Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Linus: March 28, 1990 - Dec 19, 2006

Linus, the most beloved and bestest cat in the history of the world, passed away peacefully in his person's arms today after bravely facing a short and sudden illness. He was nearly 17.

As a kitten, he quickly mastered all the difficult tricks: flying, levitation, wall climbing, and plant destruction. It was during this phase of his life that he earned the nickname "Booger-cat!" which stuck with him his whole life. But he was a gentle and loving spirit that won over all he met, cat-lovers and cat-haters alike.

As he matured, the "boogerish" aspects of his personality faded, and he remained gentle and sweet, and a constant "couch buddy" to his person.

There will be other cats in his person's life; there will never be another cat like Linus.
Linus leaves behind an empty sunbeam, his toy mouse, his spot on the couch, his sixteen-year old scratching post, the cat blanket he never used, and the tears of his heart-broken person.

Linus, my friend, companion, and furry hot water bottle, I miss you terribly...

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Big Ouch: What Happened Part Two

The one nice thing about being seriously injured is that you go to the front of the queue at Emergency. This was probably a good thing, as by the time the ambulance got me to VGH, my arm was really hurting and I could feel myself getting more uncomfortable. I was probably going into shock, perhaps not deeply, but going there.
As I was waiting to be admitted, one paramedic noted my discomfort and offered me a blanket. Being a stoic male, I declined the offer.
"Let me give you some advice," said the paramedic. "When a paramedic offers you a warm blanket, you should take it."
"Golly," I said, "maybe I'll take that blanket after all!"
It was now about 6:00, about an hour after I fell off my bike.
Soon, I was wheeled into a cubicle, where they quickly started me on an IV. A doctor came in, took a quick look and very quickly determined that at the very least my shoulder was dislocated. He asked if I had any numb patches and I indicated I did, on the side of arm. This could mean nerve damage.
Then he uttered the one word that I was longing to hear: morphine!
But soon I was left alone, and I reflected on my situation. I would need help tending to my sick cat. Someone was going to have to call work and let them know I was going to be off for a few days.
I looked at my arm. Man, I really wrecked it.
By this time, more of my guardians began arriving. First, my sister Brenda arrived, followed by my girlfriend Louise. Each time, the nurse mistook them for my wife.
My memory of events during this period is somewhat fluid, but somewhere between the blood tests and the IV drips, they took me to X-ray.
This was not an experience I'd like to repeat.
The x-rays taken while I was standing up weren't so bad, but I had to lie flat on my back for a set and this really hurt. I never saw any of the "before" X-rays until much later, but lying flat was excrutiating and I could clearly feel bones floating around in there. That was 20 minutes that I never want to repeat.
But interestingly, the numb patch in my arm regained feeling after the x-ray ordeal. I surmise that something moved just enough to take pressure off the nerve, and there were (and are) no more concerns about nerve damage.
I was taken back to my room to await judgement. Brenda and Louise both commented about how cold my hands were.
Soon, a young woman appeared, the orthopedic intern. She'd looked at x-ray, and reported that my arm was broken in three places and my shoulder dislocted. Worse, I had broken ay arm at the ball joint, making repairs all the more troublesome.
Here's the x-ray:

Now, I'm no doctor, but clearly you can see that the shoulder is out of the socket, and the ball is broken, and not in the correct shape.
She said there were two courses of action. I was going to need surgery on the arm, no question. But do we fix the dislocation with surgery at the same time, or do we fix the disocation manually, then do surgery on the arm later?
This didn't seem like much of a choice to me. If I'm going to go under the knife anyway, must as well do it all in one go.
But she wanted to call in some experts, so who am I to argue?
Somewhere along the way, the paramedic's gear was removed from my arm and replaced with a sling which I am still wearing. (I'm typing this one-handed, so please read this at half your usual reading speed to get the full effect.)
The intern returned with the verdict.
"When I suggested we fix the dislocation first, everyone laughed at me."
There were two problems with her plan. First, the ball was broken off. It was not attched to the rest of the arm. There was no way to re-insert the ball into the socket. It probably would have caused more damage. Secondly, even if it was safe to proceed, she probably couldn't have done it.
I'm a big guy, and she was not a big girl. (She made Chantelle at work look like Shaq.) She physically could not have done it and the last thing my broken arm needed was someone heaving and hauling on my shoulder.
She said she would start on the paperwork and took a felt pen and initialed my injured left shoulder.
So it was surgery, a one-stop fix everything chop. Sort of like Midas Mufflers.
Surgery was set fot 7:45 the next morning, not at VGH, but at Royal Jubilee Hospital. The only question was, could they find a bed for me there? An ambulance was ordered anyway to transfer me. Louise and Brenda said their goodbyes and headed out to spread the word that I would, in fact, live. They noted before they left that my hands were warming up.
A nurse returned with the paperwork for me to sign, but stopped herself before handing it over. It seems that the intern, despite having examined and marked my injured left shoulder, put down on the forms that it was my right shoulder that was to be operated on.
Once the paperwork was fixed, I signed. Good thing I'm right-handed.
So there it was. I was facing my first surgery since having my tonsils out when I was 5.
The orthopedic surgeon, my newest guardian, drove over from the Jubilee to examine me. He explained that the surgery would take about two and a half hours. I've heard since that he is the best "shoulder man" on the Island. So far, I'd have to agree.
Around about 11:30, an ambulance arrived to transport me to the Jubilee, they found a bed for me, so we were all set. They loaded me up, and away we went. It was a quiet night for emergencies, the paramedics said. The quietest night they'd ever seen. They'd been on duty for six hours, and I was their first call. And I was just a glorified taxi ride.
By 12:30, I was safely tucked in my bed in Jubilee. Surgery was mere hours away.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Big Ouch: What Happened Part One

