Monday, March 31, 2008

Brit taxes at work

Airhead gets into a car with drunk driver. She, her boyfriend and the driver don't bother putting on their seatbelts. The drunk driver speeds through traffic and gets into a nasty accident, hitting a concrete piling. Everyone is killed except the guy who put on his seat belt. Is that so difficult to grasp?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gore in '08?

Don't be surprised if this happens. Both the rules and the math allow for the possibility.
Would he win? I don't know. There would be stellar candidates running for both the Democrats and Republicans.
Or this may be a dynamite charge to get Clinton and Obama to cut a deal for the ticket and get this primary season over.

Bono on PhDs

Mark Bonokoski opines today on J-skool faculty and the demand of universities for PhDs and colleges for Master's degrees for full-time teachers. Bono takes a shot at Conestoga College for requiring a Master's degree and a minimum of three years' experience to join its faculty, and he isn't qualified. He is right that people like him have a lot to offer students. However, there's more to being a professor than just standing in front of a class. You have to be a scholar contributing to the study of journalism. That means having the training to do work on issues like censorship, convergence, political economy, law and the many other issues that affect journalism.
Conestoga's request for a Master's is no big deal. Western and Carleton have been granting Masters degrees for many years. Many of the reporters on Parliament Hill have a Master's in Journalism. And Conestoga wants at least three years experience. Yes, that's not long enough. I suspect, however, either they have a candidate in mind or they'll hire someone with more than three years in a newsroom.
There are very few people teaching journalism in universities who have a meagre three years in the business. A recent job at Ryerson required not only a PhD but top-level recent experience. Bono says we were taught by great people at Ryerson, which is true, but many of them had been out of the game too long.
At Concordia, we have a faculty made up mostly of very seasoned, award-winning journalists. In fact, we're the only journalism faculty in Canada to have a Pulitzer Prize winner. And we have people who've held senior management positions in radio, TV and newspaper newsrooms. We also have a brilliant young scientist who holds a PhD in microbiology and is a specialist on ethical issues.
So, Bono, it's not that hard to get a Master's. You could do it in a couple of years and still hold your day job. A PhD takes longer, but it's worth it. It's not just four extra years of study. It's an entirely different type of academic training, one that comes in handy when doing journalism and teaching it.
So, Bono, consider the possibilities of lifetime learning. The Sun used to pay for continuing education. Don't blame journalism profs that you took a pass.
As for the "those who can't do, teach" bullshit. Our faculty could go into the Sun and make it a great paper again, both by writing and by coaching the staff, if Quebecorpse could afford us.

World o' Creeps

I believe Human Rights commissions are the wrong mechanism for dealing with hate speech. Most of their Islamicist litigants place no real value on civil rights, except to use their grievances as a cudgel. I know they wouldn't speak up for yours or mine, or for natural human rights in the Muslim world. I also find it very disturbing that Ottawa lawyer and former Canadian Human Rights Commission employee Richard Warman is the litigator in the vast majority of the Sec. 13(1) cases. But I just read a posting on an American Nazi web site that not only clearly calls for Warman's murder, it publishes his home address. I suspect the right wing bloggers in Canada would go apeshit if some Communist suggested the same thing for Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. And if I was Warman, I'd take this type of threat very seriously and fight back against Nazi scum with whatever weapons are at hand.
And, no, it doesn't matter who started it. Warman may have been wasting his time hunting wanna-be Goebbels and Himmlers before tin-pot Hitler Bill White and his repressed homosexual ring started making death threats against him. Now, the game is different: it only takes one brown-shirt nut with a gun to make White's sick fatwa come true.
My main problem with the anti-HRC crowd is the fact Ezra Levant is a litigious asshole and most of his online supporters are common bigots. I remember him from his days on Parliament Hill, when he and Logan Day used to cause mischief with various publicity stunts that made his political party, Reform, seem like a joke. He's threatened to sue various bloggers for libel, using this country's draconian defamation laws to limit the free speech of his critics. His magazine was a third-rate rag that finally succumbed to the free market. It was a soapbox for the type of red-necked nutters that have become Alberta stereotypes. Unable to continue to trash Ottawa because it lacked the political independence and the backbone to criticise the harperistas (no friends of a free and independent press, that lot), it ran out of reasons to exist.
Mark Steyn is, at least, intelligent and readable.
It's very unlikely the CHRC would be used as a weapon against a decent publication, but there's no point leaving that option open. That's why I still believe Sec. 13 (1) should be amended. The reading public -- the marketplace -- has already decided on Levant. Maclean's will end its flirtation with Thatcherism or follow the Western Standard onto the trash heap soon enough.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Great Hunger

