Saturday, March 31, 2007


You know, I could do something on today being the anniversary of Newfoundland joining confederation, but there's no shortage of people willing to discuss that. Or something else on Danny Williams and politics. But frankly, I could use a break and Corey sent me an e-mail link about the video below. I only got around to looking at the other day.

It manages to be funny, vastly disturbing and oddly touching all at the same time.

Anyway, here's Kermit the Frog singing Nine Inch Nail's (and covered in devastating fashion by Johnny Cash) "Hurt.

Friday, March 30, 2007

So who should lead?

So I've been joining in the merry little attack wagon on Danny Williams in the last few days. There's nothing wrong with that, by the way. I have a long history of criticizing governments. How else are you supposed to let them know what they're doing wrong? And I believe that Williams is currently badly off the rails as Newfoundland's premier.

So who should be the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador after the October election?

Danny Williams, obviously.

Yeah, I know. Look, let's face facts. Neither of the current opposition leaders - Gerry Reid and Lorraine Michael - are ready to step into the big chair. Reid didn't even really want to be party leader and still acts like he would genuinely prefer to be doing just about anything else right now. And there's no way that anyone, even the most hardcore, fanatic New Democrat, can believe that Michael is ready to be premier and that the NDP could handle governing. Even in the unlikely possibility that the entire voting populace of the province spontaneously got stoned and lost their minds on election day.

So Williams is it. I'm a realist, and realistically of the three party leaders, he's the best one to be premier.

What I want from Williams is to shape the fuck up. Seriously. His mom needs to shake him, his wife slap him or someone in his cabinet grow a pair of balls and say something to him. Or a TV set could drop on his head. Something. Anything.

I have no doubt that he's a smart man. I have no doubt that he has fine political skills. I have no doubt he could make an excellent premier and do real wonders in turning around the province. I thought that when he first got elected back in 2003. But he's not doing it now and it's frustrating as hell. I don't know if it was his success with the Atlantic Accord, that he apparently has no one who he respects that contradicts him, personal problems (the rumour is buzzing enough that I'm hearing it up here, so....) or whatever. But the Williams Express needs to get on the rails and soon.

Ideally what would happen in the election later this year is that the Conservatives lose seats and the populace make it known they want Williams to chart a new direction public policy wise and focus less on picking fights with Ottawa and actually working with the federal government to get things done. That most of the current Liberals don't run and that the party get some people with, you know, actual pulses in the House of Assembly. People who want to be there. And that the NDP get there couple of seats so they can raise the occasional useful point.

That's what I want. Dare to dream, I guess...

Snow day again

I'm home again this afternoon....another blizzard day in Iqaluit. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's just that there's been a lot of them this month. I haven't kept exact track of how many days I've been off work for weather related reasons in March, but I would think five days certainly wouldn't be too far off the mark.

It's funny, when I was a journalist I went to work no matter how bad the weather. Cathy used to really worry about some of the weather I went out in. I went to work times when my father, the mailman, was told to stay home (for the record, dad would have went out in it, because that's just who he is). Granted, I tended to work for companies that would prefer you harm yourself in a car accident than give you the day off, but still (note: I worked in weekly newspapers. What difference did it make if I was at work as long as it wasn't a deadline day?). Now that I've changed professions, I got a lot more days off.

I actually have a vacation day left over that I was supposed to use before the end of March (I can roll over some vacation days from one year to the next, but I had to use this one day). However, I've had so many days off in March that I really didn't want to take it. I'll get financially compensated instead, which is probably just as well.

Trying to figure out when to close things down is always a tricky racket. Lord knows people did enough grumbling about it back in Newfoundland. It's harder here, with the unpredictability of the weather. Although they made the right call today, as visibility is down to a few hundred feet or less.

Here's the thing, though. When this is all said and done, I imagine the total snow fall for this blizzard will be less than five centimeters. That amount of snow wouldn't count as a dusting in Newfoundland. Barely a nuisance. Between five and 19 centimeters is an inconvenience. More than 20 might classify as a blizzard if the winds were up high enough.

But a blizzard up here is a different thing. Yes, there is less snow. But I think people are always surprised by how little snow there is in the arctic. Remember, this place is very dry. We really don't get as much precipitation as other pasts of Canada, and certainly nowhere near what Newfoundland gets. Twenty centimeters in one shot would be apocylptic up here.

However, what our blizzards lack in snow, they make up for in other ways. The snow that falls tends to be very "dry", which means it cam blow around for days after it falls. So when the wind picks up, it's nothing for visibility to drop in a hurry. Also, there is no vegetation and few buildings to act as wind breaks. We don't get it as bad here as they do in Rankin Inlet, where the terrain is very flat (we do have some hills), but again, the snow really does blow around up here.

But the big difference is the cold. Most blizzards down south take place around the freezing mark. Not so much up here right now. The temperature right now is -17 with a wind chill of -33. We had a blizzard earlier this month with wind chill around -50. Combine that with no visibility and it's really not something you would want to be wandering around outside in for more than a few moments.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Going national

Craig Westcott's comments have been picked up by Paul Wells of Macleans. It should be interesting to see if Craig's comments get wider distribution and what the reaction will be, if any, both locally and nationally.

Who wants to be a traitor?

When I did my little rant about The Express closing, a friend in St. John's e-mailed me and said not to worry about burning bridges with it, that Craig Westcott had burned more bridges than he had ever walked across and was still getting work.

My response was that Westcott is twice the journalist that I am and has more lives than a shelter full of cats. That was before I read his speech at NOIA today, reprinted on Geoff Meeker's blog.

I'll repeat here what I said there – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. That man really wouldn't take shit from the devil himself.

I sat about 10 feet behind him during a Senate committee meeting on media concentration where he lambasted Transcontinental for their treatment of The Express and his concerns about what owning so many papers in Newfoundland would mean. Craig was the only journalist in the province to appear before the committee and one of the few, if not perhaps the only one, in the country to criticize their employer.

That takes balls.

What he did today, which was basically to call the premier of the province a power mad dictator one generation removed from Joey Smallwood and who should be put down like a rabid political dog was...something else. Balls doesn't really quite cover what it took to stand up and make that speech. It's something else entirely and something rarely seen in the province. The guts to criticize those in power, even though it might hurt your livelihood, the intelligence to make a coherent argument and the creativity to put it into words that everyone can understand, appreciate and be captivated by.

Hell, I tried to do put something together yesterday attacking Williams and it seems incoherent and hackneyed in comparison. And with due respect to Ed and Liam, also critics of the premier, who have tons of information at their fingertips but sometimes get bogged down, it can take a writer of Westcott's skill to get the point across as gracefully as he did today.

Anyway, I tip my hat to my former colleague and good friend. That was a hell of a piece of writing.

Two other interesting asides, watching the comments come in. First, that government suppporters are clearly going to attack Craig for the section on the government not advertising in his paper. First of all, the paper isn't failing nor is Westcott saying it is. He is saying that it's curious that of all the media in the province, the one the government is not advertising with is the one with the editor most critical of the premier. Peckford did it back in the days of the Sunday was a shitty tactic then that was heavily criticized and it's still shitty now. It's a typical tactic, ignore the meat of the speech of what he's saying and twist and attack a small point.

Secondly, I think there could be real money to be made on a series of t-shirts that says Danny Williams hates you. "Danny Williams thinks I suck." "Danny Williams stalks my blog", "A traitor to Dannyland", "The Newfoundland government thinks I'm a traitor"...stuff along those lines. I imagine we can come up with a few more catchy slogans. We just need some nice graphic images to go along with them. Anyone want to take it from here?

