Archive for September, 2010

The new norm: Bad spelling, wrong words and a declining language

September 26, 2010

An amusing column on the death of the English language.

The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.

And why did it succumb?

The end came quietly on Aug. 21 on the letters page of The Washington Post. A reader castigated the newspaper for having written that Sasha Obama was the “youngest” daughter of the president and first lady, rather than their “younger” daughter. In so doing, however, the letter writer called the first couple the “Obama’s.” This, too, was published, constituting an illiterate proofreading of an illiterate criticism of an illiteracy. Moments later, already severely weakened, English died of shame.

The author, Gene Weingarten, gives some other examples found in the print media.

The Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal has written of “spading and neutering.” The Miami Herald reported on someone who “eeks out a living” — alas, not by running an amusement-park haunted house. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star described professional football as a “doggy dog world.” The Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald and the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune were the two most recent papers, out of dozens, to report on the treatment of “prostrate cancer.”

The examples given by Weingarten were written by (I presume) professionals who are being paid for their copy, but he would be even further convinced of the demise of the English language if he were to read the comments posted on internet sites by members of the typing public.

Along with the fact that too much of the unsolicited commentary on these sites is rude, intemperate and sometimes downright vicious, much of it borders on being illiterate.

Some examples taken at random from various sites:

“what a joke cant she be concidered a habitial and put away before she ends up dead trying to fly off of a balcony.”

“Yeah cause are system is a daggon joke!”

“Who the f…. is that heffer??”

Some of the mess that you see posted is certainly due to bad typing and obviously a refusal to spell check. But after a while you get to believe that a lot of it is simply a complete inability to spell and worse yet, no awareness that the spelling might be wrong.

The idea seems to be that it you can sound it out phonetically, you can spell it the same way. Although that doesn’t really excuse having your dog “spaded” (which probably is an example of animal cruelty) or going to your doctor for a “prostrate” exam.


Lies and distortion in the long-gun registry debate (Part 2)

September 21, 2010

One of Canada’s most strident ant-gun activists is Wendy Cuckier, a Professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University and the long time president of the Coalition for Gun Control.

Ms. Cuckier was in on the establishment of the federal Firearms Act from the beginning and did extensive consultation with the federal Liberal government of the day beginning as far back as the spring of 1996. Culminating with a 3 year and $380,600 contract in August of 2002 to develop strategies for the implementation of the new federal firearms law.

This September did an interview with Ms. Cuckier on the long gun registry and MP Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill, C-391, to eliminate the registry. She had some interesting and inventive comments.

CA: It’s interesting that the NRA is watching this so closely, though maybe not surprising.

WC: Absolutely. And not only that they’ve been watching it closely, but they’ve been actively engaged in mobilizing, coaching, raising money for the Canadian gun lobby, because they see this as having global significance. So the president of the NRA has been up here several times, speaking at fundraisers; they did election-readiness training; they’ve done infomercials that are broadcast in border towns and seen on both sides of the border.

The NRA, we have no evidence that they’ve actually given money to the Canadian gun lobby, but they’ve certainly done everything short of that and you can combine that with a very aggressive advertising campaign by the Conservative Party of Canada.

Really cute.

According to WC the NRA has “actively engaged in mobilizing, coaching, raising money for the Canadian gun lobby..”

Mobilizing? Not sure what that is supposed to mean, but it would infer that they are somehow up in Canada mobilizing the troops. Whose I don’t know and where I have no idea. Pure fantasy.

Coaching? I presume that refers to the NRA’s Director of Grass Roots division being invited in 2006 to come up and put on a workshop on techniques in how to motivate an organization’s membership. That was four years ago and it was a half day workshop. Not my definition of “actively”.

Raising money? A nice thought but I’m afraid that has never happened either. All the figments of a fertile imagination.

Then of course the neat tie-in the the Conservative Party’s advertising to leave the impression that there is a conspiracy there as well.

CA: What is the tone of debate like this time compared with the level of debate that took place at the registry’s creation? The enemies of the registry have been talking this way for years, but now they have more power.

WC: I think that’s really all that has changed. Their arguments are identical. They’re much more sophisticated; when the bill was passing in 1995 and if you looked at media coverage there was no question that they were on our side. The arguments that were being made on the other side were not being parroted, they way they are now. The spokespeople that were advancing those arguments were not slick Bay Street lawyers.

One of the things that is really shocking to me is the amount of resources being marshalled in the effort to dismantle the run registry, and that is partly because the Conservative Party of Canada has lots of cash and it has pulled out all the stops in terms of radio advertisements and trips across the country. They are sparing no expense.

In the gun lobby groups there is more money and more sophistication. They have PR professionals, corporate lawyers… [more] than they did in ’95.

