” relying on others to define one’s own lifestyles and beliefs— particularly those publicly identified as living more interesting, glamorous, or important lives. Thus the public may know more about the celebrities’ stories than they do of those of their neighbors and associates.

And who knows, maybe he has it pegged right. But maybe it’s’simply that there are just a lot of nutbars out there.

A Canada Day Gift From Premier Gordon Campbell

July 1, 2009

B.C. received its long awaited Canada Day gift from Premier Campbell today: An additional 1.2 cent per litre tax on gasoline. Today – July 1st – gas at the pumps jumped from $1.059 to $1.072 per litre, the extra penny – I presume – being GST.

All this supposedly done to reduce B.C.’s carbon footprint.

But what a crock. As I see it, it is just another way to get the government’s hand deeper into my pocket and as for it being a tax neutral system, that certainly remains to be seen. This money is going directly into the black hole of general revenue and once government has your money in hand, they are notoriously stingy about giving any of it back.

I like this from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation:

People pay taxes so government can provide essential services, not to be manipulated in some social engineering experiment. Heating our homes and driving our cars are already expensive enough. It’s time for government to eliminate the carbon tax and stop creating more worries for families who are already concerned about jobs, the economy and their future wellbeing.

So thanks again Premier Campbell for the gift that keeps on giving.


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