Smacking Danny around

1. Well, apparently Harper is going to take any crap from Danny. I mean, yes, spending tens of thousands of dollars on those ridiculous ads certainly got Danny some attention, just like it did a few years ago. However, unlike the last time he did this:

A. The current prime minister apparently has a spine.
B. The Canadian public has heard this shtick before.
C. Nobody seems all that impressed by this racket.
D. The premier apparently has no game plan on what he wants by doing all of this.

I mean, the budget is passed, the prime minister could give a rat's ass what Williams thinks and has pretty much made it clear that the whole province could vote Liberal in the next election and he wouldn't particularly care, since he'll make up those seats by sucking up to Quebec.

So remind me what the genius strategy here is again? To get reelected by picking a fight to Ottawa? Well, that's more than passing retarded as Williams is going to win the next election. He was going to win the election back in 2003 when they beat up the Liberals.

So again, why is he doing this? I'm honestly not sure if he knows at this point. It just seems silly. And I suspect it's doing far more harm than good at this point.

2. I haven't been following the Hart murder case as closely as most people in Newfoundland have been. The verdict of guilty doesn't strike me as that surprising. And when your defence attorney's closing argument can basically be summed up as, "find my client not guilty because he's a liar." then you know you're in a world of trouble.

But here's the part I found interesting, the howling for his blood on the Globe and Mail's message board. A nice few people wanted to see him executed. I never thought of Canadians as a particularly blood-thirsty people, but reading some of those comments certainly gave me pause.

This is one of these areas where myself and Cathy actually disagree. She has no problem with the death penalty. I, on the other hand, do. And I certainly understand her reasons, that some crimes are so vicious and cruel that the people who commit them deserve to die. Hart may well be such a person (there's actually a case in Georgia right now so reprehensible that it was almost enough to change my mind. Go here if you want to learn more, but it's not for the weak of heart).

But my thing is that there has always been enough examples, just in Newfoundland alone, of the wrong person being sent to jail. And yes, there is a certain grim satisfaction of seeing someone die for their monstrous crime, but I can't imagine how it would feel to execute someone only to discover that you were wrong afterwards.

Hart will spend the rest of his life in jail. It will not be a pleasant life. That's enough for me.

3. Regular blog readers will be happy that there should be nor more curling posts until October or so. I played my final game of the season this evening, a blow-out loss in the A final. Disappointing, really. Still, it was a fun season and I had a good time.

4. This week's weigh-in sees me at 231 pounds, down one pound. Slow and steady, folks...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Perhaps a bit too far

I don't like smoking and anyone who knows me is pretty much aware of that. You might think it odd that so many of my friends smoke, but as they like to point out, I eat too much crap and that's just as likely to kill me as their cigarette smoke. It's a vice detente as it were.

But when I was with The Express I wrote editorials supporting the banning of cigarettes in public areas. I was very much in favour of getting rid of it in bars. And, oddly enough, I've noticed the hospitality industry in Newfoundland hasn't collapsed on itself with the ban.

This is the way you get cut back on cigarettes, by the way. Not taxing it to death, because people will just smuggle in cigarettes. You hurt it by nibbling it to death. You'll ever get rid of it completely, but the last estimate I read said that between 20-25 per cent of Newfoundlanders still smoke. I think within 20 years you'll see that number under 10 per cent. And that's an acceptable number.

I'm sure there's more tweaking to be done to the legislation, but I'm pretty comfortable to where it is now. I know there was some talk last year about making it illegal to smoke in cars, which struck me as a touch silly. And then there is this article, which says that a recent poll showed a majority of people in Ontario would be in favour of banning smoking in apartment buildings.

Understand, that I have empathy of this position. The last apartment we lived in clearly had ventilation problems that allowed cigarette smoke from a neighbouring unit into our space. If nothing else, it firmly changed my mind on legalizing marijuana for usage in a person's private residence, which I supported. Along with the regular cigarette smoke we were getting more than our fair share of marijuana smoke as well. It was a bloody nuisance because our neighbour was too stupid (or, you know, stoned, to do basic things like turn on the oven fan, crack a window on mild days or put a damp towel across their door. Or burn incense. Anything to make it less obvious.

But I don't think I'm quite ready for the government to legislate what I can or can't do in the privacy of my own home, especially if the activity is legal, as smoking still is. Some building owners are making their apartments smoke-free, and I have no problem with that. It's their property and if they don't want the hassles of dealing with cigarette smoke or apartments reeking when they want to rent it out to new tenants, then that's understandable. Same way you see many apartments don't allow pets. I think in the years to come, apartments that don't allow smoking will have a much lower vacancy rate than those that do allow it.

Also, good luck trying to enforce that law. Once you get neighbours ratting each other out to the police over smoking, well, that's a pretty slippery slope.

So nice idea, and I truly empathize. One of the things I like about this place is that apparently none of our neighbours smoke. But that's going a step too far.

Monday, March 26, 2007

One last word...

A lot of traffic through the blog today with a good chunk of it coming from Geoff's blog, but it also appears that a few people have been e-mail a link to the blog post as well. Gotta love Statcounter for this kind of thing. Unsurprisingly, more than a few people with IPs from Transcontinental have landed her in the last 24 hours as well.

Geoff expressed some surprise that I didn't go all apocalyptic on the news of the closure of the Express. But really, I've made my peace with this happening for quite some time. It's not like the writing wasn't on the wall for months. I was curious if The Express was going to be the first to fall, or was The Independent, Current or Scope going to go first. Because there are a lot of papers being published in town right now. Odds are there were going to be casualties.

That doesn't change my mind, though, that the paper should have been able to make it. That I don't believe Transcon when they say they did everything they could to make the paper work. At best the paper was treated with the indifference you have of a small fish in a big company like Transcon. It also doesn't help when you have your former competition in senior management positions running the show.

But that's probably just me being paranoid.

Anyway, it's in the past now. It's a dead paper and won't be coming back so there's little sense dwelling on it. I guess Transcon will just have to find something else to hold all their fliers on Thursdays...


Back in 1998 I tried to get a job with The Express. It didn't happen for a variety of reasons. Instead I ended up with the Packet. Which was an experience I was deeply grateful for. The Packet's editor, Barbara Dean-Simmons, is a good friend to this day and remains, in my mind, one of the finest journalists/editors in the province. I learned a lot about how to be a journalist at that paper.

But Barb always knew I wanted to go back to St. John's because that's where I'm from. And odds are I was going to work with The Express. During my time with the Packet, the paper's company, Robinson-Blackmore, decided to revamp The Express. After the Sunday Express folded the paper struggled along for several years as just The Express. But those around felt the paper could still be quite good, if not what it once was in its glory days. Rob Antle, now a reporter with The Telegram, was the editor of the new revamped Express.

I remember being quite impressed with the paper when I was still with The Packet. They did a nice job cutting out a new niche for themselves. They were a community newspaper in St. John's. Community newspapers often get a bad rap, and that's too bad. They serve a purpose and are often quite good. I mentioned the Packet earlier and that paper has more journalism awards, regional and national, than it does wall space. So did The Express. It's not all big news stories. Sometimes it's the little news, or the profiles of interesting people trying to make a difference in the community with the stories that others miss.

It's a hard job and people's don't respect you, although it's honest journalism. It's that much harder when you're in the capital city and "in competition" with a bunch of other major news outlets.

Eventually, in September of 2001, I got my shot with The Express. I didn't apply, I was asked to take the position of associate editor. I was very proud of that offer and proud to work with the paper. Hell, I had dreams of one day perhaps being editor of the paper.