This is really quite funny. The people arguing against the registry are now “slick Bay Street lawyers”. Who the hell are these people and why don’t I know them! And apparently the organizations that are fighting to get rid of the registry (known by WC as the ‘gun lobby’) and which includes provincial Fish & Game Associations, local fish and game clubs, shooting clubs and the like, now have PR professionals and corporate lawyers to promote their side of the issue. Wonderful. I’d just like to know where the money for all of this is coming from (I forgot – must be from the NRA doing all of its invisible fund raising in Canada).


WC: I have the sense that there is more awareness of the issue than there was. Having the police come out as strong as they have has made an impression on some people, because even the gun lobby… it’s hard for people to give much credence to the idea that the police are doing this for political reasons.

Other than the fact that it’s all politics and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have a vested interest in the maintenance of the registry.

CA: Have the opponents to the bill been working together?

WC: The majority of Canadians, I am convinced, still support gun owners registering guns. But the salience of the issue is not that high. If we have public meetings we are always swamped by the gun lobby. Whenever there is an article published the comments are usually swamped by the gun lobby.

So in terms of public events, the gun lobby has always, from the outset, been able to organize hundreds of people waving their fists and shouting against gun control, more than we have.

Let me get this straight. Everyone except a few crackers in the West support the registry, but if WC and her cohorts hold an event they can’t get anyone out in support, but the ‘gun lobby’, which has little credibility, can turn out a bunch of fist wavers and shouters at will. Could that be grass roots support?

WC: There’s concern [about the gun registry being dismantled]. In the United States, finally, there is growing acknowledgment of the fact that gaps of firearms laws there fuel armed violence. And probably with the exception of the United States, most countries in the world are moving towards strengthening their laws.

So much concern in the U.S. that more and more States have passed concealed and open carry legislation while the homicide rates in the country have dropped at a faster rate than that of Canada. Funny how that works.

I have no idea whether WC actually believes everything she says or just goes with the flow. It’s really irrelevant .

The game plan of the anti-gun crowd has always appeared to be demonize, demonize, demonize.

Gun control and gun owner apathy (a rant)

September 19, 2010

The vote on killing Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill to eliminate the long gun registry is on the table in Ottawa for Wednesday, September 22nd.

This is not the 3rd reading of the bill, but a motion put forward my Liberal MP Mark Holland to kill C-391 before it even gets to 3rd reading.

I was told the other evening, in one riding where an MP who previously voted in favour of the bill and who has now switched his vote, a group of firearm owners wanted to gather outside of his constituency office on Monday morning to show him that many of his constituents wanted him to stay the course and vote to rid us of the long gun registry.

Apparently the organizers had talked to some gun owners at the local club’s range that day to see if they would show up for the rally on Monday morning.

The reaction? ‘It was too late to do anything’.

The point being that it was the same attitude that allowed the federal Liberals to ram Bill C-68 through parliament in the first place, giving us the nasty piece of legislation we now have, where honest, legitimate gun owners are targeted as criminals at every step along the way. And of which the long gun registry is part and parcel.

There are a lot of dedicated people out there right now who are working very hard to try and make the case with MPs that the registry is useless, inefficient and has nothing to do with public safety. But can you imagine the impact we could have had if these people who cop out of the process because they are too busy, their letter or phone call won’t make a difference or in this case because ‘it is too late’ actually got involved?

It was the same with Bill C-68 where there seemed to be a common thread that ‘the government wouldn’t do that to us’.

Well they could and they would and they did. And after it was all over it was, ‘how did this happen?’

Well it happened because people sat on their hands and I am afraid that C-391 will go down to defeat as well, because too many people who should have known better just sat on their hands as well.

Some of media (cue CBC) and a number of pro-registry groups and politicians have tried to connect the various wildlife and shooting groups in Canada to the (evil American) NRA. Well to tell you the truth I would like to have a little of that grass roots support that the NRA commands in the US right here in safe and cautious old Canada.

So if C-391 goes down to defeat on September 22nd, don’t ask me how that happened. It happens because we screwed away a legitimate opportunity by waiting to see if the other person would make the effort for us.

Pope apology 15 years too late

September 19, 2010

After years of his church covering up the crimes of the pedophiles in their ranks and transferring deviant priests to new parishes when their crimes began to surface, thereby putting whole new populations at risk, the Pope has finally decided that it is time to address the problem with a statement made on his current London tour.

As he has done on three previous visits, the pope held a private meeting with victims of sexual abuse hours after telling worshippers at a Mass that pedophile priests had brought “shame and humiliation” on him and the Roman Catholic Church.

A shame that they rightly deserve. Not so much because it happened – pedophiles show up in any group, particularly those that tend to exercise power over their members and where they have access to children. The shame and humiliation should come from the disgraceful way in which they tried to avoid the problem, protecting the criminals and even promoting some to higher level positions in the church.

But the mea culpa wasn’t all about how the church and the Pope had been damaged by the abuse scandal.