It's an odd sensation, realizing that your bicycle has suddenly stopped but you haven't. That your handlebar has suddenly snapped to the right and stopped your bike cold while momentum is still carrying you forward. That not only are you flying over your handlebar but that you are twisting in mid-air to the right and are now travelling sideways, a change of direction that will probably save your life, but in this moment only adds to the disorientation.
Then you realize that the ground is getting closer. You barely have time to register that this is going to be bad. And that it's going to hurt.
It is bad. And it hurts.

Two and a half weeks ago I was riding my bike home following the path I do everyday. Part of the journey is a short trail connecting Burnside Road with the back of Tillicum Mall. On this day, dusk, 5:00 pm, water had washed out a pothole that had been filled by gravel back in the summer. Was the washout caused by all the rain we had received in November? Or was it run-off from the watermain that had burst in Tillicum Mall an hour previously? I don't know. All I do know is that as I went down the path, my front wheel caught the pothole and I flipped off my bike. There was a small culvert ahead of me with a concrete pad over top of it. I landed on the concrete pad with all my weight on my left shoulder.

The air rushed out of my lungs on impact. I bounced off my shoulder and onto my back (my backpack, actually). My legs swung up beside me and ended up in some bushes just off the trail. I'm not sure what happened to my bike. At least it didn't run over me.

I knew right away something was wrong with my left arm. It didn't feel "attached" properly. Still, I tried to gently move it, but the pain toldme that I had probably broken it. There was also the disquieting sensation of things rubbing together that should not be rubbing together.

Okay, so the left arm was clearly an issue. What else was broken? I hadn't hit my head (and yes, I always wear my helmet). I wiggled my toes, they seemed okay. My right arm seemed fine. It felt like I might have a scrarch on my left leg, but this was minor. Everything seemed up and running save my left arm.

I needed my cell phone which was in my backpack, and was now underneath me. Okay. This was gonna hurt, but there wasn't much else to do. Cradlling my left arm as best I could, I swivelled on my butt, getting my legs out of the bushes. Then I sat up.
Yes, it hurt.
I rested a moment, then cradled my left hand in my lap, then slowly unbuckled and removed my backpack.
I somehow managed to get my left arm out of the straps, then I opened it up and fished out my phone. I turned it on, hoping that it still had some juice. It did, I dialed 911. The operator was cool and professional and able to figure out what trail I was on. He asked if I was bleeding; I said I didn't so. He asked if I could get up and walk along the trail. I said I probably could, but I'd just as soon sit where I was.
I hung up and started to call family members to alert them to my plight. I told my mother that Louise would call soon. (I was supposed to help Louise move some furniture that evening -- clearly, I would do anything to get out of that.)
Just as I finished calling my mother, my first guardian of the evening arrived. A gentleman named Ollie rode down the trail and stopped to assist me. He picked up my bike from across the path and offered to wait the ambulance came.
When the ambulance arrived, Ollie, who as it turned out lives just a couple of blocks from me, offered to take my back home.
The bike was fine. Of course.
The paramedics checked me out. They cut away my bike jacket and jersey from my arm. I'm no doctor, but I could see that my shoulder looked wrong. Instead of curving down, it suddenly dropped off, and there was a large bump where there shouldn't be a bump. This was the ball joint at the end of arm sitting in a place where it shouldn't be. They checked my arm for numbness and I had a big numb spot on the outside of left arm. This indicated possible nerve damage.
They immobolized my arm by wrapping what looked like a life preserver around me, they got me to feet and we walked down the path. I climbed into the ambulance and sat down. They moved me over to the stretcher later as they tried to put in an IV line in my right hand. The paramedic kept failing to find a vein and apologised profously for continually poking my right hand in vein, er, vain. We went to Victoria General Hospital.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is Victoria Sinking?

The Sierra Club thinks so. Here's how they envision climate change affecting the coast around Victoria.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Big Ouch

Last Monday, I tumbled off my bike, seriously injuring my shoulder. We're taking pins, plates, possibly even a fork and spoon. I'll post more soon; suffice it for now to say that I am alive, and the long-term prognosis is good.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Linus Health Update #12

Linus was in earlier this week for a full battery of tests and his thyroid meds need to be upped. He was not a happy kitty. He was poked, prodded, drained, squeezed, and probed. He was very brave and put up with a lot. So he'll get some more blood tests in a couple of weeks, but things seem to be okay otherwise.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bush in 'Nam

Ted Koppel has had the best line so far: "Thirty-five years ago he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, and now he's going to Vietnam to stay out of Washington."
Not that Bush wasn't short on things to say. Upon arriving in Hanoi, Bush remarked to reporters that the lesson of the Vietnam war is, "We'll succeed unless we quit."
Does Bush real know...anything? I wonder what his Vietnamese hosts thought of that statement.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Dark Towers Diaries - Day Nineteen Ninety-Nine

To quote very fittingly from Star Wars, "The circle is now complete."
Roland has finished his quest to reach The Dark Tower, and I have concluded my quest to read all seven of Stephen King's The Dark Tower books in a row.
Book seven ends as Roland's band breaks apart. Some leave. Some die. And Roland alone faces the Crimson King at The Dark Tower.
No, wait. He's not alone. In fact. he's accompanied by someone he's met only in the last fourth of the book. It is this new character who defeats the Crimson King, although it is Roland who figures out how. (SPOILER WARNING: The previous sentence contained a major spoiler.)
This may be the only real letdown of the final book, how this new character comes in and plays such a vital role after Roland's faithful companions Eddie, Jake Susannah and Oy have moved on.
The ending may not please many people and King readily admits as much in his afterward, but he also notes that it is the right ending.
And it is.
I've enjoyed the last ten weeks with Roland and his merry band, and am saddened that there will be no more palaver with them. Mr. King, I say thankee, do ya ken.

