Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ed's Fake Outrage. Or Inherit the Tory Wind

Ed Stelmach stormed out of the Legislature today because of a poorly thought out taunt by Liberal MLA Dave Taylor. Taylor's reference to the Scope's Monkey trial went over the head of Stelmach. Although the taunt was ill-advised it did have its own wit. When Taylor was a talk show host on the local Corus station he routinely talked over the heads of the mostly conservative audience.

Later in today's session, Taylor apologized. Hopefully the Health Minister was watching and learning.

I'm surprised that Stelmach has not yet flown into a rage over Ezra Levant's comment about Lindsey Blackett being an uppity token. Waiting... Waiting...

The hackneyed shenanigans of Question Period aside, I have really deep concerns about creating a new category of human rights that have to do with parental objections to school curriculum. Parents have had this right since the 1960's. Any one my age clearly remembers the first sex ed class where the kids with chin beards and bonnets got up and left.

If I understand the legislation correctly students who are exempted from, for example, evolution theory in biology class, cannot be punished academically. This will create a huge dilemma for the teacher and the curriculum writers. If you follow the strategy of creationists in the United States, their goal is to get public school boards and public post-secondary institutions to put Creationism on a peer to peer level with Biology, Chemistry and Geology. "Parental rights" will no doubt lead to curriculum dilution or injection of pseudo-science. At which point the Government will conveniently shrug its shoulders and say human rights, what can you do.

The whole thing is deeply suspicious, and occurs at a time when Alberta schools need to be better managed, better funded, and when our scientific literacy needs to be raised.

I do not trust the Alberta Government on issues like this. They are poor strategists and never see the coming train wreck. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maude was Better than Golden Girls

When celebrities like Bea Arthur die it gives us pause to think about our own journey. The TV was on a lot when I was growing up, and it was the backdrop to every stupid decision I made. Sort of creepy that way.

I came of age in the 70's. People in my age group generally think TV was better in the 70's than the 80's. To me the 80's on TV was a horrible pit of narcissistic despair.

All in the Family was the first show I really remember that made me think about the world. Maude, who was originally Edith's cousin on AITF, was the first feminist I ever saw. They gave Bea Arthur the Maude show because she was too large a personality to co-exist with Archie. Apparently Carroll O'Connor had a fairly big ego.

Golden Girls had excellent writing, biting sarcasm, and chemistry that reminds me of Seinfeld. However, if I have to watch re-runs I'd watch Maude any day. The episode I remember the most was when Maude discovered she was pregnant and there were several episodes about abortion. Strangely enough, in some ways TV was more liberated back then.

Please recommend this post

Blogging Should be Fun

I was thinking today about a time when blogging was fun for me. Before everything became a right-left hate fest. Before Stephen Harper came along and completely ruined my sense of Canada. Before Jason Kenney made me feel like a foreigner in my birth country. Before there was a daily fire hose stream of things to be angry about. Before people started waving flags like fascists and threatening to beat up people who didn't sing the national anthem the way they wanted. Before the Conservative Party and the Media killed the idea of Peace Keeping and overtly militarized our culture. Before Liberal bloggers decided that "Alberta" and "Calgary" needed to be the subject of bigoted diatribes.

It will probably get better. Things usually do. Hey, did you know that they have an International Rutabaga Curling Championship. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Alberta Sterilization

Whenever I see the words Alberta and Sterilization in the same sentence I think of Alberta's eugenics program the Alberta Social Credit Party thought up in the 1930's. This program was ended by Peter Lougheed in 1972.

But no, this time it had to do with another controversy about patient care and proper sterilization. A clinic in Calgary began charging $5 or $10 fees to patient to cover the expense of sterilizing instruments used during the patient's visit.

Naturally there was a negative reaction. By the end of the day the College of Physicians & Surgeons ordered the clinic to stop collecting this fee.

