Archive for August, 2008

McCain picks Sarah Palin as his running mate

August 30, 2008

I told my wife a couple of months ago that McCain should go with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his VP pick. I’m impressed that my counseling got through to him. Good pick.

Sammy Davis Jr.: The greatest entertainer ever

August 29, 2008

I have just been on YouTube watching and listening to some of Sammy Davis’ performances and was once again reminded what an amazing all-round performer the man was. He was a marvelous dancer, singer and impersonator. He was a pretty good actor as well.

When I lived in Toronto for a short period in the 1950s Davis was in town,  probably playing a club. TV was live and things were much more informal and Davis showed up on CBC and did a half hour show. What was unique was that he was the only performer on stage. It was low-key, no fancy props, just a stool. He was on for the whole show; sang, danced and wonderfully, did the commercials as well. It was amazing television. There will be no tapes of the show, only memories, no matter how fleeting. I wish I could see it again.

Here he is in his prime:

And his signature song.

Others may disagree, but in my humble opinion Davis was, and is, the greatest all-round entertainer of our time. If there is a heaven and through more good luck than good management I end up there -and if Sammy Davis Jr. is performing – I want tickets.

The campaign to ban bottled water

August 27, 2008

Bottled water has apparently become the new evil; for different reasons, depending on what groups or individuals are on the attack.

According to the United Church, it is a moral issue.

The United Church does not see the issue in merely pragmatic terms. ‘Water in Focus’ was a special Lent 2006 initiative of the UCC which involved a broader view of creation. Biblical reflections on Genesis helped launch the mission theme for the coming year: ‘Living in right relationship with creation.’

“This emphasis stems from a long history of concern for God’s creation,” said David Hallman, program coordinator for UCC’s Energy & Environment department.

“We as humans have a responsibility to care for that creation. I realize that some question: ‘What does bottled water have to do with the gospel?’ I respond that UCC has a wide range of issues it is concerned with, to do with wellbeing of life. We do have a strong belief in the importance of faith in peoples lives.”

Asked if focusing on the purchasing of bottled water as “wrong” would encourage UCC people to be judgmental of others who do purchase it, Hallman responded: “The focus is to encourage the 3,600 or so UCC congregations in Canada. We need to begin with our own people; but yes, there is an evangelical call to encourage others to be respectful of God’s creation.”

For environmentalists the issue is similar although couched in more practical terms.

Environmentalists are calling for a boycott of bottled water in an effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels, protect the environment and protect local drinking supplies.

Campaign leader Food and Water Watch says bottled water dangerously “undermines confidence” in public tap-water supplies. “The more those who can afford bottled water depend on bottled water, the harder it is for communities to muster political and financial support for urgent upgrades to public water systems that most people depend on to provide safe, affordable water,” the group said on its website.

Activists are urging members of the public to sign a pledge to end daily bottled-water consumption and to refill bottles with tap water rather than buy new ones.

The pledge is part of several environmental groups’ efforts to halt the “commodification” of the nation’s water supply through an increase in bottled-water production and private management of local systems.

The city of London, Ontario has already banned the sale of bottled water on city-owned premises.

City councillors in London, Ont., have voted to ban the sale of bottled water on city premises despite protests from the beverage industry.

The 15-3 vote late Monday came after heated debate in the municipality on the role of bottled water at city facilities such as city-owned buildings, arenas and community centres. Municipal officials have maintained that tap water costs about an eighth of a cent per litre while bottled water can range anywhere from 30 cents to $4 a bottle.

Other cities, such as Ottawa and Toronto are debating the issue as well. Bottled water has already been banned in some schools around the country and others are debating the issue.

Other than the fact that the religious tones of the war against bottled water, coming both from the Church and environmental communities, make me uncomfortable, I can see the legitimacy of some of the arguments. The number of empty plastic bottles being discarded has to be astronomical. And even in localities that have a strong recycling program, it must put pressure on the system.