Your Tax Dollars at Work: A Cautionary Tale

So a friend of mine used to work in a sign shop. Another fellow who worked in the same shop quit and stole 200 empty binders when he left. He moved down to Washington State.
My friend and his wife were going to drive down to Seattle for the weekend. But before they go, he decided to phone the guy up and see if he'll give back the binders as long as they are in the neighbourhood. The guys says okay. What's he going to do with 200 binders anyway?
My friend phones Canada Customs. He explains the situation and asks if will he need any paperwork to get back into Canada with the binders. No, says the friendly official voice on the phone.
My friend and his wife go to Seattle and have a weekend. On the way back, they stop and pick up the binders. Then they get to the border at White Rock.
"Anything to declare?"
"Yeah, I got these 200 binders that were stolen from my company, but the guy who stole them is giving them back so I went and picked them up."
"That sounds like a commercial transaction. You need to go to the truck crossing on the other highway."
So my friend turns around, re-enters the US and drives to the truck crossing.
"Anything to declare?"
"Yeah, I got these 200 binders that were stolen from my company, but the guy who stole them is giving them back so I went and picked them up."
"Okay, you'll have to fill an excise from in Building B across the Parking Lot."
My friend goes across the Parking Lot to Building B.
"Anything to declare?"
"Yeah, I got these 200 binders that were stolen from my company, but the guy who stole them is giving them back so I went and picked them up. The last fella said that I had to fill out an excise form here."
"Do have it?"
"Have what?"
"The excise form."
"No. I'm here to fill it out."
"Well, yes, you fill it out here, but you pick it up there at Building A, where you were to begin with."
So my friend heads back to Building A.
"Anything to declare?"
"Yeah, I got these 200 binders that were stolen from my company, but the guy who stole them is giving them back so I went and picked them up. You told me that I had to fill out an excise form at Building B. They said that I have to pick up the form here."
"Well, of course you pick up the form here. Didn't you know that? Only an imbecile would go to Building B without having already picked the excise form. Here you go."
With form in hand my friend returned to Building B.
"Anything to declare?"
"Yeah, I got these 200 binders that were stolen from my company, but the guy who stole them is giving them back so I went and picked them up. They told me that I had to fill out an excise form at Building B. Here is the form."
"Okay, good. Do you have the receipt for those binders?"
"I'm sorry?"
"The receipt for the binders. You can't fill out an excise form without a receipt."
"The friendly official voice on the phone said that I didn't need to bring any paperwork."
"He wouldn't have said that if he had known there was an excise form involved! You do have receipts. Don't you?"
"Yes," said my friend. "I'll go get them."
He walked back to his car, past the trunk full of binders and got in. He started the engine and drove away. After a moment, his wife asked, "Where are we going?"
"To get the receipts. They're on my desk at home."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If It's Good Enough For The Juice....

With the world's most guilty innocent man OJ Simpson about to release a book call If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, describing how if he had stabbed and almost decapitated his ex-wife and her friend, here's how he would have done it, Marty Kaplan takes it a step further.
But OJ's ruse puts a whole new ploy in play. Imagine Rumsfeld writing "If I Committed War Crimes, Here's How It Happened." Plenty of juice, but no risk of international prosecutions. Rove could get a ton of dough for "If Bush Had Been Impeached, Here's What For."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When You've Lost Pat Buchanan...

... you know you've lost the right.
Our hawkish elites bemoan the fact that Americans seem ready to give up on Iraq when U.S. casualties are not 10 percent of those we took in the Korean War. That is because they do not understand the nation.
Americans are not driven by some ideological vocation to reform mankind. We do not have the patience or perseverance of great imperial peoples. If an issue is not seen as vital to our own liberty and security, we will not fight long for some abstraction like democracy, self-determination or human rights.
It is a myth that we went to war to save the world from fascism. We went to war in 1941 because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. That Hitler had overrun France, booted the British off the continent and invaded Stalin's empire was not a reason to send American boys across the ocean to die.
In 1990, Americans were not persuaded to throw Iraq out of Kuwait until Bush 1 got to talking about Saddam's nuclear weapons. Even after 9-11, Americans were skeptical of marching to Baghdad until we were told Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction and probably intended to use them on us. Americans have often had to be lied into war.
Democrats are probably reading the country right. Americans will not send added troops to Iraq, as McCain urges. They want out of this war and are willing to take the consequences.
But those consequences are going to be ugly and enduring. That is what happens to nations that commit historic blunders.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Dark Tower Diaries -- Day Two Hundred and Four