What I find interesting: web ad sales make up just 7.5% of the ad income for newspapers and seems to be peaking at that miserable level.
Newspapers, if they want to survive, need to smarten up, not dumb down. The short term looks like disaster, but I am bullish on the medium and long-term, when the "convergence plays" are broken up and the boomers in the newsroom retire. Since boomers only know how to write about themselves and their tedious lifestyles, we have two generations of potential readers who say "there's nothing in the paper". And they're right. There's nothing in the paper that speaks to them.
It's understandable that classified ads are way down. The trend in national and retail advertising suggests problems in the over-all economy. Still, newspapers have to develop a product that people want to pay for. That means delivering information that's unavailable on the net.
Fire the wine writers. Dump the columnists writing about hot flashes. Ditch the 60-year-old rock critics. Fire any editor who advocates celeb news. All that crap is available free on the 'net.
Get reporters out of the office and onto the streets. Let them get the stories you can't find online. Reporters who don't or can't break news aren't real reporters.





NAA Reveals Biggest Ad Revenue Plunge in More Than 50 Years

By Jennifer Saba

Published: March 28, 2008 12:55 PM ET

NEW YORK The newspaper industry has experienced the worst drop in advertising revenue in more than 50 years.

According to new data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total print advertising revenue in 2007 plunged 9.4% to $42 billion compared to 2006 -- the most severe percent decline since the association started measuring advertising expenditures in 1950.

The drop-off points to an economic slowdown on top of the secular challenges faced by the industry. The second worst decline in advertising revenue occurred in 2001 when it fell 9.0%.

Total advertising revenue in 2007 -- including online revenue -- decreased 7.9% to $45.3 billion compared to the prior year.

There are signs that online revenue is beginning to slow as well. Internet ad revenue in 2007 grew 18.8% to $3.2 billion compared to 2006. In 2006, online ad revenue had soared 31.4% to $2.6 billion. In 2005, it jumped 31.4% to $2 billion.

As newspaper Web sites generate more advertising revenue, the growth rate naturally slows.

The NAA reported that online revenue now represents 7.5% of total newspaper ad revenue in 2007 compared to 5.7% in 2006.

That growth could not stave off the losses in the print however. National print advertising revenue dropped 6.7% to $7 billion last year. Retail slipped 5% to $21 billion. Classified plunged 16.5% to $14.1 billion.

"Even with the near-term challenges posed to print media by a more fragmented information environment and the economic headwinds facing all advertising media, newspapers publishers are continuing to drive strong revenue growth from their increasingly robust Web platforms," John Sturm, president and CEO of the NAA, said in a statement.

Stop calling and sending faxes

Judging by the number of comments here lately, there must be considerable disappointment at the lack of recent posts. This is a busy time of the year for me. In a couple of weeks my life will be somewhat simplified: I'll be back in Ottawa on the Hill until September. Then I'll be back at Concordia. I do feel a bit out of the loop.
Hopefully, I'll be able to make up for lost time.

Mark

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Note to Warren: What they fought for

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want--which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, excerpted from the Annual Message to the Congress, January 6, 1941

Thoughts on Easter

If Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead, why did he skulk around and, at most, do a few party tricks before heading off to Heaven? For all the effort and the meaning of his rising from the dead, wouldn't the point have been better made if he had appeared to some people who weren't already believers? If, say, he had shown up at Pilate's house, the Sanhedrin and the Temple, Christianity would have topped the polls, rather than faced such a long, hard struggle.
Certainly something big happened in Jersualem in about 30 AD. Still, I'm pretty sceptical of the idea that God only revealed his word to semi-literate desert wanderers in one forsaken corner of the world, ignored the folks of China, India and America (and, in fact, shows no sign of knowledge of them, or of anything or any place not already known to the various "prophets") and chooses to play a sort of hide-and-go-seek with the rest of us for purposes unknown.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ne-Nazis on the streets of Calgary