And granted, some of the product marketing has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, with some brands becoming more expensive than a bottle of good wine. But then again, if you want to blow your money on fancy water bottles that’s your prerogative.

The use of bottled water has become popular, not because people think their local water supply is unsafe, but because it fits with their life style. They drink bottled water is because it is convenient and because it is convenient, they end up drinking at lot more water and a reduced amount of the less-healthy substitutes. And that can’t be all bad.

An issue that I haven’t heard raised in this debate is that of “bottled” water supplied for coolers in offices and in the home as well. Although they don’t add to the recycling problem, they are still a “commodification” of the water supply. Or is “commodification” not a problem if the volume is less?

However, what really bothers me is the arrogance of the religious elitists and the environmentalists, along with bureaucrats and elected officials, who think that the solution to everything they may see as a problem is to ban it. This mindset didn’t start with bottled water and it certainly won’t end with it.

In the first half of 2008, Canadian politicians at all levels of government have gone ban-crazy. Herewith a partial list of bans either enacted or announced since January: the use of pesticides, banned by Ontario; clear plastic baby bottles, banned by the federal government; the sale of bottled water, banned by the Waterloo Region District School Board in Ontario; Styrofoam, banned by Turner Valley, Alta.; using cell phones while driving, banned by Nova Scotia and Quebec; smoking in cars with children, banned by Nova Scotia and Ontario; the sight of cigarettes in corner stores, banned by Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

The existence of bans is certainly nothing new. Governments have always been banning things. In fact, the first recorded use of the word came during the Middle Ages in reference to a monarch’s ultimate power — the ability to summon his subjects to war. It later came to mean a wide variety of official proclamations or proscriptions, including expulsions or banishment. Over time, this heavy-handed application of government authority became so commonplace and routine as to be banal. In the ’60s, ban briefly became a campus imperative — as in “Ban the Bomb” — suggesting governments weren’t doing enough.

These days, however, the sheer number of things forbidden, and the surprising lack of scientific or other rational backing for these actions, suggests that politicians are keen to get back to the earlier application of the word. They ban early and they ban often. So how come bombs were never banned in the ’60s while water bottles and foam plates get banned today? Politicians have their reasons.

This article goes on to list a number of these reasons, #4 speaking specifically to the bottled water ban.

Reason 4 Bans provide cover for other ideologies  If there is a ban to watch, it’s the prohibition on bottled water sales. The Waterloo Region School Board got there first, as per reason three. Now university campus activists across the country are gearing up for major campaigns that will see bottled water banned in student buildings and offices. But this is not a crusade based on health issues. It clearly makes no sense to deny students access to a convenient and popular source of water at school, particularly given the state of most public water fountains. Rather, this urge is motivated by local politicians and campus groups who believe it is improper to make a profit selling water. The ban is meant to enforce the leftist belief that water should be free by outlawing its capitalist version.

A good article, worth being read in full.

Let’s ban the banners!

Whackos at Denver

August 26, 2008

The Democratic National Convention at Denver has brought out the protesters, and what a wondrous group they are. I suspect that a lot of them college educated, if one can use that word. I am seriously concerned about the DNA of these people. Should they really be allowed to breed?

Groundshrink

August 24, 2008

I was reading Dave Petzal’s blog where he was talking about seeing the 1st elk trophy he had taken 35 years earlier and how it was much less impressive than what he had remembered.

Now memory is a strange thing in itself; selective at times and self-generating at others, but Petzal’s blog took me past ‘memory’ and on to what we call ‘groundshrink’ in hunting.

It took Dave P. 35 years to see the groundshrink on his elk. But if you want to see instantaneous groundshrink you need to hunt bears.

I hunted black bears religiously for a good number of years, put a few on the ground, saw other hunters do the same, and heard a lot of stories in the process about big bears becoming small bears after the action was over.

There are a number of rules about how to judge a trophy bear; head size, legs, general appearance and how they move, but even experienced bear guides will tell you that you can get fooled. Duncan Gilchrist, in his book All About Bears, wrote : “Judging bear size is almost a gut feeling”.