That's obviously never going to happen now. The Express is gone, as of last week. It was losing money and anyone with an eye for how the media works could tell that. In the press release on Geoff Meeker's blog, it's said the paper folded because it had been losing money for quite some time, even before Transcon purchased it in 2004. But here's the thing, the paper was profitable in 2002.

Yeah, profitable. One of the bosses with the paper used to like making the reporters and sales staff sit down with him several times a year and show where the paper was doing well and where it wasn't. What need to be done better, what needed to be tightened up and where we were doing well. And in 2001, when I joined, it was close. Everyone was excited by how close they came to making money that year. And they nailed it in 2002. Profitable. Not a lot of money, but enough to finally make people think that the paper had turned the corner and that the big revamp had paid off. There was talk of running the paper twice a week. Spirits were high.

If I recall, things went down a bit in 2003. A dip in advertising due to fewer car ads, but most people felt that it was just a blip. That the paper could get it back the next year.

Then Transcon bought the paper in 2004, along with just about every other community newspaper in the province, with the caveat by the federal competition bureau to keep The Express and the Log printing, as long as it was viable. The Log is gone and three years after it was bought, The Express is gone. Not before it was gutted, humiliated and reduced to a pale shadow. Craig Westcott, one of the finest journalists in the province either bailed or was pushed, depending on your interpretation. I left for reasons that had nothing to do with what was happening at the paper, but scarcely a week goes by that I haven't told Cathy that I was glad that I got out when I did. And, of course, they laid off Donnie Power, probably the best sports reporter in the province, but not before they reduced him to covering stories they I personally consider degrading for a man of his talents and abilities.

And poor Steve Bartlett. I haven't spoken to Steve in months. For all I know he's pissed at some of the things I've written in this blog. All I know is he sweated blood for the paper, did everything he could to keep it going even when I'm sure decisions were being made above him that he must have considered disastrous. The latest being the ill-conceived notion of making The Express a "youth paper". It was never going to work. If I had been there I would have said it wasn't going to work. It was plain to see a year ago that it wasn't going to work. Yes, they spent money on a big revamp. You know what would have been a better use for all that money? Other goddamn reporter, something we all begged for, but never got. Instead, a flashy, useless, ugly and ultimately disastrous revamp. Colour me unimpressed with Transcon's "commitment."

It's conspiracy-minded paranoia to say that Transcon wanted to destroy the paper. However, it's naivete to say that Transcon particularly gave a damn about whether the paper lived or died. The Express, when I left, was a decent paper. A few tweaks editorial, such as another reporter, would have helped (when I left myself and Donnie were the only full-time reporters. Westcott was splitting his time between The Express and editing a mining magazine and an oil and gas mag. Steve was trying to keep the paper going and was often too busy to write). Something new in sales would have been good. And perhaps some fresh thinking to help the perpetual pain in the ass that was distribution would have been good. But that wasn't a paper on life support. Far from it.

How do I feel? I'm relieved that I didn't stay in St. John's and now be facing unemployment. I'm worried for my friends, and not just in editorial, but also those in layout and sales. I'm furious that this was allowed to happen.

I'm also pretty sure I just signed my death warrant for working in St. John's newspaper media. But to hell with it. I just saw a part of my life folded up and blown away. I'm not feeling the particular urge to say diplomatic things right now.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Extreme curling

So I spent all day yesterday taking part in the last curling bonspiel of the year. Hopefully I still have two regular season play-off games left, but regardless the ice is coming up this Saturday. Which might seem a bit early, but after yesterday's conditions, perhaps not.

For the record, I didn't win anything. Our team didn't do that well, but I played lots and was appropriately tired but in a pretty good mood when I got home last night. Nor did I win any of the four plane tickets that were up for grabs. Ah well. I will never win plane ticket up here. Some win plane tickets all the time. I am destined to not be one of these people.

No, the Extreme Curling came from the conditions inside the rink. The wall and ceiling are all metal and along each are hundreds of rivets. Ice and frost tends to collect along those rivets. Normally, it's not a problem. Most games are played in the evening or it's too cold for anything too happen.

But yesterday we played in the daytime. And while the temperature outside didn't go much higher than -15, there was some strength to the sun. Add in the extra warmth of a couple of dozen bodies curling and, well, we had an extra challenge on our hands.

Basically, the ice started to fall off the ceiling. Now, we're not talking CN Tower kind of ice with enough momentum to kill people. I only heard or saw of two people getting hit by falling ice at the rink. Which, considering the amount that was falling, borders on the miraculous.

But the ice presented other challenges. It shattered when it landed on the curling surface, meaning there was all kinds of grainy bits of ice. This occasionally made the rocks do weird things. Not to mention it got under the grip of your shoes, making it a bit slippery out there.

Then the ice was refreeze to the curling surface, adding extra bumps. I had one rock look like it was hitting speed bumps all the way down the ice. A couple of games we had to stop in-between ends, break out a scraper to take out the bumps, and then reclean the ice to remove all the debris.

Let's just say it made for an interesting day. I'm not complaining (ok, after one game I was complaining, but I got over it). But it was certainly a wild way to bring the curling season to a close.

An no, I haven't forgotten the Express. That will be up this evening.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

There goes my Ex

I only got home a few minutes ago from the last curling bonspiel of the season and not in a particularly wonderful mood after getting smoked, when I discovered that The Express is gone.

I appreciate a few people are probably curious as to what I think about this. And I will comment. But it's late, I'm tired and not in an especially good mood and now I've just read this kick to the guts. Basically, until I'm in a better head space, it's probably best that I not comment.

I will, because I have things to say. But I want to say it right. So you're all going to have to wait a little while longer.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ahhh, my friends

Owen's Mom is horrified to discover that my wife is not perfect. I shall refrain from commenting other than to say she's close.

Sadly, exposure to Monty Python has already taken place and failed to have any positive effect. I already own a copy of The Holy Grail, along with Live From the Hollywood Bowl, And Now For Something Complete Different and a few other Python discs. Hell, I even tried putting the soundtrack to Spamalot! on her iPod. She requested it be removed.

Sadly, some people's brains are just not wired for this kind of genius humour. She believes it's something you should have grown out of by the time you hit 19. However, OM may be happy to know that Cathy will gladly take her up on any opportunity to go drinking with her because she considers OM to be a fairly nifty chick herself. Although she believes the shrubbery can safely be left at home and that coconuts should be used for umbrellas and not "stupid horse noises."


For those curious, Dups has finally (that must have been some hang over considering how long it took for him to put them online) posted the results of the Annual St. Patrick's Day Drunk Dial. The winner was a wise choice since it is never wise to annoy the Queen, especially after she's had a few pints. She can be a real bugger when pissed.

For my money, the runner-up is "The Pirate Patricks", proving that a stupid concept can be funny if done just right. If I heard properly, another of my friends, Hans, did that one.

Oh, and Chris, I'm already baptized (see the "Baptized with spit" drunk dial entry). So should I be stuck dying in a jungle and you're nearby (and let's face it, odds are you will have something to do with me being in that condition) I'm already baptized so there is no need to spit on me. Just a head's up.

Ahhh, my friends. Hard to believe so many of them are still alive after 30 when I think about it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh Danny, WTF?

Pop quiz, people. In this picture from last week's Independent (Photo Credit Paul Daly), Premier Danny Williams…

1. Is having some fun with his Irish heritage.
2. Already had a bit too much fun regarding his Irish heritage, if you know what I mean.
3. Has clearly lost his mind.

You know there was a point when I would have went with A, but now I think that it might be C. It happens, of course. I can't speak for pan-Canadian politicians, but Newfoundland politics clearly drives those involved with it mad after awhile. The higher you go in power, the quicker you're likely to go mad.