I'm past the halfway mark of the seventh and final volume. My pace was slowed as I was home sick for a couple of days but had left the book at work. Them's the breaks.
Anyway, King is taking pains to make sure that this is the final volume. He's killed off two main characters in the last 100 pages. One can never be sure in Stephen King's world if a character is going to stay dead or not, but these deaths seem definitive.
King has also written himself back into the story, making his near-fatal traffic accident in 1999 a major turning point in the story. This is making me wonder how much of The Dark Tower series he worked out in advance. He mentions in earlier volumes pre-accident that he figures the series will run to six or seven volumes when completed. And he begins referencing "19" from the very first page of the book. Yet post-accident, he (the character, not the author) mentions that he had an outline, one of the few times he's done one, but lost it. And "19" ties in with the date of his accident. So it's all hard to know what's what.
The first part of the book ties up some loose ends from book five, and frankly, I was really uninterested in this part. Or it maybe I was just getting sick. Anyway, now that Roland and Jake have returned to help Stephen King, the book has picked up.
Only 412 pages to go!

Liberals Lead Without A Leader

The leaderless Liberal party is outpolling the governing Conservatives and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in every province except Alberta.
What else can you expect from a province that keeps electing Ralph Klein?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Coming Train Wreck

With Rummy gone and Bush on the ropes, with Democrats running Congress again, everything should be fine now, right?
Robert Jenson doesn't think so.
Here’s the unavoidable reality: Our train is on an unsustainable course in cultural, political, economic, and ecological terms. In a predatory corporate capitalist economy in an imperial state—a system that values the concentration of wealth and power, and devalues people—certain things are inevitable:

-- Our deepest values concerning justice and solidarity will be undermined by the anti-human values of capitalism and empire.
-- Truly democratic politics, in which ordinary people have a meaningful role, will be subverted by the concentration of wealth.
-- An increasingly fragile economy mired in self-indulgent deficit and debt, with an artificially inflated currency, will start to collapse when our military and political power are unable to keep the rest of the world in line.
-- The ability of a finite planet to sustain life as we know it will diminish dramatically in a system based on fantasies of unlimited growth marked by the glorification of domination.
The train moves forward, as the vast majority of Democrats and virtually all Republicans avoid these realities. Where can such a train take us? Pick your metaphor.

-- It could be that the train tracks end at a cliff, or
-- it might be that the train is heading for a brick wall, or
-- perhaps the train will derail along the way, or
-- maybe the tracks will simply end abruptly and the train will run into the ground.
If we don’t take radical action relatively soon, every ending we can imagine is likely to be brutal and violent, deadly not only for most of the world’s population but also for the non-human world. This isn’t irrational apocalypticism but a rational approach to the evidence in front of us. No one can predict how this will play out, but it will most certainly play out ugly unless we change the trajectory.

Anything for a Buck, eh Dick?

From Alternet.org:
The lies, cheats, and crimes Dick, and George have committed have done what all lies, cheats, and crimes do -- they have led to more and more lies, cheats, and crimes, and now the misconceived nature of the whole enterprise is apparent to all. It doesn't matter at this point if they manage to steal the mid-term election this year or not. Iraq is such a mess that even Dick's friends and allies can't think of a way to save it or to clean it up. The Iraqis, I am sorry to say, have to pay the price, but at least they know who's to blame.
Iraq is not the point, Iraq is only the canary in the mine, giving voice to the coming cataclysm. Not even the US is the point, although since 1980, the Republicans have been pandering to the greedy appetites of Americans for driving big vehicles, arming themselves, and thinking themselves superior to everyone in the world. They have egged Americans on to destroying the world's environment for the sake of more and more goods, and now America is in big trouble. But empires come and go. Get over it.
What is the point is human survival. If Americans had started taking the meaning of oil dependence seriously in 1977, when Jimmy Carter asked us to, or had not ridiculed the idea of climate change in 1992, when Al Gore brought it up, we might have gotten a start by this time in reducing emissions, we might not be looking at one horrific disaster paving the way for another.
But we are. There aren't many tyrants in history who can truthfully say they put the entire future of civilization at risk just to make a buck and feel the power, but Dick Cheney can.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush 'n' Rummy

There's not much I can add to the well-deserved smackdown Bush and the Republicans received at the polls last night.
There's not much I can add to Rumsfled quitting either, except to say "'Bout time!"
But I will mention a couple of things about Bush's farewell to Rummy today.
While I won't mention that Bush told yet another lie when he told reports last week that Rumsfeld would be serve out Bush's term with him (Bush was already looking for a successor at that pont), I will point out that even the usual political hokum spewed at events such as these gets mired in obsfucation and half-truths when it comes from Bush.
First, he acknowledges that he "recognize[s] that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made" in Iraq. But golly, didn't he and the Vice President say like week that tremendous progress is being made there. Haven't they said that every day for the last three years?? But now, with Bush never having to the face the electorate again, suddenly there's a lack of progress being made there.
Is this a sign that Bush may try a new tactic like honesty? I don't know, that sounds like a crazy longshot to me.
Bush also said, "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on." What Bush seems to be saying is that the elctorate don't understand the important issues, while presumably he does. Perhaps Bush doesn't understand that the electorate fully understands the economy and security issues, and that's why they gave him a thumpin'.
Then Bush talked about Rummy's replacement, Bob Gates and said "[a]s President Reagan's Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, he helped lead America's efforts to drive Soviet forces from Afghanistan." This is, of course, the exact opposite of what the CIA did in Afghanistan, where they in fact ran the largest covert operation in the CIA's history to get the Soviets into Afghanistan. The CIA funded and armed hard-line Islamic extremists in an effort to get the Soviet military bogged down and give them their own Vietnam. One of the extremists they funded was Osama bin Laden.
And we all know how well that worked out.