Over the length of my personal bear hunting career I shot a half dozen or better blacks, the largest of which squared out at just around 6 feet. At that point I decided that I wasn’t going to take another bear unless I judged it to close in on the 7-foot mark. A BIG bear.

For several years I hunted with that as my goal. Where I hunted we were able to glass some 20 plus bears every day we were in the field. Some small, some average and a few (a very few) that were what we judged to be “better than the average bear”.

We never did see what we thought could be certified as a bona fide 7-footer, although one (just one) was estimated to be a 6 1/2-foot bear. That was by a very experienced bear guide who came along with us for a couple of days.

But in truth, the only way to validate your judgment (other than by taking a measuring tape and wrestling the bruin to the ground – not a recommended procedure ) is to pull the trigger and walk up to view your trophy.

A good friend, who has shot many blacks over his hunting lifetime told me that he was tired of shooting small bears and promised himself that the next one he pulled the trigger on would be of respectable size. Shortly thereafter he came upon an unsuspecting bruin ambling across the mountainside. He said he studied it carefully, coming to the conclusion that this was a “good” bear. But when the bear was on the ground it turned out to be not just small, but tiny. However it did have the finest hide I’ve ever seen.

This fellow also shot blond-phase bears two years running. Something that gave me an acute case of “bear envy”.

The biggest bear I’ve ever seen was back many years when I was living on the Alaska Highway – and here memory takes over.

I was driving back to Dawson Creek from a job in Fort Nelson and came upon a black bear walking down the center of the highway. Whether he was old and deaf or simply absorbed in contemplating the meaning of life, he was oblivious to me as I came to a stop right behind him. I reached for my rifle, which in those days was always on the seat beside me, and then thought about the amount of work involved if I killed this bear.

It was late in the afternoon and I had a ways to go before I arrived home. I had never killed a black bear at that point (although I had hunted them over bait in Saskatchewan) and had no intense desire to do so. Instead, I blew the car’s horn which startled the hell out of old Smoky, who came alive and bolted off the road and down a cut line.

Now in my mind’s eye he may have grown over the years, but I can still see his big butt waddling down the road in front of me. In retrospect, I wish I had put a tape on him and checked out the groundshrink.

A POEM (About peace and maybe not)

August 19, 2008

A POEM

Everybody calls for peace
Loud in song and story
Come on home, lay down your arms
For your country’s love and glory

Trust the world to do the same
Despots and dictators
Do the right thing by your people
Better now than later

Hold a vote, give up your tenure
It’s only power lost
Take your place in history’s tomes
Never mind your cost

Oh naïve singers, peaceful poets
Close the violent door
Lay your weapons by the altar
Better slaves than war

Should they decline this righteous path
Thrive and prosper on disaster
Cross the borders, rape and murder
Give us leave to kill the bastards

2008 Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival

August 18, 2008

I spent the weekend in Salmon Arm at the 16th annual Roots & Blues Festival.

Whether it was the heat-induced malaise on Saturday or some other esoteric reason, I wasn’t that enthused over the performers I saw this year. Although there were exceptions. (To qualify that statement, all of the performers that I saw were very good, just not a style that compelled me to sit through the whole performance. Plus the fact that over the two days it is pretty near impossible to see all of the various performers which means that you never know if you missed a performance you would have loved).

There was Chris Smither, a songwriter/guitar player/singer, who was certainly worth the time spent and John Lee Sanders who kept me locked in for his entire performance. It was there I was reminded that one should never sit in close proximity to the bass speakers, fearing for a bit that my heartbeat rhythm was going to be re-programmed. The question also arose as to why, in introducing a song, there is the tendency to say,”it goes something like this”, when in fact, “it goes exactly like this”. Just a thought.