I can say many things about Clyde Wells, but I always gave him credit for getting out when he did. Seven years and done. About the smartest thing he ever did. He could have stuck around. Possibly could have even won a third term. But he saw the writing on the wall, saw that he was possible already beginning to lose it and got out before the drooling became noticeable.

Smallwood was, of course, barking mad by the time the late 60s came around. Moores probably wasn't far off it either by the time he got out. Peckford was as mad a hatter when he left, riding his mutant, Sprung-grown cucumber off into the sunset.

Hell, Tobin was certifiable before he ever took the job. Going to Ottawa will make the best of them loonies. Spending time in cabinet for three years and having unsubtle aspirations on becoming prime minister and figuring a stint as Newfoundland's premier is just the ticket to make you more palatable, is pretty clearly a sign that you're mental.

Tulk wasn't there long enough to go mad, although arguments could be made regarding his sanity. And Grimes wasn't so much insane as just fucked. Grimes was fucked from the instant he won the leadership by 14 votes under dubious circumstances. If he had been reelected, maybe he would have been fucking nuts, but as it stands, he was just fucked.

Which brings us to Williams. I'm not saying he had a shot at beating the curse, but there were promising signs. He landed the Atlantic Accord, seemed reasonably bright and was pretty much promising two elections and then he was done. All good signs.

Sadly, it seems Danny's mental dissolution is progressing ahead of schedule for the average Newfoundland premier. I can't really say why. Perhaps a large, heavy binder filled with opinion polls fell on his head. But he's showing all the signs. Exhibit #1, that picture. Did he learn nothing from Leo Puddister, who did a similar cover several years ago to much mocking.

The next is all this proud Newfoundlander crap. Even by previous Newfoundland premier standards, which are quite high in abusing patriotism, Danny is setting new levels. "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" Samuel Johnson is reported to have said. They'll likely do case studies on Williams once this is over. Liam also does a nice job attacking Newfoundland patriotism as a smokescreen for rogues up to no good, so go there and read that wisdom.

Please tell me this isn't all there is, Danny. I've interview you before and chatted with you informally. You struck me then as a smart man with a decent vision for Newfoundland and Labrador. Tell me this isn't it. Tell me it's not 18 months of half decent progress with the rest of your premiership doing nothing but kicking up noise and hoping that no one notices what's (not) happening. That businesses are grumbling about too much government interference. That mainland investment is becoming increasingly skeptical about doing business up here. That you stalled two major oil projects with seemingly no rational reason. That Churchill Falls will likely be just as big a mess when you leave as when you arrived. That you've so alienated the Prime Minister's Office that they've come to the conclusion that the best strategy in dealing with Newfoundland is to just ignore you, even if that means sacrificing three sitting MPs. That rural Newfoundland is devastated with no sign of a game plan. That your cabinet is an empty shell and the smartest person in your caucus sits in exile in the backbenches wondering if she should run for federal politics.

The thing of it is, I still believe somewhere in there, Williams could actually figure this mess out and come up with a decent plan. If he were in opposition he certainly wouldn't tolerate a premier acting this way. But early onset political madness is apparently taking its toll on him. He's going to get reelected, but that says more about the quality of opposition (which is, let's face it, is as weak as anything in the annals of Newfoundland's post-Confederation history) than the quality of his government's recent decisions. I think I'm about ready to close the book on him actually solving anything.

I can't find the exact quote, but someone once said of Bill Clinton that the tragedy of his presidency could be found in the gulf between his potential and the reality. I suspect when they write the books on Williams they might be saying similar things.

Ah Spring...

....where the temperature will get up to a balmy -27 today. But, one good thing, apparently there will be little wind until later in the day, keeping the temperature under -30. Wheeeee.....

Now, it's not all bad news. Other bloggers have noted that with spring comes the lovely shift in daylight, so that we're no longer enduring lots and lots of darkness. This is actually a normal time of the year for daylight. In about a month's time we'll start getting unnatural amounts of daylight. And shortly after that we'll be getting ridiculous amounts of daylight. But right not, this is a good amount.

However, it's the cold that's getting to us now. For those of you, in my mini-poll from a few weeks ago, who picked cold over shovelling, well, many of you are now preparing to put away your shovels for the year. We still have a couple of more months of sub-zero temperatures to look forward to.

We'd both like just a little bit of a break. Noting radical like temperatures above zero or anything crazy like that. Just a day or two where we could not wear the big ugly bulk winter coats without risking frostbite or hypothermia. Something around -8 or -9. You adapt to the levels of cold here. So while many of you would be horrified to get -9 in late March, we would be going around in spring coats.

Yeah, we need to get to Ottawa...

Oh, almost forgot, the latest in weight - 232, down 2.8 pounds. I really do need to crack that 230 barrier at some point.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Blizzard (and travel) days

Well, we're having another blizzard here in Iqaluit. And if Environment Canada is to be believed, it's going to continue into tomorrow. The city has effectively shut down. No equipment on the road, no taxis and very few businesses are open. The notable exception is Arctic Ventures, which I'm not certain would close even if the apocalypse were happening.

It's hard to get a read on how bad the blizzard is. I really think we live in one of the more sheltered places in town. There have been times we thought the weather wasn't too bad, but colleagues have told us that it was impossible to move around in their part of town. The gauge we've used is that if we lose sight of the Northwest Tel Building, then it's a fairly bad blizzard.

We can't see the building today, so I'm guessing it's a genuinely nasty blow-up. In Newfoundland this would be known as Shelagh's Brush, the last blow-out storm of the winter. One last punishment for those who thought winter was over. This isn't Newfoundland, although there are certainly enough Newfoundlanders here to make a run of it. And I sincerely doubt this is the last blizzard of this winter. Still, it feels a touch like home today.

So it's a lazy day here at the Chateau. Cathy took a nap after I put in the DVD of The Tick (the cartoon, not the short-lived Fox show). "It's not that I hate the show," she said. "I just don't see the point of it." Several my friends are no doubt picking themselves off the floor after fainting. I don't think this is a cause for divorce, but my lawyer friends can let me know one way or another.

Other things happening for those family and friends who care - we've booked our plane tickets home for the summer. First Air had some retarded two day sale last week where a return ticket to Ottawa was $950, taxes in. I appreciate that seems like a ridiculous price for most people for a three hour flight, but that's as cheap a plane ticket as I've seen since moving here. Cathy is flying out July 1 and returns August 20. So catch her while she's home. I'm back for a considerably shorter period of time. I fly out August 3 and return the 20.

The deal was good enough that we considered buying our tickets out at Christmas, but we haven't completely decided what we're doing for Christmas yet. "A cruise of some sort" is as far as we've planned, so we've held off.

Oh, we've also cleared up a small racket with Aeroplan and have finally figured out how many mile we have. We are more than half way to a pair of first class tickets to Australia. So the plan on going to Australia (or possibly New Zealand) in 2009 appears to be locked in nicely.

We're also flying out for a week in Ottawa in less than three weeks. Mireille, I'll drop you a line and we'll figure out lunch, supper or something for when we're there. Ottawa is going to be very low key trip. About as exciting as it's going to get is a lot of movies, lots of nice restaurants, several hours at Chapters and, God help us, Cathy wants to make an Ikea run.

Then again, I'm hitting three or four comic book stores, so I can't complain too much.

Anyway, I think I'll go put on a movie. Something to tide us over while the

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Back to Mars

I mentioned earlier the week the shows that were on the bubble of being renewed. Sadly one of those shows is Veronica Mars. Myself and Cathy love the show, although we don't watch it every week. Welcome to the new media...we buy it when the complete season comes out on DVD.