Yesterday, a couple of dozen neo-Nazi skinheads demonstrated on the streets of Calgary.
I don't think this is a big deal.
They protested in a province that has a human rights commission that is being used to punish Ezra Levant for publishing the Munhamed cartoons.
That didn't stop them.
They protested in a country that has anti-hate laws.
That didn't stop them.
Are we supposed to have more laws to edit people's minds and souls? Obviously having laws against hate speech isn't enough to stop these people from becoming haters.
That's the kind of police state they want.
They protested under the careful gaze of Calgary police, who were ready to arrest them for any Criminal Code violations they might commit.
Do I feel threatened by these people? No.
Am I happy they're around? No.
Do I like these people? Not at all.
Am I delighted the Calgary Sun gave these creeps its front page, which, I'm sure, will adorn the walls in their parents' basements? Nope.
But I'm glad we haven't suspended the rights of the other 1 million people in Calgary because of a preceived threat from the fringe of the fringe.
They are no danger to the state. Let them have their little march. If the police want to record it and use the information to monitor these people to ensure they do not break the law, that's fine by me.
But let's also be sure CSIS isn't organizing this, as they have done so with organizations like the Heritage Front.
And let's not tar honest people like Keith Martin and Mark Steyn with the filthy brush left lying on Calgary streets by this miserable, but very photogenic, little mob.

BTW, the guy in the middle of the Sun picture looks like Private Gomer Pyle from Full Metal Jacket.

HT Kinsella, who has a very different take

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Police brutality


It was pretty shocking to hear today that some of my students -- really good kids who will someday be very important journalists -- had been stomped and arrested by the Montreal police while covering a recent demonstration against (wait for it) police brutality.
One student, a top student and former editor of the Concordia paper The Link, was hit several times and tossed into a paddy wagon. He was left there for a long time while some of his fellow Link reporters tried to find out what the police had done with him. Police claimed to have no idea where he was, but some of the students eventually found him and managed to get him released.
Last Saturday's demonstration didn't get much press coverage in Montreal and none outside the city, even though 47 people were arrested by Montreal's riot police. The Link's front-page photo of police dragging off a demonstrator is a shoe-in during next year's award season.
It seems the most the protesters did was spray paint dollar signs on a MacDonald's and possibly toss some bottles. One street person told the Link the demonstrators and the cops were getting some of the frustrations out of their system.
But the police have no place taking their frustrations out on protesters, even if some of them are making mischief. The police are supposed to be professional. They're supposed to keep order, not brawl in the streets.
My students have told me some rather frightening stories about Montreal cops harassing young people, especially non-white and non-Francophone kids. Quebec cops have always had a pretty dubious reputation. They seem to want to stick to the stereotype.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Invisible Hand

One of the world's largest investment banks is sold for pennies on the dollar to JP Morgan in a deal engineered and under-written by the Federal Reserve in an effort to prevent further bank collapses and the Dow Jones Composite Index goes up?
People on Wall Street can't say the words "free market" without laughing so hard they lose bladder control.
Keep this in mind the next time someone in a suit tells you there's no money for bridges, roads, sewers, schools, library books, health care, and food for poor people.

What my lectures look like

J215 Lecture 10

(This is tomorrow's lecture for my second-year Contemporary News Media class at Concordia. It's relatively short because of the clips. Usually, they're about 3,000 words.)