To me, the highlight of the weekend was performances by Carolyn Wonderland, out of Houston, Texas. She had a voice that nailed me to the back of my folding chair. Breathtaking. AS well, she showcased her exceptional musical skills by playing on the acoustic and slide guitars as well as the mandolin and the trumpet. I hesitate to even guess what other instruments she has mastered. Add to that an ability to whistle along with the best. Dry-humour funny as well. She just smoked. At the end of her Sunday morning performance she received a standing ovation that continued until she had picked up her gear and was leaving the stage. No time for encores in the festival schedule.

The only complaint I had was the obligatory whine about oppression in the USA and how (according to Wonderland) you can exercise your right to free speech but only in places where you can’t be heard. Ending with a comment that, “jail ain’t bad if all your friends are there”.

Funny though. I haven’t seen any tanks in the U.S. streets lately or soldiers for that matter. Sounded to me like she was nostalgic for the Vietman War protests.

But aside from the educational commentary, she rocked.

As always, there was music for every taste. Just as I was leaving on Sunday afternoon I heard great amounts of noise coming from the area of the World Stage where a performance was just finishing. A large crowd was showing their appreciation for what they had just heard. If you had asked someone at that venue they may well have told you that it was the best Roots and Blues ever. An alternate theory could be that I was merely cranky.

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms a nasty piece of work

August 15, 2008

A postscript to the misfiring AR15 that got its owner 30 month in jail:

A licensed gunmaker who has reported retaliatory attacks on his work by federal agents upset over his testimony on behalf of a man sent to prison for having a broken gun has ordered the government to return one of his projects.

“You have seized company property without any cause or court order to date. The company firmly demands the return of the firearm in question,” Len Savage told John Spencer and other officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a letter, a copy of which was sent to WND and also later posted online at the War on Guns blog run by David Codrea.

“Therefore please return the property of the company [the firearm in question] immediately,” he wrote.

Is there no way to control vindictive bureaucrats? Or do their superiors actually like them that way.

Thanks to War on Guns for the pointer.

The ban on the commercial slaughter of horses: More unintended consequences

August 15, 2008

All of the concerns of abandoned horses and the other consequences of the US laws to shut down the commercial slaughter of horses seem to be coming to pass.

There is a national epidemic of “surplus” or “unwanted” horses. Domestic horses are being abandoned as never before. Some are being released as “strays” on public lands. Others are being left to starve in pastures denuded of grass. The reasons are various and excruciatingly complex.

There are, to begin with, too many horses in the USA: 9.2 million as recently as 2005, up from 5.3 million in 1999. Indiscriminate breeding leads not just to too many horses, but also to too many with physical or behavioral faults that render them unsuitable for domestic uses.

Then there’s the economy. Horses are not cheap to keep. Factor in training, vet care, tack and feed, and the expense averages $1,800 to $2,400 per animal, per year — and rising, as grain and fuel costs increase. According to the American Horse Council, a third of horse owners have household incomes less than $50,000 a year. When it comes to feeding your horses or putting gas in the car, the choice is simple, if painful.

But the single overriding cause of “surplus” horses is the movement to ban the sale of horses or their meat for human consumption. Activism forced the last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. to close last year. They had hitherto processed about 100,000 horses annually, mostly for meat sales to France and Japan, where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

Not that facts and common sense carry any weight where emotional issues are involved.

2008 BCGA Senior Mens’: Summerland Golf & Country Club

August 15, 2008
13th green, Summerland Golf Course

13th green, viewed from across 15th fairway: Summerland Golf Course

The 2008 BCGA Senior Mens’ Championship just finished today at the Summerland Golf & Country Club. The course was in great shape and held up well to the competition with Port Moody’s Gudmund Lindbjerg’s 54 hole winning score being 2 over par. The over par scores in part due – or so I was told by competitors – to very fast greens.

17th green, Summerland Golf Course

17th green, Summerland Golf Course

Eventual winner, chipping on to 18th green. Summerland Golf Course

Eventual winner, chipping on to 18th green. Summerland Golf Course


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