“I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes …,” he said in his sermon in the towering cathedral built in the late 19th century.

Unfortunately the churches’ thinking about the suffering of the victims has come very late in the game. And certainly the courage to admit to the crimes has come about only with great reluctance.

A book by British Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson argues that Pope Benedict could be legally charged with obstructing justice or for harbouring pedophiles in the priesthood, although he admits that such a turn of events is unlikely to happen.

But the problem that church has is so huge that papal apologies, although necessary, hardly make up any ground for past actions.

Since the dam crumbled around the turn of the decade, a cascade of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy has come tumbling into the open. So many cases emerged that the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference commissioned an expert study, which concluded in 2004 that, since 1950, 10,667 individuals had made plausible allegations against 4,392 priests, 4.3 per cent of the entire body of clergy in that period. The total bill in settlements with victims is spiralling toward $2 billion and won’t stop, Forbes predicts, this side of $5 billion. Depressingly similar stories from other First World countries, including Canada, soon emerged; the situation in Latin America and Africa, where no investigations have ever been made, can only be imagined.

It will be interesting to see how Pope Benedict’s apologies will be be taken.

I know that for myself, when I initially heard the news report, my reaction was one of anger at what I saw as the hypocrisy of an apology when the hierarchy of the church knew what was going on for decades and did nothing. Actually they did worse than nothing. They aided and abetted and if I was a member of the Catholic congregation I don’t know if I could ever accept that apology in good faith.

Lies and distortion in the long-gun registry debate (Part 1)

September 19, 2010

There has been a concentrated push by the anti-gun crew – which apparently includes the CBC – to find some way to prevent the passing of Bill C-391 to eliminate the federal long-gun registry.

The CBC published what they laughingly called a investigative report in which they claimed that the U.S. National Rifle Association was working in Canada to have the federal long gun registry dismantled.

That of course came as one hell of a surprise to those of us who have been involved at various levels in the debate over the years.

The “investigative reporter” based her amazing findings on three separate happenings:

1. The invitation by the BC Wildlife Federation to Charlton Heston, then the very popular president of the NRA, to attend their AGM in Prince George in the year 2000. A decade ago.

2. The invitation by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association in 2005 to Glen Caroline, the director of the NRA’s Grass Roots division to run a workshop on how to engage an organization’s membership, something that the NRA has been extraordinarily successful in doing.

3. The invitation by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association in 2006 to Sandra Froman, then the outgoing president of the NRA, to be the keynote speaker at the CSSA’s AGM.

And actually a fourth “proof of the pudding’ item that showed (at least to the reporter) that the NRA was up to their elbows in Canada’s gun control battle:

In the year 2000 (again, a decade ago) the NRA produced an infomercial, which was broadcast in the U.S., that pointed out Canada’s slide into gun control and the need for American gun owners to be alert and pro-active. Notwithstanding that the infomercial was directed at U.S. gun owners the CBC article apparently saw this as meddling in Canada’s affairs.

Of course the minute the CBC ran this story the pro-registry, anti-gun crowd were on it like white on rice.

Liberal David McGuinty immediately came forward and insisted that the Conservatives should disclose any funding they had received from the NRA. Oblivious (or studiously ignoring) the fact that the story had stated that the NRA’s constitution specifically barred them from doing that.

McGuinty also intoned, “If the NRA wants to fight its good fight over its views on guns, it should do so in the United States.”

I wonder if these guys ever think about how mindless and pompous they sound when they spout on about issues that they know nothing about but can’t stop their mouth from moving when a microphone appears.

But that is what the NRA is doing; fighting the good fight in the USA and doing it well.

Oh, and this one really amused me.

Michael Bryant, formerly Ontario’s attorney general, said the NRA has been agitating in Canadian political backrooms for years.

“I got elected in 1999 and I became aware soon after of the NRA’s involvement in the debate — not in a huge way, but in a significant way,” he said.

Canadians need to know the role the NRA has played in the gun registry debate, Bryant said

A bold statement, but apparently the investigative reporter neglected to ask Mr. Bryant in just what significant way the NRA had been involved in Canadian backrooms. Or if she did (although based on the reportage in the rest of the article I highly doubt that) he was short on examples.

Unfortunately the supporters of keeping the registry intact become so desperate once there appeared to be a good chance that C-391 might actually get passed that they have had no problem with making up their stories out of whole cloth.

The plan seems to be when in doubt, muddy the waters.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell switches votes on gun registry bill

September 13, 2010

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell voted for Bill C-391, which would eliminate the long-gun registry, for both 1st and 2nd readings.

However, since his Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff, has said he will now whip his caucus’ vote on the bill, Mr. Bagnell has stated that he will now vote against the bill and support keeping the long-gun registry intact.

Ironically Mr. Bagnall was co-chair of the federal Outdoor Caucus. Don’t know whether that committee is still functioning and if it is, whether Mr. Bagnall is still involved.