Thirty two years ago, the movie Network packed theatres in North America. The story centered on long-time UBS Evening News anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch, who died shortly after the movie came out and was posthumously given an Academy Award) being dropped because of the show's low ratings. The following night, Beale announces on the air that he will commit suicide during an upcoming live broadcast. He’s fired on the spot.
After promising to give an on-air apology, Beale is allowed back on the air for a final sign-off. It takes serious persuasion of the network brass from Beale's producer, protector and best friend, Max Schumacher (William Holden). Instead of apologizing, this is what Beale says:
I’m Mad as Hell clip ( 2 min):
The show is an instant hit. The UBS Evening News morphs into The Howard Beale Show, which starts off as his analysis of the news and ends up featuring astrology, gossip, opinion polls, and scandal. After a while, Beale is introduced to a live audience as the Mad Prophet of the Airwaves. His friend Max is ethically confused, partly because of the success of this “news” show and partly because he’s sleeping with the new VP News/Entertainment (Faye Dunaway’s character, who started off as an entertainment producer and was brought in to bring some ratings to the 6:00 news slot). Then the head of the network dies.
Howard Beale as the Mad Prophet (4 min):
After the death of the network’s president, UBS is targeted for a take-over by Saudi interests. Beale uses his show as a platform to plead to his viewers to send telegrams to the White House demanding federal government intervention to block the deal. Beale is called into the office of the chairman of the network, who hits Beale with his own “corporate cosmology”, convincing Beale that Beale is meddling with the elemental forces of the universe.
This is a revelation for Beale. He goes back on the air, telling his viewers that they must submit to corporate control. Ratings tank.
Network executives want to fire Beale, but the chairman of the company wants Beale to keep delivering the corporatist message. Dunaway’s character, appalled at the ratings, makes a deal with American urban guerilla terrorists to kill Beale on-air. Beale is gunned down to spectacular ratings.
Beales’ show is replaced by the Mao Tse Tung Hour. That was the deal Dunaway made with the terrorists. It has spectacular ratings.
So, did Network come true? In 1976, there were three big TV networks. The “objective”, authoritative 6:30 newscasts were the only TV news available. There were no cable news networks, no Entertainment Tonight. In fact, the only thing out there that resembled Howard Beale was the AM radio talk shows, which drew tiny audiences during the dead time between the morning and afternoon drive shows. There was nothing like Jerry Springer or Montel Williams.
Saturday Night Live went on the air in the 1975-1976 television season. It had Weekend Update, a partial adaptation of Glowball News, an early Global TV show. (Lorne Michaels, who started Saturday Night Live, had started his career as a comic on CBC TV).
The 1980s and 1990s brought CNN, FOX, CNBC and MSNBC, along with torqued news coverage on the networks, daytime TV shows like Geraldo and Springer, which pitted guests against each other and the audience, Entertainment Tonight and Current Affair-type celebrity coverage and, as in Network, the erasing of the line between news and entertainment.
So here we have Keith Olbermann, a skilled writer and journalist deliberately blurring the lines between journalism and entertainment and adding his populist take on the day’s news events. Like Howard Beale, Olbermann was a rather ordinary journalist stuck in a dead-end job.
And, like Beale’s network, MSNBC was in a ratings free-fall, its bare-bones coverage unable to compete with the other cable networks. MSNBC was supposed to be the “convergence” payoff in the deal between NBC and Microsoft, but that hadn’t panned out.
So, what to do?
If blurring the boundaries between the Net and the networks hadn’t been a ratings winner, maybe a further blurring of the boundary of news/entertainment would work. In the fictional world, it had.
Here’s MSNBC ratings leader Keith Olbermann as Howard Beale (2min):
And here’s Olbermann taking this to its logical conclusion:
Keith Olbermann demanding Bush/Cheeney’s resignations (10 min):
There’s a reaction from the mainstream, and there’s nothing more mainstream than the Wall Street Journal. This from Mark Lisheron’s paper in the American Journalism review (one of this week’s readings):
"Part of the problem here," says Peter Kann, the Pulitzer Prize-winning chairman of Dow Jones, "lies in fashionable new philosophies that argue there are no basic values of right and wrong, that news is merely a matter of views.
It's a dangerous philosophy for our society and a dagger at the heart of genuine journalism."
Kann says he has never seen "Countdown." (!!!!!!) He does not mention the show by name in the speeches he delivers to students, businesspeople, reporters and editors. But at the top of his list of the 10 trends in mass media he says we ought to be most concerned about are two of "Countdown's" chief virtues: entertainment and opinion. The need to entertain almost certainly leads to distortion and misdirection, Kann says. Couple this with a blurring of the line between news and opinion, he adds, and the audience will eventually lose its ability to recognize what is true and untrue, will assume that news necessarily comes equipped with a way of thinking about it.

