Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Different Standard for Women?

This morning, Bill Good was discussing yesterday's "Bitch" episode. The very first caller went on a long rant, not only demanding that Norman Spector be kicked off his show but that Bill Good now apologize as well. What rocks do these people crawl out from? Here's a letter that I just sent to Good:

Though I may not agree with Norman's use of the "B" word, the number of people who are explicitly and implicitly try to permanently censor him is really scary to me. Now we see your first caller taking it to the next level and demanding that you apologize for the comments of your guest. This is a perfect example of Political Correctness on the march. It's frightening that some people are so quick to throw Free Speech into the dustbin when someone says something that they disagree with.

But specific to your question about whether there's a different standard for women, I will unequivocally answer in the affirmative: Yes, there is a different standard for women. It's lower. Ditto for minorities.

In today's politically correct culture, can a female minority politician be called incompetent even if she is so or the speaker believes this to be the case? The answer is clearly "No". Case in point: Michael Geoghegan, a younger version of Norman Spector, got kicked off the Victoria airwaves when he criticized NDP MLA, Jenny Kwan.

Isn't it about time in the year 2006 that everyone stopped being an overly sensitive proverbial victim?

Do You REALLY Support Free Speech in Canada?

I've been carefully following the discussions emanating from Norman Spector's "bitch" comment. Check out some of these blogs and you'll see a very interesting trend: Most every blogger who strongly supports the federal Liberal party is very adamant that Spector should be banned from ever speaking out publicly again. This is not my opinion - go check for yourself!

On all sides of the political spectrum I don't agree with what a lot of people say, but my first inclination is not to ban them from talking. If such people that do advocate such censorship had any sense of history they would immediately cease and desist from such dangerous, anti-democratic talk. We've seen such people before. 75 years ago they wore brown shirts and spoke German.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Is Belinda Stronach a Bitch?

This morning on CKNW's Bill Good show, well known political columnist, Norman Spector, made the following comment about Liberal MP, Belinda Stronach: "I think she's a bitch. It's as simple as that. And I think that 90 percent of men would probably say she's a bitch for the way she's broken up Tie Domi's home and the way she dumped Peter MacKay. She is a bitch."

He was attacked by several female callers, one of whom demanded that he be removed from the airwaves or she'd never listen to 'NW again. But Spector stood his ground and added this: "Why is it unacceptable? That's what I think about her. I think it was much worse - a few years ago - when one of the Liberal members referred to (former Edmonton North MP) Deb Grey as a slab of meat quite frankly. I think that was totally unacceptable. But bitch is a word that I would use to describe someone like Belinda Stronach. It is a word that I use regularly."

Later I looked up the term and found these definitions of the word "bitch":

  • a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, esp. a woman
  • a lewd woman
  • A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing
Which of these are inaccurate in terms of describing Belinda Stronach?

Spector's comments have lit up the Canadian blogosphere:
I added a comment on one of these blogs that basically said this: In Canada today, can a woman and/or a minority person in the public spotlight be criticized for being "intellectually challenged" or for their bad behaviour? I think not. At least not without the critic being called a sexist or a racist. This is the result of decades of growing political correctness.

In terms of being able to "get away" with speaking your mind, the worst credentials to have in Canada are:
  • White
  • Male
  • Christian
  • Heterosexual
  • Conservative political leanings
And the best credentials are:
  • A racial minority
  • Female or Transsexual
  • An atheist or non-Christian
  • Homosexual
  • Liberal or NDP political leanings
If you have checkmarks in all 5 of these latter categories then run for political office tomorrow and play every "victim card" whenever you need to. Nobody will dare argue with you and the media will support you with great vigor!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

David Letterman vs. Bill O'Reilly

This past week entertainment talk show host, David Letterman, got in a huge verbal jousting with political talk show host, Bill O'Reilly, about the Iraq War.

Twenty years ago I was a HUGE fan of Letterman. I found his sense of humour very dry and hilarious. But I haven't seen his show in years. I did make a point of seeing this segment though.

In many ways, it offered a perfect example of the huge debate that Americans are going through right now about what to do with the situation in Iraq. Letterman's answer is to pull all the troops home immediately. But O'Reilly asked a very important question: "And then what?" The answer, of course, is that Iran and Syria would immediately move in and quash the fledgling democracy, just like their proxies are trying to do now. This would greatly inspire the Muslim terrorists in every corner of the world and, I fear, signal the start of a much wider, much more dangerous conflict.

As O'Reilly said, people don't want to think about such possibilities. So many of us are so comfortable in our lives, exactly like they have been since WW2. But it's a very dangerous world out there and I, for one, have never believed that our freedom and lifestyle is guaranteed by doing nothing.