An interesting report and commentary on an interview with Mr. Bagnell over his vote switch:

The firearms registry and the desperate Liberals

September 5, 2010

As the time gets closer to the vote to get rid of the long-gun registry, the Liberal Party tries its best to confuse the issue in an apparently desperate attempt to convince people – and probably some of their own MPs – that the registry is no different than all of the other little licensing and registries that are imposed upon us.

The latest is a release which is “From the Leader of the Opposition” and titled Just the Facts: Things you have to register.

In part it reads:

Just consider how silly some of the Conservative and NDP arguments against registering firearms sound when you replace firearms with commons sense items that Canadians are used to registering:

  • Criminals won’t register their dogs anyway, so what’s the point?
  • The government wants you to get a fishing license so they can seize all of your fishing poles!
  • The car registration scheme in this country costs millions a year and does nothing to prevent road accidents!
  • You already have to pass a driver’s test to be able to drive a car, so what’s the point of having to register your car?
  • There was a boating accident last week, and the boating registration scheme did nothing to prevent that from happening!

To help you keep track, here’s a list of things you have to register, if you want to own, do, or receive the following:

Owning livestock, including James Bezan’s horse “Woody”
Driving Stephen Harper’s “I make the rules” All-Terrain-Vehicle
Owning dogs and cats
Owning and driving motor vehicles
Getting married
Having a baby
Going fishing
Going boating
Owning a corporation
Owning land
Being a lobbyist
Providing professional services:
–    Lawyers
–   Doctors
–    Engineers
–    Architects
–    Accountants
Owning copyright and intellectual property
Being a member of the Conservative Party of Canada
Having a healthcare card
Qualifying for Old Age Security
Qualifying for the Canada Pension Plan
Qualifying for the Canada Child Tax Credit and Universal Child Care Benefit
Having a Registered Retirement Savings Plan
Having a Registered Education Savings Plan
Having a Tax Free Savings Account
Getting a Permanent Resident Card
Qualifying for Employment Insurance

Now I don’t know the intelligence quotient of the person or persons who wrote this tripe, but whatever they were paid to write this up for The Leader of the Opposition (AKA The Honourable Michael Ignatieff) was akin to robbery. But then again the Liberals, in all seriousness, sent it out as an official release. Read into that what you may.

To begin with, the clever Liberals forgot to mention that none of the above examples come with a criminal record if you don’t comply and many of their examples are not compulsory either.

But for a start.

Criminals won’t register their dogs anyway, so what’s the point?

Exactly. As well, probably the vast number of dog owners never bother to register or to use a better term, licence their dogs anyway.

The government wants you to get a fishing license so they can seize all of your fishing poles!

This is a really stupid one. Fishing and hunting license fees are set to generate funds for the ongoing operations of the various provincial governments’ Fish & Wildlife branches. Although a lot of that revenue may be sucked off into the black hole of general revenue. If you don’t hunt or fish you don’t pay the licence fees. And as far as fishing goes, they haven’t started a fishing pole registry yet.

The car registration scheme in this country costs millions a year and does nothing to prevent road accidents!

No it certainly doesn’t. Car registration started in most places as far back as 1904 when governments saw that there were going to be a lot of them using roads that would have to be built and considerable cost. So the registration of cars was a tax initiative and has grown, as most bureaucracies do, to what it is today.

We all pay our water bills but it doesn’t stop bathtub fatalities. About the same level of stupidity as the car registration argument.

You already have to pass a driver’s test to be able to drive a car, so what’s the point of having to register your car?

Whoa. You stepped right into that one Mr. Ignatieff.

I already have to pass a test and obtain a licence to buy a firearm, so what’s the point of having to register my guns? Good question! We’ve been saying that all along. Let me know when you come up with an answer.

There was a boating accident last week, and the boating registration scheme did nothing to prevent that from happening!

You’re absolutely right again. What is the point of the boating registration ‘scheme’. Taxation? I think that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind. The old government axiom: If they own it. Tax it.

The rest of the list? Registering as an accountant, lawyer etc.? Those are professional associations that have obtained the rights and authority from government to control and self-police their members and keep their membership exclusive. You might have a law degree and be a brilliant lawyer, but if you aren’t a member of the Law Society you won’t be practicing law.You don’t have to join. Only if you want to work.

Why go on. The rest of the examples are just as nonsensical.

The only frightening thing is that someone might read this garbage and actually think, “Duh, them Liberals have got a point there”.

Nah – nobody could really be that dumb.

Do they really want to confiscate your guns?

September 3, 2010

This is a bit disconcerting. But considering that it is the PEI Chief Firearms Officer and staff that is understandable.

Either an exercise in incredible stupidity by a bunch of government bureaucrats or a demonstration of the contempt that they hold for firearms owners. Maybe both.