The show is on the bubble because the rating are still fairly crap, despite having a cult following. I think they're around three or four million a week. Just as damning, and thoroughly depressing, it went on hiatus until May recently and the show in its time slot - The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll, had considerably higher ratings.

I would despair over this, but I no longer have any despair left to give when it comes to the cultural choices made by American citizens.

Obviously, this means there is a movement to Save Veronica Mars, including this lovely cartoon, where Dean Trippe expresses not only his desire to save the show, but also his contempt for the whole concept of Pussycat Dolls.

(I've watched about two minutes of the show and agree with a commentator who said it made him want to scoop his brains out.)

The latest on Veronica Mars is that it will either be canceled (probable), be renewed as it is now (unlikely) or spin off in a new direction (possible). That would involve jumping the show ahead four years into the future with Veronica as either a FBI agent, or as an agent-in-training. Which is quite doable seeing as how she's 26 years old, playing someone who about 19.

Most people seem to be saying the third season hasn't been as good as the first two. Which is possible. However, since the first two seasons were among the best I've seen on network television in years (no kidding, if you find the DVDs, buy them), I think you can forgive the show a small drop off in quality.

Anyway, if you're American, watch the show. If you're not, go and buy the DVDs. It's a great show and really, there are so precious few of them why not give it a chance to stay on the air.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Countdown to freak-out

I'm astonished to read Newfoundland blogs today and not see a single reference to the editorial cartoon in the Globe and Mail today. I would have figured it would have set someone off. Ah well, I guess the Open Line shows on Monday will likely have some people freaking out about it. Or do they do them on the weekends as well? I never can remember.

So what was so evil about the Globe's cartoon? Well, I don't have a scanner to put it up here and it isn't online. So instead, a brief description.

An illustration of Mars. Headline reads "Landmarks O' Science."

Panel 1 Caption: 2007 - Euro space probe determines Martian south polar cap is over 3 km thick.

Panel 2 Caption: 2025 - Joint Innu/Newfoundland space shuttle lands on ice cap to conduct feasibility study on clubbing to death young of (sic) life forms found there.

Dialogue: "She's some thick here, St. John's...'n' Bardot-free, B'Jeez!"

So yeah, I think we can safely start the countdown on the collective provincial freak-out.

Am I freaking out? Ehhhh. If I freaked out every time the Globe and Mail did something to piss me off, I'd be going around ranting and raving all the time. It's not worth it. Besides, unless I'm missing something, there's actually a typo in the editorial cartoon. I'm trying to recall the last time I saw that.

Furthermore, if there was a joint space mission, I think it would be Newfoundland/Inuit, more than the Innu. But maybe that's just me. Furthermore, I think if we had space shuttle, we'd also create a death ray to take out protesters.

Then again, I might be going a little off the rails on the logic train here. I apparently tend to do that from time to time.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Under pressure

I wrote back in early February this piece recounting my glee at reading Rick Mercer's oped basically ripping Noreen Golfman into teeny, tiny little pieces. This was Noreen's original piece. I haven't been able to find her defence after Mercer tore her apart. The Independent doesn't have it online and I haven't been able to find it reprinted elsewhere.

Why am I mentioning this now, six weeks later? Well, because there is a follow-up. Macleans did a fairly sympathetic story on what Golfman's life has been like since Mercer attacked her. Ryan Cleary did a piece in the March 9 Independent defending what she said. Both point out that Golfman has been under particularly vicious attack since Mercer's piece ran. And it only takes a quick Google search using "Noreen Golfman" and "Rick Mercer" to find many blogs commenting on and that most of the comments are exceedingly negative towards Golfman. Some of have taken it further, with Golfman claiming to have received harassing phone calls and threats.

Cleary defends Golfman, which isn't much of a surprise. You're not much of an editor if you don't stand up and defend your writers unless they're complete nutjobs (it's not without precedent that an editor has hired a columnist and later discovered he or she was insane). I think he makes errors in his defence. For example, I suspect that many of the letter writers didn't miss the point of defending Canadian troops who are trying to defend freedom in Afghanistan by writing letters ripping Golfman. They understood and appreciated the chance to state in no uncertain terms that they don't think much of her or her opinion. I always found that to be a bit of a week and generic defence, although I'm sure I've probably used it in the past.

And while I don't care for Golfman, I would never go so far to say she's a nutjob. It's also highly unfortunate that she's been subjected to harassment, phone calls and threats.

Understand, I think that every letter ripping her and criticizing her opinion on this matter is justified. I did it on my blog. Mercer did it with his letter (and he didn't miss the point, Ryan. He nailed it with a laser beam like efficiency you rarely see) and hundreds of others have used similar means to say, very strongly, that they didn't like what she wrote, that she was entirely off-base.

If people are willing to take the time to articulately express an opinion (no foaming, cursing, or using vulgar insults), write and sign their name to it, then you better find your spine and deal with it. Either that or stop writing a column. Say what you will about Margaret Wente, and many did, she took the overwhelming scorn from calling Newfoundland "a scenic welfare ghetto" with some spine and dignity. She owned up to what she said and moved on.

Understand, no one should have to put up with abusive phone calls or physical threats and Mercer wisely distances himself from the morons who have engaged in this behaviour. It is unacceptable. If you don't like what someone has to say, then debate them or ignore them. Honestly, the best way to get rid of a columnist you don't like is to not pay attention to them. If editors think that's happening, the columnist will be dumped for someone who generates debate. I wouldn't be surprised if Cleary gave Golfman a raise after the racket she's caused. That's good newspaper sales, right there.

I know I ought to feel bad for Noreen. The personal abuse is uncalled for and wrong. But still...her original oped piece was a vapid, shallow thing. And she's been writing them for years. I haven't read many since I moved up here, but unless she's taken a radical leap forward, I found them boring and smarmy when I was living in town. This time she just had the misfortunate of wandering into a vastly superior writer's crosshairs. I wouldn't mourn her being dropped from The Independent if for no other reason that they could then find a better columnist to replace her.

Not one whose opinions are more palatable or pleasing to me or other readers. Just someone who is more...interesting. And barring any miracle shift in her writing the past year or so it's been a long time since anything Golfman wrote was particularly intelligent and clever.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Well, now....

....I wonder what this could be?. Something that's never happened in the 23 year history of Jeopardy....hmmmmm.

Here's a link to a teaser video.

As you can tell, there's already theories abounding on what it could possibly be. A three way tie for first. Someone who answers every question in a round. I'm curious enough that I might have to tune in tomorrow to watch. I'm hit or miss on watching Jeopardy. If it's on and I'm in the mood, I'll watch, but it's not like I'll make a special effort.

But something that may never happen again in the history of the show. Well, what the heck, I'm intrigued.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


When plotting out our vacations over the next few years, 2010 becomes one of those interesting years. Cathy has always been a big fan of the Olympics and with the Winter Games in Vancouver that year it's an awfully tempting vacation. She would have to take time off from work, which is always a pain when you're a teacher, but I know she's thinking about it.

On the other hand, I'd love to go and see the World Cup. I'm not sure there is anything that can beat the spectacle of one month of soccer with hundreds of thousands of fans in one country alone going mad, living and dying with the team no matter how remote the chance they have of winning.

It's in South Africa, which wouldn't be my first choice to visit, but it's still tempting.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine in the United States and she responded there was a decent chance she was going with some of her friends. So there's nothing locked in yet, but there is the possibility.

The amusing part was when she said I could go and cheer for Canada. I quipped at the time "They're ranked 82nd in the world. Iraq is ahead of them and the last time I checked most of Iraq's soccer fields are landmined." It was a good line. After all, how much further down the rankings could Canada fall?