Of course, Olbermann is not alone, nor is he really a pioneer. CNN and Fox (and to a lesser extent, CNBC) had been in a race to the bottom for years. Bill O’Reilly led the way, showing that the public would tolerate, in fact, reward, “journalists” who entertained more than informed. Olbermann, by fishing in O’Reilly to answer his attacks, in fact used O’Reilly’s fame and notoriety to pull himself up. Olbermann knew O’Reilly could not handle any public criticism. Here’s Bill O’Reilly pushing the boundaries in an attack on movie producer Mark Cuban. O’Reilly’s attack on Cuban is a nasty reaction to Cuban’s contemptuous rebuttal of O’Reilly that occurred a few days earlier.
Bill O’Reilly attacks Mark Cuban (5:35 min):
This type of evolution of television news has been happening since the 1970s. What’s behind it?
• The need to “feed the goat” of 24-hour cable news. Think of the unpredictability of the news cycle.
• The incredible cheapness. (Compared with a network TV show, O’Reilly and the rest cost peanuts). If it wasn’t for these types of shows, the cable news network, which is a mile wide and an inch deep, would need real reporters in real bureaus all over the world.
• The ratings. Unless there’s a history-making news event like 9-11, cable news ratings are very, very low. Cable news has found the only way to pull out of the ratings cellar is to have the most Beale-like personality-driven programming.
Now look at Canadian network news and cable news networks. You are looking at what US TV journalism looked like in the 1980s. Now, think about Richard Cleroux’s thesis video on Parliament Hill scrum coverage. Could there be any thinner journalism? Any type of journalism more cheap and superficial? Any type of reporting more succeptable to "spin"? Could there be anything more predictable?
And Canadian cable news interview shows are even more tedious and predictable: a few politicians, a few "political strategists" delivering straight spin, usually in empty confrontations with each other, some Hill journalists spouting conventional wisdom and planted facts.
No wonder Canadians have tuned out of Canadian news. Yet Canadian cable news has not yet coughed up a Bill O’Reilly or a Keith Olbermann, nor have they come up with an alternative.
Now, most American TV journalists are still constrained by traditional news values and programming templates established between the 1940s and the 1980s. 99% of American TV news and interview shows feature “soft” news, the kind of happy talk that, in Canada, CTV and CTV Newsnet, along with local newscasts, specialize in. The epitome of this type of news are the “sick kid” stories that are very familiar to anyone who watches the CTV newscast in Ottawa hosted by Max Keeping. Here, the Internet media/political satire site The Onion takes a big swipe at the genre:
The Onion mocks the sick kid charity report:
The second mainstay of cable news is the talking head point-counterpoint interview that developed in the early 1980s on shows like ABC’s Nightline and CBC’s The Journal.
The Onion mocks talking head interviews:
And in many ways, the news business, fake or real, has come full circle. Jon Stewart’s "fake news" draws about 1.5 million viewers, many of who rely on it for analysis of the news. As Geoffrey Baym says in this week’s second reading “The Daily Show: Discursive Integration and the Reinvention of Television Journalism.” Political Communication 22.3 (2005): 259 – 276, The Daily Show is much more than a Saturday Night Live-style fake newscast. It has taken the critical discourse much farther: it is a dissection of the news, but also – and very much so – an analysis of the way the press covers the news and warps it.
As Baym notes, Jon Stewart is possibly the most trusted journalist in the United States. Stewart would argue – and you will see him argue – that he is simply a comedian doing fake news, but The Daily Show is much more than that. For many people, especially those who are up on current events and politics and are media-savvy, The Daily Show provides a very cutting analysis of events and media coverage.
While Bill O’Reilly (and Don Newman on CBC Newsworld) claim to operate in no-spin zones, The Daily Show and its spin-off The Colbert Report cut through spin and media coding in the guise of satire shows
And it comes full-circle here, in this interview on CNN’s Crossfire.
Jon Stewart guts Crossfire (14 minutes)
Stewart not only made his point, he killed the show. CNN’s senior executives agreed with Stewart that the show was bad journalism. As for Carlson, the interview killed his career. After being let go by CNN, he was picked up by FOX. Last week, his show was cancelled because of bad ratings.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More lives ruined by Spritzer

Another career has been destroyed in the Spitzer debacle.

Hack, hack,

wheeze...

I don't think I qualify for Conservative Life Insurance.

Today's Bad Journalism

"Police may be investigating"???
I doubt this would have run when Don Sellar was ombud.


Car owned by Black's son linked to hit-and-run

Dale Anne Freed
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

As if disgraced media baron Conrad Black didn't have enough woes, Toronto police may be investigating his son Jonathan Black, 30, in connection with a hit-and-run Thursday evening in the financial district.

It is not known who was driving the car linked to Black.

Police are probing the collision, which occurred at King St. and University Ave. after one vehicle rear-ended another.

One person was taken to the hospital with injuries, Staff Sgt. Andy Norrie of traffic services told the Toronto Star.

Police would not confirm or deny that Black's son was driving the car, a silver 2002 Infiniti registered to him.

A man, who was later released from hospital, was believed to have suffered injuries to his head and neck.

"The driver of one of the vehicles apparently fled the scene after being observed and speaking to some other witnesses," said Norrie.

"There's some indication of alcohol involvement and a licence plate was obtained. We have seized a vehicle and that's where we're at," said Norrie.