According to the New York Times, this is from a slide show used by the United States Central Command to track Iraq's descent into chaos.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We're in Trouble. No Fish.

I remember a former BC Environment Minister saying that "there will be trees in the forest as long as there are fish in the sea."
Soon, we'll have neither. According to this story, fish stocks in the oceans will be gone - that's GONE!! - by 2050 unless we radically rethink how we live on this planet.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Neo Culpa

The Neo-cons who installed Bush and put invading Iraq on the agenda are now backing away from Bush as fast as they can, and laying all the blame as Bush's feet, not theirs. From Vanity Fair:
Richard Perle: "In the administration that I served [Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan], there was a one-sentence description of the decision-making process when consensus could not be reached among disputatious departments: 'The president makes the decision.' [Bush] did not make decisions, in part because the machinery of government that he nominally ran was actually running him. The National Security Council was not serving [Bush] properly. He regarded [then National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice] as part of the family...
Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."

This would be The Usual Neo-con Ploy: deny any repsonsibility for anything. (Also known as the Krusty the Clown Therom: Don't Blame Me, I Didn't Do It!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bush's Last Gambit

This is funny. From The Onion....

The Iraq War is Over -- According to Army Recruiters Anyway...

ABC News reports the following:

An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist.
ABC News and New York affiliate WABC equipped students with hidden video cameras before they visited 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter.
"No, we're bringing people back," he replies.
"We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Who - Endless Wire

This week, I did something that I haven’t done in 24 years – I bought a new studio album by The Who. Recorded in fits and starts over the last four years, Endless Wire could have been an embarrassment, a lacklustre last kick at the can. Thankfully, it’s not, but neither is it a grand triumph either. It’s as good as the sum of its parts, it’s just that some of the parts seem to be missing.
The most obvious missing parts are The Who’s late and lamented rhythm section. With bassist John Entwistle four years gone and drummer Keith Moon’s death approaching its 30th anniversary, the survivors (guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey) have done away with the bass and drums altogether on some songs, offering a mix of acoustic numbers and mid-tempo rockers, followed by a ten-song mini-opera, Wire and Glass.
The album opens with Fragments, which starts with a deliberate re-stating of the famous Baba O’Riley synth riff, placing this album clearly in the pantheon of Townshend’s work associated with his early 1970s Lifehouse project, his aborted follow-up to Tommy that has driven much of his work since, including Who’s Next, Psychoderelict, and The Boy Who Heard Music. When the song starts and the band kicks in, we are in true Who heaven, glorious Townshend backing vocals supporting Daltrey’s unearthly growl. It must be noted that while Daltrey’s voice live has certainly lost its punch over the years, he lets it all out on this set of songs, sounding almost as good as ever.
Next up is one of those acoustic numbers, Man in a Purple Dress, a scathing indictment of organized religion, followed by one of those mid-tempo rockers (and one of my favourite tracks) Mike Post Theme. Next comes In the Ether, a solo by Townshend where he affects his best Tom Waits impression. Townshend thinks this is one of the best songs he’s ever written. Daltrey thinks it’s crap. The truth is somewhere in between.
Townshend’s tendency to pray in public continues with the songs Two Thousand Years and You Stand By Me, while It’s Not Enough is a great, glossy rocker.
Then comes the mini-opera. In some ways, Wire and Glass is disappointing not so much for what it is, but what it could have been. The plot, such as can be discerned, involves three kids who form a band, post their song on the “endless wire” (a concept that dates back to Townshend’s Lifehouse in the ‘70s and predates the Internet), have a big hit, and then the band falls apart. Somehow the character of Ray High from Townshend’s 1993 solo album Psychoderelict figures in this, too.
The good news is that the songs in the opera are terrific, great little hook-filled nuggets. The bad news is that they are only nuggets. Most of the opera’s songs are only 90 seconds to two minutes long, and end just as they get going. And that’s such a shame because so many of them are so darn good. Extended versions of two of the best, We’ve Got a Hit and Endless Wire, are included as bonus tracks on the CD and demonstrate just how good this could have been if only these songs had had a bit more room to breathe. Still, there’s some remarkable stuff here. Townshend is at his sarcastic best on They Made My Dreams Come True, while Tea and Theatre, another acoustic number, is a remarkable closer.
This is not the high point of The Who’s career, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. I look forward to their next album in 2030.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Am I That Terrifying?

Only three -- three! -- kids came by my house for tricks and treats last night. Jeez, six kids live on my block! What's up with that?
Admittedly it was unseasonably cold last night, around the zero mark during the prime trick and treating time, but still....
I'm starting tothink that Hallowe'en is now much more of an adult holiday than a kid's holiday.
At least I got all the leftovers....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Dark Towers Diaries - Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight

So now the Song of Susannah is behind me and we're on to the the final book of the series, which is entitled The Dark Tower funnily enough.
Susannah ends on a less than satisfactory note. In the previous books in this yarn, Kimg has at least tried to wrap up some of the loose ends in each book to at least give some credence to the idea that each novel can stand alone. Here, he doesn't even try; all the plot threads are left hanging until the next book. And that's an odd choice because one character's story (Father Callahan) comes to end with his death early in The Dark Tower, so by transplanting this bit to the previous book, it might have helped. [SPOILER ALERT: The previous sentence contained a major spoiler.]
This last book is a monster, about 1200 pages. I can't recall ever trying to read a book this long. Simon and Schuster are lucky that Bush never tried to invade them. This is literature of mass destruction. A planeload of these could bomb an entire city flat. I got a flat tire on my bike when I took my copy to work. I've found where all the trees from the Amazon rain forest went -- Chapter Five. Is that a Stephen Kimg novel in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Friday, October 27, 2006

What About Putting Saddam Back in Charge?