I was most disappointed that Letterman had not taken the time to prepare himself for the interview. He admitted that he does not really follow the news. This again is very representative of the public at large: They read headlines but never take the time to read more about the complexity of the issues, let alone to think about them. This is terribly sad because there can't be true debate when only one side has any semblance of facts and the other is just speaking from emotion and uttering 'talking points' - prepared soundbites that sound really good but which they can't at all back up.

P.S. A great article on the far-sighted vs. the blind can be read here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Great Quotes from Mark Steyn

In the traditional media, if someone is to be interviewed then they're either invited into the radio or television studio or a news crew goes out to meet them. Either way, a lot of setup is required.

A new media is quickly evolving that bypasses all of this. My favourite writer, Mark Steyn, just engaged in a "bloggers conference call" with a dozen or so influential bloggers around the United States. You can listen to the very fascinating discussion here.

Steyn's new book, "America Alone", paints a very gloomy picture of the likely future in front of us. But when asked what best case scenarios we could expect if we collectively got our act together, he presented these two about Canada and the U.S.:

The best case scenario for Canada is that it decides to get real and rejoin the Anglosphere and stop pretending it's a member of the European Union that just happens to be on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

The best case for America is that we accept that in a 2 party system that's it's helpful to have 2 sane parties. And the Democratic Party decides that these outmoded European ideas are absolutely useless, that a very minimum it wants to take a Tony Blair line on national security. But at the same time it also wants to go more to self reliance and traditional notions of American liberty when it comes to domestic issues.

I smiled slyly when I heard him make the remark about Canada because he is bang on! So many Canadians are so smug about themselves and yet clearly oblivious to the reality of the world around them. Here in Canada, our health care system is falling apart and becoming increasing unaffordable yet these same Canadians want more of the same social programs. Little do they think of the future and what a huge burden their selfishness is imposing upon future generations to pay for.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hidden Faces in Alberta

I just heard a fascinating story on CBC's As It Happens about a large"face" that appears on the plains of Alberta, east of Medicine Hat and just before the Saskatchewan border. I just had to check it out! You can view the face here. Some say it looks like the profile of an Aztec Indian wearing an iPod.

In Google Maps, zoom out twice and you'll see all kinds of other interesting formations in the vicinity. Being the inquisitive engineer that I am, I got to wondering if there were any other "faces" nearby. So I booted up a copy of "Google Earth" (think of it as Google Map's big brother) and started exploring. After a few minutes I found another face about 26km south of Aztec Man!! This one I think looks like Mother Nature blowing a strong wind. You can view it here.

Here are some screen captures I took from Google Earth:

This first one is the original face that was found and discussed on CBC Radio 1:

Here are some of the very interesting formations around this face. To the upper right I think I see some scorpions or lobsters!

And here is the face that I found. It's another profile though this one is facing to the right and "blowing" downward a tad. Click on the thumbnail and you'll see it much clearer.

Finally, here's a larger scale map, showing the location of both faces and their proximity to Medicine Hat. Might a new tourist industry be born here?!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How Political Correctness Has Turned Our Value System Upside Down

Imagine a woman in a skirt walking into a coffee shop to get a latte and being told the following by the shop owner:

"Do you realize that dressed like that, you are inviting yourself to be sexually assaulted? For example, if you take out uncovered meat and place it outside... and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem, not the cats."

If you were that woman, how would you react? If you were a man standing next to her, would you say anything?

Before you answer these questions, let me ask you one other: Would the shop owner's race or religion affect your feelings on the matter? Would his views be more acceptable to you if he were a certain race or religion?

Call me whacky, but in my view of the world, there are some clearly defined rights and wrongs. And anyone making such a statement would be dead wrong.

Yet these very statements were made yesterday, not by a coffee shop owner but by the top Muslim cleric in Australia, Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly. I don't know what will come of this in Australia but I can guarantee you that if he said such things in Canada, not only would he get away with it, but anyone who condemned him, particularly if they were a right-leaning politician, would quickly get labelled as an insentive racist and bigot by the very same people who would condemn the very same words if spoken by that same politician.

And in a nutshell, that is where political correctness has taken us to in 2006. Ain't progress a wonderful thing?!

Update: Here's an editorial about this from a journalist Down Under.

New Movie: "Postal"

A friend of mine, Roz McNulty, has a fantastic website called "PitchPage" that lets filmmakers promote themselves on the Internet. This week there's a humorous feature on a new movie called "Postal" that's currently being filmed in Vancouver. The director is Uwe Boll, a somewhat controversial fellow from Germany. One of the lead actors is Dave Foley, who made his mark on the Canadian comedy series "Kids In The Hall". Warning: There's quite a bit of swearing toward the end of the segment.