"We have no one in custody," he said.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let's return the favor

The next time a German academic comes to North America for a conference and insists -- as many do -- on being called "Dr. Prof. von Whoozits". After all, I can think of an awful lot of very unpalatable ideas dreamed up in the last couple of hundred years by German intellectuals and PhD holders.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spritzer

I don't have much to say about the resignation of the Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, except this: the folks running the US seem to think nothing of tossing $200 billion into the markets to cover greed-inspired garbage investments, an action that did little more than create a one-day rally. $200 billion would have fed and clothed so many people. It could have paid for the education of much of the US underclass. It could have made many cold people warm. And there's enough disposable cash in the pockets of that elite to pay hookers $4500 a pop, as though that's the action of a sane man.
And these are the same people who say there's no inflation.
For these people -- everyone from the driver of the Porsche who cut me off this morning from the right as he raced toward Parliament Hill to the M&A folks, the idjuts at Google who think Yahoo is worth $50 billion, the media owners who have gutted the newspapers, to the Freedom 55 crowd who peddle the idea that every pencil-pusher deserves to spend twenty years on a Dominican beach and the pols who see ad pitches as the solution to all problems -- here comes the reckoning.
It's been a whole generation -- 25 years -- since the last really tough recession. The one being generated by the collapse of the $7 trillion derivative racket, the gutting of North American industry and the greed of the over-mortgaged consumer will make the early 1980s look like a cakewalk.
God help anyone who gets elected this year.

Monday, March 10, 2008

You weren't here and this never happened

Poll: Most Americans don't read political blogs
Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:20pm EDT
By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A majority of Americans do not read political blogs, the online commentaries that have proliferated in the race for the U.S. presidency, according to a poll released on Monday.

Only 22 percent of people responding to the poll said they read blogs regularly, meaning several times a month or more, according to the survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

Political blogs, in which writers, pundits and other participants voice opinions in online forums, burst into the spotlight in the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns. Some of the most high-profile blogs are influential on campaign strategies, media coverage and public perception of the candidates and issues.

Unlike traditional, mainstream media, blogs often adopt a specific point of view. Critics complain they can contain unchecked facts, are poorly edited and use unreliable sources.

Despite the attention blogs can get, the poll said 56 percent of Americans say they never read blogs that discuss politics. Another 23 percent read them several times a year, the survey showed.

While blogs are largely considered the realm of young people who are most Internet-savvy, only 19 percent of people ages 18 to 31, and 17 percent of those ages 32 to 43, regularly read a political blog, the poll said.

The generation most likely to read such blogs are those age 63 or older, 26 percent of whom said they do so. Also, 23 percent of those ages 44 to 62 read them, the poll said.

Roughly an even number -- 22 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats -- regularly read blogs, while 26 percent of independents do the same, the poll showed.

The poll was conducted online from January 15 to January 22 among 2,302 adults. Harris said it does not calculate or provide a margin of error because it finds such figures can be misleading.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Render Unto Caesar

Don't get me wrong: it's rude to mock other people's religions with Piss Christs, cartoons of Muhamed, blood libels, poorly made False Face masks and Hello Kittys. People who do so probably deserve a bit of an ass whupping or a slap upside the head, but since that sort of retaliatory behavior undermines social peace, it's best to let all but the most outrageous and truly criminal insults ride. True believers, as I said below, should trust in God to sort things out. As for actual criticisms of the tenets of religion, based on a solid and rational analysis of fact, the more the better. We wouldn't have had the Reformation and the Age of Reason without them.
So it's with a happy heart that I see the House of Lords has struck down the blasphemy laws, originally brought in to protect the Anglican church from Papists, Presbyterians, Unitarians and others who have moved on to become pillars of the community. I hope in 300 years (or much less) people will see the antagonism between Jew, Muslim and Christian as equally quaint.

