Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Internet Revolution

Discredited Tory hack / Internet entrepreneur Pierre Bouque likes to make little digs about the Internet (i.e. his news aggregator site) replacing the mainstream media.

Well, here's an analysis of traffic at his site. Notice how page views tumbled after he was outed by the Globe and Mail for selling his headlines. Now, to have real fun, look at the drop in traffic in the past three years. Then compare traffic at Bourque.com with the cbc.ca, theglobeandmail.com and thestar.ca. (The pulpwood products have the added advantage of each having about 400,000 people who shell out dough to read them.)
By the way, check any blog against the MSM. We barely register. But at least most of us aren't pretending to make a living at it.

Hat tip: Winkie

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good for her

I'll start smoking again when I turn 100.
Some people, like this old gal, live to 100 while putting away a pack a day. Some others peg out at 45 while jogging. Go figure.


Oh, those Russians!

Stalin may have been a murderous psychopath, but it seems his grand-daughter knew how to party, according to the Toronto Sun:

Stalin's granddaughter dead at 69

Truscott

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled Steven Truscott should be acquitted based on the way his trial was conducted. It also -- and this is something that will likely not receive headline play in the media -- found that he might well have been guilty. In the court's view, that guilt was not proven. In our society, that's the rule we go by.
The court would have ordered a new trial, but accepted the reality that a complete and fair trial is impossible after the passage of fifty years.
Common sense analysis of the events of the night of the murder and the local geography point to Truscott's guilt. However, I'm a firm believer in the rule of law, and if you're going to convict a 14-year-old and sentence him to hang, you better have him dead to rights.
So, in the end, it might have all worked out. If he did it, he served ten years in jail, which, under today's young offender law, would be more than enough. If he didn't do it, he's got his vindication.
This much we know for sure: For forty years, since he was 24 year old, Steven Truscott ha been a productive and law-abiding citizen. If he made some grievous mistake as a teenager, he's paid for it and proved his rehabilitation. If he didn't, he can at least take comfort from the fact that his case helped end capital punishment in Canada and focussed the country's attention on the issue of crimes commited by juveniles.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Losing is for losers

And where's Conservative Party-sponsored NASCAR Busch League (yes, it's really called that) "Diversity Driver" Pierre Bourque in the Busch League standings?
Click here. Scroll down. Way down. Go into the twenties...
In two summers, Dourqie's never won a race. In fact, he's never placed second. Or third. Or fourth.
So, what exactly did the Tories and the rest of the chumps who paid for their logos to be glued on Dourque's car buy with their sponsorship money?

Gotcha, ya bastards!

Protesters at the Montebello Summit nailed three undercover cops trying to start a riot at a legitimate and peaceful protest.
Apparently, acording to the CBC, photos of the three big, bandana-clad men showed they wore Surete du Quebec-issue combat boots.
A few observations:
1. Again, democracy seems a pretty thin veneer in Quebec.
2. The Surete du Quebec continues to earn its reputation as the nation's goon squad.
3. When will governments and their agents come to grips with the concept of "freedom of speech"?
4. Probably nothing will come of this, even though the film footage that I've linked to is convincing, and should give honest investigators -- if any are handed this case -- a good chance to find out who these cops are and who ordered them to be agents provacateurs.

UPDATE:
The SQ has admitted the "protesters" were their men, but continue to lie about what they were up to. There's no reasonable doubt that those guys -- especially the one with the rock-- were out to make trouble. In a crowd of old union types, Maude Barlow and their supporters, three juiced-up young men in bandanas and combat boots really stood out. Yesterday, and through most of today, the SQ lied by saying they had no one in the crowd of protesters. Today, Stockwell Day said none of that particular group of men were RCMP, but you don't have to parse his weasel words in this story to see that the RCMP quite likely had undercover cops in that crowd. In fact, Day suggests very strongly that they did.
Strangely, much of the mainstream media has been much too silent on this outrageous breach of free speech rights. CP wire service, however, has done a great job on this.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day 1 -- Working for a living

