Saturday, September 22, 2007

The economics of fossil-dealing

The thawing of the Russian permafrost is exposing tons of bones of woolly mammoths that were locked in frozen mud for thousands of years. Interestingly, they seem to have been trapped in ice after the glaciers retreated: after the last ice age. Thet means the glaciers retreated, the mammoths lived on unfrozen ground, died and were frozen, then stayed trapped in frozen ground for 10,000 years or so. It kind of fits with my own theory that the climate can change radically within a short period, and that the melt of the glaciers in a very short period of intense warmth was followed by the period of extreme cold in the Arctic that is now coming to an end. The freeze-dried forests and preserved dams of giant beavers on Canada's arctic islands point to that type of change.
Mammoth bones and teeth are interesting, and the sell for a few bucks on the open market for fossils. (And anyone who wants to see that in action should visit the city-wide Tucson, Arizon show in February). The tusks are worth much more, as decorator pieces or, if busted up, as sources of legit natural ivory.
The ivory will alsways be worth money. The market for bones should be sated quite quickly. How many people have the inclination, or the physical space, to have a woolly mammoth or parts there-of around the house. (This comes from a guy who has about a ton of trilobite fossils).
The guys at Canada Fossils have been legally exploiting this Siberian material for years, from even before the fall of the Soviet Union. Since 1990, the trade has really taken off, as this article in a Sydney, Australia, paper shows.

Friday, September 21, 2007

There's one born every...

Sy, you wonder who falls for spam scams? How about this guy:

Man loses thousands in Internet scam

Owen Sound Sun-Times

A 50-year-old Northern Bruce Peninsula man lost almost $11,000 in an Internet scam that promised him a "multi-million-dollar inheritance."

He was saved from losing more thanks to a concerned bank teller who stopped him from sending more cash and told him to call police, Bruce Peninsula OPP Const. Dave Meyer said in a news release Friday. The victim received an e-mail in June telling him he was entitled to an inheritance from the United Kingdom. He believed he was paying legitimate fees required to get the money, Meyer said. He did not identify the victim.

"It's surprising," the number of people who fall for scams like these, Meyer said.

"If an inheritance is legitimate, contact would not be made by e-mail," Meyer cautioned people. In this case, the victim believed the inheritance offer was real.

Meyer wasn't certain what gave an air of legitimacy to the scam in the victim's mind.

"E-mail is new for some people. And a lot of people are still under the impression that people are going to be honest and straightforward," he suggested.

Phone Busters, the anti-fraud call centre run by police, says last year 4,197 Canadians lost nearly $24 million in prize, loan and vacation-type scams. Another 7,776 Canadians lost $16.3 million to identity theft and 190 more lost almost $3 million in a Nigerian letter scam, the Phone Buster website says.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Great Moments in Copy Editing

McGuinty defends record in Ontairo leaders' debate

(BTW, who is the genius who scheduled the debate for the same night as the first episode of Survivor?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The byelection results

The road to a Tory majority starts in Roberval. Small "c" conservative, small "n" nationalist, rural, and wanting a voice in Ottawa. Get candidates with good local connections in similar ridings, and a 1984-style coalition of Western Canadians, small-town Ontario and rural Quebec can be hammered together. But it takes diplomacy, some generosity of spirit and some flexibility, which means there needs to be a change in thinking in the PMO.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One man can make a difference

In 1985, it was a truck driver who let PCBs spill for miles along Highway 17 in northwestern Ontario. His actions focused public attention on the Ontario Tories' failure on the environment and probably was the tipping point in an election that ended 42 years of Tory rule.
In this election, it's Sam Gaultieri. This election may well swing on whether he lives or dies. Right now, it appears he'll make it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sweet Jesus

To think I gave serious thought to voting Tory in Ontario for once in my life.

Thnakfully, John Tory has talked me out of it. I wish I had written this column by the National Post's Colby Cosh, not just for the content but for the exquisite phrasing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Land Fit For Zeroes

Golly, I call the University of Ottawa "the U of Owe" and "The U of Zero", and my wife and I add some $16,000 a year to its tuition coffers. And I call Carleton University "Cartoon U". I hold a genuine Master's degree from there. My wife's a grad of Cow College or U of Goo (the University of Guelph). I dropped out of Rye High (Ryerson) but graduated from the University of Waterloo, which, I don't believe, has a nickname I can print.
I thought it's normal to make running jokes like that.
Look, everyone just take a Valium.
(All prescriptions filled, of course, by grads of U of T, or do I have to spell it out for you?)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dalty McGuinty will clean your bathroom and walk your dog

The Liberals are pulling out all the stops to win October's provincial election.
Next, they'll promise to allow corner stores to sell beer and wine.