Will Durst thinks it might work...
He’s tan. He’s rested. He knows the territory. Not doing much right now. Still has huge name recognition. Wouldn’t have to re-introduce him to the populace.
And be honest, how much worse could his re-reign be than what’s going on right now? Hell, we don’t need some big time fancy commission to tell us what to do.
Henry Kissinger is on board; ask him. Just resurrect his 32-year-old plan for Richard Nixon. We declare victory, and leave. Reinstall a chastened reformed Hussein and appoint someone to watch over him. How bout Dick Cheney? Kills three birds with one stone: Gets the Vice President, whose approval rating is lower than an anchovy milkshake, out of Washington AND in place to provide hands-on control over his Halliburton operation, AND Bush gets to appoint a successor for 08. Besides, if Cheney can’t instill the fear of Allah in Hussein, nobody can.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kissing Kyoto Goodbye

"It's a path which is indeed, globally, quite suicidal. I just look to my grandchildren and their children and say, 'Jesus, the world is going to be a different place, and it's going to be a much less secure place, and much less comfortable place and there's going to be a whole pile of dead people.'"
-- Former Environment Minister David Anderson

Canada is first out of Kyoto, in deed if not in word, with the Conservative government's so-called Clean Air Act which was introduced last week. Prime Minister Harper, saying this country is showing leadership by sending our boys and girls off to die to honour our NATO commitments, doesn't seem able to show leadership by living up to our international environmental commitments. The true north, strong and free, and the biggest per capita polluters on the planet.
While some might argue that the government's slow pace to bring in hard caps is better than nothing, it's really worse than nothing. For starters, Harper is planning three years of consultation with industry before producing any new regulations at all. Hard emissions caps will be introduced until 2025. This lengthy period of inaction is explained away by the old excuse of not wanting to harm the economy.
This is madness. There will be no economy by the mid-21st century without immediate action on climate control now.
How hard is to say to industry , "2006 is the limit. Next year, you cannot pollute anymore than you did this year. And the year after, you're going to start bringing that down."

What others are saying:




Garth Turner

Green Party

Environmental Defence

Sierra Club


Monday, October 23, 2006

Seals, anyone?

Here's some seals from yesterday's paddle.

This guy had an itch that needed scratching.

He seemed quite pleased with the results!

There's even more pictures here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Dark Tower Diaries -- Day One Hundred and Three

My crazy idea of reading all seven of Stephen King's Dark Tower books in a row continues, despite the fact some great unread books are piling up in my bookcase. The latest from Simon Winchester and Gwynne Dyer are there, along with the sixth Harry Potter book, and a Neil Armstrong biography. Plus I owe Neo-Opsis a book review; all I have to do is read the book!
I'm well into book six, Song For Susannah, and my first thought about is relief that it's 400 pages shorter than book five. I grant you that that sounds unfair, because King's prose and narrative skills are near the top of his game here, but still he does palaver on.
The wolves of book five were defeated, but Susannah, taken over by Mia, has escaped to 1999 New York to give birth to the, er, whatever that she is carrying. Meanwhile, the gang still has to save the Rose in 1977 New York. Meanwhile the second, Father Callahan discovers that his life was written as a novel by some guy named Stephen King. (This makes for some quiet and hilarious asides, as when Callahan notes that the novel was well-reviewed "...if you can believe all the blurbs on the jacket.")
Things are getting strange!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Worst Music Video Ever

Click here... if you dare...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Feeding Our Cars

In this article, Gwynne Dyer points out something that I wasn't aware of:
For the sixth time in the past seven years, the human race will grow less food than it eats this year. We closed the gap by eating into food stocks accumulated in better times, but there is no doubt that the situation is getting serious. The world's food stocks have shrunk by half since 1999, from a reserve big enough to feed the entire world for 116 days then to a predicted low of only 57 days by the end of this year.
That is well below the official safety level, and there is no sign that the downward trend is going to reverse. If it doesn't, then at some point not too far down the road we reach the point of absolute food shortages, and rationing by price kicks in. In other words, grain prices soar, and the poorest start to starve.

So another crisis is looming in a century already full of crises. While Islamic fundamentalism takes on Western fascism, while we go to war to fight for cheap oil to burn away in our SUVs (and slowly poison ourselves in the process), while we approach massive environmental and economic upheaval, we are running out of food. And where is it going? Dyer further notes:
In the United States, a "corn rush" has been unleashed by government subsidies for ethanol, and so many ethanol plants are planned or already in existence in Iowa that they could absorb the state's entire crop of corn (maize, mealies). In effect, food is being turned into fuel -- and the amount of ethanol needed to fill a big four-wheel-drive SUV just once uses enough grain to feed one person for an entire year.

