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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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Knickers in a Knot

It's great to live in a country which has so few problems that the Minister of Immigration, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Opposition can was hours of Parliamentary time discussing the immigration needs of exotic dancers. Apparently Canada has a shortage of pretty young women willing to dance naked in beer halls. So, like dollar store merchandise and computers - we import 'em. On a priority basis.

This worries the Liberal ladies. "Sgro says once the women get to Canada they often run into problems. "They don't have a lot of language skills and they're ripe for exploitation." And Minister Sgro is going to fix this...
Sgro says she is changing the system and she plans to have applications from exotic dancers looked at on a case by case basis.

She says she also wants to make sure there are support systems in place once they arrive.
Now, the exotic dancers I have known have usually had a support system in the form of an out of work metal drummer who scores their dope and drives them to gigs. Often he is so supportive that the girl has no money left at the end of the month. I wonder if there are enough out of work metal drummers to go around...Oh well, we can always import some.


Cradle Robbing

Children whose experience of education begins as young as two are likely to have up to a year's head start over those who are exclusively cared for at home, leading professors of education reported yesterday.
the guardian
Perfect. Now we have the state telling us that if you start teaching a kid to read when he or she is two they will do better when they are seven. Of course there are some downsides...apparently kids raised in nurseries tend to be just a titch more anti-social than those raised at home. But, not to worry, that disappears at seven.

The agenda of the study was make crystal clear by the minister,
Margaret Hodge, the children's minister, said the research brought decisive reassurance for parents having pangs of guilt about putting their children into a nursery at a young age.

"This stunning, comprehensive piece of research means we can now say definitively, for the first time, that high quality pre-school experiences have lasting effects ... throughout the early years of primary school," she said.
What is remarkable about this is that the conclusions were based on the kids' performance at seven. By which point the high achieving daycare kids had been in the states care for five years!

Is it just me or is something rather drastically wrong with a society which prizes seven year old reading performance enough to haul kids away from their parents at two? I guess I am really old fashioned but I thought Sam and his friend Westin were learning lots yesterday in the rain as they tried, with four year old gusto, to delimb a cedar tree with a rusty, blunt saw. ("Can we use the good saw, Daddy?") But I suspect digging deep holes, imagining that you are running a construction site and arborial studies were not tested by the British education profs.


An audiotape attributed to Iraq's most feared terrorist lashed out yesterday at Sunni Muslim clerics for not speaking out against U.S. attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the tape posted yesterday on an Islamic website, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi condemned the "silence" of Muslim religious figures, saying they have "let us down in the darkest circumstances.'
the star
The article goes on to report, without comment, that two clerics from the Association of Muslim Scholars which opposed the reduction of Fallujah were assasinated.

I have occassionally commented that the Americans are not nearly ruthless enough to be an Imperial power. which I think is true. But I also think that the iraqis have had more than enough of the murderous activities of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and are fed up with the clerics who seem intent on supporting him. and the Iraqis can be very ruthless indeed.


As this story unfolds, and it is looking like there is a chance the people of the Ukraine may be able to topple the oligarchs, it is worthwhile to read reports from the front. Post-Modern Clog is blogging regularily and providing background for those of us who are trying to figure out what's up.


Grumpy in Canada

Paul Martin wants to make the Yukon, Muckluck and whatever the hell the other territory's name is provinces...someday. I cannot imagine anything which is a less pressing issue.

Of course, when it comes to issues you have to hand it to the boys in Newfoundland. They figure that the only basis for negotiation on the offshore oil royalties - which they are not actually entitled to consitutionally - is that they get 100% of the royalties and keep their equalization. From have not to super province in a decade. Give your heads a shake boys. If you take the revenue you lose the equalization. I mean it is not as if God himself said "And Newfoundland shall always be poor enough to get equalization - even when it isn't."

Meanwhile, Stockwell Day continues to be an ornament to the Conservative cause,
Stockwell Day is pointing to a published report that includes the suggestion that Yasser Arafat had AIDS in explaining why he didn't send condolences on the death of the PLO leader.
As regular readers know I am delighted that the Troll of RamallahTM is dead. I posted as to Frum's speculation that he may have had AIDS. But why would the Conservative FP critic not send condolences if it was AIDS?