MONTREAL-- Toronto is be the largest and richest city in Canada and Vancouver is the most physically beautiful, but this town is so cool it hurts.
I made like a rube today, tooling around downtown Montreal, visiting the museums that were open (and, like in some small towns, a lot of things in Montreal, including the Museum of Fine Arts, are closed Mondays). I could spend so much money here. And the people, especially the Francophones, don't have that heavy, leaden anger that you see so often in Toronto and, especially, Ottawa. Maybe people here just don't worry that much about getting ahead (as in Toronto) or hate their jobs (as they do in Ottawa).
The clothes are more chic here. The restaurants have better food. The dollar store off Guy Street is more crowded and sleazy than anything in Ottawa.
Since I'll be here two or three days a week (and the commute on VIA is really no big deal), I made a list of things I'd like to see: the McCord Museum, the previously mentioned fine arts museum, some of the antique shops and galleries on Sherbrooke, all of the book stores that I haven't had time to visit, this place and the museum connected to it, more of Concordia and McGill, St. Joseph's Oratory. And there's quite a lot more (your suggestions will be welcome).
I'm blogging from the waiting room of the downtown VIA station. And I noticed the cheap earphones I bought at the Guy Street dollar store don't work. There's $3 I'll never see again. And since my dog ate my last three pairs, I'll leave these where he can get them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wonky blogspot software

For some reason, some postings and comments only show up part of the time. Working on it...

Today's prediction

A fall election. If the Bank of Canada tells the PMO that we're heading into a recession, we'll have a very quick election.
The last thing any government needs or wants is to be forced into an election during or just after a recession. Ask John Turner and Kim Campbell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cabinet shuffle...

Probably my little break has killed off the last of my readership, but who knows?
This is my last day as a full-time freelancer. As of Wednesday, I'm on the full-time faculty of Concordia University's School of Journalism and Communications, where I'll be teaching reporting, media history and criticism.
I'll still be contributing editor of Ottawa magazine, partly because I love them, partly because they pay well, and partly because I want to keep one hand in the media that I'm teaching about.
I'm also hard at work writing the first English-language book on Canada's wartime press censorship system.

The business side of things being taken care of, here's my take on the cabinet shuffle:

Harper's put the last dagger into Peter McKay. There are no votes in Defence in Nova Scotia. And being put in charge of an unpopular war is hardly the way to have one's leadership lamp burnished. McKay will either be consumed by events or by Rick Hillier, the CDS. Either way, he's done. There will be no minister lurking, like Paul Martin under Chretien, in the leadership wings. There is also no second-tier, no John Manley, no Allan Rock. In Diane Ablonczy, however, Harper has found his Sheila Copps.

The second message: Harper may be a policy wonk, but he doesn't care whether his senior ministers develop mastery over their portfolios. Harper has shuffled several ministers who, like Prentice and Strahl, know their departments very well and were doing a good job with important files. No matter. They're moved, and someone else will have to learn the ropes.

Other than that, the exercise is a non-starter that will be forgotten in a few days and will have no impact on the polls.


This is, by far, the bigger story. The tightening of credit is about to shake the Canadian economy -- and Canadian journalism -- to its core.
Remember this, folks: there are only a handful of Canadian media companies that are not over-leveraged and saddled with crippling levels of sub-prime debt. TorStar and the Halifax Herald are OK. GlobeMedia, with Thomson's deep pockets, will also make it, though it will be dismantled into its constituent parts. CanWest survives on junk bonds. (Let's see if the Alliance-Atlantis/CanWest deal closes, as scheduled, tomorrow.) My bet: CanWest will be liquidated, its papers and TV assets sold off at below debt value. Quebecor is also over-leveraged and its media properties are, in the main, garbage. It, too, will be broken up. Ted Rogers once said that he doesn't worry about his debt, his bankers do. Well, everyone's worried now. "Convergence" is over, and a lot of media people are in very big trouble.

This problem will be spread through Canadian business. How heavily leveraged is Onex? Magna? CP? Will the Alcan deal go through? What about the dozens of other major deals built on the back of easy money? Leveraged buy-out and asset stripping is a pyramid scheme. No one can keep it going forever. Ask Conrad Black.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer break

I hope my small army of posters, tipsters and readers can hang on through the rest of the month. I'm taking a break.