What surprised me about the social media reactions, and the MSM reactions is that few really understood the background of this problem. In early 2007 a small town Hospital in Vegreville Alberta was found to be following insufficient sterilization techniques. Further investigation revealed that a significant number of patients were probably infected with HIV/Aids and or Hepatitis. The Government has yet to reveal any figures on how many innocent patients were infected. As far as I know, no one was fired.

As a result of this and other similar problem, the Government began a lets get really really serious about sterilization now program. This resulted in Clinics being forced into buying more modern equipment. Hence the Calgary Clinic trying to find a way to cover its costs.

My question is fairly simple. How can a modern Health Care System, populated by well educated medical professionals fall down on something as basic as germ control. The two basic problems are transparency and management. In 2007 no one really knew the extent of the sterilization problem and could not find out. The Health Board that ran the Vegreville Hospital was made up of Political Appointees. The Government protected its appointees, who were ultimately accountable.

I don't really see where anything has changed since 2007.

Some links:
CBC Clinic Charges Sterilization Fee
Vegreville Hospital
Some other possible related links Please recommend this post

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alberta Libraries get $9 Million Dollars

I woke up this morning at 5am for no particular reason. Apparently this is a sign of old age or something. I blearily and misguidedly checked my email and news feed quickly - something I have repeatedly told myself is inadvisable before noon.

I read the CBC headline that the Alberta Government was announcing another $9 million dollars in funding for Alberta's public libraries. My brain translated the headline to "Alberta Liberals". I thought it was strange, and in the stupor I was in I spent the next couple of hours thinking weird thoughts like where did the Alberta Liberals get $9 million dollars. Will this level the playing field? Is that a lot of money? Where are my pants? etc etc.

I woke up later and realized how very confused I was. Libraries. Not Liberals. Not that I wouldn't want the Alberta Liberals to get $9 million dollars. If the Alberta Liberals had $9 million dollars they could buy the next election and deport Stelmach.

In spite of our affluent societies our libraries need more than $9 million dollars. For example, all the libraries in Calgary have had a public wireless network for a few years, but few of them have places to plug notebook computers in. Retrofitting to online collections is now also a big trend with libraries and expensive. And then there are all those literacy and reading programs, and ESL tutoring - all done by volunteers.

I'm glad they got the money, especially during a time when the Alberta Government has absolutely no idea how to manage money and resources.

This additional funding takes some of the burden off me to continually pay those hundreds of dollars in late fees. I hope they spend the money wisely and not on silly christian novels about the rapture or Miss Marple DVD's. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rare Methadone Clinic Killed By Aldermen

The Second Chance methadone clinic, which has been operating for some time in an industrial area of north east Calgary will be forced to close its doors. The Alderman of the area used zoning BS to force the closure of the clinic.

Not only that, when the clinic was close to finding a new location in south east Calgary, the Alderman for that area apparently strong armed the prospective landlord into backing out of the lease.

Whereas the City of Calgary apparently has an unlimited supply of cash and time to play these games, the clinic has no resources to defend.

What are these Alderman thinking? How many votes will they gain in exchange for creating extreme hardship for about 500 hard drug addicts.

There is only one other methadone clinic in Calgary, downtown at the Sheldon Chumir Clinic. But since it is run by Alberta Health, those 500 addicts cut adrift would likely not get any help going there. I guess they'll end up in either the remand centre or an emergency ward.

I really think this will have some negative outcomes for Calgary.

h/t to CBC Calgary Story. Please recommend this post

Didn't see the punch line coming at all

And as a result, I spit juice all over my precious little notebook.

I thing I've crossed over into lazy blogger bing bong town. Please recommend this post

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hail The New Nationalism

Last week Calgary's Mount Royal College inadvertently drew the attention of hyper-nationalist goons by thinking out loud about whether to fly a Canadian Flag in a building operated by the Student's Association.

The building used to have a huge flag hung from the roof, but it was taken down for renovations. When the renovations were complete the issue of hanging another flag was discussed. One student expressed the view that the flag was exclusionary. The student for what I now see are understandable reasons, made the comment anonymously.