So not only are we killing ourselves and our planet to support our energy-rich western lifestyle, now we're literally starving people to do it.
And the conseqeunces? Dyer notes in this article the baffling non-response of the world's politicians and citizens to the climate change crisis, noting that:
...global civilisation falls into violent chaos as huge numbers of people start to starve. Even two degrees hotter will reduce agricultural output in the main food-producing regions of the world by about a quarter.
Much hotter, and it will be much worse, so we may end up negotiating (or more likely, fighting) over which billion of us starve first. Intelligent human beings, faced with that prospect, would act at once, or so you would think -- especially because the actions required are not really all that painful, provided that they start right away.

We need our governments to put the same effort, if not more, into the right battles as they are into fighting the wrong ones. If we don't spend a greater effort fighting climate change and hunger than terrorism, then fighting the wrong battle will have been truly a monumental waste.

Bush Condoms

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Soldiers' deaths in Afghanistan the price of leadership: Harper

According to this CBC article, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the toll of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan is the price Canada is paying for playing a leadership role in world affairs.
"We see just how proud Canadians are of their soldiers and their families and we have also seen how difficult it is to bear the sorrows of their losses. But, ladies and gentlemen, that is the price of leadership in the world," Harper told the audience.

Whether you agree with the mission of our soldiers in Afghanistan or not, the one thing they are not there for is to soothe the ego of our nation and to convince our Prime Minister and ourselves that we are a major player on the world stage. If Harper's ego needs placating, he should find a better way of dealing with it.
If that really is why we are spilling our blood overseas, then they should come home right now.

The Dark Tower Diaries -- Day Eighty-Eight

Now we're into the final 100 pages of Wolves of the Calla. It's very interesting, King's prose has never been better, but damn, this is a long book.
Anyway, Roland has his plan in place, the Wolves are just a couple of days from returning to town, and Roland thinks he's rooted out the traitor. Everything's coming together, so naturally it should all fall apart any page now.
I'm enjoying seeing Father Callahan from 'Salem's Lot return, and I'm interested to see where he ends up (dead is my guess).
I should finish this off today, then it's on to the next book, Song of Susannah (which, mercifully, is 400 pages shorter than this one).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Top Ten GOP Excuses for Not Believing The Iraqi Casulty Count

From Ballon Juice....

10. At least when we kill civilians, it is an accident. Saddam intentionally killed civilians.
9. No one could have predicted there would be civilian casualties.
8. We tried to come up with a plan to win this war without killing civilians, but obstructionist Democrats made it too hard.
7. How many innocent civilians did FDR and Truman kill? (Excuse used partially used with a reference to Nagasaki and Hiroshima.)
6. Why all the fuss? The Iraqi people can ‘tolerate’ a few dead. (Excuse actually used by Bush in his presser.)
5. Freedom isn’t Free. Freedom is messy.
4. Better to have collateral damage over there than to have it over here.
3. The terrorists don’t care if they kill innocent civilians.
2. Brian Ross and the media have known people are dying in Iraq for a long while. Why did they wait until right before an election to tell us? (Excuse actually used here at Red State)
1. Epidemiologists?!? What the hell do skin doctors know about waging war? (Excuse partially used here: “So somewhere between 8 and 194 thousand, good lord I hope I never get treated by one of these quacks.”)

Bush Watch: The Saga Continues

Why doesn't Bush buy The Lancet's report that well over 600,000 Iraqis have died a direct result of the American invasion? One reason might be that the death in Iraq is higher under the Bush regime than under Saddam. According to billmon:
But it's hard -- or should be -- for Shrub to take much comfort even in that, because while Saddam ruled Iraq for almost 24 years, the Cheney Administration and the U.S. Army have had the place in their tender care for less than four. Two million divided by 24 equals 83,333 deaths a year. But 655,000 divided by four equals 163,750 deaths a year -- almost double Saddam's annual output.
Or, if you prefer to use more "conservative" estimates for both:
Saddam: 31,250 deaths a year (750,000 divided by 24)
Cheney Administration: 87,500 deaths a year (350,000 divided by four)
But that makes the comparison look even worse.

It's US vs. Them. But who are "them"? Robert Parry suggests that not even Bush knows.
"But I’m never clear who “they” are or exactly what “it” is. If “they” are the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist terrorists of al-Qaeda and “it” is 9/11, U.S. forces could have concentrated on al-Qaeda strongholds along the Afghan-Pakistani border until Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and their followers were captured or killed.
Bush, however, expanded the “they” to include the secular dictatorship of Iraq, the Shiite government of Iran, Syria’s Assad family dynasty, Lebanese Shiite militants of Hezbollah, Palestinian Sunni militants of Hamas, and a hodgepodge of other Islamic radicals around the globe.
So, instead of finishing a winnable war against al-Qaeda, Bush veered off into a diffused struggle against a diverse grouping of Muslim leaders, nations and organizations lumped under a terrorism umbrella.
Bush also has offered no coherent strategy for winning what amounts to a global counterinsurgency war against Islamic militants. Beyond vowing to stay on “the offensive” in Iraq and elsewhere, Bush has promulgated a dubious theory that widespread anti-Americanism can be overcome by imposing “democracy,” through force if needed.
But this “democracy” theory has run aground on the hard reality that Muslim hatred of Bush is so intense that almost whenever citizens get to vote they either act on behalf of narrow sectarian interests (as in Iraq) or they vote for people who have earned popular support by standing up to the United States (as in Iran, Palestine and Lebanon).
That means that the only “reliable” U.S. allies are still the “moderate” autocrats, such as the Saudi royal family, the Jordanian monarchy, or the dictators of Egypt and Pakistan. If the popular will in those countries were respected, the likelihood is that the elected governments would join the “coalition of the hostile” against the United States.
In other words, Bush has no real strategic plan for winning the “war on terror,” short of waging a bloodbath against large segments of the world’s one billion Muslims, a global version of the carnage on display in Iraq since 2003 and in Lebanon during the Israeli war against Hezbollah last summer.
Yet, even a bloodbath strategy along the lines of the Iraq War is certain to fail. As the U.S. intelligence community has recognized, the Iraq War has become a case study in how not to conduct counterinsurgency warfare – as well as an example of how wishful thinking and incompetent military strategies can make a bad situation worse."