Belinda Stronach and the "Dog" Comment

Background: Last week, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter MacKay, allegedly made a comment comparing his ex-girlfriend, [now] Liberal MP, Belinda Stronach, with a dog. You can read more about it here.

Isn't it insightful that we have Canadian soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan, mass genocide occurring in Darfur, and a madman testing nuclear weapons in North Korea. Yet the Canadian media is absolutely obsessed with Peter MacKay's alleged "dog" comment. Interesting priorities.

There is one thing that has not been said yet, which is clearly a blatantly obvious "elephant in the room" type fact: How dare Peter MacKay slander the millions of dogs in Canada by comparing them to Belinda Stronach! After all, dogs are loyal, trustworthy, and honourable. Based on her personal & professional history of the past few years, clearly none of these traits can be remotely applied to Ms. Stronach.

So I do think Peter MacKay should apologize, but to our canine friends.

Online Word Processing and Spreadsheets

If you're looking for an online version of [something like] Microsoft Word and Excel then go here. These are products of Google but do closely resemble their MS equivalents. Very neat stuff!

Monday, October 23, 2006

42 Minutes of Realism

Here's a clip from C-SPAN's Washington Journal program featuring my favourite writer, Mark Steyn. You'll need RealPlayer installed to see it. Very, very interesting!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Photos from Vancouver

I went grocery shopping at Granville Island the other day and took some photos along the way. Here are a few of them:

Chapters Ban of 'America Alone'?

Mark Steyn's book is a clear bestseller. Yet it seems apparent that the book is not available on the shelves of any Chapters in Canada. A bit strange, no?

I just sent Chapters the following e-mail:


I just tried purchasing a copy of Mark Steyn's book, "America Alone" at my local Chapters store here in Vancouver, BC. It was not available and your associate at the store had no idea when/if any copies would be available. I appreciate that your company may have different political views than Mr. Steyn, but is it really appropriate to ban such a popular book (#2 on Amazon.ca today) from your store shelves?


Robert Werner

Here's the English portion of the automated response I just received:

Cher client/Chère cliente. Vous trouverez ci-dessous ce message en français.

Thank you for contacting Customer Service at Chapters Indigo Online!

This email confirms that your email has been received and we will respond to it within 24 hours.

Help is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via our online helpdesk, located at www.chapters.indigo.ca/help.

We look forward to serving you!

Customer Service Team
Chapters Indigo Online

I just received the following response. Talk about expending a lot of time & energy and saying absolutely nothing:

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.
Chapters Indigo Online. Books, Music, Movies and More.

(April)10/23/2006 11:28 AM
Dear Robert Werner,

Thank you for contacting Chapters Indigo Online regarding your search for an item in store.

We appreciate hearing from our customers and value the information and feedback that we receive. Please accept this e-mail as confirmation that your comments regarding your search for an item in store have been forwarded to our store experience team.

We thank you for taking the time to share the thoughts provided within your e-mail and we also invite you to do so again in the future.

Thank you for choosing Chapters Indigo Online. Books, Music, Movies and More.

Customer Service Team
Chapters Indigo Online

I spoke too soon! Here's a very nice response I received a few minutes later:

Dear Robert Werner,

Thank you for your email to Indigo Books & Music Inc. and your interest in Mark Steyn’s book. Wow, this title is certainly generating interest! You are the second customer to email me this morning about this. I have some good news for you – it’s on its way! Indigo is certainly carrying this title in our larger stores (Indigo and Chapters stores). Some higher volume Coles bookstore locations will also receive this title, but it was not ordered for all of the smaller stores due to space considerations, and expected demand.

The order is already being filled by the publisher, and right now we are just waiting for the actual shipment of the books. I have tried to narrow it down to a more specific shipment date, but unfortunately I was not able to determine this. You do not mention which of our Vancouver stores you prefer to frequent, so I checked all of them. Our Chapters locations at 788 Robson, 2505 Granville in Vancouver and Metrotown Eaton Centre in Burnaby are all slated to receive copies of this title, as well as our Indigo store at 1025 Marine Drive. Would you like me to keep an eye on the inventory at a particular store, and email you when this title arrives at that location?

Of course, the option to order online is always available if you prefer, but if not, we look forward to welcoming you into one of our store locations soon.


Laura Blight
Coordinator, Selling Services & Solutions
Store Performance Department
Indigo Books and Music Inc.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Death of Europe, As We Know It?