Live and learn. 103rd. Jesus Christ. I mean when Guyana (No. 95) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (No. 100) are ahead of you, and they probably have a population smaller than Mount Pearl, maybe you ought to be concerned.

At some point shouldn't someone become mortally embarrassed about this? I appreciate that Canada has always been a winter sports country, especially in hockey and curling, but still...

Entertainment this morning...

And now, some entertainment news, starting with three articles about 300.

1. There were many headlines expressing shock over the fact the movie made $70 million, doubling what most people were estimating it would make on its opening weekend. But I think this headline was probably my favourite.

2. Already 300 has pissed off some Greeks and many historians about inaccuracies. So really, does it come as much of a surprise that Iran is pissed off because the movie makes Persians look bad. First of all, anybody who views a historical movie as a documentary is generally too foolish to talk about. Secondly, and correct me if I'm wrong on this, but the Persian were actually trying to invade Greece, so maybe the Greeks might have less than positive things to say about them. And third, it was 2,500 years ago. Time to let it go, guys.

3. With the success of the movie, director Zach Snyder is trying to get his next project off the ground, which is the comic book classic Watchmen. Many people, including myself, consider it unfilmable as a two hour movie. So this may or may not be a good thing. But my favourite part in this article is where they talk a bit about the marketing around 300. Including where they gave away condoms promoting the film.

The brand of condoms? Why, Spartans, of course. And the slogan? "Prepare for Glory!" Genius.

4. As for things not 300 related, here's a list of what TV shows are "on the bubble" and may not be renewed. Other than Veronica Mars, I think I can safely say I don't really care that much if most of these shows return.

5. But what is interesting is that Law & Order may not return, which I'm sure is a shock to many. Part of the problem is low ratings, the other problem is how much the show costs to make these days, which is around $3 million per episode. I got to admit, it's been years since I watched an episode. Just hasn't been the same since Jerry Orbach died.

6. Apparently, the results for The Amazing Race: All-Stars have leaked online. So far, the first four eliminated have been accurately predicted, including the shocking ouster of Rob and Amber last week. Go here if you want the rest of the season ruined for you. I confess, having seen the list, I'm not sure how much more of the show I will watch. Yeah, I was cheering for Rob and Amber, but there weren't many other teams there I especially liked. And let's just say if this list is right, the final couple of teams will grate on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

7. Oh yeah, weighed myself again last night. 234.8, up two pounds. Kind of figured that might happen. Even with a punishing workout Monday night I've eaten too much crap the past week. But when there is freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the apartment, how much will power can you realistically expect me to have.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Assorted ramblings

I actually have more I want to write about today, so you might see another post this evening and tomorrow morning.

1. And so it is adieu to Norm Doyle, who announced today he wasn't running in the next federal election, whenever that may be. Not a great shock to those in Newfoundland political circles. It'll be interesting to see if Loyola Hearn follows suit. You get the feeling he'd like to go. The next election will be, what, his fifth or sixth since 2000? That's a heck of a lot of election to go through in a short period of time, especially for a man in his 60s.

I could never really get around to hating Norm Doyle. I certainly never cared for his social conservatism. He was anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion among other things. But he was so...dull, that it was really hard to work up the momentum to hate him enough to try and get rid of him. Although hopefully my home riding finally gets a truly interesting MP after the next election. And no, that doesn't mean Loyola Sullivan, as the rumour mill is speculating.

2. Others have certainly noted the decrease in Newfoundland's population and will go into it in more detail than I think I will at this time. The one thing I will note is that Mount Pearl's population shrank while St. John's population grew. In a very smug way, I find that amuses me.

3. Tired of having friends call you when they're hammered? Especially if it's on St. Patrick's Day? Or perhaps you're the one who is getting hammered with the bad habit of drunk dialing, even though you've been told that if you do it one more time someone will be performing surgery on you using a broken pint glass as a scalpel.

Good news, then. I have the perfect place for your drunk dialing urges, or a place to direct friends who have them. Plus, there are prizes!

Dups is running is annual "St. Patrick's Day Drunk Dialing" competition. Merely call the phone number on his blog, on St. Patrick's Day, and leave your best drunken, blathering, borderline incoherent ramblings and you might get a flask of Screech. The downside is that he will put a recording of your call up on his blog so the whole world (or least the people who visit his blog) will get to hear you.

It was entertaining last year and hopefully it will be even more so this year.

4. Also in time for St. Paddy's Day, "How to Pour the Perfect Pint" by Guinness Brewmaster Fergal Murray, who you would figure knows how to do such a thing.

I actually knew all of this because a friend of mine was an expert on how pints were poured and she would lecture me on how it should be done, just on the off-chance I had to pour one for her in an emergency situation. She only drank them at the Duke of Duckworth because no one else in town knew how to pour them worth a damn, as far as she was concerned. She told me, with clear horror in her voice, the time she went to the Ship Inn and asked for a pint and they filled it part way up and then stuck a spoon in and began to spoon out the foam!

"Dear Christ, I had to leave. Are they fucking morons or something?" she said to me, shuddering at the memory while nursing one of her perfect Duke pints.

I can only hope the Ship has improved their pint pouring since then.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday links

1. Greetings to everyone at the Curling News Blog who have arrived in swarms to see what I've been saying about Brad Gushue. Just for the record, 24 hours later, and it was still a goddamn idiot shot to make.

2. We had another fire here in town on Saturday. I missed it, but North of Nain had a pretty good view of the proceedings. Mike in Edmonton describes what it was like being a Canadian North employee that day.

3. Statistics Canada will be releasing 2006 census information on Tuesday. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of play on this in Newfoundland, as the population free falls towards the 500,000 mark, but I'll also take a look at the numbers for Iqaluit and Nunavut. Because I'm curious to see what the numbers will be for the city and how the population breaks down.

4. Thanks to Liam for this link.

Create your own Friend Test here

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fucking seventh end

I actually have Cathy and Simon willing to testify that I was practically begging the television screen for Gushue to not try the double takeout shot he attempted in the seventh end. It was a high risk, low probability shot that, yeah, he might have won the game on if he has made it. But the odds of him making it were slim even if it didn't pick on something.

This still happens too often with Gushue. And yes, they blame it on youth. And I'm sure will say it's ego, but he still makes these insanely risky shot calls. Against common sense and better judgment. The one think I thought after the end was over was that there is no way Russ Howard, if he was skipping that team like he was during the Olympics last year, would have let Gushue call that shot. He would have rightly pointed out that he doesn't need to win the game in the seventh end and he doesn't need to take such ridiculously risky shots.

It's not just the Brier and a shot and the World's that Gushue lost tonight. It was also a place in the Olympic trials in 2009. So yeah, that was a pretty insane shot call in retrospect.

Anyway, there's also next year, I guess. If nothing else I think Gushue managed to prove that winning the Olympics last year wasn't a fluke. And hopefully he'll learn something from it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Buy this man a drink

I've said before that I generally avoid talking about the seal hunt on this blog because I don't need to die young because of anti-hunt people induced stroke. Because you know they're out there, lurking, punching the phrase "seal hunt" into Google blog searches and getting ready to pounce and pontificate to the unsuspecting blogger.

Besides, I like my blog. I think it looks quite pretty right now. The last thing I want is crazed anti-seal hunt cooties all over it.

So if you're anti-hunt and you're going to come here ranting and raving, guess what, I don't have to play nice. You're deleted without comment.

Now, having said that, I enjoyed this article by Terry Glavin. It makes a large degree of sense to me and should I ever happen to run into Terry, I think I shall buy him a drink. You should too.

Friday, March 09, 2007

In the finals

Yeah, it's curling again. Deal. This will be brief.