And why does Bush keep lying about UN inspectors not being allowed into Iraq before the invasion? From consortiumnews.com:
There’s always been the frightening question of what would happen if a President of the United States went completely bonkers. But there is an equally
disturbing issue of what happens if a President loses touch with reality, especially if he is surrounded by enough sycophants and enablers so no one can or will stop him.
At his Oct. 11 news conference, Bush gave the country a peek into his imaginary world, a bizarre place impenetrable by facts and logic, where falsehoods, once stated, become landmarks and where Bush’s “gut” instinct, no matter how misguided, is the compass for finding one’s way.
In speaking to White House reporters, Bush maneuvered casually through this world like an experienced guide making passing references to favorite points of interest, such as Hussein’s defiance of U.N. resolutions banning WMD (when Hussein actually had
eliminated his WMD stockpiles).
“We tried the diplomacy,” Bush said. “Remember it? We tried resolution after resolution after resolution.” Though the resolutions had worked – and left Hussein stripped of his WMD arsenal – that isn’t how it looks in Bush’s world, where the resolutions failed and there was no choice but to invade.
At other news conferences, Bush has filled in details of his fictional history. For instance, on July 14, 2003, just a few months after the Iraq invasion, Bush began rewriting the record to meet his specifications.
“We gave him [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power,” Bush told reporters.
In the real world, of course, Hussein admitted U.N. inspectors in fall 2002 and gave them unfettered access to search suspected Iraqi weapons sites. It was Bush who forced the U.N. inspectors to leave in March 2003 so the invasion could proceed.
Over the past three years, Bush has repeated this false claim about the barred inspectors in slightly varied forms as part of his litany for defending the invasion on the grounds that it was Hussein who “chose war,” not Bush.
Meeting no protest from the Washington press corps, Bush continued repeating his lie about Hussein showing “defiance” on the inspections.
For instance, at a news conference on March 21, 2006, Bush reprised his claims
about his diplomatic efforts.
“I was hoping to solve this [Iraq] problem diplomatically,” Bush said. “The
world said, ‘Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.’ We worked to
make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose
to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the
difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.”

Don't Be An Ass

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Can the US support 300 million people?

Can the US support 300 million citizens? Accordng to this story, probably not:

The danger, experts say, is that the US may simply have postponed the day of reckoning. Major environmental problems remain, and some are getting worse - all of them in one way or another connected to US population growth, which is expected to hit 400 million around midcentury. Some experts put the average American's "ecological footprint" - the amount of land and water needed to support an individual and absorb his or her waste - at 24 acres. By that calculation, the long-term "carrying capacity" of the US would sustain less than half of the nation's current population.
"The US is the only industrialized nation in the world experiencing significant population growth," says Vicky Markham, of the Center for Environment and Population, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization in New Canaan, Conn. "That, combined with America's high rates of resource consumption, results in the largest ... environmental impact [of any nation] in the world."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Dark Tower Diaries -- Day Sixty-Nine

I'm finding Wolves of the Calla a tough slog. I am enjoying it, but it's long. The main narrative gets sidetracked by lengthy flashbacks and it seems to suffer for it. While the flashbacks are interesting (and important plotwise), they interrupt the flow of the main plot. And one character has decided to not even finish his flashback, at least not until a more dramatically convenient moment. Still, King has set up an interesting situation here: a small village where most pregnantcies result in twins, but once a generation raiders (wearing wolf masks) come and take away one child from each set of twins, returning them a month or so later after they have been made into drooling idiots. "Roont" as the townfolk say.
Needless to say, Roland and company have rolled into town just before the next attack by the wolves.
How will it end? Who can say. Only Stephen King (and the millions of people who have the read the book before me) know for sure.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

V-Con 31

Spent the weekend at V-Con 31 in Vancouver, where a fine time was had by all. Here Stephanie mans the Neo-Opsis table.

Karl says Hi to Roy, while Roy gooses him. (I'm kidding!)

Steve and Paula look very pleased to be in the same picture.

What does one do at a V-Con? Go to the mall for ice cream, of course! Roy chows down...

...as does Louise...

... and me, of course.

Finally, never fall asleep when I have my camera and an empty Pop-Tart box handy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

On My Bike Today

I took my camera to as I rode to work today. I picked a good day. First off, what a sunrise!

Then, on the way home, look up in the sky, it's a bird! It's a plane!It's a...blimp!?!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Out For a Paddle

Here's some pix from some paddles last week. First up: Brentwood Bay.

We found this guy hiding in plain sight on a rock.

And here's some from Willow's Beach:

This guy popped up beside me and wasn't scared or panicked at all.

Check out the white seal in this group.

This guy played for the camera.