Canadian author, Mark Steyn, is on a whirlwind media tour promoting his new book, "America Alone". Not since I was a kid did I indicate to anyone what gift I would like, but I've told my mom that I'd love this book for Christmas.

From everything I've read and heard about the book, it paints a pretty bleak picture of the future - especially if you live in Europe. Why? I'll let Steyn explain in his own words: "Yes, it is [a dire future for Europe]. And it’s an interesting…it really is an interesting point to me, because people occasionally say oh, well, you’re just making predictions. You’re just making predictions. No, I’m not. I’m actually dealing with the reality of now. In other words, if there’s only a million Italians born in the year 2006, you can’t have two million Italian 20 year olds in 2026. The most reliable twenty year indicator is the demographic one, because you know exactly who the adults are going to be in 20 years time. They’re the people who are the children now. And Europeans simply are not having children. They’re not having children. And what happens, I think, when you get to a particularly advanced kind of welfare democracy, in which every aspect of life is guaranteed for you by the state, socialized health care, cradle to grave welfare, is that life becomes like a sort of endless, Summer school vacation. And you live in a kind of permanent present tense, in which you’re sort of severed from all the kind of primal impulses of society, including the most basic one, which is having children, and thereby ensuring the future. Because you know, the public pensions liabilities…we talk about social security going bankrupt here…in Greece, the public pensions liabilities by the year 2015 are going to be 28% of GDP. Well, that’s total societal collapse, not a mild accounting problem."

This is big picture stuff, but it's important, critically important. Is it the kind of thing that a text-messaging, ADD-laden, hedonistic youth population wants to listen to? Absolutely not. But they should and so should you. Here is an MP3 file that provides an abridged version of Steyn's thesis. You can PodCast it and listen to it on your iPod!

Finally, here's a Canadian take on this subject by National Post columnist, John Robson.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Free Hugs in Korea

Most touching!

Seeking Revenge on Telemarketers

This has got to be one of the funniest things I have ever heard:

Internet Traffic Monitoring

Ever wondered how popular your favourite Internet site is? You can find out by going to Alexa.com. Some interesting results indeed!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Very Cool Interactive CAD Program

I've never seen anything quite like this. I think it would be a great thing for any Physics class.

Why Your Taxes Never Go DOWN!!!

Here's a photo taken at Broadway & Fir in Vancouver. It shows 2 Translink workers removing flyers from a pole, along with one supervisor. Yes, boys & girls, perish the thought that just one employee could do such work!

There's a joke in here somewhere bug I don't have a good punchline. But here's the start: "How many Translink employees does it take to remove a few flyers?"

Obvious Signs in Vancouver - Part 47

In August, my "sister", Kristi, visited from Chicago. She pointed out that there are an exorbitant number of "obvious" signs throughout this community. I had not noticed this before but now keep an eye out for them. Here's one at Broadway & Granville:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Families in Vancouver and Seattle

Here's a very interesting pair of articles that just appeared in a Seattle newspaper, focusing on family life in the downtown areas of Vancouver and Seattle:


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Little Romanian Beauty

This wonderful little girl is the daughter of a Romanian family who received a computer from BCDD last Christmas Eve. The whole family is a Canadian immigrant success story. It's so great to see them all doing so well here!


A scene I'm all too familiar with . . .

Friday, October 13, 2006

Unifying India & America

Here's a short movie about Indian Call Centres. Hilarious!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Minds of Men and Women

I recently read a newspaper article that summarized a recent book that examined the workings of the male and female mind. Two interesting tidbits came out:

1. The average woman speaks 20,000 words per day. The average man speaks only 7,000.

2. The average woman thinks about sex once per day. The average man thinks about sex every 58 seconds.

What can we, of the male species, conclude from this? Simple. Find a man's brain inside the body of a beautiful woman!

Sunny Afternoon Photos

Some friends came into town and we went out for brunch at the Granville Island Hotel. Afterwards I took a few photos on what was a blessedly sunny day!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Old Vancouver Postcards

I was recently sorting through some old photos and came across these 4 postcards. I believe they hail from the 1970's or even the 1960's. My oh my has Vancouver changed!!

Lost Lagoon and the northern side of downtown.

The famous Stanley Park train. This actually looks almost the same.

The 9 o'clock gun and Coal Harbour, including 3 of the 4 floating gas stations that I remember.

Here's a view of Kits Beach, with the West End and downtown in the background. I'll have to capture an updated view from this perspective. What's amazing in this photo is that the two tallest buildings are the BC Hydro tower on the far right and the Hotel Vancouver further to its left. They are tiny compared to the buildings that now exist in the city!