I've watched Brad Gushue curl a few times this week. I'm not saying he's curling badly. The team is shooting pretty damn good. Having said that, there have been times I've been convinced that Gushue melted his gold medal from the Olympics, recast it as a horseshoe and had it implanted somewhere in his body.

You need some luck in this game and Gushue has had his share. For all the complaining about all the dirt and debris on the ice causing rocks to "pick" (move in a way they're not supposed to) I think the karma gods have favoured Gushue more than his opponents. He won at least one, if not two or three games when opponents' rocks did things they weren't supposed to because of debris. So that's why he's going to the final. I didn't think it would happen, but then again, I didn't think he would win the Olympics let alone the Olympic trials.

It's been an odd Brier to watch, to be honest. There's been startling small crowds. All the bitching and moaning about ice conditions. Some real animosity between teams (They try to hide it, but you certainly get the feeling that the Alberta and Manitoba teams don't like each other very much.

And then there was the unique spectacle of watching the Third from Alberta crack a broom in two over his knee after missing a few shots during a big game. You see stuff like that in hockey or baseball. First time I've ever seen that in a curling game.

It's been a weird, weird Brier.

And if Gushue wins it, I think they might just declare him dictator for life in Newfoundland. If he actually took over the Liberal leadership, the party might have a chance in the next provincial election.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Death of an Idol

Last September I wrote this rant against Canadian Idol and Newfoundland. It was a fairly well received rant with comments approving of it and several blogs linking to it. However, I thought then that it was a bit too late. I was complaining about how stupid my fellow Newfoundlanders were being a reality TV show contest after it was over and done with.

But somewhere in the back of my brain I tucked away a little idea I had and kept it nurtured with hate and contempt to use at the appropriate moment.

Now is the appropriate moment.

My friends, in one month Canadian Idol is coming back to Newfoundland for tryouts. This normally leads to a couple of days of craziness in the capitol city followed by a whole summer of the province collectively losing their shit trying to rally around whatever Newfoundlander has made it to the final 10 or so. Because only by winning Canadian Idol can this province earn the respectability of the rest of Canada.

When you read that last sentence your reaction should be "well, that's a batshit crazy notion." If it isn't, then go away and bash your head off something solid until come to your senses.

I want Newfoundland to be respected more by the rest of Canada. We all do. However, Canadian Idol isn't the way to do it. I would argue that the more stories that get out about people lining up at pay phones to vote, telecommunication systems being snarled by the volume of voters and people bitching and whining on the websites and Open Line shows about conspiracies to deny Newfoundland it's God given right to have a Canadian Idol winner, the more fucking ridiculous we sound.

So this is one small way to gain back some respect – ignore Canadian Idol. Completely.

When they arrive in St. John's for auditions, very few people should show up. Ideally, no one should show up, but let's not dream in technicolour here. I am saying a record low number would be a good start. When the shows start to air, don't watch them. When the inevitable one or two Newfoundlanders make it through to the rounds where you can vote for them... don't do it.

I know that last part is hard. It feels like you're screwing over some poor kid and crushing his or her dreams of fame and success. You really aren't. If the person is talented, truly gifted, and has the drive, then they will make it anyway. I really believe that. Just as I really believe that Canadian Idol taints new singers as much as it helps them. Very few have any kind of marginal success, let alone long-term success.

Furthermore, there were certainly signs last summer that the popularity of the show is at an ebb anyway. A quarter of a million fewer people watched the finale in September 2006 than in 2005.

I'm not saying don't support local singers and musicians. Far, far from it. I love the Newfoundland music scene. When I was home at Christmas I dropped easily $100 trying to catch up with some of the music I had missed since I moved up north. I am very much pro supporting of Newfoundland musicians.

But here's what you do instead of watching Canadian go out and see a musician play somewhere that night. Here's what you do instead of plunking money in pay phones or texting in a spend the money and buy a CD from a local artist.

That way local musicians profit and not phone companies and telecommunication businesses. And, just as importantly as far as I'm concerned, we don't look like idiots on the national stage. Win win all the way around.

Now, if this seems reasonable and sane, then here's what I want you to do. Link to me. Yes, it's terrible pandering for traffic, but here's the thing. On a good day I get 150 unique visitors. That is not nearly to actually get the ball rolling. I need my fellow Newfoundland bloggers to spread the word. Link to this article or express your own opinion on this.

Spread the word, my blogger brethren. And with luck we will end Canadian Idol and bring some degree of sanity back to our province.

Oh my god, they killed Captain America! You bastards!

I appreciate for some people that the only thing less exciting than me talking about curling is me talking about comic books. However, since I talked a lot about curling a couple of weeks ago, I'll use some restraint and not talk about Newfoundland's resurgence at the Brier, the ice conditions and the general lack of people showing up at the games.

Instead, I'll talk about the death of Captain America.

Yeah, if you didn't hear about it, Captain America died yesterday. It was big enough news, and certainly layer with enough unsubtle symbolism that most of the major news outlets ran pieces on it. It had been hard time for the good Captain. Marvel Comics just concluded a major event called Civil War, which pitted heroes against heroes over whether or not they ought to be registered with the government. The Captain opposed it, his side basically lost and he turned himself in.

Then, in the issue of his comic which hit stores yesterday, he's assassinated by a sniper when heading to the court house to be arraigned. In the promo copy for comics coming in the next couple of weeks Marvel is very much trying to sell the idea that he's dead, with an autopsy taking place.

The reason that Marvel is trying to really sell the idea that Captain America is dead is that no one who is a comic book fan actually believes it. There are already sites predicting how long he's actually going to stay dead. It ranges from about three months to a year. Some are saying a couple of years. Virtually no one believes the death is permanent.

There's good reason for this. Death in comic books is a dubious racket. Superman died, came back. Jean Grey (Phoenix from the X-Men) has died and come back so many times it's a joke. And even recent Marvel Comics history shows three characters who were believed to have been untouchable brought back from the dead, in a manner of speaking.

There's Ben Parker, Peter Parker's uncle, the one who had to die to teach Peter that "with great power comes great responsibility." To be fair, while I haven't read the books lately, I think this Ben comes from an alternate reality, so I'm not sure if that counts (its comic books, of course there are alternate realities.) Then there was Captain Marvel, who died of cancer back in the 80s. Then again, he was resurrected so much as "plucked from the time stream before he died." Which is weird even for comic books.

Both of those resurrections were met with reactions that ranged from "huh?" to threats to fly to New York and burn Marvel Comics to the ground.

The other big controversy actually came from the page of Captain America about two years ago. The Captain used to have a sidekick named Bucky. Ever since the early 60s it's been written that Bucky died at the end of WWII. And yet, he was brought back. There were more cries of outrage when it happened, and yet, most fans now agree that it's worked really well.

The same writer that pulled that off, Ed Brubaker, just killed Captain America. He's considered one of the best in the business, so he might actually be able to pull something interesting out of this.

It's also worth noting that Marvel Comics and the creator of Captain America, Joe Simon, were involved in a legal dispute over the rights of the character a few years ago. I thought it was settled, but maybe not. Maybe opted to kill him because of a rights issue.

Or, you know, maybe they were trying to make a dramatic point about the state of America right now. Yeah, right....

For the curious, here's and interview with Brubaker on how the decision to kill Captain American came about and what it means.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bitter days

There's nothing like waking up in the morning, turning on your computer and surfing to Environment Canada's website to discover the magic words "Wind Chill Warning" and discovering the temperature is -30 with a wind chill of -52. That makes you want to stagger out of the apartment in the morning.

It didn't get much better for the rest of the day. I think the high with wind chill was around -48. As I type this it has dipped back down to -51.