One might be tempted to skip the condolences because Arafat was a murdering terrorist SOB who destroyed the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people by repeatedly lying his face off; but since when is death by AIDS a reason not to send condolences?

The Tories really are remarkably flatfooted, not to say dumb. This needs to change or we will have another delightful few years of the Liberals.

Emracing France

Apparently the citizens of the Ivory Coast are less than delighted to have French troops firing into crowds of peaceful demonstrators:

Of course, to their credit, the French were using nuanced bullets.


Back when I actually had a paycheque I duely paid my EI premiums and, at one point, collected EI. Not a bad program all in as it increases the mobility of Canada's workforce and finances job transitions. (And yes there are truly strange abuses - sports fishing in the Maritimes being one of them.)

In today's rather dull Auditor General's Report, Ms. Fraser points out,
On employment insurance, Fraser said the government is evading the intent of the law by pumping more money every year into a fund swollen to $46 billion, or three times what actuaries feel is needed.

The government has cut contribution rates over the years and said in the 2004 budget it was reviewing the situation.

"In our view, Parliament did not intend for the account to accumulate a surplus beyond what could reasonably be spent for employment insurance purposes," the report said.
cp via yahoo
Now, 46 billion, 30 billion over what is actually needed, is a lot of money. Money which comes directly out of the paycheques of ordinary Canadians.

If the Conservative Party were on the ball it would have a proposal, in Parliament, for a radical reduction in EI premiums. Put it up as a private members bill and line up the Bloc and the NDP to support it.

Cutting EI premiums by, say, one third would put real money into the hands of Canadians every two weeks.

Rather Gone

Dan Rather is resigning as anchor of the CBS Evening News. He did not mention the forged memos. Rather, at 72, Dan wants to get back to being a "hard news reporter". Far from the madding crowd of pyjama clad bloggers.


Less Mainstream by the day

The Post just wrapped up its annual self-evaluation meeting, an offsite event that includes top editors and executives from the paper's business side. This year's meeting focused on the paper's declining circulation -- now at 709,500 daily copies, down 10 percent over the past two years -- and the results of an extensive readership survey taken last summer.
washington post via kate at small dead animals
So the Post is going to go the shorter stories/bigger graphics route. Dumb down the paper and see if it sells more copies....Hmmmm.

A smarter move would be to ask how many of the missing 70,000 copies have been replaced by the people who read parts of the Post online. And then set out to expand and monatize (what an awful word) that online base.

The Post and many other dead tree newspapers have seen the very thin end of the wedge of "always on" hunting and gathering on the net. Losing 5% a year is nothing to waht is coming as electric paper combines with RSS feeds and freelance editors to bring the news, opinion and a babe of the hour to users via WiFi.

The pieces, if not the prices, are already coming together. And, when they do, the issues in the news room will not be "diversity", they'll be who is going to turn out the lights for the final time.


The need for a realist Left

I have been trolling about in the comments sections of The Tyee and Politics Canada. At both locations the anti-American left is hard at it denoucing America as a "rogue state" and trying hard to spin the successes in Iraq as failures. Sweet Carolyn Parrish is touted as visionary and a pox called down on the "Bush regime".

here's the problem. At some point the left will either hold power or the balance of power (as they do now) in Canada. While it is great fun to poke holes in the conspiracy theories and the paranoia, the fact is that the left's illusions may end up being policy in Canada.

At the moment, the left in the United States is wrestling with the dilemma posed by Bush's re-election. How could they have become so out of touch with America? Why are the people in the flyover states not responding to the left's message? They have not quite reached the point of suggesting there is something flawed in that message; but at least some of the American left are headed in that direction.

Not so, apparently, in Canada. Here the left, perhaps because it is largely powerless, seems to feel free to indulge in a fantasy life which suggests direct connection to an alternative universe.

The question, and I don't have an answer, is whether there is a realist faction on the left. That is a group which is capable of recognizing that the United States is both the only super power and not actually the heart of darkness. (Which is not to say that such a group might not critize the States; but reasonably rather than reflexively.)

If there is such a faction why don't we hear more from them?