Eclectic Signpost at Granville Island

A good friend took me out for a belated b'day lunch at Granville Island. Afterwards we strolled over to The Market and I happened upon this sign. I don' know if it is new or I had just never noticed it before but I love the colourfulness and zaniness of it - it's almost as if it were out a children's picture book!

The New Age Cult of Self Loathing

"Rhetoric" has several definitions but the most common one in use today would fall under this description: "the deliberate abuse of words so as to overexaggerate any realistic semblance of the truth".

In recent times I've found the worst offenders of such language to be what might aptly be described as "left wing lunatics". Such people base most all of their arguments on emotion and little to none on fact. They seriously annoy me because they try to come across as holier-than-thou and thus they feel that anything they say is the only correct course of action and must be followed. If you dare disagree with them then any combination of the following epitaphs are spat out at you: ignorant, stupid, Nazi, neo-con, conservative, . . . .

I've found many of these people to be atheists yet they've clearly found a new religion: the cult of environmentalism or socialism, or whatever "ism" happens to be popular with them that year.

I fully support their right to free speech but absolutely abhor their self-imposed exclusion of free thought. Try to question their convictions and you just get regurgitated talking points that they've clearly heard over & over again from news sources that all drum to the same beat.

Case in point is some of the reaction to Mark Steyn's recent visit to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. You can listen to the full account of it here. Rather than accept as the truth what Steyn and other journalists have observed, some have instead chosen to invent complete fantasies of what they feel must be the case. I'm confident that a poll would reveal a close correlation of such folks with 9-11 conspiracy theorists.

Here's one such example, followed by Steyn's retort:

On June 23, 1944, the Nazis permitted the visit by the Red Cross in order to dispel rumours about the exterminations camps. The commission included E. Juel-Henningsen, the head physician at the Danish Ministry of Health, and Franz Hvass, the top civil servant at the Danish Foreign Ministry. Dr Paul Eppstein was instructed by the SS to appear in the role of the mayor of Theresienstadt.

To minimize the appearance of overcrowding in Theresienstadt, the Nazi deported many Jews to Auschwitz. Also deported in the some 7,500 were most of the Czechoslovakian workers assigned to 'Operation Embellishment.' They also erected fake shops and cafés to imply that the Jews lived in relative comfort. The Danes whom the Red Cross visited lived in freshly painted rooms, not more than three in a room. The guests enjoyed the performance of a children's opera, Brundibar, which was written by inmate Hans Krása.

The hoax against the Red Cross was so successful for the Nazis that they went on to make a propaganda film at Theresienstadt. Shooting of the film began on February 26, 1944. Directed by Jewish prisoner Kurt Gerron (a director, cabaret performer, and actor who appeared with Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel), it was meant to show how well the Jews lived under the "benevolent" protection of the Third Reich. After the shooting most of the cast, and even the filmmaker himself, were deported to Auschwitz. Gerron and his wife were executed in the gas chambers on October 28, 1944. The film was not released at the time, but was edited into pieces that served their purpose, and only segments of it have remained.

Often called The Führer Gives a Village to the Jews, the correct name of the film is: Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet (Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement). (Cf. Hans Sode-Madsen: The Perfect Deception. The Danish Jews and Theresienstadt 1940-1945. Leo Baeck Yearbook, 1993)

What a coward you are, Mark Steyn, and a traitor. You will be held accountable for your giggly and chillingly revolting bit of reporting on Gitmo.

You represent so absolutely the utter depravity of this nation and its hideous cult of authoritarianism. God help you in the next life when you will be forced to review your morally black actions here.

Celia Thaxter

MARK: So Gitmo is the new Theresienstadt, eh? Well, that’s an improvement. I thought you lot thought it was the new Auschwitz. But, just as a matter of interest, if Gitmo’s the new Theresienstadt, where exactly is the new Auschwitz? As to who will be forced to review their morality, perhaps one day you’ll sit down and stumble across your letter to me and think about what it is you’ve just done: you’ve compared your own government and your fellow citizens serving in the military to the perpetrators of one of the worst genocides in history. Do you realize just how nutty that is? Rational discussion with you is impossible because if you think Bush is Hitler and Gitmo is Theresienstadt then you have so debased the language that you will have no words left for genuine atrocities. Shame on you and your rotten diseased heart: you mock not just the young men and women I met at Guantanamo doing a thankless job for less pay than you get but the dead and bereaved of 60 years ago, who unlike you understood all too clearly what real horror was. You’ve become unmoored from reality. Good luck trying to grope your way back. I’ve got no further time for you.