If this wasn't bad enough, there were reports on the local radio station that the wind chill was actually around -62. Which lead me to wonder what was going on. There were two possibilities. First, that someone in town has better weather instruments than Environment Canada. Not beyond the realm of possibility, by the way. Forecasts in town are predicted out of Edmonton, and I don't care how good your instruments are, getting accurate readings sitting at a desk staring at a computer in Edmonton doesn't quite cut it.

The more likely option is that the radio was using the old method of measuring wind chill. And yes, there is more than one way.

Why stick with the old way? Well, it tended to exaggerate the level of cold and there does come a point where you like to brag to people about the level of cold you're enduring. I don't know why. I think -52 is a pretty damn impressive level of cold, but hey, if you want to make it sound even more bitter, then go crazy.

But while poking around I found this article in Slate magazine which also explains wind chill and suggests that it ought to be eliminated because it's impossible to measure accurately and tends to be used as a scary number. It doesn't really mean anything.

I'm not sure I agree. Maybe -52 isn't a completely accurate number. Maybe it's actually -55. Maybe it's actually -45. I just know I've been out in -30 without wind and -30 with wind. And let me tell you, today felt a goddamn bit colder than -30. And it's nice to have a ballpark idea of exactly how bitter it is before I go outside.

Anyway, more of this tomorrow. I know I said I'd prefer to freeze than shovel, but many more days in a row like this and I might have to reconsider.

One last thing, I stepped on the scales again this evening. 233.6 pounds, which means I'm down 0.8 pounds. Hey, it's down, that's what matters.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Noting, nada, zilch

A touch of a dry spell has infected the blog, I fear. I wrote nothing on Saturday, the post on Sunday was actually something I had written earlier the week when I could think of tons of things to write about. I do have something else in the can, but I'm not posting that until March 8. You'll see why then.

There are actually times when I will sit down and write three or four blog posts in one shot. I'll then ration them out over several days. You always write the posts, or at least jot down the idea, when it hits you. I don't know if that's Rule #1 of writing or not, but surely god it's got to be in the top 10.

The thing is, I'm tapped out right now. That could change in a few hours. But right now, there's nothing. All's quiet on the northern front. We didn't go to the gym this evening because it's about -48 with windchill and we just wussed out. No two ways about it. We got home, turned up the heat, put on comfy clothing and decided there was no way we were going back out in the cold.

And that's it for our excitement. I didn't read anything in the news that caught my eye enough to comment on. Nothing radically stupid happened in entertainment news for me to comment on. I thought about doing a write-up on the Amazing Race, but the inspiration isn't really there for that either.

My friend Andrew in Nebraska turned 37 today. I would mock him for this, except a. I'm actually about six weeks older and b. he runs marathons and does weird shit like run to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago in 20 minutes or so. If I tried any of these things Cathy would be a young widow. So instead I welcome him to the club of being 37.

So yeah, there you go...a very Seinfeldian post....a blog post about nothing. Still, I feel a touch bad. Here, go play this game and become addicted. feel free to blame me later.

Tomorrow, hopefully something interesting.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Just a head's up

It's a small, but growing Nunavut blogging community and I'm happy to be a part of it. But the thing of it is, Nunavut's still a small place so while the blogging community is small, it's still easy for people to find you if they so wish. It's not like being a blogger in Toronto, where there are thousands more, but you can have a higher degree of anonymity if you wish because you're in a city of millions. My name isn't on this blog, but people can still find out who I am if they're determined.

And there have been at least two incidents in the past that I know of where Nunavut bloggers got in trouble. One got fired, the other got a warning. It's always wise to be careful about what you write, especially if you're going to mention anything pertaining to work.

I follow that rule pretty well, but there are still occasions when innocent things can still circle around and get you, which happened to me in the last week. Like most governments, there is a media monitoring list that gets circulated around every day. A lot of government employees get this and normally it's just news stories or press releases relating to Nunavut. However, recently they've started listing anything bloggers might be writing of interest.

It's fairly simple, really. A Google blog search using certain key words works. I've been able to find some more bloggers in Iqaluit by doing this. Someone at the curling club said they liked my blog and found it using this method.

You can see where this is going.

The other week I did my little bit on Justin Trudeau. Nobody commented on it and I figure that was that. Except media monitoring picked it up and I found a link to my blog in my morning media monitor. Which made me a touch paranoid that day. My stats did a spike and a bunch of new people from around Nunavut have apparently just discovered my blog.

Hi, by the way.

Which is fine. I had my "oh fuck" moment, but I don't think I write anything too controversial here and I've always been careful to keep reference to work, what my work entails, etc out of the blog. But it never hurts to remind the rest of the blogging community about this. To always asking yourself "do I really need to write about this?" if you think there is the possibility of getting yourself in trouble with your employer. Because if you work for the territorial government then the odds of them finding out is certainly there. And you have to ask if they're going to like what you're saying.

Yes, you can get into a debate about free speech and everything else and whether or not your employer should care what you do in your free time. But never hurts to exercise a bit of...restraint. It's just a blog, after all, no matter how much you enjoy doing it.

Oh, one more thing...I also had a reporter from the Associated Press e-mail me this week. She was in town working on a story and wanted to talk to me. I declined for a variety of reasons. But once again, you never know who is reading.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday night links

A few links on a Friday night as I watch Excalibur which is, alas, not hold up all that well with the weight of years. Cathy has already abandoned the film and is off to bed.

1. Oh, but would more media agencies follow the Associated Press' lead. For one week they banned covering any stories involving Paris Hilton. Alas, even the ban made news, which is kind of sad. And the AP only did it for one week. I wouldn't mind most major news agencies going ahead with a more permanent one.

2. Entertainment Weekly does an entertaining flashback on the Billboard Charts every couple of weeks. I'm not saying that this is the greatest Top 10 ever, but it's a pretty damn good one. Granted, I was 14 years old at the time this chart came out, but I still find about half the songs entertaining.

4. Along with getting good reviews for his performance on stage, Daniel Radcliffe has signed for the last two Potter movies. He's also apparently, not hurting for money.

5. That is one beautiful picture of Saturn

6. There's a lunar eclipse going to happen Saturday night which can be seen across Eastern Canada. Given that it is supposed to start at 5:30, which is just after sunset, I'm hoping to get a good view of it. With luck I might even try to take a few pictures.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Shovel or freeze?

So I noticed that St. John's is apparently bracing for more ugly weather this weekend. Probably more snow. Probably more than 20 cm, which ought to fill the residents of the fair capital city with the joy. I'm sure everyone will handle it with the typical calm and grace that St. John's residents are well known for.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a proud, unabashed townie. But by god we can whine about snow clearing like nobody's business. Every goddamn year I read the same stories about snow clearing.

Anyway, we've been going through our own streak up here. It's been a solid week or more of temperatures around -40 or colder with windchill. The temperature itself hasn't been too bad, around -20 or so, which is doable. But when you throw in winds around 50 km/h for most of that time, it's pretty bitter stuff. The poor dog got his first walk in a week today when the winds died down. He can handle the cold better than I thought, but -40 is a bit too much for him. And, quite frankly, it's not the nicest walking weather either.

This is a long way of getting to a question. Feel free to answer in the comment section. Which would you prefer - a week of several blizzards and having to dig out from that, or a week of temperatures -40 or colder with high winds?

I've done both now. I spent a couple of winters on Bond Street in in downtown St. John's. I've shovelled my share of snow, nearly killed neighbours and cursed on cars. I can safely say that I'll take the -40 any day or the week. I think I've shovelled snow for a grand total of 10 minutes this winter.

The nice thing about -40? No snow falls because it's too cold.

So...shovel or freeze. Choose.