I am looking forward to hearing Ezra Levant on CBC's Cross Country Checkup. I guess they couldn't get Mark Steyn.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Links 'n' stuff

I just want to say I'm sorry to all the people --(both the people?)-- who have linked to my blog and aren't linked on this page. It's my computer incompetence at work. I don't know why, but when I add links they don't show up. As well, anyone who clicks the few links to your right will more than likely end up at the wrong place. It all looks fine in the coding but it's not translating to real, functioning links. I'll keep working at getting this straightened out.
Supposedly, there should be links to Wells, Kady, Skippystalin, SDA, Cherniak, Kinsella, Dawg, McClallend and a lot more, but they seem to have been sucked into Google's Great Ether.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

'Splainin' to do

My blog made the Toronto Life blog page, which is cool. (Hat tip to Kinsella)
Trust me, John Tory has unleashed the asshole within. That's why he's Leader of the Opposition, not Premier.
Now, the reason why I didn't mention John Tory in my post on assholes in politics is that John Tory has never been elected Premier or Prime Minister. If Tory had not chewed off his own head last fall and had been elected Premier, I would have described him as "born with silver spoon in his mouth asshole". Now, should I stoop to mention him at all, I'd say he's a "rich kid asshole who couldn't get elected mayor of Toronto or Premier and kind of reminds me of Wile E. Coyote". But I won't bother.

This week's bad timing award

Just handed an announcement: Climate Action Network Canada is holding a press conference on Parliament Hill today to demand an end to the Conservative filibuster of the Climate Change Accountability Act.
I hope they can find a parking space that isn't full of snow.

Jimbo Jones and His Soul Clones...***

This was bound to happen.
Poor Jimmy Wales. Now. I have a question for Rachel Marsden's various men. First, for Jimbo Wales: Just why, exactly, did you decide that, of all the Internet freak hotties available to you, Rachel marsden would be a good bed pet? And just why did you think it would be a smart thing to put your Wikipedia sins in writing?
To the previous boyfriend, a married man with a very sensitive job in law enforcement: Knowing whay you must have known about Rachel's um, separation issues, why did you think it was a good idea to send her a picture of your small male member?
I just want to know because I'm curious about the strange ability of even the most successful men (Wales) and people who should be street wise (the cop) to allow al their blood to leak from their brain and gather in their pelvis.
I like Rachel quite a lot. She has given me many hours of very platonic amusement. I also like horses, trilobites, pirhannas, iguanas and sharp-bladed tools. You know what all those things do not have in common?


***

Let it SNOW!!!! (and hide all the sharp stuff)


Earlier this winter, I was homesick for my old Huronia home in the Georgian Bay snow belt. But if Mohamed couldn't go to the mountain...
Meanwhile, in sunny Australia, people are bitching.
Looks like Ottawa will go straight from snow to bugs. And the trilobites? Well, they're safe in the ground for another month.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Libel chill

I can't imagine anything more stupid than this. This is politics, not a tort. Misrepresentation of reality is what Question Period is based on. Surely the Tories remember when they spun stories about Shawinigate, billion dollar boondoggles, etc. that were super-torqued. Hell, I wish someone would make these idiots take their case into court.
Never has a government with so much room to grow self-destructed so publicly. Never has a Canadian government been so thin-skinned, so paranoid and so quick to kill off any good will shown by the press and the public.
I know what Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien would have told them to do with their libel notice.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Gimme shelter

So the Hell's Angels, who murdered a guy at the Altamont free concert in 1969 (and punched the lead singer of Jerrefon Airplane in the face) while employed as security and threw a big cloud over the Rolling Stones' career, somehow felt they were the aggrieved party and planned to kill Mick Jagger? Yes, the Stones were idjuts for falling for the Hell's Angels biker chic of the late 1960s, which was all a pile of crap, as Hunter S. Thompson so ably pointed out in his wonderful, and second-best, book Hell's Angels. Murdering Jagger would have finished the Hell's Angels, which would have gone down in a mass of infighting and internal recriminations and a crushing world-wide police crackdown.

Tonight's question

Will Conrad Black show up for his date with prison or would he do what I'd do, which is get my ass to the nicest place in the world I could find that does not have an extradition treaty with the US? There is no way in the world I'd go willingly into an American prison. I'd be gone tonight on a private jet, and I would not give a rat's ass how it looked to anybody. Then I'd spend the rest of my life on some beach writing books.

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel

Sheesh!
Rachel tells me the white stuff on the sleeve is not what I thought it was.

Jimbo, keep it in your pants. Don't mess with, in or on people who (a) are involved in Wikipedia controveries and (b) are known to, um, have separation issues with various men.

I see Rachel'/Jimbo's stuff is up to about $700. If I ever become single, I am definitely going to make sure I date people with colectable clothes.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

David Suzuki, where are you?

Last year, the Great Man's visit to my kids' school was cancelled because of bad weather.
Today, the last of the visible patio furniture diappeared in the meter-deep snow on my sun deck.
I notice no one has mentioned "climate change" in Parliament since last fall.