As a post-secondary institution they should have an open and honest discussion about hanging the flag. Many of those students are probably history majors who are familiar with the various fascist movements of the 20th century and know the basic components of fascism, including flag waving and the coercive worship of external symbols.

Although Canada isn't a fascist state yet, more and more I grow uneasy seeing the immense amount of ugly mob pressure to fly a flag or sing anthems. Erik Millett, a school principle in New Brunswick, and who dared to change the anthem singing schedule of his school, was harassed, bullied, and threatened with violence and death. Now he can no longer continue in his job because he is too traumatized. (link)

If the non flying of a flag, or the non singing of an anthem makes you threaten someone's life, you're not a real Canadian, barely a human being, and you should get help. Or just fuck off to some third world country where you'll socialize better.

Of course the shrill moralistic bullies at the Calgary Herald had to wade into the Mount Royal debate, even though it was an issue the students can easily work out on their own. The title of the op-ed Fly Our Flag says it all. Its an imperative. An or else demand. In a low point, even for the Herald, the op-ed author rips the anonymous student who made the original comment:

Finally, it is the flag of a people who believe men and women have the right to speak their opinions without fear, and therefore unlike the Mount Royal complainant, need not hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

The funny but sad part of that unnecessary attack is that the editorial is unsigned. However, given its dumbness, meanness, and the non-nonsensical meandering style, I would bet it was written by Corbella.

The usual pile of thugs, commenting in the online edition, demand that the student go back where he/she came from. That, without knowing anything about the origins or national identity of that person.

The Canadian Flag means a lot to me. I feel a lot of positive emotions whenever I see it flying somewhere. And that's in spite of Stephen Harper ripping the fabric of this country apart. What I won't do is wave the flag in someone Else's face and force them to worship it. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Law Abiding Gun Owners

Case 1:

Last weekend Brian Knight, a farmer near Bashaw, Alberta saw three men on his property at 2am. Two of the men fled in their vehicle, the third fled stealing one of Knight's Quads. I fully understand how frightening this might be, and the criminal code does allow reasonable force to be used in self defense.

However, Mr.Knight jumped in his vehicle and chased the Quad thief down the secondary roads, shooting at him and ramming him with his truck. The thief was shot and sent to hospital. The RCMP arrested Knight and charged him with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault and dangerous driving. The other 2 thieves were caught and charged.

Knight's illegal and dangerous over-reaction could have killed a neighbor, a police officer, or even the thief. If you think a Quad is worth more than a human life then you are a sick human being. Worse than the thief actually.

Not surprisingly Knight is being turned into a folk hero. Apparently we're supposed to admire people with loose screws who take off down the highway shooting at petty criminals. One more reason to believe that Corus talk radio is sick and pathologically irredeemable as a social media.

I guess this is why the Firewall letter writers advocate for kicking the RCMP out of Alberta and replacing them with an Alberta Police Force. If you had a local police force that reported to the Alberta Tory party then you could just ignore inconvenient parts of the criminal code. One of my favourite movies was Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night. Good story, bad model for policing.

Case 2:

Dr. Ted Morton probably thought he was being funny with this photo op:


He obviously didn't listen in gun safety training. You never ever ever point a gun at anything unless you are intending to shoot it. Never.

It sends the wrong message and most of the people who adore Morton are laboring under some serious deficits as it is. Its not funny. Its irresponsible. And I also get the subtle political message. Thanks.

Consider also that the Alberta Government, under Morton's initiative uses tax dollars to promote hunting as a life style. Because you can never have a big enough intrusive government that spends public money to tell us what's fun.

Case 3:

A man in Edmonton very nearly shot his balls off playing with his gun. Better his balls than his wife or two young kids. He then wasted the time of the Police claiming a burglar had shot him.

Say no to dismantling our gun laws and registries. Please recommend this post